Author’s Note and Warning: Make that warning then note^^;; This FANFIC/STORY contains violence, vulgarity, and may contain adult situations(I don’t know yet, unlikely though =P). You have been warned ‘kay?
Full versions of the illustrations can be found in the art gallery, most will be labeled as an illustration of Emerald and Brass. If you have a sucky and/or slow modem/connection, and don’t wish to view the images. You make me sad ;_; and can just disable your image browsing capability instead of complaining.^^ There most likely won’t be that many NEways. And dun bug me ‘cuz you think I’m just jumping the Japanese anime train. I’m an Asian too ya know =P
All characters are (C) the [Zetallis Corporation] This story is (C) Nin’nako Foxie/Oni, need I really say that?^^ There’s a reason I call this a fanfic instead of just a story, many ideas are taken from other games and animes, etc. I don’t claim them as my own. It would be too much of a hassle (‘cuz I don’t remember all of them) to list them all and give copyright info or source. So those ideas are given respectively to those companies who claim them.
Welcome again...

Emerald and Brass Part 2
Chapter 1 : Under an Eldritch Sky
by Nin’nako Foxie

        “Sir, we have picked up the appearance of an unknown portal signature. It is not a large portal but an investigation is advised.”
        “Had anyone or anything come through the portal?”
        “Yes sir, 5 unknown people.”
        “Then ignore it.”
        “But sir! The dimensional laws...very well, sir.”

        Ark slowly opened his eyes. His vision was blurred badly, so he didn’t move for awhile. “Oh, Ark. You’re awake,” said the blurred green form, leaning over him. “Let me get you some tea.” Ark covered his eyes as Asia flung open the curtains, letting the bright sunshine in. Squinting, he watched her leave the room. His room infact. Oh yeah, he thought. Reaching up to his face, he felt at the bandages wrapped around his head and over one eye. He flung off the covers and tried to stand up, but a sudden pain in his chest forced him to sit back down on the bed. Gasping for breath, he laid his head back and stared at the ceiling until Asia came back.
        “Ark, did you try to stand up?” she sighed, but with a smile and setting the tray on the lamp stand beside the bed.
        “Well, you shouldn’t. You are still badly injured. We would have taken you to a hospital, but Chaonen insisted that we didn’t,” said Asia as she poured hot water into a tea cup with the tea leaves of the bottom. Carefully picking it up, she offered it to Ark. “Careful, it is hot.”
        He said a quick thanks and sipped the tea. “So whatcha all been up to? long have I been out?”
        “A few days now, I think,” she replied. “Don’t worry, Socara and I have been fine with Chaonen around.” She giggled suddenly and looked embarrassed. “I hope you don’t mind, but we had to search the apartment for a set of keys and money to buy food. Oh, Socara and Chaonen should be back anytime now. They went to the market for some extra things we forgot before. Also, Coniau went to visit the science institute, she has Ivy with her.”
Ark looked at her for a moment. “You don’t look like a messy, destructive’s okay then.” Feeling a little sleepy, he glanced idly around the room. It wasn’t very big, kind of cozy. A lamp by his bed, another one in the far corner. There was a desk, covered with paper and old books, mostly magic ones. A stereo with head phones, a minidisk player was shoved against the wall with a bunch of MDs laying in messy piles around it. An old rug lay on the floor. To his relief, his staff was leaning against the wall next to him and his pouch was set on the chair by his desk.         “Are you feeling alright?” asked Asia.
        “What?” Ark exclaimed, snapping out of the daze he was in. “Oh, yeah I’m fine. Just tired.”
        “I’ll let you rest then,” smiled Asia as she gathered the tray and cups, then left the room, closing the door behind her.

        The market place was very busy, as usual. People were milling around, chatting, idling, buying things, etc. Vendors shouted their wares and the smell of incense and spices lingered in the air.
        Socara found this almost odd. They were in the better parts of District: Runei, away from the blackmarket areas and seamy side. The general look of the market was very mixed. From modern to old fashioned markets of the Ancient times.
