Of Doves and Ravens(1) – Exodus

Kay: So, as some of you may know that I ended up dropping all my stories during the pandemic due to sudden bad family issues. So for most of the lockdown, I’d been dealing with an onslaught of fights, attempting to deal with a child while trying to move out. None of it worked and everything just fell apart until the main antagonizer had been forced to leave.

Since then, things have been stabilizing and now I can finally get back to working on the stories. This time though, I’m just going to be working on one story at a time instead of a billion.

Thus, Of Doves and Ravens! Its basically the other OG gun, but removing the weird trap MC and just using female MCs because fuck it. I’m horrible with male MCS oddly.

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Violins sang as people waltz to the orchestra’s tune across a polished tan marble floor. 20ft floor to ceiling windows bordered the dance floor’s southern edge, giving them all the billion-dollar night view from the Santa Monica Free Zone mountain and its beaches. Each of the male attendees wore traditional black suits, adorned with slight individualistic items that told others whom they were. The women also kept their dresses slightly traditional in the sense none of them looked like waltzing peacocks, a fashion sense that’d been highly criticized by the host’s family many times. 

Tables draped in angelic white table cloths filled the rest of the room as butlers and maids shuffled between them with courses. Security, also dressed in butler uniforms, stood at attention against the walls; watching their charges with hawkish eyes, weapons hidden from few but not out of reach. 

The music played at a lovely enough level that hid the noise of dancing, though not loud enough that those who sat at the tables had to yell. Most of them talked low amongst themselves, each trying to be subtle in their tones, with some laughing loudly here and there.  

Kiara Cross, a raven-haired scion of the Cross Family, watched it without emotion from the only balcony in the room. Her midnight eyes watched the vipers twist and curl around each other as they plotted their schemes or tried to build alliances. Such was the way of high society. As the host’s proxy, her father, she had to remain here since the man could not be bothered to deal with these people himself. Thus, as the only daughter and the youngest in the family, she was made to deal with these people.  

Her small lightly tanned face turned as the maid beside her, a porcelain-skinned teen with platinum blonde hair and deep-sea blue eyes tapped her shoulder, alerting her to an approaching guest. “Ms. Cross!” A woman with a sweet and slightly deep voice approached. “It’s been a few months since we’ve last seen each other.” The woman was the Ambassador to the Northern Canadian Federation. A woman of short stature, slim build, and a small chest. She was, however, gifted with a very lovely countenance. 

“Ms. Decker,” Kiara greeted the woman with the first smile she’d shown all night. “It has. I heard you were recalled over your constant ‘requests’ to be reposted to the New York United Nations building.” Her tone wasn’t formal but rather endearing to the ambassador. It was an unusual sight amongst those who’d be around high society. The Dragon of America’s daughter was not one for functions, neither did she play politics like the other girls. 

She simply was here to make a formal ‘I am alive’ appearance, if only to satisfy her father’s wishes. She did not approach others, but neither did she turn them away. She was as neutral as the air in the sky. Kiara also did not treat people favorably. Of course, the ambassador was the exception. 

“Haaa~” The woman sighed as she took one of the finely upholstered chairs next to her. “Nicolas is off galavanting around New York’s finest. Playing hard to get as always.” 

“Next time I see him, I’ll give him a stern talking too – if I have the chance,” Kiara nodded. “Dad has been hounding him for the last few months to settle down.” 

“Really…?” The Ambassador’s eyes went wide as she looked to the teen. “And did you–”

“I told him about you,” Kiara rolled her eyes. “For Pete’s sake, Ashley, of course I put your name in the bucket for you. I wanted you to be my sister-in-law.” Ashley Decker was one of the few women who ran the society circuit that was actually a pleasant person. At 25, she was 9 years older than Kiara and 1 year younger than her biological brother, Nicolas. The Cross family’s heir and the only official male offspring of their father.

“Well, hopefully, Nicolas will finally see how much I love him,” Ashley Decker sighed as Ester, Kiara’s only friend, and maid, placed a crystal glass half-full of red wine down on a side table beside the woman. She looked at it with a wistful glance. “I love your brother, and I hope he’ll see it…” 

Kiara doubted it. Nicolas Cross was a man who took too much after their father. Just like their father, he was a natural-born tactician and leader. He was a great fighter and a man known for his loyalty to his unit, the notorious Reduviidae; Cross War Industrials’ assassins, and open secret. He was their commanding officer, answering only to their father and Kiara. Though, Kiara never once used her authority. 

