It’s Where My Demons Hide
The girl was kneeling. Her black hair was dirty and matted, her skin rough and dirty, covered in cuts and scrapes. The heavy shackles she wore rattled as she struggled, futilely trying to loosen them. Tears streamed down her face, making lines in the dirt that coated her cheeks. Her quiet sobs reverberated off the walls, the sound echoing back into her own ears. She was only ten, and she was afraid. Her sobs turned into wails when her master entered, unveiling a whip.
By the time he began violating her on the filth-coated floor, she was screaming.
Kras’hir’s eyes snapped open, the scream dying in her throat. The only sound that escaped her mouth was a choked wheeze. She panted softly, the nightmare still fresh in her mind. The Daemoness blinked the sleep out of her eyes, turning her head to look at Usagi, who was still sleeping peacefully. She thought about waking her girlfriend to tell her about the nightmare, but dismissed the idea as foolish. Waking her lover to whine about a bad dream? That was weak, and Kras’hir was no weakling. Still, she couldn't shake the fright and unease she felt, having been forced to recall memories she thought had been buried long ago.
She looked at Usagi again, watching her girlfriend softly breathe. She wondered what Usagi dreamt of. She hoped it was more peaceful than the nightmare she had just woken from. Kras’hir knew she wouldn't be getting anymore sleep, so she decided to get up. She tried to be as quiet as possible, but the bed betrayed her, creaking loudly. Usagi briefly groaned in her sleep, though she didn’t wake. Kras’hir let out a relieved sigh, exiting the bedroom. She peeked in on Sally Anne, wanting to make sure the little girl was sleeping soundly. She was, a teddy bear held tightly in her arms. Kras’hir exhaled, relieved once again.
She smiled tiredly, noting the small army of stuffed animals surrounding Sally. She could thank Omnus for that; the man damn near worshipped the ground Sally Anne walked on, and had bought her more toys than she would likely ever need. The Daemoness walked down to the living room, sitting on the couch. She was asleep again by the time Usagi and Sally Anne woke up.
“Looks like someone’s been having a long night.” muttered Usagi.
“No joking.” Sally Anne said. “Maybe we should just let her nap.”
“Good idea. If anyone at school asks, I’ll just tell them she was sick.”
Kras’hir did end up at school with her, her eyes bloodshot and lined with bags. A boy unfortunate enough to mock her for it ended up suspended upside down by his shirt on a tree outside the school.
“Don’t you think that’s a bit...much?” Usagi asked when she saw the results.
“I think I showed remarkable restraint. Angron would have flayed him alive.” Kras’hir replied.
“Good point.” said Usagi, but before she could continue, Bash and Smash walked up, concerned.
“Hey there.” Bash said. “You OK? You don’t look so good.”
“Yeah.” agreed Smash. “What’d ya do last night?”
“Usagi. In several different positions.” Kras’hir answered bluntly. This got Smash to laugh in his usual annoying way, until Bash smacked him upside the head.
“While I do like jokes…” said Bash. “I’m really worried. Blackhawk says you’ve been...what’s that word...insominsomething…”
“I do suffer from insomnia.” Kras’hir said. “If you had the nightmares I did, you wouldn't sleep much, either.”
“Try us.” Bash said. “We can handle anything.”
“Yeah, anything.” Smash parroted. “We’re the toughest guys in Coastal Falls.”
“Really? Either of you ever been raped?” She asked, her voice unusually soft. This immediately unnerved the duo, but they kept still. Despite them not being the brightest bulbs, they still considered Kras’hir a friend, even if she held no mutual feelings.
“No, but we’re willing to lend an ear. It’s obvious you need help.” Bash said.
“Major help.” Smash agreed. “Come on, talk to us. We’ll listen.”
“I was born into slavery, you know. That was my name growing up. Slave. If you've never been in chains, you're not missing much. Being restrained like a caged animal is one of the worst feelings in existence. Being whipped is worse.”
“Geez, that’s tough.” said Smash. “Then again, what do I know? I’m just a farm boy who lives on my aunt and uncle’s ranch.”
“Yeah, and I’m just some surfer.” said Bash. “We’ve had it easy compared to you.”
“It was my own father raping me.” Kras’hir whispered. Bash and Smash were absolutely horrified, judging by their expressions and desperate urges to not scream. The Daemoness turned on her heel, walking away. She hadn't meant to say as much as she did, and that scared her a bit. Usagi followed her, walking towards the Juice Bar.
“I...I’m sorry to hear that. It must hurt to remember those things.” she said. “I wish I could help.”
Kras’hir said, “Cuddle with me in the Juice Bar. That will help a bit.” Usagi nodded, and they entered, smooth pop playing over the radio.
“GREETINGS, USAGI AND KR-OH DEAR. YOU LOOK FRAZZLED.” said Papyrus. “IS SOMETHING THE MATTER?”
“You could say that.” said Usagi. “She doesn’t wanna talk about it.”
“I just need a nice drink and some time with my girlfriend...along with your wonderful company.”
“NOT TO WORRY! I, THE GRRREAT PAPYRUS, WILL FULFILL A THIRD OF THOSE REQUIREMENTS!” With that, the tall skeleton moved over to the blender, and made a simple milkshake.
While he did so, Undyne looked straight at Kras’hir. “...Talk to me. What’s up?”
“I have terrible nightmares. Nightmares of my time as a slave. Nightmares of my own father...raping me. Repeatedly.” Undyne tried to conceal her rage, but nearly broke the countertop.
“Get. Help. Now.” she whispered. “You need it.”
“I beat him to death with his own severed arm, Undyne. I tore it off at the elbow and began bludgeoning him with it. There wasn't much left of his head by the time I finished.”
“Now that’s fucking hardcore!” replied Undyne, grinning widely but immediately going back to showing concern. “Nonetheless, don’t bottle up your emotions. It leads to bad consequences later on.”
“Is that why...what was his name?...the Fallen Child killed everyone in his path where you came from?”
“What the fuck are you talking about? It was Blackhawk who spared everyone in the Underground and set us free.”
“Oh, that's right. I am thinking of a different version of your world where genocide was unleashed, cities burned, and no one escaped.” From the other end of the bar, Sans stared at her silently, his perpetual grin hiding feelings of shock and surprise.
“You know.” he mouthed, Kras’hir sensing his tone was not his usual goofy one. “You know about the alternate timelines.”
She nodded. “I have seen several, out of the thousands upon thousands of alternate timelines. I've seen the Child do things that would drive you mad with horror and shock.”
“Trust me. I’ve been driven mad for God-knows-how-long. Why do you think I’m the goofy pal everyone loves?” Sans mouthed back before knocking back a bottle of ketchup.
“After witnessing the Fall of the Eldar...nothing surprises me anymore. The Gods mould reality like putty.” Kras’hir said calmly. “Chaos cannot be denied.”
“Amen to that. You and me have a lot in common, toots. We’ve both experienced grief and heartache for eons. In my case...no one else remembers the timelines except for me. How’s that for nightmare fuel? Having to spend thousands of years watching your friends and family die, be set free, die again...every single possibility...and up until a certain little hawk falls down into the mountain where you’re trapped, you’ve had to keep the balance against a homicidal little flower and something that isn’t of this reality…?”
Kras’hir nodded. “I'll be 80,000 next week. Have I told you that? No, of course I haven't. Let me tell you this: Living that long, you see a lot of crazy shit. Like when I was set adrift in the Warp for roughly 2,000 years, forced to relive my worst memories over, and over, and over, and over, and over…” Sans’ perpetual grin only heightened the inner horror he felt hearing that. It mirrored his own experiences almost exactly.
“Undyne, I think you'll like how I got out. I tore open a hole into reality, and exited the Warp, crash-landing in the middle of a battlefield being fought over by Orks and Tyranids. I spent nearly two and a half centuries there, killing with bloodthirsty glee. I racked up more trophies on that one world than I had in the 30,000 years I had been alive before then.” This excited Undyne, and she wanted to hear more. Kras’hir knew there was a reason she liked Undyne, and told her as much.
“Ya know, you’re a lot like me: we’re badass warriors with geeky girlfriends.”
“Usagi is a geek, yes, but she can also kill opponents twice her size with her bare hands.”
“...Good point. But what Alphys lacks in strength, she makes up for in smarts.”
“Aye. She does have a very sharp mind.” Kras’hir agreed.
“Why thank you.” Undyne said. “I’ll be sure and tell her that.”
Kras’hir said after a moment of silence, “You know what I have a strange fondness for? Music from this planet before the Corpse-God and His puppets conquered it.”
“Gotcha covered.” Undyne said, putting on her favorite record: SMiLE by the Beach Boys. They appeared to have quite the fanbase, it seemed, even after thousands of years. Undyne sighed, putting her elbow on the counter as the first a capella notes of Our Prayer echoed through the building. “Ya know, I’m a music afficinado, even if I don’t look the part. I wish this album got the release it deserved back in 1967 A.D.”
Kras’hir, after letting a few songs from the album play, picked a song of her own. She said as the song began, “I have heard this song in the realm of Tzeentch, fittingly enough.”
Then, she sang along, “Please allow me to introduce myself
I'm a man of wealth and taste
I've been around for a long, long year
Stole many a man's soul to waste
And I was 'round when Jesus Christ
Had his moment of doubt and pain
Made damn sure that Pilate
Washed his hands and sealed his fate
Pleased to meet you
Hope you guess my name
But what's puzzling you
Is the nature of my game
I stuck around St. Petersburg
When I saw it was a time for a change
Killed the czar and his ministers
Anastasia screamed in vain
I rode a tank
Held a general's rank
When the blitzkrieg raged
And the bodies stank
Pleased to meet you
Hope you guess my name, oh yeah
Ah, what's puzzling you
Is the nature of my game, oh yeah
(Woo woo, woo woo)
I watched with glee
While your kings and queens
Fought for ten decades
For the gods they made
(Woo woo, woo woo)
I shouted out,
"Who killed the Kennedys?"
When after all
It was you and me
(Who who, who who)
Let me please introduce myself
I'm a man of wealth and taste
And I laid traps for troubadours
Who get killed before they reached Bombay
(Woo woo, who who)
Pleased to meet you
Hope you guessed my name, oh yeah
But what's puzzling you
Is the nature of my game, oh yeah, get down, baby
(Who who, who who)
Pleased to meet you
Hope you guessed my name, oh yeah
But what's confusing you
Is just the nature of my game
(Woo woo, who who)
Just as every cop is a criminal
And all the sinners saints
As heads is tails
Just call me Lucifer
'Cause I'm in need of some restraint
(Who who, who who)
So if you meet me
Have some courtesy
Have some sympathy, and some taste
Use all your well-learned politesse
Or I'll lay your soul to waste, mm yeah
(Woo woo, woo woo)
Pleased to meet you
Hope you guessed my name, mm yeah
But what's puzzling you
Is the nature of my game, mm mean it, get down
(Woo woo, woo woo)
Oh yeah, get on down
Tell me baby, what's my name
Tell me honey, can ya guess my name
Tell me baby, what's my name
I tell you one time, you're to blame
Woo, who, who
Woo, who, who
What's my name
Tell me, baby, what's my name
Tell me, sweetie, what's my name
Woo, who, who
Woo, who, who
Woo, who, who
Woo, who, who
Woo, who, who
Woo, who, who
Woo woo.” Undyne ended up singing along, knowing who exactly this band was.
