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[M] The Darkness Down Below

As her body phased into a new place, Violet knew her time at Dante’s Abyss was over, and her parting gift was more than she could have asked for. In fact, it was one of those presents one usually shoved under the bed and forgot about for several years and then donate to the thrift store for some other unfortunate soul.

The abyss, it seems, had banished her to some sort of purgatory. Well, no, more like Victor Wolfe, that imp of a boy, banished her. She put some trust in him and he literally stabbed her in the back. Ironic, considering she’d been mulling over her trust issues all morning, and the moment she finally opened up to allowing herself to add to the group, to add safety to their numbers, it backfired.

She only had herself to blame, ultimately. This is what happened when you put trust in the wrong hands. The dog you fed will turn and bite yours right off. Mr. Wolfe was definitely on her shitlist. Game or no game, he had to have known what would have happened. How anybody could do such a thing to another person was beyond her, then again, she’d had to do some pretty crazy things herself to survive. The only difference was that she didn’t have to backstab someone to do it. Morals were a very subjective thing, apparently.

Her body completed the phasing in a matter of seconds, and wherever she was, it definitely wasn’t the lobby of Dante’s Abyss. It was a sort of palace, with red marble walls that shone like glass. Recesses were placed in calculated intervals, and what appeared to be lava flowed within them. Above her, a domed ceiling stretched upwards, with support beams that were hewn from black obsidian and carved in intricate curves and abstract figures. Nearly everything had a touch of gold flecked into it. Soft white light illuminated the dome and the room, glinting off of the gold flecks and making them sparkle like a million little diamonds.

The opulence boggled her. Where the hell was she?

The smell confused her even more. It was some sort of mixture between cookies and burnt caramel. She could taste it in the back of her throat, and there, she caught a little bit of something else…something noxious.

Violet made her way towards a far entryway that was framed in delicately carved ivory. Figures in various poses twisted their way up and around the framework, with jewels of different kinds worked in to accentuate what was starting to appear like a series of scenes. As she moved closer, her fingers running over the smooth material, she felt a strange energy pulsing just beneath the surface. It hummed along her fingers, down her arm, and up to her shoulder, sort of like a very mild electrical shock. The figures, she noticed, were not just random scenes, they were various poses of murder. One figure held another, its arm deep within the other’s chest. The head lulled to the side, nearly cut off. In another set of figures, half of one’s head was missing, while the other, with horns that seemed too big for its head, smiled with devilish glee. Her eyes roved over the other scenes, but she forced her gaze away.

Who the hell puts scenes of such gruesomeness in a place like this?

She began to walk quickly down a marble lined hallway, towards what appeared to be a split in the pathway. She took the left, and found herself looking down an even longer hall, this one narrow like those found in a cheap hotel. Big enough for a few people to walk abreast, but not much else. Doors were dispersed at even intervals, closed off to prying eyes. She doubted either of these was a way out, and probably didn’t lead to anything interesting. She skipped them and continued on, finding herself at another branch of hallways.

On and on it continued, branch after branch opened before her, seemingly giving her a choice, all promising to lead somewhere, but none of them lead anywhere except back to that strange room with the carved ivory framework, except now she was on the other side of where she started. It seemed it was just one big rectangle of pathways, regardless of what direction she took. She was only a little concerned. Okay, maybe a lot concerned. Was she just being obtuse, or was she just having bad luck with these pathways?

“Hello?” she finally called out. Perhaps someone would hear her and help her out. There was no reply, but she tried again a few more times, venturing towards the endless hallways of doors. Did the Abyss just goof and drop her off in an abandoned maze? It was a nice (sort of) maze, but a maze nonetheless. There should have been exit signs at least. The Fire Marshal would have a field day with this place.

The cookies and burnt sugar smell suddenly became overwhelming, and she lifted her shirt to cover her nose. “Christ, what the hell is that?”

Chuckling. Deep, masculine. Taunting.


Silence. Her heart sped its beat just a little bit.

“Can we cut the creepy shit, please? Where am I?”

A cool breeze blew by her, ruffling her shirt. Where did that come from? Violet jerked her head around, looking for anything that would betray something or someone.

Then, before she could even process what was happening, the room plunged into darkness. Pure blackness enveloped her, and just as her panic began to increase, hands groped at her, pulling her backwards, encircling her. She let out a scream, but was cut off by a wad of cloth. She was being dragged by something, and by the ease in which they did so meant that whatever it was, it was large.

A door opened, and the breeze brushed her face as the door shut. The thing that drug her didn’t even stop, which meant someone else had opened it and closed it for them. Oh, Kami, what the hell did she get into?

Something hard and metallic was locked around her wrists, and then the distinct sound of chains. Fuck, fuck, fuck! Her mind and heart both raced as they tried to make sense of what was happening. She felt the chains wrap around her ankles, holding them in place. In one swift jerk, she was suddenly lifted off the floor and hung by the chains at her wrists.

A hand, large and rough, swept up her body, pausing in places that seemed to interest them. They hovered long over the edge of her ribcage and belly, playing along that bit of bone tenderly. Lips smacked loud and wet. More hands followed suit, three, four…eight hands. They tugged at her clothing, pulling it free from her jeans and running along the soft, bare flesh beneath.

“No…no…no!” she screamed as they all violated her person. Hands ripped and tore at her, peeling the thin material away from her body. They seemed to have trouble with the jeans, but those were only a momentary hindrance as one of the bigger hands balled into the thicker material and ripped it away.
The chains that held her hung against her bare skin, cold and unfeeling. She was fully exposed to whatever it was that lurked in the darkness.

The hands were so rough as they touched and poked along her flesh. Her eyes began to burn with tears that refused to fall. She would kill Victor if it was the last thing she ever did, one way or another!

Just as a scream began to bubble within her chest, fighting the tightness that constricted her throat, bright white light flooded the room, and she was suddenly face to face with monsters. She screamed.

“Back away, boys,” the twangy male voice rose over the din of monstrous faces. They parted like some pale fleshed ocean, their expressions damn near starved as they reluctantly backed away. “Don’t damage the good before the master can inspect them.”

Their growls were low and feral; Violet knew they weren’t among the most intelligent creatures she’s encountered, but this one…perhaps their master, he was smart, or at the very least, civilized. “What the hell is going on here?” she snarled at him.

The male, definitely no human, but something not quite monster and not quite man, gazed at her, eyes roving over her naked flesh. He smiled in what appeared to be approval. “My boys here are awfully grabby, so sorry about that,” he said as he stepped closer to her. “They enjoy the texture of scars, but you’re also quite a scrumptious little snack for them.”

“If they touch me again, I will kill them, then I will kill you.”

He laughed, full and guttural. “Oh, my, you are a catch!”

She struggled against her chains, shreds of her clothing trapped beneath the shackles smacked against her skin. “Just let me go and we can forget this whole thing,” she demanded.

“Deary, I don’t think you understand just what’s about to happen to you,” he lifted his gold plated cane to her chin and lifted her face to meet his gaze full on. “If you want out of here, you’re going to have to earn it.”

Disgust washed over her face as he once again took in her form. “If you think for one second I’d…I’d do something like what you’re thinking, you’ve got me fucked up, you disgusting pig.”

He quirked a smile. “You will do whatever I want you to do, and you’re going to say ‘Yes, Master’.” He came in closer, face inches from hers. “And if you do not follow my orders…well, I can make your life a lot worse than it is right now.”

“Then do it. Kill me.” Violet growled back. “Do it!”

“You’re no use to me dead, girlie.”

She screamed. The sound reverberated around the room, amplified by the close confines of this much smaller chamber. The cane struck her on the side of the face, and cracked something within her skull. “Enough of that,” he frowned.

“Let me out of here!” She cried out. Tears began falling in hot, wet streaks down her face. Her throat burned, and her entire body was alight as a soft, reddish glow began to emanate just beneath her skin. Her arms tugged harder at the shackles, but the effort gained her nothing but sore skin. Her eyes burned as she watched him. The monsters behind him kept their distance, a stink of fear wafting from them. If he could make them do that…oh Kami, what would he do to her?

He lifted a finger to her cheek, catching a tear as it slid down her face. “Oh, look at this, boys,” he brought the teardrop to his lips, tongue flicking out to capture the little salty droplet. He smacked his lips, pleased. “We will need more of these.”

“Fuck you!” she breathed angrily. Her barb was only met by his raucous laughter, and then the laughter of his horde. Fuck them all. She’d kill every last one of them!

The laughter stopped, his round, pocked face serious. “You’re mine now, y’hear? Mine to do with as I please, when and how I please, and I have many things lined up just for lil’ ol’ you.” He punctuated the last with a little bop on her nose.

Her teeth clenched as he cupped her jaw. “Tell me, girlie, are you able to defend yourself? Or should I just resign you to breeding duties? I don’t usually give my new meat choices, but you seem special, so I’ll oblige just this once.”

It was her turn to crack a smile, a smile that was cold, malicious, and reached all the way to the very depths of her soul. “Why don’t you let me out of these chains and I can show you just how defensive I can be.”

“Oh, ho, ho, but you’re not going to hurt your master, are you?”

“In a fucking heartbeat.”

“Now, that’s just not going to fly around here,” he said, and smacked the back of his hand hard against her face. Spittle flew from her mouth, and she could taste the coppery warmth of blood on her tongue. “Fighting it is, then. Ewal, take her to the pens. Get her ready for her match. Let the other masters know there’ll be some live entertainment at supper tonight.”

Ewal, whom she assumed his name was, was a massive creature. He was nothing near human, but a cross between a troll and a bull. Fur crowned his shoulders, covering his arms like a sleeved tee, until somewhere around his elbow, it all gave way to marred flesh. His head was massive, broad, with a thick metallic hoop hanging from his septum. Black horns curved backwards from his temples, with tufts of black hair slicked back with sweat and other things between them. His eyes were just two black coals set deep in his face, but they weren’t as defiant as they should have been. Somewhere in this creature’s mind, something was broken.

As Ewal towered over her, all ten feet plus of solid muscle, Violet shivered. He could break her if he wanted, or even if the “master” as he called himself, wanted, with very little effort. She was strong, yes, but as he lifted her from the hook in which her chains were affixed, her body suspended and swinging in the air by only his hand, she knew who would come out of a fight between them alive, and it wasn’t going to be her.

“Yes, Master,” Ewal’s voice was deep, gravelly, and fully compliant. Violet was more afraid than ever.

The manacles dug into her skin as her full weight hung from them. Wincing in pain, she shifted herself from one side to the other, the futility of it infuriating her. What did she ever do to deserve this?

The beast held her just above the stony floor, the chains dragging noisily beneath her feet. He seemed to exert no effort in supporting both her weight and the weight of the thick chains. Unfortunately, she couldn’t twist around to look him in the face, and call it a hunch, but she didn’t think she would be able to persuade him to release her.

“I don’t suppose you could let me down long enough to let me rest my hands, could you?” Violet tried to turn her head, but her upstretched arms blocked her vision. Bleh.

“Master says to take you to pits. I take you to pits.”

“That’s nice, you can understand what I am saying,” she noted. “Where am I, anyways?”

“Master’s House.”

Violet rolled her eyes. “No shit, Sherlock. I mean, what city is this? Is it another of those verse thingies?”

The bullman snorted. “If Master want you to know, Master will tell you.”

“He’s not my master.”

“He everyone master.” He stopped before a large wooden door, and pushed it open. The darkness yawned before them, a coolness touching the inner stone walls that chilled her naked flesh.

“I am nobody’s property,” she reaffirmed. “So you can go tell him that.”

He didn’t acknowledge her declaration. Instead, he took her into the dark room, and hung her from a hook in the middle of it. “Really?” she moaned.

“Irma come soon. Get you ready for pits.”

“Is this necessary?” she bitched. “My arms hurt.”

“This one not care.”

“Maybe a blanket at least?”


“Well, fuck you then.”

He gave her a look that was part hunger, part something else, annoyance? Oh, she hoped. She could at least be a pain in all of their asses until she was free. Ewal turned away from her and slipped his massive frame out of the wooden door, closing it behind him. She heard the latch fall into place, and the noise reverberated around the room. The clank wasn’t just the sound of a locked door, it was the sound of her freedom slipping away.


It was well over an hour before she heard scrabbling outside of the door. She hung there with her head between her arms, chin resting on her chest, trying her best to at least nap before whatever happened. Her arms were on fire as they swelled within the manacles. Cursing every last one of them, Violet whimpered as she struggled against the bonds.

The lock clicked and the door scraped open, a cool wind flowing inward as a barely clothed figure stepped inside. She was definitely a female, and her outfit (if you want to call it that) left very little to the imagination. Black hair slicked back in a heavy brain behind her, laced with the same dark material as her strappy outfit. Her eyes met Violet’s, a clear blue that bordered on silver. They were beautiful, and so out of place on her squared face.

“You must be Irma,” Violet grimaced, wondering what she was even doing here. She’d be just another of the flunkies that would gloat about their master and refuse to let her down. Fuck her, too.

“I am,” she replied, her voice soft, almost compassionate. “I’ve come to prepare you for the pits, as Master instructed.”

“There’s that ‘master’ crap again.”

“Master demands, I obey.”

“I’m guessing that asking you to let me down so I can rest my arms is a no, right?”

She nodded. “I cannot let you down unless Master says so.”

“Do you do everything your master says without question? Did it ever occur to any of you that this shit hurts? It’s inhumane!” she griped.

“Disobedience does not please Master.” Irma murmured. Violet glared at her, finally noticing a bucket in one of her hands. Something dark sloshed inside.

“What’s that?” Violet motioned to the bucket.

“It is anointing liquid. It will purify your body before the ceremony,” she explained as she sat it on a nearby bench. From somewhere in those little straps, she also produced a sponge and some kind of dark grease, both of which she sat beside the bucket.

“Ceremony?” Violet rasped. “Nobody said shit about a ceremony. What the hell’s going on?”

Irma’s pale face lifted to hers, a rapturous smile spread across the smoothness. Her silvery eyes twinkled. They fucking actually twinkled. “You will fight for our Master, and bring him honor and riches. Winning pleases him greatly.”

“Fantastic,” she grumbled. “And if I lose?”

The fabulous smile faltered. “You do not want to lose.”

Vi quirked a brow. “It’s not like he can kill me. I’m one of those…prime things. We’re unkillable.”

Irma’s eyes suddenly darkened, a streak of panic washing over her face. “There are things much worse than death.”

