Malevolence

-

-

"Mission accomplished."

It wasn't the kid's first retrieval mission so Neron had no reason to dread his reaction. Xenos had been a weak, sickly, waste of life. In his opinion, the kid still had a way to go, even after the Master's cure. The two were part of DeSade. Each member they had their allegiances directly linked to the Master. It was a written rule, inscribed into each of the minds that no one disobeyed the Master and lived. That was the cause of their current mission; to reinitiate that inscription.

"Weren't they our own allies?" Xenos asked, wiping his bloodstained hands on his pants.

Doubt could not survive in DeSade; he would not allow it. And although his facemask obscured his expression, Neron made sure his pupil knew to silence himself through a glare.

"I know what we were ordered, and usually I wouldn't care" he began again, "But a lot of them aren't very old-"

Neron threw a punch and smirked in satisfaction when the boy sidestepped and drew a switchblade. Perhaps he could counteract the medication and turn this nothing into the perfect servant for Master DeSade.

"All they did was go to a town for supplies. The Master could have overre-"

But with servitude came discipline. Silver eyes widened as he coughed up blood. Xenos fumbled for the dagger in his stomach. He expected something like this from Neron. The man had his limits, and because of circumstances, Xenos liked to push them.

"Look what you went and did," he sighed, "Another uniform ripped and stained with blood…"

"Never insult the Master," Neron growled.

"And what will you do? We both know I'll just heal."

"And one day you will realize what a curse it can be."

Xenos tried not to react as he was lifted by his black hair and was glared down by ferocious green eyes.

"The Master knows all; he is one of Dakarai's seven great powers. If you were not his favorite pet, you would have learned that by now."

Xenos was dropped on the red soaked earth. The Master of DeSade was a genius, the creator of science. It combined things and machines, creating magical results. He had been punched for calling it magic. The Master had told him that it had been chemistry which had cured his disease. And although he used fancy, made-up words, Xenos had no reason to disbelieve him.

He was grateful, no doubt about it, but Xenos didn't understand what killing people had to do with it. He didn't really mind killing, it didn't really stir any emotions within him, but he still had to remind himself that there was no reason for him to care.

"You missed one."

Xenos caught the oncoming head and threw it in the enemies' shed. On the isle of Dakarai, there were three humanoid species: humans, gypsies, and Clarmans. The only racial slur revolved around the Clarmans (bloodsuckers) however, for a literal reason. Gypsies had thrived in their own country not more than twelve years ago, before Charmaine conquered. Needless to say, this race hated Charmaine and anyone who lived there. Being the son of Kyros the Conqueror, Xenos was hated too.

Of the two outcasted races, Neron was a hybrid. Thus, he too, was hated. Therefore, Xenos thought that as two people who were hated equally among people, they would get along fine, but, he was wrong. No, the dark-skinned vampire had tried to drink his blood, but ended up almost dying. What a friendship wrecker…

"Get moving," Neron ordered, "We must not be spotted."

Xenos sighed and adjusted the rustling sacks on his back. The captives began to cry and he twitched in annoyance.

"Must not stab…"

More crying. Reaching into his cloak pocket, Xenos retrieved a small syringe. The drug was only to be used in an emergency. He'd probably get in trouble for this…

-

Xenos waited in the West Base for replacement medication. He had been reprimanded for taking an extra shot. Neron hated that stuff. The Master had not been bothered by the stupidity of the matter, taking Xenos' defense as 'at least he didn't hit the children.' If anything, the man had been amused.

"So… how was your team's mission?"

Even without using his peripheral vision, he knew it was Aeryn. She was alright, for a new recruit. In the four months she had been used as a spy, the girl had always talked to him when she reported in.

"We're not much of a team," he replied, "Most of our guys were killed about a year ago."

He left out the fact that it had been Neron's idea. He had been sworn to secrecy after all, forced to sign a blood contract. What was really creepy about his mentor was his obsession of blood. Xenos really hoped it wouldn't rub off…

"You're avoiding the subject," she replied.

"Well, we almost failed the mission because the kids were crying."

