Other Fan Fiction ❯ KISS Next Generation ❯ Division ( Chapter 19 )

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

KISS Next Generation
She's a Killer
Part 1
By StarbearerTM
Disclaimer: This story is a work of fiction. I don't own KISS, or its members or their mentioned family members herein, and this story means no harm. It's a work of a devoted fan for the enjoyment of other KISS Army soldiers. Some of the ideas in this book come from Christine Criss (forever_a_kissgirl@yahoo.com) whose character appears in this story.
 
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Gene circled overhead, his eyes blaring red as he took in the terrain below him. Nate had said something about seeing the population of dinos and lizard mutants rising, and he worried about Paul and Tamara. Damn fool had to take off. Peter's party had called in from someplace in the Hills, near where Riceda would have been. Cinnamon had made her choice, and he wasn't too happy. And now Shannon had disappeared. She was gone. Angrily he opened his mouth and let loose a fireball into the midst of some lizards that were glancing up at him and hissing.
In a blaze of glory they became vaporized and Gene grimly realized it didn't help bring Shannon back. Dammit, she had to go out on patrol! His last memories were of trying to get to her, and then seeing her carried off by some strange suited figures.
"It wasn't lizard men, it was someone else," he shook his head, and cursed. "Big friggin whoop. She's gone, and I can't do SHIT…"
Anger burned hot again, and he let loose with another hail of fire, scattering the lizard men left and right. His collar choker radio bleeped, and he depressed the spike to hear who was on the other end. "Go away Ty, I don't wanna hear it…"
"Daddy, please you've been searching for Shannon for hours… we're worried, Mona says that the mutant count has gone up… if you're…"
"Jeannie, I can take care of myself. Your old man's not gonna be lizard food. This is more than I can say for the bastards that took Shannon when I ferret `em out…"
"I'm coming out after you," Jeannie said quickly. "You can't take them on alone…"
"Stay put, I'm not losing you too. Besides, once I trace down Star Child and get his star spangled ass back here, he and I are going hunting…"
"Elliot says he got a trace of something. Two beings moving close… you'd better come back," Jeannie warned over their voice link.
"Jeannie, don't worry. Besides, can't he make himself MORE useful and NOT worry? Like tracking down those damn silver suited menaces?"
"Dad?" asked Jeannie.
"Jeannie, I'll report back. Keep your eyes glued. I got another call to make again…" Gene said as he depressed his choker mechanism, and again tried the link to Star Child.
"Gene… I hear you…" said Paul's voice.
"Why in HELL didn't you answer the ten times before?" Gene bitched.
"Because someone ELSE might hear, that's why!" Paul cautioned.
"Then you could've sent a friggin brain wave! Shannon's gone. She left," Gene related grimly.
"Shit," gritted Paul. "Tamara and I are on our way back now… but we're running into some mutts…"
"I'm on my way," Gene said.
"No, turn back. We're halfway there," Paul answered.
"I need your help finding Shannon," Gene said. "Silver suited goons. They headed in your direction..."
"We haven't seen any… "Look, turn around, we're on our way back… I'll be there in a half-hour… we've got company!"
"Paul, Paul!" Gene shouted and then the link went dead at the source. Why hadn't Paul contacted him telepathically? It seemed that lately since they had found Raina Paul resorted to using a radio transmitter instead of telepathy. Was he somehow afraid to talk to people? Since WHEN was he THAT squeamish?
"Dad, we've got problems!" shouted Jeannie over another frequency. "We've got two uninvited guests…"
"What?" Gene asked. "What the hell… mutts or…"
"It's an esper and something else," stammered Mona over the crackling link. "Jendel tags them as some sort of energy drainer… heading our way fast!"
"Oh terrific. Think you can handle them?" Gene asked.
"Jeannie's going out now to face them. Her and Tyler… while the others stand guard."
"Tell her to not engage 'em unless they try to attack first… just scare 'em away a bit!" Gene barked.
"Will do!" Mona's voice interrupted. Gene circled about and dipped towards the subdivision that contained his home. Many changes had happened, but it was still home. And now it was possibly threatened. Silver suited goons, and all his teammates but him there. Great.
At least Paul had the sense to come back. Ace was up in space, maintaining radio silence to save power, and Peter had gone with Cinnamon to parts unknown to 'cool off' and find another food source. They were spreading themselves too thinly. Worse yet, Bruce and Eric wouldn't budge and bring the remaining 100 people to a more protected haven that was being constructed just for them.
***
Tamara screamed, tears wetting blurred vision. On her lips were the names of two people she thought she'd never see again. Reality crashed into her senses instantly, and she became aware of the cold stark world just outside the enclosed chamber she lay inside. A hand clamped gently over her mouth, muffling the cry in her throat as arms held her tightly with a firm grip of iron. They did not hurt, but she struggled in fear. Two realizations brought her totally awake out of her disorientation. She realized it was Paul's hand suddenly clasped gently over her lips, and his arm wound around her shaking shoulders. Momentarily she felt flustered that he'd do such a thing, and then his thoughts whispered into her mind.
"Love, easy, easy," came the voice of a guardian angel that she thought was another figment of her restless dreams. "I've got you… that was one whopper wasn't it?"
"Paul… where… I…" she stammered. Obvious questions she stopped asking when she remembered where they were, and what chamber they inhabited.
"They're coming closer," he telepathed, forming words that sounded as an echo of his melodious voice in her head. While he didn't have to do this, he commonly transmitted thoughts in the form of words that wouldn't be so difficult.
"Damn," she closed her eyes, and her thoughts flooded with fear, and the worry of what would happen next. She was momentarily angry with herself for letting so many worries escape and hit Paul at once, but the open bridge he had forged between them was just as much her choice as his.
"Don't be afraid of flooding me, love, I've had MUCH worse…" came Paul's thoughts.
"How close? How long do we just sit here…" Tamara asked impatiently, as Paul released her lips and cast her a muted apology. It was more of a feeling of awkwardness that emanated from him, than a thought composed of words.
"As long as it takes," Paul answered, and saw her lips twitch in irritation. "Sorry, I know it's the wrong answer, but I'm not taking any…"
"Chances because of my 'delicate condition'," she completed his thoughts in barely a whisper, but to Paul it was as if she spoke it aloud. He nodded and she felt his hand automatically crossing over her belly. Disbelief exuded from her, and a somber sorrow, that he had entrusted something so valuable to her of all people. To her unspoken why, she sensed his sincerity, and it wasn't tinged with humor. She both laughed and sniffled, still wrestling with the emotions of her dreams that she had dropped so suddenly out of.
"I will marry you," echoed his next thought, but it was words aloud on his lips. He bit his lips to stop the audible sound, but Tamara's hand over his lips made him curse and chuckle at the same time.
She blushed, and then snapped away the next thought that phrase evoked. Paul's eyes widened as he glanced at her, and guilt replaced the shutter that she slammed on their bridge. Just on the periphery of their mind bond he discerned the chatter and chaos of minds bent on sniffing them, or any living being out. If the mutants weren't bad enough, there was ANOTHER that he sensed. Human minds, full of order, but it make his stomach swim.
Minds that were well ordered, but unaware of his existence. Paul knew there were few espers of his magnitude, and thankfully the energy he expended erecting a mental shield dampened the thoughts of stray life forms around them. He hadn't revealed their existence to anyone, save Raina and Ace, because he didn't want to worry Tamara. Now she felt a pall of guilt from him, and his warm brown gaze meeting hers.
"We both have secrets we're hiding," echoed his next thought cast.
"All these damn nightmares, is this ANOTHER power?" Tamara whispered, and then completed with thoughts, "I thought you were going to help me."
"Divert it all into your transmutation, yes," Paul answered with a nod. "But it takes time. The dreams you had, it's because you are a Star Bearer, granted you are 'atomic."
