Golden Triangle
"Golden Triangle"


Hell's Fury was in the kitchen preparing another culinary masterpiece. Since his arrival at the
BHC Academy the chefs had gotten used to the young upper class mutant hanging out in the kitchen.
He was a master, and the head chef for the Academy watched him closely to see what culinary
secrets he could pick up. The head chef wasn't the only one watching Hell's Fury today though.
Paradox had pulled up a chair and sat watching him prepare another masterpiece with hungry eyes.
He had gotten tired of the monotony of the BHC's cafeteria food, so when Hell's Fury had made
his daily trip to the kitchen to prepare his daily masterpiece he had jumped at the chance to
acompany him and try the culinary delight once it was done. Paradox wasn't really sure what
Hell's Fury was making, but it looked real good.

"I should have known you'd be here!" came a droll remark. Catana stood in the doorway with her
arms crossed and a wireless phone in her hand. "If you didn't have your stomach to think with
you wouldn't think at all," she said with a sarcastic smile. "Are you going to start on me again?"
groaned Paradox. She considered for a moment. "Nah, that should be enough for today. More for ya
tomorrow though." She smirked at him and he made a face. "So you want me for something or did you
just come to rub your supossedly mahvelous personality in my face?" he asked mockingly. "Actually
I came because you have a phone call and after searching the whole mansion I finaly found you."
"Oh, it took you that long to discover which organ I think with?" he asked throwing her earlier
comment back at her and hinting at a lack of inteligence on her part. "Touché," she replied as
she handed him the phone.

As Paradox left the kitchen to converse with whatever girl it was who called him this time and
was desperate enough to wait 45 minutes while she went to get him, Catana looked to see what
Hell's Fury was doing. She was impressed with the way he handled the kitchen utensils and the
fluidity of his movements. He made cooking look like a gracefull dance. In the corner of her eye
she saw the Head Chef shoot a look of envy at the young teenager who was already a master at
such an extremely young age. If Catana recalled correctly, Hell's Fury's powers were fire control
and manipulation. You had to use the word control very lightly though. He could concentrate his
powers well when working his art, she noticed, but to use them for other things he had almost no
control at all. In fact, Roulette had whispered to her the other day that when Gomurr did his
usual test out the kid's powers test Hell's Fury had left the old guy extremely singed. She
giggled remembering the jokes she and Puma11 had made about that. The new kid was definately 'hot
stuff'. Still laughing to herslef, Catana left the kitchen.

ShockWave paced restlessly. She wasn't sure why, but she was full of anxiety and a weird sense
of dread these days. Scratch that, she knew perfectly well why she just didn't want to think
about it. She had been through several things lately, like that weird other dream world trip with
Gomurr and Rahsas and then that horrible jail thing with Rahsas. Right now she was avoiding
Rahsas. It seemed that bad things happened to her when she was with him. She knew it wasn't fair
to blame him, but she just wanted to avoid the whole friend/maybe more thing with him too. Face
it, she was feeling trapped right now. "If you wear a strip out of this carpet you are going to
have to replace it you know," said Havok as he came out of his room and ran into her. "I mean
do you have to pace this hallway and right in front of my door? Then everyone is going to think
I did it and say: 'there goes Havok doing weird things again and blaming it on other people' I
mean can't you just hear them?" ShockWave had to smile at that. "You don't want to lose your
reputation now do you?" she teased. "Well there are somethings I wouldn't mind losing. Like the
redhead distracting me from my work," he said as he pushed her to the stairs. "Go to your own
room to pace. You know I have to finish something on my computer right now." He messed her hair
up affectionately and went back into his room. Now that she thought of it, she did know that he
had some work to finish. "Sorry!" she yelled. "I think I'll go walk a few laps around the track,"
she said to herself.

When she got downstairs she ran into a group of students. Storm!, Demona, Nate, and a few
others hadn't met Hell's Fury before and their first sight of him was his coming out of the
kitchen with his masterpiece in hand. "Alright!" exclaimed Paradox as he breathed in the aroma.
He grabbed it and quickly started wolfing it down. "Who's your friend?" asked Nate. Paradox,
being a guy didn't bother to swallow before talking so the name he said came out sounding a little
strange. "Health Fury?" guessed a puzzled Nate after a moment. Paradox started laughing. "I
guess that's an ok codename for a health food nut who seems to be a chef," said Storm! slowly.
"Not exactly the kinda codename that inspires fear in one's enemies," gasped out Paradox
between his laughter and choking on the food he had inhaled. "Can't be too healthy if you're
going to choke to death on it," said Catana as she thumped Paradox on the back. "Hey you don't
have to hit so hard!" gasped out Paradox. "She gave him a look. You know perfectly well that his
name is Hell's Fury, not Health Fury you neanderthal!" she exclaimed. "He may as well change it
now," giggled Puma11. "I'm never going to be able to forget this," she added. "Uh, nice to meet
you," Nate said to Hell's Fury who was taking the teasing calmly. "Ahem! Don't you guys have
classes to get to?" called out Monet from the top of the steps. There were a few glares in her
direction and much mumbling as they headed to their class. "Don't mind them," Monet said to
Hell's Fury. "Let's go get you settled in and work out a class schedule," she said as she lead
him off in another direction. She exchanged a look with ShockWave as she left.

Finaly, she couldn't take it anymore. In the middle of a particularly noisy BHC cafeteria
meal, ShockWave couldn't stand being around anyone anymore. Beside's Demona she was the only
other person who was actually being quiet. She was quietly going mad. Catana, sensing her
friends mood in her cat-like way turned to look at her with a question in her eyes. ShockWave
forced a small and waved her off. Catana frowned and was about to go over when Paradox threw
several peas in her face and she was forced to retaliate. Luckily things did not break out into
a full fledged food fight, but ShockWave slipped away before things got back under control.

"Do you have an apointment?" asked Mandy Stevens, Silver's secretary. "No I don't, but I'm
sure he can squeeze in a few seconds for me," ShockWave stated. She was carrying a small duffle
bag and looked to be in a hurry. "He's busy right now," Mandy replied. "Is he in a meeting?"
"He's on a conference with a client over the phone." "I'll just wait inside his office then."
Before Mandy could reply or do anything to stop her, ShockWave opened the door and walked into
Silver's office. 'Poor Mandy. She should be used to these sort of things by now though,' ShockWave
thought as she set her duffle bag down and looked at Silver. He was clearly profiled against the
window in his office, with the sunlight giving highlights to his hair. It was no wonder Mandy
was head over heels in love with her employer. He was breathtakingly handsome. His face was
stern and commanding as he negotiated via telephone. He turned to look out the window and his
muscular back was visible through his suit. 'And even he is willing to think the worst of me,'
ShockWave reminded herself sadly. She would lay down her life for Silver. She was totaly loyal
to him. She thought the world of him. You could say that she idealized him. He was what the BHC
should be: noble, kind, honest... True that he was having an affair with his secretary and
probably had no intention of marrying the girl, but everyone was allowed a few shortcomings.
She thought he knew that she wanted to better the BHC, to end the secret plots and the darkness,
the evil side. Even though she was a spy profesionaly, she had morals and ideals that she would
never betray. That's what she used her gathered information to further. But it had all come
crashing down recently. When everyone believed that she would kill in such a horrible way...
She knew what had gone on in that meeting. She wasn't the head of a spy organization for nothing.

She turned away with tears in her eyes. It hurt so much for the person you admired to think
the worst of you. It didn't matter if he truly believed those things of her then or not, the
fact that he would consider it at all was enough. "Did you want something?" He had finished his
phone call and saw her standing there with her back to him. She blinked away the unshed tears
and turned around with a smile on her face. She wasn't going to ever let him know that he had
hurt her. She never wanted anyone to know they could hurt her. "I just came to bug you and
Mandy that's all," she replied glibly. "You barged in here again? I'm going to lose my secretary
if you keep doing that." "Don't worry, I doubt Mandy would leave you," she said giving him a
meaningfull look. Silver cleared his throat, and saw her bag. "What's with the bag?" he asked
quickly. "I'm going to leave the country for a couple of weeks. Maybe a whole month," she said.
"Why would that be?" "I'm going to check in with some of my operatives, make sure the business
is in order, that sort of thing." He gave her a searching look. 'I wonder what he's thinking,'
she thought suddenly. "I suppose you'll contact me if I can do anything to help or you want to
be picked up from the airport when you return or something." "Of course," she said seriously.
'He's trying to figure out what's going on with me,' she thought. "Thank you your majesty," she
said with and exagerated bow. Silver looked even more suspicious of something being up as she
walked out of his office.

ShockWave leaned back in her first class seat. 'Kinda wish these seats came with something to
put my feet up on' she thought as she settled down. Of course since she was wearing a skirt she
wouldn't be able to put her feet up as high as she liked to anyway. She smiled at the stuffy
looking man sitting across the aisle. As soon as he turned away she stuck her tongue out at him.
"Stuck up creep," she muttured under her breath. He had been staring disdainfully at her
green streaked hair and her childish flare skirt, thinking to himself that a kid like her didn't
belong in first class. "Bet you screw around with girls younger than me all the time," she
muttered as she looked out the window at the ocean below. All you could see was blue, with faint
hints of waves. "Scottland. Soon I'll be home," she sighed.

Chapter 1

ShockWave owned a castle in Scottland. It wasn't one of the larger castles, and most of
the land around it had been sold to sheperds and such. Still, it was in the country and nice and
peaceful. It was one of the places that most felt like home to her because she could look
forward to her visits there. A few years ago she had converted the castle into a museum. She
liked collecting beautiful artwork and relics and replicas of the past. The artwork she had were
mostly paintings she considered beautiful, but weren't really worth all that much. She had a few
gorgeous renditions of some masterpieces, but she wasn't really interested in the purchase of
a genuine masterpiece. The paintings took up the main galleria. The other rooms were devided by
periods and places. She had a room full of medieval Irish implements, old clothes, swords and such.
Another galleria had items from England througout different periods. She had a very nice collection
of English longbows there. She had one section fully devoted to the weaponry of the Middle Ages
and maps of several castles in the world. Inspired by Gomurr exquisite collection of Oriental
items, she started her own collection of vases, weaponry, clothing, and paintings from the Orient.
The museum was cared for by a nice Scottish family who lived in a house built at the edge of
the grounds. They enjoyed the bustle of the turist season and the peace of the off-season.

Only one part of the castle was habitable. This was two floors of the eastern tower. It
was only adequate for one person really, for the towers weren't very wide. There was a little
kitchenette area on the second floor, and a bedroom on the third floor. ShockWave was standing
by the open window in the bedroom. Mrs. Anderson had done a great job of fixing the room up for
her. One of the boys had even gone to town and bought groceries for her. ShockWave waved at
little Conrad Anderson who was playing in the grass with the dogs. He beamed up at her, but soon
his mother chased him away to do his chores. The Anderson's worked hard, and in exchange ShockWave
provided them with all that they needed. Their eldest soon had gotten married recently, and
ShockWave, whom they knew as Margaret McCauley, had paid for the whole wedding and honeymoon.
She stood now in the window, enjoying the cool breeze. She was younger than the Anderson's sons,
yet they all worked for her and even treated her like a sister when she stayed at the castle.
It was somewhat mind-boggling to them that a 17 year old girl would be their rich boss. They
knew that she had inherited the money and lived in the States, earning a lot on investments
though. The museum made a good amount of money, but she had convereted the place into a museum
mainly for the purpose of taxes. She couldn't exactly list her real money-making operation.

It was dark at night in the country. She had eaten dinner with the Andersons at their
house. They were kind as always. Amazing how much nicer people were as soon as you left New York.
She had polietly told them that she would be spending a few weeks her most likely and that she
would prefer to be left alone. They would all be more comfortable that way. It had to be strange
having a 17 year old boss, and stranger still having to talk to her. Mr. Anderson never seemed
to know how to address her. Mrs. Anderson seemed to have no problems though. ShockWave stood
looking out the window again. You couldn't see the Anderson's house from their, all you could
see was beautiful green countryside. The air was fresh and cold. Almost as cold as her heart...
She put her head in her hands. "Everything's gone so wrong," she said mournfully. "Maybe I don't
even belong in the BHC anymore..." But that felt wrong too. "I don't know what to do with myself.
I..." She got up and started pacing. She was happy with the BHC. They were all her friends and
the had tons of fun together. But she also wanted to make the BHC better, purge it of the dark
side it held. No one seemed to see that though. She was in the Inner Circle now, the Bishop. Now
she was just as suspect as them. What she saw as a chance to change things they saw as an
oportunity to further her ambition. Ambition did spark inside her, but if she truly wanted to
progress she could do so much. Darkness was a step away, but she wasn't going to take that step.
If she truly wanted to, she could tear most of them appart. She knew plenty of secrets. She
knew many of their secrets. She made it her business to know... and to use what she knew to stop
any plots from the shadows so that no one ever knew that that person had tried or even considered
such and act. Some of them were untouchable, like Harbinger who seemed to remain an enigma no
matter what she found out. But she had foiled a few little plots by arranging a series of
seemingly radom circumstances.

"So what should I do? Just go on like nothing? Am I blowing this all out of proportion?"
She sighed. "Have I even truly made a difference?" She remembered the incident in which she was
taken under the thrall of someone who had appeared to be Nem, but was really her evil twin. In
the BHC everyone used everyone else. Even she did it, even though that was for good purposes. But
did that really make her any different from everyone else? Her mental anguish angered her a little
too. She wasn't supposed to fall apart like this. She was trained, she was profesional. Spies
can't afford to fall apart ever.

"You look so upset, anything I can do to help?" 'This is exactly why we can't afford to
fall apart' she thought as she whirled around. The room was dark. She hadn't even brought up a
candle. If she iluminated the room with her powers he would see her all to well. She rolled to
the side. The voice had come from the bed... "Don't get all excited." He lit a match. He was
sitting on her bed, looking at her calmly. He held the match so that she could see the back of
his left hand. She could see a dragon tattoo there. A tattoo just like the one she had gotten
when she was initiated into the Dragon's Guild. "Who are you and what are you doing here?" she
asked as she stood up. "I have a name, which I'll tell you when I actually feel like it, but I
am the person who 'scouted' you, as it were, for the Dragon's Guild."

"What exactly do you want?" He stood up. "Well first and foremost I'll give you a little
info to deal with. The Dragon's Guild is a three layered organization. You and about a hundred
other people are the bottom layer that gathers and shares the information. Myself and ten others
form the middle layer that analize the information, control the network, and decide who can
access what information. You looked at the file we have on you the day you were initiated, but
you only saw the portion of that file that I allowed you to see. I supervise you and about ten
other members of this organization. Your actual file is actually much longer, but we have to
control what is accessed so that the Guild isn't used for ulterior motives. You know that the
Guild's purpose is to maintain a balance of power in the world, and we use the information
gathered acordingly." He took a deep breath. "What I'm getting at is that we've come across
information on an item of power that threatens the magic the Guild is founded on. So the highmost
layer of the guild, The Dragon, decided to send me here so that you and I can search for and
find this item and then act accordingly."

