Saturday, December 5, 2015

Chapter 94: New Dawn

  Warning: Language

  I give you this one thought to keep--
  I am with you still--I do not sleep
  I am a thousand winds that blow,
  I am the diamond glints on snow,
    I am the sunlight
    on ripened grain, I am the gentle
  Autumn rain.  When you awaken in the
  morning hush, I am the swift, uplifting
  rush of quiet birds in circled flight.
     I am the soft stars that shine
    at night.
  Do not think of me as gone--I am with
     you still in each new dawn.


  Sometimes, life could be a real b*tch.  Colin leaned back against the headboard of his bed, deep in thought.  He felt so many f*cking things all at once, he was almost numb; the events from three weeks ago were really taking their toll on him and the family.  Julia remained in her room all day, she wouldn't f*cking eat or talk to anyone, but her non-stop sobbing could be heard through her door.  Hawk had lived through his f*cking ordeal, barely, and earned some extra wrinkles for his troubles.  Neither he nor Skye f*cking talked very much to anyone, let alone each other.  Sh*t, Rhys was the only one who had emerged virtually unscathed, he was just a little f*cking sore.

   Colin didn't have the first f*cking idea on where to start to fix things, he was way the f*ck out of his comfort zone.  He'd had the great f*cking idea to get in touch with his father, to get his advice on how the h*ll to pull the family back together, only to discover that when he had f*cking destroyed Jack's machine, he had managed to f*cking destroy all of the d*mn modern devices that allowed travel between f*cking worlds, between whens.  A plane or a ship could f*cking take him to Moonlight Falls or any other d*mn town in this world, but a f*cking trip to where the Fae lived was no longer a f*cking option. He was so f*cked.

  A fail safe, Jack had f*cking called it, built into his machine, as a just-in-case; it was meant to destroy travel between other f*cking worlds, it would not have stopped the as*hole Medraut, but it would have slowed him down.

  Colin snorted.  Just in case.  That would have been f*cking helpful to know.

  It effectively meant that Colin's father and grandfather were f*cking stuck where they were, and Colin couldn't f*cking talk to either of them.  Which was f*cked up.  He keenly felt the loss of his dad's wisdom, his dad had always known what the h*ll to do; while Colin was f*cking stuck with his thumb up his a*s and the family was f*cking falling apart around him.   

  Love conquers all.  He could almost hear his dad's voice, how many f*cking times had he heard his father say that?  Not only say it, but f*cking live it; and despite the f*cking miles between them, it was almost like his Dad was f*cking standing right there, beside him.  Emotion clogged his throat, but he f*cking willed it away. 

  Ivory stepped out of the bathroom, a shell of herself; it wasn't the f*cking visible scars that had him concerned, it was the f*cking invisible ones.  She rarely spoke, her eyes remained haunted, and most times she f*cking trailed after him like a d*mn lost little puppy.  She had lost so much f*cking weight the bed barely dipped when she crawled onto it.  She laid her head on his chest, and he could feel her sigh.  He ran his fingers through her hair, it didn't f*cking matter what she was like now, he had her back, and somehow they would f*cking work through the sh*t.


  "I'm old now."  she whispered.  "Really old."

  "Yes you are."  Colin agreed, without thinking about it.

  She hit him, hard.  "What the h*ll Romeo?"

  "Ow, what the f*ck?"  Then he smiled, a real smile.  That was the first f*cking time she had sounded more like his Angel, he didn't know how the f*ck to deal with the shadow Ivory, but this one, his Ivory, he f*cking understood.  He shrugged.  "Hey, I was just agreeing with you, don't get f*cking p*ssed off at me."

  She glared at him.  "You're such an a*shole."

  "F*ck Angel, I thought that would make you happy, me agreeing with you."

  She huffed, and laid her head back on his chest.  "You haven't changed a bit."


  If needling her was what it took to bring her more back to herself, then he could do that, sh*t, some even called him a f*cking expert in the art of irritation.  "Why mess with perfection?" he asked with a straight face.

  "Why mess*stard."  She sputtered. Colin started laughing, he couldn't f*cking help himself.  Her fingers fisted up and she thumped him hard a few times on his chest.  "A*s.  You're just messing with me."  She looked away from him, and sighed again.  "It's just, all these years I have lived in a nightmare I could never wake up from, Raven..."  Ivory shuddered. 

  She tried again to tell him about it, "I just..."her voice broke, "I'm sorry I..."  She shook her head, she just couldn't speak of the horrors she had endured, at least, not yet.  She changed the topic.  "And then there's you, you haven't aged a single day, you deserve someone younger and prettier and not as screwed up as I am...and then there's the kids..."  Her voice trailed off for a moment, "Babies when I saw them last.  Now they're all grown up, with babies of their own, that are all grown up, and I missed all of it!"

  He turned her face to his.  "What sort of f*cking bullsh*t nonsense is that?"  He asked fiercely. "From the f*cking first moment I f*cking laid eyes on you, I have f*cking belonged to you, and only you.  You're like," he paused, searching for a word, "gangrene in my f*cking heart! The only f*cking way to get you the f*ck out, is to f*cking cut my heart out!"

  Ivory was silent for a moment.  "Did you just compare me to gangrene?"

  Colin thought about it.  "H*ll, yes, yes I f*cking did."

  "You're so sweet, I think that is the nicest thing you've ever said to me." She reached up, and kissed him.

   "I'm not sweet."  He grumbled after the kiss ended.  "I have a f*cking image to uphold here. I could compare you to fungus though, if you liked my f*cking gangrene comment so much..."

  "Don't push your luck Romeo."  She smiled at him as she said it, but then frowned slightly.  "I'm messed up."

  "F*ck, aren't we all."  Colin responded.  "This whole family is f*cked up, it's silent as a f*cking graveyard around here, even Bob is f*cking moping, and I didn't even f*cking know robots could mope."

  "Then we need to do something about it."


  Ivory nodded her head.  "Yes, we.  I didn't go through h*ll just to have everything fall apart once I got my family back.  Now, you start with our granddaughter, once she's doing better, I think everyone else will start doing better."

  Colin eyed her suspiciously.  "We?  That sounded like a command just for me, where's this we?"

  Ivory smiled.  "Well, let me show you..."

  An hour later, Colin was standing in front of Julia's bedroom.  He knocked, he could hear the faint sounds of puking, and then the toilet flushing.  He waited a little bit, and then knocked again.  "Go away!"  Colin took that as his invitation to enter.


  "I don't want to talk to you."

  Colin shrugged.  "Good, that'll make this a lot f*cking easier.  Get dressed, we're getting the f*ck out of here."

  "I'm not going anywhere either."  Julia said sullenly.

  "Well, Squirt, you don't have a f*cking choice.  Now get your a*s out of that bed."

  "Don't call me that."  Julia said tiredly.  "I don't want to see you, or talk to you, or anyone else.  I just want to be left alone, just go away.  I want everyone to just go the f*ck away."

  "I can't do that Squirt."

  "So what else is new?" Julia laughed bitterly. "My life is over, I just want to..."

 "...get your a*s up out of that bed, I agree."  Colin said firmly.  "This is the f*cking way it's going to work, either you get the f*ck up, and get your a*s dressed, or I'll haul you out of this f*cking bedroom in your pjs.  Your choice."

  She turned and glared at him.  "That isn't a choice.  You're a d*mn bully, and..."

  Colin started counting, "10, 9, 8..."

  "And I'm not going anywhere with you!  I'm never going to leave this room, I can still feel him in here, his scent is still on the sheets."  Her voice cracked.  "I'm staying right here, where he is."

  "Julia, Rian is gone, and he f*cking wouldn't want you f*cking withering away like a dumba*s.  Last time, are you going willingly, or..."

  Julia turned away.  "I'm not going anywhere with you."

 "Suit yourself."  Colin strode over to the bed, and lifted her up.  She started screaming, and hitting him, he ignored her, and threw her over his shoulder.  The commotion brought the rest of the household over.

  "Dad, what are you doing?"  Skye asked in alarm.

  "We'll be back."  Colin said, and he marched right on by the family, and out the front door.  Ivory could f*cking fill them in, he had his arms full with Julia, who was still howling, kicking, and causing a scene.  Not that Colin cared two f*cks about that, but Julia might, once she pulled her head out of her a*s.