“That was badass.” she said when it finished.
“Sympathy for the Devil is one of my favorites.” Kras’hir responded.
“I can see why. Mick Jagger is one handsome devil.”
“Did you know that Lettuce, Ebony, Toby and I have a band?” Usagi said nonchalantly. Kras’hir nodded.
“I've heard you four perform. Granted, I wasn't in the crowd, and I had my hands around a criminal’s throat when I heard the song you were playing, but what I heard was nice.” She replied.
“Awww, thanks.” said Usagi. “...Sucks you had to hear it while doing your thing.” The band’s sound, if Kras’hir could remember, was some odd mix of prog-psychedelic-post-punk-J-pop with baroque and surf influences. The Daemoness could indeed recall the sound, and while it wasn't what she would call ‘music’, it appealed to her in a primal way she couldn't explain. That was the reason she and Usagi had made love that night in a way they hadn't before. It was a carnal, rough affair. She grinned at the memory. Her thoughts were broken by Usagi saying, “We’re recording an album.”
Kras’hir was only half-listening, as she was fantasizing about her girlfriend in tight leather, tied to a bed. She nodded in response to Usagi, trying to suppress the blush that threatened to spring across her face. “Uhhhh...Core Earth to Kras’hir…” Usagi waved a hand in front of her.
Kras’hir blinked, shaking herself. “Sorry. Yes, that is wonderful. Good for you.” Usagi smiled.
“Undyne’s producing it. She set up a recording space in her apartment for the four of us.”
Undyne grinned, then said, “It’s going great so far...though I am questioning whatever weird-ass influences Lettuce is adding into the music.”
Kras’hir said, “Very good. And when Imotekh arrives and starts waging a campaign of genocide and devastation against this world, you will be able to provide him with a welcoming concert.”
Her tone was cold and disdainful, in complete contrast to the smile on her face. “Whoa...a bit dark, don’t you think?” Undyne asked, unnerved in a way Bash and Smash were earlier.
“Kras’hir...ix-nay on the ecrons-Nay.” Usagi said. “We’re trying not to worry about that right now, remember?”
Kras’hir laughed at that. “Trying not to worry?! What, you think that the Necrons will just go away if you ignore them? Hate to break it to you, but it doesn't work like that. Why do you think Angron has been watching over Sally while she sleeps? He knows well what is coming, and he wants to keep her safe from it.”
“We’re not ignoring them and hoping they’ll go away. We know they’re coming, and Omnus is preparing things for when it happens.” Usagi said, not amused.
“Right, and what about the rest of you? You should be training. Necrons are unlike any enemy you've faced. The ones you fought before were merely scouts. Imotekh has millions under his command.”
“One, we are training. Two, we know that. Can we drop the subject, please?”
“Fine.” Kras’hir said, before moving her arms off her lap. “Come here, will you?” Usagi did, and sat on Krashir’s lap. The Daemoness stroked her hair softly.
“You're mad at me.” she said.
Kras’hir sighed, not saying anything in response.
“If it makes you feel any better, you can come to our next recording session.” Usagi said.
The Daemoness was about to speak, but a choked sob escaped her instead. She blinked away tears, but they began flowing down her face anyway. Usagi held her close, kissing her cheek. Kras’hir hugged her tightly, weeping. Papyrus, who had long since come back with the milkshake, looked at Undyne, who merely backed away, and closed up shop early. She did not tell the couple to leave, however. The crying eventually subsided, Usagi still holding Kras’hir close. The Daemoness had fallen asleep in her arms. Using her strength, Usagi carried Kras’hir all the way to Undyne’s apartment, where Lettuce, Toby, and Ebony were waiting.
“Sorry I’m late, guys. Kras’hir and I...were discussing stuff.”
“Really?” Lettuce asked. “What kind of stuff?”
“...Important stuff.” said Usagi.
“Well, get her on the couch or something. We need to record.” said Toby. Usagi nodded, putting Kras’hir onto the spare bed Undyne kept in the guest room, then grabbed her bass.
“OK, anyone know where we left off?” Lettuce asked, readying his keyboard.
“I think we were in the middle of Ebony’s song...Blood Moon Beach, you called it?”
“Oh yeah…” said Lettuce. “That one that sounds like some cross between MCR and early Beach Boys, right, Eb?”
Ebony nodded, warming up her guitar. “You know it!”
“OK. Blood Moon Beach, take...dammit, I lost count.” Lettuce said. “Hey, Alphys...remind me?”
“Ten.” She replied, her focus on the project she was working on.
“...Ten takes…? How the hell did we do ten takes so far?”
Ebony shrugged. “Let's just get back to it, shall we?”
“Right.” said Undyne. “Blood Moon Beach, take ten…”
As soon as they started, there was a loud crash from the bedroom where Kras’hir was. The Daemoness had fallen out of bed, having been jolted awake by the music.
“BY KHORNE’S HAIRY KNUCKLES, WHAT THE FUCK?!” She bellowed, annoyed and angry she had been woken up.
“...God damn it…” Lettuce said. “Cut!”
The Daemoness entered the room, her eyes twitching. “Unless you want me to shove that guitar you're holding up your ass, I suggest you let me sleep in peace.”
“If you haven’t noticed, we’re trying to record an album here.” Toby stated dryly.
“And if you haven't noticed, Tobias, I suffer from fucking insomnia. I don't sleep much, due to the nightmares I have. So, tell me, why in the name of the Gods should I care about your album?”
“She has a point.” said Usagi. “Maybe we should just stop recording for now and...I dunno, discuss the album, maybe write more songs…”
“Thank you.” Kras’hir said, before walking out of the room and going back to bed.
“Anyways…” said Toby. “Album discussion...anyone have anything to say? Ebony? Usagi? Lettuce?”
Ebony was looking out the window. “Is that who I think it is watching us?”
“No, Who’s on first. What’s on second.” said Lettuce.
“Shut up for a sec.” said Toby, looking at Ebony. “Who’s watching us, babe? Better not be some peeping tom…”
“It's...Angron.” She said softly, surprise evident in her tone.
“Angron’s watching us? Maybe he wants to come in to discuss our music...which, I might add, is already weird enough, Lettuce. We don’t need the Nirvana, Radiohead, Shaggs, Daniel Johnston, and Bungle influences.”
“Hey, man. I’m frontman of this band, and what I say goes.”
Ebony couldn't help but marvel at how skewed their priorities were. The Primarch of the World Eaters was watching them, and the first thought Toby had was that Angron was there to talk about music. Lettuce and Toby continued arguing, the topic having turned to the album’s potential commercial appeal. Lettuce wanted the album to appeal to a certain audience, Toby was wanting to know which lead single would be used.
Angron hadn't moved. Ebony noticed his arm was outstretched, and there was something gripped in his fist: The head of a youma. This was bad...for Ahriman, who had spent a long time crafting the youma. Angron had killed it in less than five minutes. This was sure to piss the sorcerer off massively. Undyne, not wanting to be rude, let him in. The Primarch entered, rolling the head across the carpet.
“A gift for you, dear sister.” Angron said with dry amusement. Usagi jumped back in fright, Lettuce and Toby’s argument halted by Angron’s arrival.
“Whoa...hey, Angron.” Lettuce said sheepishly. “How nice of you to...drop by…”
Angron didn't respond, his gaze locked on Usagi. “The Queen sent this creature to kill you. She sensed your vulnerability, and took advantage of it. Fortunately for you, I was nearby, and killed it before it got close.”
“Well, thanks, I guess.” Usagi replied.
“Where is Kras’hir of Valeria?” Angron asked curiously. “I have her scent, but not her exact location.”
“She’s in the guest room.” said Undyne.
“Ah. I will not disturb her. She has earned her rest.” Angron responded, the respect he held for the Daemoness clear in his tone.
“Besides killing that youma, why else are you here?” Toby said, idly tapping his drums. “Make it quick, we’re kinda busy here.”
If looks could kill, Angron’s gaze would have incinerated Toby. He growled, “I care not for the mindless cacophony you call music. What I care about is the coming war. None of you will survive it if you do not prepare.”
“Don’t worry about it.” said Toby. “We’re the Power Rangers. We’ve got this in the bag.”
“And not that this matters,” said Lettuce “But I’ll have you know we’re a progressive psychedelic surf emo J-baroque pop-post-punk band.” Toby glared at him. “...What?”
Angron snorted. “And if those pretty trinkets you fight with are lost or destroyed? What will you do then?”
“I’m sure Omnus has backups. He’s pretty freaking prepared.” Lettuce replied.
“I...have to agree.” said Usagi. “Omnus is pretty prepared when it comes to threats like this.”
“And if Omnus is killed? Or fails, like he has numerous times in the past? He is not infallible, children. Nor is he completely immortal.”
“We know that. Omnus has made mistakes, and Eltarians aren’t immortal, they’re extremely long-lived.”
“I don’t think that’s the point Angron was trying to make.” said Usagi. “What if Omnus does fail? What will we do then?”
“I...I…” Toby responded, at a loss for words.
Angron nodded, his point made. “That's what I thought. You rely too heavily on him to help you through dangerous situations. That is the same mistake my brothers made when they blindly followed Father. They never once entertained the notion that He was just as prone to failure and petty acts as the humans He ruled over.”
“So what you’re saying is I need to take charge as leader like I’m supposed to?” Usagi asked.
“Indeed. I am not telling you to completely disregard the advice of your mentor. I am merely wanting you not to rely on him too much, as it could get you killed if he fails to do what is needed.” Usagi nodded, then teleported to the Command Center. Omnus was there was she arrived...his skin having been painted pink and purple.
“Omnus, I...whoa...what the heck…” Usagi muttered in disbelief.
“Sally.” He said simply, as if it explained everything, which it did.
“You need to stop letting her in here. Anyways, there’s something important you and I need to discuss.”
“You mean the fact that Hedrian may be planning to turn against us?” He asked. He knew that wasn't what she meant, but he wanted to tell her of his suspicions.
“Wait, what?!” she asked. “I thought she made what our old pal Captain Retro calls a ‘heel-face turn’?”
“I thought so, too, but above all else, Hedrian is a schemer. She desires power above all else, and will kill to get it. Believe me, I've known her since we were both a lot younger, and I am well aware of her ambitions.”
“...Well, this is the daughter of Master Vile we’re talking about...he does rule the M51 galaxy after all.”