"So you mean that the Guild has a job for me?" ShockWave said as she mulled over the
information that she had just recieved. This guy looked awfuly young, but then that could be
the light. The room was dark again, so she generated a beam of light energy to iluminate the
room. He was young. A few inches taller than her, but not as muscular as some of the guys at
the Academy. He was probably in his twenties, he had brown eyes, and longish brown hair. He
was handsome, but also pretty unremarkable. A good quality in a spy. His eyes reflected a
certain inteligence and confidence. "Yes. The Guild wants you to do this for us. If the Guild's
magic fails, there is no one with enough magical power to restore it, since the creator died
quite some time ago." "Fine. I'm not exactly doing anything right now," she replied with a wave
of her arm to indicate the room. "I would like to know more about you first." "Considering that
I know so much about you, I suppose I can tell you something about myself," he said with a
friendly smile. "My name is Darrell. I am a mutant with the power to tell anything about the
objects I touch. I can tell you when your bedspread was made, where, and with what. My talent
is also somewhat psionic because I can read the emotional and mental imprints left on objects
touched by or frequently used by a person." He gave her a smug grin. "I've been to the BHC
mansion when I was getting information on you. It was quite an interesting place. I could tell
that you have nightmares about your parents in your bed, and found out more about you than you
may know yourself. I even met Nemesis, the Black Queen. I was dressed as an air condition
repairman and she barely saw me, but she is quite and intriguing character. My powers are the
reason I've been made supervisor in the Guild, as they are very usefull for checking out candidates."

ShockWave frowned. She didn't like the smug way he talked about going among her things,
and she definately did not like the way he seemed to be showing off what he knew. His mutant
power did seem quite usefull, especialy since it seemed that they would be searching for some
magical object. "Where do we start our search?" she asked. "We start right here in Scottland,
actually. There are three location given to us in the information and a search must be begun
at all three points." "So other Guild members will search those?" He frowned. "Actually no.
You're going to have to use some of your operatives to radicate those searches. You'll need to
send someone to India, and someone else to Japan. The search area forms a rough triangle."
"What will we be looking for?" "We aren't sure exactly. It's something that we'll know when we
see it. I know you trust all your operatives, but it's important that you can trust whomever
you send implicitly." "Why can't other members of the Guild be sent?" "I was not informed as to
the reason for these instructions," he said with a frown. 'Lovely' she thought sarcasticaly.
"The search must be begun as soon as posible. I have to get some things in order and will
return he tomorrow evening so that we can start. Have your people sent by then." With that
he just turned and walked away, leaving her with a thousand questions.

"Who should I send?" she asked herself as she reached for the phone. Catana would be a
good choice. She was experienced and could fight it it came to that. Plus they had somewhat of
a mental link as well. Comunication would be important in identifying the object. Too bad none
of her operatives were telepaths. They weren't really fighters either, and battle skills could
be important. She would probably have to send someone she knew from the BHC then. She frowned.
She didn't want too many of them involved in this sort of thing. The person would have to go to
Japan, since Catana should be the one checking out India. "Paradox," she thought musingly. She
had considered making him an operative, but he had no real reason to be undyingly loyal to her
like her other operatives. Still, he had been to Japan. Plus he had telepathic powers that would
help comunication. He always seemed up for an adventure too. "He'll do. But now I have to
convince Gomurr to let me take them out of classes."

She dailed the number to Gomurr's office. He picked up one the fourth ring. "Hi Gomurr,
it's ShockWave." "How's your vacation going?" he asked. "Well it's not exactly a vacation," she
said. "It's more like a business trip." Gomurr waited for her to continue. "I need for you to
let Catana and Paradox out of classes to run a little errand for me." "What sort of errand?"
"An information gathering kind," she replied. "I don't think that the students should be involved
in the pursuits of the members of the Inner Circle," Gomurr said carefully. "Catana is an
operative of mine Gomurr. She works for me. Paradox is going to be recruited for this if he
wishes to take part, but this is in no way connected with the BHC." "Yes, but you still haven't
told me what it's about." "There are some things I can't tell you, old man, but you know I
wouldn't do anything to harm my friends or the BHC. I am in the Inner Circle, but you know me
and hopefully trust me a little." Gomurr detected a hint of pleading in that last sentance.
He sighed. "Very well I will excuse them from classes." 'But I am going to find out more about
this,' he added mentaly. "Thanks!" Now all she had to do was talk Paradox into this.

Catana delivered the phone to Paradox, grumbling about being turned into his freaking
messenger. She thrust the phone at him and went to go pack her bag for a trip to India. 'Which
passport should I use this time?' she thought. "Yello? Who is this?" asked Paradox. "Hi, it's
me ShockWave." "What's going on?" he asked as he glanced over at the histeria surrounding
the new kid. His lip had been split in Daemon's class, and he now had a lisp. Puma11 and a
few others were teasing him, because now HE pronounced his name as Health Fury. He was somewhat
irked at being called away from the pun making. "Would you like to become an operative in my
'information' enterprise?" "You mean become a spy? That could be cool." "I need you to go to
Japan to search for a magical object. I don't know what exactly it looks like, but it's very
important." "I wouldn't mind going back to Japan," he said, paying attention now. "You need to
catch a flight over there ASAP. Talk to Catana about the cash arrangements for the ticket. I'll
need you to contact me when you get there for more details. You'll be paid well for this job.
You in?" He thought about it for a fraction of a second. He could use some cash. "I'm in."
"Great. Contact me from Japan." "Okey-dokey."

Chapter 2:

"Now let's see what we can find out here, now shall we?" Gomurr said to himself. He was at
the apartment that ShockWave now shared with Monet so that they wouldn't have to spend all their
time on campus. He knew Monet was giving class right now so this was a perfect oportunity. He
could also check out her rooms at the mansion, but he figured he was better off starting his
search here. He booted her computer and searched around for a magic tainted disc. It didn't take
him long to find the cd, for he remembered it and knew what he was looking for. He put it in the
drive. He could feel the magic kick in. It was more active than before though. It seemed to reach
out for him. He was overwhelmed with how familiar the touch of that magic felt, but he couldn't
place it. He must have felt in a previous life... As the thought flashed through his mind he felt
the magic reach out to grab him and the computer suddenly began to spit out sparks. Gomurr
watched in dismay as the cd-rom drive opened and the disc melted into slag before his eyes. This
was going to be a bit of a problem.

"'Tis a lovely, bright mornin', lassie. Good to see ye're up an about. Oh, a box was left
for ya this mornin'" ShockWave took the box Mrs. Anderson had given her to her room and opened it.
Inside was a rich looking ensemble complete with jewelery, shoes, and a note. "Wear everything
in the box when I come to get you tonight. -Darrell" She removed the outfit and looked it over
skepticly. It was the sort of thing you'd expect a spoiled upper class woman to wear on vacation.
Even though she was wealthy, she prefered not to wear this sort of things for her tastes ran to
the much more practical. She sighed. This didn't look promising in the fun department. She so
enjoyed most of her jobs.

She was ready when he drove up in a luxury car. That at least was tastefull. She got into
the car without a word and glared at Darrell when he signaled for silence. Finally when they had
been traveling for about an hour, he looked at her in the mirror and said: "You should have done
something with your hair." "What?!" "With it loose like that it seems a little wild and you,
Ms. Elizabeth Brendon." He handed her a passport. "I am your rich American boyfriend Richard
Wilcox. We are going to Lord Hughton Stonsby's estate in Ayrshire. We arrived this afternoon
at the Prestwick airport as you will note from the stamp on your passport. We are attending a
gala ball for all of Stonsby's numerous business associates and wealthy ladies and gentlemen
from all over the world who could be potential partners or clients." "I've heard of Lord Stonsby.
He is known as a shrewd businessman. He is also an art collector like his father, his father's
father and several other ancestors. What is my background?" "You are quite right about the art,
and it is the reason that we are going to this function. The item we are searching for may be
among the artifacts in his collection. Elizabeth is a twenty-one year old heiress to her british
uncle's vast fortune. She has no tittle for her uncle was not a nobleman but a savy businessman
who built up his fortune. Elizabeth was his only other living relative. Not much will be known
of her except for her name so you can take liberties with your character other than those facts."

ShockWave smiled. At least that was nice. "I assume that the artifact we are looking for is
of Chinese origin?" she said sweetly. Darrell gave her a dazzling smile. "I knew you were quick.
Yes it is. Glad that you did a bit of research beforehand." "I'm surprised you didn't already
know I had done so," she replied somewhat airily. "I was rather busy attending to other aspects
of this little adventure. Besides I'm not monitoring any of my normal charges right now so that
I can concentrate on this matter," he replied turning his gaze back to the road. "Well it is
logical that the artifact would come from China since you asked me to send Catana and Paradox
to Japan and India. Since you know tell me that we are going to see a British lord it's likely
that someone in his family was in Hong Kong therefore giving us a neat little triangle between
the three countries all connected by Buddhism." "England wasn't the only magicaly endowed land
in ancient times," Darrell commented. England of course was where the Dragon's Guild had been
formed (See Trial by Fire) "So this Buddhist artifact is endowed with great power, perhaps
from Buddha's karmic circle? That circle ended with prince Siddhartha Gautama slash the
Enlightened On slash Buddha seeing as how he is believed to have achieved nirvana when he died.
Still I don't really know that much about how magic works, so I guess that in theory it could
be possible." "It doesn't matter how the power came to be. It's there and it's a danger to what
we have. We have to find it," Darrell stated. "Maybe I can figure out it's use," he muttured
more quietly. ShockWave looked at him for a moment. He was a handsome man. Inteligent too. To
bad he was irritating.

"If you know where we have to look, what about the other points in India and Japan?" she
asked. "When Paradox contacts you, tell him to seek out old man Shikatu. I don't know what he
can tell Kyr, but he is a feverent man and knows a lot about religious artifacts in Japan.
Catana will be met at the airport by an archeologist. He's the man who runs the dig you sponsor
in India." She ground her teeth together. He seemed to be casually tossing information at her,
but he was really teasing her with all that he knew about her. She found this to be infuriating
and knew she was just a few words away from losing her hot temper. She turned on the radio and
selected a station at random. The music seemed acceptable so she turned it up. She pretended to
ignore him and his not very well hidden grin for the rest of the drive.

She did in fact sponsor a dig in India. Since she did not claim any of the artifacts for
her own and instead payed so that the would be turned over to the goverment as cultural artifacts
she used this investment as a charity contribution on the tax forms for one of her aliases. She
had never met anyone associated with the dig, and the identity she used to donate the money was
one of her most secret and 'clean' identities. One she hadn't used for anything before and
planned to keep safe so she could assume it if anything ever went wrong with her real identity as
Margaret Mills, the rich BHC academy student. The way he just casually mentioned the dig made her
uncomfortable. It was unnerving to know that someone, no a group of someones, knew absolutely
everything about you. She shivered and turned the air conditioner down.

{Hey Shocky} came a voice in her mind. {This is your good buddy Kyr here checking in} {Ok
good. Let's dispense with the useless chatter and get right down to it. Take a while, settle in
and then you pay a visit to old man Shikatu} {Shikatu? I've heard of him before. They say he's a
reincarnated Zen master who live in the peaceful country part of Japan} {Well you find him and
ask about Buddhist artifacts in Japan. Find out if he knows of any with magical powers and that
sort of thing. Pretend to be a skeptic or think up your own reasons. I want you to search out
a Buddhist artifact for me, but I don't have more details yet. Contact me again after you've
talked to him.} {Okey-dokey} {Also I want you to link me to Catana. Establish it firmly, but I
don't want you to maintain it and monitor it} {No evesdropping? And I wanted to know what you
gals chat to yourselves} {I'm serious, Kyr. Cat has a strong emphatic link with me, so if you
establish this I should have no difficulty keeping in touch with her} {Ok, fine. I just hope this
trip turns out to be more exciting than it sounds or it won't be worth what you are paying me}
{You'd make a great mercenary} was her sarcastic return thought. Paradox grinned to himself
because he knew she hadn't meant for him to hear that thought. {Thank you for the compliment. I
know that one day my charm with have you fawning at my feet.} {IN YOUR DREAMS} she yelled into
his mind. He winced. The Black Bishop had picked up a trick or two in dealing with telepathy.
{See ya around, lovely} he thought at her as he terminated that mental link and set her up with
Catana like she asked.

It was easy for him to set up that link because of Catana's empathy was a form of low
level telepathy. He quickly informed her of what he was doing and then let her maintain the link.
He was extremely tempted to eavesdrop on that mental conversation, but he knew he couldn't. Catana
would know he was there, just like a Cat knew when the master was around and pointedly ignored
that person for the opportunity to pounce. Besides, ShockWave could block the energy of telepathy
and cut off mind links if she wanted too. He had gleamed that hidden thought from her mind when
he teased her. She was thinking of doing that with him. He wondered idly if she could shut off
the energy of a telepath, rendering their mental powers useless as he boarded a train. It would
be something worth knowing, but he didn't want to be the one that found out, all the same. He
probably could overcome it, but he didn't understand enough of his powers yet.

{How's the flight going?} came ShockWave's mental voice. {Boring} Catana replied. {India
should be interesting though. I'm glad I don't have to go to Japan for you too} {I don't think
that he's still after you} ShockWave reassured her. {Yes but I'd rather not find out without at
least someone to back me up. Preferable you} She felt ShockWave's mental smile. {No prob with
that here. When you get to India you are going to be met by an archeologist from a dig that I
sponsor there} {Is he young? Cute?} She felt ShockWave's mirth. {Actually I have no idea. The
identity I used to sponsor the dig is Irianna Statenson. It's likely that he thinks you are
connected to me} {You used your clean ID?} Catana thought in surprise. {Wasn't my idea} ShockWave
quickly filled her in on as much as she could of the situation without mentioning the Dragon's
Guild. {Buddhist artifacts. Sounds like fun may be a possibility here. You know I love history}
{Yes, which also makes you most suited for this locale. Be careful though. I don't know why
because I don't believe that anyone else is searching for these artifacts, but I can't help but
feel that there is danger here} {Don't worry, I'm carefull} {I'd use reckless when asked to
describe you} {Thanks a lot! But how I am around Puma11 and the BHC is different. I've never
messed up a job} Catana groaned at the thought ShockWave sent her. {Ok, besides that one anyway.
You know the reasons for that too} she added the last bit with an accussing note. {Just being
cautious} ShockWave thought at her. {Annoying is more like it. Between you and Kyr and
surprised I haven't gone stark raving mad yet} She felt ShockWave laugh, and did so as well.

ShockWave was right about no one else knowing of the potential of what they now sought.
But she was right about something else too. The danger. This magic was unique. It would react
to the proximity of someone that knew about it in a preservation instict. The magic awaited a
chosen one. Chosen out of the many chosen ones. There were so many magics meant for one person
and only that one person. Was it the same person? Maybe not always. Maybe Gomurr's Ascended one
could be linked to this, but maybe that was something else entirely. That was the problem with
ancient and forgotten magic. No one knew. That and the fact that ancient magics were dangerous.
Something perhaps the searchers would have to find out.

