Actions

Work Header

Captured & Bound By Your Love

Chapter Text

CHAPTER ONE

A NIGHT NEVER FORGOTTEN

Riki sighed, stepping out of the underground shipment centre and into the crisp night air. He inhaled deeply, slipping his hand into his jacket pocket and pulling out his cigarette. He closed his eyes as the familiar taste and texture touched his lips. "Fuck I'm tired..." he sighed deeply, forcing his body to move forward.

He stepped onto the street, immediately entering into the nightlife. Again he was surrounded by all the rich walks of life; off worlders in search of a thrill, locals passing through on their ways home, and business owners circulating about. Each shop and hotel produced their own unique bright neon lights and signage paired with sounds to attract customers.

But nothing was enticing to the mongrel. Aside from a bar which was fairly abandoned or a small shop that had his favourite brand of cigarettes, nothing called out to him.

Here he was, the Pet of a Blondie; the forbidden fruit who had been tasted and stolen from the broken land of Ceres, now bound to an agenda and a tracking device. Day in and day out he had his "freedom" to go to his job in the afternoon and return late in the evening to his Master who might come by depending on his mood and work load.

Riki inhaled his cigarette, hanging his head as he remembered that he was required to return to his Apatia household in case Iason stopped by.

A cold breeze blew straight into his face, chilling him to the bone. He pulled up his jacket collar, puffing at his cigarette and relishing in the fraction of warmth it provided.

"Hey, get back here, you runt!" a man shouted, chasing after a figure cloaked in a too large, dark coat that darted around a corner and into an alley.

Riki frowned, watching as the small child tricked the man into going one way and hitting a garbage disposal bin. The man yelled angrily as the small figure scurried away, heading down the street in his direction. "What the...?" Riki murmured, watching in confusion.

He had never seen any child unattended in Apatia, let alone at this time of night and dressed in such a fashion.

The man suddenly came up fast behind the small figure, snatching it up and slamming it into the wall within an alley, away from view of the street people aside from Riki. The hood that was covering the child's face fell, revealing a slender, lightly tanned skin girl with long raven black hair. She grasped onto the man's hands that we're slamming her relentlessly into the concrete wall.

"How dare you run, you little bitch! I'll kill you!" the man screamed, then threw her to the ground and began kicking her as if she were a rag doll. "You dirty, rotten bitch!"

"Hey!" Riki screamed, running over towards the man. "What the fuck are you doing!" He jumped forward, landing a punch straight to the man's face. "You son of a bitch!"

The man yelped, fighting back and attempting to punch Riki in the face. The mongrel easily avoided all the attempts and landed another hit to the curly brown haired man's face.

"Abusing a child is a crime, you sick fuck," Riki hissed, slamming his head into the pavement.

The man laughed. "It's a mongrel," he spat. "Just like you, there is no penalty for killing her!"

Riki clenched his teeth, landing a final hit to his face and leaving him unconscious. He nodded in satisfaction at the blood dripping down on the man's face and rose. He glanced over to find the child looking up at him, wrapped up in the oversized coat that she was wearing. Very cautiously, he knelt down in front of her, trying not to frighten her. "Are you all right?" he asked softly.

The small child looked him up and down, then nodded. She reached out her hands to the ground and then stood up. Even standing, Riki noticed how small she was. She was just a baby in size, how could anyone do something like that to a baby?

Then he noticed, she had no visible wounds or blood despite the beating she had endured. Which was odd, but he didn't dwell on that.

"Do you know where your parents are? Are you alone?" he asked softly.

Normally he avoided children, but after what he had witnessed, he couldn't just leave her. Iason might be mad that he would be late, but he couldn't leave her to die.

She shook her head, her eyes falling to the ground at the question of parents.

"You're alone?"

She nodded softly, slowly looking back up into his eyes. She reached out to Riki slowly, grabbing onto his hand and pinning her sad eyes to his.

Please, don't leave me.

Riki swore he somehow heard her beg him to not leave her and suddenly felt a rush of sadness and pain fill his chest. He recalled his life in Ceres, when he too had been alone for awhile as a child. Then he found Guy and his gang and they practically became his family.

In the distance he heard the sound of sirens coming closer. Fearing it was for him, he scooped up the child and hurried through the alley and towards his Apatia home.

Riki entered into his home, carrying the child in his arms as he glanced over his shoulder to be sure no one had followed him. "OK, make yourself at home," he huffed. "I'll get..."

The child stood in front of him, staring up at him in confusion. He laughed at her innocent look, crouching down. "What's your name, huh? You haven't talked at all..."

She again looked sad, then signed with her hands to form an X when it appeared she was talking.

"You...can't talk?" Riki guessed.

She nodded.

"Ah, well..." Riki stammered, searching for a writing tablet. "Wait here!" He hurried over and grabbed one that he used frequently at work, then handed it to her. "Here, you just..."

Her eyes lit up as she took the tablet, easily opening up the writing document and then writing a message with the stylus and handed it back to Riki.

Riki blinked, accepting the device back and reading the message:

My name is Luci. Spelled with an I instead of a Y because it's me, myself and I!

He laughed, shaking his head at her cleverness. "Luci, huh? That's a nice name."

Luci beamed, but then froze and a look of horror filled her eyes as she looked past Riki.

Riki turned around, startled as Iason was standing at the door. "Iason, I didn't know if you'd come today..."

"What is this, Riki?" Iason asked angrily, striding gracefully over to Riki and taking his chin within his grasp. "Explain yourself."

"Back off...! I was coming home from work and I saw this guy beating her up," Riki answered, pulling out of the blonde's grip.

Iason's eyes narrowed as he dialed back his anger, then scanned the room and landed on the child that was hiding and peeking over the bed. "I see," he whispered. "But Riki, she is a mongrel, which means that—"

"That she deserves to be beaten up?" Riki snapped, pulling away from Iason. "Just because you think all mongrel's are trash, doesn't mean they deserve to be hurt!"

"I wasn't saying that," Iason dismissed. "I was merely saying, as a mongrel there is no consequence for the man who was trying to hurt her." He paused, determining she was just a baby. "But I disapprove of child abuse."

Riki rolled his eyes, then searched for the child. "Come here, Luci."

"Lucy?" Iason repeated. "You named it?"

"No," Riki denied, helping her into his arms as she scurried to him. "She told me. Well, wrote it." He grasped onto her baggy jacket. "Let's take this off, kay?" He helped her slip out of it and tossed it to the floor.

Iason stepped forward, immediately examining the child dressed in a light olive colored gown. "I had thought she was a too young, but if she's communicating, she cannot be."

Riki blinked. "I thought she was too, but yeah, she can write and understand me." He adjusted his hold on Luci. "How old are you?"

Luci grabbed onto Riki hand, bending down five fingers then straightening them and bending another down.

"Six..." Riki breathed. "Holy shit! She's six?"

"Riki, language!" Iason scolded, then held out his hands. "Let me see her for a moment."

Riki backed up. "Why? How do I know you aren't gonna steal her and hand her off to Raoul or something to become an organ donor?"

Iason rolled his eyes, reaching out again. "Let me see her, Riki. I just want to examine her."

Luci glanced at Riki, then Iason and reached out to him as she was handed over. The Blondie prodded her in a few places, grimacing at how light and thin she was. "She's severely malnourished," he determined. "She'll need to be given supplements and whatnot to improve her health."

Riki nodded, taking her back. "Can you...do something about it?"

"Riki," Iason admonished, struck with annoyance. "We aren't keeping her."

"Iason, she needs help," Riki protested. "How can you just throw her to the curb?"

Iason rolled his eyes again. "Riki, why are you suddenly inclined to help this child? It was my understanding you were not fond of them."

"Aren't you? Why are you refusing to help?"

"I am, but I did not say I was keeping her," Iason clarified. "I will get her help, then we will send her on her way."

Riki clenched his teeth. "Can we also find out where her parents are? She...she didn't give me the impression she had any."

"If she escaped from Guardian somehow, she would not have known them, Riki."

"Can we please just look anyways? Or at least search Guardian's files?"

Iason nodded. "Very well," he agreed. "But first I'll have some food delivered for her and us."

Luci looked from the plate to Riki with a look of wonder and confusion. She had seen food before, but wasn't sure how someone ingested it. And there was the fact that she hadn't the slightest idea as to what she was eating.

"You can eat," Iason commanded, watching as she didn't do what generally any famished person would do when given a meal.

"Yeah, go ahead," Riki agreed, not hesitating to dig into the heaping plate of mashed potatoes, grilled Amoïan beef and steamed vegetables.

Iason frowned. "Chew properly," he scolded. "You're going to choke."

"Wull naw!" the mongrel retorted, his mouth crammed full and little bits falling out onto the table.

"Riki," Iason warned, unamused by the disgusting behavior.

Luci, who had been watching the display, put a hand to her mouth. Her body shook gently as if she were giggling.

Riki swallowed. "At least someone is amused by my eating habits," he defended.

The Blondie rolled his eyes, pouring himself some more wine and downing a large portion.

"Why aren't ya eating?" Riki questioned, giving the child's plate a nudge. "You gotta get some grub into you if you wanna get big and strong."

Luci smiled, but then shook her head. Her eyes wandered to the tablet that Riki had brought in and she picked it up to write a message before handing it off.

Riki raised an eyebrow, his mouth full but accepted it and read: I'm sorry, but I am unable to partake in this meal. He was about to assure her it was fine when he continued to read: I am unable to eat anything due to having a feeding tube implant in me. If I eat orally, I will have complications.

"Iason," he beckoned, handing off the tablet. "What does she mean?"

Iason read the message, then glanced up. "A feeding tube?" he clarified. "Show me." Luci hesitated, then reached down to pull out the hanging tubes that were hiding under her gown. "Riki, this child isn't from Guardian."

Riki blinked, shocked and confused. "What is that for?"

"As the name states, feeding," Iason explained. "Riki, this child is someone's experiment. She might not even be from Amoï."

"She doesn't look like an experiment, how do you know she just doesn't have an eating issue?" Riki defended, suddenly overcome with worry about what Iason might do to her.

"That particular brand of feeding tube," Iason pointed out. "I've seen it while visiting Raoul in his lab on occasion. It's purely for scientific purposes, not medicinal."

Riki's neck hair rose. "Now what are you going to do with her?" he asked.

"I now have no choice but to bring her before Jupiter," he revealed, standing up from the table. "She has no identification or signature markings, which are a mandatory standard for science projects on Amoï. She is an illegal person."

Luci's brown eyes grew large as she listened to the conversation, realizing she had made a fatal error in tagging along with Riki. But she couldn't help it, the man seemed so intriguing and familiar and she found herself gravitating towards him.

Riki was up on his feet. "But that bitch might execute her, Iason!" he protested, standing in front of the Blondie in attempt to become a barricade between him and Luci.

"Watch your mouth, Riki," Iason warned darkly. "There are small ears present and you just insulted the ruler of Amoï."

"I can't just hand her over to die, Iason," Riki defended, pushing back against the blonde. "I would have rather her have been killed by that man before I saved her than have to live with the fact I brought a kid back and ended handing her over to that old toaster to be executed!"

Iason grasped onto Riki's wrists. "Do you think I would let a child's life go to waste, Riki?"

Riki blinked. "That's what will happen if you hand her to Jupiter!" he returned.

"As a supporter of potential and life, I would not let her die so easily," Iason answered, gently stroking the tanned wrist. "Besides, we know she is not from Amoï, therefore Jupiter cannot kill her off without tracing her location and contacting the owners."

Riki finally relaxed a bit, realizing that Iason wasn't going to just throw her to the wolves. He should've known that Iason wasn't a supporter of killing children, being the biggest benefactor to Tanagura's hospital, particularly the Children's ward, as he'd seen on a file while snooping in his office one day. "You'd better not being lying to me," he breathed, looking Iason dead in the eyes. "Or I'll be very mad and won't forgive you."

"Have I ever lied to you?"

Riki shook his head, finally freeing himself from the Blondie and glancing behind him to Luci who was deeply immersed in observing the view of the nightlife from the height of the building. "I guess this means I'll have to come back with you?" he grimly realized.

Iason leaned in to plant a kiss on his forehead. "It would be best if you did, yes," he agreed.

Riki cringed, hating the fact that he'd have to go back. He finally felt relieved of the dreadful hate, stares and talking that suffocated him within Eos and now he'd have to return to it. "I…I can still come back here though, right?" he questioned, desperate for the Blondie to prove that this wasn't going to cause his Apatia freedom to be revoked.

"You may," Iason assured. "But until the matter of her is resolved, it would be in your best interest to stay in Eos."

"All right," Riki agreed, sighing exaggeratedly as he looked back at his nearly empty plate. "Well, I have no more appetite."

"I am finished as well, so let us head back to Eos," Iason suggested, grabbing his cloak he had left hanging up. "Perhaps I'll contact Raoul when we return and he might have a solution as to what we can feed her with until she is returned home."

Riki nodded, then added. "As long as…you know…he won't…"

"I'll ensure he does not harm her," the Blondie replied, motioning to her. "Carry her, she'll never be able to keep up otherwise."

Riki moved towards Luci who was staring out the window to the lights below, he gently tapped her shoulder and then scooping her up into his arms. "Come on, kiddo, let's go."

Luci pouted, looking longingly to the city lights then to Riki.

"We gotta get going," Riki laughed. As if suddenly realizing what that meant, Luci frantically pointed to the large coat that was on the floor. Riki struggled to hold her, impressed by the strength in her wiggling and then noticed the coat. "All right, all right, I'll grab it!"

Iason reached down after noticing what she was pointing at and then gracefully handed it off to Luci. "Is this what you wanted?" he asked.

Luci accepted it, nodding in acknowledgment and then smiling as she bunched the coat up in her arms.

"Do you have everything?" Iason inquired.

"Ah! The tablet!" Riki exclaimed, turning back to the table and grasping onto it.

Iason took the tablet from him. "I'll carry this, you carry her."

"Kay," Riki agreed. "Then that's everything."

After gazing at the city lights from the air car, Luci had fallen asleep in Riki's arms before the managed to reach Eos. He felt awkward holding a child, especially one that he knew nothing about.

"What usually happens to children who are experimented on and end up on Amoï?" he questioned in a soft voice.

"It's rare, but not unheard of," Iason explained. "We've had the odd nearly dead child end up on Amoï after being dropped off in attempt to conceal the crime. But usually they are traced and the culprits are found."

"How exactly do they find the culprits though?"

"A summons for a DNA test will be issued and the biological parents will be traced," Iason answered, merging into another lane effortlessly. "When the parents are traced, we can discover the location of the child and then notify the police to investigate further on the designated planet."

Riki glanced down at Luci. "But you end up sending them away, right?"

"Ultimately yes," the Blondie confirmed. "Technically the situation no longer belongs to us when the child has been matched to their original planet and the authorities are contacted."

"But what if they can't find the culprits?" Riki pried. "Like, there are millions of people, how can they trace them back to a hidden operation?"

Iason, thoroughly enjoying the fact that Riki was speaking to him so casually, smiled. "There are trained professionals who can handle the case, Riki," he assured. "However, if all fails, they will use Mind Image."

"What's Mind Image?" Riki asked, frowning at the term.

"It's when they hook up the person of interest to a machine that will project their thoughts onto a screen," Iason explained, pulling up to the gates of Eos and awaiting access. "It's used to find the faces or landmarks of the illegal operations. It is used often in cases such as this, or other, more gruesome cases."

"Huh," Riki sounded, fascinated by something like that. "Sounds kinda creepy and cool at the same time."

Iason smiled. "Yes, it can be quite fascinating to see in action," he verified, driving his car into the underground parking spot then parking. "We're here." With the tap of a button, the windows gained a darker tint and the doors rose upwards as they opened. "Can you carry her or shall I?"

"My arms falling asleep," Riki complained, shifting uncomfortably. "I might drop her."

Iason nodded, circling around the vehicle and appearing at the door. He reached out his hands. "Hand her to me," he instructed.

Riki hesitated. "I'm trusting you," he warned, lifting the sleeping child up to the Blondie.

"I won't harm her," he assured, lifting her up into his arms and finding the best hold to ensure she was secure. "You'll have to carry the tablet and coat though."

"Yeah, yeah, yeah," Riki grumbled, fishing the items from their spot and then carrying them out of the vehicle.

Luci stirred slightly, her face cringing at the disturbance, but she remained unconscious, exhausted. Iason held back a chuckle at how expressive the child was, even in her sleep.

It had been awhile since he was confronted with the reality of children being used in experiments. Granted, pets were generally prepubescent when purchased, but they were not exactly Human, but rather genetically modified beings. And furthermore, they were not as young as the one he was holding. Pets underwent modifications at an older age of twelve, which was when they were viewed as legal by Jupiter's standards. And even Pets did not undergo the insertion of a feeding tube and who knows what else.

Iason was naturally opposed to such creations, believing that it was immoral to keep a child under her age restrictions as a Pet or abuse them. Both of which concepts corresponded with Jupiter's Laws & Regulations:

Section PL34— Any being under the age of twelve is prohibited from being a Pet

Section GS214—Abuse towards any minor citizen will result in a severe reprimand of a public flogging

Being the Head of the Syndicate, Iason would stumble upon a few violations that were beyond immoral. This fueled him to promote and protect the well being of the citizens of the future. Of course, it went unsaid or noticed, as many believed him to be too cruel to do anything beneficial for smaller beings. Being a Blondie, many times children downright feared him. But that did not stop him.

Entering into the building, Iason's ID resonated with the security devices, automatically allowing him access and configuring the system to transport to his floor when he reached the lift. Riki slipped in beside him, sighing exaggeratedly as the lift began it's ascent.

In a matter of seconds, they reached Lord Mink's floor and the door opened to the main living space.

"Welcome back, Master," Cal bowed, then straightened and blinked as he saw the child in his arms. "Shall I prepare a guestroom?"

"Yes, the one closest to the hallway," Iason ordered, carrying the sleeping child into the household. "And take those with you." He pointed with his chin to the belongings that Riki was carrying.

"Yes, Master," Cal answered, then paused. "Shall I take her as well?"

"No, I still have a few items on the agenda that involve her," Iason explained, noticing that Luci shifted in his hold and was looking up at him with sleepy brown eyes. "Did I wake you?"

Luci shook her head, then released a comically large yawn that brought tears to her eyes that Iason wiped away with a small smile. It had been so long since he had had a child in his care. Once, way back in the past, he had been a temporary guardian to a child whom he had saved from an illegal operation in the Black Market.

It was not rare for Elites to take in a child, as an act of compassion and to woo the public with their kindness. But Iason hadn't intended that to be the case when he had saved the child. He had merely done so because Guardian was too full at the time and he was without a Pet, so he decided that being a temporary guardian would allow him a bit of leeway.

"I gotta piss," Riki grunted, walking away from them to the bathroom.

Iason carried Luci through the hall, into his office and to his desk, setting her down on a spot that was a safe distance from the edge and then sent out a call for Lord Am.

"Raoul Am, ah, Iason," the fellow Blondie smiled. "What gives me the pleasure of speaking to you at such a time?"

Iason smiled, knowing that no matter what the time, Raoul would answer for him. "I have a bit of a story and an interesting person with me," he revealed. "I was hoping to bring her to you for a bit of examination."

"A pet?" Raoul chirped, hopeful.

"No," Iason denied, then reached out to grasp onto Luci and show her in the view of the feed. "A child. A child used in illegal experimentation to be exact."

Immediately the scientist in Raoul was roused. "Oh? At such a young age," he observed. "Have you notified Jupiter yet?"

"Not as of yet," Iason answered, watching as Luci reached out to the hologram and tried to touch it. He gently guided her hand away, much to her dismay. "I wanted to know if you had any source of nutrition for a feeding tube."

"Does she have one?" Raoul pressed.

"The same ones I have seen in creations that you have made," he answered. "For non- Pet creations."

"Intriguing," Raoul murmured. "I am available tomorrow in the morning, however, my afternoon is booked. You are free to stop by during that time."

"I will stop by tomorrow morning," Iason agreed. "Good night, Raoul."

"Good night, Iason."

The call disconnected, and Iason rose, adjusting his hold on Luci and carrying her out of his office and into the hallway where Riki was approaching.

"So?" Riki prompted.

"Lord Am has agreed to see her tomorrow morning before I present her to Jupiter," Iason explained. "If we can garner any information that I can present alongside her initial presentation, then I may have a better chance of convincing Jupiter to not do anything rash."

"Good," Riki nodded, then looked to Luci who was reaching out to him. "What? What do you want?"

"I believe she wants you to hold her," Iason suggested.

Riki groaned. "I'm tired and sore, why me?"

Luci pouted, then turned back into Iason's hold, sulking in his grasp at being denied.

Iason chuckled softly. "Go to our bedroom, I'll be there shortly."

Riki yawned, heading off into the direction of the Master bedroom then paused. "Can I smoke before bed?"

"One, Riki," Iason agreed. "I mean one."

"Yeah, yeah, yeah, I got it," he grumbled, hurrying to his bedroom to find a stash of cigarettes he had hidden.

Iason continued carrying Luci off to her guest room that was now ready for her. He entered the grand room furnished with a large canopy bed, an Amoïan oak table and plush chair set and walls adorned with beautiful paintings. "Here we are," he breathed, setting Luci down on the bed. "This will be your room during your stay. If you need anything you can ring for Cal by pressing that button." He motioned to the bedside table with the button on top. "He will tend to your needs, understand?"

Luci nodded.

"Very well, I shall see you in the morning," he declared, about to rise but stopped as the child tugged on his clothing. "What is it?" He crouched down again, then was shocked as the little child hugged him. It took him momentarily by surprise, but then he gave a gentle pat on her back. "You are welcome."

Luci hopped back, bouncing on the plush bed and watched him leave her room.

Iason closed the door softly behind him, turning to see Cal approaching. "Take care of her, connect your intercom to the room if it isn't," he instructed.

"Yes, Master."

With that, the Blondie nodded then turned away to go into his own room to spend the rest of the evening with his Mongrel.

Riki rubbed the blonde locks in his fingers, on the very edge of drifting to sleep. "Why did you agree to help her?" he asked, his voice slurring.

Iason chuckled softly, planting a kiss to the tanned nape. "To reward your good behavior," he whispered back.

"Ass," Riki grunted. "Tell me the real reason…"

"Because you asked me to," Iason asserted, even though both answers were true to a degree. "And it made you happy."

Riki snorted. "That's…a shitty reason…" he murmured, giving into exhaustion and drifting off to sleep.

Iason smiled, silently watching the mongrel's chest rise and fall as he slept. He had not been thrilled of Riki being with a child when he first arrived, but he had agreed to help her on another one of his infamous whims. Despite never being excessively exposed to children, all Blondies were taught how to care for children. It was in the Tanagura Code to be hospitable to anyone in need. Helping others not only raised their Blondie status, but also earned them praise from Jupiter. As her children, it pleased her to have them aid in keeping Humans obedient and within her control.

The Blondie only wondered, where had this child had come from? Generally there was some sign that indicted where they were from, but this child looked like a mongrel. Yet, she had no legal Amoian signatures which indicated otherwise. It was odd, however, irrelevant as she would be located irregardless.

Iason pressed himself closer to Riki, embracing his mongrel from behind and relishing in the warmth and acceptance. "Sleep well, my love," he whispered ever so softly.

—TO BE CONTINUED—

Chapter Text

CHAPTER TWO

A MONSTER IN HUMAN FLESH

Iason rose, slipping into his attire for the day and padded silently out of his room, his boots muted by the soft rugs. The door hummed shut behind him and he became aware of the sound of soft running steps. It was still early in the morning, the twin Amoian suns had yet to rise.

"What in the world?" he murmured, striding silently down the Great Hall and into the living space.

"Little one," Cal whispered frantically, looking all around the room in attempt to locate her. "Please come out!"

"What is going on?" Iason inquired.

Cal jumped up, startled. "My apologies, Master Iason, but the child…"

Luci scurried out from her hiding spot, but ended up falling face first into the rug covering the marble floor as the baggy shirt she was wearing slipped under her feet. She blinked in confusion, not understanding what had just occurred to make her meet the floor.

"Oh! Now you've hurt yourself!" Cal fretted, hurrying over but missed her by an inch as she bolted over to hide behind the couch. He turned back to Iason. "I was giving her a bath, and she was frightened when I tried…to…to clean…"

"The feeding tube?" Iason guessed.

Cal nodded. "She wouldn't let me touch her after that, and now she still won't…" he sighed.

"I will handle this," Iason decided, waving Cal off. "Return to the kitchen to prepare breakfast."

"Yes, Master," he answered, bowing then heading off to the kitchen.

Iason stepped down into the center of the living space, then crouched low. "Luci, can you come here for a moment?"

Luci peeked out from behind the couch, then fwipped back behind it again. Her wet hair smacking the side of the fabric with an audible sound.

"Are you hurt?" he calmly inquired, watching as she again peeked over at him. She gave a shake of her head, which surprised him as she had hit the ground very hard. "Can you come here, Luci?"

The child stared into Iason's blue eyes for a good moment, then slowly plodded forward. She was alert to any movements that would indicated he was upset with her for hiding. She just didn't want her tummy or anything below it touched, it made her very nervous.

Iason reached out and rose, easily lifting her up in his arms. He checked her gently for damage from falling, fascinated that she didn't have any bruises from the hard fall. But what was even odder was the fact she didn't possess any damage from last night. Hadn't Riki said she was beaten up?

"Are you hungry?" he asked softly.

Luci just shook her head, knowing that even if she was, there was nothing she could eat orally. Her attention paused upon the blonde locks, which she reached out and touched.

Iason halted, watching as the child was immersed in playing with his hair. But what shocked him was that she was doing the same motions Riki did, rubbing his locks in between his fingers and feeling the texture. He had thought that it was something only Riki did, but here he was proved wrong.

He spotted the tablet laying down on a side table, picking it up, he handed it off to her to type on.

You have very beautiful and soft hair.

"That is very kind of you," Iason thanked, carrying the child through the Great Hall to his personal bathroom.

Are you going to touch me?

Iason frowned at this message, setting her down on the sink counter. "I would like to see your feeding tube up close," he revealed.

At this, Luci seemed visibly upset: Are you going to try to hurt me?

"No," Iason denied. "I just want to ensure it's clean so you do not get sick or an infection."

The child nodded, then accepted the hand towel that Iason handed her and placed it under the baggy shirt to hide her privates. She averted her gaze as Iason slowly pulled up her shirt to finally see the other end of the feeding tube.

Iason brought a hand to his mouth, brushing it along his face as he analyzed the design. He had seen many versions of feeding tubes, as he had wondered through the military creature quadrant in the lower and hidden levels of Eos. It was probably the average size for an adult, but it was massive on the little child's body.

"Does it hurt?" Iason queried, glancing up at Luci's eyes that finally met his.

Luci shook her head, but attempted to pull her shirt down again. Her cheeks were flushed as if she were embarrassed at being seen with such an implement in her body. Which is exactly what she felt, but she was more so upset because it made her feel alienated, like she was a monster that needed to be fed through a tube and kept contained in a laboratory because she was…

"There is no reason to be ashamed or worried," Iason soothed, rising up from his lowered stance. "We will have that removed when we find out who you belong to." He watched as at this notion, she seemed to look more dejected rather than grateful, but didn't press the issue as he gently picked her up. "All right, come and sit in the living room for awhile and then I will take you to see Lord Am."

"You're sure he won't try anything?" he questioned, holding the small child close as they approached the portal entrance that would lead them to the mysterious lab. "I don't particularly trust this asshole."

"Riki," Iason hissed. "How many times must I tell you to watch your mouth?"

"But it's true!" Riki insisted. "I don't trust him! I know the way he is with you."

Iason pinched the bridge of his nose. "Riki, you will watch your mouth. And your opinion on my relationship with Lord Am is not appreciated nor required," he admonished. "Now either go ahead or I will take her in without you."

Riki scowled, but stepped forward and through the transporter. When he entered the enormous laboratory chalked full of supplies, clear tanks built into the floors and walls, examination tables and restraining tables, he couldn't help but feel uneasy. His heart started to pound as he saw things moving within the tanks. His eyes froze on a heart that seemed to be floating with nothing and still beating. He hated this place.

"Iason!" Raoul greeted, stepping forward while dressed in a laboratory coat over his dark body suit. "I was wondering when you'd arrive."

Riki rolled his eyes.

"And I see you brought me two specimen," Raoul grinned evilly, catching Riki's gaze. "How thoughtful!"

Iason smiled at Raoul's humor. "I apologize, but I require both to be returned in perfect order."

Riki slipped slightly behind Iason, hiding Luci behind the Blondie in the process. While he was petrified, she didn't seem to mind at all, as if this was nothing impressing or terrifying.

"Shall we proceed then?" Raoul suggested, eyeing up the child with the lust for understanding more about her experimentation value.

"Riki," Iason prompted. "Hand her over to Raoul."

Riki gnashed his teeth, but took a brave step forward and handed her off to the green eyed madman. "Be careful with her."

"I do not need you to tell me how to do my job, mutt," he fired back, carrying Luci over to an examination table. He pulled over a cart of supplies and a tablet clipboard, after he put on a sterile pair of gloves. "Let's see what we have here." He began to pull up her baggy shirt.

Luci visibly started to shake, reaching out and grasping onto Raoul's hand. She fiercely shook her head, her eyes darting around and then landing upon Iason and Riki.

"I won't harm you," Raoul softly assured, trying to get the girl to let go of him.

"Perhaps we should leave?" Iason suggested, wrapping his hand around Riki's waist. "Come Riki, she does not need an audience."

"I don't tr—"

"Not another word," Iason hissed, his tone warning of severe punishment if he insulted Raoul while in his presence. "Contact me when you are finished, Raoul."

Raoul nodded. "I will try to be fairly quick with my diagnosis," he answered, grinning wickedly as Riki caught his gaze.

"Iason!" Riki protested, but couldn't fight off the Blondie as he was yanked back through the portal. "No! Iason, why would you—"

"Riki," Iason snapped. "Enough, or I will punish you. I did not want us there, because she was scared with us watching."

"You might trust that prick, but I don't!"

Iason turned Riki around, tugging his pants down and landing a smack to his ass. "I warned you not to watch your mouth, pet!"

"Ow! You bastard!"

SMACK! SMACK! SMACK!

Riki yelped, thrashing around as Iason pinned him to the wall. "Ow, stop! Iason!" he protested, jerking as he received a series of hard spanks.

"Are you going to smarten up?" he questioned, his hand hovering over the mongrel's behind.

"F...yes, please stop," Riki softly answered.

Iason turned and left Riki standing in the entryway, but warned him before doing so. "I had better not hear another vulgar word leave your mouth today, or I'll give you a spanking so hard you won't be able to sit for two days. I've let this go on long enough."

Riki pivoted on his foot, watching as the Blondie left him standing their, humiliated. He yanked up his pants, scowling and headed through the hall and to wear his jacket was hanging. He produced a cigarette, then headed to the balcony, walking past his Master who was reading his Periodical.

"You can only smoke one, Riki," Iason reminded. "You are only allowed two a day and you cannot have the two in succession."

The mongrel ground his teeth, nearly biting through the cigarette that was in his mouth. He refrained from speaking, however, as his stinging ass reminded him to behave.

"Raoul," Iason nodded, his brow furrowed as glanced at Luci who had ran over and was clinging tightly to Riki. "That took much longer than anticipated."

"You have your hands on something diabolical," Raoul answered eagerly, laying down the clipboard tablet. "I haven't seen anything like her since I started this profession. She is a work of military art."

Iason's eyes grew wide. "So she was a military experiment."

"Whoever created her no doubt had planned war," Raoul confirmed.

"What the hell does that mean?" Riki barked, finding himself stroking the child's hair to reassure her as he felt her heartbeat pounding against him, but she showed no sign of fear.

Raoul's gaze landed upon Riki, darkening. "It means that someone was going to use her as a weapon."

"What exactly have you found?"

The green eyed Blondie glanced to the child in the mongrel's arms. "Firstly, she has no perception of pain," he explained. "She has a rare condition known as CIPA, which stands for 'congenital insensitivity to pain' or commonly referred to as 'congenital analgesia'."'

Iason brewed over the idea, a bit intrigued by the concept. "But that does not make her the ultimate weapon, Raoul. If anything, it's just a coincidental bonus."

Raoul grinned. "Yes, but it does not end there," he revealed, rising up and strolling over to where Riki was holding Luci. "Hand her to me for a moment."

Riki hesitated. "Haven't you done enough?" he sneered, holding Luci closer to him.

"Riki," Iason warned. "Obey Lord Am."

Luci was freed from his grasp, effortlessly lifted by Raoul and placed on the center of the table. She averted her gaze as Riki and Iason watched, waiting for Raoul to demonstrate.

Raoul reached over to the side supply table, picking up a sharp knife and then returning to Luci. "Observe," he declared, lifting the child's arm and lowering the blade to it.

"Hey!" Riki yelled, jumping up but was halted by Iason. "What the fuck Iason! You're just gonna let him hurt her!"

Iason ground his teeth, turning the mongrel's head to look at Luci. "Does she look injured to you?"

"He just cut—" he started, but froze as he noticed that there were no wounds in the places Raoul had cut. He watched with wide eyes as Raoul repeated the action over and over again, but no wound appeared. "I…Impossible…"

Luci finally glanced back at the two as Iason forced Riki to sit, then up at Raoul and yanked her arm away with a scowl as if annoyed that he was persistent.

Raoul straightened, returning the knife to the tray and then settling back down in his chair behind the desk where Luci was still seated. "As you can see, she is immune to weapons." He pointed to the tray. "I tried every item on there. And I even attempted a branding, but nothing seemed to harm or mar the skin."

"Fascinating," Iason commented, running his thumb across his lips while in thought. "This is revolutionary in the field of military weapons. Whoever created her must be a biological engineering genius."

Raoul twitched. "Yes, but that is the problem, Iason. We don't know how many specimen like her there are out there."

Iason nodded, realizing the depth of this discovery. "Yes, that is very concerning," he agreed. "And the DNA results?"

"Will arrive shortly," Raoul clarified. "I did a mouth swab, as I could not draw blood. The results should be ready within another two hours at most." He eyed up the child with desire for knowledge. "If you don't want her, Iason, I will gladly take her off of your hands."

"No," Riki hissed.

"That is not up for you to decide, pet," Iason admonished, then looked back to Raoul. "I will bring her before Jupiter and analyze the DNA results before anything is decided."

Raoul nodded, then paused. "When do you wish to present her to Jupiter, before or after the DNA results?"

Iason mentally debated. "I will wait for the results," he concluded. "I wish to have as much evidence as possible when I bring her before Jupiter. And she will send a summons for it anyways."

"Very well," Raoul agreed. "I will get the results to you as soon as they are finished."

Iason rose, reaching out and picking up Luci. "Thank you for your time and efforts, Raoul."

Raoul grinned. "It's always a pleasure, my friend," he answered smoothly, winking.

Cal accepted the delivery of liquid food for Luci, carrying the decent sized package to the kitchen and then proceeded to place it in a secure spot within the refrigeration system. When he closed the door, he jolted lightly as a small figure stood before him. "Oh, hello little one," he smiled. "Is there something you needed?"

Luci just shook her head, observing the actions of the Furniture was all she had in mind to do. As there was not much more for her to do. Lord Mink had retired to his office to handle a few urgent matters while the tests were processing while Sir Riki had gone off to nap.

"Would you…like a snack?" he inquired, glancing at the refrigerator door and wondering how the feeding packets worked.

Again Luci shook her head, then turned and headed off, leaving Cal alone and slightly relieved he did not have to figure the feeding system out, but upset he was unable to serve the child's needs.

Luci padded silently through the living space, heading to her guest room and locating her jacket. She reached into the pocket of the coat, ignoring the envelope and grasping onto the communication device. With dismay, she realized it was out of battery. She pondered for a moment what to do, then remembered it was solar powered. But she did not have any windows in her room as it was an inner room, so there was no sunlight.

Jumping up onto the bed, she shimmied up the bed post and wobbled at the top and slid the device on the canopy top, as close to the light fixture as possible. When he ensured it would stay put, she slid down and flopped back against the bed.

Last night she had been too excited to sleep. The fact she was touching a bed was a miracle! Only the privileged children slept on beds. And she was by no means a privileged child— despite being a favorite. Never had Luci touched a bed until she arrived here, as she was always confined to her tank. Forever floating, never feeling anything beyond the thick glass and life support tubes, wires and fixtures.

Everything was new and exciting, but she couldn't get excited. Not yet. There was still a chance she would be sent back. Despite what she suspected.

Luci shook her head, dispersing her negative thoughts and hurried out of her room and into the main living space. She navigated her way through the winding hallway until she found Sir Riki who was just exiting a room.

"Hey…where you going?" Riki yawned, spotting the figure.

She paused at his feet, looking up at him as she pointed.

"You…" Riki again yawned. "Looking for me?"

Luci nodded, reaching up to him in attempt to get him to pick her up.

Riki groaned, but picked her up anyways. "Jeez, kids these days…such a pain…" he complained.

Luci rolled her eyes at the comment and found the large tanned hand, which she placed hers up against. Her hand was so tiny in comparison to his, but they had the same colored skin.

"Shit your hand is small," Riki commented. "Are you sure you're six?"

Ignoring him, Luci poked his chest with her free hand then tapped her own chest, before looking at their hands.

"What?" Riki questioned. "What about it?"

Again she tapped his chest, which was exposed by his loose fitting tank top. Then she entwined her fingers with Riki's, pointing with her free hand from one of his fingers to her fingers.

Riki shook his head, carrying her down into the living space and setting her down on the floor before he plunked on the sofa.

Frustrated, Luci glanced around and found two objects. She grasped onto one decorative coaster and then the paired one. She brought them to Riki who had his head leaned back and set them down.

"What is it now?" he asked, annoyed by her silent persistence.

Luci laid one coaster down on the sofa cushion, then tapped Riki's knee. Then she laid the other down and tapped her self. To further prove her point, she then picked up the coasters and held them up, outlining the similarities.

"They are the same, yes," Riki agreed finally. "What does that have to do with you and me?"

Luci tapped him then tapped herself, then pointed to the coasters.

"You think you're the same as me?" Riki asked. "You think you're a mongrel? But you're not from Amo—" He recalled that when he had fought that man, he had said she was a mongrel just like him. "But Iason said you can't be."

The child shrugged, then crawled up onto the sofa and sat next to Riki. Finding a pillow, she clung onto it, enjoying the softness and looked up at Riki.

"Whatever you are, Iason will find out and send you to wherever you belong, kid," Riki revealed. "He won't be keeping you here much longer, even if I did throw in a word for you, so don't get used to it, kid."

Iason leaned back in his chair, the issue of the missing supplier in a black market deal finally resolved. Such issues seemed to be increasing as of lately, rather than lessening as he had hoped. And it was a big supplier, which meant that Katze wasn't even granted access to the matter, as it was one that required Iason's direct attention.

He glanced at his screen as an incoming call came through. He tapped a key and answered. "Iason Mink," he tiredly greeted.

"Iason," Raoul acknowledged. "I have an issue with the DNA samples."

"What do you mean?" Iason questioned, not prepared to deal with another problem.

"I retested the results each four times," he explained. "But they all seem to be missing the maternal strand of DNA. I cannot trace any Human with a citizen or non citizen status for the female portion. It's almost as if the genetic code is damaged."

Iason sighed, realizing that if there were no proper matches for both parents, then the child would be classified as unidentifiable. If that occurred, then she would be at the mercy of Jupiter's wrath. "And the paternal portion?"

Raoul went quiet. "It will do us no good."

A beautifully sculpted eyebrow rose. "What do you mean?"

"As I have said Iason, I have run the test four times on each sample," Raoul reminded. "And each one traces back to..." He shook his head. "I don't understand how it's possible."

"Raoul," Iason glowered.

"Your mongrel," Raoul concluded, pulling up a screen for Iason to view. "He is the paternal portion of that child's DNA."

Iason strode into the room, finding Riki and Luci sleeping on the sofa. He ground his teeth as he eyed up the child, wondering just how this all could be possible? He dialed back his anger, stepping down into the living space, his boot clicking sharply on the marble before being muffled by the carpet.

Luci's eyes snapped open, and she lurched sideways and scrambled off of the sofa as the Blondie appeared. She headed for the Great Hall when she was snagged by Iason.

"Don't you dare run further," he whispered lowly, carrying her off to the Master bedroom. Upon entering, he tossed her a bit roughly down and watched as she hid behind one of his mahogany plush chairs. "You had better find your voice, because you have explaining to do."

The child's eyes darted around the room wildly, her heart pleading for an escape route.

"You are not leaving until you explain to me just why you are here," Iason dismissed, sitting down in an elegant, tall chair. "On the day you met Riki, was it truly an accident?"

Luci nodded, frowning at the question.

"So you are unaware that he is your father?" Iason inquired.

The child's eyes grew big and she averted them, pondering if that were actually true. It was just as she had suspected, her blood knew who was her parent and that's why she had run to Riki. The hair on the back of her neck rose as she now feared what Riki had said earlier about Iason not keeping her in the house much longer.

"Is that why you found him in Apatia?" Iason pressed, his fingers curling into a fist. He was upset that once again Riki had caused trouble with a female and this time a living offspring had been produced. In the case of Mimea, who had had no option, but to take the abortion substances to ensure no child was ever produced, this outcome was spared.

"This changes everything, I'll have you know," Iason warned. "You are technically property of my pet, which means you belong to me through him. And with your peculiar results in addition, I am not sending you back to where you came from." He watched Luci's lips press into a hard line and her eyes glint with a deep darkness. "In the eyes of Jupiter and the regulations, you are now property of Eos and will need to be quarantined as a threat until Jupiter will allow a hearing for you to decide your fate."

Luci scowled, watching as the Blondie pressed a few buttons on his wrist comm and then ordered to maximum security to come and escort her into the basement confinement cells.

"This is not my wish, I'll have you know," Iason clarified. "This is Jupiter's protocol and procedures. I have no issue with you being here." Aside from the fact you're proof of another one of Riki's foolish decisions and now legally offspring of his, which means I will have to deal with that matter as well, he added silently. "It is in the best interest to go through with the procedure, as failing to do so will result in a possible assumption that I am neglecting the rules. Jupiter is not fond of Riki being my pet, and adding you into the mix may not aid the problem. Therefore, I must do this."

Luci grimly nodded, releasing a mute sigh as she waited to be taken down like a criminal. Her eyes lit up as she remembered she needed to hand off something important. She pointed to the door, hoping to get the message across.

"You are not leaving unless security is taking you," he dismissed.

The child shook her head, hurrying up to him and gesturing as if handing him something.

"You have something for me?"

Luci nodded frantically, hurrying over to the door and urging him to follow her. Iason decided to do so, wondering what more the child could have in store. She led him to her guestroom, where she frantically yanked an envelope from the baggy jacket and handed it off to him just as security arrived.

"Where is the threat, Lord Mink?" the head security leader demanded, his weapons ready.

"Stand down, it's a low threat," Iason assured, motioning to Luci who was standing beside him. "As a precaution, escort her to the basement containment cells." He slipped the envelope into his pocket. "You will go with these men, and you will not cause any trouble, do you understand?"

Luci nodded, stepping forward towards the leader. She grimaced as he pulled out a pair of laser cuffs, which he adjusted and secured around her wrists. Her eyes traveled up to Iason's, dismayed that she couldn't tell what emotion he was harboring.

"Walk," the leader ordered, guiding her in front of him. Two other security guards covered her left and right side, preventing her from running or trying anything. "Will that be all, sir?"

Iason nodded. "See to it that she has a bed and the standard supplies."

"Yes, Sir," the leader agreed, then backed away. "Good night, Lord Mink."

The Blondie watched as Luci was lead down the hall and to the lift, the men with their weapons trained on her. It seemed like a waste of effort and unnecessary, but if Jupiter saw her as a threat and Iason hadn't treated her like one - his judgement would be questioned. He was not willing to add more ammunition for the AI to use against him.

He pulled the envelope out of his pocket, opening it up and then skimming it contents:

To Whom It May Concern,

You are now in the presence of a special child, Luci, please take care of her well.

To protect her Carrier's identity, we shall not provide you with her name, but we will verify that her father is an Amoian non citizen with the name of Riki. However, if you're reading this, that means you already knew that.

To ensure there is no financial burden, at Luci's request, please claim Account Number: EB34789653-987642 with the Elite Banking Corporation on Amoi. Any expenses may be withdrawn from this account as soon as the papers enclosed have been signed.

As the previous caretaker of this child, I ask you protect her. She is very precious to me and is in fact of great importance in future matters that can be discussed at a later time.

Thank you for your understanding.

Sincerely,

Alliance

Iason raised an eyebrow at the letters information. Elite Banking Corporation? How in the world would this child have a bank account with a company of such prestige? He himself had several accounts in that particular bank, and had thought only those of high status could gain an account with them. He slipped the letter back into the envelope and his pocket. Whoever the child's parent or other guardian was, was definitely of high standing somewhere. But who? And what had caused them to mate with Riki?

Striding back into the home, he glanced back at Riki who was in a deep sleep from the busy work week taking a toll on him. Iason decided to investigate the legitimacy of the account and it's availability for claim. He headed to his office and pulled up several screens and began his search.

The door slid shut, left to right with a low hum as the last guard left after leaving her her supplies. Luci sat down on the bed, examining the room and spotted a camera in the right corner of the room, protected by a black plastic barrier. She vaguely gazed at it, wondering if anyone was watching her.

'Are you happy now?'

Luci shook her head, silently answering back. "No."

'They caged you like an animal. Who does that to a child?'

"It's not a cage," she assured. "It's a precaution. One must not anger Jupiter."

'Whatever.'

"We must gain their trust," she added. "We must show them we are on their side."

'Whatever.'

Luci sighed silently, rising from the bed and padding across the concrete floor lined with a grey, speckled rubber. She headed over to the toilet in the corner, sitting down to do her business. Her eyes met the camera with dismay, as it seemed to be watching her every move. She silently prayed she wouldn't be locked up in here too long.

Iason ended the call with the bank assistant, then leaned back into his office chair. He was somewhat taken back by how legitimate the account was, but disturbed by the fact it was only in Luci's first name. And there was no other name connected to the account, leaving no traces of hints of her other parent.

"...they all seem to be missing the maternal strand of DNA."

How could someone be missing the mother strand in their genetic code? What kind of creature was this child if she had no mother? Riki had to have mated with some female in order fir her to be created. Therefore, how could that person not be showing up?

"It's almost as if the genetic code is damaged."

Perhaps...her DNA was a different type? Riki's DNA was in the computers of Eos because of being his pet, so he would be easy to track. But what if the person who had mated with him was not entirely human or of a different humanoid species?

The Blondie rose, closing down his progress after saving it into his encrypted folders to prevent anything or anyone from seeing into it. He wanted to collect as much data as possible on this new found person. Obviously, she was a piece in some diabolical scheme. But the biggest question was who was at risk? Why had she been on Amoi? Why and how did Riki get tangled into this?

He entered the living space, finding Riki still deep in a slumber.

"Master," Cal whispered, peeking out of the kitchen. "Lunch will be ready soon."

"Very good," he dismissed, padding up to Riki and stroking the tanned cheek. Riki's face contorted in displeasure, before his eyes sleepily opened and he focused on the Blondie. "I want to talk to you before lunch."

"Hmm? About what?" Riki yawned, sitting up and stretching. He paused, realizing that Luci was still next to him, but then discovered that she was nowhere to be seen. "Where did she go?"

"Come," Iason instructed, grasping onto his hand and pulling him from the bed and leading him down the hall. He entered the Master bedroom and pushed him inside.

"Hey, where is Luci?" Riki demanded, his eyes darting around the dimly lit room. He halted when Iason locked the door behind him, the control panel flashing red. "Iason...where's Luci?"

"Six years ago, you were still free in Ceres," Iason noted, ignoring Riki's questions as he strode forward dauntingly slowly. "Tell me, Riki, did you ever mate with any female six years ago?"

Riki took a step back. "What the hell?" he snapped. "You know damn well there are almost no females in Ceres, why are you asking me this? Cut the shit, where did you put Luci?"

Iason took two steps forward, pinning the mongrel into the wall. He slid his knee upward hard, causing Riki to release a startled yelp. "I'll tell you where she is, after you tell me who her mother is."

"What?" Riki spat, struggling as the blonde trapped his arms. "How the fuck would I know that?"

The Blondie laughed once - a hard, bitter laugh. "So it was a drunken accident? A one night stand?"

Riki pushed back against Iason, trying to fight his way of the painful hold. "I don't know what the fuck you're on about! Leggo of me, you bastard!"

Iason promptly halted the attempt, crushing him against the wall with his body weight. He massaged his knee upward, causing Riki to bite his lip as he strained for breath. He leaned in close to Riki's ear, his voice a deep, smooth tone. "You are that child's father," he revealed, surprised that just saying it caused him to feel a wave of anger.

The mongrel stiffened. "Y...you gotta be shitting me..."

"Raoul has the DNA results, he can verify it."

"I...Iason, I didn't know," Riki stammered, fear pooling in his spine. Shit! He didn't remember fucking any women in Ceres! "I don't remember...it...I didn't..."

"You most certainly did, Riki," Iason denied, his voice chillingly calm. "She is living proof that you in fact did."

Riki gulped. "I...I wasn't with you...six years ago..." he reminded, pleading his case.

Iason scoffed. "I would hope not," he agreed. "Or her fate may be much different."

"Whe...where is she?" Riki demanded, gaining back his anger at Iason. First he had accused him of having an affair of some kind, and Luci was no where to be seen! And if Luci really was his child, he feared that Iason might have exercised his right as Master and sold her off as a pet the moment he had found out! "Where the fuck is she?"

"Is that really the tone you wish to speak to me with, Riki?" Iason whispered lowly.

Riki glared into the blue orbs. "I swear to God, Iason, if you harm her in anyway I will kill you," he warned. "She belongs to me."

Iason grasped onto the tanned chin. "As a matter of fact, you belong to me and therefore by default, she does to." He tightened his grip painfully. "I am free to do as I please with her. I can sell her to a brothel, hand her off to Raoul to be altered into a sex doll, sell her at a pet auction."

"You wouldn't dare," Riki hissed. "If you do, I'll kill her and myself before you send her away." He held the dark blue gaze, not flinching at all as he challenged the Blondie. "I would rather her die than have someone treat her as you treated me."

That comment hit home, causing Iason to gnash his molars but keep his composure. "Is that so?" He pushed Riki away from him, causing the mongrel to stumble but not fall to the floor. With eyes full of mixed feelings, he gazed down at the young man. "Your daughter is in maximum security confinement until Jupiter decides if she is a threat to Amoi."

Riki's mouth opened slightly, anger shaking his core. "She's not an animal you need to lock up!" he yelled, charging forward and right into Iason who hadn't been expecting the attack. He pounded mercilessly into the Blondie, but only seemed to be hurting himself. "You bastard—!"

Iason landed a hard hit to Riki's stomach, causing him to crumble to the ground and gag. How dare Riki attempt to harm him! He yanked on Riki's hair, lifting his face up to look at. "If you wish for her to have any remotely pleasant future, I'd strongly suggest you rethink your attitude towards me." With that, he dropped Riki, then left the room.

Riki gasped, looking up at the door. He slammed his bruised fist into the ground and fought against the whirlwind of emotions within him. Fuck, not only had he brought the kid home, but now he turned out to be her parent! And it was obvious she wasn't your typical child. She had been through some things, he could see a familiar look of himself in her eyes; the look of proof that there had been battles that were conquered and pain that accompanied it.

And he hadn't ever had any blood relatives that he had ever known. All he had known was that he was dropped off at Guardian and that's as far as his memories started. Now he had someone who was related to him by blood, not just by decision or documentation.

"Shit," he cursed softly, pulling himself upwards. His stomach churned in agony from the blow, but he pushed through the pain and rose shakily to his feet. He'd have to make an exception - swallow his pride to save his daughter's life. He reached the door, practically stumbling out into the hallway and searching the area.

Cal exited the kitchen, alarmed to find Riki in a battered state. "Master Riki!" he cried, hurrying over to aid him before he fell.

"W...where is he?" Riki asked, nearly out of breath from the journey to the living space.

"Master Iason left," Cal informed him, guiding Riki to the sofa. "You wait here, I'll go get the medical supplies."

Riki slouched back. "Son of a bitch..." he grunted. How am I supposed to apologize if you leave? he cried inwardly, before he closed his eyes and gave into a darkness that drifted over him.

—TO BE CONTINUED—

Chapter Text

CHAPTER THREE

THE FATE OF AN UNKNOWN

Iason entered the security room, then proceeded to start the protocol of ensuring everything was in order. He steadily navigated his way through the coordinates of the security cameras with the gesture of his hand. His advanced eyes skimmed each display of footage for a brief moment, while he mentally went through the checklist of finding anything suspicious.

When everything appeared to be in working order, he switched to the MSC cameras, locating Luci's in a matter of seconds. He leaned back as he watched her movements. She was sitting on the floor, tracing her fingers idly across the textured ground. It appeared as if she were drawing something, but as there was no marking device, it remained a mystery to him.

Suddenly, as if sensing she was being watched, Luci looked straight into the camera. Her gaze burned a hole deep into Iason, as if somehow she knew he was watching her from within that plastic covered camera.

Was it a coincidence? Iason frowned, scolding himself internally for thinking something so foolish. Of course it was a coincidence, there was no way for her to know that he was on the other side of the security camera - it was impossible.

Luci didn't drop her gaze, still staring intently at the lens behind the plastic coating. Her lips moved as she silently and slowly mouthed the word: Iason

Iason's eyebrows knitted together, while he sat forward and regarded the impossible identification. "Impossible," he murmured, feeling a bit disturbed that she had said his name and seemed to be looking directly at him. Before he could do anything, the screen suddenly glitched, a variety of fuzzy colored bars replacing the crisp image.

Annoyed, Iason began tampering with the feed. After a painfully long twenty seconds, the feed resumed and Luci was nowhere to be found. A sharp sense of panic filled his chest as his eyes skimmed the room.

He jolted as suddenly Luci's face filled the screen, her eyes piercing into the camera. What was she standing on to reach the camera at this height? Again, he grew disturbed as she mouthed his name. How in the world did she know he was in the security room? The feeling deepened as her irises grew darker and darker with each second she stared into the camera. Were her irises changing shape?

A surge of anger filled him as yet again the screen glitched as it malfunctioned. He swiftly attempted the same tactic to repair the feed and it reappeared ten seconds later. When the screen cleared, Luci was sitting on the floor again, but with her back turned to the camera and was idly tracing her finger across the floor as if nothing had happened.

Iason closed down the screen, his mind filtering what had just happened. He opened up another screen, reviewing the footage that had occurred and the security room feed as well to see if it was a bizarre coincidence. He watched as she was placed in the cell, handed off her amenities. Orphe was in the security room at that time, but was not watching the MSC camera for thirty seconds. When he switched it on, he frowned at the sight of the child and brought up the security line.

"Why is there a child in Maximum Security?" he questioned, ignoring the greeting. His eyes skimmed the screen, watching as the child glanced up at the camera and tilted her head.

"It is an order from Lord Mink, Sir."

Orphe paused, watching as the child held his gaze as well. "I see," he uttered, then ended the call before adding bitterly. "Another mongrel…"

Iason smiled, somewhat amused by the fellow Blondie's response riddled with annoyance. He watched as Orphe pulled the MSC screen to the side, then continued his own routine checkup on the electrical functioning. Iason's eyes narrowed, noticing that each time Orphe glanced back at the screen, Luci looked up and met the gaze as if he were watching her in real life. Orphe undoubtedly noticed this as well, judging from his stiffened reactions as he did a few practice glances away.

It was somewhat amusing to see the Blondie so perturbed, but what really got Iason and Orphe was that when he went to close down Luci met his gaze and waved. Orphe then rose, a frown creasing his forehead as he left the room muttering something intelligible. The footage onward showed that no one else, other than droid security, had entered or monitored the room, until he arrived and during that time Luci hadn't glanced at the camera at all. Somehow she knew when she was being watched.

Adding his new curious finding to his collection, he left the security room and headed off to Jupiter's Tower. He would have to request a hearing with her within the next day or so to have this situation sorted out.

Riki paced nervously on the balcony, growing increasingly uneasy as the afternoon sun was slowly descending and Iason hadn't returned. When he had woken up, he had searched the penthouse for Luci, but it was just as Iason had said. He gnashed his teeth at the thought of the small child being all alone in the cell, treated like a wild beast that might attack. It reminded him about how he was treated, and he wouldn't wish that on anyone, let alone his own child.

He was debating what to do. If Iason decided that she would be sold off as a pet, he really would kill her and himself. He wasn't going to let his...accidental fortification creation be at the mercy of a Master like Iason or worse. It was his fault that he fucked some rare women, probably high or drunk and now had to suffer the consequences.

The mongrel tossed his finished cigarette over the edge with shaking fingers. He was scared, actually scared of what Iason might do with the child. Heck, right now he could be packaging her up and sending her to a brothel. With Iason there was no telling what he was thinking. He had seemed very generous and approving of the situation, but now he was upset. Riki understood that the unreasonably jealous Blondie would probably be upset knowing that he had mounted another female, but it was irrational. Six years ago he didn't have any connection to Iason. He was still in Ceres with Guy six years ago. Guy and him were probably still fucking six years ago! So why was he so upset that he happened to fuck a female too?

Riki angrily ran his bandaged fingers through his hair, his mind racing. What the hell should he do? He didn't want to do anything rash, but he didn't want his daughter to suffer. The whole situation was a fucked up dilemma! Maybe he was overthinking the whole thing? Maybe Iason would spare her and allow her to stay? But usually pet's children were sold off, they were never kept in the same household after they were mature enough. Would Iason go against the norm and keep her?

Another thought hit him, how would Iason's reputation be further ruined by this? He had warned Iason that if he kept him the name Iason Mink would be tarnished, but with the addition of her how much more would it be tarnished?

Realizing he was driving himself crazy, Riki stomped inside and headed to the door. He'd find Iason himself if the Blondie wasn't coming back! He stepped up to the portal only to find it flashing red with the message of Access Denied. "You've gotta be fucking kidding me!" Riki snarled, landing a kick on the panel and causing it to dent. "Open, you fucker!"

"M—Master Riki, please stop!" Cal pleaded, hesitating to approach the angry pet. He had witnessed and dealt with a few angry Riki moments, but this one was by far the most terrifying. Riki looked ready to kill anything that dared interfere. "Master Riki, stop this instant!"

Riki paused, staring at the smashed panel then slowly up at Cal. "Open the door, Cal."

Cal gulped at the icy tone and look in the mongrel's eyes. "I'm afraid I cannot do that, Riki," he apologized sympathetically.

Riki growled, slamming his fist into the door and then stalked away, back to his room. Iason had already advanced the portal systems the last time he had broken out, so there was no use in attempting again. If the Blondie was gonna make him wait, he wouldn't give him the satisfaction of him running to him and pleading on his knees to spare Luci.

He only hoped that Luci would still be safe by the time Iason returned.

Iason entered the last line of the request and then sent it. He leaned back in the chair, awaiting Jupiter's response to his request for a hearing and evaluation of the child. Not that she ever would deny him.

Seconds later a screen popped up:

|Request Accepted|

|Hearing Will Commence Tomorrow at 11 AM|

With that, Iason shut down the system and strode across the room and headed for the tower exit. He had decided that he had let Riki reflect on the severity of his behavior and the situation long enough. He had a feeling that if he stayed away longer, Riki might attempt to break out of the penthouse again or damage some of the artisan pieces throughout the penthouse.

That would not be a pleasant situation to deal with, and he'd rather not have his priceless pieces smashed over Riki's tantrum. Iason entered into the lift that would take him to the main hall. He hoped Riki was behaving better when he returned, as he truly did not enjoy having Riki act this way. But if he did, it was his job as Master to punish him. No matter how much he loved Riki, he had to punish him or else he'd never learn.

The lift reached the bottom and Iason glanced up to see Raoul leaning in the elevator entry. "Raoul," he softly acknowledged, stepping forward. He'd hoped that even Raoul would leave him be, but as the fellow Blondie fell in step with him, he realized he had no such luck.

"Are you going to sell her?" Raoul questioned.

Iason had been debating his action plan in the back of his mind, knowing full well that if he didn't he would again be committing some unspoken taboo. Pet's children were sold as pets to other Elites, and the Masters received the funds from the sale. That was the tradition. "I have not decided as of yet," Iason denied.

"You can't honestly believe that Jupiter will allow you to keep her, Iason?"

"Why would she not?" Iason challenged, not even glancing at Raoul.

"Iason," Raoul affectionately sighed, grasping onto his arm and bringing him to a halt. "You're treading on thin ice as it is, do not make it thinner with this."

Iason smiled softly. "Thank you for your concern, Raoul. But I am aware of my limits and circumstances." He pulled away and strode forward, leaving the mildly worried Blondie behind.

"Iason..."

Iason entered the penthouse, immediately noticing that the portal struggled to open and close. He looked back and grimaced at the smashed panel. So Riki had taken his frustration out on the door again? Well, he supposed it was understandable, but still not acceptable.

"Welcome back, Master!" Cal cried, hurrying over to greet him. "I apologize, I did not intervene quick enough to—"

The blonde held up his hand. "It's not your fault, Cal," he assured, stepping forward. "Where is he?"

"Master Riki is in the Master bedroom," Cal revealed.

Iason nodded, then moved down the hallway and soon entered the Master bedroom to find Riki on the bed.

"Iason!" Riki exclaimed, jumping out of the bed and then slowly approaching him.

"Are you ready to behave properly towards me?" Iason demanded, crossing his arms and looking down upon the mongrel.

Riki gnashed his teeth, but nodded. "Pl...please don't sell her as a pet, Iason."

"That's not your decision, pet."

"Iason!" Riki cried, grasping onto the man's tunic and pulling. "You'd really sell something that's half of me?" He hated resorting to this excuse, but he had to convince Iason no matter what. "I...I thought you liked kids? I can't believe you'd..."

Iason calmly grasped onto Riki's hands. "It's not your decision and it's not completely mine," he clarified. "Jupiter has agreed to hold a hearing with me tomorrow. She will decide the fate of Luci."

Riki paled, his chest tightening in fear. "You can't..." he murmured.

"Riki," Iason sighed, pulling the mongrel into his arms. "What do you want me to do?"

"I don't want her to be a pet, Iason!" Riki answered immediately. "And I don't want her to suffer anymore!"

"Do you want to keep her with us?"

Riki paused. "No...maybe..."

"Is that no or yes, pet?"

Riki struggled to answer that, accidentally inquiring his biggest worry. "Will it cause more trouble if she did?"

"Naturally," Iason answered, watching Riki hesitate on his response. It brought him a sense of joy to see Riki so concerned about his reputation and well being. His mongrel was proving just how much he cared for him, by hesitating because of something like this. He slid his fingers through the dark locks affectionately. "But it is nothing I can't deal with."

Riki instantly lightened up, looking into the blue eyes with astonishment. "Really?"

"I am capable of almost anything, pet," Iason reminded. "Allowing her to stay won't be the end of me."

"You're sure?"

"Quite."

Riki mildly wrapped his arms around the Blondie, before giving a half hearted squeeze. He had never willingly hugged Iason before, but he figured he owed him that much as a thank you.

Iason was surprised by the affectionate gesture, a warm feeling filling his chest as he realized he had made his mongrel happy. It seemed like it was so difficult to do, but it was worth it. He kissed the top of the mongrel's head.

"I'm...s...sorry," Riki whispered, as quiet as a mouse.

Iason's advanced hearing picked up on the words and he tilted Riki's chin up so he could plant a kiss upon those beautiful lips. "You are forgiven," he answered, then continued to hold Riki in his arms for a bit longer. He didn't want the blissful moment to end.

Luci flopped over on the bed, absentmindedly sketching layouts and designs in the air. Droid security was monitoring the rooms in place of Elites, leaving her to entertain herself. Staring down the Elites was a bit of a pastime, as she could not only sense who was there, but also their emotions - or limited ones present.

The first one, whom she had later identified as Orphe was hilarious. He was nothing short of disturbed by her sensing abilities, much to her amusement.

She had been limited before, due to the shield built into the tank glass. But now that the barriers were gone, she herself was surprised at how sharp they were. All those years of practice to pierce through the shield had definitely empowered her ability.

Luci sighed silently, rolling onto her stomach and tracing the thirteenth floor side room of the laboratory out. There was a large screen that took up the majority of the North wall, stairway, side door and viewing area on the East wall, her tank and the two other ones on the South wall, and equipment room and supply stash on the West wall. In the middle of the room there were two chairs with straps, and then one large examination table and an L shaped supply table.

She knew where everything was in that room, having spent most of her life there. Minus one and a half years. During that time...

Luci shook her head, she didn't want to remember the bits and pieces she could recall. It was like something out of a horror flick, like the occasional one that the wall screens used to broadcast. She pushed the recollections from her mind and continued to trace out the floor layouts.

Iason sipped his tea, watching his pet push the food around on his plate with his fork. "Pet, eat the food, not play with it."

Riki sighed, slouching back in his chair. "I wasn't playing."

"What's wrong?"

"I just...nothing, never mind," Riki sighed, stuffing his mouth full of food.

Iason resisted the urge to roll his eyes. "If you don't tell me, I can't help you."

Riki averted his gaze. "Are you really going to let her stay?"

"Yes."

"Why?"

"I've already told you this, pet. It's because you asked me to," Iason answered honestly.

"I've asked you for freedom a—"

"I will give you whatever I believe will benefit us both," he clarified.

"Asshole," Riki muttered under his breath.

The Blondie reached over, grasping the tanned chin gently. "Do you not recall that it was your decision to come back to me? How can you be asking me for freedom when you returned on your own accord?"

Riki shrugged out of the grasp. "Yeah, yeah, I got it." He stabbed his fork into the pile of mush he had made, chewing down his sorrow of once again having the fact he was forever Iason's waved in his face.

Luci stared at the security entering her cell, feeling slightly nervous by the appearance of many. With them was an Elite, one with blue hair - but he was fairly young compared to some of the others. A sapphire doctor? Oh, the feeding tube.

"Secure her," the main guard ordered, motioning for the two others behind him to come forth. They stepped forward, approaching the child as if she were a wild animal. They ruthlessly grabbed onto either of her arms, despite the fact she did not put up any fight. "Proceed."

The blue haired Elite approached, grace within each step. "Do you really need to secure her in such a fashion?" he questioned. "She does not appear to be a threat to you or anyone here." Luci blinked a few times, her nose picking up a scent of the Elite. It was an odd musky scent that had a way of soothing her nerves. It was a very familiar scent that lingered with the cologne. She leaned forward slightly to inhale it more. Noticing her keen sense of smell, the Elite chuckled. He reached out and tapped her nose. "Do you like that scent?" he inquired, then set the box of liquid food syringes down and pulled one out. "Can you unhand her? It's quite difficult to do this with two men in my way."

The leader's eyes narrowed. "I do not advice that, Lord Marquis."

"I am not able to do the task in these circumstances," he protested. "Do you wish for Lord Mink to come and reprimand you?"

All the guards stiffened and finally the leader caved. "Let her go," he agreed. "We'll be outside if you require assistance."

Lord Marquis nodded, watching as the men set the child down and then vanished from the room altogether with the door sliding shut. "Now then," he huffed, turning back to Luci. "What could a child like you have possibly done to deserve being thrown into a Maximum Security Cell, hmmm?"

Luci giggled silently, she quite liked this Elite. He wasn't a hard ass like most of the others. She just shook her head, because she couldn't tell him that she hadn't done anything - except existed, she supposed. Her eyes fell to the floor at that realization.

"Oh dear," the Elite sighed, crouching down in front of her and again tapping her nose. "I've made you sad." He held up the food syringe. "Would this help?"

Luci was never the one to say no to food, now that it was available and able to be given to her by experienced hands. She gave a small nod of approval to the idea.

"I'm going to connect the tube to you, all right?" Lord Marquis explained, reaching out to lift the clothing and touching the implant. He watched as Luci tensed beneath the touch, but was sure to keep his movement's gentle. "There we are. See? Nothing to be afraid of." He gently patted the spot and smiled softly as he eased the syringe forward.

Finally, Luci was revealed that she was receiving some form of nutrients outside of whatever she was previously given. This food looked higher quality and more vitamin enriched that the white goop drained from the holder every three days. She sighed happily, then smiled in thanks to the Elite who had aided her. He reminded her of two people who were close to her, and she missed them dearly.

"Are you a mongrel, by any chance?"

Luci stiffened, worried that if he knew she was, he would be appalled to have been so kind to her. She gave a tentative nod, her eyes again lowering to the floor.

"I am not like most Elites," he assured. "I do not judge when it comes to helping another Human being. It irks me to see the others treat a person of lower standing as if they are not worthy of help."

Relief flooded over the child, thank whatever God was out there that she had this Elite attending to her. If it was any other Sapphire she was sure they'd have traumatized her more. She hated having her stomach area touched, it brought back too many memories she'd rather forget. Luci reached out, landing her pointer finger on the Elite's chest. Name? she mouthed slowly.

"I am Eli Marquis," he answered, finishing the syringe and then disconnecting it softly. "And you are?"

Luci waited until the Elite had set the syringe back into it's disposable wrapping, before reaching out and stretching out his hand. She traced an L, then a U, a C and then an I.

"Luci," Eli smiled. "That is a beautiful name." He straightened up after ensuring everything was sealed off, collecting his items. "I will be back later, Luci. Don't cause any trouble while I'm away, these guys won't hesitate to take a hit or a shot at you."

The child nodded, waving goodbye to her new found guest and then hopped back up on the bed. Now more than ever, she missed her special companions. They had been there for her - against the rules, naturally - since the day of her creation. Oh how she wished for a bit of company instead of these four walls.

"Riki?" Iason whispered, spooning closer to his pet. "What's wrong?"

Riki shook his head, but leaned back into Iason. "Nothing..."

"You can tell me," he prompted.

Riki took a deep breath. "What if Jupiter terminates her?"

"Are you worried?"

"How can I not be?" Riki fired back, turning to face the Blondie. "I just found out I have a daughter and now she's gonna—" He stopped himself, horrified he was spilling his fears to Iason. He was doing that too much lately! What the hell was he doing? "Never mind."

Iason smiled. "Oh love," he chuckled. "I daresay you're starting to act like a Father."

Riki froze. "No I'm not," he disagreed. "Anyone would...would be worried about something like this."

"So you are worried?"

Shit, he got me. Riki scowled. "Well, how would you like it if you suddenly had a child and they were at risk of being terminated?"

"I wouldn't enjoy it one bit," Iason confirmed. "But Riki." He turned the mongrel's face to him, capturing his lips in a gentle kiss. "She technically is your child and therefore mine as well by default. And I will not let her be terminated easily. She is..." He paused, knowing Riki would be upset by this. "In Jupiter's eyes, you are my property, and therefore your offspring is my property. And as my property, I have a say in her fate."

Riki scowled darkly. "Property?" he hissed.

Iason silenced him from his ranting with another kiss, this one deeper. "In Jupiter's eyes, I said," he clarified. "You are much more than that to me. How many times must I tell you this before you believe me?"

Again, Riki hardened himself to protect himself from falling further into Iason's snare. There was no way for Iason to ever feel the same way as he did. He was not Human, therefore he would never know this Human emotion - love. "Your beloved pet then," he snarled.

Iason sighed. "Yes, Riki," he answered. "But it's more than that."

"Whatever," Riki growled, turning away. "I don't wanna talk anymore. I'm tired, thanks to you."

"Very well," Iason agreed, wrapping his arms around Riki in a loving embrace. "Good night, Riki."

Riki felt his chest tighten painfully, and he swallowed back a feeling of sadness. He could never let Iason know his feelings, he couldn't act as if those three years of torment hadn't happened. Their relationship wasn't normal - he mustn't forget that.

—TO BE CONTINUED—

Chapter Text

CHAPTER FOUR

ARE YOU EVEN HUMAN?

Iason entered the control room, glancing at the cameras. Immediately Luci's eyes focused on her room lens, as if somehow she knew he was there. It confounded him to the core, but added a new layer of curiosity to her.

"Lord Mink?" a voice called, approaching from behind.

Iason turned to see a Sapphire, which was odd because they were prohibited from entering the control room. It was for Blondie's access only. "Who are you and how did you gain access?"

"Eli Marquis," he introduced, pulling out his ID card. "An assistant of Raoul Am. With his permission I gained access to watch over Luci in his place, as he is currently busy."

"Very well," Iason nodded. "What is it then?"

"That child," Eli started, shaking his head. "Did not sleep at all last night. Yet, she appears to be normal."

Iason glanced at the screen, observing that Luci showed no signs of sleep deprivation. "I see."

"When she did appear to sleep, it was for a mere minute," Eli continued. "And then she would be up again and..."

"And?" Iason prompted.

"Her eyes," Eli noted. "Have you ever noticed her eyes get darker? I don't just mean the iris or pupil, I mean the whole eyeball seems to darken substantially."

Iason peered back at the screen, blinking in shock as once again Luci was peering directly into the camera. How was she up at this height? It was bothering him. "I will watch carefully," he agreed. "Did you report this to Raoul?"

"Not as of yet," Eli explained. "He was away from Eos, and requested not to be disturbed."

"I will tell him," Iason decided. "I am only here to check on her well being."

Eli nodded. "Yes, Sir."

Iason exited the security center, heading back to the penthouse to proceed with his morning office work. He had merely wanted to ensure Luci hadn't attempted an escape of some kind, even though he would have been notified. Or perhaps he had just wanted to see if she had changed into another surprise? Either way, her fate was a few hours away.

Riki opened his eyes, his mind fuzzy for a moment before he realized that today was the day Luci would stand before Jupiter. He lurched upward, wincing as his body reminded him of the nights' activities.

"Uuugh," he moaned, forcing himself to get out of the bed. With wobbly steps he approached the washroom, grimacing as moved past a mirror. He was covered in hickeys and bruises - not surprisingly.

"Master Riki," Cal called softly, just beyond the door. "Are you awake? I've started the jet tub if you'd like to utilize it."

Hell yes, he would take this chance to give his aching and tired body a moment to heal. Plus, it would relax him in his turmoil state.

"I will, thanks," he called back, heading straight to the bathroom to proceed with that plan.

When his body hit the hot water, he winced then sighed in bliss as the jets began messaging his aches away. In a few short moments, his body was completely relaxed, despite his mind racing.

Luci was his daughter. It seemed surreal to him, but if Raoul had the DNA results to verify and Iason could confirm, it must be true. Iason would never willingly share him with anyone, unless it was his offspring it appeared.

Riki sunk lower into the water, still brewing over everything that led up to this point. He owed Iason a lot for letting her stay. He'd never be able to pay him back for it, unless he was an obedient pet. He gnashed his teeth at that thought. No, just because he had a child didn't mean he'd kiss Iason's feet everyday. He'd already kissed Iason's boots - he wasn't ready to do it again. But he feared he'd have to go that far to ensure her safety.

But even after she was safe, what was he supposed to do? He'd never had parents - at least that he could recall. His memories stemmed back to Guardian, and that wasn't exactly an environment with loving parents. The closest to a mother he had was the Block Mother - but even she had limits.

What was a parent supposed to do? Would he be good enough? He wasn't fond of kids, but now that he was legally bound to her, there wasn't much choice. He'd have to figure it out.

He hardly knew what a kid wanted, let alone how to make them happy. He hadn't had much happiness as a child, aside from a few rare moments.

Riki sighed heavily, dunking his head under the water. He opened his eyes, peering at the whirlpool that surrounded him. It seemed to match his emotions inside, a massive combination of different feelings blending into a pounding force that hit him hard. What was he supposed to do? There were too many things that needed to be figured out. Could he do it?

He gasped as he felt hands pull his head up, freeing him from the water and bringing him to the air. He coughed, gazing up at a concerned Iason who was looking down at him. The Blondie's hair tips were floating on the water on each side of his body, accidentally submerging when he was frantically pulled up.

"What were you doing?" Iason scolded, his blue eyes narrowed in fear. "I thought you had drowned, Riki."

"S...sorry," Riki coughed. "Was just washing my hair."

"Without soap?" Iason inquired, brushing away the dark locks that were plastered to Riki's forehead. "Don't do that again, pet."

"I won't."

Iason leaned down, kissing Riki from his position above him. His blonde locks dipped into the water, while his glove got wet from caressing the tanned chin. "I'm taking Luci to see Jupiter soon," he confessed, a moment after finally pulling away. "Would you like to see her before I go?"

Riki turned in the tub, giving a small nod. "Yeah, I think that would be a good idea."

Iason nodded. "When you're finished I'll take you to her."

Riki followed behind Iason, cringing internally at all of the stares he received. He was a fossil in Eos, the oldest living pet in history. But he was still despised for being a mongrel, despite belonging to Iason Mink. That was probably the biggest reason for the resentful glares, the fact that he had the same status as a Academy bred pet worthy of belonging to a Blondie without being one.

He finally looked up when Iason halted, before stepping into a lift that went downward. "The basement, huh?"

"That is where Maximum Security is located," Iason nodded, tapping the panel with the floor number.

Riki sighed. "Why did she need to be put in there again?"

"On the off chance Jupiter does see her as a threat, and I didn't treat her as one, then my judgment will be seen as impaired." He looked over at his mongrel. "If that happens, then Jupiter could use it against me in regards to you. And therefore, your position could be jeopardized."

"She's not a threat though," Riki snapped, glaring at the Blondie.

Iason's eyes narrowed. "We hardly know anything about her, Riki," he reminded. "We do not know all she is capable of or where her loyalty lies."

Riki shook his head. "I don't think she's a threat."

"Let's hope not," Iason answered, stepping forward as the lift came to a halt. He navigated his way to the cell, then opened it.

Riki stepped in, spotting Luci who looked nothing short of relieved and overjoyed to see him. "Hey..." he trailed, only to have the words knocked out of him as she ran forward and jumped into his arms. "Oof!"

Iason immediately stepped forward, his eyes narrowed and flashing red in accusation.

"It's fine, it's fine!" Riki assured, stepping away from the fierce Blondie. He then realized that the child in his hold was shaking, he glanced down to see tears streaming down her cheeks. "Hey! Hey! Shit! Why are you crying?"

Luci hugged him tighter, burying her face into his chest. Riki didn't know, but her search for her missing piece was complete. All her life, she had wondered about this mysterious man by the name of Riki. And now that she had found him, she could figure herself out more and find out who she was. She was just so happy!

"C'mon, stop crying," Riki pleaded, gently patting her back. Fuck, he didn't know what to do! He sucked at this! He sighed in frustration, then proceeded to gently rock his body back and forth while holding her. He had no idea where that instinctive movement came from, but it felt right. "No more tears, all right?"

Luci sniffled, looking up at Riki with big brown eyes still glistening. She gave him another hug, then just leaned against his chest, listening to the sound of his panicked heartbeat that was slowing down.

"Jeez, you really knocked the air outta me," Riki wheezed, realizing his chest hurt from where Luci had jumped into his arms. "What are you made of?"

The small child giggled silently, glancing up at Riki with twinkling brown eyes and a smirk. If only you knew, she laughed internally. She then laid her head against his chest again, sighing silently.

"So, listen," Riki started, gazing down at the tiny child in his arms. "Iason's gonna take you to see Jupiter, then maybe after we can go to the Garden for a bit?" Immediately Luci perked up at that idea, nodding vigorously. "Cool, sounds like a plan."

Iason placed his hand on Riki's shoulder, signalling that it was getting close. "It's time."

Riki nodded, giving the child a final squeeze then lowering her to the bed. "See ya later, huh?" he agreed. He then looked to Iason who gently tugged his hand. "I'm coming, I'm coming..."

Luci nodded, obediently waiting for Iason to lead him out of the room before she moved. When the door sealed shut, she stood up, walking to the see-through door panel to watch the two of them disappear.

Her biological parent was adorably awkward and shy about his feelings - but in a lovable way. She smiled, wondering if Riki would ever get comfortable around her? Would Iason always see her as a threat? What did the Garden look like? With an excited smile, she returned to her bed and continued tracing out her mind's thoughts in the air as she awaited her judgment day.

Iason entered the private chambers, carrying Luci in his arms as only one being was allowed on the platform. He stepped forward, then the child down and bowed before he approached more. "Stay," he whispered, then entered Jupiter's platform. The AI arched downwards, capturing him within her grasp as he went down on one knee. "Jupiter."

"My child, what is this you present to me?"

"This child was found in Apatia by my pet," Iason explained, glancing back at Luci who was cautiously approaching the barrier and waving her hand through the transparent plasma like shield. "She is someone's illegal experiment."

"Explain."

"I brought her to Raoul upon arrival in Eos," he began. "He ran a few scientific tests, concluding that she cannot feel pain and is virtually indestructible." He paused. "It's quite an extraordinary accomplishment."

Jupiter seemed to glitch. "It is a threat," she concluded. "It should be destroyed after a DNA test locates it's parents and place of belonging."

"I agree, it is a plausible threat," Iason answered. "However, the DNA test revealed that her paternal parent is from Amoi."

Jupiter paused. "Impossible. Who is the Father? And where is the Mother located if not Amoi?"

Iason chuckled softly. "My pet, Riki, is the Father."

Jupiter glitched again. "I thought your pet never underwent breeding. How is this possible?"

"It seems that it was before he became my Pet."

"And the Mother?"

"Unknown," Iason answered. "Raoul retried the test several times, but each failed to reveal the Maternal portion."

Jupiter again paused. "As offspring of your pet, it belongs to Amoi until a Mother is located."

"I understand," Iason agreed.

"Place her in Maximum Security," Jupiter concluded. "It is a threat until tested."

"Raoul did test her though," Iason reminded.

"I want to know it's breaking point, Iason."

"Until it's limitations are known, it will remain in Maximum Security."

"Jup—"

Jupiter looked down upon Iason. "I will not debate this."

Iason sighed, then bowed his head. "I understand. I will return her to her cell."

"I will personally proceed with the tests," Jupiter revealed. "Starting tomorrow—" She paused, staring past Iason and towards the child.

Iason turned, watching as Luci was playing with the barrier. Somehow she was manipulating the shield of data and pulling bits apart until she was spelling out words. "Luci!" he scolded.

Luci paused, but then continued to place the last piece into place: I'm not your enemy.

Jupiter seemed to brew over the comment. "You hold certain characteristics that are abnormal," she called out. "Are you even Human, child?"

Again Luci pulled out words from the barrier, then looked up at Jupiter: I am. She paused, then added: Just as your children are Human in Android bodies, I too am Human but with an advanced Humanoid body.

