July 14th, 2000
“I truly cannot decide who’s making the bigger mistake here.” The words emerged from the Seosten known as Paschar. To the humans of this world, he would have been compared to the Tolkien version of an elf, with his slightly androgynous, eternally youthful face and long, flowing blonde hair. His eyes were focused on the person who sat across the table from him in the small beach house that had served as one of several homes he maintained on this planet.
The figure he was addressing, aside from also being a Seosten, could almost literally not have seemed any more different from the man at a glance. Despite her age, Chayyiel appeared to be a young child as opposed to his taller adult male (even if he was slightly feminine-looking) form. His long blonde hair compared to her pixie-cut black locks, green eyes compared to her blue, and so on. Even their clothes appeared quite different, as he wore a pair of dark green, silky pants and a white billowy shirt, and Chayyiel’s clothes were more military in form as well as function. Even (or perhaps especially) in this situation, she wore what humans would have seen as simple camouflage fatigues with a thin layer of body armor over it.
“Maybe if you tell me what the options are, I can tell you which mistake is bigger,” Chayyiel offered conversationally when it became clear that the other man was not continuing on his own.
Paschar, in turn, regarded her solemnly before sighing. “The mistakes are two-fold. First, the Seraph Counsel for appointing you to take responsibility for this world. And second, you for ceasing so many of our operations and disrupting what we have been working on for so long.”
Rocking backward on her wooden chair to balance on the rear legs as she put her feet up on the table (noting the way the man’s teeth clenched as she did so), Chayyiel gave a casual nod. “You’re right, that’s a tough one. Which of those things is the bigger mistake? Hmm… I have an idea. How about I get back to you once I’ve had one-tenth of the time on this planet to do things my way, as all of you have had to do things your way? Actually, no, that’s not fair. Let’s narrow it down to just one tenth of the time that you have been trying to deal with the whole Liesje Aken situation. One-tenth of the time you’ve spent chasing down her or her descendants to put an end to that mess. That would be, what, forty years or so, rounded off? Yeah, check back with me in forty years and we’ll see if I’ve made a bigger mess out of this place than it already is.”
From the very brief flash of annoyance that crossed the man’s face, he clearly wasn’t happy about her words. “The situation with Liesje’s descendants is mine to handle. I have more than proven my loyalty to our people, and made up for any… lapse in judgment. A mere two weeks ago, the assassin who was hired to clean up the last of the mess ended the life of Liesje’s nearest descendant, poisoning her in the hospital. That leaves the Crossroads teacher, Giselle Tangle. We use her to enter the vault, remove the spell, and have no more problems.”
“Oh, I’m well-aware of what Fahsteth did for you,” Chayyiel informed him in a low voice while still rocking backward on her chair. “And what he hasn’t told you yet.”
Her words made the man who had once played the role of Eros (or Cupid) squint. “What he hasn’t told me?” It was clear that Paschar very much did not like the idea that she knew something he didn’t about the whole situation.
“The woman you sent him to kill?” Chayyiel began while still speaking utterly casually. “Turns out she was pregnant at the time.” She let the chair fall back into place with a dull thump. “That’s why she was in the hospital to begin with. And, wonder of wonders, that kid survived. I know, right? A baby survived one of Fahsteth’s poisonings? That’s one tough kid. Anyway, since Alicia Aken’s daughter survived…”
“She will be the nearest descendant,” Paschar finished with a growl. His fists clenched tightly, the man’s anger at the news clearly written across his face. “I will handle--”
“No, you won’t,” Chayyiel interrupted. “I’ve already taken care of the situation.” A very faint smile touched her face as she pointedly added, “How do you think I convinced the other Seraphs to entrust me with control of Earth?” Turning slightly then, she gave a low whistle.
In response, the door of the cabin opened, and a dark-skinned Seosten woman entered. It was Chayyiel’s right-hand woman, Aletheia. And she was carrying a carefully bundled human baby in her arms.
Paschar was on his feet, staring. “Wait--is that…?”
