Nameless Crossover - By Andromeda and Cosmo

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Nameless Crossover - By Andromeda and Cosmo

Post  Jedward on Fri Apr 22, 2011 7:46 pm

Chapter 1

A girl lay on the ground in the middle of a clearing - at least, it looked like a girl, but the burns were too bad to tell for sure. A fire had covered her entire body and burned away most of her skin. She seemed to already be dead.

In a bush a short way away another body had been carelessly tossed - and looked like somebody had even stomped on it a bit.

A mysterious figure emerged from the thicket, garbed in black and armed with a scythe. Eyes covered by shadows, he waited; but for what?

Across the clearing three teenagers stepped out of the darkening forest. The leader, a short boy with blue eyes and a blond braid down to his waist, moved to kneel next to the body. He looked at her face, the only part of her not charred beyond recognition, and mirrored her sad smile. There was a bit of cloth tied around his right shoulder as a rough bandage. It seemed painful to move that arm, but he still reached out a trembling hand to close her eyes. When he rose he took the shovel he’d brought and began to dig a grave.

The other boy joined him, trying not to look at the body. He was tall with cocoa colored skin and short, wavy black hair. He wore a dress shirt and long skirt, both of which were now stained with blood and ash. Neither seemed aware of the figure standing nearby. Only the third, a girl with wide innocent green eyes and the same red hair as the burned body, stared straight at the mysterious stranger. She spoke finally, stuttering nervously. “Who… w-who are you?”

The figure spoke in a soft voice “I am a soul reaper, my dear child. Is this… a family member of yours?”

“A… soul reaper?” Her companions were now staring at her in confusion, wondering if she’d gone crazy since she seemed to be talking to thin air. Her eyes widened in realization. “You’re going to take her away! No!” She fell to her knees and began to cry. “She’s my sister… She was protecting me… I don’t want to lose her again!”

The man knelt and placed a hand on her shoulder “I… I may be able to do something… but she may experience some pain”

“Please! Please help her… She’s already been hurt so much… She shouldn’t have to die here.” She looked at him with eyes brightened by joy, as if she saw him as a figure of hope rather than death.

The others still thought she was crazy.

“Alright… get your friends to stand back!” The man suddenly began to glow.

She turned to her companions. “You have to stand back so the reaper can help her!”

“Reaper?” asked the leader, looking disbelieving. The other boy made a sign like wings, then closed his eyes and fell backwards. “Angel… dead… Dead angel? No, angel of death. Of course.” He turned back to the girl. “You’re talking to angels now?”

There were still tears in her eyes, but she glared at him challengingly. “You hear voices.”

“That’s different. The voices are real.”

“Well so’s my angel. So there.” Apparently this was good enough logic, because he shrugged and backed away.

The soul reaper began to appear before the threesome and muttered an incantation. “As a phoenix dies, so shall he arise… now arise, my great phoenix… Arise!” Then he swiftly placed his scythe at the center of the corpse’s chest. Its burnt flesh began to heal.

The two boys stared at the man who had suddenly appeared and begun chanting. The blond put a hand on his hips and muttered “How corny.”

“Oh, shut up Blondie!”

He was about to say something in retort, but his companion stopped him with a hand on his shoulder. At least one of them was smart enough to realize that fighting with supernatural beings is not exactly healthy. He settled for grumbling quietly to himself.

The girl, meanwhile, was watching in amazement as her sister’s body began to rebuild itself. She smiled up at the stranger. “Amon’s right, you really are an angel!”

“I… I’m sorry, but I cannot heal her completely. But I know of a place with a healing aura… that may help save her”

“If it will help her, please take her there.”

“Now wait just a minute.” The blond had apparently decided arguing with a reaper was worth the risk. “I’m not just going to give her to a stranger. I…” His voice suddenly went from angry to sad. “I owe her that.” He shook his head as if to shake off the moment of weakness and went back to being angry. “I should take better care of her than just giving her to the first person to claim he’ll help her.”

The man glared at him, outraged by what was going on. “Look! If I wanted to do her harm, would I have healed her at all?! You don’t understand what could happen if we don’t leave! Now!”

“There’s a lot I don’t understand, but I do know that no one does anything kind without an ulterior motive. Until I know what you want you can’t have her.” He marched up to the reaper and glared challengingly up at him. He looked ready to start a real fight; until the other boy came up behind and pushed him. As he fell he automatically grabbed the reaper’s arm to steady himself. He immediately let go, but he looked shaken. Slowly he let the anger melt away. “Fine. But we’re coming too.”

The man sighed. “Alright… Hold on to me, or you may get lost forever.”

Suddenly flames engulfed the group and they began falling through what looked like a purple vortex.

“What… the… hell.” The blond didn’t even seem surprised. He simply held his two companions protectively, still glaring suspiciously at the reaper, and waited for the purple to go away.

As they landed they found themselves in an odd, warped reality. A single path lay before them. “I warn you now, do NOT wander off the path!” the reaper stressed.

The girl and the silent boy nodded and followed him. The blond looked distinctly unhappy, but he was argumentative, not stupid. He wasn’t going to wander away when he had no idea what was going to happen. All three followed along in silence.

“I… I don’t believe I introduced myself” the reaper said, eager to break the awkward silence. “I don’t actually remember my name but you can call me Reaper.”

“…Andromeda.” The blond’s tone was friendly - for him - but his expression dared Reaper to mock his feminine name. Reaper smiled and bowed slightly.

The girl introduced herself next. “I’m Corona Rose Coy. Pleased to meet you.” She curtsied politely then pointed to the boy walking beside her. “This is Amon Rai.” Said boy smiled shyly and bowed.

Reaper bowed as well. “I am very honored to meet all of you.”

A huge castle came into view. Reaper finally showed a glimpse of happiness. “We’re almost there! Let’s hurry, she is not doing so well!”

They broke into a run at his words, eager to know she would be all right. As they entered the castle they began to sense a strange feeling of calm in their panicked hearts. Reaper exclaimed in a voice so loud the three were almost knocked off their feet, “Judgment! Judgment, please come out here! We need your help!” The three looked at each other. A tall, dog like creature walked into the hall, with a huge and fluffy tail. He looked at the group. “Reaper… what the hell is wrong with you?!” The dog thing seemed very displeased.

“Should have known we wouldn’t be wanted here…” muttered Andromeda. Then louder, “Thanks a bunch Reaper, we’ve been here 2 minutes and you’ve already gotten us in trouble with Dogzilla.” Amon put a hand over his mouth and smiled apologetically.

Corona walked hesitantly up to the dog creature and looked up at him pleadingly, large eyes shining with tears. “He said he could save my sister. Will you… are you going to stop him?”

“… I won’t stop him,” he sighed, giving in to Corona’s teary gaze, “but I must speak with the three of you while he helps your sister…” ‘Dogzilla’ then turned to Reaper. “Fine. You win this time.” Reaper nodded and then rushed into one of the many rooms. Judgment calmly spoke to the three outlanders. “You must realize that what you have done… may have scarred him deeply…”



Chapter 2

Judgment explained as he got the trio comfy on a couch in a large living room. “When Reaper was young, he… lost his family.” Judgment opened a locket that had a picture of a little blonde boy standing beside a smaller brunette girl. “He was either shunned or hunted by the people of his village, and he was even hunted by his relatives but he still tried to save those who were dying.”

Andromeda leaned forward. “So he’s got issues. What does that have to do with us, and what do you mean we scarred him?”

Judgment crossed his arms. “I’m not finished. He has been surrounded by death,” he closed his eyes and folded his hands behind his back, “not to mention how your friend will react to being alive again.”

Andromeda had by this time slid onto the floor, and sat there muttering to himself in response to Judgment’s words. “Friend… If I had one it sure as hell wouldn’t be her.” He gave no sign of actually caring about how she would feel, or how Reaper felt. The other two, however, looked stricken.

“She’ll be happy, won’t she? Who wouldn’t be happy to survive something terrible like that?” Corona’s wide, innocent eyes were clouded by grief, and Judgment wondered just what the terrible thing was that had brought her sister so close to death.

Amon, meanwhile, was making a series of signs with his hands. Explosion… wings… death… heart… tears. He cocked his head to the side, apparently asking a question, but Andromeda was barely paying attention to them and the other two couldn’t understand what he meant.

Judgment spoke in a calm voice and tried to smile away the clouds of grief that he had placed on the group. “Please stay here, I am going to check on Reaper and your fr-… companion.” Before he could leave, however, they heard what sounded like an explosion from the room Reaper was in. The four of them rushed into the room and there they were, Reaper using his body as a shield for their companion against the raging flames flying through the room.

“Judgment,” he called out, “the flames from her body are collecting!” Reaper was getting badly burned on his back, but then water came shooting from behind Judgment. It was a man in odd clothes, and the water was coming from the man’s sleeves.

“Judgment… is clumsy” the man said in a monotone voice as he slowly stopped the water.

Judgment smiled. “Kiora! You’re back!” Kiora moved his black hair over his right eye and handed Judgment a brown paper bag saying “I have bought groceries.”

Corona had rushed to her sister’s side as soon as the flames were dealt with, and Andromeda was staring suspiciously at the newcomer while discretely checking on his not-friend. Amon was the one who approached Kiora and cautiously reached out to touch the end of his sleeve curiously. Kiora stared blankly at Amon and showed him the two fuzzy balls at the end of his sleeve. Amon smiled and turned to Andromeda, clasping his hands in front of him. The blond smiled, but as soon as Amon turned away he glared threateningly at Kiora.

