Eldon opens up about his feelings, but Gloria's response is heartbreaking. The group rushes to rescue Shelly, Jessica, and Becky, but will it be enough to face the total might of the Paladonic Knights?
= = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = =
= = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = =
"Damn it!" Eldon cursed as his fist connected with the very solid brick wall of the waiting room. It hurt, but the pain receded almost immediately. Thanks to Areth's sacrifice, his body was locked into its current state of health. He avoided looking at the statue still clutched in his father's white-knuckled grip.
Could this week get any worse? It started with them getting attacked by a group of Paladonic Knights pretending to be magical creatures, where he was injured in a nasty blast. His girlfriend, Gloria, had healed him, but the things he'd done with his dad and sister in the car with them bothered him. Then he had to save the President of the United States from her own Secret Service. Just when he thought they were safe and flying away in a helicopter, it was shot down. He was hurt beyond anything Gloria could do to heal him this time. It took him a whole week to recover enough to even wake up. His step-mom had sacrificed her life for his health, which weighed heavily on him. Now his sister was kidnapped and in the hands of the Paladonic Knights.
"I know you're angry, Son, but that's no reason to use such language," Lyden disapproved. Despite his words, Eldon knew his father's heart wasn't in the rebuke. His heart was shattered at losing his fairy lover.
Does he hate me for that? Eldon feared. It's my fault she's dead. I should have died in that crash. Then she wouldn't have had to sacrifice herself. He had no idea what would make the normally self-centered pixie give up everything for him. He knew she loved his dad, but himself...? Now he had to live with the guilt that her death was his fault. If Mandy were still in the room, he feared what his father might say. What truths hid behind his grief? How much did he blame Eldon?
"No," Gloria whispered as she folded him in her arms. Part of him wanted to push her away. He was supposed to be a man and be strong. He shouldn't need to be comforted. But a larger part of him welcomed the loving touch. "It wasn't your fault. The Knights attacked us. It was their fault for what happened. Areth had more heart in her than any other fairy I've ever known. She was one of a kind, but her death wasn't your fault. Your father doesn't blame you."
"But—" he started to respond to her quiet words, but his dad cut him off, having heard Gloria somehow.
"No, Son. Areth—" he paused to swallow. Eldon could see a fresh set of tears well up in his father's eyes. "Areth did what she did out of love for me. Gloria is right, that she was one of a kind. She's also right about this not being your fault. I don't blame you." Lyden's voice hardened into something tougher than diamond. "The Knights will pay for this. They took Lisa from me, now Areth, and they've kidnapped my daughter and wife. I won't accept their presence in this world anymore."
Eldon almost shook at the amount of conviction and hatred in his father's voice.
"I'll be at your side, Dad," Eldon promised. "They need to pay—"
"Do you hear yourselves?" Brooke interrupted. There was shock in her voice as she confronted them. "I agree that they need to pay for what they did, but you're talking about genocide."
"It's them or us," Lyden replied. He held Areth's golden statue against his chest as he faced his wife. "I don't understand why you're against this? They tortured you the last time they had you and want to kill all of us."
"I hate them for what they did, but killing them all isn't the answer," Brooke stood her ground. "They're not all evil. Remember Emmet?"
They locked eyes and Eldon grew uncomfortable watching them. He hugged Gloria tighter to him, glad that she wasn't arguing with him. He looked into her blue eyes and felt lighter. She was always there for him, supporting him when he needed it. She was all powerful, but she didn't try to intimidate him. She didn't lord her power over him, and let him be his own person. She could control him if she chose, but she didn't. She— He stopped as something occurred to him.
"I love you," he told her in a soft voice.
Her eyes widened in shock. He didn't think he could surprise her, as she was always privy to his thoughts, but then he realized that he hadn't thought those words before speaking. He'd reacted to his emotions.
She released him and stepped back, covering her mouth. "Eldon, I... I care for you, I do, but... You have to understand, I—"
The week could get worse, it seemed.
"Don't," he told her, feeling his heart break. "Just don't. I shouldn't have said it. I don't know why I did. It was stupid, so just forget it, okay?"
"You don't understand," Gloria said and stepped back up to him. "I was once the Goddess of Love. I had thousands that fawned over me. They all loved me, but—"
"But how could I compare to them?" he asked, unable to keep the bitterness out of his voice. He turned away and walked out of the room before she could see the tears forming in his eyes, leaving behind his arguing parents. He kept his mind blank so she wouldn't see anything from that either.
"Eldon, stop," he heard Gloria say, but he continued walking down the hallway of the hospital. He felt like he needed to act. He didn't want to be here in this hospital. He didn't know what the wait was for, but it rankled. "Eldon, please listen to me."
He stopped to face her. "Why? You don't love me. I can accept that. I'm not worthy of your love. I get it. How could my heart match up to the thousands that once fawned over you? There's nothing for you to explain."
She slapped him. Her hand moved so fast, he didn't see it coming until his head snapped to the side. He knew she was strong, but that slap hurt! He wondered if his neck would have snapped if not for Areth's sacrifice. No, probably not, but by the Pillars, it hurt! The pain took only a few seconds to recede, but it was longer than his fist had hurt from punching the wall.
"That's not it at all," Gloria seethed at him. "I care for you more than I've cared about a mortal in millennia. You're strong, optimistic, caring, and so much more than any one woman deserves. Though your current attitude could use some adjusting. I don't like seeing you as a whiny little snot." She held up her hand as he tried to interrupt her, and he closed his mouth.
I'll let her speak, he thought. I was a fool to think she would ever love me. What can she say? I'll listen to her, and then do everything in my power to forget I ever uttered those stupid words.
"I didn't bring up what I used to be to make you feel inferior. None of them could compare to you. Thousands of adoring mortals, and combined they meant nothing to me compared to you, but I need you to understand something." She paused to take a deep breath and looked into his eyes. "There is always that fear in me that people love me for what I am, not who I am. When I was Aphrodite, people fell in love with me because I was the Goddess of Love. My mere presence made men leave their wives, and fathers abandon their children. For a long time, I enjoyed that attention. Sometimes I would make them do terrible things. They would do it too, not because I forced them to with my power, but because they loved me that much. I was a terrible person. I won't make excuses for who I was then, though I was better as Aphrodite than I was as Lilith."
"So you can't love me because you were evil once?" Eldon asked, confused. What was she getting at?
"No," Gloria shook her head. "I could love you, Eldon. It would be so easy for me to let myself fall for you."
"But you won't." Eldon shook his head. She wasn't making any sense. She could love him, but wouldn't? He knew who she had been, and knew many of the stories about her, but that wasn't who she was now. He loved the woman before him, and didn't care about her past.
"You're not letting me finish," she chided him, but there was no anger in her tone. If anything, her voice had softened. "How do I know you love me for who I am, and it's not my powers making you love me? Hephaestus was a great man and powerful god, but even he fell under my power after Zeus forced me to marry him. He was a god who could create beauty with his bare hands, but he fell under the spell of my presence."
"So, because I'm not a god..." he knew that wasn't what she was driving at, but she was taking too long to get to her point.
She sighed before answering. "You're better than any god I've ever met. Eldon, the reason I stop myself is because I'm afraid. What if the only reason you love me is because I was a love goddess? What might I do, if I allow myself to love you? Would I twist your love into something evil, just because I can? Will I go back to the woman I once was? I don't want that. You mean a great deal to me, and I don't want to change who you are."