Chapter 3:

"I'm so glad airports in the US are never like this," Catana said as she stepped of the
plane. "I'd never fly if they were." The airport was a scene of chaos and nothing like the clean
high-tech airports in the United States. After she got her passport checked and stamped, she
looked around for the archeologist that was supposed to meet her. "Wonder what the dude looks
like," she muttered. You could see lots of people wearing the Indian style of dress, but none
of them were looking at her. "I wonder if he's here yet," she sighed. She spotted a cute tan
guy. He looked to be about 25 years old. He wore tan pants and a shirt of the same color. Sweat
trickled down his forhead and he pushed back the bangs of his longish dirty blonde hair away
from his face. He was wearing some heavy duty boots that were caked with mud and dirt. "No way,"
she whispered to herself. "What are the chances that a stuffy archeologist could be that cute
guy over there?" He probably wasn't. She was assuming that the people who worked on this dig were
natives because they were working with the Indian government and that was usualy the way things
worked in most places. No way to know except to ask. "Excuse me," she said walking over to him.
"I'm looking for a representative of the Indian Historical Society's archeological team." He
blinked at her in surprise. "You are Mrs. Stateson's representative?" he asked scanning her up and
down with his hazel eyes. "Well you aren't exactly what I expected either," she said. "I was
expecting a local." "I work with the Indian government on these digs because I have worked on
many digs in Egypt and feverently believe that the ancient treasures of ancient civilization
belong to the government so that they can be displayed in museums, rather than take by private
collector's," he said sounding defensive. "Yes, but before you get angry at me don't forget that
you expected me to be something different than what I am. A male businessman, perhaps; or a stuffy
secretarial sort." He turned a little red at that. "See?" she said with a laugh.

It had been awhile since he had last been among the thick bamboo groves, or touched the
bark of the japanese oak. Paradox breathed in the cool, refreshing air that was so different
than the air of enormous Tokio and different from just about any other spot on earth. It was
almost like coming home. He could see Shikatu's hut up ahead. Reincarnated Zen master. He snorted
at the oxymoron. Zen was a different form of Buddhism. It neglected the karmic cirlce, reincarnation
and nirvana in it's search for satori, enlightenment. But the uncultured mind wouldn't know the
difference between Zen Buddhism, and the other forms of Buddhism practiced in China, India, and
Japan. Zen was practiced in some parts China, India, and Japan along with those others forms of
Buddhism. Paradox had learned all this while he lived in Japan, perfecting mainly his combat
skills. Warriors didn't tend to search for the Emptiness, the Nothingness, satori, like the monks,
masters, nuns, and patriarchs but all had come in contact with the teachings and with that form of
practicioners themselves. Rather, the warriors followed some of the other forms of Buddhism.
Zen was taught through koans, which were nonesensical riddles meant to free the mind from logic,
which did not exist in satori. If a student tried to give a reasonable answer to such riddles
he was thumped on the head or given some form of physical punishment to try to beat the logic
from his mind. A monk had stayed awhile at the academy where Paradox had trained, and when he
had jokingly answered a koan with some nonesense the monk had nodded solemnly and told him that
if he took the time and built the patience he could achieve enlightenment. That wasn't really his
sort of thing, so Paradox had avoided Zen since then.

Shikatu's hut was one of the charmingly delicate structures with sliding screens that
separated one room fron another. Even though the structure looked delicate, Paradox knew that
the only truly delicate part of the building were the beautifully painted screens. A screen was
pulled back and a pretty young woman bowed before him. He returned the curtesy. /I am Omenome
Matshida, granddaughter of Shikatu Matshida, and this is our home./ \I am Kyr, I have come to
speak with your grandfather./ She bowed again, and again he bowed back. \Then be welcome in
our home/ she said, moving aside for him to enter. She was a pretty little thing with silky
black hair. She was small though. The top of her head didn't quite reach his collarbone. She
was wearing a kimono and was barefoot. He took his shoes off before entering the house. She
closed the screen behind him, and he could see that she had the delicate hands of an artist.
She bowed to him again, and indicated for him to follow. As she passed the butsudan, she also
bowed. Paradox noted in passing that the deity of the house was Dainichi, the personification
of purity and wisdom.

Shikatu's granddaughter led Paradox into the wise old man's room. Shikatu was sitting on
the floor in front of a low table studying one of the many scrolls that littered the room. A
screen was open to allow the breeze to flow in from the garden. Shikatu's bed was in the corner
opposite to where he was sitting, and all the furnishings were tastefull and simple. /Granddaughter
please prepare an extra place for this stranger at our evening meal/ /Yes, grandfather/ she
replied. With a bow she left the room. "Why have you come here seeking me?" the old man asked in
halting english. /I speak japanese well, grandfather, you need not speak english for me/ Paradox
replied. The old man was not his granfather, but the word implied respect. "Yes, but my english
needs a little practice. Besides, my granddaughter does not speak english and I'd rather that
she remain ignorant of what you have come here to speak to me about." "Then you know why I have
come." "You are seeking an object of great power. An object forgotten in the pass of centuries
for all who sought it perished, and soon none remembered." "But you do know of it." "Yes."
The old man turned to regard Paradox. "You are very young. Tell me, why would you seek it?" "I
seek it because it is what I am being payed to do. Also because it presents a challenge." "If
you seek spiritual power for money, you have already failed. But come, we shall eat and I will
tell you more."

ShockWave had been to elegant balls before. Not high brow english parties, but the BHC did
have at least one yearly formal. She and Darell had checked in to a hotel and then he had told
her to change for the ball. She had chosen a bright blue gown, that didn't cling like most
gowns of most recent fashion, but fell gracefully from bare shoulders. She had put her hair up
in a simple twist with two curled tendrils loose by her face. Her green streak she had dyed red
and blended in with the rest of her hair, because it was hardly appropriate for something so high
class, or to keep a trademark on oneself while spying. The only other thing she changed about her
appearance were her eyes. A pair of special contact lenses had made her eyes a bewitching blue,
while at the same time making them look natural. Her only jewelry was a simple strand of pearls
around her neck. The Stonsby manor was magnificent, and the people there were high society and
world reknown personalities. She walked in on Darrell's arm, who was now elegant Richard Wilcox.
She had to admit that this irritantingly bossy person looked dashing in his tux with his hair
combed back. "Welcome to my estate Mr. Richard Wilcox and Ms. Elizabeth Brendon," Lord Stonsby
said to greet them. His eyes seemed to linger on ShockWave, and she smiled charmingly at him.
He was the perfect picture of a British gentleman, still handsome even now that he was in his
sixties. He kissed her hand and said that he would enjoy a chance to speak with them later in the
evening before he had to greet the next guest. Richard greeted many people standing there chatting
and introduced her all around. She recognized many of their names. After he had said hello to
everyone he led her into a waltz.

It was a long evening. She paid attention to what Richard said to everyone, but she was
pretty bored. No one talked to her except to comment on her inheritance of lands in England that
they had heard about. She left Richard/Darell chatting with some business assosiates after
whispering to him that she was going out for some fresh air. She took a bottle of champagne from
one of the waiters walking past and stepped out into the cool night air of the balcony. She placed
her glass on the railing and examined the perfectly sculpted grounds. Everything was elegant and
beautiful. Lord Stonsby certainly had an eye for beauty. Predominant in the landscaping were roses,
with rosebuses artfully shapped into benches or people to make it seem like a rose party was
going on on the lawns. "Do you like it?" asked a firm voice with and english accent. She turned
to Lord Stonsby with a smile. "It's unusual and stunning for it creativity," she said. "I'm glad
you like it, my dear," he said holding out his arm for her. She took his arm and strolled with
him across the balcony. "I have a good eye for two things," he said. "Business and beauty." "Yes,
your eye for beauty is examplified in all the eye can see, and your business prowess is well known."
"I hear that you, even though you are so young, have done quite well yourself," he said. "It isn't
difficult to inherit money," she said with a small smile. "No, but you were doing quite well for
yourself with your father's growing business. It's quite an acomplishment for someone who was not
yet twenty-one at the time and had to go through so many boards of trustees to get anything done."
She blushed. "You flatter me, sir." "I have spoken nothing that is not true, my dear. I can see
that you will make a fierce business woman as well as the great beauty that you already are. In
fact, you are the reason that I invited Wilcox here. I did not know you myself, so I figured that
he would bring you along. Now that we are properly introduced there are some things that I would
like to discuss with you." "What things?" "I will be completely honest with you, my dear. I have
always been very interested in the lands your uncle managed to get his hands on. But unfortunately
we never really got along. I'd like to try to maybe work out some sort of arrangement with you.
Also, a young woman like yourself could do very well as the protege to a man as distinguished as
myself. The problems you currently experience in the management of your assets would vanish with
someone like myself backing you." He sighed. "Ah, but this is a party, though I believe you
find it a bit boring. If you'd agree to spend a few days here at my manor with your gentleman
friend perhaps we can discuss things more clearly and work something out." "I would be honored
to remain here as your guest," she said with a gracious smile. "Then I shall send servants to
your hotel to move your things," he said.

A woman from inside was walking purposefully towards them. Lord Stonsby released her arm.
"It seems that my presence is once more required inside," he said apologeticaly. With another
smile in farewell he went back into the party. "So the old bugger invited you to spend a few
days?" hissed a voice in her ear. She slowly turned to look at Darrell, or Richard. "Yes, I
suposse you knew of his interest in me and already planned for this," she said softly, looking in
to his eyes. There was a smile in those deep eyes. The wine and his elegant attire made him look
very handsome. She almost wanted to kiss those smirking lips... "We can get him to show us his
art collection during our stay. He seems to be quite taken by your charms, I'm sure you can get
him to do anything." The way he was looking at her was making her lightheaded. "What about you?"
she was surprised to hear herself ask. "Me? I was taken with you before I ever even layed eyes
on you. You were my obsession. I had to find out everything about you. The others knew this and
that's why I didn't get to test you for entry in the guild, though I sorely wanted too," he
whispered all this in her ear with his breath tickling her neck seductively. 'Oh lordy I think
I'm falling for him,' she thought.

Chapter 4:

He had never wanted anyone so much. She had become his obsession from the first time he
ran across her file. Right now she was standing on the balcony looking into his eyes with her
fake, but natural looking blue ones, and he wanted nothing more than to kiss her, or to run his
fingers across the smooth pearly white skin with just a blush of golden color that was her
shoulders revealed by her dress. He wanted to caress the two curls that hung by her face and gave
emphasis to her skin with the faint freckles sprinkled across her cheeks. He took her champagne
glass from her hand and kissed her fingers while never breaking contact with her eyes.

ShockWave didn't have a single thought in her head. Looking into his eyes, watching him
look at her like that, she couldn't think under these circumstances. His silky lips brushed her
fingers. Suddenly he pulled away. "Sorry, I forgot about you and Rahsas. I don't mean to get in
the way of what you have with him." The first thought in her mind was: "Me and who?" It took her
a second to realize who and what he was talking about, because all she could think of was Darrell.
"Rahsas and I are just friends," she said. "You should know that mister know-it-all," she said in
a half teasing tone. "You've shared so much with 'just a friend'," he said. Her eyes narrowed and
the mood was broken. She didn't want him judging her, he had no right. "We have an understanding.
Neither of us sees anything wrong with enjoying each other without really being romantically
involved," she forcefully bit back a nastier comment. He was insufferable, but she still liked

'I don't see anything wrong with you finding someone to ease loneliness with, my darling
pearl, but I want you all for myself,' he thought. 'Sometimes you can know more than you want about
someone,' he thought with a mental sigh. He held his arm out to her. "Let's rejoin the party
before we are missed," he said. She smiled prettily for him, but he could see a hint of menace in
her eyes. She didn't like being bossed around by him.

"Omenome is a wonderful cook. She will make some lucky man a good wife. If the house can
look this clean with an old slob like myself living here, there's nothing she can't do." He leaned
forward conspiratorily. "She's not bad to look at either, neh?" Paradox ran his eyes over her. She
was beautiful, and a well raised japanese girl. Her head was bowed as she served them and she
never met the guests eyes. She had obviously been raised by the old ways, but if the old man was
trying to get him to marry her he had another thing coming. The old man was watching him intently
in a way that reminded Paradox of Gomurr. It was like he could see into what he was thinking. "I
didn't come here for a bride. I'm commited to finding what I search for, you don't want her
married to me," he said right out. "You'd be better off settling down with a bride like her. It
might keep you alive longer," the old man replied. Then he sighed. "If it is the path you wish to
follow I will tell you what I know, though it will likely mean I shall never see you again unless
we meet in another life." Paradox saw something in the corner of his eye. Omenome was serving him
some more food. He raised her chin with his finger and looked into her eyes. She smile mischevously
at him, knowing she was caught. /You've been tricked, grandfather. This daughter understands
english very well indeed/ he said. Startled, Shikatu glanced at her. She bowed. /If I do not know
what goes on here, granfather, then how can I take care of you?/ she said with a smile. The old
man groaned. /You are tricky, like your father! No wonder all the suitors I set up for you run
away before the commitment is complete!/ /I think I can choose my own husband/ she chidded.
/Besides, how can I take care of you in your old age if you send me away/ she said with and
affectionate hug.

The old man let her hug him, but then worked at putting on his most displeased face.
/You can take care of me best by being a good daughter!/ he said. /You shame me in front of my
guest/ he went on to scold. She just laughed, and the old man turned purple. /He came to us from
America. He has many of our ways, but I do not think you will find him shocked. After all, he is
stuffing his face to cover up his laughter/ Shikatu looked at Kyr, and Kyr practicaly choked
trying not to laugh. The old man stood up looking angry. /It's just this sort of behavious that
got your father killed, leaving you and your sisters to my charge!/ he said. /And you have done
a great job/ she said in an apeasing tone of voice. /Are not my sisters happily married and about
to give you great-grandchildren?/ She went over to him and affectionately wiped his clothes.
/Look you have spilled on your clean clothes with this outburst. Didn't the doctor tell you that
this sort of thing is bad for your blood pressure?/ /The only thing bad for my blood pressure is
my incorrigeble granddaughter/ the old man grumbled, but he sat back down on the floor. She
kissed the top of his head. /Alright, alright. Now get out of here and leave me to talk to my
guest/ he grumbled. With a bow and one last mischevous smile at Paradox, she left them.

"What are you laughing at?" the old man said to Paradox. "She's certainly spirited,"
Paradox said. "And if you wanted her I'd give her to you in an instant." Paradox opted to remain
quiet after that comment. Catana always insisted that he didn't know when to shutup, but he did.
It's just that he normaly opted not to shut up. "Who am I kidding? I can't live without that
meddlesome granddaughter of mine. I just wish that she could be happily married." "Don't worry
I'm sure she'll rope some guy into it and then they'll move in here and she'll spend all day
bossing the both of you around," quiped Paradox. The old man glared at him. "Let's get back to
the business at hand," he said. 'This guy should be like Gomurr's best-friend, they're so much
alike,' Paradox thought. If a person could exist in a reincarnated state in two separate forms
Paradox might belive that this guy was Gomurr, except that that was simply not possible. "I know
of only one ancient object of great power that still exists untouched for eons here in Japan. I'm
certain that there may be many more objects, but I believe that this is the one you seek." /I've
told you nothing of it, nor do I know much of that which I seek/ Paradox said. "That is the very
reason why I know that this is the one which you seek. If you knew more of it I could point you
to a different object at a different location, but this one has remained in obscurity for a very
long time. The fact that you seek this object at all indicates vast knowledge resources for it is
a heavily guarded secret." Paradox nodded. That seemed to fit. ShockWave ran an information
company, ei spy organization, he had gathered that much from random telepathic contact with her
during training excersizes. He assumed that the BHC would know, but the team members weren't
allowed much access to the files of those ranked above them, so much was classified.