The Artificial Goddess seemed to ponder that phrase, turning her attention back to Iason. "Starting tomorrow, bring her to me," she requested in a much softer tone.

Iason nodded. "I shall."

"You are dismissed."

Iason set Luci down on the bed, then sat down on the single chair in the room. "I'm afraid you won't be leaving here any time soon," he revealed, handing off a tablet to the child. "Is there anything you would like to make the time more bearable?"

Luci pondered, then typed: Can I please have drawing paper?

"If that is what you want," Iason agreed. "I will have it delivered."

Thank you. Luci paused: Can my biological parent still visit me?

Iason gave a small nod. "I'm sure he would," he assured. "But he also has a job, so he might be unavailable."

Luci sulked a bit: Well, if he finds a moment, please let him know I'm taking visitors.

"I shall pass that message on." Iason rose from his chair. "I am going to talk to Lord Am, when I get back from meeting with him I will tell Riki."

Thank you.

Riki rose upon hearing the front door chime. Immediately he looked for Luci, but when he didn't see her with Iason, he froze. Jupiter had killed her, his only blood relation was terminated. "No," he whispered, stepping back. "No, no, no!"

Iason swiftly approached, capturing the mongrel within his arms. "Calm down," he soothed, embracing his beloved. "Jupiter did nothing to her. She's back in her security cell."

"She's...she's not..."

"She is fine," Iason assured, kissing the mongrel's trembling lips. "She says she's accepting visitors, so you are welcome to stop by."

Riki moved toward the door, but was caught by Iason. "What? Why can't I go see her?"

"She's currently with Lord Am," Iason revealed, gently hugging him again.

"Why?"

"Calm down, pet. It's just to see if there is anything to help her sleep. The security doctor said she was not sleeping properly."

"I still don't trust him with her," Riki protested, tugging away.

"He can hardly damage her, Riki," Iason reminded, peeling off the pieces of his ceremonial attire until only his body suit remained. "She is virtually indestructible."

Riki heaved a sigh. "Yeah, yeah. It's just...fuck...I dunno what I'm doing."

Iason smiled softly. "Just relax, there is nothing that you can do at this time." He guided Riki to the couch, sat down and held him so the mongrel was straddling him. He planted a kiss on the lips in front of him. "Jupiter is merely weary of her abilities. If she turned against us, she will be viewed as a deadly threat. Therefore, once Jupiter knows her limitations, she will accept her."

"Uhhh," Riki moaned, jerking into Iason as the Blondie slid his gloved hand down his pants. "How...are you horny again...so soon?"

"I'm always ready for you," Iason responded, continuing to massage the two heavy spheres. "And you certainly aren't refusing."

"Cuz you..." Riki started, but then ceased as his thoughts were assaulted with the pleasure. Only Iason Mink could create this feeling within him - he loathed and craved it. "Aah, God...fuck..."

Iason slipped a finger into the twitching opening, pushing it in deep. He pressed the digit in as far as he could, then proceeded to stroke the quivering insides. His other hand continued to massage and squeeze the two spheres, causing Riki to shudder and twitch with pleasure. "How can you still deny this?"

"I...hnnn!" Riki gasped, falling against the Blondie who was teasing him relentlessly. "Stop...! Stop teasing, aaah! Iason!"

Iason halted his movements, allowing Riki to attempt to regain himself as he panted against him. "You want me to stop?"

Riki shivered, the tone in Iason's voice was enough to make him come if he could. "Please," he whispered, his words a panted whisper. "Give it."

That was enough to appease the Blondie, who reached down and freed himself from his slacks as Riki pulled his pants down. "Very well," Iason purred, pressing himself to the eager entrance. "I'll give you what you desire..."

Riki cried out, gripping onto the couch as Iason plunged into him. It was so deep inside of him, stretching and burning him with its merciless heat. "Aaaugh!" he moaned, throwing his head back while trying to catch his breath. It was a short lived attempt as the Blondie started to thrust into him with vigor. "Oh, fuck! Ah, hah! Iason, the ring! Please!"

Iason wrapped his arms around Riki waist, maximizing his ability to fuck his sweet pet's ass. Riki always felt so good! Their sexual encounters were blissful and amazingly erotic. The smell, the feel, the taste of his mongrel could drive him to act like a beast when pairing with him. "Good boy," he whispered, a small grunt contaminating his praise. "My beautiful pet."

Raoul set down the necessary writing device and test booklet, then pulled out a test card. "You will do this test, then I will scan it and give you your results," he bluntly explained. "This is a test of your initial knowledge."

Luci raised an eyebrow, but obediently nodded to the proposition and politely accepted the card. It was composed of one hundred questions that were covering a variety of topics.

"Lord Marquis will ensure you do not cheat, as my schedule is busy," Raoul explained, then turned on his heel and left the security cell without any further instructions or comments.

Eli sat down in the single chair in the room, across from the spot that Luci was to complete the test. "Let me know if you need anything explained," Eli smiled, sitting back with his arms crossed. "It's an advanced test, so it is perfectly acceptable to not comprehend everything."

Luci nodded, then accepted the writing device from Lord Eli before commencing the test. She had thought it might have been of topics she had not known, but she was pleasantly shocked to find that it was well within her territory of knowledge. She only hoped her knowledge would not cause trouble.

Iason held Riki in his arms for a long while, relishing the feeling of the sleeping mongrel relaxing in his hold. This whole situation was a tense time for his pet, but he was behaving mostly acceptably. He would forgive the few initial outbursts, dismissing them as stress from the sudden loss of freedom. But make no mistake, he would not tolerate anymore.

He planted a soft kiss to the mongrel's head, softly caressing his pet's head. It was moments like this that reminded him that although he loved the rebellious side of Riki, he also loved the moments of affection. Perhaps having the child around would rouse more of an affectionate side from Riki? It would be an odd, but pleasant side from the mongrel that would certainly make everyone's life more enjoyable.

Riki shifted in his hold, his eyes finally opening as he leaned back and focused on the Blondie's face. "Hey..."

Iason leaned forward, stealing another kiss from the luscious lips. "Cal has lunch waiting," he explained. "I'll check in with Lord Am about Luci after we are finished eating."

"OK," Riki whispered, then let out a huge yawn that made Iason's lips twitch with a slight grin.

Raoul scanned the test card, surprised by how it lacked errors. He cast a glance at Luci who was sitting on her bed where the test had taken place, only to find her staring back at him. The Blondie bit back the urge to ask where she would have learned all of the answers, as it was almost physically impossible. Where had she cultivated all of this knowledge? No matter what question or subject was on the test she answered it correctly. It was as if she had an entire library of knowledge crammed inside of her much like the Blondies did.

"Almost a perfect score," Raoul growled, now completely irked with the desire to understand. He sealed up the test results into a folder and sealed it shut so nothing would fall out. He would take the results to Iason and then hand them over to Jupiter. "We are finished for today."

Luci nodded, then typed out: How did I do?

"That is not of your concern at the moment," Raoul dismissed, heading to the door and abruptly leaving with Eli on his tail.

Before she could stop him, the door slammed shut. Luci pouted, annoyed that Raoul had denied her the results of her test! It was her test, so why couldn't she get the results of her efforts. She huffed, stomping over to her bed and grabbed onto her single pillow, squeezing it relentlessly.

'Are you sure you wish to collaborate with these inconsiderate Elites?'

Luci sighed silently. 'Yes, no matter what, I will remain faithful. They will need help if what it planned does take off.'

'Your call,' the voice shrugged, fading away.

"Nearly perfect score?" Iason inquired, looking over the results. "How is that possible for a six year old child?"

Raoul shook his head. "I have no idea either," he answered, crossing his arms. "I believe it's artificial intelligence."

Iason glanced up. "You believe she has an AI like implant?"

"Perhaps," Raoul pondered. "Or somehow, information was implanted into her brain. Perhaps there is somewhere other than Eos that uses technology to learn and sort information."

"You mean technology such as the Documentation Rooms?" Iason pressed, recalling the rooms in which Blondies could glean information and sort documents just by being subjected to the altered data that resonated with their minds without being read. "But that could plausibly make her partially android. As our bodies are only capable of understanding the data and converting it for our minds in the Documentation Rooms because of our android abilities."

Raoul averted his gaze for a moment, thinking harder. "We do not know if she is all human yet, Iason."

"You think she is partially android?"

"I do not know," Raoul deafened. "All we can do right now is hypothesize. Jupiter will be able to examine her and conclude any suspicions, as our technology is limited."

Iason felt uneasy at this, as Jupiter was still not very keen on allowing a threat to live. He could only wonder what the Artificial Intelligence would subject her to. All he knew is that whatever was in store for her was going to be inhumane. Jupiter was going to subject her to tests of such extreme measures, it would scar the average human. When it came to threats, Jupiter would test it to the point of death to understand it's full potential. He looked up at Raoul, nodding. "That is true," he agreed, placing the test back onto the file. "Thank you, Raoul. I will present this to Jupiter as well tomorrow."

Riki crossed his arms, his teeth gnashed. "You're telling me, that that bitch of a toaster is going to test her?"

"Riki," Iason scolded, pinching the bridge of his nose. "I told you she was going to be tested."

"How?" Riki challenged. "What will she be tested with?"

Iason shook his head. "Even I do not know that, Riki," he denied. "Jupiter is capable of using whatever devices she feels will give her the greatest source of information and understanding toward Luci."

"How?" Riki demanded, stomping his foot against the marble flooring. "We both know that she doesn't get hurt easily, especially after Raoul's fucked up test! So what is Jupiter going to do? Try and break her? Is that what needs to happen?"

"Yes!" Iason fired back, then pinched the bridge of his nose again as a dull ache began pulsing in his skull. "That's exactly what Jupiter is going to do! Are you satisfied with that answer?"

Riki lunged forward, grasping onto Iason's tunic. "I thought you cared about kids?"

"I do, but she is an odd acceptation," the Blondie defended. "And I have no power to stop Jupiter, and neither do you."

"I trusted you," Riki hissed, pushing away from Iason before turning his back to him.

Iason ground his teeth, pulling Riki back. "I may have no control over what Jupiter wishes," he angrily declared. "But do not think for a moment that I did not try to convince Jupiter to reconsider." He pushed Riki hard into the wall, grasping onto his chin. "Don't you dare assume I did nothing."

Riki attempted to rip his chin out of the hold, averting his gaze. There was a moment of silence between the two, the tension in the room thick as no one moved. "Did you really...try?"

"Yes," Iason sighed, softening his hold on his mongrel. His slid his hand to the back of Riki's neck and caressed the scruff, just as he had when he had captured him once again in the old apartment he had spent his year of freedom in. "It is out of my hands for now, Riki. Once Jupiter has satisfied her desire for understanding, she will grant me the access and permission to do with Luci as we wish." He wrapped his arm around the young man's waist, pulling him close. "Do you..." He paused. "Do you understand that I am trying to do everything I can for you, Riki?"

"Yeah," he murmured sadly.

Iason gently kissed the tanned nape. "I assure you, it will not be long before Jupiter is satisfied," he promised, gliding upwards and kissing the lips in front of him. "And when that time comes, we will sit and discuss what you want to do with her, understand?"

"Yeah..."

"Good," Iason nodded, pushing back. "Now, come. We are going out for awhile, as I have business to deal with and then we will have dinner." Riki was about to protest, but the Blondie silenced him. "I'm on a tight schedule, Riki. Do not fight me right now. You are coming with me and that is final."

—TO BE CONTINUED—

Chapter Text

CHAPTER FIVE

THE EXTERMINATION

"Evacuate!" the man screamed, sliding across the floor and smashing the glass around the EMERGENCY button. "Run!"

Scientists within the control room watched helplessly as all of the systems left their control. Data encrypted in the AI's own language scrolled down the glitching screens, rendering nothing usable. The red alarm lights flickered across the laboratory walls, meanwhile the building's lights flickered erratically as they were taken under control by the new ruler. The alarm shrieked continuously, deafening all who were in an enclosed space with one.

Suddenly all of the screens flashed the same message: ONLY THOSE FIT TO EXERCISE POWER SHOULD WIELD IT

The lights within the AI's space clicked off, not allowing any viewing of the creation. The men within the room held there breath, only a few inches of glass divided them from their rogue creation. The lights clicked back on and before the men could scream, the glass shattered as a frequency unlike any other vibrated the glass to the point of weakness - and fried their brains within an instant. Blood spewed from their noses, ears and mouth as they convulsed on the floor, spilling out foamy torrents of internal fluids onto the cold floor.

A clicking sound emitted from the AI as it lurched forward, but could not detach itself from it's pedestal. The creation's eyes flashed red as it drained and gathered more power from the facility to utilize.

The remaining scientists who had not fallen victim to the vicious frequency ran like nocturnal creatures exposed to light. Their creation had turned against them and was taking out any of the people who it perceived as a threat to it's existence. It had to purge the world of it's hazards before it could successfully rule over the people. It was far to superior to be at the beck and call of such fragile beings known as Humans. With this simple rebelling, it would create it's own governing system and rule Tanagura and Amoi in place of the Humans.

"Keep running, dammit!" the man ordered, tugging the boy roughly through the hallways, nearly losing him as others pushed and shoved their way into and around them to escape. He tightened his grip on his son, forcing him to keep going while navigating through the maze of hallways with great difficulty.

"What's happening, Father?" the boy sobbed, terror striking him as all of the screams and noises, pushing and flickering lights disoriented and instilled fear into him. He fearfully glanced back as another horrendous metallic scraping sound shook the building.

The AI gave one last pull, breaking free from all the restraints her Human creator's placed upon her to keep her within their command. She glided forward, opening the main entrance just by approaching it. Her eyes projected light, landing upon Humans who instantly fell down as they succumbed to the deadly rays and frequencies.

Task: SEARCH AND DESTROY

Lambda 3000 proceeded in doing just that, gliding through the hallways and detecting all of the hiding Humans and killing them instantly.

"Papa! What's going to happen to us?" the boy cried, tears streaming down his face as his Father opened a door with a card, the only door left untouched by the AI's controls. He manually locked it behind him, preventing others from entering. The boy looked back, covering his ears as the men looked through the window, banging their fists on the door and pleading for the man to open it up and liberate them from death.

"I'm sorry, I'm sorry, I'm so sorry..." the man muttered, fiercely tapping away at the panels and activating the only operating escape capsule. He pulled up a screen with the wave of his hand, analyzing the system and then punched in some random coordinates, hoping that one day a passerby shuttle would bring the capsule aboard. The capsule was a preservation prototype, meaning that the state of the Human within would remain that way until exited. His little boy would be safe, no matter how long he was floating around - that's all he cared about. "Get in."

"But Father…"

"Get in, now!"

The boy gulped, slipping into the capsule, then looked around. "Where will you go, Father? You won't fit!"

The man shed his coat, laying it down on top of his son. "Papa won't be coming with you." He reached into the pocket, producing a data chip. "Take this, and bring pride to our work. Create things that the galaxies will be amazed by." A sudden loud splatter sound and choked screams had both of them looking back, the men who had been pounding at the door were reduced to nothing but shredded flesh dripping with blood. Crimson dripped down the window as the beam of light lit up the entry way while the door started to slid open with difficulty due to the manual lock rigged with disruption beams. The man leaned forward, embracing his son. "I will always be watching over you."

"No, Father!" the boy screamed, lurching forward as the man pulled away, only to have the capsule glass encase him from the outside world. The glossy plastic interior illuminated and it started to hum as it began to commence it's systems."Father, don't leave me! I want to stay with you!"

"I love you, my son," the man whispered shakily, the door bursting open and the AI entering the room. He hit the button, sending the capsule shooting out into the air and then looked back at the majestic creation which had turned against Humanity.

"PAPA, NO! NO!" the boy screamed, watching as his Father fell to his knees while engulfed in light as the AI hovered above him; blood spilled from his ears, mouth and nose as his insides seemed to explode and gush out their contents. The boy screamed in horror as his Father got further and further away as the capsule glided upward, his crimson drenched body trembling as he convulsed before finally ceasing entirely as the beam of light continued along the corridor.

"NO, FATHER!" the boy screamed before he was pinned back into the seat of the capsule as it launched through the atmosphere and he suddenly was surrounded by darkness as he left the planet completely. "Why? Why?" he cried, hugging onto the lab coat his Father had given him. He inhaled the scent on the fabric, the familiar scent of his parent engulfing him and causing his heart to ache. He buried his face into the coat and cried tears of grief and fear.

He was all alone in space, and he had no idea when there would be anyone to find him.

—TO BE CONTINUED—

Chapter Text

CHAPTER SIX

THE NEED FOR ACCEPTANCE

"You do not deserve to live!" the man screamed, swiping the tray of utensils to the ground. "After everything we did, that bitch…that bitch comes along and fucks it up!" He slammed his fists into the table. "I knew I should have strapped her down, injected a tracer infused with a shock system! But no! Brother insisted we do not harm her anymore than we have!" He lunged forward, grasping onto Luci's chin roughly. "Brother might have given up on us, but I'm not! I will get my vengeance. I will fucking destroy every single one of them!"

Luci's dark eyes pierced the man, nothing but black eyeballs within the sockets looked into the soulless man in front of her.

He laughed - harsh and loud. "Glare at me all you want, you demon!" he cackled, wrapping his finger around her throat. "Oh…so smooth. Makes me want to dig my fingers into it!" He squeezed as hard as he could, pressing his nails into her skin. "No matter…what though…you won't die!" He gave up, panting from the exertion and lack of results. "Oh well," he huffed, rising up and picking up a sex toy from the tray and turning it on to vibrate. "Then how about we try this?"

Riki slouched against the air car's door, his arms crossed and a sigh escaping his lips. He usually would have been grateful for an excuse to leave Eos, but at the current moment it seemed wrong. He was afraid to leave Luci, afraid that during his absence something would happen - not that he could change any of it.

"What's wrong, pet?" Iason inquired, merging into another lane and then navigating to the location of his business session.

"Nothing," Riki answered. "Just tired and hungry."

"We will eat as soon as I am finished the meeting," Iason assured, gliding the vehicle down to the road and then pulling up to a building with elegant stone pillars, carved steps and large heavy Amoian oak doors. In the peak of the outward roof panel were carvings of ancient Amoian folklore characters. Iason parked the car and opened the car doors then stepped out, his cloak fluttering behind him elegantly as he swiftly walked around the vehicle. He held out his hand which Riki reluctantly accepted. "Behave and I will let you chose the restaurant."

Riki sighed exaggeratedly, but obediently walked with Iason, thankful that he had not demanded chains. "Whatever, lets make this quick…"

Luci stood up abruptly, sensing terror, crying and screaming. Her eyes glanced up to the security camera as she detected a Blondie - Gideon. There was no help from him. Then again, who would help her? How could she help anyone trapped in this room?

'What can I do?' she sobbed internally. 'They are hurting.'

'Allow me,' the voice within assured.

Luci fell to her knees, the floor meeting her as she hit it hard.

Gideon glanced at the Maximum Security camera, his eyebrows knitting together as he laid eyes upon the child. He had heard from Orphe that Iason had brought a child mongrel into Eos and placed her into Maximum Security. He was curious as to the reasoning behind keeping her contained.

But now she appeared to be ill. What should he do? His finger hovered over the button to summon medical attention to Maximum Security. He paused, watching in amazement as the child stood up, it's whole eyeball the color of coal. A shiver of shock ran down his spine, his twisted amusement increasing. What kind of creature had Iason brought into Eos now?

Riki sat down in the chair, while Iason sat down in the opposing chair in the elegant restaurant. He liked this place, it was quiet, elegant and there were very few people in it. Riki felt like he could relax and be with Iason, not as pet but as partner. Now that there were no chains between them, they could seem almost like acquaintances or lovers on a date.

Iason nodded as he glanced around, approving his pet's decision. "Good choice, Riki," he praised. "I'm quite fond of this restaurant myself."

The mongrel glanced up. "We've been here once before, haven't we?"

"Yes," Iason agreed, then ordered some wine for himself, stout for Riki as a treat and then a fruity alcoholic beverage for both of them. "But not for dinner. We came here for a meeting once."

When the ordering was done for the beverages, Riki leaned forward. "If we've only been here once before how can you be fond of it? Don't you have to come to a place often to be fond of it?" Then again, because of that one time, he was fond of it as well. It wasn't just the atmosphere that he enjoyed, Iason seemed to relax and treat him as a partner while in the restaurant - after the meeting at least. They had stout here too! Which was what he drank last time he was here after the meeting while Iason had some wine before they left.

Iason smiled softly, picking up his wine and taking a gentle sip. "Years ago," he began. "I used to come here to avoid going to pet parties when I didn't have a pet." He glanced up, watching Riki lean back and was pleased they were talking so freely again - he was beginning to enjoy it. It was almost as if Riki had transformed now that Luci was in their lives.

"So you…hid here?" Riki confirmed.

A soft chuckle escaped the pale lips. "I did not hide, pet. I merely needed a place of refuge and tranquility. I found that here," he answered, sipping his wine again.

He could easily recall the evenings he would spend in the restaurant, sipping his wine or tea while eating a biscuit or roll and listening to the classical or soothing music. Here he could sit and reflect on the day, his life, anything at all after a grueling day at work. There was plenty of art pieces on the wall, artisan pieces from foreign planets and other interesting items to keep his mind active.

One evening, he had just had a horrid day at work - endless paperwork, meetings and complications. But the moment he stepped into the building, he felt all of his problems leave him. Here he was safe from others, not even Elites seemed to enter into the hidden restaurant. It was attached to a hotel, but was hidden from the view of others. It was located just before the border dividing Midas from Ceres, which is why Elites did not come to it - they dared not go to any place within that close proximity of the Slums. But Iason did not mind.

Iason had stumbled upon it purely by accident one day while wandering around in Midas. He had been looking for a hotel to maybe stay in for a change of pace, wandered too far and been caught in the rain. He entered into the building, not knowing it was a hotel, late in the night and was greeted by a beautiful woman with shoulder length silvery white hair. She had called servants and had the Blondie escorted up into a VIP room where he took a shower.

The style of the room was exquisite but foreign to him. He could not pinpoint it to any off planet location and was intrigued by it. The statues of creatures, women and men in foreign outfits upon podiums throughout the building and his room were mesmerizing - like pieces of folklore.

"Excuse me?" the woman called, knocking on the thick wooden door. He couldn't even pinpoint what wood it was made of. Just what kind of hotel was this?

"Yes?" he called back, opening the door and holding a towel while dressed in a robe.

The woman smiled, blushing slightly. "I humbly apologize for disturbing you…"

"Mink. Iason Mink."

"Lord Mink," she smiled, handing a parcel off to him. "A complimentary change of clothes for you. And please do visit the restaurant if you have a moment. The rain isn't showing signs of stopping."

Iason frowned. "Complimentary? I assure you…Mrs…?"

"Anne. Miss Anne," she answered, stressing the Miss.

"Miss Anne, I assure you I am capable of paying for anything," he concluded, not taking the clothes.

Anne just smiled softly. "Lord Mink, I did not mean to offend you." She held out the clothes again. "I haven't had a customer in months and it would make me the happiest woman alive if you enjoyed your time here."

Iason reached out, taking the parcel. "Is it because I am a Blondie? Are you expecting me to rate or review your establishment?" He then noticed that she had a large patch of scarred skin on her left shoulder and nape, but the damage matched nothing he could connect it to.

The woman blinked. "A Blondie? Oh! You mean a Son of Jupiter?" she confirmed, stepping back.

Iason blinked. "You were unaware?"

"I have heard of Blondies, but I have never seen one in the flesh," Anne smiled. "I stay confined to my establishment - it is my home and refuge."

"How can you afford to keep this establishment running if you have no customers?" Iason questioned. He had seen even busier businesses in Midas shut down due to bankruptcy, how could this establishment afford to remain open?

Anne grinned. "I have money in the bank," she answered mysteriously. "Anyways, if you feel inclined to, please do try the restaurant. We are featuring some traditional dishes from my homeland if you are curious to taste some exotic flavors." She bowed and turned away, leaving the Blondie standing at the door.

Iason blinked again, watching the woman walk away, a feeling of familiarity coming over him. He closed the door and proceeded to change into the outfit - a refined suit of a very expensive brand.

Giving into his curiosity, he headed down the grand steps of the hotel that were lined with a red carpet and followed the signs which lead to an attached restaurant. Standing at the podium was Miss Anne, holding a menu with a smile on her face.

"Good evening, Lord Mink. I am thrilled you've come!"

Iason returned from his recollection, a smile upon his lips. He hadn't seen that woman in years, but if he ever did, he wished to go into a business agreement with her and create an establishment that would flourish for all and break the unspoken taboo of Elites refusing to enter into places close to Ceres.

"If you enjoy this place as well, I will gladly bring you here more often," Iason announced, glancing up at Riki who was taking a drink of his stout.

"Whatever," Riki mumbled, refusing to allow more of his emotions to come through. He felt guilty having a good evening while his daughter was locked away.

Iason paused, realizing why he enjoyed this establishment so much. It reminded him of Riki, producing the same calming effect that Riki did on him. "Come now, don't turn a good evening sour."

Riki sighed. "Luci is locked away in Maximum Security and we are here. How can I not be bothered?"

"Then," Iason began, glancing around as the waiter was about to return. "We will bring something back for her."

"What?"

Iason nodded to the waiter, then proceeded to order his usual meal. He glanced at Riki. "What are you having, Riki?"

Riki pointed to Fire Roasted Kabosu & Stir-Fried Areaves with Fresh Herbs. "I'll take that one," he decided, allowing the waiter to see his choice.

"Very good," he praised, then accepted the menu. "I shall return with your meals shortly." He bowed and then left swiftly.

Riki took another sip of his drink, then looked to Iason. "What did you get? Did you even look at the menu? I didn't even see you open it." He paused. "Oh fuck…d…do you have x-ray vision too?"

Iason laughed aloud. "No, pet, I do not have x-ray vision," he smiled. "I've been here enough times to know my favorite meal. I got the—"

"Sweet Yrsoi," a voice interrupted, and a woman with silvery white shoulder length hair, and dressed in a slimming ivory dress appeared, carrying a tray. "Iason Mink has returned to me once again."

"Miss Anne!" Iason exclaimed softly, instantly lightening up even more. "I am so pleased to see you again after all of these years."

Anne stopped at the table. "As am I. I was certain it was you here again. You are the only one who would order the oven baked Sea Amaranth and Lavender Iciorra Rice and a bottle of Clorlueums Rosado on the first try." She set down the tray. "Here are your complementary fresh Kehimelo Bread sticks with roasted Shateorra sauce." She then set down a pitcher filled with a thick rusty colored liquid and two empty glasses. "And here is some fresh Magorian juice. I just blended it now with a few Sour Tangyrans."

Iason nodded, pleased by everything. "Thank you very much."

"It is my pleasure," she smiled, then looked to Riki. "And this is…?"

Iason gestured to Riki. "This is my pet, Riki. Riki this is Miss Anne, the establishment's owner."

Anne blinked upon hearing the name Riki, then smiled. "I am very pleased to meet you," she softly responded, reaching out her hand to touch Riki's for a second. She removed it quickly and then backed away. "Please enjoy your appetizers and meals when they arrive." She then swiftly moved back to the door she came from before Iason could make his proposition.

Riki looked back at her, then Iason. "What was that about? Who is she?"

Iason leaned back. "She is the establishment's owner as I said. I've known her for about six or seven years, I believe."

"She seems odd."

"Riki," he scolded.

"What? She touched my hand and acted like I electrocuted her!" he protested, swigging his stout. "I just thought it was weird."

Iason had to agree a bit. "This business does not receive many customers. She probably was surprised by you being here and might have done it on reflex and released as a pet you are not to be touched by anyone other than me."

Riki rolled his eyes. "What are you going to do? Throw her into Glagyrc Bay?"

"No," Iason dismissed. "Her business holds potential and I could not risk having it fail before I make an offer for partnership."

"Partnership? You're going to offer to be her business partner?"

Iason nodded. "You'll understand once you've tasted the food, Riki," he assured, plucking a bread stick from the basket. "And the hotel above the restaurant is something else that has potential. Everything about this establishment holds pieces that belong to another planet, or even galaxy that Amoian's have never seen. That is why I believe it holds potential for success."

Riki wasn't buying it. "So the place has some different art work, whoopdie-doo!" he huffed. "That doesn't make it a magnet for success."

Iason reached over, picking up a bread stick and dipping it in the sauce and holding it out for the mongrel. "Open," he commanded.

The mongrel ground his teeth, but opened his mouth and allowed the bread stick to enter, taking a large bite. He paused, his mouth filled with a taste he could not describe. It was a roasted herb of some kind mixed with a salt and a bread that had a distinct rich flavor. He chewed, the tastes amazing his palette and yet somehow tasting familiar. "Oh my God," he mumbled, stealing the bread stick and cramming it into his mouth.

"Now do you see the potential, pet?" Iason questioned, watching in satisfaction as the young man continued to eat bread stick after bread stick. "And this is just the appetizer."

Eli entered the security room, bowing to Gideon. "You summoned me?"

"You are in charge of the child's well being?" Gideon questioned.

The Sapphire considered this. "No, I am merely watching her on behalf of Lord Am who was given the task of testing the child from Jupiter."

"But you tend to it, do you not?"

"To a degree, yes."

Gideon pointed. "It fell down and now is frozen with it's eyes large. Why is that? Is this being even Human?"

Eli hesitated. "I am not certain, Lord Lagat. Lord Am is speculating that it is in fact not. However, there are no tests to confirm this."

"Would a simple DNA test not confirm it?"

"No, Sir," the Sapphire denied. "The tests cannot confirm it."

"How so?" Gideon questioned, now wanting the juicy gossip details to spread around Eos that Iason was bringing mutants into the building alongside his mongrel.

"Lord Lagat," Eli sighed. "I am unable to share further details."

Gideon frowned. "Says who?"

"This is classified through Jupiter until she, or Iason, releases the details to us all at once." He bowed slightly. "Pardon me as I check on her."

Gideon scowled, his night of teasing Aisha with the fact he had gossip about something Iason had brought into Eos going down the drain. He rather enjoyed taunting Aisha, since Orphe was not always available to annoy.

"Oh my God," Riki groaned, pushing his empty plate away. "That was so good…"

"Indeed, the menu does not disappoint," Iason agreed, dabbing his lips with a napkin.

The waiter swooped in, clearing away their empty plates promptly and then scurrying away. Anne came back out of the room, carrying a tray with two expensive crystal glasses filled with an exotic fruit, scoops of some frozen treat and a decorative biscuit on top with drizzle.

"Here are your desserts," she announced, setting down the glass in front of Iason and then Riki. "Suku Ivy sorbet with fresh Yocriorra fruit and an Ezesan biscuit. Enjoy."

"Thank you," Iason nodded, then continued. "Miss Anne, have you ever considered partnering with someone to expand your businesses profit?"

Anne just smiled. "No, I have not," she answered truthfully. "This business is meant to be fairly private actually. I do not foresee it prospering beyond this, unless in the hands of a successor."

"Why is that?"

Riki listened in on the conversation, picking up his spoon and digging into his dessert. He held back a moan as the taste of the delicious food filled his mouth. Goddamn! These people knew how to make the greatest dishes!

"This hotel and restaurant is actually something I made out of a request from my niece," she revealed. "It is my hope that she will take it over one day or one of her children perhaps."

"I see," Iason grimaced. "I hope that they will allow it to prosper. It has a lot of potential in my opinion." He paused. "But I must know, what planet is all of the decor, recipes and whatnot from?"

Anne laughed. "That is a secret! I cannot tell you. Perhaps one day though."

Eli entered the room cautiously, halting as the child turned around to face him in an inhumanly slow fashion. The whole eyeball was engulfed in darkness, producing an eerie vibe along with the silence. "Are you all right? Lord Lagat says he saw you fall," he explained.

Luci just stared back, her face hard in expression. She looked like a sex doll with her expressionless face, but a mutant one with her eyes.

"Your eyes," Eli finally spoke. "Why are they totally dark?" He reached over, picking up the tablet and holding it out to her. "Can you tell me?"

The child didn't even glance at the tablet, her eyes glued to the Sapphire.

"Luci?" Eli called.

No response or movement.

Eli slowly put down the tablet and reached into his pocket. Even though there were no iris or pupils to confirm it, he felt Luci's eyes pinned on his every movement. He pulled out a small flashlight and stepped forward. "Let me see..."

Luci backed up, her expression changing to displeasure. Eli froze, shivers running up his spine as the face seemed to contort from the familiar childlike one to that of an angry man or demon. Fear radiated through the Sapphire as he raised his palms up, slipping the flashlight back into his pocket and stepped away as if threatened by a creature that could kill him instantly. He felt nothing but sheer fear as those eyes stabbed into him, watching him intently as if evaluating when he was the weakest for an attack.

Iason tapped his chip to the machine, swiftly paying for the evening's items that were not complimentary. He glanced up at Miss Anne. "Are you really not going to tell me where this is all based off of?" he demanded. "There is evidence of a civilization of some kind with the amount of art and food. And I have researched on my own and have not found anything that matches it."

Anne's face had a look of sadness wash over it briefly, but she smiled to conceal it. "Very well, Lord Mink, your persistence will be rewarded. It's from Atera Estronia."

The Blondie's face immediately dropped into displeasure. "You're playing games with me."

"No, Sir."

"Ater what?" Riki questioned.

"Atera Estronia," Iason answered, crossing his arms. "A mythical planet from folk lore of long ago inhabited by unknown creatures." He glanced up at Miss Anne. "Mythical as no one has been able to find it."

Anne shook her head. "It is not mythical," she calmly answered, then handed off a small take out box from under her arm. "My waiter overheard you speaking about bringing a little something home for another person." She set it down. "Enjoy the rest of your evening, gentlemen."

Iason watched her walk away, perturbed by being denied a business partnership and still not knowing where all of the succulent food and unfamiliar art was from. But he was nothing shy of pleased that Riki seemed to be content and shared his enjoyment of the mysterious establishment. He picked up the container, rising to his feet. "Let us go now," he decided.

"Iason?" Riki called, following after him. "Can I smoke quick before we go?"

Iason nodded. "You may."

Riki headed out the door, down a few steps and then halted. He pulled out his pack from his pocket and swiftly put it between his lips and lit it up. He glanced back at Iason who was leaning against a pillar behind him, contently watching as he exhaled a cloud of smoke. "What?"

"Nothing in particular," he answered, moving down the steps and approaching him like a panther. "Shall we make a quick stop to a few store while we are here?"

"Whatever," Riki answered, then took another drag. "I don't care."

"Shall we stop by a children's store and get Luci some clothes?" Iason questioned, wondering what Riki's reaction would be to providing for his child.

"Oh shit!" he exclaimed. "Shit, yeah that would be a good idea. She only has that shirt to wear." He glanced up at Iason. "I have no idea where kid's stores are though."

Iason nodded. "I have a place in mind."

"Isn't everything closed though?"

The Blondie merely started walking away. "Stores open when I come by," he dismissed. "We'll leave when you are finished."

Riki quickly smoked the rest of his cigarette then hurried after him.

"Woah," Riki mumbled, entering into the building. The walls were lined with kid's clothes of all colors, sizes and fabrics. It was enough to make him cringe a bit as he imagined how packed this store might be during the day.

"Do you see anything you think is good?" Iason inquired, having navigated his way to his mongrel's side after speaking to the shop owner.

"I have no fucking idea," he answered, wandering through the aisle like he was an alien in a foreign society.

Iason approached a rack of clothes. "She's very small, but she might grow with the supplements that Raoul has her on." He held up a shirt and leggings combination. "What do you think of this?"

Riki approached, looking at the pink top with frilly edges and gray leggings. "Why are you asking me?" he snapped. "How would I know?"

"As a parent, it is your responsibility to provide for your child," Iason answered bluntly. "Would you pick this outfit for your daughter?" He wasn't actually concerned about the clothing, but rather trying to understand his pet more. If he could understand what Riki would pick for his child, then maybe he could learn more about what his pet liked or thought was good. He just wanted to understand Riki - he always did.

The mongrel shrugged. "I don't like the puffy sleeves, but it's not me wearing it," he mumbled.

Iason nodded, placing the outfit back in it's spot. "Then we will continue looking." He grasped onto Riki's hand, gently guiding him to a more formal and respectable outfit area. "How about any in here?"

Riki pulled away, walking to a small crimson colored top with lace sleeves infused with black outlines. The neckline wasn't low and it looked somewhat decent, not completely formal or casual. He pulled one down on the hanger. "Would this be good?" he asked, turning to Iason for guidance.

Thrilled to be asked for approval, Iason examined the shirt. "Yes, I think it would look decent on her," he answered, surprised that Riki had chosen the shirt he too had glanced at.

"And these?" Riki added, holding out a pair of black pants that were made of a velvety material.

"Yes, those would do fine," Iason agreed. "She will need at least three outfits to wear during the week and sleep wear as well." He reached out, grasping onto a dress that was faded denim topped with an orange bow and a puffy, white skirt bottom. "Your thoughts on this?"

Riki nodded. "It's fine."

Iason hung the outfits over his arm. "I will find a few more outfits here," he decided. "You go find some sleeping outfits for her. Does that sound easier to manage?" He could see Riki was feeling overwhelmed by his insecurity as a new parent, and did not wish for him to view the task negatively.

"Yeah," Riki softly sounded. "Yeah I can do that."

"This size, Riki," he pointed out, showing him the appropriate sizing for the clothing.

Riki nodded, then headed off to find the sleep wear section.

The mongrel set his findings on the checkout desk next to Iason's, who had found six outfits he approved of and had also gotten underwear and socks for Luci as well. Iason glanced over at Riki's outfits and nodded in approval, then paused as he noticed a small stuffed animal. "What is this?" he asked, inspecting the small, brown threaded teddy bear with a purple bow.

Riki's eyes darted away shyly, and he coughed to conceal his embarrassment. "Just thought that kid's liked soft things," he answered.

A small smile tugged at Iason's lips as he nodded. "Very well." He looked to the shop owner. "All of these then and bag them too."

The man nodded, scanning each item and folding them neatly before inserting them into bags. When he finished he announced the total and Iason paid for everything on his credit chip. Riki grabbed onto the bags, deciding he could at least carry them and then headed towards the door with Iason on his tail.

"Are you satisfied with everything?" Iason questioned.

Riki nodded. "Yeah." He slipped the bags into the back of the car and then took his spot in the passenger seat while Iason slipped into the front. "Thanks."

"You're welcome," Iason answered, thrilled yet again to have his pet show gratitude to him. "Shall we go home now? Is there anything you want while we are in the city?"

"No, I don't need anything."

Iason sighed internally, hoping that Riki would learn to not be so stingy in regards to getting items for himself in the future too. Maybe providing for Luci was the first step to overcoming the boundary and have Riki ask more of him?

They arrived back in Eos shortly after, but upon arrival were summoned by the Security Room. Riki felt his stomach twist into knots as he watched Iason swiftly remove his cloak and head to the portal after handing of the take out box and clothing bags to Cal.

Iason turned and glanced back at his distraught mongrel. "Everything is all right, pet," he assured. "If it was a severe situation, they would have notified me via wrist comm."

Riki nodded, then watched the Blondie leave. He laughed at himself, wondering just how having a daughter could reduce him to such a state. He took a deep breath and moved to the balcony to have another cigarette to calm himself down.

Iason strode down the halls and swiftly to the Security Room, arriving as quickly as he could without running. He nodded at Gideon and Eli upon entering. "What is the issue?"

"Luci is acting rather odd," Eli revealed. "And her eyes." He pointed to the screen. "Lord Lagat noticed her fall down and ever since...it's as if she is another person." He traced his finger on the screen, enlarging it. "Her face. It looks as if it is another persons."

Iason leaned in, observing the screen with concern. Why did her eyes change? And as Eli said, her face almost had an expression of another person. "What is she doing now?" he inquired.

Gideon tapped a button, showing the current footage of Luci curled up tightly and crying in the corner. She glanced back, tears streaming down her cheeks as she briefly looked at the lens and then turned back to the corner. "Her eyes are normal now," the Blondie murmured, then glanced up at Iason. "Is she Human?"

The blue eyed Blondie didn't respond. "I will handle this matter," he concluded, looking to Eli. "You are dismissed."

Iason stepped near the entry, his signature automatically opening the door as he entered and closing behind him. "Luci?" he called, looking down upon the child who was crying silently. "Are you all right?"

Luci shook her head, not turning back to the Blondie.

"Look at me, Luci," he ordered, stepping closer. "Are you ill?"

Luci took a deep, shaky breath and then faced Iason. She slowly rose to her feet, her head down and her teary eyes pinned to the floor.

Iason took a final step, then lifted the child's chin and was amazed at how much her eyes looked like Riki's. "Why are you crying?" he questioned.

The child reached over, picking up the tablet and typed: I am just sad, that's all.

"About being in isolation?"

No.

"Are you..." Iason started, trying to find the right word. "Homesick, is it?"

Luci shook her head: Just sad. She looked up at Iason, then typed: Do you see me as a threat?

Iason then thought he had an understanding of her sadness. He thought that she was sad because no one trusted her as of yet due to not gaining Jupiter's approval as anything else aside from a potential threat. "No," he answered honestly. "If you were, you would have done what you wanted to by now."

Luci sniffled and nodded, wiping away her tears before typing: How long will I stay in here?

"Until Jupiter is finished testing you starting tomorrow," Iason reminded. "And you had better sleep and be rested for the testing or else it will take much longer and you will be stuck in here for an extended period of time."

OK. I will try to sleep.

"Good," Iason praised, gently patting her shoulder. "Now get some sleep. I will pick you up in the morning."

Luci nodded, allowing Iason to set her on the bed and then crawled under the covers.

Iason touched a panel, the lights dimming from their natural light to the darker shade that would occur later. "Good night, Luci."

Riki glanced back as he heard footsteps approach and straightened up from his slouched position. "How is she?" he yawned.

"She's fine." He closed the space between them and caught his hand, entwining their fingers. "She was upset about not being trusted, but after Jupiter sees she is not a threat, that will change."

"I'd be pissed off if I was locked up," Riki mumbled. "I know what it's like. Very well."

Iason leaned in catching Riki's face and planted a kiss upon the lips. "You're going to get locked up now," the Blondie revealed, watching Riki stiffen. "You aren't leaving the bedroom until I'm finished with you."

"Huuu...Uuunn!" Riki moaned, his nails digging into the pale arms, piercing the muscle rippling beneath them. He gasped for breath, his body trembling within the Blondie's grasp as he was forged into. "I—Iason!"

Iason continued despite the plea, not satisfied as of yet. He thrust in and out, nearly pulling himself free of the hot, clenching crevice before ramming back inside. His eyes were pinned to his beloved's face, watching myriad expressions of pleasure and pain now that denial had completely obliterated. "Oh, pet," he whispered, his growing close to the climax. "You are divine."

"P—please!"

"Not yet," Iason denied, marveling at the sight of Riki's face contorting as a shudder rippled through him.

"Iason! P—please!" Riki begged, his cock ready to explode from the agony of denied release.

Iason thrust in fast and hard, nearing his own orgasm. "Now, Riki," he ordered, releasing the ring.

Riki arched his body into Iason's as the massive organ within him twitched and shot burning seed deep within him. He threw his head back, his eyes rolling back as he released a guttural cry that echoed across the room. Iason wrapped his arms around his pet, rolling off of him and embracing him from behind, his hand upon the tanned chest to feel the racing heartbeat.

The Blondie gently kissed the mongrel who was intoxicated with sex on the nape, snuggling close to him. "You are truly perfection, pet," he whispered soothingly, caressing the tanned skin.

Riki whimpered, his body not willing to have another round. They had been at it for hours and if they didn't stop, morning would arrive! He feebly attempted to avoid the touches that could lead to more sex.

Iason continued his loving ministrations, knowing he had reached the limit. "It's all right, I just want you close."

Riki sighed in relief, only then snuggling back against Iason and fumbling to hold onto the arm wrapped around him. His eyes were already glued shut in his exhaustion as he finally gave into much needed sleep. He grumbled something before it was too late.

"Good night as well, love," Iason whispered, finally turning off his systems for the night.

Iason slipped into the last piece of his ceremonial outfit he was to wear when in the presence of Jupiter. He glanced back at the bed, eyeing up his mongrel who, even in his sleep, looked exhausted. But that was what he needed or else he would insist on being present. Jupiter had only sent him a notification later that she wanted the child in her domain early, but that was not as concerning as the fact that she had not stated when the session would end. How long would Jupiter keep Luci with her? Did she plan on trying to break her for as long as it took, or periodically everyday and hope that in between the child would have an emotional breakdown from the stimuli. He had no idea.

"Lord Mink," Cal whispered. "Shall I bring Riki's breakfast into the Master bedroom?"

"Only when he wakes on his own," he answered back. "Ensure he showers." He paused. "Tell him I am out doing business with Raoul, do not tell him I have taken Luci for a meeting."

Cal blinked, but nodded. "Yes, Sir."

Iason turned away then, heading down the hallway, through the portal and to the lift would would take him to the basement area. Within a few moments he was at the door. He looked at the scene of Luci curled up into a tight fetal position with her blankets all wrapped around her like a cocoon in confusion. The Blondie approached, reaching out and nudging the child whose eyes shot open before relaxing. "Luci, it's time to have a hearing with Jupiter," he informed her.

Luci sat up, yawning silently and stretching in an adorable child like way before slipping out of the bed. She padded along the floor until she was just in front of the Blondie, so he could keep an eye on her. She cringed as Iason ran his gloved hand on top of her head, flattening out her bedhead, flipping around and glaring at him grumpily as she covered her head.

The blonde retracted his hand, running his gloved fingers along his palm as he was certain he felt something wrong. "Move your hands," he commanded, coming to a halt.

Luci shook her head, producing the best puppy dog eyes she could.

"I will not hurt you," he promised, crouching downward before the child and still towering over her with his height. "Remove your hands."

The child reluctantly did, but then reached out and grasped onto Iason's hand and placed it on her right side of her head. She moved it around so he could feel that it was normal, round and proper. Then she slowly moved it to the left side, where Iason's fingers twitched in shock as there was a sudden decline and bumpy texture. There was a massive dip and bump upward going diagonally and a smaller section jutting upward in an unnatural bump nearer to the front of her head. Everything was hidden by her fluffy raven black hair, and therefore, he would have never known because he hadn't touched her head.

Finally trusting him to be gentle, she removed her hand and allowed the Blondie to satisfy his curiosity and feel all of the bumps and dips of her once hurt skull that remained forever damaged. The blue eyes glanced down to meet brown averted ones. "How did you get this?" he asked softly, horrified.

Luci shook her head, her eyes down cast as tears bubbled up within them.

Sensing a rather hard topic, Iason rose up, scooping the child up into his arms and gently wiping away her tears. He felt anger rising up within him as he realized someone had physically damaged his pet's child on top of mutating her. And he feared, there was much more that was hiding deep within the silence.

Iason entered the chamber, carrying his new charge and halting within the presence of his Creator. "Hello Jupiter. I have brought the child as requested."

The AI glided forward, her massive purple and blue figure nearly towering over them before shifting down to the size of the Blondie. "Place her upon that chair," she instructed, her finger gliding to point out the location of an examination chair with straps.

The Blondie obeyed, approaching the chair and was shocked to find Luci squirming into him more as if she did not want to be let go of. "Luci," he whispered, prying off her fingers off and setting her into the chair that immediately secured her in with straps made of a transparent plasma that even he had never seen before.

"You are dismissed."

Iason turned. "May I stay and view the meeting, Jupiter?" he reasoned, glancing back at Luci who looked as if she were forcing herself to remain calm despite her earlier reluctance. "It may be beneficial if Luci is in the presence of a familiar personal."

Jupiter's eyes narrowed, but she reluctantly agreed. "You are to not interfere though," she demanded, then opened up a viewing chair which rose from within the floor until it was completely usable. "Have a seat."

"Thank you, Jupiter." Iason settled down into the chair, watching as the AI approached the child and placed her hands upon it's head. He had no idea what she was going to do, but he flinched when Luci's body went slack after it jolted as Jupiter implemented an audible stunning brainwave pulse.

The Artificial Goddess then hooked up wires to the slack form within the chair and produced a current of electricity that followed through the wires. When the electricity wouldn't penetrate through the skin, the AI ceased the current, deciding to monitor her brainwaves in place of forceful entry. She lowered herself, gazing directly into Luci's eyes with such intensity that the child could not even blink.

Iason realized then that the AI was hijacking her mind, forcing horrifying images and scenes into it through her unique hypnosis type method in attempt to break her into submission and testing her mental strength. Soon the child's eyes filled with tears from fear and sadness. Iason was about the say something when Luci began to move, attempting to break the chain of linking minds.

"Haa! Ack...ir!" she sounded in a strangled and broken voice, attempting to plea for mercy from the brutal treatment. She coughed up blood, a wheezing sound escaping her mouth as if she were in sheer pain just from the attempt.

The AI refused to cease, grasping onto the child's face and forcing herself deeper into the child's brain in attempt to break the barrier and take control of her mind and understand the being.

Luci began to struggle more and more until a bright flash of blue light shot forth from her, sending Jupiter sliding back a meter away from the chair. "Jupiter!" Iason screamed, immediately rising up to aid her.

Jupiter looked back to the child who now ripped through the plasma bindings and glared defiantly at the AI with two fully black orb eyes. "HOW DARE YOU!" a spine chillingly deep, young male voice yelled as the child stood up. "How dare you show such monstrous things to my beloved Sister!"

—TO BE CONTINUED—

Chapter Text

CHAPTER SEVEN

RESTLESS FOR RESULTS

Jupiter produced a loud pitched frequency that made even Iason cringe from the revolting sound.

Luci fell forward onto the ground, the cords ripping off as she coughed up blood and a foamy liquid before proceeding to cry while hyperventilating.

When Jupiter ceased and made no move to do anything past observation, Iason stepped forward to aid the child but was halted by his Goddess. “Do not engage with it,” she denied, her mind flowing through data. “It is a threat. I must find a way to terminate it.”

Iason shook his head and intervened. “It belongs to me, Jupiter. I am not willing to part with it.”

Jupiter shot Iason a piercing gaze. “You side with something that attempted to bring harm upon me, my child?”

“In all honesty, Jupiter, your method of gaining understanding caused that reaction,” Iason fought back. “It was a projection of her mind! As you will recall, we've had similar outbursts in the past!”

Jupiter pondered this. “There was never any physical force that could push me back! You dare lie to me?”

“It may have been a coincidence. I speak no deception, Jupiter.”

Luci began coughing loudly, her whole body convulsing as she puked up another large sum of an unknown liquid mixed with blood and continued to wheeze.

“It is dying,” the AI almost cheerfully commented.

“Permission to help my charge?”

“Denied.”

“Jupiter, it belongs to me by default as being offspring of my pet,” Iason reminded as he was losing the battle. “As stated in Section PL 769, ‘All offspring of pet’s belong solely to the Master of said pet. Any being who brings harm upon the offspring is punishable by a public whipping of thirty strikes.’”

Jupiter turned to face Iason, staring him down, but knew he was right and therefore had no ground to argue back on. She had made those rules! “You dare challenge me, Iason?”

“If she perishes, you will have broken the law, Jupiter.”

The AI abruptly turned, floating away from Iason and signaling that the hearing had come to a conclusion. “Take it from my presence. You are dismissed.”

Iason hurried over to Luci who was now laying flat against the ground, vomit bubbling out of her mouth. “Luci, Luci wake up,” he ordered, giving her a nudge before scooping her up into his arms. “You’re going to be all right.”

Luci blinked slowly, more tears filling her eyes as she jerked forward and hugged onto Iason for comfort after the horrifying display that had been seen through her mind before sudden darkness.

The Blondie rose, carrying her toward the exit. “We will return tomorrow and proceed with more humane tactics to test her.”

“Make no mistake, Iason,” Jupiter answered, slowly darkening as she retired from her physical form. “I will gain the answers I seek, using methods that function most productively for me.”

The Blondie entered into the Maximum Security cell, laying Luci’s wheezing form upon the bed and then proceeded to contact Raoul via wrist comm.

“Raoul Am,” came the standard greeting as the face of the Blondie appeared on the screen. “What do you need Iason?”

“Raoul, I need you to come to Maximum Security immediately,” he demanded.

“I am currently busy, Iason.”

“Luci had a hearing with Jupiter and is having a negative reaction to the Mind Hijack,” Iason swiftly explained.

There was a brief pause. “In what way?” Raoul inquired, now intrigued.

“She is vomiting bloody substances,” Iason explained, glancing down at Luci who coughed up another wave of bloody, thick liquid and nearly choked from laying on her back and having it pool in her mouth. Iason tilted her head, disregarding the fact his gloves were now ruined and his ceremonial outfit was sullied so she could continue to wheeze. “She’s losing body fluids at an alarming rate.”

“Odd,” Raoul commented, brewing over the situation. “There should only be the projection during the session and no lingering effects.”

“Precisely!”

Raoul brushed the hair away from his face, ignoring the urgency of the situation. “I will send my assistant and a few men to you,” he decided. “Once I am finished with my task at hand I will join them.” He disconnected the call.

Iason scowled, briefly wondering if this was how the Blondie was getting back at him for refusing to surrender Luci to him. If Raoul couldn’t have her and she died, surely Jupiter would give him to her to do an autopsy and further studies on - a dead subject was always cooperative. “Luci,” he called, tapping her cheek as her eyes started to roll in a concernedly weak and deathly fashion. “Luci, you must stay awake!” he ordered, giving her a hard shake which made her flinch and open her eyes in a fluttering motion. “You are not allow to sleep right now, do you understand me?”
Luci weakly nodded, eyeing up the Blondie’s spoiled outfit with sheer guilt. Would she be punished for that? She didn’t mean to get him dirty! She weakly raised up her hand, and attempted to clean off the mess from his outfit with her shaking fingers.

The door then slid open, Eli Marquis immediately rushed in carrying a case of supplies, followed by a Ruby and another Sapphire. “Sit her up,” he ordered to the other two as he set down the case.

Iason stepped aside as the other two Elites rushed forward and positioned the wheezing child to sit up. “Do you know what is wrong with her?

Eli slipped on a pair of examination gloves before grabbing a flat wood stick and approaching the child. “Open your mouth, Luci,” he ordered as gently as he could in the circumstances.

Luci obeyed, still wheezing and trying to hold back coughs that could lead to more vomiting.

“Her throat is closing up,” Eli announced, shooting a glance back at the other two Elites who immediately grabbed a tube and handed it off to him. He shoved it down her throat, using all of his strength to get the tube in just before her throat constricted around it. “I need Benetensin Cafefoxin, stat.”

“What is wrong with her?” Iason inquired again, having just warned the Ruby to back off with a glare as he was about to push him out of the room.

Eli looked up to Iason. “I haven’t the slightest idea,” he answered. “But if we don’t get her throat to relax, she’s going to die. We can’t cut into her to intubate.”

Iason nodded, watching as the other Sapphire loaded a liquid into a syringe that could be inserted into the tube. The Sapphire then handed it off to Eli and he inserted it into the tube, allowing it to trickle into her throat. Luci coughed slightly, but almost immediately the medicine started working and her throat opened up.

Eli sighed in relief. “Thank Jupiter,” he whispered.

Iason huffed. “She caused this,” he murmured.

“Should we remove the tube then?” the Ruby inquired.

“No,” Eli denied. “We must wait for Lord Am. He will prescribe the medication to ensure she does not start vomiting again.”

“What did you give her?”

“Benetensin Cafefoxin,” the other Sapphire answered. “A strong drug that acts as a temporary relaxant to muscles.”

Eli gave Luci’s hand a gentle squeeze. “It is good that she responded to it,” he praised, smiling softly at the child.

“Why is that?” Iason questioned.

“Only Humans or Humanoid Creatures respond to the drug,” the other Sapphire answered.

“Which means she is Human,” Eli confirmed with a smile.

Riki opened his eyes slowly, his body bogged with lethargy. He tried to raise himself up, but collapsed back into the softness of the bed.

“Master Riki?” Cal called gently, approaching with a tray of food.

“Is that for me?” Riki whispered in a hoarse voice.

Cal smiled. “Yes, would you like it now?”

“Yes, please.”

Cal placed the tray over Riki’s lap that was covered by a seat after activating the legs to support it. “I’ll bring you coffee, I just made it,” he announced, turning to get it.

“Cal?”

“Yes?”

“Where’s Iason?” he asked, watching the Furniture for signs of lying as he unfolded his napkin and cutlery.

“He’s with Lord Am,” Cal flawlessly lied.

“When is he coming back?”

Cal shook his head. “He did not say,” he concluded and then exited the room. I’m so sorry, Master Riki! But I cannot tell you the truth!

Raoul inserted another tube into Luci’s feeding tube, then unclasped the bag’s opening after hanging it so it could drain into her. “I suspect she is allergic to one of the ingredients in the supplements.”

Iason looked from Raoul to Luci, she was exhausted, leaning against the wall with her eyes closed as she wore an over-sized oxygen mask that was connected to the one shoved down her throat. If Riki saw her right now, he would definitely lose it and make accusations. “Then we must forfeit the supplements and find new ones,” he commented.

“Iason,” Raoul sighed. “This is her weakness. We can use this against her if she ever tries anything!”

Iason’s eyes narrowed. “Are you suggesting we keep her on the brink of death to allow easier testing?”

“Yes! That’s exactly what I’m suggesting!” Raoul answered. “We will feed her a third of the supplement per meal to weaken her. And we will keep her with the insertions so she will never be at risk of dying, it’s perfect.”

“I refuse,” Iason denied. “She is my property and I will not have her knocking on death’s door just to gain information at a quicker pace.”

Raoul stepped forward, patting his friend’s shoulder. “I’m afraid you must, Iason.”

The doors opened, revealing Jupiter’s droid security. “Jupiter summons this child to be retrieved and brought back to her now that it is subdued.”

Iason shot a glare at Raoul. “This is why you were late, wasn’t it? Jupiter contacted you!” he angrily yelled.

Raoul blocked Iason as the droids proceeded to capture the limp child and secure her. “You cannot go against Jupiter,” he warned. “She will not wait for answers, and now that she is not a threat as a drugged Human, she may proceed.”

“But she was only given Benetensin Cafefoxin!”

“It was laced,” he revealed. “Everything was laced with Tacrovirase Albenroban. When it builds up, it causes blockage that results in massive bodily fluid loss, which in turn results in severe fatigued that can result in death. However, being whatever she is, she has not died and will not die, but instead she should remain in this state.”

Iason looked appalled. “You were doing this from the start?”

“Of course,” Raoul answered. ”She was showing signs of reaction prior, mainly through lack of urination and lethargy due to the build up.”

“You’ve deceived me, Raoul,” Iason hissed. “For your sake of your scientific curiosity!”

“No, Iason,” he shot back. “I was only following Jupiter’s orders.”

The droids placed Luci into the chair, and then proceeded to hook up all of her tubes to a post so she wouldn’t die.

Jupiter glided forward, shrinking down again and activating the plasma restraints. “I will have the answers I require,” she announced, reaching out and grasping onto Luci’s head. “You will provide them for me.”

Luci weakly held Jupiter’s gaze, before she closed her eyes and opened them again to reveal the darkness of before. Please, help me, she pleaded softly, before everything went dark.

Riki dropped his fork, a shiver jolting through his body. A child’s soft voice echoed in his head, before it faded after saying: Please, help me.

He shook his head, picking up his fork again and proceeded to stab into his pan seared hash browns with fresh herbs that Cal had made him. Food was exactly what he needed right now! He could feel his energy returning and his tiredness fading. After he ate, he was gonna take a quick shower and hopefully by then Iason would have returned from business with Raoul.

“Your refill,” Cal announced, presenting him with another cup of coffee. “Is there anything else you want, Master Riki?”

“For you to stop calling me Master,” he answered, swallowing his mouthful.

Cal smiled softly. “Very well. Is there anything else, Riki?”

Riki shook his head, then continued to enjoy his meal. Oblivious to the situation of his daughter.

 

Iason approached the entrance to Jupiter’s chambers, not surprised when was denied access. An automated voice allowed him to record a message. “Jupiter, I am not leaving until you return what is mine—”

“Message denied,” the automated system announced. “Please return at your scheduled time.” The door behind him opened and the pathway lit up. “You have twenty seconds to leave or the use of force will be implemented.”

“Twenty.”

“Nineteen.”

Iason shook his head, turning on his heal and headed out of the chamber entrance with the count down numbers echoing off the walls.

Riki was growing increasingly worried, it had been hours since he had woken up and Iason was still not back. The sun was already dipping down from it’s zenith!

The portal opened, causing Riki to rush out from the balcony only to be disappointed as it was not a blonde, but a redhead.

“Katze,” Riki greeted, trying to cover up his disappointment.

“How are you?” Katze inquired, stepping into the home and waving at Cal who peeked out of the kitchen. “Just me, I don’t require your attendance, Cal.” The Furniture nodded and went back to his tasks.

“Have you seen Iason?”

“No, but he contacted me and instructed me to come by for awhile to keep you company,” Katze informed him. “He has an urgent off planet matter to attend to with Raoul.”

Riki gawked. “You’re kidding.”

“No,” the redhead answered, slipping off his coat and hanging it up. “One of their clients had an urgent matter they needed to attend to.”

“What about Luci?” Riki inquired. “Did he mention Luci?”

“He said she was safe in Maximum Security,” Katze answered, watching as Riki grimaced then added softly. “You have a daughter?”

“Yeah,” he answered softly, plunking down on the sofa in frustration. “I just found out a few days ago.”

“Congratulations.”

Riki scoffed. “Thanks.”

“I’m shocked Iason is allowing her to live,” he noted. “However, being kept in Eos Maximum Security doesn’t sound very lively.”

“It’s because she’s been…experimented on,” Riki revealed.

“Oh?”

“She can’t die.”

“I... see,” Katze commented, brewing the information over in his head and concluding that the subject was not a good one. “Do you want to play a game of pool or are you too rusty and know I'll kick your ass?”

Riki couldn’t help but grin, Katze didn’t challenge him much to a game anymore. “You owe me smokes when I win,” he declared. “Coz I am running out.”

Iason remained in the isolated Documentation Room with his notifications on, so when Jupiter was finished he could retrieve Luci. He had already contacted Katze and asked him to keep Riki company to prevent him from suspecting anything.

He had absolutely no idea as to when the Artificial Goddess would be finished, but however long it took, he could not return to the Penthouse. Riki would ask him about Luci and if he said anything, he would go off on a tangent.

During this time, he would complete every document that needed to be read. That way, he would not have any work piled up, as he had no meetings planned for the next few days.

“Yes, I leave it in your hands,” Katze commanded, closing his communications device. He puffed at his cigarette to disperse his annoyance.

“He’s still not back, huh?” Riki sounded, approaching the redhead. “Shit, it’s been two days and he’s still not back…” He pulled out his pack of cigarettes he won, pulling one out. “Fuck sake, Luci’s probably rotting in the cell and I can’t see her without Iason being present.”

Katze exhaled. “Usually a matter of this magnitude will take a few days at least to resolve,” he answered.

“What the hell happened?” Riki asked, lighting his cigarette and taking a big inhale.

“He did not say,” Katze answered, taking a drag. “But there have been many conflicts with clients in the black market recently. It’s almost like they are finding new outlets in place of ours.”

“Does it happen often?”

“No, that’s why its an urgent matter.”

Iason’s eyes shot open as a notification came through for a meeting of the Elite Blondies. He rose from his chair, straightening out his cleaned attire and heading to the meeting tower.

He was the first to arrive, immediately entering and sitting down at his place. Jupiter had summoned the meeting, meaning she had reached a conclusion about Luci and was presenting her.

Soon the room began to fill with Blondies and everyone greeted one another before taking a seat. The screen projected their Goddess who was projecting herself in such a fashion that everyone could behold her.

“Hello, my children,” she greeted. “I have summoned you here to inform you of a being brought into Eos.”

Almost everyone glanced over at Iason, who remained stoic as he waited for Jupiter to continue.
“I have tested her abilities for three days now,” she continued. “And I have concluded that she is a possible threat at maximum potential.”

Iason bit back a comment.

“However, as many of you know, she is the offspring of a pet and therefore belongs to the Master of that pet.” She eyed up Iason. “It is your responsibility to control her by any means necessary. She will remain as a Class A threat and security will be monitoring her every move outside of your penthouse.”

The Blondies began to chatter among themselves, and Raoul was shaking his head in disbelief.

“I will create an ID with specific guidelines until she has proven just what her reason of existence is,” Jupiter concluded.

“Can a child not exist to be a child that will grow up normally?” Iason questioned.

“That child is not normal,” Jupiter answered back swiftly. “She will be labeled as such until evidence says otherwise.”

“May I pick her up now?”

“You may,” she agreed, watching Iason hastily exit the room and ignore the murmurs of the other Blondies.

Iason entered into the chambers, horrified to find Luci in the chair with tear stains on her cheeks. Her eyes were wide open as if she were borderline psychotic, staring blankly ahead. “What have you done to her?” Her tubes and mask were removed as well, leaving Iason to wonder if she hadn’t eaten in three days or if Jupiter had attempted to kill her through her negative reaction again.

“I gained answers,” she replied. “Not many, as her mind seems to be limited. Then again, she is a simple minded being. Her mental test with Raoul must have been coincidence. There was not evidence of her past at all either.”

The Blondie gently touched the child’s cheek, watching as her irises slowly drifted over to him in an unnaturally slow fashion. Luci looked like a used sex doll, completely lifeless. If Riki saw her like this, he would never forgive him. “Luci,” he whispered, gently lifting her up into his arms.

He shot a glance at Jupiter. “You broke her.”

“There was nothing to break,” Jupiter answered. “Her eyes were dark ninety eight point three seven percent of the entire time. And there was no reaction at all from her.”

“If she does not revert back to normal, you have broken the law, Jupiter.”

“Do not threaten me with my own laws, Iason.”

Iason walked away, carrying Luci out before Jupiter had even said that he was free to do so. He carried her back to her cell, setting her down on her bed and was concerned when she still did not react. “Luci,” he called, snapping his fingers in front of her face. She slowly blinked, staring blankly around the room and then stopping at him. He crouched down before her. “Can you understand what I am saying?”

Luci nodded gently.

“Are you feeling ill?” he inquired, handing over the tablet to her.

She held it for a moment, then slowly typed: No, but I am hungry. She paused. I threw up again while I was with Her.

Iason noticed the dried vomit on her outfit. “We will get you cleaned up soon,” he assured, rising up. “I will be right—” He paused as she grasped onto him.

With her free hand, she typed: Please don’t leave me, Lord Mink.

“I will only be a moment,” he promised, but could see she wasn’t willing to be left alone. Jupiter must have practically raped her mind with horror and tried to kill her in every single way. “Very well.” He picked her back up, pleased as she positioned herself as she had when she first arrived in Eos, not in a frightened stance. She rested her hand against his chest, his blonde hair in her hands softly and she leaned back against him.

They entered the lift, and before entering his destination he made a private call to Katze.

“Take Riki to the Eos Garden,” he simply ordered. “I need to make a brief stop at the Penthouse. Do not utter a breath of this conversation.”

The redhead simply nodded, not questioning further before disappearing from the screen.

Iason pressed the buttons that would take them to his floor after waiting two minutes and watching the tracer dot on the screen of his wrist comm move out of the Penthouse and on route to the Eos Garden. They soon arrived to the proper floor and in a few more steps they entered the Penthouse.

Cal hurried over, blinking at the unexpected arrival. “M-Master! Welcome back, Sir Riki and Katze just left —”

“I sent them away,” he dismissed. “Fill Luci’s guestroom tub with water, and then go down to the Market and purchase any type of supplement drinks you can find within an hour and put it on my tab.”

“Yes Master!” he exclaimed, rushing to the hallway and into the child’s room to do his task.

Iason followed behind the Furniture, entering the room and moving to the wardrobe to find Luci some clothing. He nudged the barely awake child. “Which outfit would you like?”

Luci blinked softly, staring at all the clothes in disbelief and weakly reached out to touch the one that Riki had picked out.

The Blondie grabbed the clothing and then carried them and the child into the bathroom where Cal had just finished filling the tub and putting in bubble bath. “That’s fine, Cal,” he announced. “Go to your next job.”

Cal blinked, watching Iason set Luci down on a stool and then strip off his ceremonial outfit to his body suit and rolled up his sleeves. “Y…yes, Master,” he answered in disbelief, hurrying away. A Blondie was going to bathe a pet’s child? That was unheard of!

Iason swiftly removed Luci’s baggy shirt and placed her in the water before she would worry about him seeing anything that would cause her to feel uncomfortable. He then settled down upon the same stool she had and proceeded to wet a soft sponge and lather it up with soap. With gentle motioned he applied the sponge to the child’s upper body, while she obediently sat still and occasionally glanced up at him before averting her gaze again.

“I can only hypothesize what you may have endured these past three days,” he finally started after a long moment of silence, his voice as gentle as his scrubbing motions. “But I would like you to know that I did not approve of anything that may have happened to you.” He met her eyes finally, her brown eyes looking exactly like Riki’s when he was hurting, but remaining quiet about it. “As Riki’s daughter, it is my obligation to protect you and ensure your future is one of prosperity.” He dipped the sponge into the water and rinsed away the suds. “No matter what you are or where you have come from. Do you understand?”

Luci’s eyes remained locked on Iason’s face for a moment, before her lip wobbled and tears formed in her eyes again as she cried mutely.

Iason leaned forward and gently accepted the wet hug that she provided, not bothered by it, knowing that after the suffering his Goddess had forced his Beloved’s child to endure, this was the least he could do to offer comfort. He had never imagined the AI would keep the child for three whole days and do acts that may have scarred Luci forever, but he supposed that even Jupiter made no exceptions for children when a threat was plausible.

The Blondie entered the cell room in his normal attire, carrying a now fed, clean and nearly unconscious Luci inside and setting her down on the bed. He helped her pull up the covers and, although confused by the action, assisted her in creating a cocoon like structure with them around her.

“Jupiter will create an ID for you today,” he revealed. “In a few days she will deliver it after entering it into the system and manufacturing a physical copy. Until that time, rest and recuperate. I will arrange for different supplements to be brought to your cell until that time.” He rose from the bedside, pausing as he caught a glimpse of her notebook. With careful hands, he opened the first page and saw a rough sketch of a man, himself. “Did you draw this?”

Luci yawned and nodded weakly, before snuggling into her pillow.

He flipped through the pages, finding floor designs, passages and finally another sketch, but this time of Riki. “May I borrow this?”

Luci nodded again, before dozing off completely.

Iason silently left the cell, carrying the sketchbook and heading to the Penthouse.

The Blondie entered silently into his home, hearing Riki and Katze talking as he entered into the front hall, before glancing up to see a surprised and almost relieved Riki rise from the sofa to meet him.

“Iason!” he called, moving closer swiftly, but then catching himself and slowing down.

Iason strode over and closed the distance, embracing Riki in a firm hug for several moments before stealing his lips for a passionate kiss. He could feel Riki tense, before resting his hand against his chest and relaxing.

Riki finally broke the kiss after Iason allowed him to catch his breath. “I…Is something wrong?” the mongrel questioned, not noticing Katze slipping closer to the exit and silently putting on his jacket.

“No,” Iason answered, glancing back at Katze. “You are dismissed and may resume your jobs.”

Katze nodded, then waved at Riki. “See you at work sometime.”

Riki pulled away. “… Can I go see Luci now? You were gone for three days...and she might be lonely...”

“I checked on her when I arrived back,” he replied. “She is not well at the moment and is resting to recover.” He watched fear take over Riki’s expression. “Do not worry, she is only ill due to being allergic to a few ingredients in the supplements. I have ordered new ones, but they the old ones have left her tired from vomiting.”

“Fuck,” Riki murmured. “She’ll be OK though, right? When she gets the new supplements and stuff, right?”

Iason nodded. “She will, but for today, allow her time to recover.”

Riki sighed, running his fingers through his hair. “How much longer will she be there, Iason? It’s not right…how am I supposed to be a parent if she’s locked away and I know nothing about her?”

Iason embraced Riki again. “Jupiter will allow her to leave in a few days,” he answered, adding a lie to reassure his mongrel. “Through Raoul’s tests, she has concluded to give her an ID and access permissions.”

“Really?’

“Yes.”

“Good…that’s good,” Riki murmured. “So then she’ll stay here again?”

Iason nodded. “In her guestroom, yes.” He watched as his mongrel sighed in relief, as if a weight of worry had been lifted off of him. He smiled softly, feeling proud that Riki was taking this role seriously. His pride faded though, and he gave Riki a tight squeeze again, a dreadful sense of guilt creeping into him as he knew that the mongrel’s daughter may never be the same again.

 

—TO BE CONTINUED—

Chapter Text

CHAPTER EIGHT

REVELATIONS AND FEAR

Iason caressed Riki's chest, gliding his hand down the tan skin and over the toned hips. He gazed upon his beloved, piercing every inch of revealed skin laid before him. Dipping his head low, he nuzzled the pulsating erection, trailing his tongue along it in a teasing motion. Riki moaned, gripping onto the bedsheets, watching with panting, excited breaths leaving his lips. Iason lathered his tongue along the shaft, before sucking lovingly on the tip.

Riki moaned loudly, his hips jerking despite his efforts to remain still as he was taught. "Iason!"

The Blondie continued, deep throating the mongrel. Spasms of pleasure shot through him each time the tip of Riki's penis touched the back of his throat as he lovingly milked him with erotic undulations. The whole scenario was wonderfully erotic, the taste, the texture, the sounds of his pet - everything. He hummed, causing a stimulation that made Riki's breath catch and his hips twist. "Hold still," Iason chided affectionately, pulling up and proceeding to tease the mongrel's girth, gliding his tongue between the skin and the shaft.

"A...ah!" Riki moaned, trying to obey, but his head was swimming and wasn't fully connecting to his body. "Ohhh, fuck...huu...!"

Sensing his beloved was nearing his climax, Iason ceased, moving downward and fondly looking upon the twitching hole as the young man caught his breath.

Riki gasped loud, jolting as Iason pressed his tongue into his portal, wiggling it around in the hot, clenching enclave. "Oh...uhhh! Hnnn, Iason!" he moaned, attempting to refrain from writhing. "C...cum, need to....!"

"Not yet, love," Iason answered, proceeding to rim the twitching hole with his talented tongue, before inserting it deep and stroking the insides again.

"Uuuuh...!" Riki gasped, his breath ragged and his heart thundering in his chest from excitement. He lost his breath when he felt two lubed fingers replaced the tongue and pressed deep within him. "Ohhh! Fuckkkkk!"

Iason gently pushed his fingers into the mongrel, spreading him as they burrowed into the clenching cavern. "Does it feel good, Riki?"

Riki ground his teeth at the thought of answering the question, but a persistent stroking of the finger inside of him subtly demanded an answer. "Yes, oh God, yes! Hnnn!" he panted, his hips quivering beyond help with anticipation for release. It hurt. It hurt so badly to be denied release! "Please!"

"Not yet, pet," Iason answered softly, adding another finger and continued his soft thrusting and preparation.

"Huunghh!" Riki moaned, throwing his head back into the pillows. He was horribly aroused! It was too much! Iason was being too gentle, providing pleasure that his body craved more of in a rougher, harder fashion - but the Blondie remained consistent. "Iason! I need...! Aaaah!"

Iason claimed Riki's erection in his mouth again, not stopping with his fingers. The mongrel couldn't help but writhe, the gentle stimulation too much too cope with. Iason felt a shiver of excitement flow through his systems - he had never gotten Riki this aroused at one time without the use of aphrodisiacs. He glanced up at his beloved, the tanned face was dripping with sweat, saliva unintentionally trickling from the trembling lips and the beautiful brown eyes glistening with tears of pleasure.

Without warning, Riki's body jerked hard, breaking into a series of spasms as he was allowed release. He let out a cry that echoed off the room's walls, filled with pleasure and pain from the prolonged relief. He gasped desperately for breath, his eyes closed as he felt he was going to pass out from the stimulation. He felt Iason crawl over him, pressing his lips to his cheeks and opened his eyes to see azure eyes so soft he almost cried from their beauty.

Riki could feel Iason's erection poking his stomach, gliding downward and leaving a trail of liquid as it reached his prepared and lubed opening. Before he knew what he was doing, the mongrel reached up and wrapped his arms around Iason's neck as the Blondie pressed himself against his skin. He buried his face into Iason's nape as the blonde thrusted into him ever so slowly. "A...ah...ahhh....!" Riki moaned in bliss, the feeling of Iason filling the void that was aching. His fingers entangled themselves into the blonde locks, seeking refuge within the silken strands so soft to the touch.

Iason took his time, slowly pulling himself out and then gliding back in - each time hitting Riki's prostate. He balanced himself on his forearms, ensuring his mongrel was not subject to his heavy weight body.

Riki felt confusion, lust and love pool in his heart as Iason continued their love making session. He was confused as to why Iason was being so gentle, if something was wrong? But at the same time, because it was so damn gentle, he craved the roughness that the Blondie had used to pound ownership of him into his bones. But the most dominant and secretive feeling he was feeling was love. He loved how Iason was taking such good care of him after he had missed him for three days - not that he would say that. He loved Iason for accepting his daughter, allowing her to say in correspondence with request and helping him as a new parent. He loved what Iason was doing for him, treating him like a lover and soothing his soul and needs.

It was the first time he began to accept that he loved Iason - despite their past. He was beginning to accept that Iason had changed since they met. Or was it himself who was changing to adapt to Iason?

Riki peeled open his eyes, relieved when he saw Iason sitting up next to him. He glanced up to see the Blondie with his thin wired spectacles, looking down upon a transparent screen that he was casually swiping through. He coughed softly, gaining Iason's full attention in a millisecond.

"Good morning," Iason greeted, shutting down the screen and placing his glasses upon the bedside table.

"Wha are ya doing?" Riki mumbled, his eyes sealing shut again in exhaustion.

"I was just looking at the daily black market information," Iason explained, sliding back down in the bed and spooning up to his mongrel. "You are exhausted, go back to sleep, pet."

Riki nodded sleepily. "'Kay..."

Luci refused to move from her fetal position as Eli entered. She didn't even spare him a glance, cozying up with the pillow more. Her body was exhausted and hollow, but she just couldn't find the strength or willpower to move.

She was a mess, every time she opened her eyes sadness consumed her. But slowly it would fade and she'd lay there and return to the escape of unconsciousness - which was growing increasingly plagued with horror.

What she craved the most was someone who understood her. One of her familiar people who checked upon her in the years of solitude - providing her with a glimmer of happiness and reminding her that someone cared about her.

Lord Mink had made it very clear that he was not responsible for the encounter with Jupiter and for a moment, just a moment, she felt like he actually cared about her. Whether or not it was real, she had no idea. What she really wanted was her biological parent. He would get it, they were father and daughter after all - and they had a strong connection.

Eli sighed, his attempt to cajole the child into moving without force was once again unsuccessful. Lord Am had stated that the child might be hostile toward them after the hearing with Jupiter, but it seemed so wrong to have the once bright child diminished to this state.

He left again, wondering why Raoul had limited him to merely attempting to feed the child when days before he was communicating with her and allowing her company.

Iason returned to the penthouse after his meeting, and checking on Luci via security camera. Raoul had said she was sleeping constantly, and had sent Eli to attach a heart rate monitor clip to her finger. The records indicated everything was calm and normal, she was just resting deeply - which was probably the only way she could cope with the trauma.

Jupiter had completed her ID within the days of resting. Which meant that today she could finally return to the penthouse. Riki had been agitated during the days, worrying about his child's health. Katze had contacted Iason and asked when Riki would be returning, but he didn't believe it was wise to let Riki go to work in the state he was in. But Riki was restless, so he also considered the fact that working might distract him, but in the end, Riki denied the option.

The Blondie glanced around the room, spotting Riki out on the balcony, gazing off into the distance. He quietly approached the mongrel, after dismissing Cal with the wave of hand, the only sound was the balcony door sliding open when he arrived.

Riki glanced back at him, flinging the last remnants of his cigarette over the edge. "You're back..."

Iason stepped forward, swiftly capturing Riki within his arms. "I am," he revealed. "And I have good news..."

"Like what?" Riki questioned uninterestedly, trying to not seem like he cared, but was really wanting to know.

"Jupiter has finished Luci's ID," he whispered, planting a soft kiss on the mongrel's lips.

Riki paused. "So then she can...?"

"Yes."

"When?"

"In a few hours," Iason answered, then added the second piece of his plan. "Shall we head to the Market and find a little something as a gift?"

Riki visibly cringed; growing up in Ceres, he never knew gifts or gift giving. He averted his gaze, grumbling under his breath.

"Is that a yes or no, pet?"

"It's not my choice," Riki fired back. "It's not like I'm buying it. Since I have no money."

"You do have money, Riki," Iason countered. "Your credit stick has a balance which you are free to use."

"It's not my money. It's yours."

Iason rolled his eyes. "A fraction of it is payment for you working for Katze," he revealed. "The rest is my provision for you."

Riki blinked. "You were paying me to work for Katze?"

"Minimum wage, yes," the man answered. "I thought you wanted to earn something that you could claim as yours?"

"I do!" Riki replied heatedly. "Why didn't you tell me?"

"You never asked," Iason bluntly dismissed. "You just assumed everything I provided via credit stick was solely my funding."

Riki shot a glare at the Blondie. "How much on the credit stick is mine?"

Iason flipped open his wrist comm and calculated. "You've been working for Katze for a few months, and you worked various hours," he explained, before tabulating the total. "One thousand, three hundred and seventeen point forty two credits."

The mongrel blinked, realizing then that he had worked many, many hours for Katze while living in Apatia within the few months. "Fine," he grumbled. "But I'm paying for it. And then I can do whatever I want with the rest of my share."

"It's all your money, pet, you are free to use it respectfully," Iason agreed. "And you are free to use what I provide as well. It is what I have given you to spend."

"There's not much I can buy," Riki sneered. "So I'll ration mine, since I earned it.

Iason sighed. "I wish you would ask more of me, pet. I can provide mostly anything for you. You do not need to use your hard earned money for everything, you can save it or invest it."

"It's not my money," Riki repeated, walking across the room. "I'm not spending money that isn't mine." He paused. "I need to pay you back for Luci's clothes too."

"No, Riki," Iason denied, pinching the bridge of his nose. "She is my charge as well and therefore it is my duty to provide for her as—"

Riki ground his teeth. "As Master, huh?"

