What’s a girl to do after finding out that the other half of her heart is possibly her sister? In Shelly’s case, it’s pick up the pieces and try to save to worlds. Hopefully she stays alive long enough to try.
Jessica cursed as she ducked behind another building. The sun was coming up and it’d taken her all night to reach this city. She was tired, filthy, and cranky. Why had she told them? It wasn’t right, and it wasn’t fair! Her plans weren’t ruined. She was sure she could salvage them, but it was going to take a lot more effort.
No one had treated her as fair as Shelly and Eldon had, and now because of that four-armed tramp, they hated her. They had to! She could see no way that they wouldn’t hate her. It didn’t matter to her that they were half-related. At least, she was certain that they shared the same father. The Pillar of Fire had never told her who her father was, but everyone knew that she and the hero of the Chaos War, Lyden Snow, were lovers.
A car drove past where she hid in the early morning shadows. She knew she wasn’t seen.
Why do you care? The voice in her head demanded. She hated that voice. It’d been with her since childhood. Always demanding, and never caring. The first time she went to Earth had been a nightmare. Her mother couldn’t leave the Shadow World, but had one of her kobolds take her in the dark of night. Midnight had struck, and suddenly she was the voice in another person’s head. It’d been horrible to watch as the other girl forced the kobold to rape and pillage the small Egyptian town. As the sun came up, Jessica was able to regain control, but by then the damage was done.
Enough townspeople were able to band together and kill the kobold. It hadn’t been his fault. His death still tore at her in her darkest nightmares. They hadn’t recognized the little black haired girl, and took care of her until she could slip away and make it back to her mother’s volcano. She was locked away after that.
To make it worse, her mother had agreed with the kobold’s death! She claimed he needed to die so that other magical creatures wouldn’t be feared. She hated her mother. She hated both worlds that Angela helped support. She wanted to break it down.
She waited for another car to go by, before slipping out and heading north. She needed to get to a portal, and back to the Shadow World before the other woman tried to take over again. She could sense one a few miles away. She didn’t know how she could sense them, but it felt like a tear in the fabric of reality to her.
Would it really be so bad to stay here? the other voice asked. We could have so much fun. Wouldn’t it be better to live the way we want, instead of always hiding? I know how tired you are of hiding who you really are. Who we really are. With my power, you could have whatever you wanted. Whoever you wanted. You could have had the twins. At the same time, even if you wanted. Why must you keep me locked away? You have no problem using my power to trap beings outside of this reality. You use my power to control them afterwards. Why not let me show you what else we can do together? You could have everything. No more hiding.
Jessica shoved the voice down and shook her head. No matter how tempting the words were, that thing was evil. It didn’t care about anything but itself. She had to find a way to get rid of that voice forever. The other woman made her a promise once, and it was the only one that Jessica believed. Bring the two worlds together. Get rid of the separation between Earth and the Shadow World, and the voice would be able to go away. It was the duality in the two worlds that allowed the voice to stay inside her. She didn’t understand it herself, but deep down she believed that bringing the two worlds together would free her.
Jessica had already killed one Pillar. If she could kill two more, the remaining three wouldn’t be able to support the Shadow World, and it would rejoin Earth. She refused to kill her own mother no matter how much she hated the Pillar of Fire, and the Pillar of Air was out of the question as well. She wouldn’t kill family, no matter what the reward. That left the Pillars of Earth, Light, and Dark.
Perhaps with the darkness in her soul, it was time to make her next move.
“You left quite a trail of emotional damage behind you,” Gloria’s voice said nearby, making Jessica jump and spin. She landed in a defensive crouch, ready for an attack. “I guess I did the same though. Would have liked to stick around for the orgy, but I had to catch up to you. What’s your next move?”
* * * *
Shelly tumbled in a world of turmoil. Chaos surrounded her mind as she both fought to run away from Jessica’s last words, and tried to cope with them.
Angela, the Pillar of Fire, was Jessica’s mom. Everyone knew that Lyden Snow and Angela were together, and had been since before the Chaos War. Jessica was too young to be before that time, unless she’d lied about her age.
Shelly’s mind locked onto that thought. Jessica had to be older than she pretended. It was the only thing that made sense. She had to be a child from before Angela met her father. Jessica Couldn’t be her half-sister! She just couldn’t be!
“So what if she is?” Shemhazau’s voice penetrated the chaos surrounding her. It was one more thing for her mind to anchor on.
The swirling chaos slowed. Her surrounding began to coalesce into vague shapes, but no more.
“Where are you, Grandpa? I—I can’t see.”
“Grandpa?” Shemhazau’s voice carried through to her, solidifying her surroundings even more. She almost thought she could hear the surf sliding against the sand. “I can’t believe I’m a grandpa. Do I look old enough to be a grandpa?”
His outline was still fuzzy, but she could at least tell where he was. She moved to him and threw her arms around him. Everything became solid as she felt him in her arms. Tears sprang from her eyes as she hugged the old man. She buried her face against his chest as her body shook with sobs. She didn’t know how long he held her, and neither one spoke.
“Thank you,” she said when she finally pulled away and wiped at her cheeks. “I haven’t cried like that since…” she trailed off. She couldn’t remember ever feeling that bad. Not even when Sheldon and Mandy had caused all those deaths, had she cried that hard, and that was the saddest thing she could remember happening to her.
“It was truly my pleasure,” Shemhazau said with a soft grin. “It’s been a very long time since such a beautiful woman has held me. I nearly forgot what it was like.”
She grimaced at him, not in the mood for his flirting. “I’m distraught over finding out that my girlfriend, the woman I thought I loved, might be my half-sister, and you’re going to flirt with me?” she accused him.
“I wasn’t flirting,” he held up his hands in self-defense. “I was just stating the absolute truth. Not sure why I did, though…”
“Mandy must be around my body,” Shelly said as she turned her back on the old man and walked up the now clearly defined beach. “I’m surprised it’s affecting you, though.”
“So, this Mandy… She forces everyone around her to tell the truth?” Shemhazau asked with curiosity. Shelly explained about her brother’s ex-girlfriend, and some of the problems she’d caused.
“Interesting…” he mused when she’d finished. “So I can state that I’m a very lonely old man who misses his wife terribly, but I can’t say the sun is black without qualifying the statement.”
Shelly stared at him, as it appeared he’d just told a lie. The sun wasn’t black!
“I can’t read your thoughts, but technically, what I said wasn’t a lie. The sun isn’t black. I had to state that I can’t say it, in order to say it. Interesting effect. Especially since I was able to state what I said I couldn’t state.”
Shelly was getting a headache trying to follow that logic, and shook her head to dismiss it. “I need to wake up. They need me. This is going to kill Eldon, and when my dad finds out…”
“No, you need to stay here a bit longer.” Shemhazau placed his hand on her shoulder, mentally and physically stopping her from leaving. “I understand you’re going through a lot of pain. I can help.”
“I’m not letting you into my pants!” she snapped at him, certain she knew what kind of help he offered.
“That’s not what I was referring to, young lady.” He sounded sincere. She would have doubted him, if she knew he had be honest right then.
“I’ve been alive longer than almost any other living being in either world. Hell, even dying couldn’t kill me. How many people can say that?” He chuckled at his own joke, but Shelly glared at him. “Anyway. I think I know a thing or two about forbidden love. I used to rule the succubae until I grew bored of that, and passed it off to TanaVesta. That was a mistake… I loved your grandmother more than anything else in this world, until your father came along.”
“Yeah, but grandma wasn’t your sister,” Shelly snapped. “There’s a difference between loving someone of a different race, and having sex with a family member.”
“You’re right, and you’re wrong,” he told her. “I’ve seen a lot of sex, and I’ve seen it for the wrong reasons. I’ve also seen it for the right reasons. I like to get kinky, I won’t deny that, but I have never, never, forced it on someone who wasn’t willing. We can’t always control who we love, but we can control how we love them. You love your brother, right?”
“Yeah, but I’d never have—” she started to say but he cut her off.
“You chose how to love him. Nothing more.” The way he said it made it seem as though it were common sense, but he was still wrong.
“It’s a different kind of love,” she tried to explain. “I’ve seen him naked plenty of times, and… and… you know.” For some reason, she couldn’t complete that statement. She didn’t think she’d ever been tempted. He was her brother!
“Is it? Different, I mean?” he demanded, and Shelly nodded her head, unwilling to speak. “I don’t think it is. Only the way you choose to express it is. Stop glaring at me. I told you, I know what I’m talking about. What have you done every time your brother was in trouble? What has he done for you?”
“We protect each other,” she told him with a bit of defiance.
“Exactly. And for Jessica?” he arched one eyebrow at her.
