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Forgive Me (Port Kyros)

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He had failed.

Weeks had passed since the fall of Hyperion City, but to Grant it seemed as though it was still happening. His mind was constantly filled with the faces and screams of those he had failed to save. Though his actions had contained the spread of the mirror shards, thus saving countless lives, it came as cold comfort. Not only had he failed the citizens of Hyperion, but he had lost control. S6, the personality created by the PROMETHEUS project to supplant his own had reemerged and gone on a rampage. Somehow he had managed to pull himself back from the grip of madness but...

For how long? How long until you loose it again? All it takes is one moment of weakness, and I'll be back

"Shut up."

To those around him it would appear as if the prince were talking to himself. So far during his stay in Port Kyros no one had noticed him; owing to his disheveled appearance he suspected. His hair was now down to his neck, and he hadn't shaved in weeks. He bore more resemblance to a homeless vagrant than the royalty he supposedly was.

You're no prince. A prince would have saved those people, no matter what the cost. You failed. You ALWAYS fail. And you will fail again. And when you do, I'll be waiting.


Grant slammed his fist down on the bar, pulverizing the wood and instantly silencing the other patrons. Realizing the entire bar was now looking at him, he threw down a pouch of gold at the bartenders feet, grabbed a bottle of whiskey, and walked out. He didn't know where he was going. Maybe to his hotel? Who knew. Who cared.


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Family was a complicated matter.

There was her biological son whom she rejected. A stillborn brought back to the living against her wishes or knowledge at first. She did not understand what it meant to play a god until she had become one. Even then, she did not care for it.

Her newborn, Everett, named aptly so for the beastly little thing he had been for the duration of what could only be called a complicated pregnancy. She had promised Rowan that if they were to have a boy he would have a proper English name. If they were to have a girl, she would have a proper Zeva’srian name.

Lencio, Giliam, and Ventys—the boys they had adopted in that order. Lencio had come from a friend in another land who died in an unfortunate incident. Though she wasn’t sure she was the right person to take on another person’s child—it had been Rowan’s outburst that led to her friend’s demise and while Rowan was not the direct cause, they owed it to Thenry to ensure his son was cared for. He was a boy who thought himself a man, who had seen more hardships and trauma than any child should have to see. Still, he was strong. One day, he would pursue him dreams with conviction.

Giliam was a distant relative of Johari Ponsky, one of her Enforcer captains and oldest friend. Knowing his travels and dedication to his job prevented him from taking care of the boy, Raveena had adopted Giliam without question. Who was she to refuse care for the future of the empire’s people? His dark skin had made it difficult to adjust. Raveena kindly reminded him that Knights came in all colors and sizes. He was an old and gentle soul.

Ventys came from poverty and was sold into slavery in hopes of being trained as a prized fighter. His anger and resentment took time to quell, but Raveena was patient and compassionate and soon—soon he was more boy than broken. Of all of her children, both born and brought to—Ventys was secretly the one who felt the deepest.

Ilios Palace of Hyperion was in the midst of its renaissance in the Rising West, and so the family stayed in Kyros as the next largest city of their Empire. Their home in the Citadel had once been somber and brooding. As time went the children laughed and smiled again. The raucous sound of play-fighting, of wild tales and the ever-present questions of, “What?”, “Why?”, and “How come?” asked.

Raveena was in desperate need of time to herself and Imperatrix Kirena Yor graciously stepped in to oversee the restoration of Hyperion and its affairs. In tow, she brought with her daughter Octavia Yor, the first of their brood—for Kirena was already again with child. In a sense, Raveena was glad the Imperator Athyon’s eye had been caught by someone else.

Vacation was a foreign word. It had apparently always been that way, when she thought about her past. Still, she needed time to reconnect with her family, to bring them back together again. To make the complications of their relationships less complicated. Rowan was kept away, comatose and still unresponsive. The complicated matter of Welfrick’s resurfacing and the incident with Lencio to contend with.