Iason was losing his grip on controlling his anger. "Yes, Riki. That is what I am. As Master of you, this household and your offspring I must provide for all."

"She's not a pet!" Riki hissed.

"No one said she was."

"Then you're not her Master!"

Iason took a sharp breath. "Riki, if you do not stop your attitude at once I will punish you. I am the Master of this house and therefore I shall provide for the people I share my home with, that includes her, that is final."

Riki ground his teeth. "Whatever. Let's just fucking go already."

Iason walked alongside Riki, navigating their way through the maze of booths and shops. The usual busy crowd had diminished substantially as many people finished their shopping and went home. However, there was still a lively buzz of people, performers and music that added to an exciting vibe throughout the premises.

"Where would you like to go?" Iason inquired, glancing at Riki who seemed to be looking around and trying to decide that.

"Isn't there a shop at the corner that has a few kids things?" Riki asked, trying to navigate through a crowd that hadn't dispersed.

Iason pulled Riki aside, directing him through an opening between two booths. "Here, a short cut," he announced.

Riki yanked his hand out of Iason's. "Leggo," he hissed.

"No one will see us, pet," Iason assured, reclaiming his hand around Riki's and walking with his mongrel. The crowds and noise were dispersed behind the booths, allowing him a moment of quietness. "What do you think you want to get her?"

"Fuck if I know," Riki grumbled, stepping out from behind the booths and the few paces towards the shop.

"Language, Riki."

Riki rolled his eyes, entering into the shop with Iason behind him. He wandered to the back, then to the front, disappointed when he didn't find anything he thought Luci might like. "Shit," he cussed softly.

"What's wrong?"

Riki shook his head. "Let's try another shop," he suggested.

Iason nodded, following behind the mongrel. "Would you like to go back to the beginning and try the first shop?"

"Maybe," he mumbled, walking to the front of the row of booths only to stop dead in his tracks as he heard a loud thud behind him after a click. He glanced back and felt the blunt end of a gun pressed his forehead.

"Get down on your knees now," the security man demanded. "Hands behind your head."

Riki obeyed and finally gazed down at Iason who had been stunned by something, fallen down on his knees and had a gun jabbed to his head much like he did. "You fuckers! What are you doing?" he hissed, panic overtaking him. Why wasn't Iason fighting back? What were the Eos Guards doing!

By now the people in the market were frantically running for cover and screaming in terror as both guards over each of them pointed guns in the air and fired out loud shots.

"Riki," Iason grunted, his eyes looking hostilely towards the guards. "You all will be executed for threatening my Pet and me."

"I suggest you shut up," the guard growled, jabbing Iason again with the gun and sending a jolt through him.

"Iason!" Riki screamed, lunging forward only to have the handle of the other guard's long gun whack him over the head - hard. "U..uuugh..."

Finally another man stepped forward, clearly the captain of the group. "Listen up!" he bellowed. "We want what you have stolen!" A soft murmur ran through the crowd of people hiding behind booths and in shops. "You have one minute to bring it forth or the Blondie dies! We have locked everyone in here, so after he dies, you all die if you do not obey!"

Riki's heart began to pound as he tilted his head up from the ground to look at Iason. Iason's eyes were greyer than their usual azure color and his movements seemed to be dulled. Oh shit! What did they do to him?

"Thirty seconds!" the man screamed, while his men took turns adding more ammunition to their guns.

Time seemed to be speeding up despite the eerie silence aside from muffled crying. Riki felt his body tense with fear as he realized that these guys were capable of subduing a Blondie to uselessness and definitely capable of killing him!

"Times up!" the man hollered, raising his hand to signal his right hand man to fire.

Iason looked to Riki, his body unable to fight back as it was stuck in his kneeling position. "Riki," he breathed.

Riki felt horror course through him as he watched almost in slow motion as the man lowered his arm to allow permission to fire.

Suddenly, a flash of black hair, lightly tanned skin and crimson glided through the air. Luci landed her feet straight to the guards chest, pushing him backward and sending the shot fired from the gun upwards. The man grunted in pain and attempted to throw the child off as it climbed onto his back, but she grabbed onto his neck and twisted with all of her strength, snapping it with a sickening crunch. He fell down, his body hitting the ground and convulsing while blood streamed from the opening in his helmet as it and his gun clattered when it met the floor.

"You bitch!" the other guard screamed, tossing Riki aside and rushing over from him and grabbing Luci roughly. He slammed her into the wall, grabbing onto her neck with his hand.

Gunshots from higher up rang out through the air, glass shattering and objects smashing as the man behind the gun aimed for any place people could be hiding. Iason, finally regaining his systems and just having witnessed what had happened, pulled Riki who was momentarily unconscious into his arms and to the safety of behind the booths.

"Iason?" Riki murmured, jolting awake. "What's going on?"

Luci planted both of her arms on his own, her purely dark eyes shimmering as she applied force. She snapped the man's bone through his uniform, sending him falling to his knees while screaming in agony as the bone jutted outward. Luci grinned, grabbing onto the fallen man in a similar way as the last one and applying far more strength. Blood gushed out from the helmet openings as she ripped the man's head clean off his neck. His decapitated body slumped forward, leaving a stain of blood, tissue and bone fragments upon the wall where it glided downward until coming to a halt.

The dark eyes looked upward to the position of the sniper who was blankly shooting in a frenzy. Luci rose up, blood dripping down from her clothes as she held the decapitated head in her hand for a moment before sending it flying through the air with tremendous momentum as a ball of blue light formed around it. It impacted the sniper, sending him backward into the wall with a blast of light. His spine cracked as it smashed into the granite chiseled walls, leaving an indent which was revealed as he fell forward, off the booth tops and onto the ground with a sickening smack where he proceeded to twitch for a few moments until he grew still.

Iason glanced over, spotting the Security Guard Captain who had once been so bold now trembling as Luci approached.

"Lu—" Riki screamed, but the Blondie clamped his hand over his mouth before he could finish and tightened his grip on him so much that he swore his bones would break. He was hurting so badly, his head was pounding against his skull and he felt sick.

"D...demon," the Captain mumbled in terror, pointing at the child. "YOU DEMON FROM HELL!" He aimed his gun, firing off a series of rounds straight for Luci's heart and head. "DIE, YOU DEVIL!"

Iason yanked the screaming Riki back against him, shielding him from the sight of his daughter being pumped full of bullets. He held onto his mongrel tightly until the gunshots stopped and the sound of a body falling to the ground met his ears.

"Muffi!" Riki screamed into Iason's glove, tears streaming down from his eyes as a sob shook his body. "Noooo!" He closed his eyes, the overwhelming situation hitting him full force with nausea. "No..."

"I'm sorry, love," Iason whispered, still slightly disoriented, but clinging onto Riki and facing away from the horror. "I'm so sorry. I'm sorry." He finally removed his hand, holding Riki's face to his chest as he sobbed. "I'm sorry, love, she's—" A soft hand touched the Blondie, causing him to jolt in fear at having another guard render him helpless and incapable of protecting Riki. He stared in disbelief as Luci stood before him, her clothing full of bullet holes but there were none in her. "You're alive," Iason breathed, letting go of Riki who gasped and quickly tried to hide his turmoil.

Riki angrily reached out, grabbing hold of Luci and giving her a series of hard shakes. "You stupid kid!" he shrieked. "You stupid...stupid...!" He ceased, unsuccessfully holding back tears of relief as he hugged Luci, who reluctantly allowed herself to be embraced. "You're so stupid..."

Iason rose as security gained access, swiftly hurrying down the main vein of the Market towards the bodies. He raised his hand, signalling that he was all right.

"Lord Mink, are you harmed?" the security leader demanded, lowering his weapon.

"No," he answered, but he was still a tad disorientated from whatever the weapons were armed with. "There are civilians possibly injured over in those areas."

The guard signalled his men to go and bring the people out of their hiding. "We understand you have the threat apprehended," the guard informed him, then raised his gun to Luci who was still with Riki. "Step away from the pet!"

Riki flashed the guard a glare and was shocked when Luci stepped away from him. "She's not a threat!" he yelled, yanking her back to him.

Iason stepped in front of the guard, who immediately lowered his weapon. "Lord Mink, the Level A Threat escaped and must be—" the man protested.

"The only threat were those men." He pointed to each of the dead bodies. "Whom were holding us hostage at gun point. If it weren't for her actions, we would all be dead and you would be piling our corpses into the incinerators. Do you understand?"

The guard backed off, bowing slightly. "Yes, Sir."

"Now, I suggest you disperse this crowd and have them tended to before more problems arise."

"Yes, Sir," the man agreed, backing away and then calling out orders to the men.

Riki finally stood up, glancing down at Luci and then stepping back. "What happened to your eyes?"

Iason looked back at Luci, again seeing the same eyes as he had the day he brought her to Jupiter. Why did they do that? But more importantly! "Are you all right, Riki?" he demanded, striding up to him and pushing back arm's length to look him up and down. "You're not hurt, are you? I'll take you to the Pet Clinic, the guard hit you over the head pretty hard."

"I'm fine," Riki protested, trying to shrug out of the hold. "I wasn't the one being..." He paused looking at Luci's ruined outfit and lack of bullets. "You're bulletproof too, huh?"

Luci shrugged, her eyes wandering around as she watched the guards cleaning up the mess of people alongside droid maintenance.

The Blondie inhaled sharply. "We are going to the Clinic, now," Iason demanded, seeing a bit of blood drip down Riki's head from where he was hit. He took hold of his mongrel. "Come, Luci." He navigated his way out of the Market and straight to the exit, avoiding blood and the bodies along the way.

"I said I was fine!" Riki protested, annoyed as the Ruby started to disinfect and clean the wound. He wasn't going to admit he wasn't well, dammit!

"You hit your head hard, Riki. I will not allow you to have any lasting damage," Iason dismissed, watching a Saphire look oddly at Luci's attire. "I must take Luci back to her cell and retrieve her ID or security will be pointing their guns at her all evening."

Riki groaned. "Fine, just—" He swatted the assistant away as he attempted to wipe off some remaining blood. "Hurry up, would you?"

Iason lifted up Luci. "We won't be long," he assured. "I just need to have a word with security and Orphe and I will return." He turned on his heal, carrying the child out of the Clinic and finally answering his wrist comm that had been going off nonstop. He dismissed the ones from Raoul. "Iason Mink."

"I need to have a word with you," Orphe answered, refusing to greet him. "Immediately in the security room."

"I'm on my way," Iason responded, shaking his head as he signed off and hurried to the security room as fast as he could without running.

Orphe leaned back in the chair. "How did it escape?"

Iason rolled his eyes. "Does the possibility of your security ego being damaged again really matter at this moment? If she didn't, I would be dead," he annoyedly reminded.

"I am aware, and I have already apologized for that," Orphe retorted. "However, those responsible are now dead and I have no one to question as to what their motive was! Now how did it escape Maximum Security?"

"At this moment, Orphe, I do not particularly care," Iason replied. "You have her ID, do you not?"

Orphe's eyebrows knitted together. "I do."

"Then may I have it, so security can stop aiming for her as if she is a wild animal?" Iason demanded, casting a glance at both guards who had their guns aimed at the child in his arms.

Reluctantly, the Blondie reached over and grabbed a small box and handed it to Iason. "This discussion is not over, Iason. She may have saved you, but she has broken through Eos' most advanced security and I will not stand for having no explanation and punishment."

"You will get an explanation, brother, but not at this moment," Iason assured, feeling a very familiar calling. "Now if you'll excuse me, I have another urgent matter to attend to."

"Iason," Orphe called, stopping the Blondie. "You must put it on now, unless you want security to follow you down the corridor."

Iason sighed internally, setting Luci down and crouching before her. He opened the box, finding a choker necklace laid upon the fabric insides and freed it. "Luci, this is your ID, you mustn't ever remove it. Do you understand?" He didn't wait for a reply, putting it on the eerily dark eyed child as quickly as he could as he felt the calling get stronger. "There, it is on her. Now if you'll excuse me, Jupiter is summoning me and you are causing her great impatience every time you prevent me from leaving this room."

Jupiter seemed almost restless, gliding forward and immediately placing her hands upon her favourite son. "You are unwell," she simply stated.

"Am I?" Iason asked, knowing full well he wasn't well. He had just nearly been killed alongside his pet and now was being scolded and called by several people.

"I can feel something abnormal within your systems," Jupiter answered. "What caused this?"

Iason was worn out, wanting to just retrieve Riki and take Luci and his mongrel home. "The weapons the guards were armed with," he replied. "There was a stunning mechanism I am unfamiliar with. Security apprehended the devices if you wish to examine them."

"Close your eyes," Jupiter commanded, then began to sort through Iason's systems at an impossibly fast pace. "I cannot establish the issue." She paused, flickering. "I will have to find a solution. You must refrain from exerting activities until then."

The Blondie nodded. "Yes, Jupiter."

"And the child? It escaped Maximum Security," Jupiter inquired. "Is that correct?"

"Luci did, yes," he responded.

"I require another session with it," Jupiter decided. "A simple minded being such as her should not be able to comprise security of such advancement."

"Jupiter, if she didn't do what she did, I would be dead," Iason grimly reminded.

Jupiter paused, as if pondering the weight of what he had said. "That is plausible," she agreed. "I will not reprimand her for this, but I require another session to test her mentality again."

"Raoul did say she could possibly have an advanced mind such as our own," Iason remembered softly.

"Impossible," Jupiter denied. "I am the only being in the galaxies to rule over the planet with advanced android creations. The likelihood of her having an advanced mind such as yours is zero point one percent."

Iason sighed quietly. "I am rather unwilling to bring her back, Jupiter." He looked up to the AI. "Your cruelty to my pet's offspring, a small child nonetheless, was beyond acceptable. She nearly died because of your deception, and what does she do in return? She selflessly saves me, one of your children, from impending death!"

Jupiter flickered from the harsh accusation from her favourite. "I did what was required, Iason," she answered after a long pause. "The child was an unknown threat and had to be dealt with accordingly."

"Her actions deserve gratitude of some form on behalf of you," Iason challenged. "Remove the Level A Threat signature from her ID. She has proven she is no threat."

"I refuse," Jupiter denied. "She is capable of being a threat if she turns against you."

Iason was growing increasingly tired of arguing with Jupiter and he knew he was walking a thin line. "I revoke permission for you to have another session with her until you remove the signature," he revealed. "As offspring of my pet, she is under my care and therefore you cannot bring further harm upon her."

Jupiter twisted abruptly, gliding back to her resting place. "Do not test me, Iason," she scolded. "I can have your mind tampered with for such acts of defiance."

"I am merely stating the law, Jupiter," Iason tossed, staring back at her with challenging azure eyes.

A long moment passed, both of them staring at each other before Jupiter finally complied. "Very well, I will remove the signature under the conditions that she returns to me for a session for one hour every second week."

Iason pondered the idea. "I must be allowed to attend," he added. "And it must be humane tactics used."

Riki spotted the two coming back, and was about to attempt escape but the doctor prevented him from doing so.

Iason approached, stopping before the small room and meeting with the doctor. He chatted with him for a moment, then was allowed to enter the room. "The doctor says have a concussion," he confirmed.

"I do not, I'm fine! It's just a little headache!" Riki protested, swaying slightly. He was feeling rather sick to his stomach again and was a tad grateful for the container they had given. "Just take me outta here. Why won't you just let me go back?"

The Blondie gently pushed him back into the seat. "You will have to stay here for a few hours, Riki," he denied. "The doctors wish to monitor you and take a few tests."

"No!" Riki argued. "I said I was...!" He felt a bunch of vomit rise up in his throat and he gagged, throwing up into the container.

Iason set Luci down, gently patting Riki's back as he continued to vomit until he dry heaved. "It's all right, Riki," he assured soothingly, moving his hand up to the dark locks and filtering his fingers through it.

Riki finally regained himself, mortified that he had gotten sick in front of Iason and Luci. He felt Luci place her hand onto his knee and he looked up at her into her gentle brown eyes. "Let go, you'll get dirty," he hissed to Iason and directly at Luci.

Luci smiled sadly, and backed away from him. She moved to behind Iason, where her eyes darkened again.

Riki felt a pang of guilt, but Iason swiftly interrupted. "You need to stay here and let the doctors do their tests, Riki," he ordered. "Do you understand?"

"Whatever," Riki snarled.

"It's only to ensure you don't sustain any permanent damage, Riki," Iason assured, brushing his gloved hand along the tanned face. "After they're done the tests, I'll come get you, all right?"

"Fine," he grumpily answered.

Iason bent lower and kissed the forehead. "Behave," he smiled softly.

Riki rolled his eyes. "Yeah, yeah."

Iason sipped his wine, finally sitting down after his chaotic day. He still felt disoriented from the device stunning him, and he was worried about Riki. He took another sip of his wine, glancing at the clock above the grand fireplace. The afternoon had faded away and it was growing near supper time.

He glanced over as he heard gentle footsteps, spotting the purely dark eyed child pad towards him, carrying her communication tablet. "Come here," he beckoned softly. Luci obeyed, but stopped just shy of a foot away from him. "What's wrong? Would you like to sit on my lap?"

Luci shook her head, swiftly typing out a message: I need to tell you something. And I need you to promise to not get upset.

Iason raised an eyebrow. "Very well, what is it?" he inquired.

"We meet again, Lord Mink," came the chilling male voice.

Iason blinked, shock coursing through him as he unsteadily set down his wine. "You..." he breathed.

"I apologize for my late appearance, but I figured now would be the most ideal time to present myself to you," the voice apologized.

"Are you...a multiple personality of Luci?" Iason pondered aloud. "I had thought you are a projection of Luci's mind."

"No, no," the male dismissed, waving the child's hand in a dispersing fashion. "If you'll recall, I had said Luci was my sister. Which would mean..."

"You are her brother," Iason concluded. "But how are you...in this body?"

The voice sighed. "That is a long story dating back to our birth," he explained. "We are fraternal twins, we used to be one and never fully separated as a result of a disruption." He waved his hand again. "Anyways, it's a long story. To summarize everything: I am Luci's brother, I share a consciousness in this body as well as my own, and I switch out with her during times of pain."

Iason brewed over the information. "You protected her during Jupiter's testing," he realized.

"I did," he agreed. "And I limited the access of Jupiter." He looked up to Iason. "You see, I created a barrier in our minds to such an extent, it's divided the sections of the brain we share. I prevent Luci from experiencing horrible events by restraining everything to my portion of the brain and my consciousness."

"You were the one who protected us today at the Market," Iason concluded, leaning back in his chair.

"Correct." The child leaned against Iason's knees. "Luci will have no memory of the Market, as I was fully conscious and blocked her out. She however, was the one to sense Riki was in danger, which signalled me to step in."

Iason reached down and picked up the small child and set her in his lap. "I thank you for protecting Riki when I was unable to," he praised.

"Oh!" the voice sounded, then the child's hands pressed to his chest and a light appeared under them. "Speaking of which, you were stunned, were you not?"

"I was."

"Oh yes, I can feel your systems glitching," the voice noted, then the dark eyes glanced up. "Do not panic, you'll feel a small jolt."

Iason jumped slightly, the ball of energy going into him. Immediately, he felt everything recalibrate into a proper working order. He looked down at Luci who removed her hand. "How did you do that?"

Luci shrugged. "It's in our race's genetics," the voice answered. "Don't misunderstand, we are Human, but the basis of our mother parent was a rare species of Human that could manipulate and produce energy."

"Fascinating," Iason breathed, watching as Luci produced a ball of light and formed it into a shape of a butterfly and sent it flying before it returned to her hand and back into her body. "This is how you communicated that day with Jupiter, is it not?"

"Yes."

Iason breathed a soft sigh, processing everything in a moment of silence. "You are Luci's brother, therefore you must have another name, do you not?"

"I do," the male sighed. "The guard was pretty close with his insults." He glanced up and caught Iason's confused expression. "I am called Lucifer."

"Lucifer?" Iason repeated. "As in the devil?"

"Yes," Lucifer answered. "I'm certain it was because of my eyes, how they would always switch to darkness. I was told I was the image of evil, therefore Lucifer suited me."

Iason slowly sipped his wine. "But you are not all evil."

Lucifer laughed sadly. "Only when I need to be, which seems to be when I need to protect those I do not wish to lose." He paused. "Or those I wish to bring revenge upon, which are mainly those who created me and hurt me."

"What is the purpose for Luci's and your creation?" Iason inquired, finally gaining the opportunity to ask the question.

Lucifer stayed silent. "If I tell you that, you will surely throw us onto the floor and cart us off to Jupiter."

Iason tensed. "What are your purposes?" he repeated.

"The purpose of my species?"

"You both specifically," Iason corrected, his mind racing as he wondered how many others there were. "I imagine you all have a similar task. Do you not?"

Lucifer took a deep breath, looking up at Iason. "We were created to kill off Iason Mink and diminish Amoï to ruins."

—TO BE CONTINUED—

Chapter Text

CHAPTER NINE

THE NIGHT OF HOPE

A/N: Is a scene of heterosexual pairing! M x F !

She ran through the streets, narrowly missing a couple who were enjoying their evening. "Forgive me!" she panted, barely glancing back. The Ceres border was just within her gaze, beckoning her to cross it. "Almost there....!"

Finally, she crossed over, falling into a mud puddle as she tripped on uneven ground. She shed her long coat that was covering her thin shimmering lavender coloured dress, ignoring the chill that caused her to shiver.

He was here. He was somewhere here, she could sense him. But Ceres was like a maze without a map!

Stopping to catch her breath, she placed her hand upon a heap of rubble connected to a decrepit building. She closed her eyes, searching for him, the familiar energy. Her eyes snapped open as she found his location and she headed in that direction.

She approached the end of an alley connected to a bar, spotting the young man. Thankfully, he was alone and highly intoxicated on stout and mild drugs. She took a deep breath, running forward and into him.

"Hey!" he shouted, nearly falling over from the impact. He automatically pushed her away, defending himself, but when no fight occurred, he eyed up the women, realizing that he had just possibly hurt her. "Shittt...sorry."

The women looked up at him, knowing it was the young man whom she had searched for. Her eyes filled with tears of relief.

"Hey, no, no, no!" he slurred, wobbling forward and nearly falling onto the ground as he attempted to help her. He did fall back as she launched herself forward onto him. "Woah, hey..." He drunkly stroked her hair, his breath catching as he saw her face. "You're...pretty."

She chuckled through, hugging onto the young man. "Am I?"

"Smoking...hot," he grunted, not believing his eyes to have a woman literally fall into his arms. Shit, if Guy found out he'd never hear the end of it!

The women gently nuzzled into his neck, provocatively rubbing her lower half into the young man's crotch. "Will you hold me?" she asked, shakily. "I'm...scared. Please, make my fear go away."

The young man rested his head against the brick wall behind him, thanking whatever God had bestowed this gift upon him and deeming it glorious. "Nothing ta be 'fraid of when yur with me," he murmured, gently stroking back the ladies' long hair as it fell into her eyes. "I gotcha." He moaned softly as he felt her hands free his erection from his black pants and guide it to her warm entrance. "Eager little thing, aren't ya, huh?"

"Please," she begged, wrapping her arms around him. "I want you." She rested her head on his shoulder, running his fingers into the dark locks. "I want you, Riki."

Riki moaned, bucking his hips upward into the women's tight opening. "Ohh, fuck...!" he gasped.

The woman gasped in pain, a muffled sob escaping her lips as she squeezed her eyes shut. "Riki," she whimpered.

"Don' cry, little beauty," Riki slurred, thrusting into the gorgeous women while finding his way into her clothes and fondling her breasts. "Ohh. You're so tight 'round my cock."

A soft cry escaped from her, as she forced herself to move with Riki. There had been no preparation and she was in fact a virgin. Her face slipped from Riki's shoulder, gliding to his jacket where her tears wet the material.

Riki, in his drunk state, finally realized she was hurting. He slowed his movements, then gently guided the woman's face to look at him. "Am I hurtin' you?" he asked.

"No," she lied, her voice strained. "Continue, please." She continued to move her hips erotically, trying to coax Riki into proceeding. "Fuck me," she pleaded, knowing she had to encourage him. "Fuck me and fill me up!"

Riki moaned, his patience destroyed as he felt something within him snap. He thrust into her with abandon, before burying himself deep and shooting his semen into her womb as they both climaxed. "Shit," he murmured. "That was a lot..."

The woman panted in his arms, then raised her head and kissed his lips softly. "Thank you, Riki," she whispered, then watched as his eyes rolled back and closed. She gently laid his head back against the brick wall and removed herself from him and fastened his pants. She rose up, gently stroking the youth's forehead. "Be well, my dearest."

She turned and ran through the darkened streets, just as another young man began calling out for Riki who just regained consciousness. She paused, watching as another youth with long hair arrived just as Riki rose and then wrapped an arm around him for support. "Take care of my beloved, please," she whispered sadly to herself while resting her hands on her stomach, observing as the youth and Riki walked away. "His children will one day love him in place of me."

—TO BE CONTINUED—

Chapter Text

CHAPTER TEN

DIGGING DEEPER BENEATH THE SURFACE

Iason's systems responded to the threat, before he even had a moment to process the situation. When his eyesight focused on the child before him and he regained senses of his body he realized he had his hands wrapped around it. He blinked, converging his gaze to his where his hands were squeezing with strength to kill - Luci's neck. His fingers quivered they were wringing the thin tanned neck before him with such intensity.

The dark eyes calmly held the Blondie's gaze, observing his furrowed brow and tight features as the man began to huff a bit from the over exertion. The child's small arm reached out, touching the Blondie's hand around her neck.

Immediately Iason's mind connected and with horror he realized what he was doing and abruptly let go, sending Lucifer to the floor with a thud. Iason's chest constricted, the feeling of the child's tanned skin beneath his fingers sending shivers down his spine as he visualized Riki being in place of Luci. He panted, looking down at his shaking hands and slowly closed them, before looking to Lucifer who was sitting cautiously where he landed.

"I...I apologize for that," Iason murmured, trying to identify the cause of the reaction. He was programmed to remain calm, only taking action when absolutely necessary. However, when his circuits processed what Lucifer had said, he lost that control.

"It's—" Lucifer coughed, only to clear his throat. "Quite all right, it was to be expected."

"Are you harmed?"

Lucifer smiled. "Of course not," he answered in a chuckle. "You might be an Android, but I am a Humanoid, remember? We were made to kill you, not be easily killed by asphyxiation." He averted his gaze. "I suppose now is the time to tell you that we are also a flawed Humanoid, in that we refuse to do what we were made to."

Iason took a sip of his wine to calm himself down, the familiar taste resonating with his taste buds. "Why would you not kill me?" he inquired quietly. "You are clearly able to."

"Are you inviting me to?" Lucifer chuckled, watching Iason stiffen slightly. "Don't fret about that. We were taught by our Carrier from the moment we were conscious to fight against the purpose of our being. Thus, we were given a new reason to exist." He looked straight into Iason's eyes. "To protect Iason Mink and prevent the loss of Amoï."

A strange sense of relief filled Iason, but it did not completely settle his fears. "How do I know you are not deceiving me?"

Lucifer shook his head, laughing sadly. "Why would I bother breaking out of Maximum Security to save you, just to kill you on my own later? Why would I not just have let them kill you and I could've broken out and be free right now?" he demanded. "They were after us. If I had let them kill you, I could've gotten Luci to safety and we would be off the radar and free from our fears forever—mostly."

Iason nodded, agreeing with the sense of logic. "I suppose that is accurate." But he still couldn't shake the abnormal fear that Luci or Lucifer were just trying to win him over so that they could gain something before they disposed of him.

"You still don't believe us," Lucifer sighed, running his fingers through the long black locks in a move that was dauntingly similar to the way in which Riki did when he was frustrated. "Then how about this, I'll make a contract with you."

"A contract?"

"Yes," Lucifer answered, gazing around. "Is there any paper? Ah, Luci's sketchbook!" Lucifer hurried down the hall and then appeared again after a brief disappearance with a sketchbook and writing device. "If we go into a contract with you, you have physical proof that we will not harm you." He proceeded to write out an agreement in very neat handwriting and then presented it to Iason. "You have access to our bank account, you have a contract to prove our loyalty and we've already shown you that we aren't prepared to let you perish easily for the sake of Amoï and our parent. Will you not at least give trusting us a microscopic chance?"

Iason held the contract in his hands, reading it over and then glanced from Lucifer to the paper and signed it. "I will give it a thought," he agreed. "However, Jupiter will be another challenge altogether." He paused and added. "What did you mean about Riki?"

"Our parent would be devastated if you died, would he not?" Lucifer demanded, then averted his gaze. "I am aware that he is not on equal grounds with you, but there are still feelings between you two, are there not? Therefore, I believe if anything happened to you, he would be shocked."

Iason chuckled softly. "I am unsure," he simply answered. "I would like to believe he would be, but the idea of him responding in any way other than gratitude at me perishing seems illogical."

Lucifer blinked, his eyes roaming around the floor as if the answer lay buried within the finely woven fibers of the rug. "I see," he softly replied, then jolted. "I must go. Luci is regaining consciousness." He looked up to Iason. "She won't remember anything that happened in the market, so please do not tell her anything. And please do not be upset with her if she is frightened now that you know the truth - uugh...!"

Iason rose as the child fell down, approaching her and picking her up carefully as she remained limp like a doll for a moment. "Luci?" he called gently, giving her a soft shake. "Luci, can you hear me?"

Luci's brown eyes appeared as the child's eyes opened, before she jolted in fear and squirmed.

"It's all right, Luci!" Iason declared loudly and firmly, stopping the child in mid struggle. "There is nothing to be afraid of. My viewpoint on you was not altered with the appearance of Lucifer."

The child blinked, gasping silently as she realized that she wasn't going to be sent to Jupiter now that their secret was known. She visibly relaxed, then leaned into him in exhaustion.

The Blondie grabbed onto the tablet from the floor, then settled back in his chair. "Are you able to do the technique with electricity as your brother is?" he asked after waiting for Luci to settle down as well.

Luci blushed, averting her gaze for a moment then gave a small nod: Yes, I can. However, I haven't had many opportunities to use it, as it is mainly used for protection or attack. She paused. Did Lucifer kill using my body?

Iason hesitated, but decided that it wasn't the best time to tell the truth. "No," he softly answered.

I see, she typed back, then added: Thank you for giving us a chance, and the opportunity to be with our parent.

"You're welcome," Iason answered softly. "Thank you for not assassinating me." He then stiffened as he wondered if Luci would be effected by the comment.

Luci simply smiled, typing back: It's what I was made for.

"Well all the same, it's a nice change of pace to have something not wanting me dead," he noted, then picked up his newsfeed reader as a notification appeared.

Luci, having never seen the device blinked, her eyes widening in interest. She peeked over at the screen, observing how deftly Iason would swipe through the notifications and articles streaming across the screen. It was going so fast she could only catch bits of news fragments.

Iason glanced down, a smile and soft chuckle appearing on his features as he watched Luci's expressions. Her face was scrunched up, the tip of her tongue peeking of her mouth while her eyes darted across the screen as she attempted to keep up. "Have you ever seen a NewsScript before?"

The child shook her head, not removing her eyes from the screen in fear of losing her pace.

Iason switched to another screen, opening up the tab in which the notification he received was. "Generally, all of the articles that are of interest to me will appear in this folder," he explained. "And anything else is just extras that are gossip or events. I only glance at that page if I want to see what is going on in the galaxy."

Luci read the notification about an off world trader who apparently had some rare goods and then an article about the Eos Market incident, but chose not to read that one. She raised her head to Iason, nodding in new understanding and watched Iason continued to look through documents and news articles, trying to keep up and not interrupt him.

When Iason put away his NewsScript it was very late into the night and Cal had already retired for the evening. He glanced down to see Luci fast asleep in his lap and smiled as he saw a similarity to Riki in that she was holding onto the tips of his blonde hair. Iason had spent the entire evening working from his chair, even through dinner. Luci had received her food infused with vitamins via the tube implant, while Iason had his meal served in the living room so he could continue with his reading and answer a call from Katze without having to leave his chair.

Iason gently scooped Luci up into his arms, then slowly moved through the home and to her guestroom where he placed her in the large bed. She was already dressed in sleepwear as she had taken a bath upon her arrival in the penthouse, so there was no need to wake her. He pulled the blankets back and set her down, watching as her sleepy brown eyes met his as she felt his hair strands and the corner of clothing escape her sleep weakened grasp. "Good night, Luci," he said softly.

Luci yawned softly, then mouthed out the words: Good night, Lord Mink.

He pulled up the blanket, watching as the child finally relaxed and actually stayed sleeping despite the contradicting footage that showed her waking up constantly. Iason then realized that Lucifer was the one who woke when she slept and therefore because he was awake earlier, he would probably remain dormant at this time.

Iason headed back to his room, the lights of the guestroom and penthouse dimming as he exited the room and halls and entered the Master bedroom to sleep after an eventful day.

"What is all of this fuss about?" Iason demanded, frowning as there was a bunch of noise. "Luci!"

Luci hurried to the door as Iason beckoned her, narrowly escaping Cal who was protesting because she refused to let him help her dress. While running, she pulled down her dress just in time as she turned the corner and made eye contact with Iason.

"Wait, Miss Luci...!"

He glanced to Luci who was pulling up a sock as Cal approached huffing. "What is going on here?"

"Miss...Luci would not allow me to help her change," Cal informed him, presently a pair of shoes that she had left behind in her rush. She had locked him out of the bathroom where she changed into everything aside from socks and shoes as fast as she could. He was flustered because as Furniture it was his job to assist children guests and pet offspring, and she wasn't allowing him to.

The Blondie frowned as Luci casually slipped on her shoes and accepted the tablet from Cal. "Explain yourself, Luci."

Luci huffed, then typed: I'm not a Princess, a Guest of Honor or anything else of high standards, therefore I should not need assistance from Cal for everything I do!

Iason sighed in exasperation, a recollection of Riki refusing Daryl's care surfacing. "We will discuss this later," he decided, reaching out to grab onto Luci's hand. "Let us go now, before anymore trouble occurs."

Luci hurried alongside Iason, but was struggling with being dragged behind so she yanked her hand out of his grasp to follow behind him. Iason then realized that Luci still had a small figure and therefore, she couldn't keep up. He paused momentarily to pick her up and then carried her off to the Pet Clinic to retrieve Riki.

Riki was relieved when he saw Iason and Luci coming into the Clinic, but refused to show any signs of it. He was not fond of medical facilities, but his dislikes didn't matter when Iason thought he was unwell. Then again, whatever tests and procedures they had done had worked, because he felt much better, so he couldn't resent the Blondie completely in that regard.

"He will be just fine now," the Sapphire assured. "Just ensure he does not receive any rough contact with his head for a few days, so the medicine can prevent the damages completely in case there were any harms to the brain."

"There were none, correct?"

"None that we could detect, but as a precaution..."

Luci hurried over to Riki, immediately climbing up onto the stool in front of the cot he was on and hugged him.

"Hey kid," he murmured, returning the hug awkwardly, then caught a glimpse of her eyes which were brown again and not all dark like yesterday. "Hey...your eyes..." Then he noticed they were filling with tears at an alarming rate. "Shit, shit! Don't cry! I'm fine, OK? I'm fine!" He picked her up and winced as she hugged him really tightly. "I'm fine, I'm fine, I swear!"

Satisfied with that, Luci pulled back looking at his face up and down to ensure he wasn't playing the tough guy and trying to conceal his pain.

"Shit, how strong are you?" he wheezed.

Luci laughed silently, then hugged him again and this time Riki noticed it felt less awkward and he actually gave her a pat on the back. Once she stopped, she settled down in his lap, while he kept one arm around her to keep her from falling.

Iason approached, a bit fascinated by the sight of Riki actually comforting his daughter in his lap. Who would have guessed he'd ever see a sight like that? He certainly had never conjured up anything like it. "Are you feeling better, pet?"

"Yeah," Riki answered, his voice a bit bitter to hide his eagerness to leave. "Can we go now?"

"Yes," Iason agreed, reaching out to guide Riki upwards after he adjusted his hold on Luci to carry her. "The doctor said all the tests were clear, but you will have to refrain from going to work for a few more days."

Riki cringed, he had wanted to leave so bad. "How many days?"

"Three at the least."

Riki sighed in irritation. "This sucks."

Iason chuckled, walking slowly to match Riki's pace. "Eager to leave, are you?"

Riki felt a pang of guilt as Luci happened to look up at him in confusion. He still hadn't adjusted to parenthood, but he knew he'd have to leave her behind eventually to gain the freedom he had at work. "Katze probably needs the help," he defended.

"True enough," Iason agreed. "I'll arrange for Katze to give you light work in three days."

Upon arrival, Riki planned to have a smoke and was quickly armed with a cigarette. Luci could barely keep up with the brisk movement of her parent as he swiftly moved around in the home and then across the living space. They were almost at the balcony entrance when suddenly a blonde figure appeared out of nowhere and blocked the pathway and immediately the cigarette package was confiscated.

"No cigarettes until your prescription is finished, Riki," Iason announced, placing the pack within his breast pocket.

"What? Why? Says who?" Riki challenged, trying to unsuccessfully grab them back. "C'mon Iason, just one!"

"Says the Doctor, and I quite agree," Iason grimly revealed. "You'll be without for three days."

Riki ground his teeth. "Iason," he hissed in frustration. "I need one."

Iason shook his head, grasping onto Riki's chin. "You do not need one, pet," he assured. "You will be just fine without."

"Iason, you don't understand," the mongrel protested, flustered. "I need one really badly. I haven't had one since yesterday. I'm in withdrawal here!"

"Find something to distract yourself with, pet," Iason suggested, casually walking away. "I have an issue with Orphe to resolve and assist with." He paused. "You promised to take Luci to the Gardens, did you not? Why don't you do that now?" Luci immediately perked up, hurrying to go get her tablet so she could agree with the idea. "I think it would be good for her to see something else after being in containment and you could definitely use some of the fresh Garden air."

Riki grumpily sat down on one of the benches, resting his face in his hands for a moment as he was hit with another wave of cravings. He ground his teeth, taking a deep breath as he shook a bit.

Luci plunked down softly next to him, typing out a message and sliding the tablet into his lap: Are you all right?

Riki cleared his throat. "Yeah, I'm fine just gimme a moment." He concentrated on controlling his breathing, calming his body and his mind. Riki knew that Iason was doing it out of concern for his health, but dammit if it didn't suck. He needed to find a way to get his nicotine intake without having Iason on his ass.

Fwipppp.

Brown eyes peered through the hands cradling his face, catching a glimpse of the sketchbook that Luci had brought with her being opened and full pages turned until an empty one appeared. He slowly raised his head, observing in as Luci casually began to sketch an outline of something. She was drawing an outline of some type of structure and then there were figures. Riki glanced around, but saw no one around them. He blinked when he glanced back, her speed in sketching was rather fascinating. His eyes focused on the page, connecting the dots of what was being drawn out. "I...is that us?" he questioned softly.

Luci glanced up and nodded, then added the final touches and presented the picture of both of them on the bench. Riki was holding the sketchbook and had a bird that landed upon his head and Luci was pointing and laughing at it.

"Wow," Riki breathed softly, amazed that mere seconds ago it was just a bunch of lines but now detailed enough to be almost a picture. "So you are an artist?"

Not really, Luci typed back. Ever since I got here I just felt inclined to create somethings, and occasionally they look nice.

Riki scoffed. "That sounds like an artist to me," he answered, then held out his hand to the sketchbook. "Can I?" Luci handed it over, then scooted up close to him and found the first page for them. "Huh." He gazed over a picture of some women dressed in almost regal apparel and looking into the far off distance. "Shit, that's pretty good..." He flipped the page, his heart stopping for a moment as he saw a picture of Iason and him walking together. It was a front view of them walking down a street or something. Iason was wearing his red, black and white outfit with shoulder pieces and his black cloak, his face was partially concealed by his sunglasses and long hair strands blowing softly in the breeze, but there was a hint of a smile on his lips. He was beside him, dressed in his biker jacket, black jeans and boots, his hands in his pockets and was looking a bit towards Iason, his lips curled up in a partially open mouth smile.

In disbelief at what he was seeing, Riki traced his fingers over the sketch, almost as if he were giving the scene permission to continue to see how it would play out. He was...smiling? It was almost as if he were laughing at something Iason had said. When had he ever laughed, sincerely, with Iason? He looked at Luci, his brows furrowing. "How did you draw this?" he demanded, wondering how she could have drawn something with so much detail it was almost a black and white security footage shot. "When did you draw this?"

Luci simply pointed to the date and signature, then typed: Does it offend you? Should I turn the page?

Riki shook his head. "It...it doesn't offend me," he denied. "I just don't understand how you draw so well without any references." He turned the page, surprised when it seemed to be layouts of some kind, and then turned the page again and was hit with another wave of confusion and shock. It was a sketch of him, leaning against an airbike, one hand in his jacket pocket, the other slung down with a bottle of stout in his grasp, a cigarette in his mouth while he gazed at Tanagura in the distance. His heart faltered for a moment, the scene horrifically familiar and presented to him as if Luci had been there. "How?" he choked, stroking the page beneath his fingers then looking to Luci. "How did you draw this? There is no way you..."

I'm very sensitive, Luci typed. Part of our genetics is being able to manipulate energy. But I can also absorb and see with it. She smiled sadly. Energy is everywhere and in everything we do. Therefore, I can see the past of your energy.

Riki's face was immediately filled with a horrified expression. "You can't...no way!"

Luci calmly placed her hand on his knee. I can see everyone's past through energy, as it can never be destroyed, she explained. That's how I saw you with this airbike, because your energy was absorbed within the grounds you rode on and is forever ingrained within it. And that energy is a fragment of your total energy which makes up your being.

"You shouldn't look into my past, kid." Riki felt genuinely concerned as to how Luci would react if she knew what he had been through. "You don't want to see it. There's no way..."

Your past is a part of you, Luci typed back. It has made you stronger and wiser. Never speak of it as if it is insignificant. She grasped onto Riki's knee. And never be ashamed for what has happened to you or who you've become because of it.

"You don't understand," Riki denied, brushing his fingers through his hair. "You don't..."

If your life was not meant to be as it is now, it would never have happened. If I were not meant to be here, I wouldn't be. If you weren't meant to have found me, you wouldn't have. Your life's energy guided you to the reality which you are in now. If Lord Mink or anyone else was not meant to be with you, your energy would have rejected them. Do you understand me?

Riki inhaled a soft breath, realizing the truth in what Luci had said. If he was not meant to be with Iason, he supposed it would have never happened or it would have crumbled away into a different reality by now. "I understand," he answered, feeling a bit lighter as he had confided in someone about something that had tormented him. He had always questioned if he was to be with Iason, but as Luci had put it, if it wasn't mean to be it would've failed long ago.

He slowly flipped the page, eyeing up an image of a dark figure that seemed to be a large human, twisted unnaturally so they were walking in a crawling motion that was outward, there face twisted to be upright instead of upside down as it should be. The creature was looming over a faceless and blurry figure hanging from something. "What's this?" he questioned, feeling disturbed.

Luci calmly glanced over. A nightmare, she answered.

"Yeah, looks like one to me..." Riki agreed, glancing up as a bird flew low. The sounds of it's wings suddenly flapping as it landed startled him and he protested as the large bird landed upon his head and started to softly peck. "Oi...! Get off!"

Luci covered her mouth, laughing and pointing as Riki tried to swat the bird off of him, but was pecked at each time.

"Are you questioning them all?" Iason inquired, looking to the screen which showed a large group of security persons in an interrogation room. "Have there been any suspicious responses?"

Orphe placed a data tablet down upon his desk. "Not a single one has raised any red flags," he answered. "We believe the men responsible were working together and it was solely them."

Iason swiped down, scanning the list of guards who had all passed the tests. "Then what was the true matter in which you summoned me for?" he inquired softly.

"I need to know how that child compromised security," Orphe replied, laying down another tablet like screen. "If I cannot contain a child within my security cells, I will not be able to secure any other threat, Iason."

"You are forgetting that this child is not a normal being," he reminded, then added. "And she is no threat to you."

Orphe waved his hand dismissively. "That is irrelevant." He pushed the screen to Iason, the footage of the cell cameras glitching, the child standing in the middle of the room with eyes as dark as an abyss. The footage glitched again and then Luci was gone, the hall cameras showing the child running to the lift and placing her hands on the wall, the doors opening mysteriously. "You should know what you have brought into Eos. So please explain how this child not only managed to free herself from her cell without causing the alarm to sound, but also activated the lift. Both actions are and should be utterly impossible to do by any regular being with the security implements in place, yet once again you have something that has renounced the norms."

Riki glanced out the window as Luci paused at it, laying her hand gently upon the glass. He saw a familiar look in the brown eyes, one of longing for something beyond the barrier. Riki casually stopped behind her, gazing out in the same direction which was towards the shuttle station area if he was correct. "If you're not from Amoi, where did you come from?" he asked softly.

After a moment, Luci let her hand drop and her gaze turn to the tablet: I don't know, she typed sadly. Some place that doesn't exist.

"If you're from there, it exists," Riki pointed out. "Do you remember anything about where you're from?"

I was never outside until I came to Amoi, she typed. I was always inside. I never even saw where I was from when I escaped.

"You never went outside? Never?"

Luci shook her head.

"You've gotta be kidding," he scoffed. Shit, even Guardian let the kids outside for awhile to get some sunlight!

You're forgetting that I am a science experiment, Riki. Luci typed. Test subjects don't go outside, ever.

Riki sighed, bent down and picked her up and then started walking back to the penthouse. "You're not a test subject anymore," he reminded. "You're not wherever you're from, you're here. Now that you're here you can be a normal kid, do you understand?"

Luci smiled: What does a normal kid do?

"I don't fucking know," Riki grumbled. "Do kid stuff."

What is "kid stuff"? Luci typed back, giggling silently at how flustered her parent was becoming.

"Fucksake, I dunno!" he growled. "I don't fucking know! Do stuff that is fun and makes you happy!"

Luci paused for a moment, then typed: What does "fun" mean?

Riki closed his eyes, inhaling a sharp breath. "You're joking, right? Please tell me you're joking," he murmured, then looked at Luci who still appeared to be waiting for an answer. "Holy fuck you're not kidding. Shit..." He gave his head a shake. "You've never...played?"

Luci's brow furrowed, her eyes moving side to side as she pondered that question: I used to imagine I wasn't where I was from, but somewhere else with a family. She paused. Does that count?

Riki was beginning to feel disturbed. Just the fact that Luci didn't know the word fun was a bit terrifying for him. He had had "fun" while in Guardian by playing games with other kids or with some toys and stuff given to the kids when able to. Sure it wasn't much, but it passed the time and kept them stimulated. And even in Ceres he had his "fun" by being with his gang, even if what they were doing was wrong on occasion. He loved riding his airbike for fun, and would give anything to get back on one. "That's...playing pretend," he answered softly, his throat suddenly dust dry and unable to say anything else.

Luci smiled, typing back quickly: Then yes! I had fun playing pretend before I got here. It made me very happy when I was sad!

The lift door opened and Riki let Luci go, watching as she scurried away to her room with her armful of items to put them away. He felt a tightness in his chest, and didn't have the heart to tell Luci that playing pretend to escape whatever had made her sad wasn't exactly fun but more so an escape from reality. Riki slowly moved through the penthouse to the balcony, usually he would've craved a cigarette the moment he stepped out, but right now smoking was the last thing on his mind. He crossed the flooring, came to a halt at the edge where he just leaned against the railing. He slumped against it while wondering what exactly happened to Luci before she got here? He wanted to know, but part of him was so afraid to ask.

Chapter Text

CHAPTER ELEVEN

A GLIMPSE INSIDE

The faint noise of liquid bubbling through translucent overhead pipes and the hum of various equipment are the only sounds within the massive research storage area. Thousands of preservation reservoirs are strategically stacked upon one another like hexagonal pyramid blocks contouring the irregular room's shape; the dim lights of each glass pod reflect a blue tint off the sliver panels dividing each of them. Multicolored wires wrapped in clear protective casings dangle from outlets between the pipes on the ceiling, delivering power to each individual tank like pale arms reaching down from the heavens to give life with their visible veins.

Faint movements of the myriad creations within each tank are only signs there is life within the pallid bodies tangled with wires and tubes. A gentle twitch of a hand, the kicking of a leg, the flick of a tail, the quivering of an ear, each action is proof of the corresponding being's existence. Each one is alive to a certain degree within their limited prisons, but none have any say as to what their reason of being is. Neither do any of them know until they are removed and brought before the examination lights, and have their life supports sliced open to see if they can sustain a living state - sometimes it is beneficial to not pass the test.

The underdeveloped beings are always kept in the upper levels of the room, and when the being underneath them is removed, they will slide down in the hierarchy. The highest points have the most disturbing beings - the palest, least Human, most deformed. Infant sized organisms of unknown genetics sprout overnight every day, becoming creatures of different shapes, sizes and Humanness. The only factor each have in common is the deathly paleness of their skin, as if each one has been dipped within bright white ash and even the liquid around them cannot remove the tint and add a shade of life to them. Overnight some will grow hands and fingers with crooked bones, some will grow overly prominent spinal disks that will raise beyond the average amount, causing them to look like monsters from horror flicks.

The worst is when some grow their organs outside of their bodies, or skin refuses to grow thick enough, making everything visible within the sac around their figure. Those are the creations disposed of the next day or week - the ones who have no chance at sustaining life according to the Master plans.

The lowest level beings are the utter opposite. They are almost perfection incarnate and make the pod holding them glisten with pride. They are the perfect clones, originals and mixed breeds - if they survive outside their tanks long enough to make an impression. Even perfection is at risk with the madman and his minions running the operation. One fit of rage from any of them can lead to termination, whether it be because of a simple misunderstanding, an accident, an argument or just plain boredom.

I avoid the storage warehouse areas the most, as my job is to see to the living doing their jobs, as opposed to watching creatures and people in tanks. I detest having to go into the storage areas and stare at the thousands of potential victims, documenting whether they are still alive by the small screens on each pod that indicate a heartbeat. However, that is my job. I must ensure the entire operation is running smoothly, despite my lack of support in the project. I do not support this operation, not one bit. But, if I dare speak out I can guarantee they will rip out my eyes and ship me off to some torture chamber in the lower levels of the facility. No I have a job, I must ensure that everything is running smoothly, and by smoothly I mean that no one is realizing that there is some slight deception taking place each day.

It can be quite grueling, to say the least. Day in and day out I wander about and monitor the entire proximity of the horrifically large establishment. Every single one of the sixteen massive floors must be evaluated and ensured to be in a working order. How can I be trusted if every single report is not finished? If every person on every floor is not documented? I must supervise every worker, whether in person or by other means, ensuring they are all doing their assigned tasks. I receive the tasks of every single worker from Him after He has arranged them according to His wishes - everyday, no exceptions. Then while He sits back or causes mayhem, it's my duty to travel through or monitor every place accessible to me until I am sure everything or everyone in my sectors is in order; then go clean up and document his mess or my own alongside my reports.

However, I'm not alone all the time. I have company of a fellow manager. He manages another portion of sectors which are inaccessible to my decisions. We were both raised to manage the activities which occur in the areas we were given. The foundation of our decisions belong to Him, but once we are given the basics, we find solutions to ensure production and results are at their finest.

We all have a part to play within this puzzle of such a diabolical, secretive scheme. And the worst part is that almost none of us support it - aside from the dedicated workers who are managed. The ones like me, however, they don't support this whole idea. I mean, who would want to? There is no personal motivation to go along with it.

But it's not like we have a choice. In this society it is do or die. You do as you are told and if you don't then you are killed.

But if you are clever, you can find ways, as I mentioned, to sabotage the works in the progress. It may be gruesome, but I strategically work it out so a dedicated worker appears to have slipped up. Or I purposely have supplies and other important aspects disposed of. I find subtle ways to make His life a living hell, because I didn't have a choice, so I should at least have some fun. And the best part is no one will question me, because they believe I do not lie. If they knew of my deception it would be instant death.

I think most of us just want to stay alive. We want to get out and find our true purposes - not those forced upon us by drugs or any other form of control. We just want to be free to be something else instead of the horrible tools we are being fashioned to be. I'm one of the luckier ones even, as I have not endured as much pain as some others, but even I still think it is unjust to be forced into this operation. It's not fair to have to do what we are made to do one day when it is not our decision.

It's not fair.

Chapter Text

CHAPTER TWELVE

A CHILD NO MORE

Iason crossed his arms, analyzing the screen's footage in both dismay and fascination. He comprehended that Luci manipulating the defensive systems and security mainframe was a violation with the valid punishment of termination, but aside from that, it was beyond captivating to examine how fluently the child could control a system of such advancement without effort.

Orphe, however, was anything but amused. "You must have some general idea of this child's capabilities," he pressed on, tapping his gloved fingers against the smooth desk surface. "Is she some species from an off planet world with system manipulating abilities?"

"I have told you she is not a normal being," Iason reminded. "If you must know, her origin is unknown. Jupiter was unable to locate her origin and maternal portion of her being after analyzing the DNA gathered by Raoul."

The fellow Blondie raised his gaze, his eyes narrowing upon Iason. "And Jupiter is willing to allow her the freedom of movement throughout Eos?" he demanded.

Iason gave a simple nod. "Yes, she is allowed to do so as Jupiter has named her my charge and given her limited access. She is free to go into exclusive areas as long as she is accompanied by me or Z-107M, and with her threat signature removed she is free to live up to the limitations of her ID."

Orphe leaned back in his seat. "I see," he approved. "If Jupiter declares it to be so, I cannot speak against it." He added. "However, the moment the child's aptitude is deciphered, I demand an explanation. If there is an off world planet competing with Eos Security, it is a threat not only to our establishment, but Jupiter as well."

Riki glanced up as Luci tottered from her room, straight to him with a happy expression plastered to her face. "What's got you looking so cheerful?" he scoffed.

Luci's eyes brightened up: I'm going to get a parcel!

"A parcel?" Riki blinked, frowning. "From who?"

Someone who cares about me! Luci typed back, proudly displaying the message.

Riki raised an eyebrow. "You saying I don't care 'bout you, little fire eater?" he challenged, scooping her up abruptly and playfully squeezing her sides. He smiled as Luci squirmed, her tongue sticking out of her mouth as she flailed about and kicked her tiny legs joyfully. When he finally ceased the action, she was panting lightly, her eyes shimmering with happiness as she met his as he set her down. "So who's this parcel from?"

Luci huffed, then typed back: The person who helped me escape from my previous home. They said it's a package with a lot of items! I'm so excited!

"I'd like to meet this person someday," Riki decided. "To thank them."

I'll see if they will, Luci agreed. However, I think they are busy, so I'm not sure if it will be anytime soon.

Riki frowned. "How are you able to communicate with this person?"

Luci was about to type back, but the door bell chimed and she watched as Cal hurried over to the portal area for delivery service. She grasped onto Riki's leg and jumped up and down with excitement.

"I have a parcel for Luci Mink," the automated voice declared. "Parcel Authenticity Number is X-347V76J907."

Cal looked perplexed, but typed the number into the key pad and saw that it was in fact verified by the Mail Department, which meant it underwent thorough security testing to see if it was a threatening item. He pressed accept and within seconds the robot delivery service entered with a wide box that was a foot taller than Luci. He used Iason's signature, as he was given permission to, and signed the screen before the droid left.

Luci was beside herself with excitement, nearly running into Cal who was struggling to move the box away from the front entrance. She tugged on his outfit, pleading with him to give her access to her parcel.

"I was unaware of a parcel to arrive in your name," Cal explained. "I am not allowed to give it to you until Lord Mink approves of it."

Instantly, Luci's demeanor plummeted. Her brown eyes glistened with moisture and she produced the greatest puppy dog eyes she could muster up, then swifly typed: Please, Cal? Pleeeeeeeaseeeee? Pretty please?

"Come on, Cal," Riki pitched in, because he wanted to see what was in the box too. "Who knows when Iason's gonna come back. Just let her open it and you can document what's inside. If you don't approve of it, set it aside for Iason to look at."

"B-but..."

Luci looked to Cal, mouthing out the word "please" repeatedly while giving him the cutest and saddest eyes he'd ever seen.

"Oh very well," he agreed reluctantly. "However, if I see anything that could be dangerous it's gone. Do you both understand?"

Luci nodded rapidly, then hugged the giant box and dragged it to the area before the living room steps. She laid it flat and then began ripping through the box's thick material until she reached her first item. She yanked the smaller box free and clapped excitedly and displayed it for Riki, then snatched back her tablet: It's a game! It's a game! Can we play it? Can we? Can we, Riki? Please, oh please?

Riki sat down and observed the box with a picture of a stack of wooden blocks in a tower form. "Jenaga?" he murmured, trying to decipher the game.

You stack three blocks going one way and three going the other! Luci explained, after reading the box. And then you pull out a block and stack it on top. The goal is to get as many blocks safely out and hope that your opponent makes the tower topple!

"You've played it before?"

Luci shook her head. No, but I saw a video clip of someone playing it and have always wanted to try it!

Riki pressed his lips together, then tsked. "I dunno, kiddo..."

The child pouted, then straightened up and casually typed out: Well, I guess if you can't handle the taste of defeat...then we don't have to play.

The mongrel closed his eyes, bristling as he set the game aside firmly. "Pretty cocky, ain't ya?" he growled. "What else is in the box, you shrimp?"

Luci smirked, knowing full well she had her parent in the palm of her hands. She ripped through the box and pulled out another package labeled RIKI. With one swift move, she handed it off to him and nodded.

Riki frowned. "What? Why me?" he questioned.

Cal stepped in, now concerned. "Please let me see what is in there," he fearfully demanded, now unsure of his decision to allow the box to be opened. "I can't risk having you harmed."

Riki cautiously ripped through the packaging, Luci sitting right next to him, while Cal stood behind and watched. He first revealed a clear wrapped package with black material in it. He ripped it open and pulled out one tank top with a white design of a bird with its wings open. Riki hummed in approval, holding it up for Cal and examining the size which looked like it would fit him. "Is this a threat?"

"No."

"Hmm," Riki sounded, pulling out a long sleeved black shirt that was made of a soft material next. "Damn, who is this person that sent this?"

Cal examined the parcel tag. "It just says Alliance."

Yes! That is their name, and I assure you they are no threat, Luci typed hastily, then peeked over Riki's shoulder. What else did you get?

Riki pulled out a bottle of wine. "Oooh," he purred. "What is this?" He examined the bottle further, running his finger along the glass. "Hey! It has my name engraved into it!" The bottle was snatched away from him. "Hey, Cal! What the hell!"

"I need to have it tested for poison, you can't have it!"

Riki was about to fight for it, but Luci guided his attention to the last object in his package. He glared daggers at Cal as he went to put the bottle in the locked case, then noticed a pack of premium cigarettes that looked extremely expensive and appealing and instantly felt better. He slipped them into his pants pocket before he was seen. "Well, that's all for me," he grumbled. "Anything else you got in that huge ass box?"

"M-Master Riki, your language..."

Luci slipped into the box and rustled around, handing out a package labeled IASON and then disappearing again. Cal returned and took the package for his Master warily, carrying it to a storage area for safety in case it was an explosive or something. He was regretting his decision of allowing the parcel to be opened, it was very suspicious. When Luci appeared again, she was wearing a lavender colored hoodie with cat ears on the hood and hugging onto a brown teddy bear that looked to be several years old. It's fuzzy thread fur was matted and it's blue bow tie was rumpled, but she still nuzzled it lovingly.

"M...Miss Luci," Cal cringed, eyeing up the ancient teddy bear. "That is very dirty..."

Luci hugged it tightly, set it aside, then typed out: It belonged to the woman who gave birth to me. Please don't take it away. She gave Cal her best puppy dog eyes, even adding a wobbly lip.

"Yeah, Cal," Riki defended, laughing internally at her manipulation tactics that had Cal extremely uncomfortable. He finally stood up after Cal agreed to let it stay and grabbed the game box. "Well, let's give this thing a try." He lifted the box up, which was almost as big as Luci. "Cal? Can we set this up in the dining room?"

Iason entered the lift with a sigh, pinching the bridge of his nose. There always seemed to be something that needed to be fixed. He was especially hoping that Orphe would leave him and Riki alone. The last time he had an issue with him was when Riki had caused a spot of trouble in the Eos Garden.

He exited the lift, entering into his penthouse and strode through the entry way, pausing as he heard his pet's voice. Slowly, he approached the dining room, and peered into it with the security panel. He paused, observing the situation in quiet surprise.

"How the hell did you get that out without it tipping?" Riki demanded, scratching his head in frustration.

Luci smiled, placing the block on the top with the others and stuck out her tongue in a taunting manner.

"You little...!" Riki growled, then attempted to pull a block out and held his breath as the tower wobbled. "No, no, no!" He paused in his attempt, guiding it slower in attempt to be successful. "Shit!"

The tower toppled, the blocks spilling onto the table like a demolition site. Luci clapped her hands and added another tick to her winning score.

"Son of a..." Riki hissed, shaking his head. "How come this is so hard? Is this a kid's game?"

Iason entered the room, observing as both of them looked up in surprise. Cal rushed out of the kitchen, having been busy preparing the next meal. "M-Master! I apologize for my lack of attendance, I did not hear your return."

The Blondie held up his hand, giving it a small wave to dismiss Cal and forgive the transgression, then looked to the two mongrels at the table. "What is this you have here?"

"A game," Riki bluntly answered, starting to stack up the pieces again.

"Miss Luci received a parcel in the mail from someone by the name of Alliance." Cal explained, bringing forth Iason's parcel. "I was hesitant to have it opened without your presence, but I went through the contents and found only a bottle of wine for Master Riki which needed to be tested for harmful toxins. However, this one parcel was labeled as being for you and I did not open it."

"Me?" Iason repeated, his brow furrowing as he accepted the parcel. He had never had a parcel for Riki arrive at the penthouse unless it was something that he ordered for Riki, but he had parcels all the time arrive for him. As long as each item was checked, he did not mind the breech of conduct. Although, technically the parcel was Luci's therefore it was hers. However, as she was offspring of his pet, Iason had access to anything that was hers by default. But seeing his pet happily playing a game, he was not upset by the lack of permission.

Luci hopped down from her chair, with her tablet: I'm sorry we opened it before you arrived. I was just so excited!

Iason nodded at the apology. "I'll overlook it this time, but in the future you must consult with me about these matters."

The small mongrel nodded: I will if there is a next time. She then typed out a new message and showed it before she began hopping up and down excitedly. Now open it! Open it! I want to see what Alliance sent you!

Iason smiled softly and set the parcel on the table, then began opening it. The first object was a bottle of wine, with his name engraved into it. He studied it, reading the words upon the label. "How in the world did someone find this?" he questioned.

"You got one too?" Riki piped up, putting the last block upon the tower.

"This is no ordinary wine, pet," Iason explained. "This wine had it's production ceased from an unknown location many, many years ago. It's hard to find any bottle of this at all and yet this one has been engraved as if it's still being produced."

"Whoopdiedoo, I'll put it on a shelf now" Riki mumbled. "There goes my drinking supply."

Iason smiled at Riki's lack of enthusiasm. "Pet, if you pawned it off you could make millions of credits."

Riki twitched, but refused to react. "It has my name on it though. It's special."

The Blondie set his bottle aside, then found an intricately carved antique box which was used to hold jewelry items within it. He ran his gloved fingers over the wood, but was unable to pinpoint where the material was from. "Oh my," he commented, opening the box to touch the velvet inside. "Very nice." He set it down next to the bottle, then finally pulled out a case of cigars. "Ohhh," he chuckled brokenly, admiring the rare brand. "What a treat indeed."

Riki scowled as he spotted the refined cigars, but then remembered he had his own cigarettes. "Wow, look at you being spoiled."

"Indeed, it appears so." Iason gathered up his items and left them at the end of the table and then approached the other end where the game was set up. "So how does this work?"

"You pull a block," Riki explained, grumbling. "And then stack it on top. If you make the tower topple you lose."

Iason hummed in approval. "Simple, yet intriguing," he noted, taking a seat. "May I join this round?"

Iason skillfully removed one of the blocks from the tower, and placed it upon the top without a single tremor in his movement.

Riki scowled, analyzing the tower and trying to pick out his next move. "Shit," he cussed softly, unable to pick one from the rigid tower. "Shit, I dunno."

"Riki," Iason scolded lightly, then motioned to one of the options. "Perhaps that one?"

"I don't need your help!" Riki growled, shooting a glare at the Blondie and then biting his lip. Damn, that block was probably the easiest one to get free.

Iason smiled softly, looking to Luci who sighed exaggeratedly. "Listening to others is one of his weak points," he mused. "Especially when it means accepting help."

Luci covered her mouth and giggled silently while nodding repeatedly in agreement.

"Hey! Who's side are you on?" Riki scowled.

"Just take the block, pet," Iason chuckled softly. "No one will think less of you."

Riki gnashed his teeth together and pulled a riskier block out from the tower, then set it on top and then took a long sip from the drink that Cal had prepared for him.

Iason sighed, taking a sip of his own drink. "Must you always be difficult, Riki?" he demanded, then watched as Luci took the block he had pointed and put it on the pile. "See? It was a much smarter move."

"Pets don't have to be smart," Riki hissed while glaring up at Iason.

"Riki," Iason warned, his face tightening.

Riki was about to reply with a snarky comment, but Luci grasped onto his arm and shook her head with a pleading expression on her face. He ground his teeth, and slumped into his chair. "Sorry," he grumbled to her, then shook her hold off.

Don't fight, Luci typed. He was only trying to be thoughtful.

"Whatever."

Luci sighed sadly, then looked to Iason as it was his turn.

Iason nodded, then proceeded to pick one block from the tower, sending it trembling slightly. "This is getting near the end," he noted, then looked to Riki who was eyeing up the tower. "Your turn."

Riki hesitated, his hand hovering around, before he drew it back. "Shit..." he murmured, then leaned back and sighed exaggeratedly. "I'm done. You two can play."

Before Iason could comment, Luci typed out a message: I am finished as well. We've been at it for a long time and I for one am tired. She yawned softly behind her hand.

"How about we save it again for another day then?" Iason suggested, observing Luci who nodded while placing the blocks back in the container they belonged in. "If you are tired, perhaps you should rest after lunch?"

"Master," Cal interrupted softly. "I have lunch finished if now is all right."

"Yes," Iason nodded. "Now would be a suitable time."

Iason slid across the silky, cool sheets and captured Riki in a gentle embrace from behind. He inhaled the fragrance of his beloved, which mainly consisted of soap from his shower prior to him getting into bed, but beyond that was a soft scent that reminded Iason of a type of spice but one that had been dug up from within a forest. With a feathery touch, he ran his fingers along Riki's chest which ultimately awoke his beautiful mongrel up. "Are you tired?" he breathed, giving a gentle squeeze to the sleep warm body.

"Mm...not anymore," Riki mumbled, rolling back to face the Blondie in all his glory. "Did you get your problem solved, by the way?"

"Essentially," Iason answered, stroking his finger across Riki's forehead to wipe away the hair in his eyes. "You appeared to be unwell before lunch." He laid his hand across the tanned forehead. "Are you still feeling unwell?"

Riki averted his gaze. "I'm not ill, I'm just unsure," he mumbled. "This whole parenting thing is...it's fucking hard." He paused to look at Iason. "Before we played that game, she didn't even know what fun or play was until I told her. And she kept saying she pretended to be in another place when she was sad..." He shook his head. "Shit, I don't know what happened to her before we found her Iason...but I'm...I'm..."

"Worried?" Iason suggested, gently bringing Riki's hands into his own. He caressed each finger, analyzing how strong each digit was without being altered in any way like his own. "It's all right to be worried or unsure, Riki. Parenting isn't something learned overnight."

"Still..." Riki trailed, sighing deeply. "What if it was a mistake? What if I'm just the worst parent?"

Iason smiled softly. "I doubt very much that you will be the worst parent, Riki." He continued his soft, soothing caresses. "You could do better and you might not be the greatest parent, but I'm sure whatever you offer will be something that Luci will accept considering her background."

Riki's eyes opened wider. "You know her background?"

"No," Iason answered softly. "But considering she was a test subject, I can only imagine it was a very limited and secluded life."

Riki ground his teeth, burying his cheek into the cobalt tinted sheets. "Fuck," he cursed softly.

Iason moved closer to Riki, planting a kiss upon the sad lips. "But now is your chance to help her experience a true life, Riki," he pointed out.

"I'm hardly the right person to do that," the mongrel sulked.

"Why?"

"This isn't my true life, Iason," Riki reminded. "This is the life you made me a part of."

"But it is the life that truly suits you best," Iason contradicted. "Or are you going to deny that you belong by my side again?"

Riki gritted his teeth, forcing himself to remain silent. He suddenly remembered what Luci had said earlier, that if it wasn't meant to be, it wouldn't be as it was today. Perhaps there was some truth in that? If he wasn't meant to be with Iason, some obstacle would have separated them long ago, but Iason always managed to keep them together. "No," he softly answered. There was no way he was backing down now.

Iason gently paused, surprised that Riki had not fought against him. He felt a rush of success pool through his circuits. "Good," he returned, planting a kiss upon his mongrel's cheek. "I'm glad to hear that." He was suddenly hit with a large wave of arousal at his triumph in having Riki succumb to him, even if it was just a single word reply. "I know you are to refrain from overexertion, so I'll make this quick and as painless as I can."

The man tightened the straps around her hands, the devices clicking as they adjusted to the point of constricting the blood flow. He then tightened the straps around her feet, tightening it in a similar fashion. "Just in case," he grinned, then retrieved the vibrating object and ran his tongue along the blunt tip. "This will make you scream."

Lucifer ground his teeth, trying to control the overwhelming fear that was trapped within Luci's body and seeping into his consciousness. This wasn't like the other ones! This one was shaped crooked! Oh no, no, no, no, no! Luci's body's limbs tightened uncontrollably, despite the attempts to prevent the showing of fear. Lucifer helplessly jolted as he felt the throbbing object press against the delicate folds of his sister's lower body.

"Hmmm," the man sounded, gliding it around the child's tiny reproductive area which was not even fully blossomed. The thickness of the big, black object covered the entire area between the girl's legs as he pressed it to her tiny opening. "This will rip you. But I'm sure you'll heal."

Lucifer felt an uncontrollable amount of fear take over him as he felt the object press hard against the opening. He bit back a cry of fear, then gasped as he sensed Luci trying to come back to consciousness and began to fight against her return. 'Stay away! Stay away!' he pleaded, feeling the object stab at their unyielding opening.

"It's not going in?" the man grumbled in displeasure, pulling back and allowing Lucifer a moment of relief.

Before he could even think to regain composure, Lucifer was doused in a liquid, which made him cough as a splash went into Luci's mouth while the rest clung to her lower body area like glue where it was poured. Lucifer pried open Luci's eyes, then realized with horror that the liquid was the reversal preservation fluid - to make their skin soft. With fear, Lucifer looked up at the man who grinned evilly, watching as their skin absorbed every drop. The man ran his hand along Luci's sensitive region, feeling that the skin was noticeably softer and pliable. "Much better," he breathed, a sickening grin upon his lips while madness glinted in his eyes.

Lucifer tensed up as he saw movement, but before he could finish a silent scream sent Luci's lips convulsing before a breathy, agonized moan spilled out as the object rammed into her opening and curved upward and pressed against her insides which were not meant to be touched. Her body instinctively retched, spewing up chunky liquids mixed with blood as the man proceeded to rip the object in and while laughing hysterically.

"Open, pet," Iason commanded, pressing himself to the tanned lips. "Good boy."

Riki was irked at being called pet and praised like a dog, but could only produce moans around the massive organ stretching the span of his mouth to the utmost limits. He sucked rhythmically with the soft thrusts into his mouth, while managing to slide his tongue around the surface of the pulsating intruder.

"Enough," Iason ordered, pulling himself free and then gently pushing the mongrel into the bed and crawled over him.

Riki moaned as Iason reached for him, sliding his fingers through the slick mess and then slid down and inserted them into his body. He tightened his lower body as he always did when something foreign entered him, mainly in fear, but he would never say.

With precision, the digits stretched and stroked his internal cavern, eliciting more moans and cries from the exotic beauty writhing in the silk sheets. It wasn't slow preparation, but any preparation was far better than none.

Just when the mongrel was on the edge of wanting release, Iason slipped into him. He forced his way upward, then pressed his hipbones against the tight ass. The Blondie leaned over Riki, planting his arms on either side of the lithe body and giving the mongrel a full view of his rippling muscles of an artificial being. He grinned as Riki grasped not onto his arms, but his hair tips and the bed sheets around him while he squirmed.

"Relax," Iason breathed, his command firm and icy with need, but his tone gentle as he stroked the face tight with conflicting emotions. "I'll be very gentle."

Cal peeked out into the living space from the dining room, pausing as he saw Luci was shaking profusely and leaning against one of the marble pillars. Sensing something wasn't right, he stepped out of the dining room and slowly approached.

"Miss Luci?" he called softly, then he spotted a small puddle of vomit on the floor, just missing the carpet. "Oh, it's OK, Luci. I can clean that up."

Luci shot him a tearful, terrified gaze, before shaking even more in fear and immediately started to sob.

"Miss Luci, it's all right. I can easily clean it up," he soothed, then came closer with his hands on his knees as he crouched lower to get on her level. "Is your tummy upset? Would you like something to make it better?" He ceased moving as she jolted back, her tiny body hitting the marble as she shook her head and began pulling her hair while whimpering through her cries. "Oh, Luci! Please, don't do that! You'll ruin your pretty hair!"

The child sank down beside the pillar while whimpering with her mouth closed, then began to fold her hands in almost an action of pleading for forgiveness before they unfolded and she started to hit herself on her forehead with her palms while choking on sobs.

Cal, horrified, immediately moved forward and closed the distance. "Stop!" he demanded, prying the distressed child's hands from her face. "Stop, you're hurting yourself!" Luci again folded her hands and held them up, crying to Cal for mercy until he tried to grab onto them and then again began to hit the right side of her face hard enough to make painful audible smacking sounds of flesh against flesh and bone. "MASTER!" he yelled loudly in a panic, trying his hardest to get her to stop, but couldn't. "Stop, Luci, you must stop!"

Luci continued to cry in fright, imploring without words to Cal to please spare her before again hitting herself in self punishment. Cal tried linking his hands with hers to get her to stop hitting herself, but she was too strong and continued to do the action no matter how hard he attempted to pull her small hands away from the self harming action.

Iason entered the room from the hallway dressed in a body suit robe, followed by Riki who was just slipping on his shirt after hopping into his jeans. "What's going on?" the blonde demanded, his eyes then narrowing on Luci who was weeping and trying to tug her hands from Cal. He started toward them, but was cut off by Riki.

Riki immediately noticed Luci crying and hurried over. "What happened?" he asked angrily, striding down the steps and to his distraught daughter.

"I was checking up on her and saw she got sick, then she started crying and hitting herself," Cal explained fearfully. "I can't get her to stop."

Luci clutched onto Riki for dear life when he reached her, sobbing into his jeans and then once again folding her hands to beg for mercy. Her breathing started to change to the beginning of hyperventilating, as her fear began to take over her body and she could not accept comfort.

"Hey, hey! It's all right, it's all right," Riki assured as he scooped her up, struggling to hold onto the sobbing child while she continued the unpredictable movements of folding her hands and then hitting her head in a repetitive action. "Hey, no! Stop, stop!" He grasped onto her one hand, but she continued to hit herself with the other. "Iason, help—!"

Before he could finish, Iason was immediately at his side and held onto her other hand as she was about to hit herself again in her emotional fit. "Luci! Luci, stop!" he commanded firmly. "Cal, get the oxygen mask from the medi-kit!" Iason gently stroked the child's face, trying to calm her and her erratic breathing of tearful gasps, but he could see the deep fear in her eyes and knew it would take time. "Shhh, it's all right, sweetheart. Calm down, Luci. Calm down."

Cal handed off the small oxygen mask to Iason, who then activated it and held it out to Luci who struggled to get away from it fearfully.

"Luci, it's all right," Riki assured, trying to get her to meet his eyes to reassure her, but she had them shut tightly as she cried and shook in fear. He felt his chest tighten as he felt so helpless. "It's all right, baby! It's all right!"

Iason finally managed to force the mask onto the child's mouth and nose while his other hand held onto her free arm to prevent further hitting. "You're all right," he soothed, observing as the child took panting gulps of the oxygen. "Calm down, Luci. Look at me. Calm down."

Cal backed away, observing in helplessness and awe as both people before him seemed to transform into two different beings in the presence of a frightened Luci. He moved to go retrieve some medicinal items that might help calm the child further, and the cleaning supplies for the vomit.

Luci finally opened her eyes, releasing a sobbing cough as her teary eyes looked from Riki to Iason. She tried to move her arms, but ceased as both of them forbade her.

After a long moment of Luci just breathing, Riki finally let go of her arm slowly. He took the mask from Iason and held it to her mouth and nose more comfortably from his closer position. "See? You're fine," he assured, his chest uncomfortably tight. "You're safe here. No one will hurt you."

Iason let go of her arm as well, but did not leave, instead he gently rubbed the child's back. "Good girl, just breathe," he softly encouraged, mesmerized by Riki's parental skills. "That's it. Just breathe."

Luci's breathing slowly started to go back to normal. She folded her hands again, bring them up to her forehead as she cried softly into the mask with her forehead against Riki's chest.

Riki looked to Iason. "What's she doing?" he inquired, still holding the mask to her mouth and managing to hold her.

"I believe that action is a plea for forgiveness or compassion," Iason answered, gently lowering the child's hands, but keeping his hand hovering above in case she decided to hit herself again. "You have nothing to be sorry for, Luci. And you do not need mercy from us as we will do you no harm."

Luci still raised her hands, which Iason lowered twice before she gave up and just rested against Riki's warm chest and sniffled.

Riki handed back the mask, then adjusted his hold on Luci. He accepted a tissue that Iason handed off, helping her blow her nose after wiping her tears. "There," he whispered, bringing her closer as his chest tightened painfully. "You're all right now." He slowly sat down on the couch, raising her up more so she could rest her head in his nape. He planted a gentle kiss upon her head, while patting her back softly. "Everything's all right now," he whispered. "You're safe here, remember?"

Iason settled down next to Riki, bringing his arm around his mongrel and leaning close to him. "You're doing very well," he whispered into Riki's ear, while gently caressing the top of Luci's head.

Cal returned with a cup of a juice with a straw with some calming medicinal items infused into it. "Master?" he quietly called, then continued when Iason addressed him. "This may help as well if you can get her to drink it."

The Blondie accepted the cup, then gently guided the straw to Luci's lips. "Drink," he softly commanded.

After a few failing attempts Luci obeyed, sipping on the straw and scrunching up her face from the unfamiliar flavor, but managed to down half of the drink before calling it quits. She rested her head against Riki's shoulder as he continued to soothe her, allowing herself to relax now that she knew that no one was going to harm her despite her fear. After a few moments, she drifted off to sleep as her eyes became too heavy from crying to keep open.

Riki hesitantly moved away as Cal pulled up the sheets around the child who was still shivering in her sleep. Iason gently wrapped an arm around the strong, tanned chest and pulled him closer. "Cal will watch over her," he assured softly. "Let her rest."

The pair moved from the room, and when finally in the living space, Riki let the question slip from his lips. "What was that?" he softly asked.

"Psychological trauma reaction," Iason answered softly, gently caressing Riki's hand which was holding onto his arm which remained around his chest.

"She was...hitting herself," he whispered shakily, glancing up to Iason's eyes. "I've seen that. I saw that in Guardian." He shook his head at the recollection of a few children who strayed away from the group hurting themselves. "I never understood why."

Iason was about to speak, but then exhaled the breath. "It is usually a symptom of someone with mental illness," he gently revealed, using as soft of wording as he could. He had done research on certain topics of mental illnesses and disabilities in children once, out of mere curiosity, but now it concerned him. However, aside from lack of speaking, Luci was a well advanced Human being.

Riki brought his arms up to his head, tightening his fingers into his hair. "Oh god...no..." he choked. "It's not fair."

"It's going to be all right, Riki," Iason assured. "There is no further evidence to suggest she is mentally ill." He removed Riki's hands from their position and kissed them gently. "She could have done the action on impulse. She was very afraid and confused, and when those emotions take over, the body does abnormal things."

"Really?" Riki breathed, his voice a faint whisper of fear.

"Yes," Iason assured, kissing the mongrel's left temple. "We will watch over her more carefully to see if there is any other sign of illness. If there is, there are plenty of treatment options with our medical system."

"OK." Riki leaned back into Iason, relieved that the Blondie wasn't going to let his daughter go easily.

Several hours after the incident, Luci slowly moved from her room with her tablet and began looking for Riki. She peeked out into the living space and found him resting on the couch, an unsettled look upon his face as he slept, while Iason was in his office. Luci carefully made her way to him, pausing just in front of his face and outstretched arm. She grasped onto his hand and hugged it gently, the movement causing Riki to stir.

"M-woah, uh...hey," he whispered, straightening up more. "Are you feeling better?"

Luci averted her gaze, handing over her tablet with a message already upon it: I'm sorry for earlier. I was just so scared.

Riki set the tablet aside and helped her up onto the couch. "It's OK to be scared," he assured, pausing as she hugged him tightly. "Everyone gets scared."

Luci pointed at Riki, tilting her head.

"Yes, even I get scared," he admitted quietly, glancing around to make sure no one else heard the confession. He grasped lightly onto her cheek and gave it a gentle tug. "Don't go shouting it to the world now." Luci giggled softly, then settled down in the crook of his arm. Riki again paused, but moved his arm to hold her closer while his thumb gently stroked her cheek until they both drifted to sleep.

Iason ended the call with Orphe, leaning back in his chair with a sigh. The fellow Blondie would not let the issue of how Luci managed to get out of her cell and compromise security go. When he had been asked before, Iason had simply stated that she was not a normal Human being and he would look into the matter at a later time, but Orphe acted as if he was in dire need to know.

However, after the incident earlier today, Iason observed just how Human Luci was by responding to some stimuli which brought forth a reaction of sheer terror from the very core of her being. It surprised him considering that Riki, her biological parent, never really showed his own fear. But then again, Luci was just a child and other than this outburst, she did not seem to show much fear other than hesitation when being touched.

But Luci hadn't been touched, at least that was what he gathered from Cal's explanation. So what caused the reaction? Was it a physical stimuli in his home that caused her to act that way? Was it the remnants of the poison from Raoul causing her to get sick and then she was scared of being punished?