“You want to hear something that may end up being a bad omen? The M51 galaxy went dark three years ago. I mean that literally; all of the stars went out.”
“I’m sure Master Vile likes it that way.”
“Master Vile went quiet not long after. His last message did not contain his usual boasting. Rather, he sounded...resigned to his fate.”
Omnus typed a few commands into the console, and the last message of Lord Vile played, “Omnus...tell Hedrian that I am sorry I failed her. Tell her...to be a better leader than I. I always did love the stars, you know. Watching them glimmer and shine always brought me comfort and hope, and fueled my ambition. I wanted to rule over all of them. I wanted my daughter to rule after my death. That was my desire for Hedrian; to craft her into a great, mighty ruler, one to be feared and loved in equal measure. Now, the stars have gone out, and I am alone, sitting on my throne beneath a dead sky. My empire is gone, my subjects dead, and my daughter married off to a deranged madman in another galaxy. Funny how fate works, isn't it? They will come for me, soon enough, these Tyranids. I do not fear them. Death has never frightened me, despite all of my time spent cheating it. I will face my end with calm, regal dignity, and fight to my last breath. Tell Hedrian her father did not die a coward.”
With that, the message ended. “So, Master Vile coming to Hedrian’s wedding wasn’t just a formal obligation…” concluded Usagi. “...he was running from a bigger threat.”
“Exactly.” said Alpha, chiming in. “That must be why Professor Bias, who if rumors have it has created an equation to destroy all organic life, had his last recent location be in the M51 Galaxy.”
Omnus shook his head. “No. That wasn't Vile. That was a mechanical construct meant to look and act like him. You see, Hedrian...didn't take the death of her father well, and went into a state of fervent denial. She was planning to flee back home to escape the World Eaters when they attacked her fortress, even though her home is nothing but dead stars and worlds stripped bare. The lookalike at her wedding was her way of coping.”
“So, as far as we know, Professor Bias and this AI Vile are planning an equation to destroy all life in a dead galaxy?” Usagi asked.
“Bias is, to put it bluntly, batshit crazy. Who knows what he is planning? He may use it there, in the name of some deluded scheme, or he may use it here. This all, of course, is assuming Master Vile is really dead. He may have lived, and could be carrying out some master plan from the shadows….you can step into the light, Hedrian. I know you've been listening.” The woman did so, having broken down crying. Omnus hugged her. He didn't care about any schemes or plots; he simply cared about the fact his oldest remaining friend and lover was in distress. All Hedrian could do was cry. And cry. And cry. Usagi waited until Hedrian’s tears were spent, then repeated what Angron had said to her.
“...We can’t wait any longer. You, Alpha, and I...we need to prepare.” she stated when her explanation was finished. Her tone was entirely void of emotion. Omnus, however, could sense the distress and terror beneath the flat tone.
“Oh, Usagi…” he said softly, his voice sad. “I wish so very badly you could go back
to your life as Sailor Moon. You should not have to shoulder so much at such a young age…”
“If shouldering this means that I have to fully cement my place as leader, then I must.” Usagi said firmly. “I am a Power Ranger. And that means putting the needs of the many before my own.”
Omnus was wearing an Aquila around his neck. He took it off, before muttering, “Better that we had burned in the fires of Horus’ ambition than live to see such dark times come…” Alpha looked at Usagi, then sighed.
“It’s best we leave him alone for now…” he said, then led Usagi to another part of the base to discuss what she had planned.
Ahriman, meanwhile, was in a bit of a predicament. During the fiasco that was the creation of Isacon, the sorcerer had been traversing space, trying to recruit more Necron warriors, to no avail. He had returned, frustrated and thwarted. Angron killing the latest youma he created upon his return did not help. His anger had worsened when he found about the Isacon blunder. The sorcerer spent half an hour thrashing Kunzite and Doctor Maniac around, berating them the whole time for their parts in creating the failure of a youma. Unfortunately, the attempts on the latter caused Bzrk and Grzrg to try and play an improvised game of “Blood Bowl”...with Ahriman as the ball.
Kunzite, between bouts of being thrown around by magic, asked Queen Beryl to intervene and stop the madness. Unfortunately for him, and Ahriman, who was busy dodging the Orks attempts to toss him around, she did not react as expected. She merely watched in amusement, and offered to act as referee to the Orks.
Ahriman grumbled, “Oh, you'll pay for this…”
“Oh, don’t kinkshame us, dear. Not in front of the court.”
“All I'll need, Your Grace, is rope and a container of whipped cream. You'll be begging me to ravish you in no time.” Ahriman snarked, dodging a charge from Bzrk.
“‘EY! STAN’ STILL, WILL YA?!” the Ork shouted. Ahriman shook his head.
“No, my dear Ork. You see, I quite like my head where it is.” The sorcerer replied.
“BLOOD BOWL IS JUST AS GOOD AS WAAAAAGH!” Bzrk shouted.
“...What is ‘Blood Bowl’, anyway?” Nephrite asked.
“It is a game Ork tribes play when they aren’t WAAAGHing around.” Doctor Maniac said. “Imagine if the ancient sport called ‘American football’ was a blood sport.”
“TH’ ‘EADS ARE DA BALLZ!” Bzrk replied.
Kunzite, who had managed to return to his seat despite the carnage, exhaled. “Anyone else starting to regret their life choices? Or is it just me?” Beryl raised her arms, silencing the court.
“While I do enjoy court-based amusement, now is not the time. It is time to create another youma.”
Ahriman blasted the Orks away with magic, before snorting. “I'll get right on that, just as soon as that idiot of a doctor and moron of an advisor replace the resources they wasted creating that failure of a youma known as Isacon.”
“There are no failures, Ahriman. As long as energy is gathered, whether a youma is defeated or not is inconsequential.”
“Have you forgotten that Angron slaughtered the last youma I created? A youma, I might add, that was ten times his size, and was meant to take on Usagi Tsukino? He killed it in less than five minutes, after I spent four hours creating it.”
“That doesn’t count.”
Ahriman was tempted to tell her something that would cause rage, despair, or both: There was no future he had glimpsed where the ruler she was gathering energy for had returned to full power. He kept that to himself, as it would kill the mood when he attempted to seduce her later.
A small portal opened at the foot of Beryl’s throne, snapping him out of his thoughts. The head of the youma he had created that morning was tossed through, rolling a few feet before coming to a stop by the Queen's feet feet. The portal closed. Angron had sent them a gift, apparently. “Hmm.” Beryl observed. “A waste of resources.”
Ahriman could feel the Doctor’s smug gaze, as it was the sorcerer’s creation that had been a called a waste of resources, but the sorcerer ignored him. He was not going to allow himself to be provoked into petty acts of violence.
“...Such a shame on the limits of a youma.” said Doctor Maniac. “It can only be created once a week.”
Ahriman spat at him, before getting to work on another youma. The limitations were meaningless to him, and he wished to prove it.
Kras’hir, meanwhile, was dreaming. She was a little girl again, and she was in chains. She could see nothing, as there was no light. All she could hear was the rattling of her bonds, as she struggled to break free. Her father entered again, a sick grin on his face. She could hear him unbuttoning his pants, and she began screaming. This time, the scream escaped her throat as she woke up. She was greeted by the sight of Billy looking in. “Are you all right, Kras’hir? I heard screaming.”
“Who the Hell are you?”
“Apologies, ma’am.” the young man said. “I’m Billy Cranston, former first Blue Ranger in memory. I was part of the first Earth-based team of Rangers, mentored by Zordon. My boyfriend Rocky and I live here with Alphys and Undyne.”
Kras’hir got up and exited the room, grabbing her axe and sword as she went.
“Morning, sunshine.” Undyne greeted dryly.
“I had that dream again, Undyne.” Kras’hir replied by say of explanation.
“...I could tell by the screaming. That’s why I asked Billy to check on you. Nice guy, he is.”
Kras’hir nodded, sitting on the couch, her weapons in hand. She was wearing her ring out of convenience, so the sight of a human woman holding blades twice the length of herself was quite comical. To Undyne, however, this was normal, given her...odd ideas of human history. From deeper within the apartment, ‘Lettuce and the Progressive Lords’, as they had dubbed themselves, could be heard spitballing ideas for songs...minus Usagi, naturally. Kras’hir snorted.
“Gotta love their priorities.” She said dryly. “There's a genocidal warlord on his way to annihilate them and everyone they care about, and yet there still focused on their music.”
“I understand your concerns, but they’re just kids. They don’t need that kind of pressure hoisted on them. Saving the city from a weekly monster is one thing, but what is in essence a Terminator leading an army of who-knows-how-many of his kind is another thing entirely.”
“I am well aware of the fact they are still children. I am also well aware of the fact that Imotekh will slaughter them all if they are unprepared when he arrives. The Stormlord is not like Diabolica or Vipera or any of the other enemies they face. He won't just fuck off after a defeat and come back a week later. He'll keep attacking until everyone on Core Earth is dead. Necrons are nearly impossible to kill. Out of all of the Necron Warriors faced by the Power Rangers, all have either escaped to be repaired, or been shut down, before being repaired upon retrieval. The Stormlord is a brilliant tactician and strategist, and plays his cards well. Believe me, he can endure more defeats on the path to victory than we can.”
“...Still, you don’t need to force them around like goddamn soldiers!” Undyne repeated, agitated that Kras’hir wasn’t listening to her point. “THEY AREN’T PSYCHOTIC, BLOODTHIRSTY WARRIORS LIKE YOU! THEY’RE YOUNG MEN AND WOMEN WITH FAMILIES AND LIVES! BUT YOU DON’T CARE ABOUT ANY OF THAT, DO YOU?! TO YOU, IT’S ‘BLOOD FOR THE BLOOD GOD, SKULLS FOR THE SKULL THRONE, MILK FOR THE FUCKING KHORNE FLAKES!’ WELL, YOU KNOW WHAT I THINK? I THINK YOU JUST NEED TO STAY OUT OF THEIR BUSINESS!” With a loud yell, Undyne threw her spear into the wall, landing dead center above Kras’hir’s head. The Daemoness pulled it out, testing the weight. Her expression was still stoic and flat, by when she spoke, her tone was neither.
“You want to know something funny? When I was a little girl, I dreamed of being a princess.” She said, her tone filled with bitterness and cool, restrained anger. “Did I ever tell you that?”
“No, and I could care less. Get out of my apartment.”
