Artemis wished once again that she had Sibyl's books. The old tomes had been so complete, so thorough. The dusty, leather-bound books would certainly have had information on this Jewel of Transcendance that the ghost had spoken of.
But, no, she was stuck in this backwards place with a very UNreliable computer for accessing information. And even to use that simple-looking piece of technology, she still needed a coach, usually Mia.
Technology and Artemis simply didn't get along. She hated technology as much as it hated her. Her spiritual nature couldn't accept that a thing of metal and wires could out-think a human. But still, she tried her hardest to be patient with the systems.
Even now, sitting in front of Mia's computer, Artemis was being patient, tapping her fingers lightly on the desktop. She stifled a yawn, and glanced at the clock on the wall. She rubbed her eyes to make sure she wasn't dreaming. Nearly 4. Where had the night gone?
She was still haunted by the feeling of cold, chill, at the beach. But that had been nearly a week ago. Flashbacks often caused her to shiver; it had been core-felt, deep in the center of her soul. And such a instinct was not to be ignored.
"It's in your little head!" Kento had laughed when she spoke to him. "It's nothing! Trust me!!"
He had given her such a playful
look, a smile and a laugh, that she promised him she'd forget about it. But
she didn't, and it still caused her anxiety.
The computer's red LED light flashed briefly, signalling that it was finished loading. Artemis leaned closer and squinted at the screen, slowly reading the
"The Jewel of Transcendance. No matches found for requested keywords-"
Artemis sat back in her chair
and sighed. Nothing. That's what it always was, nothing. She felt as if the
ghost of Anubis was asking her to give her life. She sighed again, and rubbed her temples with long fingers.
"Something wrong?" A voice behind her asked.
Artemis spun in her chair, facing the transparent form of Anubis. She gave him a tired look.
"Did you find anything in Mia's database?" he asked.
"If you mean in that thing-" Artemis motioned to the computer. "-your answer is no."
Anubis gave a sigh as Artemis turned back to the system.
"This Jewel you speak of is nowhere to be found." she continued. "I have looked nearly everywhere-"
"Nearly?" Anubis interuppted.
"Except in Mia's files on the Ronins, everywhere." Artemis clarified. "Only she knows the password to access them." Artemis shut down the system. "It's late; I'm tired.."
Anubis began to fade out. "I need to find the Jewel of Transcendance."
"I need to find it soon!"
"Thank you, Artemis, for your help.. thank you." Anubis was gone, leaving Artemis alone in the dark.
She rubbed her eyes gently,
yawning. She left the desk as it had been when she had started to search, chair pushed in almost
all the way. Padding upstairs
she listened briefly at various doors, assuring herself that
none of the Overlords had awakened. Pushing her own door open, she glanced across the room to the
other bed. Liza was asleep, murmuring in her dreams.
The world was silent, as she
changed into her nightshirt. Suddenly, Artemis froze.. the chill crept
into her bones, shivering her to her soul. There was something amiss with the night. Something was
Phlegethon rippled his muscles impressively. The body of a twenty year old with the mind of a first-grader. Diamond pulled her hood up to cover her face, wondering what monstrosities she had unleashed upon the dimensions.
They were not mostrosities as
long as they got the job done.. Diamond smiled in the depths of her cowl.
Then the Jewel of Transcendance would be hers.
Styx was digging through the
remains of the weapon room in Talpa's castle, looking for suitable arms for her siblings. Lethe
stood behind her sister, holding
onto the weapons that the elder deemed fit. Already she
had two sheathed swords in her arms and a battle ax.
Styx grunted as she pushed a
half suit of armor out of her way, coughing in the dust. Reaching into
the depths of the weapons, she drew forth a mace.
"There you go, Lethe.."
Styx muttered as she handed it to her sister. "Give
the swords to Archeron and
Cocytus.. The axe goes to Phlegethon."
Lethe ran to her brothers to
pass out the weapons. Styx walked over to Diamond, who was flipping
through pages in her spell book.
"So, are we set to raid the real world?" Styx asked leaning over her shoulder to read the book.
Diamond snapped the tome shut. "Yes. As soon as your brothers stop posing and join the circle."
The Jewel around Styx's throat pulsed dully as the warrioress' anger flared.