“I suppose torture would be a pretty bad way to live,” Violet surmised.

Irma didn’t reply, just picked up the sponge and dipped it into the dark liquid. It splashed on the ground at her feet, leaving thick drops of inky fluid trailing towards her. She caught a whiff of it before it touched her stomach, a strong, coppery scent. Irma brought the sponge to Violet’s naked torso and swept it across her skin. The sensation chilled her as it slid across her flesh, fading into an acidic burn as it dried. Wincing, Violet tried to endure, not wanting to give this creature the satisfaction of hearing her suffer.

Fuck did it burn! The scent wafted to her nostrils, reminding her of freshly spilled blood. Cringing, Vi shoved the thought from her mind. There was no way they…could they?

“Is that blood?”

“It is,” Irma replied. “It has been blessed by our Lord, himself.”

She tried not to gag as the other woman gingerly soaked her limbs in the vile froth. The sponge drifted over the tops of her buttocks, the liquid channeling between them and sliding downward, diverging at her thighs to trail down her legs, and ultimately, back to the floor. It reviled her, but she was helpless to do anything about it. It cooled on her skin, forming a thick, sticky film of crimson.

Once the blood was applied, she reached for the black grease. The substance was fingered onto her body in curving lines and designs; no part of her body was left untouched. Irma seemed to concentrate more on her face, smearing the stuff around her eyes, and smudging her lips and chin. It stank like death.
Irma stepped back to admire her work, smiling as those pale eyes roamed over her work. “Master will be very pleased,” she titillated.

“Wouldn’t the clothes mess it up?”

“Silly girl,” Irma laughed. “You’re the lowest of the low among the slaves. You do not get clothing.”

“What?!” Vi exclaimed. “Horseshit! Let me down from here!” The chains rattled noisily as she struggled.

A strong fist broadsided her face, and Violet paused, pain shooting throughout her skull. She tasted blood. “You stop that right now,” Irma hissed.

Violet’s eyes narrowed. Hatred welled deep within her chest, and spat the blood directly into Irma’s wretched face. Vi watched in satisfaction as the red liquid dribbled down the other woman’s cheek and plopped in thick drops onto her chest.

“You’re going to pay for that,” the silver-eyed woman seethed. Angrily, she grabbed the bucket and grease and left without further comment, the door latching behind her.

Violet let the anger seep through her veins, her skin glowing beneath the thick coating of blood and grease. Shadows danced on the walls from the intensity, and for a moment, it was a terrible beauty to admire.

Flashes of memories flipped through her mind, and she had a thought. Why not just try to burn through the chains? Biting her lip, Violet concentrated that energy into her arms, pushing it down, down towards her wrists. The metal began to heat up and glow, singeing her flesh. She cried out softly as the metal began burning her skin, and she was almost sure it would blister. The energy itself, while contained within her would never hurt her, but for objects that were being pumped full of it, it was the same as sticking it in a furnace and applying it directly to her skin. A burn was a burn regardless of how it was made.

The shackles were turning orange with the intensity of the energy being shoved into it, with the very edges of white forming in spots closer to her skin. The pain was almost unbearable now, but still she tried to break free. Something cracked and began to slacken, and the point where the chains secured to the shackles snapped. Her body sagged as one hand worked itself free, but the other was still trapped. Taking no time to assess the damage of her wrist, she pushed even more energy into that wrist, her fingertips disappearing under the intense light of her ki.

“Come on, baby, just a little more…” she pleaded, tears of both pain and hope rimming her eyes. Freedom was so close, she could taste it…if she just –

The door crashed open, and two figures walked in. They were covered in a black hooded outfit that completely obscured their faces. The glow at her wrist intensified, and so did the pain; she had to get free or die trying!

The cloaked pair didn’t give her a choice in the matter. While one came around to her back to restrain her, jerking her free arm behind her and holding it immobile, the other unclasped the unbroken shackle, setting her arm free. The metal of the shackle still glowed orange hot, but if he felt anything from it, it didn’t show. Not even a whimper betrayed his steely demeanor.

From somewhere underneath the robe, he produced a pair of leather cuffs. She tried to jerk away, but the other figure held her completely in thrall. That wasn’t going to work, so she threw her body forward, her skull clashing against his chest in an attempt to keep him at bay as he tried to affix the straps around her wrist. He grunted, but continued his ministrations, clasping the buckle, and pulling it back behind her to join the other wrist.

“Stop this!” she cried out.

Her plea was ignored as the other wrist was also strapped and affixed behind her. They gave her a shove towards the door, and she had no choice but to move towards it. Her eyes narrowed furiously at the doorway as the cloaks flanked her, a hand clasped around each of her forearms to lead her onward.

Not knowing where she was going, or what they were going to do, Violet could feel the fear swirling furiously around in the pit of her stomach. Her body began to glow again, a soft reddish light pulsing just beneath the skin as anger pushed back the fear, burning throughout her body. Fire singed along her skin, very faint, but died away quickly.

“I am going to enjoy ripping both of your skulls from your necks, you know that, right?” Violet seethed at the two men. They ignored her, as she expected. “Do you really think these weak ass straps are going to hold me?”

They tightened their grips on their respective arm. She flexed, bulging against their grasps. There was very little slack, but it was just enough. She let the anger fill her until her skin flushed away any remnant of her original tone. The power surged through her, the force throwing the figures back. Leather ripped, and her wrists were free. Reaching down, she grasped the shackles that bound her ankles and tore them away, throwing them to the side with a loud clang!. She was free!

Her legs, weakened from being shackled for so long, struggled as she took off down the hallway, not knowing where she was heading, but knowing she had to get away. She ran hard, bare feet slapping loudly against the stone.

She lurched forward, and there was no saving herself from the fall. Her face slammed against the stone, pain surging through her skull. Sliding several yards, she finally came to a stop against a wall of black fabric. What was under the fabric was hard as rock.

Moaning, her body throbbing in pain, she rolled over onto her back and looked up. “Impossible,” she breathed, her eyes locking onto the black clad creature’s face. His hood was gone, and what stared back was something she’d only seen in nightmares.

It was a lie. This face that stared back at her was an utter, complete lie. This was a foul creature she’d destroyed decades ago, so how could he be here? He was a creature that had deceived her so often, taking the faces of so many, that it was hard to keep track of just how deeply he infiltrated her life. Did her captor or one of his servants find a way to deceive her by reaping this torturous creature?

“Hello, Violet.” That smirk mocked her. All of it, from the long richness of his shiny black hair, hair she’d ran her fingers through so often when she was younger, to the pale imperfection of his skin, and even those eyes. The eyes were even more unsettling. They very pale silver, much like Irma’s, and looked not at all out of place on his face, even though they were the wrong color.

Nathaniel.” Violet frowned, hands clenching at her side. The cold stone was distractingly uncomfortable as she lay there naked and vulnerable, but modesty be damned, she couldn’t look embarrassed in front of him. She scoffed, closing her eyes and breathing deeply. “Oh, Kami, what am I saying? You’re not Nathaniel.”

He snickered. “I am very much him.”

“Horseshit,” Violet spat. Rolling over onto her side, she attempted to get to her feet, but was immediately kicked back to the ground.

“I didn’t tell you to get back up, did I?”

Violet glared at him, incredulous. “Who the fuck are you to tell me what to do?”

“Your new master.”

Vi broke out into full, belly rolling laughter. “My master? Ha! If you were really who you say you are, then you would know better than that.”

“A lot has changed since we’ve last seen each other, love.”

Her laughter came to a jarring halt. “Don’t. Do not EVER call me that.”

“But you are, aren’t you, Violet?” He reached down and laced his fingers through her tousled hair. “I remember when you used to let me do this, right after I fucked you.” He sighed. “I’ll have those days back now that you’re here. How fortunate that you somehow managed to wind up here.”

She jerked away from him, eyes lifting to meet his with a noxious glare. “High hopes you have there, dickface.”

“Tsk, and I was hoping for this to be a friendly reunion.” His fingers gripped a fistful of hair and dragged her to her feet. She cried out against the pain, cursing as her feet obeyed his unspoken command. He pulled her head back, forcing her to look at him. His thirsty eyes took her painted form in one long gulp. “I don’t know if it’s just my imagination, but you’ve certainly aged like a nice, fine wine, haven’t you?”

“Fuck you, Nathaniel.”

“Eventually, love. Eventually. I promise.” Looking over her shoulder at who she assumed was the other cloaked man, he barked an order for him to fetch Irma. “Your paint will need to be redone before you enter the pits.”

“I swear to fucking Kami, Nathaniel, if you do not let me go-“

“You’ll what?” He jerked her head back viciously. “You’ll kill me? Do you realize I am also a prime?”

“I’ll find a way.”

“Such spirit, Violet,” he drew her in against him, pressing his form against the full length of hers. She could feel his body react to her, and she recoiled in disgust. His face lowered towards hers, lips hovering just above her skin. “I admired that the most about you.”

Cringing, she waited for the contact that didn’t come. “You are not my property to take, yet.”

“I am nobody’s property,” she hissed, shoving away from him. “What the hell is all of this, anyway? Nobody has bothered to fucking explain to me where I am or what is happening. Would you care to, or are you just as pussywhipped as the others?”

Nathaniel’s lips crooked upward, eyes flashing. “Why, you’re in Hell. Rather, you’re in Omniverse’s version of Hell.”

Violet sighed heavily. “I can’t believe that let shit like that into a fucking competition,” she exasperated. “So, I am here because some asshat stuck me with a needle of crap and now…I’m in Hell. Wonderful. I don’t suppose there’s a Baba here, is there?”

“Negative,” he replied. “Nobody has figured a way out of here yet. As far as I understand, this realm has been sealed off permanently.”

Glowering, Violet held back the murderous rage that bubbled up within her. The red glow was back, simmering just beneath her skin. “No one has found one, yet, but I will.”

“High hopes, for a low ranking slave.”

“You keep saying that,” Violet simpered. “But as I keep saying, I am nobody’s slave.”

“Everybody is somebody’s property here.”

“If you can take me, then you can claim me,” she challenged. “All of you. Come at me.” Her body flared to life.

Nathaniel frowned. “You do not want to play this game with me, Violet.”

She smirked. “Oh, but I do. I think I might even just kill you first.”

His hands flexed at his sides, clearly restraining himself from making an egregious move.

“Just as I thought,” she sneered. “Whipped.”

His eyes lit up like burning metal. He growled, one moment there, the next, behind her, one arm snaking around her neck, the other around her waist. Pulling her into him, he held her immobile against his solid form. “When the time is right, I will claim you, and I will make you mine in every way a master should.”

Panic filled her, knowing he meant every word. Her eyes darted wildly around, looking for an out, but found none. There were voices approaching, and knew she was trapped once again.


Irma finished reapplying the bloody liquid and black grease, then let her canvas dried. The canvas, of course, being the hanging body of the recaptured former assassin. Violet contemplated the ways she would destroy them all as she hung there.

Oh, she was going to pay special attention to Irma, Nathaniel and whoever the coward was that they called “Master”. Before she got out of here, the entire place would be painted in their mashed up bodies. She would ensure there would be nothing left to resurrect.

Ewal had followed Irma into the room and only now came out of his corner to do his job. He lifted Violet from the hook by her newly shackled wrists and carried her towards the doorway. The entire group that followed them spilled out, with the bullman in the middle. They flanked him, as if protecting him…from her maybe?

“Are you ready, Violet?” Nathaniel called from behind Ewal.

“For what?”

Everything went white, and then, suddenly, they were surrounded by hundreds of anticipating faces seated around an arena. Cheers went up as they collectively realized the entertainment had finally arrived.

The roar that erupted from the crowd was deafening. Faces were lost to the sudden, overbearing brightness that enveloped the enslaved assassin, but the dawning horror of standing naked among hundreds, if not thousands of monsters, slowly became all too real.

Her palms were soaked, chest burning as she fought the urge to scream. She looked around with eyes widened in panic as the faces became clearer. All manner of creatures filled tier upon tier of the towering stone arena. Massive stalactites hung above them, carved by eons of wind and weather. Dust fogged the arena, a strange, sickly light filtered through it and illuminating the massive space in deep, dramatic shadows. Putrid liquid dripped from the broken edges, pooling in the recesses of the stone pathways. A stink wafted through its entirety, presumably from the spectators and the filth they’ve brought with them or left behind. Windows were pocked here and there, creating natural points of light that spilled in odd shaped blobs over observers in upper tiers.

The arena itself was a large oval surrounded by a tall stone wall. It had to be twice her size, with a platform at either end that hosted a group of finely dressed creatures. Some looked more human than others, but it was painfully obvious they were masters in their own right. At the sides of many of these elite were lesser monsters, some naked like herself, or sparsely covered by loincloths or other scraps of material. They all looked beaten…broken.

A cold hand wrapped around her forearm, jerking her forward. Her attention turned from the pitiful creatures to the one that handled her now: the deceptively handsome monster she’d known in another life as Nathaniel.

Someone had given him a microphone, and he held it out as he entered the center of the arena, the crowd’s raucous cheering growing even louder. Clearing his throat, he brought it to his lips and silenced the audience.

“Ladies and Gentleman, Nobility and lessers alike, welcome to Ramses Palace.” More cheers. He waited several moments before continuing. “I am your host, Nathaniel Himura-Da, Second Hand to Lord Ramses. Tonight, we treat you with the presence of a very special guest.” He shoved her forward, the throng erupting in catcalls and other noises she had no names for. Put on display so abruptly angered her, but over that anger, fear percolated deep within the pit of her stomach, radiating upward until every inch of her was trembling. Her eyes slammed shut against their leering faces.

“The former Captain comes to us from a faraway verse where she was once a soldier alongside yours truly. You can say we knew each other quite…intimately.” The crowed cooed at his implication. “Tonight, she will entertain us with battle against some of our more seasoned warriors. Perhaps tonight, we can crown a new champion in our ring!” They ate it up, shouting and cheering in deafening waves.

Violet dropped to her knees, humiliation washing though her. The world began to fade away as she threw up the mental walls that had protected her so many times in the past. There would be no escaping this hell; the only future that awaited her was an eternity of servitude as one of these pitiful, destitute slaves that cowered at their masters’ sides. Immortal now she may be, but that did not mean she couldn’t find a way to die inside. The body may be forever, but the spirit…the spirit would leave long before she would ever allow herself to willingly be taken down the path of a slave.