        The sky was clear that morning, after another snow storm. Transport and air ships could be seen flying in the air to there destinations. Towards her left she could see the towering buildings of the technological sectors and districts, but she could also see the buildings modeled after the Ancients days. The city was so diverse she could hardly believe it. From her seat infront of a snow covered cafe, she could watch all the market goers walking by. Even the species here were very diverse. She couldn’t identify any of them she thought as what looked like a cheetah mixed with a lizard and hedgehog walked by carrying his goceries, but Chaonen had said most Cephtans were crossbreds. Purebreds like himself weren’t very common, nor were mages of any magic. One thing she could tell, though, was that she hadn’t seen any children.
        Chaonen came back after about half an hour. He didn’t seem to be there mentally though. His Shadow, sitting on his Shadow, was watching him with concern. “Is something wrong, Chaonen?” Socara asked.
        “’s gone...and Nanika...what?” he muttered to himself. “”
        “What? Sorry, Socara...” he started. “Let’s go home.” Socara looked concerned but nodded, picking up her packages and followed him to the terminal back to District Mirne.

        “Welcome back!” exclaimed Asia from the kitchen as Socara and Chaonen entered the door.
        “Hi Asia! Has Ark or Oni woken up yet?” asked Socara, setting the packages down on the counter.
        “Ark has, but not Oni.”
        “Is he still awake?” Chaonen asked quickly, setting his packages down too.
        “He might be, I told him to rest, but you know him,” Asia replied. Asia hadn’t even finished speaking before Chaonen had jumped the few steps leading to hallway with the bedrooms and bathroom. He didn’t even pause to knock, but flung opened the door and stepped in. Asia and Socara peeped in, then quickly followed.
        Asia was right thinking Ark wasn’t resting. They found him sitting crosslegged on the bed listening to something on his minidisk player. “Alright, what is going on?” Chaonen asked, before Ark could say anything.
        “Er...what?” asked Ark, grabbing a loose shirt and tossing it on over his bandaged chest.
        “With the slums, missing districts and this NIGHTMARE. What happened to the Corporation?” Chaonen said, with a very slight hysterical tone.
        Ark raised an eyebrow, with a grin. “You’re freaking, Chao.”
        Chaonen took a deep breath. Then asked again, “So what is going on here?” Ark shrugged.
        “How am I suppose to know? I for one avoid the government.”
        “’re saying that you have no idea about any other organization taking over Zetallis. No idea about two giant wholes in the city and a developing slums area?”
        “Well, when you put it that way, I do know a little...for a price.”
        “Price?” asked Asia.
        “Ack, sorry. Force of habit,” Ark grinned with a forced laugh. “Okay...Let’s see...we should go find Nikrith. He likes to babble. Bat would know more than me anyways.”
        “A former snitch,” he grinned.
        “Oh no,” Asia shouted. “You are not going anywhere in you’re condition. Now everyone get out and Ark, you are going to rest properly if I have to club you over the head with a frying pan.” She gave everyone a look that made Socara and Chaonen nearly run out the room, then smiled again and left the room.

        Several days later, in the rainy evening.
        Chaonen raised an eyebrow, as Ark walked into the living room, hair wet and only wearing a towel. “What?” Ark asked. Chaonen just laughed and turned back to watching the news. “Hey Asia, do you know where the bandages are?” Ark asked.
        “Just a moment,” she said. She opened a cupboard and pulled out a role of bandages. “Do you need any he-.” Asia suddenly turned red in the face. “-lp with it?” she squeaked. Turning even redder, she suddenly took up an interest in rearranging the pans.
        “What?!” Ark asked again, glaring at a laughing Chaonen. “Want me to break a few of your ribs?!” Grumbling, he grabbed the roll of bandages and headed back to his room, but bumped into Oni as she stepped out of the hallway, looking very pale. They both fell to the ground with an “Oomph!”
        “Oni, you’re awake,” Chaonen said a bit surprised. Oni didn’t say anything, she was staring at Ark, and vice versa. “Oni, are you alright?”
        Oni suddenly shrieked and lunged at Ark, grabbing him around the neck in strangling hold. Ark yelled and kneed her in the stomach, then threw her into the living room.