“That’s—” she started to say, but her throat closed off before she could say different. She chose a different tact. “I would go out of my way to protect anyone in danger. It’s what we’ve done for the last few years, protecting humans visiting the Shadow World. I don’t love them.”
“No, I doubt you do, but that is different. I’m guessing that your brother put himself into mortal danger to save you. He went well out of his way to save you. I’m even willing to go so far as to say that he would give up his life to save yours, and I’ve never even met him. I’ll go a step further, and state that you are willing to do the same.”
“But…” she trailed off, already seeing where he was going.
“Would you do any less for Jessica? I doubt it.”
“But I don’t want to—”
“The only thing that’s different is how you choose to show that love.” He gave her a solemn look, daring her to argue more. While she was tired of being interrupted, it was hard to argue with his logic. “I’m not saying you need to go back to having sex with her, though let’s face it… There’s no putting the yolk back in the shell once it’s broken. What’s done, is done. You love her. If it really bothers you that much, don’t stop loving her. Just stop lusting after her.”
“But how do I deal with the fact that I’ve… That we’ve… Damn it, I had sex with my sister!” The swear word slipped out as her frustration grew to a boiling point.
“Maybe you did, and maybe you didn’t,” Shemhazau shrugged his shoulders.
“There are a lot of things you can argue, but I know for a fact that I had sex with her,” Shelly spat.
“Did she say she was your sister?” he asked as though she were missing something important.
Shelly opened her mouth to say yes, but, “No,” came out instead. She paused as that single word sank in, then rejected it. “Her mother is the Pillar of Fire. I think she has to be my sister.”
He examined her for a long moment before replying. “Angela was a good girl. I did my best to help her grow into a good succubus. When I found out she fell in love with my son, I was happy for them. You know, I raised them both, though in different ways. They could almost be siblings… Anyway, I know how much she wanted to be a mother. I have no doubt she wouldn’t willingly cheat on your father, even though she is a succubus.”
His words sank into her heart and made it even heavier. She didn’t know the Pillar of Fire very well, but hearing him state that she wouldn’t cheat on her father, drove the knife in her heart deeper.
“There is a difference between love and lust,” Shemhazau continued on as though ignorant of her emotions. “People confuse the two all the time. You can love someone and not lust after them. By the same token, you can lust after someone, but not love them.”
“I get it,” she yelled and looked up to meet his eyes. Gray eyes, just like her father. Just like Sheldon and her had. Just like Bridgette had. But Jessica’s were blue… Of course, Brock’s eyes were brown. Jessica had black hair, just like Eldon, but his hair color came from their mother. She wracked her brain to think if there were any other genetic similarities between Jessica and her family, but couldn’t come up with any. “I can love her, without having to have sex with her. Is there anything else you want to tell me, or can I go now?”
“Apparently my son hasn’t raised you to respect your elders properly,” Shemhazau muttered. “I’d bend you over my knee and show you the proper way to behave, but I can’t think of any reason to keep you here. Unless, you’re into getting spanked? Does that glare really work on anyone? Because I think it looks cute on you. Oh, fine. Be that way. Tell your father hi. It seems like the sex out there has finally stopped. It must have been one helluva orgy for me to sense it in here.”
Shelly’s face slipped from glaring at her perverted grandfather, to shock at his words. She opened her mouth to ask what he was talking about, but the sandy beach and rolling waves were already starting to fade away.
“What do you mean, your fiancée?” Sheldon’s voice penetrated the fog surrounding her before she woke up.
* * * *
When waking from a deep sleep, after having a traumatizing experience, finding a woman with a needle literally sticking out of her finger and poking into your arm is a little more than terrifying. Shelly wasn’t in the least bit embarrassed to yank her arm away as she screamed.
“Shelly?” Sheldon’s voice reached her, full of concern. “Shelly! You’re all right!”
She had just enough time to note that he was completely naked before he tackled her to the bed in a massive hug. There was no way she could mistake his massive erection poking into her side. Before she could stop it, the thought that something that big and twisted poking into her in a different spot would feel great. Damn her grandfather and his subversive words!
She shuddered, and shoved hard against him. “Get off me! Why are you naked?” She glanced around and realized that only Sonia and she were clothed. Everyone else was fully nude, including some strange man she didn’t recognize with large fairy wings resting in the fountain next to Bridgette. Even Mei was nude, lying next to an equally nude Mihale Maztaim. Brooke, Becky, and her father were close to the fountain, staring at her with wide eyes. Shlee and Mandy were near the door, with a gap just big enough to fit her brother between them. Where was Gloria? Had Mandy and Sheldon gotten back together? What was going on? She remembered Shemhazau’s words about an orgy, and she could see the evidence of that running down a few legs, and in the nakedness of those around her.
“How long have I been out?” She asked as she held the back of her hand to her head.
“Exactly three hours, seven minutes, and forty-two seconds,” Sonia informed her. “You didn’t miss anything, other than a bunch of drama.”
Only a bit over three hours? It felt like a great deal more than that, but time sleeping, or in the Mens Mundi could be deceiving.
“Where’s Gloria, and who is that next to Bridgette?” From the way Eldon flinched at Gloria’s name, she knew that news wouldn’t be good.
“Hey toots!” the man by her half-sister grinned at her. “I’ve been watching you for quite a while!” The way he leered at her made Shemhazau’s advances seem tame.
“Be respectful, Oberon, or else,” Bridgette commanded. When had she become forceful? From the way Oberon’s cheeks colored, Shelly had to wonder what kind of control Bridgette had over him. When he shrunk down to four inches in height, Shelly knew what he was.
“You’re a fairy!” she gasped and pointed at the little man with butterfly wings.
“I’m not just any fairy!” he said, full of indignation. “I’ll have you fucking know, I’m Oberon, King of the Fairies, Keeper—”
“Keeper of the Cup, Lover of Ladies, yada, yada, yada,” everyone else in the car intoned at almost the same time.
“Nobody ever lets me finish!” he stamped his foot in the air and folded his arms in a pout.
“I told you to be respectful,” Bridgette chided him. “And watch the language! Dad doesn’t like foul mouths, and neither do I!”
“I’m sorry, my love. Shade of my heart. Butter to my Biscuit. But I was going to change it to Lover of One Lady. You!”
“Oh really?” Bridgette asked, then shimmered and changed into Brock. “Not sure I know how to take that.”
“Forgive me, my heart. I am Oberon, King of the Fairies, Keeper of the Cup, Lover of You, and Soulkeeper of the Fay.”
“Feel better for getting that all out?” he raised one eyebrow.
“Only if you’ll forgive me, oh wondrous one!”
“I think I’m still dreaming,” Shelly muttered and placed her hand back against her head. “Or I was out longer than a few hours.”
“What Sonia calls drama, was actually pretty important,” Lyden said as he pulled on his pants. “Sorry you had to see us all like that, Shelly. What Gloria called a parting gift was fun at the time, but I wish she hadn’t done it now.”
“Parting gift?” Shelly asked, not liking the sound of that. “What—?”
“I don’t regret it,” Mandy said as she helped Sheldon get dressed.
“Neither do I!” Shlee added as she took a moment to slip her hand into his pants and adjust his erection. Why was her brother glowing? There was too much Shelly still didn’t understand.
“Knock that off, Shlee,” Eldon gripped the woman’s hand and pulled it away. “What about your fiancée?”
“Wait!” Shelly almost screamed. Her head was starting to spin as she tried to understand everything she’d missed while talking to Shemhazau. “You two are getting married? What about Gloria? What did Dad mean by her parting gift? Where did Oberon come from? Why is Sheldon glowing? Why was everyone naked when I woke up? On second thought, don’t answer that last one. Grandpa already clued me in. Why are you all staring at me like that?”
“You’ve been through a rough moment,” Sonia said as she laid her hand on Shelly’s shoulder. She was surprised at how much care the robot seemed to have in her voice and on her face. Whoever programmed her had done a phenomenal job. “Do you want to talk about that first? I’ve been programmed to help with any situation you’d like to discuss.”
“Not right now,” Shelly said. She felt odd with how genuine Sonia sounded. Shelly knew she was a mechanical being, but she didn’t act like one.
“It’s not good to bottle things up,” Sonia offered, but didn’t seem to press the issue. “Feel free to talk to me if you need to. I promise complete confidentiality.”
“Except for the government?” Sheldon asked.
Sonia directed a dirty look his way, before shaking her head. “No. Laws protect patient confidentiality. That information is only shared if the patient requests it.”
“Thanks, I think,” Shelly said, still unsure of the woman. “But my grandfather helped me with that, and I know he can’t tell anyone.” She became aware of her father giving her a strange look, and couldn’t hide her grimace. This wasn’t going to go over very well.