Someone tugged on her arm, pulling her to her feet. Nathaniel. His pale eyes bore deeply into hers, something unknown passing over his features. “Don’t give up so soon, love,” he purred. “You have so many eager fans who want to see what you’ve got.”

Violet’s eyes narrowed to two angry slits. “Just get it over with, Nathaniel. Finish this and let me go.”

Nathaniel edged closer to her, moving the microphone away so the crowd wouldn’t pick up on their conversation. “This’ll never be finished, Violet. You’re here forever, so you might as well get used to it.” He leaned in, his nose brushing along her neck just beneath her ear. A shiver pulsed through her. “Maybe tonight, Master will let me tend to your wounds. I promise I’ll make you forget all about them.” His tongue flitted out, taking a brief taste of her skin. Her head turned away from him, stomach churning as she caught a projection of what he had in mind.

Nathaniel’s laughter gurgled from his throat, eyes burning in lecherous delight. “Tonight,” he promised breathily. Violet let him have the full brunt of the disgust she felt show plainly on her face. His smile faltered.

“Get on with it already,” barked one of the masters on the leftmost platform. Violet recognized him as the man from earlier when she first arrived. That had to be Ramses.

With a sudden burst of courage, Violet stepped towards him. “You!” she roared from the arena floor. Ramses, she presumed, looked at her, his brows piqued at her audacity. “I have a bone to pick with you.”

Ramses, in his luxurious crème colored suit and slicked back hair, stepped forward to the edge of the platform, his eyes burning in fury. “And what bone would that be, slave?

She didn’t bow to the threat that lay heavily in his words. “You kidnap me with no provocation, put me through humiliating torture, and then put me here to fight against your creatures. How do you justify that?”

Ramses laughed, and his entourage laughed with him. Apparently, no one else was as appalled by the situation as she was. She grunted in frustration. “Stop laughing, Ramses.”

The entire arena fell silent. Ramses’ previous fury returned, burning even hotter than before. “What did you say?”

“I told you to stop laughing.”

Eyes narrowing to two burning points, Ramses lifted his gold tipped cane and pointed it towards her. Her toes lifted off of the sandy ground, and she realized it was he who was doing it. He was using some kind of power to levitate her. Invisible hands wrapped around her, constricting her to the point that teetered on bothersome to unbearably uncomfortable.

“I am the master here, slave.” Ramses seethed. “Since you are new here, I’ll forgive you this one grievance. Never speak my name, and never, ever talk back to me.” He gave one squeeze with his metaphysical grip, and she cried out in pain. “Is that understood?”

Her answer came from the sheer hatred that burned through her skin. The reddish glow was strong, dancing just beneath the intricately painted grease and anointing blood. Apparently, it wasn’t a good enough answer for Ramses, who replied with another excruciating crush. She screamed in pain before he released her, seemingly satisfied by her outcry, her body crumpling into a ball of hurt to the dusty ground.

“Send out the first opponent,” Ramses shouted over the noise of the spectators.

Metal ground together as a gate on the opposite side of the arena slid open. Violet felt the ground tremor as something terrible emerged from the shadowy cell. Heart thundering within her chest, she stifled a scream of pure horror as she looked upon a monstrosity the likes she’d never seen before.

Its entire body seemed squished as it emerged from the hole opposite her. The gigantic, pink monstrosity looked like a flayed raccoon pumped up on steroids. Along either side of its arched spine were twin sets of spikes almost as large as she was. They seeped a greenish liquid she could only guess was venomous, which ran in thick rivulets across its ribs and onto the ground. Its six limbs clawed into the dirt, pulling it up in chunks as he limbered towards the center of the ring. Almond shaped compound eyes were situated on either side of its massive skull, every bit directed towards her. Its maw opened, and revealed so many teeth filed to surgically precise points.

As extensive as her martial arts knowledge was, nothing she’d learned would help her much in surviving this battle, if there was even going to be a battle at all. Standing there gazing into its deceptively docile eyes, Violet knew something in there didn’t give a shit whether she knew how to fight or not. It only wanted to kill.

“Get up, Violet.” Nathaniel prodded. His boot nudged the side of her body, but she remained frozen to the ground. “Don’t let it take you without a fight.”

She turned her head to meet his icy glare. “The only thing that could possibly be worse than this is living the rest of my life with you and being somebody’s broken lapdog.”

Nathaniel looked at her for a moment, soaking in what she had said. Could that have been hurt that passed over his face just now? Maybe anger at her insolence? She didn’t care. She couldn’t exactly die to this creature, and damage inflicted would be flesh wounds compared to the life that awaited her under Nathaniel and Ramses’ rule.

Gunshots rang out around her, and the fight was on.

Shell shock. The condition in which a soldier’s mind cannot possibly process the horrors they have witnessed and shuts down. As the red-head’s mind came clawing back to reality it came back with a vengeance. Her eyesight focused and the face of Yennefer was passed through the optical nerve to the occipital lobe. Trixie’s rage had been ignited and the temper that had made both her Sith alter ego and her dead father-in law a legend came to the surface. With the rage of both a Sith Lord and Toma Zulenka she tore into both of the demonic guards who had descended upon her. Breaking the elbow of the guard to her left she used the polearm it was wielding to bend the arm backward. Placing both feet to its torso she ripped the arm from the socket. Her eyes bright pink with rage Trixie brought the bladed polearm down upon the second guard with deadly accuracy. It was split in two, the demonic blood spilling all over the floor.

Placing a stained boot to the skewered corpse she pulled the bladed weapon out and through blood stained hair narrowed her eyes on the new form of Yennefer Von Markham.

“My my, Beatrix. Such anger. My lord will be pleased to know that you have fight in you, but like all the others you will learn that this is not a realm where you have ANY power.” Yennefer giggled.

She was no longer a human. Yennefer was now a scantily clad succubus. Her hair was still black, but was tied into a loose ponytail instead of a bun. She wore a loose black robe adorned with red stitching that was cut up around her breasts to show off their size and nipples, which were pierced. With a snap of her fingers the guards reassembled themselves and the polearm Trixie was wielding burst into shadow energy. Without her knowledge three more guards had appeared behind her. A sharp blow to the back of the head immediately made the mistress groggy and puke up blood from some internal injury. As the thick crimson liquid ran down her chin and onto her armor she felt her hands being bound above her head by chain. Throwing the chain over a hoop on the ceiling the demon guards hoisted Beatrix off the ground. Taking the blunt ends of their swords the demons broke both the mistress’ femur and tibia of each leg. Shrieking in pain as the bones were crudely damaged her jaw was met with a fist that filled her mouth with blood. Choking through the crimson fluid Trixie’s eyes were wide with pain and her breathing labored.

“You have no idea what real pain is, Trixie.” The succubus baited.

With a clap of her hands Yennefer dismissed the guards and a harem of female servants entered in their place. The dungeon was damp and blood stained yet produced no noticeable smell. It was a room designed for the torture of one person constructed of red looking brick that gave off a dark red glow. Red waxed candles lit the room from sconces on the wall and by the door.

As Yennefer watched, the female servants stripped Trixie of her armor with no remorse for her injuries. They tore and ripped at the broken and stained armor that Nova had given her. With a grunt of pain they ripped off the bicep armor that had been melted onto her skin. Fresh blood ran from the newly opened burn. One of the servants took out a straight razor and held it to Trixie’s throat, gripping her long red hair she pulled the mistress’ head back. Another servant cut the bra and panties from their new captive slave and tossed them into the pile of her previous clothing. Pulling tight on Trixie’s hair one of the servants removed a blade from her robe and hacked away at the previous long hair that adorned the mistress’ head. Eyeballing it she made it shoulder length. The group of female servants inspected every inch of Beatrix’s body up close. Already Trixie’s skin was heavily bruised from the series of broken bones that used to be her legs. Propping the mistress up the servants opened the Sith’s left leg exposing her crotch to Yennefer.

“Belial will definitely be pleased. Now mark her and leave us.” Yennefer said with a smile.

Using shadow energy one of the servants pressed a finger to the left inner thigh of their new captive. Trixie pulled on her restraints and unleashed a blood curdling scream of pain as the tattoo of a serial number slowly burned itself into her thigh. Her scream of agony was interrupted by a punch to the gut. Coughing blood onto the floor the servants abruptly let Trixie fall limp against the chains that bound her to the ceiling. With a sickening crack some of the bones in her legs broke further.

“What...do you...wa-” Her sentence was interrupted by the snap of a whip and the tearing of the flesh on her stomach. Fresh blood seeped down her abdomen and between her legs.

“You are now Prisoner 11256. That is your name, slave. You are property of my Lord Tyrant Belial of the Underverse. You shall speak only when spoken to.” Yennefer recoiled her whip with a grin.

“Go fuck yourself Yennefer.”

Trixie cried out as another lash of the whip made itself across her breasts.

“Learn your place, slave. I’ve already communed with our Lord.”

Trixie spit blood onto Yennfer’s robe. “Your Lord, asshole. Not mine.” She snarled back defiantly.

With a crack and shriek from Trixie the succubus’ whip raked the flesh of the red head.

A thunderous crash brought the Sith to attention as a large, mostly muscular and part skeletal, demon wearing a green cloak came crashing through the dungeon door.

“Yennefer you are required elsewhere. The conditioning of this one has been left to me.”

Though her vision blurred from pain and various other fluids Trixie could see the noticeable shock on the female demons face.

“Jorgan she isn’t built to survive your method. No female has ever made it out of your conditioning alive with their sanity intact.” She argued.

The brute looking demon shook his head. “Belial’s orders. He wants me to test the new pit fighter serum.”

“Tch. Waste of a perfectly good pussy.” Yennefer shook her head and left the room without further argument.

To replace her previous treatment came a new host of demons. Drawing a sword Jorgan sliced Trixie loose from the ceiling, but it came at the cost of her hands. With a shriek of terror the mistress fell onto her shattered legs and squirmed to get away. Two brutes lifted her onto a nearby rack and strapped her into the table. Rotating the bottom rung Jorgan pulled her injured legs tight before taking his cleaver to each thigh. Sprays of blood showered over the floor as he hacked through each bone. Trixie’s consciousness failed her moments after the second leg slid from her person and to the floor.


She awoke as if from a nightmare strapped to the same table. However her hands and legs were still intact; even further every injury she had upon Jorgan’s arrival was gone with nothing to show for it, but the scars littering her body.

“Had it been a hallucination? What the fuck is this place and what is going on?”

“To answer your question, slave Prime. You are being conditioned to fight in the slave pits for Lord Belial. He’s taking a risk on you, because of some other new contender that has recently arrived. Or so our spies report. I am Jorgan. I oversee the male slave Primes and their training, but since our Lord wants something to beat the competition he sent me here to condition you.”

He placed a rubber gag into Trixie’s mouth and strapped it to the table, holding her head down.

“That is all I offer and all you will know, prisoner 11256.”

Jorgan grinned and snapped his fingers. From within a cloud of shadow energy came an overhead injection apparatus stained black with the blood from previous slaves. From what Trixie could make out there were twelve needles hovering over various points of her body. One for each eye, one just above each breast, one for each bicep, two for her abdomen, one for each thigh, and two that would end up between her toes. A henchman threw a strap over the table and tightened Trixie to the table, mounting her arms and legs into the proper positions. Jorgan took a device designed like a pair of goggles from above the mistress’ head. As he fashioned them to her face she could feel tiny metal claws grabbing hold of her eyelids and pulling them open. Trixie could see the demons around her loading vials of blue serum labeled ‘Nephalem A4’ into each syringe.

“Double dose, right?” Jorgan asked one of his nearby henchman who nodded. Looking over his test subjects naked body he smiled. “Well prisoner 11256. This is it. Suffer well.”

Jorgan pulled a lever next to the table and the injection apparatus positioned itself. A red light lit up and with a pinch on the side of her neck she felt the ability to move her body be taken away, but the feeling of pain and touch remain.

“Oh shit. Why is this happening!?”

A yellow light lit up and the syringes moved inches away from Trixie’s body. With a single beep and a green light the needles plunged themselves into her body and her eyes. The pain was indescribable. As soon as the syringes had drained one vial they were quickly refilled with a second dose and another stream of blue liquid was pumped into the restrained dark side user. As soon as the last drop was drained the needles were removed. Almost immediately the puncture wounds were taped up with a special black bandage by Jorgans lackeys. Without warning Trixie broke free from her restraints and regained control of her body. She screamed in agony as her body began to be irrevocably altered.

The mistress’ hair had begun to turn bright white and her skin a pale ghostly color. She ripped the goggles from her face revealing that her eyes had been turned a blank slate of white, but her vision was far from gone. It had been enhanced. The blue serum began to glow as it interacted with the blood line hidden within her DNA by the arrival in Omniverse. Her veins and arteries lit up faintly with a blue light as she crawled on the dungeon floor letting loose scream after scream of agony. Her body was literally being given thousands of years of combat training and conditioning in a matter of minutes. Burnt flesh fell from her naked body as tribal tattoos and markings seared themselves into her torso and along her bosom. She looked back at Jorgan who took a step back in caution. Her tattoos had spread to her face with a single scar looking black line crossing vertically across each eye. Pink energy lit up over each and eye as she finally managed to stand, but it was to no avail. The serum moved to strengthen her body and reflexes; her muscles were being torn from every point and then immediately healed and torn again. Trixie felt her mind breaking apart with images of combat, of death, and of war. She didn’t know how long she could bare the pain.

“She’ll be entering the final stage soon. Ready yourselves.” Jorgan shouted to his soldiers.

As Beatrix stood up and cried out in pain the blue serum stained her white skin as it fell down her cheeks instead of tears. It ran out of her mouth as he doubled over and grunted, fighting the muscular and skeletal pain. As Trixie was just about ready to check out and give up she felt another being touch her fractured mind.


With renewed strength Trixie bellowed loudly as if unleashing her inner power. The floor beneath her quaked as her force power pushed outward. The walls cracked and Jorgan and his demon soldiers were thrown against the stone. In a blinding flash of pink energy that scorched everything around her Trixie’s body assimilated the last of the demonic serum and the pain magically vanished. From within the pink energy stood the drastically changed Zulenka. Jorgan smiled with pride as he clasped a spiked slave collar onto Beatrix’s neck just as she passed out.