Kiora tilted his head in confusion but continued to play with Amon.

Judgment carried Reaper away to put some bandages on his back but not before telling Corona “Your sister will awaken soon.”

She smiled at him, holding her sister’s hand gently. She seemed to want to stay there, but Andromeda put a hand on her shoulder and led her and Amon out of the room. They returned to the couch to sit and wait.

Kiora had followed them, and was trying very hard not to show that Andromeda’s glare was disturbing him. He was failing. Corona, unable to stop smiling, got up and introduced herself and the boys. She then leaned close and whispered, loud enough for the others to hear, “Don’t worry, he does that to everybody. He’s kind of mean like that. But he’s secretly a softy.”

Kiora nodded and introduced himself. “I am Kiora… I serve as a butler to guests, so feel free to ask me to retrieve anything for you.” He then bowed politely.

“Oh no, that’s all right.” She went back to her seat next to Amon and motioned for Kiora to join them. Andromeda was pacing next to the couch.

Kiora sat next to her and offered her a glass of water from the tray beside the couch. She looked at Andromeda, who shook his head no, and politely refused the drink. She opened her mouth as if to speak, but seemed unsure of what to say.

Judgment came into the room and said “Your companion is awake, would you like to see her?”

Corona and Amon jumped up immediately, but Andromeda called to them to wait. He then walked up to Judgment and spoke to him quietly. “Did you… talk to her at all?”

“Yes, she wants to see you- to know you’re ok… will you go?” Judgment asked with a calm tone in his voice.

Andromeda looked in his eyes and suddenly seemed angry. “Liar. She didn’t mention us, and she’s probably not doing ok. In fact, I know she’s not.” He leaned even closer. “She tried to kill herself. We just took that away from her.”

Judgment looked very deeply into Andromeda’s eyes and spoke firmly. “Look, she was hurt bad! And right now, wouldn’t the little one like to see her sister!?”

Andromeda’s fist clenched, but with an extreme effort he kept from hitting Judgment. “She will. Just… I just want to wait. Give her time to deal with being alive first. Right now I’m betting she’s pretty upset, and seeing her like that will only hurt Corona more. I…” He hesitated, looking suddenly ashamed. “I’m a pretty crappy caretaker, but I’m all she has and I’m not going to let her be hurt by anything again. You seem to like her, so just do this for her, ok? Find some excuse for them not to be together for a little while.”

Judgment closed his eyes and said “Heh heh, you’re a pretty good caretaker.” Andromeda tried to shrug it off, but the compliment obviously pleased him. Judgment then turned to Amon and Corona. “I’ve got an idea! Why don’t you go to the kitchen with Kiora and make your sister a special treat?”

She looked vaguely disappointed, but Andromeda nodded. “She’s probably tired. You can see her later, and have something special to give her. You said you used to bake with her. I bet she misses your cookies.” Corona perked up instantly and followed Kiora to the kitchen, with Amon trailing a few steps behind. Andromeda was staring at the ground, unwilling to look at Judgment, but he muttered a quiet “thank you.”

Judgment lightly patted his back and whispered “Keep it up, Corona is gonna be fine because of you!” then he left. Alone, Andromeda could finally stop fighting to hide the pain of his shoulder and went off in search of medical supplies he could swipe.

Judgment decided to check on Corona’s sister. He opened the door slowly, and then entered. “How you feeling?” Judgment asked. She looked pretty shaken up, but when she spoke her voice had some spirit to it, unlike the last time he’d checked in on her.

“Like I was tap-dancing on a barbecue. So let me get this straight. I roasted to death, was saved by a soul reaper, and now me, Andi, and the kids are hanging out in the netherworld?”

“Um… pretty much” he answered as he placed his hands on his hips.

She bit her lip nervously. “And… Will?”

“I… don’t believe a Will came with them.”

“Figures. But… You said Cor was here? She’s ok?”

“Yeah.” Judgment knelt beside her bed. “She’s making cookies with my butler,” he laughed.

“Ooh, don’t eat them. Baking isn’t exactly her strong point.” She laughed a little, but her eyes looked empty. “Well, at least I did something right.”

“Don’t say that! I bet you all the money I own that you are a wonderful sister to Corona!”

“You don’t know. The things I did, or wanted to do. It took a gun to her head to remind me that I’m supposed to love my little sis. So pay up.”

“Ha ha, alright, I’ll pay. But I still don’t think you’re a bad sister, you just see the glass half empty.”

“The glass isn’t just empty, it’s bone dry. I’ve got a lot of flaws, but thinking I’m better than I am isn’t one of them.”

“Hmph, you sound just like him!” Judgment crossed his arms.

“Who?”

“The soul reaper who saved you. He thinks that his very existence is a sin!”

“So you’re collecting emos. What fun.” She was playing with her hair, avoiding looking at him. “Why am I alive? I mean, you said this reaper saved me, but why?”

“Dunno…. I wasn’t told the whole story. But I wasn’t gonna just let someone with a chance at life die.”

“You shouldn’t have bothered. I’ve got nothing to live for.”

“Wha- what about your sister!? She was desperate for you to live, damn it!”

“She… she was?” For the first time she lost the empty look, and her voice sounded hopeful. “She doesn’t hate me?”

“What!? No, when Reaper first brought you here the first thing she said was ‘he said he could save her’. She was in tears because you were so close to death!” he tried to remain calm, but it was difficult.

She smiled. “Yeah, that’s Cor all right. Never could be angry at anyone for very long. Even if they deserved it. So I still have her. That’s something, anyway.”

“Don’t forget Amon and Andromeda, they’re worried about you too.”

“Yeah, sure. Amon maybe, he’s a sweet kid, but Andi doesn’t like anyone except his kids, and there’s no way he’s gonna forgive me for the stuff I’ve done. I’m pretty sure he’s still pissed that I teased him when we first met. The guy needs to learn to let stuff go.”

“Hmm, well I think Andromeda would like to see you ok, he seems protective. He hides it but he seems worried about you.”

“If you say so.” She didn’t sound convinced.

“Well, you just get some rest. Corona is eager to see you up and walking!” Judgment said with a smile as he left the room.



Chapter 3

As Judgment was closing the door, Kiora stood in front of him and bowed, saying “I am… so sorry Judgment.”

Judgment sighed. “Who saw that you have no hands?”

“Miss Corona…” Kiora answered as he looked at the watery stubs where his hands should have been.

“Aaaand ya ran.” Judgment put his hands on his hips.

“… Yes” He hung his head in shame.

“Why don’t you go check on Reaper while I go do damage control?”

“…Ok…”

“You keep worrying like that… you’ll get an ulcer” Judgment muttered as Kiora walked down the hall.

Judgment entered the living room, surprised that Corona seemed completely unaffected even though Kiora said she saw his ‘stubs’. Judgment walked up to Corona and said “Sssoooo…” He clasped his hands together. “You saw Kiora’s… ‘Stubs’.”

Corona looked confused for a moment before nodding. “You mean his arms. Yes, I saw. Why did he run away?” She placed a beautiful tray, full of delicious looking cookies, on a coffee table in front of the large couch.

“He’s… sensitive about things like his handlessness” Judgment said, moving his short, ruffled black hair out of his face and pulling his black kosode over his shoulders.

“Oh…” She looked down in apparent sadness but then smiled cheerfully and held out a cookie to him. “Would you like one? Kiora helped me make them!”

“Oh! Thank you Miss Corona” Judgment said, accepting the cookie. She seemed about to say something else when Reaper, with Kiora hiding behind him, entered the room.

Reaper’s face was finally in the light, showing his ocean blue eyes and short blonde hair. He wore a red shirt with black shoes, black pants, and a black long coat. He looked at Corona and Judgment and asked, “Why is Kio-chan hiding behind me?”

“I saw his ha- The place where hi- His…” Corona’s face was slowly turning as red as her hair as she stumbled over her words, trying to explain without saying something that might upset Kiora again. Finally she decided to ignore the question altogether and motioned to the tray. “We made cookies!”

Reaper accepted the cookie offer and thanked Corona.

“Where did Amon and Andromeda go?” Reaper asked looking around the room. “Andromeda was bleeding badly, and we haven’t even told him where the bandages are.”

Judgment looked at Reaper with a very concerned look and said “if he stumbles into the training room-“he was interrupted by a loud crash that, of course, came from the training room. Reaper and Judgment reacted at the same time, saying the same thing “OH SHIT!” and they all ran through the many halls, until they finally got to the training room. When they entered the room they saw Andromeda being attacked by training dolls. He was fending them off with a knife in one hand and a gun in the other, but he seemed to be having trouble using his injured arm and the dolls were quickly overpowering him.

Judgment pulled Andromeda out of the way of an incoming attack and quickly shut the door. He pointed down the hall and said, “The bandages are kept in the room two doors down from here… that should help that bloody shoulder of yours.”

Andromeda reluctantly put his weapons away. He muttered something inaudible and rolled his shoulder as if to show that it wasn’t that bad, but the motion caused a fresh surge of blood to soak through his makeshift bandage and start dripping down his arm. He quickly stepped to the side so Judgment’s body blocked Corona’s view of his arm.

“Corona, why don’t you go see your sister now? I’m sure she wants to see you.” He waited until she had turned away before heading off to tend his wounds.