She laughed, violet eyes lighting up. Xenos didn't understand what was so funny, and laughing didn't really highlight her best features. She looked sinister with her thin face and bloodthirsty fangs.

"Well, that rumor that Padraig was binging on blood is true. He drank the woman dry I tell you. Good thing she didn't meet the Master's requirements anyway or he'd be thrown in the ocean. I tell you, it's Clarmans like that who give the rest of us such a bad reputation."

Xenos nodded. He was safe from bloodsuckers as he was a toxic item to them, but he knew to always act like he was interested in what a girl was saying, especially if she had weapons.

The door opened and a box was handed to him. Xenos opened it and counted. Three yellow, five blue, and, no, that couldn't be right…

"Only two? Where's the other ones?" he asked, "You know, the green one?"

The Science Officer shrugged, nervously drawing his lab coat tighter around him.

"Even with that last injection, you should still have two shots of Serum Five."

Xenos nervously laugh, making him sigh in frustration.

"Addict… Hold on, I'll be back…"

Xenos hated the West Base. Sure, it wasn't scary, filled with the desert team freaks, but it was so… slow. He needed to get back 'home' before the sun rose. Xenos stood, not really wanting to waste his time in a hallway.

"It's been nice seeing you," Aeryn said.

"Huh? Yeah…"

Xenos was only partially paying attention, even with his running history with females. He never had really gotten along with most people actually. He walked the hallways, passing time. While he was waiting, Xenos decided that he needed to replace yet another uniform ruined, courtesy of Neron. Speaking of the man-

"Hey, what did the Master want?" Xenos asked.

"Nothing of importance."

"Was that just an insult I heard-"

"Don't bother yourself with it," Neron replied, "Go back to the city, and never let your guard down."

"Does this have to do with Shandra?"

"No."

He could tell that Neron was antsy about something. Maybe the man just needed to feed and was going blood-thirsty. Even after almost two years, Xenos still had trouble reading the hybrid.

"Go home," Neron ordered.

Xenos nodded and went to do as he was told… right after picking up his order.

-

Xenos angrily made his way through the stone hallways, plant fibers poking where they shouldn't. To get to the Charmaine castle, he had to go through the wheat fields. He had never realized how sharp the wheat husks could be in the northern farms. At least the corridors were empty and the sun still hadn't risen. He had made it into his room without hassle, the emerald green uniform cape and mask had been hidden away, and he had his drugs… The only thing that could make the new day better would be some well deserved sleep-

The door was thrown open and the twin blonds entered without invitation. Arsen and Zevo. Life knew not how to stop the joy…

"We are to wake you up," Arsen began.

"I was looking forward to tossing you out the window," Zevo sighed.

Xenos scowled. He had learned one interesting morning that there was a pond outside his second floor room.

"Couldn't you have waited, I don't know, until it was light outside?"

"But it is!" Zevo exclaimed, "Look at the peak of the new day, new possibilities!"

Arsen groaned, rubbing his temples in embarrassment. The 'peak of new possibilities' was only an orange speck on the horizon.

"And with the new day comes Princess Cazel from the Capital," he continued, a sparkle in his sea green eyes, "And with her comes Jade, my lovely green-eyed jewel!"

Arsen was now glaring at a corner, trying not to look at the romantic. Xenos was scowling, as usual, when thinking about other people. As a gypsy bitch, Jade loathed Charmaine and everyone in it. The only reason she came was because of her servitude to the royal daughters of Dakarai.

"Topras is coming too," Zevo sighed, "She's not nearly as nice as her older sister… She yelled at me…"

"I can't imagine why," Xenos replied, "But Topras can't seriously be coming to Charmaine, can she? A Capital girl, here?"

The three sniggered in agreement. Charmaine was an ugly, stone-block city. Things were… grey, but practical. The Capital was flamboyant, buildings of strange geometrical shapes, bright flashy tapestries and overhangs; they even had roads patterned in rainbow mosaics. It had been exciting to see at first, but from being in DeSade, Xenos knew better. There were places like Clarma, where many were poor and had small shacks for homes to herd their cannibalistic sheep for a meager income. All that the Capital wasted… was just disgusting. Clarma was a scary place, but at least they worked hard. The 'rainbow city' sold art and fish. Blind fish at that.

