B5 —21. Sun Touched

Author Note:  I KNOW the ending is a, eh, bit of a tease… cliff, but you have to understand, I need the proper time to flesh this stuff out.  D=  I can’t rush it.  These are things I have prepared to reveal for so long, leaving little hints along the way that will slowly start to click with people, and am so excited to get to.

PoV:

1. Rachel Park (Our Lunar Hades Hare!)

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Cahira pulled into the driveway, and Rachel got out to invite them inside; most of her family would be asleep, but her angelic, magical girl sister-in-law was lying in bed, wing draped over her husband as she watched him sleep.

Rachel figured she was taking in the fact the other day hadn’t been a dream and thinking over her decision to go through with the transformation.

Ushering the throng inside, she scanned the city to find her father preparing to come home after pulling an all-nighter at the office; he’d probably get to spend a decent amount of time with her mother before she was fit to get up.

She left Anthony and Jaenona to entertain Melissa and Cahira; the 18-year-old Myth of Scylla had taken a shine to the cute, articulate, and clueless eldritch girl.

Snatching her phone off its wireless charger, Rachel did a quick scan of the messages, spotting Tom’s text; he’d had to push back the meeting for today, and their other friends confirmed they’d be able to stop by in the evening on the group chat—it was time to reveal Twilight’s existence to everyone.

A light groan rumbled in her throat as she dropped onto her bed to stare at her screen.  Why is there always so much going on?  Every day since The Oscillation has been crammed full of things…  Never a dull moment, I guess.

She stretched out and went to Nam’s room to softly rap her knuckles against the door, peeking inside when she heard Alexa shift in bed.  “You up—”

“G-Give me a second!”  she hissed in return, and Rachel saw glowing bare skin before closing the door; Alexa seemed to only be wearing panties and a loose sports bra.

Shuffling came from within as she stood up, puffing out a long stream of air while studying herself.  “Mmgm…”

After a minute, she came to the door; Alexa exited with a light scowl, wearing her magical girl outfit.

“Rough night?”  Rachel chuckled, ears tilting to the side as she backed up.

Alexa’s small wings fluttered a little before bending with effort for her to enter the hallway.  “I’m… getting used to things—almost nothing of mine fits anymore, and it’s not like I kept clothes or training bras from when I was a teen…”

“Oof.”

Making sure to leave without making too much noise, she crossed her arms, and Rachel had to admit the semi-annoyed teenage angel look was cute on her.  It helped when your hair, halo, dress, and wings—just about everything—sparkled as if enchanted.

“Want to talk?”

“Sure…”

She didn’t sound too convinced it would help but followed her downstairs to introduce the angel to Melissa and Cahira; the redhead couldn’t hold back her laughter at seeing the change, but the Myth of Scylla had an understanding, forced smile as she waved them off.

Starting off on yet another walk, Rachel jumped straight into the heart of the conversation in the pre-daylight hours of the morning.

“How are you managing?”

Alexa reached up to pull down her halo and play with it in her fingers.  “You know… this will just teleport back into place when I let go?  It’s pretty cool, and it’s a part of my body… heh, I thought it could be thrown like Sailor Moon, you know?”

“How’d that work out?” Rachel chuckled, knowing she was just trying to find her way through her thoughts.

“Eh… yeah, I think my halo is more like a power source, of sorts, and…  Well, let’s just say it’s as sensitive as some… other parts of my body,” she mumbled with a blush.  “Nam was so… uncomfortable last night.”

Rachel’s full lips drew in as her own gut tightened at the topic.  “No offense, Alexa, but I’d rather not talk about the things you and my brother do behind closed doors.  I get you’re trying to explore new—”

“No!  No!” Alexa groaned, letting her halo flash back above her shimmering hair.  “Gah, I’m not trying to—I don’t know what I’m trying to say,” she cried, gesturing to her wings.  “It’s just… Nam treated me like a piece of delicate glass that would shatter at the slightest touch—he’s put off by how young I look, and I hate it!  I hate it!”