  The beach was just a short walk from the house, maybe half a mile or so, he drew a few odd looks from nearby passersby as he made his way to the Beach with a howling cat slung over his shoulder.  As he got closer to the Ocean, Julia started to settle down, so he plopped her down on a sand dune, and then sat down next to her.

  They sat silently for a long while, and Colin just let her be.  The weather had turned slightly, and a light rain was falling, it suited his mood just fine.  The Squirt could f*cking try the patience of a saint, and he wasn't one of those, but he knew she had f*cking less patience than he did.  He was sure she would cave first and break the silence.

  "I hate you."  She finally said, without any heat.

  "I know."  

  Julia swiped a tear from her eye.  "The last time I was on the beach, it was with Rian."  Her voice cracked.  "I miss him so much Grumpa, the pain of it is unbearable!"

  Colin sighed sadly.  "I know Squirt."

  She laughed bitterly.  "How would you know?  You have your love back, Grandma Ivory is alive, while, while, Rian is dead!"

  Colin scowled at her.  "How would I know?  How the f*ck would I know?"  He sputtered,"Well, d*mn, what about all those f*cking years when I thought she was dead?  Huh?  Sure, she's f*cking alive today, but I don't know for how f*cking long, you may have noticed she f*cking aged a little.

   I've got her back, only to f*cking lose her to death again.  It nearly f*cking killed me the first time!"  Colin was silent for a moment after his outburst.  He sighed heavily, and then said in a calmer tone of voice, "But Squirt, we can't f*cking bury ourselves just to try and f*cking protect us from pain, that's a sh*tty a*s way to live.  Without the f*cking risk of pain, there isn't the joy of love.  And I would f*cking do it all over again, even though it f*cking hurts like h*ll, just because I f*cking love her, and every f*cking day with her is a gift."

  Julia sniffed.  "Grumpa, I'm sorry, I..."  Seeking comfort from him like she had when she was a little girl, she scooted closer to him, and laid her head on his shoulder.  "I don't think I can be as strong as you."

  "That's f*cking nonsense."  Colin said gruffly.  "Look at all you have f*cking overcome, if that's not strength, I don't know what the f*ck is.  Besides, you have someone else to consider now, so you have to be strong for them."

  "Someone else?  What are you talking about Grumpa.  I'm not in the mood for one of your riddles or pranks."

  Colin rolled his eyes.  "What the f*ck? A prank at a time like this?  What kind of guy do you think I am?"

  "An a*s."

  He bumped her shoulder playfully.  "Maybe.  That doesn't change your truth."

  Julia shook her head.  "And what's that?"

  "You're pregnant."  He said bluntly.

  "The h*ll I am."

  "The h*ll you aren't."

  She lifted her head and stared at him.  "Why the h*ll would you say something like that?  I've been sick, yes, but that's because...because...because..."

  "'re pregnant."  Colin finished for her.  "I've been around pregnant women a time or two, you've got all the d*mn signs.  Which means, you need to f*cking take better care of yourself, you've got a baby to look after."

  Julia sat up.  "No f*cking way.  A baby?!  I'm not ready to have a baby, I'm not supposed to be a single mom!" She wailed.

  "Well, marry someone then.  Problem solved."

  "You can't be serious.  I'm never falling in love or getting married again."  She vowed.

  "Sounds lonely."

  "Hmph, if I ever feel lonely, there's ways of taking care of that, without falling in love."

   Colin sighed.  "Sh*t, done that and f*cking been there, it's not all it's cracked up to be, but you're so d*mn bull headed, I doubt anything I f*cking say right now would make a difference."

  Julia stood up, and brushed the sand off of herself.  "Thanks Grumpa.  You really know how to make a girl feel better."  She said sardonically.


  Colin smirked at her as he jumped up onto his feet.  "Well, I do my best."  He slung his arm around her.  "Now," he said conspiratorially, "let's keep that earlier little speech of mine to ourselves, shall we?  I have a f*cking reputation to maintain, can't have people thinking I'm f*cking whipped."

  Julia shook her head.  "You are unbelievable sometimes."

  He nodded his head.  "It's a gift."  He wagged his finger at her.  "No more bullsh*t, right?  Be sad, but don't f*cking act like you're dead.  Besides, if you don't change, your grandmother is going to whoop my a*s, or worse."

  Julia chuckled.  "You are so whipped Grumpa."

  Colin grinned at her.  "Sssh, not so loud!"


  Julia moaned in pleasure at the first bite of the cheeseburger.  Usually she preferred healthier eating, but lately she craved junk food.  Cheeseburgers specifically.

    It was the middle of the night, and she should be sleeping, but she found it hard to sleep.  When she slept, she dreamt, and more often than not, she dreamt of Rian, which always put her in a sour mood when she woke up and remembered that he was gone.

  She took another bite of her cheeseburger.  She was so mad at him.  Mad that he left her.  Mad that he died.  Mad that he didn't tell her everything.  Bella.  Somehow he must have known that she was pregnant, and that almost made it worse.

  Most of all though, she just missed him.

  She heard footsteps and glanced up mid-bite.  "Mmmhph"

  "Hey Princess, midnight snack?"

  She swallowed her bite of food.  "Hi Daddy, yeah, I have a weakness for cheeseburgers, the greasier the better, lately.  Why are you up?"

  "Nightmares."  He didn't elaborate, and Julia didn't ask.  She was just grateful that she hadn't lost her dad too, it had been touch and go for a while.  She tilted her head and looked at him, studying him as he rummaged around in the fridge looking for a midnight snack himself.  He had aged a lot since the confrontation with his mother, and it scared her.  He grabbed a plate of what looked like waffles, and turned towards her.  "Mind if I join you?"

  "No, please do."

  He sat down beside her.  "How are you feeling?"

  Julia shrugged.  "Okay, I guess.  How are you and Mom?"  While her parents were still silent and awkward around each other, at least her dad had finally moved back into their bedroom, and was no longer sleeping on the couch.  Julia took that as a good sign.

  "Dealing."  He smiled briefly.  "I'm giving her some space, I really hurt her, and there's no way I can undo that."

  Julia sighed.  "I can't believe I'm going to give my Dad some advice on his love life, but here goes, sometimes Dad, space is not what we need.  Look at Grumpa, he ignored my desire for more space, and instead kicked me in the a*s by dragging me, literally kicking and screaming, out of the house."  She finished off her cheeseburger.  "It's what I needed, even if I didn't think so at that moment.  Maybe that is what Mom needs."

  "Hmm."  He grunted as he stared at the food in front of him.  "I don't know Julia, I don't think she'd react well to me hauling her out of the house over my shoulder..."

  Julia giggled at that image.  No her mother would be less than pleased if he did that.  "Not exactly what I had in mind. You sleep in the same bed right?"  She nudged him playfully.  "Well, I'd work with that."  She stood up, and grabbed her plate.  "What happens next is between you two.  I don't want to hear about it."  She smiled at him, and he smiled back.  With that said, Julia rinsed her dish off, and then kissed her dad on the cheek.  "I'm going back to bed.  Love ya Daddy."

  "Love you too."


   "So what does this do?"  Julia asked, pointing at some buttons that blinked and glowed.


    Jack answered with a distracted grunt.  He was trying to analyze the chromosomes of this strange seed he had come across one day while hiking.  It was unlike any seed he had ever seen before, it seemed to have replicating abilities, and would turn into whatever it was fed.  It was quite a puzzle, and Jack loved puzzles.  At least it was something to do besides worry over the lack of a reply from Maxine.

  He had never worried if a few months went by without a reply, he knew she was busy, busy like he used to be.  She belonged to Doctor's without Borders, an organization that sent medical personal around the world to help out other less fortunate people, and that kept her plenty occupied, but it had been nearly two years since he had last heard from her.

  They had met in highschool, as Sophmores, she was the new kid, and had been assigned as his lab partner for the year.  She had been nearly as shy as he was, but once they had both figured out their mutual love of science, they had become instant friends. Jack didn't have many friends, most people thought he was slightly odd, and they had no idea what he was talking about.  His family humored him, but Maxine, she had not humored him, but instead, she had actually understood what he was saying, and added to his knowledge of many different subjects.