"Move it, you four!" she snapped at her siblings.
Archeron and Cocytus quickly
belted on thier swords and hurried over to the sorceress, taking
their positions in the circle. Lethe shuffled over, using the hem of her shirt to
polish a spot out of the mace's spiked head.
Phlegethon took a few practice swings with his battle axe.
"When I find that orange nut that killed Diana, I'm gonna get him good.."
Phlegethon laughed, walking towards his eldest sister.
Styx slapped him upside the head. "Don't even think about it, boy. We stick together, and use teamwork, like Charon taught us... remember?"
The four nodded mutely, Phlegethon holding his head.
Diamond looked at the five aged-faces. "Are you all ready?"
Styx took her position and nodded. "Ready and willing."
Diamond raised her voice in
chant; winds picked up around them, whipping hair across faces, making
eyes water. Diamond's spidery words echoed with the power of the spell; her hands began to glow.
The light grew brighter, causing each of the Hell's Children to wince and look away at some time. Finally, consumed by the brightness, they were gone.....
Sage couldn't help but smile
as Moonshadow entered his dojo. She seemed so out of place and
inferior. Her jeans were grease-stained, probably from fixing up her piece-of-junk
Volvo. Her tee-shirt was brightly tie-dyed, a Thunderstorm-original, no doubt. Slung on her back
was her battered guitar case, and she kicked off her old sneakers as she walked in the door.
Sage was also pleased to see that his students didn't pause in thier exercises. They were getting as used to Moonshadow's visits as he was.
Shadow propped her guitar case in a corner and came over to sit next to him, Indian-style.
"Hey, babes," she whispered, giving him a kiss. "What's up?"
"Nothin'. You?" Sage replied, smiling.
"I had a close-encounter of the quarter-back-kind a second ago." Shadow smiled at him. "That's 'bout all."
"Quarter-back?" Sage arched a brow at her, flipping the stray lock of hair out of his eye. Glancing from his students to the clock, he smiled. "That's enough for today. Same time tomorrow."
The kids filtered into the locker rooms to change into their street clothes.
Each one bowed to Sage and waved to Moonshadow as they left.
"Yeah, quarter-back. The man was massive. He woulda made Sekhmet look puny.
I come 'round the corner from
the park, and WHAM!-" she slammed her fist into her open palm,
making a loud cracking sound. "I run face first into him. He doesn't say anything,
just looks at me real nasty-like and walks away."
"Hm." Sage stood and helped his girlfriend up. "That's weird."
"Yup. The whole bunch of 'em were built like rocks."
Shadow nodded. "Five, maybe
six of them. Two chicks, rest guys. Gave me the willies to watch them."
She kissed Sage again, passionately; his mind moved on to other subjects.
Lethe was picking on Phlegethon. "You should watch where you go!! Lucky that we gots a 'lusion."
"Have an illusion," Cocytus corrected automatically.
Lethe stuck her tongue out.
"That's real attractive..." Cocytus muttered, returning the gesture with a salute of sorts.
Phlegethon rubbed his chest where the woman had ran into him. "Owie."
"Wuss." Lethe taunted.
Styx sighed. "Archeron, stop your sister."
"Hey, she's your sister too!" Archeron replied. "I ain't goin' near her with that mace of hers."
"Archeron, stop your sister. That is an order."
The biggest of the three boys
sighed, and turned to his little sister and brother. Stepping
between them, he gave them each a look that was not to be trifled with.
"Stop you two. We aren't
going to get anywhere if we don't cooperate. We need to find these Ronins
before we can stamp them from existance. So STOP."
Lethe bowed her head in deferance
to her elder brother, then, when Archeron turned away, stuck
her tongue out.
"He started it." she said glumly.
Diamond glanced back at the
five, and sighed. They would never learn. She scanned the street and the shops around it. Her
eyes settled on one store sign.
The shop was in the studio apartment of one building. The sign
read: "Summer's Rain."
window, she could see the little brunette head of Liza Stevens bobbing to some music.
"Children," she said affectionatly. "We have a lead to where these Ronins may be."
Her smile instilled fear into all, even Styx. The evil and sadistic grin seated there shivered one's soul.
To be continued....