“Mhm…”

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Alexa’s shoulders drooped, lifting a wing to draw Rachel’s attention to it; of course, she could see everything in focus.   “Haaa.  I hoped all of this would have been a dream, but now I hear whispers… sounds so heavenly I want to listen…”

Intrigued, Rachel slowed their pace a tad.  “Heaven?”

“I don’t know what else it would be…  It’s a war we can’t see—I don’t know against who—but that’s the feeling I get.  I… heard a voice last night.”

“A voice…  Not one of these whispers?”  Rachel asked.

Rubbing her arm, Alexa nodded.  “He showed me a vision and… and he said I should seek out Jeanne d’Arc…”

Mind returning to the blonde-haired saint, the Lunar Hare’s eyes narrowed, seeing the light start to touch the horizon with morning’s arrival; she hadn’t talked to her family about their entire mission in Cuba or the part France had played.

The trouble was the suspicion she had toward Jeanne’s involvement with Twilight; that was, if her theory about the creature having a piece of herself free was correct.

“What was the vision?”

Alexa’s muscles tightened at her serious tone.  “He showed me a great walled garden with a shining woman inside—tons of knights, queens, and kings on the walls—and a giant ocean outside.”

She held out her hands in a sweeping gesture.  “A massive hidden monster that sucks in water three times a day hid nearby—oh, and it spits it out, too—I don’t know how it stays hidden if it spits water out,” she added, rubbing the back of her neck.

“It’s stupid…  Know what,” she laughed and brushed out her silver hair, “It was probably just some silly dream—I don’t know.”

If an angel sent Alexa a vision since she’s now close to their network and directing us to Jeanne…  Charybdis has to drink water and spit it out.  Is Melissa’s little sister near France—is that the wall?

“Hold that thought…”  Rachel muttered, slowing as she pulled her phone out of the folds of her violet skirt, hearing Nia groan and flip over in bed.

Accessing the special military data network Tom had given her access to, she searched the high-profile Legends of France they’d discovered so far; a few names stood out.

The Templar Knights, Saint Jeanne, her right-hand-man, Gilles de Rais, Saint Bernard of Clairvaux, the famous alchemist Nicolas Flamel, Charles-Henri Sanson, Second Grand Master of the Knights Hospitaller, Raymond du Puy, Queen Margaret of Anjou, Holy Emperor Charlemagne, and his twelve paladins, to name a few.

She was a little surprised to see the legendary emperor be the head of a reformist party in France with Saint Bernard; it appeared there were quite a number of developing organizations and factions building in France, yet all of them seemed to be playing well with each other.

There were questions about Raymond du Puy—if he was secretly a serial killer, considering the Legend’s past—yet by all records, he was as honest and upstanding as they come, not to mention a decorated military general.

Some historians believed the accusation made against the historical hero had been the same ill-fate as the Knights Templar, having been falsely convicted for the crime of being more wealthy than the Church and being closely associated with the famous slain female saint, who had taken a major stance and image in the hearts of the people.

Although, there had been a renowned extremist group that had been making waves in the country recently—one connected to Blackbeard—and who Jeanne had personally confronted two weeks prior.

The Legend of Jeanne de Clisson, who had been involved in bombings and assassinations in a radical group, seeking justice for alleged political corruption within the French government, yet little in the way of evidence had been given by the terrorists.

Having met face to face with France’s pillar of a blonde saint in her attack on Palais Bourbon—which Rachel found more than a little stupid, considering the forces guarding the government building—she’d sustained grave injuries after launching some kind of powerful explosive that Jeanne reflected.

Her crew retreated and met with Blackbeard after escaping; the collateral damage had forced the saint and others to prioritize civilian lives.

“Something… interesting?”  Alexa forced a chuckle as she scanned through the cliff notes of what was happening in France.