Eldon looked at his girlfriend, speechless. That was what she was worried about? A laugh bubbled up in him. Despite all the terrible stuff that'd happened, he couldn't help but laugh at how silly she was being.
"Women don't like to be thought of as silly," Gloria said in a tone that sobered him.
"I'm sorry," he told her, though he could feel the corners of his lips still turning up. "It's just that, it strikes me as odd that a Goddess of Love wouldn't understand love. I mean... If it's true love, then you won't want to twist or change me. Love means you want me to be happy. The difference between then and now, is that while they loved you, you didn't love them."
A sad look crossed Gloria's face. "Oh, my dear sweet man," she said as her hand reached out and cupped his face. He leaned into the touch, thinking he'd won her over. "There are more definitions of love than there are stars in the night sky. A father loves a son differently than he loves his wife. A child loves their parent in a different way than they love their pets. Love can be both selfless and selfish. It can be a thing of true beauty, or cause terrible horrors."
"Do you see me as a pet?" he asked, losing his smile. "I love you as one man to a woman. A woman that has stolen my heart, not because of what she is, but because she has treated me with respect. You've cared for me, helped me, and shown that you're not the goddess that performed those actions millennia ago. You're a good woman, Gloria. I know it in my heart."
She was silent for a long moment. Eldon let her think. She had to see that he was right. How could she not see how wonderful she was? She was the perfect woman in every way, and he didn't mean her body alone. Her personality, and the actions she'd performed to back up his belief in her were strong testaments of why he would love her.
"You may be right," she said in a tone that told him she still doubted. He opened his mouth to convince her, but she held up her hand. "I'll think about it, Eldon. For now, just give me that. I do care about you. More than I probably should. No, don't say it. I know you love me. I see your arguments in your mind, and they're good ones, but you don't understand everything. I'm not human. I never was a mortal. I don't think like them, but I do care for you, and I want you to be happy."
He wanted to say more, but held himself back. He couldn't ask more of her. It still hurt that she would admit to being able to fall in love with him, but refused to let it happen. She'd asked him to give her time, and he would do that. Meanwhile, he would still love her—as if he had a choice—and show her that it was safe.
Gloria grinned as she saw him make his decision. "Now then," she said, looking around the hallway, "you've been out of commission for half the day, and while I've enjoyed our time in my Mens Mundi, what I could really use right now is the real thing." There was no doubt what she had in mind as she stepped up to him and gripped his crotch.
One part of him knew that she was using this opportunity to distract him from their previous conversation, but another part appreciated it. Since waking up in the hospital bed, things had gone from bad to worse, to heartbreaking, and then went even lower. He could use a pick-me-up while they waited.
He moved his hand to the back of her head and pulled her into a kiss. Her lips were strong against his as his tongue ventured out. She met it with hunger, opening her teeth to his invading muscle. She sucked on his mouth tool as her arms pulled their bodies tighter together. She tasted sweet, as she always did.
He felt his back strike a door, then it was open and they were in a room. Eldon broke the kiss long enough to look around and see that they'd entered a hospital room that was unoccupied by anyone but them.
Their clothes vanished, as though by magic, but Eldon vaguely recalled removing them. Gloria seemed to have a thousand hands roaming his body and making him moan. His flesh tingled as her fingertips glided across his strong muscled body. Her lips moved across his mouth, his neck, his chest, and back up, driving his passion higher.
"I can't wait to get this between my thighs," Gloria moaned as the fingers of her right hand slid along his twisted shaft. "But first, I think I'd better make sure it's ready."
He couldn't imagine being any more ready for her. His cock ached, it was so hard. His legs bumped into the back of the hospital bed and he fell back. Luckily the rails were down or that might have hurt.
Gloria gave him a hungry grin, then leaned over his turgid member and took him between her lips. As the warmth of her mouth surrounded him, Eldon entered a euphoric state. Her tongue danced across his sensitive flash, sometimes making him twitch, and other times making him groan in ecstasy. She knew right when to use her teeth, and when to lavish his member with kisses. Her tongue danced across his skin with unimaginable skill.
Lewd sounds echoed around the inside of the small room as Gloria's head bobbed up and down his pole. She released him and moved her hungry mouth to his scrotum, juggling the delicate balls with her talented tongue. Despite himself, Eldon felt himself quickly approaching climax.
"Not yet!" Gloria ordered, using her thumb to pinch him off at the base. "You must be stressed if you're ready to blow this fast," she teased.
"Don't give me any lip, woman," Eldon smiled down at her, "unless it's the lips between your legs. Why don't you come up here and let me return the favor?"
Gloria laughed at his little remark before moving up his body and pressing the lips on her face against his. Their tongues entwined again for a brief time, before she continued moving up his body, stopping again for a brief moment to let him savor her firm breasts. She turned around before planting her pelvis against his salivating mouth. A moment later he felt her take him back between her teeth, but he concentrated on the meal presented to him.
She was already sopping wet by the time his tongue ventured out to glide along her labia. As always, she tasted sweet and warm. He moved his muscle in random directions, sometimes licking along her slit, and other times diving into her welcoming hole.
He heard her hiss and felt her teeth when he finally moved to her clit, sucking hard and making her legs twitch. After a couple seconds of nibbling and suckling the powerful button, he felt her groan around his prick and shudder in orgasm. She tried to get up, but he locked his arms around her waist and held her down. He was hungry and thirsty, and she had the meal he needed.
"Eldon, I—ungh—that feels great and, uh... ah, all but I want... Mmm, this fat... juicy... Oh... cock in me! Oh, God!" Her hand twisted around his member as she tried to speak around her moans and grunts, but he didn't let up. He brought his teeth into play, nibbling on her sensitive nubbin. Gloria screeched in protest and pleasure, grinding her pelvis against his devouring mouth while she struggled against his grip. He could feel her fluids dribbling down his chin and he drank from her like a man left too long in the Pillar of Fire's territory.
"Eldon, I—Oh shit!—I really need to—ungh—feel you inside me. Eldon, please!"
Her pleading broke through his thirsty daze and he released her. In a blur, she spun around and he felt her fiery insides envelop his spiral rod. She gripped his cheeks as their eyes met. He felt like she was gazing into his soul, and considering who she was, she might well have been.
"You're a lot stronger now, my lover," she cooed to him. She lifted up and then let herself slide back down with a contented sigh. She licked up her juices from along his jaw before speaking again. "No man has ever been able to hold me down like that. It was a unique experience. One that I'll indulge in again later. Right now, I need that thick cock pounding into my little hole!"
"For you?" he said with a sloppy grin. "Anything!"
He gripped her hips, lifting her up about six inches, then pulled down as he thrust deep inside her. She broke eye contact as her beautiful blue orbs rolled back into her head. Her inner muscles rippled around his girth as he repeated the movement again and again. She matched his pace, allowing him to free his hands to grip her firm, but bouncing, breasts. He pinched her nipples between thumb and forefinger, eliciting more moans from her honeyed mouth.