“Well, since you’re back in Santa Monica, I’m sure you’ll be happy to hear that he’s being recalled,” Kiara noted. “I don’t know what’s going on, but my father put out a recall order to all of the company’s units. So, you’ll see him next month.”

“Should you really be telling me that?” Ashley gave Kiara an incredulous look. 

She shrugged it off. “With such a broad order, I’m sure your country already knows about it.” 

“How do you figure that?” Ms. Decker asked. 

“Because we’ve already known about your mole in the company for the last two months. Why do you think my brother ever bothered to sleep with you?” Kiara’s tone changed, no longer the soft and sheltered teen, but rather, now she looked like her father’s daughter. Her tone became icy, her eyes narrowed dangerously. 

“W-What are you talking about?” Ashley recoiled in feigned confusion. 

The music had already stopped, and all eyes were on them. Ester had already taken up a position behind the woman, her left forearm spin, revealing that it was a cybernetic limb; and a titanium sharpened blade half her forearm’s length slid out with a sharp twang. 

“I really did like you,” Kiara breathed out, her lovely jaw clenching with restrained rage. “And I had trusted you, Ashley.” 

Ashley Decker was a pleasant woman to be around, and Kiara had wanted her to be her sister-in-law. She’d been the first outsider she’d let into her heart.

“My brother informed me that the ‘gift’ you had me send him, was actually a very intricate biochemical bomb… It would have worked, had you’d known I only ever give gifts in person,” Kiara said. “My dear brother handled the package with extreme prejudice. Like I said, it almost worked. Had you not missed that one detail. Was he that much of an ass that you wanted him dead?”

Ashley’s face slowly turned into a vicious sneer. She kept quiet and stood up straight with pride, looking down her nose on the teenage girl who’d just been taken advantage of. Silence filled the hall as everyone looked up at them with mixed reactions. Some held horror, some held withheld laughter, and others were just indifferent to the messy politics between titans. 

“Why…?” Kiara whispered. “Why did you do it…?” 

But she would never get her answer as Kiara’s vision brightened as her Heads Up Display came to life.

 “Emergency Code – Angel’s Flight.” The words flashed in the air off to the side where it would be seen, but out of the way, as her optical implants were equipped with state of the art reality augmentation systems ease of use. The warning was quickly followed by another. “Emergency call updated – Exodus. Rally point set for C.W.I Santa Monica North Point Port.” 

Ashley still sat there, her lovely green eyes narrowed with the promise of death. She kept silent now and Kiara didn’t have the time to deal with her anymore. “Gather the Knights, we’re leaving. Ester, please apologize to our guests.” 

Ester nodded, her face still plastered with that hauntingly lovely smile as she bowed. Her blade retracted back into her arm before she used her in-body communication implants to silently order the knights to escort Kiara out as her simple black dress swayed. Of course, all of them were already aware of the Exodus order. All the guards in the room quickly in, in an orderly fashion, jogged after their miss. There were more guards outside, so Ester didn’t need to follow so quickly. 

She turned on the ambassador. “Why?” The maid asked with a smile. 

“You know why, orphan bitch,” Ashley sneered. “The uneducated dregs of society shouldn’t play with rich misses, so why do you go running back to your master, dog—” 

Before she could finish, Ester’s hands were already around the woman’s head. The woman’s eyes went wide with fear as if the maid attacking her was not in the realm of possibilities she’s foreseen. Strands of platinum hair swayed, framing that angelic smile that now resembled that of a murderous demon. “You guessed right. My dear Ki would have never harmed you. She would have never asked for you to be killed. However, your miscalculation was that you never thought I would kill you when she wasn’t looking.” 

“B-B-But I’m the–” 

Her face spun away as Ester jerked her head up and to the side. Then, she casually lifted the dead woman up from the seat and threw it over the railing to where the guests were. Screams and shouts followed as the body crashed into some unimportant wealthy merchant’s table. She followed the path Kiara had taken out, her angelic smile was just a little brighter…

⊆ Ξ ⊇

“Would… You like to talk about it?” Ester tested the waters, breaking the disturbingly quiet atmosphere that inhibited the SUV. Outside, holographic advertisements danced overhead; breaking several city and federal mandates as they left the quiet and beautiful mountain road that led up to the abandoned venue. 

Ashley Decker, the Ambassador she’d killed while Kiara was not looking, had grown on her miss. It was a rare happening and one that’d been later found out to be… Manufactured. A series of run-ins with her brother, a few drinks here, and she’d infiltrated one of their homes for a few nights of lovemaking. The very home that Kiara was sent to once summer was over. Information of the Cross sibling’s movements was locked under such security, that very few people even knew Kiara would even be in the city. 