        “What are you doing?!” Asia and Chaonen both shouted. Oni jumped to her feet, and threw her hand back. Her sycthe appeared as she did so with almost a ripping sound as it slash through the air. She and Ark glared at each other. With a slight movement of his hand, Ark’s staff appeared in his hand as well.
        “Fireball!!” Oni screamed and threw her free hand toward Ark...Asia screamed and ducked under the counter, while Chaonen ducked behind the couch. FIZZLE...Oni went wide eyed when only a tiny flame apppear and fizzled out almost immediately. Ark stared, then burst out laughing.
        “You can’t even cast a measly fireball?” he laughed, pointing and mocking her. His laughing was cut short, when Oni slammed him into the wall behind them. He sucked in his breath at the pain in his chest and grabbed Oni by the neck. “Here’s your fireball!” Flames flared up in his hand right next to her face so she could feel the scorching heat. She struggled to break his grip, but wasn’t strong enough to do it.
        “Enough you two,” Chaonen snarled, breaking Ark’s grip and pulling Oni behind him, but she shoved him aside and swung the scythe at Ark’s neck. Ark leaped backwards, but some of his bangs were sliced off.
        “Damn bitch!” Ark shouted, looking at his bangs, then slamming Oni in the stomach with his staff. She doubled over and fell on the floor. A clicking sound, and she could feel the barrel of a gun pushing against her temple. “One move, fucking piece of trash...” Ark snarled clutching at his chest with his other hand a breathing heavily. “Argh! Let go, bastard!” he shouted when Chaonen grabbed him from behind in a tight hold and sword at his throat.
        “I said...enough...”Chaonen said in a dangerously low voice. “Don’t even twitch your hands either...” Asia quickly knelt by Oni’s side, forcing her to stay on the ground and checking if she was alright at the same time. “There was a reason that both of you where wearing iron bands...explain.”
        “Kill her...” growled Ark between breathes. He closed his eyes for a moment, then said, “It’s so...this doesn’t...” He coughed up a little blood, “keep happening.”
        “I-I don’t understand,” said Asia, extremely worried.
        “Asia, would you retrieve those bands?” Chaonen asked. Asia looked at him, then to Ark and Oni. She nodded and quickly ran down the hallway. “Stay down,” he said to Oni as she curled up into a ball, whimpering slightly. It didn’t take Asia long to come back. She carefully clipped one onto Ark’s arm, then Oni’s wrist.
        The door opened then and Coniau, Socara, and Ivy, dripping water off their raincoats stepped in. “We home!” Ivy shouted, skipping in and kicking off her boots. She hopped into the living room and looked at everybody, who had just froze. “What game is this? Ivy want play!”
        “We were...uh...”Chaonen started.
        “Oh Ivy, do you want some ice cream?” Asia asked abruptly. She hurried around the counter and grabbed some ice cream from the refrigerator. “Let’s go eat it in the study,” she said, shooing Ivy down the hallway.
        “Alright, what is going on?” Coniau said, hands on hips and glaring at them, after Asia had closed the door. Her puppets suddenly popped up too, imitating her.
        “You explain, Ark,” Chaonen said, snarling his name.
        Ark looked at Coniau, then at Socara, getting another glare of death. “If you’d get this thing away from my throat,” Ark snarled back. “Besides, it’s none of your business.”
        “We get home after all the problems we’ve had at the institute and we’re welcomed by Chaonen with a sword at Ark’s throat and Oni curled up on the floor?! What kind of people are you?!” shrieked Coniau. “You’re all weirdos but psychos way past the line was not what I had in mind! And you tell us it’s none of our business?!”
        Ark shoved Chaonen away when he finally lowered his sword, and leaned heavily against the wall. Chaonen sat on the edge of the seat back, between Oni and Ark, the blade disappated but he still held it in his hand. Oni crawled up onto the sofa and flopped over onto her back.
        “She probably rebroke some of your ribs,” Chaonen finally said after a long silence. Ark gave him a ‘no-duh’ look. “Are two have contrasting magiks don’t you?” he continued, raising an eyebrow. He nodded to the band on Ark. “Keep this up and you’ll never recover.”
        “Then I’ll just take the band off,” snapped Ark reaching for it, but then stopped when Chaonen shifted his sword.