“Shemhazau Encantado says hi, Dad. Apparently you really didn’t kill him.” She had to swallow a lump in her throat as she saw tears form in his eyes. “He happens to be living in my Mens Mundi.”
“Dad?” Lyden choked with emotion. “Can it really be? I… I thought… In your—But how?”
“You never told me he was such a pervert,” Shelly chuckled with unease.
She didn’t expect his reaction as he launched himself for the bed and swept her up in a massive hug. That made for two unexpected hugs since waking up. At least her father was clothed! “That sounds like him, all right. He was always fascinated with Jennifer’s boobs, and he had some other… odd, ideas. Can I talk to him? Can he hear me?”
“I don’t know,” she gasped, trying to fill her compressed lungs with air. Her dad was a lot stronger than he looked. “So far I’ve only been able to talk to him when I was near death. I haven’t been able to access my Mens Mundi on my own. I was going to ask Gloria about it, but…” She trailed off as she caught the look in Eldon’s eyes. Lyden let her go and stepped back. Everyone was either red cheeked, or looking away from her. Well, everyone other than Sonia.
Sheldon was the first to speak up. “Gloria… left.” Shelly could tell that it took a lot for her brother to get those two words out, but like a dam bursting, once opened up, the rest soon followed. “She claimed I glowed brighter than the sun to her. By the way, the reason I glow in your eyes is because you care for me. The more I glow to someone, the more they care about me. Anyway, since she had refused to say it before, I was so happy! She loved me! But she claimed it was dangerous for her to love. To prove it, she made these two fall in love with me, and made everyone else so horny, they couldn’t resist having a little orgy in here.”
“She didn’t make me love you,” Mandy added. “I don’t think I ever stopped.”
“Even if she made me feel this way,” Shlee piped in, “I don’t regret it. Gloria was right about one thing. You’re worth loving.”
By the sick look that crossed her brother’s face, Shelly suspected that that didn’t make him feel any better.
“What about your fiancée?” Eldon turned on the werewolf. He wasn’t angry with her. If anything, Shelly would say that he looked and sounded defeated.
“I still love him too,” Shlee stated, then covered her mouth and glared at Mandy. “I don’t want to talk about him, though. I can’t because it’s supposed to be a secret. People wouldn’t understand if they—mnfmfm.” The last part was muffled as she covered her mouth again.
“How can you love two men?” Eldon asked. He didn’t demand. He didn’t yell, or scream, or even act like he truly cared about the answer.
Shlee mumbled something behind her hand, and shook her head, pain and worry evident in her eyes.
“None of us will judge you,” Lyden interrupted. “I know what it is like to love multiple women. At first I felt like a dirty lecher for it, but as long as you’re honest with the ones you care about, and they are okay with it, there is no reason to hide.
Shelly noticed the woman’s blue eyes start to turn golden as the hand covering her mouth grew claws. She knew she needed to intercede before something happened. It took more effort than she realized to get off the bed, but she moved to the strawberry blonde haired woman.
Shlee shied away from her, but Shelly placed her hand on the woman’s shoulder and looked into her bright eyes. “It’s okay. We’re friends here. None of us will judge you. Look around.” Her arm swept to point out people as she mentioned them. “My father has multiple wives, each one a different race. My half sibling, Bridgette, can be either gender he or she wishes, and by the looks of it has a fairy hanging on her every word. Mei is a half-dragon who apparently had sex with the enemy, if I’m judging his scratches correctly. Mihale might judge you, but his opinion is worth less than crap. My brother is the last person to ever be judgmental of another person. And me? Hell, apparently I was in love with my own sister.” That still hurt to say, but it seemed to come easier each time she said it. “Whatever you have to say can’t be any worse than that.”
As she spoke, Shelly noticed that Shlee calmed dawn and returned to normal. Tears filled her eyes as she gazed between the twins. She saw the love in the werewolf’s eyes as she stared at Sheldon, but also saw fear behind it. After another moment, she nodded and lowered her hand.
“His name is Dimitri Volglov,” Shlee’s voice came out weak but clear. “You have to know, Lyden, I don’t ever want to hurt you. I—”
“I’m getting tired of hearing that,” Sheldon cut her off, showing a little emotion. She would have expected him to be angry or furious, but instead, he sounded tired and resigned.
“I… I understand, my love. I’m sorry. I’m just… I mean…” Her chest rose as she visibly gained courage. Whatever it was, it had to be powerful to keep her from spilling everything out in Mandy’s presence. “Dimitri is a… a… vampire.”
Everyone was silent for a long while, as they tried to absorb that information. Bridgette was the first to break the silence, summing up almost everyone else’s thoughts in one word.
“Dear…” Brooke placed her hand on her daughter’s shoulder. “Werewolves and vampires have been mortal enemies for centuries. They hate each other with a passion that is almost instinctual. The thought of two of them getting together and… It doesn’t make sense.”
“Like a mermaid getting along with the Pillar of Fire?” Lyden asked with a small smile.
“That’s different,” Brooke stated. “Whenever I go into Angela’s demesne, I have to have Becky cast certain spells on me so that I don’t dry out. Vampires and werewolves are mortal enemies. Usually when one is in the presence of the other, they go into a rage and try to destroy each other.”
“Aren’t vampires supposed to be evil?” Mei asked. She’d remained quiet for most of the conversation. Enough so, that Shelly kept forgetting she was there, unless she looked right at the half-dragon woman with her scaly legs and curled horns protruding from her temples.
“Dimitri is different,” Shlee stated and all eyes returned to her. “He doesn’t act like the other vampires. He’s better than them.”
“But your family wouldn’t approve if they knew, right?” Becky asked in a sympathetic tone.
“Approve?” Shlee asked in shock but didn’t look away from Sheldon’s eyes. “They’d tear me to bits and burn and burry the remains. Not necessarily in that order.”
Shelly’s heart went out to her brother as she saw new pain blossom in his face. It looked like the twins were destined for heartache, no matter what happened. Jessica had hurt them both, and now Gloria had doubly pained Sheldon, both by leaving him, and saddling his heart with a woman who was already taken. Shelly believed that Shlee now loved both men, but she understood her brother’s morals. He would never willingly steal another man’s woman.
She wanted to be angry with Shlee, but understood her position as well. She had to keep her fiancée a secret, or face something worse than death. She hadn’t asked to love Sheldon, but had it forced on her. Shelly didn’t doubt that love was real, even if it hadn’t come by genuine means.
She was torn. She could see the hurt and anger on Sheldon’s face, but she also sympathized with the fear in Shlee’s eyes.
“Sheldon, maybe we should—” she started to say maybe they should wait until they had some time to cool off before making any decisions, but the Orange Bubble stopped and Sonia stared outside.
“This car is a security risk.” Sonia didn’t look happy. “Somehow we’re stopped on the front lawn of the White House. How the hell did we make it past all the security?”
“This wonderful car doesn’t get noticed unless it wants to,” Lyden said as he ran a loving hand along one wall.
“I can worry about the logistics and dangers of that later,” Sonia didn’t seem to like that idea at all. “Right now I need to get to the President, make sure she’s safe, find out where Mihale’s son is and eliminate him as a threat, and if we’re lucky create peace between two worlds.”
Mihale struggled against his bonds, but almost no one paid him any mind.
“I’m not sitting this one out,” Lyden stated and pulled out a pistol. He pulled back the top, verifying there was a round in the chamber before looking around to meet everyone’s gaze. No one argued. There wasn’t time to argue.
“Let me take the lead,” Sonia stated as they piled out of the Volkswagen Beetle. They weren’t worried about leaving Mihale alone in the car. The Orange Bubble would make sure no one could save him. “If we run into the Secret Service, let me do the talking. Most of them know me.”
“Sheldon, grab my neck,” Shelly ordered her brother. “Try not to kill with me too much if you can avoid it. It has… odd effects—affects?—on me.”
“Like?” he asked even as he gripped her neck and she changed into the form of the dull gray katana.
“Just don’t!” she snapped at him, vibrating to make the noise.
“That looks just like Murasame, except the blade’s a bit different,” Lyden commented. Shelly thought she heard a slight hitch in his voice. “You really do have my father in your head. He’d better keep his hands to himself.” His voice dropped to that of a concerned parent with such abruptness, that it startled her. Lyden Snow had always been the type of father to teach his kids but let them make their own mistakes. All things considered and learned over the last few hours, it struck her as odd.
“Halt!” Someone cried out as they approached the front entryway. The White House was huge, with tall white columns supporting a high white roof. It was too much of one color for Shelly’s tastes, but she didn’t have to live there.
“Emergency!” Sonia yelled to the black suited guards. They lifted their rifles and pointed right at the running group. “POTUS is in danger! Authorization: SONIA-15-03-80.”