“Fuck you, Undyne. I am going to speak, and you will listen.” Kras’hir said, snapping the spear in half over her knee. “It must be so nice being you. Liberated from your miserable fucking existence by Blackhawk and living happily ever after. Tell me: Have you ever been raped? Have you ever been lashed, dozens of times, for daring to ask questions? Has your own father ever done things to you that no little girl should ever have to endure? No? Then your childhood was much, much better than mine was. There was no pure, righteous soul that saved me. No heroic liberator come to free me from my life of slavery. No. The only thing that kept me sane was my determination not to die at the hands of my own father and half-siblings. I prayed, and prayed, night after night, for any higher power to send a miracle my way. My miracle came in the form of Lord Khorne speaking to me in my dreams. He offered me the strength to escape, in exchange for my service, mind, body and soul. Considering the choices were pledging myself to the God of War or living the rest of my life as a slave, I accepted without question. I snapped my chains, killed my father, and butchered everyone else who got in my way...including my mother and maternal siblings, whom I had wished to save. I went a bit insane after that, and became a mindless, raving berserker. My Lord was well-pleased with my service.”
“...That just proves my point. You’re nothing but a bloodthirsty warrior, and from my perspective, you’re forcing the Rangers into that same mentality.”
“If I were nothing but a bloodthirsty warrior, you and I wouldn't be having this conversation. I would have removed your head not long after we met. If I were nothing but a bloodthirsty warrior, the Rangers would be dead, their skulls decorating my armor. I wouldn't have fallen in love with Usagi, if I knew nothing but bloodlust and violent urges. This city would be on fire, the streets flowing with rivers of blood and mounds of bones and gore. The crows would feast well if I were nothing but a berserker.” Kras’hir replied. Undyne realized they were both right, in differing ways.
“...I’m sorry I melted down on you like that. But I think we can agree to disagree.”
“They're all going to die if they are not prepared. Children who didn't learn to fight during the Age of the Imperium were raped, killed and skinned. And not necessarily in that order.”
“...Again, let’s just agree to disagree, OK? I see your point, but I also think I have a point.”
The Daemoness decided to do something a bit more forceful: She linked her mind with Undyne’s, and showed the other woman some of her memories of Necrons at war. The legions of metal warriors marched through city streets, their stride unbroken by the firepower being unleashed on them by the Imperial Guard defending the city. The ground thundered and rumbled as the two sides exchanged volleys of ammunition from lasguns and Gauss rifles. Kras’hir was caught in the middle, being thrown about with each explosion. The Guardsmen numbered in the tens of millions. They were facing only two million Necrons, and the Guardsmen were being slaughtered, entire platoons wiped out with each hail of Gauss fire. Undyne’s mouth dropped open in horror. “...This is like when those Necrons came into Coastal Falls for the first time...but it’s way worse.”
“The Rangers faced twenty-five Necron scouts. Imotekh hasn't brought the full might of his armies to bear on Core Earth yet, but he will.” Kras’hir said in response. Undyne said nothing, but went into Alphys’ lab, where she and Billy were working on new Power Vehicles for the Rangers.
“Alphys...we need to talk. Now.”
Alphys would have to have been deaf to miss the urgency in Undyne’s tone, so she turned to her immediately. “Yes?”
“The Necron threat. We need to do something about it.”
Alphys sighed. “I am afraid that, without more information on what we are dealing with, there is not much I can do.”
“And even then,” said Billy. “We can’t exactly prepare ahead of time like Ranger teams usually do. That’s why it looks like we aren’t as concerned with the Necrons coming as Kras’hir or you are.”
“Of course.” Kras’hir, as optimistic as ever, said as she entered the room. “The Necrons are not the biggest threat. That honor goes to the Great Devourer.”
“Again, we are just as worried as you are. But there is nothing we can do.” Billy repeated.
Kras’hir’ left eye twitched, before she crushed the glass she had been holding when she walked in. Without a word, she walked out of the room, grabbed her weapons, and left the apartment. Alphys sighed.
“She is going to kill someone, isn't she?”
“Oh, yeah.” said Undyne. “...I don’t like it at all.”
Kras’hir, having taken on her ‘Lady in Black’ persona, was even more brutal than usual that day. A man she caught trying to rape a woman was impaled on a lamppost in the center of town, his eyes removed and replaced by his own testicles. A car thief was beaten to death, a crowbar shoved down his throat. Two muggers, a man and woman, had their heads twisted around, their arms and legs torn off. A man who had committed armed robbery was found by police after Kras’hir had finished with him. His shotgun had been shoved up his ass, with unused shells in his nostrils and throat. When Usagi saw the news report while discussing her concerns from earlier with Omnus, she facepalmed in frustration.
“What pissed her off this time?”
The worst deaths she dealt out that day were saved for the men in charge of a child slavery ring. Police had been investigating them for months, but had no conclusive evidence. Kras’hir found the evidence after sneaking into their base of operations, in the form of children in chains. The heads of all six men were found mounted on spikes around the city, and the children she had freed were being interviewed on the news. One of them, a six year old girl, was asked, “When the Lady in Black freed you, were you scared of her at all?”
“At first. But she was nice and let me out of those bad guys’ basement.”
The reporter said gently, “If you don't mind me asking, how did you end up there? You don't have to answer if you don't want to.”
“...A mean man took me away when people were angry at the Power Rangers. I like the pink one. She’s my hero.”
“If you could say one thing to the lady who saved you, what would it be?”
“Thank you, nice lady. Now my mommy and daddy can see me again.”
The other children felt the same way. All of them were a bit scared of her, but grateful beyond words that she had let them out. Omnus couldn't help but smile a bit seeing this.
“She may not deal with evil the same way your team does, but to those kids? Kras’hir is a hero they'll tell their own children about someday.”
“Yeah, I guess you’re right. But that still doesn’t excuse how brutal she can be, even if her victims deserve it.” Usagi said. “It just makes me squeamish, that’s all.”
“And yet, despite all that she does, you still love her more than anyone else, save perhaps your own family.” Omnus replied, still smiling.
“Yep.” Usagi agreed.
“Being in love is like a drug, isn't it? You may get angry and fight with your partner, but that never lasts for long, as being apart is too painful.” He said, speaking from experience.
“I guess. And this is coming from someone who has two potheads as teammates.”
“That's not love. That's lust. The drugs help with that. She sleeps with him because the Mark of Slaanesh demands it, and he sleeps with her because no man with a pulse would give up the chance at a night alone with her. Vampires, even half-vampires, are very sexual creatures.”
“That explains why she and Blackhawk didn’t work out.”
“Yes.” He agreed. “It seems to me that Blackhawk may have found someone new, anyway. I get the feeling he and this ‘Starhawk’ may go down the road to becoming lovers, though I could be wrong.”
“Speaking of them, I think they were going to a concert today.” Concerts in Coastal Falls were no longer ‘live’ venues in a sense if one were talking about ancient bands by their standards. They were more or less holographic recordings with AI ‘performers’. In Blackhawk and Starhawk’s case, they were going to see a band Blackhawk enjoyed immensely: Avenged Sevenfold.
“I better check up on them.” said Alpha, opening a comm link. “Blackhawk, are you there? Come in, Blackhawk.”
After a moment, he responded, a bit irritated, “Yep, I'm reading you. Loud and clear.”
“Oh. Sorry to disturb you like that. I’m just checking to see if you’re all right.”
“I'm fine. Just got through explaining to Starhawk how this whole holographic concert shit works. That took a while, but I think she gets it. Do you need anything else?”
“No. That is all.”
The link went dead. Omnus turned his gaze back to the news, watching it without really paying attention. His nails tapped against his leg, his thoughts elsewhere.
Meanwhile, Starhawk sat on Blackhawk’s couch, idly looking up at the ceiling. “There is a question that has been, how do you say it...in my brain, since you’ve explained how these concerts work. Is there a demand for the albums, not just the concerts?” Her syntax was ambiguous, so Blackhawk couldn’t tell whether she was referring to live albums, studio albums, or both. In any case, Core Earth’s record companies, when it came to ‘ancient’ bands, were more corporate than they usually were. How else would you explain the Beach Boys’ “newest” material being nothing but the classic bubblegummy surf, or the Rolling Stones being more classic, blues-influenced rock moreso than usual.
He had no idea how to explain that to her, so he simply shrugged. “That depends on what band is popular, and if the companies think the albums will sell. They make plenty of money off of these concerts, so they don't make albums a lot of the time, as there is really no reason to, both due to lack of demand and lack of money being made off of them.”
“I can explain, if you want.” said Mrs. Little from the other room, where she was busy creating a press release for Lettuce and the Progressive Lords, of all things. “The companies, when they want to make an album, hire teams of ghostwriters and program the resulting songs into the AIs. It’s also a time consuming process, which is why studio albums aren’t as big as they used to be.”
Blackhawk nodded. “Does that answer your question, Star?” She blushed, and nodded back.
Suddenly, a voice echoed from outside, “NO! STOP! PLEASE, I HAVE A FAMILY!”
Starhawk peered out of the window to see what was going on. A man was on his back in the street, his arm snapped and bent at an awkward angle. A gun was on the ground not far away from him. Advancing toward him, slowly, was Kras’hir.
“...Oh, dear, that man needs help!” Starhawk said, then looked at Blackhawk.
“I wouldn't recommend getting in her way. She hasn't met you, and may think you're a threat. And believe me when I say she doesn't take kindly to threats.” He responded. Starhawk didn’t listen, as she’d already flown out the window, and began firing at Kras’hir. The Daemoness merely turned to look at her, the only emotion displayed on her face being annoyance.
“Shoo, little fly. I'm a bit busy here.” Kras’hir said softly, turning back to her quarry. He began backing away from her, frantically clambering to escape.
“I AM NO MERE FLY! I AM STARHAWK, WARRIOR OF THE HAWKIANS!” the girl screeched, getting between Kras’hir and her very likely deserving victim. “AND YOU WILL NOT HARM THIS INNOCENT WHILE I AM HERE!”
“Ask him about the man, woman, and two children he just shot in the head in an alley not far from here. They were innocent.”
“...Did you shoot those people, sir?” she asked.
“No! She's crazy! I took that gun with me to defend myself! This city's a dangerous place!”
“...Dangerous? The Power Rangers keep it safe.”
“They save us from the big monsters, but they don't do much to stop the looting and murder! My family is starving!”
“You poor thing…” Starhawk said, immediate sympathy showed in her eyes. “I shall help you.”
Kras’hir walked past her, took tore open the coat he wore, and pulled out a picture. She handed it to Starhawk. “He is going to tell you that's his family, in order to earn sympathy, but don't be fooled. Look at the man in that picture, then the man you wish to save. Notice anything strange? Does he look any different?” Starhawk narrowed her eyes so that she could inspect the photo further.
The man stammered, trying to explain himself, before he took off running down the street. Starhawk, angered that she was deceived, flew after him, cursing at him in Hawkian...which, to his ears, sounded like the fiercest cries of the deadliest birds of prey. When she got close enough, she fired her most powerful attacks at him. The man managed to avoid a few, but the fifth went through his back and chest. He staggered, before collapsing, coughing up blood. He rolled over, looking up the sky.
“Good shot, bird lady. Good...shot. I knew my luck would run out sooner or later.” He said, completely calm. He was facing death, but he was unafraid of it. Starhawk fired one last attack, deciding that a slow painful death just wasn’t right. This didn't kill him instantly, but it made his death come a bit quicker.