        “As long as those things keep you two controllable, it won’t matter if your healing abilities are you hear me?”
        Ark glared at him, then growled a low complaint and shut up. “I thought that iron doesn’t really bother you,” Socara said. She didn’t look mad anymore, but still irritated though most was now concern.
        “It’s different here,” Ark muttered.
        “Everything’s harder here, unless you can control it,” explained Chaonen. “The high magik density in the air makes casting spells and such much more dangerous.” When Coniau complained that no one had explained what happened yet, Chaonen just said they had gotten into a fight and that it won’t happen again.

         “Apparently, I’ll have to provide for my own lab and most of the equipment, but I will have access to much of their equipment and resources when the papers are processed,” Coniau said at dinner that night.
        “I thought only citizens had the right to keep their own labs, unless you get a special permit,” said Chaonen, putting the plates on the table.
        “I am a citizen,” snapped Coniau. “I was born here, my parents just moved after a year.” Chaonen nodded and handed her the napkins.
        “Do you know anything about NIGHTMARE?” he asked.
        She shook her head. “Just that they’re the govt. here. It’s been that way for several years. Around 30-40 years I believe.”
        “Dinner is served!” exclaimed Asia, placing plates of delicious and perfectly prepared dishes on the table. “I hope you enjoyed the first dinner I cooked!” Everyone dove in almost immediately.
        “Ark, aren’t you hungry?” Asia asked, when she noticed that Ark had been sitting with his chopsticks in his mouth for awhile. “Or don’t you like the food? I can make something else for you.”
        “Have I ever mentioned that you are a genius?” he asked, getting a dreamy look in his face, then piled his plate with a second helping. Everyone agreed that this had been the best meal that they’d ever had.
        After a while, Socara put her chopsticks down. “That was great Asia!” she smiled. Looking over to Oni, she was surprised to see Oni mouthing some words to Ark. This wouldn’t have been so bad if she wasn’t grinning darkly and making a slicing motion past her neck. “Oni, feeling better?”
        “Ne?” Oni turned to her. “Kinda tired....but okiez,” she grinned happily. “U was okies too afta...ya know...kaBBOOOM anz stuffz, hai...?”
        Socara nodded. “I was fine, you were the one I was worried about.”
        “Akka, Soca worry ‘bout Oni?” she blinked, then looked down at her plate.
        “Shards, Oni. Not only are you a bitch, but you make someone as nice as Soca-chan worry about you? What the hell is wrong with you?” snapped Ark.
        “U am so mad ‘bout itz? WHy don’t u do somethin’ ‘boutz it eh?” She smirked, “One free stab, wit dat knife.” She pointed at the steak knife. Silence fell over the table; Chaonen reached slowly for his sword attached to his belt. “Come on!” she laughed, holding her arms out.
        “I don’t need any fucking ‘favors’ from you!” Ark shouted, eyeing the knife for a moment with unease.
        “Mes thought so,” grinned Oni. She leaned across the table and whispered into his ear, “Mes thinkz dat someone is afraid of holding a blade.”
        “Stop it!” screamed Socara. “Just stop it!”
        “Soca-chan...”started Ark, but he never got to finish when Socara abruptly got up from the table and went outside to balcony, slamming the door behind her.
        “I hope you’re both are happy,” Chaonen said calmly.

        Chaonen stepped out onto the balcony, his Shadow lieing, full and sleepy, on his shoulder. It was almost around midnight, everyone else had gone to their rooms, Asia and Ivy sharing Oni’s; Socara was still sitting alone outside, knees tucked up to her chin and looking out over the city. “You’ll catch a cold out here,” he said softly, placing a warm blanket around her shoulders.
        “I don’t care,” she muttered. She sighed and leaned against Chaonen when he sat down beside her. “I thought things would be better a fantasy world or something...” She looked up at Chaonen, on the verge of tears. “Why do they keep fighting?!” she exclaimed. “I mean, they don’t just yell at each other. They try to kill each other!”