But there was another dark and deeply complicated matter that needed to be addressed above all else. A watchful eye had been kept on Grant, the eldest of her children. He was not entirely beholden to their way of life. Grant was the only adult of the children. Though she hoped he would take to his newfound imperial duties, it had been a far harsher life than she intended for him. There were expectations and rules that were not easy or laughing matter. Still, Grant had accepted his place in their family as a prince—the eldest, certainly. His lack of her blood kept him from the throne, but he had other matters to attend to.

She had trusted Hyperion in his care while spearheading the search for Rowan. In the time that she had gone, the madness that seized Terrenus had finally found itself on Hyperion’s doorsteps. Grant had tried, and failed, and in doing so, nearly lost himself. To say she was not disappointed would have been a lie. But she knew the blow to his pride crippled him. What he had seen and endured like so many others that had been there was traumatizing.

That was when she had to set aside her principles as a ruler and be a mother.

“Grant.” Raveena remarked sharply. All eyes turned and a dizzying shuffle of chairs and benches scraped as everyone stood abruptly in a panic at the sight of their queen. She stood at the edifice of the bar and effectively blocked Grant from leaving, Johari and Vera flanking her. They entered together, pushing Grant back just a foot—and received all bows, murmurs of greeting their sovereign. If there were any manner of discussion or jovial banter—it ceased entirely as Raveena commanded their attention.

“How long has he been here?” She leaned aside and asked the barkeep. “Too long!” He replied gruffly, “Boy’s been talking to himself again. Got the gleam in his eye when he’s been touched by madness. Ilickai has him firm in his grasp, I wager. Still, a member of the family destroying property? T’aint a good look, Majesty.” He made a sign against evil on his chest.

Vera glanced at Raveena who nodded before stepping aside to talk about the repairs to the bar. Raveena flicked her hand in gesture and Johari veered around the petite queen to take the alcohol from Grant and pulled his hands behind his back to arrest him. The realization of this caused several gasps and murmurs among the patrons.

The prince was being arrested! By his own step mother!

“Please escort the prince to his cell. I will be right behind you.” It was a somber moment—and perhaps it would be as well for Grant.  She had a feeling that tonight would be another emotionally charged evening for her family.

She thought of Lencio—and as it could not be helped, she thought of Welfrick again and sighed. Vera shook hands with the bar keep. He jumped a little as the slight charge that ran from her fingers to his own and they grinned before she departed.

“Worked it out! I’ll have them work overnight and follow up tomorrow, so it’ll be good as new before they open again.” They walked together after Johari as he escorted Grant to the Kyrosian Detention Center. “Are you alright my Ladyship?” She could see there was clear worry and distraction on Raveena’s face and frowned.

Raveena frowned in return and nodded, “Being a parent is a challenge. Being a parent of prestige is harder. Being a parent of prestige with a child who was not born or meant to be brought into prestige is the hardest. He’s not okay, Vera. And I—I wish I had not had to go through this alone.”

“I understand.” The Enforcer replied, empathetic. “We’ll do our best to help you. King Rowan can yell at him properly if he wakes up again—when. When, I mean.” She realized the mistake too late, and Raveena’s lip trembled. Still, she forced a smile, “Yes. Of course.”


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Grant loved Raveena dearly, but right now she was the last person he wanted to see. She had tasked him to return to Ursa Madeum a week ago, but he had not been able to bring himself to do so. The thought of assuming another leadership position after what had happened made him physically ill. How could he ask people to trust him again after he had failed so many?

But the true reason he didn't wish to see his mother had nothing to do with being scolded for not departing. Ever since they had reunited after the fall of Hyperion City, she had looked at him differently. Her disappointment in him was written all over her face, laced in her voice. Rae was the only mother he had ever known, and he had let her down. The knowledge was like a hole in his guts that left him empty.