“Would you like me to accompany you?” Reaper asked, elegantly placing Corona’s hand in his palm. She smiled up at him and said “Okay! I can introduce you!” She pulled Reaper along to her sister’s room as Kiora and Judgment looked for Amon.

“Freddy!” Corona cried as she finally saw her sister without her burns, releasing Reaper’s hand to rush forward into the older girl’s arms.

“Hey Cor, how are you?”

“I’m ok.” The two were clearly happy to see each other, but there was an obvious awkwardness between them as well. Corona covered it by dragging Reaper to the bedside. “This is Reaper. He’s the one that saved you.”

“U-uh... hi” Reaper said, unsure of what to say.

“So the reaper’s name is Reaper. Very creative. I… I guess I owe you one.”

“I-it’s not my name!” Reaper stuttered as his face went red “I-I just… don’t know my name, so…so” Reaper looked down at his shoes, as if they would somehow answer for him.

She shrugged. “It’s what you go by so it’s your name, like Freddy’s mine.” When his staring contest with his footwear continued she added “I guess as names go Reaper’s pretty cool. Better than Althea Frieda.”

“N-no! I mean… uh… I-it’s a lovely name! I-I… like it.” His face went a cherry red.

Freddy turned back to her sister, who was shuffling nervously from one foot to the other, and smiled sadly. “Come here, Cor.” The younger girl sat down on the bed, both of her hands held in her sister’s. “I’m glad you’re ok, squirt.”

“I’m glad you’re ok too. You… You are ok, right?”

“Of course. You know me, I’m built tough.”

“I know, but…” Corona was chewing on her lip nervously. “Then how come you cry so much in my dreams?”

Freddy looked stunned and saddened. “Dreams don’t always have to mean something, kiddo. Even yours. It’s been a long time since I cried.”

“Really?”

“I swear. Hey, I heard you were making cookies. Don’t I get any?”

“Oh!” Corona jumped up. “I forgot. I’ll be back in a minute with them!” With that she took off through the door. It went silent.

“I…um…I-I’m sorry… I’m just not used to speaking with the living.” Reaper was scratching the back of his head nervously.

Freddy laughed.

Reaper saw her reaction and smiled. “That did not come out right!”

Kiora suddenly came bursting through the door. “Reaper! I… *huff* c-cannot find… *huff* Amon!”

Reaper went to follow Kiora but stopped in the doorway and said “I’m sorry Freddy! But I’m really worried about Amon! Please, try and rest!”

She called after him. “Wait, you won’t-” but he was already gone.

The two men darted down the halls. Reaper looked over at Kiora and said “I’ll go look on the upper floor! You stay down here, alright!?” Kiora nodded.

Reaper headed up the stairs and summoned a ball of fire as he reached the dimly lit halls.

He checked the many rooms. No sign of Amon.

Until he noticed that his bedroom door was open, when he had definitely closed it. That had to be where he was. Reaper ran to his room and began frantically searching for Amon. He couldn’t find him anywhere.

He went into his closet to look, and there was Amon sitting on the floor with his knees pulled up to his chest. He was trembling and there were tears running down his cheeks, but he didn’t make a sound or seem to notice Reaper at all.

Reaper placed a hand gently on top of Amon’s head and said “Hey there… you ok?”

Amon’s only response was putting a finger to his lips as if to shush him, but he still wasn’t looking at Reaper; he was simply staring into a corner of the closet.

Reaper understood and pulled Amon to him, holding him tenderly.

Amon blinked in confusion, as if he’d just noticed the other’s presence, then suddenly threw his arms around Reaper and began shaking harder. He pulled away slightly to repeat two signs over and over. Clawed hands and a stabbing motion.

“Kiora? Oh, I get it! You saw his…’hands’.” Reaper smiled at Amon and whispered “You know… he would never do anything to hurt you… he may look tough but he’s a teddy bear!”

Amon shook his head no, but he seemed to settle down slightly. He seemed to be trying to figure out how to say something. Finally he shook his head again and repeated the clawing motion, tilting his head to show it was a question.

“That’s right! He would never hurt you! He… he protects the people he cares for with those ‘claws’.” Reaper smiled.

Amon looked sad suddenly and stared back longingly at the closet, but he smiled for Reaper and hugged him, holding onto his hand after pulling away.

Reaper looked confused but answered “You don’t have to come downstairs… if you’re not ready.”

Amon seemed to struggle again with finding the right sign. Finally he settled for a splashing motion.

“Do you mean… Kiora? You want to see Kiora?” Reaper asked. Amon nodded.

“Ok, I’ll take you to him.”

The two went downstairs to find Kiora at the bottom of the steps, tears flowing from his eyes.

When he looked up and saw Amon and Reaper, at first he smiled but then he hung his head. He could tell Amon had been upset by something, and as always he felt sure he was responsible.

When they reached the bottom Reaper looked at Kiora and said “I got Amon back… You want to say something to him?”

Kiora looked at Reaper and then Amon, saying “Sorry… Amon… I never meant to… scare you.”

Amon nervously smiled at Kiora. He was still clinging to Reaper’s hand, but he released it suddenly and lunged forward to clutch Kiora’s sleeve instead. A shudder went through him but he didn’t pull away; instead he pressed his cheek against Kiora’s, showing his affection better than any words could.

Kiora looked at Amon in surprise and relief.

“Stop blaming yourself for everything man! It’s really irritating!” Reaper said.

Kiora nodded.

Judgment then entered and said “Finally, I found you! Reaper, there’s a male stripper’s soul you need to collect.”

“What!? Aw come on!” Reaper complained, obviously irritated.

“A soul is a soul, Reaper! Now hurry up, before the necroknights get ‘im!”

“What if he flirts with me, like the last one did?”

Judgment glared at Reaper, who settled with a groan then vanished.

Andromeda appeared around a corner with a fresh bandage on his arm, idly tossing a bloody bullet in one hand. As soon as he came into sight Amon dashed toward him, the last traces of his nervousness finally disappearing as he was wrapped protectively in the blond’s arms. Andromeda glared suspiciously at Judgment and Kiora before speaking quietly.

“More flashbacks?” Amon nodded in response.

Andromeda turned his fierce gaze back on Judgment. “What happened?” he demanded.

Judgment glared back at him, daring him to make accusations, and said “I don’t know.” He stood in front of Kiora to stop him from saying anything. “But I’m sure it was unintentional.”

Judgment’s eyes never left Andromeda’s and he was trying hard not to bare his sharp fangs.

“Unintentional.” Andromeda shifted his eyes to Kiora and softened for a moment, nodding to show he didn’t blame him for whatever happened, but gave Judgment a final accusatory glare before looking at Amon.

“I’m sorry,” he said softly, “I shouldn’t have left you with strangers. I have to take care of you guys.” He twitched suddenly and for a moment something like panic appeared on his face. “Corona…” He sounded concerned.

Judgment waved a hand in the air, looked to the side, and said “She’s fine, I saw her in Freddy’s room. They were eating cookies together, and I wasn’t spying, I was checking up on them while dropping off some spare clothes until Kiora can fix her old ones.”

Andromeda gave a look that plainly said only an idiot would just accept what someone else said was true, and headed off to check on her himself. He clung protectively to Amon the whole way.

In Freddy’s room, Freddy was being flirted with by a rather handsome stranger while Corona watched in confusion from a seat only the floor.

“Hey cutie, what’re you doin’ in a dump like this?” the stranger asked.

Freddy looked around the ‘dump’, down at her newly healed body, and finally at the flirt. She then burst out laughing. She was about to speak when she was cut off by Reaper opening the door. When he saw the situation he calmly walked up to Freddy, held her protectively, and glared at the gigolo.

“Whoa! Sorry buddy! Didn’t know she was your property!” The flirt stepped back.

“Hey! She is nobody’s property!” Reaper snapped. Freddy looked up at him and then away, pulling the blanket around her self-consciously.

The gigolo ran out of the room and Reaper shut the door.

“You okay?” he asked, placing a glass of water on her nightstand.

“Yeah. Sadly I’ve dealt with much worse guys before. That was just kinda awkward.”

“I’m glad… uh! I-I mean… I’m glad you’re okay! Not that it was awkward!” He chuckled and left.

Freddy watched him go with a small smile. “He’s sweet” she murmured to herself. Corona smiled knowingly and started humming a love song under her breath.

Freddy laughed and muttered “You cheeky brat.” Corona was giggling when Andromeda came in, followed by the others.

He looked her over to make sure nothing had happened while they were separated, then turned to Freddy. She stopped laughing and simply met his gaze. Both were tense, as if ready for a fight. Corona looked nervously from one to the other.

“You’re ok” said Andromeda, with nothing in his tone to show if he was happy about that or not.

“Looks that way.”

Judgment led Kiora and himself out of the room. Reaper was at the end of the hall. He growled “please send this bastard to hell… now!” and sent the gigolo flying toward Judgment.

Judgment and Kiora looked at each other and shrugged.

Corona came out of the room and shyly touched Judgment’s hand to get his attention. “Andromeda says we should go. Or he and Amon anyway, I don’t know if I’m going with them.” For some reason she looked like she might cry.

Judgment knelt down in front of her, placed a hand on each shoulder, and said “What’s the matter Miss Corona? You don’t have to tell me if you don’t want to.”

She remained silent.

Judgment sighed and said “if you’re worried about getting home with your sister, don’t worry! You can stay with her and still get home. We have the power to get you there! So, though I don’t think that’s it, cheer up! Please?”

He made a ridiculous puppy-eyed face. Corona giggled and they walked to the living room.