        “Socara...let me give you a quick magik structure lesson,” Chaonen finally said after a few moments. He touched her lips when she was about to object. Taking a crumpled piece of paper from his pocket, he tore it into shreds and placed the pieces on the floor. Laying out the six largest pieces, “There are six main types of Magik.” He pulled two away. “These two are less used directly. So, there is Black, White, Elemental, and Dark magik. I myself, am a Dark mage. People of these magicks can be sort of easily identified by people with middle-high to high skills of these four types. That is if one knows how too look and is powerful themselves. These two,” he pointed to the other two, “are Death and Time. Not so easily identifiable, unless it’s Death, but by then it’s too late. Like magnets, certain magiks are opposites of each other, and powerful wizards, etc of these types take on this dislike for the opposite type. Fire vs. Water and Black Vs White, for examples. I’m not sure on Time and Death though. My theory, dealing with Oni and Ark, is that they have opposing magiks. Though I’m not sure. They did however calm down when their iron bands were returned to them.”
        “Is that why they fight?” asked Socara.
        “Like I said, I’m not sure. What I don’t understand is why they would live together if it is,” he said, wrapping his arms around her. “We’ll work things out. Don’t worry.”
        “Thanks, Chaonen,” Socara said quietly, tilting her head up to kiss him.
        Ark narrowed his eyes, staying in the shadows of the hall way, as he watched them. Seeing Chaonen’s coat, he reached into the pocket, taking out the Scion. He tucked it into the frame of the picture by him, then slipped back into the hallway, not at all liking what was happening on the balcony.

        A soft whooshing sound disturbed the silence. It was dark in that slum area, everything was covered in shadows and only a small amount of light from the moon, stars, and what of the city lights could reach there lit the area just barely. This was mainly because of the upper level, supported by giantic pillars. The lucky people in the slums were ones who had sunlight upon their homes. Metal trash filled the place.
        Snow was kicked into the air when a fruit bat landed on a pile of distorted beams. He had brown fur, and short dark brown hair with blue tints on the long bangs. A normal looking semi-anthro, except for the cybernetic enhancements on his neck, that ran down a little bit down his back as well. He wore a wornout, loose gray vest that had threads looping under his wings and connecting to the back.
        His huge ears twitched as he rummaged through the cloth bag that he had been carrying with his feet.
        “Nikrith, long time no see.”
        The bat jerked up searching the area. As the clouds moved away from the moon, he finally spotted his mysterious visitor. “Shards, I still can’t figure out how you do that,” Nikrith muttered, but relaxing.
        “’cuz I’m special,” grinned Ark.
        Nikrith’s ears perked up. “Oni here too?”
        Ark’s ear, on the other hand, flopped down. “Yeah,” he grumbled. “She’ll get here in a few. Brought some friends along. Him and some others.” He gestured to Chaonen.
        “We want some info,” Ark said.
        Nikrith then looked at Ark and laughed, “What? For free?!” In fact he nearly fell off his perch from laughing. “I may have given up the snitch life, but I don’t do things for free.”
        “Know anything about NIGHTMARE?” Ark continued anyways, holding out a mango he pulled from his pouch.
        “NIGHTMARE? All I know is that they’re who’s running the place. Messed up Zetallis IMHO,” Nikrith said, eyeing the mango and trying not to drool. Ark waved the mango close to his nose. “The Corporation suddenly became NIGHTMARE after a few months after a weird explosion in the Caitiorn Tower a few decades back. But you should know that Ark. You were living here weren’t ya?”
        “I don’t believe this,” Chaonen murmered to himself.
        “Where have you been in the last 30 years?” Nikrith asked him, giving him a funny look.
        “Possessed,” Chaonen said flatly.
        “That all you know?” Ark asked.
        “Yeah, mango now!” Nikrith snatched the mango and quickly bit into it.
        “But who is the leader and what happened to the President of the Corporation?” Chaonen asked. Nikrith shrugged, finishing the mango then licking the juice off the claws on his wings, that he used as hands.
        Ark suddenly shoved a spoon leftovers from last night’s dinner into Nikrith’s mouth. Nikrith swallowed the food and was about to complain when he went wide-eyed. “Shards, I need to sit down,” he managed to gasp before plopping down on his butt. “Where did you get this stuff? Heaven must have food like this. O.O”
        “Speak of the devil,” Ark smirked when at that moment Asia and Socara walked into view from around a trash pile. He gestured for them to come over towards them. “Meet Socara and Asia,” he said when they reached them. “Wait a second..where’s Oni?”