The old man took a deep breath. "Indeed, what you seek is not far from here. It is in
the bamboo groves you must have passed on your way here. A man seeking this object will be able
to enter Tarinlala, a cave normaly hidden to sight. It will only appear once. You can then choose
to walk away, and even if you return you will never find it again, or you can enter and likely
not return at all." "What is in the cave?" "The object that you seek. If you can not recognize it
you are not worthy of it. There are also other traps, but as I said no one has returned to tell of
their nature." "So there is nothing else you can tell me." "No," the old man said solemnly. Kyr
got up and bowed formaly to him. /Thank you master for showing me the way. I shall return to you/
The old man bowed in return, but his eyes said that he doubted he would ever see this person
again. Paradox bowed again several times as he exited, honoring the wiseman.

It hadn't been hot in the hut/house, but the air outside was refreshing. He walked
around the house so that he stood facing the bamboo grove. Two delicate lamps were lit and hung
by the front screen, giving the place an almost magical light that he missed from his years in
Japan. "Grandfather likes you. He wishes for you to return," came a voice. Omenome spoke perfect
english, even better than he grandfather. /I shall return/ he responded in Japanese. /Grandfather
is the guardian to Tarinlala. He wished to help you but could not. You must prove yourself worthy
and pure. I pray that Dainichi bless you so that you can return to us and grandfather need not be
sad over your loss./ Her keen eyes bored into him. /You are a worthy daughter and do him honor/
Paradox replied after watching her intently. He bowed to her in reverence. She smiled at him.
/Just be sure to come back. I will set the table for you to join us at breakfast/ She bowed to
him and re-entered the house.

It had been a boring five hours of meetings. Catana was ready to scream. As Mrs. Irianna
Stateson's representative she had to meet with dignitaries from the government, the cultural
preservation society, and more so they could graciously thank her for Mrs. Statesons donations
over the years. But finaly it was over and she could move on to what she wanted to do. Check out
the dig. She was doing it one the pretext that she knew a little bit about archeology and Mrs.
Stateson wanted her to see if there was anything else she could provide to help with the recovery
of the artifacts for museums. Daryoon Shingatu, the man who met her at the airport who was apparently
of a very mixed heritage, would be her guide through the site. Her ID was Ms. Nicole Johnson.

"This is the site where many ancient Indian Buddhist artifacts have been recently
recovered," Daryoon said in a tour guide voice. "We can skip the tour guiding bit? Like I said
earlier I have a background in this sort of work and watching you guys go about business as usual
is what Mrs. Iranna Stateson sent me here for." Daryoon made a face. "Yes, but I was told to make
sure you didn't get into trouble or fall into a ditch of something," he replied laughing. She
smiled and looked around. She leaned forward and whispered in his ear. "I don't see anyone watching,
so let's forget 'orders'." He grabbed some tools and indicated for her to do so as well. "The
newest section of this site is a little apart from all this and no one is working there today.
Let's go check it out," he said. "I knew I liked you," Catana whispered to him.

It was hot and sticky in India. Catana was glad that she had brought along at least one
pair of shorts. She was also wearing a light blue sleeveless blouse, but it was still horribly
hot. She'd have to buy some native clothes at the Bazaar later. She had been working with Daryoon
for about an hour now. She had no problemo watching his cute butt as he scrambled around in the
dirt, but they hadn't found anything yet and this was getting boring again. Daryoon tossed her
a bottle of water. "Let's take a break," he said. She gratefully gulped down the water. "So have
you guys found any really exciting artifacts recently?" she asked. "Well we've found plenty of
pottery, but just fragments. What I really hope we can find are some intact statues, but so far
we haven't had much luck with that." 'It would be nice if I knew what I was supossed to be looking
for,' thought Catana. 'Darnit Margaret! Can you never be more specific!' She knew that she couldn't
stick around here much longer now that they had all their boring meetings. They'd want to usher
her out of the country quickly, because they wanted the money but they didn't want involvement.
She leaned back to look at the clouds drifting by. She didn't have much time for time waited for
no one. When she returned her gaze to earth she saw Daryoon watching her with a peculiar look in
his eyes. 'Whoa baby the hunk is interested,' she thought. She was somewhat emphatic so she could
pick up traces of his feelings and right now they were to hot for words.

He scooted over next to her with the pretext of offering her more water. She knew that
he was offering more than that though. He didn't say anything, being more of the strong silent
type, and she thought that words would spoil the moment anyway. She put her hand on the ground so
that she could lean forward and look into his eyes, but something sharp cut into her palm. "Ow!"
she exclaimed, jerking back. "What is it? Are you alright?" he asked. A droplet of blood worked
it's way out of a tiny cut in her palm. He took her hand and sucked the blood into his mouth,
surprising her with his reaction. "No poison," he said. He must have seen her face because in the
middle of reaching for his tools he stopped to explain. "Sometimes we find poisoned darts buried
in the ground from ancient civilizations." He took his brush and started clearing away the area
where her hand had rested. When he cleared away a little space, the glint of gold was visible.

It was a golden statue. It was a magnificent dragon. "It's a little long for the normal
dragon," Daryoon said. I was elongated and looked more like a snake, but the head proved that it
was one of the oriental dragons like the ones Gomurr had vases of. This one was slightly out of
proportion though. I curved around in a weird way and had a tiny little base that it couldn't
stand up on. "It's very strange," Catana agreed. She traced some of the light green marks on the
dragon's sides. They looked like Indian tribal tattoos. "I think they are Buddhist symbols,"
Daryoon said. 'Buddhist?' Catana thought. That was the last thing she remembered before blacking

Chapter 5:

She dreamed about him, about his eyes. He had smart, inteligent and fascinating eyes. It
was a drownding dream for she drowned in his eyes. She didn't remember the rest of the dream when
she woke up, just falling into those eyes. She sat up in bed and hated it. She didn't want to fall
for him. He would be a weakness and they were in the middle of a mision. That plus she didn't
want to be weak for any man. She had her pride after all. She was thinking these thoughts when
Paradox reached out for her mind. {Hey boss, good morning. Pleasant dreams?} She had to restrain
herself from over-reacting to his question. He hadn't read her dream, she would have felt that.
She took a breath to calm down. {What have you found?} {Well I have to go into this magical cave
to retrieve what you sent me for. Shikatu was right on the money, but he couldn't tell me anything
more about the object but he was certain it's what I'm looking for.} {So nothing to help with my
search or Cat's} {Nope. Cat's out of contact too. She must be sleeping.} {Well tell me when you
actually have the object within your grasp and then we'll figure out the next step} {You're the
one signing the paycheck} With that he was gone. She did a quick check to see if she could reach
Cat. 'Nope, she must be asleep,' ShockWave thought to herself as she got dressed.

Breakfast seemed practicaly a formal event, and Elizabeth and Richard weren't the only
guests invited to stay on after the party. His lordship politely told Elizabeth that their pleasant
chat would take place that afternoon. She told him that she was interested in seeing his art
collection and delightedly replied that they could talk there.

Gomurr was in his study watching Hercules the Legendary Journeys. The volume was on low
because he didn't want the iddle paserby to hear what he was doing. As an educator he had a certain
dignity to maintain and recently to many people were bursting in a spoiling his guilty pleasures
(check out just about anyone's recent stories) so he took the added precaution of locking his door.
He sighed. He was so looking forward to this episode with Arthur in it. Things like this always
brought back memories, but this was pathetic. This past self Merlin was a sniveling wimp, and Gomurr
knew he hadn't been that way. True that all his incarnations seemed to have a bit of absent mindedness
but this was pathetic! And the thought that Arthur and Mab, his two students would turn out both
evil seemed to scream that Merlin was a bad teacher too! Well that simply wasn't true! Arthur
didn't need some muscle-bound idiot like Kevin Sorbo to teach him what heroism and nobility are.
This episode of the show was insulting! He had been Merlin, he knew that he wasn't like that. This
was like a travesty to history! A history that even he himself was begining to forget. That was
a sobering thought, but true nonetheless. Details of his past life had been getting fuzzy as time
progressed. He wondered how long it would take him to forget Aurthur's youthfull idealism, or the
fierce looks Sir Gawain had given him at times. There was so much to remember. Gwen had been a
mistake. He tried to tell Aurthur, and Arthur got mad. Gawain, his hot-headed cousin drove him
on and drove Merlin away. So Arthur went and married her, loved her, but the poor girl just couldn't
return the love. He had felt deepest sympathy for all involved in that mess.

He turned off the television and sighed. Here he was, centuries later still searching
for the Ascended One he thought Arthur might have been. He pondered getting back to that Robert
Jordan book and keeping his mind off things. Jordan wrote a convincing world that drew you in and
was almost magic on paper, it would be a happy break. Unfortunately he had work that he couldn't
just keep avoiding. He was debating whether to slack off or get to work when the desicion was taken
from his gnarled hands. He sensed the change and was ready with a shield as he turned to face the
magical entity that just entered his sanctuary. It was a woman with a cascade of dark hair going
down her back. She wore a long robe and tattoos of every kind of dragon imaginable peeked out
from the folds as she turned to regard him. "You are Gomurr," she said in a tone that told him she
wasn't asking a question. "And who might you be?" he said cautiously. "At one time you were the
great wizard Merlin, were you not? I have come here to speak with you because of your meddling in
something carefully established in the times after Merlin's demise." "And what might that be?" he
asked feigning innocence. "The Dragon's Guild," she said sharply. "You are concerned for your
student and that is understandable, but you can not meddle even if you were Merlin. The Guild was
established for a reason by someone who knew you well. Just as you have a mission on this earth,
the Guild has a mission too." "Oh yes I'm sure. What I don't know is the nature of that mission
and how it will affect human kind. I knew a lot of people in those days who would set something
up to the detriment of humanity." "The one who built the Guild with her magics would be saddened
to hear harsh words from you, old man. She wanted to do her bit to help out, but she couldn't
live forever so she passed the mantle on to me, though I could never be as powerfull as she."

He looked in her eyes and saw that although her hair was still of a dark color, she was
old, centuries perhaps. "Who?" he demanded. She gave him a sad look. "Did you not recognize the
magical signature earlier when you destroyed the disk with your inquisitiveness? It was Nimue, Merlin.
Your lover wanted to keep something good alive so it would be there when you found the Ascended
One to help him and so that humankind would have some guidance in the years after Merlin's death."
He words crushed him. Nimue! A burning ember of pain lanced through him, dear sweer one to have
loved him so much... She not only understood the quest that kept him from her side, but she guessed
that he would be reborn and did something to keep the world in order for him. He wanted to cry for
her, his true love. She was the other half of his soul and she was lost in time. Yet she still
managed to bring him new hope as always, when he despared over his search. Then it had been for
arthur, now it was over a disagreement with SuperGrover!!! When he looked up the woman was gone.
She had tactfully departed. He had his answers. ShockWave would play a part in Nimue's legacy,
and from what he understood when he found the Ascended One he could count on the help of the
Dragon's Guild.

"You're collection is very impresive, your lordship." "Thank you, my dear. My father
started the collection and I made a few additions over the years." "The variety is astonishing.
You manage to tastefully portray examples of both western and eastern art styles." The collection
was more rich than what she kept at her museum, but this collection was not open to the general
public and cost quite a bit more as well. "What sort of proposal do you have for me?" she asked,
changing the subject back to what he had wanted to discuss. Lord Stonsby cast a glance back to
Darrell/Richard, who was standing a few feet away admiring a painting. 'Probably one of the nudes,'
ShockWave said to herself, getting a kick out of putting guys down even if only in her own mind.
"Like I mentioned earlier I'm interested in the lands you have inherited. I have been for years.
A young lady like yourself might find it a bit difficult deciding what to do with such lands. Unless
you are planning to move to the U.K. selling those lands is an option you must be considering.
It costs a large sum of money to maintain foreign properties and all of your current business
interests lie in America. What I'd like to do is simply to buy your lands from you for a tidy sum
of money and a continued business relationship between us that I believe you will find most profitable
and I will also find more pleasureable." He again glanced at Richard. "I'm willing to better any
other offers made to you, my dear. I'm a very determined man." "Yes, my lord, I know. But you
see Richard seems to have a few ideas for my lands and he and I have a good business relationship
besides our personal one that I'd hate to see affected as I am quite seriously considering his
proposal for my hand." She looked into his eyes as she spoke, taking a calculated risk with her
She could tell he was an excellent businessman because nothing disturbed his calm
demeanor. "You are a most charming young woman so I truly think you can do better than Wilcox,
unless that is, you love the gentleman. But if you are undecided, as I already said, I will better
any offer." 'Damn, his lordship must be at least sixty yet I've charmed him so that after one day
he's proposing!' She wasn't really all that shocked that she had managed to charm him, after all
one doesn't work with Nem without picking a few things up, but that a man of his caliber would
propose to a woman he had just met especialy and American woman. She smiled at him as if she was
considering his words, when something caught her eye. "Oh!" was all she said and she went over to
look at a display case. It was a beautiful if somewhat twisted and disfigured dragon standing on
it's sinewy tail. "I've always been fascinated by dragons," she told Lord Stonsby. 'A certain spy
dragon included,' she thought to herself with a mental sigh. "I aquired that piece in Hong Kong,"
his Lordship said. "It was a gift to me from a Chinese businessman. The piece isn't as valuable
as the rest because the shape is rather odd, but the dragon is solid gold." "Are the eyes emeralds?"
she asked looking at the green stones. "Yes," he pulled a key out of his breastpocket and opened
the case. Richard/Darrell had come over by then to look at it. He was so close that she could feel
the heat of his body through her clothes even though he wasn't touching her. The lines carved on
the dragon to make the scales, belly, and head were delicate. Lord Stonsby offered it to her and
Richard reached to touch it as well. Their hands grasped it at the same time. She traced the form
of it's head, while Darrell looked pensive. His eyes met hers. 'This is it!' his eyes seemed to
shout at her.

Paradox walked through the bamboo thicket. The sounds of crickets and other night
insects and animal seemed to shout in the silence. He could see the mouth of a cave up ahead. He
wondered what would be inside and knew that there was only one way to find out. He wasn't going to
turn back. He walked in to the cave without hesitating. The air was slightly warmer in there.
Water dripped from the ceiling, but there were no stalagmites or stalactites. The cave was filled
with what he imagined were the usual obstacles, sincei it was dark there were those unexpected
pitfalls, poisonous spiders crawling around, a danger of rocks falling on your head (a boulder
almost fell on him!), things like that. The cave was pretty long though, and he was drenched in
sweat after a short while. He finally reached the inner chamber. A mysterious light came down
from the roof of the cave to light up a stone pedestal with a long snakelike dragon on it. He
walked over to it, carefully looking for any Indiana Jones kinda traps. Nothing. He carefully
picked the dragon up. Still nothing. With a sigh in regret over the ease of it all he attached
the dragon to his belt so that he could begin the trip back. It was instict or maybe the slight
soud of air moving in the enclosed space that made him suddenly dodge. A kick still made impact
against his ribcage though, but he used the momentum to turn himself around to face his opponent.
From his stance Kyr knew he was a master of the martial arts.