She fell back onto the couch tiredly and tugged him down next to her. “Andromeda wants me to stay with Freddy. I do want to be with her, and I’d like to stay here since you all seem so nice, but I don’t want to never see Andromeda or Amon again. That’s what’s going to happen if I stay.”

“Miss Corona, if you don’t mind me asking, how is it that you will never see your friends if you stay?”

“If they go away they’ll never come back to me. That’s how Andromeda is.”

“Well… huh… If you stay I can open a portal to your dimension… What do you think?”

Corona just looked at him in confusion. At that moment Freddy appeared, leaning against a wall. “That won’t help. If the kid wants to disappear you aren’t going to find him. Trust me - I know from experience.”

“Miss Frieda!” Judgment sounded greatly concerned. “Are you sure you should be walking around? You’re only just recovering.”

“It’s Freddy. And I’ll be fine. I never was too good at staying still.” She made her way slowly to the couch, looking tired but steady. She looked at an equally tired Corona, who was trying to smother a yawn. “You’re the one who should get to bed, Cor. A lot of excitement lately.” The younger girl looked nervous about something. “Hey… I promise you’ll wake up.”

Freddy then looked over at Judgment. “You got another bed where she can crash?”

“Oh! Um, yes. Of course. Shall I escort you?”

He cradled Corona, who looked smaller compared to his large arms, and walked away.

Although most people her age wouldn’t want to be carried, Corona seemed perfectly comfortable in Judgment’s arms. She yawned again. “Promise you won’t let Andromeda leave until I wake up?”

“Of course. No matter how he may argue,” he chuckled. “I’ll strap him down if I have to.”

She chewed on her lip anxiously. “Even if something happens and it takes me a long time to wake up?” It seemed like a strange question. Holding her, Judgment was now able to see the dark circles under her eyes and feel her body trembling slightly. He guessed that she hadn’t slept in a long time for some reason, and although she’d been fine earlier her body was now crashing.

Judgment leaned to her ear and whispered “I’ll keep him for eternity if I have to.” He then started to hum a lullaby as he entered a long hallway. It seemed... exotic.

Cradled in his arms, Corona gave in to her exhaustion and fell into a deep sleep.



Chapter 4

Back in the living room, Reaper and Freddy were sitting together, talking.

“So you see, that’s why Judgment is so scared when people wander around in the castle,” Reaper explained

“Oh, so… do a lot of spirits get lost in the halls?” Freddy asked.

“No… most stumble into the training room and are torn limb from limb.”

“Cheery place you have here. Hey, there’s no way Cor or Amon could end up in there, right?”

“Course not, Judgment locks that place up tight like a prison! No worries, k? Trust me?” Reaper’s shirt was open at the top, showing a large, painful looking scar. He noticed it was open and quickly buttoned it up.

“But Andi got in.” She sighed. “I just wouldn’t want anything to happen to those two, especially since they’re only here because of me. That’s assuming they’re still here, of course. I figured Andi would have taken off with them by now.”

“Oh, so that’s why I heard Andromeda and Judgment yelling at each other for so long. Judgment can’t decide how he feels about your friend Andromeda, one moment they see eye-to-eye… sorta, next Judgment thinks he’s acting like a bitch. No offense. Anyway, he was yelling about how Andromeda couldn’t just leave his fri- oops, um… companions.”

“Andi doesn’t have friends. Given the choice he wouldn’t even have companions. And since I’m not even a companion there’s no reason for him to stick around.”

Reaper sighed. “How depressing. Well, apparently your sister can’t decide if she wants to stay or not, which is making her depressed and no one knows what to tell her.”

He had walked to a fireplace and stared deeply into the fire. Freddy also looked into the fire and shuddered slightly. As they watched the flame flickered and went out.

Reaper looked back at Freddy; his eyes looked so deep and lonely. She found herself wondering just who he was, and why she felt more content just being with him than she had in a long time.

She realized she still knew next to nothing about where she was. For some reason, though, she felt strangely shy around Reaper. Instead she went to look for Judgment.

Freddy found him sitting in a large library reading an odd looking book. She walked up to Judgment and said “So, there you are.”

Judgment looked up from his book and smiled warmly. “Can I help you with anything?”

“Yeah. Tell me about this place.”

“’This place’ m’lady? I’m afraid you’ll have to be more specific.”

“Well… why is it here in the first place? What’s it for?”

Judgment laughed as he stood up and placed the book on one of the shelves that covered the walls of the room. “Well m’lady, this is where me and my soul reaper live.”

Freddy ran her fingers over the books, examining the strange titles, as she walked closer to him and spoke. “Speaking of which, could you tell me about him?”

“….Sure, what would you like to know m’lady?”

“First of all, I know you’re just being polite and all but I’m nobody’s ‘lady’. It’s just Freddy. And about him… I don’t know. Just anything you want to tell me.”

“Hmm… something about Reaper eh… Well, he rarely smiles so don’t take it the wrong way.”

“Oh, how informative.” She rolled her eyes at him. “Why doesn’t he smile?”

Judgment frowned. “It’s kind of a long story.”

“Like I’ve got anything better to do. Please tell me?”

“Well, Reaper always had a hard time you see. He holds the spirit of the Morikai in his body. Although, nowadays people have come to just call him the Morikai. Anyway, the Morikai is a demon so he was not accepted in his village. So, Reaper and his family made a home in a nearby forest. But, his mother didn’t accept Reaper as her son. Whenever she looked at him, she would cry and call for help. Reaper’s father would always find him outside, alone and crying. It wasn’t until his sister was born… that his mother grew violent. Now, whenever Reaper was seen, especially around his sister, his mother would attack him with anything she could get her hands on. As time passed Reaper learned to adapt, but his father still tried his best to convince his mother that Reaper was her son. He tried and tried and tried, but the villagers couldn’t live knowing the Morikai was near, so they killed Reaper’s father, a year later they killed his mother, and a month later they killed his sister.” Judgment’s eyes were clouded with sadness.

“Oh…” Freddy mirrored his look for a moment before looking at him with mock disapproval. “You know, you’re kind of an asshole. You just idly told me his terrible and very personal past. You should be ashamed.”

“I know, but he doesn’t care if people know unless they bring it up. Which, if you do I will have to hurt you. Very much.”

She waved a hand dismissively. “Don’t worry about that. I’m not big on really personal talks, and most of the people I know are pretty sensitive about their pasts. Were, anyway; some of them are too dead now to be sensitive about anything.”

Judgment turned around and murmured to himself what he wanted to say out loud. “Take care of him. He’s been so lonely for so long. I have one last chance to help him.” He then walked away to return to his book.

Kiora was in the kitchen, preparing a delicious gourmet meal. As Corona entered the room, Kiora quickly hid his hands and bowed. “Miss Corona, is there… something you require?”

Corona looked at him, then at the food and asked “What are you making? It looks good!”

Kiora finally looked at her and lightened, saying “It is a traditional netherworld meal which consists of: maten salmon, kiko fruit, tachi rice, and dried sand gecko… would you… like to taste some?”

She happily took a bite and giggled. “It’s so good Kiora!”

“R-really? it tastes… good?”

Corona nodded and asked “Who is it for?”

“It is for Miss Althea Frieda… She has finally regained her hunger, so I was requested by her to cook a meal for her.”

“Um, just so you know, she really doesn’t like that name. You should call her Freddy.”

Kiora hung his head and said “R-right… Forgive me… T-this is for… Miss Freddy.”

Corona smiled at him. “I like you. You’re sweet.” She gave him a quick kiss on the cheek then giggled, embarrassed. He looked at her in confusion, unaware that his face went red.

“I must… feed Miss Freddy-- I-I mean… bring her food to her! Not… not literally feed her! I… well…” Kiora hung his head as he left.

As Corona left the kitchen, she saw Reaper heading for the main door. She caught up to him and asked “Where are you going?”

Reaper turned around and said “Oh, Corona. Sorry, I have to go collect a soul back in the world of the living. It won’t take long so I’ll be right back, k?” Corona smiled as Reaper left.

Hours passed and there was no sign of Reaper.

Judgment was in the library, pretending to listen to Andromeda’s demands for freedom. Concerned that something went wrong collecting the soul, Judgment summoned a Grey cloud showing Reaper in the living world.

Andromeda looked into the cloud and saw two girls. The first girl was tall and wore a tight red t-shirt, a black mini skirt, fish-net stockings, and black knee-high boots. She wore her red hair in a ponytail, leaving a streak of blue hair loose. The second girl was younger, probably nine or ten. She had on a simple white dress, her hair was blonde and ended just below her shoulder, and her eyes were a bright green. She had the innocent presence of an angel, but had the demonic pleasure of torturing Reaper who was chained to the wall of the room he seemed to be captured in.

Amon peered into the cloud and began to shake; he slowly sank to his knees and made himself as small as he could, rocking. Andromeda went over to him and demanded, “Judgment, what the hell is going on?!”

Judgment couldn’t look away. He simply said “I… I don’t know.” He threw the cloud away and gave Andromeda a terrified look. “It’s no longer safe here!”

Andromeda glared at Judgment and repeated “What’s going on?!” He was holding Amon and trying to soothe him.

Judgment checked down the hall and asked Andromeda “Can you move him? We have to get everyone together.”

Andromeda sighed and managed to get Amon to stand, carefully guiding him to the door. Judgment motioned for them to follow him. As they went down the hall, Judgment indicated that Amon and Andromeda should go into Freddy’s room.