        “Niki!” Oni squealed, grabbing him Nikrith in a hug from behind.
        “Oni!” Nikrith laughed. “Got me this time!”
        “One dinner,” Ark said to Nikrith.
        A huge smile spread over Nikrith’s face. “NIGHTMARE, current government in Cephta with bases in Points: Keynata and Atlantis. Came into power when, as it is rumored by some, the Silent Walker and her knight disappeared, if they’re real in the first place. But I think they were, at least the knight. They took over and most of the Officials of the [Zetallis Corporation] went missing, along with Madam Yoshiko. They’ve kept lots of policies and political stuff, that I don’t fully understand, the same, but I think they act more as a dictatorship now. They have a really tight hold over things. Like transdimensional laws and trade.” His voice dropped a little lower, “I think they’re experimenting with Nin’nako energy. The top executives don’t publicize much and no one ever sees the President of NIGHTMARE and he never speaks. Everything is from the Top executive boss. I think his name is Tidari.” No one noticed, but Chaonen’s eyes narrowed at the mention of that name. “The President is just called President Mi-” He fell silent suddenly.
        Socara noticed Chaonen looking in the same direction as Nikrith. “Wha-” He never got to finish when Nikrith whispered harshly for them to get out of sight. Not long after, several people came into the area, all were carrying guns and they were looking around carefully, as if not wanting anyone else to see them. When they were satisfied that no one else was around, they gathered in a loose circle. Socara looked nervously at Oni from their hiding place behind a large, rusted metal crate. She was surprised to see Oni, looking at a semi-transparent project from a pen like object. Oni quickly reached over the crate and aimed the pen thing at the group. Looking back at the project, it scrolled through several photos of furs until it settled with a list of people with numbers next to them. Oni hightlighted one of the names, which then brought up a profile of the individual. She grinned and glanced at Ark, who nodded.
        “Who are they?” Socara finally asked, in a quiet whisper.
        “Drug dealers,” grinned Oni. “Anz one of dem iz worth 10,000 credits, na realli dat much but oppurtuniity iz knockin’^^” Nikrith just rolled his eyes, being quite used to this behavior.
        One of the drug dealers perked up his longs ears. “Someone’s here,” he said. The others quickly grabbed their guns.
        “Where?” asked one, apparently the leader.
        “Over there, I think,” he said, pointing at the crates. He moved in for a closer inspection, gun ready to shoot. A clattering sound made him whip his head to the side, as a metal pipe bounced and fell to the ground.
        “We’re leaving, now!” ordered the leader. “I’m not risking anything.”
        “Dun thinkz so!” someone yelled from above. Their immediate reaction was to start shooting into the air. A silence fell over the group. Suddenly, Oni came leaping down in the middle of the group. Two flashes of glowing blue and three heads rolled to the ground. She ducked the gun fire of another and slammed into his stomach, grabbed the gun while it was still in his hands and shot another, then twisted it around, shooting its owner in the head. While this was happening, the leader found a break and ran into the shadows.
        “You let him get away!” Ark yelled at her, from a few yards away. “He’s gonna get away!”
        “Why does mes have ta do all da work?!” she yelled back, flying after him. She spotted the guy as he passed a patch of moonlight. When she could almost grab him, he did an abrupt 90 between a narrow passage, forcing Oni to backwing before she hit a wall. She landed on her feet and went after him.
        The leader, looked over his shoulder and grinned. A little farther and they’d never be able to find him. “What the?!” he yelled, skidding to a halt, and pulling for his gun.
        Nikrith backwinged slightly and emitted an earshattering screech. Several pieces of glass around shattered into smaller shards as the leader screamed in pain, clutching at his ears, until he fell to the ground unconcious with a trickle blood dripping from his ears.
        “I caught him, I get the reward!” was what he immediately said when Oni and Ark caught up to him.
        “No wayz! Wes had himz!” Oni shouted back.