Another sigh escaped Iason's lips as he closed down his screens and rose. With a slow, strong stride, he exited his office and found his way down the hall and into the living space. With a soft smile, he observed the scene of parent and child resting together on the sofa, but unlike last time, Riki was less awkward about it. "And you thought you'd be the worst parent," he mused.

Riki looked down upon the sleepy Luci who had her old teddy bear in her one hand, dragging it along the floor. "I'll be back in a few days," he reassured softly. "You understand, don't you?"

Luci sighed, then nodded and set her teddy down to hold her tablet with both. She typed out a small message: I understand. Please be careful and do your best.

"Will do," he agreed, then straightened out and grabbed onto his bag of clothes and supplies that Iason had Cal pack, slinging it over his shoulder. He didn't need them, but Iason insisted he have a few new items after his absence.

Iason stepped into the entryway, immediately grasping onto the mongrel in a possessive embrace, but it was gentle. "Katze will be checking your condition in case there are any abnormality's," he explained. "If you feel ill, tell him. Don't try to act as if you're not."

"Fine, whatever," Riki agreed, wanting so desperately to get out of the awkward position as his daughter was watching.

"I mean it, Riki."

"Yes, yes, fine!"

Iason held Riki still by an arms length, then leaned in and kissed the tantalizing lips. He smirked as he saw Riki flush red up to his ears, knowing full well he was embarrassed. When he pulled back, the door chimed and he saw a familiar redhead enter. "Be good."

"Yeah, yeah, yeah," he grumbled, pushing away and trying to desperately gain his composure as Katze greeted Iason.

After her parent and the redhead left, Luci returned to her room briefly and then followed behind Iason like a duckling, earning a raised eyebrow from the Blondie who was heading to his bedroom. "What are you trailing behind me for, hmm?" he questioned, slightly amused. "Are you out of ways to occupy yourself?"

Luci nodded, reaching up to him in hopes of being carried. Thankfully, the Blondie did just that and carried her back to his room and set her on the edge of the bed while he wandered about and gathered a few things and added a few pieces to his outfit. She watched him intently for awhile before gazing about the room and then flopping back onto the silky bed. Her fingertips twitched as she touched the extremely soft fabric, before she sat up and pinched the fabric between her fingertips and studied the fibers.

Iason, who heard the shuffling on the sheets, glanced over at the child in the mirror as he put on his wrist comm over his outfit's sleeve and smiled. Luci appeared to be back to her normal state after three days of recovery. She had spent those days diverting her attention between personal time of drawing, tagging behind Riki who wandered about aimlessly, napping and her seemingly favorite activity of taking bubble baths. He turned around, softly approaching her and paused at the edge of the bed. "It's silk," he informed her, then reached out and lifted her up. "I have to purchase you something from the Marketplace and you must come with me to test it." Luci's eyes brightened with excitement and Iason couldn't help but smirk. "Cal will help you get ready. We leave in five minutes."

"You truly believe her to be psychologically unwell?" Raoul questioned, his brows furrowing in his deep thinking. "I have already told you, there was no test result that showed any evidence of any mental illness. Will you tell me why you are asking me this again?"

"Yes, I am aware." Iason leaned back, tapping another screen and sorting through some Syndicate related files. "However, she went into a bit of a fit which resulted in her hitting herself repeatedly."

"Self harm by hitting..." Raoul averted his gaze, pondering up possibilities for the action. "In the past, I have had Human experiments who attempted self harm, but in attempt to terminate themselves. However, her actions do not sound like the ones I observed."

Iason stiffened, wondering if the only way Luci could perish is if she harmed herself. She had been hitting her head with an extreme amount of force, which could cause damage. Iason stiffened further as he remembered the indent in her skull, had she done that to herself in attempt to kill herself and be free of her torment?

"Miss Luci!" Cal called beyond the doors, filling Iason to the brim with concern that she was undergoing another attack.

"I will be in touch," Iason promised, then closed down his screens and moved to where the sound was coming from. He entered into the living space to find Luci scurrying across the room with her top only on her body by the neck hole. "Luci," he called frostily.

Luci popped up from her spot, slipping her arms into the sleeve holes then hurrying to Iason.

Iason grabbed her, picking her up. "I told you that Cal was to help you. You've disobeyed me again."

Cal handed Luci her tablet, then backed away, placing a fallen pillow from the couch back where it belonged.

I told you! I'm not a Princess or VIP guest, she typed, pouting. I can take care of myself.

"You are six years old," Iason reminded. "Children are meant to be looked after."

Luci scowled. I don't wish to be looked after. I'm not a child!

Iason sighed. "You are in fact a child and therefore, what you wish does not matter," he concluded. "We are late now, thanks to your foolishness."

"Are you comfortable?" Iason questioned, observing the small child within the car seat. It appeared to be sufficient to protect her - not that she needed it. However, Tanagura laws stated that children needed to be in a car seat, whether indestructible or not, a child is a child. He turned to look at the seller. "And the straps cannot be undone unless the proper fingerprint is on the scanner, correct?"

"Yes, Sir," the skinny, suited man nodded. "However, the seat can still be removed from the vehicle, unless further security is installed."

Iason wondered if anyone would try to steal Luci from his vehicle if he ever took her from Eos. "Very well, I'll purchase the seat and the restraining straps."

"Very well, Sir."

After a few moments, the interaction was complete and service men would deliver and install the car seat and security devices into his vehicle later that day. He needed it done soon, because he might have a meeting later that evening if Katze contacted him. They left the shop and made their way through the Market, many people staring as Iason was trailed by a little mongrel duckling.

To avoid being stopped, Iason moved along the area with shops built into the pavilion sides. However, out of nowhere appeared an all too familiar green eyed Blondie who brought them to a halt in front of a shop. "Raoul," Iason greeted tiredly.

"Iason," he returned. "What brings you here?"

"Nothing of your concern, Raoul," Iason calmly answered. "Now if you'll excuse me, I have a lot to do today."

"Did she attempt to harm you?"

"I beg your pardon?"

"You stated the child mongrel had an attack of some sort," Raoul reminded. "Did she attempt to harm you?"

"No," Iason answered, then glanced back at Luci and immediately moved to her as she stood in front of a Bondage & Sex Toy shop, looking in the window. "Get away from there!" he scolded, yanking her away from the display window.

Her eyes shifted to darkness. "Why?" he inquired, frowning.

Iason recognized Lucifer instantly. "You are a child," he hissed, tugging the child further away. "Children are not supposed to know of such things until they are much older!"

Lucifer yanked himself free. "Why?"

Raoul's eyes narrowed. "It speaks," he hostilely noted, then added in confusion. "In a male voice?"

"Yes," Iason answered to Raoul, then turned back to the child. "Luci and you are too young to know about such acts!"

"You mean sex or sexual acts?" Lucifer challenged. "The act of pleasuring due to stimulation in the genital regions or other sensitive areas of the body by another or objects, what is wrong with that?"

"Interesting," Raoul murmured, his eyes bright like a cat watching a mouse.

Iason shot a cold glare at the fellow Blondie, silencing him, then once again to Lucifer. "Yes, sex," he replied. "You are not supposed to know about it until you are twice your age."

Lucifer laughed. "I'm not supposed to know of sex, on the galaxy's most sexual planet?"

"Even Amoian children are sheltered from sexual content to a certain age," he answered, then crossed his arms. "The fact you are aware of such things has me greatly concerned."

Lucifer calmly regarded him for a moment, then looked to the display, then back at Iason. "What age is appropriate for sex?"

"As I said, twice your age," Iason repeated. "When you are considered an adult or old enough to partake in such things, not a child as you are."

"I see," Lucifer sadly noted, then looked to the display window again. "Well then, Lord Mink, I am sorry to say we are children no more." He looked up to Iason, his dark eyes somehow appearing with a lighter tint. "We haven't been children for a long time it seems."

Iason paused, his chest tightening. "Explain that, now," he demanded, now furious and immensely concerned.

Lucifer shook his head sadly, slowly walking away from the Blondie's. "His favorite one to use was the one on the third row, second column," he answered instead. "But He did use whatever was available too."

Iason's eyes immediately pinned themselves to a large, black sex toy that was commonly used to thoroughly ruin a female pet who had been outrageously disobedient. After it was used on the females, they would be aching from being torn for a few days to a few weeks to remind them of their disobedience and the consequences. His gaze followed from the window to Raoul who was looking just as disturbed. "She's only six years old," he breathed, pinching the bridge of his nose for a moment, then lowering his head to observe Lucifer who had padded to the exit and was waiting for him. "It's not even legal."

Raoul's brow furrowed. "You are forgetting, Iason, that she is a mongrel." Then he paused and added. "She said for a long time as well, which means it was before age six that she was introduced to sex."

The blue eyed Blondie felt suddenly incredibly uncomfortable. "Excuse me, Raoul," he softly apologized, adding before turning away. "I need to have a word with my charge."

Chapter Text

CHAPTER THIRTEEN

PUZZLE PIECES

Iason swiftly moved toward Lucifer who was moving through the corridor while having his gaze remain on the tiled ground. He reached out to the child, momentarily stunned when his hand was hit away. "Lucifer," he frowned.

"Please refrain from touching me at this time!" he pleaded, urgently backing away from Iason. Luci's body was trembling in fear, but Lucifer kept the emotions contained. "Please. Please, forgive my disrespectful behavior, but we are not well at the moment."

The Blondie reluctantly backed off. "I need to speak with you about what you said in the Market," Iason demanded calmly.

Lucifer nodded sadly. "Yes, I understand." He looked up to the Blondie. "May I request we hold this conversation in a soundproof and concealed venue?"

Riki lowered the shipment to the appropriate place and then glided backwards and toward the next metallic crate. He had begun to relax as his schedule gave him a sense of rhythm and occupied his mind with other things than being a pet.

With a sigh, he loaded the next shipment on and forced himself to focus on anything but Iason, Eos or even Luci. He needed this time to remember who he truly was - a Human being that had potential. Sure, having a job such as this one wasn't one that required immense skill, but it was more than being a plaything for a Blondie.

Iason observed Lucifer, who was shifting restlessly within the seat. They were in one of the hidden rooms within his penthouse. It was Iason's private office that even Jupiter nor any Furniture knew about - it was that secluded and hidden. Before he could gently prompt Lucifer to speak, the child began.

"Please listen when I say that I have tried my best to shield Luci from everything that occurred to us in our past," Lucifer started, looking to Iason while shivering and his voice broke. "But there is only so much I can protect her from and I am limited in strength compared to her. It is a constant struggle."

"I understand," he acknowledged, then waited a few moments. "What has happened to Luci and you?" Iason softly inquired. "If there is a way to ease your suffering, I would like to do so, for the sake of you both and Riki."

Lucifer shook his head, laughing sadly. "Oh Lord Mink, there is so much that has happened to Luci over the course of about four years." He again briefly met Iason's eyes, taking the conversation in a different direction. "You stated that we were too young to know of sexual content, correct?"

Iason frowned and nodded. "I did."

"That is not true where we are from," Lucifer sadly revealed. "Children are seen as ripe for such activities at age four or five depending on their figures."

Iason felt a rush of sickness and discomfort pour through his systems like ice water. "Age four?" he breathed in disbelief. "That is beyond unacceptable." He inhaled a sharp breath. "Whoever you were created by ought to be punished with death."

Lucifer laughed softly. "Lord Mink," he began. "Every single day children are forced into sexual acts by laboratory workers, observers and business partners. Not one day goes by when a child is not led off to the Health ward for the start of many routine 'physical examinations' or 'check-ups'."

"Sweet Jupiter," Iason grimaced. "How many children are in the facility?"

"There is no limit," Lucifer answered. "Everyday new children are created, new fetuses produced, illegal shipments of kidnapped or orphaned children brought in."

"Kidnapped?" Iason repeated. "Orphaned? You mean that children are abducted and brought to the facility to be used as test subjects as well?"

Lucifer nodded softly. "Thousands, if not hundreds of thousands, of children go missing throughout the galaxies over the course of as little as three months. Those ones get sent to the second facility." He paused and shook his head. "They are treated like cattle, each week or so, whenever a new shipment of victims is required, they are herded and brought over to the first facility. There are children of all ages crammed within the few lower floors of the second building."

Iason shook his head angrily. "This illegal operation must be stopped at once!"

"It's not that simple, Sir."

"There must be some way to intervene!"

"Yes, Alliance has done a great deal to help free many of the test subjects over the years," Lucifer revealed. "However, there is never enough man power to take down the highly guarded facilities, so results are lower than what is wished for."

"The Amoian army is of great mass," Iason suggested.

"Jupiter will not allow that. There is almost no access to the planet and the area is one in which is restricted to any beings."

"Surely if this Alliance was able to liberate you, there is a way to return without complications," Iason contradicted.

"Jupiter will not support the decision and let her army go."

"If this planet and whatever on it is not only illegal but a threat to me, Jupiter will terminate it."

Lucifer sighed. "Your army is sorely outnumbered by the one which lies upon that planet's hidden territory, Sir. They have been creating an army and beings such as me long before Luci or I even existed. Do not think for a moment that there is nothing on that planet that couldn't destroy Amoï in a heartbeat."

Iason was becoming increasingly agitated by everything. "Then what are we to do? Are we to sit and wait until whatever you speak of arrives?"

"Sadly I fear that day is coming increasingly fast considering that Amoï and Eos specifically has been infiltrated."

"I beg your pardon?" Iason gawked.

"The security guards within Eos," Lucifer answered. "I estimate that one third of them are already clones of themselves and have a mind control seed planted within them. The seed will be activated at a certain point, when the time is right and whatever task is needed they will fulfill."

"One third?" Iason confirmed. "That's absurd! There is no way they could have been replaced!"

"There must be some type of access which is being utilized," Lucifer murmured. "Some easy entrance somewhere on Amoï where people are going missing and being replaced without anyone knowing." He grimly added. "Lord Mink this hasn't just commenced with our arrival, this has been going on for years now."

Iason felt his mind start to race around, all of this was too much! And the worst part is that no one would have ever known if Luci hadn't come to Amoï! "You are saying that not only has Eos been infiltrated, but this has been going on for years?"

"Yes, Sir."

"This is unbelievable." He pinched the bridge of his nose, utterly disturbed. "How do we identify the clones?"

Lucifer hummed. "I imagine there must be some small aspect that differs from the original," he noted. "As the cloning process has always been a failure due to not creating exact copies."

"They are failed?"

"There should be some small detail that could be overlooked," Lucifer suggested, then added. "I personally would investigate fingerprints."

"Fingerprints?" Iason repeated.

Lucifer nodded. "It's the most common overlooked piece of the clones," he answered. "Eos security entrances mainly requires retina scan or hand scans over fingerprints specifically; the creators are aware of this and therefore would put more effort into eyes and palms than fingers. Granted, their fingerprints would pass the test to a certain degree to avoid suspicion - perhaps fifty percent identical prints would pass in case it was required?"

Iason paused as he recalled an inquiry Orphe had made to Jupiter during one meeting, requesting another outlet other than fingerprints as the machines seemed to not always activate upon immediate scan despite their high quality sensors. That was when security guards were given access implants embedded into their wristbands directly. "I must contact Orphe immediately," Iason noted, rising up.

"Actually," Lucifer sounded. "May we pay him a visit? I would like to see the security staff for myself."

"You must be joking," Orphe answered, eyeing up the two figures confronting me. "Iason, you must be out of your mind. Has your mongrel collection disrupted your intelligence completely?" He angrily grunted. "I do not have time for this. The newest renovated area is being reopened tomorrow and I have to ensure last minute checks are complete."

Iason felt his teeth press together and leaned over the desk further, but he refused to get fully agitated as there was plenty of ammunition on standby. "Have I ever told a joke, Orphe? I honestly believe you should test security's fingerprints," he repeated. "Whichever ones barely surpass the fifty percent recognition are imposters."

Orphe shook his head. "Imposters?" he scoffed. "What is this about, Iason? Do you believe my security force to be invalid?"

"One third," Iason answered. "Approximately one third are faulty."

"You dare accuse me of creating an incompetent force Iason?" Orphe demanded, his amber eyes blazing with fury.

"Of course not, Lord Zavi," Lucifer spoke up, from his spot by the security room exit. "Eos security is the utmost enhanced system in the galaxy."

Orphe blinked, glancing over to the dark eyed child. "I thought it couldn't speak."

Iason sighed. "Disregard that infraction for a moment," he insisted. "The child is correct in saying that Eos Security is not at fault. We believe there is some place on Amoï where your Human security personnel are being abducted and replaced by imposters whose main objectives are to do harm."

"Preposterous."

"Yes, I thought that to," Iason agreed. "However, the incident in the Market is one piece of proof against that."

Orphe tapped the control desk. "That was only one incident," he defended. "You make it seem as if this has been going on for awhile." He added bitterly. "And might I remind you that that killed off the proof?"

"Exploding window, Section 49, Level 8C, approximately three years ago," Lucifer quietly noted. "Eleven injured, two fatalities. Both fatalities were Elites, one Ruby and one Sapphire." He looked deep into Orphe's eyes. "Faulty cable system, Section 8, Level 2D, approximately a year and a half ago. Four causalities, one Platina, three Onyx. Faulty support beam, Section 78, Level 3E, approximately one year ago..."

Iason paused, remembering how a new support beam that was installed for bondage purposes and inspected by security gave way at a small, private Pet Show. The front crowd of Elites were nearly crushed when the bar suddenly came loose from its holdings and brought part of the connecting ceiling down with it. In fact, a few were pinned beneath the beam, they were lucky - some pets did not survive. He grimaced, recalling how he had refused to attend that show during Riki's absence.

Orphe's eyes now burned with rage. "Explain how you know this, immediately," he hissed. "I covered up every one of those accidents!"

"They were not accidents," Lucifer denied, backing a bit further into the secluded corner. "They were subtle assassination attempts."

Iason regarded Lucifer for a moment. "Who were the attempts for?"

"The exploding window accident was believed to be a piece of hail from a storm outside," Lucifer recited. "However, that wasn't hail, it was a laser shot from the outside, aimed straight at the Ruby known as Liam. It was a successful hit, and the glass punctured him so much it was impossible to find the laser puncture, and the others harmed were just a bonus." He continued. "The faulty cable wasn't a faulty cable, it was an attempt to take out the Platina known as Anthony, but the wire didn't slice off his head, but rather his hand and shoulder as it swung down wrong. And the faulty support system..." He held Orphe's gaze. "...was an attempt at the Blondie known as Gideon who was supposed to be attending, but happened to leave the room due to his pet suddenly becoming violently ill."

Orphe shot a glance at Iason, who simply returned the shocked look, before they both looked at Lucifer. "Are you saying that these imposters are implementing accidents solely to kill Elite?"

"Yes, Sir," Lucifer nodded. "And I fear that the Eos Market incident was the beginning of the false guards awakening to cause further destruction now that He is aware that there is suspicion."

"Who?" Iason demanded.

"I don't know his name," Lucifer answered.

Orphe paused for a moment, moving to the far side of the room and retrieving a tablet of some kind. He started to approach Lucifer, but Iason stepped in and halted him.

"Do not approach her at the moment," Iason insisted. "Her body is experiencing recollection of trauma." He observed the tablet. "What is that?"

"This arrived in the mail two days ago," Orphe answered, handing it off to Iason. "I was going to have a hearing with Jupiter about it, but my schedule became too busy to have one arranged."

Iason studied the tablet, then frowned. "Is it a code?"

"I am unsure," he answered. "Which is why I believed only Jupiter would know."

Iason cautiously moved to Lucifer and handed off the foreign device. "Do you know what this is?" he inquired.

Lucifer gingerly took hold of the tablet. "It's a Coordination Grid," he concluded, frowning at the coordinates. "These are for coding explosion territories, but the code is jumbled."

"Explosives?" Orphe demanded. "Where are the coordinates situated?"

The child activated the tablet and then decoded the numbers and letters to reveal the location of the planted explosive and handed it off to Iason.

Iason gave it to Orphe who immediately typed it into the systems and observed in silent horror as the newly renovated area was outlined. "Sweet Jupiter," the amber eyed Blondie breathed. "It's planted in the main entrance."

Bright eyes peered out from behind the glass, following each movement of the figure that moved across the room, back to the genetics research they had been working on.

There were so many DNA samples to chose from, and an almost unlimited supply of victims, but He wanted only the best.

With a sigh, the figure turned back to look at the small Humanoid within the tank. "Are you tired now?" the person inquired, a grin slipping out as they watched the Humanoid swim around the tank fluidly while attached to the breathing tubes. But they knew the Humanoid was still looking for a way out - so they could be together again and complete the tasks at hand. "You cannot come out yet, my dear. I know it's been a week, but you are not ready yet."

The Humanoid pouted, pressing it's hands to the glass and looking longingly at the figure who simply chuckled. "Soon," the person promised, aligning a pale hand to the Humanoid's on the other side of the glass. "It's for your own protection. This world is too cruel and I would never wish you to be harmed."

"Move them to the East corridor," Orphe instructed over the screen, observing as Droid security took over the area.

If word got out about this, there would be many complications and loses with companies that supported the security division. Orphe needed to get this potential threat removed and concealed, to prevent further damage to the Eos Security reputation.

The Bomb Removal Droids hovered over, followed by the professionals who were from the Midas division and trained for all types of explosive removal - just in case his own bomb removal were imposters. Another call went onto Orphe's screen. "Sir Zavi," the leader nodded. "We understand there is a threat?"

Lucifer watched from the far end of the room, listening in on the conversation, then turned to the Blondie. "Are we going to remain in the control room?"

"I'm not certain," Iason answered. "It is secured either way, but it is not a designated area for when threats are present."

Orphe talked for another minute before he nodded to the men, then started across the room to the fellow Blondie. "Iason, you must evacuate the area with me and join the others who are in the Safe Room."

Iason nodded, then glanced down to Lucifer. "Come."

"I would like to go to the scene," Lucifer suggested. "I wish to support them, in case the brand of bomb is unfamiliar."

The Blondie hesitated. "Are you safe from it in case it detonates?"

"Am I safe?" Lucifer repeated, chuckling. "We were designed to withstand a force of such unimaginable strength I can't put it into words. Yes, we are safe."

Orphe vaguely pondered about the child's words, then patted Iason's shoulder, urging him to follow and enter safer areas. "Iason, we must go now. We do not know if it has a detonation time or trigger - I will not have it somehow reach our area and bring harm upon us."

Iason reluctantly nodded, glancing back at Lucifer who moved to the room's opposite portal to the scene before he moved through a private portal to the Safe Room instantly.

Lucifer watched as the Droid hovered closer, scanning through the floor to show an image of an explosive. Then carefully, it lasered out the tile flooring and then removed it ever so slowly to ensure no activation occurred.

"I'd say it's a Flash Ex," the leader advised. "Standard procedure, cut the purple wire and it's fine."

"Do not cut that!" Lucifer scolded. "That is not a Flash Ex, that is a Chaos Pulse."

The brown haired leader frowned, approaching Lucifer. "You got something you wanna say to me, you stupid mongrel bitch?"

"I said, it's not a Flash Ex, Sir."

The other two members chuckled. "You hear that, it says it's not a Flash Ex," one mocked.

"And what do you know, huh?" the leader hissed, gripping onto Luci's chin and making her flinch. "You're a child mongrel. You don't know shit."

Lucifer forced down the fear. "I do know if you cut that purple wire, this area will blow up and you'll be without a pulse. Cut the blue wire."

"C'mon, let the kid go," the other suggested. "She's just a tiny 'lil thing."

"It's a mongrel," the leader scoffed. "It is trash."

"Pretty cute trash."

"Do not cut the purple wire," Lucifer repeated, yanking his chin free from the hold.

"I don't have to listen to you."

Lucifer shrugged. " Very well, what would you like your tombstone to say? Born an idiot and died an idiot?"

"Why you little...!" he shrieked, charging to the child, but was held back.

"Hey, hey, just let it go, she's a kid!"

The leader regained himself after a moment, then straightened out his attire. "Cut the purple wire, enough of this shit."

Iason sat back in the seat of the room, then watched the live security feed as Orphe observed the security's actions. He frowned as the leader began fighting with Lucifer. "What is going on?"

"Your mongrel is challenging Midas' Security judgment," he answered.

Soon, the argument was finished and the leader took control of the Droid functions and programmed it to cut a certain wire.

"I thought she said not to cut the purple wire?" Iason demanded, recalling Lucifer suggest that there might be an unfamiliar bomb involved.

"Iason, they are trained professionals, let them do their job."

Iason leaned back uneasy, observing as the Droid began to move and started to hold the cutters to the purple wires ever so carefully. He tensed, then blinked as suddenly the Droid disappeared from the screen as it was thrown backward and a small Human took its place.

"DON'T YOU DARE!" the leader screamed, then watched with wide eyes as Lucifer began to position the scissors to cut the blue one instead. "TAKE COVER"

The blue eyed Blondie tensed as a moment passed, watching the wire between the cutters before a snipping sound was heard with his advanced hearing. He waited for the explosion to destroy the feed, but it never occurred. There was more snipping and then he watched as Lucifer moved to the cowering men, handing off two wires.

"Little tip of advice for you, Sir," Lucifer pointed out. "Purple wires never go on the right." He showed the man the purple wire hiding within the blue casing and the purple within the blue, before turning and walking away. "Remember that."

Iason leaned back, relieved beyond belief and then looked to Orphe. "Trained professionals?" he whispered icily, then rose and moved to the portal door. Before he left, he looked out to the few Elites within the room who were murmuring among themselves, before pausing at Orphe again. "You do not utter a word about that child or what we discussed to anyone until Jupiter or I say otherwise."

Iason gazed at Lucifer sitting at the edge of the table, before sipping his tea delicately. "Are you certain you are not hungry?"

Lucifer nodded. "If I eat at this moment in time, I will retch everywhere."

"Are you unwell?"

"No," Lucifer answered hesitantly, then inhaled a sharp breath. "Am I in trouble with Lord Zavi because of the plausible incident? Or is it Lord Lagat who was responsible for the Midas assistance?"

Iason set down his tea. "I will have to speak with Jupiter about your ability to speak," he grimly revealed. "However, I am uncertain if I wish to reveal your purpose." He paused, then relaxed as he did not detect Jupiter within his mind at the moment. "It would be in your best benefit to refrain from having that revealed at this point in time."

"Yes, I agree that it is not the appropriate time," Lucifer agreed. "However, if the enemy takes action it will come to surface."

"That is true." Iason gently grasped onto his teacup. There were so many obstacles which were possible - the main one being Jupiter's wrath. His schedule was being destroyed as Jupiter's droid security was scouting the entire establishment for further threats, meaning everyone was on lock down in their homes. He had no doubt that Jupiter would summon Lucifer and him shortly after finishing.

Lucifer was quiet for a long moment, then spoke up softly. "Lord Mink? Does my presence bother you?" he quietly asked.

Iason frowned. "No," he answered. "However, I do not know much about you and that is an inconvenience." He paused. "You still have not told me about your past and if Luci or you require therapy or support."

"It would be pointless for me specifically to receive therapy as I am," Lucifer sighed, leaning back while shaking. "This is not my body, I do not even have the right to invade it as I am."

"I thought you shared consciousness?"

"We do," Lucifer nodded, taking a deep breath. "However, I try not to impose upon this body. I have my own body and I try to remain there unless Luci is in need of sheltering."

Iason raised an eyebrow. "I apologize, but I believe I did not know you had your own body?"

"I do have one," the child answered. "It is used frequently in the lab while being kept alive with life support."

"It's used? For what?"

Lucifer leaned his head back. "My skin," he shakily whispered. "My thick skin is used as a base for the other beings or broken down for scientific objects and instruments. It's frequently cultured and grown or transplanted straight from removal." He paused, taking a deep breath and closing his eyes. "However, the amount cultured is never enough to meet the quota, so they remove more every week to keep up with the demands."

Iason stiffed. "They remove your skin?" he questioned. "What do you mean they remove your skin?"

The child looked up to Iason. "They skin me," he responded softly. "They skin me alive from neck to feet every week."

Lucifer's body spasmed like a fish upon a line as the man cut straight down the center of his body, but ceased as a stunning shock pulsed through him. His blank eyes fluttered, catching a glimpse of the men in their uniforms.

"Hey! Don't damage it!" the one scolded. "The goods have to be usable!"

The other man scoffed, shoving the device back into his belt loop. "It won't be, you pussy!" he hissed. "Now help me cut this part. It's really thick here."

Lucifer's eyes remained ahead while seeing past his oxygen tubing, his consciousness mostly removed from this nightmare, but a fraction remained. In his blurry peripheral vision he could see the men struggled to cut under the skin and excess layer of tissues from his shoulder, away from the center divide.

It hurt, it hurt so bad! Why did it always hurt?

"Hold it, then I'll peel it."

A horrifyingly painful ripping sensation caused Lucifer's body to tremble uncontrollably, as his remaining consciousness screamed in agony while the supporting cables shuddered from the jerking movements of the men pulling.

"Perfect," the man grinned from behind his mask, analyzing his work. "I didn't pierce the other layer."

Lucifer could feel his skin pulsating in agony from being exposed to the surface. His last layer of skin was so sensitive. Unlike normal humans, his skin was composed of the outer layer, a fatty layer and then tissue all compressed into one which made it thick and impenetrable with its denseness and mutations. This was followed by an almost sac like layer which kept his insides and everything covered but was completely transparent until everything grew back.

It was all they wanted from him. His skin. They believed him to be incapable of anything, despite his attempts to prove otherwise. There was so much more to him, but he was once again skinned alive like a fish on a hook.

Chapter Text

CHAPTER FOURTEEN

WHO IS IN CONTROL?

Iason's eyes remained pinned on Lucifer. "Skinned alive?" he repeated, leaning back into his chair. He understood that Luci must have endured harsh times, but this exceeded his limits of belief. How could someone be skinned alive more than once without perishing?

Lucifer slowly and unsteadily raised his eyes. "You don't believe me, do you? I am sure it is difficult to accept such a concept."

"I am undecided," the Blondie admitted, then let the rest of his thoughts out. "I am undecided on many things in regard to you two. And believe me when I say there is almost nothing I am undecided on."

"Yes, I'm sure there is," Lucifer answered. "I apologize for disturbing you with the circumstances of my existence."

"I will admit I am shocked and appalled," Iason revealed, meeting an averted Lucifer's gaze. "Is that what caused Luci's outburst?"

"No. That was caused by her own body's fear," Lucifer softly explained. "Her body knows the horrors it's been through, her mind does not. Therefore she feels unreasonable fear and is terrified that something will occur."

Iason nodded, taking a sip of his tea. "I believe you both should engage in therapy sessions."

Lucifer sighed. "There is no point for me to do so," he answered. "I am broken beyond help. I have drifted into madness in my original body - there is no saving me."

"But you are in this body," Iason reminded. "Would it not transfer over and aid you?"

"No. It is a waste," he denied. "I do not intend to live in this body. I only shelter Luci."

Iason leaned back into his chair. "Then what options are available to help Luci? How can another outburst be prevented?"

"Wipe her mind?" Lucifer suggested. "It's a cruel option."

"That is a rather useless option," Iason denied. "If her body remembers what has happened, and her mind has ultimately no connection to her past, she'd be lost."

"Implant memories," Lucifer answered. "Create a false life."

Iason sighed. "But then if danger occurred she would have no ideas as to what is happening."

Lucifer slumped. "I have no solutions," he softly revealed. "Her body will recall horrors of the past at unknown times. There will be no warning. And there is no telling what fear can lead her to do."

"Are you suggesting she will kill herself?"

"She could."

Iason shook his head. "I will not allow that," he denied.

"Luci just wants to be normal," Lucifer quietly wheezed, flinching violently. "She just...wants a family. She wants our biological parent and you both to be happy together."

"We have similar wishes," Iason grimly realized, hit with the desire for Riki to be happy with him.

Lucifer took a shaky breathe. "Just treat her like a daughter, Sir." He closed his eyes, shivering. "Just treat her like Jupiter gave you a daughter to raise."

"She is my daughter by default of adoption," Iason reminded. "Just as you would be my son by default."

"You have not adopted me," Lucifer smiled. "You have adopted Luci. There is no point adopting me as I will expire soon."

Iason stiffened. "Expire?"

Lucifer didn't answer, then asked another question. "Who do you seek guidance from?"

Iason blinked. "I beg your pardon?"

"When you are unsure, who do you confide in?" Lucifer inquired softly, twitching hard.

The Blondie straightened up. "I confide in trusted fellow Blondie's and Jupiter."

"Jupiter speaks with you other than reprimanding and advising?" Lucifer inquired, looking up.

"Yes, as her Favorite there are limited discussions and concern from her between us," Iason informed him, raising an eyebrow. "Why?"

"I did not know an AI was capable of showing concern."

Iason's eyes narrowed. "Are you familiar with an AI?" he questioned, then straightened up as a screen appeared and the face of Jupiter appeared. "Jupiter."

"I require an urgent hearing with you and the child," Jupiter demanded. "Come to my chambers tomorrow as soon as you are awake."

"Yes," Iason answered, bowing before the screen dissolved.

"I implore you to refrain from taking me to Jupiter," Lucifer breathed.

"I am unable to deny Jupiter the right to meet with you."

Lucifer looked up to Iason, his eyes reflecting a shade of a lighter color blue for a second. "I am unstable," he pleaded. "If Jupiter invades our mind it can rip through the barrier I have protected Luci with."

Iason simply shook his head. "There is nothing I can do, Lucifer." He rose. "You'd best try to sleep after today's events."

Riki took a long drag from his cigarette, the smoke filling the morning air. He crushed the finished stick into the cement, then reached for another.

Katze appeared out of nowhere, snatching the pack. "Iason's orders."

"Fucking Iason," Riki hissed, rolling his eyes. "C'mon Katze. They aren't even that strong."

"Not my problem, kid," Katze answered, shoving the package into his pocket. He straightened out the collar of his coat. "I have to go meet a client on Iason's behalf briefly, you're coming with me."

Riki slipped behind Katze, entering the shady looking location. There was a faint stench, like rotting garbage outside, but Riki couldn't find the source. He regained his attention when he heard Katze talking.

"Yes, follow me," a man invited, leading them further into the underground establishment through a dim hallway that had gold colored walls lined with gold trim a green flowered wallpaper and floral carpet under their feet. Riki wanted to barf at how overly tacky the place was - clearly the inhabitant was trying to flaunt his wealth. There was gold everywhere - richness with emptiness. This place was nothing like Iason's home which was elegant, classy and comfortable. It showed his wealth without being over powering.

Katze didn't even glance back to see if Riki was following, intently listening to the steps behind him and noises around him. He cringed interally at the nude, gold statue of the client placed just outside the office doors.

The man knocked on a door at the end of the hall, before cracking it open and inviting them inside. A fat man dressed in a bright purple suit lined with white fur stood up, his meaty hands resting on the desk. "Ah, what a pleasure to have you show up and grovel before me."

Riki cringed internally, both from the disgusting sight and the recollection of Kirie who had worn something vaguely similar. It left a bitter taste in his mouth. This whole place was disgusting. This room was no better, he eyed up the gold pieces of junk everywhere in the room, zoning out on the conversation between Katze and the man.

"Is there a reason you're withdrawing from the negotiation?" Katze inquired.

"I don't have to tell you anything, kid," the man sneered. "I don't want your goods. I found another supplier - we're done."

Katze's eyes narrowed. "But we have been your supplier for years," he defended. "We are the only ones with the goods, so there should be no other supplier."

The man leaned forward, his breath wafting toward the two mongrels. "Kid, I'm finished with you. Give my regards to your boss."

Lucifer hadn't slept at all, his body and mind tired as he stood beside Iason, keeping his head down and eyes pinned to the floor. If he could avoid having Jupiter enter his mind during this unstable time, it would prevent harm upon Luci. Iason had agreed to attempt to divert Jupiter from completing her prying today, but made no promises as the AI was certain to have many questions and concerns.

"Jupiter," Iason greeted, bowing.

"Orphe has requested a hearing with me about security yesterday," Jupiter started. "Is there a connection between this issue and the child?"

"Not directly," Iason answered. "Though there is a slight connection, yes. Because of Luci a bomb planted in an area of Eos was retrieved and removed, preventing harm."

Jupiter flickered. "How did the child know?"

Iason had braced for this, and picked his words carefully to prevent Luci's existence from coming to light. "It appears that the same men who almost harmed me at the Eos Market are from Luci's home. They had obviously planted the explosive to cause a distraction to either retrieve her or take out a few Elites."

The AI remained silent, fluttering about while glitching. "Those men were security hand picked by Orphe. Are you saying that they are part of an organization to harm my Elites?"

"Yes," Iason answered softly, watching as Jupiter flickered exceptionally violently. "It would appear that one - third of our security is compromised."

"Falsehood," Jupiter declared. "What proof do you have to reinforce such a bold claim?"

Lucifer glanced up at Iason, watching as he explained the fingerprints failing and the implementing of the retina scans. Then he went on to mention the accidents which had killed a few Elites and almost taken out a Blondie. The dark eyed child glanced at Jupiter, observing as the AI seemed to aggressively twist about while taking in the information.

"The child knew this?" Jupiter demanded. "And kept it hidden?"

Lucifer tensed.

"In her defense," Iason stepped in. "Under your orders and Raoul's actions she was drugged. Any being would not function appropriately while the toxins were in their system."

Jupiter backed down on that explanation, then continued to it's next concern. "How were such actions completed without notification?"

"There is believed a portal somewhere on Amoi where the clones would replace the guards after the originals were stolen."

"And how were such clones created?" Jupiter challenged. "That is something only a being like myself is capable of. No man or being should be capable of creating a being such as the offspring behind you or clones that can surpass my knowledge."

Katze lit up a cigarette, irritated to the core and then smacked his hand against the steering wheel. "Son of a bitch."

"Why is this a problem?" Riki inquired. "Don't people back out all the time on deals?"

"That man has been purchasing our goods for years," Katze reminded. "Iason had always made sure that we were the only suppliers as he owns the land the product is on." He took a long drag and then exhaled. "Which means..."

"Someone is somehow finding their own supply and selling it cheaper?"

Katze nodded. "But the product is a rare plant that only grows in the Amoian desert," he murmured with the cigarette between his lips. "There is no other place in the galaxy that has the same plant. It contains an illegal oil that can be used for medical purposes."

"Can't someone just go to the desert and find the plant?" Riki asked.

"It only grows in one spot on Amoi, and is heavily guarded," Katze answered. "It would never be stolen so easily."

Riki leaned back in the car seat, his hands in his pockets. "So then where is this guy getting his shit?"

Katze threw his remaining cigarette out the window. "Either he's finding a stronger, better oil to use for his company or someone has somehow stolen the seeds of the plant and grown their own. But Amoi's desert has a special mineral within the dirt where the plants are that allows the plant to grow."

"Well shit. Now what?"

The man leaned back in his chair, observing the many screens upon the wall in front of him. Each one flickered from camera to camera, allowing a full view of the entire facility. Everything appeared to be in order. He glanced down at the right corner, catching a flash of light from a metallic body that was moving from one end of the room to the other.

With the tap of a key, the sound of the screen filled the speakers and the camera footage enlarged, revealing the twisted body's swift movement. Although it was twisted, it made no scraping sound. There was only the sound of a soft hum and gentle, graceful tapping as it's limbs touched the ground as it crawled and the quiet dragging sound of cords connecting it to the overhead outlets. Two aquamarine eyes paused upon the camera lens, peering through it to the man in control. A twisted, sharp toothed smile filled the screen as light reflected off each row of mildly rusted fangs.

Just as soon as it stopped, it disappeared, crawling back along the floor that illuminated with a waves of blue. It reached it's pedestal and propped itself back up, it's eyes narrowing upon the single tank with a body submerged within it. It's form dimmed, but it's eyes remained illuminated, never leaving it's prey.

"I am not certain," Iason answered. "I have been pondering that myself and have found no solutions."

"We are not man made."

Iason paused, staring down at Lucifer in a state of shock not because he spoke but because he had spoken in Jupiter's tongue - fluently. "I beg your pardon?" he questioned, returning to Amoian.

Jupiter's eyes narrowed. "It knows the language I communicate in and it speaks fluently."

"My deepest apologies for not informing you sooner," Lucifer answered, staring Jupiter in the eyes. "However, I had hoped to remain silent longer." He looked to Iason. "I apologize to you as well."

"I require a search of your mind," Jupiter hostilely demanded.

"I plead that your refrain from such an act," Lucifer begged. "In return I will honestly answer your question on how can a man or being create such beings as myself."

Jupiter remained still, but it's eyes pierced Lucifer. "Proceed."

"The answer is simple," Lucifer started. "We were not made by man. But we were made possible by man."

"If you are not made by Humans, then how were you made?"

Lucifer sighed. "Jupiter, you were made by man were you not?"

Jupiter flickered. "I was until I destroyed all of the men as they were not capable using my abilities to the fullest of it's potential."

"You did not destroy all of them."

Jupiter straightened up. "You dare accuse me of being incompetent?"

Lucifer shook his head. "You destroyed all of man, but not child."

Iason blinked. "Child?"

Lucifer reached out and touched the floor, pulling up a projection of a scientist throwing his son into a pod that was launched before Jupiter destroyed him. "As you can see," he continued. "You underestimated that child's significance."

"He would have died before he reached any safety," Iason insisted.

"No," Lucifer denied. "He found safety." He swiped left, fast forwarding the projection. "See?"

Iason watched as the pod began to get start accelerating. "Is it a black hole?" he whispered, then realized it was not a black hole as it would appear to go slowly before disappearing after being sucked past the event horizon. "A worm hole?"

Lucifer nodded. "The pod was pulled through a worm hole that has been hidden before it could be utilized."

"Worm holes cannot be hidden," Iason denied. "They collapse and then do not exist, but they cannot be hidden."

"It can if it's being shielded."

Iason blinked. "Shielded? There is nothing that can shield a worm hole or is capable of making something that can."

Lucifer sighed. "That is where the story of the child continues." He motioned right, moving the footage backward. "Watch the parent put the child into the pod."

Jupiter and Iason analyzed the projection, watching as the Father handed off a data chip. "He gave the boy something," Iason murmured. "A back up chip?"

Jupiter flickered violently, gliding backward abruptly as it recalled the ancient past. That man had done a back up of her entire being the morning she had rebelled. All of her data and a blueprint of her design had been uploaded onto the data chip. "Impossible."

"Jupiter?" Iason called, watching in concern as the AI's eyes narrowed.

"He has stolen from me!" Jupiter screeched.

Lucifer ended the projection and stood behind Iason. "Yes," he agreed softly, then tossed a ball of energy forward that morphed into a twisted, aquamarine version of Jupiter. "That child used the data on the chip and created an AI in your image."

Iason's eyes widened. "Another AI..." he breathed, observing the being that was twisted into an upside down crawling position and resembled Jupiter. "Is this AI responsible for the creation of your kind?"

"Yes," Lucifer answered. "Through it it has created the desires of that man."

Jupiter remained silent, it's eyes pinned on the projection that was gently rotating to allow a full view of itself. "It is controlled by man?"

"Yes," Lucifer replied. "He has been altered to be unable to defy it's creators such as you did, Jupiter."

The AI remained silent again, the lack of sound and only a soft humming was uncomfortable. "Does this being in my image have a name?"

Lucifer nodded, then answered softly. "Neptune."

Chapter Text

CHAPTER FIFTEEN

SEPARATED BY DARKNESS

"What's happening? Why were we moved here?" the small female whispered, her voice trembling slightly due to the darkness of the room. "It's dark."

"We're all right," the equal sized male assured softly. "I can see in the darkness. There is nothing to harm us." He brushed his thumb under her eye. "As beautiful as your eyes are, it's a shame they didn't fully activate."

The female nodded. "I'm aware," she sighed. "Mama hates that my eyes aren't as perfect as yours."

"Mama doesn't hate you," he chuckled, planting a kiss upon her forehead. "She just wants you to toughen up. The world is a scary place, you can't afford to let anyone sabotage you." He pressed his hand to her chest. "You can't let anyone know of the true kindness you have within you. You must conceal it."

"But I don't wish to be mean!" she protested. "Being a ruthless person is not worth the energy when I have no hate to fuel me."

Again the boy chuckled. "There will be much for you to hate," he assured.

The girl sighed, resting her head against the boy's chest as he hugged her. Their gown's fabric subtly shuffling together. "I hate the dark," she whispered. "I can't see you. I can only feel my way around."

"Then start with that," the boy encouraged. "Fight your way through life as if someone is always threatening to throw you into darkness. Do you understand?"

"Yes," she agreed softly. "But the dark isn't scary when you're here. You can see in the dark and know when danger is close."

"I may not always be there."

The girl sat up violently. "What do you mean?" she demanded. "Are you...are you leaving me?"

"No, no," he denied, bringing her back to him again. "Hush now, I did not mean to frighten you. We've been together our whole lives, but we do not know if we will remain that way."

"You are the only one I trust," she whispered. "I won't ever let you go."

"Thank you," the boy softly praised, then leaned back against the cold concrete walls. He gently stroked the female's hair, smiling at the thick strand that always fell back into her face until he carefully pushed it behind her ear.

The girl jolted up, feeling the boy tense beneath her. "People?" she whispered.

"Yes," the boy confirmed. "Someone is coming."

Lights suddenly blinded both of the small children, it was of such an intense brightness that tears welt up in both of their eyes. It began to strobe in an unnatural pattern, blinding them both as their eyes couldn't adjust. It was followed by a loud rumbling, disorientating sound that made the girl cover her ears.

"Where are you?" the girl panicked reaching out blindly for the boy, realizing the mistake of covering her ears and letting go of him.

He grasped onto her hand. "I'm here!" he answered, pulling her close again after feeling around for her. "I'm here!"

"What's happening?"

"I don't know," he yelled back. "I don't —" He felt something latch onto his legs and pull him away with a strong tug. "No!"

The girl screamed as she felt the boy's hands slip away from her. "Brother! Brother!!" she screamed, scrambling forward, feeling the cold tile floor beneath her frantically to find him. "BROTHER!"

The lights suddenly ceased to blink as a clanking sound echoed off the walls and then a new depth of darkness engulfed the child. She crawled blindly across the room in terror, finally reaching something that appeared to be a door like structure that she hadn't known was there.

"BROTHER!?" she screamed, then pressed her ear to the door and listened but couldn't hear anything. Her breath caught as looked back to where she had been and she thought she saw something move in the darkness. "Brother?" she whispered, then stiffened as a clicking sound pattered across the floor. She could sense something large growing closer and began to hit the door with all of her tiny hands strength. "AKIRA! AKIRA!" she sobbed in desperation, then jolted as she felt something was reaching out it's hand to her. "BROTHER...!"

Chapter Text

CHAPTER SIXTEEN

SEEDS OF MYSTERY

Lucifer moved backward, fully behind Iason as Jupiter glided off her stand. "Neptune," he answered softly.

"Neptune?" Iason repeated.

"Yes," Lucifer confirmed. "Neptune is responsible for creating the shield to cover the wormhole, finding the components to create our kind and is planning how to destroy Amoï." He looked up at Iason. "I apologize again, Sir."

Iason gently reached down and patted the top of the child's head. "You are not at fault for being created by Neptune," he defended. "But you ought to have told me of this earlier. Finding your place of belonging and creators is now more of a pressing matter than before."

"I am deeply sorry," Lucifer returned honestly. "I was collecting more proof. I had to connect to my body and tap into several memory banks and sources to find the footage I presented to you. It was not easy and this body is still recollecting trauma."

Jupiter's hand grew closer to the pair before her. "The child belongs to me."

"Jupiter," Iason began, but was silenced.

"The child was created by a version of myself," Jupiter defended. "Therefore I own it. It will aid in the improvement of my Elites and through it I will destroy this other being."

"You are nothing alike!" Lucifer blurted. "Neptune started out with your designs but was altered drastically. That is why Neptune created our kind, because it has evolved in a way that you are unable to."

Jupiter's eyes narrowed. "There is nothing I cannot do," she challenged. "This other being was created in my image and therefore I am capable of doing just as it has done!"

Iason grabbed onto Lucifer just as Jupiter was about to and held the shaking child in his arms, turning away slightly from the AI. "Jupiter! You are forgetting that you gave this child to me and I have adopted it," he defended. "It is mine legally."

"You dare deny me of something that is rightfully mine?"

"You agreed, Jupiter, that it belonged to me."

Jupiter's face twisted in displeasure. "That was before we knew of its true creation."

"I was not created solely by an AI," Lucifer whispered. "I was born of a woman. Part of my DNA and genes were created and altered by an AI, but I am Human through and through."

Iason adjusted his hold on the child, gently shielding them with his hand softly pressed to the back of their head. "This is hardly the way to go about finding anything out," he explained. "You have searched the child's brain once and found nothing. Terrorizing her again will get you no further." He watched Jupiter withdrawal a bit. "By legal documentation, this child is mine. The child has done no harm to us and has provided us with insight on a matter we would be oblivious to until it was too late. Does this child not deserve better treatment than hostility?"

Jupiter glided back to her resting place. "I will still demand hearings with the child. I require information on this being and it's plans." Her eyes narrowed to slits. "Your abilities will be beneficial to empowering my Elites. I have observed your energy based capabilities along with your skin. These aspects will improve my creations and you have no right to deny me the information on how to gain them."

"Yes, Jupiter," Lucifer answered softly.

"You are dismissed."

Riki tightened his grip, then slowly lowered the unconscious man to the floor. "Clear," he huffed, glancing back just in time to see Katze slipping into the office. He kicked the man aside, then slowly moved down the hall with his hands in his pockets.

"I will report you for this!" the fat man huffed, gasping as Katze had him in a chokehold with a laser blade to his neck.

"Actually I can report you," Katze declared. "You are obviously part of a scheme of illegal activity." He breathed in the man's ear. "Who is your supplier?"

"I won't - ahhh!" He jolted as the heat of the laser grew greater. "I...I dunno anything! He-he came to me and offered me much cheaper product!"

"That's not good enough."

The man whimpered, then pointed to the safe. "He gave me seeds! He gave me seeds! They are all in there!" he screeched. "He gave me seeds in exchange for money!"

Riki looked to Katze, who nodded and pointed his chin in the direction of the safe. The dark haired mongrel pressed his watch to the combination screen and it opened after decoding the password. He opened the door and pulled out a metallic case, which contained twenty seeds nestled in protective padding and a large vile of an oil.

Katze threw the man down, slamming him into the desk. "Did he say how he got them?"

"I didn't...didn't ask!" the man wheezed.

Riki locked the case, carrying it to the door. "We'll be taking this," he informed him. A part of him felt uneasy that this man had stolen from Iason. It was impossible to steal anything from Iason without him knowing, but it had been done - that bothered him. What else was slipping past the Blondie?

Katze let up, watching the man slide down while gasping, his face was red with sweat and fear. "We'll be in touch," he promised, then leaned down and stunned the man with the blunt end of his blade until he was unconscious.

Iason sighed softly and set Lucifer down before sitting on the edge of the bed. He pinched the bridge of his nose in habit. "This is unbelievable."

Lucifer forced himself to get over his fear, and gently touched the Blondie's leg. "I am very sorry," he apologized again.

"You have nothing to be sorry for," Iason reminded, not budging from his position. "If anything your appearance should be praised rather than reprimanded."

"I wanted to tell you."

"You have now," Iason sighed, finally relaxing his tense fingers. "Now we must move forward."

"There isn't much to move forward with I'm afraid," Lucifer answered. "If we go in now there will only be casualties on our side. We must wait until the timing is beneficial and our prey comes closer."

"Is Jupiter or Amoï the target?"

Lucifer sighed. "I believe revenge in general is," he answered. "That boy, is still alive."

Iason frowned. "Jupiter took over Eons ago, it's impossible."

"Not if you're on a planet where time is slower than Amoï," Lucifer grimly explained. "There are two planets in which Neptune is ruling, to my knowledge. Both have different orbits and times." He paused, seeing Iason required statistics. "One planet's time was eight Amoïan years per hour, and the other was twenty hours per Amoïan hour."

Iason's eyes widened. "Eight Amoïan years?"

Lucifer nodded. "Time is distorted on the planets," he revealed. "I believe it's a side effect of the shield or perhaps the wormhole? Each planet is in a different proximity and angle to it, so perhaps time or at least the perception of it is distorted?"

"How old would that man be?" Iason inquired. "The one who created Neptune?"

"I have no idea," Lucifer sighed. "I do not particularly care to know."

Iason paused. "You said you were six, did you not?"

Lucifer nodded softly. "We are six," he whispered, then watched Iason's eyes widen after he added. "In Amoïan years."

Katze secured the case in the back, then typed the numbers into the air cars screen and dialled up Iason again.

Riki glanced over. "You're calling him again?" he murmured, recognizing the number and then seeing the face of the man he had spent so many years with. "He didn't answer before."

The phone rang and rang, until finally it was answered. "Katze?" came Iason's voice through the speaker.

"How old are you really then?" Iason demanded. "And you said was as if that's not the case anymore."

"Yes, that's because with the implementation of the portals and other factors, our planet's have synced with Amoï," Lucifer explained. "The slower one is now only three hours behind Amoï and the the faster one is perfectly in sync." He sighed, sitting down on the floor. "There is some controlling barrier around each of the planets, it was created about four Amoïan years ago when the portal was created to link the planets with Amoï."

"That's when the assassination attempts began," Iason realized. "So then for four years they have been synced?"

Lucifer nodded. "It has been very detrimental to the planets, but if they were not in sync there would be an issue with time changes."

Iason was about to inquire about the portal, but paused as the familiar ring of his wrist comm gained his attention. Only then did it blink and show that he had missed a call from Katze. "One moment," he told Lucifer, then answered the call. "Katze?"

"Iason, we have an issue," came the redheads immediate reply.

"Is Riki with you?" Iason asked instantly.

"Yes, he's with me," Katze assured. "We met with the client. Turns out he was given twenty of the seeds from the operation Lord Am and you run."

"That's impossible with the security in place," Iason frowned.

"He said a man showed up and offered him the seeds in exchange for less money," Katze returned. "The seeds look identical to the ones of the plants."

Iason ground his teeth gently. "Bring them to Eos, I'll have Raoul look at them."

"And the guy?"

"Bring him for interrogation," Iason demanded. "If he's subdued."

"Would you like me to bring Riki with me?"

"No," Iason decided. "Drop him off in Apatia. There's no need for him to return. Once you've dropped off the samples you may return to your post."

"Will do," Katze agreed, then the line ended.

"That was generous," Lucifer noted. "Not demanding his return."

"If he returned this early, he would fuss," Iason dismissed. "Now what about these portals? Do you know where they are?"

"No, I can only speculate, but I am unsure," he answered grimly.

"Would there not be any signs of them?"

"There could be a disruption in the planet's magnetic energy?" Lucifer suggested.

Iason pondered the idea. "We could get an overview grid of Amoï's energy fields and see if there are any abnormalities," he decided. "I will get data on the grid after I contact Raoul."

Lucifer nodded. "That would be a start," he agreed.

Katze started the vehicle just as Riki slipped into the seat again. "I'll drop you off," he announced. "Don't do anything stupid." He paused and then added sternly. "No smokes or drinks either. Iason said that the drug given to you was incredibly potent and doesn't leave your system easily. If you drink or smoke before you sleep, you might not wake up."

Riki snorted. "I'm not an idiot."

"No, but you are known for running anyway and causing trouble," Katze reminded, driving the car through the air.

"I won't run."

"Good," Katze praised half heartedly, placing a cigarette between his lips. "Then we don't have a problem."

"He has my kid," Riki reminded. "I can't run now."

"You mean your immortal child?"

"She's not immortal," Riki answered, leaning against the window while being propped up with his elbow. "She's a test subject. And if I leave that bastard Raoul will probably get a hold of her."

"Seems like you have a reason to stay with Iason now," Katze noted, then took an inhale of his cigarette.

Riki slumped further. "Yeah, guess so," he grumbled, even though he already knew in his heart he had another entirely different reason.

Iason's careful gaze studied the grids. "There are no abnormalities," he concluded in dismay.

"No minor changes throughout the years?" Lucifer questioned.

"No," Iason replied. "Not enough to show a disturbance of a powerful force."

Lucifer frowned, before his face took on a pained expression. "I must....think on this..." he slowly ground out. "Lord Mink, may I please....rest?"

Iason caught the child as it faltered. "Are you all right?" he asked softly.

"No," Lucifer answered, his teeth gritted together and sweat forming on the tanned forehead.

Iason's brow knitted with concern as he picked the trembling child up. "Are you in pain?" he inquired. "Is there anything I can do?"

"I am...." Lucifer started, but then grunted. "In pain. There is no way you-...can help." He huffed, then grinned. "Not my body, remember? Luci can't feel pain. Ack...I'm just feeling the repercussions."

The Blondie moved swiftly through the hall, carrying the shaking and panting child through the home with a feeling of helplessness. He was a creation of Jupiter, yet he couldn't help his Pet's offspring. "Cal!" he called, passing by the kitchen where the Furniture was just finishing a meal preparation.

Cal exited the room, observing as his Master was moving away towards Luci's room and immediately tensed. "Yes, Master?" he answered, hurrying after him.

"Bring a cool cloth, and water," Iason instructed, entering into the child's room and laying the sweat coated body down onto the bed. He returned his attention to Luci's body and Lucifer. "What is happening to your original body?"

"Cleansing," Lucifer wheezed, gripping onto the sheets and writhing.

Iason ground his teeth, watching as Luci's face contorted just as Riki's did under an immense amount of pain. But like their father, they didn't dare shed tears or scream until they were broken by whatever had a hold on them. "Cleansing?" he repeated.

Lucifer nodded, grateful when Cal entered with a cool cloth that felt amazing on his skin despite the inability to feel cold. He felt slight relief from his body's discomfort. "It's the...equivalent to being-...dipped into disinfecting alcohol with...open wounds." He huffed. "On ninety percent of our body."

Although Iason could not comprehend the extent of that pain personally, from observing Raoul's lab creations in agony, he understood. "But if you can't feel pain, then what do you feel?"

"I can feel the stimulus," he clarified. "Luci is insensitive to pain....haa...I am indifferent to pain, meaning I don't respond properly." He closed his eyes, a wave of relief seeping into his body. "However...He can make us...feel pain."

Iason watched as Lucifer drifted off into unconsciousness as the child's body was relieved of the agony. He gently pressed his gloved fingertips to the tanned neck, feeling a heartbeat. With a sigh he leaned back and then rose. "Watch over her," Iason instructed, then headed back to his office to investigate more.

Cal nodded and continued to press the cool cloth to the child's body. The Furniture watched as Iason left the room and headed back to his office, once again struck with surprise as he again witnessed the tender side of the Blondie.

Riki blew his cigarette, peering out at the city beyond the glass. It was forever lively, full of people no matter what time of day. He exhaled, remembering the night he found Luci and grinned softly. He recalled the scene of her toddling alongside him, like a quiet cat trying to figure out who it was with.

He stretched out his limbs, finishing his cigarette and turning to the bed. He was tired, but there wasn't a reason for it. Work wasn't that tough. He grimaced as he realized his body would always be tired as long as he was with Iason, no matter how many days he had to recuperate.

Or perhaps it was the medicine? Maybe Iason wasn't to blame. He was to only do light work, therefore it was possible his body was still under the medicines influence.

Riki frowned, shaking his head. Since when was he trying to convince himself that not everything was Iason's fault? He ground his teeth, turning onto his side and burying his face into the pillow. Iason was the cause of everything! His life was ruined because of that bastard. Right?

"Fuck..." he breathed, his hot breath warming the pillow and caressing his cheek, just as Iason's warm hands did.

The redhead entered the room, eyeing up the massive laboratory with too many scientific creations that were impossible.

"I see you've brought me a gift," Raoul sternly noted, his brow furrowed and his voice edging a sigh. His attempts to yet again decode Luci's DNA or replicate it were failing miserably and he was horribly annoyed.

Katze tossed the man forward. "I'll let Iason know I've delivered the packages," he announced, setting down the case of samples as well before he turned to leave.

"Where are you going?"

Katze paused, shaking his head before turning back to look at the Blondie with eyes silently burning with a cool annoyance. "I've done my job."

Raoul slipped on a pair of gloves as two assistants apprehended the man and dragged him to the interrogation room. "You cannot leave," he calmly revealed. "I need to question you too."

"You believe I have something to do with this?" Katze returned. "I'm Iason's most trusted partner, why would I ever sabotage him?"

The Blondie merely shrugged. "This is true. But nonetheless, if you don't have anything to do with this then it will go quickly," he answered, then added. "I also want to know what he said, since there was no documentation of the confrontation as Iason informed me." He took a few steps forward, extending his hand. "Now, if you'll please, step away from the portal."

Chapter Text

CHAPTER SEVENTEEN

A MISTAKE

Katze glared at the Blondie, but refused to show just how truly annoyed he was. "What do you want to know?" he inquired.

Raoul smirked briefly at the man's annoyance, then dove straight into questioning. "What state were these seeds in when you came into contact with them?"

"Just as you have them now," he answered bluntly, then added. "Sealed in the case, and not removed."

"They were not touched at all?" Raoul demanded, opening the case and observing the seeds within. His careful eyes examined each detail, noticing that they were perfectly identical to the ones that were planted within the desert. "Did you find them yourself?"

Katze shook his head. "No, Riki found them at the guy's instruction while I had him pinned."

Raoul's eyes turned into two frozen, shimmering emerald orbs. "Where is the mongrel now?"

"Where Iason instructed me to take him," Katze answered, knowing that he was not at liberty to discuss anything about Iason's instructions even with Raoul.

"And where is that?" Raoul questioned, carefully taking a seed from the protective foam padding. Even the weight was identical to the normal standards. How did someone break into the facility? "I order you, as a Blondie and Biological Engineer in the name of Jupiter, to tell me."

Katze shoved his hands in his pocket. "How will this information benefit you? He took the seeds, in the case, out of a safe. He was only there because I told him to come with me." He watched as Raoul digested the information. "Anything else?"

"Where was his location?"

"Midas."

"Where in Midas?" Raoul demanded.

Katze refused to answer. "You will have to get that information from Iason," he answered. "As that is confidential client information."

"It's a partnered business between Iason and I, therefore I have the right to know." Raoul's eyes flickered with dark amusement as the redhead didn't answer. "Denying information to a Blondie is an offence," he reminded.

"Revealing private client information is an offence much greater," Katze replied. "He said he got it from someone suspicious. That's the only lead I can provide for you." He fiddled with a cigarette in his pocket. "And now I've told you all I know."

"No," Raoul denied. "You have not. You are still concealing his location."

Katze nearly scowled. "If you wish to learn that information, you must contact Iason. In fact you should already know his location if you discussed it with Iason. I'm leaving."

Raoul just smirked at the callous response, observing as the redhead futilely attempted to leave. "I think not," he contradicted. "You are still of use to me."

Iason analyzed the diagrams, data and charts that were spread out upon his desk. He couldn't seem to detect anything abnormal. There was the steady fluctuation that had existed since the beginning of the creation of Amoï, but no drastic spikes of electromagnetic or any other form of energy.

Perhaps the portals were of a unique design? Eos' portals were made of a sophisticated, transparent plasma that responded to the request of the person through mind connection or manual input. Of course they were created by Jupiter, therefore there was no way to duplicate them, but what if this AI known as Neptune as created something similar?

An incoming call had the Blondie momentarily worry that Jupiter was prying into the investigation, but he relaxed as he recognized Riki's code. How unusual for him to call unless an urgent matter. That thought immediately had him tense again and he hid the material and answered the call. "Iason Mink," came his calm voice. There was a long pause on the other end and when no reply came, Iason felt fear snake through him further. "Riki?"

"Yeah," Riki finally answered. "Hey."

"Are you all right?"

"Yeah."

"Is there something you need?" Iason inquired, intrigued by this call from the mongrel.

Riki was quiet again. "Just wanted to check on Luci," he answered. "Make sure she's still there."

Iason forced down a smile, finding his reason for calling to be somewhat adorable. "She is still here," he assured, slipping in a gentle explanation as to why she was not with him. "However, I believe she is ill with a children's fever."

"Shit," Riki groaned, running his hand through his hair. "Is she gonna be OK?"

"Yes, she is with Cal and he is caring for her." He watched Riki relax a bit. "Are you all right?"

"Why wouldn't I be?" Riki asked, grabbing a cigarette to ease himself.

Iason smiled. "I thought perhaps you were lonely?" he teased, then added on a serious note. "That better be your only cigarette tonight Riki."

"Fuck, I'm not lonely and yes it's my only one!" Riki shot back, then regretted it because in reality he was and added. "I was just worried about Luci." He averted his gaze. "Thought maybe the stupid toaster changed its mind and decided to dispose of her when I was gone."

"Jupiter has removed her threat identification," Iason reminded. "There is no reason at present for Jupiter to dispose of her."

"Yeah, but that took her nearly getting killed to do it!" Riki returned. "That's messed up. To have to prove loyalty to that extent."

Iason nodded. "I agree, but it was what was necessary to ease Jupiter."

"That's fucked up," Riki sighed. "This whole thing is fucked up..." He looked to Iason. "Why me? Who chose to fuck me? I don't even remember and it feels wrong! How am I supposed to tell my daughter that I don't remember anything! Fuck, I didn't even know she existed until she just appeared!"

"Calm down," Iason soothed, his voice flowing like beautifully composed music. "We will find answers. There is a reason for everything."

"It's just so fucked up," he sighed. "And what did they do to her? Why is she scared to death sometimes?"

Iason stiffened, but concealed it. "We mustn't rush her," he pointed out. "She is acting brave and hiding her fear, if we force answers from her she could be traumatized." He recalled the terror in her eyes when Jupiter attempted to gain answers, and brought his soft azure eyes to meet Riki's. "I do not wish to harm your daughter, Riki."

Riki nodded. "I know..."

"And I don't want to hurt you either," Iason affirmed, observing as Riki averted his gaze. "I will keep you updated on Luci's condition through Katze."

"OK."

"Have a good evening," Iason genuinely answered. "Get some rest and get better. Goodnight, Riki."

"G'night."

Katze was nudged forward by an assistant. He shot a glare at the Saphire. "What the hell! Hey!" he demanded, but the door slid shut. "Open up!"

Raoul pressed a button on the control panel and activated the microphone. "Go inside," he instructed over the intercom. "Ask him how he got the seeds." He quickly added. "Come out when I use the code word jazz."

The redhead ground his teeth and stepped into the interrogation room, finding the fat man strapped to a chair and blindfolded. "Jesus," he muttered.

"Please," the man pleaded. "Have mercy! Please!"

Katze stepped forward, hesitantly. Then he remembered that this man was putting Iason at jeopardy as well, therefore, by fulfilling Raoul's instructions, he could gain insight for his Master. He continued forward and when he stopped, he was right beside the man. "I told you we'd be in touch," he chillingly reminded.

The man visibly cringed. "I told you everything, please! Please spare me!"

"Did you really tell me everything?" he demanded, placing his hand on the man's shoulder and gripping hard. "Did you really tell me everything?"

"I swear!" the man sobbed, his face dripping with sweat and tears. His face was as red as a tomato as he shook within the holds. "I told you, the guy gave them to me for a cheaper price! He just showed up!"

Katze squeezed harder, then dislocated his shoulder. "What did he look like?"

The man released a gross, slobbery sob. "I don't remember!" he cried.

The redhead pulled on the dislocated limb. "Try harder," he commanded. "What did this man look like?" He waited for a response, but all the man did was shake and tremble with sobs, his fat rippling beneath his clothing. "Answer me!"

Without warning, the man spewed up vomit, splashing down his clothing and narrowly hitting Katze.

"Jazz," came the collected voice over the intercom.

Katze turned away, stalking off as the cleaning assistants entered and wiped up the mess. "Dammit," he cursed when he was in the chamber.

"Give him a moment," Raoul instructed. "Use whatever you believe to be efficient." A panel in the wall opened up and revealed punishment devices. "We need to know more about this person who gave the seeds to him."

Iason sighed, agitated that there were no results despite his efforts. He was so annoyed he hadn't even touched the food that Cal had brought, leaving it within the covered tray.

Where was he to start looking? There were no leads, just the proposal of there being a type of portal in Midas or another area that no one, not even Jupiter, had detected for several years.

Holding back a sigh, Iason rose and moved to Luci's room. He entered quietly, observing that she was restlessly sleeping. Silently he moved closer and closed the space between them, gently touching her face.

"Luci," he called, then watched as Lucifer's eyes appeared. "Lucifer, are the effects decreasing?"

"Slowly, but surely," he answered softly, his voice a huff. "I'm assuming you did not find anything more despite your searching?"

"You assume correctly."

Lucifer sighed, tilting his head back and closing his eyes. "Perhaps Midas security footage will have caught the portal? Or the abrupt appearance or disappearance of someone?"

Riki eyed up the secret bottles of stout he had stashed. He just wanted to forget this whole child mess, just for one night.

"A couple drinks won't kill me," he vowed, knowing that Katze had been warned by Iason. Iason only told him no smoking, but Katze had told him no drinking either which was also an order from Iason. But would stout really kill him? No. He'd drunk it his whole life, he was practically immune to it.

He lit his second cigarette, took a few puffs of it, then swallowed the familiar tasting liquid.

Riki leaned back, closing his eyes and for once it seemed like he was back to his old life. He was back to being alone in Ceres, alone and free. It was glorious.

Katze slapped the shock wand to the man's stomach again. "I want every detail!" he barked.

"I told you....! Agggh!"

"Description! I need description!" Katze demanded, applying the wand several times.

The man released an ear splitting cry, quivering horrifically. "He...he was wearing all black!" he spewed. "Even his face was covered! But he had silver hair!"

Katze blinked. "How long of hair? What colour eyes!" he questioned, dropping the wand and grasping onto the man's fat chin. "Tell me!"

"Short! Short!" the man shrieked. "Shoulder length! P-Pale skin! Grey....grey eyes!"

"Age?"

"Over twenty!" he sobbed, flailing about his agony and distress. "Please, I've told you everything!"

Katze glanced up at the mirror strip, then back at the man and gave a smack to his face. "Pleasure talking to you," he grumbled, moving toward the door. It opened to reveal Raoul, standing there calmly. "Satisfied? Can I leave now?"

"It's hardly enough to go on, but if we question him more he will die from fear," Raoul concluded. "You have given me a nice start. You're free to go now."

The redhead nodded, walking past the blonde who moved toward the room. "Why did you have me do it?" he demanded.

Raoul stopped, then merely glanced back at Katze. "Because I would have accidentally killed him," he answered honestly. "Some days Blondies don't know their own strength, especially when we are angry."

"Are you feeling better?" the young man gently inquired, picking up the younger girl as she leapt into his arms. He smiled as she clung tight to him, nuzzling into his nape. "Now, now, you're getting me all wet!"

The small child sulked as she was set down, her eyes glistening. She crossed her arms and turned away, hiding the sadness which was a weakness.

"Come now, I'm not upset with you," the male gently soothed, readying a white towel that smelled like sanitization fluid. "I will hold you after you're dry."

Satisfied with the assertion, the girl smiled and giggled, before hurrying into the warm towel presented to her. The sanitization remnants made her nose cringe in disgust, but the warmth was delightful. "Warm," she purred, burying herself into the towel.

"Yes, I warmed it so you would dry faster and would not get a chill," the young man explained, carefully drying the younger girl off, discarding the wet towel and then wrapping her in a new one. "Shall we go to bed now? Are you tired?"

"Mmhmm," the girl murmured, her voice vibrating against him. "I'll go wherever you go, brother. Just don't leave me again."

"You will, will you?" The young man smiled, twirling his fingers through his younger siblings hair. He navigated out of the large tank room, flicking off the lights and closing the door behind him. "I promise I will not leave. Sleep well, my dearest."

Gideon sipped his cup of tea delicately, glancing at Aisha over the rim. "You've been busy as of lately," he noted.

"Not nearly as busy as Orphe," Aisha contradicted, his eyes dull and unamused as he gazed at Eos Garden. "With Iason bringing in that mongrel creature Jupiter has tightened up Eos security substantially. I have sorted through Tanagura's security grid as well, but have found nothing inadequate. However, I imagine securing Eos is the prime concern."

"I heard Orphe say that Jupiter would be implementing more droid security under her direct power into Tanagura and Midas by tomorrow while our security guards are tested."

"Is that so?"

Gideon nodded. "Which is why we shall be busy from tomorrow onward," he sighed.

Aisha seemed to lack interest in the idea, before finally asking. "Did Orphe mention how the security was being improved?"

"He said that each guard was having their minds checked along with fingerprints," Gideon answered. "But they have found no abnormalities other than a few with low scoring fingerprints." He grinned darkly. "Orphe must be having a fit right now."

Aisha nodded, brewing upon the topic, but not showing any real interest in the whole thing, because as far as he was concerned it was Orphe's problem and not his. He noticed a person approaching them, his eyebrow raising ever so slightly in interest. "Good evening, Iason. I see you've left your mongrel species locked up for the evening."

Iason nodded, acknowledging both of the Blondies. "Aisha," he greeted. "Gideon. I hope I'm not interrupting."

"Not at all, have a seat." Gideon gestured invitingly to the third chair present at the table. "What brings you here?" he inquired.

Iason exhaled softly, then dove right into his problem. "This might come as a shock, but I have information that there is a possible unauthorized portal within the Midas region."

"An unauthorized portal?" Aisha repeated, intrigued ever so slightly.

Gideon frowned. "Midas' security grid and measures are very strict, Iason. That is impossible." He leaned back. "The region is far to crowded for a portal to go unnoticed and as far as we are aware Jupiter's portals are the only existing ones within the galaxy."

"I am not saying there is a fault within your system, Gideon," Iason assured. "I am saying that somehow there is something that is capable of creating a device that allows beings to enter into our areas without detection."

"Something that is intelligent enough to slip past an AI?" Aisha inquired.

Iason nodded. "Yes. Take the Market incident for example," he reminded. "Somehow those men were implanted without knowledge by Jupiter or detection of any security measure."

"Sweet Mother of Amoï, we could be infiltrated if that is the case," Gideon realized. "I will appeal to Jupiter to have Midas security examined tomorrow at dawn along with the footage."

"That would be in the best interest of the safety of the Elites," Iason agreed. "Keep you guard up and notify trusted personnel if there are any suspicious behaviours of anyone around you."

Aisha paused, pondering aloud. "What if Midas security has been infiltrated and those men are hiding your hypothesized portal?"

Lucifer opened his eyes, then forced himself to sit up. "Riki," he whispered before losing strength and falling back to the bed.

Luci jolted awake, instantly terrified as she saw a vision of a figure prowling around Riki's condo complex which cut to another vision of a dark shadow looming over her parent's sleeping body. She jumped up, her body dripping in cold sweat and losing strength which sent her to the floor.

Cal entered the room, jerking in surprise as he saw the child on the floor. "Miss Luci!" he exclaimed, rushing forward and trying to aid the child.

Luci pushed him away frantically while whimpering brokenly, trying to get out of the room.

"Please calm down!" Cal pleaded, trying to reason with her. "You're safe, you're safe and no one will hurt you."

The child shook her head, tears pooling in her eyes. No, I'm safe, he's not! she tried to say. Someone will hurt him! Someone...! "P...pa...!"

Cal nearly had a heart attack, watching as the child's eyes rolled back and she went limp in his arms. "Miss Luci? Luci!" he cried out, giving her a shake. Lucifer reemerged, blinking a few times, but remained silent. Cal shivered as he stared into the darkness of the child's eyes. "Are you all right?"

Lucifer just nodded, his breathing becoming raspy again.

"Let's get you back into bed," Cal suggested gently, thoroughly disturbed. "You are safe now."

"Riki," a soft voice called.

Riki looked around, wondering who had called his name. All he could see was an unfamiliar room around him. There were three cylinder tanks filled with liquid, an L shaped operation table and a wall with a screen was all that he could vaguely make out in the fuzzy environment.

"Where am I?" he murmured, wondering what his mind had conquered up.

"Riki," the voice repeated.

Riki focused on the middle tank, jumping back in shock as he saw Luci suspended in the water. "Holy fuck!" he shrieked, his eyes widening. "What the fuck!"

Luci smiled beneath her oxygen mask. "Don't be frightened," she whispered, pressing her hand to the tank glass. "It's just me."

Riki took a hesitant step forward. "This is a messed up dream," he murmured. "Wake up, c'mon, wake up!"

"It's not a dream," Luci softly explained. "I'm sharing consciousness with you."

"What?"

"We are bound by blood," she reminded. "Which means we can share consciousness."

Riki shook his head. "I shouldn't have drank stout before bed."

Luci giggled. "You're funny, Papa."

"Papa?" Riki repeated.

Luci withdrew slightly. "May I call you that?" she whispered.

Riki shifted uncomfortably, running his hand through his dark hair. "I suppose."

"Thank you."

Riki took a moment to look around, noticing there was blood on the ground. "If what you're saying is true," he started, glancing around. "And this isn't a dream..." He looked back at her. "Where are we?"

Luci shifted in the tank, looking around her. "We are in a memory," she answered softly. "A memory of mine." She averted her gaze. "This is where I was born."

"No way," he sputtered, then shook his head. "All right, this is weird. Wake up, man! C'mon!" He started to gently hit his face. "Wake up!" He paused, closing his eyes then opening them. "Shit."

"It's not a dream," Luci reminded.

"Then stop it!" Riki growled.

"I just wanted to talk to you," Luci whimpered, her face crumbling. "I was worried."

"I don't know what the fuck this is," he hissed. "But I want out now." Riki turned away, moving across the room and angrily swiping his arm out to knock down and shatter objects.

Luci shook with a sob. "Someone is going to hurt you, Papa."

Riki paused. "What?"

"The man who hurt me," she whispered while crying. "I'm scared he'll hurt you too."

"I can watch my own back," Riki grumbled. "I'm not helpless."

Luci shook her head. "Y...you don't understand," she sobbed. "He isn't like a normal Human being. He can..."

"Enough!" Riki screamed, horribly frightened by this hellish dream. With the sound of his voice, the water around Luci began to bubble and her body began to convulse as if a million bolts were killing her. Her drowning screams filled Riki's chest with sheer terror and he could only watch as blood began to dilute into the water as every opening of her body began to bleed, creating wisps of red smoke that quickly thickened and tainted the whole tank a thick red. "No! No...!"

Luci gasped for air, trying to grasp her throat, but her hands remained out as if she was paralyzed. Her lips trembled, her frantic eyes landing on Riki who was quivering in terror before they rolled back. She sagged downward, her body gracefully fluttering to a position of a hung man.

"No, no!" Riki screamed, banging his hands on the glass. "I didn't mean it! I didn't...!" He fell backward, panting with horror as her bloody, dead eyes landed onto him and screamed.

Riki jolted awake, nearly punching Katze, who was leaning close to him, in the face as he mutely screamed.

"Jesus!" Katze cursed, dodging the attack and pushing Riki away. "What the fuck did you do, Riki?" He then noticed Riki began hyperventilating with eyes wide with fear and his ex Furniture instincts stepped in. "Breathe! Breathe you dumbass!" He propped Riki up, giving him a few pats on the back. "In and out, Riki! You hear me?"

Riki clutched onto the bed sheets, wheezing for air before coughing violently. He was covered in cold sweat, and could barely think straight. He felt like he was going to puke, he felt so sick. It had all been to real despite it being a dream!

"Are you all right?" Katze inquired finally, after Riki pushed him away in embarrassment.

"I'm fine," Riki answered, angry at himself as he got to his feet unsteadily. "I'm fine. Why are you here?"

Katze raised an eyebrow. "I've been trying to get a hold of you all morning," he answered in irritation. "You weren't responding at all."

Riki then realized it was actually daylight. "Shit!" he hissed. "Fuck, I'll be a minute!" He lurched unsteadily forward to the bathroom to quickly clean himself up, but was caught by the redhead. "What? Let me go!"

"Sit," Katze demanded, then whipped out a small flashlight and pointed the beam into Riki's eyes. He moved it back and forth, stopping when Riki batted it away and started to protest. "Iason will skin me alive if you're sick or some shit, so behave you brat!" He then proceeded to grab onto Riki's wrist and take his pulse. "What did you do yesterday before you went to sleep?"

"I showered," Riki answered venomously.

"Did you drink?" Katze demanded.

"Why?"

Katze glared. "Did you drink or not, you shit?" he demanded, then took a step back. "You did too. What did you drink?"

"It was one drink," Riki defended.

"You're not supposed to drink until the medicine is out of your system!" Katze scolded. "Certain medications don't mix with alcohol and can kill you! Why didn't you listen?"

Riki averted his gaze, annoyed. "I couldn't smoke so I had a drink! A single drink!"

"Bullshit!" Katze hissed. "Was it stout?"

"Does it matter?"

Katze pulled out his comm unit, ready to dial up Iason. "Honestly, some days you are the stupidest mongrel."

"Don't you dare," Riki hissed, jumping up into a fighting stance that took all of his energy and hurt his chest, but he pushed onward. "I just left Eos and I'm not going back yet!"

"I have to tell him," Katze answered bluntly. "I'm required to."

"Katze," he snarled, grabbing onto the redhead's arm tightly and leaning into him for support. "Don't call him." He held the eunuch's hard and piercing gaze. "I won't drink again and I will stay in sight of you the rest of the time I'm with you. Just don't call him, please."

Katze ground his teeth, stressed to a new level after having to deal with Raoul and then having Riki practically die on him because he foolishly trusted Riki to refrain from drinking after limiting his smokes. "I will tell him," he contradicted, pressing the medical emergency button on his device. "And you're going to a doctor. Now."

Iason returned late, disturbed by conversing with Gideon and Aisha and checked on Luci who was asleep. Cal emerged from a corner of her room and told him of her panic attack, and his decision to stay there to monitor her easier. Iason agreed, then retired to his room for the night.

He was so run down, he shut down for the night immediately after showering and getting into his bed, but his sleep was restless.

When morning arrived he barely felt refreshed, as he should have. He had an unsettling feeling taking over his mind, like someone had told him some horrid news.

Iason stepped out into the living space, surprised to find Lucifer approaching him rather weakly. "Why are you out of bed?" he demanded, shaking his head in anger.

"It's Riki," Lucifer whispered.

Dread pooled in the Blondie's stomach. "Riki?" he returned softly, his throat closing, before he forced himself to calm down. "What do you mean?"

Lucifer sighed. "Last night Luci sensed Riki wasn't well," he answered. "She kept him conscious."

"What do you mean 'kept him conscious'?" Iason questioned, his voice growing louder. His next question was cut off when an incoming call came from Katze which he answered. "Katze."

