It was a struggle to breathe. But that just made every breath a victory. Every breath made her stronger. The panic attacks, which used to last for hours with only small breaks of exhaustion in between were becoming few and far between. The glow white everything that had haunted her so back on Earth and during her first few days in the Realm of Light was becoming bearable again. Säde was a fighter. A hero. A color wouldn't beat her.

She saw it as a good sign that she had such mastery over her emotions now when she had spent the past nine days recovering from her injuries. With nothing to do but lie in bed and watch the white walls of the medical facility pounded against her, she'd been forced to create new defenses pretty quickly. With no drones to face or Malocil to talk to, Säde had nothing to do but build walls to protect herself from the white. If she had been busy, it would have taken longer to erect her defenses. At least that's what she told herself whenever a panic attack struck.

In her quiet moments, when the panic attacks felt lifetimes away and her defenses felt strong and impenetrable, Säde did wish for the ability to do something that would occupy her. Like a sketch board so she could doodle or one of their hand held computers to... those had to have games on them, right? A rule of the universe said that all computers came preinstalled with games. Säde was certain that not even an alternate dimension based on the interaction between light and darkness would dare break that rule. Unfortunately, her injuries, especially her hands, were too severe to even manage that.

The Beings of Light had promised her that her hands would heal. Säde didn't see how, considering the damage that had been when she had detonated that bomb. Her hands had been nothing more than a bloody mess of shattered bone and shredded muscle. But they had tended to her hands with seeming ease and each day told her that the healing was coming along as scheduled. What a relief to know that she would still be a superhero when she finally returned to Earth.

And she would return—there was no doubt in Säde's mind that this stay in the Realm of Light was only temporary and it would be her last one. She had come here for Rem—to protect him from the Beings of Light. She hadn't known at the time why they had wanted him dead, but she had done what was needed to protect her teammate, best friend and lover. And she had done so with the hope that time would give them the answers needed.

She had answers now-- answers that led to the Speaker and a plan to allow the Beings of Darkness unlimited access to Earth. It was a plan that the Beings of Light appeared to have a vested interest in stopping. Why they were willing to kill to stop the gateway.... well, Säde was looking forward to figuring it out. Her stay in the Realm of Light was going to be much more bearable now that she had a mission. Now she had a vested interest in learning as much about this dimension as possible.

Säde shifted on the medical bed (or what passed for a medical bed in this realm) and rolled onto her side. Her eyes fell upon the small table next to her bed—which she had been staring at nearly nonstop since Rem had been sent back to Earth. Her uniform had been completely destroyed in the explosion. Only her utility belt had survived-- and items she had been carrying inside it.

The Beings of Light had been kind enough to take the belt back to her room, but they had left one item. Säde stared at it now—she had spent hours staring in the days since Rem had been sent home and she would spent hours staring at it in the future. Maybe one day she would be able to stare at the ring when it was residing on Rem's finger.

She couldn't hold it yet because of the damage to her hands. But as soon as she could, she intended to cradle the engagement ring close to her heart. It was a promise of years to come. More important than the mission was the promise of years to come.

The ring began to glow with white light that pulsed. Then the table which was soon followed by her bed and then the walls. With every pulse, the walls moved in towards her. It was going to crush her. Säde closed her eyes and forced herself to take deep breaths, retreating behind her walls. She was a hero. This wasn't going to beat her. Nothing here was going to keep her from the lifetime that was waiting for her. Nothing.

I'm so psyched for November, people! Taking a year off was great and I'm ready and rearing to go on this story. These next few storylines are ideas I've been bouncing around in my head for years and I'm so excited to get to them.

For those who are wondering about Heroes Rising... yeah, not going to happen anytime soon. Sorry, but the way I ended up writing it was that I jumped to a new scene whenever I got bored, so the story is one big mess of half-finished scenes that, as of right now, I really don't have any interest in getting back to and fixing.

As for the next book, the working title is Cat's-Eye Private Investigators: The Old Gang. I may change that at some point. But right now I like it because we're shifting gears to Cat as her past comes back to haunt her.