  They could spend hours discussing the merits of white holes versus black holes, or even how crazy the theory of an Ekpyrotic Universe was.  If Jack had believed that love was real, and not just a biochemical reaction in the brain, he would have said he loved her, but of course it wasn't, so he didn't.

  She was the only girl that he wasn't related to, that he hadn't felt terribly awkward around.

  Though, none of that mattered now, it was all ancient history.  She had wanted to travel, see the world, become a doctor and help others; but he hadn't been able to go with her, his family had needed him.  They had never been officially more than friends, even what happened on Graduation night hadn't changed that, the next morning had come...and he let her go without a word.  Really, what could he have said?  Their lives had been on different trajectories. 

  Jack stared at his computer screen.  Maybe she had finally gotten married.  He had always expected that she would.  Every letter of hers that he had ever read, that had always been in the back of his mind.  He'd had a scare once, not that he would ever begrudge her, her happiness, she deserved to be happy, but when she had written to tell him that she'd had a daughter, he had expected her to announce she was married too.

  He had refused to analyze his feelings when he found out that she wasn't married, and that the father of her baby wasn't involved.  Jack wasn't good with emotions, those were best left to someone more like his sisters.  He would stick with logic, it made more sense.

  A whirring noise snapped him out of his thoughts, he glanced up from his screen to see that Julia had managed to open up his bot tuning station.  "Ahhh!  Julia!  Stop!  What are you doing?!"


   She glanced over her shoulder at him.  "I asked you what those buttons were for, but you ignored me, so I decided to find out."

  Jack sighed.  He felt for his niece, he truly did.  She had been through a lot, but her boredom was going to drive him bonkers.  He didn't know why she had decided to attach herself to him, and ask endless questions about what was this?; and what did that do?.  He only had one rule for her though, not that she ever listened to it.  "What have I told you about touching things?" he grumbled.  "That machine is very delicate, I can't have you pushing buttons willy nilly."

  She walked towards him.  "So it builds robots like Bob?"

  Jack nodded.  "It's more simple, user friendly, that way any one could build a bot, not just me, but it's temperamental, I haven't worked all the bugs out of it yet."

  "So I could..."

  Jack interrupted her.  "No, you can't, no touching remember?  It's not ready.  When it is you'll be the first one I notify."

  "So what were you thinking about?"  Julia asked, curious.  Usually when he ignored her, it was because he was completely involved in whatever project he was working on, except this time, he had just been staring at the screen, motionless.  Bella chose that moment to make her presence known to her mother, and Julia rubbed her tummy.  "There, there, little one."  She whispered softly.


   Jack blushed and stammered.  "Nuh...nuh...nothing."

  "Who is she?"

  He frowned at her, his cheeks still bright red.  "What makes you think I was thinking about a female?"

  Julia chuckled.  "I don't know," she teased him, "those pink cheeks of yours?"

  Flustered, Jack covered his cheeks.  One of the hazards of having so little pigmentation in his skin, was when his sympathetic nervous system kicked in due to the levels of cortisol in his blood, it caused the blood vessels to widen in his face, which increased the blood flow to his skin, which caused him to...blush.  It was disconcerting.  "She is..."  He was going to say not important, but that would be a lie.

  "Well, Uncle Jack, if I were you, I'd call her and ask her out on a date."

  Call Maxine?  Preposterous.  She didn't own a phone.  But maybe he would break with tradition, and write her another letter, even though she hadn't responded yet to his last one.  He noted Julia's interested expression, and decided it was time for a little distraction.  "I need some fresh air, how about we go for a walk on the beach?"  Maybe if he explained the molecular structure of Ocean water again, she would leave him in peace for a while? 


  Her daughter's cries woke her up from a lovely dream.  In her dream, it had been a warm night, with a full moon and a sky filled with shimmering stars.  Rian was holding her close, and they were swaying to the Nat King Cole song, "Unforgettable".  It had been so real too, so real, that it had taken her several moments after waking up to realize she had been dreaming, and then reality had crashed in.  Rian was gone.  That thought still had the power to hurt.


  As she cuddled her daughter, she couldn't help but think of him.  Her emotions ran the gamut, everything to what it would have been like if he had lived, to being p*ssed off all over again at him for not telling her everything he knew.  And then she would feel guilty for being so p*ssed at him. 

  She loved him.  She hated him.  She missed him.  She wished she had never met him.  She was glad she had known him, loved him. 

  A regular see saw of messy emotions.

  Her family tried to help, indeed, sometimes she had to fight them for time alone with Bella, someone was always holding her, but it still wasn't the same.  Rian was supposed to be the one with her.  They would have taken turns getting up in the middle of the night, and they could have shared all of Bella's firsts.  Her first smile.  Her first tooth.  Her first step.  Her first day of school.  Her first boyfriend.  Her first broken heart.

  Her thoughts were driving her mad. 

  Bella started to fuss again, and Julia gently rocked her in her arms.  "Ssshh baby, don't you fret, we can do this."  She looked down into her daughter's tiny face, at her crystaline blue eyes, the same color as Rian's.  Julia choked down a sob, but couldn't stop the tears from falling.  She missed him so much.


   Her grumpa had assured her that it would get better with time, but Julia had her doubts.  How could she move on, when everywhere she looked, she could see him?


 "Okay, now f*cking open your eyes."  Ivory opened her eyes, and stared.  She was speechless.


   "What in the h*ll have you done Romeo?"

  Colin grinned at her.  "I promised you a f*cking house with a black picket fence, now didn't I?  I'm a man of my f*cking word.  So, surprise Angel!  I had this f*cking house built just for you."

  "I don't know what to say." In front of her was the house of her dreams, and it was completely surrounded by an...honest to goodness black picket fence.  And was that a...carousel?  In the front yard?!

  Colin scratched his chin thoughtfully.  "I may have gone a tad overboard."

  Ivory smiled.  "A tad?"

  He shrugged.  "Okay, maybe more than a f*cking tad.  I thought a new house would do all of us f*cking wonders, not just you and me, but the whole d*mn family, no old memories, only new ones."

   Ivory just had to ask.  "Why is there a carousel in the front yard?"

  "You told me once that you wanted to ride the f*cking carousel.  So," he pointed at the carousel, "there it is."

  Ivory shook her head.  "Maybe when I was four!"

  "Come on Angel, let's f*cking go for a ride, you know you want to."

  Ivory eyed him suspiciously.  "I don't trust that glint in your eye."

  Colin feigned innocence.  "What?! D*mn Angel, you're f*cking tough on a guy's ego."


    "What are you cooking up in that devious little mind of yours?"

   Colin winked.  "Well, since you asked."  He leaned in closer to her, and started nuzzling her neck.  "I do have some great f*cking ideas about breaking that carousel in..."


  Notes:  Ivory riding a carousel:

    I really wanted them to ride it together, together, on the same horse, just because I thought it would be cute.  However, you can't do that with the store object.  Pity.  And yes, they have a carousel in front of their house now---for a little while anyway.  I had all this space and I thought, why not?  Who doesn't want a carousel in their front yard, lol

  Also--Colin on the carousel, doesn't he look like he's having fun?!  lol

  Julia is having a tough time saying goodbye.  But hey---Gen 10 has officially been born!!!!  Woot!  It's hard to believe I started this legacy over 3 yrs ago---and I'm finally approaching the finish line.  Approaching, but no where near it yet, lol

  And yes, they moved again---the lot they had was so glitchy it was driving me crazy.  The town was a mess too, so I just saved the main legacy family, and started a new save in Sunlit Tides, which is why (sadly!!!) I had to say goodbye to Alder and Ryder (among many others).  =( 

  Also--Christmas Card--


  Thanks for reading! =)


Wednesday, September 2, 2015

Chapter 93: Live Well

  Warning: Language; violence

   Julia glared at the guards who dared to stand between her and where she needed to be.

  Earlier that morning, her father had come into her room; Julia hadn't needed to ask what was wrong, it had been plainly written all over him, in the paleness of his face, and the tension in his body; his words had only confirmed it.  "She's here, I've arranged a meeting, on the mountain."