“One second…  I want to hear how this ends.  Just doing a bit of thinking…  Go on.”

“Wait, really—is it important?”  she asked, star-like eyes lighting up even more than they already were.  “Am I like… like an oracle or something?”

Rachel giggled, waving for her to continue.  “Hehe.  Maybe.”

“Cool.  Umm—huh?!”

An annoyed hiss shot through Rachel’s teeth as her ears shifted to her left, catching wind of something she should have expected; grabbing Alexa’s hand, she redirected her to a jogging path.

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“A social media reporter caught wind that my parents’ home is near this neighborhood and is snooping around…”

Alexa’s wings tightened against her back for the first time.  “Yikes!  Eh… what if she doxes us to get her story—you know, threaten to spread our information online?”

“Pfft!”  Rachel gave her an incredulous look.  “Alexa, I literally stood in the Seventh Layer of Hades a few days ago—a social media chick who’s out for clout is not an issue.  I’ll handle it later; my mind’s on bigger things.  Keep going.”

“Okay…  Umm, so, there was this locked greenhouse with, uh-heh, a lot of rotten trees inside,” she shrugged.  “Don’t tell me what that’s about, but the angel showed me the biggest one—a huge black thing—and a snake was, heh, get this… whispering to the tree and the tree whispered back, sending the green snake out to deliver messages.  Crazy, huh?”

Revilla…  Rachel internally hissed.

Coming to a complete stop and no longer caring about the clout chaser, Rachel put her hand on Alexa’s back to guide her toward the house.

“Are… we going back—am I a prophetess?”

“If you want to call it that,” Rachel absently muttered.  

The Knights Templar’s cage is compromised…  Revilla has someone inside, and since Melissa’s sister was shown in the vision, she’s probably involved in whatever this is… willingly or not.

Walking straight to the parked car on her road, Rachel tapped on the window, making the woman inside jump out of fright since she’d used a blind spot to approach.

The window rolled down to see an excited, thirty-year-old woman inside.  “An angel?!  Oh, I figured you’d be able to hear—”

“I’m busy,” Rachel bluntly returned, tone and illuminated crimson and four-leaf-clover irises causing a lump to form in the woman’s throat.

“I just—”

Her body heat increased, and she bit her tongue as Rachel interrupted again, moving around to the back of her jeep to pick it up by the hitch; dragging it to the road, she sat it in the middle of the street before going back to the window.

“Get a hotel in the city and stay there for… however long it will take for my schedule to clear up—I don’t like unannounced people showing up at my place—understand?”

Choking an unintelligible response, the woman nodded, and Rachel waited, making the woman fidget a few seconds in panicked confusion until Rachel pointed at the road.

“Leave.”

“O-Okay!”

Alexa seemed to be trying to make herself look smaller than she already was as Rachel returned, still mildly annoyed that someone had been able to track down her address—likely using the college.

“You… always were intense and didn’t give a crap, but… dang,” she shivered.

Rachel waved her hand dismissively, not wanting to give the incident any more brain power than was absolutely required.  “That vision you had was important…  It seems we have a heavenly messenger that can feed you information.”

She came to a sudden halt as all her agitation vanished in the light beams that shot out of her sister-in-law’s brilliant glow.

“I can be useful then—was my transformation worth it?”

Rachel chuckled, rubbing her head and realizing how hard Alexa must have had it; Yseress was hissing from within her Core about the holy energy waking her up.  Opening her arms, she motioned for Alexa to close the distance.

“No way…”  she whispered, hesitantly stepping forward before Rachel hugged her.  “Did I just… hypnotize you—because this is weird?”

“Probably,” she mused, positive energy flooding her veins.  “Alexa… you’ll have the opportunity to show me if you have what it takes to join Mythic, but don’t think you’re useless if I say you aren’t ready.  I’m sorry if I made you feel that way.”