Inside they found Corona sitting on the end of her sister’s bed, happily chatting about something. She jumped up when she saw Amon and watched worriedly as Andromeda led him to the closet. Kiora entered the room a minute later, watching the door as he stumbled from Judgment’s push. Corona looked at him and asked “Kiora, do you know what happened?”

He shook his head slightly and answered “I do not know. All I know is this is an on-going event. It has Judgment quite confused and frustrated.”

Corona asked “Is everyone coming here?”

Kiora looked around and replied “It would appear so.”

“Where’s Reaper? Shouldn’t he be here too?”

“True. He was not in the hall with Judgment. I assumed he would be in here… Andromeda, sir do you know anything about this incident?”

Andromeda looked up from his spot on the floor next to Amon. He spoke quietly so as not to upset the boy further. “Someone has Reaper captive. He’s being tortured.”

Corona raised a hand to her mouth in horror, and Freddy swore under her breath. Amon had been mouthing silent words no one could make out. Now he began a series of signs, although he didn’t seem to be ‘talking’ to any of them; he didn’t even seem to realize they were there. Andromeda gently took Amon’s hands in his own before anyone could tell what he’d been signing.

Kiora’s eyes were hidden in shadows as he hung his head. He spoke in a shaky tone, trying not to sound angry. “So… Judgment does not think… we should do anything?” He then muttered something the others could barely hear. “We… cannot leave him there” Kiora’s arms slightly trembled as he stood there obviously outraged by Judgment’s actions.

Andromeda stood, though he still held one of Amon’s hands. Anger was his usual expression, but there was something different about his wrath now. His eyes held a cold fury. “We’re not going to just sit here.”

Freddy gave a short, humorless laugh. “What, you mean you actually care about someone besides Cor and Amon? I don’t believe it. What’s really going on?”

“It’s something I have to do.”

Kiora looked up at Andromeda and said “Judgment is as blind as a bat when he is like this… Therefore it will be extremely easy to get by him.” He looked at the others. “Is there anyone else… who will join us?”

Andromeda answered before anyone else could. “No.” Corona opened her mouth to object, but he interrupted her. “You’re no fighter. How do you expect to help? Besides… You don’t want to see what’s happening. Stay and look after Amon.” He looked at Freddy, clearly reluctant to entrust them to her but having no choice. “Take care of them.” He then turned to Kiora. “Let’s go.”

Kiora nodded and bowed slightly to Freddy and the children. Judgment was on the floor with his eyes closed, muttering. Kiora and Andromeda simply walked out of the castle where Kiora could freely open a portal to the living world.

Kiora wrote some symbols on the path and backed away, standing partially in front of Andromeda. The symbols started to glow; they floated in the air and spun at an incredible speed, turning into a sea-green portal. Kiora turned to Andromeda and firmly said “Once we leave, we may not return for anything. Are we prepared?”

Andromeda just walked up to the portal and said “If you’re not, you can just stay here.” He then stepped carelessly through the portal.

Kiora looked back at the castle and whispered “Judgment, there is no one in this world… or the next that I despise as much as I despise you.” He then walked through the portal.



Chapter 5

As Kiora came through the portal he soon realized that Andromeda had left him behind and Kiora had no idea where he was or where to go. As he wandered around the thick forest he stumbled into a clearing with a large, stereotypical villainous castle. Andromeda was standing at the door, trying different number combinations on a small keypad. Kiora walked up to Andromeda and said “shall I open the door sir?”

“No need.” Giving up on guessing the code, he pulled out his knife and used it to pry the cover off the pad. Some quick rewiring and the lock opened. Before entering he turned to Kiora. “You’re here for Reaper. But I’ve got my own reasons for coming, and I don’t want you interfering or getting in the way. He slipped cautiously through the door without waiting for a response.

Kiora stepped cautiously into the dim lighted hallway then slipped into a ventilation shaft. Do to his slender body Kiora had no problem getting around.

When he finally found the room Reaper was trapped in, he dropped in and saw a horrific scene. Reaper was slumped on the floor, covered in blood and a young girl had her hand in one of his reopened scars. An older girl with bright red hair stood just behind her.

Kiora yelled “Stop!” The small blonde looked at him, blood all over her lips, and smiled as she lunged at him. Kiora was prepared to defend himself when Andromeda came out of nowhere, grabbed Kiora’s arm, and threw him to the ground.

Kiora grabbed Andromeda, rolled over to avoid the incoming attack and yelled “What are you doing sir!?”

Andromeda yelled “You won’t touch her!”

“What!? Sir, she is going to kill us! We must defend ourselves!”

As the two argued they didn’t realize Freddy, Amon, and Corona had followed them and were now being attacked by the two girls. Andromeda noticed first and dashed to where Amon had collapsed in terror. Kiora glanced in the other direction and saw Corona, huddled by Reaper’s body and being targeted by the older girl. He ran to Corona and shot the attacker with a blast of water from his arm. He looked at Corona and asked “M-miss Corona… Are… are you hurt?”

She shook her head and pointed at the redhead who was coming at them again, with a knife in her hand.

Kiora moved in front of Corona and braced himself as the enemy charged at him again. He looked back at Corona and said “Please… run.” As she ran Kiora was tackled by the girl who slashed at his neck. He blocked with his arms, barely avoiding having his throat slit.

As the others ran and dodged attacks, both physical and magical, Judgment burst through the door and launched sharp spikes at the child, who was able to dodge each one. She whistled to get her companion to come; the older girl grabbed her and floated high into the air. The little girl cackled as she licked her bloody lips and hissed “You think you’ve won? Ha! We haven’t even started. Judgment, you will pay! Ha ha ha ha ha!” As they were about to fly through the window, Judgment summoned a large spike, but as he threw it Andromeda grabbed his arm causing him to miss and allowing the girls to get away.

Judgment ran out of the room, yelling over his shoulder, “How could you let them escape!” Andromeda followed him, just as angry.

Kiora was by Reaper’s body, trying to speak with him. “Reaper? C-can you hear me? You must wake up.”

Corona came up to Kiora and asked “Is… he ok?”

Kiora looked at Corona and said “I… I do not know…”

Without warning flames erupted from Reaper’s body. As Kiora carried Corona out of harm’s way they looked back at Reaper who now had a large flame barrier around him.

Kiora looked at Reaper and said “No… not again.”

Freddy grabbed Kiora’s shoulders and asked “What do you mean ‘not again’? What’s going on? How do we stop this?”

Kiora looked at her and stuttered “U-um… Well, when he creates a barrier around himself… i-it is very difficult to figure out… what caused it or how to help.”

Freddy stared into the shifting flames, just able to make out Reaper’s curled form. When she could bear his suffering no longer she launched herself toward him. Kiora called out to her “Freddy wait! You may get killed!”

She ran through the barrier and somehow was unharmed. She placed her hands on Reaper’s shoulders and yelled over the roaring flames. “Reaper! Reaper, listen to me!”

Reaper gasped and looked at Freddy with tears in his eyes. He started ranting, “It’s not my fault! It’s not my fault! I couldn’t do anything! I was all alone… I was all alone.” Freddy held him as he cried. Reaper pulled away and yelled “Why wouldn’t anyone help!?” The barrier went out of control and wild flames went after Kiora and the kids.

Freddy stared fearfully at the surrounding flames, but she stayed at Reaper’s side. Wrapping her arms around him, she leaned close to be heard over the roaring fire. “You’re not alone now.” Blue flames surrounded the barrier and slowly calmed it until there were no flames left. As the wall of fire disappeared, the others saw Freddy holding Reaper as he trembled and cried in her arms.

Andromeda and Judgment had returned after failing to catch the fleeing girls. Andi was soothing Amon, but he watched Freddy and Reaper with interest. Corona walked over and asked “Andromeda? Was that really-“

Andi grabbed her arm to silence her, harder than he intended. Tears came to her eyes, and he apologetically wrapped a comforting arm around her, but he said firmly that it was no one they had known.

Freddy lifted Reaper’s head and asked “Are you ok?”

Reaper nodded and said in a weak voice “I-I’m so sorry. They... did something to me and it took frightening you to bring me back, I’m pathetic…”

Freddy shrugged, looking uncomfortable. “Don’t worry about it. You’re in rough shape. We’ll get you out of here and you’ll feel better.”

Kiora walked up to Freddy and Reaper. He cradled one bloody arm in the other and said “I am terribly sorry to disturb you, but we must… find safer grounds as well as tend to everyone’s injuries… perhaps we should head back to the castle and-”

Reaper’s hands trembled as he said “We can’t go back… we can’t go back, it’s not safe!”

Freddy placed her hand on his and asked “Why not? Reaper, why isn’t it safe?”

Reaper’s voice showed obvious terror as he said “They copied my soul reaper powers.”

“Well, what’s that mean? What sort of power do you have?”

“Well… they can go to the netherworld at any time and… they can see us any time they want… I’m sorry, I couldn’t do anything.”

Kiora knelt by Reaper and started speaking in a low voice. “If that is all they have copied of your powers… perhaps there is hope--”

Reaper shook his head and said “Their necromancy will be greatly amplified… they also stole my scythe.”

“Perhaps we should discuss this in a more… secure area.”

“R-right… but, where? I mean, we’re walking around with a giant talking dog. From my experience, people don’t take too kindly to non-humans. Especially around here.”

Freddy looked away and said “I know somewhere we can go.” She looked up at Andromeda. “Will’s place will be empty. There’s plenty of room. It’ll do ‘til we figure out where we can be safe from those two.”