One of the guards placed his finger against an earpiece and listened, but no one slowed down. It only took a second before he waved to the other guards. “Stand down. It’s Sonia.” He had a grin on his face as he looked her over. “Go save her, toots!” He slapped her rear as they ran past.
“Thanks, Randall,” Sonia ground her teeth. “And tell your wife I said hi.”
That dropped the smirk from his face, as the other Secret Service agents chuckled.
“What was that about?” Eldon asked the android as they barreled through the front doors.
“I am a sex-bot,” Sonia growled. “Some people took advantage of that fact. He was one of them.”
“You were forced to service them?” Sheldon asked, anger thick in his voice. Shelly felt pride in her brother’s indignation, then he had to go and ruin it. “That’s not right! Even if you are just a machine, you shouldn’t be forced to—”
“Just a machine?” Sonia asked as they raced down a hallway. “What’s that supposed to mean?”
“Shut up while you still can,” Shelly whispered to her brother.
“I can smell President Louise this way,” Shlee commented. She’d changed into her wolf form, and was a good four feet tall at the shoulders. “I can’t smell any fear or panic in her scent.”
“Something doesn’t seem right,” Brooke said from her position at the rear of their column. “Everyone here is too calm.”
Shlee changed shapes as they burst through a large set of double doors, and saw Martha Louise sitting calmly at the head of a long oak table. Well-dressed men and women sat around the table, while Secret Service agents lined the walls. Those at the table looked at them with shock, while the agents drew their side-arms and took aim.
“Ambassador Snow,” President Louise was the first to break the silence. “I’m glad to see you got your family back, but I don’t think your weapons are appropriate.” She was calm and collected, which only added to Shelly’s confusion. She was supposed to be in danger. They’d rushed here as fast as the Orange Bubble could take them, but she appeared to be just fine.
“Your life is in danger, President Louise,” Sonia stated with conviction before turning her gaze on the agents still pointing weapons at them. “The agents at the door should have warned you already. Why haven’t you gotten her to safety?”
“We’ve received no word of danger,” one of the agents standing behind Martha Louise stated. “Stand down, Sonia. She is in no danger here.”
Sheldon slowly lowered Shelly until her tip touched the ground. She couldn’t see very well from this angle, and shifted back to her normal form. There were a few gasps as she appeared, and some of the pistols shifted to cover her.
“What is the meaning of this?” a man in an expensive looking black suit that did nothing to hide his heavyset frame, demanded. He squared off against Lyden. “Ambassador Snow. I would expect nothing less from a monster like you. How dare you barge into this meeting! Aren’t you civilized enough to know what a closed door means? In case you aren’t—”
“Senator McConley,” Lyden grinned, but Shelly could see it was forced. “I’m quite aware of what a closed door means. I wonder, though. You weren’t part of this conversation. Do you often barge into conversations that don’t concern you?” Becky placed her hand on his arm, but he didn’t look away from the glaring senator.
McConley sputtered for a moment before finding his voice. “How dare you! I should have you arrested. No one speaks to me like that! You are interrupting a serious meeting. We were just about to vote on naming the creatures from your vile world. I was against it at first, but now I see that giving them a vile name to match their vile nature is perfect.” He turned to face the President. “I vote yes for officially naming them Lydonese.”
Everyone remained tense and no one moved for a couple seconds. Shelly saw her father’s jaw tense as he ground his teeth together. A sure sign he was furious. Lyden’s eyes moved to Mandy and a grin split his face a moment later.
“Tell me, Senator. How much money has the Paladonic Knights donated to your campaign?” Lyden’s voice was silky smooth as he asked the question.
“Donated? Ha!” the senator scoffed. “They are my campaign. I’ve belonged to them for a few decades now. I hardly make a decision without checking with them first. They fund almost everything I do.” By the triumphant look on his face, he didn’t realize that he’d just put himself in a lot of trouble.
“Does that include putting the President’s life in danger?” Lyden asked, remaining at ease.
The senator grew confused even as his mouth opened to answer with complete honesty. He had no choice but to tell the truth with Mandy in the room. “The assassination attempt wasn’t my decision. I was told where not to be at the time, to remain safe.” McConley’s eyes grew large as he realized he was giving away his secrets.
“Arrest him,” Sonia ordered a couple agents, and they broke from their shock to comply.
“I didn’t mean to say that! It’s the truth, but I meant to lie! This isn’t right! Unhand me! I can have someone kill your wife and children within the hour, if you don’t let me go right this instant.”
“Make sure he can’t contact anyone,” Sonia ordered as the agent got a worried look in his eyes. “Find a deep dark hole to shove him in until we can ask him more questions later.”
“That was… unexpected,” President Louise stated, still on her feet.
“Everything will be clear in a moment or two, Madame President,” Lyden stated. He then faced one half of the long table. “Are any of you in league with the Paladonic Knights or Daughters of Respite? Have any of you conspired to assassinate President Louise?” He was greeted to that question with a number of indignant denials.
He turned to the other half, and Shelly could see two people—one woman and one man—sweating profusely.
“President Louise,” stated the woman, “this is ridiculous!” The man sweating next to her nodded with enthusiasm. “We’re all loyal Americans here. It’s not illegal to accept money from certain groups.”
“It is if they are labelled a terrorist group,” another female senator stated. “I have never accepted money, or bribes from either group.”
“But surely Ambassador Snow or his witch wife has cast a spell,” the sweating man said. “Nothing he says, or forces us to say, is admissible—“
“No spell has been cast,” Mandy stated. She received a number of glares for cutting off the politician—or maybe it was that she was obviously not human with her four arms. “No one can tell a lie in my presence. No spell has been cast. All of you still have free will, and can act as you please. The only thing that my presence affects is your ability to lie. If you try, you will end up speaking more truth than you intend. I have no authority here, but I recommend that if you’re guilty, you come clean of your own choice. It will be less embarrassing for you.”
“But also less entertaining,” Oberon complained. “You should lie, so I can laugh at you.”
If anyone was angry with Mandy’s words, they became infuriated with Oberon’s statement. Voices erupted in livid heat as they denied any accusations. The only ones not speaking were the two sweating senators.
President Louise banged her fists against the table, trying to regain order as Bridgette grabbed the Fairy King and held him behind her back. She shifted forms, becoming Brock, and glared at anyone who even looked like they might come after the four-inch man. Standing there in his mechanical legs, he looked truly intimidating.
Sheldon stepped forward before Shelly had a chance to stop him, and slammed his fist down on the table. The large wooden surface looked solid, but it didn’t stand a chance against him. A three foot by four foot chunk smashed against the floor, and everyone went silent. He looked around the room with disgust on his face. A couple of the agents eyed him warily, but none of them drew their weapons.
“I find it hard to believe that you are supposed to be leading this nation,” Eldon stated, his voice dripping with disdain. A woman who’d already professed her innocence tried to speak up, but he silenced her with a hand gesture. Shelly had never seen her brother act like this before. She didn’t know whether to be impressed, or afraid. “Real leaders, leaders like President Louise, know better than to sit here and bicker. You are acting more like children than elected officials. If you’re innocent, say so when I point at you.”
“We’re politicians,” one man in an expensive suit stated. “None of us are innocent. We lie to our constituents on a daily basis. If the American public knew how their government was really being run, we’d all be executed as mfff—” he slapped his hands over his mouth as he realized what he was saying.
Shelly was getting used to seeing that look on peoples’ faces again.
“I assume you’re done talking?” Eldon asked and the man nodded. “Good, except for one thing. Are you conspiring with the P.K.s or the D.O.R.s?” The man shook his head, and Shelly saw her brother’s face darken. “You need to speak it.”
“No,” the senator uncovered his mouth long enough to speak.
“Good. You can sit there quietly now.” Sheldon grinned as though he were talking to a little child and pointed to the next senator. “How about you?”
This time he faced a woman. The same one that Shelly had noticed sweating earlier. The woman’s blonde hair hung limp and moist on her head as her eyes searched to room for some sort of escape. She saw Shlee and her eyes opened wide. “You can’t expect me to speak in front of her! She’s a journalist, and a well-known one at that. I haven’t agreed to any interviews. This is extortion! No matter what I say, she’ll twist it to meet the media’s agenda. She can’t be trusted with the truth!”
“And what is the truth?” Lyden asked before Sheldon could yell at her. He spoke in such a calm voice that after Sheldon’s rant, he seemed completely calm and reasonable.
“That the president needs to be killed, and a way made clear for pure humans to survive. Real people, not like you or those monsters with you, can’t be expected to share this world. You all need to be wiped from existence.” She stood with her hands on her hips as though she hadn’t just perjured herself. Everyone stared at her with shock, and she became visibly nervous as no one else spoke. Shelly suspected that she hadn’t realized what she’d just said.