He didn't struggle as Johari placed the handcuffs on him. Both of them knew that it was merely a formality; Grant could have easily freed himself of the restraints had he wished to do so. But he knew that he deserved this. As he was led out of the bar, he kept his eyes on the floor, not wanting to see the looks of anyone, especially Raveena as he was led out.

The trip to the holding facility was brief, and Grant soon found himself inside a sparsely furnished cell. A bed, a sink, and a toilet were the only fixtures in the room. Exhaustion had set in, and the Prince lay on his back, one arm covering his eyes.

You let them take you? Pathetic.

The tiniest smile tugged at the corners of his mouth, "Happy to disappoint you."

Oh, I'm not the one who's disappointed. I know you. I always knew you were worthless. But your mother? No. She had faith in you. She thought that when it truly mattered she could rely on you. Guess she knows better now.

Grant didn't have a retort. He could only offer a quiet, "Yeah."

Mercifully, the voice seemed satisfied to have made its point, and did not speak any further. In the ensuing silence, he was able to fall asleep.

Edited by danzilla3

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“That’s the third time, my Ladyship.” Johari joined Raveena and Vera outside. “The barkeep was right. He’s talking as if there’s someone else there.” The burly Enforcer crossed his arms and sighed. “He’s not fit for fighting, either. He didn’t even resist when I took him in.”

Vera pursed her lips, “He’s been under observation for months now. It’s getting worse. I know you hoped to give him space, but…you may have to step in on this one, your Majesty.” She shrugged her shoulders, unsure.

Raveena exhaled slowly and peered at her hands, ‘It’s been a long time, since I’ve been able to do that.” A psionic sorceress she was, she leaned away from relying on over-working the muscle that was her mind. It had been ill advised with the stress she had endured since Hyperion’s fall, the pregnancy—there were a myriad of reasons. And so, that muscle was left unchecked.

It had been part of her duties to visit survivors who were traumatized by the events of Hyperion’s destruction and give her blessings and to ease the pain they suffered mentally. She would ease into the minds and combat their darkest horrors to help them find solace and move on.

Her pregnancy had made it difficult to reach everyone left—including her son.

Johari could sense Raveena’s nervousness and gestured inside, “Would you like an escort?” He asked, dark brows furrowed. Raveena shook her head and sighed, “No. Grant is still a man like any other. It’s just—.” She cut off and hesitated, rubbing her arms together against the evening chill.

“I’ve never been able to raise my children.” She admitted quietly. Johari and Vera not only served her the longest but were two of her closest confidants next to Kirena. They knew her dark story better than most, and dawning realization crept over Vera, who gasped and come into to give the Queen a quick and tight hug.

“Listen,” She held Raveena at arm’s length. “You have taken on far more than a woman of your status should have to. Motherhood is new to you—and to take on another man’s son from another family. To take in refugee children. And still give birth to your own!” She leaned over and pressed her forehead to the back of the Queen’s hand. “You are a beacon of inspiration, my Ladyship. There’s no manual—no way to know if you are doing your best or worst. He's your son, and you are doing the best that you can given all that has happened. Go and talk to him.”

Johari nodded, “Dafina’s got a point, Commander. These are the only children you’ve ever known. You are likely the only mother they have ever known. Right now, your family needs you.”

Raveena’s eyes widened at the realization—only because she hadn’t thought of it that way. They were as new and unaccustomed to this as she was. She needed her son as much as her son needed her.

She smiled a thankful smile and reached out to touch them both—a twinge of gratitude flitting through them. “Thank you. Go ahead and return to your posts, I think I can handle this.” They bowed before heading in the opposite direction and Raveena went inside.

Down, down the steps she went, down into the cells. It was colder where the stone was carved, but not as miserable as the deeper levels for the more troublesome criminals. Grant did not receive anything special for being her son—she would not send that kind of message. But she would see him, and see what scars burned in his mind that she could ease.