“No. I won’t go there.”

Frustration made her snap at him. “What, you have a better idea? Fine, why don’t we all cram into your little shack in the woods, that sounds cozy! We need a house, his is available, that’s all there is to it.”

He looked at Amon, who was still very upset. Until they found somewhere to stay he wouldn’t have a chance to truly calm down. “Fine. Just until we find somewhere else.”

As Reaper slumped over Kiora cut his sleeves to make make-shift bandages for Reaper’s injuries he looked over at Freddy and said “if you know a place we can be safe, please take us there” He then took Reaper’s arm and placed it over his shoulders. Together they all made their way outside.

As they left the castle, Corona walked with Kiora and asked “A-are you two… going to be ok? You both lost a lot of blood.” Kiora smiled softly and replied “He shall be fine… you need not worry.”

“But what about you?” She was chewing her lip anxiously.

“Me, Miss Corona?”

“Will you be ok?”

Kiora looked at his bloody arms and nodded, saying “Yes… I will make a full recovery… not a single scar will mark my arms.” He smiled at Corona who was looking sadly at his arms and Reaper’s torso. Reaper looked at the two and smiled, saying “Y’know Kiora, I can walk on my own so I think I’m gonna go calm Judgment down. Later.” He walked up to Judgment and seemed to succeed in calming him, at least for a second.

Corona looked up at Kiora, who seemed deep in thought and almost angry. She tried to smile and asked “Um… h-have you been to this world before?”

Kiora replied “Not this country… but I have been to Germany and Japan… Pardon my curiosity… but why do you ask?”

“I just wondered… Are you ok? You looked kind of angry.”

“Oh! Forgive me, I was just thinking… Back in the kitchen, you and Sir Amon saw my… wrists, but Sir Amon and I seemed to be the only two troubled by it. You… didn’t even flinch… I am aware that this is no time to think about it but… it has me quite confused.” He looked down at his bare wrist and laughed. “This is the first time… I have felt comfortable with showing my wrists.”

“I’m glad you feel comfortable. No one should ever have to feel unhappy about how they are. That’s why I wouldn’t ever let something like your wrists bother me. I guess I hope if I can accept someone completely then they can accept themselves too.” She glanced ahead, to where Freddy and Andromeda were arguing over the way to go, and her gaze fell on Amon. “And please don’t think Amon was scared of you. He just is easily scared by knives and things like that. I think he has bad memories of knives. I know he wouldn’t ever be scared of you. You’re our friend.”

Kiora smiled and hugged Corona lightly. He whispered in her ear “Thank you… Miss Corona.” Then he pointed out Freddy and Andromeda agreeing on which way to go. They were finally on their way.
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Nameless Crossover - By Andromeda and Cosmo

Post  Jedward on Fri Apr 22, 2011 7:48 pm

Chapter 6

Freddy and Andromeda finally found their way to a strong fence in the forest. It was made up of thick steel bars; through these they could see a large field with a handful of small buildings scattered throughout and a massive home at the back. Whoever lived there obviously had a lot of money. They followed the fence to a gate, which Freddy opened by entering a code then using a key she wore on a chain around her neck. Apparently this Will valued his privacy. The front door of his house was unlocked, however, and they were able to enter.

The interior of the house hardly seemed to match its grand appearance. The furniture was very simple. The only decorations were a few wilting flowers and several pictures, most of a smiling brunette woman or a tiny infant. A few items were scattered on the floor and tables, as if the owners of the house had had to leave in a hurry.

In the living room Freddy stopped and turned to the others. “If anyone wants to eat, there’s a well-stocked kitchen through that door. The bedrooms are all upstairs. Just pass the first doors on either side. I’m in the one on the right.” With that she headed upstairs to her room. Judgment and Reaper went to search for medical supplies.

Andromeda started to follow Freddy, leading Amon, but stopped and looked back at Corona. “Aren’t you coming?”

“In a minute. I’m just going to get a drink.”

He looked like he wanted to stay with her, but as always Amon was his priority. The tearful boy would feel better when he had somewhere to rest. Andromeda nodded at Corona. “Fine. Come straight up after.” They then trailed Freddy up the stairs.

Corona retrieved a bottle of water from the kitchen, but she didn’t follow Andromeda as he had told her to. Instead she stood in the living room staring at another door. Kiora stood beside her and followed her gaze. She looked at him with a strange smile.

“I lived in that room for six years, and I don’t even really know what it looks like.” She glanced at the stairs before walking up to the door and slipping inside, closing it behind her.

It wasn’t quite enough to block out the terrified scream she let out a moment later.

Kiora flung the door open and saw the bloody body of a young man on the floor. He pulled Corona closer to him and brought her out of the room. As he held Corona he saw Andromeda come running. Kiora motioned to the door, indicating that the cause of Corona’s screaming was in the room.

Andromeda barely glanced into the room. He stared at Corona trembling in Kiora’s arms and reached out to her, but pulled away before his hand touched her. In a softer voice than he ever used he said “You weren’t supposed to go in there.” Then he slowly made his way down the hall and disappeared into an empty room.

Kiora spoke in a gentle voice. “I am so sorry Corona… will you… be ok?”

She was still trembling, but she gave him a shaky smile. “You didn’t call me Miss. That’s good. That’s more how friends should talk.” She had been clutching his shirt like a frightened child might. Now she slowly released it to wipe her damp eyes. “I’ll be ok. But…” She let out a ragged breath and laid her head on his shoulder, taking comfort from being held. When she spoke again her voice was almost a whisper. “You won’t leave me, will you? I don’t want to be alone.”

He whispered “I’ll stay with you for eternity… if you wish it so.”

At the end of the hall Andromeda was taking out his frustration on a closed door. He launched kicks and punches as if he intended to break right through it, just trying to release some of the tension he felt. When the door opened suddenly he couldn’t stop himself and his fist plowed into Judgment’s stomach. The blow made him double-up in pain, and their heads collided in a solid blow cushioned only by their hair.. At any other time this would have meant the beginning of a fight; now, Andromeda simply shrugged and offered a quiet but genuine apology.

This change in attitude stunned Judgment. Wondering if the boy was feverish, he asked “Are you alright?”

Andromeda turned away and slowly made his way to the back of the room. He sank to the floor and sat against the wall in silence, with his eyes closed. Judgment hesitated a moment before entering the room as well.

Andromeda opened his eyes and stared up at him, seeming to be deep in thought about something. He sighed and closed them again before speaking. “I want to be alone.” It was a rude thing to say to someone who was only worried about you, but before Judgment could retort he continued. “That’s all I ever wanted, to be free and alone. I planned to spend the rest of my life as far from people as I could get. I guess the universe had other ideas.

“One by one these kids came into my life. That’s what they are, even though they’re my age. Just like kids they need someone to take care of them. They had no one else so they got stuck with me. They needed me, so I gave up my plans to stay with them. I don’t know why I thought I could actually take care of someone.” He laughed bitterly. He still hadn’t opened his eyes; it occurred to Judgment that it might be easier for him to talk if he could pretend there was no one else there. For that reason he stayed silent and waited for Andromeda to continue.

“Let’s see how well I’m doing. Amon’s freaking out, the worst attack I’ve seen him have, and nothing I do makes it better. It took me hours just to find someplace to put him so he can calm down on his own. And Corona’s been scarred by a body I should have made sure she wouldn’t find. She’s out there right now with someone who’s practically a stranger comforting her better than I ever could. Those are just my latest, minor failures. How long before I really screw up and someone else dies for it?”

He finally opened his eyes and looked up at Judgment. “You know, I think I’m only 17 and I’ve already killed four people. Plenty of others have suffered because of me. And I can’t think of a single person whose life I’ve made better.”

He put his head in his hands and leaned back against the wall. He laughed again and winced as if it hurt him, but he waved off Judgment’s look of concern. “Don’t mind me. I’ve just got a headache. I’ll be fine.”

Judgment hesitantly spoke in as best a comforting voice he could. “Have you ever thought of your minor victories? I mean, no one can connect to Amon as well as you. And we sure as hell don’t know how to calm him. I’m just guessing here but, if it was Kiora comforting Corona, the only reason he’s so good is because he’s used to people being terrified and therefore he has experience.”

“If he’d never met me there’d be no need to calm Amon. He was doing just fine living alone, in his own little world where no one could hurt him. I not only pulled him out of that, I got his home destroyed so he can never go back. I wouldn’t call that a victory.”

He sighed and slowly got to his feet. He wouldn’t meet Judgment’s eyes. “This isn’t me, ok? I don’t get like this. It’s just, everything at once, Amon, Nadia, and Bastian, and my head…” He pressed one hand to his temple and winced again. “This will pass. Don’t worry about me.”

Judgment sighed and asked “I… I’m gonna go check on the others, you gonna be ok? Or do you want me to stay a little while longer?”

“Just go. I’m used to dealing with stuff alone. I’ve had to be.”

“I’ll come back… It’s not healthy to deal with that much at once all by yourself.” With that he left. A few minutes later Andromeda followed and disappeared outside.

In Freddy’s room, she was sitting on the bed while looking at pictures. Reaper snuck through the door and spoke in a semi-regular voice. “H-hey, you ok? You seem a little sad.”