        “I caught, I get!”
        “Two dinners!” interrupted Ark.
        “Done,” Nikrith said, in a calmer voice, trying to still keep some of his dignity.
        “Sure, leave us behind!” Socara objected when she and Asia and Chaonen caught up to them too.
        “We wouldn’t leave you behind Soca-chan,” Ark said quickly with a smile. “We were gonna come back. Oh Asia, you don’t mind having an extra guest for dinner do you?”
        Asia blinked. “Of course not! It will be a pleasure,” she smiled.
        “Wow! Pretty, a great cook, and nice!” exclaimed Nikrith.
        Chaonen looked down at their victim, knudging him with his foot. “Effective. What’s with the heads?”
        “Whickity whack goes mr. head,” grinned Oni, spinning her scythe on her fingers. Then with a twist of her wrist made it disappear.
        Ark drew a cellphone from his pouch and flipped it open. “Hello? Is M. Chrix still up for a bounty? Yes? Greaaat! Yes, he’s alive. I’ll meet someone in the alley behind the station 10 minutes from now.” He grinned as he slipped the phone back in his pouch. “10,000 isn’t bad.”
        “10,000 isn’t bad,” Nikrith said in a mimicking tone. He covered his head with his wings when Ark shot him a look.
        Nikrith sighed happily as he sat on the couch, patting his belly and watching a tv show. “Answer be A. Sigmund Freud!” shouted Oni.
        “No way, it’s Marx!” argued Nikrith.
        “You’re both wrong. Freud was the Id and all. Marx, communism. The other guy is just a wrestler, I think,” said Chaonen. Nikrith and Oni made a face at Chaonen and waited for the answer, then both groaned when they were wrong.
        “Guess who’s NOT a millionaire,” Ark laughed, leaning down between Nikrith and Oni. He held up a small flat object with a screen on it. Numbers scrolled by until it reached the bottom. “Another 10,000...minus’s see...”
        “I don’t know the answer to any of these questions,” said Asia.
        “Well, you haven’t been here long enough, Asia,” Ark said. “Not like any these two weirdos know either and they’ve been here for a lifetime.”
        “I’m not that old,” snapped Nikrith. “I just turned 79 a month ago.”
        “79?” exclaimed Socara. “You don’t look that old. 20 to me.”
        Nikrith looked at her oddly. “Wes live longer Soca,” explained Oni. “Seez, Cephtan lifespanz is ‘round 500 yearz anz wes age all weird anz funky allz. Dey na fromz ‘round here Nikrrrrith.”
        “Cool. New people!” said Nikrith. His ears suddenly flopped to the sides of his head. “Whoa...illegal new people...they like...toss people like you in the Dark realm of something.”
        “That’s a complete lie,” shrugged Ark. “We’ll take care of i-”
        SLAM! “I’m done! Behold my wonderous work!” shouted Coniau, kicking open the closet, from the inside...
        “Behold! Behold!” shouted her puppets.
        “Behold!” Ivy shouted, popping out from behind Coniau, mimicking Coniau.
        O.O “You keep people in you closets now!?” screeched Nikrith. “And a kid to boot?!”
        “What are you doing in my closet?!” exclaimed Ark, glaring down at her. “Oh my god! You made Ivy into a puppet?! Her mother is going to kill me!”
        “She’s not a puppet. Apparently the child appreciates my work more than you,” she said to a twitching Ark. “Well, I have finished my lab. I any of you want to marvel and gape in awe, you may.” With that she walked back into the closet and shut the door behind here.
        “There will be no dimension making in my house!” Ark yelled at the door.
        Ivy clutched at Nikrith’s wings and tugged on them playfully, flapping them with her arms as well. “Airplane airplane!” she giggled.
        “Ivy, don’t bother Nikrith now,” said Asia, picking her up.
        “I don’t mind,” Nikrith said quickly. “She’s so cute! Oh yeah, what’s an airplane?”
        “Hey...Chaonen,” said Socara. She looked at Chaonen from her seat on the kitchen counter.
        “Why aren’t there many kids around?”
        “We’d like to know the same thing, Socara. Not many are born, that’s all.”
        “ sad.”