It was the president who broke the silence with her calm voice. “Arrest her.”
Shelly wondered if some of the Secret Service were magical, they moved with such speed. One moment the senator was standing before them with cracking confidence, and the next she was on the floor, screaming obscenities. Shelly’s father shook his head, muttering about, “Such language…”
“Well, now that that is cleared up, we should get to more important matters,” the other sweating senator intoned as the screaming woman left the large room.
“More important than treason?” Another senator demanded. This one was a woman that’d already professed her innocence.
“Ahem, yes… Well, that’s taken care of, and we have other matter’s that need to be resolved before we go into recess. Matters like naming the otherworldly creatures.” He mopped his brow with a kerchief as his eyes darted around the room. “Besides… If this goes on much longer, I’ll confess to having an affair with Senator Otton, and authorizing the Secret Service to abandon the president during the first attempted assassination.” He waived his hand at the door, indicating who Senator Otton was, then stared at his hand in shock as though it were to blame for his honesty.
Before the president could order his arrest, Sheldon stepped forward and struck the man in the face. The senator’s nose exploded as he flew across the room and struck the other wall hard enough to leave an indent in the drywall.
“President Louise has been an outstanding president,” Sheldon snarled with more anger than Shelly thought was justified. What had gotten into her brother? This anger was unlike him.
“While I appreciate you defending my honor, I can’t have you hitting any more of my senators, even if they deserved it.” Martha’s voice still held its calm, but there was a slight edge to it now. “Arrest them both.”
Mandy and Shlee stepped in front of Sheldon as a couple agents approached him. Shlee’s eyes turned yellow and her claws extended in warning. Mandy simply cracked the knuckles on her four hands and shrugged her shoulders.
“What am I being arrested for?” Sheldon demanded as his face turned deep red.
Shelly wondered if her brother could be any more stupid.
“You struck a senator,” Martha informed him. Shelly noticed a tint of sadness to her voice, but couldn’t see any of it on weary her face. “While I agree that he had it coming, I’m afraid I can’t show favoritism in this matter. The law is clear. He will be tried for treason, and I doubt he’ll come out of it with his heart still beating. You, on the other hand, will only be slapped with a fine. Please, Eldon. I don’t want to do this, but I must. I know you can fight your way out of here. None of my agents are a match for you, much less those two women. Let the violence end here. Please.”
Shelly watched as her brother fought with himself, and lose. “I’m sorry,” he dropped his chin to rest on his chest. “I… I shouldn’t have done that. It just pisses me off. I’ll go willingly. I’ll… I’m sorry.”
“Madame President,” Lyden stepped forward. “Is this really necessary? We came here to stop those that meant you and the government harm. I admit his action was rash, but we’re here to help you.”
“I understand, Ambassador Snow,” President Louise said with that same sad smile. She stepped up closer to him, and Shelly barely heard her next words, though her lips barely moved. “Everything that has happened in here has been recorded. I have to show impartiality, or risk another scandal. I’ll make sure it’s not too hard on him, but I have no choice.”
Of course! Shelly thought with derision. She has to protect her precious political career. Who cares about her allies?
“Recorded?” Shlee asked as Sheldon stepped past her with his hands held out in surrender. “Oh, shit!”
“Language!” Lyden snapped, but no one listened to him.
“Ma’am, we need to get to your control room immediately. There is still one more traitor,” Shlee stated in a panicked tone. “Maztaim’s son works for the secret service. He’s the person who hacked into Sonia’s feed, and has been directing things from the shadows.”
Martha’s brown skin lost its color as that news sunk in. Shelly cursed herself for not having realized the same thing, though she’d been more worried about her brother who was even now being led out in handcuffs by two very nervous agents.
“How could he even get into the Secret Service?” Martha asked, then shook her head and looked out the door the three prisoners had left. “Nevermind. With two senators backing him, it’s no wonder he made it through the screening process.” She pointed to the three remaining agents in the room. “You three come with us. Looks like there’s one more mole to catch.”
Before anyone could move, the walls shook and the floor shuddered. A sound like a hundred angry ogres screaming erupted as the door Eldon had just vacated blew open. Debris and shrapnel pelted them even as the building continued to shake from the force of the explosion.
Shelly opened her eyes and coughed as smoke hung heavy in the air. She didn’t remember being knocked to the floor, but at least there was a bit of air down here. She didn’t know if she’d been knocked out, or just dazed. Her head rung and something warm was dribbling down the side of her cheek. She looked around and saw Brock spraying something into the hole that had once been a doorway. Apparently his mechanical legs had a built in fire extinguisher. Oberon was by his side, helping to douse the flames with his magic. She couldn’t see her father or step-moms, but she was able to make out Shlee dragging an unconscious Mandy from the room. She could see senators screaming, but couldn’t hear them over the ringing in her ears.
Sonia was helping an unsteady Martha to her feet. If Shelly had ever wondered if Sonia were alive or not, she no longer doubted. Her fake flesh hung in tatters, revealing a plastic and metal skeleton reflecting the light of the flames.
Shelly coughed some more, and her head spun in pain. She couldn’t get enough breath in and her ribs felt like there was a knife in them. Looking down, she realized there might as well be. A six inch piece of wood protruded from right under her left breast. She reached to remove it, but the pain of just touching it made her head spin anew.
She focused her mind on staying awake as she pushed the pain down. She forced her mind to think. The wood was probably saving her life, plugging the hole and keeping her from bleeding out. If it was in her lungs, at may be allowing her to breathe what little she could. Better not to remove it right away.
“Sheldon!” she croaked when she remembered he’d been much closer to the blast. She looked at the door again as tears crowded her eyes. There was no way he could have survived that blast. She couldn’t even hear her own voice above the ringing in her skull.
Someone gripped her under her arms and started pulling her from the room. She almost passed out again as the motion renewed the agony from her injuries. “Sheldon,” she tried to tell her rescuer, but couldn’t find her voice.
She saw a strawberry blonde mane of hair shake above her, but couldn’t make out any words or sounds. She wondered if she was going to be deaf for the rest of her life.
She saw sunlight a moment later, then someone in white took her from Shlee. The newcomer was an old man with stringy gray hair and gray eyes.
Shelly sat upright with a jolt as she recognized Shemhazau. She was sitting on the beach in her Mens Mundi.
“We really need to stop meeting like this,” the old man said with a grin. “You’re making this too much of a habit. Or is it just that you missed me?”
“There… there was a bomb,” Shelly stuttered as she looked down at her side. She found she was wearing a dark blue bikini, and her skin was unblemished. Her wounds were gone as was her pain. She could hear again! She knew she was in her Mens Mundi, and shifted her clothing to something a bit more appropriate. Jeans and a blue-green t-shirt felt more comfortable until she realized it was copied from something she’d seen Jessica wearing. She changed the shirt into a green blouse, but kept the jeans.
“Well, on the plus side, you’re not dead yet. Who was caught in the blast?”
Shelly looked up to meet her grandfather’s eyes, noting something different in his voice. He tried to sound cheerful, but she heard an edge to it. There was worry in his gray eyes that he couldn’t hide behind his smile. Was that worry for her, for himself if she died, or for everyone else?
“Everyone,” she said as fear seeped into her own heart. Sheldon had been out that door. There was no way he could have survived that. Her dad, Brooke, and Becky had been closer to it than she had been. She hadn’t been able to see them before Shlee dragged her out. Brock had appeared fine, as had Oberon, but what of the others?
She felt the old man’s bony fingers clasp her arms as he stepped up to her. “My son? Is he all right? Who is everyone? The whole world? Tell me everything!” He was no longer trying to hide his concern. Tears leaked down his cheeks as he interrogated her, shaking her with each question as though to jostle the truth from her.
“Mandy, Brooke, Becky… Everyone that was with us. Let me go! I don’t know if my dad made it. I—I couldn’t see him before I was dragged to safety. I only know that Shlee, Brock, and Oberon were fine.” She had to fight back panic as she spoke, trying to recall what she’d seen before Shlee got her out. “Sonia is a robot, so I’m sure she just needs some repairs, and the president looked okay.”
“I don’t know or care about any of them,” Shemhazau released her and stormed up the beach before spinning around to face her again. “Who else was there? Brooke? Sheila? Jennifer? Becky? Think girl!”
“Jennifer? Why would she… Never mind.” She shook her head, as she tried to do as she was told. “Dad was over by Becky and Brooke. Sheldon was… He was…” she broke down in sobs as despair overwhelmed her.
“Your brother is fine,” a new voice broke into her awareness. “In fact, he’s the only person who could not be injured.”