  Julia had simply nodded.  She had wished Rian was there, but he had already left, claiming he had something important to do.  She would have questioned him further, to find out what this important thing of his was that he'd had to do it alone, but Jack had come in at that moment, prattling on to her about something and Rian had slipped away.  She wished Rian hadn't been so adverse to carrying around a cell phone, at least then she could have contacted him that way.  Perhaps it was for the best though, this way she knew he would be out of danger.

  At least her mother was still at work, and for that she was glad.  They had all agreed beforehand, without letting her mother know of course, that Skye should be left behind.  As much as Julia loved her mother, she knew that her mother would be more of a hindrance than a help; especially since Raven, Julia refused to think of her as her grandmother, was known to use people as pawns to get her way.  That is what her mother would be, a pawn, wielded against Julia's father.  She didn't want her mother hurt, or her Uncle Jack, who was pretty clueless himself, very similar to her mother. Uncle Jack was probably still locked up in his lab like usual, totally unaware that they had left the house. That was probably for the best too.

   Julia didn't know how the others wanted to deal with the a*sholes that were in the way, but she had her own ideas.  It started with her kicking some a*s using her powers, and ended with her happily ever after with Rian.

  Unfortunately, things weren't going according to the script in her head.  No matter how hard she tried, her powers seemed to be useless against them.  It was seriously starting to p*ss her off. 

  She growled in frustration. Why the h*ll wasn't it working?  Those buffoons should have been plastered against the cliff; but not only were they still upright and conscious, they were smirking at her too.  Smirking.  Her eyes narrowed in concentration as she tried to push past whatever it was that was blocking her, but her efforts were useless.  They still stood there, unharmed.

  "Having troubles Princess?"  One of them hissed in amusement.

  She glared.  Princess?  She'd Princess his a*s.  Maybe she couldn't use her powers to throw them around like ragdolls, but she sure as h*ll could still kick their a*s the old fashioned way.  She tensed, ready to push past the others for the chance to beat the sh*t out of the pr*cks, it would certainly make her feel better.  She hesitated when she felt her father's hand on her shoulder.  "Protection spell of some sort."  He said softly.  "Probably magnified by a nearby magical container object of some kind.  With enough time and effort, we could push past it, but that's just a waste of our energy, and that's probably why my mother set it, so that it would drain us before we even get to her."

  Julia didn't care, she didn't need her powers; all she had to do was get a hold of one of them, and she would wipe that sh*tty sneer from their face with her fists; all with a great amount of pleasure.

  Julia smiled when she heard her Grumpa speak up in his pleasant I'm going to kill you voice.  Great minds think alike.  "We can f*cking do this the easy way, or the f*cking hard way.  F*cking make my day a*sholes, pick the hard f*cking way."  As always, she and her Grumpa, they were on the same page.

  Rhys rolled his shoulders and cracked his knuckles.  "I've got this."  He said confidently.  "I'll hold them off, you guys go on ahead and get Julia to where she needs to be."

  "You think you can single handedly take on all of us."  One of the guards scoffed.

  "Of course not."  Rhys said off handedly.  "I know I can."  With lightning speed, Rhys attacked, and put action to his words. 


  Julia noticed there were more guards coming up from behind; she was sure it was a trap set up by Raven.  While Rhys was more than holding his own, she wasn't sure he could handle that many guards.  "There's more coming!"  She yelled.  "Behind us, they're trying to trap us!"

  Colin whirled around.  "I see them."  He narrowed his gaze. "F*cking bring it on."

   "Go!"  Rhys shouted out to the others.  "I've got this!"

  "All of this?"  Julia questioned.

  Rhys grinned, his pointy teeth flashing in the sunlight.  "I've got this."  He slammed two of the guards' heads together, and kicked one in the stomach, "Go kick some a*s."

  Hawk grabbed his daughter and started for the cave, Colin trailed after them.  "Sh*t."  Colin complained.  "Just when it was getting interesting."

  "It'll be plenty interesting inside."  Hawk said darkly.


  The cave was pitch black and damp.  "You know where you're going, right Dad?"

  "Trust me."  Hawk replied, and Colin snorted.  Hawk ignored him though, and felt along the walls, searching.  "There should be a switch right!" He said triumphantly as he flipped a switch and the cave lit up with a soft glow.

  Julia looked in dismay at the maze of tunnels before them.  "There's so many!"

  "I know the way."  Hawk reassured her.  "Come on, I've been here many times before."

  "When?"  Colin asked suspiciously.

  "A long time ago."  Hawk answered.  "But I remember the way."  Hawk started to follow the third tunnel to the left.  "She'll be waiting for us."  He warned.

  "I'm ready for the b*tch."  Colin growled.

  "I'll detain my mother." Hawk carefully reminded his father in law.  "While you help Julia find the cell that holds Medraut."  He paused for a moment. "I sure wish that Rian was here, we could have used him."  Hawk grumbled under his breath.  "What good is he as a Guardian if he isn't even here?"

   Julia didn't respond to her father's words, she wished Rian was here as well.  There was just something so...calming about him.  They walked silently, further and further down the tunnel, it was starting to get warm enough that she was thinking of shedding her jacket.  A voice that sent shivers up her spine halted that thought. "Well, well, well, it appears my company has finally arrived.  Hawk, I am pleased to see that you have brought our guests to me, I have something very special planned, for a very special guest, a gift you could say."  She cackled in amusement.

  Hawk stopped dead in his tracks, he held a cautious hand behind him, and hoped that Colin would remember their plan. His mother was unimportant; what was important was that Julia stopped Medraut.  All of their lives depended on it.  He turned to face his mother.  "Mother."

  Raven tsked.  "My dear boy, while I am pleased that you have obediently brought me the guests I so desired, I am most aggrieved by your lack of...communication over the years."  She looked Julia over.  "I expected a grandson, it seems you have failed me there as well, by having a...daughter?"  She frowned, but then smiled when she noticed Colin glaring at her from behind Hawk.  She spoke directly to Colin.  "We have some...unfinished business, you and I."

  Colin fought with himself, he wanted to tear her f*cking head off.  It was because of her that he had lost Ivory.  The creature standing in front of him was the cause of a lot of pain and misery, and he was ready to take the b*tch out.  He tensed, and saw Hawk slightly shake his head no.  F*ck.  Plan.  There was a f*cking plan, and he had to f*cking stick with it.  Sh*t.  His fingers itched, and he gritted his teeth.  Plan.  He would follow the f*cking plan even if it killed him. 

  "Get out of my way."  Julia interrupted, she could feel her powers flare to life inside her.  She didn't have time for this nonsense, she wanted this finished so she could go home and live her life.

  "Precocious."  Raven laughed coldly.  "How quaint.  I see that you have failed to teach her proper respect.  It hardly matters."  She waved her hand.  "I shall see to it myself."


  "You. Can. Kiss. My. A*s."  Julia said, as she stepped forward, ready to do battle.  She had felt a small amount of anxiety in the beginning, when Raven had first confronted them, but now, thinking of all the harm the b*tch had caused her and her family; the heat of Julia's anger had blown that all away.  She was more than ready to end this thing once and for all.

  Hawk briefly closed his eyes and sighed.  Julia was too impetuous, and it was up to him to put things back on target.  They had a plan, one that he hoped would work.  All he had to do was stay alive long enough for Julia to fulfill her destiny.  He stepped in front of his daughter.  "She already knows everything she needs."  He told his mother.

  Raven raised one eyebrow.  "Is that so?"  How dare her son speak that way to her?  Obviously, he had been away from her influence far too long, and he was in need of a lesson himself.  A lesson on his place in the world, which was, and would always be, under her foot.  She probed at his mind, and found it closed off, she probed harder, but still found resistance in him.  "What are you hiding?'  She hissed.

  "I love you Julia."  Hawk said quietly.  "If I don't make it out of here, tell your mother I love her too, and I am sorry, for all of it.  Now go, take that passage on the right, it should lead you to Medraut."

  Julia stared at her father.  "Daddy?  What do you mean if?"


    Raven started cackling again.  "Oh, this is just perfect!"  She pointed at her son.  "You weak minded idiot, I'm ashamed that you are of my blood.  Love!"  She spat venomously.  "You stupid imbecile!  How dare you!"

  She bent her full force on Hawk's mind, and he grimaced at the onslaught.  "Go Julia, now!"