The man had long black hair tied at the nape of his neck so that it wouldn't get in
the way, he had dark brown eyes, and pale skin. He was barefoot and with a quick glance Paradox
saw that his feet were very calloused. Kyr knew he probably wouldn't have time to get his shoes
off, but he didn't mind. Shoes interfered a bit, but they were also harder than his feet were
(hence the point of wearing them at all). He put the statue down (so that it wouldn't be in the
way, duh!) and quickly took his prefered battle stance. The first bit of sparring was lightning
fast, but exploratory. They were feeling each other out for strengths and weaknesses. Not one
blow was landed by either party. 'This dude is gonna be tough' Kyr thought.

Catana's first thought was: 'Cute or not, Daryoon is dead if he clobbered me over
the head and gave me this headache.' When she opened her eyes though she was more than disoriented.
The room was spinning. 'The freakin room is purple!' she thought. She wanted to groan. He eyes
hurt with the barage of swirling colors that assaulted her senses. If she went into her transitional
form she would probably go beserk. She would have sat up, but apparently she was floating free in
the swirls of color. Purple, Pink, Green, it was making her dizzy. "Why do these things always
happen to me?" she asked no one in particular. "Because you go searching for what doesn't belong
to you," a voice answered. She whirled around, trying to ignore just how that excarbated the dizzy
feeling. She couldn't see anyone. "Who are you?" she called out. There was no answer. 'I have to
get out of this,' she thought to herself. 'But how?'

Chapter 6:

Catana hated situations where she faced the unknown. It was so much more satisfying to
tear into and enemy face to face. "You do not now what you are facing, nor do you posses magical
powers to fight me. Your curiosity will have caused your death," echoed the voice belonging to no
one. A slight tingling of her skin led Catana to leap sideways. The dizzy feeling cuadrupled, but
she managed to avoid some glittering spray of what she assumed was some sort of magical spell.
Her mind was racing. She couldn't fight magic, but her feline empathy allowed her to sense its
proximity. If she wanted to avoid spells seeking her death she'd have to shift forms. It was the
only way she could stay alive long enough to figure something out. She closed her eyes and went
through the shift, wincing at the slight pain as her tail broke through her clothes and her
hackles rise from the magical static of the limbo she seemed to be entraped in. Her claws were
useless except for the comfort their pressence could bring her. With feline grace she executed a
series of acrobatic leaps to avoid the burning she felt approaching her back that she knew had
to be another spell. 'Come on, Cat, think! Gomurr made you sit through at least one magical lectures
among the totaly useless classes he pushed you into.' She hated going to classes for things that
had no relevance to her powers and what she could do, but if some stupid magic lecture saved her
bacon here and now she swore she'd worship the ground the old Headmaster walked on.

Soon she was panting from the exertion of all her leaps and acrobatic feats. She
barely avoided a magical noose as well as a few other almost undetectable traps layed out for her.
"What do you want from me?" she yelled into the nothingness. "Die! You are not worthy!" "Worthy?
Don't I get to take a test or something to see if I'm worthy?" Everything around her started to
shake, which meant that colors swirled and bounced every which way in a disconcerting manner.
It was like whatever was doing this to her was laughing. She wasn't a very patient gal, something
the could sometimes irritate nerves-of-steel Margaret when they were on a mission and the very
thing that caused all her troubles in Japan last time, and this laughing and waiting finally
snapped her nerves. She lauched herself at one of the swirls of color that were always moving but
still mananged to give the area she was in the vague impression of a box-like prison. She ripped
through it from sheer will and anger, and when she fell and hit something she was totally astounded
at what she had done. She had torn a hole through the cage she was in, the magical cage. Instead
of wasting time wondering how, she leapt through the hole before the magic could pull it together.
She rolled into an inky blackness that had a floor, but it was so black you couldn't distinguish
it from anything else. Before her she saw, glowing brightly yet illuminating nothing around it,
the dragon statue that had been unearthed at the dig. She grabbed it in a flying leap and felt it
sear her hands with magic, as waves of power washed over and singed her back. It didn't move or
come to life or anything, but she could feel it fighting her will. It was the dragon that taunted
her and tried to kill her earlier but it had failed under the iron hammer of her will to live,
survive and win. It took a few minutes of struggle that felt like and eternity of pain and was
like dancing on the edge of a double bladed knife, but she felt it melt under her will and the
magical forces it weilded just stop.

Catana opened her eyes, and almost expected smoke to come out of her mouth as she
breathed what felt like her first breath in forever outwards. She felt the statue in her hands,
caught in a death grip with it's sharper carvings digging into her palms. She loosened the grip
a little and winced. Everything hurt, but her back was lying on something soft. "Nicole?" inquired
a soft voice. Daryoon was standing at her side and held a damp cloth to her forehead. He looked
totally freaked. She sat up without saying anything and looked around. 'Damn Indian interior
design is awesome,' she thought. The room that she was assuming was Daryoon's looked like a perfect
place for a romantic interlude. A cool breeze drifted through the windows, stiring the eloborate
wall hangings. Beads made up the canopy of the bed she lay on. "Where am I?" she asked. "When
you collapsed at the site I took you to my apartament. You wouldn't release the statue so I smuggled
it along." He saw her gaze travel across the room and actually blushed. "My ex-girlfriend designed
the place as a favor to me. She still cares about me and wants me to make some girl really happy
or something," he said actually sounding embarassed. Catana's opinion of him rose a few notches.
Not only was he gorgeous and intellectual but he was sensitive and even a bit shy. "Are you
alright? I didn't realize that the object was magical until it was too late," he said. She
blinked in surprise. "I saw you transform into this cat-like creature while you were out, I know
you are a mutant and I should tell you that I am one too." Catana was seriously debating whether
surprises were a good or bad thing. She stood up and went to the window. "What are your powers?"
she asked in a low voice as she looked out into the street. "I can see how a culture lived by
touching their relics," he said. She turned around to look at him. "I know that many cultures
lived a life imbuded with magic, but proving it is altogether another thing. I can't prove most
of what my power shows me to the modern world."

'I sure hit the jackpot with this one,' Catana thought. 'Not only do I have her
object, but I have someone that can explain the culture that created it to Margaret.' "I need to
take this artifact to a friend of mine. It's very important." Daryoon settled his eyes on her and
seemed to be weighing her words and intentions. "If the Indian government got their hands on the
artifact it would mean trouble, especialy since the object is very powerfull. Will your friend
keep the artifact safe and not use it for ill?" "My friend would use the artifact for good not ill
if she used it at all," Catana replied. "You can come with me and take charge of the artifact
yourself and then decide what you think is right. I should first tell you something though," she
paused. "I am a mutant and I'm part of a team, not exactly a superhero team because some of our
actions are self-serving, but we try to keep the world from being destroyed by evil. My name isn't
Nicole. Everyone calls me Catana. That isn't my true name either, but I don't tell anyone my real
name if I can help it. My friend is also part of that team, her name is ShockWave." He smiled.
"'Preciate your honesty," he said imitating a southern accent. She laughed. "I know how dangerous
it is to be a mutant in many places. I won't be offended by not knowing your real name as long as
I can know you, Catana," her name rolled of his tongue like he was trying out the feel of it. The
look in his eyes told her he like it. She felt a blush creep up her cheek, and to hide it she
quickly leaned forward and kissed him softly on the lips.

Pretending to be wealthy was boring. ShockWave really was wealthy, but she was
down to earth at heart. She went to bed exhausted. She lay there, thinking how she was going to
get the dragon. Darrell wasn't doing much. So far it had all been her. It made her wonder if this
was another test and the object was a trick so he could test her out. But there was just something
about his eyes that wouldn't let her believe it. He knew she could do this, so he was keeping a
low profile. He was high up in the Guild, they probably weren't supposed to draw too much attention
to themselves or the Guild would cease to be secret. He was enjoying this though, but she found it
tiring. She was supposed to be on vacation, working things out with herself. She felt oddly tormented
recently. He knew this, and seemed to find it amusing. Probably because she was the source of her
own torment and she couldn't truly blame it on anyone else. She was stuck in a tail dive and it
wasn't out of a feeling of betrayal from anyone or worries about use and misuse of her powers or
any of the excuses she kept feeding herself. It was that she was restless, she wanted something.
She wasn't satisfied with her life the way it is. She rolled over and tried to sleep.

A door opened and Darrell came in. He sat at the edge of the bed and shook her
shoulder. She looked at him with sleepy eyes, wondering what he was doing there. "We need to get
the statue soon," he whispered in her ear. His breath tickled her ear. "We don't want the attention
of simply stealing it though," she whispered back. "What about his proposal?" "I can't marry him!"
she hissed. "I didn't say you had to. Too bad you'd kill to get what you want but you would never
sleep with a man for it. It's actually kind of ironic," he laughed. She slapped him across the
face hard. He reacted in anger, grabbed her hands and pinned them above her head. His weight
crushed her to the mattres. She was trying to think of and energy that she could get to curve and
hit him with, but couldn't come up with anything. "What's the matter?" he asked in a breathless
voice. "You must know how beautiful you are and how you can drive a man crazy." With his other
hand he caressed her cheek and then dropped his hand lower. She tried to kick him, but found that
she couldn't for her had her legs pinned as well. She was going to scream, but his mouth swallowed
hers up in a rough kiss that threatened to leave her without air. The stubble on his chin scratched
her face. Tears of fury and fear leaked out the corner of her eyes.

'Lotus position, swan in the rushes...' the moves ran through Paradox's brain
and he seamlessly melded the moves together, his body flowing gracefully from one to the other.
His oponent was just as good. Blows had been exchanged, but each managed to block or partially
block lethal hits and continue on just as seamlessly. The defensive skills known as martial arts
were named aptly. If anyone had been watching the artistry of the combatants movements would
leave them in awe of the grace and flow of the human body. It was like a deadly and beautiful
dance that linked the combatants in the struggle for life, made all the more beautiful by the
danger to be faced in failure. Paradox was not dressed in the proper garments, but he did not
allow that to get in his way. Small details like that weren't important. You didn't let them affect
you or you lost. Lossing here would mean death. Paradox took a hard blow getting close, but allowed
the hit to get through the other guy's defenses. He had him now. His counter move dropped the
other man. He wasn't dead though. Paradox went to his unmoving form and snapped his neck. Better
to let him die in battle, with honor, than to live with his ultimate failure. He left the body
and continued on his way out the cave.

He was moving glued to the wall to cross a chasm he almost fell into on the way
in when he was hit across the midsection with a stick. He doubled over and a lamp was lit, revealing
his next challenge. It was a female warrior now. She had a bo, a sparring stick, whatever you
wished to call it. Paradox leapt towards her, taking a hit on his ankle from the staff so as to
get of the thin ledge where he wouldn't stand a chance. His ankle throbbed when he landed and she
turned to face him with the staff in a ready position. Too bad she already hit his ankle, it
would take a lot of leaping to get out of this one.

She ran down the dark hallway, but she didn't remember what she was running from,
only that she had to get away. She fell down a shaft into deep darkess and on her way down she
wondered what a shaft was doing in the middle of a hall. She hit the floor hard, landing on her
back and getting the wind knocked out of her. She couldn't see anything. She used her elbow as a
lever to raise herself of and held up a hand. Her powers weren't working! A moment of panic took
her, but she maintained control knowing she had been trained to deal with being without her powers.
Everyone at the BHC Academy recieved such training. ShockWave stood up and tried to discover
where she was. She looked up, but couldn't see the shaft she had fallen down. It was like it was
never there. She felt a wall to her left and walked along the walls. She foung a niche and marked
it with a shred of her shirt and walked around to complete a circuit of the space she was in.
She calculated a perimeter of about 25 feet. She wondered how she was going to get out. There were
no doors in the walls. She decided to cut a straight line across the space. There had to be
something here. She made her way along the floor and tripped on a slimy spot. She cursed her
clumsiness as she banged her chin, but she felt a foul air hit her face. She reached a hand out
and found the slimy edge of a pit before her. She shivered at her near escape. All of this seemed
somehow familiar. There was this weird Deja vu feeling. She was huddling against the wall when it
hit her. Edgar Alan Poe. They had read 'The Pit and the Pendulum' in english lit. at the academy.
This was one of the tortures that faced the poor man in the story. She shivered as she thought of
a sharp pendulum slowly descending to cut through her as she lay strapped to a table.

Tears, pain, sadness. There was a lump in her throat that she couldn't swallow.
The choir sang it's mournfull tune and she sat there shaking and crying. "Cat, how can you be
dead?" she whispered. It was her fault. She shouldn't have sent Catana. She knew it was dangerous
but she had thought that her friend could handle anything. Now she was dead. ShockWave had looked
into her eyes as she died in her arms. Catana's eyes had been filled with hurt and anger. She
thought that she had been betrayed by her best-friend. With her last breath Catana had cursed her
name. Now ShockWave felt death hanging over her and welcomed it. She would keep her friend company
in sweet oblivion. The true killer would get her eventually. She didn't want to run anymore.
"Death, sweet mercifull death. Come and release me from this agony," she whispered, almost as if
she was praying. He was coming. Death.

ShockWave was sitting under a tree. She was alone and the sky was overcast and
dark. A gun lay in the grass beside her. She had failed at everything. She looked to the future
and found it bleak. No one belived in her anymore. Catana had gone off her own way, no longer
needing the friend she felt was holding her back. Silver, Nem and the BHC viewed her as unstable
and worthless to their plans. Oh they left her with her rank out of respect for all she had done
before, in the past, but she was out of the circle of knowledge, cast aside like and old shoe.
She had lost her powers when she failed to save the others. No one blamed her, for it wasn't her
fault. She couldn't have stopped them and saved the others. But they resented her as the only one
to be left alive. When they looked at her their eyes seemed to say: "Why did she have to be the
one to live? Why couldn't it have been... or ..." Her hand rested on the gun. The cool metal was
so smooth. She picked it up and ran her fingers over the clean edges. It was a beautiful thing in
a deadly way. Streamlined, cool to the touch, just the right fit in her palm. It felt good there.
She put it to her left temple, feeling the barrel against her pulse. That also felt right. She
tightened her finger on the trigger and imagined the bullet exploding out of the chamber and
ripping through her skull. She had no dreams anymore, no future. All she had were vain fantasies.
A life of memories that she could no longer abide. Pulling the trigger was so easy. It shouldn't
even hurt. It took a strange kind of bravery to kill oneself. It would prove that she was not
totaly spineless. She let the thoughts of death seduce her. She would pull the trigger. She'd do
it and then there would be nothingness. Her finger slowly increased the pressure on the trigger.
Suddenly she threw the gun down. "NEVER!" she screamed. "Even a miserable life is too much to

ShockWave ran through Lord Stonsby's estate. She had to get the dragon. That
would end this. It wasn't real, any of it. It couldn't be! Something was wrong. She fell to the
floor. "Something is doing this to me," she moaned. She tried to think. It couldn't be real. Events
flow logicaly in reality, right? But she felt all these things, these emotions. It was so real,
touch, sound, smell. "Get it away," she whispered franticaly struggling for control as panic held
her in an iron grip. She put her hands over her head and screamed. "AWAY!" She pushed, pushed hard
with her powers. Get everything away from her, all energy push it away. A shockwave of energy
being pushed out and away made the floor ripple. She pushed harder and the effect encompassed the
whole room. It was like the first time her powers had manifested. You could see the energy waves
flowing away, growing larger as they went. The scene disolved. Suddenly she was looking at the
dragon with it's emerald eyes. She grabbed it and a blinding emerald flash blinded her. When she
could see again she was standing in the display room holding the statue, with Darrell's fingers
next to hers, touching it. Lord Stonsby was looking pleased that she liked his collection. She
let go of the object and looked at Darrell. His eyes were somewhat haunted like hers. It had all
be a challenge, a test, a barrier. She swallowed a sigh of relief. Now she had to posses the
statue. This wasn't over yet. But it was the right one. The power of it...