Her brother? He was on social media circuits every night when he wasn’t pulling a mission, and subsequently partying like an animal. Picking up women, getting drunk, and eventually landing in one of the many safe houses with them when Kiara wasn’t around. That ended when she came, and he’d temper himself to just one lady during the stay.

It was just found out, mainly by her father, that his assistant had been ‘compromised’. Information on the siblings’ schedule had been handed over to the woman. It was a plan to capture Kiara to control her father and have him do their bidding. The country that orchestrated this highly risky and complex plan hadn’t expected the assistant to be caught red-handed. Eventually, he’d been spared death at Kiara’s request but he was… Sent to an offshore prison facility. 

The assistant had been like an uncle to Kiara, and the betrayal had been a blow to her. She’d known about the assistant’s betrayal months ago, but Ashley? She’d only been notified about it two weeks ago when Ashley tried to call her on a ‘date’. Nicholas had been furious that she had the gull to try. She’d been spared because she was an ambassador, and international politics had been finicky. She would have been spared by Kiara because Kiara was too… Kind Hearted, despite what she’d gone through a couple of years ago. Not Ester though. She’s fought and clawed for survival in the Canal District of Eastern Los Angeles. She could have let the first slight go, if only because it would’ve been too problematic. However, the second attempt to get her miss had pushed Ester over the edge.

She wondered how Kiara would react once she found out that she’d killed Ashley. 

Kiara broke away from the window as several tears rolled down her cheeks. Ester was stunned by the sight. “Are you going to betray me too?” Kiara asked in a small voice.

“No,” Ester answered without hesitation and made sure to keep her voice level. Kiara scanned her face for any hint of a lie. Upon finding none, since Ester’s face was completely artificial due to several life-altering injuries, it was the perfect picture of an angelic doll. “I’m sorry… I know I shouldn’t question you…”

“Not at all,” Ester replied. “Your knights are soulless cybernetic humans. It’s normal to question someone with free will.” 

“I shouldn’t question yours though,” Kiara turned back to the window as their convoy rolled to a stop at an intersection in the shopping district. Blue and red lights filled the street as six armored SWAT trucks blew through the street, their sirens barely penetrating through the thick bullet-resistant glass and plating. Kiara was the only one who paid it no mind. Her guards, the Advent Knights, kept note of the direction on their Battlenet. 

“You looked very beautiful tonight,” Ester cooed, changing the topic. She wasn’t lying. Kiara was not the ‘most beautiful girl in the world’ status. But she had an allure to her that Ester could get drunk on. Especially now, with silky raven hair cascading down her head and over her shoulders where they hugged her well-endowed chest. While her black dress was a simple sundress, modified to be worn at the event, a dress made from stab and fire-resistant materials made inhouse by CWI, it complimented her figure. 

Pared with those pursed soft lips, Ester wanted to kidnap her and take her away from the troubles of this vicious world. Her black-winged angel. Her savior…

Kiara looked up from the window with slightly narrowed eyes. “You’re changing the topic.” 

“Yes, but you were still the most beautiful woman at the ball tonight,” Ester put on the most predatory smile she could. One that’d stricken down many men and women alike. Kiara looked away, a subtle blush on her cheeks that was only illuminated by the glow of a holo-advert as they crossed it. 

“Kiss ass,” Kiara muttered as they approached the New Santa Monica Pier. 

The tall retail and office buildings fell away to tens of posh boutique buildings for major luxury brands. Those lasted for two blocks before they reached the pier’s boundary. Boutiques gave way to luxury boating and fishing supply stores – all controlled and manned by CWI’s most trusted low-level employees, and protected by the Sentinels; CWI’s private police force. 

And that was when Kiara began to take the Exodus order a little more seriously. Sentinels were out in force. Their patrol cars had barricades here and there, along with all three of their Mechs. 4-legged machines armed with underbelly .50 caliber machine guns and armored to hell. It was the Sentinel’s emergency force for when they needed to deal with extreme threats. In fact, they were only ever taken out in the most extreme circumstances. 

“Ester,” Kiara’s head turn, watching the .50 cal machine gun follow their SUV as it scanned it. “Why are the Mechs out?” 

“Tsk,” Ester clicked her tongue before she unbuckled her seatbelt and leaned in between the two front seats from their passenger seats. “Tell those fucking idiots not to point their damn guns are the miss!” She hissed. 