  Julia sent a fireball towards Raven, which caused Raven to temporarily stop her attack on Hawk.  Raven effortlessly pushed the fireball away, and sneered.  "Is that all you were taught child?  Pathetic!  We will change all of that, I promise you."  She advanced towards Julia, but Colin had already grabbed Julia's arm and pulled her into the tunnel.

  Raven watched them disappear from sight, and then turned her attention back to Hawk. She would deal with them later, first she had to take care of her son. Her defiant, disobedient son.   "You betrayed me."

  Hawk had used the few moments of Raven's inattention to gather his strength, now he needed to do his part and give Julia as much time as he could.  "Yes."

  "And you will pay with your life."

  Hawk readied himself.  "I know."

  Raven cocked her head slightly.  "I will have your secrets, ripped from your skull, and there will be nothing left of you, but a husk that will obey my every word.  What do you think the girl...Julia?  Isn't that what you called her?  What do you think she'll think of you then? You pitiful worm.  How tempting to crush you now, and leave you to rot in this cave.   I'll need you alive though,"  Raven said with relish, "so that I can test her...obedience to me."

  "You cannot break her."  Hawk said.

  Raven laughed again, her reptilian eyes filled with poisonous hate.  "I can break anyone."  With those words she attacked.


  The tunnel that Julia was running down with her grandfather ended up not being very long in comparison to the other tunnel they had been in.  It opened up into a large room, the center of which held a pool so dark she couldn't see her reflection in it.  "Where now?"  She asked him.  As far as she could see, the room was a dead end, yet her father had told her this was the way to go.  Thinking of her father almost caused her to cry, but she pushed the feeling away.  She had to concentrate on the here and now, she would think about the other things later.

  Colin frowned as he looked around. "H*ll if I know."   It appeared to be filled with a bunch of useless sh*t, statues, both large and small, empty pedestals, and dusty bags filled with maps and books.  He quickly searched through them, but didn't find anything of interest, and threw them aside.  There must be a secret door or something.  He walked over to one of the walls, and began to search with his fingers.  "F*ck, there has to be something..." he muttered under his breath.

  "Hey, Grumpa, come over here and look at this!  Doesn't Uncle Jack have one of these in his lab?"

  Colin walked over to where Julia was, and looked at the contraption she had found in a far, back corner.  "Yeah, I think he does.  What the h*ll did he call it though?"

  "Some kind of..."  His voice trailed off as he realized he really didn't remember what Jack had said about the machine he had built.  "Sh*t!"

  Julia grinned at him.  "I know, I know, I didn't pay close enough attention either."  She frowned at it.  "I vaguely recall him saying something about travel though.  Maybe it's like an elevator?"  She postulated.  "It could be the way out of here."

  Colin nodded.  "It's worth a try."  He pointed at what appeared to be a panel filled with buttons.  "Which button should we push?"

  "Well, that's obvious."  Julia stated.  "All of them, one by one, until it does something."

  "Hmph."  Colin shook his head.  "Not the safest of plans, but what the h*ll, you only f*cking live once, right?"

  "Right!"  Julia whole-heartedly agreed.  "Let's start with this one."  Julia pushed a button, but nothing happened.  "Okay, well, how about this one..."

  Rhys grunted as a fist connected with his side; he jabbed an elbow into the offending person, and kicked another oncoming guard.  The bodies were steadily piling up around him, but he was slowly making some headway, he hoped anyway.  He may not be able to move for a week after all was said and done, but in this moment, he was feeling glorious, and he wished that Reilly was around to see him; protecting the family, just like he had promised so long ago.

  Hawk drew in a painful breath after the first wave of fire had ceased.  He knew his mother well enough to know that she would draw his death out, make it is painful as possible, in fact, he had even counted on it.  Every moment she spent on him, was more time for Julia.

  He gathered himself once more.

  "You are no match for me boy."

  "We shall see."  Hawk said with a confidence he did not feel.

  "Idiot!"  She screamed.  "You disgust me, you and your pathetic attempts to save that family.  It is all for nothing!"  She yelled furiously.  "Nothing!  I put a lot of time and effort into you, and for what?  For you to throw it all away?  In the name of love?"  She spit the word love out.  "I will win in the end, it has been foreseen in the prophecy!"

  "Perhaps Mother,"  Hawk stated calmly, though he felt anything but calm, "You are wrong in your interpretations, and that is why you have never won against this family.  Your rage against Ethan has blinded you to this truth."  Hawk could feel the scorch of her gaze, and knew this next one was going to hurt.  He braced himself as best he could against the next wave, the more she exerted her powers, the better for Julia.  Everything he did now, was for her, and for his wife.  He quickly shut that thought off, he couldn't afford to think of Skye right now.

  "I should have known that your father's weakness would eventually show up in you."  She said coldly.  "He was a miserable failure too."

  Even though Hawk was expecting the blast, even so, when it hit, it hit hard, with the force of an atomic bomb.

  Julia was still pushing buttons, but none of them were giving her the results she wanted.  "D*mn!  How the h*ll does this thing work?"

  "Let me try."  Before Colin could, the door suddenly slid open, and an eerie purple light spilled out.

  "I did it!"  Julia exclaimed gleefully.

  "You sure did."  Colin agreed.  "But what the h*ll did you do?  That's the question."

  Julia shrugged.  "I don't know.  Let's find out."

  "Julia wait!"  He reached out to stop her, but just barely missed her, and she disappeared into the purple light.  "Sh*t!"  He immediately tried to follow her, but just as suddenly as the door had slid open, it slid shut, leaving him behind.  "F*ck!"  He pounded on the door.  "F*cking door open!"  Cursing under his breath, he started punching at the keys, trying to find the one she had pushed that had opened the door to begin with.

  With zero luck.  "F*ck.  F*ck.  F*ck.  Piece of sh*t machinery, open the f*ck up!"  He pushed more buttons, but still nothing.  He was starting to get really p*ssed.  He kicked at the door, but only succeeded in hurting his foot.  "F*ck!"  He hollered, and his voice echoed back.

  He was alone.

  It had been a rough day at work, she had been plagued by a growing uneasiness, and that compounded with everything she touched going made Skye glad that it was a Friday, it gave her a couple of days to recover before she had to go back to her students.  When she walked into the house, the eerie silence hit her like a brick wall.  "Hello?"  she called out.  Usually someone was always at home, so it was odd, and terrifying that no one was answering her call.  She looked through all the rooms, calling out their names one by one, but didn't see anyone, or hear anyone.  She tried calling their cell phones.  No answer.  That was when the panic fully set in.

  She raced for Jack's lab.  "Please be there, please be there."  She chanted as she threw open the door to her brother's work lab.  He was bent over one of his machines, but stood up and walked over to her when she barged in.  "Where are they?"  She demanded.


   "Skye, I'm kind of busy right now..."  Jack started to say, but she raised her fist to him, and he sputtered out, "Hey, no cause for violence!  Geez!"

  "Tell me now Jack, or so help me I'll..."

  "I don't know where they are."  He answered.

  Skye gritted her teeth and lunged for him.  "Jack!"

  "Ow!  Skye!  Geez!  I'm telling you, I don't know..."

  "You know something!"  She yelled.  Skye knew she was out of control, but she couldn't help it.  The bad feeling she had been feeling all day, was steadily getting worse, and it was now a full on mother's red alert.  They were supposed to call her if Raven contacted them!  Her baby could be in danger!  She knew Jack knew something, he was just being difficult.  "Jack!"  She shook him, hard.

  "Okay, okay, calm down."  He said nervously.  "I'll tell you what I know."


    Rhys wouldn't admit it out loud, but he was starting to get tired.  The non-stop stream of cloned guards were starting to take their toll on him.  They were getting more hits in, and edging closer to the opening of the cave.

  "Give up half breed!  You are losing!"  one taunted.

  It made the mistake of grinning at him too, and Rhys made sure to wipe the grin off its face.  His muscles were protesting now, and his reactions were starting to slow.  Just how many of these things were there anyway?

  It didn't matter.  It was his job to keep them out of the cave, and that was what he was going to do.