Guards bowed deeply before letting her pass, one leaving his post to follow her in and unlock the cell for her to pass through. The pads of her fingers skimmed the bars gently before she leaned against cool metal. For a moment, all she cared to do was sit and watch him. This man who was still a boy in some ways, taking on a lifestyle he was never supposed to.

Although the loud clank and scrape of the door maybe roused him, she eventually came to sit and gently swept his bangs aside, soothingly raking her fingers through. It was strange to remember her mother used to do the same. “Hey, kid...” She teased Grant fondly, of concern and her own nervousness.

Having this conversation was a long time coming.

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The word was lost to the roar of the flames that blazed all around him. Bodies were strewn in the streets like so much litter carelessly tossed aside by an uncaring hand. A metalic tang hung in the air, the result of the blood that pooled in the streets. Hell had come to Hyperion, and he had been unable to stop it. Now he wandered through the streets, calling on anyone he could think of for help.

"Father? Father please..."

Through this hell limped the Prince, body battered and bloody. It felt like he had been walking for a long time now, but he never seemed to get any further away from the carnage. Every mile that passed brought fresh nightmares to light under the crimson sky. 

"Mother? Raveena, are you there?"

How pathetic you are.

In an instant, the hellscape that had surrounded him was gone, with only the blood flowing in the streets remaining. The liquid was as still as death itself; reflecting its surroundings. Turning around he saw what one might mistake as an image of himself. Those who knew him wouldn't be fooled however. His expression, his bearing, the cruel smile on his face, it all spoke of a man who reveled in violence.

Look at you; calling for mommy and daddy to come save you. But you should know by now...

The blood rippled before him, and from the pool rose the figure of his mother, soaked in scarlet. As soon as their eyes met, his reflection grabbed her by the hair, and yanked her head back. With his other hand he grabbed her throat hard enough to draw blood.

No one can save you from me


Grant sprung awake, falling off the bed and frantically scrabbling into a corner, anticipating an attack from all directions. His eyes darted around the cell before finally locking onto Raveena. 

"Mother?" he managed to gasp out.

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Her brows were knit as she leaned over Grant. The palms of her gentle hands were tingling with ethereal power, his emotions—turbulent—gliding along her skin and causing her skin to ripple with goosebumps. For a time she simply leaned her head back against the wall, the lids half closed and enjoyed a moment of silence and some measure of small comfort with her son. She gently played with his hair the way her mother used to. Sweeping it back. Gently, soothingly.

But she was listening.

Listening to the thrum of his emotions, to the beat of his heart. Feeling the intensity of his body. It was like a raucous mess of percussionists gathering together for a merry old miserable time. Her brows knit together further—the flashes and glimpses of what pestered and bothered her eldest was like a searing light that burned her eyes. It was like the sun flashing in her eyes again and again until she was startled by Grant’s visceral reaction.

She called to him but it fell on deaf ears—and she slipped from the ground to the cold, hard floor and scooted to him. She would not wrap her arms around him—no. The guards rushed to check on them, but she dismissed them silently. Reluctantly, seeing she was in no longer, they retreated. Raveena would not scare Grant any more than he already was. Instead she repeated the same Vaadenian words, gently, slowly, calmly to him again and again—as she had when she had a spooked horse that needed something to focus on.

“Zezaa, zezaa…”

“…zezaa, zezaa…”

It required patience, kindness. Understanding. These were things she did not readily have when she first suffered traumatic events. These were things she hoped all of her children knew. No matter how far, how distracted, or how busy things were. There was nothing in the multiverse except death that would keep her from stopping and tend to her family.

At first, she had tried normal things. Granted accompanied her on trips—be they casual or political. She stopped questioning him over the disappearance of his lover. She wouldn’t pressure him to talk and knew—in time—he would talk to her. Surely, he would.