Her head dropped without warning. Her lips pressed hard against his. Hard enough that he would have bruised if not for his new recovery ability. Her tongue drove into his mouth as he felt her passion overwhelm her. Loud claps echoed off the walls as their bodies collided, drowning out the muffled moans of the two lovers.
He was far from winded as he pulled her off of him, marveling at how light she felt. She groaned in complaint at being empty so suddenly, but he ignored her. With more grace and finesse than he thought himself capable of, he moved behind her and reentered her tight canal. His back was to the door as he ploughed into her, making the hospital bed groan and protest at the rough treatment.
Gloria's insides felt aflame as his manhood swelled inside her. Without thinking, he wet two fingers and shoved them into her anal cavity, thrusting in time with the rest of his body. Gloria grew wild, thrashing under his pounding, moaning incoherently and whipping her blonde hair about as she came repeatedly.
Sweat beaded on his brow as her foamy cum dripped from his balls. His entire world centered on the two of them. All he could see was the beauty of her smooth back. The way her hair tumbled about as she cried out in bliss became his flag, her moans his anthem. He knew then that he was completely lost to her. He loved this woman with all his being, and suddenly understood her fear about loving him back.
He would do anything for her. She was the other half to his soul. But part of why he loved her was knowing that she wouldn't abuse his love. She wouldn't make him do anything he didn't want to. She...
He realized she'd stopped moving against him, other than little shudders as she buried her face in the bed's pillow. His climax struck at the same moment, and he could feel his hot ejaculate filling her up. His body was wracked with unadulterated bliss as he emptied inside her, and then he truly was lost to the rest of the world.
That is, until he heard someone clapping. He spun around to see Shlee standing in front of the closed door, a grin splitting her face.
"Wh-what are you doing here?" he stammered as he pulled from his girlfriend and tried to hide himself.
"Oh, don't stop on my account," the reporter giggled. "That was getting pretty hot. I especially enjoyed how you flipped around behind her. And when I saw you slip your fingers into her ass? I almost came from just watching. That has to be hands down, the most powerful fucking I've ever watched."
Eldon's cheeks burned at her lewd comments. Knowing that they'd been watched for that long... Why hadn't Gloria sensed she was there? Or had his girlfriend gotten off on being watched? As he glanced at Gloria, he recalled that she couldn't read Shlee's mind. As he looked at the succubus, he saw clothes materialize around her body. What bothered him were what appeared to be tear streaks under her eyes. As soon as he noticed them, they disappeared.
"What are you doing here?" Gloria asked in a cool tone, as though they hadn't been caught in the middle of an indecent act, in the middle of the hospital, after finding out his sister and step-mother had been kidnapped, and— Gloria interrupted his thoughts as she patted his still flaming cheek. "Don't worry, dear. I've been caught in far more compromising situations than this. There was that time Ares and Hermes were tag teaming me, when my husband walked in and... Oh, my! You're still hard! But I thought you..." she reached down and rubbed her crotch through her tight white pants. In the dead silence of the room, there was no mistaking the squishing sounds coming from her crotch.
"Damn! He has stamina too and a quick recovery," Shlee chirped from the door. "Hmm..." She shook herself as Eldon rushed to get dressed. He didn't understand why he was still rock hard, and Shlee's hungry gaze made him feel like a piece of meat on the auction block. Considering she was a werewolf, being a piece of meat didn't appeal to him.
"Why are you here, Shlee?" Eldon asked again, trying to keep his voice from showing his embarrassment.
"You mean besides the excellent show?" If it was possible, her grin grew wider and hungrier. "You've really got some nice muscle tone, by the way. Okay, okay! I was sent to get you, because it's time to go. Considering the amount of noise you two were making, I decided it would be best for me to come get you. Don't think you wanted your dad walking in and seeing you fill her up like that."
"We were that loud?" Eldon groaned. Could he get any more embarrassed?
"Anyone within ten feet of that door could hear what was going on in here," Shlee giggled again. "I had to stop a couple doctors from breaking in, but I doubt your family heard. My hearing is a bit more sensitive than most."
Eldon finished pulling on his pants, then threw his shirt on as he dashed out the door, forgetting his shoes. He ran to the recovery room, where his dad was talking to one of the president's Secret Service agents dressed in black tactical gear.
"I'll be glad to accept whatever help the President is willing to give, but I don't want her to stick her neck on the line for us. I don't want her to commit political suicide by supporting us too much."
The agent grinned behind his shades. Shades? Indoors? Eldon wondered if there were special technology behind them. "You haven't seen the polls since the helicopter crash and it became public knowledge that Lydonese helped heal the President. The fact that some Paladonic Knights were found with footage claiming it was magical creatures that attacked the President before the attack happened has helped, also. We really owe your son for his help in finding those traitors."
"Lydonese?" Lyden asked with a tone Eldon couldn't decipher.
"Ahem," the agent looked nervous for a moment, "Yes. Well, the President wanted to consult with you first on that, but after the attacks, she saw an opportunity to give a unifying name to the creatures from your world. I believe it's her hope that by using your name, a name that's well respected, it'll lessen the animosity towards them. We have the term humans, for us, but there was no name to tie everyone from the Shadow World together."
Lyden looked around the room and noticed his son standing there. When he glanced at Eldon's bare feet, he felt his face darken again. Gloria chose that moment to walk up and hand him his shoes and socks.
"Sorry it took me a bit to get them," Shlee piped in next, still wearing her broad grin. The grin looked good on her, but Eldon still didn't like what was behind it. "These two were sleeping pretty soundly." Eldon was glad Mandy wasn't in the room to make that lie impossible to say.
"Well, they're here now," Brooke spoke up before Lyden could say anything.
Lyden glanced at her and gave her a slight smile. "Good," he nodded and turned back to the agent. "If everything is ready, then we should go."
"There is an armored SUV waiting outside that will get us to our destination," the agent said. "We can meet our contact who should know where your daughter and wife are being held. After you, Ambassador. I've already been informed that the building is secure. We have a free path to the transport."
They took the stairs instead of the elevator, but it was only two floors and everyone was in perfect shape. When they reached the back of the hospital where the car was waiting, they expected the large black SUV, but not the tiny by comparison vehicle behind it.
"I thought the Knights had the Orange Bubble," Brock stated. His mechanical legs were anything but stealthy, but Eldon appreciated that his brother could move freely in the world.
"So did I," Lyden commented. He looked at the car with suspicion.
"It was," Mandy said as she stepped out of the Orange Bubble. "I've been talking with the car, and she explained everything to me."
Eldon couldn't stop himself from taking a step back at that news. Before he could even think to respond, Shlee stepped up and started asking questions.
"You can talk to a car? That is so cool. Does the car talk through the speakers, through engine sounds, or what? What does a car even say? I wish I could talk to technology."
"Whoa!" Mandy held her four hands up to stop her barrage of questions. "It's not like that. We just understand each other. The Orange Bubble isn't technology, but a magical creature born from old technology."
"I never knew it could talk," Lyden mused as he ran his hand along his old car. "I mean, it makes sense. It holds a portion of Angela's soul. I knew it could think."
Mandy faced the car then walked up to Lyden. "She prefers to be thought of as a she, and not an it." There was no rebuke in Mandy's tone, but Lyden flinched and jerked his hand away as though slapped. "She cares for you and your family, though. She no longer sees herself as attached to the Pillar of Fire. She's become her own identity."