“Could you...do something for me?” He asked her, his voice hoarse and quiet. “Would you mind...holding my hand while I die? That way...I won't be alone when the Reaper comes for me.”
“Why should I comfort a liar and a murderer?”
“I don't want comfort. I know...where my soul is going. I just don't want to be alone when my life finally ends. I never wanted to live this life. I did have a family...once. But...I lost them. Stupid...stupid...I wish…I wish I could take back all the bad things I've done. I wish it more than anything in the world…” he replied, his voice filled with quiet sorrow. “Give those innocent people I killed a proper burial, will you?”
He coughed, blood covering his chin. He took a few more breaths, before his eyes closed, and his body went still. His last words were, “I'm coming, Maria...”
Kras’hir closed his eyes, before saying, “I hope you find the redemption you seek…”
She stood, then turned to Starhawk. “I apologize for the hostile reaction. I would have liked to have first met you under better circumstances.”
“No, it is I who should be the apologizing. I thought you were attacking this man.” She then extended a feathered hand. “I am Starhawk.”
The Daemoness grinned, shaking her hand. “Very nice to meet you. I am Kras’hir. It's always a pleasure to meet another female warrior.”
“Indeed it is. Zordon sent me here, so that I may help deal with the Necrons when they arrive.” Starhawk explained her past, and how the Necrons had awoken on the planet Hawkia...and were beaten back by the planet’s forces somehow.
“The Necron Lord in charge likely pulled his forces back, possibly due to your homeworld not being worth conquering at that moment. Now, make no mistake, I am not trying to undermine the victory that those soldiers won. It is impressive. I am merely saying this due to my own experiences with Necrons in the past. They don't lose easily.”
“They do not. It was surprising indeed when I met Blackhawk and informed him that he was Hawkian like I.”
Kras’hir nodded. “How he did not figure that out on his own is beyond me.”
“As it is to me. ...I get the feeling his mother is what you would call ‘the overachiever’.” Starhawk said. The Daemoness snorted.
“Most likely, though I've never met his parents.”
“Well then, come in.” Mrs. Little called from inside, having not heard the ‘overachiever’ part, or more likely just flat-out ignoring it. Appearance-wise, she didn’t look like his mother at all, Kras’hir could see. She looked like she could pass for his sister, and an attractive one at that. Kras’hir couldn't help but notice as she entered. These Hawkians were not bad on the eyes...she shook herself before her gaze wandered too much, sitting on the couch. Starhawk sat next to her, her purple outfit not leaving too much to the imagination. The Daemoness coughed, trying once again to avoid staring.
“So…” she said awkwardly.
“So…” replied Starhawk.
“...Um....nice outfit.” Kras’hir said, those words the first thing that came to mind. Starhawk blushed again, silently wondering if Kras’hir was attracted to her, just as she herself was attracted to Blackhawk. Kras'hir was, indeed, which made her feel guilty, as it seemed like she was betraying Usagi. Still, the more carnal side of her couldn't help but admire the Hawkian warrior. Starhawk took no obvious notice, but inwardly she did. This led to..mixed emotions. Mixed and confused...those on Core Earth were absolutely confusing, except for that Sans fellow. He introduced Starhawk to the fabulous drink known as mustard.
Kras’hir cleared her throat, looking away.
“Is something the matter?” Mrs. Little asked.
Kras’hir didn't wish to discuss the arousal she was feeling, so she kept quiet.
“...Would you like to see the family trophy room?”
The Daemoness leapt to her feet. “Certainly! That sounds wonderful!”
She practically ran out of the room. Mrs. Little led Kras’hir to the trophy room, which confirmed her and Starhawk’s suspicions. Definite overachiever. After explaining each and every one in great detail, Mrs. Little stated, “The only people allowed in my family are winners. Why do you think I’m trying to date the highest authority on the planet, the President himself?”
Kras’hir suppressed a snort. She knew who was wearing the President's skin. That little fact would make dating him...complicated, to say the least. She looked at the different trophies. There were not only ones for herself, but just as many for Blackhawk and his younger sibling Coop. Her words echoed in Kras’hir’s head: “The only people allowed in my family are winners.” The Daemoness quickly began to dislike the woman. She wouldn't stop talking about the trophies she had won. She didn’t even focus on her own children’s trophies, which the two boys had probably been pressured into winning, anyway. “...And this one I won for best essay…”
Kras’hir rolled her eyes. Mrs. Little really had no room to boast about anything. She very much doubted the woman had ever tasted combat, and doing well at fighting was the only way the Daemoness was ever impressed with anyone. Blackhawk actually lived up to his boasting, she noted, but he had a pure heart all the same. And she could see something else within him...dread and pressure. Given who his mother was, she could understand that.
“An impressive display.” Kras’hir said. “You must be proud of your children.”
“Winners just like their mother.” she said. “I’m so proud of them, especially my Blackhawk.” She hadn’t even mentioned this ‘Coop’ boy once, and he was her youngest at 13.
“And what of your other son? Coop? Are you proud of him?” Kras’hir asked, already anticipating the answer she would receive.
“He’s smart.” Mrs. Little said. “And he uses that to be a winner.” Her tone was...something. Not nonchalant, but not fully appreciative, either. Kras’hir turned to Starhawk.
“Are your parents proud of you?” She asked.
“I...have no parents…”
“Me, neither!” The Daemoness said cheerfully, the tone not doing much to hide the pain she felt.
“I am sorry to hear.”
“Don't be too sorry. My father was...well...there are no words harsh enough to describe him, really.”
“He hurt you.”
“Yes. In more ways than one.” Starhawk hugged Kras’hir in sympathy. The Daemoness hugged her back. The moment was interrupted by Blackhawk walking in. Kras’hir looked at him, still holding Starhawk close. Blackhawk blinked.
“Is this a bad time?” He asked. “Am I interrupting something?”
The Daemoness didn't respond, instead choosing to rest her chin on the top of Starhawk’s head. The latter looked at Blackhawk silently.
He coughed awkwardly. “Um...I can go, if you two were in the middle of something. I assume you have a reason for hugging her, so…”
He walked back out. Kras’hir looked at Starhawk, still not speaking. Starhawk could only stare back. Kras’hir awkwardly bit her own lip, thinking about what to say or do next. Starhawk, without thinking, kissed Kras’hir suddenly. Her beak pressed against Kras’hir’s lips...it looked comical, but for Kras’hir...it was mortifying. At least, at first. After a moment, she began enjoying it, kissing Starhawk back. Soon, tongues were added and it devolved into making out. The Daemoness pulled Starhawk close, her hands running over the latter's body. Starhawk did the same, Mrs. Little long having left. Starhawk held Kras’hir as closely as the Daemoness did to her in passion. The rest of the night was pleasurable for them both.
Kras’hir woke up the next morning, naked, in a bed she didn't recognize. “...Good morning.” said Starhawk wearily. That’s when Kras’hir realized...oh fuckfuckfuckfuckFUUUUCK. She had done the unthinkable...she’d cheated on Usagi, and with a complete stranger, no less.
“Gods have mercy.” She muttered. Blackhawk, for his part, wasn’t too happy either. He’d gone to the concert, alone and miserable. Not even the AIs for M. Shadows and Jimmy “The Rev” Sullivan could cheer him up, despite the best efforts of the holographic band. They were programmed to entertain the crowds at any cost, and they had tried and failed with Blackhawk.
Kras’hir rolled over, looking at Starhawk. As guilty as she felt, she still couldn't help but notice how beautiful the young Hawkian looked in the sunlight. Starhawk merely smiled, and she got up and exited the bedroom. That’s when Kras’hir realized where she was: Undyne and Alphys’ apartment. Alphys used the hammerspace the two kept to create a bedroom for Starhawk, and when she saw Kras’hir, neither she nor Undyne were very pleased by her actions the previous night.
“What. The. FUCK.” Undyne nearly shouted, trying to keep her cool. “You cheated on Usagi, and with our roommate, no less!”
“I don't even remember most of last night. Gods almighty, my head hurts…” the Daemoness groaned.
“And so should your heart, darling.” came Mettaton’s smooth voice from the other room. Ah, yes...him. She didn’t like Mettaton too much, mainly due to his almighty ego. “What you did was wrong, no questions asked.”
“I don't recall asking for your input, you egotistical cocksucker.” Kras’hir snarled in response.
“Ohhh, myyy. Someone’s got a case of the cheater’s blues.”
“Burn in Hell.” Kras’hir growled, walking into the kitchen. She poured herself a large glass of whiskey, before downing it in one gulp.
“Listen, Kras’hir...I’m pissed at you right now.” said Undyne. “Usagi gave you nothing but her love, and you throw it out for a complete stranger?!”
“Again, I don't even recall most of what happened last night. All I remember is feeling a sudden wave of lust, kissing Starhawk, then...just empty space where memory should be.”
“Don’t use that excuse on me. I don’t like excuses.”
Kras’hir linked their minds once again, and showed her. There was literally blank space in her memory.
“...Maybe you got really drunk…”
“Possibly. Though the voice in my head just before everything went blank is a bit harder to explain.”
“A...voice in your head?”
She nodded. “It took the tiny bit of attraction I already felt for Starhawk, and expanded it, turning that attraction into arousal and lust. It doesn't justify what I did, but it may help explain how things escalated so quickly. I don't normally hear voices in my head that aren't mine.”
“Get that looked at.”
“Of course, I might not have a head after Usagi finds out I cheated on her.”
“...You aren’t going to tell her, are you?”
“Would you rather she find out from someone else?”
“No, but telling her yourself is just as bad, if not worse.”
“So...what should I do?”
“I can’t help you out of this one. You’re on your own.”
The Daemoness nodded, before walking out of the apartment. Only Alphys noticed that she was weeping as the door shut. She sighed.
“I don't think Kras’hir knows what she wants.” She said. “I think she's very confused, and a bit scared.”
“Still…” said Undyne. “This is gonna end in disaster no matter what.”
“We can't blame Starhawk, though. Kras’hir never told her that she and Usagi were in a relationship.”
“That, and it’s obvious she’s in love with Blackhawk.”
Alphys looked at Starhawk, who was watching Kras’hir leave, a sad expression on her face. “I'm not so sure.”
“You mean to tell me…”
“I'm not telling you anything. But look at her.”
“...Are you sure it’s love she’s feeling?”
“If it was lust, she wouldn't be that sad to see her go. That's the same way I used to look at you as you left, remember?” Alphys said. Undyne blushed, and nodded.
“I think she's in love with Kras’hir, and I think Kras’hir is in love with her and Usagi, which complicates the whole situation.”
“...And Blackhawk’s probably in love with Starhawk...oh, boy…”
“Yup.” Alphys said. “Oh, dear…”
In Queen Beryl’s fortress, the entire court awaited the creation of Ahriman’s newest youma. The sorcerer worked tirelessly, utilizing spell after spell to create his youma. It wasn't easy. Kunzite eventually grew impatient.