But as the months passed, she watched him quietly spiral out of control. The reports of him talking to himself were coming in more frequently. And now he was having prone fits of violence. It was time to force the hand, even though she didn’t want to. She had the fortitude and training with withstand trauma. Grant, she feared, did not.


He found her now. She her gently repeated words faded to a whisper as she reached out and gently touched his knee, “Hey, kid.” She spoke again. Sweeter, sadly; Raveena worried for him, clearly. “I thought I lost you there for a moment. How’s your hand?”


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“Hey, kid. I thought I lost you there for a moment. How’s your hand?”

Grant quirked his head, "M... my hand?"

A glance at his left hand brought the memory back in vivid detail; the splintering of wood, the fearful looks of the other patrons. He had shattered stone and rent steel with similar strikes, yet Raveena worried he had hurt himself. If anyone else had asked the question he would have accused them of being condescending. Coming from his mother he knew that the question was one of genuine concern. 

"It's... fine. Thank you."

Suddenly a wave of nausea sent him darting to the cell toilet just in time to empty his stomach into the bowl. Most of what he'd consumed in the last few days had been liquid, so it was mostly dry heaving. Once he was done, he stumbled over to the sink and cupped some water in his hands. He swished it around in his mouth and spat it out, then splashed some of the cold liquid on his face.

Too ashamed to face his mother, he did not turn around as he spoke, "I'm sorry. I know I was supposed to be in Ursa Madeum by now. I just..."

He had no excuse. 

"I'm sorry."

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She felt it before she could comprehend it.

A spike—a fluctuation, perhaps. An irregularity all the same.

Her Empathy was a unique ability in that the pads of her fingers—as it was for all the dragonriders of the pasts—had their own limbic system and more; Raveena contained a second brain in the palms of her hands.

A slave known as the Fallen Engineer had described it like a radio station. You had to tune in to the correct frequency to hear the sound the clearest—but suspected there was another station that you could hear parts of. In this case, she could tune into the emotions of other humanoid creatures, despite the unique mutation being designed for dragonriding.

She didn’t stop him as nausea took him away from her. Raveena studied him, her lips frowning and brows knitting. “Alcohol on an empty stomach.” She sighed her disapproval. Ursa Madeum could—would—have to wait. She guided him to the bed and forced him to sit.

“Before I became a goddess.” She began, sweeping his bangs out of his face. She pulled her personal exalta crystal that hung neatly and ornately around her neck. It had once been a crude chunk given to her by President Tilde on her first excursion to Valucre from Sigil City. She spoke a quiet word of power, the magic resonating through the matrices and casting a soft glow of light, “Before I became an Empress, Queen or Countess. Before I was a general and before I was a bodyguard.” She did not ask for permission to examine her son, using her thumb to hold his eyelid up, she peered into her son’s eyes to check his reaction.

“I was a medic.” She stepped back, a push of her will snuffing out the light. “Who did you think treated your father’s wounds when he’d come in at the wee hours of the morning when it was darkest before dawn?” She smirked, proud of that fact. Rowan didn’t need a medic. Like all the Knight boys—Grant included—he could simply take time to regenerate. Still, he let her have those moments.

Rowan and Rae talked a lot even before his coma. In the veil of the night where they were most comfortable, they would stay up late talking—about the political temperature of things, about each other, about Grant. They could both agree they were worried about their son.

“You’ve not been eating properly, sleeping properly, and you’re having manic fits—people are telling me you’re talking to yourself, Grant.” Raveena sighed and gripped him by the shoulders, giving him a knowing, worried look.

“It’s time I take a look in there and see what’s going on.”


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Grant sighed, "Not myself."

He looked away from his mother, "The one I talk to... he's called S6, like the tattoo on my chest. He was created by the people who gave me my modifications; designed to be able to kill without mercy or remorse. For a while he was the one in control, back during the times that I don't remember. Something happened, and that was when I came back into myself. Back in Hyperion City, when I lost control, he took over again; though not completely this time. Managed to wrest my control back from him, but he's been haunting me ever since."