Eldon saw his father's fists clench and his jaw flex. "Then why didn't she save them?" Lyden's voice was cold again. "Why didn't she get them out of there before those damned Knights kidnapped my wife and daughter?"
If hearing that the Orange Bubble could communicate was a shock, hearing his dad utter a swear word was on a whole other level. Lyden Snow never swore. Even a word as small as 'damn' was worse than he would say.
Mandy backed away at the cold vengeance in Eldon's dad's voice. She faced the car for a moment, but if it said anything, Eldon couldn't hear.
"She couldn't," Mandy stated after a moment. "There are a lot of things she can do that no ordinary car can, but in the end, she is still in the body of a car. By the time she knew what was going on, it was too late. She came back here and waited for you." Mandy's tone conveyed the Orange Bubble's regret and concern. Eldon saw the effect of her words wash over his father as he rested his head against the car's metal surface.
Lyden's lips moved, but Eldon couldn't hear what his father said. No one moved or spoke as they waited for Lyden to finish. He clutched Areth's golden statue tight to his chest, and after a moment Eldon saw fresh tears stream down his father's cheeks.
"He really loves you all," Gloria whispered into his ear. "I know some people wonder how he could love so many different people. He has so many wives, plus you kids... I know it's not true, but I've heard many from both worlds mutter that he must be a heartless bastard. They figure that he just has the wives for sex, and doesn't care for his offspring, but there is no denying his love. Your father is a great man. I can see a lot of him in you."
Eldon didn't know how to take the compliment and kept his mouth shut. He'd heard some of the same things growing up. People assumed that they understood him, without ever meeting him. All they saw was his public persona. They saw a man with multiple wives, with kids among some of them, and assumed they knew what kind of man he was.
Eldon would be the first to admit his dad wasn't always around. Lyden Snow was a busy man as the only sanctioned ambassador between the two worlds. He was also the hero of the Chaos War. But he never doubted his father's love. Never doubted for a moment that Lyden Snow cared for, and loved every member of his family.
"There's no point in staying here," Lyden spoke up, breaking into Eldon's thoughts. His voice was strong, though it had lost its anger. In its place was determination. "The sooner we meet up with this agent, the sooner we can rescue them and put an end to the Paladonic Knights."
"If you'll get into the SUV," the other Secret Service agent stated, "we can head right to her."
Lyden looked from the black SUV to the Orange Bubble and shook his head. "No, I'll take my car. If you want to lead the way, we'll follow."
Eldon didn't know if the agent knew about Lyden's car and what it was capable of—though the previous conversation would have given him only an inkling of what the old Volkswagen Beetle could do—but he didn't say a word as he got into the passenger seat of the larger vehicle. The first Secret Service agent followed them into the Orange Bubble.
Eldon had to waddle a bit as he ducked into the car. He was still hard and it was uncomfortable to bend over as he entered the large interior.
"Did having Shlee watch us turn you on that much?" Gloria asked him as she followed after.
"No," he shook his head and looked around to see who might have heard. Shlee met his eyes and smiled. Of course her enhanced hearing would have picked it up. He tried to give her a confident smile as he finished the rest in his head. I don't know why I'm still like this. It doesn't make sense. I'm not even that horny. Well, no more than usual, at any rate.
Gloria grimaced, then nodded to his dad. "Think it has something to do with what Areth did to you?"
"You mean I might have a perma-boner?" he asked a bit louder than he meant to. He got a couple of looks from the others in the car and felt his cheeks heating up. He dropped his voice and turned his back on them. "Isn't that supposed to be dangerous? I recall something about getting ahold of a doctor if you have an erection lasting longer than four hours."
Gloria glanced at his crotch. Eldon noticed a distinct lack of concern on her face. "For a person like you, I wouldn't worry about it. Even with as large as you are down there, your body will withstand whatever damage it'll cause you."
Eldon felt like a fool. Of course his body could deal with it. He couldn't be hurt now, after Areth's sacrifice. Well, he could be hurt, but not permanently. Now that he thought about it, it might not be such a bad thing. Despite himself, he felt his ego rise as he realized that he could go forever, and never grow soft. Of course, that's assuming it never went down. Maybe it was as simple as Shlee watching them, and that turned him on at some subconscious level. But then again, maybe not.
"If you two are done talking about his magnificent cock," Shlee muttered to them with a wide grin, "the rest of us are trying to come up with a plan."
Eldon opened his mouth to say something in response, but shut it a moment later when nothing came to mind.
"There's not a lot we can decide until we know the layout of their base," Brooke said to Lyden. "Once we meet up with this undercover agent, we'll know what we're in for."
Eldon glanced out the front windshield. With the dimensional shift between the interior and exterior of the car, his vision was distorted but he was able to make out the SUV's lights. As he watched, the right light flashed and they turned to follow.
"I hate waiting," Eldon muttered.
"I remember that about you," Mandy said at his shoulder. He jumped, not having heard her approach. "Always so impatient. Tell me, Gloria. Does he still dive in head first before he thinks?"
"He has a tendency to think with his head first," Gloria replied with too much ease for Eldon's comfort. "And not always the one on his shoulders. That head does some great diving, though."
"I'm right here, you two," Eldon groused. "You know you can talk to me directly."
"I know," Mandy giggled. "But it's more fun this way."
"So Mandy, tell me," Gloria piped in as though Eldon hadn't spoken, "did he learn to kiss from you, or is it a natural talent of his?"
"Oh my! I wish I could take credit, but he was always that good. Sometimes he would kiss me, and my knees would just melt!"
"Ugh!" Eldon threw his hands up and walked away. He didn't mind the complimentary talk, but didn't appreciate being talked about as though he weren't there.
Instead of being left alone to his thoughts as he walked back to the bed and sat down, Shlee joined him.
"What do you want?" he asked a bit more sourly than he meant to.
"Well, my excuse is that I just want to talk, but in reality I wanted to see what it would take to get that awesome cock between my thighs, or to get you to kiss me the way they're talking about it." Shlee covered her mouth and her eyes opened wide in shock as she realized what she'd just said. "I didn't mean to say that! It just came out all of a sudden. I mean, I really would like to fuck you, but now isn't the right time for it, among other things. Oh! Why can't I control what I say?"
Despite his previous mood, Eldon chuckled. "Relax," he told her. "I'm not offended. That sort of thing happens whenever Mandy is around. Her mere presence makes everyone say the absolute truth. No one can lie when she's around. The trick is to speak the truth. You don't have to say the whole truth, but as long as you don't try to lie at all, you can speak normally."
"What I wouldn't give to have her follow me on an interview with a couple senators," Shlee grimaced. "So, if I say something like: 'you're really cute,' I don't have to add that I wonder what your cum tastes like? Shit!"
"Try something smaller," he offered her. "This bed is soft. See? I didn't add that I would love to screw Gloria and you later, if the opportunity presents." He smiled at her as her eyes grew wide and glanced at the bulge in his pants. "Yes, I added that last part on purpose. I thought it might make you more comfortable, and less embarrassed about letting your statements earlier slip." He shook his head and looked away.
"And you dated her at one point?" Shlee asked in wonder. "I wonder what it would be like to have that many hands roaming your body at once. Dang it! I can't even have personal thoughts? How did you handle the honesty thing in your relationship?"