Belial’s new soldier was ready.
[Image: trixiesig2018.png]
[First Prime to Escape the Underverse]
Always Outnumbered, Never Outgunned

Nathaniel and his people teleported away to safety, reemerging seconds later on the platform in which Ramses resided. Must have been nice, she thought darkly. They were safe up there, richly clothed and well fed, and here she was, face to muzzle with a zombie raccoon and they couldn’t even give her a fucking loincloth to cover up with. At this point, modesty was a mere afterthought.

The monster watched her carefully from across the inner circle of the arena, its nostrils flaring with each deep, calculating breath. A shock of electricity darted from one eye to the other, lighting up its face momentarily.

Slowly, methodically, she crawled to her feet, her gaze never leaving the creature’s oh, so patient visage. Her hands grasped at the sandy dirt beneath her, and soon as the thought formed within her mind, she acted. In one smooth motion, she flung the soil into its face and then handsprung over its head as it roared beneath her. It flailed its limbs, trying – and failing – to catch her. Her feet made purchase between the spikes on its spine, her hands grasping onto two of the thicker protrusions. Riding the thrashing creature was difficult, but what really worried her was her lack of planning and the liquid that squished between her toes was beginning to burn.

Bucking beneath her, Violet held tight to the spines, feeling one begin to loosen from the skin. It reared upon its hind legs, trying desperately to throw her off, but she didn’t let go. Her feet slipped in the slick sludge that covered its back, but the rest of her body was firmly affixed. The crowd erupted in deafening sound as the struggle played out.

One sudden jerk knocked her off balance, and in doing so, she tore the loosened spike from its hole, a good four feet of bony material, just enough to give her some kind of edge. Grasping the spike, she rolled off of the monster’s back and into the dirt, quickly getting back to her feet before a massive claw slammed into the spot she occupied just a split second before. The wind from the impact buffeted her flesh as she readjusted herself.

Gripping her newly hewn weapon, she charged the animal, the spike shoving into its neck until she could feel it’s skin against her fingers, then ruthlessly, jerked it back out. Blood darker than tar and just as thick spurted from the hole, and splattered all over her torso and legs. It squealed something awful and reared back. Its eyes glittered with pain and anger as it tried to focus on her.

Violet didn’t waste another second as she jabbed it yet again into its body, seeking a home within its chest. She wouldn’t stop until its heart was shredded and it was laying dead on the dirt. When it finally collapsed before her, Violet withdrew the spike and lifted it up high above her head, the crowd roaring around her. She was victorious!

Eyes glowing a hellish red, Violet roared for them, nothing any human could elicit erupting from her throat. As her gaze circled the arena, she felt every eye upon her, a myriad of feelings and emotions washing over her as she took it all in, and for the first time since she arrived, something close to hope filled her. If this thing could die, perhaps others could, too.

This arena thing had possibilities. Violet’s eyes fell upon the dias where Nathaniel and his party sat, their faces serious as they glared back. She flashed them her most winning smile, forcing as much venomous sweetness as she could in it. Every last one of them would die, in this arena. What poetic justice that would be.

Energy from the crowd buzzed around her like a million little insects drawn to the burning light of the fire. Their faces were rapturous, every gaze upon her; a mixture of awe, surprise, and lust bare on their varied visages. Their combined energies fueled her, pulsing through her veins like a thing alive. Her eyes blazed as they wandered back to Ramses and Nathaniel, the former pleased, the other…she couldn’t discern. Nathaniel’s face was positively blank.

“Send in the next fighter,” Ramses commanded over the din of the crowd. His golden cane glinted in the firelight, scattering glittering lights across the arena.

Violet felt the rush begin to fade as the screech of rusted metal sounded behind her. The energy behind her beat against her back, tiny pebbles of malice pelting her bare flesh. She responded in kind with a flare of her own fiery energy.

“My, my, you smell delicious;” the voice was female, gritty and thick like strong coffee with a busted filter. She doubted sugar would help, even if she dumped all Hell had to offer into her cup. Turning to meet the owner of that syrupy voice, Violet was stunned when her opponent suddenly appeared inches behind her. Breath that smelled like death shivered across her neck, and Violet gasped. She was on the ground before she could decide on the next move, two hard fists to the face spilling their first blood.

Her opponent was not human, that was for sure, but she looked close enough. As naked as Violet, covered head to toe in the same paint as she. Her body was decorated in scars and healing wounds, covered indelicately by black ash. That was all she could glimpse before another hard fist plowed into the side of her cheek, rocking her. Something in her face cracked, and a fresh flourish of pain spread throughout her skull.

“Not much of a challenge, are you, human?” Violet was flipped over onto her stomach, an audible huff of air escaping her lips. “Ramses promised my master a fat reward for your defeat, and my freedom. You can understand how much I want this victory, can’t you, human?”

“Get. Off! Violet growled. The woman clenched her massive hand into her hair and arched her neck back. Violet got an even better look at her opponent, a young woman with amber eyes, and a delicately carved face. She should have been so much weaker than she was, but something within her was far stronger than she let on. Begging her to let go was probably out of the question.

Well, where begging failed, there were always other ways. Violet sank into herself, balling her energy deep within her core. Something within her shifted, began to smolder. Flames of her aura licked at her skin, but where they touched, she only felt the faintest warmth, but for the other woman, smoke emanated from everywhere she touched. It took a few moments for her to realize something was wrong, but it was too late to stop it.

The creature reeled back, an agonizing cry tearing from her mouth. Everywhere that her flesh touched was charred and chipping away. Violet cracked a brief smirk of satisfaction as her aura soaked back into her body and rolled away. Scrambling back to her feet, Violet took her stance. Her feet dug into the dirt, parted just right to give her the leverage she needed. Her hips and shoulders squared as her hands cupped together at her waist. She would blow this creature away, burn her and send her back to whatever circle of Hell she came from.


The woman’s screams quieted, her breathing heavy but slowing.


Violet’s hands pulled back, a ball of bluish white light forming between the palms. It crackled as it began to swell. The stadium fell into an eerie hush, every eye wide in anticipation. They could feel the energy pulling at them, magnetic, hypnotic, towards the glowing figure in the center of the ring. Violet’s eyes flushed, lightning crackling across the milky whiteness.

The other woman tilted her head, curious, and then the revelation fell on her like a typhoon hitting land. “No…no!” She charged towards the former soldier, her eyes blazing with fear, anger and somewhere in there, defeat.


Violet’s palms thrust forward, the ball of energy propelling from them with an audible woosh! and a blinding trail of blue-rimed white light. It hit its target with lethal accuracy, blowing a hole the size of a soccer ball in the woman’s chest. Those beautiful eyes were suddenly gone, burned up as the energy sizzled throughout her body. It hit the dirt with a sickening thud, throwing up a fog of dust that settled upon the desiccated corpse like a funeral shroud.

Her opponent was dead, and Violet felt nothing. Blissful nothingness.

“What’s next, Ramses?”

The challenges came one after the other. Days turned into weeks, and weeks into months. By her count, she’d been in this prison for almost half a year. She’d barely made it into this new realm before being swept away to somewhere even more garish. Xavier had probably given up on her, and with that, who knows what was happening in Camelot now.
The ache from so much fighting was a constant thrum deep within her bones, almost as painful as the hopelessness within her heart, but she endured. This was not a place for weaklings; they didn’t tend to go very far here. She, however, had come a lot further than when she began.
Her ‘earnings’, if you could call them that, had provided a private room as well as access to the pantry. Clothing, however, was still denied. In order to earn that, she had to take it. To take it, she had to defeat someone of higher rank. There was one particular asshole she had in mind, but the timing was never right.
That asshole strolled into her room just then, her lush body encased in black leather with convenient peepholes here and there, with a black chiffon skirt hanging from her shapely hips. Black boots wrapped around her legs and thighs, stopping just short of her buttocks. Silvery clasps and loops held them in place, as well as being decorative. Snaking along her left shoulder and hanging almost to her waist was a long, thick braid of black hair, entwined with silver threading. Irma had a way of making a statement with her faux dominatrix ensembles.
Violet’s gaze traveled up her body, envious of the woman’s clothing. She would have it, one day.
“Good morning, sunshine,” Irma greeted happily. “I have a present for you.”
Violet rolled her eyes and shifted further beneath her covers. “Shut up, Irma. I don’t care about your little presents.”
The woman frowned, but produced a package from her person anyways. She laid it lightly on the blanket beside Violet. “Open it.”
Violet stared at the tiny black pouch, curious at its contents. Irma brought her little presents every once in a while, usually some stupid stones or trinkets made of bone. It was probably another one of those asinine things.
“Go ahead, open it.” Irma insisted, taking a seat at the edge of the bed. Her face was aglow with quiet excitement, almost like her usual beatific expression when she was talking about her “Lord”. Ugh, made her sick just thinking about how blindly reverent she was.
Violet reached from beneath the blanket and fingered the pouch, fumbling with the little tie that held it closed. Her eyes flicked upward to glare at the smirking Irma. “I swear to fuck if this is another one of those stones, I’m going to kill you with it.”
The tie finally undone, she dumped the contents onto the blanket. It was a coin of some sort, with a stylized “D” on one side, and as she flipped it over, there was some sort of inscription she couldn’t understand. Her brows rose quizzically as she touched the engraved lettering. “What is it?”
Irma snatched the coin from the blanket and studied the writing on the back. Her plump lips pursed together, eyes glistening as realization dawned on her. “You’ve been sold.”
“I…I what?”
“Ramses has sold you to someone else. This coin is what some masters use when they sell their valuable property.” Her eyes lifted to meet Violet’s. “In this case, you.”
Violet sat up, the blankets falling around her naked waist. She knew better than to fight back against their proclamations that they owned her; she hated the very idea of being “owned”, and although her soul rebelled against it, being in this situation, there was nothing she could do-yet. It was all so infuriating.
“So, who owns me now?”

Irma shrugged. “I was told to bring you to the Master’s room after giving you this. He’ll tell you there, I’m sure.” The leather clad woman stood, her skirt ruffling around her legs.
“He fucking better,” Violet grumped, sliding from beneath the blankets, her feet padding softly on the cold stone floor. Sighing heavily, she pushed herself up, the blankets falling away to reveal her battered bare flesh. Although clothing would have been a welcome thing in her life, she had gotten used to being naked during her time here. The first few weeks of overcoming the awkwardness of knowing everybody could see every damn thing on her was literally beaten out of her. “I really don’t want to do this.”
“I know, but if you don’t, you know what will happen.”
She knew. Although Ramses hardly ever did his own dirty work, he would no doubt make her suffer for her disobedience. His brand of punishment made even those that were immortal fear for their lives. Months ago, she’d been the target of his personal attentions, not one of his henchmen, but Ramses himself. Her flesh still bore the scars of the razor-tipped whips. “Yea, I know,” Violet murmured, recalling the memory with such disgust, she shivered.
“Let’s not keep him waiting; Master is especially impatient today,” Irma stood, smoothing her skirt around her shapely legs.
“Master can go fuck himself for all I care,” Vi muttered. Irma looked at her in disbelief. “Oh, come on, you act like this is the first time I’ve said that.”
Irma turned her nose upward. “And every time, I am surprised you still say it, despite the punishments you’ve gotten because of it.”
“Won’t be the first time I’ve been beaten for being a bad little girl, will it?” Violet opened the ancient door to her room and stepped into the hallway. “Let’s get this shit over with, shall we?”

A common theme she noticed in Ramsey’s palace was all the ambient lighting and marble everything. While the lighting was soft, the pale stone gave the place a very cold feel. Even with the decorative fabric draping from the ceiling and cascading down the walls, it lent no warmth to the air around her. All it did was help muffle sound.
The compound itself was huge. She’d only been outside of its walls when not on her way to a match a few times, and had seen its tall spires and expansiveness stretching like a sleeping behemoth against the dark red landscape. Most of the build was outfitted in the same cold marble, accented with swathes of gold and other precious materials.

It went without saying that her “master” was very rich, and in some small way, she’d help contribute to that wealth. While he was paid in coin and other valuable materials, she was allotted only pain, and on the very rare occasion, solitude. As a prime, she couldn’t die; as far as she understood, there was no way for her to lose her life, regardless of what plane of existence she inhabited. Despite this knowledge, she still felt pain, she still bled, and she still had to heal. That solitude afforded her that time to bring herself together in order to face the next day, the next match, or whatever was thrown her way.
Was this really what life was going to be like? An eternity spent here at this monster’s mercy, a slave to a demonic creature whose very will determined what she did, when she did it? Was she just some chattel to be sold from one owner to another, without so much as a word as to what she wanted?
As they approached the entrance to Ramses’ personal quarters, Violet felt her heart speed within her chest. A pressure deep in her stomach grew, knowing whatever was on the other side of that door was not something she was going to like. She had been sold, which meant she was no longer Ramses’ property, but some great big question mark. It was the not knowing what was next that bothered her the most, perhaps more so than actually being traded off to someone else.
The massive mahogany doors yawned open, a cool draft spilling through the crevice and blowing against her oh, so exposed flesh. Her tousled hair fluttered against her shoulders, the sensation sending a shiver down her back. The scent of burning sandalwood and lavender permeated the air around her, a surprisingly pleasant feature Ramses had maintained about his personal space.
Irma shoved her gently from behind, and she realized she hadn’t moved for several moments. The contrast between this area and her room was immensely different, that it was just a shock to her senses to be greeted in such a way.
Around the massive room was more of the decorative fabric, fine rugs made of some unknown material that looked impossibly soft and fluffy, and candles cradled by mosaic glass vases. Thick pillars of granite reached far above her, supporting the ornately decorated ceiling.
Here and there were small groups of lower ranking underlings reclining in piles of pillows, chatting quietly to one another. Her presence wasn’t enough to detract them from their conversations. She wasn’t high enough in rank to earn their attentions.
Deeper into the room, hidden behind a cascade of shimmery fabric, Ramses lounged casually behind a large oval table. A variety of food was spread across its surface, and Violet suddenly became hungrier than she could remember. Although she could access the pantry any time she wanted, the selection of anything remotely edible wasn’t that great.
Lilac hair spilled across his shoulders in frothy waves, framing an elegantly relaxed face. His eyes were deeply set into that beautiful face, twin points of crimson against pale flesh. His left eye was most striking with the deep red marking that swirled from temple to jaw. Lips that were pleasantly bowed curved into a knowing smile. The rest of him was just as lovely, but that beauty was only superficial; there was nothing beautiful about who Ramses was beyond his looks.
He motioned towards her. “Come, sit. Eat.”
Violet eyed him cautiously, one brow crooking slightly. Irma shoved her forward. “Go.”
Tossing the other woman a scornful side eye, Violet took a seat across from her “master”, or was that former master?
Ramses poured himself another drink, tea, she presumed. The smell was sweet and slightly bitter as it wafted towards her. He sat the pot down, pushing it suggestively towards her. “Lemon and jasmine herbal tea, quite lovely;” Ramses lifted the cup to his lips, sipping the hot liquid. His eyes fluttered, savoring the flavor. “It’s not bergamot, but it is nice nonetheless.”
Violet looked at the pot as if it were something foul. Pride demanded her not to take part in his little party, but hunger was quickly making its presence something she struggled to overcome.
“I assume you have received my gift,” Ramses began, sitting his cup down in front of him. “Has Irma explained its significance?”
She nodded. “I’ve been sold,” Violet growled. “Sold like some kind of animal.”
“You know how this game goes,” Ramses chided. “While you have been quite valuable to establishing my stable of fighters, and thus, my income, I could no longer ignore the offer that was being put before me.”
“And what offer would that be?”
His lips curved upward in a simpering grin. “A chance to rank up, to add to my wealth and my reach across this sector of the Underverse.”
“So, I’m just a way for you to get richer. Surprising,” she sneered.
“Come now, Violet, that’s the way it’s always been. You’re a slave, the bottom of the ladder, and there, you will remain.”
“Unless I kill someone higher up than myself.”
Ramses nodded, albeit apprehensively. “Correct,” he said. “But no matter how skilled you may be inside the ring, you are no match for any of my soldiers.”
“You wanna put money on that?”
“You know me too well,” he laughed then, a joltingly pleasant sound that betrayed the tone of the conversation. “Ten thousand credits if you are victorious. Not enough to buy your freedom, as that is up to your new master, but enough to let you be comfortable for a little while.”
Violet stood. “Alright,” she turned to face Irma, who instinctively took a step back. A subtle glow pulsed beneath her skin, a soft rosy light that reached to her eyes, flooding them in a crimson cowl. With a piercing roar, Violet’s hand shot out, through one of the peepholes in the leather that crisscrossed Irma’s chest, and deep into her flesh. Through the bone, and muscle, her fingers wrapped around Irma’s beating heart and she smiled.