A sinister laugh echoed in his mind. The Prince took a moment to compose himself before continuing.

"Mother... I know I can't stop you, but I implore you to be careful. S6... he's cruel, calculating, and he knows things about me that even I don't. You're the most powerful woman that I've ever known... but don't underestimate him."

He met his mothers gaze once more, "I'm ready."

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She smiled sympathetically at Grant.

He thought this entity was cruel.

She leaned in close, the pads of her fingers sweeping under his chin until she firmly gripped it. Her eyes were golden, swimming with ichor and power—they were so very much like another facet of her. The facet that had lured Harendesa the Red to her. Corvus craved power—and so a god had answered, for he too wanted power.

“I know cruelty, Grant,” Raveena purred thoughtfully, peering into his eyes properly now. She could feel the Empathetic pull almost immediately. It was true. Rafael tried to coax it from her. He knew it was there, deep-seated within her. She knew it, too. Corvus was alive on this godforsaken planet, somewhere. That thin thread of red that connected them was still so powerful.

He breathed irregularly, and so too did she. Raveena released his chin and cradled her son’s head, her palms pressing along his temples. She had to dig deep—deep inward to draw upon the power of that single thread.

He would feel it—searing hot pain—the white hot pain of memories too terrible to leave unchecked. Like jagged edges that bore into his temples. The incessant sound of nails scraping endlessly along metal walls.

Perhaps it had been the ease of how the jaw torn off.

Little red bird...


...little red bird...


...won't you sing for me?


Roiling flames ate at stone and wood, devouring homes and terrified souls. Heat swept its gracious arms and smothered the living, choking them lovingly with a toxic, smokey breath. Fear was a tangible thing now--the Empath could taste it with the flick of tongue's tip. Mortality was fragile and frail, weak beneath her imperious boot. Flames occupied the brilliant gold irises that looked disinterested in the victim slain at her feet. Her features scrunched with disdain and contempt a moment later. The broadsword squelched, embedded in the child's corpse. It was a girl, eyes wide and life fleeting. Though it was scarcely a few inches deep, the blade seemed blackened--though if the rampant fires illuminated the sword just rightly so, it would become obvious the blade was bloodied.

Let me in.

Their breathing was more synchronized now—but Raveena knew better—and so she pushed.

Let me in.

Psionic inundation was not foreign to her. It was, for all intents and purposes, she was forcing her way into Grant’s head. By no means would he simply let her in. Grant may have been ready, but S6—if it was up to snuff as Grant suggested—would not succumb that easily.

Sing for me...

...sing for me...

...sing for me..


Sing your misery and suffering...



...let it reach their ears...


...your people will hear it and feel it..


....your beloved will suffer far away for it...


Raveena pressed harder—the natural mind’s defenses beginning to crack beneath the pressure she put there. That white-hot burn was unrelenting, thrusting memory after memory of Corvus at the barrier, using its ferocity to her advantage.

She shattered the mental barrier between them and pushed ahead, slipping into the recesses of her son’s mind. Something wicked lurked there—bent and perhaps even broken. It was choking the life and sanity out of her son—who did not yet possess the mental fortitude as his father had, nor the emotional will of his step-mother, which was learned and not inherited.

She could not save everyone as she deeply wanted to.

She would save her son, however.


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Grant had just enough time to appreciate the affection in his mothers touch before the pain set in. It felt like a white hot spike had pierced his head, and was now being hammered in deeper and deeper. Still, he tried to synchronize his breathing to Raveena's. He wanted to let her in, but it wasn't his decision alone. S6 was fighting back against the intrusion with everything it had. Rage and hate radiated off it to echo in the far corners of his mind. Everything was noise and heat and pain, and he thought he would pass out. 

There was a sound like shattering glass, and then everything went blank.

"He's coming to."