Eldon chuckled again as she went all over the place with her statements. "It wasn't that bad, really," he told her. "Deep down, I'm an honest guy. Wasn't too bad, as long as I thought before I spoke. Her dad didn't like me much before he passed away, though."
"Was her dad really a Paladonic Knight? How does that work, because she's obviously not human?" Shlee's eyes grew wide in wonder.
"Emmet was a healer for the Knights," Eldon told her. "My dad knows the story better, but they became good friends after the Chaos war. Emmet actually helped back then, and that's when he got Mandy's mom pregnant. She's the last living elf. It was during a mission to the Pillar of Darkness's demesne."
Shlee shuddered next to him. "I hate that place. My dad took me there once. I met a vampire, which was interesting, but werewolves and vampires don't normally get along. I like the light, but sometimes I go back to visit." She clamped her teeth shut, and Eldon wondered what she'd been about to say.
He nodded to what she'd said, and they sat in silence for a bit. He noticed his girlfriend give him a smile, before turning and whispering something to Mandy. Mandy glanced at them, gave a small smile and nodded before replying. He didn't know whether to be worried about whatever they were gossiping about, or just thankful that he didn't have to hear it. Gloria winking at him didn't help him relax any.
"So, what happened between you two?" Eldon glanced back to Shlee and saw her indicating Mandy. "I mean, if honesty wasn't an issue between you two, why did you separate?"
Eldon felt himself stiffen, even as he clamped his mouth shut. If he didn't try to speak, he wouldn't have to say it. He couldn't say it. The experience was too horrific.
"That bad, huh?" Shlee patted him on the shoulder. He flinched away from her touch and she jerked her hand away as though burned. He could see that his reaction hurt her, but he refused to speak. It was the only way he knew for certain would stop him from telling her the truth.
"He still refuses to talk about it, huh?" Mandy stated as she walked over to them. "It was embarrassing, I'll admit, but it wasn't his fault."
"Embarrassing?!" Eldon demanded before he could stop himself. Everyone in the car looked to him, and he clamped his hand over his mouth before anything else could slip out.
"You don't have to tell me if you don't want to," Shlee offered in a sympathetic tone.
"I don't see why he doesn't," Mandy replied without any concern. "Gloria has already seen the whole thing in his mind, and his parents know."
"I don't know either," Brock piped up, but no one looked at him.
Eldon glared at Gloria. Of course she knew. She had access to all his thoughts. It never bothered him before. While dating Mandy, he had no problems having no secrets. Afterwards...
"It wasn't your fault, Eldon," Mandy pressed. "It's high time you got over it."
"Get over it?" he demanded, anger flaring up. "All those people dead because of what I did."
"What we did," Mandy corrected him. "I'm not saying to forget about them, but it wasn't your fault. You couldn't control it, and it wasn't—"
"We should have known better," Eldon interrupted her. "You should have told me that you were... you were..." he tried to stop his mouth from finishing that sentence, but it was impossible with Mandy right in front of him, "you were on the rag."
"I'm confused," Shlee said and stood up. "I don't think I should be a part of this."
"You asked," Mandy said with more than a little heat in her voice. "He may be hung up on it, but I'll tell you what happened." She took a deep breath and ignored Eldon shaking his head. "We were hiding from my dad in Gaia's capital city. He didn't like Eldon and me dating, but I enjoyed being with him, even despite his deformity, which he usually kept hidden from me. He was in the guise of a human, and we went into a hotel, deciding to have some fun. I thought I was past my period, and he went down on me. The next thing I knew, I was looking at my clone munching my own box."
"That doesn't sound so bad," Shlee offered in a weak voice. "Even sounds kind of hot."
"That's not the whole story," Eldon told her without looking away from Mandy. "When I changed into her, I also took on her ability. Normally, her ability is stuck to whatever room she's in. Sometimes it can be fun to walk down a street and see someone suddenly spout something they didn't mean to admit. Suddenly having two of us, or rather two of her, in the same room increased that ability exponentially. Remember how I said you don't have to say the whole truth, as long as you don't lie? That wasn't the case then."
"So people in a larger area had to start telling the truth?" Brock joined the conversation. "I don't see what's wrong with that."
Brooke placed her hand on his thick arm and shook her head. From the look on Shlee's eyes, she was catching on to the problem.
Mandy was the one to reply. "They didn't just have to speak the truth, and it wasn't just a slightly bigger area. The entire city suddenly had to tell every little dark secret it had. It wasn't a matter of just saying whatever was in their head at that moment. They told whoever was around them their darkest secrets. People grew furious with one another. Lovers admitted to infidelity. Theft was revealed. Enmity that'd been buried for centuries was reignited like a bonfire. Creatures attacked one another in anger and hatred. No one could control themselves."
"I don't remember hearing about any of this," Brock said with confusion.
"Gaia helped us bury the incident," Lyden told his son. "We were supposed to make sure they broke up afterwards, but they did that themselves."
"We didn't break up," Mandy spat. "He dumped me. I loved him, and he walked away."
Eldon couldn't have hurt worse from her words if she'd slapped him. After his conversation with Gloria earlier, Mandy's words struck directly to his heart. Now everyone knew his most painful memory, his biggest failing, his deepest, darkest secret.
"I didn't have a choice," he told her. "I couldn't chance something like that happening again."
"You can only say it because you believe it," Mandy sneered. "You could have chosen not to ever change into my form again. Only your first transformation is uncontrolled. It was your choice to leave me."
Eldon had nothing to say in response. She was right, though he still felt like he didn't have a choice. He couldn't help but feel guilty for all those deaths. So many lives snuffed out because of his carelessness. He couldn't be sure if he'd lost control because he'd changed genders—something he never tested out—or because he couldn't control her powers. It was his first time becoming a woman, and it hadn't been comfortable.
"I know it's none of my business, but I can't stop myself from telling you that you're an idiot, Eldon." Shlee's words tore at the wound in his heart and he turned away from her. "That wasn't your fault. You can't blame yourself for what other people did. You didn't make them carry those secrets. You didn't make them lie for years before that incident. It wasn't your fault, and you're an idiot for thinking it was for so long."
"I may not have been responsible for the secrets they kept, but I am responsible for them spilling those secrets." He couldn't help the bitterness in his voice. "All those deaths because I couldn't keep my cock in my pants."
"More like your tongue out of my pussy," Mandy replied, then grimaced. "Sorry, I didn't mean to say that. Shlee's right, though. The whole thing was an accident. You can't blame yourself because of what other people did."
Eldon wanted to believe them. He wanted to think that those deaths weren't on his hands. How much easier would his conscience rest if he wasn't to blame for what had happened?
No matter how much he wanted to believe, he couldn't. They believed it, or they wouldn't be able to say it with Mandy in the car, but that didn't make it the truth. It was the one major flaw in Mandy's ability. If someone believed something, they could say it, even if it wasn't the truth. They just had to believe that their words were true.
He was spared from talking further as the Orange Bubble stopped.
A moment later, the side door opened and a skinny woman walked in. She was dressed in high heels, red fishnet stockings, a matching red miniskirt, and black halter top.
"Sorry, ma'am," Lyden approached her, "I'm afraid you're in the wrong car."