  The doors slid open, and Julia stepped through; instantly she felt smothered by the malignant darkness; she pulled in a painful breath, gasping for air, and fought to keep herself calm.  Now she knew what a panic attack must feel like, this strangling on air.  She could feel an evilness gather around her, crowd her. The doors slid shut behind her, and she whirled around.  "Grumpa?"  She croaked out, but he wasn't there.

  She was alone.


  Or just maybe she wasn't alone in this h*llish place after all.

  It was his sixth sense that had caused him to duck, and that saved his head, along with his life, as he felt the breeze of a knife go over his head.  Instinctively, Colin whirled around and knocked the knife out of his assailant's hand, but then stared at her, stunned.  "Ivory?"  he whispered, shocked.

  She looked like his Ivory, but her eyes, her eyes were dead, she was covered in blood, and she showed no recognition of him.


   She dove for the knife, but Colin kicked it out of the way, and it skittered across the floor and fell into the pool behind them. She howled like a feral wolf, and attacked him with her right round kick, which Colin blocked.

  Sh*t.  His brain was on auto-pilot, trying to process what was before him, but he couldn't believe what was before him.  She was dead?  Wasn't she?!  Maybe she was a clone of some sort, much like the guards he had seen outside.  Whatever she was, she still fought like his Ivory had, and he was able to block her moves.  He knew each one of them intimately, which immediately brought to mind some of his favorite memories, which caused him to momentarily lose focus, and almost lose his head again.

  "F*ck, focus Colin."  He couldn't help but remember the last time they had fought, and how it had gone all horribly wrong.  "Ivory, are you in there?"  He asked her in between defensive blocks.  He didn't want to hurt her, but she obviously had no compunction against hurting him.

  The blast of his mother's fury hit him square and center, and Hawk started screaming...

  "Rian!"  The darkness seemed a little lighter, and she was able to breath a little easier, just because of his presence.  She ran full bore towards him; nearly knocking them both over in her relief. "I'm so glad you're here." she gasped.

  Despite the heavy air, her words echoed in the room.

  She pulled back from him.  "How exactly did you get here?" 

  Rian pulled a small device out of his pocket.  "This little device is connected to the mainframe computers here, it allows me to transport in and out of this space."  He slid it back into his pocket.

  " didn't tell me about it before...because...?"

  Rian winced.  His next words probably wouldn't go over very well, but they were truth.  "It wasn't necessary that you know, at the time."

  Julia frowned; she would kill him later, but she had more important questions crowding her mind right now. "What is this place?  It feels so..."

  "Evil?"  Rian finished her thought.  "Yes, there is a great evil here, and he's waking up, so we have very little time."



  "Medraut.  Not only is this the chamber where I was kept in cryostasis dream sleep, but it has also been his prison."  Rian pointed.

  "That's him?"  Rian nodded.  Julia walked closer to get a better look.  "All of this, for him."  She muttered.  "He's not very impressive looking."

  "Looks can be deceiving."  Rian said.  "He was in cryostasis dream sleep as well.  Cryostasis dream sleep is that time between sleep and wakefulness, where dreams live, so he is not fully awake yet."

  "Hmm."  Julia said non committedly.  She wasn't sure what she had been expecting, but what she saw wasn't it.  "What's all of that for?"  Julia indicated the technology that was lit up brighter than a neon sign.

  "It maintains the cryostasis chambers without any input from a person, human or otherwise."

  " kept you alive, and it's keeping him alive?"  Julia clarified.  Rian nodded. She asked him, "How do I shut it down?"  There were an awful lot of buttons that she could push, but somehow the consequences of pushing the wrong one seemed much worse in this case than on that door thing she had used earlier.

  "Jack!?  What's taking you so long?"  Skye asked impatiently.  "Julia is in danger!  Would you hurry up already?!"

  Jack frowned.  "Skye, I'm calibrating the machine, everything must be perfect or...well, you don't want to know what the or is."


  "Why?"  Skye demanded.  "Why don't I want to know?  What are you keeping from me Jack?  Jack?  Jack!!"

  "Skye, you're making it hard to concentrate."  Jack complained.  He pointed to a chair.  "Sit would you?  And be quiet for Pete's sake, if I mess this up then everyone dies!  So...just sit!"

  "They could all die?"  Skye whispered.  She sat down in the chair and anxiously watched Jack.  She was so worried; she wished she could do something, anything! This waiting was getting to her.

  "F*ck Ivory, I get that you're p*ssed, but I f*cking swear, I thought you were dead!"

  There was no response from her, but Colin hadn't really expected one.  She hadn't said one word, or even made a noise, since her first attack; she was solely focused on removing his head from his shoulders.  "Sh*t!"  He dodged another one of her kicks, grabbed her arm, and twisted it behind her back.  "Ivory!"  He yelled, "I don't want to f*cking hurt you!"

  She squirmed against him, and he had to remind his body again to stay the f*ck out of the gutter.  "Would you f*cking hold still and be reasonable?"  He snorted at the thought, they had been many things together, but reasonable?  That was unlikely as finding a string of pearls in a sh*tty a*s pig pen.  F*ck.  She tried to bite him, and he cursed again.  "Would you f*cking hold still you little she-cat, sh*t! If I had known you were f*cking alive, I swear nothing would have stopped me from finding you.  Nothing.  I didn't know Ivory, I swear, I..."

  She hissed at him, her eyes spitting fire at him.  D*mned if she still didn't turn him on though, he must be f*cked in the head.

  "Shutting it down is relatively simple, it's just the press of a button."  Rian answered quietly.  "As long as you shut it down before that timer," Rian pointed to a countdown clock on the console, "runs out."


     "What happens if the timer runs out first?"  Julia was curious.  How odd to have a timer in the first place.  Was it set to blow the place up or something?  How ridiculous.  

  "Medraut fully wakes, and resumes his full powers."  Rian said simply.  "The chance to stop him is forever lost."

  "Forever lost?"  She shook her head.  "This is all so stupid.  I wish that ancestor of mine had simply killed the evil dude and been done with it!"

  Rian sighed.  "He loved Medraut, and couldn't bear to destroy him; he hoped that with some time, perhaps Medraut would see the error of his ways, and change."

  Julia shook her head.  "Somehow I get the feeling that old Medraut there isn't going to turn over a new leaf.  So this becomes my problem."

  "Raven was led to believe that the child of prophecy would bring Medraut back, she never realized the truth.  If she had known, you would not be here."  Rian said.  "You were the one chosen to stop him, I do not know why. I wish I could give you a better reason, but whatever your ancestor's reasons were, they are buried with him."

  "So, if I do nothing, he lives."


  "Well, then."  Julia said matter of factly.  "Let's finish this, where is that button thing?"  Rian gently spun her around, and pointed it out.

  "It is coded to you, all you need to do is push it, the programming will do the rest."


  "Got it!"  Jack shouted triumphantly.

  "It's about time!"  Skye said crossly.  "Now what?"

  "Now I bring them home."  Jack answered.  "In a particular order though, Ethan was very clear about that."

  "Who is Ethan?"

  Jack waved his hand.  "A mentor.  Here we go, I've locked on, let's hope this thing works!"


  The machine hummed to life, and Jack wanted to dance for joy, but he contained himself.  Plenty of time for victory dancing later, first he had to rescue his family.  "We've got incoming!"


  Well, h*ll, he was out of options.  Maybe his base self had had the better idea.  With nothing to lose, he put his haphazard plan into place.  He quickly pinned Ivory against a wall, and kissed her.  Hard.  She fought like a wild cat at first, trying to claw at his face, but he held her hands, keeping her long a*s fingernails away from him.  He persevered in his kiss, he knew her, knew her body as well as his own, and he throughly enjoyed using his knowledge against her.  The years melted away, like they had never been apart; he felt her soften, and then she was kissing him back.  He released her hands, and she used them to pull his head closer to her.

  It felt like coming home.

  Silently they pulled apart, and stared at each other.  "Romeo?" she whispered, confused.

  "Angel, you're back."  Colin said, relieved.  "I..." he started to say, but was cut off when Ivory grabbed her head and started screaming.  "Angel?  What the h*ll?  What the f*ck..."

  Still she screamed.  Colin did the only thing he could think of, he used his lifeguard training, and knocked her out.  She went limp in his arms, and he hefted her up.  F*ck.  Now what?  Ivory was out cold, and Julia was still missing.  Before he could move, a bright white enveloped him.