"Elements are forged in the heart of stars in space," she completed. "Poetic justice, wouldn't you say… but I guess you know now what I've been dreaming about."
"You shouldn't feel guilty about not telling the others," Paul said. "I know he's close, and he's alive."
"My brother," she trailed off. "He's alive!"
"Yes. And he's looking for you… I wouldn't have even thought of letting you leave Gene's place even if Bruce and Eric needed you… because of what you mean to me, to us… but I know that they're the key… him and someone else."
"Someone else?" she asked.
"Another lost soul," said Paul as he glanced at her questioning eyes. "Yes, the other dreams… they were all true."
"The dreams about being trapped on an island with monsters and darkness, of being stuck in some strange realm like something out of a D&D campaign?" she thought to him, corners of her lips twitching. "You did mention that's where you thought our souls were… but how in hell…"
"There are those among us, your friends, and you yourself who were in a 'dream world'," Paul answered. "I'm not kidding… my son Elliot spent a lot of time there… it IS real!"
"So you weren't joking when you said that I really WAS there… me, Shannon, Shandi, and Cinnamon."
"Shandi and Shannon actually had their souls exchanged with beings from that dream world," Paul said seriously. "And that's the source of our four nasty little problems."
"They're only children," Tamara answered, shaking her head.
"Yes, but they betrayed us. I don't hate them, but when they start threatening to steal away the children… I swear to God if they ever try to hurt you or the babies…"
"Paul, stop," Tamara said as she saw his eyes flaring purple, and smelt the crackling purple chikara that snapped between them like static electricity. "I don't want to feel your hatred."
"I'm sorry, I don't' want to upset you. They ARE children, but they tried to turn Jeannie against us… I…"
"No guilt, lover, remember," Tamara took his hand and kissed it. "I don't blame you one bit. But this world DOES exist? Astron something."
"Astron Tellar, was what Elliot said it was called by the people who lived there," Paul answered.
"Faires, elves, Tolkien realities," Tamara nodded. "Some source of archetypal dreams?"
"Whatever it is, it's real as you and me. And you and your friends WERE there. Elliot… when you and Cinnamon showed up, he telepathed to me. He saw that you were there, your soul anyway…"
"Why did it seem like only some blur… how could we… the last thing I remember was waking up in some bomb shelter… and it was as if two days had passed? Eric and Bruce said that we'd been in some strange detention camp… like a lab… and…"
"The Destroyers, you all remember them, don't you?" Paul asked.
"Is that the cause of my dreams? Those mutant lizards from the alternate future that you and Gene erased?" Tamara shook her head. "Some bizarre experiments? You mean it WAS real?"
"Those poor creatures you're seeing around us… they're the ancestors of the destroyers," he said with a disgusted look.
"But what are these scientists you're talking about?" Tamara bristled.
"Not the ones Ace went to join," Paul corrected her. "Others. Others that were hidden till now. Those like you… but they're moving fast. I dreamt something about them finding us… but they don't take us seriously…"
"When?" she asked.
"Not for another week. I told Raina, and she said that she'd known that some of them survived. But she didn't realize they'd be coming here,” Paul struggled to remember.
"Scientists, but isn't that the best thing?"
"I don't know love," said Paul. "I don't know anything sometimes anymore. But I do know that I protect what's mine. And you're mine. You and the babies."
"He will want us to do the deed, if he comes… w here is he?" Tamara asked as she felt his thoughts shifting to the one ray of hope besides Paul in her dark world.
"Fr. Atomique," he chuckled. "Another one who 'disappeared' and is only now finding his way from that group… But only he and another survived…"
"Who else?" queried she.
"Another friend?" Paul shrugged. He reached over to touch her temples, and she felt the flicker of thoughts relay to him. Her eyes widened as she saw them just behind her eyes, and she could smell the acrid air, and taste the bitterness of it in each breath.
"Joseph," she blinked a tear. "He's alive and he's looking for me."
"Yes," nodded Paul. "And another."
"Christine," she shook her head. "She's alive… damn…"
"Both are changed, but they don't know where to go… has your brother always had psychic powers?"
"No… but… was that Astron Tellar? I'm so confused… are you trying to tell me that what's going on now is alien experimentation? OR was it because we had sex… made love?"
"That and something else. The time you spent… your soul spent… in Astron Tellar, your souls were all touched with the training to use the powers you developed there on Blackwell's island. And then when Jeannie and Elliot rescued your lost souls," Paul struggled to explain.
Tamara shook her head, confused, "That's when we woke up? But the powers are physical."
"It's us," Paul blinked. "Our chikara, changing everyone we're around. Sex just happens to be one of the catalysts that makes the special powers latent in you possible."
"So every time Gene and you… do it you end up sharing chikara," she blushed.
"Only in small doses. No, what's happened to you was already locked into your blood, lover," he said softly. "When your souls returned to your bodies, what the Destroyers had done to your bodies made your bodies susceptible to the change of your minds. All they needed to activate your powers was a shot of Talisman Chikara."
"If I'd had sex with Gene would I be a dragon?" she teased.
"You'd always be a Star child," Paul chuckled.
"These scientists, where are they, and how did they?"
"I don't know any more than what Raina said. She thought she'd make some effort to communicate with them, but something made me tell her to wait till we knew they were who they said they were. I think it might be a trick…"
"Vanessa and her crew?" Tamara shook her head.
"I shouldn't have brought you out here… Dammit I'm turning this hummer around and we're going back," Paul shook his head. Again his star covered eye flared purple, and Tamara sensed the surging force of his powers building to a climax.
"Bruce and Eric… they need us…"
"They don't. Didn't you say that there was at least one more chemist there to take over for you?" Paul asked. "They made it crystal clear they didn't want my help or Gene's."
"Are you still pissed because they didn't believe in you?" Tamara asked.
"Yes, actually," Paul shook his head. "But if they DO need us, Mona can teleport whatever they need there in seconds. Besides Eric and Bruce will be MORE than able to face whatever's thrown at them in due time…"
"Don't tell me THEY have powers too,” Tamara rolled her eyes. Enough was enough.
"Yes," Paul nodded ruefully. "They were ALSO prisoners of Blackwell."
"Is Blackwell just some entity from that fantasy world, or does he have some connection to the scientists and the Destroyers… it seems all too convenient," Tamara suspected.
"I'd thought about it, but it seemed random. But what Elliot saw and communicated was that a being called Celestial in the Citadel had seen the Destroyers were created by Blackwell's machinations. He isn't in league with them, but rather he's exploited them and their existence to his advantage."
"How can he have so much power? Physical form?" wondered she.
"Yes," Paul nodded. "But you and I have to get ready."
"To go back?" Tamara blinked in surprise. Had they set out just to double back?
"Yes. I'm going to create a diversion, when things calm down, and then we're flying out of here… back to Gene's. We've wasted enough time here. The trip's a bust. I never should have taken you away… with any luck we'll run into your brother and friend before they get found by those lizards… or worse…"
"What if they run into Gene and the others?"
"That's what I'm afraid of," murmured he.
"What about the danger of mutants… are we going to just plough through them?" Tamara queried dubiously.
"No. We're going to let them come close, and then I'm going to nail them with a psi blast," Paul answered firmly. His right eye in the field of its dark star blazed purple.
"I've a better idea. Why don't we blow up the hummer?" she suggested.
"Gene will kill me…" Paul joked.
"You were going to abandon it anyway," said Tamara. "But all that food, what a waste!"
"True… I hate to lose it,” Paul agreed.
"We should drive it back. You shouldn't fly out of here. Forget the blow up plan. We'll just slam right into them. You drive, I'll ride shotgun, and I'll hit 'em with some nasty surprises," Tamara interrupted him.
Paul glanced at her, and she moved into the front, followed by him. Anxiously he opened his mouth to say something, but Tamara silenced him with a thought, "I have to do something dammit… fight somehow…"
"Of course. Flying's probably not a great idea. No, we'll do it your way…" Paul said with a chuckle as he turned on the engine, and turned the H2 around. Tamara held on as they ploughed back the way they came. Ruined landscape rose up around them, and Tamara glanced anxiously as Paul gunned the accelerator.