"No, Ambassador Snow, I am not," the woman said in a firm tone. Every ounce of this woman exuded sexuality, and her voice dripped with it. That is, until she turned to face the rest of the car. Her posture changed as she stood straighter, shoulders back, and a look of serious command appeared on her pretty face. Eldon saw that her eyes were a striking shade of green. Shoulder length dark brown hair framed a cherubic face. Her body thrummed with an energy that was almost palpable. Despite himself, Eldon felt his mouth start to drool.
What was wrong with him? He had the world's hottest girlfriend next to him, and here he was drooling over a stranger. He knew she was no longer the jealous goddess she once was, but that was no reason to act like this.
"Thanks, babe, but you're the best boyfriend I could hope for," Gloria whispered into his ear. "There's something not quite right about her, though. I can't hear her thoughts, and there is something I can't put my finger on. She's not a vampire or anything as far as I can tell, but she doesn't appear to be alive either."
"I can't hear her heartbeat," Shlee whispered.
Eldon realized the stranger was looking right at them. "You're right. I'm not human. What I am is classified. You can call me Sonia. I report directly to the President, and I am the agent you were sent to meet up with." Her tone was no-nonsense, and the withering look she gave Eldon helped his mouth dry up. She'd changed from a sex kitten into all business, somehow without changing her clothes.
Eldon wished he had a weapon to hand. It wasn't that he mistrusted this woman, not exactly, but there was something about her that put his teeth on edge. She was brisk and treated him like scum. He didn't expect everyone to like him just because, but he'd never been treated like this by someone who didn't know him.
"Sorry about the misunderstanding," Lyden spoke up, taking the woman's gaze from Eldon. "You just don't, um... excuse me, but you don't look like a typical Secret Service Agent."
"I'm not," Sonia stated and didn't add any more.
Eldon saw his dad grimace before putting on his political face. "Would you mind showing us some form of credentials? It never pays to not be careful."
"Besides the fact that your magical car arrived to pick me up and let me come in?" Sonia asked. "You might want to answer your phone."
Lyden's eyebrows drew together, but he pulled out his phone. It wasn't ringing. Eldon jumped as his phone went off. Everyone turned to him and Sonia frowned.
"Umm, I'll just—" Eldon cut himself off as he looked at the caller ID. It was blocked. "Hello?" he asked after swiping his thumb across the screen to answer.
"Hey handsome," a cheerful voice he instantly recognized said. "I heard you were healed and out of the hospital. I can't tell you how distraught I was after that crash."
"How did you get my number?" Eldon couldn't stop the question before it exited his lips.
"Gloria gave it to me. Besides, even if she hadn't I am the President of the United States. It's not like I couldn't just look it up." Martha had a point, and Eldon felt like a fool for even asking. He was tired of feeling the fool today, and had a terrible feeling it wouldn't be the last.
Eldon glanced at his girlfriend who gave him a wicked grin. "I didn't think you'd mind."
He couldn't help but return her grin. She was too beautiful to be upset with, anyway.
"You still there?" Martha's voice sounded from the phone and he pressed it to his ear again.
"Yeah, sorry. Um, now's not the best time." Glancing around the car, he saw everyone looking at him, most with unhappy expressions. Only Gloria was smiling. His father looked disappointed with him.
"I know. Unfortunately, this wasn't a social call. Sonia reports directly to me. You can trust her without reservation."
"It's Martha, er... The President." He told everyone, and the frowns disappeared. All except Sonia's calm demeanor. "She says that we can trust her."
"Let me guess," Martha spoke again, "Sonia is being secretive? I shouldn't be surprised. It's in her programming. Tell you what, put your phone on speaker and hold it up."
"Okay..." Eldon didn't understand what was going on, but did as he was told.
Sonia glanced at the phone and grimaced anew. "I hate when she does this."
A moment later, a series of high pitched whines and screeches emanated from his speaker.
Shlee covered her sensitive years. "Jeez, that's worse than dial-up!"
Sonia's eyes glazed over for a moment, and when the sound stopped, the agent smiled. Eldon took the phone off speaker and pressed it to his ear again. "There. That should loosen her up around you."
"What did you do?" Eldon asked.
"She tends to get a bit uptight about some things," Martha responded. "I just gave everyone in that car top secret clearance concerning her. She should be a little easier to deal with. Well, I'd better go. The Japanese ambassador is due here any minute, and we're going to discuss the Lydonese. Take care handsome."
The phone clicked before he could think of anything to say. What was going on?
"Well, it seems I'm to trust you with all my secrets." Sonia's voice took on that smoky quality again that made Eldon's pants tighten even more. As if his perma-hardon weren't bad enough. "As I mentioned before, my name is Sonia, which stands for Synthetic Operational Nocturnal Infiltration Android. I was originally designed as a sex-bot, but have received a few upgrades. My main duties are infiltration and espionage."
"So, you're a true undercover spy?" Eldon had to ask.
"Son!" Lyden snapped, and Eldon felt his cheeks heat in embarrassment. Why did he have to ask that out loud? Despite Gloria's assurance that his body could handle his extended erection, he was beginning to think his blood was a little too thin and not enough was reaching his brain. He really wasn't thinking too clearly. He wanted to blame Mandy's presence, but he was the one that opened his mouth.
"It's all right, Ambassador Snow. I've heard much worse from some of those I work with. That certainly wasn't the first time I've heard that comment." Sonia said in a sweet voice. She turned to face Eldon again, and while her voice was still silky smooth, he sensed a solidity underneath it that meant business. "While my design might be that of a sex-bot, let me assure you that I don't just spread my legs for anyone."
"I'm sorry. I shouldn't have said that. I don't know what I was thinking," Eldon apologized.
"It's not your fault," she assured him. "When I'm relaxed, my synthetic body gives off strong pheromones. They affect everyone differently. Sometimes it helps when I'm working. Judging by the bulge in your pants, I understand where your comment came from."
Ouch!! He knew he deserved that comment, but his boner wasn't his fault, or entirely due to her.
"I'm afraid that that wasn't caused by you," Gloria came to his rescue. "It seems to be a side effect of his healing earlier today."
"You mean something went wrong?" Lyden asked and clutched tighter at the golden statue. "Is he all right?"
The fear in his father's voice tore at him, even while his cheeks burned hotter. "Don't worry about it, Dad."
Lyden opened his mouth, but before he could ask anything, Shlee piped up. "What I want to know is what powers you? Are you nuclear, or battery powered? How strong is your processor? Are you using solid state memory, or the experimental crystal memory? I'm assuming you're using the latest artificial intelligence software, or are you programmed with something top secret by the government?" Everyone stopped and stared at the reporter. "What? I want to know. I promise not to report on any of it, but the geek in me is dying to know what makes her tick."
"I don't think now is the time," Mandy said as she folded her four arms across her chest. "The Orange Bubble wants to know where we're heading. Where are Becky, Shelly, and Jessica being held?"
"I wish there was time for a quick fuck. Eldon's cock looked good in that hospital." Shlee froze as she realized what she'd just said. She turned to glare at Mandy, then at Eldon, as though it were his fault. She turned and stomped away. Even as big as the interior of the car was, she couldn't go far, and with all the bodies inside, it was getting a bit cramped.