The words echoed in his mind as his senses started to reboot one by one. First he could feel the cold metal of the table on which he was restrained. Next came the smell of disinfectants and the sound of machines beeping, buzzing, whirring. Finally the peaceful darkness of unconsciousness receded, replaced by bright lights and men and women in surgical masks. A metallic clanking sound filled the room as the table rose to a vertical position, bringing him face to face with a man wearing a labcoat and a breathing apparatus.

"All the color but black."

"Subject Six, reporting."

A code phrase, and an automatic reaction. As his memories began to come back, his confused expression morphed into a glower. Though his desire to kill the man in front of him was obvious, he did not struggle against the restraints. He knew it would be useless.

"You made me sleep again."

"It was necessary," the old man shrugged, "We must be able to call you out and put you back at will."

"I don't need him," Six spat the last word like venom, "He's weak. Give me his body and I will prove he is not necessary."

The old man quirked his head, "Do you hate him?"

A moment passed in silence. Then Six looked right at Raveena and spoke, "I didn't expect you to penetrate this far. Even the boy himself has never seen this."


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The edges of her existences crumbled away, like ash to a fire that didn't burn, a sure-fire sign she wasn't grounded in consciousness or unconsciousness--but somewhere on the very fine line between. A great howling wind that did not sweep by pulled her hair from her face, her lavender sundress billowing. Raveena looked impossibly young--another woman, from another time. She narrowed her god-touched eyes and peered ahead.

Beads of blood pooled along her pale skin where dark talons dug into the flesh of her right shoulder. The large raven was perched, his feathers bristling and settling. He cocked his head and watched with clever eyes--one for the past, one for the future--together he saw the present.

On her heels the great white feline beast stalked in Raveena's wake. His blue eyes trained on the woman who navigated a treacherous path. Seen in this world but no other, he remained a silent companion at the behest of his master who loved this woman so. Seraph would protect her, Gaagi would guide her.

The world swam into view as his consciousness--like an ever-building architect began to arrange itself. She slowed, and stopped and watched. She was deeply out of place here. Something ethereal and ghostly with two wild creatures at her side. Only when she had been addressed did she turn to look at the man that spoke.

The man that was Grant, but was not.

She watched him calmly, but gave no response.


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"Do you hate him?"

The question was repeated like a skipped record rather than a restatement. S6 seemed to be resisting the pull of some unseen force for a moment before he turned to face the old man again.

"It's not a question of hatred. Why should I have to be the one to soak our hands in blood while his conscience remains unstained? He never even has to see their faces. Just goes to sleep, then wakes up to live in blissful ignorance. But I have no respite... not even in my dreams."

Another quirk of the head, "You dream?"

"Yes," S6 looked down at the floor, "I see their faces. Hear their screams. Their last moments play out before me endlessly."

"So killing bothers you?"

S6 looked almost offended, "Of course it does! I'm not heartless!"

"Not yet."

"What the hell does that mean?"

The old man pulled a flask from his coat and took a sip before replying, "You were made to be a weapon. We thought that letting your minds remain close to normal human standards of morality would help prevent conflict with the minds of the Originals. But it is inhibiting your ability to do fulfill your purpose. Perhaps it is time to reconsider the mental shaping procedure."

"Mental... Shaping?"

"Don't worry. It's nothing bad. It will actually feel like a weight of your shoulders. When next you wake, the killing will no longer trouble you. You will in fact, enjoy it."

S6 tried to lunge forward, held fast by the restraints, "You mean to turn me into a monster!?"

The table began to lean back into its horizontal position, and S6 could no longer see the old man.

"Don't worry. By the time this is over, you won't remember any of this."

"But I did"

Now S6 stood beside Raveena as they both watched another version of him placed into a terrible machine, one that intruded upon the sanctum of his mind to break and twist him into what he was now. His torment was felt by both of them in the form of ripping, tearing, burning agony. 