Something slammed into her side, and Paul swerved, tossing the lizard creature that had landed on the windshield to the side. A hissing roar sounded along with thumps as two landed, and others raced alongside.
A quick swerve to the left then to the right was accompanied by two meaty thumps. This told her that there were two more aborted attacks. Glancing out the rear view she saw their bodies rolling away as they recovered.
Paul's eyes flared purple, and a beam of amethyst energy shot out through the glass, and singed another lizard creature that was about to throw him into their path. Rocks thumped with other bits of trash, and she shrieked as something slammed into the windshield, throwing trash over their field of vision.
Paul shouted in panic, but a quick burst of energy surged the paper away, revealing the ruined roadbed ahead. Behind them scampered one of the creatures that had long legs like a tyrannosaur, and had kept up with them at a good clip. His shouted protest died when Tamara opened the window, and then hurled something out the window. A bright magnesium flare exploded behind them, and the dino was no longer following them.
"Shit there's too many," Paul gritted, as two more thumps landed on the windshield, and his view was blocked by a hissing mouth full of teeth. Tires screeched, and he whipped around a corner. The vehicle lurched, and he struggled to counterturn so it didn't flip.
Tamara again concentrated, and Paul smelled something like a swimming pool odor surrounding them. He had barely held his breath in response to her mental cue as he saw the green cloud that developed around the H2.
"Drive!" Tamara's cry echoed mentally and he exhaled when the green mist lifted. Paul gunned on the accelerator to send the H2 down the road that lead to Gene's housing development.
***
Jeannie launched herself through a hole in the force field, and began to circle higher and higher. Tyler leapt over the wall and landed on all fours, his paws gleaming with razor sharp obsidian claws. He sniffed the air, and his radio crackled into life.
"Two scents, one human, definitely a psi stench, and something like blood," he snorted.
"Great. Elliot…"
"Two minds, one shielded from me, but anxious. Another filled with anger and frustration, but it seems to be siphoning away energy if I get my probes too close," Elliot said.
"That's why you're not using the psi cast?" she asked.
"No, I don't dare… my mind is still reeling from before…" Elliot answered.
"I'll take it from here… whoever they are…"
"Don't provoke them. They might be friends."
"With that smell of chikara like ours, and not like hours?" Tyler asked.
"It's Vanessa and the bitch team, right?" asked Jeannie as she circled around, and narrowed her eyes for any sign of movement below. On the horizon she saw bright flares that were coming closer, and saw the movement of lizard men rushing towards the perimeter.
"Chikara, star energy and damn, scents so strong!" sounded Tyler's hissing snort. She saw his black and gold shape pause as it stopped at a rise, and she circled around as she saw two figures approaching the perimeter. They were only a quarter mile off, and running fast.
"They're close," Tyler reported. "Them and half-a-dozen mutts."
"Great…" Jeannie said. "Wait, I see them… they're coming close."
She circled around as she saw two figures running, or rather limping. One of them seemed to help a figure in long black robes as he hobbled with his arm around the shoulders of the first. Long curly hair frizzed, and she realized the figure was dressed in jeans and a garish flash of color on her chest. Jeannie circled again, and Tyler bounded down, dropping beside them as the lizard men caught up.
"Shit, are they chasing them?" Jeannie wondered. Just then the man stopped and turned, pushing the woman aside. She shouted something to him as the purplish energy flared around his head, and reached out to encircle the lizard beings, freezing them in their tracks. Tyler kept back, sniffing Star chikara. Jeannie dipped and whirred, generating a smoke cloud around her to mask her from their sight.
"Come on, Padre!" the woman shouted, dragging the man in black robes along with her. "You said she was this way…"
"Yes…" he gasped. "Chris… I could be wrong…"
"Do you know where this is?" said the woman, 'Chris' as she was called. Tyler's ears pricked up as the lizard men dropped to the ground, shivering and shaking momentarily as the glow faded, and the woman shoved herself under the man's armpit to brace him. He hobbled along with her, in the direction of the house, only an eighth of a mile away.
"Yes… can't you feel it?”
"Yes… she was here all right," was the woman's answer. Jeannie again circled, and saw them almost approach. Tyler crept stealthily forwards, sniffing the blood stench and something like Tamara's smell on the woman and the man.
"Maybe we should knock," the man gasped. Tyler got a closer look as the woman moved into his view, to where he was hiding, and he saw the long legs encased in blue jeans, and tall black boots. Her jeans jacket was faded, but he saw the markings of the title "Killers" in KISS letters. Jeannie circled about, and the woman pushed the man to the side, turning quickly.
"Jean, wait!" roared Tyler. No sooner had Jeannie burst from the clouds than the woman turned, dodging out of the way.
"Stop right there," Jeannie said as she landed, and the woman blinked.
"What the hell," the woman answered. The man blinked and moved close, and Tyler saw the white collar round his throat, stark against the all black robes and the rosary dangling from his left hip.
"Who are you?" Jeannie queried.
"I might ask YOU the same thing," answered the young woman, perhaps only a year younger than Jeannie. "Look, we've gone through a LOT of crap in the last two days. I'm looking for a friend, and I don't want to waste time, 'K?"
"A friend?" asked Jeannie as she moved up, and glanced at the strangers. "That's kinda funny… because we've never seen or heard of you. Who are you?"
"We're no threat," said the priest. "I'm Fr. Joseph Atomique, and this is Christine."
"Atomique?" asked Jeannie. "Are you sure?"
"He's a priest, for God's sake," Tyler snapped as he came out of his form. "But you, young lady, you have some explaining to do… before we just let you in…"
"I'm sick of this shit, look, just leave us alone so we can do our business if you don't want us around," the woman snapped. "So kiss off… C'mon let's go Padre…"
"Just a moment, that's NOT what we meant…" Jeannie said as she rushed up, and put her hand on the woman's shoulder. Like lightening the woman moved and shoved Jeannie aside with such force that she backed away staggering.
"Chris, don't be like this they don't mean…" Fr. Joseph interrupted.
"Hands off of me… I don't care if you're dressed like the Demon, that doesn't cut ice with me… leave us the fuck alone would ya? It's the end of the friggin world, and you'd THINK that someone would be GLAD to see two fellow human beings… and anyway how do I know that YOU aren't some enemy trying to fuck with our heads?" came her answer as she shoved herself between the priest and Jeannie.
"Calm down, and just tell us who you are," said Tyler.
"All I wanted to know was who you were, we aren't trying to attack you," Jeannie said as she struggled to keep her temper down. Something about the woman unsettled her, and she could swear she saw a red glow in the woman's eyes.
"Sure could've fooled us. C'mon, let's go, these two obviously have BETTER things to do…" Christine said as she pushed into the priest who was trying to look around her to glance at Tyler in some strange way.
"Now Jeanne, just calm down. Look, we're all frazzled. You're KISS fans, and that means you're ok, so let's just take a deep breath, and we can go someplace safe to talk…"
"He's right. We're all strangers here," said Fr. Joseph. "We're looking for two young women. One of them looks like me except she's a bit shorter and the other's a bit thinner and taller… their names are Tamara and Cinnamon…"
"Damn, are you sure?" Jeannie queried.
"You know them?" Christine asked.
"They were here, but they're gone now…" Jeannie said.
"Gone, what do you MEAN gone?" Christine suddenly demanded, taking a step towards Jeannie. "You DID see them…"
"Yes… but they're gone… they…"
"Wait, how do you know her?" asked Tyler. "Are you friends… or…"
"I want to know WHERE they went… you've seen them where did they go, and what do you mean they're gone?" Christine demanded, her voice rising in volume. Tyler smelled something odd in her nostrils, and her eyes again flared red.