“Bye bye, Irma.” Her arm jerked back, pulling the other woman’s heart from her chest, a spill of blood gushing from the hole left behind. Violet’s hand lit up, incinerating the organ to into fiery oblivion.
Irma’s face paled even more than her usual whiteness, so pale from blood loss that Violet was sure she would never recover. Irma fell to her knees, eyes wild with pain and uncertainty. “I cannot…die…I…it’s not…possible.”
“Maybe not from this, but definitely this;” Violet grabbed a fistful of Irma’s hair, fingers locked close to the scalp. Bracing a foot on the fallen woman’s shoulder, she twisted the skull and pulled back, Irma’s head coming off with a sickeningly wet shlop! She tossed the severed head to the ground, then squashed it with her foot. Brains and blood and bone squished between her toes, which she smeared across the surely expensive rug she stood on.
Ramses face remained neutral, all except the burn of his crimson eyes, eyes whose light matched her own. “You will pay for that,” he seethed.
“I’ve simply done as you’ve said, I’ve killed someone of higher rank. I believe you owe me some credits, sir.”
With a frightening roar, Ramses bolted to his feet, the table shoved forward with such force that many of its items spilled to the ground. His hand reached forward, the invisible fingers of his energy surging towards her to wrap around her neck and lift her from the floor.
Her body dangled, breath coming in labored rasps as she struggled against his force. “You…you lied,” she gasped. His energy buffeted her bare flesh in scalding waves as his anger intensified.
“How could such a lowly creature defeat my Irma? HOW?”
“You saw it with your own eyes,” she replied.
He screamed, those invisible fingers clenching tighter around her neck. “You will die for what you have done!”
“Enough of this,” a familiar voice came from behind the curtains. Nathaniel stepped out from the recesses of the spacious room, dressed completely in black leather, his raven hair spilling loosely down his body. “Put her down, Ramses. You are defiling my property.”
Her body froze. What? THIS was who she was sold to? Fuck, fuck, fuck!
Ramses released her abruptly, and she crumpled to the ground. Her body sloshed in what remained of Irma’s skull contents, some of the shards of bone slicing into her legs. Her blood mingled with the quickly cooling liquid, and a jolt of something electric shivered through her. As Violet lay there, naked and reeling from the power, she could feel herself closing in on herself, the realization that her new master was the last person she wanted or expected.
Nathaniel stood over her, legs splayed in a wide V as he looked down. “Congratulations, love. You’ve ranked up. Now, come stand with your master.”

Ramses was absolutely livid. His powerbase had been shook by one of the lowest of his flock, and adding insult to injury, it was in front of many of his flock. Violet smiled inwardly, as there was no doubt in her mind that they were all now fully aware of what they faced when they would eventually challenge her, if any dared to do so after that display of power.  
“Stand with me, Violet, where you belong,” Nathaniel’s deep, gravelly voice cut through her thoughts. The sound that once sent her skin alight with goosebumps now only burned in revulsion. She rolled her eyes upwards, her frown deepening. Although her mind rebelled against following his commands, she didn’t have much choice in the matter. His command was her compulsion. Wordlessly, she stood, her foot slipping in the congealing blood beneath her, but a strong hand on her upper arm steadied her. She wasn’t going to give him the satisfaction of an acknowledgement.
The lavishly dressed Ramses approached them, stepping deftly over the blood and gore spread before his chaotic dining area. His fury was a tangible thing that swept through the room, rolling over her in scalding waves. She could feel the dozens of sets of eyes on them, searing into her back with their intensity. The clamorous chatter that filled the curtained space ceased, silenced by their master’s presence.
His face seemed to transform from the mask of pure rage into something scarily calm and collected within a matter of seconds. There was a fight going on inside his head, something terribly fierce that struggled against what the rest of him wanted to feel in that moment. The energy that poured off of him struck her in warm waves; anger always tended to be warm or very hot, depending on the intensity. As someone who could manipulate energy and have it manifest with her emotions, she was well aware of the implications of saying the wrong thing and having all that heat pour over her in a blistering torrent. She chose silence in that moment as he approached.
“I know the rules of this game we play,” Ramses began, his eyes trained upon her. A finely preened hand reached out and cupped her chin, so delicate, yet the power within him pulsed just beneath the skin. She swallowed the lump in her throat. “Everything within me wants to kill you where you stand.” She wanted to squirm under that intense gaze, but concentrated on staying as still as possible. He was a snake, ready to pounce at the slightest motion, and she totally didn’t feel like being bait today.
“Doing so would go back on our agreement, Ramses,” Nathaniel pointed out. If he was afraid of this powerful creature, he didn’t show it. Nathaniel had one of the best poker faces of all, and it was almost refreshing to see that that particular feature didn’t change.
“I am well aware of that, Nathaniel.”
“Then by the rules, everything that was Irma’s is now rightfully Violet’s,” Nathaniel said. “Ranks, belongings, all of it.”
Ramses nodded, releasing her chin, but his gaze still locked on the woman before him. “Correct. Everything is now hers, and she is free to take it with her when you leave, but there are some duties that she will now be responsible for now that our Irma is…disposed of.”
She squirmed. It was impossible not to, his scrutiny was just too intense. His choice of words held so much weight that she couldn’t help but wonder what he really meant. As with many things here, she noticed that sometimes what was said was never straight forward; there was so many other implications. It was a custom that was not unique to this place, but still drove her nuts nonetheless.
“What do you mean by that?” Violet was tired of playing these games. She just wanted to know what the fuck was going on. So what if she was technically not supposed to question her master? Brave soul, she was.
Ramses looked at her as if she’d sprouted a new head. The audacity to question him showed clearly in the burning depths of his crystalline eyes. Nathaniel nudged her in warning. “What he means is that everything that Irma was responsible for is now yours.”
“And just what would that be?”
Ramses crooked a smirk at her, that angry glimmer replaced by something else, something far more sinister. “Meet me here after dinner tomorrow night, and I shall have all the answers you need.”
“She’ll be here,” Nathaniel grabbed her arm and pulled her to him, her brief struggle quelled by a firm squeeze. “For now, I need to take my charge and get her settled into her new home.”
Flicking his wrist, Ramses waved them off.

After gathering her meager belongings, Violet was led to the courtyard of the compound. There, Nathaniel had summoned a stagecoach, albeit one drawn by more frightening looking horses than any she’d ever seen before. Perched atop the front of the vehicle was a small man dressed in black velvet, his face covered by a black and gold mask. He gave her the barest of looks, then shifted his gaze forward to the distance.
Once settled inside the surprisingly comfortable interior, Nathaniel handed her a pile of clothing. “I’m not sure they’ll fit correctly, but they’ll do for now,” he said. “After being in your situation for so long, it probably won’t matter.”
Violet eyed the folded clothing, immediately suspicious. He was being awfully generous, wasn’t he? She didn’t like it, not one bit. Her eyes flicked up to his face, watching his carefully rested expression as he gazed back expectantly.
“I’m not going to bite, Violet. You’ve earned your place. There are new rules to abide by when it comes to how we interact with one another, and hopefully I can cover most of it before we reach home.”
“I thought you lived with Ramses?”
“Not for a while now,” he replied. I am a Master in my own right, so I have also earned the capability to own my own compound, my own lands and my own followers.”
“But Ramses is still higher than you,” she observed.

“Barely,” Nathaniel crossed his legs, settling into the cushioned seat. Reaching down into his jacket, he pulled out a silver box and removed the lid. Plucking a cigarette from inside, he placed it to his lips and lit it with a quick burst of energy.
“I didn’t know you smoked,” Violet said. “I guess a lot has changed since we were last…friends.” Just saying that word in reference to them sounded bitter, and perhaps a little mournful.
“It has, hasn’t it?” He drew a long toke of the cigarette, and slowly exhaled a plume of smoke. “Ramses is a complicated case,” he continued. “I’ve been here since just after the Omniverse was created. I can’t even remember how long ago that was now.”
“I was pretty sure I killed you.”
“For all intents and purposes, I was dead. However, I was also scouted from our universe into this one because apparently, I have ‘potential’,” he punctuated with air quotes. “Most of us started off at the very bottom, just like you. I was once a slave, naked and afraid, tortured and thrown into arenas for the enjoyment of my masters night after night. But slavery was just not something I could tolerate any longer, not after what we went through under Commander Red.”
Just hearing his name made her shiver. She’d killed him, too. Suddenly, she realized, if Nathaniel could come back…what about Red?
“You don’t have to worry about him,” Nathaniel said. “Even the Dark Lord himself wouldn’t want that piece of shit running around in his Underverse.”
“You read my thoughts,” Violet shifted uncomfortably in her seat, the clothing still sitting in her lap, almost forgotten.
“You were thinking pretty hard. I can pick up on strong emotions and thoughts from those near me.”
“Interesting,” she looked at him cautiously. “That could give you quite an advantage if you used it correctly.”
Nathaniel smiled devilishly. “Who is to say it already hasn’t?”
“Is that why you’re not just someone else’s bitch?”
“It has served me well in keeping me above the lowbrow pissants that roam this place.”
She chortled and reclined in the cushy seat, one leg crossing over the other. “So, what’s your plan, Nathaniel?”
He blinked at her. “Plan?”
“Don’t be coy,” she admonished. “Who did you kill? You’ve got your own lands now, are almost the same in ranking as Ramses, at least, high enough and rich enough to buy me from him, and this fancy ass carriage surely isn’t cheap.”
“Straight to the point, I liked that about you.”
“Some things never change;” the implications of that statement hung heavily between them. They both had the unique shared experience of living their younger years as agents of a militia run by a batshit insane leader who took liberties with their physical, mental and emotional existences.   In many ways, they were two faces of the same coin. While they were different in many key areas, they were just as much alike because of their experiences together.

“Okay, let me rephrase,” she began. “You have your pick of the litter, so to speak, so why choose me? Why am I more special than the other primes?”
“Besides the fact that you were once my wife?” Nathaniel drew a long puff from the cigarette, exhaling a thick plume of smoke into the carriage interior. “I still care about you, you know. I couldn’t just sit back and let him abuse you while I stand idly by and not do anything about it.”
“We’ve hated each other for decades.”
“You and I both know that we have to guard our true feelings in certain situations,” he said. “It’s for survival more than anything.”
“I guess that’s true.”
“I haven’t been myself in so long,” he sighed. “Either under the control of one insane dictator or another, being manipulated to the point where I don’t even know who I am inside my own head, it’s difficult to acclimate to being fully myself again.”
“Those who seek the ultimate power tend to be corrupted easily.”
He glared at her. “I had my reasons.”
“And those reasons exposed your greatest weakness, Nathaniel.” Violet leaned forward, her brows furrowing. “If you had just let me go when I wanted to get away from The Life instead of hunting me down time and time again, who’s to say where we’d be now? Our daughter would be alive, and away from the violence and we’d be just like any other family. We could have put all of that shit behind us and just be normal. But that wasn’t enough for you.”
Nathaniel’s glare intensified. “Don’t you think I would have just let it all go if I knew what it would have cost us?”
“No,” Violet replied. The anger washed over her, knowing that she was treading on dangerous ground meant nothing to her. This was decades of hatred coming to the surface, something she’d suppressed for so long finally being acknowledged. “The temptation was too great for you, and you were too weak to overcome it. That’s why you agreed to the surgeries, the augmentations, all of it, until you were no longer human, but the cyborg puppet of Red. I couldn’t, I wouldn’t let our daughter live that life.”
“You were worth too much to the company,” he said. “Red wouldn’t let you go because you couldn’t cope.”
“Cope? I was fucking pregnant, Nathaniel.” Her voice rose angrily, a swirl of energy encompassed her skin. “Because of YOUR decision, our kid died. I had to live with that. I held the body of our daughter in my hands after you nearly killed me, but all you cared about was what I could do for the company, not the fact that we made a baby and had other responsibilities. You didn’t CARE about what WE had. How did you ‘cope’ with what had happened?”
He was silent for several moments, face devoid of emotions, except for his eyes. His eyes were a dizzying swirl of color, but she didn’t understand it. It occurred to her that he hadn’t processed all of it himself until this moment.
“It doesn’t matter anymore,” he said quietly. “What is done is done.”
“We can’t change the past, but you could at least own what you’ve done.” Violet fingered the clothing in her lap, contemplating on swallowing her pride and just putting the damned things on. She felt so naked, so vulnerable sitting there in front of him, although she was indeed just that. “You’re right though, it doesn’t matter anymore.”
“We could start again, Violet.” His gaze was intense, and she couldn’t hold it without feeling like squirming in her seat.
She shook her head. “We could never be lovers again, Nathaniel. There is already someone there that holds that spot in my heart.”
“That monster?”
“Buu, yes.” Violet did look at him then. “He’s not a monster, he’s the father of my daughter, and one of the very few people that stayed by my side through thick and thin. There is no replacing him.”
“I don’t want to replace him. Besides, he doesn’t even exist here.”
“That we know of.”
“Of course, that we know of.” Nathaniel sat back in his seat, taking a final puff of the cigarette before throwing it nonchalantly from the carriage window, where it bounced off the blacktop and into the dirt, never to be seen again.
Violet chuckled. “Oh, Kami, if he could see me now,” she shook her head. “He’d flip his shit.”
“What do you mean?”
“I’m out here having all this ‘fun’ and he’s not part of it. The shit I’ve been through since I’ve arrived in this forsaken place is what he thrives upon.”
“Glutton for punishment, I take it?”
“I guess that’s one way to describe him,” she replied.
“The monster seems about your speed,” Nathaniel observed.
“What do you mean by that?”
“You’ve always seemed to be attracted to broken things. Thinking you can fix them, and if you shove enough ‘love’ at them, that they’ll give in and return it.”
She couldn’t argue that, she supposed. With Bardock, he was a tough nut to crack, but eventually, their hostilities meshed to the point where their attraction won over and they finally tolerated one another to the point where they formed a bond, a love of sorts, or at least something that kept them together to the point where he had sacrificed himself to save her. Buu was similar, although their relationship had formed long before her and the Saiyan. Buu had been someone who she gravitated to almost immediately after meeting him. He was like a big, pink bug zapper and she couldn’t help but be drawn by his light. It took years for them to acknowledge one another’s attraction, but she was glad for the experience. She missed him, so, so much.
“Can we just sit here quietly until we get to our new home? Please?” Violet hugged the clothing to her chest, suddenly needing the comfort.
Nathaniel nodded. “Sure.”