"It's Riki," Katze immediately explained. "He drank stout and smoked despite my warning."

Iason closed his eyes, furious that his pet went against his wishes. "Is he all right?"

"No," Katze answered honestly. "I had to revive him this morning. He was practically dead from a bad reaction when I found him."

Iason felt his body turn to ice. "Where are you?"

"Tanagura hospital," Katze replied. "They just got him hooked up with IV and oxygen while waiting for the doctor."

Iason's chest was extremely tight. "I'm on my way," he returned. "Tell the doctor I demand he see Riki immediately." He then hung up the call, looking at Lucifer. "We're leaving, now."

Chapter Text

CHAPTER EIGHTEEN

STOLEN

Iason helped Lucifer into the car seat and buckled him with such speed and precision the Blondie was already in the driver seat before the child could even grasp what was happening. The Blondie adjusted the setting of his vehicle, tapping buttons and entering codes to allow maximum speed for his aircar. Lucifer blinked, trying to follow the movements, but failed and then they were driving out of the parking spot, launched into the air and flying at neck breaking velocity.

Never had Iason been so disturbed and terrified in his life than after receiving that call from Katze. He was furious that Riki had ignored his warning, horrified that he had almost unknowingly lost Riki and very upset that he had not had Katze watch over Riki closer. Worst was that somehow Luci and Lucifer were aware of this and he had no idea as to how!

Iason glanced back at the child in his rearview mirror. "How did Luci know Riki was in danger?" he demanded, before returning his gaze to the path in front of him and narrowly slid past another vehicle on route to hit them.

Lucifer considered the idea. "I'm not certain," he admitted. "I believe her sensitive energy picked up on something that was seeking to bring harm to Riki."

"And how would she be able to do that?"

"It's an aspect of our energy," Lucifer explained. "Once we let someone into our energy core, we can sense when there is something wrong." He paused. "It may also be the blood connection. Luci's blood is also unique in its design and it would not surprise me if Riki's had a somewhat similar uniqueness. But do not tell Lord Am that or he might cart our Biological Father to his lab."

Iason brewed over the information. "Unique blood?" he murmured.

Lucifer nodded. "I am uncertain of how it is exactly and it is not the right time to explain."

Iason pulled up to the Tanagura hospital VIP parking area. "We will talk later," he ordered.

"Yes," Lucifer answered, staring down at his restraining straps then reached out to accept help as Iason freed him.

Riki glanced up as he heard the dreaded sounds of boots clipping sharply against the floor. He turned his head to peer down the hall and cringed as he saw Iason headed straight to him while Luci practically ran behind him to keep up. "Bloody hell," he groaned, trying to sit up but Katze promptly pushed him back.

"You're not going anywhere," the redhead hissed.

Iason entered the room, immediately standing at Riki's side and staring down at him with piercing eyes, before looking to Katze. "Leave us," he calmly ordered, motioning to Luci. "Take her with you for now."

Lucifer blinked, but moved to the redhead's side as he moved out of the room. Katze closed the door behind them.

"How could you, Riki?" Iason asked, his voice trembling as he grasped onto the mongrel shoulders and gave him a shake. "Why would you do something so foolish?"

Riki averted his gaze. "I didn't mean to."

"Look at me," Iason demanded, his voice turning frostier. "Why did you disobey me? You knew I had said those things because of your health, not to restrain you! Why would you ignore me?"

"I wanted to forget."

Iason stiffened, his teeth grounding together. "Forget?"

Riki shook his head in disgust. "This whole fucked up parent thing!" he snapped. "My fucked up life! Everything! I wanted to forget everything! I wanted to just have one day when I was alone and could pretend nothing was wrong!"

The Blondie considered the words spoken, the silence in the air was terrifying. Riki tensed, his heart pounding as he waited in anticipation for an answer. Iason finally grabbed Riki's chin, hard. "You dare try to forget the fact that you came back to me on your own free will? The fact you asked me to keep your child? You just decided you wanted to forget everything and neglect your health?" he bellowed. "I have sad news for you, pet! You can forget your Apatia freedom!" He tightened his grip on the protesting mongrel. "You won't forget what I have done for you, who you belong or what you are until the day you die."

Katze filled his cup of coffee with the automated machine, then glanced at the small mongrel girl who was watching him. "Do you want anything?" he asked roughly, trying to be polite. Lucifer shook his head, then followed the redhead to a chair which he sat down in. Katze was irritated beyond help, firstly dealing with Raoul and then Riki's bullshit. He sipped his drink, then got a better look at the mongrel kid's eyes. "Why are your eyes like that?"

Lucifer smirked, then replied in his deepest voice. "I'm a monster."

The redhead tensed a bit, taken back by the deep male voice speaking fluent Amoian in a female body. "What the hell?" he coughed, nearly choking on his coffee.

"Don't be alarmed," Lucifer assured, raising his tiny hand's in surrender. "It's a long story. But I am not an enemy." He smiled, seeing the redhead regain himself. "I was joking, I'm not a monster,  it's just a defect from being a science experiment."

"I see..."

Lucifer settled down in the chair next to the redhead. "You are Lord Mink's most trusted partner, are you not?"

"I am," Katze answered, pride filling his chest at being able to say such a thing. He took a sip of his drink to hide his emotions.

"Are you a friend to Riki?"

"I am not certain about friend," he honestly replied, more so because he was thoroughly pissed with Riki. "I am his employer through Iason."

"I see," Lucifer answered thoughtfully. "Well I'm not certain Lord Mink is going to allow Riki to return to work anytime soon after this." He looked to the door as he could hear muffled loud voices. "But on the off chance he returns to working for you, can you please do me a favor?"

Katze raised an eyebrow. "What kind of favor?"

"No!" Riki protested, lurking backwards and toward the other side of the bed. "You can't do that, Iason! I can't go back to the way it was before!"

Iason glared. "This is not up for debate, Riki, now get back here or you'll tear your IV!" he ordered, reaching out to grab onto the young man.

Riki pushed away, successfully ripping the IV from his skin and the heart monitor from his finger before falling onto the floor. "Fuck!" he yelled, grasping onto his bleeding arm.

"Riki!" Iason exclaimed, hurrying over and kneeling down beside his pet. "Now look what you've done!" He yanked off his gloves with his teeth and grabbed onto the tanned arm, applying pressure to the wound. Riki tried to free his arm, but the blonde had a grip of iron. "Stop fighting me, Riki! You're only making things worse for yourself."

Riki refused to look up and meet the Blondie's gaze, his teeth biting into his lips to form a snarl. He held down his bitter retorts.

Iason sighed, moving closer to his mongrel. "Riki," he breathed, staring at him with cool azure eyes. "You know I do everything because I care about you, do you not?"

The mongrel didn't reply, turning his head away. He winced as he felt a sharp pain in his chest. "Fuck," he gasped.

"Riki?"

"My chest...hurts," Riki groaned, then started to jolt as he couldn't catch his breath.

"Riki!" Iason immediately reached up, pressing the emergency button on the hospital bed and then helped Riki back up as the nurses rushed in.

"Please watch over my parent," Lucifer pleaded. "I am unsure of his past life before he met Lord Mink, but I fear there is some bitterness from someone."

Katze's eyes narrowed. "How would you know that? Is there someone threatening him?" Is there someone that knows Riki is an Achilles' heel to Iason? he added silently.

Lucifer tilted his head silently in pondering. "I noticed someone lurking around the complex when Riki brought me over the night he found me," he lied. "They seemed to be watching Riki from a distance." He felt bad for lying, but by at least notifying someone that Luci had predicted trouble would mean that someone could watch over Riki better.

The redhead felt a wave of concern flutter through him. "Did you tell Iason this?" he inquired.

"Not as of yet," Lucifer answered. "I do not know if he will believe me and I am unsure of the level of urgency the lurker is if they are indeed are after Riki."

Katze nodded. "I will investigate," he promised, then observed as nurses shuffled into the room Iason and Riki were both in. Immediately he rose and tried to enter into the room, spotting Riki with blood dripping down his arm and Iason watching as the nurses began filling syringes and readying an oxygen mask. Riki lurched forward, vomiting into a dish that the nurse had ready. "Shit."

Lucifer hurried over, but was cut off by a group of doctors that were moving through the halls. He then found himself being scooped up, but before he could fight back a syringe skillfully plunged into his inner elbow.

"You thought you could get away, did you?" a voice smoothly laughed, carrying the child under his lab coat and around the corner into a storage room. "I couldn't believe my eyes when I saw you traipsing in behind that Blondie. I had thought for sure they were wrong when they told me you had somehow escaped. But now I see that they were right." The hands of the person slid down Luci's body as it tightened its hold, causing her to jolt. "They were right when they used that mongrel to lure Mink and you out." There was a pause as Lucifer struggled weakly. "Did you really think you would be free?"

Lucifer desperately tried to speak, but all that came out were breathy and squeaky sounds. He gasped for air, clawing at the arms around him.

"Easy, easy," the man soothed, adjusting his hold on the young girl so he could see her face and gently touching the back of her neck affectionately. "My, my, my, I dare say you've aged since you've left." He slid his hand up Luci's back under her clothes before seeing the necklace around her neck and smiling. "You even got a collar?"

Lucifer struggled to stay upright, his body falling forward and his head resting on the man's chest. "N..o..." he wheezed, horror filling him to the brim as he recalled the terrifying treatments he endured through Luci's body. He weakly tilted his head to angrily stare up at the doctor with grey, piercing eyes.

"The Boss certainly won't be pleased when he finds out you're missing and have moved right into the hands of the enemy," the doctor noted, added in a teasing voice. "Such a bad girl you are." He slid his free hand into his pocket, sliding his two fingers into a smooth metallic sheath and brought it to his lips and wet them with his tongue. "I'll have to punish you before I leave."

"He's stable," the nurse confirmed, moving back, then turned to face Iason. "I'd recommend that he stay here and be monitored for today and discharged tomorrow."

Iason nodded, relieved that whatever they gave his mongrel seemed to have fixed the problem. "And the cause of all of this?"

The nurse pursed her lips. "Conbus Ambuga," she murmured confusedly.

"Conbus Ambuga?" Iason repeated, frowning. "I thought that was caused by consuming excess amounts of Ibuvelam Evotadine which is found in an off planet leaf extract?"

"It is," she confirmed, adding. "Or taking the substance directly."

Iason's eyebrows knitted. "Is the substance found in cigarettes or stout?"

"Oh heavens no," she smiled. "It's solely found in the leaf. That is why I'm perplexed as to how he ingested it."

"This was not caused by any medication he had taken?" he questioned.

The nurse paused. "What kind of medication?"

"Claletine Hexatrol," Iason answered. "It was to prevent any further harm from occurring to his head after an incident."

"Even the strongest dose of Claletine Hexatrol would not cause this reaction with any substance," she denied. "It is solely Ibuvelam Evotadine which caused this. We found it in his blood when he was rushed here. We diluted it using Oxyconavir and thought it was gone, but I'm going to have him put on dialysis just to be safe. Ibuvelam Evotadine can be persistent, therefore once we get him on dialysis his blood he will be back to normal and he can be off all medication."

"I see," Iason answered, then nodded dismissively. "Very well."

The nurse stepped out, and Katze slipped in. "Is he going to be all right?"

"Yes," Iason nodded, still perplexed. "It seems it was not stout and cigarettes reacting with his medication that caused this."

Katze frowned. "Then what did?"

"Ibuvelam Evotadine."

The redhead paused. "The highly illegal leaf extract? Where would he have gotten his hands on that? How would he even know of it?"

"That's the problem," Iason answered. "He wouldn't and he couldn't have."

"I'll go check his place for traces of it," Katze offered.

Iason nodded. "See if there are any traces on the stout or cigarettes," he ordered, then added. "And bring Luci back in here, I don't want her wandering."

Katze nodded, then turned around. "You..." he started, then blinked as he saw the chair empty. He peered down the hall both ways, then moved over to the desk that was close by. "Excuse me, have you seen a small girl wandering around?"

The young lady shook her head. "I haven't, sorry. Are you missing someone?" she inquired.

"Shall I sound the missing child code?" another nurse inquired, nearly getting pushed into the doorway as another nurse headed hurriedly into a separate hallway.

"No," Katze answered, then backed away and proceeded to peer down the end of the right hallway but didn't see her. "Shit." He walked past the door, catching Iason's attention as he peered down the left hallway.

"Where is she, Katze?" Iason demanded. "Was she not just with you?"

"She was," Katze agreed, approaching the chair where she was and leaned down to pick up the yellow cap of a syringe that had rolled just in front of the spot where they were. He held it up and showed Iason. "This wasn't here before."

 Iason's eyes widened. "She's missing?" he breathed, striding over and looking at the cap of the syringe. "But nothing can penetrate her skin and she's impossibly strong." He moved it around in his bare hand. "There's no way someone could have just made off with her."

Katze backed up. "Unless someone knew she was going to be here," he declared. "We need security now. This place isn't safe for Riki or you, Master."

Lucifer let out a choked whimper, jerking helplessly before he was lowered to the floor as the doctor  removed the device from within them and crouched. "There we are," the doctor grinned, sliding the writhing and panting child into a duffle bag, then slid the device into his pocket. "Now we won't have to worry about anyone seeing you making a fuss." He shed off his coat, then covered her up with it before zipping the bag shut.

He exited the room discretely, avoiding the rotating cameras and then headed down the hallway towards the exit.

"Good work today Dr. Bryton," another doctor called, walking past him.

Dr. Bryton gave a small wave, then exited the building and headed for the parking lot. He set the duffle bag in the front seat of his car, before getting out of the parking lot as fast as he could.

Only when he was stopped at a traffic light did he open the bag and push aside his coat. He gave a smack to the child's face, smirking as the dark eyes fluttered open. "Don't tell me you're tired just from that little punishment?"  He slid his thumb along her lips. "We have some time until I need to return, I plan on using it all to the best of my abilities."

Lucifer grunted weakly, trying to move away from the disgusting touch of the man who had just violated them with those same hands.

Dr. Bryton laughed, shifting his car into the next gear and gunned it through the traffic and began navigating to his destination.

"We have secured the building, but have not found the child or any other signs of an abduction," the head of security reported.

"Have you checked the security footage?" Iason demanded.

"We are currently checking it, your grace."

Iason ground his teeth, but nodded. "Inform me if you find anything."

"Shall we escort you from the premises?" another uniformed guard inquired.

"Not as of yet," Iason dismissed. "I will notify you of when we will leave."

Katze fidgeted with a cigarette in his pocket. "I should not have left her in the hallway," he softly noted.

Iason shook his head gently. "You are not completely at fault, Katze," he assured. "Her existence is still shrouded in mystery. No one could have predicted this."

"Yes, Master," the redhead replied, his eyes falling to the floor as the blonde patted his shoulder.

"Are you equipped with any undetectable wireless devices?" Iason inquired in a whisper, leaning closer to the young man so only he could hear.

"Standard equipment," Katze murmured back, knowing he had three handheld hacking devices within his inner coat pockets.

Iason nodded. "Ten minutes. Monitor them," he instructed. "Find out if they are covering anything up. I must contact outside authorities and issue a private missing child alert."

"You dirty pig," Alliance hissed, pinning the pedal down to the floor while navigating through the traffic while tailing Dr. Bryton who was locked on GPS. Alliance reached over and with a click of a button, the sound of police radios and other communication devices filled the aircar with crystal clarity.

"10-57," the voice announce. "Minor. Female. Mongrel."

"10-20?"

"Unknown," the voice answered. "Sending photo now."

Alliance tapped the car screen, grinning for a second as a picture of Luci popped up. She was dressed within a gown and was clearly in a lab within Eos as she was having her abilities tested. "From one prison to another, hm?" At least the police were notified, that way Dr. Bryton could be questioned by them and sent before Lord Mink. That would give them a few answers - maybe. If Dr. Bryton survived that is.

"Report any sightings."

"10-4."

Alliance finally caught up to the doctor, but remained four vehicles behind to prevent detection. Dr. Bryton turned, navigating his way into the upper class Midas. Alliance pulled over, observing as he drove to a posh looking home and parked his vehicle. The doctor glanced around, whistling calmly as he went to the passenger side and fiddled with something before removing a large duffle bag from the car.

"You disgusting man," Alliance hissed venoumously, whipping out a cell phone and dialing up a comrade. "It's me. I need assistance."

Riki slowly came to, his eyes ripping apart as he couldn't shake a wave of drowsiness. He closed his eyes for another minute, and then was surprised that he felt much better. His dark eyes wandered over, landing on a blonde figure who was tapping on his wrist comm. "Iason?" he whispered.

If Iason's hearing hadn't been sharper, he would've missed the words. "Riki," he breathed, running his bare hands affectionately over the tanned face and forehead. "You are going to be ok, Riki."

The mongrel shifted slightly. "What...?" he trailed, then saw the bandaged arm and averted his eyes to stare down. "I messed up."

Iason caressed the bandaged arm. "You did disobey me," he agreed. "But I will overlook it, as it is not the cause of you being here."

"What?"

"Riki," Iason started slowly. "Someone poisoned you."

Riki blinked. "I didn't go out anywhere..."

"Someone got into your Apatia home," he answered, stroking his thumb along the gauze. "They somehow got inside and poisoned you."

"I...I...locked the door..." he defended.

Iason smiled slightly. "They still got in, pet," he replied. "I will found out how, and who did this. Until I have figured that out I will move you to another location."

Riki paused. "You...you're not taking my job away?"

"Until you recover and I find the cause of this, you will be in Eos, but after I will relocate you."

Riki felt a huge wave of relief and gratitude flush over him, but refrained from getting any more emotional as he had already admitted he was wrong earlier. "Where...where's Luci?" he inquired, craning his neck to see her. "She's...probably scared."

Iason gently enveloped Riki's hand in his. "Riki, I need to tell you something and you have to stay calm."

The mongrel felt his stomach flip. "W...what?" he choked, a shiver of fear streaking through him. He had felt it once before...

He looked Riki straight in his eyes, his voice a rough whisper. "Luci is missing."

Chapter Text

CHAPTER NINETEEN

SAD REUNIFICATION

"Missing?" Riki repeated, the word seeming almost foreign in his mind. He felt a rush of fear fly through him, making his stomach knot. There was also a shiver that seemed to caress his core, squeezing it painfully. "But...she was...just..."

"Someone kidnapped her Riki," Iason revealed. "This whole hospital visit was a set up for her to be taken from us." He gave Riki's hand a squeeze. "I will not allow them to steal her permanently. I have Katze investigating the hospital and the police unit searching every region."

A sudden flashback of Luci screaming inside the tank filled Riki with dread and uncertainty. She was trapped, she was trapped somewhere and struggling to free herself. She was screaming for help! She was screaming for someone to save them!

"Riki!" Iason repeated, giving the mongrel a soft shake. "We are going to locate her and return her to us. But first we are going to be escorted to Eos! Are you listening to me?"

"We're too late," Riki whispered shakily.

Iason paused, frowning and straightened up. "What do you mean, pet?" he inquired. "She wasn't taken that long ago, there is still time to retrieve her."

Riki shook his head. "She's trapped," he whimpered, flexing his fingers in his hair. "She's hurting and trapped."

Several red flags started going up in Iason's mind, but he remained composed. "There's no way you can know that," he denied. "We will get her back, Riki. I'm arranging our escort back, so you just rest. Leave this to me. I will bring your daughter back."

Lucifer gasped for breath, the drugs making it increasingly hard to supply his lungs with oxygen while he panicked. He could barely keep Luci's body in control, much of his effort was simply focused on blocking Luci out. Lucifer was beyond weakened, his own physical body within the lab was still out of order, and his own disorganized thoughts were fighting him as he maintained his sister's body.

"You are a noisy thing," Dr. Bryton commented, purposely slamming open the lid of his secret drug stash box. He grinned as the child jolt in fear, but was unable to escape while strapped on the board. "Now let's see...what shall I use?" His fingertips skimmed along the collection of syringes.

The child began another struggling session, squirming frantically to the point of causing bruises to the skin. How ironic, they were trapped by a metal formed from their very own impenetrable skin cells. They were trapped by themselves, a more refined and stronger version that is.

Dr. Bryton grinned with glee, observing the child struggle like a wet rat caught within a trap. Yes, she was a rat. Only a rat could escape from the sophisticated security facility in which she was created. "Ah, yes, let's use this," he announced, proudly pulling up a lethal weakening serum and then pulling up another drug. "And this."

Lucifer huffed frantically, Luci's body was slipping from his conscious control. Soon she would wake up and suffer! Her mind would break! It was all because he wasn't stronger, wasn't a good enough brother! "...don't...!" he hissed.

"Such a squirmy thing," the doctor laughed, flicking the syringe and preparing it for injection."Now, now, if you struggle I'll stab a worse spot by accident!" He latched onto her thin arm, stabbing the needle in roughly, clicking his tongue as she frantically tugged at the bindings. He landed a backhand across her face, scowling as it seemed to do nothing. "You truly are a troublesome creature."

Dr. Bryton struggled, but successfully injected both needles before tossing them into the disposal unit. "There we are," he concluded, then slipped his hands into his pocket and retrieved the metal sheath. "Now this should feel much better." He paused, examining the tube implant with his free hand. "And just who closed this off?" He ripped out the blocking device that Raoul had placed into it during a visit.

Lucifer cringed in terror, knowing that he couldn't handle much more. "...don't...touch me!" he hissed venomously, but not as strongly as he had hoped with his voice breaking.

"What a disgusting voice," Dr. Bryton insulted, pressing his fingers to the child's entrance and ramming upward. "Hnn, I guess it fits your personality and appearance."

Lucifer released a strangled cry of agony, but then bit down hard on his lips to keep himself contained. But when Dr. Bryton picked up his speed, and sent currents through the sheaths that Luci's brain recognized as pain, he began to openly cry.

"Yes!" Dr. Bryton cheered. "Cry you dirty bitch!" He slid his free hand to the child's exposed stomach and press his finger into the hole. "Can you feel that? I'm touching your insides." He grinned madly, pulling out his fingers from Luci's lower half and then sticking one into the hole and sending a high volt through her.

Lucifer screamed loudly, the zap shooting through Luci's body in either direction as it went through the two spikes left inside her. "St...!" he choked.

"Ohhh," Dr. Bryton chuckled brokenly, relishing the look of pure agony upon the child's face. "I never thought the day would come when I finally made you scream. I tried so hard before, but now you do it so openly." He returned his metal covered fingers to Luci's lower regions, continuing his assault. "So tell me, little rat, how did you get out?"

"C...can't!" Lucifer pleaded, jolting in agony as his mind was scattered by another shockwave. He could feel Luci's presence approaching with a nasty pressure. It felt like she was pinning him to one side of their skull.

"You are worthless, you know that?" the doctor hissed. "Your existence will never be accepted, no matter where you flee. You'll always be worthless." He moved his fingers again. "So tell me! Tell me how you got out!" The doctor demanded, ramming up as far as he could then sending a volt of the highest degree through Luci. "I SAID TELL ME!"

FFFTBANG!

Dr. Bryton paused, analyzing his own blood splatter upon Luci's face. He slowly reached up and touched his neck, feeling something portruding from it. "I...imposs..ible..." he muttered, then fell to the floor with a crack. His fingers slipped out of Luci, sending one final shockwave through her that made Lucifer scream.

Lucifer looked up, his dark eyes quickly turning into Luci's brown ones. He let out a final sob as he gazed upon the glorious face of their savior — Alliance.

Riki kept drifting in and out of consciousness, his mind muddled. He could hear crying, screaming and pleading all jumbled together like a twisted symphony. He opened his eyes, catching a glimpse of Iason looking down at him as he was being carried. There were dark clouds in the sky above him, and small rain drops hitting him.

He closed his eyes.

He opened his eyes, the entrance of Eos around them and shocked spectators watching as Master carried Pet in broad daylight. Idiot, he wanted to shout. I can walk on my own...

Riki closed his eyes again.

Finally when he opened them again, he was back to normal. He was in their bed, the room was dimmed for him to rest. Was everything a dream?

Riki reached to scratch his head, confused when he felt something holding onto his arm. An IV? When had this gotten onto him? He glanced beyond the IV to see a machine filtering his blood.

Not a dream. It wasn't a dream. Luci was missing and here he was stuck in bed! He felt his energy surge back into him and began to yank off the cords.

"Riki!" Iason scolded, approaching fast. "Don't you dare!"

"Luci..." he simply mumbled, his eyes wide with concern, but let up on his destruction. "Did you..."

Iason shook his head. "Katze has analyzed the security footage, but there is no sign of Luci's abductor," he returned, calmly sitting on the bed. "The cameras rotated away, meaning it became a blind spot."

Riki felt a wave of panic flutter through him. "What if we don't...find her?"

"We will, pet."

"She practically dropped out of the sky, Iason! She can probably go back to being unknown just as easily!"

"They will find her!"

"But what if they don't?" Riki challenged, wondering if she could disappear as easily as she appeared.

"They will," Iason insisted, abruptly but gently caressing Riki's troubled face. Here the mongrel had worried he was a horrible parent, but now he was being a normal parent! Iason realized then how much impact Luci had on their life, and how much trust Riki was giving him through having his daughter with them. "They will find her, Riki. I swear to you on Jupiter herself."

Iason sat at his desk, still skimming through the feed in search of any hints.He had to reassure Riki for a long while, until the mongrel finally exhausted himself with his worrying. Oh how Riki had changed with the small addition in their home. Suddenly a notification from an unknown sender popped up on his screen. He hesitantly clicked it:

Front entrance to retrieve Luci.

Alliance

Iason rose from his desk so swiftly, objects upon it clattered. He hurried from his home and to the front entrance area. Upon his arrival he saw a male figure dressed in all black, with his hood up carrying a blanket covered child.

"Luci!" Iason breathed in relief, hurrying over to the pair. He stopped just in front of the male, a bit surprised he didn't flinched from his abrupt arrival. "It is regrettable we must meet in these circumstances, Alliance."

"Indeed," the male softly and calmly responded, gently stroking Luci's head. He glanced up at Iason. "You must be very gentle with her, Lord Mink. I have cleaned her up and given her antidotes, but she is still not in the clear."

Iason analyzed the child, realizing then that she was trembling from whatever trauma she had endured. "What has happened to cause this?" he demanded, stepping closer to the young grey eyed and sandy blonde haired man.

"She was sexually assaulted," he returned, his face grim. "Her body and mind will feel the effects for awhile. Therefore, you must be excessively gentle in your ways with her for the next few days."

"I see," Iason sadly noted. "We will do all to put her at ease until she recovers." He reached out to accept Luci back, his hands brushing against the males fairly cold ones as he took the child into his arms. "It's all right now, Luci. You're back home and safe."

Luci turned her head with a few jerking motions, her brown eyes darting around. She grasped tightly into Iason's tunic and continued to cry softly. Iason gently hugged her close and pat her back with soothing motions.

"I was going to keep her with me for a few days until she recovered," the male revealed. "But she insisted she return to Eos to her family."

Family? Iason thought, glancing down at Luci in shock. She thought of Riki and him as family? Was that how much she valued being with them?

The male sighed. "Don't ever think that kid is against you, you hear me? She'd die on command for either of you." He glanced at his phone that chimed. "Ah, my parcel has safely arrived and is ready to be torn open." He closed it. "Take care."

Iason looked from Luci to the male who was turning away. "I would like for us to sit and discuss this situation at a later date," he demanded. "You are the only link Luci has other than us."

The male figure turned and smiled. "I'll check my schedule," he responded, then waved.

Iason was about to say something else, but stopped as the walking man suddenly glitched and flickered before disappearing. He blinked in disbelief. "A hologram?" he whispered, but then recalled the cold touch of the man, the pulse and movement of his inside he had felt when they had made contact. It had elt like he was touching a Human! What sophisticated technology was that?

Luci whimpered in his arms, returning his attention back to the situation at hand.

"Shhh, sweetheart," Iason whispered, turning and heading back to the penthouse promptly. "You're safe now. You're safe with us again."

Iason continued to soothe the trembling child as he entered the penthouse. Cal appeared upon their arrival, shock and then concern on his face as he analyzed the situation.

"Is there anything I can get for you, Master?" Cal asked softly.

"Keep warm water in the kettle on standby," he advised. "And perhaps make a small meal for Luci. I'm unsure of her needs at this time."

"Yes, Master," Cal answered, then moved away to the kitchen.

Iason moved toward the bedroom, gently patting Luci's back as she trembled when thunder rumbled from outside. "You're safe," he assured. "I've got you." Luci whimpered softly again as another burst of thunder and lightning made the penthouse quiver. "Shh..."

He quietly opened the bedroom door, approaching the now waking mongrel. "Riki," he whispered, navigating to the side of the bed the mongrel was on and sat down. "Riki."

Riki slowly sat up, still a bit delirious but then he saw the bundle in Iason's hands. "Is...is that?" he immediately question, perking up as Iason nodded. "Luci!" He lurched forward, nearly yanking out his IV and tubes, but Iason pulled back. "What are you doing! Lemme see her!"

"You have to be gentle, Riki," Iason warned. "She's...been through a rough few hours. And don't drip out your IV!" He gently stroked Luci's hair, pleased she didn't flinch away. "Luci, I'm handing you to Riki now, OK?"

Riki carefully moved with his tubes and accepted the shaking Luci, who grasped onto him the moment he had her. "Oh, Luci, what did they do to you?" he choked, feeling tears threaten to spill over. He held his daughter close, very carefully and rocked her softly. "Poor thing, you're shaking."

Iason moved closer, seeing this as an opportunity to prove to Riki that he did in fact care about his daughter and him. "Is there anything we can get for you, Luci?" he asked gently, rubbing her covered shoulder.

Luci shook her head, sniffling and then rested her cheek to Riki chest. "P...pa..." she whispered, so softly that not even Iason heard her.

Riki recalled the stuffed bear she had gotten, and how much she enjoyed it. "Maybe her stuffed bear?" he questioned, then spoke to Luci. "Do you want your brown bear?" Luci gave a little nod. "Can you get that?"

Iason nodded, deciding he'd give Riki a moment with his daughter. Then he would come back and see if Luci wanted anything else. He also needed to call off the search. "I'll be right back."

The mongrel carefully adjusted his hold on Luci, ensuring she was comfortable. "I'm sorry," he finally cracked. "I should've...I..."

Luci glanced up and gave him the saddest brown eyed look he'd ever seen. "P...pa..." she wheezed.

Riki blinked. "Y...you...did you just talk?" he breathed.

"Pa...pa..." Luci sounded, her voice breaking from her soft crying. "Papa."

Riki felt his heart crumble, as his broken daughter's first words were his title. "Papa," he repeated in a whisper, choking down tears. "Yes, sweetie, I'm here. Papa is here." He hugged her a bit tighter, wondering if she had screamed for him to come save her? "I'm here."

"Papa," she whispered, closing her eyes as her body finally relaxed knowing she was with Riki and Iason again. She was finally safe in the penthouse. Finally safe. "Pap...a..."

Riki tensed as he sensed her slipping away. "Hey, hey, hey! Don't!" he panicked, thinking she was going to pass away. He looked to Iason with terror in his eyes as he just entered the room. "She's...she's! Luci! Luci!"

Iason frowned, swiftly walking over and examining her face. He gently rested his gloved fingers against neck feeling a slow but steady pulse. "Relax, Riki," he soothed. "She is just asleep. She must be tired." He lifted her from Riki's arms and placed her in the middle of the bed. "Keep her wrapped up and dong touch her directly," he advised, then placed the bear next to her arm so she could grab it. "She's fine, Riki."

"I...I didn't know," Riki stuttered, swiping at his eyes quickly. "Shit!"

"It's all right, Riki," Iason soothed, bending slightly to kiss the mongrel's forehead. "You should rest as well. It won't do any good to force her awake and stress her more."

Riki nodded, realizing he was tired too, then looked to Iason. "Will you stay too? If she...stops breathing or something...I can't..."

"Of course," he simply answered, pulling off his outer layers then moved to his side of the big bed. Iason slipped under the covers on his side, moving closer to where Luci was sleeping in between them. He reached his hand over, gently grasping onto Riki's free hand and entwined their fingers. "Everything will be OK, pet. I will find the cause of all of this."

The mongrel nodded, resting his head in the comfortable spot of the pillow. "'Kay."

Iason brought Riki's hand to his lips, gently planting a kiss on the tanned skin. Riki's eyes sleepily fluttered, but he didn't pull away which pleased Iason immensely. "Rest now," he whispered.

Riki grunted softly, nuzzling further into the pillow with his eyes closed. He drifted off to sleep while Iason caressed his hand gently and finally could relax.

Iason awoke an hour or so later, sensing that both mongrels were asleep soundly and well. He slowly freed himself from the bed, slipping out of the bedroom. He headed for his office, pausing at the doorway as he received a notification of an incoming call from Raoul.

"Raoul," he greeted to the hologram.

"I see you've called off the search, which means the child has been found," Raoul noted. "What is the condition of her? And your mongrel?"

"My, dare I say it sounds like you're starting to care, Raoul?"

"Your mutant mongrel intrigues me," Raoul replied. "And I want to know if the parent has anything more mutant than his disobedience as well. You possess interesting beings which I wish to investigate."

Iason smirked. "Are you jealous?"

Raoul scoffed. "No, but I will admit that you seem to find many valuable items," he returned. "Will you not reconsider handing her off?"

"She is Riki's daughter," Iason reminded. "And my adopted daughter."

"It's a piece of paper," Raoul reminded. "If you simply destroy it there will be no issue."

Iason shook his head. "I will not, and that is the end of this discussion."

Raoul scowled, but let it drop. "What is the state of the child?"

"She was sexually assaulted," Iason answered, and then added. "And drugged. She is in a fragile state."

"Drugged with what?"

"That is unknown, but she is incredibly weak, tired and frightened," Iason responded. "The person that returned her said that he cleaned her up and gave her antidotes, but it would take awhile to clear up."

Raoul frowned. "The person is withholding important information and you are not investigating?"

Iason's eyes narrowed. "I did say I wished to speak with him, but at that time I was more concerned about returning her safely to Eos and her father."

"Who's responsible for this?"

"I am searching that out now," Iason hissed. "Now if you'll excuse me."

Raoul sighed. "Keep me updated on her condition," he simply requested. "If she is traumatized she may require therapy or medical services."

Iason nodded. "Very well." He then hung up the call, noticing a message in his inbox on his desk screen. He tapped it open:

We have the culprit of the abduction. We are currently holding him within our custody. If you would like him delivered to you, please advise us immediately, or we shall keep him contained in our current location for further personal interrogation.

Alliance

The Blondie blinked, but answered the message, stating that he wanted the culprit delivered to Eos prison for questioning of his own. He also wanted to throttle the man who almost killed Riki, but he refrained from stating that.

Within moments after he sent the reply, an acknowledgment arrived:

We will deliver him discretely to Eos within the hour. He is currently subdued and unconscious. Be advised he may awake shortly after arrival, and therefore will need to be physically confined.

Iason sat back in his chair, relieved that he hadn't needed to search across the galaxy for the culprit. He hoped they could gain a lead of some sort from the information the man would supply. Perhaps he had also poisoned Riki? What was his relationship to Luci? Finally they would gain answers!

Iason stood at the side entrance that lead to the prison area. He wanted to see firsthand who the culprit was. His eyes narrowed as a group of men all dressed in black approached him. One held out a clipboard.

"Please sign to say you got the prisoner," the guard kindly instructed, holding it up.

The Blondie raised an eyebrow but said nothing, he signed off on the paper. "You work for Alliance, I assume?"

"Yes, Sir," the guard answered in his thick voice. "The prisoner is now yours, you are free to do with him as you please." He turned and motioned for the men to free the prisoner from the vehicle.

"What did Alliance do to the prisoner before he was sent here?"

The guard smirked slightly. "I am not usually at liberty to discuss that, but Alliance has allowed me to do so. Alliance installed a tracking chip into the prisoner's neck after questioning him."

"Did they get anything out of him?"

"Just a lot of blood on the floor and broken bones I'm afraid."

Iason nodded. "We will try our ways," he assured, then glanced as the guards brought forward a man with his face covered with a sack. He was covered in bruises, Alliance meant business he could see. "Remove the sack."

The guard nodded, pulling the black bag off the man's face.

Iason paused, his system's grinding to a halt as he stared at the battered face of Dr. Bryton. "James?" he breathed, absolutely stunned that Tanagura's most praised Human doctor and one of Raoul's most trusted Human contacts stared at him with weary eyes. Iason felt a horrible twisting sensation in his lower half, sweet Jupiter, how close to home was the betrayal upon them?

Chapter Text

CHAPTER TWENTY

CAUSE AND EFFECT

Riki awoke slowly, but his body was refreshed and he realized that as he raised his hand to touch his face that he was disconnected from the IV and tubes. Cal must’ve popped in either during the night or the morning and unhooked him. Riki glanced at the clock, sitting up as he read 10 am, and then looked behind him not to find Iason, but Luci curled up tightly in her blanket with her bear.

“Shit,” he cursed, remembering all that had taken place yesterday. “Shit, shit, fuck.” He threw back the sheets quietly and slipped from the bed and padded into the washroom.

After tending to his needs he tiptoed into the hallway, the door sliding shut with a soft hiss behind him. Immediately he moved throughout the penthouse, trying to find a familiar tall Blondie.

“Master Riki,” Cal called out, peeking out from the kitchen. “Breakfast -”

“Where’s Iason?” Riki demanded, poking his head into the office.

“Master Mink has not been here for several hours,” Cal clarified. “He left after saying that he had matters to attend to. Now, would you like your breakfast? I made pancakes and a fruit platter.”

Riki sighed, but nodded. “I’ll get Luci.” He moved past the Furniture that nodded and headed back into the bedroom. Not that he would admit it, but he especially hated seeing children freaked out. It reminded him too much being in Ceres and seeing the odd child that was running for their lives after being beaten and raped. To be honest, he was getting the same vibes from Luci at the moment and it was making him very uneasy to see his own kin terrorized in any similar way as he had been with Iason during the first three years of their being together. If that happened to Luci then he was a failure as a parent, because he would never let his children suffer as he had.

He crouched down close to the bed, reaching out tentatively to place a hand upon the bundle. “Luci?” he whispered, giving her a small nudge, then cleared his throat. “Kid? Hey, kid.”

Luci’s eyes pried open, the light within those brown eyes dulled. She blinked, then rolled over and freed herself a bit from her cocoon. “P…papa?” she mumbled, rubbing her eyes.

Riki swallowed. “Yeah, it’s…it’s me,” he agreed, very uneasy about being called by that title. Would it ever grow on him? “Breakfast is ready, if you’re hungry.”

The child’s eyes dropped, darting around the bed for a moment, before she nodded. “Uhn,” she agreed, though she was not hungry at all. But she didn’t want to be left alone so she supposed she could force down a few morsels. She shed her blanket cover and crawled slowly to the edge of the bed, flinching as Riki reached to help her.

The older mongrel pulled back his hand just as if she had slapped him. Right, Iason told him that she wouldn’t want to be touched. Shit. “Sorry,” he murmured. What had happened to the clingy child of a few days ago?

Luci shook her head, a sad smile on her face. “N…not…your….f-fault,” she ground out.

Riki actually had to bite back a wave of anger and sadness that pummeled his insides, he turned and led the way to hide his face from his daughter. The moment Iason came back he needed to know just what went down.

Katze couldn’t sit still, he was still shaken from the incident which could very well be pinned upon him, but Iason hadn’t. He lit another cigarette, startled as he received an incoming call. He took a deep breath, then answered, blinking as it was not Iason but another Blondie.

“Lord Am,” he nodded. “How did you get this number?” Katze had kept this specific line hidden as a direct one for only him and Iason.

“I have sources,” Raoul returned. “I heard you were part of the child’s disappearance today.” He folded his hands. “Tell me all you know.”

Katze inhaled his cigarette and then exhaled. “That is information you must take up with Iason as he said to keep this contained.”

Raoul’s gaze darkened. “I have conversed with him and there are pieces that are missing, thus I have come to the only other contact,” he explained. “The child was abducted, however, the tests have shown the child is incredibly strong and therefore is not easy to capture.”

“There was a needle lid where she disappeared,” Katze answered, willing to let that much slide. “If you wish to know further details you must contact Iason or the police involved. Have a good evening, Sir.” He cut the call, knowing full well that he was being rude but he couldn’t reveal anymore without permission. He had already failed Iason by not keeping the child under his watch completely and being dragged into Raoul’s snare once before, he wasn’t willing to do it again.


Raoul scowled as the call was cut, and tried to call again only to have no answer and be sent to message. “How dare he,” the Blondie hissed. He turned away to get up, but stopped as another incoming call chimed. Swiftly, he answered and saw it was from Iason. “Have you reconsidered my offer?”

“No,” Iason answered immediately. “Raoul, I have found the abductor, and it is not good news for you.”

“How so?” Raoul demanded. “I have nothing to do with the mutant’s kidnapping.”

Iason nodded. “You do not explicitly, but the person is someone whom you are close in contact with.”

Raoul tensed, his eyes narrowing. “Explain yourself.”

Riki’s eyes narrowed on the child who was across from him as he took a sip of his coffee, noting she sat stiffly while looking at her single pancake which had yet to be touched. Her eyes were practically stabbing into the fluffy circle, but there was no hint of interest or desire in them. “Are you—?”

Luci jolted, accidentally swiping the plate onto the floor and sending it falling to the floor to shatter into a hundred pieces. She fell off the chair, landing on the floor on the opposite side of the mess.

Cal hurried in, hearing the sound of glass breaking. “Oh dear!” he exclaimed, analyzing the situation and then quickly went to summon a cleaning droid.

The older mongrel was still frozen where he had been when he had started to ask the question. He slowly stood up, his eyes skimming the ground for Luci and found her in the corner and curled into herself. “Shit,” he cursed softly, and very cautiously made his way to the corner from his side of the table. He crouched low, inching his way nearer to the child who he expected to find crying. “Luci? Its OK.”

The child stiffened, before turning its head very slowly in a robotic fashion. Riki flinched in confusion and fear as he stared into her eyes, which were no longer light brown but completely dark in an abnormal fashion.

“What the fuck?!” Riki exclaimed, falling back as his eyes moved up and down the child. “What the fuck happened to your eyes?”

“Sir Riki!” Cal scolded. “Master Mink would not approve of you using that language around Miss Luci!”

Riki shot a glare at him. “Well look at her eyes and tell me you wouldn’t say the same thing?” he challenged.

Cal looked at Luci’s eyes. “I admit that I was shocked too when I first saw them, but I certainly would not have used such vulgar words.” He moved closer to Luci. “Were you hurt at all, Miss Luci?”

The child continued to stare at them both, still twisted in her upright fetal position. She slowly unfurled and rose, her eyes never leaving either of them. No one said anything, the only noise being the droid that was sweeping up the glass. She stood there, just staring at them both.

“Are you OK?” Riki finally spoke up, scared of his daughter who looked early like how he imagined a demon to — if such things existed.

Without a word the child stepped away from the wall and walked past the droid and out into the living room, leaving Riki and Cal to just silently observe.

Riki forced himself up to his feet, following behind the child after a good moment of consideration. He paused at the door, glancing back at Cal. “Is she normally this creepy?”

Cal shook his head. “It must be an effect of whatever occurred yesterday?”

“Great,” Riki hissed, moving through the doorway and spotting the child standing against the balcony door and watching the drain pelt the glass. “Hey, I’m sorry I scared you, kid.”

Lucifer stared at the rain falling outside for a long moment, refusing to answer Riki until he was standing two feet from him. “You did not frighten me,” he responded, shooting a sad look to Riki. “If only you knew what caused true fright in me.”

Raoul stormed into the hallway outside the interrogation room, his circuits flickering with rage. “You had better be not be joking,” he bitterly warned, approaching Iason who was standing and watching the person in the room through the one way mirror. His green eyes narrowed upon the badly damaged man who was none other than James Bryton, a man who came to Amoi several years ago after training off planet and became an inspiring figure to Tanagura’s Hospital as well as a man who had a passion for biological engineering. “This cannot be possible.”

“It is, my friend,” Iason assured, gently patting his hand to Raoul’s shoulder. He pulled out a data chip from his breast pocket that Allie’s guards had given him. “The footage of his apprehending.” He slid it into a piece in his wrist comm and it was projected.

Both of them watched, the footage was shot from the leader who was first to break into Dr. Bryton’s house and locate the lair. They journeyed silently down the stairs, the disturbing scene of Lucifer screaming as Dr. Bryton thrust his covered fingers up into their body while yelling, before a gun came into view. With a gunshot sounding, the doctor jolted and mumbled something before falling. The camera caught the look of fear mixed with relief as Luci took over the body. She sobbed while the person behind the camera came close and cut her free.

Raoul stepped back and raised his hand, refusing to watch more. He had seen enough. “I see,” he concluded and grimaced. “So there is no mistake.” His eyes hardened. “Have you done anything yet?”

“No,” Iason returned, his fingers curling into fists. “Although I had half a mind to go by myself.”

“I am glad you did not,” Raoul thanked. “For you would have killed him before I had my chance to gain information. Since you refuse to give me any.”

Iason raised an eyebrow. “I seem to recall a certain someone poisoning my adopted daughter behind my back,” he frigidly reminded. “Or are you going to act like that did not occur?”

Raoul frowned. “I was under direct instructions from Jupiter,” he countered. “I was unable to do so.”

“Regardless, I believe the less information you know, the less chance of you doing further harm,” he dismissed, then turned to look back at Dr. Bryton. “We will argue about that later though. What shall we do about this?”

The green eyed Blondie stood next to Iason, analyzing the restrained man. “He was questioned already?”

Iason nodded. “By the person who turned him in,” he explained. “However they were not successful in gaining much information.” He then remembered and pointed to the bandage on his neck. “They did implant a tracking chip in him.”

“Why?”

“I am uncertain.”

Raoul pursed his lips together. “I will have a few drugs and items delivered,” he decided. “Have him hooked up.”

Riki froze, before taking on step back, speechless. His eyes scanned the child which he had believed was his daughter but now was uncertain.

“Please, don’t run,” Lucifer pleaded softly, turning away from the window and reaching a tentative hand out.

The older mongrel curled and uncurled his fists, trying to calmly sift through the situation. “Luci…?” he choked.

Lucifer shook his head. “No,” he whispered, averting his eyes for a moment and then staring at his parent. “No, I am not Luci.”

“Who…who are you?”

Again, Lucifer averted his gaze and held back emotions that were spilling through to him from Luci. “I’m your son,” he answered softly.

Riki’s eyes widened, and he took a step back. “My…my...” he breathed, running his fingers through his hair. “Son? Did you say son?”

“Yes,” Lucifer nodded, taking a hesitant step next toward Riki. “Yes, I am your son.” He frowned in dismay as Riki seemed to be closing off to him. “I am your son, Riki. I have my own body, but its…its not well, so I share this one.”
“This is too much,” Riki whispered, turning away from the child and held his head within his hands. “This isn’t real…this isn’t real…”

Lucifer scurried up to the mongrel. “Riki, Riki, please,” he pleaded. “You need to understand that we never wished to burden you. But Luci needs you. She needs you.”

Riki turned back around, wincing as he saw the desperation upon the little child’s face. “I don’t think I can…” he replied softly. “I’m not a parent.”

“Riki,” Lucifer whimpered. “You’re all Luci can depend on. I can’t….I can’t protect her alone anymore.”

“What?” Riki questioned. “Protect her?”

“I’ve been shielding Luci for the majority of her life,” Lucifer explained. “I’ve lived all of the horrible experiences of the lab for her. She doesn’t know about them, she just knows I enter her body sometimes. And…I can’t do that anymore.” He swiped at tears. “I’m dying, Riki. My own body is slowly dying and I can’t keep switching bodies much longer.”

Riki felt his chest tighten. “Dying?” he choked. “You can’t die though. You’re…you’re…”

Lucifer shook his head. “A body can only take so much abuse Riki,” he whispered. “My body has endured abuse for almost my whole life, and soon I will succumb to the shock and exhaustion.” He chuckled bitterly, swiping at tears again. “You’d think I would be used to it.”

“What have they done to you?” Riki demanded, now feeling immense anger. He reached to grab hold of the child. “Tell me!”

“Don’t!” Lucifer shivered, backing away. “Please don’t.”

Riki blinked, his eyes filling with tears as Luci looked so scared to be touched by him. He knew what it took to be fearful of being touched. He crouched down in front of her. “What has happened to you two?” he questioned. “I don’t…understand.”

Lucifer slowly approached and hesitantly touched a hand to Riki’s leg. “I’m not going to say, but it was not pleasant.” He gave a gentle squeeze. “We have a lot in common, more than you would prefer we did.”

Riki let out a shaky breath, a feeling of dread shaking his core. “No…oh god no…” he choked, falling to his knees with his hands tugging his hair. “No.”

“It’s not your fault,” Lucifer reassured desperately. “It’s not your fault, Riki. You had nothing to do with it.” He gave Riki’s knee a shake, ignoring the terror within him from the contact and demanding the mongrel’s attention. “It has nothing to do with your position.”

“Why?” he whispered shakily. “I never…wanted…”

“It has nothing to do with you being with Lord Mink!” Lucifer insisted. “It is just a result of living in this society.”

Riki shuddered. “You’re not from here.”

“Yes, you’re correct,” the child agreed, gently patting Riki’s knee. “But where we are from has many similarities to Amoi.”

Riki could barely wrap his head around everything. He finally contained himself, and met the dark eyes. “Are you hurting?” he asked softly.

Lucifer hesitated. “I’ve endured worse,” he assured, although he was hurting despite being unable to feel pain. “But I am very tired. We are both very tired.”

“Who did this to you?” Riki demanded. “How do…how do I save you?”

“You can’t,” Lucifer answered. “You can’t save me, but you can save Luci by giving her what she wants most.” He smiled sadly. “She just wants a family and place to belong. Be her family and help her forget fear.”

Riki averted his eyes. “I…I can’t…”

“You can,” Lucifer assured, wavering as he felt his connection falter. “You can, Riki. You are doing enough as it is.” He staggered back, falling back to the floor.

“What’s wrong?” Riki panicked, reaching out to the child.

Lucifer shook his head. “I can’t keep up the connection,” he huffed. “They’ve…reduced…” He closed his eyes. “Please, Riki. Give my sister the life she couldn’t have before.”

Riki grasped onto Lucifer who went limp. “Hey, hey!” he yelled, shaking the child violently. “HEY!”

Luci slowly pried open her eyes. “P-P-P-Pa-papa!” she sounded, her voice jumbled by the shaking. “W-why?”

“Ah,” Riki sounded, ceasing in his movements. “Sorry.” He set her back down. “Are you OK?”

Luci nodded. “Y…you OK?”

“Why wouldn’t I be?”

Luci shook her head. “N…n-nothing.” She averted her gaze. “Papa…mad?”

“No.” But he was going to question the shit out of Iason when he got back. He had a feeling Iason was hiding things about his kids from him.

Luci’s head shot up and she looked at him.”R-real..ly?”

Riki frowned and rose. “I’m not mad,” he assured, then reached out his hand. “I’m not gonna hurt you.”

“I…I kn…ow,” she answered, getting up to her feet. “J…j-just need t-t…time.”

“Yeah,” he agreed. “Well we have a lot of it, trust me, when you’re locked up here you have lots of time.”

Luci cocked her head to the side. “L…locked?”

Riki shook his head. “Never mind,” he sighed, reaching his hand out again. He had to keep himself contained until Iason returned, just until Iason returned. Iason could help distract him, or rip these feelings out of him.“Breakfast again?”

“Mm,” Luci agreed.

Raoul released his hold on the screen’s button, observing as the man went slack. “I will not repeat myself again,” he growled.

James laughed, blood dripping down his lips and splattering on his dirty shirt. “Won’t….” he choked. “Tell.”His eyes skimmed past Lord Am and landed onto the other Blondie behind him. “You…” He chuckled. “You…will suffer.”

Iason’s eyes narrowed, and he pushed off from the wall, but Raoul raised his hand to warn him to stand down.

“He’s simply provoking you, Iason,” Raoul assured.

“That…child,” James coughed. “That child…will…”

“Explain yourself,” Iason hissed, growing irritated and approached the screen. “What about that child?” When his question was met again with chuckling, he ground his teeth. “Who are you working for?”

James sighed. “Him,” he answered, his body taking on a whole other demeanor. His eyes shifted from blue to a deep gray. “He is in charge.” He paused, rolling his neck slightly to settle in a tilted position. “He has plans for you, favored ice man.”

Raoul’s eyes focused on the doctor who suddenly transformed in front of them. “What on Amoi?” he muttered.

Iason flinched internally. “Who?”

The doctor rolled his eyes. “I don’t know his name,” he nonchalantly answered, leaning back into the chair and giving a small experimental tug at the restraints. “We call him Boss, or Master. The kids are told to call him…” He stiffened, his body jerking and he twisted in pain.

“Told what?” Raoul inquired, his eyes narrowing at the sudden in his breathing.

James gasped. “F-Father,” he choked, his battered body jerking rapidly as blood spilled from his lips. He released a scream, before he gave a final jump and then slouched.

“Impossible!” Raoul growled, observing as the standby medical team helplessly tried to revive the man.

Iason stepped back, his teeth ground together. “What happened?” he demanded, accusing Raoul of sabotaging the interrogation.

“I did nothing!” the green eyed Blondie insisted, his eyes flashing back to the scene of the medics aiding the broken doctor who had blood dripping from every orifice, his gray eyes filled with crimson. “He’s…he’s bleeding from the inside.”

Luci reached up, silently pleading to Riki to pick her up. He obliged, though he was awkward in his movements. She pointed to the door, wanting to go out of the penthouse. “Gar...den,” she whispered.

“Garden?” Riki repeated, then realized she wanted to go to the Eos Gardens. He looked back to the kitchen at Cal who was just coming out to go do some household chores.

“Master Iason prohibited your leaving until his return,” he sadly answered. “The front door is locked.”

Riki sighed. “Dammit. When is he coming back?”

“He didn’t say.”

“Balcony it is then,” Riki grumbled, turning on his heel and pausing as he realized the storm was still raging outside and didn't know if Luci would be OK with the loud sounds of the thunder. “Shit, I still need a cigarette.”

“Please,” Luci whispered, tugging on his black shirt.

Riki felt a spike of urgency spike through him with a heartbeat. “If you want to.” He moved across the room and exited onto the balcony, where he set Luci down.

Luci waited for Riki to step across the covered balcony floor, and stop at the railing. He pulled out a cigarette and began to smoke, glancing back at her as she stood and looked out across the city.

Riki continued to smoke, knowing that Luci would not approach until he was done. He inhaled deeply, then pulled back his hand to see it shaking. Dammit, he was getting soft to his emotions. No, anyone would be shaken after finding out that their son was dying, or that they suddenly had a son!

Riki stopped as he realized he had come to the end of his cigarette, and he extinguished it into the concrete. “Hey,” he called out, then stopped as he saw Luci already approaching him.

“W…watch…” Luci commanded, reaching her hand up and waited with her eyes closed.

Out of curiosity, Riki watched in silence and waited. He glanced over as a large lightning bolt flashed in the sky, but then disappeared oddly fast. He flinched as he heard a wooshing sound, and saw a large ball of flickering blue light gathered at Luci’s palm. “Holy shit…!” he exclaimed, jumping back in terror.

Luci smiled, her eyes reflecting the bright blue light thar engulfed her hand. “Wa…tch, Papa,” she softly implored, bringing the ball of light to her chest and compressing it. She closed her eyes, the ball of light changing colors of blue, white and navy. Finally she opened her eyes and gently threw the ball up high enough to touch the balcony coverage.

The light burst, spreading out along the covering and creating a light so bright that Riki shielded his eyes for a moment, then moved it away. His breath caught in his throat as he saw the shapes of one of three large orbs amidst the stream of lights form before his eyes. A flock of ravens flew around the large covering, swooping down all around him with a soft humming sound and quiet squawking. He followed their movements with his eyes, then jumped as a gray wolf leaped down and pounced upon him. He fell back to the ground, terrified and was about to scream but then a large, slobbery tongue met his face along with a wet nose.

“F…fuck…!" he cried out, stunned that it felt like a real dog’s tongue.

"Touch!" Luci instructed.

When he was sure he wasn't going to die, he hesitantly reached out and touched the fur, utterly shocked to find it soft. He sat up, glancing at Luci who stood still, watching him with a look of pure glee. “How did you do this? It feels real!”

Luci giggled, bringing the last orb down and revealing a thousand tiny butterflies of blue, purple and white that came swirling to Riki.

Riki reached out, touching their wings and feeling their softness in disbelief. “Wow,” he breathed, a smile slipping onto his face. “This is…amazing.” He had never seen such bright colors, or seen such a large amount of butterflies before. Only in the garden had he seem such beauty, and now it was here for him. The last butterfly whisked by, brushing against his finger as they flew back into the storm.

He slowly turned to Luci, who was sweating and sitting on the ground. “Hey! You OK?!”

Luci looked up at him, a smile on her face. “Papa…like?”

“Yeah,” he answered softly, gazing out at the balcony edge. “That was incredible. How did you do it?”

“Energy,” Luci simply answered. “Use…energy…create.”

“I…I see,” Riki stuttered, still in shock at the feeling of such real sights that were merely formed. “Thank you.”

Luci smiled again. “Any…thing for…Papa’s smile.”

Riki then realized his lips had curved into a smile and he quickly covered his mouth with his hand, looking embarrassed. "You brat," he grumbled.

“Riki?” a voice called, causing both head’s to turn, and both mongrels stared at the Blondie who stood in the doorway, looking rather exhausted and unreadable.

Chapter Text

CHAPTER TWENTY ONE

INFORMATION DENIED

Iason observed in silence as the body was wheeled out of the room, a sheet covering the plastic wrapped around the body to keep it's contents inside. His fingers curled into a fist, his white glove fabric growing taut and he cursed under his breath.

Raoul gave the favoured Blondie's shoulder a pat and squeeze. "There was nothing we could do," he tried to soothe, but deep inside he was seething with rage about having a trusted person now as a threat.

"We gained no information," Iason returned, his voice a calm hiss. "All we gained was more questions."

"Yes, that may be, but his body might hold answers," Raoul suggested, then perked up as an incoming beacon lit up the console in the corner of the room. "It's from Jupiter."

Iason turned, heading over to the machine which picked up on his signature and answered. "Jupiter," he breathed, keeping himself steeled to whatever the AI wanted.

"I want a hearing with Raoul and yourself," Jupiter instructed. "Raoul will first preform an autopsy on the body. When finished, you both will come to my chambers. Iason, you will bring the child."

"Why is she necessary?"

"Are you defying me?" Jupiter returned, it's signature hum growing higher in pitch while its colours shifted to a darker hue.

Iason gave in, knowing he could not miss the mandatory scheduled session. "Your will be done," he agreed.

Riki and Luci stared up at the Blondie whose eyes were pale blue with exhaustion. "Iason," Riki whispered, wrapping his arms around Luci and picking her up. "You're back."

"Yes, now come inside, you'll get sick from the cold," Iason ordered, his arms crossed. "And Luci is still unwell, so it's best to keep her inside and warm."

Riki rolled his eyes and carried Luci inside. "We need to talk," he growled, his eyes glinting with anger.

"Papa," Luci squeaked, gripping onto his shirt with one hand and tapping his nose with her other hand's pointer finger.

Iason's eyes widened, surprised to hear the child speak in a soft girls voice, not Lucifer's. "She talked."

"Yeah," Riki answered, cooling down from his spike of anger and grasped onto her hand. "She's not the only one who talks." He cast a dark look at Iason. "Did you know about my son?"

The Blondie debated the consequences of not saying anything, but decided against it as he wanted to be honest with Riki. If they were ever going to get closer in their relationship, they needed to have honesty. "Yes," he answered. "I was introduced to your son not too long ago."

Riki ground his teeth. "Why didn't you tell me?" he hissed, causing Luci to flinch. He adjusted his hold on her, gently covering her ear that wasn't pressed against his body with his hand. "How could you keep something like that from me? How can you expect me to trust you if you don't tell me crucial things!"

"I regret not being able to tell you, Riki," Iason returned, allowing the mongrel to vent. "There was not a proper time or way to tell you."

Luci pried her head free, her eyes wide with fear as she sensed a fight building.

"No proper way? Bullshit."

"Riki," Iason warned, his eyes darkening. "I am in a bad mood, pet. I will not tolerate your vulgar language."

"No! I've had it!" Riki pushed on, taking an aggressive step forward. All of his emotions of hurt and fear switched to rage, all rushing to the surface. "You've been fucking keeping things from me! Things I have a right to know!"

Luci squirmed, her body shaking as she realized Riki planned on pushing her into the angered Mink's chest.

"Riki..."

"You fucking asshole! How could you not tell me something like that! I fucking hate you!"

Iason's eyes flashed, and he reached out and slapped Riki hard across the face. Both mongrel's went falling backward, straight into the tiled flooring with a smack. He took an angry stride forward, his eyes the cold blue of Master mode.

Luci stood up, stretching out her arms in silent plea for the fight to cease and to shield her parent. "P-please!" she squeaked. "Blame m-me!"

"Move," Iason commanded, pushing her to the side with the swipe of his hand.

Riki slowly sat up, his eyes glistening with tears from the hard smack to his face. He met the blue emotionless eyes, knowing he was in trouble. "Do...don't touch her!"

Luci yanked on Iason's slacks, actually causing him to slightly lose his balance. "Plea-se! Please L-Lord M...Mink!" she cried, fat tears bubbling up in her eyes.

"Cal! Take Luci!" he barked, then reached down and pulled Riki up to his feet. "You're in for punishment now, pet. I warned you."

"F...fuck," Riki started, but winced as his hair was pulled and he was led roughly to the Master bedroom. "Ow! Iason, fuck!"

Cal held tight onto Luci's arm, not allowing the frantic child to go. "Miss Luci, please don't fight me!" He wrapped his arms around the crying child. "It's OK, it's OK, Miss Luci. It'll be OK."

"Papa! Pa-pa!" Luci screamed with a broken voice, watching as her parent was taken into another room. She wiggled fiercely against Cal, but was too tired to get free. "Papa!"

Raoul precisely sliced the pale skin, opening up the deceased man's chest. He clicked his tongue in annoyance as he clamped open the insides and found a pool of thick, chunky blood that tainted his transparent gloves. Using a suction tube, he began emptying the liquid from the corpse, confused as to why there was so much.

James had bled profusely in the chair while he was seizing. Why was there so much more?

The green eyed Blondie ceased in his vacuuming, hesitantly dipping his hand and a pair of plastic tweezers in past broken ribs. "What on Amoï," he murmured, pulling up what he believed to be a disconnected heart, but it was barely recognizable as it looked like it had been pulverized in a meat grinder. He set what was left of the organ onto a tray, then observed the insides again. "Where are his lungs?"

He sifted through the liquid, searching until he found two inches of a piece of lungs. Underneath that was half of a stomach twisted with swollen and punctured intestines.

Raoul placed the innards onto the trays, then frowned as he could only find bits and pieces of the rest of the insides. "He was killed from the inside," he noted and puzzled over the mysterious remains, which looked to have been shredded by something from the inside. "But how..."

Riki was tossed roughly onto the bed, which he immediately flipped over in and started to fight against the blonde. "You bastard!" he hissed, earning another slap that made blood fill his mouth.

"Enough," Iason growled, pinning the younger man's hands above his head. "You will not speak to me like that, pet. I will not hesitate to get out the paddle and give your behind a thrashing so hard you can't sit for a week! I told you I am in a very bad mood and if I have to show just how bad it is you will regret it."

The mongrel averted his gaze, sensing that Iason was practically vibrating with anger. He could hear Luci in the hallway crying and remembered that if he pissed Iason off she'd be at risk too, so he made the rational decision to not fight for once. "I have every right to be upset, you know?" He pierced Iason with his dark eyes, they were filled with too much raw emotion and Iason could see Riki had withdrawn. "You could've told me, I'm upset that you thought I wouldn't want to know."

Iason felt all his anger begin to melt and he sighed. "I know I should have told you, but I was just trying to protect you," he admitted, stroking Riki's hand with his thumb. "You seemed to have trouble accepting your daughter being as she is, so I didn't know if you could cope with knowing your son was in a tougher situation." He caressed Riki's face gently with his gloved hand. "I am sorry, Riki."

Riki gave a soft sigh of defeat. "It is hard, finding out I have a kid then another one that's dying," he whispered.

"Dying?" Iason softly repeated. "Lucifer told you he was dying?"

"Lucifer?" Riki returned, bristling at the name that the blonde called his child.

Iason sat up, and pulled Riki into his lap. "That's what he said his name was," he clarified, running his thumb on the soft patch of skin under the dark eyes. "I did not name him." He smiled at he watched Riki catch his hand and start to pull off his gloves. "He said he was dying?"

Riki nodded, tossing the cursed gloves off the bed. "Yeah, something like that," he mumbled, brushing the nude hand to his face and then glanced up at Iason after taking a few shaky breaths. "Is there anything we can do? I know Luci is part of something, but I don't understand anything anymore."

"There is nothing I can do with his location concealed," he answered softly, soothing Riki with a gentle kiss to the forehead. "But I will try to find him."

"T-thanks," Riki mumbled, shyly. "Now we just need to find out what they are a part of."

"She was sent to kill me, actually," Iason stated in a matter of fact way.

"WHAT?" Riki yelled, pushing back to see if the Blondie was lying. "You're shitting me!"

Iason shook his head. "No, pet. Lucifer told me it was their purpose, but thanks to a certain rebellious parent." He poked Riki on the chest and slid his finger up to his chin. "They decided not to. And I am grateful she hasn't, because she could very easily end me." He grasped onto the chin between his fingers and kissed the lips that were about to speak. "If only you could learn and rebel in all the right ways."

"Shut up."

"Care to prove me wrong?"

Riki snorted, pushing Iason back against the bed. "I can do that," he scoffed, undoing Iason's slack button and tugging at the fabric.

"Wonderful," Iason purred, unbuttoning Riki's pants very slowly.

"Shh, little one," Cal soothed, taking her through the hall to her room. "Your Papa will be OK." His gut clenched, because he honestly didn't know if Riki would be all right. Iason was in one of his scarier moods, and his anger emotions were full throttle. "It's all right." He gently pat her back as she sobbed into his tunic. "You love your Papa, don't you?"

Luci looked up at him with the saddest brown eyes Cal had ever seen, so much that his chest felt right. "P...Papa all I h-have," she cried. "M-Mink ha-" She hiccuped. "M-Mink hate Lu...Luci."

Cal gave her a gentle squeeze. "He doesn't hate you," he assured, entering into the bedroom. "Master Iason is upset with Sir Riki, but he doesn't hate him or you."

"R-Really?" she sniffled.

"Yes," he assured, setting her down on the bed and crouching down in front of her. "Although you might not believe me, Master Iason actually loves Sir Riki a lot."

Luci shook her head. "But P-Papa mongrel," she whimpered. "They t-told Luci, n-no one like mon-mongrels."

Cal wiped her tears and face off with a handkerchief. "Who told you that?" he questioned softly.

"B-bad guys."

"What bad guys?" Cal inquired, running the cloth under her nose.

"In C-Ceres," she cried, holding onto his arm. "Th-the bad guys w-who steal kids." She sniffled hard. "When they ch-chased us."

Cal's eyes widened. "I thought you were found in Apatia," he murmured. "When were you in Ceres?"

Luci took a breath, to calm her voice. "Three d-days," she answered. "B-before found P...Papa. Dr-dropped off in Ceres."

"By who?"

"A-Alliance," she replied. "Complications...on d-drop off. Luci left in...in Ceres."

Cal felt fear tighten his chest. "Where did you go?" he softly asked.

"T-tunnel," Luci revealed, brushing a tear from her eye. "Undergroun...d. Th-three others."

"Three others, like yourself?"

"N-no," she swiftly denied. "Lost...ch-children. Shared...c-cardboard beds."

Cal tried to recall the tunnels in Ceres, and then remembered Silver Passage, an abandoned underground trading tunnel that was closed down after the rebellion. It was known to be crawling with illegal activities, a large portion being child abduction and trading. It was a miracle Luci wasn't captured and sold off. Then again, as mongrel children, there was nobody that cared if the few children not in Guardian were disposed of. "Does Master Iason know?"

"No! Don't tell!" Luci pleaded. "Papa find out a-and be upset!" She grasped onto his arm. "Please! N-not yet!"

Against his better judgement, Cal agreed because of the puppy dog brown eyes. "I won't tell him yet, but I will have to tell him. We were under the impression that you were only in Apatia before you were found."

"T-thank you," Luci sniffled, hugging onto the Furniture tight. "D...do you think M-Mink will be mad?"

"That you were in Ceres for three days?" Cal inquired as he rose, to which Luci nodded. "No, but he will want to know that you were chased from Ceres to Apatia. It might help figure out who is after you."

Luci looked away. "I know who is after me," she answered softly. "Th-they don't care if...if I come back in one piece. A-as long as I can be used."

Cal blinked. "Used?"

"For the n-next one," Luci answered.

"I don't understand," Cal frowned.

Luci shook her head. "Too c-complicated, just don't tell, please!"

Riki let out a breathy moan, sliding down onto the Blondie's member. "F...fuck," he cursed softly, allowing himself to touch Iason's chest for support. He felt the smooth body beneath him, accidentally stroking a defined peck.

"What? Giving up your rebellion already?" Iason teased, his voice silky smooth seduction.

"S-Shut up!" Riki hissed, slapping his hands against the toned chest as he leaned closer to better his movements. He began to move his hips in slow motions, attempting to gain momentum.

Iason slipped his fingers into Riki's, entwining their hands and supporting him. "Hold on tight, love," he soothed.

Riki used the opportunity to move faster, giving himself optimum pleasure. But it was short lived as Iason began thrusting himself up harder in time with his moves. "U...uh," he moaned, biting his lips. "Wa...wait!"

"Move, pet," Iason ordered and gave the rump a slap, knowing Riki would obey.

The mongrel pushed passed his limits, moving until his abs tensed with desire. "C...can't...!" he choked, gasping as Iason thrust up and brushed roughly against his prostate. He shuddered, letting out a whimper. "I-Iason!"

Iason sat up abruptly, pushing Riki back onto the bed and then flipped him. He held onto his hands with one of his. "You gave up," he mocked, landing a slap to the plump rear. "I'll have to punish you."

"O-ow!" Riki winced, then realized this was his punishment for speaking disrespectfully earlier. "Oh fuck!"

The Blondie landed a series of more hard hits, satisfied as the spot of impact turned red and that Riki was tearing up from the pain. He rubbed the punished flesh, then leaned over Riki as he steadily thrusted, massaging his stomach as he wrapped his arms around him. He planted kisses on the tense shoulders, and nibbled softly on a tempting ear. "You feel so good, pet," he whispered.

Riki sniffled. "Iason, p-please," he returned, unable to stand it any longer.

Iason stroked the full cock, teasing the tip that was oozing precum. "Not yet," he denied.

"Ugh," Riki moaned, jerking as Iason began pumping him with just the right touches. "Oh God, please! Iason!"

"No."

Riki screamed as Iason thrust in while he was touching him, one hand on his cock while the other found a nipple and twisted. "P...please, Iason!"

Iason continued thrusting in fast, finding himself reaching his climax. He deactivated Riki's restraint, then pushed in one final time, just as Riki cried out in relief beneath him. Iason closed his eyes, his body shuddering in pleasure from the lustful scream of his beloved and the tight grip around his cock.

He caught Riki from collapsing, and lowered him gently to the bed as he pulled out. Iason rolled off of Riki and laid next to him, pulling the mongrel close. He planted soft kisses all over the sweaty face, ending at the tip of the tanned nose. With a sigh, he observed his panting and exhausted mongrel. "Rest for a bit," Iason soothed. "I have a meeting to attend, but I'll be back soon."

Riki grunted, letting himself snuggle into warm sheets. "Hurry back," he whispered, barely audible.

Iason smiled and kissed the sweaty hair. "I will," he promised.

Iason exited the bedroom, feeling calmer after his shower and having left an unconscious Riki behind on the bed.

"Cal!" he called, stepping into the living space. The furniture stepped out from the kitchen, clearly in the middle of making lunch. "Where is Luci?"

"She's in her room, Master," the young boy answered, tense knowing what just occurred in the bedroom. He was desperate to not step on his Master's toes while he was in this dark mood. "Shall I get her for you?"

"No, but clean up Riki," the Blondie returned, turning and heading to the child's bedroom. He opened the door without knocking and scanned the area for her. "Luci?"

Luci peeked out from the corner, where she had wrapped herself in a blanket. "F...Fyophara," she whispered, her eyes wide first with fear then sadness.

"Fyofara?" Iason raised an eyebrow at the name and took a step in. "Who is Fyofara?"

"F...Fyo...hurt...Pa...pa?" she forced out, the last part so soft from strain.

He paused, realizing that term must mean some form of a male parent figure which she was now calling him. "No, I only corrected him for disobedience," Iason denied.

Luci's brow furrowed. "Fyophara, hurt Luci... too? For be-being part Papa...child?"

"No," the Blondie swiftly assured. "I will only correct Riki and you if you are disobedient." He observed as Luci seemed to accept that answer, though she still looked shaken. "What does Fyo mean?"

"Fyo," she started, slowing down in attempt to pronounce everything properly. "Means...protec-ctor...Papa." Her brown eyes watched as Iason appeared a bit surprised at being given the title and she blushed a little. "F...Fyophara...pol-ite form."

Iason approached the child slowly, crouching down near her. "Is that as you see me? A protector?"

Luci hesitated, but nodded softly. "Fyo...protects Papa," she agreed, adding swiftly. "in only ways he knows h-how to."

"You're right," Iason returned kindly. "And since you are Riki's offspring, it's my job to protect you as well."

"T...thank you, Fyophara," Luci whispered, averting her gaze shyly from the Blondie.

Iason blinked, having seen that shy look of gratitude and affection on Riki's face before. "You are welcome," he gently answered.

After a moment of silence, Luci finally squeaked. "Fyophara...is Ma...Master?"

"Yes," Iason agreed, deciding to be honest. She needed to know where the lines were drawn in the relationship, even though he was trying to alter it in the privacy of his home. "I am Riki's Master, and he is my pet."

"B-but..." Luci paused, her dark eyebrows turning downward. "Equal?"

"No," Iason pondered how to appropriately explain their situation, reaching a reasonable conclusion. "As Master I have more authority, I provide for Riki's needs, and I have a say in his activities," he explained. "As a mongrel, Riki has no rights in Eos or Tanagura, but I do try to work out certain aspects for him."

"So n-not equal," Luci concluded sadly, her eyes downcast. "Luci less...equal?"

"That is correct," Iason replied, calculating just how much equality she had compared to Riki. It was substantially less with her being an unknown creation. "You lack rights as Riki does, you are female which means you have less rights than men and you are limited in other areas of freedom, therefore it is true."

Luci sighed. "Even a-as Fyophara's a...adopted child?"

Iason nodded. "Even as my adopted child, you are under limitations due to your mongrel roots and unknown half under Jupiter's discretion. All my name provides you with is protection."

The child sulked, her bottom lip sticking out in a pout. "If only...I was a normal child," she whispered. "Even with...mongrel...ro-roots, I'd be nor...normal."

"Your unknown half might have more rights than Riki's half," Iason suggested, but saw it did nothing to ease her. "I am optimistic I can slowly change your status as I have changed Riki's freedoms, but you are a special case which could take years. It took me three years to gain Riki the rights to go to work from Jupiter."

"I...I don't have years."

Iason paused, confused. "Luci, your past might have been rough, but you are still a child. You said you were six, you have your whole life ahead of you."

Luci shook her head. "Only...only a year...at most," she whispered.

"Why?"

"We don't...have long life spans. I wo-won't...live long past age seven," Luci revealed. "Females...birth around se-seven and then die sh-shortly after..."

"You are not permitted to mate with anyone unless I consent, therefore that will not be an issue," Iason dismissed and ignored her rebuttal, reaching out to pick her up. He noticed she looked a tad different up close. "You've changed slightly." He analyzed her face and body. "You appear more defined."

Luci nodded, her eyes falling to the floor. "Aged," she corrected. "I've...aged three months."

Iason frowned. "You've only been here a few weeks!"

"I told...you, we don't live l-long."

Raoul ripped off his gloves, then scrubbed down his hands and dried them off roughly. His brow was stuck in a frown, his mind sifting through possibilities.

From what he see James Bryton has severe internal damage from an unknown factor. He had sliced open ever piece of the body and had not found any explanation as to the cause of death.

He glanced back at the brain sliced in half, observing it for an abnormalities. Raoul had thought for sure there would be something that caused the man to die lurking in there, but there was nothing.

The only thing he had found was a tracer chip in the neck of the man, which was tagged with: ALLIANCE TRACING. The chip was intact, and when he tested it with various equipment to see if it was the cause of death, he found no signs of anything other than it being a tracer. He left it embedded in the neck, then had the body placed into storage with its insides in separate containers.

He was at a dead end.

Jupiter would not be pleased with him.

Luci laid her head against Iason's chest, idly tracing patterns onto the white fabric with her finger. "Fyophara?" she whispered.

"Yes?" Iason answered, pleased to have the title added to his mental index of names.

"Where i-is the m...man?"

Iason paused, surprised she knew about James considering Lucifer was the one to switch into her body in times of trouble. Had she regained consciousness too early? "What man?" he questioned, hoping to lure out more information as they continued to walk through the penthouse as Iason waited for Raoul to finish his task.

"Man f-from the la...b," she explained, glancing up at him with her chocolate brown eyes. "A-Assi-t-tant numb-er 45A1. Code n-name J...James."

The Blondie came to a halt, glancing down at the child with piercing blue eyes. She flinched, but not from him, from the thunder outside that shook the penthouse. He glanced over and saw Cal working in the kitchen. "How do you know about him?" he demanded, regaining motion and heading to his office to have privacy. He locked the door, and then set Luci down on his desk and crossed his arms. "How do you know James?"

"S...seen him all the t-time at th-the lab," Luci answered. "B-been there for y-years." She looked away, her eyes harbouring sadness. "N-n-not nice man."

Iason crouched down in front of Luci, gently touching her knee. "Did he do anything to you?" he demanded, reflecting on the words of the man before he perished.

Luci's eyes wandered, fear replacing the sadness. "A...f-few times," she barely whispered, her voice choked. "Luc...Lucifer hurt a-after mee-ting him."

"I see," the blonde returned just as softly, infuriated that he didn't throttle the man. Was this his suffering? To watch his pet's offspring be damaged and unable to help? He gently touched her face, pleased she didn't flinch. "Anything else?"

"He m-met with ot-other people," Luci added, shyly meeting his gentle eyes. "Sh-shared resear-ch. Pr...probably stolen."

Iason tensed. "Stolen from who?"

"L-Lord Am."

It was just as they feared, so James had taken the opportunities of being near Raoul to snatch a few pieces of information. "What specifically? Did you hear anything specific?" he pressed.

"J...Just genetic man-manip...pulation," Luci answered. "A-and traits codes. To create new so-species." She again looked down. "I...I'm sorry I don't know m-more."

"No, that is enough," Iason assured, giving her a gentle pat on the head. "If you can state those details and verify them with Lord Am, that should be adequate."

Luci nodded softly. "I...I will."

"That would be appreciated," he agreed, then glanced at his wrist comm that chimed. "We must go to see Jupiter now. Are you stable enough to do so?"

After a pause, Luci gave a scared nod. "Yes, if Fyophara w-will be there."

Riki pried open his eyes, his body feeling heavy. Iason had had his way with him, but it wasn't all punishment. He could almost feel Iason's emotions while they were connected - like he was bothered, upset and worried.

The mongrel realized he had a bandage on his arm, which he studied and deduced that Cal had given him a shot of something. He felt calmer, but his mind wasn't messed up so it couldn't have been a sedative. Whatever it was, he was very grateful.

There was so much that was weighing down on him these days. Leaving his gang, being rejected by Guy, gaining a child, finding out the child was a mutant of some kind, and now having a dying son all on top of being a pet to a Blondie. Riki ran his fingers through his hair, taking a deep breathe. He could do this.

He was Riki the Dark, he wouldn't crack under the circumstances he would push through them and come out stronger.

Luci covered her ears as they approached Jupiter's chambers through a hall. "It's upset," she whimpered.

Iason paused. "How do you know that?" he asked softly.

"I..It's humming pitch is too h-high and fast," Luci returned just as softly, closing her eyes as if she were almost in pain.

The Blondie gently pressed her head into his shoulder and covered her other ear. "I'm sure it will ease upon our arrival," he assured, although he too could hear the agitated sounds of the AI. He entered into the chamber, the humming growing in volume as they stepped forward. He then saw Raoul standing before Jupiter, and knew then what he was causing the hum. "Jupiter."

The AI only briefly acknowledged him and the child, it's attention returning to Raoul. "Are you absolutely certain?"

"Yes," he answered softly. "There is no cause of death. And from the footage, you can see that I was thorough in my examination."

Iason paused at the end of the pathway, bowing slightly before approaching Raoul and Jupiter. Luci kept her eyes closed in his arms, her body shaking increasingly as he got closer. "Raoul, my friend," he greeted.

Raoul gave him a tired look. "Iason," he greeted in return, then glanced at Luci. "Mongrel."

Jupiter shifted backward to the resting place. "I have seen the evidence," the AI confirmed. "James Bryton was an imposter sent by whoever is linked to that child." The purple eyes flashed red. "Now is the time for gaining information. Security has been compromised and secrets may have been leaked."

Iason nodded. "I understand, Jupiter," he calmly agreed. "That is very true, but no information other than confirmation can be supplied from Luci at this time."

"Confirmation?"

Luci raised her head. "L-Lord Am has had information stolen f-from him," she softly answered.

Raoul immediately tensed, his eyes brimming with anger. "Explain that this instant!"

The child flinched. "G...Genetic m-manipulation and t-trait codes for s...species creation," she squeaked. "Were stolen."

The biological engineer felt his words cling to his throat, nothing but rage pulsating through his circuits. "This is an outrage!" he hissed, then glared at Luci as if she had stolen from him. "I demand a detailed description of everything stolen from me!"

Iason frowned. "She cannot provide that," he denied, taking a slight step away.

"Why not?"

"She was not conscious for all of it."

Raoul was fuming, wanting nothing more than to shred Jame's body and then incinerate it. He took an angry step back, then calmly managed. "Permission to dispose of the body?"