"After you tell me WHY you just flared up right now," Jeannie said as her own green eyes flared red, and she felt chikara seeping around both of them.
"Chris, calm down, you know what can happen when…"
"What's he talking about… Jeanne don't…" Tyler protested.
"Let's go. They're wasting our time," said Christine as she grabbed Fr. Joseph's arm. "Unless you two are going to talk to us like human beings…"
"If you answer a few questions simply… we'll tell you where they went…" said Jeannie as she started after them, but Christine had already dragged the priest halfway after her, in the direction of the house.
"She has to be here, but she could be gone…" said Fr. Joseph.
"Wait, come back here," Jeannie shouted. Something suddenly leapt crashed into her side, knocking her down. Hisses and snorts sounded, and he found himself cuffing and slashing at the lizard creatures that had been tranced, but had now recovered.
"Now's our chance," said Christine as she pushed him ahead. "See if you can get inside…"
"But they're not the enemy… we should help them…" said Fr. Atomique as he pointed at Tyler and Jeannie who were suddenly slashing and snarling at the half dozen creatures piling on them.
"Shit," she sighed. "Just tell me if she's there or not…"
"There's others inside. I'll go. You help those two. They might be less pissed if you give them some help…"
"Terrific," Christine mumbled as she reached inside for the red fire at the depths of her instincts. Anger and adrenaline coursed through her veins, and spread to every extremity. As if she was touching a match to a fuse, the crackling source gave life to an explosive end. Fr. Atomique hesitated as he saw the lion creature rolling over and over and Jeannie as she swatted one lizard, only to be felled by two others. Like mercury the figure that Christine had changed into became something lithe and strong, her eyes red as Jeannie's, her black and white covered features twisting into a snarl as she spit something in the direction of Tyler. It hit the back of the lizard man's neck, suddenly solidifying into strands of silk as she turned to another, and batted it aside easily with the same razor sharp claws as Jeannie. Tyler rolled over, shaking off the lizard. He spotted the priest rushing towards the walls of the force field, and put two and two together. That scent he'd sniffed before. How could he be so stupid? He had to stop the priest before he got into even more trouble. Quickly he bounded after him, trusting that the new woman would help Jeannie battle off their lizard enemies.
Meanwhile, Jeannie slashed and kicked, fire spewing towards the creatures that leapt. Jaws fastened on her wrist, and she swung the first lizard into the next. A spew of white substance stuck to the back of another that she had already knocked down, and she blinked at the silver and black figure with glowing red eyes. In that moment something hit her in the back, and knocked her flat on her side. Hissing she batted it back, but felt something slam into her midriff. Fortunately her armor held, but three lizard creatures piled up on her. Worse, one of them had set its teeth into her shoulder while the other two were holding her down.
Christine leapt, her eyes flashing red as her claws popped from their sheaths. It may be no coincidence that this woman named Jeannie was actually like the Demon she admired. Yet it seemed weird. The last few weeks had been a blur for all of them, and it seemed only like yesterday when she and Fr. Joseph had escaped the sterile white corridors where they'd been held.
Before she could contact the creatures holding Jeannie down, something slammed into her with sizzling force. Her whole body seemed on fire, and she realized that something had blasted her with a tongue of sizzling flame. Just in the nick of time she rolled over, knocked momentarily for a loop by the blast.
A loud roar sounded, and she shook her head to see what was standing over her. A kick slammed into her gut, sending her flying, and she smelled brimstone and fire.
Jeannie pushed the lizard creature off, and saw who had come to her rescue. Before she could recover she was again pinned, and could only listen as she fought for her own life. "Dad… wait!"
"You leave her alone!" he roared as he approached the figure, his boots grinding into the cracked pavement. Rolling to her feet, Christine saw red. She didn't care WHO it was, all she cared was that he'd attacked her, and the surge of fire heading in her direction had come from its mouth. Quickly she leapt up, and flipped over the head of the creature, and two wings sprouted from her shoulders as she took to flight.
Something hissed and hit Gene in the face, sticking over his throat and choking the blaze from his lips. He coughed and staggered as something stung his eyes, and bit into his skin with a paralyzing force. A black shape circled, and he swatted as it crossed by. An angry hissing shriek echoed, and he clawed at the stuff on his face. It was sticky like cotton candy, and when he ripped it away, he saw the creature circling around him, her claws extended, and her eyes flaring crimson.
"You made a big mistake, shithead," she snarled, and Gene swiped at her as he leapt up, his claw connecting with her body. She was knocked temporarily off her path as she slammed into a bit of masonry. Gene pounced towards her, only to contact with brick in his face and under his chest as she moved out of his way.
"Shit," he mumbled as he rolled over, and felt her boot in his face. Talk about a kick in the teeth, he grimly thought as he actually saw stars. He rolled over onto his stomach, and slashed wildly as he felt movement. Another barrage of stinging stickiness stuck to his side, and he stumbled to his feet. Fire bellowed towards the circling figure, followed by a thick cloud of choking smoke. Christine coughed, as she plunged into smoke, and surged out on the other side, seeing nothing. Circling higher, she glanced for any sign of her attacker, her blood surging with anger.
A loud bellow sounded as she saw the movement and felt the slash of wind as he flew past her. Still she righted herself and gained altitude. Both circled, and she saw light gleaming off his armor, realizing that he was flying without the benefit of wings, unlike her. Fire surged toward her, and she avoided it easily, despite the sickness welling in her stomach. She hated heights, and flying was taking getting used to. Also she could tell that her attacker had more experience, as he veered out of the way and she almost crashed into the wall of the tall structure that Fr. Joseph had rushed towards. In the meantime, Jeannie had thrown the lizards to the sides, quickly slashing hem to ribbons with the long claymore that surged into existence in her hand.
"What the hell…" she thought as she saw the two figures circling. As she was about to take flight, she felt a lavender energy reach out to touch her mind.
"Jeannie stop, we're making a terrible mistake!" Elliot cried. "They're looking for Tamara!"
"What…" she got out as Tyler and Fr. Joseph raced out, with Elliot close by them, through a hole in the force barrier. Nate was aiming a gun skyward, while Tyler bounded to join her.
"She's a friend… you have to stop her!" Fr. Joseph gasped.
"Tamara's brother," said Elliot, panting as he reached Jeannie.
"You haveta stop 'em," Tyler gasped as they heard the hissing and snarling.
"Dad!" she cried.
"No, we can't interfere…" Elliot said quickly.
"The HELL we can't!" shouted Jeannie. "Can't you hit 'em with your powers?”
"I can try," he said as he squeezed shut his eyes and Fr. Joseph frantically shouted up at the two figures.
"Christine, stop it! You're making a big mistake!" he cried as Tyler bounded around anxiously, and Jeannie rushed beside him. Purple light reached up, narrowly missing both. A swoosh of webbing suddenly landed on Elliot, and he narrowly avoided it as Fr. Joseph shoved him aside.
"So much for THAT idea," Elliot mumbled.
"It's been one of those days," said Fr. Joseph as he shook his head, and helped him up. "WE have to stop them somehow…"
Christine caught up with Gene at last, slashing at him, as he slashed at her with his own claws. Kicks and blows were exchanged as they locked arms, and two sets of eyes met. It took all their strength to break one another's grips, and neither was budging.
"You're gonna regret this, bitch," he hissed. "Nobody threatens my daughter."
"I was trying to help her you frigging asshole," she hissed back. "And now you'll regret ever having been born!"
"What the hell... do you want?" Gene roared.
"Where is my friend…? I DEMAND you tell me or I'll slit your fuckin throat!" Christine hissed. She broke his grasp, and Gene managed to catch her around the waist as her claws fastened around his neck. He pushed back with one hand, only to feel her claws biting into his skin, while he held her other wrist captive. His strength was ebbing, bleeding away with every second, and he wondered why. Then it dawned on him that the hand around his throat was not only throttling him, it was sucking away his life force itself.