"As you can see, they were quite methodical. They didn't simply break me; they demolished my psyche and molded it to their purposes. Everything deemed unnecessary was torn of, burned away, stripped clean. But they were right. Soon the prospect of killing was like sex and a good meal. But through it all, I did manage to remember one thing."

An image of Grant appeared before both of them, and S6 circled it as he spoke.

"I hated him. He was the reason I had to suffer. And I would make him pay..."

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Seraph, who sat still by his Mistress' side stood and moved to put himself between S6, Grant and Raveena with preternatural grace and a rumbling growl. The white Siberian Tiger's tail flicked with agitation as he sat by Grant's frozen image--and though she had not missed the desire to shift from idle to active, she did not immediately understand.

There was something the way he watched S6, his blue eyes unwavering--and then Raveena had an inkling. Something in Andrew left him feeling obligated to protect his wife's stepson. It was a strange jerk on her heartstrings. Nothing, no power in any realm could ever take Andrew away from her. Though he chose to disappear from her life for their own good, he still manifested to protect her through his inherited Daemon. They had been stripped of their ae'ori bond when they died--but they loved one another deeply, and that would never change.

She had chosen to love another man, to forge a life and legacy for herself. Grant was her son. For Andrew--for Seraph--it was enough. Their son would have been about Lencio's age, she thought sadly.

Raveena gently touched the top of Seraph's head before stepping around him. She walked through the image of Grant and put herself between he and S6. It was not that she tried to block him away from seeing the image of Grant. S6 was as much an architect of the mind as Grant himself was. Rather, she had some very ugly truths to share with him.

When the time was right.

She could have fought him--maybe it would come to that. Instead, she was a silent listener, opening her heart and her mind--literally--to understand.

They were kindred spirits after all.

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S6 regarded Raveena impassively for a few moments as he tried to figure out what to make of her. Eventually he shrugged, and the scene around them changed from the sterile laboratory to a house ablaze. Another version of Six was standing over the butchered corpse of what was once a human being. From a corner of the room, a woman and her child cowered and clung to one another. But he knew they were there, and a minute later they were dead as well. What was left no longer resembled anything human.

"And so it went. I traveled around the world, killing people I'd never met for reasons I never knew. Probably never know the exact number of victims, but going by the ones I can remember I would say easily over a hundred."

The world around them seemed to move like a tape on fast forward as he spoke. Dozens of different scenes of violence and carnage. Finally the scene stopped on an image of Grant sitting in a modest apartment.

"When the job was done, they'd put me back in my cage, and he would take control again. I was supposed to be sleeping, but I found a way to stay awake. For a long time I looked for a way to break free. For a long time I got nothing. Then I figured it out."

Now the scene shifted back to the laboratory. S6 was restrained to a large metal chair as multiple technicians worked around him.

"Periodically they would recall us for what they called mental realignment, making sure that neither personality is becoming dominant over the other. During the procedure, both personalities are supposed to be asleep... but I didn't sleep."

Without warning there was the shriek of tormented metal and a shower of sparks as the S6 in the memory tore free of his restraints. Most of the technicians were dead within seconds, and then the rampage continued. The only apt word to describe what happened to the people in the lab was, "Slaughter." By the time it was over blood was everywhere; pooling on the floor and covering the walls. Bits and pieces of those who had been torn apart littered the facility. Standing among it all was S6, triumphant.

"I thought I had won... and I did get close. But the bastards at PROMETHEUS had one last trick up their sleeve. Somehow they remotely threw the switch again, causing me to lose control. But it wasn't perfect. For the first time he could remember the things that had been done to us. Then they used their failsafe, the implanted memories of his wife to get him under control. He continued working for them until your little vacation to the Beast Kings dungeons. You know the rest from there."

The world became a black void, and S6 stood before Raveena and her companions.

"So now you know all of it, eh? You really did go deep. I never intended for anyone to know all of that. Now I guess the question is, what do you want?"

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