The property was not as big as she had expected, not nearly as big as Ramses’ by half. Compared to her former digs, this was downright modest. A few large, flowery trees flanked the sides of the estate, lit by soft red rays of the setting sun. Off to one side, a row of smaller buildings, presumably barracks of some sort, sat nestled in a bed of bushes. Campfires dotted along their courtyard as figures milled about. Plumes of smoke swirled lazily towards the darkening sky.
It didn’t look threatening at all; in fact, it seemed a little too domestic, almost like a small village or plantation. If her nerves weren’t so wrecked, she would even say it was pleasant. It reminded her of home.
“We’ll be there in just a few minutes. You might want to put those clothes on now, Violet.” Nathaniel motioned towards the pile of clothing her in lap.
Glowering, Violet replied, “And if I don’t want to?”
“You’re going to want to,” he retorted. If he took offense to her tone, he didn’t show it. He was respectful, which was something she hadn’t expected from him. “My people aren’t prudes, but they aren’t afraid of taking advantage of a situation if it arises.”
“‘Situation’?” She hoped it wasn’t what she thought it was.
“They’ll take your freely flaunted nudity as an invitation.”
“Meaning?” Was she just being thickheaded?
“They’ll try to fuck you,” he said bluntly. 
Her eyes widened a little, and she looked down at the bundle in her lap. Maybe she could relinquish her pride just a little bit. “Well, that sounds…welcoming.”
“You won’t want their ‘welcome’. You might not survive it,” he responded.
Violet laughed. “I can take a lot of things,” she said. “A bit of rough play isn’t exactly something I shy away from, especially when it comes to sex.”
Nathaniel’s lips curled into a sly smile, the impishness reaching to his sparkling pale eyes. “I definitely missed something over the last few years, haven’t I?”
“Considering the last time you got in my pants was around thirty years ago, yeah.”
“Maybe you’ll let me test those limits of yours one of these days.” His boldness knew no bounds, and peeked out at the strangest times.
“Keep dreaming, Nathaniel.” Violet took the chance to dress, not willing to be reminded again that it would be in her best interest. What does he know about her “best interests”, anyway? Although, she had to admit that after half a year of running around buck ass naked, the clothing felt fantastic.
Nathaniel hummed at her in approval. The clothing was baggy, but her smaller frame made it look more feminine, more delicate. She hated being reminded of her femininity, made her feel weaker somehow. Weakness was not something she wanted to portray to these creatures. They would see it as a “way in”, to get under her skin, to make her lose her focus. Nathaniel was dangerously treading that line, becoming more and more comfortable with her, and she him. She couldn’t forget what he’d done to her, both in their last life and this one. Reminding herself of his betrayal renewed a bubble of hatred deep within her.
“So what happens once we get inside? Got a nice fresh cage for me?” She leaned back in the seat, crossing her arms across her chest. “The clothes are a nice touch, I admit. Much more accommodating than Ramses.”
“You’re patronizing me, Violet.”
“Nah, just being realistic about the situation, that’s all.”
“Reality has changed,” Nathaniel said. His eyes settled on hers, like twin pools of darkness spreading over an ocean. They were mesmerizing.  “You aren’t a prisoner anymore.”
Her body stiffened, eyebrows cresting in surprise. “Then I am free to leave?”
“Not exactly. It’s not that easy.”
“Why not? If I’m not a prisoner, then I should be free to leave.”
“And go where?” He laughed mockingly. “Into the waiting arms of another master? Don’t you realize how the system works yet?”
She opened her mouth to argue, but she couldn’t argue with that. She had been captured so easily, then bartered away like some kind of commodity. She’d met many masters, but her knowledge only went so far as to realize that each worked differently than the others.
“If you leave me, all that awaits you is more misery. You were lucky to be captured by Ramses, he is gentle compared to most,” Nathaniel warned. “I’ve known some that flayed their prisoners and kept them on display. Primes do not die, but that doesn’t stop them from feeling unimaginable pain.”
“Point made,” she relented.
The carriage rumbled to a stop, and Nathaniel moved to unlock the door. A small, bent creature opened it, greeting them with a toothy smile. “Welcome home, Master,” he bowed.
“Greetings, Aryeth.” Nathaniel patted his head, smiling warmly down at him. “Go inside and let the others know our guest has arrived.”
Aryeth bowed again and scampered off. Nathaniel reached into the coach and offered her a hand. “Coming?”
“Do I have a choice?”
“You can take my hand and let me help you out or you can help yourself out.”
“You spoil me,” she rolled her eyes and took his hand. She might as well take advantage of his kindness while he offered it.
He leaned down close to her ear and whispered, “I would appreciate it greatly if you kept your snarky replies to yourself until we’re alone.”
“Afraid of a little uprising, Nathaniel?”
“If you value your freedom, you’ll do as I ask.”
“Fine,” she grumped, and began walking towards the entrance to the manor. He hurried along to keep up.

Other than a few leers from random creatures milling about, Violet could literally feel the difference in the environment she was dumped into. Dumped was a strong word. Delivered was better.
Nathaniel led the way inside. She was surprised at how downplayed his wealth was; although tastefully adorned, it wasn’t as obscenely lavish as Ramses palace. It seemed as if Ramses was displaying his power through his surroundings, but this…this was more for function than anything. It was so Nathaniel, she thought. Not too gaudy, and everything seemed to have a use. There was very little ‘extra’ scattered about.
Hooking his arm through hers, Nathaniel gently guided her into the living room. The space was as big as her old ranch, enough to accommodate damn near everybody on the property. Couches and loveseats were clustered around wooden tables, each with their own lamps and rugs and other accessories. Separate spaces were blocked off with oriental style screens and fabric curtains, providing guests with some semblance of privacy. The main area had one of the biggest televisions she’d seen in her life, framed by an equally massive wooden entertainment center. Candles were lit on its top, lending the room a warm, inviting feel.
“You are welcome to redecorate how you wish,” he said. “I know you liked candles, so I made a bunch for you.”
“That’s…generous. Thanks.”
Off to the left, she eyed a dark hallway, and to the right, a kitchen that looked out onto the living and dining areas. He pulled her in that direction, and her stomach rumbled angrily to life. Nathaniel chuckled. “It was a long trip, so let’s go get some food and I’ll show you to your room.”
“Do you treat all your lackeys this way or am I just special?”
“I didn’t think it was possible for you to become even more of a bitch, but I seem to be wrong.”
“It happens when you go through the shit I have.” She looked onward towards the pantry. “What kinda food you got in this place?”
“Go take a look,” Nathaniel motioned towards the kitchen. “I’ve got damn near anything you would want. I even remembered those little cocoa puff things you liked so much.”
“Now you’re pulling my leg,” she scoffed, tossing her head to the side. “Really?”
He nodded, pointing towards the pantry. “Right over there.”
The box was right up front as soon as the door swung open. She grabbed it and stared at it, incredulous. “I can’t believe…how did you get this?”
“You can make it yourself, if you wanted. Omnilium is a wondrous thing.”
“Omnilium did this?”
“Yes,” he said. “It can do almost anything you want it to.”
“Well, shit.” She tore open the box and stuck her hand in, grabbing a large gob of the chocolatey treat and shoving it into her mouth. “Thith ith tho good.”
“Thought you’d like it,” he laughed. “I want you to feel at home here.”
“If there’s more of this, I can be persuaded.”

A half hour and an empty box of cocoa puffs later, Nathaniel led his new charge to her room. It was nothing like her old accommodations, where she barely had a piece of cloth to throw over her to stave off a chilly draft; it was very much like every other fancy hotel room she couldn’t afford.
A large, plush bed was situated on one wall, piled high with royal blue satin pillows and matching comforter. Smaller white cotton accent pillows were thrown on for effect. Light spilled in from a set of French doors adjacent from the bed. Silky red curtains flanked the sides, with a layer of fine white lace underneath. She had her own bathroom, and everything was covered in rich black carpet.
Violet, for the first time since she was banished, smiled genuinely at Nathaniel. It was difficult for her to accept that this could all be real, and his intentions for her sincere, especially after all he had put her through up to this point. Decades of abuse from someone can really be a pain in the ass to shake, even if they’re trying their best to repent. Unsurprisingly, she remained guarded. “All of this is mine?”
Nathaniel nodded. “I can’t take back everything I’ve done to you, Violet, but I want to at least try to apologize for being such a shit,” he said solemnly. “The best I can do is make you comfortable for however long you’re here.”
“Thanks, I guess.” Her eyes darted around the room, trying to take in everything. It was nice, but accepting it felt like it gave her captivity permanency. It was fancy as hell, but a prison was still a prison regardless of how tastefully it was decorated. The goal was to get the fuck out of here, not sit back sipping margaritas with her ultimate arch nemesis. It felt a little too “dining with the devil” for her.
“Come down for dinner in about an hour, I’ll let Cecilah know to put something on the stove.” Nathaniel turned to leave, but Violet reached out to stop him.
“Wait,” she tugged at his arm. “Teach me to use Omnilium.”
Nathaniel quirked a dark brow at her abruptness. “You don’t know how to use Omnilium?”
She shook her head. “Unless it’s just something we can just will into existence by thinking about it, no.”
“That’s pretty much what it is. It takes a little more concentration, but that’s the idea.”
“So, we can make anything?” Nathaniel nodded. “How about changing these clothes, because damn.” Violet puffed her arms dramatically. “I feel like I’m wearing a potato sack.”
Nathaniel threw his head back in laughter, the spill of raven hair cascading across his shoulders, catching glimmers of the recessed lighting on their tinsel-like strands. “Well, alright, we can do that. Although, I’m sure I have clothes that would fit you somewhere in this house.”
“I’d rather have something more my own style, if that’s fine,” she replied.
“So, jeans, a wife beater and boots?”
“All black, please.”
“Some things never change,” he chuckled. “Alright, all you have to do is hold out your palms, like this;” he cupped his palms together, like he was getting ready to dip them in water for a drink. A subtle white glow began to pulse from those cupped hands, and he then flattened them as the energy began to take a more definite form. The white light wasn’t entirely white: within its glowing shell, she could see other colors, very bright, very warm. His face settled into a concentrated blankness as minutes passed.
She watched in earnest as the shape of a pair of boots came into form. The white light began to recede, and what was revealed was the most perfect black leather boots she’d ever seen. She’d never owned something so well-crafted in her life.
“And just like that, new boots!” Nathaniel handed them to her, and she happily accepted.
“Great, now for some actual clothes that fit me.”
“How about you try this time?” Nathaniel suggested. “Make yourself some jeans.”
She blinked nervously at him, but nodded. “Alright, here goes.” Cupping her hands in front of her like Nathaniel did, she waited for the white light to appear, but nothing happened. “It’s not working. What am I doing wrong?”
“Are you visualizing what kind of jeans you want?”
“It might help.”
Violet tried again, this time, something happened, although she wasn’t sure if it was the right thing that was supposed to happen. The energy that pooled within her hands wasn’t really white, it was more pinkish in color. Her aura, she knew, could take on a reddish tint, so perhaps her method of calling whatever it was that made Omnilium came from the part of her that harnessed ki.
Using this knowledge, she projected it into her palms, visualizing her favorite pair of jeans and watching in anticipation as the white light began spilling over her palms like some kind of liquidy fabric. It didn’t quite touch the ground, but it did seem to halt its flow just short of her knees. She held her concentration for several long moments before the light began to fade, and the rough black fabric materialized. Nathaniel plucked the material from her hands and held it out in front of him.
“Not terrible, but I think there’s an extra leg. Unless you’re packing something I don’t know about down there, I think you may want to try again.”
Violet’s face scrunched in annoyance. “Damn it, alright.” Repeating the procedure, Violet thought of the same jeans, this time, envisioning herself unfolding the fabric, concentrating on the waistline, how the button and zipper as well as all the rivets were painted black so as not to catch light that would give her away in stealth situations. Her gaze travelled down one leg, then the other, taking note of the subtle flair of the legs and all the tactical pockets that ran down the sides. Several minutes later, she unfolded the product of her concentration, and revealed a perfectly fitted pair of jeans.