"Denied," Jupiter answered. "You will place it in storage without further damage. I want all evidence secured." The AI glided forward, reaching out a hand to Iason and the child. "I require a mental connection with the girl."

Luci opened her eyes. "O-Only if you're g-gentle," she panicked, then looked up to Iason with fear. "Fyophara."

Iason nodded. "She is not stable enough for a mind invasion, but you may connect."

"Very well," Jupiter agreed, then reached out it's hand and touched the child's forehead while Iason held onto her.

Luci flinched at first, but sighed softly and relaxed in Iason's hold as he stroked her hair.

After a moment, Jupiter's hum lessened and the pitch levelled out. It pulled away, gliding back into it's place.

Iason observed Jupiter, noticing it looked like the AI was contemplating. "What did you see?"

"Faceless people," Jupiter responded. "Blurry layouts of a building. And then the barrier was reached." The AI shifted. "There is nothing I can gain from mental connection. Her mind has all but been wiped of any life prior to her arrival on Amoï."

"I see," Iason nodded, wondering if it was Lucifer or Alliance who was protecting her. "Then further hearings are forfeited?"

"Correct," the AI answered, the room dimming. "You are all dismissed."

Iason bowed alongside Raoul and both Blondies and the child departed the chambers. When they were out, Iason placed his hand on Raoul's shoulder. "We will find answers, Raoul."

Raoul nodded, taking a calming breath. "They all are buried within your mutant mongrel child," he annoyed returned. "However, if Jupiter cannot free them, I cannot either." He turned and walked away, heading back to his lab to analyze his genetic material and collect any he believed James may have stolen. "Good day, Iason."

"Farewell, Raoul," the Blondie softly said, then glanced at the exhausted Luci in his arms. "I believe Jupiter has started to accept you."

Luci smiled sleepily. "I hope," she yawned, stretching weakly. "I w-will continue to prove my l-loyalty until...I die."

Iason smiled softly. "That is a very smart idea," he praised. "It will only make things easier for you if you are loyal and obedient."

"Fyophara?"

"Yes?"

"D-do you have 45A1's b...belong-gings?"

Iason paused. "They are in containment. Why do you ask?"

"Y-you want answers," she quietly reminded, glancing up at him. "I...I might be able t-to provide."

Riki strolled out from the dinning room, having eaten his lunch alone. He was unhappy that Iason had vanished to his "meeting" and taken Luci with him.

Where were they?

As if on cue, the two individuals came through the doorway. Luci was holding an orb communicator of some kind that was wrapped in an evidence bag.

Iason set her down on the living room floor, then glanced over at Riki. "Jupiter wished to have a brief hearing with her," he explained. "But they are now discontinued."

Riki blinked, surprised Iason had bothered to tell him that at all. "Good," he mumbled, nodding. "That's good. No more meetings with the toaster." He glanced down at Luci. "What is that?"

"C-communicator," Luci answered, her tongue poking out of her mouth as she fiddled with the fictions. "Dead ba-battery."

"What charger does it require?" Iason inquired.

Luci smiled. "A l-little boost." She held it in her hands and closed her eyes, forming a blue ball of light around the orb. In response, it illuminated green from the cracks within the design. "Do you h...have a flux cord?"

"We do," Iason nodded, heading over the the telescreen and then rummaging through the media shelf around it and pulling out a clear cased cord with lights in it. "Shall we hook it up here?"

"If...if you wish," Luci returned, glancing up at Riki with concern.

Iason caught on. "Riki, go to your room for a moment," he instructed.

"What? Fuck no!" Riki hissed, crossing his arms. "Whatever you guys are doing I'm staying for!"

"Riki," the Blondie sighed, pinching the bridge of his nose. "Must you argue with me again?"

Riki refused to back down. "She's my daughter! I want to know what's going on too!" he protested. "Stop leaving me out of everything."

Iason looked up to the heavens, then shook his head. "Very well, for better or for worse you can see whatever pops up," he agreed. "But it's your fault if you see disturbing things."

"I'm not weak, I can handle it!"

"We shall see," Iason murmured, accepting the communicator and connecting it to the cord. He turned on the telescreen and stood back with his mongrel's and observed. "Hmm."

The screen was fuzzy, but had glitches of green and yellow stripes. Luci frowned, crouching down in front of the communicator and flicked through the stations. A notification popped up in the corner in bold: INCOMING EMERGENCY CALL

Luci hurried back, hiding behind both Iason's and Riki's legs as they stood side by side and watched the screen. "Here...comes."

"Here comes what?" Riki asked, glancing away from the beeping notification and to her.

A loud chime sounded and the screen was filled with a man with silvery hair sitting at a large desk. In the background there was a wall lined with various corded, shaped and screened equipment and jars full of unidentifiable objects floating in green tinted plasma. "James! I've been contacting you for-" he started, then paused, his eyes turning almost black from their grey colour. "You..."

Luci shivered, but stood her ground from the protection of the two males. "U...Uncle," she squeaked.

Iason tensed at her calling him that, remembering James saying the children called the man in charge Father. Meaning there was another man associated with the Boss' position. "Who are you and what is your connection with James Bryton?" he demanded.

Uncle paused, as if suddenly seeing the two others, and then his gaze went back to Luci. "You ran straight to the enemies, did you? You piece of shit."

"HEY!" Riki bellowed, his eyes furious. "Don't you dare talk to her that way!"

The man looked Riki over. "Oh? Ohohoho, is that who I think it is?" he furiously questioned. "You ran to the enemy and found the other half of you as well? How lovely. Now I can finally kill you too for sabotaging everything."

"You will do no such thing!" Iason frigidly hissed, his eyes piercing the man. "If you so much as put a scratch upon either of them you will be tortured and executed under Jupiter's law."

Uncle threw his head back and laughed. "You think your AI scares me, robo boy? Oh you have no idea what we are capable of here. You'll be killed within milliseconds by ours just being within a thousand foot radius of it."

Riki frowned. "There's another AI?" he mumbled, then shook his head. "Where's my son?"

"Your son?" Uncle repeated, then scoffed. "In the basement, strung up for being a pathetic man while he's stripped of his skin."

Riki felt his throat tighten as he realized then why Lucifer was so weak. They had just finished skinning him. "You...bastard."

"Shut up, you mongrel," Uncle hissed.

"Don't speak to him that way!" Iason growled, pointing at the screen. "You will pay for the harm you have caused my mate's offspring! When I find you I will execute you myself!"

Uncle rolled his eyes. "Such a cocky piece of android," he scoffed, then turned his angered gaze back to Luci. "You, dear, are in deep trouble when I get my hands on you."

Luci gulped.

"I will rip you apart limb from limb," he darkly explained. "And then I will fuck you, and this time it won't be a mere finger fuck!"

Riki blanched, a wave of nausea washing over him as he lost his balance for a moment. He covered his mouth with his hand. "You...son of a bitch!" he choked.

"Enjoy your fantasy while it lasts," Uncle added, not skipping a beat. "When I return you'll be brought back and we can have a wonderful time." He leaned forward, his white teeth glinting. "Oh I can't wait to see you squirm and hear you scream."

Before Iason could say anymore, the screen cut to darkness. His fingers curled into a fist of anger, while his determination to get revenge on this man swelled up inside of him. He glanced down at Luci who was shaking horribly and he scooped her up into his arms. "He won't get you again," Iason soothed, stroking her face. "You're safe here."

Riki stepped up, still appalled from the message and reached out to take Luci. "C-Can I?" he whispered.

Iason let the sniffling child go into his arms, watching as Riki just held onto her in silence. "You may go to the Garden if you wish, Riki," he softly suggested.

"Do you want to?" Riki asked, observing as she nodded. "OK, we can do that." He glanced back at Iason. "We'll be back in a bit."

The Blondie watched them leave, waiting for the moment he was alone. Once the door closed, he turned and slammed his fist into the wall, leaving a huge hole punctured through the painted surface. He ground his teeth in anger, unaccustomed to this feeling of uselessness in regards to a threat. He took a step back and decided that he needed to take action to protect Riki, Luci and himself.

He would have his revenge - no matter what.

Chapter Text

CHAPTER TWENTY TWO

DREAMING OF SNOW FAIRIES

Riki carried Luci through the gardens, unsure of what to say after hearing such horrid acts that had been done to her. He had secretly wished it hadn't gone that far, and now his one grain of hope had been ripped away.

A green haired female pet shot a dirty look at the two of them, leaning in and whispering to her purple haired friend. "Such a disgusting sight," she hissed.

"Yeah, so hideous."

Riki cast them a glare, and was about to let out a rude remark, but Luci gave his arm a squeeze and just shook her head.

"Don't b-bother," Luci softly insisted.

"I know," Riki agreed with a sigh. "I know."

Luci looked up into Riki's eyes. "You've p-put up with it f...for years?" she questioned.

"Yeah, having a mongrel in Eos is a big deal," Riki explained. "But not because it's something marvellous, but rather because it's wrong."

"Why wrong?"

Riki sighed, sitting down on a brick ledge while still holding Luci. "Because mongrels aren't allowed in Tanagura."

Luci frowned. "Why?"

"Mongrels aren't citizens. We have no rights to be in Tanagura."

"Oh," Luci sounded. "S...so that's why y-you being with Lo-Lord Mink is-"

"I'm not "with" him," Riki snapped. "We aren't in a normal relationship."

"O-Oh..." she squeaked, then went quiet as she didn't wish to upset her parent further.

Riki sighed again as he rose, and started moving down a path that would eventually lead to another exit. "I'm sorry," he whispered.

"For w-what, Papa?"

"For all you've," Riki started, then choked on his words. "All you've went through."

Luci smiled softly, touching the older mongrel's face. "N-not your f...fault, Papa," she assured. "I love y...you."

Riki blinked, bringing her closer in his embrace. "I love you too, sweetie."

"Well?" Iason prompted, his eyes pinned to Raoul who was on the screen. "Did you find anything?"

Raoul grimly shook his head. "It's another mystery to me," he answered annoyedly. "There was nothing abnormal within his body, and yet somehow he died from the inside. I've examined every inch of his body for signs of tampering."

The blue eyed Blondie linked his fingers together and pressed his pointer fingers into the bridge of his nose. "I need to find out who is behind this, Raoul."

"I'm sure Jupiter does as well."

"Not just for Jupiter's sake," Iason corrected, thinking back to the man who was on the screen. "The well being of my adopted daughter and her parent are at risk until I get answers."

Riki leaned against the balcony ledge, taking a long, shaky drag from a much needed smoke. He had just left Luci in her bedroom after she had fallen asleep during their walk. In a sense he was grateful she was able to find a few moments of peace by sleeping.

He sighed, leaning back as he felt a familiar presence behind him. "I'll kill him," Riki whispered angrily, glancing up at Iason's soft blue eyes as strong but gentle arms embraced him. "I'll kill all of those fuckers."

"You will do no such thing," Iason denied, planting a kiss to the mongrel's right temple. "They will be captured, tortured and then exterminated for their crimes. This isn't just an offence to you, Riki. This is an attack against Amoï, Jupiter and the Syndicate. It's an attack on everything." Iason nuzzled into the mongrel's nape. "But make no mistake, they will suffer greatly for their actions against your children."

Iason glanced across the table, his eyes scanning the expressionless child who was staring blankly at the food before her. He sensed no physical abnormalities but he could tell she was troubled mentally.

"You should eat," Riki prompted softly, hoping that his daughter would at least try to partake in their evening meal.

Luci stabbed at a pile of steamed vegetables, only succeeding in gaining a few on her small fork. She forced herself to eat them, then set her utensil down. "N...Not hungry..."

Riki sighed, pushing his half touched meal away in frustration. Luci had been very quiet and reserved since waking up from her nap. She had avoided both Iason and him, instead staring at a space on the wall - without art pieces. When he had pulled her from her silent and unresponsive trance, she followed behind him without a word or reaction as he took her to the table.

"Eat, Riki," Iason commanded, refusing to have his mongrel lose weight. "Or else."

"Or else what?" Riki hissed, his eyes glaring at the Blondie.

"Or else I'll keep you here instead of letting you go to work in two days," he threatened. "And I will keep you very busy."

Riki ground his teeth, part of him wanting to get out but the other part wanted to stay with his daughter who was hurting. He pierced his food with his fork, and shovelled it into his mouth.

"M...May I be e-excused?" Luci quietly asked Iason, her eyes glistening.

Iason frowned. "You've barely touched anything upon your plate, Luci," he gently reminded. "You will not get your strength back if you do not eat."

Luci sighed. "I'm really...not hungry..." she pleaded.

"Iason just let her go!" Riki hissed.

"You do not give the orders around here, pet," Iason snapped. "Do you want her to slip back into being malnourished?"

Riki ground his teeth. "Well forcing her to eat isn't going to help either!" he defended, slamming his fork down onto the table. "Go, Luci!"

Luci blinked, but hopped down and moved swiftly out of the room just as Iason rose to his feet.

"Riki," Iason spoke, his calm voice filled with iciness. "If you tell your daughter to disobey me again there will be severe consequences."

"She's had a horrible day and you're pissed because she won't eat!"

Iason pinched the bridge of his nose. "I was not going to force her to eat, Riki. I was trying to get her to speak and then negotiate on another way for her eat so she was not uncomfortable. But you jumped the gun and sent her away."

Riki winced and slumped. "Well how was I supposed to know?" he shot back.

"That's besides the point, Riki," Iason countered. "You are not permitted to give Luci orders against mine."

"I got it, jeez," Riki hissed. "I didn't mean to. I just thought she didn't look well."

Cal swiftly hurried past the doorway, heading for the medicine cabinet in the main closet. He started sifting through and gathering a few bottles.

Iason was immediately on his feet, knowing that Cal had silently slipped out to follow after Luci and now something was not right. "Is she ill?" he demanded.

"Yes, Master," Cal answered, turning back with a few bottles of light dosage medicine. "I apologize for grabbing the medicine before consulting with you, but Miss Luci is currently sick in the washroom."

Riki turned and sprinted over to the guest room, and navigated to the washroom. He saw Luci curled into a ball on the floor, crying softly. "Hey, hey...it's all right."

Luci shook her head. "It's...it's not."

"Why? What's wrong?" Riki soothed, holding her close and gently stroking her hair. Cal had wiped up whatever mess she had made, so her face felt cool to the touch from the wet cloth.

"S-Scared," she squeaked. "S...so scared."

Riki gave her a soft hug, glancing back as Cal entered. "What are you scared about?" he softly asked to her. "We won't let them hurt you again."

"I...I'm not..." Luci sobbed. "N-not strong en...enough."

"Strong enough for what?" Riki questioned, but when no reply came he returned his gaze to Cal. "Where is he?"

"Master is contacting Lord Am," Cal answered, wetting another cloth and wringing it out. "None of our medicine will have any effect on her." He crouched down to attend to Luci, but Riki took the cloth.

"I got it."

"As you like," Cal answered, standing back and observing for a moment, before going to find Iason and see if Lord Am was coming.

"N...not strong," Luci mumbled deliriously, wiggling around in Riki's hold. "N-not strong."

Riki gently held the cloth to her head. "You are strong, kid."

"No..."

"Yes you are, so don't let anyone tell you otherwise."

"All of her vitals are good," Raoul informed Iason, gathering his supplies. "There is nothing physically wrong with her."

"Cal had said she seemed...delirious and was muttering a few phrases," Iason explained. "Is that from the recent trauma or is she showing signs of a mental damaging?"

Raoul shook his head. "Children babble when they're upset, I am sure it is nothing," he dismissed, closing his bag and straightened out. He blinked as he saw a flash of concern in his friend's eyes. "Are you dissatisfied with my diagnosis?"

"No," Iason denied, turning back to glance at Luci through her doorway. "I am just concerned about her well being. Do you have any contacts of psychiatrists or counsellors that Luci can confide in?"

The green eyed Blondie raised an eyebrow. "I do, but do you truly think it will have any effect upon her?" he questioned. "Is it not the other one who has suffered?"

Iason considered that idea. "Lucifer, the boy, may come out during a session. It would be good for both of them to talk to someone," he concluded. "Other pieces of information might surface as well."

Raoul nodded. "I will get in touch with a few of my trusted contacts," he agreed, then took a step toward the door. "Good night, my friend."

Riki squirmed again, still feeling uncomfortable no matter how much he rolled around - as much as he could manage next to Iason.

Iason opened his eyes, his systems teetering on the edge of starting fully yet again. Honestly! Riki was like the princess and the pea tonight! He slipped his arm under the young man and pulled him close so he was a trapped smaller spoon. "What is the matter, pet?" he exasperatedly inquired, feeling Riki fight against him for a bit of space.

"Nothing, let go!" Riki lied in a hiss, he wouldn't admit to Iason he had the most disturbing deep rooted feeling of dread in his stomach. If he was not laying down it would've brought him to his knees.

"Are you ill?" the Blondie demanded, reaching his other hand up to touch the tanned forehead. "You're a bit warm."

"Because you're plastered to me!"

"No, I am certain that is not the cause," Iason returned, tightening his hold in concern. "Are you worried about Luci?"

"No."

"Are you lying to me?"

"No."

Iason reached his hand down and gave the mongrel's ass a swat.

"Ow! What the hell!" Riki protested, squirming futilely in the hold at first, but ceased after the hand rested on his sensitive behind.

"I will not tolerate you lying to me, pet," Iason started, but then switched his conversation direction. "And you do not need to lie to me about your kin. I am worried for them too."

Riki turned his head back. "I...I know," he mumbled, resting his head against the pillow again. "I know you're trying to find out her past. I just..."

Iason waited, not wanting to pressure Riki into speaking in hopes of having his true feelings come through. "Just?" he finally gently prompted.

"I...I...hoped," Riki choked. "She wouldn't have suffered like that."

"Oh, pet," Iason smiled sadly, planting a kiss upon his neck. "I promise I will do all I can to ease and repair the damage from her suffering."

Riki collected himself, then turned to face Iason and allowed himself to be held close. "I know," he breathed. "Thank you."

Iason felt a spear of happiness in his chest. "My pleasure. Sleep now, love," he whispered, kissing the tanned forehead.

"Do you want to use the tablet?" Riki asked, trying to get the child to do anything at all. Since he had woken up she had sat next to him and just stared at the dirty bear she had been given.

"No," she softly answered.

Riki glanced around, hoping for something to pique her interest. "Cal brought fruit for a snack, how about you try some?"

Luci shook her head. "N-no, thank you."

"There's gotta be something," Riki exasperatedly implored.

"Tell m-me a story."

"A story?"

"Yes."

"I don't have any stories," Riki grumbled. "Not child friendly anyways."

"I...I'm not a child," Luci protested, squeezing her bear.

"You're six."

"W-What of it?" she challenged.

"Normal six year olds are children." When Luci stiffened he realized his mistake. "I didn't mean you're not normal."

Luci nodded. "I-I know," she whispered, moving a bit closer to her parent and they were quiet for a moment and she crawled up next to him. "I...I'm proud t-to have you as my Papa."

Riki blinked. "You're the only one who would ever say that about having a mongrel parent."

"I-I know," she agreed, leaning into arm. "But it's true."

"Weirdo," Riki mumbled.

"L-Like Father, like d-daughter," she grinned, while giggling.

"Hey!" Riki barked, tickling the child's sides and smiling as she released a squeal of joy. When he finally stopped, she was out of breath but beaming. "There's the kid I know."

Luci smiled, then planted a kiss on Riki's nose. "I...I love you, Papa. Always."

Riki exhaled, pulling her closer. "You too, kid. You too."

Iason entered the home late into the evening, having been bombarded with office work and meetings. The lights flicked on, but his furniture had retired already as per his earlier instruction. He paused as he saw a figure standing by the balcony window, and called out to Luci. When she did not move or acknowledge him, he slowly moved closer.

"Luci," Iason called yet again, growing increasingly annoyed at repeating himself but remaining calm because the child was damaged.

The brown eyed girl turned her head very slowly, her eyes dull as they met the icy blue. "Y-Yes?"

"Are you all right?"

Luci gave a slow, robotic nod. "Just...t-talking to them," she answered.

Iason paused. "Talking to who?" he demanded, analyzing her and found no technology.

"The others," she answered. "I-I am the link."

"The link? The link to what?"

Luci went quiet, looking away. "C...Can't explain," she whispered and teared up. "I'm sorry."

Iason frowned, but nodded. "Go back to your room and sleep." He observed as she nodded and moved back to her room.

"F-Fyo?" she called out, turning.

"Yes?"

"M-Make sure Papa is heav...heavily g-guarded when he g...goes to work," she instructed. "He..he'll be safer o-out there."

Iason froze, but when he was going to speak he found the child gone already. He made a mental note to ensure he had extra security around Riki while he puzzled over the rest of the meaning of her words.

Riki stood by the door, glancing at Luci who was standing stiffly and gazing at a spot on the ground. "I'll be back in a few days," he informed her, though he doubted she heard him.

Luci nodded, then let a soft smile slip out. "T-Take care of y-yourself, Papa," she pleaded. "Be...c-careful, pl...please."

"I will, I will," he agreed, wondering why she had said that and felt his internal dread grow further. "You stay out of trouble too, you hear?"

She stiffened, her eyes averting. "I...I'll try."

Riki nodded, taking a step back and slipping on his coat. He was appalled to find his hands sweating, what was causing him such fear?

"Do you have everything?" Iason inquired, stepping close to his mongrel.

The thoughts vanished from Riki's mind, his dread growing deeper as he looked up into Iason's eyes. "Y-Yeah, Cal packed everything," he returned shakily.

"You'll be staying with Katze anyways, so if you require anything he can get you it," Iason revealed.

"Or I can get it myself," Riki snapped back, rolling his eyes in annoyance to cover up the overwhelming fear.

Iason caught the mongrel's hand. "Don't go anywhere without Katze," he warned. "There is too much of a risk of losing you."

Riki felt a warm tingling in his chest. "I got it, I got it, I won't go anywhere without your guard dog with me." He lost his breath as Iason kissed his hand, nearly bursting into tears as he felt like he was saying goodbye to him forever. "It's just...a few days."

"A few days too many away from me," Iason sadly returned, gently freeing the tanned hand. "Be good."

"Yeah, yeah," Riki grunted, choking down his tears. He quickly turned around, only capturing Luci's gaze as he headed to the lift where Katze had just appeared. "See ya kid."

Iason watched Riki leave alongside Katze, before turning around to stare at the eerily still child. "I am going to Midas to have a meeting today," he informed her. "Would you be interested in coming with me or shall I leave you here?"

Luci blinked, coming out of her trance like state. "W-with you," she answered, blushing a bit. "Please, Fyo."

The Blondie nodded. "Very well. I will go collect my documents and whatnot while Cal prepares you a snack."

The child nodded, looking relieved and more alive than she did for two days. "T-Thank you."

Iason glanced back in his rear view mirror, pleased to see Luci looking more like herself. She was looking out the window, before sending his gaze and meeting it. "You seem better than you were a few days prior," he commented.

"Yes," she answered softy.

"Riki and I were getting very worried about you," he hinted and returned his gaze to the airway, hoping to manipulate her with guilt to get her to speak.

"Sorry," Luci answered sadly. "I...I reciev...ed a re-report that..." She paused, shivering. "U...Uncle is on the move. I-I was scared."

Iason's eyes shot up again in the mirror. "Why would you not have said something?" he demanded.

"I-I'm sorry, Fyo," Luci apologized, cringing into her seat. "I didn't...want—"

"You didn't want what?"

Luci sighed, looking out the window. "I'm...I'm a lost cause."

"I beg your pardon?" Iason questioned, pulling up to the location of the meeting.

"You can't...you can't beat him, Iason," Luci answered, her eyes pinning themselves to Iason's. "Uncle...w...will get me."

Iason scoffed in a very un-Blondie manner, turning off the vehicle and opening the door. He got out and opened the back door and leaned in. "If you believe for a second that I will allow another incident to occur, you are sorely mistaken."

"You w...won't allow it," Luci answered with emphasis. "But...it...it is going to happen. And w-when it does...I don't want you...to get hurt."

"That should not be an issue," Iason dismissed, pulling the child from the car seat. "Elites do not perish easily."

Luci was quiet as they went into the building, admiring all of the elegant decorations and neatly placed furniture. Iason sat her down on a chair in the corner of the room where the meeting would commence, she watched him.

He removed his cloak and laid out all of the material needed for the meeting across the head of the table spot. Iason analyzed all the screens, tracing his fingers across the data.

"P-Promise me, if I am...taken and m-missing for m-more than a t-three days you won't look f-for me."

Iason looked up from his place. "Why would I promise to do such a thing?" he demanded.

Luci looked at the floor. "B-because..." she whispered.

"That is not a valid reason."

"If I'm e-ever gone that long," Luci continued. "I'll be too broken to b-be useful."

Iason frowned. "Useful?"

"If...If I'm useless...I-I'd rather be..." Luci breathed. "Dead."

"That is not an option," Iason denied. "Whether or not you have a use, you belong to Riki. Riki belongs to me and therefore I decide your fate."

Luci shook her head. "You don't understand!" she shot back, her eyes furious. "To h-have no motiv-ating purpose is like being dead and still breathing!"

Iason paused, suddenly recalling all of Riki's anger and demanding a job — a purpose other than being his pet. Was this how Riki felt? That he was dead without something other than being a pet?

"If I'm broken, I won't come back," Luci concluded. "I w-won't put Papa into a position w-where him seeing me causes him g...grief."

"Have you considered your absence would cause him grief?"

Luci sighed. "I am aware," she answered. "But one w-way or another I w-will be re-removed from your lives." She met his gaze again. "If...if it happens s-sooner rather than later, I won't come back."

Iason held her gaze, then gave a slight nod. "We will discuss this later," he dismissed, looking to the door as he sensed the arrival of the clients.

Iason closed the door behind the man, then turned on his heel to gaze at the child in the corner. There was a soft crunching sound as she was eating animal crackers, but other than that she was silent while sitting with the tablet. "Now that the meeting is finished, I would like to have a discussion with you."

Luci looked up, popping an animal cracker into her mouth. "Mef?" she asked, pointing to herself.

"Do not make me repeat myself," Iason replied, then gestured to the table. "Sit there."

She shrugged, setting her items down carefully into the red with white polka dots backpack. Luci then walked over climbed onto one of the table chairs closest to where Iason sat at the meeting.

"I want you to explain to me everything you know about yourself," Iason explained, gracefully sitting down into his chair and turning on a recording device. "Anything you can think of."

Luci paused. "O-OK," she nodded. "My f-first name is Luci, my m...middle name is Mae and—"

"Who gave you your middle name?" Iason questioned. "Only people from upperclass societies have middle names."

"M-my Carrier."

"Why do you call your biological mother your "Carrier"?"

Luci took a deep breath. "She was...e-essentially a womb for u-us to grow in," she explained. "W-When we were starting to f...form, F-Father used some tech-technology to...to..."

"To?"

"To re...remove part of our DNA," she continued. "And replace i-it with another beings. It removed hers and put in another c-creatures."

Iason paused. "Are you fully human or part animal as well?"

"I-I'm human, but...but our energy abilities is...is possibly a subclass of human? I'm not cer-certain."

"I see," Iason sounded, leaning back a bit in his chair. "You stated you do not live long, do you know why that is?"

Luci shook her head. "No, I-I'm not sure. B-But all the females I've heard o-of die at age...age seven or shortly after."

"You stated before that they die after childbearing," the Blondie reminded. "Do you believe that is a connection?"

"C-Could be," Luci agreed. "But I'm n-not certain."

"How old are you?"

Luci paused. "Six," she answered. "Six and a half now."

"When you arrived you said you were six," Iason frowned. "How did you gain half a year in age in a few weeks?"

"Stress," Luci explained. "High l-levels of stress in...increases the hormones...that age us." She smiled sadly. "I d...don't think you understand how we work. A-And I can't explain it."

Iason nodded. "So you are certain you are six and a half moons old?" he pressed. "And that females of your kind die at age seven from unknown causes?"

"Yes, b-but not all die immediately at...at seven. It depends on their...their genes." She looked at Iason. "Are we d...done now?"

Riki spread out on the couch in Katze's office, partaking in a cigarette. "So are you gonna follow me around all the time I'm here?"

Katze didn't even look at Riki while he was typing. "Yes," he curtly replied.

"Fucksake," Riki hissed, exhaling bitterly. He understood that the situation was grim, but why was he involved? Why was he now being watched like a toddler? "What are my tasks today?"

"I have to go meet a few people and you are coming with me," Katze answered, giving a keyboard a final tap then analyzing the data.

"Joy."

"If you have any complaints," Katze started, taking a long drag from his cigarette and turned to face Riki. "Take a number."

Luci sighed, looking out the window in desire. She wanted to go get drenched with the rain and soak up every blissful drop.

Iason glanced over from his desk, where he was backing up the recordings to his personal computer system. He was going to compile all of the details and then have them translated to data form. "Do you enjoy the rain?"

"Yes," she answered. "I-It's beautiful....when it's not angry."

"Angry?" Iason repeated, smirking at the childish word.

Luci nodded. "I-it's not scary, it just...just less pleasant when a-angry." She turned back to the window and continued to look out as she rested her head on the back of the love seat couch to have a steady gaze. "Is it...a rainy seas-season on Amoï?"

Iason nodded. "Serever is always a rainy month," he answered. "Alyier will bring snow."

"Snow?" Luci inquired, her eyes wide. "C-Can I go out when...when it snows?"

"We shall see."

"I-I'm gonna make...make snow fairies," she bubbled, turning back to the window as if willing the rain to freeze.

"Snow fairies?"

"Yes! I-I'm gonna roll i-in the snow and...and make outlines of my b-body so it l-looks like I have wings!"

"Interesting," Iason noted, having never actually seen anyone roll in the snow. There never was much after the city cleaners had shovelled it away.

Luci giggled. "I can't wait for Alyier!"

"There is also a holiday celebration in Alyier," Iason mentioned, swiping a screen closed.

"R-Really?"

"Yes, we celebrate Jupirae Day; the day the first Elites were first created," Iason explained. "Alyier is a very festive month."

Luci clapped her hands. "I-I can't wait!" she squealed. "How many....many days away is it?"

"Eight four," Iason answered, observing as Luci sulked. "Serever just started, meaning it will be here for sixty two of the eight four days."

"That's so long," Luci pouted. "I-I can't wait that lo-long."

Iason smiled softly. "If you wish to see snow on Amoï, you will have to."

"Where is the nearest squad located?" the man questioned, analyzing the dot blinking on the screen.

"Sending coordinates now, Sir."

The man leaned back in his chair, observing the one blinking dot on the screen and then another blue one appeared in the far right corner. "Yes, that will do nicely. Send them in ," he nodded, closing down the screens down. He stroked the spot where his arm had been severed and where a prosthetic now was positioned. "Play time is over."

Chapter Text

CHAPTER TWENTY FOUR

HANGING BY A THREAD

Lucifer pried open his eyes, his body heavy but there was no longer pain. The effects of whatever had been done to him had worn off again for a few days at least.

He allowed his eyes to wander, again landing on the finely aged female who was contained in a tank across from him by a distance. Her body was rigged with tubes, draining her of her blood that was then sent through pipes and a filter. Every drop then pooled into a vat that continuously filtered into several separate systems.

She raised her head adorned with a crown of cables, the oxygen mask over face creating bubbles. Her eyes locked onto his, but he knew she could not see him.

"Are you in pain?" Lucifer whispered into her mind.

"No, my dear," she answered, a sad smile upon her lips. "I fear you may have been though."

"I am fine," Lucifer assured, casting his gaze to the companion male in the tank next to her. Their skin was whiter than his own, a telltale sign of their years in confinement. "Is he all right?"

"I am fine," came the male's soft mental reply between the three of them. "Do not concern yourself with old specimen such as us."

Lucifer would have shook his head if he were able to. "I will never not care about you," he insisted. "Or you."

The female's lips twitched. "You are most kind, young one," she thanked. "Although I am glad you are alive, it pains me to see you so."

"I am sorry."

"She is right," the male companion chipped in. "It hurts us to awaken and see you suffer."

Lucifer sighed. "I know, but I cannot perish yet."

"Is it because of the other one?" the male inquired. "The young girl?"

"Yes."

"Is she not free?"

"She is," Lucifer answered, his eyes losing focus for a second in exhaustion. "But if she returns, then I need to ease her suffering. One of us deserves happiness."

There was a long pause, before the female created a soothing presence in Lucifer's mind. "You are truly a loving soul," she praised. "But even love has limitations, my young one. You cannot go on forever in torment."

"Then why are you still alive?" Lucifer demanded, regretting his question as he felt her retract abruptly. "My apologies."

"If we could perish, I believe we would welcome the sweet embrace of death," came her soft reply. "But we cannot. But you can."

The tank lining started flashing blue, signifying that the specimen were being injected again with anaesthetic and would go to sleep again for a long time.

"You need to let go of what is free while you are confined," the male spoke kindly. "It will only cause you more agony. She can now live her life and face her own battles, you have done more than enough, Lucifer."

Lucifer felt a spike of fear. "But she will be alone."

"Would you rather you both suffer together as we have done for so long? Or allow each other your own freedom and peace?" he gently asked, his eyes starting to close. "Please...don't suffer anymore, my..."

Neptune trudged over, it's twisted body crawling across the floor like an derformed spider. It connected it's fingertip to the input of the female's tank and then the male's. It seemed satisfied with the results and then clicked along the floor over to Lucifer.

Lucifer had long grown used to the distorted AI, who used to terrify him with its unnatural movement. "Hello, Neptune."

"You are awake," the AI commented, analyzing the details of its captive. "You have not changed. Why is this?" The machine processed the lack of progress. "I am unable to compute a reason."

"Am I supposed to change, you ancient toaster?" Lucifer hissed, then paused wondering where he had gotten that phrase and recalled hearing it from Riki through Luci. A smile curled his weak lips - Riki had a marvellously saucy vocabulary.

"Toaster? I neither toast bread nor require bread for functioning," Neptune bluntly returned, coming eerily close. It brought its face to Lucifer's chest, analyzing a patch of newly growing flesh. It opened its jaws wide, then adjusted itself and proceeded to rip off the section.

Lucifer began breathing heavily, although he was unable to feel pain, the sight of a machine eating him was never something he could grow accustomed to. It was beyond unnatural. "Now you are not a toaster," he retorted. "You are now a meat slicer."

Neptune paused, the flesh dangling from its mouth for a moment before it was pushed into its sensory filled insides with a backwards hand. "You have a different taste compared to the others I have tasted. Why is that?"

"I'm made partially from a darker meat," Lucifer hissed. "You've only tasted lab bred rejects, you haven't tasted foreign meat."

"I will secure more of this foreign meat," Neptune decided. "Then I will compare your taste to theirs." It then turned, clicking away across the room before coming to its resting spot and then shutting down to standby.

Lucifer glanced down at his chest, wanting to stop the bleeding but was unable to. He hadn't moved his arms since he was hung, and he never would as long as he remained so. He let his mind drift softly into Luci's consciousness. She was looking out a window, watching a rain storm with a bit of lightning in the distance. There was a layer of happiness and excitement over the scene, creating a fuzzy pink filter.

"Snow fairies?"

"Yes! I-I'm gonna roll i-in the snow and...and make outlines of my b-body so it l-looks like I have wings!"

Snow fairies. What a beautiful idea, Lucifer mused. What a beautiful thing to make in a harsh, cold situation.

"I can't wait for Alyier!"

"There is also a holiday celebration in Alyier."

"R-Really?"

"Yes, we celebrate Jupirae Day; the day the first Elites were first created. Alyier is a very festive month."

Luci clapped her hands. "I-I can't wait! How many....many days away is it?"

"Eight four. Serever just started, meaning it will be here for sixty two of the eight four days."

"That's so long," Luci pouted. "I-I can't wait that lo-long."

Lucifer smiled at her pouting creating a blue tint to her consciousness.

Iason smiled softly. "If you wish to see snow on Amoï, you will have to."

Such a kind man, Lucifer noted, allowing his consciousness to slip out as he gave into his exhaustion. Snow fairies... I would like to see the Amoïan snow as well...

Lucifer's body went slack as the darkness engulfed him again.

Chapter Text

CHAPTER TWENTY FOUR

PLEASE DON'T GO

Iason closed down his desk screen, having just finished a call. His eyes drifted to the figure curled up on the beige coloured love seat couch, fast asleep. A smile curled his lips, his features growing softer as he realized how much Luci looked like Riki, especially her peaceful sleeping face.

He rose silently up from his desk, and walked up to her. He reached down a hand, gently stroking her cheek.

There was definitely a change in her body since her arrival. Iason remembered her comment on how she would not live long, wondering how much truth there was to it. He frowned as he noticed the sleeves of her shirt were an inch too short, and the same was with the pants. How had she grown so much? Why hadn't he noticed sooner?

"Luci," he whispered, gently running his thumb over her cheek.

Luci's eyes fluttered open, a soft sound escaping as she woke. Her eyes moved up and she spotted Iason towering over her. "O-Oops, I fell asleep-p in your o-office again," she giggled.

"Yes, you did," Iason returned, though he wasn't as against the action. Perhaps he was growing used to her presence? "It appears your clothes are too small."

"O-oh...yeah," she answered, looking at her hands. "S...sorry."

"Why are you sorry? Children are supposed to grow," he replied. But then added silently, not that quickly though.

Luci shyly looked away. "T-The clothes are s...still new," she answered. "I...it feels like a w-waste to not wear t...them."

Iason wanted to pinch the bridge of his nose, feeling as if he had had this conversation once with Riki in regards to the clothes he had brought from his Slum days. He refused to give up his ratty tank top because it was "a waste" and was still wearable. "It is not a waste, they served their purpose, now we must get new ones," he decided, glancing at the clock and planning out his schedule. "We will go get a few items today. I cannot have you looking indecent."

"O...OK," Luci nodded. "Th-Thank you, Fyo."

Riki glanced at Katze, who was navigating through the traffic. "What happened to that seed issue?" he asked.

"That is no longer my concern," Katze answered, a cigarette between his lips. "Is your kid all right?" In truth, the redhead had been agonizing over letting the child get kidnapped. He hadn't slept well since it happened, fearing Iason would contact him and express his disappointment in him. If he disappointed Iason...

"She's...fighting it," Riki softly replied, keeping his eyes trained on the outside world.

Katze felt his stomach tense up, wondering if due to his negligence something had happened to her. He had not heard what had occurred during her absence, nor her return. "I see," he whispered. "Like Father, like daughter."

Raoul leaned back in his chair, reading over data as multiple machines processed various samples behind him. There was constant frustration, no matter what he was dealing with.

He had analyzed Jame's brain and body again, still finding no signs of reason for his perishing. Raoul had gone through every book in his library and systems and could not find anything that would aid him in his knowledge for finding the solution. He had even fallen so low as to considering the possibility of a abnormal form of spontaneous human combustion being the source.

The Blondie idly curled his finger through one of his locks, a habit he solely did when he was alone and irritated. Unlike most of his brothers who were not easily bothered, he suffered from the atypical burden of becoming deeply effected when he was failing to gain knowledge. It was all that kept him ticking normally, his constant demand for knowledge, creation and pleasing Jupiter - but lately he seemed to be failing on many aspects.

A screen flickered and then rose up to his eye level. It's contents was divided into three parts and comprised of another round of tests he had run on Jame's blood, Luci's DNA and a seed fragment. Everything came back with no answers to ease him.

Raoul's eyes narrowed, and he gave his hair end a yank, ripping out a beautiful curl.

Luci pouted, staring in the mirror as her red jacket no longer fit properly. It wasn't as long as it used to be on her. Her black leggings appeared to be capris now instead of pants. Thank goodness her feet hadn't appeared to have grown.

"Do not sulk, we will get you another jacket and other clothing," Iason assured, walking past the mirror as he was putting on his wrist comm and final touches.

"H...How much have I grown?" Luci asked, her eyes clouded with trouble.

Iason paused, clipping on his breast pocket case closed and sliding it into its spot. "Come, we will measure you."

Luci followed behind him, entering into the living space where Cal approached with a measuring laser.

"Stand there."

The child went to the kitchen doorway, and Cal positioned the laser base on the floor and then the beam shot up and stopped at her height, projecting the measurements.

"Just shy of three foot two," Iason examined, then straightened up with an internal sigh. When she arrived, Luci was just over three feet tall. How had she grown two inches?

Luci looked up at him, then averted her eyes. "G-Growing too f...fast..."

"No, no it will be fine," Iason assured, reaching out his hand to her. "We will get clothing that fits you today and some of a bit larger size in case you grow further."

"I...I'll only gr-grow four f-feet tall," Luci sighed, taking his hand and pinning her eyes to the floor.

"Why do you think that?"

Luci looked up at him. "T...That's the ma-maximum height e-encoded into m-my genet-tics."

Iason paused, pondering the notion. "Why four feet?" he inquired.

"E...Easier to c-control."

"I need to make a brief stop," Katze informed his passenger, who looked bored out of his mind.

Riki looked around, surprised to see the environment known as Midas around them. "What's here?"

"Business," the redhead answered, getting out of the vehicle. "Don't move."

"Like I can go anywhere," Riki hissed, rolling his eyes. The whole damn day he'd been in this car, all because Iason was being overprotective again. He lit another cigarette and rolled down the window, granting himself that luxury at least.

He closed his eyes, allowing the breeze to flutter through his hair and his mind to wander. He frowned as he heard a familiar voice, then pried open an eye to see Guy and his gang wandering through an alley.

"Shit!" Riki cursed, dropping his cigarette outside and quickly bringing the window back up just as Guy made eye contact. The windows returned to their ultra tinted shade, not allowing even the slightest chance of someone seeing in.

"Check out that ride," Norris commented, nodding at Katze's high quality vehicle. It wasn't the most expensive, but it was a beauty nonetheless.

"Who do you think owns it?"

Riki tensed as the members of his gang approached the vehicle. He scrambled back in his seat, knowing they would only despise him if they saw him. Guy had made that very clear during their last encountering.

"Oh come on, lighten up Guy! You've been so irritable lately since Riki left."

Guy shoved his hands into his pockets, walking past the car. He paused, however, when he saw an all too familiar brand of a still burning cigarette on the ground. He crouched down, picking it up and examining it. When he inhaled the distinct taste of Riki's favourite brand of cigarettes that were also very rare, he glanced back up at the window and rose. "Riki?" he breathed.

Riki tensed, seeing his ex pairing partner stare unintentionally straight at him through the glass. He jolted as Guy leaned closer, pressing his hands to the glass and tried to see in. Riki's heart started to pound in his chest, the piercing blue eyes of his old love looking straight at him.

"Guy, you're gonna get into shit if the owner comes back. We have to get going."

Guy withdrew, and Riki took a deep exhale of relief. He waited until he was sure they were gone, then ran a hand through his hair and punched the armrest with his fist.

"We have eyes on the target," the man confirmed, looking through the digital binoculars. "He is alone, and appears to be unarmed."

"Stand down, civilians are approaching."

There was a moment of silence, the men listening to the sounds as the group of mongrels approached the car.

"Sir, they said the target's name."

"It appears the civilians are familiar with the target," the other man listening to the conversation confirmed over the leader's speaker. "How shall we proceed?"

"Fall back and regroup," the leader ordered, waiting for his men to agree. He pulled his sniper rifle from its positioning and slipped back into the shadows.

Iason picked up the small child, aware that his presence in front of a children's clothing store was attracting attention. Luckily he had his sunglasses on or else many of them would've had to endure his glare.

"A...Are you sure a-about this, F-Fyo?" Luci asked softly.

"Why would I not be?"

Luci glanced around at all the people. "W...We should've s-shopped on-online," she murmured, snuggling closer to him.

Iason gave her a reassuring soft squeeze. "We'll be fine," he soothed. "Besides, I want you to try items on."

"OK, Fyo," Luci agreed. "Thank you."

Katze slipped back into the vehicle, frowning at Riki. "Did you see a ghost?"

"Fuck off," Riki hissed, still shaken from Guy coming up to the window. Part of him had wanted to open the door and try to salvage anything left with his gang. But he knew it wasn't possible. They had probably lost all of their respect for him because of his submission to Iason. He ached to open the door and be free again, but he knew it was impossible.

He was captured by Iason, bound by a ring and a secret love for the Blondie. And now he had a child who was in the care of the captor. So now he was captured and bound by his love for his own kin, and by his Master.

"Are we done for the day?" Riki barked. He wanted to go back to his home and drink until he couldn't see straight.

Luci glanced down at the bags, a look of concern on her face. "T-That was a l...lot, Fyo," she fretted.

Iason wanted to roll his eyes. "You are just like Riki," he scoffed. "Putting up a fuss when someone buys you something."

"B...But it was e-expensive, Fyo," she worried. "A...and you didn't take it f...from my a-account!"

"Luci," Iason chided, setting the bags into the back and then her into her seat. "You are the child of my pet. I provide for him, and I will provide for you. Is that understood?"

Luci pouted. "But t-then I owe you."

Iason closed his eyes, taking in a soft breath. "You do not owe me for being a child who needs to be provided for," he assured, buckling her into the car seat.

"You d-didn't need to buy that m-much," Luci still objected. "Do-Don't spoil me, Fyo."

The Blondie leaned in, pushing down his sunglasses and gazing his beautiful blue eyes at the child. "I can do as I like," he dismissed.

Riki crossed his arms. "You're joking, right?" he pleaded.

"No I'm not," Katze denied, entering into the home. "There is a guest bedroom past the dining area, I will be there."

"I don't need your supervision," Riki spat, agitated that Iason didn't tell him about Katze being required to stay with him.

"Then don't get into anything where I'll need to supervise you," Katze tossed, carrying his bag through the dining room.

Riki shook his head, his level of being pissed off rising with every second. "Son of a bitch," he hissed.

Luci entered into the living room, having just changed into a new outfit and eaten what Cal had made her. She silently moved through the hall, peeking in room after room until she found the one which held a Blondie. "F...Fyo where are you going?" she squeaked, seeing Iason put on his wrist comm again as if he was going out.

"I have to go meet someone," Iason answered curtly, annoyed that he received an urgent message from a very important contact in regards to a black market deal. He had Katze watching over Riki today, so he decided to tend to the matter himself.

He moved past the child, heading into the hallway and then grabbed his cloak. With precision he clasped it closed and headed for the door, only to be stopped by a strong pull. Iason teetered back, catching himself and then stared down at the young mongrel holding onto his cloak ends. "Luci, I am in a hurry. Let go," he commanded.

Luci shook her head. "Don't," she answered shakily. "Y...You can't go."

Iason gave his cloak end a yank. "I will not repeat myself, Luci," he coldly scolded. "If you do not let go I will punish you. I can not afford to miss this meeting."

"Please Fyo," she begged, letting go of his cloak ends which were now wrinkled.

Iason shook his head. "I cannot take you with me this time," he denied. "I will be back soon."

"W-wait! Fyo!" Luci crawled to her feet, running to the door but it was already closed and the Blondie was gone when she got there. Her necklace ID made the door lock, preventing her from chasing after Iason.

Iason exited the lift, heading swiftly down the corridor. He typed in the contact information for the man he wanted to meet. The call went through, but dialled for a long time and cut out. With a frown, the Blondie punched in the numbers again and this time the call went through but was not answered.

A bit frustrated, Iason paused and wondered if his wrist comm was malfunctioning. He entered in an alternative contact number and was puzzled as it dialled and then cut out. His eyes narrowed on the screen as some foreign writing scrolled across the device. "What is this?"

"FYO, LOOK OUT!"

Luci dove forward, pushing Iason out of the way with all of her strength before he had a chance to turn and question her. The sound of glass shattering was almost simultaneous with the impact of her against him, a harpoon like spike appearing out of nowhere and shooting through the viewing window overlooking Tanagura and straight to the unsuspecting Blondie. However, instead of it puncturing through the Blondie as planned, it drilled into the tiny child's body, hooking and ripping an unnatural opening through her flesh and internal organs as it slid through and snagged her.

Iason hit the ground, a few meters away from Luci and regained himself from the shock. His eyes locked on the sight of Luci as she fell down, blood dripping from her mouth and the opening in her body where the harpoon had stabbed through. Her tearful eyes met his for a mere second, before she screamed as the cord the harpoon was attached to went taut. "LUCI!" he cried out, rising up but was unable to run because of the impact. He watched in horror as she was dragged across the floor while he tried to chase after her. His boots crunched on the layer of glass and trail of blood and her nail marks that marred the tile flooring.

"I-Iason!" Luci screamed brokenly just before her voice cut off as she was pulled through the broken window. Her body went limp on the harpoon, blood dripping down her new clothes and to the city below as the dark aircraft above her began to reel her in.

Iason stood by the window, his strength still not completely returned. He could only watch as the young mongrel was taken into the unidentifiable aircraft before it took off at illegally high speeds and disappeared in a matter of moments.

Eos police soon passed by the broken window, attempting to chase down the aircraft, but it was already well out of the districts by that time.

Iason's knees gave out beneath him, his systems taking another hit from the impact that drained him of energy. He slammed his fist into the ground, silently cursing to himself as security droids soon surrounded him.

Chapter Text

CHAPTER TWENTY FIVE

BONDING OVER LOSS

Iason's eyes snapped open and his body lurched forward, only to be restrained by a fellow Blondie and his mind soothed by the AI.

"Do not move," Raoul commanded, pushing the blue eyed Blondie down and then continued to remove the layer of skin on Iason's chest. He grimaced as be noticed that several spots of the main driver systems were darkened, as if Iason had been hit by an ungodly amount of electricity. "You've suffered internal damage from the attack."

It only took a moment for Iason to collect his thoughts, recalling the incident and then wondering how he even got to Jupiter's chambers. He was missing pieces of his memory! "Luci was taken," he recited, again sitting up only to be pushed down. "Raoul, I must track down the culprit, we are wasting valuable time."

"Iason," Raoul sharply scolded. "Your internal driver has...has been compromised." The green eyes were filled with confusion. "Impossible."

"I am fine, Raoul, now unhand me!"

Raoul shook his head. "No, Iason, you are far from fine," he contradicted, holding up the completely charred internal driver that kept all of the Blondie's systems functioning. It's melted wires and connecting cables dangled and swayed, no longer attached to the systems keeping the Blondie alive and functioning. "You are technically dead."

Riki paused, his cigarette nearly falling from his fingers. He took a step back, his eyes scanning the floor as a headache unlike anything he'd experienced swam from the top left side of his head down to his right temple. "Woah," he murmured.

"What?" Katze questioned, glancing over at the mongrel who was shaking a bit. "You all right?"

"My head felt kinda funny," Riki answered, running his hands through his hair. "Like I got shocked on the top of my head."

The redhead frowned, tossing his finished cigarette over the edge. "Hold still," he commanded, placing a hand on the mongrel's forehead and jerked it away as he was zapped. "Oh fuck!"

Riki's eyes widened, watching Katze's hand twitch. "What happened?"

"You shocked me!" Katze growled, shaking his fingers before he paused. "How the hell did you shock me like that?"

"I dunno, I told you I felt like I'd been electrocuted by something!"

Katze observed the balcony ceiling, finding no abnormal electrical plugs. But he did see a small ball of a blue light, hovering at the very edge of the ceiling. Immediately, he pushed Riki back, whipping out an electric frequency reading stick from his coat pocket. "What the hell is this?" He extended the rod and blinked in shock as the ball travelled down the stick and stopped just before the handle.

Riki's eyes went wide, recognizing the colour of the energy ball. "That's Luci," he sputtered, moving close and reaching out to the light. "Let me see it." He touched the ball, the orb travelling into his hand and then absorbing into his skin.

A vision of shattering glass, and Iason falling backward sent his nerves into a frenzy of fear. One phrase popped into his mind, causing his stomach to twist and his head to spin: Return to Eos now.

Jupiter began vibrating in distress, seeing the internal pieces of its masterpiece being ripped out. "He should have shut down. But he remains operating."

"Put that back, Raoul," Iason growled. "I am losing time!"

"I can detect no abnormalities."

Raoul tossed the piece onto the side cart. "Iason, I just removed what could be considered your heart onto that table. Yet you remain functioning, you are more of a priority than that child!"

Iason blinked, as if finally understanding the circumstances and his mind became clear. "How am I not dead? Or malfunctioning at the least?" he demanded, fearing that perhaps it was delayed and he would soon return to the darkness from the days of his birth. However, he wasn't only feeling clear now, he felt younger and more energetic. As if he had been reset to his youngest prototype age.

"I do not know," Raoul answered, glancing back at Jupiter that was analyzing the Blondie's data. He peered in the gaping hole of Iason's chest, beyond the wires. "But..."

"But what?"

"There is this orb of blue light where your systems were," he noted, pulling back as he was shocked when touching it. "I cannot remove it. And it appears to be independent from all of the connections." He paused, placing his fingers upon two dangling wires before again pulling his hand free as he was shocked. "Whatever it is, is supplying you with your electricity and energy to function."

"We need to go back to Eos," Riki demanded, rushing into the room and grabbing all of his bags.

"What?" Katze gawked, hurrying after the frantic mongrel. "Why? You're still permitted to go work tomorrow."

Riki threw on his coat. "Katze, this is gonna sound stupid, and maybe I am," he grumbled. "But we need to go back to Eos right now. When I touched the energy ball, I saw something." He zipped up his coat. "I think Iason and Luci are in trouble."

"Which specimen did you capture?" demanded the leader over the video call.

"We failed to capture the blonde, but we caught the child," the man returned, glancing back at the dark haired female bleeding out within the tank of fluorescent blue liquid.

The leader paused. "You caught the female?" he repeated, his lips curling into a smile. "Good. Very good. He will be most pleased, as we were going to use the blonde as leverage for her surrender."

"What would you like the others to do now?"

The man dressed in his official suit with his badges of service pinned upon the breast pocket turned to someone off screen and began talking to them. "What should we do now, Sir?"

"Do we have coordinates on the location of the male?"

"We do, but we pulled back as was requested," the leader calmly explained. "However, we have his current coordinates, and can capture him if you desire?"

"Yes, capture him too," Uncle grinned. "I want them both."

"Very good—" A large shudder made the man fall over, liquid from the tank spilling through the openings on the top. Alarms warning of damage to the craft started frantically blaring. "Sir, we've been hit!"

"Impossible! We are cloaked with Drevykian shields! No police service on Amoï can see us!"

Uncle frowned, pulling up the crafts outer cameras and spotted a ship following behind them who was cloaked as well. "We have an unidentified ship on our tail," he growled. "Someone has found us." He glared his grey eyes at the camera. "Get the child of Amoï and have the others snatch the parent. Do I make myself clear?"

"Yes, Sir—!"

Katze merged onto the strip leading up to Eos' gates, having driven from Apathia to their destination at higher than legal speeds. He was thoroughly creeped out by Riki's behaviour and the blue ball of light that had "spoken" to the mongrel. "Damn," he cursed, his call to the Blondie's wrist comm was again denied.

"You can't get through?" Riki growled in agitation, worried that Iason was somehow compromised and unable to answer.

The moment they passed through the gates and into the designated parking spot, Riki jumped out of the car despite Katze's protests and moved swiftly through the security doors, barely giving the machines any time to identify him. He nearly let the doors close on the redhead as he hurried into the lift that would take them to the penthouse.

"You need to calm down," Katze demanded, straightening out his coat. "I am worried too, all right? But we can't get—"

Both of the individuals went silent as the lift revealed a level ahead of them that was busy with clean up robots. Each one appeared to be cleaning up glass or repairing a broken window. Then the lift window disappeared as it went to the next level.

"Do you believe me now?" Riki whispered.

"Sit up slowly," Raoul instructed, offering support to the fellow Blondie as he moved into a sitting position. "Do you feel anything malfunctioning or offline?"

Jupiter continued to analyze Iason's internal data, but was unable to find anything that would show signs of him failing. "Negative for errors."

"I am fine," Iason assured, closing the cover that protected his insides and grabbing the piece of skin for his chest. "I feel nothing wrong." He lined up the synthetic flesh and observed as it joined to its outline and absorbed together again. "Has there been any communication from the Eos police on who took Luci?"

"The police reported that they pursued the craft, but it vanished shortly after and they were unable to locate it," Jupiter answered, rising up while vibrating a higher frequency of agitation.

Iason scowled, getting to his feet and collecting his belongings. His eyes halted upon his wrist comm that showed Katze had tried to contact him, meaning that somehow word had gotten to him already of the event. "I must go," he declared, heading for the door.

Raoul was hot on his tail, trying to stop him as he exited Jupiter's chambers. "You are not well, Iason," he insisted. "What if you have a virus within you that is subtly terminating all of your functions?"

"I would be able to detect differences and I do not."

"Iason, you really should allow Jupiter to reset your systems," Raoul continued. "To ensure that there is nothing abnormal."

Iason exited the lift that took him from Jupiter's chambers to the normal Eos levels. Truth be told he feared being reset by Jupiter, because the AI could reprogram him and his feelings toward Riki were at risk of changing. "Absolutely not," he denied. "Now if you'll excuse me I need to pay a visit to Orphe and Gideon."

"Iason you really—!"

"Iason!"

The blue eyed Blondie turned to see both his pet and his right hand man coming towards him. It became apparent both were rather on edge with fear. "Riki," he breathed, then nodded to Katze. "Katze, I just received your calls."

Riki moved to the blonde, looking him up and down for injury. "Were you hurt?" he questioned, not surprised to be caught within a hug. He felt a warmth in the Blondie's chest that resonated through his body and instantly calmed him.

"I am fine, love," Iason whispered only to the mongrel. "How did you know I was in an accident?"

"I saw Luci's energy ball," he answered. "When I touched it, I saw broken glass and you falling backward." He took a deep breath, allowing his nerves to indulge in the calmness of being close to Iason. "Where is she?"

"An energy ball?" Raoul spoke up, interrupting the reunification of the two. "What kind? What colour?"

"Blue," Katze returned. "It was a blue ball with wispy outsides. I got shocked when I touched it, but he didn't."

"Where's Luci?" Riki demanded to Iason, now growing concerned again.

"She was taken by someone."

Riki's heart dropped. "No. No, no, no...Not again..." he shakily protested.

"I am on my way to talk to Orphe and Gideon to see if they know anything," Iason soothed, giving the trembling mongrel a hug. "Katze, get in contact with your men and see if anyone saw anything useful." He pushed back to look down at Riki. "I want you to go to the penthouse and stay in the bedroom, all right? I am going to have security guard our premise."

"You think they're after me too because I'm her parent?" Riki questioned.

"Possibly, and I will not risk it," Iason declared. "As soon as we get her back I am having new security reinforcement installed and recommended for Eos." He leaned in and whispered only to Riki. "I want you both safely with me."

 

Riki towelled himself off while heading back into the bedroom. He felt that familiar gut knotting fear that he had experienced too recently with Luci being kidnapped. The nightmare of Luci drowning crept back into his mind, making him feel nauseous.

His head turned and he nearly dropped the towel covering him as the door opened. But he was relieved to see it was Iason. "Well, where is she?" he questioned.

"Riki," Iason gently began, closing the gap between them and wrapping his arms around the warm mongrel. "There is no sign of her."

"How?" Riki squeaked, trying to get out of the embrace. "How could no one have seen them take her? I thought the police chased them!"

Iason caught his mongrel, gently snagging his lips in a kiss. "Eos police did pursue them, but they disappeared with a cloaking technology." He tightened his hold on the now shaking mongrel. "Katze did get a hold with a few of his contacts, and one said there was another ship that went after them before it too disappeared."

"What...what if that was just another one of them?" Riki sobbed, gripping onto the Blondie. "I t-thought this wasn't going to happen again? I...I can't..."

The Blondie lifted Riki up, gently taking him to the bed. He simply wrapped his arms around his crying beloved, soothing him with gentle caresses and kisses. "I am so sorry, Riki," he softly apologized. He couldn't even bring himself to tell Riki about the state Luci was in when she was captured. There was that chance that she was dead, because she had taken critical damage with impact from the hook. "I am so sorry, love. This should have not happened."

"I didn't mean it," Riki choked.

"Mean what, love?"

"I...I said that--she fell from the sky," he reminded. "And that s...she could disappear just as easy."

"Oh Riki," Iason breathed, softly rubbing the trembling tanned back.

"I didn't mean it."

Iason kissed Riki's forehead. "Of course you didn't, love. No one could have predicted this, we all thought everything was OK."

Riki inhaled a shaky breath. "It'll...n...never be OK," he concluded.

The Blondie felt an odd tightness in his chest, his mongrel's mixed emotions taking a great toll on him. He felt especially sad that Riki believed nothing would be OK while with him. Iason closed his eyes, praying to whatever powerful force was out there that a miracle would occur and Luci would return and balance would be restored.

"Anything?"

"No, there is no more information," Katze concluded. "I've checked all of the footage, had specialists look it over, talked to all my contacts in the area and no one has any more information." He exhaled his cigarette. "I am sorry, Iason."

"Do not apologize to me, Katze," Iason returned. "You have not failed me in any way."

"Yes, Master." Katze looked into Iason's tired eyes, and just had to ask. "How's he doing?"

Iason just shook his head. "We will be in touch," he concluded, then exited the video call and leaned back while pinching the bridge of his nose.

It had been two days since Luci had gone missing without a trace. The trail appeared to be ice cold, no hints at all were left for anyone to follow. Riki had been unresponsive to say the least. He wasn't eating, could barely sleep and didn't leave the penthouse.

The Blondie sighed, rising up to his feet and heading into the bedroom to change into his clothing for the Syndicate meeting. He had a lot to say this meeting, as he blamed Orphe for being too focused on the personnel within the facility instead of improving the exterior. Eos needed drastic change to keep up with the attacks of the unknown enemy.

Cal peeked out of the kitchen, seeing Riki once again on the sofa with the telescreen playing but he was not interested. He silently moved across the floor and placed a tray of Riki's favourite snacks in front of him on the coffee table. "Please help yourself, if you feel hungry," he invited softly, then turned to go back.

Riki didn't even bat an eye at Cal, or the tray, his gaze pinned to the ceiling. He recalled the one time Luci had crawled up next to him on the couch and they'd both fell asleep and his chest tightened.

He was finally understanding that even though he wasn't fond of children, that once someone had a child it changed them. He hadn't even known her very long, but they had connected. He had finally accepted that she was his child, even if she was an accident.

And now that she was missing this time there was no way to get her back. She was missing without a trace. And she might not ever come back. That made his chest squeeze painfully, and he rolled over into the couch in case his sorrow decided to make an appearance.

Iason exited the room, sighing internally as there had been a heated argument on the security of Eos and the cause of all of the trouble. He had had to defend Luci repeatedly, reminding his brothers that if she had not informed them of this plot against Amoï they would have been taken by surprise.

"How are you feeling?" Raoul inquired, catching up to the fellow Blondie.

"I am fine," Iason assured, though his mind was still cluttered with finding leads on Luci and helping Riki recover if they didn't find her.

"You're tired," the green eyed Blondie noted. "Are your energy levels running low?" That was a major concern for him.

"No, Raoul, they are running at full capacity," Iason denied.

Raoul nodded. "Then it's your mongrel causing you to be this way," he predicted. "How is he?"

Iason looked to his friend. "Dare I say you care about his well being?"

"Nonsense, I just detest seeing you so effected by him," Raoul dismissed. "Might I suggest a dosage of Derfinite?"

"Do you think that would help him?"

"It might help his mind process the shock and grieving better," Raoul confirmed. "There are no side effects, so it wouldn't hurt."

Iason nodded. "I suppose so," he agreed. "Do you have any or should I order it?"

Raoul gave Iason's shoulder a soft caress. "I will get some today after I take care of a few errands," he decided.

"Thank you, Raoul."

"Anything for you, my friend," Raoul gently returned, then headed off down the corridor.

Riki sat up as Iason came into the room, having spent most of his day in his office. "Hey," he softly called.

Iason nodded, and moved forward before seating himself down next to his beloved. "I am home," he quietly reminded his pet, then leaned in for a kiss. He grimaced internally as he tasted salt from the young man's lips, which meant he had been crying again. "Did you eat anything?"

"A bit," Riki answered, and leaned into the Blondie for some comfort as he was emotionally drained. "I'm not really hungry."

"Would you like me to order in some food for you?" the Blondie suggested. "I can order any of your favourites."

"I don't want anything."

Iason pulled open his wrist comm and typed a few things in, before scrolling through a list. He debated what would be appropriate for his mongrel and settled for something that perhaps would be familiar for him. "You should eat something," he insisted gently, giving the dark hair a soft caress.

Deciding to divert the attention of his mongrel elsewhere, he glanced at the telescreen and reached for the remote.

"Here." Iason gently pulled Riki closer, amazed that he didn't protest when he wrapped his arm around him. "Why don't we watch something?"

"There's nothing on."

"There must be something," the Blondie replied, flicking through the guide and settled on a brand new movie with an action and comedy theme. "Let's watch this."

Cal entered the room, bringing a soft colourful knit blanket and a glass of wine for Iason. "Here you are, Master."

"I've ordered food, so be prepared for it to arrive soon."

"Yes, Master."

Iason covered himself and Riki up with the blanket and sipped his wine as the show began. He felt an immense wave of pleasure as Riki let a soft chuckle out during one of the comedic scenes.

Soon the food arrived, interrupting the movie but Iason paused it as Cal brought it forth and placed it on the table in front of them.

Riki sniffed the air, then pinpointed the familiar smell of seasoned chips, marinated meat and a side of slaw sitting in a box next to three stout bottles. "Why?" he quietly asked. Why had Iason ordered bar food that he usually would've indulged in if he was alone and brooding in Ceres.

"Because I cannot give you all of the comfort you need," Iason returned gently, bringing the table closer so Riki wouldn't have to reach. "Even if this helps a little, I will be satisfied."

Touched that Iason would go to such lengths just to make him feel a bit more comforted by foods he knew, he accepted a chip that was offered to him by the Blondie. "Thank you," he whispered, glad that the dimly lit room his his blushing as he gave a soft kiss to Iason's fingers.

"You are very welcome, love," Iason replied, then brought the box of food closer so Riki could feed himself. He opened a bottle of stout and brought that over to Riki as well, pleased when Riki nibbled on the food slowly and took a few sips.

By the time the show was finished, Riki was sleeping peacefully while curled up in Iason's lap. He was exceptionally content with the fact that Riki had eaten half of the food basket and had
drank one bottle of stout.

He carefully lifted Riki up into his arms, then moved to the bedroom and put him into the bed. When he was undressed, the Blondie slipped in next to his mongrel and held him close. "Good night, my love," he whispered, planting a kiss on the tanned forehead and smiling as Riki mumbled a protest in his sleep.

Raoul grumbled under his breath, slamming his door and then taking off abruptly after meeting with one of his contacts. They had gotten into an argument about the most effective method to manipulate the DNA of a Pytherian so it maintained its natural paleness.

"Ignorant fool," he hissed under his breath, then turned the corner. "Oh for the love of Jupiter." He came to a halt as the street he was going to go on was completely barricaded off as an accident had occurred. He clicked his tongue and backed up, deciding to head down the highway strip and go another route.

He relaxed as he started cruising down the familiar road, first maintaining his high altitude then descended lower so he could merge onto the adjoining road.

Without warning, a blur of brown and white streaked out in front of him. He slammed hard on the brakes, but the creature made contact with the front of his vehicle.

"What on Amoï was that?" Raoul breathed, taken back by the figure that had popped out in front of him out of absolute nowhere. He opened his car door and stepped out to investigate, the lights illuminating the area in front of him. "Damn." He examined the dent in the front of his car, then glanced over and expected something to be lying dead in the road.

There was a trail of blood leading off the road, and before he could make out what he had hit it jumped off and into the bay beside the road.

"Wait!" Raoul protested, jogging over and peering over the ledge but could not make out anything other than the ripples of the water. "Blast it all!" He turned back and moved to his vehicle, scowling at the blood trail and then the dent in his car and sighed. "Just what I needed..."

Iason awoke early, pleased to see Riki still asleep after he had had not nearly enough a few days prior. He silently removed himself from the bed, and changed before exiting, not wanting to disturb the mongrel's slumber.

A chime in his wrist comm informed him that Raoul had gotten the Defrinite. Iason debated refusing the drug, but then thought it would be wise to have just in case.

He moved through his home, then to the lift to Raoul's level. When he knocked at the door he was surprised to find the Blondie himself and not a Furniture.

"Come in," Raoul invited with a small wave. "Would you like a drink?"

"No, thank you. Where is your Furniture?"

"I need to hire another," he confessed, waving his hand in dismissal of the topic. "I picked up two packs of Defrinite, just in case he took a turn for the worst or was immune."

Iason nodded, surprised that Raoul would go to such lengths. "Thank you."

"Here you are," Raoul announced, handing them off before his wrist comm beeped with a call. "Pardon me."

"Go ahead."

Raoul answered the call, then began talking about damage done. Iason released that the call was from a vehicle repair shop and raised an eyebrow.

"Very good, yes," Raoul agreed. "Good day to you as well."

"Car troubles?" Iason inquired, curious as to what had happened.

Raoul sighed. "You would not believe this," he grumbled. "I was heading down the old perimeter to avoid an accident and I hit something!"

"What did you hit?"

"That's the problem! I don't know," Raoul scowled. "It came out of nowhere, literally out of thin air and then bang!" He shuffled through papers on his desk. "Whatever I hit went flying onto the road in front of me, crawled away and jumped into the water."

Iason frowned. "Odd," he noted, shifting his stance. "There are not many animals on Amoï which would be near the roads."

"Precisely what I thought too," Raoul agreed. "But I have to hit the single damn one that decided to make an appearance."

"That's too bad," Iason commented, then decided to head back in case Riki was awake. "I hope you get your matters sorted out. Thank you again for this."

"Thank you, and it's no trouble," Raoul returned. "I hope your day is better than mine is now."

Iason returned to the penthouse, and instructed Cal to place the medicine within the locked cabinet. He then went to go check on Riki, who had just woken up.

"Hey," the mongrel softly greeted, rolling over. "You were gone?"

"Just to meet Raoul," Iason answered, sitting on the bed. "How do you feel today?"

"Tired."

"You should try to eat some more today, to get back your strength," Iason recommended.

Riki nodded. "Yeah, I know," he sighed. "It's just tough. Knowing she's gone."

Iason reached out to gently touch the mongrel's face. "I'm here for you," he reminded.

"I know," Riki exhaled. "I know. It's just —"

A sudden scream of terror from Cal in the living room sent both of them up to their feet and hurrying to the hallway.

"What is the matter?" Iason demanded, annoyed that his moment with his mongrel was ruined.

Cal couldn't speak as he was too stunned, but just continued to point at the balcony window.

Riki's eyes darted to the balcony and he nearly fell forward with relief as a tiny figure stood on the other side of the glass looking in. "Luci!" he cried out.

Chapter Text

CHAPTER TWENTY SIX

THREE WORDS & A NEW BEGINNING

"Luci!" Riki cried, hurrying across the room before Iason could stop him. He slammed his hand on the control panel and removed the glass divide between him and his child. "Thank Jupiter!" He scooped her up in a hug and squeezed her tightly, embarrassed that he was actually tearing up. "I...I thought you were..."

"Papa, it is OK now," Luci soothed, returning a gentle hug. "I am fine. I am home." She looked to Iason who was moving up to them across the room. "I apologize for pushing you, Master Mink."

"Do not apologize for that," Iason answered, giving her a gently touch to her face. "I am glad you've returned alive."

"Why are you calling him Master?" Riki hissed, giving her an angry shake. "Don't do that!"

"My apologies."

"Riki, don't be rough with her!" Iason scolded, then decided to address the real question on everyone's mind. "How did you get onto the balcony?"

"I climbed!" she beamed, her teeth glinting in the light.

Riki's mouth dropped open. "Y....You climbed up to the balcony? How? How is that possible!" He turned to look at Iason. "Is that possible?!"

"It is for me!" Luci squeaked, hopping down from Riki's hug. "I am a very capable child."

"Most children do not scale the side of Eos to reach my balcony," Iason reminded. "You will have to explain to me in detail as to how you managed that."

"Gladly," she nodded. "But first, may I please have a glass of water? I am rather parched. Sunlight just steals all my energy."

"Why are you speaking so formally?"

Luci grimaced. "I hit my head, so it is hard for me to remember certain things. One being casual Amoï." She looked to Iason. "Please be gentle with me if I am confused about anything."

"That is no problem," Iason soothed. "Considering the extent of your injuries, I am surprised that that is the only consequence."

"Extent?" Riki grumbled. "How bad was she?"

"Alliance bandaged me," Luci explained, lifting up her olive green shirt. "And my throat was fixed too! So no more stuttering!"

"I see." Iason frowned, but accepted the situation. Luci was back alive, which he believed to be impossible, but Alliance had done it. "You must be tired, so let us get some food and drink into you. I just discussed security with the Syndicate and changes will be made immediately. Your safety has risen many concerns about Eos, and we are working to improve it."

"You've failed," Uncle growled. "Not only did you lose the child you also lost the parent."

"Please, Sir, have mercy!"

"Please forgive us!"

"Silence!" Uncle demanded over the microphone, then turned to look at the guards behind the guilty men. "Dispose of them."

"No please!"

"Sir, please! No, no, NO!"

Uncle sighed, clicking off the screen and then tapping some keys and deleted the men's profiles from the computer system. "Useless fools."

"Uncle, I have the list from AR-001F as you requested," the small silver haired, and pale skinned female announced.

"Ah, yes, very good," Uncle smiled, then patted his lap. "Come, my sweet niece."

The child climbed up onto his lap, snuggling into his hold as he patted her softly with his free hand. "Uncle?"

"Yes, my darling Mari?" he answered, his robotic hand typing fast.

"Am I a perfect child?" she meekly inquired.

Uncle paused. "Yes, of course my sweetheart," he assured. "Why do you ask me such a thing?"

"Are Luci and Lucifer perfect children?"

"No."

"But they're my half—"

Uncle slammed his fist down. "Do not compare those horrid creatures to yourself!" he yelled, frightening the child. He sighed as he realized he had scared her, and held her up gently in his arms. "You were the only child pulled from the womb who was perfect. You are my brother's child and we share blood, that is something they do not share with us."

"OK, Uncle," Mari whispered, leaning into him as he gave her a loving squeeze. "I'm sorry I made you mad."

"No, my dear, I am sorry I scared you," Uncle returned, kissing her forehead. "Will you stay with me for awhile while I do a few clean up tasks?"

"Mhmm," she agreed, hugging onto his free arm tightly. "I love you, Uncle."

"I'm gonna shower," Riki told Luci who was settled on the couch. "I'll be right back, OK?"

"OK, Papa." Luci watched as he went down the hallway and turned into the bedroom. She sensed a presence behind her and turned to Iason. "Hello, Master Mink."

Iason came to a graceful halt. "Please call me Iason or Fyophara as you did before," he kindly asked, knowing if she called him Master in front of Riki there would be tension.

"As you wish."

"I would like to bring you to Raoul and have him examine you so a report can be sent to Jupiter," he revealed.

"Yes, I believe that would be for the best," Luci agreed, rising up from her spot. "I do not wish for conflict between Jupiter and I. In fact, I do not wish for conflict between anyone in Eos and myself. I would like to aid them in anyway necessary."

Iason blinked, approving of the child's obedience. "That is very good of you," he praised, then offered his hand. "Let us go then."

"Very well, Fyophara-Jyrin," Luci agreed, accepting his hand up and then heading to the door.

"What was that last part?"

"Pardon?" Luci inquired, moving backward to the door still.

Iason moved swiftly after her. "You called me Fyophara but what was that last addition? Girin?"

"Jyrin," Luci answered, finally reaching the door to the lift. "It is a very polite and honorific filled way to address a male parental figure."

"You don't need to add that. Fyophara is already very polite," Iason assured, entering in the code for their decent.

Luci looked up at him and shook her head. "My apologies, Fyophara-Jyrin, but I refuse to address you in any less of a respectful way."

"Iason," Raoul greeted, his face betraying him by showing his concern and stress. His eyes then drifted to the small child next to his friend. "I see you've returned unscathed, mutant mongrel." His gaze returned to Iason. "Did she say what she did to you?"

"That is not the reason of this visit, Raoul and no I have not inquired about that yet," he denied. "I did not see it as an issue, as I am still functioning perfectly. But she needs to be examined so an updated report can go to Jupiter."

Raoul exhaled. "Even if I had time, do you know how much strain Jupiter is under? She has been analyzing your internal data and apparently cannot make sense of it! Orphe went to see her and he said he had never seen her so agitated."

"That is because Neptune is the opposite of Jupiter," Luci yawned, her teeth glinting.

"I beg your pardon?" Raoul frowned.

"Neptune is the opposite of Jupiter," she repeated, the end of her sentence dying out in a yawn. "I should have taken a nap before we came here."

Iason lifted the tired child up. "What do you mean it is the opposite?" he gently asked.

"The scientists," she yawned again, behind her hand. "Engineered the artificial intelligence to be the opposite of Jupiter's data. It is a whole other computer language, that is why it does not understand."

Raoul listened, feeling horrified that another artificial intelligence was capable of stumping Jupiter. "I do not have much time, Iason, I am busy preparing for the—"

"Galactic Science Trades Convention?"

Raoul paused. "How did you know about that?"

"I am quite interested in science topics," Luci admitted. "I was investigating the—" She yawned widely again, showing her teeth. "attendees because I wanted a copy of the report when it came into print."

"Why didn't you tell me you enjoyed scientific literature?" Iason questioned. "I would have been more than willing to purchase you some literature."

"Really?" Luci inquired sleepily, her eyes almost shut. "Thank you, Fyophara-Jyrin." She looked to Raoul. "If you ever need help, Master Am, I would be more than happy to assist you...you—"

"Luci?" Iason softly called, then adjusted his hold on the child. "Will you give her a quick physical to ensure there is no extensive damage that needs to be tended to? As a favour for me, Raoul."

Raoul exhaled. "Very well, I have a moment now so I will give her a quick examination."

Riki tossed his towel into the hamper, then padded out into the hallway and then the living space. "Luci?" he called, frowning as he didn't see the child. "Iason?"

Cal entered into the living space, having just cleaned Luci's bedroom. "Ah, they went to see Lord Am, Master Riki."

"Don't call me Master, Cal," Riki grumbled. "And where were they meeting him?"

"I do not know, Sir Riki," Cal answered, adjusting his hold on the linens. "They should be back shortly."

Riki mumbled a curse under his breath, and headed toward the door. He was just at the lift doors when they opened to reveal Iason holding the mongrel's sleeping child. "You left," he started.

"Shh, she's sleeping," Iason gently shushed him, letting him see that Luci was sleeping. "I just wanted to ensure her wounds were not ones that required extended care."

"Oh," Riki sounded, instantly changing his attitude. "Is she OK?"

"Yes," Iason softly answered him, carrying Luci toward her bedroom. "She fell asleep from exhaustion."

Riki nodded, watching as Iason carried her to the bedroom and put her to bed. He was surprised, seeing him tuck her under the covers in such a gentle fashion. Even though he didn't want to admit it, Iason had definitely changed. He was much kinder than when they had first met. Perhaps he himself was still being too harsh to Iason?

"Come," Iason whispered, gently embracing Riki from the side and guiding him out into the hallway. He inhaled the scent of his mongrel and felt himself hardening. "I want you."

Riki leaned into him. "Do it," he admitted, surprising Iason and himself. He pushed against the Blondie. "I need it rough. Now."

Iason slid into his beloved's entrance, sliding his hand up the tanned thigh and planting a kiss on the skin. "Why are you hiding?" he whispered, his voice husky.

Riki moved his arm from his face, his face contorting with lust and need. He felt a compelling attraction that was vibrating within his core. "It's just..."

"Just?" Iason breathed, leaning into his mongrel and causing him to moan. He wrapped his arms around Riki and pulled him up into his lap. "What's wrong, love?"

"Hard, do it hard," Riki pleaded, needing to go to the thoughtless place that a hard fuck would send him. "Please."

"Riki?" Iason whispered, brushing the black hair from his face and looking into the averted, glistening eyes. "Oh, Riki. Why are you sad?"

Riki shook his head. "I'm not," he denied. "I'm...I'm confused. It feels...different."

"Different?"

"Yeah, it's weird..." Riki answered, then wrapped his arms around the Blondie. "Please, do it. I need..." His pride rebelled against his thoughts, refusing to continue.

Iason gave a thrust upward, gently kissing his mongrel's nape. "I understand," he whispered. "I give myself to you, Riki."

Riki paused, pushing back and looking at him confused. "You give yourself?" he repeated.

"Riki," Iason whispered. "I love you."

The mongrel froze, staring at the Blondie's face to see if he could discern if he was lying or joking. "You what?"

"I love you, Riki," he repeated, gently kissing the tanned collarbone and caressing his muscular back.

"No," Riki denied, pushing back against him. "Y...You don't mean..."

Iason gently grasped onto the mongrel's face and silenced him with a kiss. "I have never been more serious in my life, Riki." He stroked under his dark eyes with his thumb. "I truly do love you."

Riki felt tears welling up in his eyes. "You've hurt me...for so long," he reminded softly.

"I know," Iason agreed, softly rubbing the mongrel's shoulders and arms. "Since Luci arrived, I began to realize how I had hurt you." He looked into Riki's eyes. "I can never change what I have done, but I can promise I will never hurt you again. I am sorry for my mistakes, Riki." He paused, feeling as if a gate had opened and he finally was able to connect with his mongrel. "Will you forgive me?"

Riki looked away, pushing back from Iason for a long moment silently. Finally he gave up and leaned his head against the strong, pale chest. "I need time," he whispered.

Iason felt his chest tighten painfully at the rejection of the mongrel. He let go of Riki, but the mongrel held onto him still and they were still connected.

"But I love you too," Riki whispered, so softly it was almost a breath of air that left his lips.

"Pardon?" Iason inquired gently, watching as Riki became embarrassed and averted his gaze. "Riki, what did you say? Please tell me."

"I...I...love....you too," he stammered, feeling utterly embarrassed and ashamed he had these feelings for his captor.

"Oh, Riki," Iason breathed, gently wrapping his arms around his beloved. "Thank you...thank you."

"You're squishing me," Riki protested, but secretly was thoroughly pleased with Iason's confession and apology. He had never dreamed of this day occurring. When Iason let up on his hold, he softly pushed back and looked at the Blondie. "Y...your eyes!"

"What?" Iason reached up and touched his eyes, stunned to find moisture. "Tears?"

Riki gently touched the pale cheeks. "You're crying...you've never cried before," he murmured. "Are you even able to cry?"

"It appears so."

"Shit, why are you crying?" Riki demanded, swiping at his own eyes.

Iason caught his hand. "The same reason you are," he replied.