“What is taking him so long?” the advisor muttered. “I created Isacon in less than five minutes. Why is this new monstrosity taking so long for Ahriman to create?”
“Be patient.” Queen Beryl said calmly. “Ahriman takes pride in his youma.”
“With all due respect, Your Grace, your judgement in regards to Ahriman is a bit..skewed.” Kunzite replied.
“I trust him, Kunzite. Do not rush his craftsmanship.”
After another twenty minutes, Ahriman entered the room. “My work is finished.”
“Excellent. Bring it out here.”
A moment later, a youma the size of Ahriman’s palm scurried into the room. It chirped at Queen Beryl, it's miniscule jaws clicking.
“...That’s it…?” Beryl asked flatly, restrained anger evident.
He snapped his fingers, and the youma grew, becoming large enough to tower above the throne Beryl sat on. “...I am very impressed.” said Beryl, the anger fading away. “What do you call it?”
“Abaddon.” Ahriman said. He had read the Bible in the past, and found the name rather fitting. It also being the name of the Warmaster of Chaos was entirely coincidental.
“Astounding name for such an imposing creature. What is your plan for it? How shall you gather energy?”
“Our favorite Bloodthirster is an absolute goldmine of emotion right now. I am going to send this creature after her.”
“Excellent plan. She may even give us enough energy to revive the Great Ruler.” Beryl said. “And, if it needs to be grown, the Rangers’ Megazord will not stand any chance.”
He nodded, going to make preparations to send the youma after Kras’hir. The Daemoness in question, not being able to bear the guilt, told Usagi everything. She did not get the reaction she expected. Usagi held her close, kissing her.
“Don’t get me wrong, I’m angry. But I know it wasn’t your fault.”
“Not entirely, in any case. I'm not used to these emotions. I love you, I do not doubt that, but...i have feelings for Starhawk I cannot explain. It is...confusing.” Kras’hir confessed.
“Are you...picking up good vibrations?” Usagi joked, trying to lighten both their moods.
“Yeah, you could say that. She...I don't know...she's very easy to get along with. In more ways than one.” The Daemoness replied, chuckling.
“But there’s another problem. Blackhawk obviously likes her, even though he doesn’t want to rush into the relationship. And she might not feel the same way about him.”
“This is a grand old clusterfuck, isn't it?”
“Forget love triangle. This is a love rectangle.” Usagi observed.
“Might as well go tell Undyne and Alphys that we resolved this bit of it. Undyne looked like she wanted to skin me alive when I left earlier today.”
Usagi phoned Undyne, who breathed a sigh of relief. “Thank God. I thought you’d tear her apart.”
“I kinda want to, but I know it wasn’t her fault.”
“...Good you could resolve it peacefully.”
This was a loaded comment, as Blackhawk and Starhawk were arguing in the background.
“WHY AREN’T YOU BEING THE UNDERSTANDING?! I LOVE HER!” Starhawk screamed, throwing poor Mettaton at Blackhawk.
“YOU MET HER YESTERDAY! MOST PEOPLE DON'T FALL IN LOVE THAT FAST!” Blackhawk yelled back at her.
“YOU DID WITH EBONY!”
That made him pause. “...Alright, I'll give you that one.”
“Hm. Tooth chafed, as you like to say.”
“Right….tooth chafed.” Blackhawk replied, snorting.
“DO NOT BE THE MOCKING OF MY BROKEN ENGLISH!” Starhawk shouted through a mouthful of mustard.
“YOU MAKE IT SO DAMN EASY!”
“OK, guys...we don’t need to argue anymore…” said Billy, trying to mediate peace.
Blackhawk rolled his eyes. “Yes, because I am sure you and your lover boy never argue.”
“Don’t mock me Blackhawk. I’m a Power Ranger just like you. But more importantly, you guys don’t need to argue over something so needlessly stupid.”
“You know what?” Blackhawk said, sounding angry, before he sighed. “You're right. I'm sorry, Starhawk.”
Starhawk didn’t answer, only the sounds of her drinking mustard could be heard as Usagi hung up.
“She drinks mustard. I still don't understand that little habit.” Kras’hir said.
“Sans probably got her on it. The skeleton drinks ketchup...and gets drunk on it.”
“By the Gods...warriors who feast in the halls of Lord Khorne drink ale and mead. If he gets drunk off ketchup, then ale would likely kill him.”
“I wouldn’t worry. He’d send condiments to the brewery.” Usagi said, trying to be punny.
“...I hate you.” Kras’hir groaned in response.
“...Blame Sans. He likes puns.”
“I can't hate him. I always get too close to being deaf in his presence to hate him.” The Daemoness snarked.
“...I think you’re getting him mixed up with Papyrus.”
“Eh. They're both skeletons. Once you've seen one, you've seen them all.” Kras’hir said, waving her hand dismissively.
Meanwhile, Lettuce had invited Kira over to his place to discuss the album’s progress. Lettuce had added even more eclectic influences, ranging from Daft Punk to the Butthole Surfers. “...And Toby says the music’s weird enough. As if.”
“He's partly right.” Kira said. “The music is weird, but that's not a bad thing. That's what makes it unique.”
“Of course you’d think so, Kira. You’re a musician yourself, so you know what you’re talking about.”
She nodded. “I love music. It comes in so many different forms, and every form is unique.”
“How else do you explain the Shaggs? Or Wesley Willis? Or Captain Beefheart, Frank Zappa, Syd Barrett…”
She laughed, raising a hand before he could go on. “I think I get your point.”
“Without you, or Captain Retro, we wouldn’t have gotten this contract. Granted, we won’t get anything close to mainstream appeal, but…”
“...I'll still come to every concert. Even if I'm the only one there.” Kira said cheerfully, trying to make him feel a bit better.
“Thanks, that means a lot.”
Out of nowhere, a hit song by Elton John began to play. “Can you feeel the love toni-”
“Shut up, Captain Retro.” muttered Lettuce.
She chuckled, taking his hand gently. “I'm in the mood to dance. Are you?”
“I’m not a good dancer.” Lettuce said. “I’m like Kevin Bacon in Footloose.” ...Bad analogy. This made her snort, before she danced with him anyway. Appropriately, Captain Retro played a slow waltz, which only they could hear. Kira enjoyed herself immensely.
Meanwhile, Kras’hir and Usagi had gone over to Undyne and Alphys’s apartment to try and smooth things over, as the silence at the end of the call sounded very awkward. Their arrival only made it worse. “Is this a bad time?” Usagi asked. Blackhawk didn't answer.
“It’s incredibly awkward.” said Billy, who was sitting on Undyne and Alphys’ couch, playing video games with Rocky. Usagi sat between them.
“...Super Mario World.” said Billy.
Kras'hir approached Starhawk hesitantly, unsure what to say. “Greetings, Kras’hir…”
“Hello, Starhawk…” the Daemoness said awkwardly.
“It's okay. I'm not angry with you, and neither is Usagi.”
“You are not?”
“No. Gods help me, I love you both.” Kras’hir whispered.
“...Then what will we do?”
“Polyamory?” suggested Usagi. Kras’hir raised a brow.
“You'd be willing to have a three-way relationship?”
“We can try it.”
Kras’hir looked at Starhawk.
“Is polyamory like the mustard?” D’awwww. That was adorable.
“No.” explained Billy. “It’s a type of relationship. One where multiple people are in one or more relationships with each other.”
“...Oh. That is the okay…”
Kras’hir said, “If you are uncomfortable with this, we don't have to try it.”
“I am not the uncomfortable...this is all new to me…”
“I bet.” The Daemoness said.
“I will try this ‘polyamory’.”
Undyne then saw how...peeved Blackhawk looked. “You know,” she whispered. “There’s a simple solution to this whole thing. Ask if you can join.” She knew that Blackhawk was very stubborn, and determined to not fall into the same traps he did with Ebony. So it was falling on deaf ears.
He gave her a rather perplexed stare. “You know...I'm not entirely against that idea…”
He did. Usagi was open to it. Starhawk...wasn’t. Neither was Kras’hir. Angron was watching once again, and rolled his eyes when the inevitable arguments started.
“Hey, I’m open to it, you two. I know Blackhawk well enough.”
“Yes, but do you love him?” asked Starhawk.
“W-well, no, but he’s my friend…”
“Are you willing to sleep with him?” Kras’hir asked.
“If it solves this whole mess, then yeah. I mean, it’ll be more of a friends-with-benefits kind of thing on his end, if it’s OK with him…”
Blackhawk put his head in his hands. “This whole situation is so fucked up…”
“You’re telling me.” said Billy, then nudged his boyfriend. “Rocky, say something, will you?”
“Hey, man. I’m not getting involved with this.”
A sigh resounded, before Magnus spoke suddenly, having appeared behind all of them,“I suppose it falls to me to resolve this, doesn't it?”
“Who in the ever-loving name of fucking Zordon are you?” Rocky asked.
“Oh, I have many names, but you may call me Primarch Magnus.” He responded.
“OK...why are you here?”
“To forcibly pull the heads of these four out of the arses where they've firmly lodged themselves.” Magnus said dryly.
“Please. I don’t need to deal with this shit, and neither does my boyfriend.”
Magnus showed the four of them a vision of the future. In it, Usagi, Kras’hir and Starhawk stood together, their expressions toward each other clearly indicating they were in a committed romantic relationship. Blackhawk, meanwhile, was with someone else. Namely...Ebony.
Usagi prepared for the inevitable meltdown from the male Hawkian. It didn't happen. Instead, he asked calmly, “Is this vision set in stone?”
Magnus nodded. “Some things can be changed, but others are inevitable. The relationship between these three will last for decades. Yes, sister, I said decades.”
“...Holy shit,” swore Usagi. “Is Ebony a...Daemon Prince…?”
“Indeed. Kras’hir is, too.”
“I know that, but Ebony...as a Daemoness?” Usagi asked. “What’s gonna happen with her and Toby?”
“Tobias will have his own part to play. I do not wish to reveal too much.” Magnus said vaguely.
“Can you at least tell us what will happen to Lettuce? I wanna see if his music succeeds.” Undyne said.
“It will. In fact, the music he creates will be known across many worlds.”
“Awesome!” Undyne said, then saw in the vision that Lettuce, seemingly for her, had crafted his own version of SMiLE: 12 tracks, 24 songs in all. “Fucking sweeeeeet.”
Magnus said nothing, looking out the window. He nodded at Angron, who nodded back. With that, the two Primarchs left.
Meanwhile, at Lettuce’s home, he lay on his couch with Kira, his body on her lap. She was reclined, her eyes closed. “This is nice. I like spending time with you, Kira. You’re certainly a lot more relaxed than Pinkie.”
“I wouldn't say her energetic personality is a bad thing.” Kira replied. “That's just who she is.”