   And he found himself standing in Jack's lab, still holding Ivory in his arms.


  "What the h*ll?"

  "It worked!  Woohoo!"  Jack cheered, and then he stopped when he noticed his dad was holding someone.  "Who's that?"

  "Your mother."  Colin ignored the stunned faces of his kids, and gently laid Ivory down.  Her eyes opened, and she stared at him, mutely.  He almost wished she would scream again, her look of utter terror was f*cking unnerving.  Without taking his eyes off of Ivory, Colin asked his son, "Jack, tell me what the h*ll is going on, and I want it in plain speech."

  Jack cleared his throat.  "I built a machine. It can transport people, and I transported you back home.  I wasn't expecting...I thought our mom was dead."

  "So did I."  Colin said shortly.  "Jack, continue."

  "Dad, we don't have time for the long version, I have to get the others out too, or they are going to die."

  Ivory still hadn't said a word, but her eyes went back and forth between Jack and Skye.  "Ivory, I'm going to go see what Jack is doing, our son, you just..."  Colin faltered.  Sh*t.  Everything was so f*cked up, but Ivory was back.  She looked the same, other than the blood spatters that still covered her.  She would probably want to take a shower, but first things first.  Jack.  "You just stay there, and h*ll, make sure you f*cking behave yourself." he finally muttered, before walking away to see what Jack was up to.

  "Mom?"  Skye said, still in shock.  "I can't believe..."

  "Jack, what the f*ck are you doing?"


    "I have to calibrate the machine for each person.  I center on their life signature, and, well, it's a bit complicated to explain, but everything must be perfect or I'll end up scrambling them.  Not a pretty sight.  It just takes time."

  Colin watched Jack for a moment before asking, "You can get Julia out?"

  "Yeah, but she's last in line."

  "What?!"  Skye screeched as Colin said, "Why?"

  Jack covered his ears.  "Skye, you're killing me over here!"

  "I'm going to kill you if you don't bring my daughter back right now!"

  Jack sighed.  "I can't, at least, not yet."  His fingers went back to the keyboard, and he began typing again.  "Trust me, I know what I'm doing."  I hope, he added the last two words silently.


  The darkness was pressing in close to her, she was finding it difficult to push the button, her hand hovered it.  It should be so easy, but it wasn't.

  "Push the button Julia."  Rian said, his voice right by her ear.  "Then you can leave this place, and live out the rest of your life."

  She turned towards him, something in the way he said the words caused her heart to momentarily stop beating.  "Our life, not just mine, right?  We're leaving this place together, and living happily ever after...right?  Rian?"  Rian hesitated, and Julia knew for certain, something was terribly wrong.

  The machine hummed to life again, Jack was getting better at calibrating his machine.  He slid the lever, next on the list was his brother in law.


  Hawk didn't materialize the way that Jack expected though.  He wasn't standing, he was lying slumped on the floor, in a fetal position, lifeless.

  Skye started crying.  "Hawk!"

  "Sh*t."  Colin cursed, and jumped into action.  He checked Hawk's vital signs, and while they were weak, they were still there.

  "Dad, I hate to be indelicate, but he needs to be moved before I can bring anyone else back."

  Colin nodded, and carefully dragged Hawk a little ways away from Jack's machine.  Skye followed, sobbing, and collapsed on the floor next to Hawk.

  "Daddy, what's wrong with him?"  She cried.  "He looks dead!  I can't lose him like this!"  She wailed.  "Hawk!  Hawk, please, speak to me.  Please..."


  Colin interrupted her, "Skye, he's breathing, he's still alive, but barely.  Call 911, he needs more attention than I can give him."

  Skye nodded tearfully, and pulled out her cell phone.

  "Spill it."  Julia demanded.  "Now."

  Rian sighed, heavily.  "Julia..."

  "Don't you dare try to put me off."  She warned him.  "What aren't you telling me?"

  Rian pulled her in closer to him, and Julia leaned into him.  She could smell the beach on him, and cherries, from that silly scented soap he insisted on using; because he loved cherries.


  He shuddered, and Julia, for the first time in her life, felt afraid, really afraid.  "Rian, talk to me." she whispered.

  "I don't know how to say it."  He confessed sadly.  "I've tried to say the words, so many times, but...I just couldn't get them out.  And now, now, Julia we have so little time, you have to push that button, and save you, your family, and our worlds.  I would do it for you, if I could."

  "What aren't you saying?"

  "Julia."  His body trembled again.  "I never imagined someone like you."  He said slowly.  "You are my sun, my joy, my heart, but Julia, I cannot go with you."

    My pretty Pet, what a disappointment you turned out to be.  Never fear precious, I was obviously too easy on you before, but I shall rectify that.  You will learn obedience, and hate.  Yes hate.  When I am done with you, you will hate his very name... Ivory sat up suddenly, she dug her hands through her hair.  Raven was still in her head.

  "No!"  she screamed, tearing at her face, her hair, anything, trying to shut out that voice in her mind, Raven's voice, the voice of pain, of hate.  She felt his hands on her own, his voice speaking in her ear, soothing her, and Raven's voice began to recede, until it was so faint Ivory could barely hear it.  She let her hands fall away, her fingers bright red with her own blood.  "I can hear her."  Ivory whimpered.  "She is always there, in my waking nightmares."

  F*ck.  His heart was still f*cking pounding through his chest.  Colin hoped the ambulance came soon, he feared that Ivory needed more help than he could give as well.  He was f*cking useless, and wished more than ever that his dad was here to help.

  "Almost there."  Jack announced.  "This is the trickiest one of all, she's really down deep."  Jack went back to muttering under his breath as he fiddled with his settings, and checked his calculations.

  Ivory began to feel an intense pain, it started deep within her bones, and radiated outwards; and it was rapidly growing in strength.  She opened her mouth, to speak, to let him know, but a howl emerged instead.

  Colin watched in horror as Ivory began to swiftly age right before his eyes, and he was powerless to stop it, powerless to help her.

   Rian looked down, he couldn't bear to meet her eyes.  "What do you mean you can't come with me?"  Julia demanded to know.

   "Julia, I am tied to this place as much as he is.  It was the only way Ethan could keep me alive, without stealing the life from others like Raven and her ilk do.  He used the same source that keeps Medraut alive, to keep me alive, so our fates are intertwined."

  Julia stared at him.  "Which means, I push that button, and..."

  "I will die along with Medraut."

  Julia shook her head.  "No.  That's unacceptable.  There must be another way."

  Rian looked up at her.  "Julia."  She shook her head mutinously.  "Julia, I..."  Rian choked up, and then tried to speak again.  "It is, what it is, there is no changing it.  I can accept my fate, I gladly, willingly lay my life down for you..."

 She closed her eyes.  "No, no, no, it's not supposed to happen this way!"


  She opened her eyes and looked straight up at him.  "Rian, there has to be something we can do.  Why didn't you tell me this earlier?  Jack could have..."

  "No Jack couldn't have."  Rian said gently.  "Everything has unfolded as it needed to, as it had to, for the best possible future. I have had more happiness than I deserved, or ever thought possible, in the time I have spent with you to last a thousand forevers.  Now push that button Julia, let me go, and live, and live well."

  Julia's could feel her heart breaking.  "Rian, I can't!"

  You don't have to...hissed a voice inside Julia's head.  Let me be free, and you can have your heart's desires...

  In a blink, Julia found herself in a different room.  She looked around in wonder as strange creatures, both large and small, in rainbow colors with luminous wings, flew by, graceful as hummingbirds.  She looked down, and noticed she was wearing a long flowing dress, she ran her fingers down the dress, loving the luxurious smoothness of it.  Her hands stopped at her stomach, it was rounded, and she felt a responding kick from inside.  She smiled, and rubbed her swollen stomach.  "Sweet little baby."

  A door opened, and Rian walked in.  He was dressed differently as well, he was tall and handsome as ever, his clothes showed off his powerful muscular body as he strode confidently towards her.  He bowed, and kissed her hand.  "My love."  He smiled at her, and she smiled back.


  "Rian, you're alive!"  She said happily, and the joy she felt was overwhelming.  "You're here, with me."

  "Of course, silly."  He said indulgently.  "I'll always be here."

  This could be your future....