"I won't tell you ANYTHING!" he growled, feeling blackness overcoming him.
"Tell me where she is or I'll drain you DRY!" Christine snarled.
"Someone stop her, she's moving in for the kill!" Tyler shouted.
"Dad!" Jeannie screamed, launching herself towards them. Elliot desperately reached out with his power, but he could only affect one. His choice was made when he sent the power to wreath Jeannie and pacifies her so two of them wouldn't get killed. Fr. Joseph leapt on Tyler's back, and the Black Lion bounded quickly, tensing for a leap.
Fr. Joseph reached out; his power elusive as it wreathed towards Gene. Tyler leapt, and Fr. Joseph's energy surged towards the Demon, wreathing him in lavender chikara. Phantasms plunged deep, their talons raking through his mind and rifling through his bloodlust to find that one memory.
"Get outta my head padre!" Christine gritted. "I've got it covered… he'll tell me where your sister is…"
"Stop!" Fr. Joseph's voice echoed in her ears. With that command he drilled into Gene's brain with the force of his righteous fury, or so he thought. There had to be something this monster feared. While he was a KISS fan himself, whoever this was fighting Christine was playing for real. He had to stop both of them before someone died.
"Get OUT OF MY MIND!" Gene roared, and the feedback crashed into the priest, knocking him senseless. Tyler landed morphing as he caught the limp form of the priest.
"Padre!" shouted Christine. "You fucker…"
"Let me GO!" Gene roared as he felt the talons bleeding off his energy.
"WHERE IS SHE? WHERE IS TRYNIA!" roared Christine.
"Stop! I'm right here!" spoke a familiar voice, and Christine momentarily blinked. Time stopped and she saw a blaze of purple light. Soaring toward them was the slender form of the Star Child, glowing in purple, and in his arms he carried a woman, with a purple costume that was form fitting.
"Tammi… is that you?" asked Christine, seeing momentarily through her blood lust.
"Gene, stop!" came Paul's voice.
"Please, stop before you kill him!" Tamara pleaded. "Christine, don't!"
"But…" she got out. Gene just then kicked her in the pit of the stomach, and she shot back, feeling his punch hit the side of her head.
"No!" Tamara screamed, starting in Paul's arms. Paul acted instantly, his eyes glowing purple as he reached out with his power, and Tyler bounded quickly to catch the falling figure of her friend. Soaring to land, Paul set Tamara down, and she rushed over to where her brother was shaking his head and rushing toward her in disbelief. Tyler gently held Christine, glancing up as Paul's purple beam slammed into Gene's body, cocooning him in amethyst energy. Roaring Gene snarled and kicked, as Paul raised his hand, and his body radiated with chikara.
Two others rushed out of the enclosure, and Tamara felt her brother's arms around her as he held her close. "Christine, is she…" she stammered.
"She's ok," said Tyler. "Just winded."
"What the hell is going on here, all hell has broken loose!" Raina shouted as she bounded out. The geologist saw Fr. Joseph and Tamara leaning over Christine, whom Tyler had lowered to the ground. "Gene… Paul!"
"Mom… it's crazy…" came Jeannie voice as she blinked, and saw the energy that was pulling Gene down out of the sky. Paul levitated up, strain on his lips as he poured more power on to restrain the bezerker rage that seized Gene.
"Oh hell," said Raina. "Here we go again… who is this?"
"My friend, Dr. MacLaren you have to help her!" Tamara insisted.
"I'll stay with her," Fr. Joseph said. "Can we take her inside… sis?"
"Go, I have to help Paul!" Tamara said as she rushed away, before anyone could stop her.
"Don't be stupid, you shouldn't!" Raina shouted before Tyler turned and Elliot had to restrain Jeannie with his own power. Sweat beaded on Paul's forehead as he waged war with Gene's animal side. Conflict with the newcomer had unlocked the Demon side, and it was just as bad as when Jeannie and he had…
The momentary distraction caused Gene to break free, and Paul barely got hold of him in time. Tamara reached up, and touched the air around her. "Hold your breath Paul, quick!" she thought in his mind. "Bring him down…"
Paul did so, his hands locking behind Gene as he spread his effect to a wider range. It took much mental strength to suppress the beast within, and finally Gene descended. Tamara knew this would be difficult, but she had to try as she held up a bit of silk ripped from her costume, and her power flared. Something sweet drifted across Gene's nose, and she rushed up to push it in his face. Gold and scarlet wreathed her head as she forced the carbon dioxide in the air around them to recombine, to change into ether. To that she added chloroform and suddenly Gene went limp in Paul's arms.
"Better living through chemistry," Paul laughed slowly as Tyler rushed up, followed by Jeannie and Elliot.
"Daddy… is he…" got out Jeannie.
"Tammi, someone wants badly to catch up with you, I suggest you go into see your brother," Paul said quickly. "We'll take over from here."
"Christine," she got out, nodding as she rushed towards the house, and didn't glance back. She felt cold fear wash over her at how out of control Gene had gotten, and her friends surprising new powers.
***
It felt good to be hugged, Tamara thought as her brother embraced her tightly, and they both sat by the bed where Christine lay, recovering her strength. One of the side rooms had been converted into a place for her friend, and only a half-hour had passed. Her brother fixed her in his blue eyes, and he stroked her soft dark hair as he glanced at her in disbelief.
"I thought you were dead," she whispered. "And then Paul…"
"Is he the man responsible for… your condition?"
"Don't start. I knew that you would."
"He's going to marry you, of course. I came just in time," he said half teasingly.
"He knows about you," said Tamara softly. "But how did you and Christine come to be here?"
"Thank some strange dreams, and these new powers," he said slowly. "Yes, I remember."
"Astron tellar?" Tamara asked.
"And the labs?"
"Labs, what labs?" asked Tamara.
"Weren't you trapped in the same labs where the others were, where the people in silver radiation suits…" he started but she shook her head in disbelief. "Never mind."
"Jo, what IS going on?" she asked. Christine moaned, and blinked, and Tamara dabbed her forehead with a wet washrag.
"Easy, easy there," Fr. Joseph said. "You're okay."
"Chris, I'm okay, I'm here, you're safe," Tamara soothed, and she struggled to concentrate to break the illusion over her. But she was afraid. What if changing back hurt the babies?
"Tammi… holy shit, you look…" got out Christine as she blinked.
"It's her," Fr. Joseph said. "She's alive."
"Why on EARTH did you almost kill Gene?" Tamara scolded her.
"Gene?" Christine blinked and looked up at her friend. "How hard did I get hit on the head?"
"It was the force of Gene's blow," said Tamara.
"You'll be fine," said Fr. Joseph as his hand slowly moved over her body without touching it, and Tamara blinked.
"Thanks for the first aid but I'm fine, Padre," Christine batted his hand away as she sat up. "Save it for the other guy…"
"Where were you, how were you…" Tamara shook her head. "You both have a LOT of explaining to do…"
"Where's the son of a bitch that attacked me anyway?" asked Christine.
"That son of a bitch is responsible for saving my life and Cinnamon's," said Tamara slowly. "He's Gene… the REAL Gene…"
"You're shitting me," she shook her head.
"The Gene as in Gene the Demon Simmons," said Tamara.
"No way," Christine denied her eyes wide in disbelief.
"Yes way," said Fr. Joseph. "And apparently this is his home, with a FEW modifications."
"Crap, I must have hit my head," she mumbled, scrubbing at her eyes with her hands. "Aren't all the houses blown up?"
"This one was fixed, by nanotechnology. Ace set up some robots, and they fix things, but Mona's in charge because Ace went into space."
"Slow down," Christine held up a hand. "I'm still trying to get my head around this other thing… you mean we're in Gene Simmon's house?"
"The cheesy stories about the Talisman are real," said Tamara with a slight grin. "And that's why my face looks like this."