“Yeah...but, can I be honest here? Her boundlessness can be exhausting and annoying sometimes. Like, say I wanna write a song. I need peace and quiet to concentrate.” Lettuce said, recalling a recent incident. He’d been trying to write something inspired by Surf’s Up, but Pinkie had kept distracting him.
“I thought you two were dating…”
“We are.” Lettuce said. “But it’s hard being her boyfriend, you know?”
“I guess. When I'm in a relationship, I always try to find a middle ground with whoever I'm with. We may not always agree or have the same interests, but I try to find whatever common ground I can.”
“That’s always good. Before we officially got together, Pinkie and I were doing on-again-off-again dating.”
“Huh.” Kira replied, her eyes still closed.
“You’re pretty when you’re like this.”
Lettuce soon fell asleep, but was quickly woken up by s familiar beep-beep-ba-ba-beep-beep. “Great...duty calls.”
Kras’hir, meanwhile, was sitting with Usagi and Starhawk. Usagi’s communicator beeped, and she sighed. “Greeeeat…”
Starhawk asked, “Another youma, yes?”
Kras’hir nodded, before a voice spoke in their minds, “I am Abaddon, destroyer of all things. I come for you, Bloodthirster Kras’hir. Come face me, if you dare.”
The Daemoness growled. “Challenge accepted, you fucker.”
Usagi activated her Cosmorpher, “POWER OF THE MOON! WHITE RANGER POWER!” With that she morphed.
Starhawk was next, and morphed into her Phantom Ranger form.
Kras’hir snarled at them both. “You will stay out of this fight.”
“You’re forgetting who you’re talking to.” said Billy. “They, me, Rocky, Blackhawk...we’re all Power Rangers. That means we stick by one another, through thick and thin. You’re not going into this alone.”
“And you forget who you're talking to. I am Kras’hir, Bloodthirster of Khorne, Butcher of Worlds, Huntress of War. I do not need others to fight my battles for me. This...Abaddon is coming after me, seeking combat. I intend to oblige.”
“We’re not fighting your battles for you.” said Usagi. “We’re your family, Kras’hir. That means we don’t leave you behind, and join you in the bloodletting.”
“Join in if I lose. Believe me, I can and will kill this creature on my own. This is a duel, and duels are even affairs.” The Daemoness said stubbornly. It was clear she wouldn't change her mind. As much as she loved Usagi, and Starhawk, and how much she had grown to care about the other Rangers, she was still a servant of Khorne, and Khorne demanded blood. The youma would not die the death He demanded if the Rangers were involved. Usagi sighed, and demorphed, as did Starhawk. Sans had called after hearing the day’s events to see if everyone was alright.
“Yeah, we’re fine, Sans.” said Undyne. Looking at Kras’hir, she urged her to go. The Daemoness did, gladly. Upon arriving where Abaddon told her to go, she noticed the team gathering behind her. She expected as much.
“We’re not leaving you behind.” said Lettuce.
Kras’hir noticed that the Multiverse Rangers were joined by Billy, Rocky, and Kira.
“Yeah.” said Rocky. “If that monster wants a piece of you’ll he’ll have to go through us to do it.”
“You up for a challenge, big boy?” Billy taunted.
A dark chuckle echoed, before Abaddon emerged. He was massive, his form towering over all of them. Dark wings were folded over his back, and long talons curled out of his toes. His body rippled with muscle, the ground quaking with each step he took.
“Oh, yeah. This is gonna be a challenge.” deadpanned Lettuce. “Don’t worry. There’s kind of a formula to these fights. He summons cannon fodder, we take them out, he’ll take us on, we use our Power Weapons, he’ll go boom, he’ll grow, we use Megazord, he’ll go boom again.”
Abaddon laughed again, before speaking, his voice sounding exactly like his namesake, “I need no cannon fodder, little bird. I intend to fight on my own.”
“So no cannon fodder. Mmkay, tweak the formula a bit. We morph, and just summon our Power Weapons.”
“You will not.” Abaddon said. Suddenly, crying could be heard. Kras’hir looked at Usagi, her eyes wide. That was Sally crying.
“...WHAT ARE YOU DOING TO THAT KID?!” screamed Billy. “PUT HER THE FUCK DOWN, YOU BASTARD!”
“I? I am doing nothing. And I won't harm her...if you do not interfere while Kras’hir and I duel.”
“As long as she doesn’t get hurt.” Billy said. “Otherwise...you’ll have to deal with us.”
Abaddon snorted. “You? You are nothing. None of you are. The only one among you who has a prayer of killing me is Usagi Tsukino.”
“...Nothing...friend, you know who you’re talking to?” Lettuce asked. “Kira, give him the riot act.”
Kira was about to do just that, before Abaddon said, mockingly, “Oh, dear. Are you going to lecture me? Didn't your father used to do the same thing while beating you?”
This made her stop, her jaw shutting.
“Don’t listen to him, Kira!” shouted Usagi. “He’s trying to break you!”
“Stay strong, Kira!” encouraged Naruto.
“Ah, so we come to you, Naruto. Your girlfriend...what was her name again?”
“Her name is Hinata, but that’s none of your concern.”
“Of course. However, the fact that she is sleeping with a man who is supposed to be training her...that concerns you, yes?”
“She’s not cheating on me.”
“And how do you know that?”
“She promised that while I was away, she’d wait for me.” Naruto growled, his demon side starting to overtake him.
“Hey, buddy!” Toby shouted. “Why don’t you shut the fuck up, and duel Kras’hir already!?”
“Why, because breaking all of you is so much fun.” Abaddon replied, his tone still mocking.
“No it isn’t.” said Lettuce. “You’re just hoping to prolong your own death at our hands.”
“Exactly!” said Rocky. “So you’d better just duel already and stop playing games!”
“On a scale of one to ten, Rocky, how enjoyable was that time you spent in prison?”
“What the hell are you talking about? I’ve never been to prison!”
“No? Oh, that's right. You just experienced the ‘rape’ part of prison rape.”
“Hey! Stop hurting my boyfriend!” growled Billy. “Don’t test me. I’ve battled far worse things…”
“You tell him!” cheered Usagi.
Kras’hir stepped forward, before she and Abaddon finally clashed. The shockwave shattered windows and blew the others back. “Holy fuck…” said Toby. “...Anyone got popcorn?”
Lettuce reached into one of his ‘pockets’ and pulled out the stereotypical popcorn bag, stripes and everything.
“Thanks.” said Toby, starting to munch on the salty popped kernels. The Daemon and youma fought, and it soon became clear that, out of all the times they had seen Kras’hir fight, she had been holding back throughout all of them. Each clash made the ground shake, and it wasn't long before Kras’hir and Abaddon were both sporting several open wounds. Neither of them seemed to notice. “Damn…” observed Usagi. “She can hold her own, that’s for sure.”
“No kidding.” said Lettuce, who offered popcorn to Pinkie. She ate it, still watching the fight. There was suddenly a gruesome crack, as Kras’hir snapped one of Abaddon’s wings. The youma didn't scream. Instead, he laughed.
“Fuuuck.” said Lettuce, climbing on Kira’s shoulders to get a better view. “...Don’t give me that look, Pinkie.” he said. “This isn’t what you think.”
Billy looked down, doing some calculations. “...Oh dear...they’re evenly matched in power, it seems.”
“How evenly matched?” asked Rocky.
“Infinity plus one.”
Kras’hir was never one to refrain from cursing, and the words she bellowed made that clear, “FUCK YOU, YOU OVERGROWN CUNT-LICKER! GO SCREW YOUR QUEEN IN THE ASS!”
“That’s a rainbow of language, I’d say.” Rocky snarked. It was clear Starhawk wasn't used to hearing it, Blackhawk noted. He could tell due to how red her cheeks were, even through her feathers.
“Not used to hearing people curse like that?” He asked.
“No, not at all.” As Kras’hir and Abbaddon fought, an appropriate song by Black Sabbath began to play. Kras’hir swore that she'd kill whoever had played it.
‘Witches gather at black masses
Bodies burning in red ashes
On the hill the church in ruin
Is the scene of evil doings
It's a place for all bad sinners
Watch them eating dead rats' innards
I guess it's the same whereever you may go
Oh Lord yeah
Carry banners which denounce the lord
See me rocking in my grave
See them anoint my head with dead rat's blood
See them stick the stake through me
Don't hold me back cause I've just gotta go
They've got a hold of my soul now
Lords got my brain instinct with blood obscene
Look in my eyes I'm there enough
On the scene a priest appears
Sinners falling at his knees
Satan sends out funeral pyre
Casts the priest into the fire
It's the place for all bad sinners
Watch them eating dead rats' innards
I guess it's the same whereever you may go
Oh lord yeah’
Abaddon took advantage of Kras’hir being briefly distracted by the song, impaling her with a spike on his tail.
“O-oh, sweet Jesus...I was just trying to set the mood…” said Captain Retro’s disembodied voice between bouts of vomiting. Kras’hir glared at Abaddon...before snapping the spine clean off, pulling it out, and stabbing him in the eye with it. Blood sprayed as he shrieked in surprise.
“Well, I’ll be damned...that song really did set the mood.” said Naruto. “It certainly pumped Kras’hir up enough. How’s about letting her request something, Captain?”
“Yeah, no. I’m not letting her track my interdimensional signal and slaughtering me on air, even if you guys are the only ones who can hear it.”
“Just play ‘Nightmare’, and I won't kill you.”
“Avenged Sevenfold, right?” Captain Retro asked. “Gotcha covered.”
“Nightmare! (now your nightmare comes to life)
Dragged ya down below
Down to the devil's show
To be his guest forever
Peace of mind is less than never
Hate to twist your mind
But God ain't on your side
An old acquaintance severed
Burn the world your last endeavor
Flesh is burning
You can smell it in the air
'Cause men like you have
Such easy soul to steal (steal)
So stand in line while
They ink numbers in your head
You're now a slave
Until the end of time here
Nothing stops the madness,
Turning, haunting, yearning
Pull the trigger
You should have known
The price of evil
And it hurts to know
That you belong here, yeah
Ooh, it's your fuckin' nightmare
(While your nightmare comes to life)
Can't wake up in a sweat
'Cause it ain't over yet
Still dancing with your demons
Victim of your own creation
Beyond the will to fight
Where all that's wrong is right
Where hate don't need a reason
You've been lied to
Just to rape you of your site
And now they have the nerve
To tell you how to feel (feel)
So sedated as they
Medicate your brain
And while you slowly
Go insane they tell ya
"Given with the best intentions
Help you with your complications"
You should have known
The price of evil
And it hurts to know
That you belong here, yeah
No one to call
Everybody to fear
Your tragic fate is looking so clear, yeah
Oh, it's your fuckin' nightmare
Not to fail
Not to fall
Or you'll end up like the others
Drenched in sin
With no respect for another
Feel the fire (fire)
Feel the hate
Your pain is what we desire
Hit the wall (wall)
Watch you crawl (crawl)
Such a replaceable liar
And I know you hear their voices (calling from above)
And I know they may seem real (these signals of love)
But our life's made up of choices (some without appeal)
They took for granted your soul
And it's ours now to steal
(As your nightmare comes to life)
You should have known
The price of evil
And it hurts to know
That you belong here, yeah
No one to call
Everybody to fear
Your tragic fate is looking so clear, yeah
Ooh, it's your fuckin' nightmare!”