Cazel was a sweet, mild-mannered girl, betrothed to Charmaine. Xenos figured that the marriage between her and his oldest brother Chogan was about money. Even though the conquered forest was not enterable, the country still raked in loads of money from both agriculture and mining. It was the only way the war country could control all six lands without conflict.

Two of the brothers really didn't care about what happened in the Capital or Charmaine, but Arsen seemed to remind them daily of the disastrous effects of the engagement. Chogan was by far Kyros' favorite son, and heir to the Charmaine rule. He was a lazy uncommitted recluse. Apparently, his lack of concern would cause chaos across the island causing even more war which would destroy the lives of Charmaine citizens. According to Arsen, Chogan was also responsible for murder, famine, the destruction of Lesopho, and the common cold.

"Look, it's not Topras I'm worried about," Xenos began, "I doubt she'll even recognize me."

"You just might have a chance if-"

"-you weren't to escort her around the city," Zevo cut in.

Xenos fell back onto his bed, questioning the existence of luck. He had only met Topras once years ago. That had been enough for a lifetime… You're depressed; there's happiness in life you know, you just have to look harder; you can't always blame your sickness for everything; I think that sky blue is your color. Definitely enough…

"Think of this!" Zevo exclaimed, "Jade will be around. And I'd endure many tortures just for her lovely eyes to fall on me without distaste."

"She detests you," Arsen replied, "And she's, as Xenos puts it, a bitch."

"There's so much hate in the world… I blame Charmaine; the annihilation of the great Gypsy country only cast the world into sadness," Zevo sighed.

"I wouldn't expect them to forget, but to hold a grudge to such an extent is part of your so-called 'problem', not our peoples' who had no say in the matter," Arsen retorted, "That is what is unfair."

"How dare you accuse our mother's country! This shall not go unnoticed!"

Xenos groaned and tried to drain out the sound of the twin's bickering. He had always believed that the two had a telepathic connection of some sort, yet they always got into yelling matches at the times he wanted them to shut up.

"As much as I appreciate the warning and I'd be more than glad to watch you two engage in yet another comical fight, I need to sleep."

The two stopped arguing and gave a quizzical look.

"Where have you been the past nine hours?" they chorused.

"I was up all night," Xenos confessed, "Making myself bleed out my misery and because I enjoy the pain. The blood loss is making me sleepy."

Arsen shrugged, catching the subtle sarcasm. Zevo, however, being the drama king reincarnated, did not.

"Do you have no joy in your life?! Don't throw it all away! Choose life! Choose life!"

Xenos was jolted back and forth, being shaken by the shoulders.

"Just kill me now," he muttered, "Make it all stop."

The blond stopped and sank to his knees, tears welling up in his eyes.

"I don't know what I'd do," he whispered, embracing his younger brother, "If you fell out the window."

Xenos processed this all too slowly as he went from the second floor to a cold pond. The temperature in the plains was always mild, but the fact that he had been tricked made it all the colder. Zevo leaned out the windowsill, one hand keeping him balanced, the other wiping away the fake tears.

"Should have seen that coming!" he yelled.

The grimace on the dark-haired boy's face turned to a smirk, worrying the prankster. Arsen never pushed people out of windows. The clever bastard always tricked his victim into doing it himself.

"Hey, is that the young laundry maid over there?" Arsen questioned.

"You're not going to get me with that one."

"Is the girl with eyes greener than the Eternal Forest not worth the risk?"

"Really?" he asked.

"She's right over to the far left, around the corner. If you lean out just right, her violet hair will shine…"

The romantic bit his lip, deciding if he should take the bait.

"Violet?"

In two seconds, his hand slipped and Zevo found out that the fish pond had not been as deep as he had originally thought.

"For someone who claims to be asexual, he can be very poetic."

Xenos began to get out of the pond when Zevo started to nervously laugh, which could have been taken as fear. He felt it slide by, a slimy, scaled tongue wrapped around his ankle. The blond squeaked and backed up against the edge.

"It's only a Salty-mouthed bass," Xenos said, kicking the five foot fish.