“What?” Shelly looked up and was shocked to see the owner of that female voice. “How…?”
“Your dad was worried about you. We couldn’t wake you up. I was the only one in good enough shape to try to communicate with you,” Sonia stated. She looked complete and undamaged, which was a lot less scary than she’d looked with her pseudo-skin hanging off her in flaps and tatters.
“Well, hello!” Shemhazau smiled as he approached the android. “You happen to know my son, huh? He’s a good lad. Taught him everything he knows, but if you like, there are a few things I haven’t taught him. I’d be happy to show you, though.”
“Grandpa!” Shelly snapped, disgusted with his behavior. “She’s a robot! There are more important things to worry about than you satisfying your carnal needs!”
“A robot, huh?” he rubbed his beard as he took that in. “Never had sex with a robot before. Anyway, if your dad is good enough to worry about you, he’ll be fine. So that just leaves getting you better, and then maybe ending my dry spell.”
“Ugh!” Shelly groaned. “I’m sorry, Sonia. He’s more of a pervert than my brother is.”
“I’ve dealt with worse,” Sonia replied, then turned her back on Shemhazau. “Your brother didn’t seem too perverted, though I was surprised at his anger earlier.”
“How are you even here?” Shelly asked. “I thought it was the soul that travelled into a person’s Mens Mundi. If you’re a robot…”
“I prefer the term android,” she replied without sounding offended. “I’ve entered your subconscious through a combination of physical contact, and my nanites. My hand is resting on your head, avoiding your injuries, and I have a direct link to your neural pathways.”
“Your… what?” Shelly asked at the same time Shemhazau stated, “Physical contact, huh? Kinky.”
Sonia grimaced at Shemhazau before replying to Shelly. “You’re pretty badly injured. I have tiny microscopic machines that help regulate my functions and repair damage to my systems when necessary. I can reprogram some of them and inject them into another person to help repair their bodies. By placing my hand on your head, and with the nanites in your blood, I can enter your subconscious mind and communicate. I have to admit that this is the most lucid subconscious mind I’ve ever dealt with. This is also the first time I’ve ever met someone besides the owner of the mind.”
“How bad am I?” Shelly asked, then held up a hand to stop her from answering. “Wait. You said my brother is fine? How can that be? He had to be a lot closer to the blast.”
Sonia gave her a quizzical look before answering. “He can’t be harmed. I thought we explained that to you. The fairy sacrificed herself to make him permanent.”
“The fairy? You mean Arethusa?” Shemhazau interrupted. He shook his head and spoke the rest in wonder. “I had heard something like that was possible, but never heard of it actually happening.”
“I guess I didn’t know what you meant by permanent,” Shelly placed her head in her hands. “There were a lot of other things to worry about at the time, and I forgot. How is my dad and everyone else?”
Sonia hesitated and Shelly felt her heart sink. “Your dad is banged up, but he’s fine. Shlee is only a little worse off than Eldon. Her werewolf healing really came in handy. Mandy has a broken arm and a concussion, but she’ll be fine. Brock and Oberon were a little singed, but working hard to put out fires and save lives. Mei is a bit bruised, but otherwise her scales saved her. The president is a strong woman and giving commands to have Maztaim transferred to a maximum security detention area. Two senators are dead, plus the two traitors, one is unaccounted for, and the rest have varying degrees of injury. Only one is in critical condition, but not as bad as you were, which is why I’m working with you.”
“What about Brooke and Becky?” Shelly asked, noting the android’s lack of mentioning them.
“They shielded your father from the worst of the blast,” Sonia said in sad tones.
“I never did like that mermaid much,” Shemhazau said. “But the short brunette seemed nice enough.” Shelly looked aghast at her grandfather. “Don’t look at me like that. Brooke was partly responsible for my wife’s death. The only reason I ever let her live was that she also saved my son’s life. She may have treated my son well, but that doesn’t mean I have to like her.”
“We’re being transferred to the hospital now,” Sonia brought the attention back to her. “I’ve already let everyone know your concerns. Your father let it slip that sex will speed up the recovery process while you are in this place. I don’t think he meant to say it, but Mandy was close by. I wish I could duplicate her skill with drawing out the truth. It’s a handy ability.”
“It’s not necessary when there is a being with a soul here,” Shemhazau admitted, shocking Shelly. She would have expected him to pounce on that idea. Then he went on to shock her even more. “I don’t really count, since I am not an outside influence.” Then he had to go and ruin it. “If you don’t possess a soul, then sexual energy would be the only other way.”
“I am NOT having sex with you!” Shelly shouted at the man. She felt her cheeks burning as the other two stared at her. “Well, I’m not,” she repeated in a calmer tone.
“While that hurts my ego, I’m not the only one here,” Shemhazau stated. He actually had the audacity to look hurt.
“Thanks, but I’m not in the mood,” Shelly said with a sidelong glance at Sonia. It wasn’t that the woman was unattractive, but the thought of doing a machine with her grandfather right there, and after everything else that’d happened… Physical pleasure wasn’t something that she felt justified or desirable of.
“I’m not sure if it would work for me anyway,” Sonia stated. “My synaptic pathways are connected to her, but I’m not really here and don’t possess a soul. Besides, I don’t really like sex.”
Shelly opened her mouth to say something, but closed it again. Isn’t Sonia a sex-bot…? Er, sex-android? How can she not like sex?
“I know that look,” Sonia said as her lips twisted in annoyance. “Yes, I’m was originally designed as a sex-droid, and then later given a few tactical upgrades, but that doesn’t mean I have to enjoy the act. I can see that you still don’t understand. Look at it this way. I’ve had to sleep with the worst of the worst in my duties as a spy. I’ve been with the vilest of scum to keep this nation safe. It’s a sacrifice I’m willing to make, but it doesn’t mean I’ve enjoyed it. I was made to perform, but my advanced A.I. is my own. I have been given a large amount of discretion on how I am able to think and act. Just because I was made capable of seducing and pleasing men and women… Well, that doesn’t define who I am.”
“I never thought of it that way,” Shelly said, then quickly added when Sonia gave her an incredulous look. “I mean about you having your own thoughts and feelings. I suspect Shlee would understand that a lot better than I do, but I understand what you’re saying. You were programmed with certain skills, but you weren’t forced to like those skills with your programming.”
“Who doesn’t like sex?” Shemhazau asked as though neither one had explained. “Did they get your wiring wrong? Maybe they forgot to install the pleasure sensors in the right spots?”
“I assure you, I was built properly,” Sonia intoned. “It’s not that I’m incapable of enjoying sexual relations, but that there is no emotional desire for it.”
“Because you have no soul?” he pressed.
“I have emotions,” Sonia ground her teeth. Shelly could tell that the old man was getting to her. “I don’t need a soul to have emotions. They were added into my algorithms for behavior. Over three thousand separate emotional identities have been downloaded into my memory. Trust me when I say I have emotions. Not only that, but because of the way I was programmed, I have as little or as much control over my emotional state as you do.”
Shemhazau looked at her for a long time. The giddy smile he’d worn was gone, replaced with something else that Shelly almost wanted to call intrigue. It was too intelligent a look for him though, so Shelly assumed it had to be something else. Indigestion maybe?
“Yeah… Um… No. I don’t see it,” he stated after the pause grew uncomfortable. Shelly didn’t understand how he couldn’t see it. Hell, Sonia was glaring at him. Shelly understood what Sonia was saying. Why couldn’t he? “Oh, I believe you have emotions, and can sense things, but I think they missed something in your programming.”
“Since when did you become an expert in A.I. or robotics… er… androidics?” Shelly grew flustered as she tried to come up with the right term.
“Robotics is fine in that circumstance,” Sonia told her with a gentle smile before returning her glare to Shemhazau.
To the women’s shock, the man burst out laughing. “Ladies, I have been aware of humanity’s deepest darkest cravings for centuries. While I may not have been around much for the last two decades, having desires for sexual intercourse with machines has been around for far longer. You have to remember, I was once the ruler of the succubae until I stepped down to elope with your grandmother, Shelly. I understand these things better than you may realize.”
“What’s your point?” Sonia demanded.
“My point is simple,” Shemhazau returned that lecherous grin to his lips. “I think you need to enjoy being touched and touching someone you don’t loathe.”
“Well, that rules you out,” Sonia snipped. For the briefest moment Shemhazau looked aggrieved, but the grin returned a second later.
“Then I guess that leaves you two.”
Shelly opened her mouth to argue, but stopped. She glanced at Sonia, then back to the old man. She opened her mouth again, but Shemhazau cut her off.