"I was gonna ask about that next," Christine nodded.
"It's the same thing that happened to us," Fr. Joseph said.
"Now I'm lost," Tamara mumbled.
"So, who pulled him off me?" asked Christine.
"Paul did," Tamara said.
"I need to talk to him, now," Fr. Joseph said.
"Bro, don't," sighed Tamara.
"I'll let you ladies catch up. I want a word with him… man to man…" said Fr. Joseph. "Don't worry; I'm not going to kill him… yet!"
"Oh for the love of Pete!" she moaned as he kissed her forehead and moved out. She rolled her eyes, and Christine blinked at her, chuckling.
"So, you too, huh? Figures you'd be some sort of superhero too. Are you Chemistry Girl or something?"
"If you like," Tamara chuckled. "But what about you… you turned into some sort of… some sort of creature like Gene and Jeannie."
"Oh that?" she chuckled. "One of my new sides. Pretty handy in a post nuclear wasteland… Kinda makes you think Nina's song would be appropriate."
"Don't start singing THAT in the original German. You make me jealous," Tamara teased back. "Nicht auf Deutsche!"
Christine laughed and started signing it to annoy her, in a very loud voice. Tamara hit her with a pillow, and knew that her friend would be all right. Yet Gene was another matter. She hoped Paul could get him to keep from slitting her friend's throat the next time they met. And then Shannon…
****
"Shannon's not dead," said Paul slowly. "She's alive, but we can't reach her…"
"She's with them, isn't she?" asked Elliot slowly.
"Them who?" asked Mona.
"The silver suits, hello?" Tyler nudged her.
"She's as good as gone," mumbled Elliot.
"Don't let Gene hear you say that," cautioned Paul. "There's always a chance… that she'll just end up escaping them."
"We should rescue her," insisted Mona.
"Get real. She wanted to leave," said Elliott slowly. "They took her, and she's gone. Finito."
"IT wasn't the silver suits, then?" asked Tyler.
"No. We can't reach her because she's with Eric and Bruce's team. They managed to save her. I sent them a mental message. And she's there."
"Why won't she come back?" wondered Tyler.
"Because there's a man there who she wants more than Gene," Paul chuckled. "Someone that she wants to marry."
"Oh boy, Gene's not gonna like that," groaned Tyler.
"Who gets to break the bad news?" asked Elliot.
"I'm going to talk to him, and see what in HELL possessed him to attack Christine, and set him straight," said Paul. "AS usual I'm elected to clean up the mess. We're gone only two days and things fall apart."
"You were the one who left, with all due respect, sir," Tyler said.
"Ty…" Mona opened her mouth.
"No, he's right," said Paul. "But I'm back now."
"It's more than that why you're back, right dad?" Elliot winked. He then saw everyone's puzzled looks. "Whoops, did I say that out loud?"
"Just shaddup and go relieve Susan with your egg," said Paul with a grin.
"When's that thing gonna hatch already?" Tyler quipped.
"Dunno… I'm thinking in another two weeks," he said as he walked away, and Mona looked at Tyler with concern.
"I'll speak to Gene," said Paul. "You two had better check on our other guests…"
"Um, don't look now, but the Padre's making a house call," said Tyler as he saw Fr. Joseph walking casually up; his eyes fixed on Paul.
"Mr. Stanley, I need a word with you," the priest insisted, grabbing Paul by the shoulder. His grip was firm, fingers sinking into the rhinestone cloth of Paul's costume.
"I know, but Tyler and Mona can go before me," Paul said. "I'm not blowing you off and I DO intend to make an honest woman of her, but I HAVE to keep a Demon from killing your sister's friend. So if you'll excuse me…"
"But…" protested Fr. Joseph.
"Padre, we've been meaning to ask you where the heck you were… because Mona and I need to get married," said Tyler as he took Fr. Atomique's arm, and snagged his arm around Mona's waist.
"But…"
"Later," Paul said as his eyes flared purple, and Fr. Joseph knew that he wasn't in a mood to be interrupted.
"Now," Fr. Joseph said but Tyler shook his head.
"He means to make good. And besides, we already are living in sin, so if you don't mind, me and Mona would like to make it official, since we ARE trying to keep from having to sit in a little booth with you," Tyler said.
"Good thing, too," Fr. Joseph nodded as he walked between the couple, and they steered him in the direction of the Criss guesthouse. "Do you have some water I could bless… and a bible, I seem to have lost mine…"
"This way, Padre," said Tyler as he led him away. Elliot glanced down from above, chuckling. This would certainly shake old man Simmons up. Too bad they couldn't get hold of a rabbi though. Unless there was one with Bruce and Eric that Tamara'd forgotten to tell him about.
"Dad, are you all right?" Jeannie asked as she stroked his forehead. He lay on his vast bed, set with red silk sheets. His armor had faded, leaving him only in the black silk bathrobe that she and Paul had slipped on him for modesty's sake. Sitting on the edge of the bed next to him, she stroked her father's hair away from her head. It made her feel sad to think he was on the knife's edge from insanity sometimes, but thankfully Paul had returned just in time. There were so few of them there after Peter had left with Cinnamon, and his own daughter. Now there was just Gene's family, and her mother, and her husband. They had dedicated themselves to one another, and had spoken a few blessings in Hebrew. That was how it was done. Now that there was a priest, at last Tyler would shut up. She fingered the gold ring that glistened on her third finger of her left hand. She'd have to thank Tamara for that token. Sometimes turning lead into gold was a good thing, even if she HAD changed a strip of aluminum cut from a can into a gold ring that Gene had shaped into an appropriate size for her, and one for her husband.
"Jean," he mumbled as he blinked and looked up at her. "What in hell hit me? Are you okay… where is that…"
"Dad, calm down, you're fine… Paul had to hit you with a relaxation ray because you were going bananas," she said.
"Crap," he groaned. "So the son of a bitch is back? Good. Took him damn long enough."
"Dad, that woman who you attacked wasn't an enemy, she was Tamara's friend, and…"
"Friend or NOT she has GOT to learn whose boss. And I won't have…"
"Dad, she didn't attack me. Yes she is a pain in the ass, and she's got a lousy attitude, but she's Paul's woman's friend, and we have to show her SOME respect… and besides, she IS a woman."
"That was HARDLY a woman who almost slit my throat," Gene grumbled, aching all over. Paul's aura packed a wallop, and plus that hellcat had drained a lot of his strength. Jeannie opened a red silk box, and laid it on his chest. Gene moaned softly as the red chikara from the Dragon Talisman surged over him, restoring the lost energy, and balancing his chakras.
"I know you're worried about Shannon… but Paul said she was fine. Mona said she got a call from Eric's place only ten minutes ago saying she'd been rescued from some lizard goons."
"But it wasn't mutants it was those silver suited freaks," insisted Gene, shaking his head no.
"Apparently Shannon said they'd been eaten, and they were saving her for later when Bruce's team got to her."
"They were human then?" Gene wondered.
"Yes, judging from what was left," Jeannie sighed.
"Yuck," Gene sighed. "Can you BLAME me for being pissy? I haven't had sex in three days!"
"Poor you. But there IS an unattached female available."
"Ha-ha," Gene mumbled. "I've got half a mind to ask the atomic girl, but if I did, I know Paul would kick my ass!"
"Touch her, and I'll rearrange your face," Paul said as he walked in, folding his arms over his chest.
"So, you've returned. What changed your mind, Stanley?" Gene asked gruffly.
"Typical, I'm gone only two days and already I'm cleaning up your mess. What kind of a ship are you running here anyway, Gene?" Paul bitched. "And as for the lady, she's spoken for, soon to be courtesy of her brother."
"Great, the padre?" Gene mumbled. "Figures her brother is a friggin priest."
"Don't get any ideas," Paul said.
"Jeannie, can you leave us so we can have a man to man talk?" Gene asked. She nodded and walked away. Paul fixed his gaze on Gene, standing beside the bed, as his eyes were dark with tension and something like anger.