Chapter 7:

Later in the afternoon, ShockWave went to Lord Stonsby's study alone. His lordship
appeared to be happy that Richard wasn't with her. "I've thought over your offer, and you are
right. To me lands here in England are not worth the trouble I'd have to go to to produce profit
from them." His eyes betrayed nothing. His lordship was as good a business man as they said. "As
for the other offer, I've decided to turn Richard down. I don't need to marry a male partner to
excell at business. In exchange for the lands I want -------- pounds, your continued support in
the business world, and I'd also like, as a favor from you, that interesting dragon statuette I
was fascinated with from your art collection." His eyebrows rose. He feigned surprise. "Why would
you want the statue?" He was trying to figure out how much it was worth to her. "I have a thing
for dragons. I'm thinking of starting a collection with that piece," she replied in a nonchalant
voice. "Well, to part with a piece of my collection is hard for me. But if I pay you instead a
slightly lower price for those lands, I might just part with it." He named a somewhat lower number.
She mulled it over. "Fine," she said at last. "And if you please, your lordship, have the papers
drawn up at once. I'd like to return to America to keep a stern eye on my investments as soon as
posible." "Very well," he said with a bow.

"I've got my ticket to Scottland," Daryoon said. "I told my boss that Ms. Stateson
wants very much to meet one of the archeologist, but as she can't come herself she asked you to
choose a member of the dig team and return with him." Catana smiled. Perfect. "So what do you
want to do until tomorrow morning?" she asked. "You already went to the market and saw the sights?"
He asked. She nodded the afirmative. "Well you are the visitor here, you have anything in mind."
She leaned forward and kissed him again. The soft kiss they had shared before was wonderfull, but
they had to stop to make their plans and get everything ready. Now that all they had to do was
wait, she wanted to enjoy being with him in his gorgeous exotic apartament. Their kiss depened,
and soon their tongues were locked together as they tried to sample more deeply of each other.
When they had to stop to take air, he gave her a pasionate but questioning look. She looked into
the fires of his eyes and knew that her eyes were screaming: yes! He kissed her again, his hands
exploring the curves of her back and hips as she ran her fingers through his soft hair. The bead
hangings tinkled as they lay together on the bed, locked in an embrace that neither wanted to ever
break free from. She shivered as she lay bared before him with the breeze from the window raised
goosebumps all over her skin. She luxuriated in his arms against the thin gauzy sheets. He had
lit some inscense and she found that as they made love she was hyper aware of scent and sound.
Sometimes she was on top, sometimes it was him, but all she cared about was being with him. It
just felt so good.

It was dark as they drove away from the manor. ShockWave sat silently in the
passenger seat, holding the statue and thinking. Darrell looked over at her pensive figure. "I
could feel the statues magic trying to stop us when we touched it. It was in my mind. If I had
died there I think I would have died here too," he said, taking a guess as to what she was thinking.
"Yes, I could feel it changing my mind, making me feel things more deeply than I've ever felt them
before," she said. "It felt so real that it took me awhile to figure out that I was being made to
feel that way to push me to death." "It's a defense spell wrapped around the statue. It's very
intricate. It only activates to attack people who touch it and know the powers it holds. And there
are three of them. One to attack mentaly, the other physicaly, and the last magicaly." She nodded.
"You can see that in the statue with your power. Catana's already found the magical attack one and
is coming to meet us. I can't get through to Paradox though. I think maybe he's been attacked by
the third statue." He nodded. "And they all fit together. But it isn't supposed to happen here.
We have to figure out where they come together. My powers only glimpse into what they are. Something
blocks me from knowing what they can do. I don't think we'll be able to know until we unify the
pieces of our puzzle." 'He likes working things like these out,' she thought. 'It's like a game,
a challenge.' She had started in this because of a sense of duty to the Guild she had joined, but
to him this was more than a mission. She didn't really understand him, but there was something
about him that drew her. 'He's like me," she realized. 'Completely devoted to his job, his mission
in a group. I feel more connected to the BHC, and for him it's the Guild.'

She knew it wasn't the only thing that drew her to him though. He was handsome
and sometimes when he looked at her the air seemed filled with electricity. His eyes said so much,
but hid so much more. His cocky annoying attitude was the product of some excitement. He had been
showing off to her earlier, she thought. He seemed to want something of her, besides what they
were here to do. She wasn't sure to what depth he wanted it and it frightened her. She was
attracted to him, but she thought he wanted something serious and she had her doubts of something
like that working out for her. That was what was bothering her. It was a tension in the air that
seemed to be between them. They stopped at a small hotel for the night. They would meet Catana and
a new friend of hers at the airport the next day. She was very aware of Darrell's nearness to her
the whole time, but remembering the trick played on her by the statue she tried to shrink away.
She still wondered what it would be like to kiss him though.

Paradox was battered and bruised, but he managed to get the stick away from his
oponent. He had some experience training with the weapon, so he didn't hesitate to use it. He
knew he needed all the help he could get right then. He was aware that his oponent was female, but
he wasn't aware of her in a sexual way. In battle it didn't matter who the enemy was and he would
never allow himself to hesistate as others would when fighting a woman. When he saw his opening
he caught her in a sweeping blow that swept her over the chasm. She had tried to leap over the
staff but was a fraction too slow so it had caught her. She didn't scream as she fell. After a
few moments of strained listening he heard the thud of a body hitting bottom. He limped on his
way out, hoping that there wouldn't be any more challenges before he got out. Daylight streamed
through the bamboo outside. He could hear the sounds of the morning creatures welcoming the dawn.
Kyr continued to limp his way to Shikatu's house, with the dragon safe in his possesion.

The old man was surprised to see Paradox, but his granddaughter Omenome was not.
"You have the dragon," the old man whispered. "Yes, I won the dragon from the warriors of the cave."
"You killed the sacred warriors," the old man said sounding more awed than before. Omenome just
smiled and brought Paradox water and bandages for his wounds. "You hold now in your hands the
object of power that you seek. What wil you do with it's might?" "I'll do what I was payed to do."
"I have heard it whispered on the wind that this is not the only such object that exist. That if
the others are found and brought together a great power will be released. This is why you were
hired to get it, yes?" Paradox didn't say anything, for actually all he had been told was get it,
so there was nothing for him to say. "You lived in Japan many years for your training, yes? You
must have heard of Agharti." Kyr recalled that it was a lost city that the Buddhist had believed
lay buried in Kanchenjunga, the third highest peak in the world. "The five holy treasures of the
snows?" Paradox said, for that is what the name of the peak meant. "Yes believed to be buried
there in Nepal. It is there, if anywhere, that great power can be awoken from your Buddhist statue."

"Why do you tell me this?" Paradox asked. "Because I have been guardian of that
cave for many years. If you have been found truly worthy I shall do what I can to help you, but
only you. I do not wish for the statue to fall into the possesion of someone who has not won it.
I think you have a great destiny, if you would let me guide you." Paradox looked at the old man
with narrowed eyes. He fully intended to give the statue over to ShockWave, but what the old man
knew could be important. Since she hadn't seen it fit to tell him what this was all about so that
he would know what to do at this moment and his mind scan showed that she was asleep he decided
he had better follow up on this and inform her when he could. "We shall go to Agharti, if it truly
exists," he told the old man. "But you had better not interfere with what I must do," he said.
The old man smiled. "I shall not, I shall not. I know you are with honor and will respect you,
do not worry."

ShockWave woke up from a sudden nightmare. She hadn't had nightmares in a long
time. "This is what happens when something messes with my mind," she said with a sigh. Her door
creaked open. "ShockWave?" asked a voice. 'Darrell,' she thought. "Come in and shut the door,
you're letting the cold in," she whispered. She pulled the sheets tighter around her. It was
pretty cold. "I think I found the place the artifacts come together," he said as he sat on the
edge of her bed. She scooted over next to him. "Where?" "It's a mountain in Nepal where the
Buddhist believed their lost city to be buried." "Their lost city?" "Many civilizations believed
in lost cities throught history. For the Greeks it was Atlantis, for the Buddhists it was Agharti.
These lost cities where always a place of power, and though science will never tell you this, of
magic." "Does it really exist though? No one has found Atlantis," she whispered back. He looked
into her eyes, and in the dark she could see the faint light from the windows light them in a
ghostly way that made her feel she was going to drownd into them. "I think that the magic of the
statues should get us past the spells that in theory keep such places from normal human sight."
She looked down, embarassed to be looking at him the way she was. "Well then..." She was cut of
suddenly by the mental knocking of Paradox. After she finished 'talking' to him, she looked up
at Darrell again. "Paradox is going to head to Agharti as well. Apparently the old buddhist told
him of the place and he decided to check it out. He nodded. "Then at the airport while we wait
for Catana I'll see about getting the four of us tickets and visas to Nepal."

In a whisper his voice was soft and she could feel his breath agaisnt her cheek
as he whispered to her. She wondered suddenly if his face was rough with stubble and almost reached
out to feel it before she stopped herself. Her heart was pounding in her ears and she was starting
to feel dizzy from all the blood rushing to her head. He took her hand in his. "Are you alright?"
he whispered. "I'm fine," she said feeling yet another blush creep over her face. 'It should be
illegal for guys to make you feel this way,' she thought suddenly. This was nothing like her
friendly relationship with Rahsas. It wasn't anything like the attraction she felt to other
members of the BHC either. She could feel the tension between them, but now she realized that more
than anything, this was sexual tension. All she could hear was her heart pounding in her ears
and all she could see was them kissing in her minds eye. 'Why am I fighting this?' she wondered.
She didn't want to now. She leaned forward and kissed him, tasting his lips with hers. His face
did have a raspy stubble on them, but she liked the feel of it. She pulled away and smiled at
him. "Now go to sleep and don't push your luck," she whispered teasingly. He grinned at her and
left. She sighed, but it was a happy sigh this time. She was going to have to rethink everything
again, but she could do that in the morning and this time she wouldn't fight what she was feeling.

Chapter 8:

Climbing up the third tallest peak was not easy, and it was very cold at that height. Kyr
was somewhat surprised that Shikatu and his granddaughter Omenome, who insisted on coming along,
could keep up with him. It wasn't easy going because the gloves that they had to wear to keep
their hands from freezing often slipped in the slick snow and if it weren't for the ropes, they'd
all be dead by now. The heavy winter coats keep his rippling and straining muscles from showing,
but he felt Omenome's appriciative gaze upon him anyway. This was the sort of thing that he'd
normally take advantage of, but this was neither the time nor the place for such distractions.
It took most of the morning to reach a relatively sheltered ledge wide enough for them to take a
break on. All morning and they had only ascended about a quarter of the mountains height, and the
first quarter was always the easiest. "How high up is this Agharti supossed to be?" he asked. The
old man shrugged. "It's a lost city, no one really knows." Paradox could feel a surge of anger
simmering just beneath the surface. The old man had been no real help so far and he was getting
annoyed. "You must let the statue guide you. It's magic will pull you along the right path," the
old man said before Kyr could let out a nasty retort. "One hour break then we move on," snapped

He went off by himself to eat a little. 'Damn but I hate being kept out of the loop,' he
thought angrily. ShockWave hadn't seen it fit to further enlighten him on the whole reason for her
seeking out the statues when he telepathicaly contacted her. All she told him was that she and
Catana had the other statues and would soon join him in Nepal. He wondered if the reason for her
silence was a lack of trust towards him. 'Well damnit I passed the challenges to get the freaking
statue for her and she still won't trust me!' If it had been anyone else but ShockWave he would
have been sorely tempted to rip what she knew of the statues out of her mind, but ShockWave could
cut the energy from his psi attack before he got too much and probably hit him with a whammy of
psi energy in the feedback loop. He knew she was dangerous for a telepath to mess with. Catana told
him that she had cut Nem out of Rahsas' mind during the time when ShockWave and Rahsas were in
jail accused of murder.

He felt a hand on his shoulder and was abruptly shaken out from his dark thoughts. Omenome
stood looking at him with concern. "Are you alright?" she asked him in her perfect english. "I'm
just fine," he said. "You look angry. The ones with the other statues, they are your friends right?
You seem angry with them." Paradox wondered if all females were latent telepaths, for they had
this annoying ability of figuring out what was wrong with you without your telling them anything.
"I do not think that you should give the power of the statue over to them, Kyr," she said. She had
learned his true name on the flight to Nepal. "You are a man of honor you will use it's power well.
You have also lived in Japan and know the ways of it's people, the people who made the statue. You
are more worthy of it than any foreigners." "I am a foreigner to your people," he said coldly.
"You have our blood in you, or you could not master our arts so well, Kyr. You won it, it honor
it is yours, not theirs." "If I betray my friends I have no honor," he said with anger creeping
into his voice. Omenome looked a little hurt. "I am sorry, Kyr, I did not mean that you should
betray friends, but you are angry at them because they do not treat you as a true friend I think."
True friends would tell him what this was all about, unless they couldn't. Paradox admitted that
he did not know ShockWave that well. Catana was his friend, yes, but first and foremost she was
ShockWave's friend.

"I feel certain that the lost city contains more challenges. Think on this carefully, Kyr,
and if the gods do not find them worthy, do not hesitate to take the power for yourself." Her
smile to him was adoring. He almost said something to her, but changed his mind and remained quiet
as she went back to her grandfather. He wondered why he should be considered worthy by Omenome.
He was a very self-serving person and did not believe in her gods. He was not Buddhist, or
any of that. Right now all he was was confused and anxious to continue the climb so the cold snow
and the treacherous mountain would clear his head.

When the statues were brought together, green eyes flashed with light and the tribal
tattoos on the Indian piece seemed to glow in a strange light. Introductions were quick. Catana
had told Daryoon that they must quickly fly to Nepal to join another friend of hers with a third
and final statue, and as he ran his hands over the Chineese dragon studying it he nodded his
eagerness to see the third and final piece. ShockWave was curious about the strange bond between
Cat and Daryoon that she could sense through the empathic link with Catana. She knew that Catana
really liked him, and she was dying with curiosity over what had happened between them. Catana
also looked Darrell up and down with this appriciative look and wink that made ShockWave blush.