“I’m not… Worried about the guns,” Kiara said as they passed the yacht dealership. “I want to know why they brought out the mechs.” 

“Maybe because your father activated the Exodus Protocol,” Ester growled as she sat back.

Kiara shook her head slightly. “He calls them at least twice a year, but the sentinels have never activated the Mechs for those.” 

“Maybe it’s for real this time, Ki,” Ester turned to her. “That fucking ambassador just tried to plot against you, why are you–” 

She froze when she saw how worried Kiara was. Her hands gripped the hem of her dress, as she looked over the shoulder of the front passenger seat. Worried tinted her expression as they pulled onto Ocean Ave, the staging area for all incoming visitors and their entourages. Ester couldn’t reprimand her after that. 

The convoy came to a stop, and they stepped out onto a brightly illuminated brick road. The buildings that overloaded the beach here were a mixture of luxury apartments and exclusive restaurants and small shops. Normally, this area would be alive with luxury and sports cars as their owners enjoyed the area. The New Santa Monica Pier had been destroyed during the Second Civil War nearly a hundred years ago, where this area had been ravaged in the subsequent skirmishes afterward. 

Until her father managed to take it back, along with California, from China before it fell under the combined weight of the CWI, Russia, and the remains of the United States Government during World War Three when she was eight. 

The area was built in a contemporary nordic fashion, with ornate memorials pillars that rose up on the edge of the sand. It was all geared towards the nation’s elite and, or wealthy. 

Was.

Because tonight, there were no luxury cars, or happy rich couples dining on lobsters. All the lovely little tables Kiara had come to expect outside of restaurants had been cleared away. All the floodlights used for cleaning had been switched on, removing the atmospheric street lights she’d loved, and drowning the entire street and pier in white light. 

Tables and chairs had been replaced with racks on racks of ammo and other items for soldiers. Kiara walked past a line of all-black soldiers in full combat load-outs. Full-coverage helmets that resembled motorcycle helmets with lights and a forehead cam that could be tapped into by command. They also wore carriers that were quickly being filled up with equipment from crates next to the racks. Each of them was armed with the age-old M4 rifle. Though ancient tech, it’d been the most optimal considering its modularity. 

Each soldier wore motorcycle-like full-coverage helmets without helm-attached HUDs. That meant they weren’t cybernetically enhanced, aside from whatever upgrades they got themselves on their own. They were infantry, with only a plate carrier to cover their chest for protection and attached gear on their belts. A few soldiers spared the two girls and their entourage of guards a glance. 

They stopped on the sidewalk as the ground rumbled. A large gray tank rolled by. Its hexagon armor paneling was painted with ‘The Bell Tolls for Them’. Kiara instantly recognized the tank’s turret and identified it as the latest Heavy Battle Tank her father unveiled earlier in the year. The vehicle’s barrel hummed ominously with electricity, with its barrel being four thick steel poles with copper bars bent neatly around it to form a lattice of sorts. 

“He brought the Atlas Laser Tank?” Kiara gasped. As it rolled by, the heavily armored vents behind it glowed blue as its charging apparatuses were at full power. “I thought it wasn’t ready to see battle yet?” 

“It was ready the moment it was unveiled, Ki,” Ester said without bothering to look at it. Instead, her eyes watched the surroundings. Her miss had a bad habit of forgetting herself when she was being overwhelmed. With a gentle nudge, Ester pushed the girl forward as Kiara examined her minimap. The entire beach area was laden with CWI forces, which hadn’t been there when the ball started. Battleships and landing craft appeared on the minimap, well out of view from her point of standing. Not from the Starlink Net. 

The knights followed suit as they walked up the pier as more VTOLs and jets flew overhead. Kiara watched them go, then turned and found herself passing an actual checkpoint on the pier. It’d been manned with Shock Troops, CWI’s literal heavy infantry. Literal being that they were cyborgs, equipped with armor that resembled that of a bomb suit, but for bullets. Each one carried belt-fed heavy machine guns with the belts leading into their backpacks. They also wore helmets similar to the grunts, except that their helms had been fashioned with horns – for headbutting. They also had onboard reality augmenting optical implants similar to Kiara. It helped the hulking warriors pin down their targets. 

“He’s here, isn’t he?” Kiara asked as they stepped up to a jog. Her father being here meant there was a literal war going on. Which made sense in the context of all these troops being here. There have been skirmishes around the city that required a heavy response but her father being here while it happened meant it was DEFCON 1 status. 