Alexa’s younger voice dropped to a whisper as her wings and glow fell.  “It’s my fault…  I’ve never had a great example, and I just feel guilty… with how active Molly, Nam, you… everyone in the family has so much energy and motivation.  I don’t want to see myself like a lazy bum anymore.”

“I’m glad, but don’t go jumping into the deep end if I’m not there to bail you out.  Got it?”

Pulling away, she saw the bright smile and countenance return to the 13-year-old-looking woman.  “So… you do care about me—hehe—am I actually a part of the family?”

“Yes!  Stupid,” Rachel huffed, jabbing her elbow and making her titter while hopping off-balance.

“Ack—that hurt!”

“Sorry!  Hehe.  I just need a few more test jabs…”

“Rachel!”  Alexa cried as she jogged toward the house with the Lunar Hare in slow pursuit, amused she ever thought she could escape but letting her keep ahead in any case.

Returning inside, she heard Nia stretching out and smacking her lips within her Core, greeting Yseress, who appeared to be getting ready for the day in some spiritual shower—no curtain—and making the little bunny girl balk in embarrassment.

Entering the house, Rachel gathered everyone together to talk about the new development, much to Melissa’s horror.

Alexa helped to calm her down, reassuring her that Rachel had promised to help, and if there was one good quality about her, it was her reliability—which sounded more like a diss to Rachel than a compliment, but it did help Melissa.

Cahira had her own opinions of the extremist privateer in France and how she’d adopted a scorched earth strategy; she wasn’t a fan, and she suspected a few acquaintances or people she could contact had the means to set up a meeting.

Anthony was more interested in the vision, going further into detail with Alexa.  Rachel left him to probe for more information when her father came home.

Welcoming him in, she smiled as he hugged her and went to the stairs; Rachel followed, knowing he’d want to know her plans for the day so he could plan accordingly before bed—he was the type to have everything in order before relaxing.

Filling him in on the schedule of the coming psych evaluation, tonight’s important discussion, and another essential topic she wanted to talk to him about, he paused at the foot of the stairs.

“It’s rare for you to be nervous,” he muttered, showing bags under his eyes but a sharp mind.  “How long will it take—it isn’t about this Melissa girl—is it?”

Rachel steamed a long breath, nervously rubbing the side of her neck and shaking her head.  “It’s about Mom.”

“Hmm.”  Glancing up the stairs, he worked around his jaw before nudging his head to the backyard.  “Or do you need the garage because of the sun rising?”

“The garage is good…  You never know when I might need all my strength,” she joked, her laughter strained; naturally, she’d talk to her dad before bringing the topic to her emotional mother.

He led the way to the door, opening it for her and shutting it behind them; once leaning against a car, he silently waited for her to explain, and Rachel ripped off the bandaid.

“I think… it will be beneficial to Mom’s mental and physical health if she took a more active part in Mythic… even if there are obviously safety risks.”

Rachel held her breath as her dad closed his eyes, breathed in, and released the stress that had gripped his lungs; he remained quiet for over five minutes, being one of the few people in Rachel’s life who could make her fidget while awaiting his verdict.

Brown eyes opening, he didn’t look apprehensive, but she could hear it from his body and the slight inflections in his voice.  “Be specific.  What kind of active part…  Are you suggesting she take one of these Seeds like Alexa?”

“I’m… not entirely sure,” Rachel forced out, rubbing her arm and looking away.  “It would depend on what she decided, but… I do think it would help her bridge the gap she’s feeling with us.  You could take one, too,” she mumbled, unable to look him in the eye as her ears pulled back.

Her father’s silence was a hammer against her heart, smashing it with every beat as she prayed he wouldn’t be pissed at her for suggesting it, which he was within his rights to be; they’d seen the effects of what happened to those that took it, and it was chaotic.

Another five minutes of meticulous thought went by before her father sighed, running his fingers through his dark hair.  “I’ve been thinking about this since yesterday.”