“I promise to disappear. You don’t have to worry about me ogling your young, sexy bodies. I’ll leave you two alone.” He must have seen the incredulous look Shelly could feel painting her features. “Hey, if you die, I die. Trust in my desire to live, if you can’t believe me otherwise.”
“I have extensive programming in physical and metaphysical healing. President Louise has ordered that I protect you and your family,” Sonia addressed Shelly with a serious mien. “While I understand the therapeutic and mental healing capabilities of sex, I understand that things can work differently while inside your mind, and it can physically heal wounds faster than normal. It’s true that I haven’t particularly enjoyed sex in the past, but if it means keeping you alive, I’ll do it.”
“Just what every woman wants to hear,” Shelly muttered to herself. She shook her head and failed to keep the sarcasm out of her voice as she spoke up. “While I appreciate your sacrifice, Sonia, I’m not interested. Even if it weren’t for the fact that you’ve proven you don’t desire me, I just had the woman I thought I loved turn out to be my sister, then abandon me. I’m not interested in getting physical with anyone right now, or any time within the next decade. I’m not in the mood. I’ll just have to recover the old fashioned way.”
“I understand,” Sonia said as though she hadn’t just been rejected. “I will do my best to save your life with my nanites, though I have to be honest. Your chances of recovery are slim.”
“Well I don’t understand,” Shemhazau growled. “You’ll die if something isn’t done, and so will I.”
“So?” Shelly asked. She was growing tired of this topic. In fact, she found she was getting rather tired altogether. She wanted to lay down in the sand and take a nap. She didn’t want to think about the pain in her heart anymore. She didn’t want to think about what was waiting for her out there in the real world. She wanted to rest and forget. “What does it matter? I’m done talking about this. Go away and leave me alone.”
Was it just her, or was the world getting darker? It didn’t matter. It would be easier to sleep.
“Like hell I will, young lady,” Shemhazau’s voice filled her Mens Mundi, and so filled her mind. She looked up at him, ready to be angry for disagreeing with her, but his glowing eyes stopped her. His gray eyes filled her vision and consumed her. “I will not die because you have a broken heart. I don’t like using my powers like this, and haven’t had to since I forced your father to kill my body. I command you to live, Shelly. I command you to continue living, and do everything in your power to live as long as possible.” He took a deep breath as his words seeped into the cracks in her thoughts. She wanted to live. She was going to live, and there was nothing anyone could say or do about it. “Now there is a very attractive robot over there that is willing to help you live. Don’t you want to let her?”
“Yes,” Shelly whispered and nodded in agreement. She did want to let Sonia help her live.
He looked away from her, and she felt his power release her, but his words still held her. She wanted to live. She was going to live. She would do whatever it took to survive, and if that meant accepting the help of a sex-bot turned spy, then so be it.
“And don’t you want to help her in any way you can?” He asked Sonia.
“Your magic doesn’t work on me,” the android replied. “I’d appreciate it if you didn’t force this issue.”
“But your orders are to save her life,” Shemhazau countered. “I’m sure you’ve used your wiles to get what you needed in the past. Save her. Save her, and you will have my thanks.”
“And what is your thanks worth?” Sonia scoffed.
“Don’t underestimate me because I am trapped in here,” he grinned and Shelly found him just the tiniest bit frightening. She knew in her deepest thoughts that he wasn’t a man to cross. “I am one of the Firsts. You would rather have me as an ally.”
“I don’t know what you’re talking about,” Sonia replied, “but my orders are clear. I’ll save her for the president, not for you.”
Sonia might not know what that meant, but Shelly did. He was a First. One of the first beings that helped create and shape reality. They were supposed to be more powerful than the Pillars. They were supposed to be nigh indestructible… Except her father had killed one, and wounded another. Killed two, actually, if Shemhazau really was a First.
He turned his glowing gaze back upon her. She shuddered under its intensity. Her fear grew as his eyebrows knit together in concern.
“You should forget that for now, granddaughter. As far as you know, I’m just your grandfather. My history isn’t important. You surviving is.”
Shelly nodded, forgetting for just a moment why she was afraid of him. He only wanted what was best for her, and what was best was surviving by any means necessary. And the best way to do that that was to have sex while in her Mens Mundi. Before her was an excellent specimen for sex. He was older, and her grandfather, but he was still attractive.
“Ah, I understand that look in your eyes,” he told her in sad tones, “but I am not the one you will be with. I won’t force someone to submit to me, and you’ve made your feelings clear on that count. There is another here who is willing to please you. Do what you can to warm her cold heart, won’t you?”
Shemhazau faded from her view, but she was already turning to see who he meant. She’d been so caught up in Shemhazau’s gaze that she’d forgotten all about the android. Now she was all Shelly could see. Her cherubic face was beautiful, framed by her short brown hair and striking green eyes.
Jessica entered Shelly’s thoughts, but she forced the other woman to the back of her mind. She would survive by any means necessary. She didn’t love or care for Sonia, but that didn’t matter. She had to live.
She approached the synthetic woman but stopped short of doing anything. The world was no longer growing dim, perhaps sensing her newfound will to live. Despite that, she couldn’t force herself onto the other woman. Sonia had stated her misgivings, and Shelly wouldn’t rape her, no matter how badly she wanted to live. Even Shemhazau’s power couldn’t force her to do something that far against her code of ethics.
It was Sonia that took the lead, reaching her slim hand out and slipping it to the back of Shelly’s head. She pulled their faces together, lips touching. Shelly could feel the warmth of Sonia’s skin, and marveled at how sophisticated the android was. She realized her mind was in the wrong spot, if that was where her thoughts led when another woman was kissing her.
She pulled away, cursing herself even as she turned her back on the android. She couldn’t do it. She wanted to live. She wanted to survive, but she could feel herself drying up inside. She wasn’t in the mood for sex. “I’m sorry, Sonia, but I don’t think I can,” she said as tears slipped down her cheeks. “I want to live, and will do anything I can, but… but I’m not even slightly turned on right now.”
“I understand,” Sonia said with a soothing voice and Shelly believed her. Sonia’s hand rested lightly on her shoulder, but didn’t try to turn her around. “You’ve lost a great deal in a short amount of time. Allow me to help you relax. I’m not here physically, so I can’t use pheromones. There are other ways I can help you.”
Her hands may have been small and slender, but there was no denying their strength as Shelly felt the hand one her shoulder work on her worn muscles. Would a massage here translate into the real world, or was it just a metaphor for relaxing her mind? A moment later Sonia’s other hand went to her free shoulder, and Shelly couldn’t help but grown as muscles unwound. The pressure started out slow but firm, digging at knots that Shelly didn’t even realize she had. Could she have knot is her muscles in her Mens Mundi? She wasn’t sure, but there was no denying how good Sonia’s hands felt. After a few seconds of this treatment, Shelly stopped worrying about the reality of it all, and just enjoyed the experience.
“Lie down and let me get at your back,” Sonia requested. Shelly opened her eyes—when had she closed them?—and saw that they were no longer on the beach, or more precisely, no longer outside on the beach. They were in a thatch hut with cool white drapery covering portions of the walls. There was a massage table in the center, and two ceiling fans lazily moving the comfortable air.
She allowed herself to be moved to the table and rested face down with her hands at her sides. Sonia started working her arms, kneading her flesh and calming her nerves.
“These clothes are making this difficult,” Sonia soothed to her. “Let’s get rid of them.”
Shelly felt her clothes vanish with the magic of this mind world, but she was much too relaxed to care. The air was warm and she trusted the android. When Sonia’s knuckles dug into the muscles along her back and spine, Shelly was more than happy to remain nude. With every press of her fingers, dig of her knuckles, or rub of her palms, Sonia sent Shelly’s body into a soporific state.
When she reached Shelly’s hips, she half expected the woman to work on her glutes. Despite her earlier statement that she wasn’t in the mood, she could feel herself relaxing and warming up to the other woman. It was getting harder and harder to think of Sonia as a robot, and not really a woman. A woman who was slowly making Shelly groan with relief as weeks or stress and worry melted away beneath Sonia’s talented fingers. Instead of working the next muscles in line, Sonia moved away for a moment, eliciting a moan of frustration, until Shelly felt her left foot lifted up. When Sonia’s thumbs rubbed along the inside pad of her foot, a shudder ran up her body. Heat started to spread from the pit of her stomach as Sonia did to her what no one else had even come close. Shelly had had numerous massages over the years—defending people was hard work, and while it was harder for her brother, Shelly never minded the occasional massage in Gaia’s main city.
By the time Sonia set her left foot down, her right foot was feeling cramped by comparison. She sighed with relief when Sonia lifted that leg and began her meticulous work. The woman’s fingers seemed to have a knack for finding the perfect spots to press, and know when to rub instead of dig. Her calves were next, and then her thighs. With each new region that was worked, Shelly felt the heat inside her grow, even as her body calmed and relaxed.