Zevo's eyes widened and he immediately jumped and fell back, frozen with fear. Xenos reached down into to water to find a water snake to scare him even more, but instead got his hand bitten by the fish and was dragged down. He couldn't kill the beast, as it was for the dinner for the Dakarai royals, but the alternative being drowning didn't seem so hot either. Either way, he was screwed.

He winced as the crusty, coarse lips of the fish scraped up his arm. Where was Arsen when he needed the bastard? The thing hadn't been fed for a few hours, he could tell that much, by the way it tugged at his arm. Whoever was set to care for the creature was shirking his duties. That official was going to pay… Damn; out of air.

The fish just wouldn't be so fresh that night. It went down without a problem, but it took him with it. This end of pool, to his luck, was six feet deep. It was then that Xenos began his lifelong hatred of anyone who thought fish with teeth was a good idea.

Using the last bit of oxygen, Xenos chiseled through the upper lip, allowing the fang in his arm to be pulled out, setting him free. Before he could drown in the salty, red water, he was pulled up to the surface.

"I found something I love," Xenos said, gasping for air.

Xenos combed back his wet black hair to maximize his glare at the dead fish. Zevo was currently on shore, staring blankly at the castle wall, dripping wet. Arsen scowled as he looked over Xenos' wound.

"Kyros is going to be mad."

"It's dead r-right?" Zevo stuttered, "It w-won't come after us, r-right?"

"You'll be alright," Arsen replied, "Nothing attacked you. You should know that I would never allow that to happen again."

The scared blond just nodded and stared off again. Xenos sighed, waiting for Arsen to leave his arm alone. It was bleeding. It wasn't a new sight to either of them.

"Who is responsible for this?"

All three brothers stopped breathing. Kyros. The tall golden haired man was dressed in his finest imperial armor. Crimson shoulder plates and bronze chain-mail combined with his expression were practically made for intimidation.

"You are fools," he spat, "My own son shocked into submission by what? A mere fish?"

Zevo didn't reply, his gaze lowered. Kyros directed his rant to Arsen who was now standing in front of him face-to-face.

"You are worthless scum, allowing your idiotic brother to fall into such a state and letting that creature survive and continue my shame."

Arsen stared unflinchingly into his father's cold hazel eyes.

"I am sorry Sir, for my inability to meet your standards."

Xenos looked away, unable to look at the man who would not even recognize him as his son, a human being.

"Chogan is the only reason I do not regret mixing my bloodline with a Gypsy slut. He is the only success in this family," Kyros said.

"I'm sorry Sir."

Arsen's stoic gaze never wavered in the slightest. No one, especially his father, would break his will. Zevo was seething, through his phobia, but he too was no match for the warlord.

"You have still failed. That will not go unpunished."

"I understand."

He had expected this treatment for being caught. He had only pushed his twin to dissipate any grudge Xenos might hold for the unthinkable prank. Arsen would never admit it, would never want to admit it, but the boy was much like Kyros. At any moment, at any tragedy, Xenos could snap. It had been many years before, but Arsen had made a promise to protect Charmaine, its people, and his brothers. It had been a large weight to put on a four-year-old's shoulders, but he was putting his best effort forward to follow through, alone.

Kyros always carried two weapons with him. One was an ancient claymore, symbol of the ruler of Charmaine, passed down to his heir. The other was a rawhide whip.

"I feel kind today though," Kyros began, "You shall only pay one fifth of the blood you have wasted."

Xenos gritted his teeth. Why? Why did Arsen always have to put the blame, the pain, upon himself? Did the bastard think he was the toughest and could handle the heat? Well la-dee-da, Xenos was just as strong. He had killed people. Always getting the last laugh, always having to control the situation; Arsen would realize he was not as great as he thought he was. Xenos was just as good if not better.

He was angry with Kyros. The man always underestimated him, always viewed him as a curse, a mistake. That man had made his life a torture. Only two days; he had been loved for two days. It wasn't his fault; why did everyone blame him?

"You're so smug Arsen," Xenos laughed, "Don't act like I need protecting. I killed this fish, and it was FUN. You hear me?"