She looked up and smiled, saying “Yeah, I’m ok.” She had changed into her own clothes. She now wore red shorts, a black tank top, knee-high black boots, and elbow-length fingerless red gloves. She was holding a folding picture frame. The picture on the left was of a handsome blonde man. On the right was Freddy, smiling as she brushed the hair of a young girl. Looking closer, Reaper realized it was the same child who had been torturing him.

He sat down beside her and chuckled nervously. “Um… nice weather we’re having?”

She laughed, but looked a little sad as she held out the pictures to him. “That’s Will. He wasn’t a great person, but he was always good to me. I… I loved him. And that’s his daughter Nadia. She died a week ago. That’s why everyone’s pretty shaken up by what happened back there. We were all there when she died.

“Whatever was going on back there, that wasn’t her. She was a sweet girl, wouldn’t hurt a fly. But after she died… her body disappeared. I assumed Andi buried her. Maybe not.”

Reaper frowned and said “You were really close to the people in this picture, huh?”

She smiled sadly. “This was my home for six years. They were my family.”

He put his head in his hands and said “I’m so stupid!”

“What are you talking about?”

“Well… I saw him with you, through a special lens used for recognizing charred corpses, and I left him just because he had less of a chance for survival… Plus your fri-… companions distracted me with you, and I can only carry so many people to the castle… I’m sorry.”

“Don’t worry about it. He… I think even if you brought him back you couldn’t have saved him. If you tried it would just have made things worse for everyone. Near the end… things got bad. That’s why I had no choice. I…” She sighed and held up one shaking hand. A flame sprouted in her palm and danced from finger to finger. “I’m the one that killed him.”

“Freddy…” He laid his head on her shoulder. “I know what it’s like to kill the ones you love… so if you wanna talk about this I… I don’t mind.” Red flame appeared near her hand and danced with her flame.

“There’s not much to say. I would’ve done anything for him at first. I gave up everything for him… and came to hate my own sister. Even when he started to lose it, did things I knew were terrible, I stayed with him. Then he decided that if he couldn’t have Corona he had to kill her so she couldn’t be a threat. I saw the man I loved with a gun pointed at my little sister’s heart… and I made a choice. I finally decided to do right by her.”

“So you left her with no big sister? I probably shouldn’t be talking, since my little sister was the one to protect me half my life but… I don’t think Corona was happy to see you die.” Reaper continued in a low voice, not meant to be heard by Freddy. “I know I wasn’t.”

“I was just being selfish. He never felt the same way about me, so I could never be with him. I thought… if he had to die I’d like to die in his arms.”

Reaper had a sad look on his face. He decided this was too depressing and began to sing in a low voice. “I woke up in love this morning, I woke up in love this morning, went to sleep with you, on my mind!”

Freddy stared at him for a moment before bursting out in laughter. “What was that all about?”

“I’m sorry! You seemed really depressed and that’s the only song I know!” He was blushing as he scratched the back of his head nervously.

“…You’re a nut. But I like you.”

“Good to know,” he laughed, “I like you too.”

Andromeda had moved the body into a shed outside. Coming back in, he found Judgment prowling the halls and approached him. “Are they a threat?” When Judgment didn’t respond he clarified the question. “Those girls back there. Are they likely to come after us, and if they do are they a real threat?”

“Yes” said Judgment bluntly.

“Then we should deal with them now. I know someone who can help us find them, unless you have some better way.” Judgment confirmed that he didn’t and Andromeda continued. “I’ll track him down and see what he can find out. Once I know where they are I’ll come back and let you know. Then I’ll leave; and anyone who wants to fight can follow.” He left before Judgment even had a chance to reply.

He returned a few hours later to find Freddy and Reaper sitting on the sofa. Judgment stood nearby. “Where’ve you been?” asked Freddy.

“With Zephyr - the soldier. He sent out descriptions of the girls who took Reaper. Called them dangerous heretics and had most of the military watching for them. Someone just reported a sighting not far from here.”

Judgment smirked as he said “Alright… who’s ready to shed some blood?”

Not far off, seven strangers tended their wounds and raged at their vanished attackers. A woman with long white hair and blank eyes looked sorrowful as she treated a young boy’s injury. “They were looking for me, and now dear Bell has been taken instead…”

A man and a teenaged girl stared at each other across the small clearing they stood in. The girl turned to the woman and said aloud what the man’s look had confirmed. “We’re going after them. We’re going to get her back.”



Chapter 7

Corona and Amon were to stay behind, as none of the others wished to put them in any more danger. Andromeda led the others toward the nearest town. As they walked Kiora tapped Judgment’s shoulder and asked “Do you truly intend to fight those ladies? We failed in the last fight…. and we were in perfect condition.”

Judgment sighed, saying “They may be strong… but we have intelligence.”

Andromeda chuckled. “Says the dog that let us walk right by him when he wanted us to stay put.”

Kiora tried hard not to burst out laughing. “He is correct Judgment…”

Reaper sped up and said “C’mon, we can’t just amble along like a bunch of idiots.”

Andromeda led them to a military compound, just outside of town. It was abandoned; the troops it housed were likely all busy trying to regain control of the chaotic country. It was surrounded by a strong wall, too smooth to climb, but the gate had been left open. They looked at each other and entered cautiously, knowing they were walking into a trap.

They assumed the enemy would be in the large barracks at the back of the compound, but they checked every building they passed just in case. The mess hall and armory were empty save for a few fat rats. The next building was an office. Judgment poked his head in, started to walk away, then suddenly stopped and turned back. The others followed him in to see what had caught his attention.

The furniture had all been stacked against the wall so that a horse could be tied up inside. Not a typical horse, however; this one had jet black fur and its mane and tail were streams of fire. As they looked in astonishment it backed away and attempted to rear, obviously terrified.

Before they could even react to what they saw, two figures burst through the doorway. They whirled around and automatically took fighting stances, but the people behind them weren’t the enemies they had expected. A teenage girl and a pair of young men stood in the doorway, looking ready to fight. A woman with long white hair stood behind them. The girls were unarmed but one man hand wicked claws for fingers and the other carried a silver pistol in each hand. They were aimed at Judgment and Andromeda.

Kiora took a defensive stance as he backed closer to Judgment and asked “Should we fight? This horse may belong to them… Perhaps they have mistaken us for that poor creature’s captors.”

Judgment let his guard down a bit and asked “Who are you people?”

The girl tossed back her copper-colored hair and spoke with an American accent. “We’re here to kick your ass and take Bell back.” Something changed in her face; it almost seemed to be changing shape, growing longer, but it settled back into human features.

Reaper stepped forward and said “Look, we didn’t know anything about anybody named ‘Bell’, we were passing by and happened to spot this creature. We mean no harm! So how about we straighten things out? Starting with freeing this horse.”

She looked unconvinced, and the gunman shifted his aim from Judgment to Reaper, but the woman behind them stepped forward and gently lowered his weapons. She made her way past Reaper and the others to place a hand on the frightened animal’s side. When she spoke, her voice was soft and surprisingly calm for the situation.

“She’s not just a horse. And she can free herself, if she’ll only try. We’re here, dear. We came for you.” The horse settled down, then before their eyes began to change form. It became a woman with coal black skin and red hair and eyes. Her hand slipped easily through the cuff that had held her tight as a horse. She was wide-eyed and frightened, but free. Kiora and the others stepped to the sides to allow the two women to return to their companions.

The armed man was no longer aiming at anyone, but he still held his guns ready. “You weren’t just passing by. Not in this place. Why are you here?”

Andromeda saw something behind him through the open door, and shifted his stance to prepare for a fight. “To deal with those.”

The compound was filling with the mobile dead. Everyone filed quickly out of the office to avoid being cornered. The teenager glanced at Judgment’s group. “I think this means we’re calling a truce.” One of the guns was passed to her; with the other, her companion calmly took aim and shot the lead zombie in the head.

The head exploded.

“That seems to work.”

Several more swarmed forward to take its place, however, and they all prepared to fight for their lives.

Judgment looked over at the other group’s gunman and said “This doesn’t look too good… So what do you say to me blasting us a path out of here ‘til we can fight and actually win?” The other man barely glanced at him, but eventually gave a slow nod.

Judgment summoned a huge spike from the ground and hurled it at the horde of zombies. They were blasted away and the group started to run across the clear area, but it soon filled in again and they were trapped at the center of the mass of undead.

They fought, struggling to keep the creatures from tearing them apart. Suddenly, Andromeda went rigid. He stared off into the crowd of dead faces, before rage suddenly took hold. He threw himself into the horde, lashing out at anything that he touched, trying to fight his way through to someone he had seen.

The white haired woman called out over the sounds of combat. “We can get out of here! Just get over to Bell and place your hand against her side!” Said woman had changed back into a horse, and was keeping the creatures at bay with her tail and hooves. Everyone fought their way toward her; everyone except Andromeda, who seemed oblivious to anything but his goal.

Judgment fought through the crowd and yelled as he grabbed Andromeda “What are you doing kid!?” Andromeda didn’t answer, simply struggled to free himself. Judgment struggled and pulled to get Andromeda to Bell, until frustration made him scream “Damn it Andromeda! We will die unless we get to the others! And I really hate having to knock out my new friends!” With no response to his fake threat, Judgment grabbed Andromeda around the waist and leaped toward the group. The moment his hand touched Bell she reared and leapt forward.

There was a strange sensation of the world flying past while they stood still. Everything around them was a blur, through which they could occasionally make out images which all seemed oddly familiar. When it stopped they were standing in a clearing, the enemy’s stronghold nowhere in sight.

Judgment turned to Bell and said “What-the-hell?”