"So, care to tell me WHY you used your damn powers on me?"
"Duh, Gene. You were about to get killed or kill my lover's friend," Paul snorted. "You were the one who attacked her first…"
"I thought she was attacking Jeannie, excuse me for caring about my DAUGHTER," Gene snapped back.
"Gene, she's going to be staying for a while. She and Fr. Joseph were looking for Tamara."
"They found her, great," Gene mumbled. "Two more mouths to feed."
"You have to admit they are welcome additions," Paul said. "Considering we're down by Ace, Shandi, Cinnamon, and Peter."
"And that wonder child of Ace's, who was supposed to be the last hope of the future?"
"There is another," said Paul.
"Shut up Yoda," mumbled Gene, laying back on the bed and closing his eyes for a moment. "I hurt… you really did it this time, Paul. Next time do me a favor and hit me with a large mallet if you HAVE to kayo me?"
"Sure Gene," Paul laughed. "Now, can you at least act civil around Christine?"
"Is that her name? It figures," mumbled Gene. "Terrific. If someone named Domino shows up kill me."
"There is a domino in Astron Tellar," Paul said.
"Shut up, Paul," Gene groaned, pressing his head to his head. "So where's she now? Exchanging girl stories with your wife to be?"
"Maybe yes," said Paul.
"And you get stuck with the padre in law," Gene snickered. "I guess I don't know when I'm lucky. There IS a sense of justice after all."
"Don't push it," Paul rolled his eyes.
"It figures. Of course it WOULD be peachy for YOU if there was a rabbi, wouldn't there," Gene teased him. "It'd make it entertaining to say the least."
"Well I AM going to marry her," said Paul. "Even IF it's the end of the world."
"And I feel fine. Besides, I'm not averse to sewing a few wild oats," Gene crossed his legs and put his hands behind his head. "I DO have to bolster the population. BE fruitful and multiply and all that."
"Gene, please." Paul sighed.
"I'm serious. I'm just being pragmatic. I'm thinking of preserving humanity. Upping the gene pool as it were."
"Don't even THINK of that, man!" Paul shouted.
"Nah, she's off limits. It's more fun to harass her," he grinned.
"Gene, I'm warning you," Paul flared.
"Ohh touchy are we?" Gene chuckled. "I'm JUST trying to think of the future of mankind. If we are going to repopulate the earth, I'm playing MY part."
"Well it will be bolstered by two," Paul said quickly.
"Oh is THAT why we're so pissy? She's got two stars in the oven," needled Gene with a crap eating grin.
"Gene shut the fuck up," Paul mumbled.
"Ah, I mean she's 'with child'," Gene snickered. "Way to go, Paul. And since she's a catholic I'm sure she won't mind producing a constellation, would she?"
"Probably not," Paul said. "She's a good woman."
"Intelligent, smart, and committed," Gene said. "Good. We don't want any stresses or strains on our group, DO we?"
Paul shivered, wondering if that look from Gene meant more than it seemed. For an instant he feared the locks on Gene's memory were wearing off. Yet the look faded, and Gene smirked as Paul looked away, shifting his weight.
"Hold on I'm only messing with ya," Gene said as he sat up, slowly. "Can't you take a joke?"
"Ha-ha, forgot to laugh," Paul mumbled. "But anyway, you're going to have to apologize to Christine when you're feeling better. To prevent said tensions."
"Do I have to?" Gene whined.
"If you want some pussy, maybe?" Paul winked. "She's available, and she's a female, and she's moving. And besides don't you want to play your part to repopulate the planet."
"Go play in traffic, Paul," Gene snorted as he threw a pillow at Paul. Laughing, Paul walked out of the room, and closed the door. He deserved that all right. Crude comment for crude comment. Perfect. And most likely Paulie pure heart was going to marry the girl. Fine by him. As long as he stayed away from Jeannie. At this thought, Gene frowned. He wondered why he'd even thought of that.
***
Christine awakened the pounding in her head having decreased enough that she could see straight. The door vibrated with a knock, and she called out, "C'mon in, it's open. But if you're the Demon, I'm not responsible for the consequences."
"Good morning to you too," Tamara said as she opened the door, and walked in. Christine straightened up in bed as she saw Tamara carrying a covered tray, and shook her head. Such trouble her friend was going to, but it was nice to have some sisterly concern. Setting it down on her friend's side table, she lifted the cloth, and Christine smelled hot coffee already poured. However she was amazed at the other food items.
"What's this? Where in hell did you get donuts?" Christine asked.
"Ace's contribution. A food synthesizer."
"Like Star Trek, huh?" she chuckled. "Figures. Why am I not surprised?"
Tamara helped herself to some milk and artificial sweetener that she'd synthesized in the chemistry lab. Both stirred in their fixings, and Christine seized a chocolate donut with candy sprinkles, devouring half of it in a rapid succession of bites. Despite the obvious, there were no changes in her friend as far as sweets were concerned. Same old Christine.
"It took forever to get it to make donuts," Tamara chuckled. "AT least according to Paul…"
"Did someone say my name?" Paul asked as he leaned in, wearing the typical love gun costume, complete with tuxedo jacket, stars down each sleeve. Christine chuckled, because Tamara glanced over and saw him almost unsure of if he should interrupt the girl talk. The emotions flowed freely between them, and Christine saw the ring glistening on the third finger of Paul's left hand, and then noticed a matching ring on Tamara's finger.
"The padre did the deed, huh?" Christine commented. "You could have told me!"
"You were out for almost two days," said Tamara apologetically.
"Two friggin days? Shit, I can't lay around for two friggin days!" Christine exclaimed.
"Easy, that fight with Gene drained both of you. We determined it was best not to move you… rather Tamara with the help of Tyler determined it." Paul said as he walked in. Standing behind Tamara, he leaned over and kissed her cheek, while hugging her from behind.
"Dammit Paul, I'm a chemist not a doctor," Tamara glanced at him, and Christine chuckled. "What is it with you people thinking just because I have some science I'm MacGuiver?"
"Actually we have the Padre to thank. That psychic healing comes in handy," said Paul slowly. "And Tyler's learning medical training fast… thanks to his Earth power."
"So, how many are here?" Christine asked, sipping her coffee. Paul moved around the chair where Tamara was sitting, and crunched down so he was at seat level, and nudged her. Christine raised an eyebrow till Paul pulled Tamara up with his hand, and sat down. He tugged her down by the hips and set her on his lap.
"Well, other than us three, and Geno…" Paul said as he shifted and wrapped his arms around her waist to hold her there, and she blushed. "There's Elliot, my son, Jeannie his lovely wife, Tyler and Mona with their kittens, Raina… the geologist who's Jeannie's mom-- and till now we had Ace and Peter with Shannon, Cinnamon--and there's Gene's kids… and not to forget an egg which I hope will hatch soon."
"An egg?" Christine asked.
"Ask later," Tamara shook her head. "I still don't get it myself."
"So did I miss anything?" Christine asked.
"Well not really. Other than a few telecasts between Ace and us," Paul shrugged. "It's been quiet… and Bruce and Eric report that there are no major problems. Eric and his team apparently rescued Shannon while they were out hunting food. The Hawk brought her safely… and get this… she's married now."
"Say what?" asked Christine.
"They have a rabbi over there, and a judge. Both of 'em got married," Paul chuckled. "Rabbi Bernstein. Big KISS fan, him and his kids. Got 'im to say a blessing over us… and if things are not so nuts, he'll drop by and give something more than a quick bonding."
"Your brother, right?" Christine teased Tamara.
"Don't start," moaned Tamara.
"So, is Gene worse off than me?" asked Christine. "I bet he's less than happy, and I'm not 100 percent nuts about HIM either."
"Yeah, but I told him if he didn't behave himself I'd sic you on him," Tamara said.