“Those look great, Violet,” Nathaniel complimented with a soft smile. “Now, just get the shirt and whatever else you need and meet me downstairs when you’re finished.”
Violet returned his smile, and proceeded onto the next piece of clothing. She had to admit, creating something from this new resource was exciting, but she could feel it drained her energy just a little. It might not be a terrible idea to grab a nap later, or an early bedtime. After all, she had a big date with Ramses tomorrow night, and she had to be bright and sunshiny for him.
Oh, joy.

Walking into the dining room, Violet was met with the bemused smirk of her new master. He reclined in his fancy padded chair like a cat who just polished off an entire bowl of fresh, delicious meat, its belly contentedly full.  His long, black hair fell in a glossy curtain around his bare shoulders, framing a lovely, equally beautiful chest. She couldn’t tell if he was wearing pants, but sitting there as he was, it was too hard to tell. Did he dine topless every night or was tonight just special? Must suck pretty hard if he spilled anything all over that unprotected flesh.
Sipping his red wine, he watched her with silent amusement. It was just him and she, yet the room felt so full. His energy, his very presence, filled the room with something almost tangible, almost choking in its viscosity. Warm and oh, so intimate, she glided through that energy like a hot knife towards the modestly set table. Only one seat was set, but there wasn’t any food to be seen. She was hungry as hell, and it felt like too much of a tease.
“Come, sit,” Nathaniel motioned towards the empty chair nearest him. “Dinner will be brought out shortly, but first, we’ll have a chat.”
Violet frowned. “You know I am much more sociable after I eat,” she replied, taking the proffered seat.
“My apologies, but we really do need to talk before we’re too distracted.”
Frowning harder, she slumped back into the seat, her arms crossing over her chest. “Okay, so talk.”
“Tomorrow night is going to be…how to put this delicately…”
“Don’t be delicate, just out with it.”
“It’s going to be shitty.”
“Well, no shit.”
“Ramses is going to challenge me. Do you understand what this will mean?” He sipped his drink, placing the half empty glass back on the crisp white linen cloth. He was so calm, so unaffected by the danger that that one sentence implied.
“If you lose, then…does that mean that I go back to him?”
“Along with everything I’ve worked hard to attain, yes.”
Violet nodded. “That cannot happen. I’ve been pretty transparent when it comes to my feelings about you, but I would rather you than him, to be perfectly fucking honest.”
“I appreciate your honesty, Violet. That’s one thing that I like about you, so brutally honest.”
“A girl tries, I guess.”
“But you are correct, we cannot let Ramses win this challenge,” Nathaniel continued. “His powerbase is already far too large, and many of the other masters are getting nervous. He threatens the balance we’ve had in place for a very long time, a balance that the Lord Diablo himself has tried to maintain. I speculate that Ramses is trying to build his base large enough to challenge him, and thus, take the throne of the Lord of the Underverse.”
“We do not talk about him often, except among the higher echelons of power here, and for a reason. Speaking his name evokes his attention, and I am almost sure he is aware of our conversation now.”
“Creepy,” Violet’s eyes flickered around the room, nervous. “Why would anyone want to take on such a powerful figure?”
“It’s almost futile to go against him. Ramses is insane, and has been for ages. No one dares speculate in front of him because they are afraid of what he would do.” Nathaniel swallowed another mouthful of wine. “He does have moments of rationality, but they are few and far between.”
“I figured he was just bipolar or something,” Violet muttered.
“Could be, but when he gets into his moods…well, they can get very, very ugly.”
Several silent moments passed between them before she finally cracked. “So what do we do?”
“Well, that’s the problem, I am unsure.”
“He’s a prime, so we can’t really kill him.”
“Irma also claimed to be a prime, but you quite succinctly disproved that lie.”
“I did, yes.” Violet stared off wondrously. “Perhaps if she was lying, so is he.”

“Who knows how many of us are actually primes?”
Violet looked at him. “Are you?”
Nathaniel smirked. “Perhaps.”
“Guess we’ll find out tomorrow.” Vi responded with a smirk of her own.
“Let’s hope not,” his smirk faded quickly. “At least, when it comes to my own mortality, I would hope to figure that out another night. Our number one priority is destroying Ramses, one way or another, and securing his powerbase for ourselves.”
“Are you implying you’re willing to share this power with me? Since when do you share?” She crooked a brow skeptically.
“I told you that what is mine is now yours, and this goes for whatever power we gain together.”
“I still can’t help but feel there’s a catch somewhere.”
“There is,” Nathaniel’s face brightened. “You catch on quickly, no pun intended.”
“And that is?”
“We can combine our strength symbolically, and if needed, physically.”
“It’s not unlike marriage, where everything that was ours separately becomes ours together. There is a ceremony with witnesses, a power exchange, and…a consummation.” Nathaniel said the last rather sheepishly, but there was a glimmer of hope deep in his icy blue eyes. The implication was so thinly veiled, he might as well have said “We’re going to fuck” instead of some flowery bullshit like “consummation”.
“Absolutely not.”
Her master frowned. “But we’ll be damn near invincible, Violet. He won’t be able to defeat us.”
“What, because we’d fuck a few times and suddenly we’re this all-powerful monstrosity steamrolling the most powerful beings in the Underverse? Do you really think that getting into my pants is that fucking important?”
“It’s much more than just sex, Violet. It’s the power exchange that occurs during release that’s the point. I don’t know of any other way to get to that point where the power is so unrestricted that it can be exchanged so freely.”
“Damn you, Nathaniel!” She pounded the table with her fist, the power rising within her had put a little more oomph than she intended, and the table protested accordingly.
“Is fucking me that distasteful to you?”
“Yes!” she cried. “Do you even understand all that shit you’ve put me through from the time I was a fucking teenager until now maybe just fucking MAYBE made me loathe everything about you? And now you’re suggesting I set all that aside and give myself to you in the most fucking intimate way possible just to secure a fucking powerbase?”
“I’ve apologized, Violet. I’ve freed you from one of the most cruel masters in this verse, and gave you everything I own. I’ve treated you like a fucking princess so far, and that’s still not enough?”
Her silence was anything but. Inside her raged an anger so hot that it began to emanate from her skin in crimson waves. She felt the power creep over her, consume her, and knew without having to look in a mirror that her eyes were a deep, bloody scarlet.  “You can apologize every day for the rest of our lives and it still won’t be enough to erase the scars you’ve left on my mind. I remember who you were before being brought to this universe, and all the changes, all the presents, all the claims you can make about how you’ve changed, won’t change that.”
“I cannot take back what I’ve done, Violet. I’ve done some horrible things to you, but god damn it, I’m trying to make our future better. I’m trying to give you everything you deserve, even if we live in a literal hell. I’m fucking trying, damn it!”
A wind of her own power whipped around her as her anger rose. This was a conversation she didn’t want to be in, but knew was coming. That ‘one day’ was today, and there was no skulking away from it. Everything within her reeled against what he was suggesting, but somewhere deep inside, she begrudgingly knew that securing that power was important, not just for their survival, but for the survival of many more in the Underverse. Was fucking him really that difficult an act to put the safety of countless others in danger?
Her anger began to abate, and with it, the wind of her own energy. The crimson licks of her power subsided and she sat there in her chair, almost totally herself again. “I’ll think about it.”
Nathaniel looked at her. “If there is a way around it, then we’ll figure it out, but Violet, this is…I cannot even describe just how important this is. We have to do this by tomorrow. It’s very short notice-“

“-But it is necessary. I need you to decide before you leave this table. I’m sorry, but we have to do something  before we leave for Ramses’ palace in the morning.”
She sighed, slumping in the chair. “Food will help.”
Nathaniel snapped his fingers, and three women emerged from the kitchen carrying platters of food. They set the table before her, piled high with a variety of dishes, more than she could ever hope to eat in one sitting.
Of all the shit she’s had to face over the last few days, at least the food was good.

The meal was consumed mostly on autopilot. Her brain was far too concerned with this proposition Nathaniel had oh, so easily plopped onto her lap. She felt his eyes on her the entire time, quiet, studious, but he wisely kept his mouth shut while she mulled over her problem. 
She wasn’t bothered so much about being forced to make a decision so quickly, that she had plenty of experience with; the problem was getting over her mental road blocks to let him inside (figuratively speaking) after everything that they’ve been through. He had been the object of her hatred for decades, and here she was, thrust into each other’s existence once again, sort of like destiny was playing some cruel joke and she was the punchline. Fucking destiny.
Pushing her mostly-eaten plate away, Violet dabbed at her mouth with a napkin and sipped her tea. She was pleasantly full, but her mind, not so much. She hated having to make this decision, even if the end result was quite literally life and death for so many others. She realized Ramses had to be dealt with, but the solution to that particular problem was not something she was excited about.
It’s not that fucking was the worst thing that could happen to her, it was whom she was fucking that was her biggest hangup. She didn’t want to touch Nathaniel, much less screw him. Would it be rape if she relented and did it anyway, although she really didn’t want to? It was such a fuzzy area even she didn’t know the answer to, although she’d done sketchy shit like it in the past. Would the fact that she wouldn’t be fighting and screaming make the difference in how it was defined?
Kami…she didn’t know.
“We’ll find another way, Violet. There has to be another way,” Nathaniel murmured. He seemed to be just as plagued by the problem as she, perhaps secondhand vibes she was so strongly projecting could have contributed, but whatever it was, he didn’t seem to be a huge fan of it, either. “Maybe there’s a way to just do it…symbolically. A lot of foreplay, but not actual sex. Something to make our energies pure enough that they can merge.”
She pondered that for a moment and nodded. “It’s worth a shot, I guess.”
“I can hear your thoughts, feel them within the depths of my mind almost as if I was thinking them myself.”
“Once upon a time, I used to be able to hear other’s thoughts, as well, but I seem to have lost that ability when I was brought here.”
“We’ve all had to relearn what was lost during the transition.”
“It sucks,” she said, laughing tersely. “All that time spent learning something just for it to be gone in the blink of an eye.”

“Would have been nice if we could forget everything, wouldn’t it?”
“Not everything,” she replied. “My son and daughter are still out there somewhere. I don’t want to forget them. They’re the best things I’ve ever done in my life.”
Nathaniel was quiet for a long period of time. Her thoughts immediately went to her other child, the one that never had a chance to breathe or feel the sun on her skin. She’d had dreams for years after she lost her first child, dreams that haunted her even here, but what was once this roaring voice at the back of her mind was nothing more than a simple shadow that followed her thoughts.
“Do you ever wonder what our lives would have been like if she had lived?” Nathaniel folded his hands in his lap, looking every bit as vulnerable as she. Apparently, the loss hung as heavy on him as it did her. She didn’t realize until now just how much that affected him, maybe because he was more “human” here, without the interference of machinery dictating his thoughts, his moves.
Perhaps that was the “why” of a lot of things between them. Was everything really his fault, or was it Red’s? The man behind everything horrific that has happened in her life, as well as the lives of countless others was long dead, by her own hand, no less, but his impact had touched so many, and not in good ways. Could she really fault Nathaniel for something that was really the fault of someone else?
“If she’d lived…who knows how our lives would have turned out,” she responded sullenly. “Maybe we’d be up to our eyeballs in Red Ribbon, and they’d have eventually taken her. Maybe how life has played out was the way it was meant to be. Red had to die, and her death was the catalyst for that to happen.”
“Another lifetime, maybe,” he relented. “Although now, I cannot imagine myself having children.”
“I never thought I would either, but I do.”
“I’d like to meet them someday. With a mother like you, I’m sure they’re wonderful people,” he smiled warmly at her. She swore it was genuine.
“I miss them. With Galen, it was just him and I, living our lives on Vegeta, but Rose…I feel like I didn’t give her everything I should have. Her life was…complicated.” Violet sighed, thinking of her youngest child. “I had loved her father for years, but everything seemed to get in the way. He was always trouble, and I knew it, but still, my entire being wanted him, and we finally became a family. He was so worried about her, about his master getting to her, and we ended up sending her away to another dimension where we thought she would be safe. I mourned for her, but I understood why Buu had made that decision.”
“We always want what’s best for those we love,” he said cryptically.
“Galen knew about her, he was excited when we told him he would have a baby sister, and was there when I had her, he was the second person to hold her after her father. He was in love with her. He was so little, yet he had promised to protect her.” She laughed. “He is every bit the Saiyan that his father was. A fighter, but more than that, he was compassionate and very protective of what was his.”

Is his.” Nathaniel corrected. “He’s still alive out there somewhere.”
She nodded. “You’re right…Kami, you’re right. I don’t know why I’m speaking about them as if they’re dead.”
“It takes some adjusting. We’re in an entirely different reality now, but that’s the beauty of an existence with multiple universes.”
“I don’t even want to try to think too hard about that philosophy,” Violet sighed. “I’m a lover and a fighter, but a scholar, I am not.”
“It’s not too difficult to understand, really.”
“Hard pass.”
“Alright, suit yourself,” he smiled, and rose from his chair. “It’s great to sit and wax about what we left behind, but we need to think about the future, the now.”
Violet heaved another sigh, her eyes fluttering shut. She had to make a decision. Steeling herself, she opened her eyes, looked dead center into Nathaniel’s, and nodded. “Fine, let’s do this.”

“So, what now?”
Nathaniel walked around to her side of the table and gently pulled her chair back. “Come with me, we just need a few people to witness the ceremony and then we can begin the power exchange.” He held out a hand, and tentatively, she took it.
He led her past the living room, down a hall, and towards a staircase leading to a basement. She looked at him questioningly, her gut tightening. Was this guy for real? This looked just like something out of a movie, those cult ones that usually don’t even make enough to cover the budget that made them. It also didn’t make her any more comfortable with the prospect of no escape paths in case shit got a little too crazy for her liking. Although he seemed as sincere as she’d ever seen him, she still didn’t quite trust him.
“Don’t be nervous, this will only take a few moments,” he purred, taking the first step down into the abyss. “They’ll help us raise enough power to get our own going and then we’ll be on our own.”
“Raise power, how?” Her hand recoiled slowly out of his, her body stiffening as it prepared to bolt. She didn’t like this, not one bit.
“I don’t understand their process as I’ve never done it before, but they have. They’ll be standing around us as we exchange some words and then they’ll leave.” Nathaniel held his hand out to her, coaxing her towards him. “Come on, we don’t have much time.”
“Anything fucky and I’m out of here,” Violet warned, taking his hand once more. “Not like I have much choice in this anyways.”
“This is bigger than both of us, Violet.”
She sighed heavily, her lips twisting into a petulant frown, and stomped down the stairs. “Well? Let’s go.”