Rachel’s ears stood up.  “You have?”

“Heh.  Don’t look so surprised.”  A melancholy smile creased his eyes.  “From what you explained, everyone will eventually need to take it, and Alexa needs to pass it on to someone.  The question is, do we put it off until later, or do we take it now… or stubbornly refuse and be the eventual minority that will trigger the end result where the final Seed holders will die—unable to pass it on.”

She hadn’t thought about that possibility, showing how far she’d tried to keep this eventuality in the back of her mind.

“So…”

“Huu-hmmm…  How long has your mother been asleep?”

A shiver ran through her bones, head lifting to look at the ceiling; she was scared—her father was actually considering it.  “Umm.  I think it’s been more than eight hours now.”

He nodded and put a hand on her shoulder, squeezing it for support.  “Let me go get her.  I think it would be better if she made the decision; I’ll do whatever she does.”

Rachel’s nose burned as he left to fetch his wife, and she didn’t exactly know why tears were attempting to escape her eyes; she didn’t think he would be so understanding.  She’d severely underestimated her father’s forethought and love for her mother.

He’d probably been thinking about this since the moment she offered the choice to Alexa, knowing his wife better than anyone and where this would lead.

 She choked, forgetting to breathe as Nia and Yseress exited.

“Don’t die, Rachel!”  Nia mumbled, using her ‘cool’ and ‘coded’ telepathic link, which Rachel could do without at times.  “Is… is Mom really going to get powers?!”

Yseress’ wings tightened around her body to not brush against the cars, scanning the space with its well-organized tools and items.  “Obviously.  Mortals can’t deny power, Nia; it’s baked into their very genes.”

“Big Sis!  Hehe.  Moms aren’t mortals.  That’s silly.  Moms are superhuman!”

“In what world?”  Yseress asked, lifting an eyebrow.

Rachel chuckled and waved them off to join Melissa, Anthony, and the others.  “Go teach Alexa more angel stuff, and, Nia, I bet Jaenona would love your attention… or the other way around.”

“Right!  Jaenona was wearing those super cute clothes.  Where did she get them?”

“My old ones in the shed, Rachel responded without thinking and instantly regretted it.

“You have old clothes from your school days!  I want!  I want!”  she salivated, jumping up and down in excitement as if a little sister getting a whole new wardrobe from her big sister to show off.

“Right…  I’ll help you with them later.  I’m sure Mom will want to get in on that.”

“Yes!  I gotta let everyone know!”

She rushed off as the Nephilim lingered behind, glaring at a grinder.  “Must I be in that… that godly presence, and what would you have me teach her…  Unless…”

“Yseress…”  Rachel warned, eyes narrowing at the twinkle in the devilish fallen angel’s eyes.  “Nothing too licentious, and why are you speaking through my spirit?”

“Oh, no, no, no!  I wouldn’t dream!  Also, I simply like to keep a low carbon footprint; is that the proper word?  Hmm-hehe,” she chimed, vanishing in a flurry of black feathers that instantly caught flame.  “The licentious ways of the Infernal would be far too harsh for such an innocent, mortal mind…  Hmm-hmm-hmm.”

“Also,” Rachel interrupted, wanting to mark her bases, “we are talking about MY view of licentious… not yours or a Succubus’.”

“Aww… you’re killing my fun, Mistress.  Should not she be the one to decide where to draw the line?”

“Don’t push it…”

“Hehe.  I shall be nothing but accommodating to… the flavors of mischief she finds most… appetizing.  A girl’s body cannot lie—angel or not!”

Rachel wondered if she should toss Yseress off to Cahira but realized there was no fun in an easy mark, which was why the Nephilim wanted to tease Alexa; Cahira was far too thirsty of a woman to tickle the devilish woman’s satisfaction.

Once again alone, she closed her eyes and released her ponytail to brush out her hair, letting it fold neatly around her back as it always did; she played with her grandmother’s emerald pendant while following her father and mother’s conversation.