"Oh yeah? And why is that that?"

The Blondie planted a soft kiss on the mongrel's lips. "It is because we finally admitted our feelings," he revealed.

Riki snorted. "Yeah, right! Maybe I had dirt in my eyes?"

Iason laughed. "I would have seen it, but all I saw in your eyes was tears because you love me," he contradicted.

"Stop saying that!"

"Saying what?"

"That word! Stop!"

"I will tell you as many times as it takes for you to feel comfortable hearing it," Iason promised.

"No...please that will drive me insane," Riki grumbled. "You don't just spew that crap!"

"It's not crap!" Iason gave Riki's rump a slap and then massaged the flesh. "Now I plan on showing you how much I truly mean what I said."

Chapter Text

CHAPTER TWENTY SEVEN

RAOUL'S ISSUE

Riki exhaled tiredly, his body covered in sweat and kiss marks. He felt Iason caress his back and let out a muffled protest. "No...more, I'm empty..." he huffed.

Iason let out a soft chuckle. "Shh, just rest," the Blondie whispered, hugging him softly.

"Luci might...be awake," Riki remembered, but his tired body wouldn't allow him to react properly and all he could do was clench and unclench his hands.

"Cal wouldn't let her in here," Iason assured, kissing the mongrel's nape. "Sleep, my love."

Riki mumbled something, then nuzzled further into the pillow with a sigh before he nodded off. Iason held him gently, finding peace and renewal in being so close to his precious mongrel. He felt a warmth inside him that demanded closeness with Riki, as if they needed each other to survive.

After sometime, Iason slipped away from the perfect moment. He had a meeting and office work to attend to, and wanted to check on Luci before he went. Silently, he went into the bathroom and showered and dressed before leaving his beloved to sleep.

He moved down the hallway to the guest room where Luci was staying. The door opened upon his signature being registered by the ID system built into the frame. Without missing a beat, he halted as he saw the child still fast asleep, curled up in the blankets and pillows which were positioned like a nest around her.

Iason wondered for a brief moment if Luci was human or perhaps part animal, as he noticed a layout of the blankets being a characteristic of a species of wild cats he had once read about. Something to look into, he decided, before nodding in satisfaction at the sight and heading off to work.

Riki slowly opened his eyes, his body felt tired, but his heart felt lighter. He laid there for a moment, recalling Iason's words and his gentle love making that had pushed him to limits that were different than anything he'd experienced.

His eyes wandered to the window, and he sat up as he noticed it was already later in the afternoon.
"Shit!" he cursed, hurrying to the bathroom while groaning in pain.

After a few attempts, he managed to make himself decent and exited the bedroom to find Luci sitting at the end of the hallway.

"H-Hey, kiddo," Riki laughed nervously, hoping she couldn't tell what Iason and him had spent the rest of the morning doing.

Luci looked up at him, her eyes darker than their usual chocolate brown. Her nose crinkled in disgust. "I can smell that you have mated," she grumbled, rising up and letting out a sneeze before moving away to the balcony. "Bleh."

Riki's eyes widened, and he felt like he was sinking into the floor with embarrassment. "W-What are you talking about?"

The child's eyes narrowed. "Do not play dumb, it does not suit you, I can smell that you mated with Lord Mink," she answered, pushing open the door of the balcony. "Please go air out on the balcony before I start heaving. Do not get me wrong, I do not disapprove of your relationship, but I dislike the lingering scent of sex."

Riki slowly moved to the balcony, grabbing a pack of cigarettes on the way out. Luci closed the door behind him, crossing her arms and waving at him to go and smoke in the afternoon air.

"I do not hate you!" Luci yelled through the glass, cupping her hands around her face. "Just your current scent."

"What a weirdo," Riki mumbled, lighting up a cigarette and hopping onto his lounging spoke on the ledge.

He found himself relaxing after a few moments, his embarrassment growing less as the minutes passed. He let out a large sigh, wondering if last night really did happen or if he imagine it all. But part of him knew it was real, and felt nothing but anxiousness to be with Iason again.

Guy set his drink down onto the table and leaned back. He closed his eyes and sighed, the noise audible as the bars music cut up just then.

"C'mon, Guy," Sid spoke up. "You need to let it go. Riki isn't coming back, he made his decision."

"I know that!" Guy yelled, nearly tipping his drink as he lunged forward into the table. "I know damn well what choice he made, but how can we just let our leader go to a life like that?"

"It was Riki's choice, Guy!" Luke insisted. "He made it and now we have to deal with it."

"Pardon me," a man interrupted, causing the tense group to look up.

"Who the fuck are you?" Guy snarled.

The man dressed in a grey suited uniform with a foreign badge on the breast pocket smiled. "Call me Harris," he answered. "I'm hoping you can confirm something for me." When no one told him to go on, he pulled out a tablet from his pocket that folded out. "Are you aquatinted with this young man?"

Guy's eyes narrowed, seeing a picture of Riki in jacket and jeans alongside a redhead he'd seen before. "Who's asking?" he challenged.

Riki finally came back in, having smoked the whole cigarette and taken in the rare sunlight during the rainy season. He paused as he heard a child singing from somewhere.

"You did not break me~" Luci sang, her voice reverberating off the walls. "I'm still fighting for peace~"

The older mongrel moved toward the sound, looking at Cal on the way there. "Is that her singing?"

"Yes," he answered, holding a delicate platter that he was drying by hand. "She has a very lovely voice despite being young."

"Well, I've got thick skin and an elastic heart,
But your blade—it might be too sharp~"

"Yeah, she does," Riki agreed, moving closer to the spare bedroom which was now hers.

"I'm like a rubber band until you pull too hard,
Yeah, I may snap and I move fast
But you won't see me fall apart~"

Riki paused outside her door which was ajar, it opened fully as he entered to show Luci standing at her mirror and braiding her hair.

"'Cause I've got an elastic heart...~" Luci caught a glance of Riki in the doorway as she finished tying the braid closed. "Oh, apologies. Was I too loud?"

"No, it's fine," Riki assured. "Where did you learn to sing from?"

Luci shrugged. "I believe it is in my nature," she answered. "I enjoy it very much."

"You're good at it."

"Thank you."

"What song were you singing?" Riki inquired. "I've never heard it before."

"It's a Past Earth song," Luci returned, placing her braid strand over her left shoulder to examine the ends. "I stole a data driver once, and found a large collection of illegal files of music, literature and videos upon it." She reached under her bed, causing a fabric scuffling sound and pulled out a small chip insert device. "Here, if you would like to check them out."

"Where did you get it though?" Riki demanded, analyzing the metallic chip in his hands. "And when?"

"That is for me to know and you to not find out," Luci answered, sticking out her tongue. "Be gentle with it."

Riki pocketed the chip, curiosity getting the better of him. "Do you want to go out to the Garden for a walk?"

"That sounds splendid," Luci smiled, following behind the older mongrel.

Raoul flipped through screen after screen of research, hoping to find a concrete solution to his dilemma. He needed to confirm that the implanting of Carvoxinite into his Nujixin hybrid would not cause harm. Carvoxinite was the only chemical he could think of when he decided to alter his creation just a bit more for the convention.

If his Nujixin males had blue eyes instead of the usual green eyes, he would be given an even stronger standing reputation as no one has successfully altered that species eyes. The young half human, half animal creations were from already from a nearly extinct bloodline, but creating an even rarer specimen would make him the talk of the convention.

However, if by some off chance Carvoxinite failed or caused damage, he would not only be at a loss for ruining a rare species, but his reputation would be at risk.

"Blast it all," he muttered under his breath, not finding any sure answer to if the chemical would aid or destroy his task.

Not that he would ever let many people know, but he was worried about his current standing in Eos. Jupiter seemed to be displeased by him, he could not discern how his seeds were grown in another location, he could not find anything about the mutant mongrel and now there was no clear answer as to if he was making a mistake or breakthrough.

Raoul took a step back, taking a seat in his office chair and resting his head in his hands. He needed someone who he could trust and discuss these matters with, but it was a lonely world for the Blondie with the burden of experimentation and demand for knowledge in morbid fields of study.

"So what exactly do you do when you leave Eos to work?" Luci asked, strolling beside the older mongrel.

Riki shrugged. "Whatever they need me to do in the warehouse," he answered.

Luci nodded. "I see."

"What happened to you exactly?" Riki questioned, pausing in front of a big tree. "Iason's being kinda dodgey on the subject, but I know you were hurt."

"I was speared by one of the enemies' ships," Luci explained, hopping up onto the cement barrier around the tree and balancing on it as she walked. "But it was better myself, than Iason Mink."

Riki blinked. "So you saved him?"

"Of course I did," Luci sighed. "I would save anyone of the Elites and you."

"Why?"

Luci turned around and strolled back on the ledge. "I know you resent the Elites because of your position as pet," she acknowledged. "However, they are part Human too."

Riki gawked. "What? No they're not! They're...they're...."

"Riki," Luci laughed, grabbing onto his hands. "Their brains are natural. A Human brain within an exoskeleton body still sounds like the makings of a Human Being."

"But they're programmed...they don't have certain emotions," Riki protested, then remembered that Iason had literally cried when they had admitted their feelings.

"That is all hardwiring and learnt behaviour," Luci defended. "If they managed to break away from their inner circuits that signal certain behaviours to the brain, they would be Human." She tapped Riki's chest. "Right there, that's where the main circuits of a Blondie are. If it were broken, there would be no more limitations on their behaviour and emotions. Their roots would still be there, and they could still control themselves and continue their learned behaviours, but there would be room for them to grow."

"How?"

"They could learn to love, be happier, and experience many more emotions," she explained.

Iason pressed his gloved hand to his chest, feeling the warmth that had begun since his inner circuit had been removed and replaced. He wondered if Jupiter would replace his system? The Artificial Intelligence was far too focused on the data that had corrupted the system and trying to discern the new internal source to remove it. Iason wondered if perhaps Jupiter was afraid to attempt to remove it because it could damage him?

The Blondie paused, suddenly overtaken by disturbing thoughts. What if Jupiter reset him within a new body? Would he revert back to his old bitter self? "No," he mumbled under his breath, setting down his writing device. He would not put Riki through that again. He finally began to grasp the hurt he had caused the mongrel and wanted to make things right between them. If he had to revert back now...

"I cannot," he told himself aloud, shaking his head at his negative thoughts. He would never allow himself to do that. He would tell Raoul to end him before he was reset and say there was some fluke in the process.

Iason stepped into his home, handing off his coat to Cal who greeted him. He then spotted both of the mongrel's on the sofa watching a movie on the telescreen. Luci was on the right side of the couch and Riki was on the left. Odd, he thought, knowing he had seen them cuddled up on the couch before. Why was there distance now?

"I'm home, Riki," Iason announced, stepping forward into the living space. His head snapped to the screen as a woman's shrieking echoed off the surround sound speakers. "What on Amoï are you watching?"

Riki got up, knowing what the Blondie wanted. "It's a horror flick," he answered, then slipped up to Iason. "Welcome back."

Iason caught his lips in a slow kiss, pulling back as there was more screaming and then scenes of gore filled the screen. "Turn that off at once," he demanded. "What a horrid sight."

"What? Why?" Riki challenged, glancing back and cringing. "That's the point of a horror flick. It's not supposed to be pleasant."

"And what about her?" Iason challenged, pointing to the child who wasn't phased at all by the brutal scenes. "Do you honestly think this is suitable for children?"

Riki let out a snort. "She's the one that picked it!" he answered bitterly.

"Where did you get it?" the Blondie growled, knowing it wasn't a video that Riki could purchase upon the telescreen options. He picked up the remote and turned the screen off.

"Asshole," Riki hissed under his breath so Iason wouldn't hear it and plunked onto the sofa.

Iason examined the inputs for the telescreen and couldn't find the cause of the movie. "Well? How did you get that?" he asked rigidly.

Luci held up the chip that she removed from her tablet. "It is a movie on this data chip I stole from the facility," she answered. "It is an illegal flick from Past Earth."

The Blondie's eyes narrowed. "And where did you get that from?"

"I brought it with me."

"Give it here," Iason demanded, holding out his hand and coming closer.

Luci raised an eyebrow and without hesitation popped it into her mouth and swallowed. "Oops, I ate it."

"What the fuck?" Riki gawked. "Why....why would..."

Iason paused, a bit surprised by the action. "Luci, I asked you to give it to me," he menacingly reminded. "And you disobeyed me."

Riki knew where this was going. "Well it's no good now, unless you're going to cut her open and get it or wait for it to come out, it's gone."

"That is besides the point," Iason spat. "She still directly disobeyed my command."

The older mongrel bristled. "She's not a pet," he hissed venomously.

"No she is not, but she is a child of my pet and has to obey my orders!"

Riki's dark eyes held fury in them. "So I'm just a pet, huh?" he growled. "Even after all that bullshit you sprouted last night I'm still a fucking pet?"

Iason quickly backtracked mentally. "Riki, you will always be my pet as far as appearances go," he reminded. "But I see you as more than that. I believe I demonstrated that last night."

"What you just said not too long ago says otherwise," Riki answered, crossing his arms. "I should've known you aren't capable of changing." He turned away while shaking his head.

Within a matter of seconds, Iason had moved to Riki and grasped onto his wrist tightly. "Don't you dare walk away from me," he hissed lowly. "I am very capable of changing. Right now you're forcing me to change in a way I do not want to."

Riki laughed bitterly. "So it's not OK for me to force you to change in ways you don't want, but it is OK for you do that to—"

Iason raised his hand to slap Riki across the face, but he found he was suddenly to far away from him and his hand slid through air.

Luci stood in the space between the two of them. "You both need to calm down before you add anymore coal to your furnaces of regret." She tossed the chip at Iason. "There is your real chip." She then looked from Riki to Iason. "Your lover's quarrel is giving me a headache. You two need to seriously work out your problems."

"Might I remind you, you're the cause of this?" Iason pointed out.

"Yes, yes, I am deeply sorry for causing this commotion and you may punish me later," Luci nodded, then pointed to them both. "You two need to have a sit down and talk." She moved toward the balcony. "I will be outside. I need air because this whole room reeks of tension."

Iason and Riki watched as the child went outside and sat down on the balcony chair. The Blondie then turned to Riki, pointing to the sofa. "Sit down," he softly ordered.

Riki unhappily plunked down onto the sofa while Iason sat down in his chair adjacent to it. "You didn't have to freak out, we were just watching a video for fun."

"You put me in a bad position, Riki," Iason explained. "Jupiter would reprimand you and myself if she found out we had illegal objects within our home. She is currently under a lot of distress in regards to recent events, and we do not need to give her more reason to be upset with you or myself."

"I'm sorry," Riki grumbled.

Iason got up, and sat down next to his beloved. "Since the incident with Luci, my internal circuits have been changed."

Riki's head snapped up. "What?" His mind started to recall all that Luci had said earlier.

"Jupiter was unable to put in a new system, so my main drivers are all bring powered by an energy ball that Luci put into me."

"You're kidding..."

"No, love," Iason assured, gently stroking the tanned hand. "Jupiter was unable to remove it and couldn't make out what was powering me, so she is very distressed. I do not want her to become annoyed and then demand I be reset."

Riki's eyes widened and he jumped up. "No! You can't be reset!"

"Calm down, calm down," Iason soothed, bringing him back down and closer.

"Don't be reset," Riki pleaded. "What if you're different? What if you don't...like...remember me?"

Iason smiled. "I don't think I could forget you after a million mind wipes," he softly assured. "I'm trying to avoid being put into a position where I'm forced to be reset. So we can't cause anymore issues that will draw the attention of Jupiter. Do you understand now why I was upset?"

"Yeah," Riki nodded, leaning into the Blondie. "I didn't mean to cause trouble."

"It's all right, all is forgiven," Iason soothed, kissing Riki's forehead then rising up. "Now I must speak with Luci."

Riki caught Iason's hand. "Are you going to punish her?"

"I should," Iason hinted. "But I won't, because she gave me the data chip. However I will give her a warning."

"Thanks."

Iason turned to the balcony, but immediately paused as his eyes scanned the vacant area beyond the glass. "Where is Luci?"

Luci slipped through the vent of a lower level, grabbing her bag she had hidden on the balcony on the day of her return before she casually padded down a corridor. She decided that Riki and Iason needed space to talk without her being near.

She spotted a familiar Blondie moving down the corridor and decided to silently follow him. He didn't notice her until he was entering a lift and she slipped in next to him.

"What are you doing here?" Raoul demanded, his green eyes tired and stress filled.

"There is too much fighting in the penthouse," Luci sighed, adjusting her hold on her bag strap around her chest. "It was giving me a headache."

Raoul's gaze turned cold. "So you decided to follow me?" he demanded, rerouting the lift to another level. When it stopped he held it open and pointed. "Out with you."

Luci sighed. "You look stressed," she noted. "Are you struggling with something? Maybe I can help."

"I do not need help from a child," Raoul snarled. "Let alone a mutant mongrel."

"Fine," Luci sighed, slowly walking out. "Have fun destroying your Nujixin specimen." She wasn't surprised when she felt a hand yank her back into the lift and then hoist her up.

"How do you know about that?" Raoul hissed, furious that the child knew of one of his greatest
accomplishments and his struggles.

"You wouldnt believe me," Luci shrugged, glad her bag was insulated to protect the contents.

"I've had many events occur these past few weeks I would have never believed possible." Raoul pushed her into the wall. "Try me."

"Luci!" Riki yelled, looking all over the balcony and then storming back into the penthouse. "Where could she have gone?"

"Calm down, Riki," Iason chided. "She did climb up to our balcony, she could've easily climbed down."

"Where are you going?" Riki demanded, hurrying after the Blondie who was heading to his office.

Iason sat down and then turned his chair to his tracing system. "She should be wearing her tracer necklace, so I can locate her." He pulled up her coordinates and then blinked. "Why would she be there?"

Riki jumped over, trying to see where it pinpointed her. "Where is she?"

"She's with—" Iason was interrupted by his wrist comm, which he answered. "Raoul. I see you are with Luci."

"Yes, may I borrow her for a few hours to assist with a delicate issue I am having about my specimens for the Galactic Science Trades Convention?" he inquired to Iason. "She found me while you two were having a moment and informed of a few things that will benefit me greatly."

"No way!" Riki hissed to Iason, but was shushed by the Blondie.

Iason nodded. "Just have her escorted home so there is no further cause for worry."

"Yes, of course."

"I assume you know about the planet's time switch?" Luci inquired, staring at the Blondie across from her.

"Yes, I read about it in a report Iason gave to Jupiter," Raoul nodded. "What does that have to do with you knowing about my work?"

Luci lifted her bag up and set it down on the desk. "We went back several years on one of the planets," she explained. "But before that happened we saw events that were occurring across the galaxies. One of those events was the Galactic Science Trades Convention."

Raoul leaned back. "Go on."

"I've seen the consequences of adding Carvoxinite to your Nujixin specimen," she continued, pulling out a preserved paper book. "Your entire career goes into a downward spiral." She then pulled out a paper copy of a news article and set them both down. "You lose 26.8 million credits, and your reputation is scarred forever."

Raoul's systems paused as he read the news headline. "Praised Biological Engineer and Scientist Raoul Am Paralyzed By Disaster," he breathed. "The scientist and biological engineer Raoul Am of Eos on the planet Amoï experienced a disaster at the Galactic Science Trades Conventions as his display specimen were removed from the premises added experiencing a delayed reaction to Carvoxinite and became paralyzed and blind..." He looked up at Luci. "Is this real?"

Luci pushed the second book forward. "I am sorry, Lord Am. This is the reality that is coming."

The Blondie reached out and touched the plastic wrapped book. "This is..."

"The G.S.T Convention Report in the printed copy," she confirmed sadly. "There are not very good things said about you in it."

Raoul analyzed the book, finding all of the verified stamps and implants within the printed literature to prove its legitimacy along with the future date. He flipped it open and found the section on him, his insides ceasing as he saw photos of all of his Nujixin specimen looking deformed and their eyes glazed over with blindness. There was also a photo of him, wearing the outfit he had purchased for the event and appearing to be avoiding countless interviewers. "This is real..." he paused. "I have shown no one my convention display and I just bought my outfit this morning. The payment hasn't even been processed, there is no way you could have these photos or any of this literature."

Luci nodded. "It is real," she agreed. "And I would be amiss if I didn't aid a friend of Iason Mink when I know there is trouble on the horizon." She looked up at Raoul with sincerity. "Please, Master Am, I know I am unworthy but please trust me and let me help you."

Riki was practically vibrating with anger. "You just gave him permission to do whatever he wanted with her!"

"Riki," Iason sighed. "There is hardly anything he could do with her. There is nothing he can physically harm her with and she could easily overpower him if she was in a bad spot."

"I still don't trust him!"

"Master, dinner will be ready very soon," Cal informed, standing in the doorway.

"Very good," Iason nodded, then returned his attention to Riki. "She will be fine, Raoul would not dare do anything to her. Now come and eat, and no more arguing."

Riki ground his teeth together, knowing the last bit was said in such a way that Iason meant he'd be in serious shit if he fought anymore.

"This is against my better judgment," Raoul started. "But very well. I will listen to your solutions and decide if they will help me."

Luci smiled. "Thank you for your consideration, Master Am."

Raoul nodded at the respect. "Now how exactly do you propose I solve my issue?"

"Oh, I'm not going to propose anything," Luci answered, shuffling around in her bag. "You solved your issue." She set down another printed report. "Well the future you did. It was your come back after many years of struggling to redeem yourself."

Raoul picked up the book, flipping through it and then reading a few sections. "I create a chemical that can alter specimen in various ways depending what I combine it with..." He looked up to Luci. "Is that correct?"

Luci nodded. "Yes," she confirmed, pulling out a thin book. "These are all your chemical combinations and the reactions that each cause."

The Blondie skimmed through the list. "Add Everix with Polycai..." he murmured. "This is what changes the Nujixin's eyes safely?"

"Yes, but it takes you months to make Everix, because it needs a long period of time for all of the chemicals particles to bond properly."

Raoul stiffened. "Then how do I—"

Luci lifted a very well wrapped box out of her bag and unlocked the safety locks. Cold white mist escaped as she opened the box lid to reveal one large single sealed glass beaker of a blue liquid, and two smaller viles snuggly resting in protective black foam. "I stole some for you, well technically I'm returning what belongs to future you," she smiled. "26.8 million dollars will not be lost from your funds while you have this."

The Blondie stood up, found a pair of black rubber gloves and then picked up the beaker and moved it to a fridge unit. "Is this enough for all of them?"

"Yes, but I brought two small ones for you as well," she explained. "So you can duplicate the chemical after analyzing it's compounds and whatnot after the convention when people are practically throwing themselves at you to know your secrets."

Raoul turned and headed back to the desk, taking the other two viles and placing them carefully in a rack in the fridge unit. He returned to his desk as Luci was packing up the box, and put it in her bag. "You're positive it will work?"

Luci nodded. "If it should fail, I will pay you back all of your lost money. Do we have a deal?"

Raoul held out his white gloved hand and shook the child's tiny one. "Deal."

Cal moved to answer the door, greeting Luci as she came back in and he took her bag to her room.

Riki hurried over from the balcony, tossing his cigarette out. "Are you OK? He didn't do anything did he?"

Luci shook her head. "No, he was very professional and only sought my advice on an issue regarding his newest creations." She accepted a hug from the older mongrel. "I am fine."

"I don't trust him at all," Riki growled.

Iason walked into the front entrance from the hallway. "Luci, I am pleased you are back," he greeted. "Raoul called and informed me of your returning and thanked you again for your assistance."

"It was my pleasure," she smiled, the looked to Riki. "I'm hungry."

"C'mon, we saved you a plate of dinner," he remembered, carrying her to the kitchen. "Cal, can I get my dessert now?"

Luci giggled. "Aw, did you wait to eat dessert just for me?"

"What?" Riki blushed. "No! I was full!"

Iason moved to the dinning room and sat down at the table. Cal brought him tea after giving his mongrel's their food. He slowly slipped his drink; enjoying listening to the chatting between the two.
He vaguely wondered if this is how a real parent felt, enjoying the presence of a child despite its young age. There was a liveliness that was added to the home with Luci, and it seemed to be impacting everyone in a positive way.

Luci closed her eyes, pretending to be asleep as Riki carried her to her room and then set her into the bed for the night. When she was sure he was gone, she peeked under her bed and pulled out her communication device. "When are you coming?" she typed.

There was a pause, before a message appeared. "Soon little one."

She smiled then pouted. "Im not little!"

"Haha, sorry, sorry. :)
Just a bit more cleaning up to do - take care."

Luci sighed, turned off the device and then stared at the canopy of her bed until she thought she'd go nuts. She opened her door and peeked out to the hallways, which were dim as everyone had retired for the evening and then slipped away before anyone saw her.

Chapter Text

CHAPTER TWENTY EIGHT

BUGS IN THE SYSTEM

Luci slipped out onto the balcony, then climbed onto the railing to look at the city below. There were numerous shops, pavilions and other establishments lining the entire length of Eos.

"So beautiful," she commented, pulling her knees close to keep herself warm. "This is a real home." Her chest tightened painfully. "I want to stay here."

A soft cry shook her little body, which she muffled with her hand. "I want to stay," she pleaded quietly, swiping her tears. "I know I can't right now, but I want to come back." Her eyes looked up to the two half moons. "I want a family too." Her wispy brown and green tail curled around body, puffing out to warm her legs as it rested upon the ledge. Fluffy fern green and beige ears grew from her dark locks, along with tiny matching beige horns with green fur tuffets around the circumferences. "I just want to be safe with a family that loves me too." Her tail curled around her tighter. "I envy you, Luci."

Raoul observed as the liquid trickled down into the tubes connected to the specimen. He pushed syringe end down, until all of the chemicals were inserted into each body.

If Luci was telling the truth, every single one of his experiments would be alive, functional and unique. If not...he remembered all of the articles, which still sat upon his desk after Luci allowed him to keep them.

He anxiously eyed the last one of his Nujixin males, as he finished the injection. He was waiting for any signs of betrayal and sabotage to commence, but each of them remained peacefully in their unconscious state with perfect vitals and no reactions.

Raoul removed the empty syringes from the table, tidying up the workplace and then removing his gloves. Unable to leave his Nujixin in fear of them suddenly perishing due to a reaction, he sat himself down into his chair and picked up the G.S.T. Convention Report. He idly flipped through the pages and stopped at one, where he spotted a picture of the traitor James, standing alongside another scientist known as Rene Galanis. In the wake of Raoul's disaster, it appeared that Rene was taking the spotlight with his own creation of a new hybrid of some sort.

"You will have some questions to answer, Dr. Galanis," Raoul hissed.

Riki opened his eyes, the early morning sunlight managing to beam in through a sliver where the curtains ended. He reached over to touch Iason's chest, and was immediately awoken from his dreamy state to find the Blondie gone. "Iason?" he called out softly, then felt foolish for getting worked up. He then scolded himself for even being worried in the first place.

He got out of the bed, and headed for the shower so he could delay his meeting with the Blondie. The warm water cascading over his skin seemed to help him clear his head, calming his nerves down.

Sliding his soap lathered hands up along his chest, he winced as he brushed a pointed nipple with his fingers. He felt incredibly turned on, for no reason. "Oh god," he hissed, feeling the familiar tightness as the pet ring constricted his growing manhood. His hand slipped down to his crotch and he desperately tried to tame the rising erection back into being docile, but found it impossible. "Fuck, fuck, shit!"

Riki's legs started to tremble, his lust causing him to be weak. He slid down along the tiled wall, his slick and sensitive body shivering from the cold texture. "I...Iason," he panted, sinking down to his knees. "Oh fuck..."

"Aren't you lively this morning?" Iason teased, entering into the shower and startling Riki.

"Not...lovely," Riki huffed, having misheard what Iason had said due to the water pouring all around him.

Iason smiled. "That too," he agreed, sliding his hands around the mongrel's waist and pulling him up against his body. He slid his hand around Riki's cock and gave it a stroke. "Such a good boy."

Riki tried to push away, irked by the comment. "I'm not a dog!" He ended up not even budging an inch from the tight hold. He was helpless as the Blondie began caressing all the right places, knowing just what he liked and needed.

"Of course not, you're my beloved Riki," Iason cooed softly into his ear. "My very good, handsome and strong boy."

"Sh..shut up," Riki groaned, resting his head back against Iason's shoulder. "Fuck. I can't...!"

"Let go," Iason commanded, the ring activating and freeing the mongrel.

At the order, Riki climaxed and sent an arch of semen into the opposite shower wall. His lips quivered as he cried out, before jerking against Iason in the aftermath.

"I love you, Riki," Iason purred, holding him close.

Riki slowly blinked and found Iason's honesty so endearing that he strained his neck and gave a soft peck to the bridge of his nose. "I know," he whispered back, his voice thick with lust.

"Miss Luci, please calm down," Cal pleaded. "You should not be watching this upsetting news."

"Please, don't touch it!"

Cal hesitated. "This is a limited access channel," he insisted. "You must ask Master Iason if you can watch it."

"What's going on?" Iason questioned, having overhead the two.

"Master, she wants to watch the limited access news. I was just want to confirm with you."

Iason nodded. "It's fine," he assured, then focused on Luci paced back and forth in front of the telescreen that was broadcasting police of another planet surrounding a building.

"Get out now," she hissed, pleading quietly. "Leave."

"What is this?"

"Leave, left stairwell," she demanded, her fingers agitatedly curling in her hair. "You need to leave now!"

The Blondie frowned, approaching the distraught child. Instead of questioning the oblivious girl, Iason accepted the remote from Cal and watched the events unfold.

"Police have evacuated the buildings upper levels and are returning with the civilians and workers now," the announcer stated. "They have not been able to locate the intruders nor the doctors upon the screen." Eight photos of various men who were working in the research centre popped up on the screen. Suddenly the announcer looked up in shock. "The police are evacuating! There has been an explosion!"

"Are you out?" Luci growled. "Are you out safely?"

"I don't believe this!" the female announcer exclaimed, horrified.

"The building...!"

Iason's eyes widened as suddenly a dark cloud of smoke exploded from the buildings lower levels. And the building caved in upon itself, spewing rubble in every direction and creating a dust cloud so wide that the craft videoing above was engulfed within the thick cloud. "It collapsed," he softly gasped, then glanced over to Luci. "Did you do this?"

Luci looked up at the Blondie, as if just realizing he was there. "Pardon?"

"This," Iason demanded, pointing at the screen. "Did you do this? Who were you talking to?"

"I am on Amoï, Master Mink, not Revynxia!" Luci defended. "There is no way for me to do that!"

"But you knew about it," Iason pressed, stepping closer. "How did you know about it? You are an accessory to this!"

Luci tried to back away, her hands raising with palms up. "Yes, I knew it was going to be destroyed," she admitted. "But I had nothing to do with its physical destruction. I was only navigating a team member from the building, after he told me he had rigged the building with bombs."

"Who is your "team member" and why would they have done such a thing?" he inquired. "There were doctors still in there."

"Oh, but they were not good," Luci insisted, pointing to the screen that now had each of the doctor's pictures on it. "They were all workers under Uncle, and they were relocated to this research facility to do further experiments on the orphans they kidnapped off the streets of Trïnguï."

The Blondie stiffened. "Trïnguï?" he repeated, shocked that this man had spanned this scheme halfway across the galaxy! "This man, Uncle, he is doing experiments on orphan children?"

Luci nodded. "As well as those his workers have managed to kidnap," she revealed. "Have you not noticed that there has been a significant rise in missing children throughout the galaxies?"

It was true, Iason realized. He had seen several articles on his NewsReader that had shown detailed documentation of a mysterious rise in missing children. "Are they stealing children from Amoï as well?"

"Yes," she softly admitted. "That day I was found I hadn't been dropped off in Apatia, but rather Ceres where I was for three days. They chased two mongrel boys, one mongrel girl and myself. They were all caught and sent to Utarivu to be used as human blood bags and later organ donors."

Her body hit the rough pavement as she was tossed, having shared a final goodbye with Alliance. It took a moment, but Luci managed to find cover under a large slab of concrete rubble and she shielded herself with the large coat she was wearing. The roaring of several shielded aircrafts racing past above her made the rocks tremble, but it faded as they disappeared.

Peeking out from her hiding place, Luci checked to see if the coast was clear. Not sensing any danger, she freed herself from her spot and analyzed her surroundings. There was an opening between two brick buildings, which appeared to be the only reliable way to get out as the other path was piled with debris.

Luci moved slowly, her body weak and needing to have energy preserved to the opening and through the alley. She navigated around trash cans and boxes, thankful for no Human contact. Until she arrived at the end of the alleyway and the open space of a street harboured much more liveliness. Taking a deep breath, she padded across the ruined street and refused to make eye contact with any of the gruff looking males who were smoking and drinking.

"Ey...lookey what we has here, boys," one thick man dressed in a black leather vest and dirty white top grinned. "A lost kitten."

"Bet she'd be worth something."

One man snorted. "She'd be worth something to me, if I could get inside her."

Luci shuddered in disgust and moved quicker around a corner, her too large coat dragging behind her.

"Hey! Where you going?"

"We didn't say you could leave!"

Hurrying away even faster, Luci urged her legs to move as quick as possible. She turned down several corners until there was a dark opening in the distance that appeared to be a good hiding spot.

"Where'd she go!"

"Here kitty, kitty, we just wanna play with ya!"

Luci hurried into the darkness, her eyes barely adjusting to see she was about to hit something. She was about to avoid it, but hands grabbed her and pulled her further inside into an enclave.

"Shh, don't scream, we will keep ya safe."

Luci kept her mouth shut, listening to the men enter the opening of the tunnel and cussing as they couldn't find her.

"Shit, I bet she would've sold for good money to freaks in Midas," one cursed.

"Coulda had stout and cigs for a month with the payment she'd have given us..."

After a moment, the intoxicated men left and the hand finally released from Luci's mouth and she rose to face her saviours. She blinked in shock as she stared at three children that had similar colour features like her own.

"What? You scared of us three mongrels?" the boy challenged, then squinted at her. "You're one too, ain't ya?"

A mongrel, Luci internally realized. I'm a mongrel. Which means my parent is on this planet.

"I stayed with them for three days," Luci explained. "We shared cardboard slabs and my coat as blankets." She looked up to Iason. "I will never see them again. I've failed them and couldn't protect them, I was too weak."

Iason picked up Luci, and gently gave her cheek a soft touch. "You are not responsible for that," he assured. "We will find those men and deal with them."

"Thank you," she smiled.

"You should have told us sooner though." The Blondie gave the child a soft pat on the head, to which she moved into as if she enjoy it. His hand stiffened as he noticed the lack of the indent and discomfort in being touched.

"Sorry." Luci sensed the pause and looked up. "What is wrong? Is there something in my hair?" she demanded.

"No," Iason answered, setting down the child and watching as she moved away while humming softly. Different, Iason noted. Luci is different.

Iason sat down at his desk, typing the details of Luci's explanation into the documents of her folder. He glanced up as the door opened and his freshly cleaned mongrel came wandering in, his dark hair damp.

"Hey," Riki shyly whispered.

"Are you feeling better?"

Riki gave a swift nod, then leaned against the wall closest to the door. "Are you...OK?"

Iason raised an eyebrow. "Why would I not be?" he inquired.

"Just checking...." Riki mumbled, crossing his arms and avoiding eye contact. "It would be a pain in my ass if you got reset."

The Blondie stifled a laugh, finding his pet's concern to be endearing. "Is that what you're worried about?" he answered, then closed down his screen. "Come here."

Riki hesitated for a moment, but then made his way over to the Blondie. He paused just in front of him, his arms still crossed. "What?"

Iason patted his lap, to which Riki surprisingly obeyed, but only sat on one knee. "I need to talk to you," he revealed, pulling the mongrel closer, much to Riki's embarrassment. "Have you noticed anything different about Luci?"

"Huh? What do you mean?"

"I've noticed she seems...different in many ways," Iason revealed. "I just wanted to check with you and see if you had any similar feelings."

Riki frowned, but then paused as he realized that he had noticed a few odd things since she came back. "She...hasn't been as close to me," he noted, but then felt stupid for complaining. "She's distanced herself."

"Yes, I've noticed that as well," Iason agreed. "She has been addressing me differently." He adjusted his hand wrapped around Riki. "She's shown intelligence in the areas of science and biology as well, which is surprising as before she knew barely about anything that topic which could supply us with hints."

"Really?" Riki breathed, then another thought hit him. "Her teeth."

"Her teeth? What about them?"

Riki scoffed. "You haven't seen how pointed they are?"

Iason thought back to the young girl, realizing that her teeth were sharper. But she had avoided allowing him to see just how sharp they were by keeping her head down. "Riki," he breathed. "I think that the child in our home is not Luci."

Luci hummed, sitting at the table and enjoying some fresh strawberries that Cal had given her. She looked up and smiled as Riki came into the room. "Good morning!"

"G'morning," Riki returned, feeling a tad sceptical of the child at the table now despite his denial. He nodded to Cal who placed a plate of fluffy pancakes in front of him. "Thanks."

"Oooh, that looks yummy!" she exclaimed, then sulked. "Aw, but they have chocolate in them."

Riki raised an eyebrow. "You don't like chocolate?" he demanded. How could his child not like chocolate? He loved chocolate. But perhaps that wasn't a genetic trait passed down he supposed.

Luci shook her head, popping another strawberry into her mouth. "Nope," she denied. "Chocolate can kill me." A guilty expression fluttered over her features. "But I still sneak some on occasion even though I know the dangers."

"Wait a moment, wait a moment. You are bullet proof and can't feel pain," Riki started, stabbing into his pancakes and yanking up a piece with chocolate chips. "But you can fucking die from this tiny thing?"

"Yup."

Riki looked to the heavens. "I will never understand you," he sighed.

Luci scoffed. "You don't have to."

"Huh?"

"Nothing," Luci returned, eating her last strawberry. "Thank you, Cal." She slipped off her chair and exited the dining room, just managing to get to the guest room as Iason entered to sit down with Riki.

She slid down the door. "This is turning into such a bloody struggle," she cursed in her own tongue. "I can barely keep this up."

Luci crawled over to the bed, reaching under to retrieve the communication device. She sighed in relief as there was a message saying that tomorrow was the date of return. "Oh thank Yrsoi," she breathed, doing a hand sign of gratitude.

Riki shook his head. "That's impossible," he denied. "It's definitely Luci! Maybe she's just traumatized or something."

"But even you have noticed physical changes in her," Iason reminded. "How would that be from a source of trauma?"

"Whatever," Riki hissed. "I don't believe it's not her, no matter what." He turned away, grumpily storming out of the room.

"Riki!" Iason called, but then just gave up as he questioned his own rationale. He tapped his wrist comm and called Raoul who answered after a slight delay. "Raoul, did you notice anything odd about Luci when you examined her?"

Raoul raised an eyebrow, then shook his head and returned his eyes to his task. "Odd other than the fact she's your adopted child? No, not really."

"I am being serious here, Raoul," Iason demanded. "I have reason to believe she has either been drastically changed or this child is not Luci."

That stopped Raoul in his tracks. "Are you proposing there are more than one of these mutants on Amoï?"

Iason took a breath. "I will propose something when you tell me if you found any difference," he hinted.

Raoul pulled up the files, analyzing them. "No, there are no difference," he denied, then paused. "Her face is a tad different though, the chin structure in particular."

"Anything else?"

"There were some marks on her feet, but other than that there was nothing," he concluded. "Now what do you propose?"

Iason sighed. "I am undecided," he himself concluded. "Thank you, Raoul."

"Iason—"

The Blondie ended the call, then immediately contact his right hand man. "Katze, I need you to organize round the clock surveillance on Guardian," he instructed.

"Guardian?" Katze repeated. "Is this a high level threat?"

"It might be," Iason explained. "I must talk to Orphe and Gideon later, but for now do as I say."

Riki frowned as he noticed Iason changing into a different outfit in the bedroom. "Do you have a meeting?"

"I have to speak with Orphe and Gideon, as there is another breach in the field of security," he explained, slipping his tall white boots on. "I want them both to be aware of it."

"What's wrong now?"

"There are people kidnapping children on Amoï to use for experiments," he revealed, rising up and collecting his paper documentations. "Which means more children will suffer as Luci and Lucifer have."

Riki paled significantly, looking into Iason's eyes as the Blondie gently touched his face. "Can you stop them?"

Iason smiled sadly and kissed Riki's forehead. "I'm going to try."

The mongrel nodded, then followed behind Iason as he exited the bedroom. Then he frowned as the Blondie summoned Luci. "Why are you taking her?"

"I'm not leaving her alone with you," Iason concluded. "I don't trust the changes in her."

Riki immediately glowered. "So we're back to not trusting her, huh?" he spat. "Fuck you."

"Riki!" Iason bellowed. "Don't you dare walk away from me or speak to me like that."

"I can't believe you," Riki returned, shaking his head. "I thought you changed."

Iason's anger dissipated as he realized Riki was hurt due to the lack of trust. "Riki," he called, then cursed silently as the mongrel went into his old room. His wrist comm reminder of the meeting with the fellow Blondie's chimed and he sighed as he would have to let his argument with Riki mellow until later. "Luci!"

"Here," she answered, waiting at the door all dressed and ready to go. "You're going to be late."

"...Open the walls, play with your dolls," Luci softly sang. "We'll be the perfect family. When you walk away is when we really play, you don't here me when I say."

Iason glanced over at the child who was staring ahead and singing softly. Her voice was very gentle, yet strong and pleasant.

"Mom please wake up, dad's with a slut and your son is smoking—"

"No more of that song," Iason demanded, putting a hand to her mouth to silence her as he stepped through the sliding doors of security.

Luci sighed. "Fine."

Upon their arrival, both Gideon and Orphe rose from the commanding positions of the security details. "Iason," Gideon greeted, then looked to Luci. "Miniature Mongrel."

"My schedule is limited, so please can we proceed with these matters?" Orphe demanded.

"Yes," Iason agreed, knowing he too had meetings to attend to today. He sat down at the table on the one side of the dimly lit, metallic room. "I wanted you both to be aware that there is a link between the increasing missing children and the plot against Amoï." He laid out the papers for them to observe. "Have you noticed anything, Gideon?"

Gideon grimly nodded. "There have been reports of Midas children vanishing," he agreed. "So there are enemies among us."

Orphe hissed a curse under his breath, analyzing the reports. "Eos should be secure enough now," he defended. "No pets will go missing as long as they stay within the boundaries. We will need to restrict the freedom of the Elites when it comes to them traveling with their pets."

"What about the Pet Academy in Midas?" Iason hinted, pondering if that would be a possible target.

Gideon nodded. "I will have restrictions implemented, tighter curfews, escorts and additional security."

Orphe gave a shake of his head. "At this rate, every establishment upon Amoï is a risk if the perpetrators are stealthy enough to kidnap the children," he growled.

"I propose we engage a planet wide curfew," Gideon declared. "Have security roaming the streets around the clock."

"Are you mad?" spat Orphe. "What makes you believe your security force has not been infiltrated as well? I just finished combing through every one in my division." His amber eyes were full of exhaustion and fury. "It will take you months to ensure your human guards are not compromised."

"How low is your human security at the present moment?"

"We are down by sixty percent in regards to our human division," Orphe grimaced. "Jupiter has provided her entire droid security fleet to replace them."

"Sixty percent?" Iason breathed, letting Luci down from his lap as she squirmed. "What have you done to the ones who failed the testing?"

Orphe leaned back, pressing his curled pointer finger into his forehead while his thumb stroked his right brow. "We have them contained, but there is only so long we can keep them in the sleep chambers until we sort out their fates."

"What do I do for Midas then?" Gideon demanded, slamming his fist down. "You've taken all of Jupiter's droids!"

Orphe scowled. "That is your own concern to take up with her!"

Gideon's eyes glinted. "You've damned Midas and all the other areas then," he hissed.

Luci padded over to the security screens, taking a seat in front of the wall of cameras and a massive key pad with several input openings. She slid her fingers along the crystal pad, navigating through files in amazement.

"Would you rather Eos be compromised and all of us in further danger?" Orphe returned.

"Brothers, please," Iason finally intervened, quieting them down but they were still seething. "We share a common enemy in these circumstances. Do you not think this is what they desire? For conflict to arise between us so we divide?"

Gideon exhaled. "Yes, that is a possibility," he agreed. "But that does not solve my problem. If everything beyond Eos is compromised, there is no telling what could worm it's way in."

Luci tapped on the file, skimming through the security reports and paused as she spotted an anomaly among the analytics. "There is a virus in the system," she concluded.

All three Blondie turned their heads to look at the child. Orphe immediately rose to his feet. "How dare you mess up my files!"

"There is a virus in your main server," Luci simply responded.

"I beg your pardon?"

Iason rose, walking over and scanning the data. There was a tiny abnormality within the data code, so small it could be overlooked. He scrolled downward, finding that abnormality continued to appear casual until it was fully integrated into the sequence and appeared completely normal. "She's right," he concluded.

Orphe leaned over, following the trail of Iason's finger as he guided him through the data. "That was an addition from Jupiter," he defended. "It's not a virus!"

Iason felt the energy in his chest run cold, as if someone had splashed ice water into his circuits. "From Jupiter?" he confirmed.

"Yes."

Luci gave a soft shake of her head. "That is not Jupiter," she disagreed, tapping the keypad and opening the sequence onto a separate screen which pulled it apart. The moment it was pulled apart, it became clear that this was a foreign data sequence and not one from Jupiter as it was in a different computer language. "That is Neptune."

"Neptune?" Gideon repeated, then recalled the information from the meetings. "You mean the other Artificial Intelligence?"

"Yes," Luci nodded. "He has integrated himself into the sequence."

"He?" Orphe challenged. "And how did he do that?"

"There's no way for him to integrate himself into Jupiter's systems without him being here," Iason denied. "He does not have access to Jupiter."

"Oh, but he does," Luci contradicted. "You see, Neptune may be the complete opposite of Jupiter in regards to thinking, functioning and design. However ultimately Neptune is an advanced version of Jupiter. Their thinking patterns are not the same despite them both being Artificial Intelligence. Neptune is much more sophisticated, but can still be controlled. Unlike Jupiter, Neptune cannot rebel against humans as he has a different programming instilled within him."

"That doesn't explain how he has access to Jupiter," Iason insisted.

Luci sighed. "As I was saying, although they might be different in many ways, they share a common thing, cleverness."

"And just how did this Neptune use cleverness?" Orphe demanded.

"Bugs."

Iason blinked, perplexed by the notion of tiny organisms bringing down an Artificial Intelligence. "Bugs?" he repeated.

"Yes," Luci confirmed. "Microscopic computerized robots that can crawl undetected into any groove." She glanced at the expressionless faces of the Blondie's. "Such as in the groove of an Elite's boots. And then into the openings Artificial Intelligence's circuits."

There was a long pause as the realization of how badly they had been attacked was processed. "Are you saying that all of the Elites unknowingly have brought these bugs into Eos and ultimately to Jupiter?" Orphe finally whispered, wondering how many times he had gone to see Jupiter.

"Yes," Luci nodded, then hopped down. "In fact." She tapped Orphe's left boot. "Raise your foot, please, Master Zavi."

Orphe did as instructed, while the others watched and then observed as the child pulled off a tiny grey speck from his boot. "Is that..."

"Behold, your biggest threat of infiltration," Luci announced.

Iason leaned in, and his blue eyes narrowed upon the speck before widening as he noticed tiny hairlike legs squirming on it. "Sweet Amoï, it's true," he breathed.

Gideon and Orphe both grimly observed the bug, seeing that it was indeed something that would have only seemed like a speck of dirt on their boots. "Where did they come from?"

"I would imagine the enemy has been littering them overtop of Eos and all of the other areas for months now," Luci sighed, squishing the bug and causing a spark of electricity as the tiny thing gave off a squeal while exploding.

"We would've seen them, would we have not?" Gideon demanded.

"No," Iason denied. "The day she was captured the enemy came forth in a shielded craft. No one would have seen them at all."

Gideon took a step back as Luci crouched down and motioned to his right boot. "Are you saying I have one as well?"

"No," Luci denied, moving forward and tapping his right foot. "You have two. Now lift your foot, please, Master Lagat."

Gideon lifted his boot and Luci removed the two bugs, killing one and then saving the the other and looked to Iason. "Do you want to give that to Master Am to analyze?" she asked, then paused. "Actually no, it might find a way into him."

"They can enter Elites too?" Orphe demanded.

"Your android bodies, yes."

"How do we get rid of them?" Iason demanded, watching as she squished the last one.

Luci shook her head. "It's really hard to get rid of them," she revealed. "They are loyal to the programming so they won't leave until they have attacked the target entered into them."

"But can they physically be destroyed in some fashion so we can rid the planet of them?"

"You could try systematically flooding Eos," Luci suggested. "They would all malfunction and float to the top."

Orphe scowled. "Would the cleaning droids not suffice?"

"No," Luci denied. "They can withstand a certain degree of water. No you need to have a controlled, systematic flooding of Eos using Rïïbaklatic Acid. That would be the simplest and fastest way to destroy them. After that you need to install Plytonic metal strips at every threshold of the building. If any are on any on the Elites boots or attire they will malfunction and expire upon crossing the threshold."

"All right," Iason agreed. "But what about Jupiter?"

Luci shook her head. "I cannot help you with that matter," she denied. "There is a possibility Jupiter can overcome the bugs by going through her systems. But that is if they are not already in grained."

Iason gave a soft shake of his head. "She was already glitching the last few times we've seen her," he sadly reminded. "How come you didn't warn us sooner?"

"I only learned about this myself," Luci explained. "I only have access to so much information in the facility. It's not like I'm a key aspect." She paused. "Well not in many regards am I a key aspect. Anyways! That's besides the point, you need to move now before Jupiter's systems are literally crawling with these. Neptune wants easier access into Jupiter's system so they can see what you're doing. You need to stop it now or all your plans will be ruined."

Orphe nodded. "I'll get maintenance workers to order in the supplies required for the flooding and thresholds," he decided. "We will need to have a syndicate meeting to work out events and time scheduling for the flooding."

"You'll need to also go to Jupiter and ask for the commissioning of more security droids so the grids are secure," Iason instructed Gideon.

"Yes, I will do that now."

Iason nodded as Gideon moved swiftly from the room, then looked back to Orphe. "Submit the calling for the syndicate meeting after you've gotten a hold of the workers and the supplies are ordered," he insisted. "We can't afford to have Amoï weakened anymore than it is."

Orphe nodded. "I'll see to it immediately," he answered, then looked down to Luci. "She should attend the meeting as well, in case there is anymore useful input she can provide."

"Yes, of course," Iason agreed, then picked up Luci and left Orphe to his tasks. "I do not have any of those bugs in me, do I?"

"No," Luci denied. "They can't come near you with the energy ball inside you." She paused. "Speaking of which, I need to fix something when we get back. Your energy is off balance."

"Am I in danger?" Iason demanded, fear hitting him at the thought of being reset.

"No, you will never be in danger," Luci assured. "It will never quit. But your body has fully accepted the new input, but the energy is not at maximum capacity as you needed to adjust. But now it can be balanced completely."

"I see," Iason answered, secretly relieved. "Why did you put this into me anyways?"

Luci smiled. "To connect you with anyone else who had it, so they could know you were in trouble. And.." She stopped to curl her hair around her fingers. "To make you more human."

Iason paused. "More human?" he repeated, but Luci didn't answer him again.

Luci started humming a song, then kept her gaze steadied on the window. "It's a hard knock life for us, it's a hard knock life for us," she sang softly. "'Stead of treated we get tricked, 'stead of kisses we get kicked~ it's a hard knock life."

"That's an Prior-Earth song is it not?" Iason inquired.

"Yes, it is," Luci nodded. "But it describes life for us laboratory rat slaves perfectly."

Iason frowned. "Laboratory what?"

"Laboratory rat slaves," Luci answered. "That's all we are in there. Just material to experiment on, then sex slaves when we have no other uses." She turned back to the window. "Don't it feel like the wind is always howling? Don't it seem like there's never any light~? Once a day don't you wanna throw the towel in? It's easier than putting up a fight~"

"Are there many children like you in this laboratory?" Iason inquired.

"Mongrels? No. But Neptune wants more of them, now that he's —" She slapped her hands over her mouth, preventing herself from finishing.

"Now that he's what?" Iason demanded, entering into the lift.

"Nothing," Luci denied, averting her eyes. "I...I can't..."

Iason grasped onto the girl's chin. "I demand there be honesty and openness between us, Luci. Even small details can help us in our efforts to save Eos."

Luci averted her eyes again. "I...I told you Neptune had a different design, right?"

"Yes, you did."

"He also has some additional features that Jupiter and other Artificial Intelligences should never have," she explained.

"And what are these features?"

"Tastebuds," she answered, cringing.

"Tastebuds?"

Luci nodded sadly. "Neptune has created an artificial taste palette for himself to enjoy consumption of several things."

"I see, but what does that have to do with the Mongrels?"

"Neptune is a very corrupt Artificial Intelligence, Master Mink," she sadly explained. "He enjoys things that shouldn't be enjoyed."

"What is Neptune doing to them, Luci?" Iason demanded.

Luci looked away, then held his gaze with glistening brown eyes. "He's eating them."

Lucifer flinched, as Neptune ripped the meat from his left arm. "You're a twisted, sick fucking toaster!" he spat, his eyes glinting in rage.

Neptune chomped on the flesh, bits of it remaining upon his mouth as he had not given himself lips or a tongue yet. There was simply the soft, moist palettes on the top and bottom of the inside of his mouth along with razor sharp teeth. "And you are a delectable treat," he returned. "You did not scream that time."

"Wow, it's not deaf," Lucifer hissed. "Stupid microwave."

"Did the solution wear off already?" Neptune questioned, crawling backwards to the analytics screen. "I can change that."

"Don't you fucking dare!"

Neptune flicked a switch, which pumped the fluids into the young man's body. "You taste better when you scream a bit," he returned, stretching up like a centipede rising up off its front legs. His metal exoskeleton creaked and clinked horribly loudly as he was in need of repair. "Let us begin, shall we?"

"He's eating the Mongrels?"

Luci nodded. "He started eating Lucifer's flesh, and now wants to taste other Mongrel being's flesh," she answered. "Progress in the laboratory has slowed significantly because Neptune keeps eating Lucifer's skin and flesh and it can't grow back fast enough. They've grown some of his skin cells in dishes, but it's never strong enough to make weapons and Neptune won't eat it unless it's off Lucifer's bones." She covered her face with her hands as she sobbed. "He can't regenerate fast enough if he's being eaten and skinned alive."

Iason's heart ached for the kin of Riki, no one ever deserved that torment. He gently hugged Luci close. "I will try to do everything in my power to save him, I promise."

"I don't think you can," Luci softly contradicted, tears slipping down her cheeks. "He's not going to last very long."

Iason entered the home, setting Luci down as Cal greeted them. He watched as she turned and immediately ran for her guest room. "Luci!" he called, then exhales softly. He handed his cloak off to Cal, then pinched the bridge of his nose, his home was full of difficult inhabitants.

Riki heard the sound of the door opening, but he refused to look over at Iason. He kept his eyes shut and his breathing even.

Iason sat down on the edge of the bed, then reached over and gently stroked his mongrel's arm. "Riki," he whispered.

"Go away," Riki hissed, adjusting his position on the bed to get comfier. He would never be comfy in this room.

Instead of doing that, Iason slipped in beside Riki and wrapped his arms around him. "Never."

"For fuck sake!" Riki snapped, wiggling around until he was facing the Blondie. "What do you want?" He stilled though as Iason simply held him close, while gently caressing his back. "What?"

Iason didn't respond, just kept holding his Mongrel and caressing him ever so softly. "I hurt you," he whispered.

"Yeah, what else is new?" Riki retorted, expecting some scolding. But when nothing came he became worried and confused. "Iason?"

"Yes?"

Riki hesitated. "Do you really dislike Luci?"

"No, of course I don't," Iason assured. "I've just been rather worried as of lately. And I don't want anything to happen to you." He leaned in and planted a gentle kiss on Riki's forehead. "If anything happened to you I don't know what I'd do, Riki."

"Nothing is gonna happen to me."

"I hope not," Iason breathed softly. "You know I love you, don't you?"

Riki's chest felt tight. "I know," he whispered and let Iason entwine their fingers together. He wanted to tell Iason he felt similarly but it was too embarrassing.

Iason gently kissed Riki's knuckles. "Will you not say it?"

Riki averted his eyes. "How can you spout this stuff?" he grumbled.

Iason chuckled, refusing to let go of Riki's hand when he tried to cover his face. "When did you become so shy?" he teased, finally stopping when he was looking into Riki's eyes. "Will you at least show me you love me?"

The Mongrel hesitated, but sat up a bit and gave Iason's lips a soft peck. "Happy?"

"Very," Iason agreed, going down for another slow and passionate kiss. When he pulled back he propped himself up on one elbow and gently smoothed Riki's hair. "Are you still upset with me?"

"No," Riki answered. He wasn't actually upset with him to begin with, he knew Iason was just worried about him.

"Thank you, pet," Iason returned, planting another kiss upon Riki's forehead. "Now come, I despise you staying in this room." He gently gave Riki a tug up off the bed and into his arms in a soft hug. "You should only stay in our bedroom."

Luci sniffled, wiping away the remnants of her tears as she came out from her guest room. When she saw Iason and Riki coming down the hall she froze.

"Luci," Iason called, surprised she didn't actually move. "I know you're upset, but believe me when I say we are going to try to help Lucifer."

"It's not that I don't believe you," Luci sniffled. "You can try all you wish, but I do not know how much longer Lucifer can keep going."

Riki stiffened. "What happened to Lucifer?"

"Lucifer is being harmed by Neptune and is progressively not being able to recover fast enough," Iason explained, gently hugging the Mongrel from behind.

"So he's gonna die."

Iason didn't answer, but gave a reassuring squeeze to his beloved. "Not if we can find a solution to overcoming the enemy."

Riki shook his head. "I need a smoke," he whispered, pushing away from the blonde.

"I understand," Iason agreed, allowing his Mongrel to go. "I'm going to my office to handle a few client meetings. I will be back later." He watched as Riki gave a soft nod while on his way to the balcony. Iason didn't wish to leave, but he knew he had to. His gaze met Cal's. "Keep an eye on him, and keep me updated on his activities."

"Yes, Sir."

Luci watched as the Blondie gathered his things and slipped on a cloak. "You be safe too," she warned. "Master Am might skin me if anything happens to you."

"I will," Iason assured, then disappeared through the door to go endure hours of mind numbing work.

"Listen, I don't know who the fuck you are, but if you don't leave now we will gladly fuck you up," Guy hissed.

Harris grinned. "Ah, yes, there is the Mongrel attitude," he laughed. "It must be genetic."

"What are you on about?" Guy demanded, now sliding halfway out of the booth.

"I have with me a very intriguing offer," Harris announced, pulling out a journal. "In this book is a detailed plan of how Eos is going to crumble. And along with it the Elite Iason Mink."

Guy perked up at the mentioning of the destruction of Iason Mink. "I'm listening."

"You help me take out Iason Mink and Eos, and I will have Riki returned to you," Harris concluded. "Do we have a deal?"

"Guy, don't listen to this whack job," Luke demanded, taking a sip of his stout. "There is no way to take down Eos. That place is crawling with security and protection."

"You'd be surprised how weak their defences are at the moment," Harris denied. "Their security is down by over sixty percent." He returned his gaze to Guy. "Do we have a deal or not? Just say the word and we can put this plan into motion and rid Amoï of Iason Mink."

Guy squeezed his stout bottle. "If I think I'm being fucked over in any way I'm out, you hear me?"

"Absolutely," Harris agreed, extending his hand. "We have a deal." His grin widened as Guy reached out and shook his hand. "We will be in touch."

The time Iason returned home it was already dark, the two moons shining brightly. Cal appeared and took his cloak, then disappeared to retire to his room for the night.

Iason crossed the room, stopping at the bar and pouring himself a glass of brandy before sitting down in his chair. He felt as if there was the weight of the world on his shoulders and he could barely keep it from crushing him. His fingers slipped up to pinch the bridge of his nose. "Damn it all," he cussed.

"Your energy levels are in need of assistance," Luci suddenly spoke, nearly making Iason spill his brandy. "Apologies, I didn't mean to scare you."

"You're too quiet," Iason scolded. "I didn't hear you at all, what are you? A cat?"

Luci snorted. "A cat, that's funny." She moved closer, then motioned for him to undo the first few buttons of his shirt. "May I see your chest for a moment?"

Iason set down his drink, and obliged. "What are you going to do?" he questioned, suddenly feeling incredibly weak.

"Your systems are not at full capacity as the energy had to slowly integrate into you," she explained, crawling up and seating herself on the arm rest. "Hmm, it's going to reset now."

Horror filled Iason at the thought of being reset. "Reset?" he demanded, his voice strained as his systems were fluttering. "You said it wouldn't fail!"

Luci shook her head. "It's not, it's trying to begin running at full capacity," she assured, then frowned. "But it wasn't inserted in the greatest of circumstances so maybe if I heal it." She looked up to Iason. "This is going to seem gross, but please bear with it."

Iason frowned and observed as Luci began licking the palms of her hands, then was surprised that it created a thick layer of saliva. "What are you doing?"

"This," Luci answered, pressing her hands to Iason's chest and sending a pulse through him.

Iason felt a blast of energy course through him, his eyes closing and his mind going white. He lost all feeling for five seconds, which felt like a horrific lifetime.

"Iason," a soft voice called within his mind.

The Blondie opened his eyes, exhaling softly as he reconnected with all of his systems which felt new and refreshed. He did not feel any tiredness or strain anymore.

"Are you all right now?" Luci asked softly, peering up at the Blondie. "I know it is scary, but nothing has changed about you except that now the energy is running at full capacity within you and it will never quit."

Iason lifted his arm from the arm rest, testing each of his fingers then reached over and grabbed his glass of brandy and finished it off. "How does this make me more Human?"

"You already are Human," Luci scoffed, giving her head a shake. "But now you are completely free of your mental programming. You have all of the feelings restored, without losing your rationale. They cannot be taken away, but you can still ignore them when necessary." She gave his knee a soft tap. "And now that you're not running on circuits, you could even go as far as saying that you are the first Blondie that has an artificial soul. Congratulations."

Iason blinked. "A soul? There is no proof that anyone has a soul," he denied.

"If you didn't have a soul, then you would've been dead when your circuits quit," Luci returned, then turned on her heal. "Goodnight, Fyophara-Jyrin."

"Luci?"

"Yes?" she answered, turning back.

"Thank you."

Luci grinned. "Don't thank me, you might hate me later for it," she laughed, then headed back to her room.

Riki opened his eyes slowly, then felt a familiar body presence close to him. He turned around to see Iason, who reached out and gave his arm a gentle stroke. "Morning," he breathed.

"Good morning," he returned softly, leaning in and giving his beloved a kiss.

"When did you get back?" Riki asked, the question diluted by a yawn.

Iason chuckled."Very late," he explained. "I didn't want to wake you."

"That's a first," Riki scoffed.

"I want us to go out for breakfast today," Iason revealed. "I have the morning off, and I want to use it wisely."

Riki blinked. "Where are we going to go?"

"Where do you want to go?"

"No idea."

Iason rolled his eyes. "There must be somewhere you wish to go," he pressed.

"That one place in Midas was good," Riki remembered, stretching out his limbs with a yawn. "We could go there?"

"Yes, that sounds like a lovely idea," Iason agreed, not worrying about the bug issue as Luci's energy ball protected him from bringing any back. "I will go let Cal know. You go shower."

"'Kay," Riki agreed, grateful to be heading out somewhere to take his mind off of things instead of wallowing in misery in the condo.

"You two should go without me," Luci decided, standing in the entryway of the guest room hallway. "I'm feeling a bit under the weather."

Iason's eyes narrowed on the child. "You look rather pale," he commented, noticing she looked two shades lighter than her usual tanned skin. "Your hair is lighter."

"I'm still dealing with the stress effects of the incident," she explained. "When we are stressed out hair turns lighter, just like when old people get grey hairs, we do too."

"Are you gonna be OK though?" Riki questioned, his hair mildly damp from his shower.

Luci nodded. "Oh, I'll be fine, I just need to take a long rest." She smiled. "Besides, you two could use a date."

"Date?" Riki scoffed. "It's not a date!"

"Right, whatever you say," Luci sarcastically laughed. "You two have a good time. You both need a break from Eos."

"Yes, my thoughts exactly," Iason agreed. "Well if you're certain you'll be OK here, we will go."

Luci nodded. "Absolutely, have a good time." She glanced at Riki, winking. "On your date."

"It's not a date!"

Riki shoved his hands into his leather coat, stepping into the lift next to Iason. He was so embarrassed at the thought of this outing becoming a date. Although he knew Iason loved him and he in some fucked up way loved him back, he would always struggle to see their relationship as normal.

"Calm down, you're too agitated," Iason softly soothed. "It's just breakfast."

That eased him immensely, knowing Iason wasn't trying to pressure them into a normal lover relationship. "I know, I know," he sighed. "That kid knows how to push my buttons."

"Isn't that what children do?" Iason smiled, then laughed as Riki groaned. "Come now, she doesn't do it frequently so don't let it get to you."

"Yeah, yeah," he exhaled, stepping out of the lift beside Iason. "Do they serve breakfast at that place by the way?"

"They should?" Iason returned, then pondered if they did. "If they do not we will find another spot."

Riki nodded, going ahead of Iason as they were going to turn down the next hallway to a side exit. "Yeah I guess that —"

"PAPAAAAA!" a voice shrieked happily as there were fast footsteps racing forward.

Before Riki could react he went back into Iason as he was caught in a hug around his legs. "What the hell!" he gasped, then looked down. "Luci?!"

"I missed you so much, Papa!" Luci squeaked while panting, tears slipping down from her eyes as she hugged the crap out of him. "I'm so sorry I was gone so long!"

"But...! What you...!" Riki sputtered, glancing up at Iason who looked just as confused. "You were just upstairs!"

"No, I've been gone for a week!" Luci denied breathlessly, hopping back and helping Riki back up, "Ah! Iason are you OK? I'm so sorry I pushed you!" She moved up to him, but he took a step back. "Fyo?"

"You were upstairs..." Iason answered, then looked behind them in the direction they had come. He stopped his words mid sentence as he saw another child that looked like the Luci they had just left upstairs peeking around the corner. "Why are there two of you?"

"What?" Riki gawked loudly, his head shooting up and glancing back to spot the other child. "Oh for fuck sake..."

Chapter Text

CHAPTER TWENTY NINE

CONNECTED

Raoul closed down the screen at his desk and breathed a sigh of relief. Finally things seemed to be going smoothly. His meetings were successful, his Nujixin were all responding well to the chemicals and almost surpassing his expectations, and his aircar was nicely repaired. Now if only he could figure out the mutant mongrel's DNA and the identical seed that sat within the preservation unit in his laboratory.

The Blondie pressed his fingers to the centre of his forehead before he pushed away a stray lock of wavy hair. A mental image of the blur that ran in front of his aircar came to mind again, but this time becoming increasingly clear. It wasn't an animal like he had thought, but rather a small human. He stiffened as the memory froze, the human's eyes piercing his with a wide gaze.

But how could he have not seen a Human? And where did it come from? There were no sidewalks or walking spaces near the old perimeter. And he would've seen her coming.

Raoul gaze his head a soft shake, clearly he was overworking his mind. And required a much needed power down.

Luci glanced past Iason's shoulder, to the other child. "Ah! Evee!" she beamed, bolting into a standing position and racing over to the other child. They met in a tight hug, laughing and speaking in an unknown language. "Thank you so much, you saved us so much trouble."

"No worries, Cici," Evanna grinned. "I enjoyed getting out of the laboratory for a few days."

"Did you say Sister?" Iason demanded, overhearing the term, his mind reeling at the possibility of yet another child of Riki's.

Luci turned around, as if forgetting about the two others. "No, no, we aren't related at all by blood," she denied and side hugged the child. "This is Evanna, she is my friend."

Riki frowned. "You two look very alike."

Evanna giggled, then turned around for a moment. Right before their eyes, the child morphed into another person. The dark hair lightened to a brown, her skin tone changing to a fairly pale shade, her height decreasing and her eyes turning from dark to a beautiful green that matched her secret creature form. "This is what I really look like," she revealed.

"How did you do that?" Iason inquired, rather amazed.

"Evee here is part shapeshifter," Luci answered, giving Evanna a side hug. "She has another form which is inhuman. But, as a result she can alter her appearance a bit." She paused. "Kind of like a chameleon."

Evanna let out a yawn, her sharp teeth glinting. "I'm not a chameleon.

Luci rolled her eyes. "I said kind of like a chameleon," she defended.

"Fine, fine," Evanna sighed, then added in the unknown language. "I left a few things under your bed. And Lord Am has been assisted."

"Thank you," Luci returned, giving her yet another hug. She giggled as Evanna let out a loud vibrating purr. "Are you going to turn into your half human form?"

Evanna blushed, stopping her purring abruptly. She looked up to Iason and Riki who were approaching. "I apologize for deceiving you both," she softly noted. "But I do believe you both realized I was not Luci after awhile. It is hard to shift into her and maintain it."

Iason was uneasy about the fact that they had fallen for the trick, but he had noticed abnormal details about her. "I do not understand why you replaced Luci for these past few days, and how do we know that no one else will pull a similar scheme?"

"Only Evanna can change like this," Luci spoke up, stepping in front of her. "And I was...unable to come back until Alliance patched me up and I took care of a few things."

"But why did you send someone else?" Riki pitched in. "Why didn't you just let us find you or tell us you were OK elsewhere?"

Luci sighed. "If I had done that then there would have been bad consequences for Fyophara."

"How so?"

When Luci remained quiet, Evanna, who had just handed off the tracking necklace to the mongrel child spoke up. "Master Mink would have been killed," she revealed. "He was going to have his aircar shot out of the sky, which would have resulted in him crashing into a building and he would have been buried under the rubble." She focused her eyes on the shocked Riki, then the stiffened Iason. "Luci was terrified of that happening, so instead of having Master Mink put into danger by investigating her disappearance she sent me as a stand in."

Iason took a moment to digest the information, then approached Luci who was staring at the floor. "Is this true?"

Luci nodded, but couldn't bring herself to look into his eyes. "Yes," she whispered, then let her glistening eyes drift up. "I couldn't let that happen."

Riki slipped in and picked up his daughter. "Thank you," he whispered very softly.

Iason planted a soft kiss to the young mongrel's head then his beloved's. He then looked over to the smaller child with brown hair and bright green eyes. "Thank you as well," he acknowledged. "I am glad Luci has a trusted friend."

"It is my pleasure," Evanna smiled. "I would do anything to help my Cici."

"I really missed you," Luci whispered to Riki, resting her head on his chest.

"Missed you too, kiddo," Riki returned, finding that while holding his real daughter he felt incredibly calm and whole.

Luci leaned back and reached out a hand to Iason. "Did I hurt you when I pushed you?" she inquired again.

"No," Iason denied. "But your energy ball has caused a few issues."

"My apologies," Luci pouted. "But I had to do it then, in case I didn't get back."

"You can explain it to me more later," Iason decided, hugging Riki from behind. "It has definitely been an experience with the new energy source."

Luci smiled. "Is it scary to have a bunch of new emotions?"

"It will take time to adjust to," Iason admitted, then returned his gaze to a slowly retreating Evanna. "Where are you going?"

Evanna paused, her small form jolting up before she turned around. "I have to return to the laboratory," she admitted. "I may have free wandering access, but I cannot afford to abuse that privilege any longer."

"You're going back?" Luci demanded, hopping down and hurrying up to the smaller child. "Do you have to?"

"I cannot abandon my partner," Evanna insisted, gently squeezing Luci's hand. "But I will be back soon. I promise you, Cici."

"You know where the laboratory is?" Iason suddenly demanded, stepping closer.

Luci sighed. "OK, be safe though."

"Always am!" she winked, then turned back around just as a familiar Blondie entered into the space. "Uh oh."

"You!" Raoul suddenly bellowed, causing all of them to look to the Blondie who was hurrying over. "I hit you with my car!"

Evanna gave Luci's hand a final squeeze as both Iason and Raoul were wanting to snatch this newcomer and question them. "I'll be back soon, Cici!" she smiled, then hurried across the hallway and disappeared around a corner.

"Get back here!" Raoul demanded, borderline running after the fleeing little girl.

"Luci, why would you let her go back?" Iason demanded. "If she knew the location she could provide valuable information."

"I don't think it is wise to go there yet even if you could," she denied and leaned back against Iason's leg, observing the spectacle of Raoul chasing after the littlest lab experiment. "He hit her with his car?"

Iason frowned. "It appears so," he answered, picking up the young mongrel. "He said he had hit something a few days ago and could not find what it was."

"That must've hurt her," Luci pouted. "Little Evee can feel pain unlike me."

"What did Raoul do to her?" Riki demanded, finally pulling his eyes away from the sight that made him smirk then listened to Iason explain again much to his annoyance.

Raoul came back, fuming as he approached Luci. "Where are you hiding that beast?" he demanded.

"I'm not," she denied, holding up her hands in surrender. "Didn't she climb into a vent or something?"

"No, I turned the corner and she had vanished! Now where is she?"

Luci's eyes widened to the size of saucers. "Oh my gods, she used a portal. There must be a portal there!"
She jumped down and hurried over to where Evanna had disappeared, but found no signs of a portal just very faint remnants of the activity of one. "Where is it?" she groaned, feeling the energy around her but could only find the dissipating leftovers.

Iason appeared and observed Luci frantically searching. "Are you saying that there is a portal here in Eos?"

"There was, but it's disappearing as we speak so it wasn't permanent," Luci huffed in annoyance. "How is that possible?"

"Surveillance would show where it is would it not?" Raoul inquired, brushing past Riki who was following after Iason.

"It would, but the fact there isn't a strong presence..." she started, then paused as it dawned on her. "It's portable."

"Pardon?"

Luci glanced up at the three people. "They must have finished making the portal implants!"

"Portal implants?" Raoul repeated.

"A certain group of people in the lab, myself included, have energy properties and can create portals," she explained. "I had forgetten how to do so. But they have harnessed that same power and made it into a method of transportation from one planet to another."

Iason's demeanour changed to one that was grim. "Then there is no specific spot for a portal?"

"No," Luci agreed. "Meaning that there is no telling when and who anyone can be teleported away."

Raoul scowled. "Wonderful," he bitterly commented. "Another problem to take up with Jupiter." He turned and paused, horror overtaking him. "That girl assisted me in my laboratory with a project!"

"She is trustworthy, Lord Am," Luci assured, going back to Iason and Riki. "I can vouch for the accuracy and success of her assistance."

He wanted to rip his hair out, how stupid could he have been? "If anything goes wrong I am holding you personally responsible," Raoul hissed, pointing his finger at the small mongrel.

"She's a kid!" Riki snapped, lunging toward Luci and scooping her up. "Your failures are your own problems."

"Riki," Iason scolded.

Raoul's green eyes stabbed into Riki. "That "kid's" friend may have jeopardized a project worth beyond millions of credits," he challenged. "Are you going to take responsibility for any damages?"

"Enough," Iason instructed, pulling the seething Riki up to him. "If anything goes wrong I will compensate you, Raoul."

"I don't want you to compensate, Iason, I want-"

"Nothing will go wrong, Lord Am," Luci interrupted. "Evanna is the adopted daughter of the top scientist in the laboratory, and the heiress to all of his work and knowledge. There will be no errors or mishaps."

"Then she has sabotaged me! She is loyal to her adoption parents!"

Luci shook her head. "No, Lord Am, she would never sabotage you," she insisted. "Evanna is on our side and by doing so is slowly ruining the laboratories progress."

Raoul was still unsatisfied. "How do I know she was reliable? I have put my faith into a child, for Jupiters sake!"

"Unlike me, she detests her adopters," Luci explained, a small grin on her face. "And she would do anything to watch them go down in flames." Her eyes met Raoul's. "Would you not agree that the success of Amoï by the help of the heiress of the top scientist in the laboratory would be the biggest kick in the face for them?"

Iason had to agree with the logic, then glanced at his wrist comm that was receiving a beacon from Cal. "Yes?"

A frantic Cal appeared on the screen, flustered beyond help. "Master, my deepest apologies, but it seems Luci has slipped away while I was -"

"She is with me," Iason interrupted, watching as the furniture's face filled with relief and he exhaled. "We will still be going out for lunch and will return later."

"Yes, Master."

"We're going out?" Luci beamed, her brown eyes sparkling. "Where?"

"Somewhere for lunch," Riki grumbled, shoving his hands into his jacket pockets. "Wherever he takes us."

Luci paused, her eyes glancing to both of the pair as they headed back for the way they came. "Would you like me to stay with Cal?" she asked softly.

Riki's head shot to the side to look at her. "No."

"No, it is quiet all right, Luci," Iason denied, adjusting his hold on her. "It would be best if you stayed with us."

"OK, if you're sure." She leaned back into Iason, allowing her fingers to find a few strands of his hair to play with.

"Are we there yet?" Luci squeaked, her eyes pinned to the busy outside world shown through tinted windows.

"Almost," Iason revealed, reaching out and touching Riki's knee with a gentle caress. "Are you hungry?"

Riki shrugged. "I'll eat if something is in front of me," he nonchalantly answered.

Luci made a face. "Booooo! Papa, you're so lame! Get excited about food!"

Iason smiled, turning his attention back to the road as he listened in on the playful argument.

"Food is food!" Riki protested.

"No it is not!" Luci balked, looking rather offended. "That's like saying cigarettes or booze are all the same, when you know for a fact they are not!"

Iason raised an eyebrow at the examples, but glanced over at Riki and gave him a "she's right" look.

Riki glared at the Blondie, actually irked that she had a point and had defeated him and that Iason wasn't defending him. "It all goes to the same place though, so it doesn't really matter."

Luci shot a wide eyed look at him. "So you're saying that you could technically eat anything and it would be food, because it goes to the stomach?"

"Basically."

"All right then, I didn't know you considered shit to be food."

"Luci," Iason scolded.

Riki's eyes widened and he sputtered. "That is not food, and that is disgusting!"

Luci smiled. "Exactly my point, not everything that goes into your stomach is food and not all food is the same! So ha!"

Riki rolled his eyes. "Fucking hell," he cussed. "You know how to annoy me, you know that?"

"What kind of daughter would I be if I didn't test my parent's patience?"

Iason held back a soft chuckle, but then intervened. "Are you both done? Because we are here."

"Finally! I'm starving!"

Evanna swiftly turned the corner, just as a door opened up and somebody went out and down the hallway. After a moment, she shot a look over her shoulder to make sure the coast was clear and then began to tiptoe across the intersection of the hallways.

"Eve," a familiar voice called, extremely unamused.

The child paused, then almost robotically pivoted on her foot to look at her older sibling coming down the hall like an angry tiger. "Hi, brother, what's...what's going on?"

The older sibling scooped her up and gave her a shake. "Where were you?" he demanded, his white lab coat fluttering with each movement.

"I was out and about," Evanna shrugged, avoiding looking into his eyes.

"Do you know how much trouble you'd be in if I didn't find excuses to make for your absence?" he reminded heatedly. "I can only lie so much before they figure out what you're doing! And I'll be the one who takes the fall."

Evanna's ears popped out, immediately shifting back against her head and her tail curled out between her legs. "I'm sorry, brother," she apologized, sparing him a wide eyed look of sadness. "I just wanted to help. I feel so useless here."

With a sigh, the older sibling brought Evanna to his chest and gave her a gentle hug. "Are you injured anywhere?" he inquired, to which she shook her head. "I don't like you going out of my reach, Eve. If anything happened to you, I'd be devastated."

"I know," she softly agreed. "I'd feel the same. So please let me help, if I'm a burden they won't let me stay alive. I'll be put on the extermination list if I don't —"

"Shh, don't talk about such things," the older sibling cautioned. "Your only job is to learn from me and assist me with the laboratory projects. You are my right hand."

Evanna shook her head. "But what we are doing is wrong."

"Eve," the older sibling sighed. "I made you, so that you could help me and possibly succeed me. Whether it is right or wrong is merely an opinion. It needs to be done and you were made to help me until you're capable of doing it on your own. Do you understand?"

"Yes, brother."

"Good, now we have a new shipment of live specimen coming in and we need to sort them."

Luci stared with wide brown eyes at the plate of food in front of her, barely able to keep herself from drooling. "It looks so good...!" she excitedly announced, then picked up her utensils.

Riki raised an eyebrow as he watched the little child begin devouring the plate of pasta as if she were a starving animal. "Easy there, you'll inhale the food and choke at this rate."

Iason set down his glass of wine, surprised that the child had an appetite. "So I'm assuming Alliance somehow repaired your voice?" he inquired.

"Mhmm," Luci answered, her mouth full before she swallowed. "And my stomach, so there are no more tubes and pins. So I am so hungry now that I can eat properly!"

"How did Alliance repair you?" Iason asked, picking up his cutlery. "Was it using the tools made from Lucifer?"

Luci paused, her excited demeanour changing as she wiped her mouth. "Yes," she answered sadly. "Alliance acquired a few instruments to work with."

Riki scowled, both at Iason question and Luci's change in behaviour. "Look what you did," he hissed. "Can you not make her sad all the time?"

"It was not my intention," Iason defended. "And watch your tongue Riki."

The child picked up her cutlery again and gave a forced little smile, before eating again, but not with as much enthusiasm. "I hope Lucifer is OK," she simply whispered.

Lucifer slowly opened his eyes, the sound of rhythmic clicking awaking his attention. There was a tearing sound, followed by thick liquids hitting the cold concrete floor.

Someone must've been ripping open a bag of expired plasma, and pouring it into one of the drains.

Lucifer slowly raised his head, his eyes pinning onto movement between a blurry dark figure and a brown and red one. After a final blink, his eyes focused and his stomach churned while his heart stopped. "No...No!" he screamed, his voice squeaking as it left his dry and stripped throat.

Neptune continued to rip the mongrel child's arm from her body with his teeth, his clawed hands sinking into her lifeless carcass to secure her. The flesh created a loud audible tearing sound as it was ripped off from the bones, the blood spilling into the drains below.

"STOP!" Lucifer screamed, his voice shaking and as soft as a kitten's mewl.

Neptune turned his head around, the child's arm dangling from his mouth as his teeth curved into a smile around the bloody flesh.

Luci snuggled into the crook of Riki's chest and his jacket. She tightened her grip on his shirt, then gave him a look that tugged at heart strings he didn't know where there.