Arsen didn't have time to react. The whip crashed down, cracking when it met flesh. Xenos shifted on his feet form the blow. It had only been the shoulder, where there was a bone. It bled, and the salt from the pond stung, and for some reason breathing was a bit harder, but it was nothing he couldn't handle. The dark-haired boy only smirked.

"Is that the best you've got?"

Xenos knew this feeling from the night before. He felt invincible, like he could take down anything. Time seemed to slow as the whip came crashing towards him. Four claw-like fingers embedded themselves into the leather and he glared at his father.

"I will not let myself be walked over," he threatened.

Kyros scowled, drawing back the whip, bringing his son closer and twisting the boy's arm back. With a small dagger from his pocket, the warlord drove it forward into Xenos' side. Receiving a small bit of Déjà vu, the boy's legs wavered as the taste of blood was once again in his mouth.

"You are arrogant child," he glared before punching him in the face.

Xenos was kneed in the stomach, and he could've sworn he heard a crack. The pain definitely fit with the sound. He made a last ditch attempt attempted to use the blade in his side to get in an attack, but it only scathed the armor.

Kyros lifted his son from the ground and threw him back into the pond. He then turned without a mention to the wide-eyed twins. The Imperial warrior headed back towards the palace.

"Perhaps," he said to himself, "You are not as worthless as I thought."

-

"Did he just-" Zevo began.

Arsen nodded, going to help him out of the water yet again. It was worse than he thought. But what could he do? He had enough on his plate already, without having to tame his younger brother.

Once ashore, Xenos pulled out the dagger, wondering why it always had to be a dagger. There was a large array of weapons out there. Perhaps a change of pace would be nice; like one of many exotic Kithlenese weapons (although, a jute or kodachi would probably hurt just as much if not more, as those swamp-dwelling freaks enjoyed using poison). If it weren't for the spontaneous healing thing the yellow serum had given him, he would be suffering from anemia, whatever that was. The Science Officers always came up with diseases he should have from injuries and such. Hmm, no broken bones…

"Doesn't that hurt?" Zevo asked.

"Yes."

"What I don't understand," Arsen began, "Is why you aren't dead."

"Well," Zevo began, returning to his normal self, "It doesn't matter why, as much as we need to get Kaylin to fix him up because Kyros freaking beat him to a pulp!"

"In my defense," Xenos replied, "I've had worse."

"Oh please," they chorused, "No you haven't."

"Well, at least I won."

"Not really," Zevo commented.

"He was bleeding."

"Not really," Arsen added.

"Look, I'll be fine."

Xenos wobbled to his feet, feeling every injury.

"Not really," the twins chorused.

Today just wasn't his day…

-

Xenos sighed in content as smoke drifted through the air. He was currently in the fields, relaxing with one of his favorite hobbies. One would think that smoking wheat would have an unhealthy and displeasing effect, but if you knew just which part and type of plant, it could be quite… therapeutic.

For the past few hours, Xenos had been thinking. Usually he just went along with plans or his life was in peril, or it involved medicine. Either way, he didn't really dig deep within himself and contemplate items of life very often, nor did he care to.

There were two doctors in the city of Charmaine. One was in the castle (The man was supposedly the best, and he never failed to brag about it while you were possibly bleeding into a coma.) for those important enough to actually live in the castle. Doctor number two worked in the middle city for the rest of the population. Of course, they went to neither. No, they went to Kaylin. She was a gypsy woman, the only in the whole city who owned a house. Nothing large, but it was something. That house was the only place gypsy culture could be explicitly expressed. She was a medic, drawing back on the power of nature.

So, the old woman had joyously greeted the twins just as a mother would have, and bustled around when seeing Xenos. It was only a flesh wound, he had told her, but no, he needed bandages. The only thing he needed was some sleep. Kaylin was a heavyset woman who wore gaudy clothing because she was proud of who she was. Not even the king of Dakarai could tell her how to live and think (not that he would, mind you). That's how, when she looked him in the eye and told him to be careful next time, it was easier to believe that she really meant it.

Xenos took another long drag, staring up at the sky. Grey… why was everything in Charmaine grey? The long stalks rustled and a girl in a vibrant blue dress stumbled forward. She stared at him. He stared back. She was eyeing his smokes…

"Hey," he greeted, "Want a puff?"