"Touching the Indian dragon doesn't tell me anything new," Darrell whispered. They were
on the flight to Nepal in a pretty empty plane, so they were holding a whispered conference together.
"All that touching them tells me about the civilizations that made them is what we know from
ancient Indian and Chineese histories except for the part that science refuses to credit and that
is that they were once very magical cultures and they had great magical powers through the
Buddhist teachings." The mutant powers of Daryoon and Darrell were very similar and even overlapped
a bit. After they finished whispering ideas of maybe's and what-ifs the two men started discussing
the things that they had learned from their powers and Catana and ShockWave took advantage of the
moment to catch up on things with each other.

"You did what?" ShockWave hissed in Catana's ear. Catana just gave her one of her feline
grins. "I really like him," she said. "That much is obvious," ShockWave replied. "And it's equally
obvious that you and Darrell got this chemistry going. Nothing naughty happened between the two
of you?" she asked with a raised eyebrow. "I kissed him, that's all," ShockWave said. "Must have
been some kiss," Catana giggled. "Even though Darrell is deep in conversation with Daryoon look
how his head is oriented towards you. The guy is totally taken with you, Shock. He's quite a
charmer too," she said. "Besides, I don't think you should even pretend to be shocked at what I
do. Aren't you the one fooling around with Rahsas while secretly attracted to half the BHC?" she
asked with a mischevous chesire smile. "Rahsas and I are just friends, and I am not secretly
attracted to half the BHC!" ShockWave hissed at her. "Mmm-hmmm... Suuure..." Catana teased. With
a groan ShockWave buried her head in her hands and sank down on to the tray table. Catana started
laughing and soon they were both getting funny looks from the guys.

The wind had picked up. It howled and threw snow at them, doing it's best to dislodge
them from the mountain. Visibility was practically nill. He helped Shikatu and Omenome onto a
ledge to try to take shelter from the mountain's fury. To his surprise, Paradox found that the
ledge extended back quite a bit, into a fold of the mountain. The rock on either side protected
the place from the wind, though not from the cold. The old man seemed to be handling it quite well,
but Omenome was shivering and her lips were blue from the chill. Paradox hugged her to him to
warm her, not without appriciating for her lean and delicate body. He didn't want to marry the
little minx, but a dalliance with her would be an interesting proposition. From the looks she gave
him she wouldn't mind at all, but of course the old man was there and it was to cold for anything
like that.

The three of them expolored the crevase together. Paradox discovered and interesting
carving on one of the moutainsides and was looking at with with Shikatu when Omenome cried out.
"Blessed Buddha!" she exclaimed. "Look Kyr," she said running over to him. "A door is carved over
there," she said pointing to the point where the crevase was farthest into the mountain. He went
over to look, and there was indeed an elaborate door carved into a smooth space. Most of it was
covered in snow and ice, so it took them awhile to uncover the whole thing, but when they did
they found that the door was covered by strange faded symbols. "I can not make them out enough to
even know if I can read them," said Shikatu. "The statue, Kyr," said Omenome. "If this is Agharti
and the statues are meant to come her than the statue must be a key to open this door." 'It's
just a door carved in rock, it can't open,' was Paradox's sudden thought, but he had seen to much
to deny that it was truly possible. He drew the dragon out of his pack. For the first time he
noticed that the eyes of the statue were not simple painted red, but were indeed red gems. The
red eyes glowed eerily as he brought the statue forth. He touched the dragon statue to the carved
door and suddenly there was a great rumble and the whole mountain seemed to shake.

'Avanlanche!' was the panicked thought that flashed in Paradox's mind. Snow came tumbling
down on them as he tried to protect Shikatu and Omenome. After what felt like a very long time
but was probably no more than five minutes, the rumbling stopped and the mountain settled. Paradox
hauled himself out of the snow, helping Omenome and Shikatu once he was free. They turned to where
the door carving was, to find that the door had vanished, leaving and opening of the same shape
out of which warmth radiated in it's place.

"Agharti," Shikatu whispered. Paradox stepped in off the melting snowbank and offered
Omenome his hand to help her through as well. The old man stumbled in, refusing his hand and with
a glazed over look to his eyes. He was seeing myth come to life. They shed their coats once they
were a little further in the narrow hallway that led from the door, because the warmth of the
cavern had them sweating heavily. The walls around them were covered in carvings and symbols. "I
can't read this ancient tongue," Shikatu said somewhat saddly. "The language must have died when
Agharti was lost to us." A cool air blew in from behind them, as if inviting them further into the
depths. The narrow hallway soon ended, and they found themselves in a huge chamber of undescribeable
splendor. The candles and delicate lamps that hung all around seemed to magically alight when they
entered. "It's beautiful," Omenome whispered. Paradox stepped to the center of the room and turned
in a full circle, taking in the magnificence of the place. He held the dragon statue in two hands
before him, and when he stepped on the script in the middle of the room, the red eyes flashed,
bathing the chamber in a brilliant and blinding red light.

Chapter 9:

When the light faded and they could see again, a pedestal stood two paces to the right
of the center where Paradox stood. As if compelled to do so, Kyr walked over and stood the statue
on the pedestal. In the back of his mind he could hear whisperings promising great power if he
claimed the other two statues and brought them there. The old man didn't react to either the
light nor the pedastal that appeared, but Omenome was giving him a knowing look. He knew that
there was nothing for him to do but await the arrival of ShockWave and Catana, so uninterested
in the splendor around him, he settled in a corner to do just that. His ankle throbbed from his
previous fighting, and he wincingly admitted that climbing on it so soon hadn't been such a good
idea. He could feel it swelling up inside his boot, pressing tightly against the leather. He
began the laborious and painfull job of getting the boot off so that he could rest his ankle,
while he kept and eye on Shikatu, who was staring intently at the writings on the walls, suposedly
to find some clue to help him out.

Paradox was suspicious of the old man, because he sensed that he didn't truly give a
damn if became some sort of demi-god or something with the powers from the statues. He seemed
only truly interested in what he could learn. Paradox was suspicious of what kind of knowledge
exactly the old guy was seeking and what he planned to use it for. He couldn't read Shikatu very
well, because there was some sort of psi static always around him. It could be a family thing,
after all, Omenome was one of those rare human beings that were impervious to telepathy and
appeared a blank to telepaths. That was why she was able to sneak up on him while he was contemplating
Shikatu's motives, and drop several handfulls of snow on his ankle. He practically jumped out of
his skin when the cold snow hit his skin. He looked up into the concerned and laughing eyes of
Omenome. "I've had some ninja training," she replied to his unasked question. "I know how to sneak
up on people like you."

She proceded to sit down next to him and pack the snow firmly around his ankle. The touch
of her small delicate hands on his exposed (although somewhat numb from cold) flesh sent ripples
of desire through his mind. He was the first to admit that it didn't take much to get him excited,
but somehow this was slightly different than other times. Maybe it was the way she was looking at
him with and enticing gleam in his eyes. She leaned forward and kissed him firmly on the lips,
running her hands over his pectoral muscles and making him shiver with the pleasure of her touch.
With a groan that was swallowed up by the kiss, he slid his tongue into her mouth and drank
deeply of her essensce. She willingly submitting to his delving exploration, and her fingers now
ran across his hard stomach as the slowly drifted downwards. "I wonder if the rest of you is as
hard as your stomach," she whispered as he withdrew from the kiss. Paradox's eyes flicked over to
where the old man stood, oblivious to what was going on as he tried to decipher the eleborate
scripts that seemed to decorate just about everything in the room.

"Your grandfather will notice if you take this any further," he said, pushing her away
regretfully. "I doubt anything will distract him from his fascination with the writings," she said.
She playfully tickled his chest, seeming eager to carry on despite the presence of her grandsire.
"I don't perform for spectators," he replied with a hint of scorn in his voice. She pouted. "No
need to get huffy," she whispered. "There are plenty of side tunnels from this chamber that we
can duck down," she finished with a darting lick to the ear she whispered into. Kyr wasn't the
sort of guy you needed to really talk into this sort of thing, so it wasn't long before he limped
into one of the side tunnels with the lovely Omenome. She took an very erotic approach to making
his injuries feel much better, and the tunnel was filled with more heat than what it normally was.

"I hate freezing weather," Catana grumbled through chattering teeth. ShockWave rolled her
eyes, but the look that Daryoon sent her was enough to heat her cheeks and remove the cold of
her complaints. 'Eyes like those should be illegal,' Catana thought blissfully. ShockWave sent her
a knowing look that showed she hadn't missed the subtle exchange and that she agreed with her
friend's thought. ShockWave sighed and wished that she could fly up the stupid mountain. She wasn't
that great at climbing real rocks, and her body felt battered and bruised from the abuse of the
climb. "So do the rocks tell you about the climbers plunging to their death?" she asked softly,
seeing Darrell grimace as he leaned against a rock outcropping. "It isn't as bad here," he said.
"There were a few handholds back there were the terrified emotions of a climber lossing their
grip and falling to their death back down there," he said waving his hand to the part that they
had ascended. She gave him a consoling squeeze to the shoulder, before turning away to talk to

"I'm assuming that we can't reach Paradox mentally because he's entered Agharti," she
said to Catana and Daryoon. "That means we don't know exactly where he entered Agharti either,
but we do know that he came up this side of the mountain, because the rocks told Darrell that
three people recently passed this way." "Paradox, Shikatu and the granddaughter?" Catana asked.
"Well Darrell doesn't know for sure, because he does not know any of them that well and their
imprints on the rocks are faint due to a lack of extreme emotion, which is good because it means
that nothing was wrong." At least they were resonable sure that it wasn't any of those three
who plunged to their deaths off the mountain, though that was uncertain as well there was no need
to voice the thought. Of course it was posible that Paradox had managed to get a hold of climbing
gear for their party, in which case worry was pointless. ShockWave hadn't managed to get climbing
gear for them though, because climbing a sacred mountain was not well looked upon by the locals,
though it was not even truly illegal. Still, they made do how they could. Catana was extremly
agile, so she took on her transitional form while climbing and had an easier time of it than the
rest of them. Darrell was a surprisingly good climber, and he could tell them which ledges were
at the point of crumbling so they avoided many potentially fatal situations.

ShockWave was the one who had slipped up most often, and since she was the only one who
could fly, she was in no real danger. She had to climb the mountain the hard way though, not only
to stay with the others but to conserve energy for the unknown situation they would face at
Agharti. She had also managed to save a slipping Daryoon several times, which was the cause of
many gratefull looks from Catana, but it was a good thing he had never actually fallen, because
she could not carry anyone when flying.

All too soon their break was over and it was time to continue the climb. It wasn't long
before everyone's teeth were chattering, and to top it all off, the wind had picked up and gusts
of icy air chilled them to the bone and threatened to blow them off the mountain face. It was
slow going as they had to pause every once and awhile, fearfully clinging to the rockface hoping
that the gust didn't send them spiraling down to a crashing death at the bottom of the mountain.
When it started to rain, they were truly miserable, for the cold rain froze to their coats and
thin layers of ice held their gloves to rock outcroppings. "Why couldn't it be cold enough to
snow," Catana chattered, wishing it were colder though she did not want to be cold at all. "Then
this damn rain wouldn't be freezing me to these damn rocks!" No one replied to her statement, for
they were too cold to do so. So they silently agreed and pushed on.

It felt like forever before they reached another ledge large enough for them to stop
and take a break on. Catana and Daryoon huddled together, unable to truly appreciate their nearness
to one another due to the miserableness of their condition. ShockWave decided that energy conservation
did them no good if they froze to death, so with some carefull manipulation warmth soon radiated
from her palms, just enough to warm them, but not hot enough to burn. 'Heat is a wonderfull form
of energy,' she thought blissfully. Even after ShockWave had filled their bodies with warmth,
Catana and Daryoon didn't release each other, now able to appreciate the contact. When she went
to take Darrell's hand and warm him up, he pulled her too him instead, so that she was pressed to
his chest, with her palms against his body. True, they were wearing bulky jackets, but she could
feel his body energy through the layers of clothing. He held her tightly, and as the warmth she
exuded melted the ice off his jacket, she felt herself relaxing in his arms. His chin was resting
against the top of her head, and she was filled with just the most comfortable feeling she could

Except for the talk with Daryoon that Darrell had on the plane, he spoke almost exclusively
to her and Catana seemed to assume that he was one of her operatives. It avoided awkward questions
that ShockWave wouldn't be able to answer, and she didn't truly mind Darrell seeming to be all hers
at all. "Someone came through here hoping to avoid a building storm. I think we should explore
this crevase, because it could have been Paradox." She nodded, but when she tried to pull away,
he held her and gave her a kiss on the forehead. Her skind tingled and she supressed a shiver that
was not caused by the cold as he finally released her and they began to explore the crevase. The
crevase wasn't that deep, so it wasn't long before they found the open door into Agharti. ShockWave
told Catana what they had found through their link, and she and Darrell waited for Catana and
Daryoon to make their way over to them through the snowdrifts. "I can't tell anything from the
walls of this place, it's all to hazy," Darrell whispered to her. Daryoon couldn't tell them all
that much either. "Agharti, a place of great Buddhist power. The power ebbing from here seems to
block my mutant powers," he said.

"Paradox is in there," Catana said. "Let's go and get this mystery over with." They
walked slowly through the tunnels, for Daryoon wanted to stop every once and a while to look at
what seemed to be familiar writings, but he couldn't make out what they said because of subtle
diferences in form. He traced a few of them, hoping that his powers would give him insight into
their meaning, but no luck. When the tunnel opened up into a vast chamber, a red light flashed
blinding them. As their vision cleared, ShockWave found herself staring into Paradox's eyes as
he held an engraved sword to her throat.

Chapter 10:

"What's going on here?" ShockWave asked Paradox. "Stay back all of you or I'll slash
ShockWave's throat," Paradox said. Catana's eyes narrowed and she took a step forward anyway.
Paradox mind blasted Daryoon, Darrell and Catana as he kicked ShockWave's legs out from under her
pressed his knee to her stomach and held the sword steady at her throat in one swift movement.
"Stop pushing the energy of my mental attacks away from your mind, or you'll become a headless
body," Paradox threatened. If she blasted him this close, chances were she'd kill him. The sword
held potential energy, but she couldn't manipulate that. It'd have to be in motion and then it
would be too late for her. She couldn't kill him, she didn't even know what was going on. She
gave into his command, and he brutally entered her mind and shut her down.

"Excellent," Omenome said with her hand on his shoulder as he rose. He took the dragons
out of their packs as the other three lay twitching on the floor. "Beautiful," Omenome whispered.
When they were taken to the center of the room light flashed again, and two more pedeestals appeared.
The pedastals were at sixty degree angles from each other, forming an isoceles triangle. Golden
lines of light appeared in the air, joining the statues together. The whole mountain started to
shake. The pedestals started moving toward the center of the room. They met in a flash of light
and then there was only one pedastal and the three dragons were twined together. The Indian
dragon stuck it's head out in the middle, with it's tattoo's glowing faintly. To either side the
other dragons stretched their snarling heads, their gem eyes glowing fiercely.