“Her name is Hannah,” Chayyiel informed him while the man stared at the baby. “Let’s just say Aletheia spent a little time here on Earth in these past few weeks tracking down what your assassin was up to. When she found out he failed to kill the child, she took the situation into her own hands. The girl’s father has been dealt with, and Aletheia brought the baby to me. I, in turn, informed the other Seraphs that the current heir to Liesje’s vault was in my possession and under my protection. They could either give control and authority over Rysthael--Earth to me and I would have the girl raised to trust and believe in us enough to open the vault of her own free will when the time comes, or I would take her out to my own Choir’s space where she would be one of the single most protected beings in the universe. In which case, they would wait many, many years before she died. And by that point, who even knew what might have happened to Giselle Tangle? That was the choice they were presented with. Give me control of Earth and have this Liesje situation handled within a few years, hardly anything in the grand scheme of things. Or refuse, and wait a great deal longer, perhaps even centuries depending on what I might have chosen to bond the girl to, before getting another chance at the vault.”
For a moment, the older Seosten squinted at her with obvious disbelief. “You truly told the entire Seraph Counsel that--” He stopped himself, giving a long, almost violent exhale. “You’ve changed a lot from that innocent little kid that first showed up on the Olympus. But you’re still a brat.”
Chayyiel, in turn, gave the man a smile that showed her teeth. “Thank you,” she replied simply. “I had very good teachers.” With that, the girl reminded him, “I think it’s about time you catch your ship off-world.”
Staring intently not at her, but at the infant, Paschar slowly murmured, “This… is still a mistake. You need me here. I know Rysthael better than you do--the current Rysthael. Jophiel, Cahethal, and I have a working relationship.”
Chayyiel’s tone softened considerably. “Paschar, you’ve done more than enough here. We all know how hard these years have been, what you’ve had to do to prove yourself. Take a break. Go back home, see your family. This isn’t your job anymore. None of it is. You have done enough. We have the heir now. She’s in safe hands, I promise. We can handle the vault and end this.” She went quiet for a moment, studying him curiously before gently adding, “If you wish, I’ll tell you when the time comes to open the vault and deal with the spell. You can see it through to that end.” Her voice made it clear that the offer was contingent on the man leaving without further arguments or fuss.
“I… yes. I would like that.” For a moment, Paschar stood in silence, his gaze flicking back and forth between Chayyiel and the child. Finally, he sighed and moved to leave. Rather than going to the door, he activated a portal spell that would take him to the ship, stepping through it without another word before it shut behind him.
“Well,” Aletheia spoke up once they were left alone in the cabin, “there’s that done. What now?” At her words, the baby in her arms stirred a little, giving a very soft coo before squirming to push up against the woman.
Chayyiel didn’t answer at first. She was staring off into the distance, silently considering the question as her mind wandered through the years that were yet to come. Years where they would need to tread very carefully indeed, lest they lose this very hard-won advantage.
“Now,” she finally replied, “you should probably put Hannah down for her nap. She seems pretty tired. After that, please contact Jophiel and Cahethal. Arrange a meeting so we can all go over a few things. Oh, and find out where they sent that Joselyn Atherby woman when her memory was erased.
“There’s about to be some changes here on Earth.”
November 16th, 2009
With a resounding crack, two wooden training swords came together. Their wielders were a black-haired young girl who was about nine years old, and another girl of roughly the same age with dirty-blonde hair. Both were glaring fiercely at one another, not out of any real malice, but from the intensity of their sparring. Despite this, after only meeting one another's ‘hard stare’ for a moment, each girl broke slightly and smiled before resuming their intense stare.
“You’re going down this time, Hannah,” the nine-year-old blonde girl insisted while taking a quick step back and raising her training sword in a ready position. “Time to break our tie.”
“Sure, Felicity,” came the quick retort from the other girl. “We’re gonna break the tie, for sure. But you're the one goin’ down.” She matched Felicity’s raised sword with her own, eyes scanning for an opening while she and her sparring partner/best friend slowly circled one another in the middle of the grassy clearing, surrounded by trees on all sides. In the distance behind Felicity, the shapes of several cabins set a bit higher in the mountains could be seen.