  "Rian, we can be together, for always.  That is all I have ever wanted."

  She reached out and touched his cheek.  He felt solid, felt real.

  His lips moved, but the words made no sense to her.  "It's all a lie, Julia."

  Julia frowned at him, confused. "What's a lie Rian?"

  "This world, this dream, is all a lie Julia.  Look around you, all is not as it seems."

  Julia looked around, and things started changing, getting darker. Bones rattled around her, tortured screams filled the air along with the smell of burning flesh, and she could hear the clank of metal behind her, but she dared not look.  Rian's smile dimmed, and his eyes became devoid of expression.  "Stop!"  Julia screamed.

  You have the power to make it stop...the voice continued.  Julia reached inside herself, and found she did indeed, have power, and lots of it.  She was unstoppable.  Her lips twisted into a facsimile of a smile.


   The symphony of screaming continued, but she found that now she liked the sound, it was music to her ears, it was the sound of absolute power.

  You can have it all...the voice whispered again.

  The Rian with the blank eyes, spoke again, his lips moved stiffly, almost as if he found it hard to talk.  "Julia, don't listen to him.  It's a lie."

  "We can be together Rian.  Forever.  And I have power, we can rule..."

  "Only Medraut rules, everyone else is enslaved."  She felt Rian's fingers clumsily touch the side of her face.  "You would become your worst fear, and you would lose everything you hold dear.  For I, and the family you love, would have no choice but to fight against you."

  "You would lose."  She spoke the truth, felt the rightness in the words.

  "Yes, but we would still fight, because the Julia we know and love, would be dead, and in her place, something wicked.  You must choose the right thing Julia, not the easy thing."

  Just as quickly as she found herself in that other place, she was back, in the cryostasis chamber, with Rian, she felt her legs buckle, but his strength held her up.  "I have you Julia."


  "For how long Rian."  She felt the tears threaten to fall, but ruthlessly held them back.  She would not cry.  "For how long?  Minutes?  We could have forever..."

  Rian sighed heavily.  "You were not the only one given a vision of temptation, but it was a lie Julia, a pretty lie, but a lie none the less, and you know it.  That man in the vision that Medraut gave to you, could never be me, it is against all that I believe and have fought for.  I know it is the same for you."

  She nodded, slowly.  "It was a happy fairytale though, until the end."

  "Go, do what needs to be done, and then get out of here.  You should have enough time to take the transport back up and..."

  Julia pulled away, whirled around and aggressively punched the button, and then threw herself back into his arms. The howls of Medraut pelted against her mind, but she remembered what her father had taught her, and blocked him.  The time for fairytales was over. "It is still my life, my decision Rian, and you cannot make me go.  I choose to stay here with you.  If we can't be together in life, than we can be together in death."

  Rian groaned.  "Julia, no.  You have to live, for..." 


  She cut him off with a kiss.  "I choose to stay with you.  I love you, Rian.  I can't live without you, I just can't, and I won't."

  Rhys faltered when he heard the rumble of the mountain,  the volcano was waking.  It was only his speedy reflexes that saved him from the falling rocks, dirt, and other debris, which buried the entrance into the mountain.  "Sh*t!"  He cursed.   He hoped Jack's idea worked, otherwise Rhys had just witnessed the live burial of the family.

  He also noticed, rather belatedly, that he was no longer having to fight.  He looked around, and all the bodies seemed to have disappeared as well.  "What?"  Rhys muttered.  None of it made any sense, had they all been magical or something?

   "I've got her."  Jack said.  "Incoming in 10, 9, 8..."

  "Spare me the countdown Jack, and bring my daughter home."  Skye said, she was still crouched beside an unmoving Hawk, holding on tightly to his cold hand.  She could hear ambulances in the distance.  "Oh thank God."  she whispered.  It was one of the downsides to living on the less populated side of the island, it took longer for emergency services to reach them.


  "No, my mind is made up."  She snuggled against him, she had no regrets.


  Rian saw the electrified white light, and breathed a sigh of relief.  "Thank you Jack."  He whispered.

  Julia looked up at him.  "Thank you Jack?"

  "I love you Julia."  He said the words, and then wondered why he hadn't been able to say them before, it was such a minor thing in the grand scheme of life.  She deserved the words.  She deserved love, and family, and joy.  She deserved life.  All of which she could have now.  He could die, at peace, knowing that she lived on.  And Bella with her.  "Tell Bella, I love her, and I wish I could have stayed."  Before she could question him further, he kissed her, one final kiss...

  ...and the light took her away...

  Jack's lab materialized around her.  "Nooooooo!"  Julia screamed, grief overwhelmed her like a black tidal wave.  One moment she had been with Rian, content and at peace with her decision, and the next, here, in this lab.  Instantly her eyes took in the machine, and she knew that was the way to get back, to get back to Rian.  Without thinking, without planning, without even knowing how she was doing it, she summoned all the power she had left inside her, and used it to freeze everyone where they were. 

  No one could stop her from going back to Rian where she belonged. She ran for the control panel, but hit a brick wall.  "D*mn it!"  she cursed, she had forgotten all about her grandfather, who was immune to her power.


   "Let me go Grumpa!"  She yelled.

  "I can't Julia."

  She tried to overpower him physically, but it got her nowhere, he was unmovable.  "Let me go!  Let me go!"  She shouted angrily, desperately.  "I have to go back Grumpa!  I have to!"  Julia was marginally aware that she was slipping into hysteria, but she didn't care.  She didn't care about anything other than getting back to Rian.

  "Julia, calm down and listen..."

   "Nooooo!" Tears started pouring down her face.  "Let me go Grumpa, please!  If you love me, you'll let me go!!"

  Colin looked at her sadly, "It's because I love you Squirt, that I won't let you go."

   "I'll go when you're not looking!"  She threatened.  "I'll use that machine, and I'll..."

  "Transport yourself into a rock."

  "I don't care!" She spat.

  "Lucky for you girl, I f*cking do."  Colin growled.  He turned around and used his fists to smash Jack's machine into bits, Julia started screaming and hitting him with her fists.

  "No!  Stop!"

  Colin didn't stop until the deed was done, and his knuckles were bruised and bleeding.

  "I hate you."  She sobbed, sinking to her knees.  "I hate you!"

  Colin sighed.  "I know you do."  Jack's cry of distress alerted Colin to the fact that Julia had released everyone from the hold she had put on them.  He could hear the emergency responders just outside the house.

  He ran a hand over his face.  It had been a b*tch of day.


  Notes:  Well, then, not too much I can say after all of that.  I hope I didn't lose you all as I tried to weave together all those different scenes that were taking place simultaneously.

  So, I'll just clarify a few things.

  1.  Yes, Ivory is alive.  In my mind, Raven used her life sucking powers on other people to give Ivory back part of her life, such as it was. It was also what kept her (Ivory, Raven, and earlier on even Hawk) looking young, but obviously is not the nice guy way of staying young, lol

  2. Yes, Rian is dead, and not coming back.  I know I have penchant for bringing back characters, but it is central to the rest of the story, that Rian stay dead.  I felt really bad for Julia too, because I killed him in game using MC, and she cried and cried and cried...  :/ 

  3.  Yes, Raven, Medraut, all those bad guys, they're all gone.  Once Medraut's life support system (if you can call it that, lol) was pulled, he died, by asphyxiation I like to think.  A rather macabre thought, but there you have it.  Ha!  Once he was cut off from his life support, Raven lost her powers, since her powers were dependent on him, he was the source, you could say.  Once she lost her powers, all the magical clones disappeared.  lol  Who thinks of this stuff?  Oh yeah, I do! :P  Anyway, then they were all buried under the mountain/volcano.

  4.  What about Hawk?  Next chapter, we'll find out what happened with him.  Mean, I know, sorry.  Maybe.  lol

  5.  Yes, Jack is despondent.  His whole life's work---smashed to smithereens, so that Julia wouldn't use it.  Ever.  Whatever will he do with himself?  Well, I have plans, it's about time to get poor Jack out of that lab!!

  6.  I may or may not have been influenced by the 80s and the "big red button" lol  Ah, the good old 80s, it was a fun time to grow up in.  Now that I've dated myself...

  7. Thanks for reading!  Any questions?  Comments?