She shook her head, golden orbs admonishing him.

"Excuse me but, you shouldn't smoke. It's bad for you," she stated.

"And girls shouldn't wander the fields alone," Xenos replied, "Especially when creepy strangers are around."

She unconsciously took a step back.

"Now, now, no reason to be afraid," he taunted.

It was an intentionally bad lie, it was Charmaine after all, but the girl seemed to relax a bit. Maybe it was the secondhand smoke? Feh, what did he care?

"Seriously, why are you here?" he asked.

"I could ask the same."

"No you can't."

"Beg your pardon?"

Xenos rolled his eyes. She definitely wasn't from the city. Nobody in Charmaine would talk with such etiquette, excusing the brownnoses, so technically, no one meant to be polite because, quite frankly, it pissed people off.

"I live here, but you," he grinned, "Bright clothing… manners? You're not from around here."

"Either that, or you are used to the life of a country hick."

"My, my, her true personality rises," he replied, lighting another smoke, "Who d'ya think you are, the Queen of Dakarai?"

She turned around, golden ponytail swishing at the small of her back, arms crossed. Xenos supposed she was pouting or something, as girls did, but it was of no consequence to him what face she was making. Or was it? He'd rather not find out the hard way.

"I'd never be queen."

She turned around, a content expression on her face.

She smiled, "I'd hate to be queen actually."

"That still leaves the question of who you are…" he sighed, "And I sure as death ain't going to tell you first."

There was something about this girl he definitely didn't like, and it had to do with the smirk on her face. This probably would end horribly wrong, but feh, it wouldn't be the first time that day something went bad.

-

"Here Dear," Kaylin said, placing a glass on the table.

Arsen leaned back in the chair he was sitting in, rubbing his temples.

"Now, what's it you need to talk to me about?" she asked, taking her own seat, "You're tense, more so 'an usual."

He glared through his entwined fingers.

"I don't understand how or why Xenos is alive," he began, "Not that I'm complaining, but it's a matter that needs to be solved, especially when the Clarman dignitaries join the Royals with everything that is going on."

Kaylin nodded.

"You're too involved," she sighed, "And stress is bad for your long-term health."

"I'm meeting the Rebel's second in command," he replied, "Not something Charmaine slime does on a daily basis."

"Don't listen to that title," she reprimanded, "That doesn't apply to you or Zevo."

Arsen shrugged. True, out of all the officials and whatnot, he had the best reputation among the people. But beating his father in likeability wasn't much of a task. And despite his best intentions to help the country, he hadn't been able to do much for the people. In Charmaine, although there was a council which was to mask the fact that Kyros controlled all (which no one bought for a second), the process in which to put forth any change or reform was lengthy.

First, you had to suggest the idea to Chogan, the only person Kyros liked. But to do that, one had to find him first. And few people knew when or where the recluse was when he wasn't in his room (which was locked; Arsen had tried). And even if you did see him on some occasion, after months of searching, it wasn't absolute that he would comply or even listen. That's why the Gypsy Citizenship Act had taken four years to be considered. Even then, only a few could afford the steep rate for the freedom they should have been born with.

There was a commotion outside the building, a fight. From past experience, Arsen knew that his twin was somehow involved. The blond went to investigate, and lo and behold, a fight.

"You've got to be kidding," he groaned, "Chesney… and he's early."

It was the pale-skinned blond dignitary against the tanned, red haired gypsy ruffian. It wasn't much of a fight, just a stand off, as usual.

"Oi, rich boy," Chesney challenged, "You want to be one of us, try not bein' Charmaine Slime why don't you?"

"At least I don't throw people off buildings…"

Chesney was held back by the gathering crowd.

"You sayin' I'm a dirty man?"

"Well," Zevo replied, "I wouldn't judge you by how often you wash, but-"

"Excuse me," Arsen said, clearing his throat, "I hate to interrupt this little shouting match, but I believe I have some business with you Chesney."

"Oh really?" he taunted, "I didn't think you cared."