As they reached the apex of the pier, she saw the Leviathan slowly floating towards the south. The Leviathan was her father’s capital warship that was almost twice the size of a Nimitz class carrier. It explained where all these planes were coming front. She hadn’t seen it because she’d been preoccupied with the ongoings directly around her. Now, the massive ship glowed like a city out in the desert out there.

She turned her attention to the building that rested at the end of the pier. A two-story seafood restaurant called ‘Crystalline Moon’. On top of it, two VTOLs rested as tens of soldiers guarding them. Kiara ignored it as she pushed past several officers that came forward to greet her. The restaurant’s insides were the typical furnishings of a super high-end place, except all the tables and chairs had been replaced with folding tables topped with portable computers. Attended by logistical officers that made call outs, or flew UAVs to give them bird-eye views. 

The hive of activity stopped for a moment as Kiara whirled through the doors. All of them recognized her and returned to their duties. Kiara stopped, and suddenly became subconscious of all their eyes on her. Along with one set in particular, two red glowing orbs that looked up at her over a holo map table. Despite the battle outside, Kiara straightened her posture and walked gracefully but quickly towards her father. “I’m here, Dad.” Kiara nodded as she kept her tone polite and submissive. 

Her father may have been a hard-ass leader of a blood thirty company, but he was of the old ways. When you treated your elders with reverence, spoke to your parents without disrespect, and always did as you were asked by said parents. He was Old Americana in many ways, as obnoxious as it could be and he’d hit her – softly – for any disrespect thrown his way. 

“You’re late,” Daniel Cross growled slightly, his voice deeply demonic as the blue light illuminated the scars on his wrinkled face and shaved head. 

Kiara bowed slightly. She wanted to retort that there was a battle outside and that she had to walk across the damn pier to get here. “I’m sorry.” 

“It’s fine,” He waved his hand, and Kiara’s minimap showed that her guards had been removed from her possession. They made their way back down the pier. 

“Why did you take my people away?” Kiara’s eyes narrowed, but she withheld aiming them at her father. 

“I did not,” He growled. “Your pet, Ester, is beside you. Those are my people and they will join the fight. We’re being attacked by the world now, my lovely daughter. That includes the United States Government, or at least, whatever fragmented shits they could scrape by with.”

Kiara ignored his jab at Ester. “Why?” Instead, she inhaled to restrict the wave of emotions that came with information that came with that. She finally raised her head and puffed out her chest, imitating her father’s posture. It made her look like a puffed kitten instead. Amusement played on the man’s face momentarily as his steel jaw moved again. 

“Because we have something every one of them wants for themselves.” He turned to the men in the room. “Continue without me. Failure means you all will be shot by me, or them.” None of the officers reacted much outside their salutes before turning back to their stations. Her father gestured with an open knife hand towards the staircase against the far wall. She followed.

“Does this mean I finally get to fight with you?” Hope gleamed in her eyes. She’d been in limbo since her kidnapping years ago. And since then, she’d been a recluse. Kiara had also been pestering her father to let her go on his campaigns. To help. 

Being the CEO of Cross War Industrials, Defacto king of California, and the most feared warlord in all of the world; her father was always hunting for good people. Kiara liked to think she could be one of them. To be needed and not useless. His black combat boots were the same brand and style that Kiara was currently wearing. A detail that did not escape the man.  

He was a hulk of a man, standing at 6’9 because of his cybernetics. Cybernetics that was in full display as he wore only a white tank top and black combat pants with a holstered pistol. He was half-machine, half-man. He was a terror to those who didn’t know them and those who did keep their distance from him. It humanized him in front of his men. Ester could almost laugh. She had been trained by the man personally, and she was fully aware of the inhuman cruelty that man had in him. 

“No, you have a different part to play tonight,” He said as they went up the last flight. 

“Seriously…?” Kiara blurbed. Daniel threw a side glance with a raised eyebrow that made her look away. 

“You’re going to take this briefcase with you and keep it safe,” Daniel stated as they pushed through the roof access. There, three white guards appeared. One of them had a briefcase. He handed it over to her father, who in turn, held it out to his daughter. “Keep. It. Safe.” 

Kiara gawked at the case as if her mind was short-circuiting. Ester stepped in. “I believe your daughter believed she’d be fighting with you. Not running away.” 

That earned Ester a very slow exhale as he stared her down. Ester, who’d lived through the same cruelty this man could inflict, just stared back with a smile. 

“Y-Yeah,” Kiara finally looked up at her father. 