Omenome kissed Paradox on the mouth. While they were distracted, Darrell crawled over
to the pedestal and touched the statues. Omenome broke off the kiss and saw the look of horror on
his face. "That's right. These statues contain a great evil that the bastard Buddhist imprisoned
with their magic so he could not be reborn. But by bringing the statues together here, in their
realm of power the signs are right for his release." She playfully ran her fingers across Kyr's
chest. "He doesn't have a body, but I've already found that Kyr here has a magnificent body and
when the blood sacrifice is made, Chakumenom will inhabit his body and we shall be together forever."
"I won't let you," Darrell said fiercely. Omenome laughed. "You do not have the power to stop me.
The only one here with magic was the old man, and look what I've reduced him too." She waved her
hand to indicate Shikatu who lay wimpering on the floor, with his own powers of magic turned
against him.

She fondled Paradox, letting Darrell think he could surprise her with the sword he was
sneakily picking up. When he tried to charge her she simply flung him against the wall with her
powers. "Fool," she said scornfully. Darrell bleed out of his mouth onto the floor as he reached
for the unconcious ShockWave's hand before he passed out. Omenome went over to where Catana and
Daryoon sprawled, still reeling for the mind blast Paradox had hit them with. She bent over and
lifted Catana's head by her hair. "This kitty will make a good sacrifice," she said. At her bidding,
Paradox came over and picked Catana up, carrying her limp form to the center of the room. "I'm
so glad you weren't won over by my earlier attempts to control you, Kyr," she purred at him. "It
was so much better to seduce you and take you with your defenses down." He said nothing, for he
could no longer do anything that wasn't at her bidding.

Catana slumped on the floor, in a roughly kneeling position before the pedestals. Omenome
looked up at the smoky haze forming over the statues. "He is awakening after so long," she whispered.
Her eyes glazed over, and she reached up into the mist forming about the entwined dragons. She
drew down a grey dagger from the mist, as the haze took on a vaguely human shape. She pulled Catana's
head up by her hair, until her smooth throat was exposed. By know her eyes had no iris or pupil,
they were just smoky white orbs. She held the dagger to Catana's throat and seemed to breathe in
some of the mist. She motioned for Paradox to come and stand by her, which he did.

"Don't," croaked Daryoon's voice. Her eyes returned to normal as they snapped in his
direction. "Oh, you want me to spare your love at the expense of mine? I don't think so," she
said coldly. "But you don't truly love him. You can't. These writings say that you used to be a
simple girl, Nartiala, before he came and changed you with his magic. The runes tell the story of
how the Buddhist priests were trying to purge you of his influence and free you when you suddenly
broke free and killed yourself. They wrote here," he touched a small section of the floor where
the written symbols formed and arrow poiting to the middle of the room. "That they pledged to keep
watch on your karmic reincarnations and though they thought you cured the urged eternal watchfullness."
"Yes," her voice hissed. "They trapped him so that he could not die and be reborn in the circle,
but I escaped them. My anger was so great but I had to be very patient. I knew they would watch me
so I led model lives until this moment. They became convinced that they had cured me and one by
one achieved nirvana until I was left with none to opose me in this life."

"The signs, how could I miss the signs?" the old man groaned and went back to his wimpering.
"Yes, the signs. My simmering evil grew so great that the women who bore my forms all died giving
birth to my next reincarnation. When I was aware that none of the old masters were left, an inferno\
consummed the man who acted as my father. I kept my sisters as a cover of sorts. The old man was
most usefull as the guardian of what I sought but could not myself attain. I tricked him as I had
tricked the masters with my good behavior in previous lives. That's the magic that Chakumenom gave
to me. He made me mistress of trickery and my web, netted a fine fish," she said as she smirked at
Kyr. "So you see you simple fool, that what I feel goes beyond love in ways that you can not
understand. I, the simple peasant girl, embraced what he gave me so I no longer am the silly fool
that I was." All the while during the time where she talked, Daryoon listened but continued to
trace upwards the runes that held her story. They were left as a warning by the Buddhist masters.
He knew that it was their magic helping him read it and not his mutant powers. The meeting of the
statues had awakened some dormant power that was searching for a channel and he was the only one

"Nartiala, he murdered your parents. The mother who loved you and sang to you every night.
The father who worked so hard in the fields so that you could become a healthy and beautiful bride
and your honor would be unmatched. He killed them before your eyes, their blood boiling as it
spilled out of them and was used for his foul magics." As he spoke those words he could see the
images of the events happening and tears rolled down his face. She hesitated, seeming to see the
same images replay over in her mind. "They wouldn't let him have me. He asked for my hand and my
father refused him, he had to do it." A tear trickled down her cheek. But suddenly the moment
ended. The mask slipped back on and she used her magic to fling Daryoon around the room. "Don't
toy with me. Your pathetic little attacks won't weaken me. I'm so close now!" With that, she flung
him down one of the connecting passageways and smiled to herself when she heard the crash.

"Is he out?" she asked Paradox. "Yes, he won't bother you now," Kyr said mechanicaly.
"Good," she purred. "Then let's get on with the blood sacrifice so that my love has the power he
needs to take a body." She went back to Catana's prone form that now slumped on the floor. She
had to get her concetration back, but soon she had reformed the knife out of her lovers essensce.
She would not be denied know. She pulled back the limp girls head and took a deep breath as she
prepared to draw the sharp blade and spill a little innocent blood as a harbinger to the bloodshed
that Chakumenom's return would begin. It would be glorious.

Chapter 11:

"Get up! Get up!" a voice seemed to be calling. The voice was inside her head and all around
her. She could feel the floor beneath her seem to pulse with the call. She felt so heavy and weak,
but the call kept insisting and finally she managed to open her eyes. The floor was indeed pulsing
with a strange energy, though it looked inanimate. She realized that the preasure on her left
hand was Darrell squeezing it. His eyes were closed and he looked bruised. She wondered what happened
since Paradox had forced her to lower her defenses. Her eyes flicked over to the scene by the
dragon and saw a misty human like figure who's energy felt so evil that she winced to feel it
there across the room. Catana looked unconscious and Daryoon was valiantly trying to save her
from the machinations of Omenome. Paradox just stood there, aparently unaware that she had awakened.
She tried to keep her mind unfocused, like she was asleep or having troubled dreams. She didn't
want him to become aware of her. She threaded the energy pulsing from the floor into herself.
Either the effort of it, or the strange energy itself made her lightheaded. She felt that she
could get up and move around freely if she had to, even though Paradox's attack seemed to have
left her muscle control at less than optimum. She couldn't tell about Darrell though. His energy
patterns seemed ok, but she wasn't familiar enough with him to tell how much of his bio-energy was
devoted to healing and therefore how serious his injury was.

'A little healing energy never hurt anyone,' ShockWave thought to herself. The strange
energy she was converting into healing bio-energy took some effort and left her dizzy but she
managed to keep a small steady flow going into his body through their point of contact. It took
all her concentration so she wasn't aware that Daryoon had been flung out of the dispute leaving
Catana at the mercy of Omenome. All she was aware of was Darrell opening his eyes and looking
into hers. An unexpected surge of emotion welled up inside of her, but she quickly supressed it.
A sense of ungency filled her and she comunicated to Darrell with her eyes what she wanted done.

Just as she began the cut that would give her victory and spill the blood sacrifice for
power, the knife was kicked from her hands. With a howl of rage she looked to Paradox her captured
drone was supossed to protect her until he was possessed. He was engaged in a fight with Darrell
and in her intense concentration for what was supossed to be her victory she hadn't even heard
the sounds of their battle. 'So the energy witch snuck up on me,' she thought. 'She'll find me
more than she can contain' ShockWave had her by the wrists and tried to wrestle her into a position
were she could land a solid blow, but Paradox's mind blast left her with slowed reflexes, keeping
her from ending the fight kickly as Havok had drilled into her with training. So Omenome was a
match for her physically and was counting of her magical powers to give her the edge. ShockWave
diverted the flow of her magical attacks, sending them crashing into the room around them. She
had a lot to keep up with though, for she had to prevent Paradox's psi energy from entering either
her mind or Darrell's. So with every attack and deft twist Omenome managed ShockWave came closer
to losing her hold and all she had to balance and the scales slowly moved against her.

Garbled whispers filled his mind saying things he couldn't understand, speaking languages
long decayed and lost. Murmuring unitelligebly, but clamoring to be heard. Daryoon opened his
eyes to look upon the clutter he now lay in. His palms rested on some fragmented tablets, hence
the whispers of his mutant powers. He was suddenly filled with a voice, something that had never
happened before. His powers often brought him unintelligeble whispers and images of a culture,
but a clear voice rung through his head. It told him of a sword in this chamber, a sword forged
in evil that would brutally end the karmic cycle of those it clove unto. The masters had hidden
it away here, for they could not destroy it. They kept it as a failsafe for the return of the
evil Chakumenom after they had achieved nirvana. The masters had suspected that Nartiala was
waiting for that to happen. The sword would kill Chakumenom and his host forever, the voice told

Daryoon ignored the wave of nausea that hit him as he stood and searched the rubble of his
crash landing for the sword. It rested in an elaborate carved sheath beneath him. Daryoon shuddered
as he gripped the sheath. It bespoke of the evil twisted person who carved it, and the culture
of violence he wished to carve out of the world with the blade. He drew the katana and saw the
blade shimmer without a trace of rust. He could feel it's power. Paradox was to be the host for
Chakumenom, he was Catana's friend. He didn't truly wish to do this to him for her sake, but he
wouldn't show any mercy to him for his aid in Catana's sacrificial murder. He wouldn't truly be
himself anyway, he kept telling himself as he made his way back to the main chamber not feeling
the tears that slid unoticed down his cheeks.

Omenome broke ShockWave's hold on her and flung the redhead to the ground. 'At least I'll
die before Cat,' ShockWave thought morbidly. Darrell wasn't doing very well against the lethal
fury of Paradox's martial art skills. Only his quickness to dodge blows had kept him alive this
long. ShockWave knew that she wouldn't be able to deflect the next magical attack Omenome launched
at her. Her head pounded from all she had done already and she was still blocking Paradox from
the minds of Darrell and herself. But a snarl sounded behind Omenome and before she could turn,
Catana in her fully feline form was upon her, raking her claws through flesh.

"I'm not the only one who lost control," ShockWave said a little giddyly glad that Omenome
had lost her hold on her friend. But Omenome was not defeated yet. Catana had raked her with her
claws because she had caught her by surprise, but with an earpiercing shriek she used her magics
to fling Catana away from her. She grabbed her knife and glared at Catana and ShockWave. "One of
you will die for my master," she shrieked. ShockWave noted with dismay that the misty entity of
her master was covalesing. Was it because blood had been spilled when Catana clawed Omenome?
Neither Catana nor the little sorceress seemed to notice. ShockWave extended her arm to radiate
an energy barrier so Omenome's magics couldn't touch her and she left that fight to Catana. She
took a shaky breath and closed her eyes, trying to get a handle on the foul energy that was taking
shape. It seemed to be drawing power from the blood being spilled by the four combatants, but it
wasn't taking over the host body. Perhaps because the blood wasn't exactly spilled in sacrifice?
ShockWave wasn't sure, magic wasn't her specialty it was more the sort of thing she'd rather let
Gomurr, Rahsas or the other magically gifted BHC members handle.

Because she was the only one not inmersed in a battle to the death, ShockWave was the only
one to feel Daryoon come back into the room. She felt the magic pulsing of the blade he carried
and opened her eyes to see him running toward the covalescing shape. She didn't know how she knew
it for it felt like the energy that coursed through her whispered it to her and that was both
illogical and likely impossible, but she knew that the blade could destroy the demon man's shape
so long as it was done before he left Agharti. 'Chaku-what ever she called it does not have a
physical form yet,' ShockWave muttered to herself. Did that mean the blade couldn't kill him yet?
Daryoon was already too close to the demon man though, this could be their one shot. Taking hold
of her last reserve of the strange energy she had drawn from the pulsating floor of the chamber,
ShockWave redirected the flow into the blade trying to conform the energy patterns to the energy
the blade was already coated in. She continued the flow as Daryoon slashed downwards through the
gaseous form and then the world went black.

She woke up to a horrible sensation of falling. She knew she wouldn't have enough energy
to fly, and found herself strangely bound as well. Before she could even think to scream, a
soothing voice told her to relax. "Darrell?" She asked, opening her eyes. "Yup! We're rappelling
down the mountainside," he told her. She realized that the reason she couldn't move was because
she was in a makeshift harness on his back. "Cat? Kyr?" "Both fine, slightly below us on the
mountain," he said. "We did it," he added, twisting his head around to grin at her before dropping
another fifty feet. "Goody, then I can go back to sleep now," she said. He laughed.


[And the heads of the Guild are most pleased with the results of our adventure together.]
Darrell's voice finished in her head. An unexpected result of their success in destroy the magical
danger to the Guild, and indeed the world, was a boost in the magical conection of the Guild which
now allowed for mental comunication, something that it had lost in the past century. [That's good,
we make a pretty good team] ShockWave thought back at him. [Yes we do] she could almost feel him
smiling. [But you better get back to business] she told him. [Ah yes... But I'll keep in touch
with you personally as well as professionaly now that it's easier] he replied. [Hmmm... yes, but
don't get your hopes up] Now she was the one smiling as she broke contact. She had a little bit
more to attend to.

She knocked on the door to the dorm where Paradox was staying at the BHC Academy and
without waiting for an answer walked right in. "Geez! Have you no manners? What it someone had
been changing in here?" Paradox exclaimed. "Are you that anxious to see me nude?" he teased. "A
sight I can live without I assure you," she said drolly. "But if you don't want your pay, then
I'll come back when my manners improve." The implication to her words was never. "Hey, no harm
done, my roomie isn't even in," Kyr said with a grin. ShockWave gave him his money. "Don't spend
it all in one place," she said. "It'd be a little hard to," he said with a grin. "But I might
manage to anyway." She smiled. "Umm... Listen about what happened to me..." "You mean your stupid
stunt falling for that Omenome chick and screwing with my head?" ShockWave said harshly. "Yeah,
that..." "I've arranged it with Gomurr so that you can take extra classes to learn to be more
cautious next time" "Does that mean you forgive me?" he said interrupting her before she could

ShockWave gave him a hard look. "As your friend, I can forgive you for what you did to
me," she said. Before Paradox could smile or make a smart-mouthed remark she grabbed him by the
front of his shirt and slammed him into the wall. She held him there, and he elected not to break
the hold she had on him as he easily could have. "As Black Bishop of the BHC I think you were
stupid, careless, and reckless. I can't forgive you for what almost happened to Catana and the
rest of us. You're just lucky your body remained your own and the world didn't have to suffer for
your hormones. I'll also warn you that if you ever do anything that stupid again I won't hesitate
to kill you, my friend or not. Don't mess with me again." She let him go and stormed out. "Yes
ma'am!" he said giving her a mock salute. She ignored both his remark and the salute. It was just
his way of blowing off tension. He got the warning. Her responsabilities as Black Bishop was
something she took very seriously and she would kill him if it could save others. He had to respect
that about her, she was indeed someone dangerous to mess with and fun to be with on more casual
terms. He grinned and decided to wait a for her to cool off before brightening her doorway with
his charming self and sense of humor.