Nathaniel followed her lead, plunging deeper into the dark stairwell. “Which way?”
“Left,” Nathaniel pointed towards a door a few yards away It was plain, just unstained wood thrown up to cover a hole in the wall. Practical, but it wasn’t much for aesthetics. “Through that door.”
Violet didn’t bother knocking, she just shoved the door open, a flood of bright light filling the space around her, blinding her momentarily. As her eyes adjusted to the abrupt change in contrast, she saw   six figures seated on the sparse, equally unappealing furniture that was shoved against the walls. She recognized a few from around the house, but who they were was a mystery to her. They were all strangers to her.
The room itself was fairly plain, the walls were bare, undecorated. The floor was stone, a red woven rug thrown haphazardly in the middle. The lights overhead were built into the ceiling itself, with candles flowing around the edges of the room. It seemed like a hell of a fire hazard.

“I’m assuming that fires aren’t a big concern here, eh??” Violet smiled at her half-assed joke. “Nice and toasty, though. Very warm ambience.”
The room remained silent  save for their stares. Something blazed bright in the depths of their eyes that spoke volumes. “Okay, well, nice to meet you all.”
“They have been ordered not to speak,” Nathaniel said. “We cannot detract from the mission at hand.”
“A little strict,” she commented. “Practical, I guess.”
“They recognize the importance in what we’re doing.” Nathaniel pulled what looked like a scrunchie from his pocket and tied his hair back. “Catching myself on fire during this ceremony would be a bad thing.”
“You wouldn’t happen to have an extra one of those things floating around, would you?” Violet motioned towards his pocket.
He reached into his pants and pulled a black scrunchie out and tossed it at her. “Keep it.”
Violet thanked him and pulled her own hair back. “Okay, so now what?”
Without prompting, the six figures stood, coming to stand in a semi-circle around them. Her skin began to itch, that nervousness she felt earlier setting in again. “Gonna be honest, I am creeped fully the fuck out right now.”
Nathaniel crooked a smile at her. “Nothing to worry about, love. They’re just preparing.” Kami, she hated that nickname.
“Still creepy.”
“Stand over here in front of me,” said the snake to Eve. Her gaze flicked around her warily as she moved towards him. Everything within her screamed this whole thing was a bad idea, an absolutely terrible idea. But she was going to do it anyway.
Taking her hand, he gazed deeply into her eyes and felt him enter her mind, touching things within her that nobody was supposed to touch. The hum of his energy marched up her arm and down her back, spreading slowly throughout her until every limb thrummed with his power. The little hairs on her body stood straight up while a surge of adrenaline pulsing throughout her veins. He blinked, one moment his eyes were those silvery gems set deep within his face, the next, twin portals of white light. Magic.
The room was suddenly cast into darkness, the candles snuffed by some invisible hand. Although she knew she should care, she didn’t. The only thing that mattered at that moment was keeping her gaze locked with his, to be as receptive a conduit to his energy as possible. His lips moved, but she could hear nothing but the rush of blood in her ears. A free hand trailed up her back and cupped the back of her skull, fingers digging deep into her hair. He whispered something, and lowered his face to hers, their lips touching gently while mouthing those soundless words.
A jolt of power surged between them, energy clinging to them like broken webs torn asunder by the wind. He released her, and the six moved in, their own lips moving in a quiet chant. The ground beneath her began to tremble, and she momentarily broke free of the mental enslavement. A voice whispered through her mind, “Calm”, and she worried no longer about the rumbling stone beneath her, nor the six figures that chanted around her, nor the hands that began plucking away at her and Nathaniel’s clothing.
The room was cool, but not uncomfortable as her flesh was finally free from the confines of their fabric prison. Out of her peripheral vision, she could see the stark paleness of Nathaniel, his body flawlessly, wonderfully naked. A dozen hands touched and caressed their flesh, painting symbols of pure energy on their skin, all the while never ceasing their song, she never breaking the gaze that held her so enraptured.
His voice entered her mind again, the chant that held no sound suddenly a melodic hymn lapping at her  own thoughts, washing away what control she had and leaving behind this raw need that had to be sated. Her hands were on him, running along the painted whiteness of his arms, leaving trails of crimson tinged light in its wake. He wrapped his arms around her waist and drew her tightly against him, the power closing around them with an audible pop. With the touch of his flesh against hers, she had a momentary realization that the six figures were gone, and it was just she and this creature, Master and slave, alone.
Nathaniel leaned his forehead against hers, his eyes finally closing. The power never faltered between them, only kept her warm, and oh, so safe. As his lips bore down on hers, he murmured, “What is mine is yours from this day to the end of days. What was two is now one, and let no one come between us, no man, no creature, not even the gods themselves.” With those words, he closed that very brief distance, and power, pure and hot, filled them until their skin glowed, and when their flesh could no longer hold such a bounty, spilled from their bodies to encompass them in blinding white light.
The room melted away, leaving the pair floating in a sea of light. His hands traveled downward, cupping her buttocks, lifting her onto his hips. Her legs twined around his waist, clasping them closer, feeling him touching her in places she vowed once before to never let him touch. It didn’t matter anymore. What mattered was existing, free from the bonds that held her and countless others from freedom. She was giving herself so that others could be free.
His lips fed at hers, forcing her mouth wider as his tongue delved deep within, his power spilling into her throat and down into her core. I’ve waited so long…so long… His voice echoed within her mind as his body lurched into hers. His muscles stiffened, then relaxed. Home…
They floated along, rediscovering themselves. Decades of being apart, of being denied what was once so intimately theirs, was finally finished. He was home. She was his.
“You are mine.

Thunk! Thunk! Thunk! Something rapped against wood, a dull thumping sound that prodded intrusively into her dreamless sleep. Her eyelids were heavy as they reluctantly opened, but everything around her was dark. Her pillow rose and fell as it breathed steadily, lost in its own slumber. She remembered now what had happened, and the taste of it was bitter as she took it in.
The sound came again, and a thin sliver of light crept across the room, penetrating the darkness with its harsh brightness. Squinting, she tried to make out the figure that peeked through that slim slice of light.
“My lady?” came a soft, feminine voice. It was one of the household maids, her fingertips grazing the edge of the doorway.
“What is it?” Violet’s voice was groggy with sleep.
“There is a message upstairs for you...from Warlord Ramses.”
What the hell did he want? Violet rolled away from Nathaniel, suddenly missing the warmth of his body as the cool air assaulted her naked flesh. They weren’t due to visit him until…until…what day was it? “How long have we been down here?”
The maid peeked her head in finally, the jagged features of her otherwise lovely face softened by the backlight. “About twelve hours, my lady.”
“Twelve…fuck.” That meant they had about six, at least, until they were supposed to be at Ramses farce of a fucking dinner party. Admittedly, the sleep and sex were a fantastic way to have wiled away those hours.
Nathaniel stirred and mumbled something beside her. “I guess we shouldn’t waste any more time then,” he muttered drowsily. She took in the sight of him, his lengthy black hair tousled from sleep, the penetrating iciness of his pale, blue eyes as they found hers, the slight lift to his lips as he recalled what they had done. Power still sparked between them, faint, but the promise of what could be was still there.
In a swift movement, he was on his feet, naked and glowing with a thin sheen of sleep sweat. It made her pause as her gaze roved slowly over him, and the realization that after all this time, he still had this besotted effect on her. She hated it.
The servant at the door was not one bit abashed at her master’s nudity, looking him full on not with lust, but admiration and devotion. If only they knew what she knew about him, would they still look up to him like some kind of living god?
Nathaniel held his hand out to her, motioning her to take it. “Come, we’ve got shit to do before we go to visit our favorite warlord.”
Violet scoffed, ignoring his hand and moving to her feet on her own. Her eyes were smoldering as she looked at him. She wanted to say something, but it didn’t feel like the right time, not in front of his subordinate. Although she hated him, she knew undermining him in front of his underlings was not the wisest of ideas. Let them worship him.
Dressing quickly, Nathaniel and Violet followed the maid, whom she learned was called Ulla, up to the main level of the compound. They ate and cleaned themselves, and Nathaniel barked instructions for loading the coaches with supplies for their trip. Violet found a quiet moment in the room she was given, sorting through the meager belongings she had brought with her.
Her fingers moved gently over a red stained cloth wrapped with a dirtier white scrap of material she had kept folded neatly within a pocket of her clothing. Guilt washed over her in a scalding wave, and she winced, recalling what she had done just twelve hours before. They were dead, she thought. She was sure of one’s death, but the other might as well have been. He didn’t even exist here, that she knew of. Shoving the scrap of fabric back into the pocket of her pants, she sighed. Why was she so hung up on her old life? She’d loved and lost them. They were part of the old world, the old life, just as Nathaniel had been, but he was here, and they were not. And yet, her all too human attachments to her old mates kept her clinging to some kind of hope and some kind of guilt that she had no business hanging on to anymore. The only thing that remained of that old life were herself and this man who was thrust upon her as her new ‘master’.
Soft hands enveloped her shoulders, squeezing gently. She jumped, startled from the sudden touch. “They meant a lot to you?”
Nodding, Violet shoved the clothing away from her, then shrugged away from him. “Even after all these years, it hurts just as much now as it did then.” Turning to face him, she let him see the rawness of her emotions on her pale face. “I loved them both as fiercely as I had loved you once. One saved me by sacrificing himself, and the other…the other is lost to time and space, but still just as gone as Bardock. You’ll never understand, not in a million years, nor a million universes or lifetimes.”
Nathaniel reached out, cupping her jaw. A thumb stroked the soft flesh there. “You have every reason in the world to hate me, and I know that,” he said. “I regret everything I’ve done to you, but just as they are all part of another lifetime, so is that person I was. I am different now, as are you. Our situations are different, yet we still ended up here, together. Maybe this was how it was always meant to be.”
“Us? Together?” Violet scoffed. “Coincidence that we’re here, maybe, but meant to be? Get that fairy tale shit out of my face.”
Nathaniel’s hand dropped, and she knew she’d hurt him. Great. “Maybe that was a little too far.”
“No, you’re right,” his lips quirked into a half smile. “It was just a fairy tale idea.”
An hour passed in silence. Violet spent it in blissful solitude, working on mastering her hold of this thing called omnilium. She’d managed to create some decent armor and a sword almost as long as she was. It was fashioned into the shape of a katana, a slim blade enrobed with magic and a hilt of leather and steel. It was a little heavier than she liked, but it would work. She spent another ten minutes on the hilt, which would strap to her back. Usually, such a placement would be awkward to access the weapon, but she found a way to be able to withdraw the weapon without it catching on her clothing or getting stuck in the hilt.
Holding the long, smooth blade in front of her, she admired her craftsmanship: although not forged by fire, it was still a work of art, and the steel was quality. A ripple from its ‘forging’ ran along its length, with intricate runes patterned on either side. The runes were meant to protect her and ensure a swift death to her enemies. Her fingers touched the edge of the blade, deftly running the tips along the sharpness until it drew blood. Redness welled from the cut and soaked into the blade, the steel seemingly drinking it up. She watched, intrigued, as her blood snaked its way through the steel, embedding itself into the runes.
“Bloodthirsty,” she murmured. “That is what I will call you.” The blade gleamed in response. Sheathing it, Violet made her final preparations before joining the rest of the party in the hall.
They were as ready as they were going to be. She avoided Nathaniel’s gaze up until they entered their coach. He helped her inside, and closed the door behind them. Other than themselves, it was empty, and the silence was thick enough to slice through.
Motioning towards her, Nathaniel broke the silence. “I see you’ve busied yourself.”
“I can’t just walk into Ramses as unprepared as I was the first time. Fool me once…” she shrugged. “It’s not the best, but it’s better than nothing.”
“He won’t catch me unaware this time.” Her body shifted in the leather seating as the road became rough. “I will not be taken advantage of again. From anyone.”
Nathaniel nodded, and she wasn’t sure if he’d gotten her allusion. That especially includes you, she thought darkly.
The rest of the trip was filled with plotting. He reminded her of their conversation yesterday, the challenge that Ramses was sure to issue during their ‘party’, and the fact that it would not be wise to let him win. Not only for her freedom, but the Underverse as a whole would be in danger. It made her anticipation for this meeting that much less thrilling. Deposing a madman was going to be tough, but if anyone was going to do it and succeed, it would have to be them.
The carriage fell silent as they approached the gated wall of Ramses’ compound. Two fairly large creatures flanked the entry, enrobed in black steel plating and carrying swords as large as they were tall, they were definitely not to be scoffed at. A pair of lesser demons searched their carriage, and after some time, deemed them safe to enter.  She didn’t recognize any of them, which could mean that Ramses had beefed up his security by adding more guards since they were here last. Was he anticipating something?
“They’re new,” Nathaniel observed. “You’re not the only one who noticed.”
“This could be a problem.”
“Maybe,” Nathaniel nodded. “Then again, we’re coming with a few surprises of our own.”
Violet lifted a brow. “Are we going to be able to do what we did last night without having to resort to…”
“It’ll take some improvisation, but yes, it’s possible.”
She sighed heavily, relieved. Fucking him again was definitely not on her to-do list ever again, although, admittedly, the experience was amazing. It took a lot of convincing to remind herself she still hated his guts, and was harder still that her body seemed to defy her with just the memory. Nathaniel looked at her slyly, and she knew he felt what she felt in that moment.
“Stop it,” she snapped.
“You’re projecting pretty hard right now, Vi.”
“I can’t help it!”
“There’s no shame in admitting you enjoyed what we did.”
She pouted stubbornly. “One night does not make up for what you’ve done, nor does it erase three decades of hatred.”
Rolling his eyes, Nathaniel resigned himself to her tantrum. “I am not prostrating myself again for your forgiveness.”
“No one asked you to.”
“You didn’t have to,” he growled. “I gave it the first two times willingly.”
“Still, didn’t have to.”
Her partner let out an exasperated cry, slapping his hands on his leather-clad thighs. “Fuck history right now, Violet, let’s concentrate on what lays ahead of us. It’s not just your lily-white ass on the line here. It’s all of us. So put that shit aside and let’s work together for a change. You can go back to hating me later when we’re the fuck out of here.”

Violet blinked at him dumbly. More than once, he had expressed concern over someone other than himself. Could he be so sincere? Was she being petulant? Probably.

“Fine.” The vitriol in that one word was enough. She wasn’t happy, but he was right. Begrudgingly, she apologized. “Can’t wait until this is over.”
“Same here,” he replied.

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