"Don't be so full of yourself," Arsen replied, "You need my help just as much as I need yours."

The two were in a harsh whisper, keeping the conversation between themselves.

"Tell your Boss, he's got some allies," Arsen whispered, slipping a small package in his pocket, "Don't be too reckless."

"How can I trust you, Charmaine slime?" Chesney spat, "Last time I checked, our countries didn't get along so well."

Arsen handed him a crisp envelope.

"That's not your decision, now isn't it?"

-

"Well Princess, I'm not your slave, that reminds me, where is she?"

Xenos avoided yet another slap from the girl.

"Stop calling me that," she replied, "And Jade is my friend, not my slave. Get that through your head."

She jabbed him in the side, earning a hiss.

"I can't believe you fell out a window," she chuckled.

"I was pushed," he replied flatly, "There's a significant difference, Princess."

Topras never listened. Not now, not five years ago. To his luck, she didn't recognize him, but for how long, he wasn't sure. He had barley gotten away with 'you'd laugh at me' when asked his name. As deprecating as that was, it was worth not having to tote her around. But sadly, being as lost as she was, she followed him like a lost child. A child who liked to annoy others. The two were making their way back to the castle through the city at this point.

"You're sticking out like a Clarman in the Capital," he stated

Topras shuddered.

"My dress is not nearly as dreary, if that's what you're saying."

"That's not what I- never mind."

In a city where everyone wore muted tones, blood-red being the most vivid, she really did stick out. He really did feel sorry for that poor hypothetical Clarman, being of a ghostly white complexion as well. People tended to give him his space though.

Topras squeaked as she was pulled into a narrow street by her guide. He had pulled her close to the wall with him, a hand silencing any chance of screaming. Before she could kick her way free, two officials marched by. It was starting to add up. The wound, hiding from the law, no wonder he didn't want to reveal his name. Topras bit him, allowing her to speak.

"Who are you?" she demanded, "Tell me or I'll scream."

His grasp around her waist became tighter before looking out of the alleyway.

"See that guy?" he said, pointing with his free hand, "Let's just say we're at odd ends…"

Chesney, that damn red-head, had been enough trouble years ago, before the guy had grown up. And now with their underground positions- Cold metal was pressed against his neck. Although he had accelerated healing, Xenos doubted that he could sprout a new head.

"Let her go," the knife's owner demanded, "Or my brother will be the least of your troubles."

Freeing Topras he replied, "Jade, could you be menstrual somewhere else, like, not where I am?"

The fiery haired (and tempered) girl was fuming and threw a punch. Xenos easily dodged but doubled over as Topras had jabbed him in the side again.

"That's a cheap shot Princess," he hissed, "I suppose you've been taught well."

It wasn't below Jade, he knew that. Sure, she'd been through a lot, her father being killed during the invasion and all that jazz, but that was no excuse for what she and Chesney had done. Pushing someone out a window was one thing, but throwing a sick frightened child into an eel infested pond for their own pleasure was not. Opening up a chance for a five-year-old to drown was not forgivable. Arsen had KO-ed Chesney, the 'tough fifteen year old', as Zevo dove in to save him from the water. All those disappointed faces as they surfaced made him sick.

She had tricked him. Jade had been his friend at the time, his only friend, and she had betrayed him. Zevo may have been able to forgive her, but there was no way Xenos would. He still held Chogan responsible for suggesting selling the servants to the Capital instead of death. Clearly, Chesney had bought his freedom.

Xenos imagined Neron in his mind, the piercing eyes that could scare many into submission. And although it probably took years and being traumatized as a child by vampires to master the look, he was confident he had what it took. He had silver eyes. Nobody got 'good vibes' from the color of death, of the deadliest disease on the island. And to his advantage, it worked. Jade was tough, but how unbreakable was Topras?

"I know you want to prove you're Charmaine tough Princess, but you're just that: royalty. But I've got to say, you've definitely made MY bitch list already, and you've earned it! You're nothing but trouble," he laughed, "No wonder everyone loves your older sister more than you."

He hit a soft spot, because she buckled like a small child. Xenos remembered being like that, crying alone because no one would comfort him, no one was allowed to.