"So there," Paul grinned. "Honestly, he'll behave."
"So fill me in. What's going on with this whole mutant situation, and everything?" asked Christine.
"Well, where should I start?" Paul said with a deep exhalation.
"Start with the silver suited people… that's the most recent thing. Because my brother mentioned that…"
"Don't get me started on those assholes," Christine growled.
"Ho boy, you too?" Paul groaned. "Terrific."
"You know all about 'em, huh?" Christine nodded. "Padre filled you in…"
"Yes, and Elliot, and Tammi, haven't you Hon?" Paul said softly, hugging her protectively.
"Christine wasn't so lucky," Tamara said softly.
"Refresh my memory… Padre says that you and he were in some lab in some underground base," Paul said.
"Just like me," Tamara nodded. "But we got out. Bruce and Eric found us all."
"They were the lucky ones. We were taken away with a half dozen others. We were the only ones left alive…" Christine said angrily.
"Shit," Paul muttered. "He said it was bad but…"
"It was worse," Christine said. "He didn't realize just WHY they needed those people."
"Good god," Paul winced. "Did you ever see if these… silver suits were human or mutant?"
"Didn't see," Christine growled angrily. "They wore those damn silver suits. And treated us like animals."
"Do you also remember another place, where you may have learned to use your powers?" Paul asked. Christine looked at him in question, but Tamara nodded.
"It's okay, he knows," Tamara nodded.
"About that dream world stuff?" Christine asked. Paul nodded.
"Please, my son and I were psilinked, and he was there for a while," said Paul.
"You mean he was the Starbearer there?" Christine asked, in confusion.
"His soul was there, and so was yours, and many others," said Tamara. "While our bodies were elsewhere."
"The silver suits," Christine nodded. Paul shivered, and closed his eyes in grief. Images had poured out of Tamara's mind of being in some place she had originally thought was a bomb shelter, but was a place where the silver suits had taken them. He had thought they were Destroyers… but now… he wasn't sure.
"Are you sure you never saw one?" Paul asked. "Were they lizard beings?"
"I saw their faces, they looked human," said Tamara slowly.
"God," Paul shuddered. "But that place Christine, you remember something called Blackwell's Island."
"Yes," she nodded bitterly. "Thanks to the Hawk, the Bard, and the Star Bearer we were liberated."
"I didn't remember that… till now. I had first thought it was a dream…" Tamara shook her head, and Paul stroked her shoulder. "You remember better than I. So does Joe. If that was the case than Eric and Bruce… they were there also…"
"It wasn't till you told me," Paul said. "They were there. And that's why they don't want Gene or my help. They already have super powers…"
"So, let me get this straight, Bruce and Eric are here too?" asked Christine.
"They're leading the group at the hotel, where I was till now, with Cinnamon," Tamara said. "They freed us in reality… after their souls returned to their bodies from this dream world."
"God this is nuts," Christine shook her head. "I need a damn road map to keep up, but I remember that awful island… and then there was the Citadel."
"I don't remember that," Tamara said softly.
"Your memory must have been suppressed. Elliot said that might happen," Paul said.
"Where's he now?" asked Tamara.
"Out on patrol with Tyler. It's his turn. But he'll be all right," said Paul.
"You don't remember the citadel? You must be kidding me," Christine nudged Tamara, who was within reach.
"No I don't… neither does Cinnamon."
"Shit, Starbearer SAID this would happen," she rolled her eyes. "Talk about lost in translation."
"Your mind is closed to mine, like Gene's," Paul observed. "And I saw no evidence of any training in your mind, Tammi."
"I don't remember," she shook her head.
"You were there, training with me, your buddy Cinnamon, and another. Named Shandi."
"You mean Ace's Shandi?" Tamara asked.
"Yes. For a time, Shannon and Shandi exchanged souls with two girls from that dream world, but they went back," Paul said.
"Well, Shandi was one of the ones being trained. But for some reason only three of us were picked…"
Christine shrugged. "Celestial didn't want to lose her again. But the soul of this world's Shandi was there in her place. And Shandi was training Shandi… HIS Shandi."
"So that's why she had powers. But Shannon…"
"Shannon's spirit was already back. It had to be us," said Christine. "Besides, the Shandi from here only was there intermittently. Star Bearer had a time training you, and your brother."
"Why don't I remember dammit?" Tamara complained.
"Something got hosed," Christine sighed. "But you remember how to use those powers. But I can fill you in."
"Did they say WHY you were being trained?" Paul asked, hopefully that she didn't forget. Because Elliot had mentioned something about the souls, but had returned to his body before they were returned. "Elliot knew other champions were being trained, but he didn't know that it was you guys."
"That's because he wasn't supposed to, in case Blackwell's avatar found out," Christine said. "Lady Kelsey is with her Demon, and the Shannon of your world is with someone else. Something terminated that link. I think it had something to do with Cinnamon being with the Demon. I dunno. But whatever… I was told by the Dragon in that other place, he trained me. He said that I was supposed to find the others, and help stop a threat here that was in addition."
"Oh terrific," Paul sighed. "I know about Vanessa, she wants to steal the children."
"This is above and beyond. Apparently plans were discussed by that Blackwell, about finding a weak link in the chain here… and so he got a toehold through someone close to all of you," said Christine.
"Great," Tamara shivered.
"Who?" asked Paul.
"Not you two, but the others," said Christine, shaking her head.
"Damn it," Paul shuddered. "One of KISS, or…"
"That's the problem. Don't know who… could have been someone who left. It wasn't Peter or Cinnamon, or Ace… or Shandi. But someone else."
"Not Shannon?"
"That's why we're not sure… but those silver suited people sound suspicious."
"They aren't in league with Blackwell somehow?" asked Paul.
"Yes and no," Christine sighed. "God it's all so foggy now… but we shouldn't trust 'em an inch. That's what Celestial said. And the Demon in the dream world. He saw in his fires that they'd overrun us… and they'd use our powers."
"Anything else?" Paul asked. "Why didn't they trust Elliot would know this?"
"He'd done enough," Christine nodded. Paul agreed that was a likely explanation.
"And I get the impression the silver suits, they had no idea… who they were?" Paul asked.
"Nope. That'd be too easy,' Christine said with an ironic laugh. "But that's all I got. But I'm here, and so's the Padre, and Tammi. But Cinnamon's with Peter… and I think that was supposed to happen. Cause those silver suits are going after other people who are surviving."
"Are you sure it isn't Blackwell, or his minions here?" Paul asked.
"They're just as scared of this new threat," said Christine. "I was warned about THEM. But the mutants… Celestial said when the timeline was distorted."
"Jo told me," said Tamara. "He said that they were the ancestors of what could have been the destroyers. He said the same about the silver suits, but he was convinced they were human, but they were genetically modified…"
"Shit," Christine sighed.
"Yeah. So that future might come to pass," snapped Paul angrily.
"Excuse me?" Christine asked.
"The one that Jeannie and her team erased," said Paul. "That started the new trend. Blackwell's behind it. Making sure it will happen one way or another… And Ace knew it."
"Did Ace know there was a traitor?" whispered Tamara. Even though the room was relatively isolated, all of them looked back and forth as if seeing invisible ears and eyes noting their every move.
"Yes. That's why he didn't tell anyone…" said Paul. "And I have a nasty suspicion who it is."
"Who?" asked Tamara.
"We have to put it to a test," said Paul grimly. "And I need to confide in both of you. Your story jives with the Padre's, and I know you won't like, Christine. So… we have to find out…"
"Could it be Jeannie?" asked Tamara.
"They had a hold on her before. But Blackwell's not using them directly, but using the circumstances to divide and conquer," said Paul angrily. "Remember."
"He's right," Christine nodded. "He'll use anything."
"Even Gene?" asked Tamara. Paul nodded sadly.
"That's why we have to test it," said Paul softly.

Chapter 18
Chapter 20
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