She shied away, still in horse form. A voice appeared in his mind, apparently how she communicated while not human. “I… I’m so-sorry… I should have… have done something else, or done that sooner, or warned you first, or-“

“I-it’s ok! I’m just confused! All I meant was for you to explain what happened! I didn’t mean to send you into a wild rant!”

She changed back, but only mumbled a few more apologies. It was the oldest woman who explained. “Bell carried us here through Dream, an alternate realm. Where we come from, beings like her can pass between Dream and the waking world at will. It can be used to travel anywhere instantly.”

Judgment replied with a simple “Oh. Ok.”

She turned toward Bell. “Where are we exactly, dear?”

“I… I think we’re near where they first… where I got caught.”

“Then the others should be waiting for us nearby. We should be able to find them quickly.” She turned back to Judgment. “I am sorry to trouble you, but there are two young boys among our companions. I hope to find them as soon as possible, as they have a certain talent for finding trouble. Might we ask for your assistance?”

Kiora stepped forward and bowed, saying “We shall assist you in any way possible.”

“Thank you. I am Tess.” She pointed to the others with her. “Miss Braelyn Jennis, Charon Leonakos, and Mayon.” Mayon was the one with claws, which he had extended into blades to lop off zombie heads; as the others watched, they shifted into normal fingers.

Kiora stepped to the side to show all his companions. “The young master in the braid is Andromeda, the tall dog-like creature is Master Judgment, Reaper is the one in the black coat, and the young mistress is Freddy. I am Kiora.” Once introduced, they all split up to look for Tess’ missing companions.

Judgment stepped into a nearby bush, but instantly ran away. Kiora walked up to him and asked “Sir? What is the matter?”

“There’s a cat in the bush… and she’s flirting with me! With no clothes on!”

Said cat stepped slowly into sight, grinning seductively, and winked at Judgment. She was tall and mostly humanoid, but her head and legs were shaped like a cat’s. Her whole body was covered with long reddish gold fur. She sauntered up, wrapped her long tail around Judgment’s waist, and purred in his ear. “Why did you run? I thought we were getting along so well.”

Judgment turned to Kiora and whimpered “Help…me!”

Kiora looked over at the catgirl and asked “What is your name? And can you please stop disturbing my master?”

She looked thoughtful. “Master? Well, I certainly wouldn’t have thought you two played that way… But if you want me to leave him alone…” She slid over to Kiora and leaned against his shoulder. “Maybe I could be yours instead.”

“You misunderstand… I am Judgment’s butler and please do not think I am insulting you but… but I would like it if you would refrain from flirting with me… I am sorry.”

She pouted and turned her attention back to Judgment, but before she could return to harassing him Tess appeared, followed by a pair of teenage boys. “Eris, please leave our new friends alone.” The catgirl looked disappointed, but she left in the direction from which the others had come. Tess then looked at Judgment. “Freddy told us about the others of your group. Bell has brought them here, as the place you left them will not be left empty for much longer. We intend to spend the night here; we are far enough from the compound that we shouldn’t be found too soon. You are welcome to remain with us, if you choose.”

Kiora looked at Judgment and said “Sir, maybe we can ask for their assistance? After all, you did say we are far from being strong enough to fight those ladies.”

Judgment nodded, but said “But we should also consider the fact that we will involve innocent people in our conflict… Oh well, let’s stay and sleep on it.”

Everyone gathered in the clearing to rest and tend their wounds. Andromeda hadn’t said a word since they arrived; now he slipped quietly off into the surrounding forest.

Judgment secretly followed him and found Andromeda by a river. He was staring into the water with his head bowed. Some of his hair had come loose in the fight and now hung in front of his face, but it wasn’t enough to hide the tears gathering in his eyes.

Judgment went up to him and sat beside him, unsure if he should speak. It was Andromeda who broke the silence.

“I shouldn’t have left.”

“What happened back there? You almost got yourself killed.”

“That would have been better than abandoning her again.” He looked up at Judgment, and the tears threatening to fall finally escaped his eyes. “I told you before that I’ve killed four people. Two of them deserved it. The other two… They should have been allowed to rest in peace. Those monsters are using both of them.”

Judgment tried to wipe away the tears, but Andromeda flinched away. He stared at his hands awkwardly, saying “I know. I know. But that’s why we have to fight. Why we have to survive! So we can see to it, that those poor souls can regain their peace.”

Andromeda looked away, uncomfortable with the closeness, but he placed his hand on Judgment’s sleeve for a moment as a silent thanks. He still felt miserable, but he was grateful that Judgment cared enough to try to help.

The next morning Tess caught sight of Kiora, who was soaking wet, emerging from the forest and carrying fish, fruit, berries and deer. “I did not know what everyone preferred, so I have brought all I could find. Did I find the appropriate foods?”

Just then, a blond boy jumped onto Kiora’s back and said “You didn’t bring any flowers. Blue flowers with red thorns. And one that tastes like pepperoni.”

“I am sorry… I shall go find your flowers right away.” Tess placed a hand on his shoulder to keep him from leaving.

“What you brought is more than enough. You mustn’t take Locura seriously.”

The blond leapt off his back and nodded. “She’s right. You shouldn’t take me seriously, except when you should.” He cocked his head to the side, causing his bunny ear headband to slip. “You have emo hair. You should make it pink. Pink can’t be emo.” He flipped around to show off the pink mesh butterfly wings strapped to his back. “See? I’m the anti-emo! Anti-emo, away!” He struck a superhero pose and ran off into the distance.

Kiora tilted his head and said “Is that boy… mentally stable?”

Tess laughed gently. “Locura is… unique. We’ve grown accustomed to him. Now, let’s see about getting breakfast ready.” She took half the food and helped him carry it back to the others.

Reaper was training with his scythe away from the group. Freddy went over to him and said “Hey, you ok? You haven’t said anything since we left Will’s place.”

He put his scythe away and nodded. “Y-yeah. No worries, I just have a lot on my mind.”

Just then, Eris came behind him and wrapped her arms around him and said “Hey, what are you two doing so far away from everyone else? Alone even?” Reaper laughed.

“If we told you, you’d just get bored. So I’ll let you imagine.” Eris looked between them with a knowing smile and winked, but said nothing and walked away.

Kiora was with Tess, preparing a gorgeous breakfast. He looked over at Tess and sighed. “I am aware my master did not give permission for me to ask this but… I am not sure if he will accept the fact that… we desperately need your assistance.” Kiora went to bow, but he almost burnt the deer. Scrambling to flip the deer, he cleared his throat. “Forgive me… I usually do not burn other people’s food.”

She smiled at him. “It’s alright. As for assisting you… Those girls hunted us down. They were after me; it seems I’m involved whether I wish it or not. But either way I would offer what little assistance I can provide. I suspect Braelyn and Mayon will feel the same way. Charon as well, although he won’t admit it. And to be quite honest, we’d be much better off with you than alone. We’re strangers here. I will have to speak with the others, but I believe you can count on us to help.”

Kiora’s visible eye was now full of hope. He smiled. “Thank you Miss Tess… Well, I am sorry we met under such stressful circumstances.”

Judgment had gone to sit by the edge of the forest to think without distractions. But, as far as he was, he wasn’t safe from Eris. She wrapped her tail around his while hugging his arm. Judgment turned away to hide the fact that he winced. Eris asked “What are you doing all alone, hunny?”

Judgment sighed. “Don’t call me hunny.”

She draped herself over his shoulders. “Aaaww, don’t be that way hunny… What’s wrong?”

“Everything… Whatever those girls are holding against me is too vague for me to find out and…”

“And?”

“And they’re hurting innocent people for no reason I can see… I’m a pathetic fool.” He hid his face in his hands, as if he were ashamed to be seen by anyone.

Eris looked uncomfortable, but gently moved his hands away and whispered “You are far from pathetic…” When his far-off gaze continued, she pulled him close to herself and sighed. “My puppy needs a break…”

Judgment chuckled lightly as he pulled away. He spoke in a surprisingly soft voice. “And when did I become your puppy? I don’t remember signing a contract or anything.” Surprised to find himself flirting, he shook his head and helped Eris to her feet, saying “We should get back to the group before we’re noticed.” With that he walked away before Eris could react. Only one thought could be heard in his cluttered mind: What the hell were you doing!? Do you want to go back to that hell!?

Just as Judgment reached the group Andromeda appeared at his side. “Follow me” he said, and led Judgment back into the woods. “I figure we should get out of the country. The farther we are, the harder it’ll be for their undead pets to follow. I already talked to Kiora and that Bell girl, but neither of them can get us very far. It looks like we’ll need a more traditional way to travel. Here’s where my connections come in handy.”

Judgment wouldn’t look at Andromeda; he just replied with a simple “Ok… where to?”

Andromeda led him through the trees, finding his way with a map that had been folded into a paper airplane. Eventually he stopped and groaned in frustration. “There’s a cabin around here somewhere…” Judgment took a few steps forward to see if he could spot anything further ahead. Andromeda started to warn him to be careful, but before he could even get a word out Judgment had walked right into an invisible wall.

Andromeda sighed and shook his head. “Well, we found it.” Judgment studied the mysterious force that knocked him back. Rubbing his head where he had been hit, he sighed “…ow…” looking over his shoulder, he finally looked Andromeda in the eye and said “sorry…” Andromeda could tell something was wrong; Judgments voice wasn’t as strong as it usually was and his eyes were dull and glass-like.
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