"Stop playing pretend Princess because the fact of the matter is," he smiled, "You just don't fit the part."

Jade glared up at him as she tried to reassure Topras.

"You truly are an evil child Xenos," she hissed, "Like father like son."

Xenos grabbed a fistful of red hair and traced a line down her cheek with his claw-like fingernail.

"I'd be careful if I were you," he replied, "That quiet boy you once betrayed is gone."

Xenos left the alley and headed back towards the palace. She had deserved it, Topras needed to be brought back to the real world. He had been told several times he wasn't good enough and he never would be.

No. He didn't have to prove anything. He didn't have to prove his existence to anyone. Affection and approval was overrated, he didn't need them survive. He had the Master at his back, he had DeSade. There was purpose for his life, Neron had been right.

But maybe he had been too harsh, it was really Jade who needed punishment, not Topras. She hadn't done anything, yet. Feh, life sure knew how to screw with him. Thinking should be left up to paranoid people like Arsen, not him. He needed to relax. He needed to stab something…

-

Chogan brushed his knuckle against Cazel's soft cheek. She was biting her lip, bright eyes dulled with worry.

"Look at me," he said softly, "You're tests are coming out good. My medicine is doing its job."

She glanced at his kind emerald eyes, a small smile gracing her features. Cazel plucked at her fiancé's wild platinum blond hair. He was always so sweet, so sincere. He had saved her from death on several occasions. The tall man extended a triangular glass filled with orange liquid, but she gently pushed it aside.

"The whole science board said I was terminal," she whispered, "Why can't you accept this?"

He pushed the rim of the glass to her lips.

"Drink," he ordered.

Cazel reluctantly did as she was told.

"Why do I try?" Chogan began, "Because I know they all are wrong, there is a cure. And besides, I could never abandon my princess."

She shook her head in denial, tears forming in her eyes. All the secrecy from her family, the possibility that she would wake up the next morning, and not expect the next. She was supposed to be queen someday. But both of them knew that was not an option. Chogan put a comforting arm around her shoulders.

"Now, now, please… I know someone who's helping me make advances, and being the best chemist in Dakarai's most powerful organization doesn't hurt either."

She buried her face in his embrace, crying silent tears.

"And if he fails me," he whispered, "I too will forfeit my life to save you."

-

Chesney opened the door to the bar. He knew his boss was there. After reading the message, he had immediately bolted back north to the mountains of Makroft. He had found him alright, and as expected, the blue-haired man was chugging yet another pint.

"Oi, Boss," he greeted, "Turn your drunken ass 'round. I'm back."

The Clarman looked at him with sober eyes over the rim of his glasses.

"If you'd have come an hour later, you might've been right," he replied, "Now talk to me."

"I met with Arsen of Charmaine like you asked, though I have no idea how that asshole can help us. But I'm supposed to give you this."

Chesney gave the man the small satchel and a crinkled envelope.

"I pre-read it," he admitted, "But as your second in command I- just read the damn thing Keith."

He just shrugged and tore open the letter, not an emotion to be seen as he read. He stuffed the note in his pocket and looked in the bag and grinned.

"Ok, listen up," he yelled, silencing the crowd, "Apparently, the party-crashing plan needs to be revamped a bit. Nothing we can't do in four days right?"

The crowd remained silent until one brave soul raised his had in questioning.

"Right 'is moment? Can we start tomorrow?"

Keith leaned forward, took out the note, skimmed it, put it back in his pocket, and stretched out his lightning blue insect wings. As head of the Rebellion, he had to carefully decide each move, as their enemy DeSade was on to them. Dang power of foresight and wisdom… If they came to his territory, they'd see how much they liked the Power of Wind. And seeing how the nearby ocean was acid, that kind of encounter would hurt.

"Why not?" Keith shrugged, "Tomorrow, we shall work… Hey! Could I get another round over here?"

"Boss," Chesney whispered, "When have ya ever been excited about working?"

"Shut up and have a drink with me."

"Yes Boss."

-

-

A/N: I finally have the rewrite up! I feel so proud of myself! And Essro. Can't forget about my fellow writer now can I? Well, tell me what you think!