It was quick and the reunion sweet, their morning kiss making Rachel smile with the sleep mumbles of loving words while stretching out under her sheets.  After a few minutes, he told her their daughter was waiting in the garage to speak about an important topic in private.

Rachel’s ears and head tilted to the side as her mother released a long sigh, sucking on her lower lip before nodding, smiling, and giving him a third kiss.

She swapped to Korean, and it fascinated her that her translation ability converted it to English; yet, it was also a little saddening to learn she was more proficient with English and wondered if she should force everything she heard to be in Korean to exercise her parents’ main language.

“Thanks for letting me know, Honey; I love you.”

“Love you, too.”

“Sleep well—when would you like dinner?”

“Hmm.  I’ll take a short two-hour sleep; I have more business to attend to before our guests arrive—and Rachel drops another bomb on us—I’m sure.”

“Hehe.  Oh, I totally expect our darling daughter will have quite a surprise for us…  She’s such a wonderful daughter.”

“She is…  Good night, Chan-hee.”

“I’ll have breakfast ready in two hours.”

The exchange was fine, but the bewildering part of it was the underlying tone in her mother’s voice—a melancholy, begrudging sigh that said she didn’t want to speak to her—the first time she’d heard such a cadence from her mother.

Chewing on her inner cheek, Rachel tried to breathe out her stress and internal questions if she should even bring up the topic until her mother hesitated at the garage door before opening it with a forced smile; she’d bypassed everyone in the front room without saying good morning.

Her mother stepped into the space and closed the door behind her, dressed in silky white pajamas with pink frills.  “Your father said you wanted to speak to me?”

“Do… you want to speak to me?”  Rachel mumbled, eyebrows furrowed and ears pulled back.

Totally blindsided, Rachel’s tail stiffened as her mother leaned to the side and, without hesitation, pressed the garage door opener, causing the three doors to rise, letting sunlight reach inside the proofed area.

A million alarming questions flashed through Rachel’s accelerated mind, yet her body was paralyzed with fear; had her mother been impersonated by someone—was she being mind controlled—why spring such a trap at this exact moment?

Yet, all those terrifying thoughts came to a blinding crash when the sun touched her skin, and her Lunar Energy didn’t start to drain.

Was she in an illusion?  Had she been mind controlled—past all her mental resistance and Nia’s abilities—not likely?  She was at a total loss.

Utterly stunned, all she could do was watch her smiling Korean mother descend the stairs and take her hand.  “Why don’t we take a short walk.”

“In… your pajamas?”  was the best Rachel could return with, despite Hyper Mental Acceleration giving her the time to process—it wasn’t enough—she was unsure how else to respond as the world and all logic flipped on its head.

“Hehe.  Oh… I don’t mind, and it’s nice to feel the sun on your skin every once in a while.  Right?  Coming?”  she lightly prompted, tugging her hand as if she were a little girl again and guiding her to the sidewalk.  “Wow…  So, I’m guessing you’ve concluded I have a Seed like you, huh?”

“No?!”  Rachel breathlessly choked as all the voices in the house and around her suddenly ceased; only they moved as if time had paused.  “What do you mean you have a Seed—since when—how?!  What’s happening?!”

“Well…  Hmm.  It’s an interesting tale—more of a fable, really.  Hehe.  I told it so many times, but I guess it’s been a long time since I would tell you stories at bedtime…”  she whispered, but all Rachel heard was pain in her voice, despite her smiling face.

“I know this is a lot to take in, but… I promise I’ll try to make this quick.  Just… just give me one more walk around the block.  You used to love my stories when you were a little girl… let me relive that for a bit.  Please?”

Rachel’s skin tingled at the implication as her mother’s brown eyes flashed with welcoming, warm flames, making her heart quiver; it sounded like her mother was saying goodbye.


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