If ever asked, she would be ashamed to admit that the moan that escaped her when Sonia finally started on her rear was more sexual than calm. She could feel her nether-lips were moist, despite not having had any real sexual contact. Part of her was concerned at what Sonia would think if she knew what effect she was having, while the other half of her knew that this was Sonia’s intention.
As Sonia’s fingers worked the round but firm muscles of her buttocks, she could feel her labia separate and then stick back together. She found herself lifting her hips, wanting to be touched in that sensitive spot, but Sonia’s skills were honed to laser accuracy. She never deviated from her target, and Shelly couldn’t even find it in herself to complain. It didn’t matter where she was touched, the feeling was almost magical.
“Roll over,” Sonia requested, and Shelly found herself obeying before she could think to do anything else. Her front was on full display to the woman, and she wanted to be seen. “You’ve got some excellent muscle tone.”
Shelly found herself glowing from the compliment, though she couldn’t explain why. She knew her body was in great shape. Why was she feeling like this? She still felt the pain of Jessica’s lies and departure, but she was getting aroused by Sonia’s touch. There was nothing erotic in the massage, but she couldn’t deny how wet she was. Sonia had said that she couldn’t use her pheromones, but was she using some other trick? Hadn’t she said that her nanites were inside her body? Could she be manipulating her physically, while her mind was here?
She lost her train of thought when Sonia’s hands slid across her abdomen. Fire raced along her skin as a fresh flood of fluids slipped from between her legs. It was a struggled not to writhe in exquisite bliss as Sonia worked on her flat stomach. When her fingers dipped into her belly button, Shelly knew she was lost.
“Please,” she moaned, wanting… no, needing to be touched down below.
“Not yet,” Sonia replied in a tone that was understanding. Shelly couldn’t even be upset, there was so much compassion in those two words.
At least she moved up to her breasts, working the tender flesh, though she avoided the sensitive nipples. Those nipples were stiff and pointing hard for the ceiling. They ached to be touched, or sucked, but they were left alone. Sonia’s fingers gripped the rounded flesh, molding and shaping her breasts, but avoiding the turgid peaks.
Shelly’s gasp echoed inside the small room when she felt Sonia’s lips finally wrap around her nipple. That gasp turned to a moan of longing when she felt teeth, and when Sonia’s hand finally dipped between her legs, Shelly lost it. Her body shook as the orgasm overtook her. She didn’t know how long she lay there, her body twisting, her breath escaping in short gasps, or her skin flushed, as Sonia’s fingers rubbed her slit. Just as her climax started to ebb, Sonia switched nipples and dipped her middle two fingers into Shelly’s sex. She knew the exact spot inside to press, and Shelly was swept away again. She kept the orgasm going as Shelly ground her hips against the invading digits, and Sonia pumped her with pure bliss.
“Ungh, enough!” Shelly shuddered and gripped the woman’s head. She pulled Sonia away from her breast, but copied the woman’s original action by pulling her into a kiss. This time there was passion as Shelly felt her sex drive ramp up with heat and desire. She pulled Sonia on top of her, willing the other woman to follow her desires. With another mental command, Sonia was as naked as Shelly, their breasts mashed together as Shelly wrapped her legs around Sonia’s hips.
Sonia gave as well as she got, returning the kiss and somehow never removing her hands from Shelly’s crotch. Their tongues mingled as their moans reached a crescendo. Shelly dropped her hands to the other woman’s buttocks, and squeezed the firm flesh. Sonia ground her crotch against Shelly’s searching hand, and she was surprised at how wet her skin felt after the contact. She slipped her hands down as far as they would go, and touched the android’s pussy with just her fingertips, feeling the heat and liquid of her sex.
Sonia moaned into their kiss and pressed against Shelly’s fingers. “Wha… What are you doing to me?” Sonia gasped, breaking the kiss but burying her face in Shelly’s neck. “I’ve never—Oh!—never been turned on like this.”
Shelly didn’t know if it was because they were sharing her mind, or why the android was enjoying this, and she didn’t care. For this one moment in time, she wanted to keep enjoying each other. With a simple thought, the skinny massage table grew into a wide bed. Shelly rolled them over, then used another mental trick to turn them into a sixty-nine with herself on top. Shelly got her first glimpse of the android’s wet crotch. The inner labia were small, barely peaking past the outer lips. There was a steady stream of lubricant slipping down her crack, and her clitoris stood out from her folds, begging to be touched, licked, or sucked.
She dropped her lips down, bestowing a gentle kiss on that sensitive nub, and enjoying the way Sonia jumped below her. With a growl, she switched from gentle to ravenous. She sucked hard on the bundle of nerves, making Sonia cry out. A moment later, Shelly felt the other woman give her the same treatment, and it was her time to call out in excitement. It became a game of who could do more to the other soon after that. Shelly shoved her tongue as far into the android as she could, relishing the sweet and tart taste of the woman, only to have Sonia shove two fingers into Shelly.
Shelly retaliated by shoving two fingers into Sonia’s quim, and a finger of her other hand into her anus. She could feel herself approaching yet another orgasm, but wanted to get her partner off first. She kept getting distracted by Sonia’s talented fingers as they rubbed against the insides of Shelly’s tiny canal, or by her tongue as it lashed against her already overworked clit. She tried her best to match the android’s tireless pace, but when Shelly felt two fingers press against her sphincter, she knew she would lose. She relaxed her rear—which was hard to do with her clitoris getting nibbled on—and let herself get invaded.
“Oh… I’m cumming!” Shelly moaned as she suffered sweet defeat. She lost track of what her hand was doing as waves of bliss crashed against her psyche. As she came down, she noted that her right hand was getting squeezed hard. Looking at it, or rather where it ended, she saw that her entire hand was inside the other woman. She flexed her fist and felt the movement against the finger still in Sonia’s rear. The android bounced her hips off the bed, impaling herself harder against Shelly’s hand.
“Holy shit!” Sonia nearly screamed. “I’m… I’m… Oh, oh! CUMMING!” Shelly knew that if she weren’t in her own mindscape, her hand would have been crushed as Sonia’s powerful muscles constricted. She had to mentally shrink her hand, but continued to pump her fist in and out.
Sonia must have used her own control over the Mens Mundi, as without warning Shelly found herself sitting in Sonia’s lap, her legs wrapped around the woman’s waist, and them kissing passionately. She could taste herself on the other woman and relished the flavor. Sonia had more than earned those orgasms out of her, and she enjoyed the warm afterglow as they made out.
“Damn that was hot!” Shemhazau’s voice shattered her reverie. “I always enjoy watching two hot lesbians go at it!”
“I thought you said you were going to disappear!” Sonia snapped at him. Shelly agreed with the sentiment, but was still enjoying the afterglow.
“I did!” the old man grinned. “You didn’t see me, did you? Besides, someone needed to nudge you along. You both were a little too hesitant to go at it, but wow! When you decide to commit, you really go for it!”
Shelly stood and created a robe to cover her as she felt her anger rising. She was going to give this lecherous man a piece of her mind. She was sick and tired of sharing this space with him, and she was going to lock him away in a mental prison.
Before she could follow up on those thoughts, her Mens Mundi faded as she started to wake up.
“Ah, good! It looks like we’re going to live after all,” her grandfather cackled before he faded away.
Unfortunately, with waking also came pain, and she wished she could go back to sleep. Even dealing with her perverted grandpa was better than this agony!
“We still haven’t found Sheldon,” a disembodied voice floated to her. “As if the Ambassador isn’t in enough pain with his losses.”
“Keep looking.” Shelly thought she should know that voice but struggled to think past the pain. “He has to be in there somewhere.”
“Madame President,” the first voice argued, “you’re lucky to be alive as it is, and Ambassador Snow’s wife…. That entire wing was destroyed. All we found of the Secret Service and senators in that area were bits and pieces. Nothing could have survived that! Quite frankly, I’m surprised the ambassador even survived. Especially considering the states of his—”
Despair washed over Shelly and she quit listening. She didn’t even know how she was hearing the voices. Hadn’t she been taken away in an ambulance or something?
Her brother was gone, and something had happened to either Brooke or Becky. Sonia had lied. Shemhazau’s command for her to live still thrummed deep inside her, but she hated the old man more than ever. How could she go on, with her twin brother gone?
Torment and anguish sent her mind reeling, but she forced it down. She was done running from the world and her problems. There were people out there that needed to be taken down, not only for what they did to her, but for her brother as well. The Paladonic Knights would pay for this attack, but she had another target after that.
Jessica was going to pay.
From the Author
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Chapters always appear here last, so that means chapter 15 is already up on the blog.