Lyden got up and approached his son. Eldon wished he could turn and walk away, to find some corner to hide in, but knew it was hopeless.
"Shlee caught you sleeping, huh?" Lyden shook his head about Shlee's lie earlier. Eldon couldn't tell if his dad was teasing him, or berating him. "I need to know what's going on with you, Son."
Eldon glanced at the statue of Areth still clutched in his father's hands. She'd given up everything for him. He still felt guilty for it, and right at that moment didn't want to talk to his hero father.
"I'm fine, Dad. Just trying to get used to things." He couldn't meet his father's eyes as he spoke.
"And, um... down there?"
Eldon didn't think it was possible to grow more embarrassed. His face was getting sore from being constantly red. He couldn't help the fact that he was still stiff, but having his dad point it out was mortifying. He wanted to say it was fine also, but knew he couldn't get the lie out with Mandy in the car. "I don't want to talk about it. You can rely on me to save my sister, Becky, and Jessica. That's what's most important right now."
"It is important, but your health is important to me also. I love you Son, and if something is wrong..." he trailed off and took a step away, his eyes going wide.
"What?" Eldon was torn between hoping his dad would drop the subject, and concerned about the look on Lyden's face. "What's wrong?"
"You're glowing," Lyden said in an awed tone. "You're glowing golden. I've noticed it for a while, but it just got stronger."
Eldon looked down at his body, but couldn't tell what his father was getting at. "No I'm not. I'm normal."
"It's the same glow as Areth's" Gloria stated. "Only a bit brighter."
Sonia looked him up and down and shook her head. "Your body is in perfect health. I don't see any glow, either. I can see between the ultraviolet to infrared frequencies, and your appearance is normal on all spectrums. You don't even show the standard amount of skin damage from exposure to sunlight I normally see in someone your age. I don't see a glow."
"I don't see any glow, either," Shlee added. Eldon suspected she heard Sonia explaining her abilities, and decided to rejoin them. She really was a geek.
"I see it," Brooke offered.
"So do I," Brock stated.
"Interesting," Mandy said and stroked her chin. "Some of us can see it, while others can't. It can't be a family trait, as Brooke and Gloria aren't related to you. Gender doesn't seem to play a role in it... And you say you don't see it?"
"I look normal," Eldon said, wishing more and more he could find a hole and hide for the rest of his life in it.
"No, you're definitely glowing," Gloria said. She started to look around him and shook her head. "Someone turn off the lights."
The car must have been listening, as all light vanished inside the car. Curtains were closed over the windows, and Eldon couldn't see a thing.
"I can barely see," Shlee commented, "and I have superior night vision. I still don't see a glow."
"I can still see you clearly," Lyden said. Eldon thought he heard a smile in his dad's voice.
"As can I," Gloria stated. "Notice how the glow doesn't reflect off anything else? I wonder... How bright is he to you, Mr. Snow?"
"Call me Lyden," he responded. "Almost bright enough to hurt looking at in this dark."
"Same here," Gloria stated. "Brock, Brooke? How about you?"
"He's pretty bright, but not bad enough that it hurts my eyes," Brooke offered.
"Really?" Brock stated. Eldon heard his mechanical legs moved him closer, but still couldn't see. "I can see him clearly, but I don't think he's that bright."
Eldon wished he'd chosen a different phrasing to that statement. That wording made Eldon feel like an idiot.
"Ouch!" Mandy cursed. "Watch where you're going!"
"Sorry. It's so dark in here, all I can see is my brother." Brock apologized.
The lights came back on, and Eldon had to squint in the sudden brilliance. They were all still staring at him.
"I'm not a piece of meat," Eldon groused. "You can stop staring at me now."
"At least we're not talking about your beautiful cock," Shlee laughed, then slapped her hand over her mouth. She stormed to the front of the car, stomping with each step. "I can't wait to get out of this car where my thoughts can be my own! You all are going to think I'm some cock crazed slut, when it's just been a few days since anyone has touched me like that. I—" She slapped her hands over her mouth again, and the rest was too muffled to hear.
Eldon felt bad, but he was relieved that the attention was taken off him for a moment.
"Any idea what's causing it? The glow, I mean," Brooke asked the car in general.
Eldon saw Gloria give them all a look, and noticed her jaws clench. She didn't look happy, and that worried him more than anything else.
"Whatever it is, I doubt it's harmful," Brooke replied to her own question. "Maybe it has something to do with how well we knew Areth before she healed you, Eldon. It might be some left over magic from that."
Eldon hoped that was true, but a glance at Gloria ruined that thought. Gloria had known Areth, but not well, yet she claimed he had an intense glow. As far as he knew, Brock had known Areth a little, so that fit there. But Mandy had known Areth a little as well, and she hadn't said she could see a glow.
"Maybe, something like that," Eldon said, though he doubted it. "Whether or not I glow, it's not the most important thing right now."
"Unless some sniper sees you and decides you make an easy target," Lyden stated.
Eldon met his dad's gray eyes for a moment as he felt his resolve firm. "If you think for one moment that I'm going to sit this fight out, you're wrong. The Knights have my sister, and there's not a chance in hell I'm going to let them get away with that."
"No one is asking you to sit this out," Brooke stepped in and placed a hand on her husband's shoulder. "We're just concerned about going into battle without understanding what's going on."
He understood that well enough. Nothing was more dangerous than going into battle with missing knowledge. It didn't mean he was willing to sit this out, however.
"I can't be hurt, remember?" He said and couldn't stop himself from glancing at Areth's statue. "The second my body gets any damage, I heal back to perfect."
"We don't know that for certain," Lyden cautioned. "It could be that there is a moment between the damage and your body healing. If that moment is large enough, you could die. We've almost lost you twice recently, as it is."
Eldon thought back to when he'd punched the wall. His hand had hurt for a moment. Later, Gloria had slapped him, and that pain had lasted a bit longer. His father could be right. What would happen if his head were chopped off, or a bullet penetrated his brain? Could he survive that?
It didn't matter. He had to save his sister. "I'm going," he said in a tone that left no argument. His father opened his mouth to reply, and Eldon just raised one eyebrow. It was a look he'd learned from his mother. She may act like a slave before him, but when she gave Lyden Snow that look, he listened. After a moment, Lyden nodded and walked over to the fountain.
They spent the next several minutes hashing out their plan of attack with Sonia's help. She had the layout of the place they were preparing to infiltrate, and was able to pull up a holographic display.
"We're about fifteen minutes away," Lyden said as he glanced out the window. "Does everyone know what they need to do?"
"We've been over the plan numerous times, dear," Brooke said from her spot on the fountain. Brock was next to her in his mechanical legs. "I still think you need to stay back here. You're not..." Brooke looked ashamed for a moment before forcing the words out. "You're not the Generator anymore, and can't fight them. If you die, they win."
Lyden's face grew angry. Eldon had seen his father angry more today than any other time in his past. Losing Areth, and having his family kidnapped was taking its toll on his dad. It was taking a toll on all of them.
"They have my daughter and one of my wives, not to mention Shelly's girlfriend," Lyden said with a voice full of anger, sorrow, rage, and determination. "They've gone too far this time. They will pay. I won't lose anyone else!"
"I understand how you feel," Mandy spoke up. "But the world can't lose you, Mr. Snow. You're too important to the people of the Shadow World."