The two were about to go after one another once more, when they were interrupted by a shrill cry of, “Kamikaze rush!” Words came from a small boy, around their age and wearing nothing but swim trunks and tennis shoes, who came sprinting out of the trees with his hands raised above his head, holding two suspiciously heavy-looking balloons.
Felicity and Hannah both spun that way, bringing their wooden swords to bear. But the boy dove in an Olympics-worthy roll to avoid the swinging training weapons, pivoting around in mid-air as he passed between them before hurling both of his water balloons into the back of their heads just before landing on his rear. A cackle filled the air while the boy kicked backward in a roll to take himself back to his feet.
Meanwhile, Felicity and Hannah were left with soaking wet heads, and water dripping down the back of their shirts. Both spun back that way, blurting together in a mix of surprised squeal and anger, “Tristan!”
“Hey, don’t blame me,” the boy insisted as he made it back to his feet and held both hands out placatingly. “Mom said you were probably thirsty, so I should bring you some water.”
“That’s not what she meant,” chided a voice from the treeline, as another young girl with blonde hair (this one lighter than Felicity’s) emerged. His twin sister, Vanessa. “Where did you even get balloons on your way from the front door to the kitchen?”
“Uncle Satan gave them to me,” Tristan promptly answered. “It was his idea.”
“Squealer.” The light retort came from just behind Vanessa, as Apollo emerged. He was accompanied by Chayyiel, Sariel, Aletheia, and Joselyn.
“Mom!” The two cries came from Hannah and Flick, who sprinted to Aletheia and Joselyn respectively. Their mothers, in turn, used magic to dry the girls’ hair and shirts.
“I'm not sure which of you is a worse influence on the other,” Joselyn noted while giving a short glance between Apollo and Tristan. “Either way, we really should’ve learned not to leave you two alone even for five minutes.”
“Pshhh,” Apollo objected, “five minutes? We got that done in thirty seconds, didn’t we?” He exchanged high-fives with the grinning Tristan.
Shaking her head, Aletheia nodded back the way they had come. “Kids, lunch is out on the back table behind the Moon cabin. Larissa’s visiting with the other twins, so why don’t you run on up there and fuel up with them?” She and the rest of the adults immediately had to step out of the way to avoid being trampled as a cheer went up and the four nine-year-olds went galloping off to get the food while calling Sands and Sarah’s names.
“They’re growing up,” Joselyn noted quietly while watching her daughter and the others race off. “Lincoln says he had to buy the next shoe size up for Felicity this time.” Pausing briefly, she looked over to Chayyiel. “I can’t believe it’s been nine years since you woke me up. Hell, I can’t believe I agreed to play the quiet game this long. Nine years, and I’m still laying low.”
It was Sariel who spoke then, reminding her, “It will be worth it. When Apollo and I finish the spell to open Tartarus again, we’ll have the leverage we need to make our people leave Earth alone. They’ll be able to empower their own troops instead of being so reliant on human Heretics.”
“And,” Aletheia put in, “human volunteers. An agreement that will be enforceable once we have Liesje’s spell. Which…” She looked toward Chayyiel. “How insistent are they being?”
“They’ve accepted the answer I’ve given them, so far,” the eternally-young-looking Seosten murmured with a shake of her head. “They believe the vault cannot be opened until Hannah is of mature age and capable of interacting properly with the magics her ancestor left behind. I believe that should give us at least eight or nine more years.” Turning, she focused on Apollo and Sariel. “Is that enough time?”
The two exchanged glances before Sariel nodded. “I think so. It’ll be close, but… yeah. It should be ready by then.”
“Good.” With that single word, Joselyn walked over to examine the area the two young girls had been sparring in, tracing a foot through the dirt where her daughter had stood. Quietly, she added, “I spoke to Gaia. She has three more potential candidates to be recruited. Dare will be the point contact, as usual.”
“And Garden?” Aletheia prompted. “There was a message from your great-grandfather.”
“Yeah,” Joselyn agreed. “I talked to him. He’s got a couple potentials too, though we need to be more careful on that front. I just ahh, trust Gaia to vet her possibilities better. Don’t get me wrong, Seller’s great when he’s here, and he did supply the apple for my… ahh, return.”