The Daemoness sang along. Her singing voice was actually quite lovely, in contrast to the lyrics and the violence she was partaking in. Thankfully, Captain Retro’s station was not bound by any sort of regulation, so there was no censoring of any sort. Starhawk watched as Blackhawk...headbanged. Kras’hir turned briefly, winking at Starhawk, a wide grin on her face. The female Hawkian was baffled. Kras’hir turned away, once again clashing with Abaddon, who was still bleeding profusely from his gouged out eye. Kras’hir was also bleeding heavily, due to the wound in her torso. The Rangers and their allies merely kept watching. Eventually, both combatants drew back briefly to lick their wounds. “Are you alright?” Usagi asked.
Kras’hir said, “I've been through worse. You can come over, Star. I won't bite you.” Starhawk hesitated for a moment, but did so. Kras’hir pulled her into a gentle hug. Starhawk smiled briefly.
“I’m happy for them.” said Lettuce.
“...Even though Kras’hir cheated on Usagi?”
“Kira, can you smack him, please?”
The girl in question shook her head. “He has a point.”
“Kras’hir did cheat. Usagi is just taking it really well.”
“Oh.” Lettuce said. “Forget what I said, then.”
“Don't get me wrong. I'm happy that they're happy. However, the cheating can't just be ignored.” Kira said, before smiling, as Kras’hir had been tackled playfully by Usagi and Starhawk. Usagi could see that Abaddon was wanting to keep fighting. While this was an opportunity to strike him down, she didn’t seize it. Billy and Rocky, on the other hand, attempted to set Sally Anne free. The youma swatted them both into a wall with ease, barely even noticing the attempt.
Ahriman was watching all of this transpire. His creation was proving to be most useful. Dr. Maniac’s energy storage machine was filling exponentially. Even if the youma was destroyed, the goal would be complete. Then Abaddon looked up, gazing straight into the eyes of his ‘father.’
“I am not your pawn.” He stated, his voice echoing throughout the throne room.
“WUT’D ‘E JUS’ SAY?” asked Bzrk.
“I believe he said, ‘I am not your pawn.’” replied Nephrite.
“Oh, holy fuck.” muttered Queen Beryl. “A youma has one purpose: being a vessel to gather energy.”
“I have done just that, Your Grace.” Abaddon said. “I gathered energy. Just not for you.”
His eyes glowed, and the energy storage machine burst open, all of the gathered power flowing into Abaddon. The court watched in horror as Abbaddon grew into something far, far more massive. He laughed with sadistic glee, Ahriman noting just how similar to the Warmaster he was in terms of personality.
“...By Arceus…” muttered Toby. “We’re not going to need the Cosmic Multimegazord for this one...it would be a toy to him.”
Abaddon looked down at them, still grinning. “Oh, before I forget. Here's your daughter.”
He dropped Sally, who hit the ground before anyone could react...and shattered, bits of metal and wiring going everywhere.
“YOU...SICK...BASTARD!” Usagi shouted, morphing then summoning the Full Moon Blade. With a yell, she leaped into the air, and struck the youma. She watched as purple cracks began to form, and didn’t stop attacking. The youma hardly noticed, appearing quite bored with her attempts. The wounds healed as quickly as they were inflicted. “WHY WON’T YOU DIE?!”
“I will not die because I do not wish to die. I just absorbed all of the energy the Queen had taken during my battle with Kras’hir, completely halting her attempts to resurrect her Ruler, and providing myself with a substantial power boost.”
“Which means what? What are you planning, youma?!”
“Wouldn't you like to know?”
“TELL ME, DAMN YOU!”
“No. All will be made clear in due time. For now, I must bid you adieu. Farewell, Usagi.”
With that, he spread his wings and took off into the sky. Usagi demorphed...and then realized she was hundreds of feet in the air. She fell towards the ground, screaming her head off...until Starhawk caught her just in time. Kras’hir hugged them both once they reached the ground.
“This is...a very bittersweet victory.” Usagi said. “Queen Beryl may not have the means to gather energy for now, but we were unable to defeat the youma, and who knows what it’s going to do?”
“We will deal with that when the time comes.” Kras’hir replied, nuzzling them both affectionately.
“Let’s go home.” said Usagi. Kras’hir nodded, holding them both close as she walked home.
Queen Beryl was beyond pissed. Her plans, thanks to Ahriman, had been ruined. For his treachery, she decided, she would absorb his magic and lock him within the deepest parts of the fortress...and he would have the Orks as his guards. Ahriman stood still, not even attempting to resist. He seemed oddly calm. Once Beryl had absorbed his magic, she ordered the Orks to lock Ahriman in the deepest corner of the fortress and stay there unless ordered.
“RIGHT, BOSS LADY! COME ‘ERE, WIZZERD, WE’RE GUNNA HAVE FUN!” Bzrk said with glee.
“No.” Ahriman said, still completely calm.
“WHADDYA MEAN, NO? BOSS LADY GAVE US ORDERS! AND WHAT DA BOSS SAYS GOES!” Bzrk said, grabbing a hammer, ready to pound ‘da squishy wizzerd’ into pulp. The sorcerer reacted to this by slamming his staff into the ground...unleashing a wave of energy that set the Orks ablaze.
“MY ORKS!” screamed Doctor Maniac. “You’ll pay for this...with your life, sorcerer.”
“How stupid do you think I am, Your Grace? Did you think I was unaware of the fact you could drain magic? I had a contingency plan in place to deal with that before I arrived here.”
“You have ruined my plans and effectively betrayed me, Ahriman. Give me one good reason to not let you rot and letting my advisors have your magic to create better youma.”
“...You will not do it because you love me too much to throw me in a cell to rot.” The sorcerer replied. It was true, and they both knew it.
“...That is true. You are still a traitor, however, and will be punished accordingly...not by me, but one of my advisors. Kunzite?” Beryl inquired, turning her gaze to the advisor in question.
“Hmmm…” The advisor said. “We could force him to serve as an assistant to either myself or the good Doctor. He likes us both the least, after all.”
“Ah, perfect! Pick your poison, Ahriman. Either Kunzite, or Doctor Maniac.”
The sorcerer did not speak. Rather, he began to laugh. “Why do you laugh?” Doctor Maniac demanded. The sound was loud and mocking.
“I laugh, you bloody moron, because you all assume I will roll over like a good little dog and go along with this punishment.”
“And you will, unless you’d prefer my initial punishment.” Beryl pointed out. “In any case, it’s a punishment fit for a traitor.”
“I designed Abaddon to be cunning, not treacherous. Why would I betray you, when I have no reason to? You're perfect, Your Grace.” Ahriman said, his tone free of sarcasm, for once.
“You destroyed our machine and set our plans back for quite a while. Until we can finish repairs, we have no way to gather energy.”
“I. Did. Not. Destroy. The. Machine. Abaddon did that after going rogue, which, I might add, I did not design him to do. Again, I created him to be cunning, not treacherous.”
“Hm. Very well, you shall not be punished. You will still be useful, just not in creating youma.” Beryl said.
“What tasks will you have me carry out?”
“Whatever you please. I do not care.”
“Wonderful!” Ahriman said, cackling madly. This unnerved Kunzite, who was opposed to the idea of letting the sorcerer off a leash, so to speak. Nephrite and Zoisite were as unnerved as he was. Dr. Maniac was angered, worried his Orks were dead. Even if his Big Three generals were arriving soon, he still needed assistants in his experiments.
Ahriman then flicked his wrist, and the power Beryl had absorbed returned to him. He inclined his head. “Your Grace.”
With that, he walked off, whistling. Dr. Maniac ran tests on his Orks to see if they were dead. They were. Ahriman, in his chambers, began ‘tests’ of his own. It was unclear to the court what he was doing, exactly, but the sounds of screaming, loud, cackling laughter and daemonic chanting made it clear that it wasn't pleasant. Dr. Maniac scraped samples from Bzrk and Grzrg’s bodies, intending to create new Mekboyz as replacements. Nephrite ordered servants to start repairs on the energy collecting machine. And all the while, Beryl was content to watch.
After a few minutes, something rather surprising happened. Youma began spilling out of Ahriman’s chambers. None of them were overly large or intimidating, but they were coming out, all the same. Beryl realized he’d found a loophole, but kept her word in leaving him to his devices.
That evening in Coastal Falls, all was quiet. The Rangers and allies were in their respective homes, settling down for the night. Kras’hir sat on the roof of the building she was now living in, smoking a cigar. She had picked up the habit long before, and quite enjoyed the taste. Starhawk seemingly appeared from nowhere, not minding the smell. “It is a beautiful night, is it not?”
“Indeed. I have always loved looking at the stars.” Kras’hir replied, exhaling a smoke ring.
“Would you like some pizza? I went to what you call the ‘pizza place’ and ordered it. I would eat it all myself, but it wouldn’t be as nice.”
“Sure. I could eat.” Kras’hir said, taking a slice and biting into it. She would immediately taste an odd combination of pickles, bananas and mint frosting, of all things. It seemed that Starhawk was like Papyrus; she had weeeird taste in food. Kras’hir’s first instinct was to spit the pizza out, but after chewing it a bit more, she grudgingly admitted to herself it didn't taste all that bad. She swallowed, before eating the rest of the slice in her hand.
“You got any family?” She asked as she took another slice. “I know you said you have no parents, but what about siblings?”
“One. A sister named Firehawk. She is...evil.”
“Evil? What'd she do?”
“She commissioned the fracking of our planet...and awakened the Necrons buried within.”
“Yes. When our parents confronted her about it...she sent them directly to the Necron Lord…” It was painfully obvious Starhawk didn’t want to remember this. Kras’hir put an arm around her, pulling the Hawkian close. All Starhawk could do was cry. Kras’hir rubbed her back, vowing mentally to kill Firehawk when she got the chance. Once the crying subsided, Kras’hir said, “Your parents were good people. After all, they raised you, a hero.”
“You think of me this way?”
“Yes.” Starhawk responded by kissing her. Kras’hir kissed her back, one thought directed towards the universe at large: ‘Suck it, Firehawk.’
Far outside the city, floating above the large rock island on which it sat, was a being very similar in appearance to Starhawk, with midnight black features in place of the red ones. Her outfit, much like Starhawk’s, left little to the imagination. All she did was stare down at the city below for several minutes, then she finally spoke to herself.
“I have found you, sister dear. And on behalf of the Necron Lord I serve, you will find redemption...”