"They can go to hell for all I care," Lyden spat. He walked over to the fountain near Brooke and picked up Areth's statue. Tears formed in his eyes as he spoke. "I won't lose anyone else. I lost Lisa years ago to them, and thought I'd bloodied their nose enough to teach them a lesson. Their actions recently have shown that they can't be taught. They are a cancer of hatred in the world. For too long, we have been content to let them grow, thinking they were ineffective. This last attack only means one thing. War. It is not a war I am willing to lose. I will not lose anyone else! No one! Am I clear?"
The car was silent for a moment, before Eldon spoke up. "You won't dad. I'll make sure to bring them all home. I won't let you down. But that's no reason for you to join the fight. Stay here. Coordinate from here. Let us be your hands and eyes. You can't run the fight from the middle of it."
"When the Outsiders threatened our existence, I didn't stay back then," Lyden faced his son. Eldon kept his father's gaze. "I went out and killed them. I fought. I won't stay behind this time, either."
"That was different," Eldon held his ground. "You had your powers then. You don't now. I understand how you feel, Dad. They have my sister, my step-mom, and Jessica. If even one hair on their head is hurt, I'll destroy them all myself."
"How will you do that?" Lyden demanded. "You can't change anymore. You're locked into that one form."
That hurt him more than he would admit. At least his dad wasn't insisting on him staying behind this time.
"Because I had a great man teach me the importance of fighting for the right reasons from the time I was a little kid," Eldon grinned. "Because I have trained for this my whole life. My form isn't what's important. What you helped teach me is."
Eldon's words seemed to get through to his father, and he bowed his head. He cradled the statue in his hands and wept. "I won't lose anyone else, Son. You hear me? Don't you dare die out there. None of you can. I... I can't lose anyone else. I can't."
Brooke folded him into her arms and held her husband. He noticed for the first time that his dad was getting old. Brooke looked like she was still in her mid-twenties, though she was much older. Next to her, Lyden looked ancient with the wrinkles around his eyes and the gray in his hair.
Sonia turned to face the other agent. The man had remained silent almost the whole time, to the point where Eldon had forgotten he was in the car. "All of our forces are ready to move on your word, Commander. Just give the order."
"As soon as this car stops, we move," Sonia responded, then turned to face the rest of the car. "The President has authorized full lethal force. We will act as the vanguard. Our main mission is to rescue the hostages. Once they're clear, a tactical missile strike will hit the base." She walked over to Lyden and handed him a screen. "Ambassador Snow, use this to see through my eyes. The President will also be watching. If you need to issue any commands, speak into it and we will hear. The rest of you, take these ear pieces. I know some of you prefer to use swords, but there will be a small team ready with pistols and rifles when we stop."
"What kind of resistance can we expect?" Brooke asked as she hefted her two watery blue blades, checking their balance.
"As long as we catch them by surprise, it'll be slight. The base is well fortified, and well manned. They shouldn't know we know where they are. We will get in as quiet as possible, and get out. If we're lucky, they won't know we were there until the missiles are striking," the tactical agent spoke up.
"I still don't agree with wiping them out," Brooke stated. "We might be making martyrs out of them. I—"
"Enough!" Lyden snapped. "I am done having my family targeted and kidnapped. The only reason I didn't retaliate against Varun when he kidnapped you last time is because the consequences of taking out a Pillar was too great. No one worth their spit will miss these bastards. They will pay, and everyone will know not to mess with my family. I understand your concerns, my love, but my mind is made up on this. Tonight, the Paladonic Knights will be destroyed."
"The President is in agreement," Sonia said.
"I agree they need to be stopped," Mandy spoke up, "but I'm glad my dad isn't here to see this."
They were silent for a moment. Lyden was the first to break it. "He was a good man, Mandy, and I considered him a friend. We had our differences at first, but he proved to be a good person at heart. I was sorry when he passed away."
"That's part of my point," Brooke spoke up. "Emmet was a good person, and he was once a Knight. How many good people are we going to kill tonight?"
"Enough that no other good people will ever think of joining the Knights," Lyden spoke in a tone as hard as granite.
The Orange Bubble stopped, ending any further arguments. The tactically clad agent opened the door and stepped out. A moment later, he waved the rest of them to follow. Only Lyden stayed behind.
The night sky was filled with stars. They were in a wooded mountainous area, parked on the side of a hill. They wound their way through the trees, until they came across three men, all dressed in tactical gear.
They were shown to a foam-lined crate, filled with various weaponry.
"Grab what you need," Sonia's voice sounded in Eldon's earpiece, though he noticed her lips didn't move. Being an android, she could probably transmit her voice directly to them.
Eldon saw everyone else move to the crate, and he followed suit. He noticed a wide array of weaponry. There was enough here to start a small revolution in a third world country. He grabbed a short sword, strapped it to his back, then picked up a pistol with its holster and placed it on his right hip. He rooted around and found some spare clips, then grabbed an assault rifle.
He was weighed down with all the weaponry, but felt it was better to go in ready, than wish he had it when he needed it.
"Just over this rise is their base," Sonia's voice sounded in his ear again. "If we're all ready, we can move out. I'll send the signal to launch the missiles as soon as we're clear with the hostages."
"Be careful out there," Lyden's voice sounded next. "Bring them home safe."
They all nodded.
They all knew how to move in silence, except for Brock. There was no helping the sound of his mechanical legs as they moved through the forest.
Eldon's first glance at the Paladonic Knight's fortress made him worry. It was surrounded by a wall that Sonia's information said was forty feet tall. Gun turrets were mounted every fifteen feet. There were two main entrances, one on each side, each manned by four guards carrying automatic rifles loaded with silver bullets. There was no way to get in or out without being seen by dozens of security cameras.
This was the largest group Eldon had ever worked with, but it seemed tiny compared to what they were up against. Luckily, Sonia's intelligence showed a secret entrance used by the highest leadership when they didn't want their comings and goings noticed.
They circled wide around the front gate, staying to the shadows. Their entrance was located near a rock outcropping, and disguised as a giant boulder. When Sonia pressed against it, it lifted with ease, revealing a ladder down into a dark hole.
One by one, they dropped down in, except for Brock. His mechanical legs were too wide to fit in the hole, so he remained behind to guard their retreat along with the other agents. He held an automatic rifle in his hands as he hunkered down in his transportation.
At the bottom of the ladder was a dimly lit tunnel leading in the direction of the base. Brook led the way, her blue blades out and glimmering with a soft light of their own. Eldon's heart hammered in his ears as he strained to hear any noise beyond their own breathing and soft footfalls.
Brooke's gasp sounded loud in the silence as she stopped. "Something is very wrong," she said and held up her blades. They were still blue, but no longer glowing with their own light.
"Who gave that command?" Sonia sounded angry in his ear a moment later. She glanced around at them with eyes wide. She claimed to be an android, but her look was filled with fear. Can an android feel fear?
"You did, commander," came a response in his ear from one of the other agents outside.
"Someone gave the command to launch the missiles. We've been compromised." Sonia's lips moved as she spoke this time, and there was no mistaking the fear in her voice.
Before anyone could respond, the ground shuddered and dust filtered down from the ceiling. The missiles were already striking the ground, killing anyone above them.
Mar 7, 2018 in anal