“He’ll have a few more when the children are of-age,” Chayyiel quietly put in. “He has assured me of that.”
Joselyn nodded once. “That much I believe. Like I said, he’s a good man. Just don’t depend on him to always be around. He… gets distracted. It’s not malicious, it’s just how he is. Like I said, he’s great when he’s here.” With a sigh, the woman looked at Sariel. “Either way, I need you to go with me for the recruitment trips. Both the Garden and Crossroads ones, just in case anything goes wrong or we decide they can’t be trusted after all. Erase their memories and send them back on their way.”
“Done,” the Seosten woman agreed before looking to Chayyiel. “What’s happening with Jophiel and Cahethal?”
Waiting until all of them were focused on her, Chayyiel finally answered. “Jophiel is as… with us as she has ever been. She and Elisabet are both still of the opinion that a full Seosten and human alliance is the way to go. But I believe she's been convinced that an alliance of volunteers and willing partners is the best way forward. As for Cahethal… she has her experiments and I believe so long as she is left alone to carry them out, she will not bother our work for the time being. She may present more of an obstacle when the time comes to make the full shift, but we can handle it then.”
Stretching his arms over his head, Apollo idly remarked, “I’ve got runners from the Torchbearers going between Wonderland, the Atherby group, and a few others.” He nodded toward Joselyn at the mention of her own people. “We’ve got a solid underground network to smuggle Alter targets wherever they need to go. New identities, safe places we know Crossroads and Eden’s Garden aren’t looking, the works. And, you know, speaking of Wonderland…”
“The kids have been wanting to go back again,” Sariel finished for him. “And if we’re going to let them naturally bond to someone before taking one of those apples in a few years, we’ll need to see who they get along with the best.”
With a small smile, Joselyn agreed, “Lincoln wants to go back there too. Deveron… the two of them might have their issues, but they both want to take Felicity to see Wonderland again.” After a moment, she added, “Abigail and Kenneth will want to send Koren too. She needs to spend more time with the other kids, not just with her uncle.”
“So, speaking of someone whose sister never tells him what’s going on, just how suspicious is old Ruthers by now?” Apollo curiously asked. “I mean, first you and your family supposedly die in a fire, then Abigail, Koren, and Kenneth are killed by a Fomorian five years later?”
“He’s always suspicious,” Joselyn noted. “But the fact that the Fomorian was real helps sell that last part. From what Gaia said, our friends on the Committee have been gently pushing the idea that Felicity, Lincoln, and I were early victims of the same Fomorian and the fire just covered it up. They’ve been digging into it this whole time, but Tribald managed to make sure the right evidence ended up in the right place.” She gave a very low chuckle. “Ruthers has his suspicions, but as far as most of them are concerned, we were all killed by a rogue Fomorian and the last thing Wyatt managed to do was kill it after tracking down his sister just a little too late before he died too.” Her chuckle returned. “He’s still proud of the massacred corpse of himself he managed to put together. And I’m still a bit concerned about the fact that he already had it ready to go.”
“We would have found another way to bring your adult children together,” Chayyiel announced. “The Fomorian being there was--well, a Fomorian’s presence is never lucky, but close enough in this case.”
Shaking that off, she turned to the assembled group. “I know it’s hard to keep laying low. You want to be more active, you want to take the fight straight to the people who deserve it. But if we are actually going to pull this off, everything has to go perfectly. Focus on taking care of and training your children, on being families together. Work on the Tartarus spell. Find the right Alters for the children to bond to. Be ready for the next step. And everyone be careful.
“We may be halfway to our goal, but there’s still nine years left. And halfway is a long way to fall if we screw this up.”
Tabbris‚ Spark‚ And Omni Won't Exist? Well Clearly This Is The Darkest Timeline
Wait Til They Find Wyatt's Collection Of Fake Corpses Of THEM.
I Do Hope Everyone Remembered That Hannah Is Avalon, Otherwise All Of That Was Probably Quite Confusing.