Daniel shook his head. “No, not here. You and the Reapers are going to leave on these birds. You’re going to board the Leviathan and leave for a safe haven I’ve prepared. 

“You’re sending me away!?” Kiara’s voice came cracked as she raised it towards her father. “You promised that we’d stick together if something big happened! I was not going to be left out of the family’s problems!” 

Her father’s face softened, letting her off on her outburst. “Mi Amor, you will be helping me and you’re taking the most important task of all of us.” Kiara bit back her retort, signaling for him to speak.

“In this case,” He nodded to it. “Is something very important.” 

Instead of trying to elaborate it to his stubborn daughter, he decided to show her. With steady hands, he unlocked it with the chip in his wrist and turned it to his daughter. Light poured out as an oppressive aura slammed down over the rooftop. The air distorted and Kiara could hear soft whispering voices. It beckoned her to grab it – then it was gone.

Her father had closed the briefcase with a loud clack. 

“This is what people refer to as ‘The Holy Grail,” He stated calmly as he locked it. “Our R’n’D people just refer to it as the Fragment of God. This is what they’re attacking us for.”

“W-W— This is what all of this is about?” Kiara said as she let out an exasperated sigh. 

“Indeed,” He nodded. “Since the inception of time, this relic had been fought over. Why? Because almost every life-altering invention had come from this stone. Electricity. The wheel. Nuclear weapons. Three world wars had been fought over this, and since the last one, I got it. It’s how we managed to create that laser tank or the Leviathan. Even the eyes I gave you came from this.” 

“We had this…?” Kiara looked up at her father, head tilted like a confused dog. 

“Yes, and it was the reason you were kidnapped that one year. Because the only person who ‘should’ have known I had it, took it out on you because I took it from him.” He stated. 

“And… What am I supposed to do with it?” 

Her father smiled as he guided her to the closest VTOL. “You’re going to keep it safe. O, and all our manufacturing data is in the small compartment on the bottom. Just the left dial instead of both. It already has your RFIC code. On another note, its been said that this is the key to heaven.” 

“Heaven,” Kiara repeated, not really listening as she held the case with delicate hands. 

“I know you stopped believing in Heaven and hell since your mother died,” Daniel said. “But your mother believed in it to her dying breath. I never held the same beliefs as her but after her death… I was in a bad place… And I thought, when I and that traitor, found this, ‘what if’? I hadn’t put much water into the idea until I almost lost you. That was when we tinkered with the stone and here we are.”

For the first time in over four years, her father kissed her forehead before having Ester pull her onto the VTOL Osprey. Hurt and confusion filled her expression as the Reapers loaded in after her. The side of the bird said ‘Arch-Angel’. 

“What about Nicolas?!” Kiara called out as the engines came to life. Her father smiled and made a shotgun racking motion and nodded towards the city. It worried her, but it made sense. She just hoped he’d be alright as Ester pulled her into a seat. There, she faced one of the reapers. It was the first time she noticed each one of them had a laughing skull decal spread across the front of their helmets. 

A message popped up in a chat box in her vision.

[DAD: “You are my most precious treasure. Even if I have to claw my way out of hell, a dragon always protects what is theirs.”]

Cheesy as it was, it warmed Kiara’s heart as she clutched the briefcase tight and whispered “Cringe~” 

She knew her father could not say it directly to her. Underneath all that, her father loved her more than the world. He’d displeased it all those years ago when he destroyed half the city and almost all his reputation to get her back. The jets roared as the bird shifted and they lifted into the air. The entire city was in flames as the sky battle was kept well off by the droves of jets her father brought with him. The richer neighborhoods were better off as red and blue lights flicked through the mostly untouched neighborhoods. 

That didn’t last long as several jets crashed down into one of them in the Hollywood area. 

She watched as the city grew smaller, thinking about her father and brother. Mostly her father, though. She wished she was five again when CWI had just been some run of the mill wannabe Black Water company. When he had been mostly human and her mother sang her to sleep. It was then, as the world grew bright as if the sun had risen in the mountains behind the city, that Kiara realized she couldn’t remember what her mother sounded like anymore.

The world turned white, and the entire osprey shook violently as all the electronics were wiped. Not even the emergency systems had been spared as the world spun around and around. Kiara felt the seat’s harness bite into her breasts painfully as everything went silent. And she prayed. She prayed for someone to save her. Save her father and brother. To save Ester…

Heat gave way to cold as she felt the world begin to stretch and it felt like her very soul was being gripped by something… 

As you wish… Someone whispered in her head. As you … Wish… 

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