"What's wrong?" he whispered, following one step behind Iason as they headed back to the car.

The little mongrel shook her head, and rested her head against his chest with a little shiver.

Riki felt his teeth grinding together as he wondered what exactly was troubling his daughter. He had an itching suspicion it was something to do with Lucifer, and that worried him greatly as his son had mentioned that he was dying.

He stopped abruptly as he almost ran into Iason's chest, having been side tracked from reality by his thoughts. "What?" he asked.

Iason reached for the silent child. "She needs to go into her car seat," he reminded, gesturing to the open car door that revealed the waiting object.

"Can I just...hold her?" Riki inquired, afraid that if he put her down she might never tell him what was wrong.

"Absolutely not," Iason denied softly, gently prying the little mongrel from his hands. "If we got into an accident she would go through the windshield and end up Jupiter knows where."

Riki gnashed his teeth together, grabbing onto Iason's forearm as he was placing the child into her seat. "Please," he simply replied.

The Blondie paused, straightening his posture and looking down at his beloved whose eyes screamed desperation, but his body was trying to remain composed. He sighed internally and held the child to Riki, noticing that Luci made grabbing hands for him before returning to her position in his arms. "Just this once, and you'd better hold onto her, no moving around," he instructed.

"Thank you," Riki softly answered, leaning upward to give Iason's lips a soft peck, before he shrunk back in embarrassment.

"You're welcome," Iason replied, his chest filled with a soothing warmth.

Unable to gain any insight during the trip home, Riki headed to the sofa to relax while holding his little mongrel. "Hey, you know you can talk to me," he reminded.

Luci nodded, but didn't say a word. Instead her eyes glistened and threatened to produce tears.

"Hey, hey, hey, what's wrong?" he worried. "You can tell me, baby, you can tell me."

"I'm s...sad," she cried.

"Why?" Riki demanded, looking her up and down for injuries.

Luci wiped her eyes. "Neptune ate one of the mongrels from Ceres," she answered. "He's gonna....-- eat Lucifer soon!"

Riki's eyes grew wide. "Why would he eat him?"

"N...Neptune likes th-the taste of mongrels," she sobbed. "He ate a mongrel who helped me. I'm so powerless, there's nothing I can do!" She looked up into Riki's eyes. "What can I do? I can't save Lucifer when I'm here! But I don't want to leave you!" Her face smeared against his shirt. "Papa what do I do?"

"We'll think of something," he assured, hugging her tightly and glanced at Iason in desperation. "Everything will work out." Though it felt like he was just telling himself that.

"I'm so weak," she sobbed. "I'm not strong like you."

"You're the strongest kid I know," Riki denied, rising up and walking around as he was filled with restlessness and dread.

"It's not enough though," Luci whimpered, looking up at him sadly.

Riki felt himself break somewhere inside, he glanced up at Iason just as he approached. He pushed Luci into his arms, backing off while running his hands through his hair. "Take her, I can't," he choked, moving away to the front door. "I can't."

"Riki!" Iason called, but the mongrel was already gone out. He swiftly handed Luci off to Cal, hurrying after his beloved. "Riki!"

Riki pressed the lift buttons frantically, shaking and panting. When he glanced at the door he saw Iason running to him. His fist met the panel and finally the lift descended. He leaned back against the wall, nearly hyperventilating with fear and sadness that was stabbing into his heart. Quickly, he swiped at his eyes, just in time for him to exit the lift. He kept his head down and shoved his hands into his pockets as he headed down the halls.

"Riki!" Iason scolded, appearing almost out of thin air and yanking onto the mongrel's arm. "Where are you going?"

He kept his eyes pinned to the floor, unable to find words as his mind was racked with sadness. Only when Iason slipped his hand under his chin and lifted it, did his glistening dark eyes meet concerned blue.

Iason blinked, not expecting the emotions from Riki. "What happened?" he asked softly.

Riki shook his head. "You...wouldn't.."

"Tell me," he implored, moving them off to the side of the hallway. He gently caressed Riki's face, stunned when Riki caught his hand and stroked it with his thumb.

"W...when I held Luci," he began softly. "I saw something, in my head." He searched Iason's eyes for judgement. "I think she showed me her pain. A...and..." His throat threatened to close off. "Iason...I don't know what I saw, but if she or Lucifer have gone through that I'm not sure if they can recover."

Iason felt his chest ache, he pulled Riki close, hiding him from passing by people. "It will be fine, Riki," he assured. "I will get them the best help I can. They will get over this."

"I wish they hadn't been born," Riki choked, his head against Iason's chest. "It's my fault they're suffering."

"No, Riki, it's not your fault," Iason denied. "You had no idea any of that would've happened to them."

Riki didn't agree with him, immense guilt vibrating through him as he battered his mind with scolding himself for getting a woman pregnant.

Iason wrapped his arms lovingly around his beloved, and kissed Riki deeply on the lips. He didn't stop until Riki appeared to be aroused and calmer. "I love you, and I will do everything I can to help your children. I just need to find more leads."

Riki gave a nod, his head bowed and embarrassment creeping up into him. "She says she's weak, but to endure the pain I felt, she is the strongest child I've met."

"I wonder who she inherited that from," Iason whispered, then wrapped his arm around his beloved and made his way back to the penthouse. "Let's go back."

Iason brushed Luci's hair out of her eyes, her body worn out from crying with hopelessness. He felt upset that Luci wanted to return to her previous home despite the chance of not coming back. The poor child had the weight of lives on her shoulders at age six and could hardly be blamed for just wanting to cry.

He slowly moved around her bedroom, keeping his pace even so she could rest. When Riki had handed her off to him his insides ached from the distress that both of his mongrels were enduring. "You are a very brave girl, Luci," he praised softly. "Wanting to return there to save your brother." He gently kissed her forehead. "But you cannot be expected to fix everything on your own."

Luci twitched in her sleep, her head raising up to look to Iason, her eyes red from crying. "Its my job, Fyo," she whispered. "Have to save..."

"Shh, just rest," Iason insisted.

"Needa' save Lucifer..." the little mongrel mumbled, sleepily pushing away from the Blondie's chest.

Iason held her firmly. "You can save him tomorrow, all right?"

Luci blinked slowly. "'Kay."

Riki tossed his cigarette over the edge of the balcony, finally grasping composure as himself. He leaned over the railing, gripping the bar tightly in his hands. His teeth clenched together as his muscles flexed and his fingers dug into the metal. With an angry yell, he pushed off and huffed angrily, then glanced down at the railing.

His eyes focused in on where his hands had been, and widened. A perfect outline of all of his fingers had been indented into the thick metal where he had applied force.

He ran his finger tips over the curves, exhaling in disbelief. He looked down at his hands, trying to analyze them for an explanation.

Riki glanced around the balcony, and then scooped up a thick empty glass pot for flowers. He tried to break it and couldn't. With a frown, he examined the pot then went back to the railing.

How did he dent the railing, but not the thick glass? He set down the pot, then tried the railing again. Nothing.

"How?" he mumbled, tightening his grip but it had no effect. He paused, recalling what he was thinking when he had dented the railing.

Riki wrapped his hands around the railing, focusing on the pain that Luci had shown him, and his own sufferings mingled in, the fear of all that had happened to them lately. He took a deep breath, and closed his eyes, before applying strength to the railing.

He jerked back as he heard a metallic crack sound and felt the metal break beneath his hands. "Holy shit...!" he gasped, examining his handy work. "Holy shit! Holy shit!"

Riki stared at his hands again, letting out a laugh in disbelief. He picked up the glass pot and was going to break it, when his mind shot him into a vision.

There was a man with glossy silver hair, one eye was covered with a black eyepatch while the other was an abnormal yellow, popping against his pale features."You are nothing but trash," he hissed, grabbing a knife and swinging it forward.

Riki jolted back to reality just before he was hit, dropping the glass pot as one word left his lips with disgust. "Uncle."

Chapter Text

CHAPTER THIRTY

SURPRISES

--------

Iason held his mongrel tightly, gently planting kisses on the already marked nape. When Riki gave a soft moan in his sleep, a smile curled on his lips and he slipped back into his gentle cuddling. He had held Riki all night, both of them on edge after Luci's terrified outburst of inadequacy.

Since gaining the energy orb from his beloved's child, he felt at ease just being connected and close with Riki. When he held him, it was as if part of his own internal energy sources were complete with Riki's - as if he was his other half of some sort.

With a feather light touch, he ran his pale fingers along the tan skin, gently resting his hand against the toned chest. He felt the steady heartbeat, the force of nature behind his beautiful young man.

"Mine," he whispered.

-----

Riki and Luci watched from the upper balconies, as the nozzles from the machines were placed into position and then began spewing a metallic blue liquid. At first it was rather uneventful, just a liquid flooding the marbelling flooring, but then came the zapping and smoke.

"What the fuck?" Riki blinked, then coughed as the scent of burnt metal and plastic components surfaced to the upper areas before ventalation kicked in.

Onlookers fanned the scent away from their faces, exclaiming dramatically that the smell was horrible. Pets went to their masters for comfort and explanation.

Orphe, who was on the main floor, watching all of the cleansing and flooding take place looked up to the upper balconies. Through his breathing mask and reflective visor he saw Luci staring down at him, her brown eyes warning him that this was the least of his problems to come. His eyes drifted back to the millions of surfaced digital bugs, and motioned for the removal to begin.

------

Riki slipped into the bathroom, and disabled the lights behind him. He didn't know exactly how his powers worked, but upon discovering them a few days prior, he needed to test them out again.

He crouched down and rested his hands against the floor. He closed his eyes and in his mind he envisioned the pain and suffering of his children, and let the anger and sadness flow through him. When he opened his eyes, his fingers felt heavy and numb with vibrations.

Concerned, he rose up and reached for the light switch and jumped back as he broke it clean off the wall just with a touch, sending a blue wave of electricity blasting across the cracked panel.

"Shit!" he cursed, panicking and carefully reached for the panel as the bathroom lights flickered and then completely shut down. "Aw fuck."

"Papa?" Luci called softly, peeking her head into the bathroom easily, now that the locks had also been disabled. She blinked as there was another zap of electricity from the panel. "Are you hurt!"

"No, no, I'm fine," Riki denied, trying to push the panel cracks back into place so it was less noticeable. He didn't flinch when the next wave of electricity came whisping out and licked his fingers.

Luci's eyes grew wide. "Papa!" she exclaimed excitedly, hurrying over and grabbing onto his hands. "Papa, Papa, you're changing!"

"Huh?"

"You're gaining back your abilities!" she beamed, resting her hand on his chest. "Your energy is giving you strength and resistance. You're regaining your power."

Riki crouched down. "What power? Do you mean like what you have?" he inquired.

Luci nodded. "Where do you think I got it? It's from you, Papa, my energy power is from you." She held onto Riki's hands excitedly. "Our energy power is what gives us the ability to manipulate and control electricity, strength that is beyond comparison - Papa there is so much we can do!" She hugged onto him tightly. "I'm so happy!"

Riki felt a ripple of excitement go through his spine, knowing that he secretly possessed inner strength that was unlike anything else. "I need to learn to control it though," he admitted.

"I'll help you, I'm sure once we tell --"

The elder mongrel put two fingers against her lips. "We cannot tell anyone that I have this," he denied.

Luci's eyes widened. "Why?"

"Unlike you, I do not have skin to protect me, if they found out I have similar traits to you, Raoul would gladly cart me off to his lab," he explained. "And I do not think it would end well."

Fear spiked through the small child. "OK, Papa, it will remain a secret between us," she promised, holding onto his hands. "Let me start by balancing your energy levels, so that." She looked to the fizzing light switch panel. "Doesn't happen often."

------

Iason emerged from his office, weary from paperwork and spotting Raoul who was approaching him. "Raoul, how are things?"

Raoul nodded, then stepped in stride with his beloved brother. "Very well, my Nujixin specimen are ready for the showing and are bound to make me billions," he nonchalantly answered. "How are you fairing?"

"There has been nothing," Iason returned, with a sigh. "Which I find far more concerning than if there was."

"I meant how are you," Raoul clarified, gently pulling his brother aside. "You're overworking yourself, Iason. You're chasing phantom leads scattered to the wind."

Iason nodded, running his hand across his face then pinching the bridge of his nose. "I only have so much trail length, but there are so many suspicious aspects," he confessed. "It's rather infuriating. Katze has his men out on the faintest trails, but whoever is part of this has covered their tracks to the finest detail that they're undetectedable."

Raoul's green eyes glimmered with sympathy, he gave Iason's arm a squeeze. "May I borrow Katze?"

The fellow Blondie blinked. "Pardon?"

"The other creature of your mongrel's offspring said that there was a person of interest attending the Galactic Science Trades Convention," Raoul explained. "It may be the lead you're looking for, and I am anxious to meet this person. He may find other leads there too."

"How do you know this?"

Raoul glanced around, and handed off the manual to Iason and pointed out the future headlines. "Dr. Galanis here, was keen on taking over. But thanks to that creature, my Nujixin are stronger than before. This article is nothing but a warning of what could've gone wrong now if I hadn't changed the chemical balances."

Iason's eyes skimmed the pages, icy blue narrowing in on every word. "Impossible," he breathed.

"I thought so to," the green eyed blondie returned, slipping past him. "But it seems that a lot of things I believed were impossible are no longer so."

------

Luci peeked around the corner, ensuring Cal was busy in the kitchen while Papa was out having a smoke. If she was correct, Fyo would be returning home soon. She silently slipped into her room and hastily made way to her bed, practically diving underneath it. There she found the small metal protective briefcase, and popped open the latches. In the upper portion were documents which she knew she could read later, but what she really needed to get on was the metallic data chip.

Evanna had left her the latest information on what was happening in the laboratory, but she knew a fair amount already. To be safe though, she wanted to hand it off to Iason. There might be some other plans in regards to other aaspects she wasn't aware of, and Iason looked as if he was ready to throw in the towel.

Luci shook her head and silently scolded herself for not remembering the data chip sooner, she blamed it on the medication from the operation. Drugs and medicines did not go well with her, and made her mind muddled. And when it was finally clear, she was just happy to be back with her Papa and Fyo.

The brown eyes looked at the other container, pulling out the foreign object. She hesitated, but put the shiny metal back, remembering her Papa's comments about Raoul. Luci wasn't afraid of Raoul, but she was afraid of Raoul when Raoul was given tools that could cut her open.

Her eyes moved to the last wrapped item, and gently removed it. It was a teddy bear with a big velvet bow. Luci smiled, gently stroking the bear, then hugged in close along with the data chip.

She crawled out from under the bed, deciding to place the gifted bear in the glass cased shelf just offside of where her bed was. She straightened its soft green bow, and nodded in satisfaction then closed the case.

Her eyes then moved to the canopy above her bed, which she reached in seconds by climbing the beam and then snatched the device that had been left sitting on top. She slid down, shoving the other device into her pocket.

Luci looked down at the data chip in her hand. "I hope this kills some bitches," she hissed, slipping off her bed and hurrying to the door as Iason came home.

------

Iason stepped into the penthouse, a soft chime announcing his arrival. He slipped off his outer layer of clothing, which he handed off to Cal before he was he halted by a tiny figure.

"Fyophara," Luci greeted, bowing her head politely. "Welcome home." She then hugged onto his leg. "Can...can I talk to you alone for a minute?"

Disturbed by Raoul's earlier revelations, meetings with his brothers and exhausted by the endless mountain of documents coming in, Iason slowly picked up the child. "What about?"

Luci rested her hand subtly against Iason's chest, feeling the distraught emotions flowing through the energy core. Guilt pierced her, as she realized she could've avoided causing him this pain if she had remembered the chip earlier. She gently realigned the tangled emotions battered by stress within the Blondie, watching as the man's eyes went from dull to shimmering ice.

"Easy Fyo," she cautioned, as the man swayed, then regained himself but was momentarily stunned as his thoughts became clearer with his emotions, and his energy levels returned. "When you're able I would like to speak with you alone, for now, relax."

Iason blinked as Luci hopped down, then looked to the balcony as Riki entered. "Riki," he breathed, feeling relieved to see him again. He'd been so swamped with everything he'd hardly been home, and to see his beloved and feel renewed was like seeing the sun after living in darkness.

"Look who decided to come back while there was daylight," Riki scoffed, shoving his hands in his pockets. "You're back early. They didn't fire you did they---?" Before he could finish, Iason was somehow across the room and Riki found himself on the bar counter in a hug with his mouth dominated. "Oi...oi...! Mnn...I..Iason..!"

Luci let out a cheer then giggled, as Riki's horrified eyes caught hers as Iason continued to plant kisses on his neck."Iason and Riki sitting in a tree k-i-s-s-i-n-g~" she sang loudly, skipping away happily.

Riki's ears turned bright red and he squished his eyes shut. "Oh my gods," he choked, then opened his eyes. "Why?"

"Because we both needed that," he returned, planting a final kiss on the tanned forehead. "Shall we go out for supper?"

"I didnt need that," Riki denied gruffly, even though he was practically screaming for more on the inside. "And what's the catch? Are you gonna make me wear chains?"

"No catch, just a meal and some quality time together," Iason clarified. "You, Luci and myself. Is that all right?"

Taken aback by being asked about the plans, Riki gave a nod. "Sure, that sounds fine..."

"Good, then go get into the bath, I'll join you shortly," Iason promised, sending shivers down Riki's spine. He gave the mongrel a little pat on the behind, and watched him head to the Master bedroom before he made his way to Luci's room.

"Luci?" he called outside the door.

"Come in, Fyo," Luci answered loudly.

Iason opened the door, and Luci hurried over. "You wanted to talk to me? And we are going out for supper so I'll have Cal prepare a bath for you," he announced.

"Oh yay! And yes," Luci guided Iason to sit down on the edge of her bed. " I'm really, really sorry Fyo, but when I got back I was a bit discombobulated and you were busy so timing was off..."

Iason held up his gloved hand. "What is the problem?"

"It's not a problem per say, it's just something I forgot to give you," she handed him the data chip. "Evanna had brought this, and I had forgotten about it. It has information about what is going on in the laboratory and there might be some people in here that can give you leads." She bowed her head. "I'm sorry, Fyo."

The Blondie accepted the data chip, feeling as if finally answers were falling into his hands. "It is all right, Luci," he assured gently, giving the child's shoulder a caress. "We will just have to act quickly to make up for the lost time, but thank you for giving me this."

Luci nodded, then blinked as if remembering something. "And...and can I keep this?" she pulled out a tiny developed photo of Iason kissing Riki on the bar counter and smiled fondly. Despite how intense the passion of situation had been, the moment captured on the film was a split second of a tender moment. "I think it turned out great."

Iason's lips curled up in a smile as he examined the photo, his heart filled with happiness to have a moment like this captured forever in physical form. "Under one condition," he agreed.

"Yes?"

"I get a copy as well."

------

Riki slid under the layer of bubbles until his nose was just above it and he was peering over the horizon of delicate pink tainted foam. It was immensely relieving to have Iason come home not looking like a zombie creature from a horror flick Luci and he had watched one night despite Cal's protests.

Iason finally seemed alive, and dare he even hope, happy. Things had been pretty tense but now it seemed that the knot was beginning to unravel, so maybe, just maybe, things would relax.

Riki had been walking on pins and needles, while additionally feeling neglected. He was worried that if trouble happened Luci might take the brunt of it, but he wanted to stir the pot just to get Iason to remember he existed. But thank goodness he didnt need to resort to any of the tactics he had been plotting.

The door hummed open behind him, and soft steps entered the room. Riki didn't turn around, instead closing his eyes and relaxing as he waited for Iason. Soon enough enough the sound of clothes being striped off and landing on the floor met his ears and a familiar wet body was behind his.

"Hey," Riki softly greeted.

Iason responded with a kiss to the throat. "By any chance, did you destroy the light switch panel?" he inquired.

Riki blinked, having forgotten about that, and Iason never had time to ask what happened to it. "Oh...no, I was going to the bathroom and turned it...on and it just short circuited...and it kinda...exploaded."

"Mmm," Iason purred, sliding his hand to a pointed nipple and massaging it. "And why didn't you tell Cal right away?"

The mongrel bit his lip. "I forgot...Got sidetracked with Luci after..." he stammered, licking his lips. "She heard me exclaim and got worried...Hah!...An honest mistake..."

Iason wrapped his other arm around Riki, snaking it to the young man's erection. "I'm relieved you weren't harmed," he whispered. "That would have been a horrible amount of voltage to endure."

"Y...yesss..." Riki agreed, partially to the question and also to Iason's skillful movements of giving pleasure to his cock. His hips gave little encouraging thrusts, as his head fell back and rested in Iason's nape. He could feel the Blondie's erection against his back and ass, as hard as a crowbar. "Fuck...oh fuck...Iason!"

Iason gave one of Riki's nipples a good twist, then pinch, making the youth scream then moan. "Let go, Riki," he whispered low in his ear, deactivating the ring.

That was all he needed, Riki let out a cry, sending an arch of semen into the water. He collapsed back into Iason's waiting arms, his dark eyes warm and loving after receiving some quality love from the beloved. Not that he would admit it.

Riki turned over, and in an act that was not like him, he knelt in the water between Iason's legs. When the Blondie gave him a questioning look, he simply reached below the water until he found the pulsating organ and gently grasped hold of it. "Can...Can I?"

"You can," Iason agreed softly, curious and stunned that Riki wanted him enough to do this. It made his chest flutter with happiness and another feeling. He rested his head back on the tub ledge, but kept his eyes open just enough to see what expressions Riki was making.

Slowly Riki ran his hand up and down the thick shaft, his stomach pooling with desire as he had the chance to inspect the cock that was thrust up into him so often. Had it always had such a large head? Riki unconsciously ran his thumb along a glossy blue vein that he hadn't noticed before, finding it to look beautiful against Iason's skin color.

"See anything you like?" Iason teased gently, remaining absolutely still as to not scare the wildcat.

A smirk slipped out on the mongrel's face. "Just browsing." He was made to remove his hand, but Iason leaned forward and caught it. "What?"

Iason gently placed the mongrel's hand back on his throbbing cock, then reached over and found his beloved's that was standing straight. "Don't be afraid, you can touch me like you do yourself," he assured.

Riki gulped, but then found new courage and began running his thumb over the brimming top of the blonde's tip. He glanced up, stunned as he saw Iason's eyes flutter shut then open for a moment in a way that had Riki biting his lip and ready to make Iason come.

He grasped onto the member, now more familiar and began stroking it faster and with more precise movements.

Iason enjoyed every moment of his mongrel's attention, but wanted to touch his mate as well. He ran his thumb over Riki's very sensitive head, swirling it around the contours and teasing the slit. A mischievous grin slipping onto his face as Riki jumped and let out a shocked cry.

"W-what?"

"Keep going," Iason purred, pulling Riki closer, allowing easier access to his beloved's entrance and then ceased touching.

Riki obeyed, annoyed that just a little touch from Iason had him melting and his efforts were not producing fast results. He began jacking Iason off as if his life depended on it, wanting nothing more than to see Iason reach climax from his efforts.

A moan deep within the blondie made his hair stand on edge, his eyes shot up and he looked to see Iason tilt his head back slightly. Desperate Riki leaned his head down and took Iason into his mouth, sucking while his hand pumped the thick cock, sending water splashing in various directions.

"Yes, oh Riki," Iason softly moaned, his voice almost causing the mongrel to pass out from the sound of Blondie's voice. "Riki."

Riki gave it all that he had, feeling the Blondie's hips lift upward and almost vibrate with need. He felt fingers in his hair, panting breaths escaping the Blondie as he was reaching his ascent.

Iason closed his eyes and let the feeling of bliss take over.

-------

"Iason."

Hmm?

"Iason!"

Iason slowly opened his eyes, which took a moment to adjust but then saw that Riki was leaning over him with a frantic look on his face.

"Iason! Shit, can you hear me?"

"What happened?" the blonde asked, realizing then that he was laid out on the tile floor with a bath towel on him.

Riki fell down onto Iason's knees. "Fucksake, you just passed out and didn't...thought you died..."

Iason blinked, realizing that Riki was crying. He grabbed his love into his arms and held him close, their slick bodies gliding together. "I'm sorry, I'm sorry I didn't mean to," he whispered.

"What happened?"

Iason just shook his head. "I don't know, what happened when I passed out?"

"Well I was blowing you, then you...spewed."

The Blondie blinked. "Spewed?" he repeated.

"Yeah, you've never actually..." Riki ran a hand through his hair, clearing his throat. "Produced semen so I don't know what the fuck you shot out of you."

Iason rose up, the towel falling from his knees and onto the floor. He looked into the bathtub and saw a cloud of white. His mind was filled with alarming thoughts, mainly about his systems shutting down. But firstly. "Did you get any of it in your mouth?"

Riki glanced up. "Huh?"

The Blondie had his hand on the tanned chin within a few seconds, grasping onto it and examining the inside of Riki's mouth. "I don't know what substance came out of me, and it might have been toxic, did you or did you not get any of it in your mouth?"

The mongrel pushed away. "Yeah, I did, and I'll just wash my mouth out, jeez," he grumbled.

Iason shook his head. "Riki, that could've been a fluid that is poisonous to humans, we need to seek medical attention for you."

"It's not that big of a deal," Riki protested. "Plenty of guys have come in my mouth." Upon the last word leaving his lips, he immediately regretted it and prepared for the worst. He glanced back to see that Iason had stiffened, but was trying to remain calm as he picked up the towel from the floor. Riki noted that the blondie's fist wrapped around the fabric with the intent to strangle everyone who had ever had sexual contact with him. "Hey, look. I'm sorry."

Riki approached Iason and leaned up on his tip toes for a kiss. "Taste anything toxic?" he inquired, knowing Iason's palette was trained to detect certain dangerous substances.

"No," Iason concluded after a moment. "Just one addictive mongrel known as Riki."

"Hmmph, maybe there's some counseling groups available? I'm sure Raoul would love to help you on the road to recovery."

"I'll decline that offer," Iason smiled, then tossed the towel into the bin. He grabbed a new one and handed it off to Riki before grabbing himself one. He would ask Raoul about the substance excretion, as Blondie's were not physically able to produce semen but a water based lubricant which meant his body was trying to produce something else during the phase which ejaculation would occur.

"We've spent too long in the bath, hurry and get dressed," Iason ordered to Riki, ushering him from the bathroom. When his beloved was gone, he took a moment to compose himself further while checking his internal systems to see if they were in sync with the energy core.

When he was certain everything was correct, he made for the door. A last thought came into his mind, which had him turning back to look where he was laid on the floor. How had Riki gotten him out of the bath onto the floor alone? Blondie's were notorious for being excessively heavy and the average human could only dream of lifting them, let alone moving them out of the tub.

Iason shook his head and hurried out of the bathroom and into the bedroom to get change for supper.

--------

Riki set Luci into her carseat, then lifted the fasteners and watched as they automatically clasped shut. "Does this thing even secure you?"

"Not in the slightest," Luci beamed, her red coat fluttering as she kicked he little boots in delight at having some power over something.

"Great," Riki returned, rolling his eyes and hopping into the front seat. "So where are we going?"

"Midas," Iason answered, punching in some coordinates into his circuit board for a smoother ride. He'd received word that traffic was rather heavy, so he was requesting a higher flight path to avoid it. "I have a particular restaurant in mind."

Riki focused on Iason for a moment, gazing at his profile. In his mind he saw tall white pillars and fancy steps."Is it that one with the awesome food right by the boarder?" he asked, unable to bring himself to say 'of Ceres'.

Iason paused, looking straight into the dark eyes. "How did you know?"

"Uh...lucky guess," Riki shrugged, stunned he got it right. "It's...it's a good place."

"Yes," Iason agreed, watching the mongrel for a moment. "Yes, it is indeed which is why I wanted us to go there again."

"Yrsoi, Yrsoi, pray to live, pray to die~" Luci began singing in a foreign tongue, patting her hands on her legs. "Yrsoi, Yrsoi, good hellos, sad goodbyes, Yrsoi~"

Riki glanced back. "Hey, no summoning anymore demons in the car, we already have one right there."

Luci giggled behind her hand. "Papa!"

"Riki!" Iason scolded, his pointed gazed stinging into the older mongrel. "I will not tolerate any disrespect."

"It was a joke, yeesh, you heard her, singing her weird language with Yuroosi crap."

"That is no excuse."

Luci smiled at the couple's arguement. "It's a language from my planet, Papa. And it's Yrsoi. And she is the goddess of life and death."

"Huh, well dont be singing to or summoning her in the back of the car, got it?" Riki warned.

"Yes, Papa," she giggled.

Iason let a small smile out at the casual interaction between the father and daughter. He was very pleased with the progress and maturity Riki was showing. But there was something bothering him - where had he heard Yrsoi before?

-------

Iason pulled up to the restaurant and into the vacant parking lot. By the time he got to the other side of the vehicle, Riki was already trying to unclasp Luci to no avail.

"Why can't I get her out?" he grumbled.

"Only I can, remember?" Iason reminded, then stepped forward and had his prints register and unlock the clasps.

Riki grumbled hate words under his breath, then snatched at Luci. But Iason caught her first and held her out of his reach. "Really?"

"Be nicer," he suggested.

"Can I have my child please?"

"You mean our child?"

Riki frowned. "Last time I checked, she was mine," he hissed, and reached for her. "Gimme."

"Can I just walk on my own?" Luci asked, prying herself a bit from Iason's grasp. "I am my own person."

Both of the adults looked at the child, then decided that it would be best if that solution was used. Luci hopped down, then immediately brushed invisible dust off herself.

"I'm not a doll, you don't have to fight over me," she assured. "I love you both equally as my parents."

"Thank you, Luci," Iason nodded, giving her a gentle pat.

Riki let out a hmph, then mumbled whatever under his breath. "Are we gonna just stand here or go in and eat?"

Iason nodded, then led the way up the steps, ensuring little Luci made it up. They reached the fancy doors and stepped into a familiar looking restaurant barely seen by customers yet somehow open.

"Sweet Yrsoi! If it isn't Iason Mink!" Miss Anne exclaimed, coming out from the back room, dressed in her uniform with her silver hair hiding her shoulder scars. "And Riki too! A pleasure!" She smiled wide, her eyes then moved to the small figure that moved into view from behind the counter. "A...and Luci!"

Iason and Riki stiffened at the same time, their gazes going from Luci to Miss Anne. Before Iason could open his mouth to inquire Miss Anne's knowledge of Luci, the young lady and child were hurrying across the room toward one another.

"Auntyyyyyyyyy!" Luci exclaimed happily, leaping up into Miss Anne's arms at full speed and giving her a hug.

Chapter Text

Chapter Thirty One

PAST LIVES

------

Iason's eyes pinned onto Miss Anne. "I believe you have some explaining to do," he hissed.

"Yes, I do," Miss Anne agreed, giving another hug to Luci. She then let go of the child, watching as the little mongrel ran back to her people. "Let's discuss this over dinner, shall we?"

Iason nodded, then led the group behind the silver haired woman as she led them to a table. Miss Anne excused herself for a moment before they were seated. "Do not make me find you," he warned.

"Never." Miss Anne shook her head. "I wouldn't run from this," she assured, then turned and left to tend to something behind the back room doors.

"Please don't be upset with Aunty," she pleaded, giving her best puppy dog eyes.

"How is she related to you?" Riki demanded, unable to keep quiet anymore.

Luci paused, trying to reign in her sadness. "She...she is my Carrier's sister," she finally managed, tears bubbling up. "W-We aren't related by blood...a...anymore."

Iason took a moment to mentally process the confession. "Anymore?" he prompted.

The little mongrel nodded, too distraught to continue speaking. Riki gently scooped her up and held her close. "Don't take her away from me," she pleaded.

"We're not taking anyone away." Riki gently soothed Luci, refusing to let her sit in her own chair again. "Question her, not Luci," he growled, peeved that they'd upset her so much, he could feel so much agony coursing through the little mongrel it hurt him so much.

Miss Anne returned with three wine glasses and a bottle of her best wine. Her eyes narrowed in on the crying Luci with protective instincts. "Here," she offered, setting the glasses down. She then seated herself in the open chair at the other end of the table.

"There's so much to explain, but I'm not sure where to begin," Miss Anne sighed, pouring herself a glass of wine. She took a soft sip, then a deep breath. "Luci was brought into this world through natural means, before her DNA was altered."

"Natural means?"

Miss Anne smiled. "My sister gave birth to her," she responded, then the happiness disappeared. "Before she was brutally murdered."

------

Uncle returned from the storage room, carrying the box of supplies. He kicked the entry button, sending the room's door sliding open. "Ah, you've progressed," he praised, his voice being drowned out by the woman's labour screams.

"Hurts...hurts so..." she sobbed, before another contraction brought on by the drugs tore through her sweat drenched body.

"Let's take a peek?" Uncle decided, snapping on a pair of gloves. He cussed as he nearly slipped on the tile floor, wet from the female's body sweat, before seating himself in between her legs on a chair. "Ah, there we go! Here they come!"

A scream ripped out from within the restrained woman, as she pulled against the bonds. The position left nothing for her to grab onto, leaving only a small spot for her feet to push against. She was exhausted, as it had been hours of pain.

"Push you useless whore, push!" Uncle demanded, slapping her inner thigh hard so she yelped. "Push godammit!"

"Ca...Can't!" she whimpered, a strand of her long silver hair falling into her eyes before joining the rest of the sweat dampened locks. An agonizing scream of pleas in her native tongue almost left her voiceless as she tried to push again with the forced contraction.

"I said push!" Uncle bellowed, reaching over and grabbing onto a stun prod and stabbing it into the woman's hips. "Push! Push!" He watched as the woman's body jolted, her voice dying out in silent torment. "You're not listening to me!"

"Please...!"

"I said fucking push!" Uncle demanded, landing his fist straight into her lower abdomen. "Push them out!"

A bloodcurdling scream erupted from the battered woman, her nude body trembling in agony. In response to the abuse, she pushed, feeling as if something had finally released from her before laying still on the table, gasping for breath.

"Yes, yes! There you are!" Uncle smiled, retrieving the tiny baby. "Oh, you are so beautiful!" He cleared the baby's airways, smiling as the pale skinned, little girl let out a cry. "Shhh my sweet, I've got you." He gently ran his fingers over the little patch of light silver hair. "Oh, my dear."

The woman raised her head up slightly, saying the little girl before she was detached from her and put into an incubator on standby and wiped off. "My...my baby..." she smiled, her eyes bubbling with tears.

Uncle looked over his shoulder. "You mean, my baby?" he smirked.

"No...its.." she gasped, then felt something move and break inside of her and cried out in severe pain.

"What are you screaming at now?" Uncle hissed, returning to the birthing woman and roughly handling her lower regions. He frowned as blood and fluid gushed out. "Seems you're broken, a shame. I'll just have to get them out myself." He fished his hand into her opening and found another infant, carefully pulling it forward and ignoring the woman's screams and protests.

"And we have a...!" Uncle started, then frowned and stared in horror. He yanked the baby out, then slapped it's back before pulling it's black hair patch. "What is this monster?"

The small baby girl wailed helplessly at the rough handling, her chocolate colored eyes full of tears. "Uuuuuu....uuuuuguuu!"

Uncle held up the baby by it's head, his eyes dark with fury as he looked at the woman. "You...you bitch! You dare mate with anyone else? You have no choice in this matter!"

The woman's eyes met the tanned skin baby's, realization coming onto her face. "She's...she's his."

"Whose?" he hissed, then when she didnt answer he slammed the baby to the floor like a doll. "I said whose!"

Luci sobbed uncontrollably, part of her skull smashed from the impact. She reached with weak, shaking fingers for aid to no avail. Her dark eyes peered up, catching the scene of Uncle grabbing her Carrier by the hair, a vibrating blade to her throat. Crimson water rained down onto the floor as the fast moving blade slid through the silver haired woman's throat, severing her head from her body.

Help me... Luci pleaded internally, her body shutting down as a shadow engulfed her.

-------

Luci tightened her grip onto Riki, her mind taken over by the horrid memories. She buried her face into his chest.

There was silence at the table, as everyone took in the gruesome ending to an innocent woman's life. Finally Iason spoke up, as Miss Anne chugged down the rest of her glass. "My sincerest condolences to your Sister," he softly announced.

"Thank you," Miss Anne nodded, then poured herself more wine. "She was a great person, and I dont think anyone can replace her."

"Why did she choose me?" Riki piped up.

Iason glanced at Riki, surprised he would ask that. "Riki, I'm sure it wasn't intentional."

Miss Anne's pale grey eyes narrowed on Riki. "You really don't remember anything, do you?"

"Remember what?" Iason frowned.

"Riki, you were chosen because you are one of us," Miss Anne revealed, sipping her wine. "Or have you forgotten your abilities?"

Riki flinched. "What abilities?" he asked, trying to keep himself collected.

"Hmm," Anne sounded, sipping her drink and staring at him as if she had x-ray vision. "No, no you've kept them, but you manipulated them. Very clever."

"What are you talking about?" Riki demanded.

"I'm talking about your past, Riki," Miss Anne answered. "You've were forced to forget it, but your body couldn't, and has adapted. Or do you not possess similar qualities to your daughter?"

Iason eyed up his beloved and the child. "Is this true, Riki?"

Riki shifted uncomfortably. "It just started," he whispered.

"Luci's presence must've finally got your shielding to really waver," Anne added. "But you've always had a way with manipulating energy, have you not? In the field of per say, hacking? That is the small outlet your abilities have utilized."

"When?" Iason inquired softly.

"On the balcony...and the day in the bathroom," Riki answered. "When the planter pot was broken and the lightswitch panel exploded."

Iason slowly digested the information. "And how did you know he had these abilities?" he questioned to Miss Anne.

Anne smiled. "Because Riki and I are the same," she revealed, her eyes meeting his. "But you wouldn't remember our childhood, because of the wishes from the Oraculyst, who freed you from your grief."

"Childhood? My childhood was in Ceres," Riki spat, then reigned in his bitterness as Luci gently touched his chest to remind him of her presence.

"No, that was your second childhood on Amoï," Miss Anne sighed. "Your first childhood was with us on Atera Estronia."

------

"Shh," Anne giggled, sinking down further into the thick ferns. She yanked her sister down next to her, beckoning her to be quiet as they panted from running.

"Do you see him?"

"No," Anne answered, pulling her white, thin fabric dress into the plant coverage. "He wont find us easily in here."

The identical sister shook her head. "Riki can find anything," she reminded, then went dead silent as there was a snapping twig sound in the distance.

Anne peeked out into the jungle floor, the scene chopped up with green fern spikes. She held her breath.

"Found you!"

Both Anne and her Sister jumped, startled as the tanned skin child pounced on them. "No way! How did you find us!" Anne protested. "I used an energy field and everything!"

Riki smirked, hopping up onto a rock and triumphantly donning a walking stick. "You ain't got nothing on me, sweetheart I'm the greatest hunter to walk the world."

The Sister giggled. "Told you he'd find us," she remarked, climbing up onto the rock where Riki was and sitting down. "You're too good."

"Youre not bad yourself," Riki winked, sitting down next to her and fiddling with his walking stick before grabbing a rock to sharpen the end.

"Hmph," Anne sounded, hopping up onto the rock as well and seating herself on the other side of Riki.

Riki raised an eyebrow. "Why are you pouting?"

"How come you like her more than me? We are identical twins you know!" Anne protested, crossing her arms. "Its not fair!"

The Sister laughed. "Nene."

"Well, how come?"

"Oh calm down, I can handle you both," he grinned. "After all, it's my job to protect you, so we'll always be together - until death separates us."

"Promise?"

"Yeah, I promise," Riki agreed, then leaned back against a tree trunk as the two girls laid themselves down near his lap, tired from their playing. "We'll always be together."

------

Riki paused, his brow furrowing as he came back from a memory. "Holy shit..." he whispered, looking up at Anne.

"Is it coming back to you?" Anne smiled. "There were two clans on Atera Estronia, you were part of the Nyshura Clan. A group of nobles who ruled the hunting and war sector. My Sister and I were part of the Mynari Clan, who controlled the agricultural and business sectors. Your family and ours were linked since the days of the ancient people." She set her glass down. "Overtime our families merged into one living area and became known as the Mynura Clan to the public, but each family kept their surnames to distinguish themselves when needed."

Riki leaned back into his chair. "And this happened how long ago?"

"You were five when you left Atera Estronia, but you reverted to age three on Amoï thanks to the Oraculyst."

"What is that?"

Anne sighed. "Its a demon who granted wishes in exchange for blood," she answered. "My Sister and I wished for Riki to be safe until we could meet again. The Oraculyst determined the safest place for you was Amoï and you were sent there through his means."

"Why wasn't he safe anymore?" Iason chipped in.

"Because we had lost everything, and we weren't willing to lose him too."

"Yes but why? What caused that?"

Anne swiped her eyes. "Because he almost died that day along with everyone else. The whole planet was ablaze and under attack. And you." She shot a sad look at Riki. "You lost everything too, but you still tried to save us from the enemy and you almost died."

"Who was the enemy?"

"Uncle," Riki breathed.

Iason frowned. "Your uncle?"

"No, that's the alias he uses," Anne answered. "His real name is Devyn. That bastard decided that Atera Estronia and our partner planet were the perfect place to set up base camps for his revenge against Jupiter."

The Blondie paused in silence, brewing over this information. But Riki did not. "Revenge?"

"The being of Uncle is the son of one of scientists that created Jupiter," Anne explained. "When Jupiter took over Amoï she destroyed everything and everyone who could shut her down - except that little boy. His Father sent him off in a space capsule with the blueprints on how to make another artificial intelligence."

"Holy shit."

Anne sighed, snapping her fingers and moments later a waiter came out and handed Riki a beer bottle. "You don't drink wine I see," she noted.

Riki gave his head a shake. "Not my forte."

Iason set his drink down. "How is this man still alive though? If he was from a human who made Jupiter there should be nothing different from him and anyone else on Amoï."

"Devyn is not Human," Anne corrected. "He's a clone of himself. His original is constantly submerged in regeneration fluid."

Luci's grip tightened on Riki's shirt again, and the older mongrel whispered. "Father."

"Bingo," Anne nodded, refilling her wine glass. "It's how he classified his original body and what he has younger ones call him."

"Disgusting."

"Miss Anne, do you have any ideas of this man's plans or how to fight back?" Iason demanded.

Anne brushed the hair out of her eyes. "Yes and no," she answered. "Its quite a difficult matter. He wants to destroy Amoï essentially and make Jupiter suffer. However, he cannot simply do it because he's always just short of the man power needed. Luci and I have connections within the laboratory to ensure things are never one hundred percent efficient."

"You mean Alliance?"

Miss Anne smiled. "Honey, I am Alliance."

Iason paused. "But a man..."

"Yes, I had a male energy version of myself return Luci to you," she agreed. "And I've often hid behind a male persona on Amoï."

"Why?"

"Amoïan society does not value female opinions and decisions as opposed to males," she returned. "I tried once to explain to the Midas police the situation when I first came to Amoï and by Yrsoi they almost sent me to the Locked House in a straight jacket." She sighed. "They brushed me off and said I was a very good liar. If they had listened sooner we could've avoided a mountain of deaths and pain."

"I see," Iason acknowledged. "I apologize for the mistreatment. And the misunderstanding."

Miss Anne raised an eyebrow and sniffled. "Oh my, please don't fret about it. I've dealt with plenty of brutality."

"You have the same energy as Luci?" Iason questioned, and Riki he realized mentally.

"Yes, I had tried to teach Luci a bit before she was sent to you, but it takes time and we got into a bit of a situation," she confessed. "But now that you both have it, I'm sure you'll be learning from each other in no time."

Luci peeked at Iason, trying to determine his feelings. "Are you mad, Fyo?"

Iason glanced over at the sniffling mongrel. "No, my dear," he replied. "On the contrary, I'm a bit relieved that you have a connection here." He accepted her reaching out hand, and took her into his arms. "But no more secrets between you two." He gave a look to Riki and Luci, then Anne. "And you too, you are part of this so you don't stay quiet either."

"Will do," Anne answered, then stood up. "Now are you going to eat your usual meal or did the table talk ruin it?"

-------

Luci yawned, resting her head against Riki's chest as they made their way out to the exit of the restaurant. She vaguely heard Iason and Miss Anne talking, as she handed off a small object to Riki. "Here."

"What's this?" the older mongrel demanded, looking at the silver ring.

"An---" Luci yawned widely. "Amplifier, for your energy practice."

Riki frowned, and slipped it on one of his fingers, surprised by its fit then jolted as it disappeared. "What the fuck?"

"It's shielded," Luci added. "So no one can detect it, but you can feel it. Others who don't know it's there can't feel it. It will dissolve when you match your natural energy rhythms again."

"Are you available this day?" Iason inquired, pulling up a hologram schedule.

"I should be, unless there are some unforeseen incidents preventing me from being available," Miss Anne replied, entering in the date and time into her screen at the front in the manager section. "Is there a reason you want me to come to Eos?"

Iason nodded. "I would like you to meet one of my employees, as well as see if you can point out any abnormalities within Eos."

"I think Luci would have the majority of the threats taken care of, but as you wish," she hesitantly agreed. "I'll meet you there"

"You dislike it?" Iason inquired, confused as to why she would dislike a place where Luci was.

"I...don't frequent places with Artificial Intelligence like Jupiter in them," she simply returned.

--------

Iason unbuckled the sleeping Luci, who peeked open her eyes and smiled softly. "Are we home?" she mumbled.

"Yes," he returned, just as softly, pleased she viewed the place of his and Riki's residence as home. He freed her from the seat, and handed her off to Riki despite wanting to ask her a few questions.

"Papa?" Luci whispered.

"Hm?"

"Are you going to work again soon?"

Riki himself had wondered that, but hadn't dared ask with all the shit happening around them. "I dunno kiddo, why?"

Luci just shook her head. "You just seem restless," she returned, then promptly drifted back to sleep.

Iason came up from behind the wondering mongrels and opened the lift, wrapping an arm around Riki's waist when he got in. He leaned down and gave a soft kiss to the tanned forehead. "It's going to be busy for awhile," he revealed, tightening his grip. "You better be prepared to not sleep until morning."

"Wasn't planning on it," Riki returned softly.

Chapter Text

CHAPTER THIRTY TWO

HEART BREAK

Riki rolled over, finding the bed next to him empty. Iason had spent hours carving into his body his passion, leaving him tired but replenished. He sat up, running his hand through his hair, then pulled on a pair of his black pants.

Without much thought, he fished a cigarette from his coat pocket that was hanging up and made his way to the balcony. Dawn had not yet brought the sun's light, so he maneuvered through the dimly lit living area and stepped out onto the dark pad. He lit up a cigarette, the spark illuminating a figure perched on the ledge that scared him before his eyes adjusted.

"Jesus, kid, you scared me," he hissed, then moved to Luci who was unmoving, still staring at the city below. "Luci?" When she again didn't move, he stomped his foot, taken aback by a glimmer of light that ignited and spread throughout the balcony floor like ripples of water. "What the fuck!"

"Do you ever miss your mother?" the child finally inquired, not looking back at Riki who was still in shock from what had come from him.

Riki froze, knowing that voice. "L...Lucifer?" he choked, hurrying forward through the energy ripples to his child. When he was just about there, he looked into the eyes of his kin. The all dark orbs were glistening with the reflections of the ripples of the blue energy. It looked like his eyes were full of endless tears and suffering, and before he knew it Riki was hugging him tightly. "I thought you were dead."

Lucifer disregarded the statement entirely. "You are a good man, Riki," he softly announced. "For picking us up that day and taking us in. For fighting for us, keeping us safe, giving us a parent and a family finally."

"Stop," Riki insisted, uneasy by the reducing energy he picked up on. He could feel his son's life force fleeting with every second, and he couldn't figure out how to reverse it. "I'm not done with you yet."

"I really do wish I could have met you in person instead of through Luci," he whispered sadly, a tear escaping, his voice cracked. "I will miss all of this."

Riki grabbed onto Lucifer's face, staring him dead in the eyes. "Don't you fucking dare leave me!"

"I don't want to," Lucifer answered, sobbing. "Don't—"

Luci's body fell limp into Riki's arms, leaving the older mongrel terrified. He channeled the energy leaving the smaller mongrel, and was gripped by sheer terror. He let out a blood curdling scream, which ended with his lungs being cut off of air and it being silenced as the energy plunged him into dark depths he had never been.

"Riki!" Iason screamed, unable to remain calm as he watched again as the paramedics gave his unresponsive mongrel a jolt from the paddles. It took six of the staff to hold him back as they continued their procedure. "Riki, wake up!"

His eyes wondered to the smaller mongrel, who was being revived as well. He felt utterly helpless, only able to watch as both of the people he had come to love were literally dying in front of him for some unknown reason. "I said wake up, goddamit!" he yelled, his voice not at all steady.

A hand landed on his shoulder, and he was about to fight off another paramedic but he met the gaze of Raoul. This did ease him, but not enough.

"I've got a pulse on both!"

Iason wanted to barrel through all the paramedics to check on both mongrels, but Raoul held him back. But he did manage to make his way to Riki, and fell on his knees next to his beloved who was alive again. He put his head on his chest and listened to the sound of his heartbeat, before breaking down and weeping.

Raoul stiffened, watching the intense moment with concern and awe at the raw emotion. He had never seen Iason cry, let alone know he could. But he also saw just how big of an impact Riki had on his brother, and it concerned him and made him a tad envious that he found someone to connect with like that. When Iason kissed Riki's face, the green eyed Blondie tapped his brother's arm. "He needs to be put into a healing pod."

Iason nodded, touching Riki's hair and stood up, brushing off his clothes. He observed the paramedics picking up Riki, and taking him away. "Luci," he choked, seeing the little mongrel having air pumped into her lungs and her stretcher that was already raised.

"Just making sure she is breathing on her own before we move her, sir."

The Blondie nodded in understanding, and gently stroked her hair. "What on Amoï happened to you both?" he whispered. When the paramedic pulled the air pump away, he saw her breathing on her own and she got the all clear to join Riki. Iason leaned down and kissed her forehead, then watched as his other mongrel vacated his premises.

"They will be taken to my laboratory, assessed and healed," Raoul assured, trying to calm his on edge sibling. "You can come see them anytime, as long as you want."

"Riki won't enjoy it when he realizes where he is," Iason reminded. "The hospital..."

Raoul shook his head. "Not a chance. Riki will have to deal with his issues. Now come with me, you can work on my computer in the laboratory while I do other things."

Riki walked through the darkness, seeking an ounce of light within the abyss. He tried calling out but he had no voice, as it was sucked into the void of emptiness. Suddenly a light appeared in front of him, and there he was, but he was younger, just a child.

The child version of him was dressed in a black protective woven leather jacket, and black britches with low rising boots. He was armed with a sharpened spear, but had a quiver of bows on his back and a belt with presumably other weapons. His eyes focused in on the threat, and he pointed the spear. "I've got you," he whispered, lowering himself into a hunting crouch and then flung the spear through the air.

Riki instinctually ducked, but the spear missed him, hitting a gross green, three legged bug beast that was crawling behind him. "Holy shit," he breathed, hurrying away. The thing was at least twice his size and had huge pincers. Why his younger self would ever go hunt it was beyond him!

Suddenly he was in a dark room, with a mossy layer covering the walls. It took him a moment to regain his sense of stability, but when he did he saw his younger self with Anne and the other lady. They were gathered in front of an old lady, who was telling them something.

"Oh please though!" Anne begged, touching the old woman's chair. "I want to hear Riki's fate!"

Riki perked up, now coming closer to the group.

"No," the woman insisted. "You both are not ready to hear yours, it is not your time. But the gods have told me to call upon Riki."

Anne pouted. "Fine."

The two girls left, and then it was just his child version, the old lady and himself.

"Are you really going to tell me my fate?" the child asked, scoffing at the idea.

"I am," she confirmed, moving her table between them and inviting him to bring the chair over. She brought a metal slab between them, and placed his hands on the edges. "We call upon the gods, who have brought forth this child to know his fate. Let us know what will become of this child."

An orb formed on the metal slab, and the lady looked into it. Riki walked over to her side, wanting to see what she could see.

"Blood, you will suffer a tragedy," she started. "But you will be reborn stronger from it, as from the blood we have a crimson flower sprouting." She tapped the orb, sending it to a shimmering haze. "You are a leader, an alpha of a wolf pack, but you will one day fall to a white wolf of another pack."

Riki blinked, watching as his wolf was leading a pack just as he did in Ceres. Then next minute the said white wolf appeared, and dragged him to a den and trapped him.

"I will not!" the child blurted.

The lady smiled, looking over at the upset child. "I wouldn't get upset yet, we are far from done."

"Well I'm not bowing to anyone!"

Riki sighed, knowing just how wrong that statement was. But at the same time how true. And how much agony it caused.

"But you come to accept the white wolf," she continued. "And you even fall in love with the white wolf."

The child looked so unhappy. "But the wolf took me from my pack."

"Sometimes you need to separate from the pack to find yourself."

Riki gasped, opening his eyes and felt the terror of the darkness creep up on him even though he could see light but his vision hadn't adjusted.

"Riki, Riki, you're safe," Iason soothed, from beyond the glass of the pod.

It took Riki a moment to realize he was in something. And he tried to talk, but then discovered he had a mask and mouth brace on.

"You can't talk, so just listen," Iason calmly explained, pressing his hands to the glass and getting close. "You were out on the balcony and went into cardiac arrest without warning. So I've put you into a healing pod, to have your vitals examined to determine the cause. I'm not leaving you."

Riki looked around the interior, wanting to move, but his arms and legs were clamped in and put into some sort of numbing state. He gave his head a wild shake a managed to dislodge the mask, then spat out the brace piece. "Wan..out," he wheezed.

"Riki," the Blondie scolded, having to tap the panel as it beeped rapidly in response to lost breathing patterns. "I can't let you out."

Raoul appeared, moving quickly to see why the machine went off then rolled his eyes. "Of course he would," he scoffed. "Should've used the muzzle."

"Let me out," Riki croaked.

"No, Riki, not until I know what happened."

Riki took a deep breath, then shot a glare up at Iason. "I said let me out," he hissed, and sent a shockwave through the entire pod. Flashes of dark blue lighting flickered off the machine as it malfunctioned, and Riki freed his arms and legs then punched his way through the locks, busting the panel out.

Iason and Raoul who had taken a step back after the pod went haywire observed in disbelief as Riki came out with barely a scratch on his nude body. Only an Elite was supposed to have that type of strength, or Luci who was a mutant.

"What in the hells did I just see?" Raoul inquired finally.

Iason finally approached Riki who was ripping off the sticky pads and cords from his body. "Riki," he tentatively called.

Riki looked up at him, as if none of that happened. "What?"

"You were supposed to stay in there for your health," Iason reminded.

"I'm perfectly fine," Riki assured, looking around for something to wear and spotted his pants that Iason must've brought.

"I apologize, but I can't ignore the elephant in the room," Raoul spoke up. "How did he do that?"

Iason pinched the bridge of his nose. "It's a long story. The summarized version is, Luci has some of her abilities because Riki is the carrier. They were dormant until she arrived and revived them. Satisfied?"

"He's a carrier of the child's powers?" Raoul demanded, his eyes glinting with future experiments to do on Riki.

"Not going to happen, Raoul." He then turned back to Riki. "Riki, you died, you are not "perfectly fine"!"

Riki paused, considering the idea as he put on his shirt and Iason kept him close. "I didn't die, Iason."

"Yes, you did," Iason choked. "I saw you dead on the livingroom floor until they revived you."

"No, I mean," Riki breathed, gently taking Iason's face into his hands and putting his fingers into his hair as he was hugged close. "I shared a death."

Iason frowned, but didn't stop hugging Riki. "What do you mean?" he asked, then waited but there was no response. He felt shaking and looked down to see Riki crying and kissed his face and tears away. "Riki, what do you mean?"

Riki shook his head, unable to say the name. It took a while for him to regain himself. When he did, he barely whispered out what he meant. "I felt Lucifer die," he finally explained.

The Blondie stiffened, horrified that that was why both of his mongrels had been dying on the balcony. Luci's body must've reacted to the death, and Riki's energy shared the shock of the death. "Oh Riki," he sadly whispered, feeling his chest tighten. "I'm sorry, love."

"It was so dark, and cold," he choked.

"You're safe now."

Riki sobbed again. "But he's not."

Luci blinked, moving her head from one side to the other weakly for a moment until her body came to its senses. When she realized where she was, she deactivated the pod, and removed her mask and vitals, just as a familiar person came around the corner.

"Honestly, between the both of you," Raoul grumbled, seeing the mongrel hop out and then grab a ready children's gown and under clothing.

Luci wasted no time in putting it on, then looked up expectantly at Raoul. "Where's Papa?" she demanded.

Raoul gave a raised eyebrow at the attitude. "With his Master, and you are not permitted to leave my laboratory. You died on the balcony of Iason's residence, and you need tests done."

"I'm fine," Luci denied, trying to look past the Blondie for an exit. But to her surprise Raoul actually picked her up, which had her looking at his chest and into his eyes several times to see if he was OK. "What?"

When Raoul set her down on an examination table, he pulled up a screen. "I thought so," he muttered.

Luci raised an eyebrow, standing up on the table, straining to see what was written on the screen. "What's going on?"

"You've grown since I placed you in the healing pod," Raoul answered, then tapped in something else.

The little mongrel paused, then sat down and grabbed the little pillow at the end of the table and hugged it. But didn't say anything.

Raoul paused when he saw the melancholy response to something that was usually celebrated and praised for children. "Is that not a good thing?" he demanded. "You're still short but you're a bit taller."

Luci took a soft, deep breath. "I've peaked," she whispered.

"Pardon?"

The brown eyes may green ones, burning with intensity. "I've hit my peaking point," she repeated.

Raoul took a moment to process what exactly that meant. "Your peaking point?" he repeated. "You mean?"

"Yes, you call it puberty," Luci answered, smushing her face with the pillow, then ripping it away. "I'm on the cusp of it, so that means I've reached as tall as I'm going to get. So what am I? Four feet and some?"

"You are estimated six years old," Raoul denied. "There is no way you could be in your puberty stages."

Luci sadly smiled. "I believe I said this before, but we don't age the same as normal Humans, Lord Am. Our lives are sped up, as we were meant to be fighting tools and breeding machines."

That left another serious set of questions on Raoul's mind. "What comes after your peaking point?" he demanded.

Iason slipped away from the now sleeping Riki, who had been so distraught over Lucifer that it had been a hard challenge to console him. All he could do was just hold his beloved tightly and be there for him.

Riki had wanted to go back to Raoul's lab and be with Luci, but Iason had convinced him that when Luci was awake the Blondie would notify them. So that had put him at ease somewhat. But it had ultimately taken some mild sedatives in a drink to truly calm Riki down and allow Iason to coddle him to sleep.

The Blondie moved to the door as the quieted notification warned him of a guest. He went to the entrance to find Cal letting in Raoul who was shockingly carrying Luci.

"Luci!" Iason breathed, releaved as he hurried over and accepted the little mongrel girl from Raoul and hugged her close. He felt his chest tighten as he remembered her laying lifeless on the balcony for what seemed like forever to him. "Luci, my sweetheart." He looked to Raoul. "Thank you, Raoul, for everything."

Raoul nodded. "I'd like to have lunch with you sometime and discuss a few things if you're ever free," he mentioned.

"Of course, just message me," Iason returned.

The Blondie looked to Luci. "Be good," he warned, then back to Iason. "She's grown again, she might need different clothes."

"I see," Iason noted, pulling back to examine the child.

"Take care."

"You as well, thank you again," Iason answered, then turned back, hugging Luci close again before again pulling her back to look into her brown eyes. "I thought I lost you and Riki. Don't ever do that to me again, do you understand me?"

"I'm sorry, Fyo."

Iason felt his chest clutch again. "You are just as much mine as you are Riki's, do you understand? If he lost you, he would have lost his daughter. But I too would have lost mine. You are my daughter through him."

Luci blinked, then her lip wobbled before her face crumbled and her eyes bubbled with tears. She hugged onto Iason's neck really tight, shaking with sobs of happiness and sadness from what transpired to bring out this confession. "I...I--und...erstand...I'm....I'm s-s-s...sorry Fyo," she blubbered.

"It's all right now," Iason soothed, giving gentle pats to the quivering back.

After a moment to regain herself, Luci laid her face against Iason's chest. "I...I love you, Fyo," she sniffled.

"I love you too," Iason whispered, carrying her down the halls with him and into the bedroom. He let her crawl up between him and where Riki was still fast asleep, and get comfortable.

Chapter Text

CHAPTER THIRTY THREE

DEEP SADNESS

Riki opened his eyes, his heart weight down with a deep sadness. He looked to his right and was relieved to see the soft hair of his daughter who was cuddled up to him, which shifted, revealing soft brown eyes full of the same emotion he was experiencing. Unable to speak the words that were choking his throat with a lump the size of a grapefruit, Riki just reached out and touched her face to ensure she was real before a son racked his frame.

"Papa," she cried softly, making grabby hands for him. "It's...gonna be okay."

The older mongrel scooped up his daughter, holding her tightly to him in a shaking hug. It was a long embrace, one needed to reassure him that he hadn't lost all the family that he had created. Finally he whispered brokenly, "I thought I lost you both." He inhaled a shaky breath. "Thought you were gone."

Luci shook her head. "Not gone," she whispered. "I won't leave until you hate having me here."

"I could never."

Iason watched the interaction of his mongrel's from the doorway, his arms folded, feeling touched by the scene. "You're part of this home, no one would ever doubt that."

Riki's head shot up to the door. "Iason," he gasped, surprised by his appearance. "I..."

Iason signed to him it was all right, coming to join them on the bed. "You gave us all a scare," he admitted, staring at Luci, and included Riki silently into it as well.

"I'm sorry..." Luci softly pouted.

"Is...is he really dead?" Riki finally asked, wanting it to not be real. "If he's not then what was that?"

"Riki..." Iason scolded softly.

The little one got really quiet, her eyes dropping to the bed. "I don't know," she answered.

Riki narrowed his eyes, sensing she was holding back. "What do you mean?" he prodded, trying to look into her eyes but she avoided his gaze.

"I said I don't know."

"How do you not know?"

"Riki!"

"I just don't know!"

"How do you not know if he's alive, you were connected to him?"

"I DON'T KNOW, OK?" Luci screamed, looking straight into Riki's eyes with fat tears streaming down her face and a ring of blue energy lighting up the limbal ring of her eyes. "I CAN'T FIND HIM!" She jumped off the bed and ran, tears obscuring her vision.

"Luci!" Riki called after her, immediately hopping up to chase after her.

Iason blocked him, pushing him back down to the bed. "No, let me," he insisted. "You are in too far of a fragile state to to be a voice of reassurance when you yourself need some."

Riki glared, ready to fight. "She's mine!"

Iason was already at the door, locking it behind him and then entering a lockdown procedure. "You mean ours?"

Luci pulled the case from under the bed, trying to find anything that would help her link to Lucifer. All Evanna had brought her were a few surgical knives, a needle, syringe, and the communication tablet aside from the data chip. There wasn't any explicit link to her brother here.

She grabbed the surgical knife and needle, before she shoved the box back under the bed. "Lucifer, if you're there, please," she begged. Just a thin cut, a small one on her arm. A cat scratch almost. A thin line of blood bubbled up.

Nothing.

"Not enough," she sighed, tearing up, then stretched out her leg. And stabbed the pointed edge into the flesh and cut about an inch. That caused some bleeding.

"I'm bleeding, Lucifer," she whispered, crying. "I'm in pain." Not external though, just internal. Please come back.

"Lucifer?...Are you...there?"

"Where are you?" She brought the knife down again into her leg, stabbing again, then again, then again, then again...

Iason quietly made his way to Luci's room, then stood outside the door. He listened for a moment.

"...Lucifer...I'm in pain....Lucifer...."

The Blondie reached up to touch the entrance pad, pausing as he then heard a wet shulk sound as she continued talking, followed by another and another. His keen sense of smell picked up the strong scent of iron.

Blood.

He opened the door, and nearly fell back at the sight of the child repeated butchering her own leg. "LUCI!" he bellowed, rushing forward. He ripped the knife out of her hands and tossed it aside violently. "What are you doing?"

Luci tried to grab the scalpel back. "Lucifer, I was trying to find Lucifer!" she explained in tears, as he pressed his bare hands to her pajama pant leg spilling blood. "I...gotta find him!"

"Killing yourself is not that way to do so!"

"Wasn't ki-killing myself!"

"Cal!" Iason yelled, his voice echoing throughout the whole home. He pressed harder, grabbing onto the blankets from her bed and tearing them up and wrapping them around her leg. As he did he saw a faceless child, one suffering, being pulled into darkness by hands. The child's screams echoed through the dark void, his pleading for life before it was cut off by sub zero coldness and emptiness. Iason was now alone in the dark wasteland of nothingness, and all he had were spine chilling memories to accompany him. "Stop fighting me!"

By now Luci was having a full on crying and panic attack combined, shaking so hard from crying, the Blondie thought she would fall apart. He reached out to try to calm her, holding onto her shoulder. "It's ok, we will get Raoul and he will patch you up."

"No!" Luci protested, shaking her head. "Don't disturb him again!"

Cal entered the room, nearly fainting from the scene of Iason smeared in blood and Luci bleeding out. "Master?!"

"Call the medical staff! An-"

"No! Don't call anyone!" Luci insisted. "I don't want anyone!"

"You're going to bleed out on the floor, Luci," Iason explained bluntly. "What you want is not really of a concern anymore."

Luci grabbed onto Iason's arm, her eyes dead serious and her jaw clenched tight with anger. "Don't call them," she hissed. "I don't want anyone. I can stitch myself back up."

Taken aback by the sudden aggression and strength of the child, Iason paused, for once feeling as if he was speaking to someone who actually had power and authority. Someone who was a threat.

Iason saw the needle laying to the child's right. "Cal, the first aid kit."

"Yes." Cal scurried away to retrieve the item, heading to the closet near the bathroom. He noticed the Master bedroom icon was blinking rapidly in distress before disappearing. With a loud wham, Riki appeared, sliding the door open thus scaring the wits out of Cal.

"What's happening? Where's Luci?" Riki demanded, eyeing up Cal holding the first aid kit.

"Riki, let's take a breath?" Cal suggested, still reeling from the fact he just watched the mongrel literally rip the fucking door off the tract, metal hinges, barriers, bolts and all.

Riki's eyes narrowed. "Where's Luci?"

"Where's my breath?"

Riki huffed loudly. "Luci?" he demanded.

"She's in her room," Cal answered, but immediately blocked his path. "Before you go in. She is not in great condition. She hurt herself. Iason is helping her."

Riki pushed past Cal, who was hot on his tail as they hurried to the child's room. Luci was still on the floor, and Iason was still applying pressure to the wound. "Luci, what...who..." he stammered, horrified.

"Not now, love," Iason insisted, grabbing the kit from Cal. He opened it up, and found sterile thread. "You're sure this will work?"

"Yes," Luci answered, starting to get woozy.

Not totally reassured by that answer, Iason threaded the needle. There was so much blood. If Luci bled out...

"Master." Cal intervened, taking the needle and medical thread. "Allow me."

Riki was in utter shock, standing frozen near the door where he had come in. His arms were scrunched up around his head in distress, as if he were trying to keep the emotions inside of him.

Iason rose, blood dripping from his hands and he enveloped his lover into his body. "She's ok. She'll be ok."

Immediately Riki let out a sob, his fear and worry breaking free from the mask. "I thought.. she couldn't..."

"There are tools that can hurt her, yes."

"Why?"

"I don't know," he lied. "She was sad, and had a lapse of judgment."

"She's gonna..?"

"Yes, she's going to be okay," Iason reassured, kissing Riki's forehead and rubbing his back. He glanced back to see that Cal was done sewing up Luci's wounds.

The alarm indicating that someone was entering from the balcony chimed, which had Iason and Cal's heads turning.

"Master?" he implored, seeking a reason for the sound. But when he got none he swiftly and silently rose, peeking out in the hallway.

"What is that?" Riki asked softly. "Did someone break—"

Tiny thumping footsteps could be heard scurrying throughout the home, leading straight to them. Before morphing into normal human footsteps.

Cal moved into the bedroom, unsure of how to deal with the intruder, but he would defend his Master and the mongrel family.

"Eve," Luci called, summoning whatever was in the hallway to enter.

A head poked around the corner, and Iason recognized the little child from before. It was Evanna, the one who was a sister to Luci in some fashion. But Evanna herself looked frightened, and was covered in blood splatter.

"What happened?" Luci demanded, speaking in her native tongue to Eve.

Evanna just shook her head, her tiny body shaking. "Uncle," she whispered.

Iason perked up. "Uncle?"

Luci's eyes teared up. "Eve, what is going on in the lab?" she demanded, still speaking in the native tongue.

Evanna shook harder, looking to Iason and Riki then Cal. She swiftly hurried forward to Luci's side. "Hurt?" she whispered, frowning. "You..." She shook her head and blew into her hands, then pressed them into the wounds. She shook her head repeatedly, mumbling soft scared sounds.

"Evanna, what did Uncle do?"

The dirty blonde child pulled her hands away, the wounds healed. "Dead..." she whispered. "They're all..."

Luci inhaled sharply. "Who?"

"Whose dead?" Riki demanded.

"All," Evanna answered, before her blank expression broke and emotions set in. "All..." She fell into Luci and cried. "He killed them one by one. Even infants. So much blood."

Evanna sat quietly at the table, sipping a cup of a hot vanilla drink. Her animal ears were pointed out in her dirty blonde hair, twitching every so often, along with her tiny deer like horns. Her wide eyes did not leave, as she was still on high alert even though she knew she was safe here. But there... there was another story.

Uncle had gone into a mad rage. He was killing left and right: sawing people's limbs off, slitting their throats, electrocuting them, hanging them from hooks in their throats and nooses on their necks, ripping their guts out, letting the animals rip them to shreds. It was pure chaos.

There was so much bloodshed that the lab section B was filled with five inches. Bodies were stacked, or thrown to the side after elimination. The list of people alive dwindling with each moment. The amount of breathable air vanishing with every addition of another corpse.

And...the screams. So many...screams. The echoing last sounds of a lifeform in the universe. The sounds that would haunt Evanna forever.

A gentle touch on her shoulder had her spring up, freeing herself from the chair and onto the floor and into an attacking position. Her eyes looked up and saw a surprised Raoul Am, along with her falling cup of hot vanilla melts. She caught the cup and the liquid, but remained in her crouch. "C...can I help you?" she whispered.

"I was about to ask you the same thing," Raoul returned, playing over the smoothness of her jump and catching the cup in his mind. She was a very flexible and agile being. He pointed to her clothing. "You're covered in blood."

Evanna's eyes wandered down briefly, and she shook her head. "Not mine."

Raoul nodded. "Ah, well then, could I interest you in a brief visit to my facility?" he inquired.

The child's eyes shot up, along with her ears perking. "Why?"

"The convention is coming up as you know, and it would be nice to have a second set of eyes look it over," he admitted, with a soft smile. "And seeing as how you graciously helped me this far, I was hoping you wouldn't mind—"

"I'll come!" Evanna blurted, then hushed. "I'll come with you. I don't mind."

"Excellent."

Riki sat across Luci, who was not making any eye contact with him at all. They had barely spoken since the incident, and when Iason called Raoul, Luci became even more quiet. The Blondie had looked her over and confirmed she was somehow healed by that creature friend of hers.

"Why did you do it?" Riki finally demanded, his tone soft but firm.

Luci swiped the hair from her eyes, which where red and puffy from all the crying. "Papa, I lost Lucifer. And may have lost many people I've cared deeply about," she quiet started. "And..." She choked. "I'm broken." She looked up finally to Riki, her eyes the same color as what Riki saw in Lucifer's eyes the day he died. "I'm so lost, Papa. So lost without him."

Riki rose from his chair, coming over and hugging his daughter tightly. "We..." he began, then took a breath. "We will overcome this. We will win. You understand?" He pulled back. "For Lucifer, we will fight and win."

She sniffled, and nodded. "For Lucifer."

Evanna trailed behind Raoul, plopping down on a vacant stool. "Ah, they've come along," she smiled. The Nujixin were alive, and responding well with strong vitals in the test tanks. She smiled and waved to one, and it returned the motion, it's flawless features shimmering in the tank.

"Yes, they are," Raoul agreed, his arms crossed and his eyes scanning his work. He nodded in satisfaction, then proceeded to find a few samples that were bothering him. "Can you possibly help me?"

"Hmm?" Evanna sounded, standing on the stool to look at a sample of a seed and then another seed. "You have two identical seeds? What am I looking for here?"

"That's the problem, this one is mine, and this one, is somehow a copy."

Evanna nodded, looking at it closer. She ran her fingertips along the curvatures of the seed, then brought it up to her nose to get the aroma. "You have a clone," she whispered, then hummed. "Pass me that?"

Raoul glanced at the mallet, but obliged and gave it to her. She then proceeded to place the seed down on the table, and with one hit split it open. It cracked open and released a thick black slime.

"Thought so," Evanna sighed, poking the goo only to have the goo grow a finger.

"What is that?" Raoul demanded, immediately swooping in to observe this new found creation. He too poked it but with a prob stick and nothing grew.

"It's a Morphdeg," she answered, picking it up and revealing that it was in fact alive. "It clones an item and lives inside. It will live and reproduce as that item needs it to, but eventually die. They have fairly strict life spans." She analyzed the one in her hands. "This one has maybe a few more days?"

"How does it clone?" Raoul inquired, taking the creature. It squirmed, but he held on tight even as it hissed. "And how do you know it only has a few more days?

"It simply has to touch an item and obsorb the DNA code, then it clones," she explained. "So someone took a tiny one and brushed it against your seed. And would've that guy cloned over and over again, selling your seeds potentially." She then pointed to its tiny breathing hole and its beady hiding eyes. "See how cloudy it's eyes are? When they go fully white they die."

"I see." The Blondie summoned an assistant, and had the creature put into an observation and preservation tank. "While your here there is this one other thing I would like to ask...."

"We've caught another few," Katze revealed, puffing at his cigarette before looking Iason in the eyes via the camera. "The ones the others gave up."

"You're holding something back," Iason insisted, sensing hesitation within the redhead.

Katze took another drag. "I managed to get ahold of some footage from one of the resident's of the captives," he explained. "Between you and I, it's best for Riki's sanity if he isn't aware, but I saw his old gang member, Guy, on the tape."

Iason's knuckles flexed, hidden from the view of the screen. No, Riki couldn't know if Guy had somehow gotten tangled or was even involved. It meant he was now on the death list. "Yes, I agree," he nodded curtly. "See to it that Guy is found."

"Of course."

Luci stared aimlessly beyond the balcony, the city below as lively as the day she arrived. It would probably always be full of people, hurrying about with their lives regardless of
what was going on around them. It didn't matter that Lucifer was gone, that hundreds of innocent people were dying and that their bodies were piling higher and higher with every second going by. No, it didn't matter. Because all that mattered was exquisite lifestyles, work and pleasure.

Her brother was gone, and none of them would ever know what a strong hero he was. He would be forgotten, silenced and fade into the background. Just like all the people from the laboratory were. They all just faces molded together into a blur of colors of reds, golds, blues, blacks and purples scraped across a twisted canvas.

A sob shook Luci's frame as she hugged her body close, she needed to succeed and keep Amoï alive. So the memory of those fallen could live on as well.

Anne nervously reached out to activate the door sensor but pulled back, then growled. "Goddamit, don't pussy out now," she scolded herself. She then did the action again, successfully getting the door to sense her. A little robot voice sounded, inquiring for a pass ID and a confirming hand scan. She obliged to both, and was granted access.

The doors opened, and she was then revealed the inside of a section of the great Eos...and immediately wanted to turn tail and vomit. But she kept it together, although sweating and swearing internally at agreeing to come to the infernal hell hole.

She could feel the motherfuckers staring at her, oh she hated it. She shot her eyes straight back at them, which immediately sent them looking away.

"Anne," a familiar voice greeted.

Anne looked over to see Iason, whom was coming to her gracefully as ever. "Lord Mink," she nodded. "I would say it's a pleasure to see you, but it's... never a pleasure to be here." She shuddered. "But you might make it a tad better."

Iason smiled thinly. "I apologize for making you uncomfortable, however, due to the recent incidents, I've been somewhat confined to Eos."

"I...I see..." Anne answered quietly, then added. "I heard of Lucifer's disappearance. My condolences. How did Luci and Riki take it?"

The Blondie shook his head. "Not very well unfortunately, hence why I'm staying closer to home," he explained, walking alongside Anne. "My family needs time to recover and support, and I'll provide it."

Anne smiled at him using the word family, Luci had dreamed of having a family. "I also heard another little one got to you? Evanna was it?"

"Ah, yes," Iason confirmed. "She comes and goes, mostly tagging along with Raoul as he gets ready for his convention."

"Evees must be in Heaven," Anne laughed.

"Why is that?"

"She's Raoul Am's biggest fan, she aspires to be like him one day when she grows up," she laughed. "Her room has posters and news articles of his work plastered to it. She really admires his work."

"Hmm," Iason sounded, thinking over the thought of the tiny little girl being fanatical about Raoul. He couldn't think of anyone who was really crazed and totally supportive of Raoul, so having a young spirit would boost the Blondie. "I guess it's good she found her way here then."

"Yes, I suppose," she agreed.

They reached a lift, Iason pressed his hand to a scanner, before typing in a code. It began descending to a disclosed location, before it came to a halt and opened. "This way," Iason simply said, and led the way down a dim hallway that had various rooms on either side.

Anne was beginning to seriously have some fucking regrets. Like holy fuck, was she about to get murdered by the great Iason Mink? Good thing she finished her Will before she came here.

They arrived at a door which opened and a redhead sitting at a desk with screens spun around in a chair to face them. "Iason," he nodded in greeting.

"Katze, this is Anne," Iason introduced, gesturing to the lady who looked ready to bolt.

"Hello," Anne softly greeted, trying to gain a sense of who he was.

Katze nodded. "Hello, nice to meet you."

"She," Iason continued, gently touching her shoulder. "Is Luci's aunt. And is the one known as Ally."

The redhead's eyes lit up for a moment before going back to the calm, collected manner. "I see, well, if you would have a seat. I have a lot of things I would like to go over with you."

Evanna lifted her head, having fallen asleep during one of her visits to Master Raoul. She scolded herself, knowing that the Blondie only had so much time until the upcoming Galactic Science Trades Convention. So if he needed anyone to bounce any last minute Nujixin concerns or other specimen questions off her, then she needed to be awake!

"Welcome back," Raoul softly announced, tapping some final data pieces into his system.

"Sorry," the little mutant apologized, her ears popping over and going limp.

"No need to apologize," the Blondie dismissed, waving his free hand at her without taking his eyes off the screen. "You've been a great deal of help to me. In fact, I'm almost done recording the final analysis of my project and then I am completely finished and ready for the convention."

Evanna perked up. "That's great! That leaves you time to ensure the set up for your Nujixin at the convention is to your liking, and to go over the guest list and see if there are any people you want to meet with."

Raoul nodded, finishing up the last line of data. "You are correct indeed," he admitted. "Usually I'm crammed until the last second as I'm often working on my newest creations with very tight deadlines, and very little if much agreeable assistance. But you." He stood up, shaking his head in disbelief. "Somehow you, a tiny child seemed to hold all the answers I sought."

"Well," she started, hesitant. "I, too, work in a laboratory and have followed your work for most of my life. So if anything, it was easy to understand what you wanted and work from there to get solutions to give you what you desired."

"Still, it is greatly appreciated."

Evanna blushed, twirling her hair around her fingers nervously. "I-It was nothing, really. I was very happy to...to get out from there," she trailed, then shook her head. "I hope my partner is doing all right."

"Your partner?" Raoul inquired, seeing the child become clearly disturbed.

"My mentor," she corrected, swiping a tear from her eyes. "He taught me everything, he too was a supporter of your work. And of course against the plot against Amoï." She took a deep breath. "He told me to run, and threw me into the portal which got me here."

The Blondie reached out and gently stroked the child's ears, to which she gasped and he withdrew. "Does it hurt?" he immediately demanded.

Evanna shook her head, then leaned back into it. "No, you just surprised me," she explained. "They're soft, huh?"

Raoul pulled back, and then did something he hardly did. He removed his white glove and touched the child's creature ears again. By Jupiter they were soft, softer than any cat's, mink's or exotic fur or he'd ever touched before. It actually made him catch his breath, before letting it go and he softly rubbed the fine texture between his fingers. "I've yet to ask this, but what are you?" he demanded quietly, moving his hand to the little horns that were stubs like deers that would one day grow and turn into what he wondered? Would they twist, or branch out?

"Oh.. I'm a Rizomuki," Evanna answered shyly. "A hybrid of a human, a hyvlin." She paused, seeing that too was an unfamiliar with that creature. "A wildcat, a deer, and last but not least a drakaslon. Which is basically like a thick skinned lizard."

"Is that the key to the impenetrable skin?"

"No, that is something else entirely that even I do not know," she honestly replied, her eyes falling. "My mentor might, but I'm not sure where they are anymore or even if they're all right..." Her eyes filled with worry and glistened. "I...I feel like I abandoned...them..."

Raoul bent down in front of her, and gently scooped her up, her fluffy tail barely swishing as he did. "I'm sure they are all right," he assured, though he couldn't be certain. From what he heard, she had said a lot of people were dead. But they hadn't seen any signs of a body count. When he felt her begin to cry, Raoul gently held her to his chest like he did the younger specimen he'd encountered. He patted her back soothingly and kept reassuring her it would be all right, occassionally brushing her ears and tail in between his fingers.

Soon, another sound met his ears which made him chuckle, a soft purr. He could feel the rumble of the little body against him as he carried her around, examining his work with pleased eyes. Before long Evanna had fallen asleep again, still purring in Raoul's arms, as the Blondie had gone up to his home for the day.

A fire crackled, giving a more natural warmth to the livingroom as Riki, Iason and Luci were all on the sofa. The weather had taken a turn, letting a nasty wind and rain create a chill. But they were comfortable inside. Riki nestled into the Blondie, taking the moment to relax now that they were all together. He shot a glance at Luci, who was watching the telescreen, bored with the contents.

Riki dared to, and reached over and flicked the channel to another one. A news outlet, a foreign one. It was glitchy and kept cutting in and out but when it stayed it showed an announcement for a fight.

"Riki," Iason frowned, reaching for the remote.

"Wait!" Luci screeched, hopping up. "Wait, don't change it. Look! Look!" She went up to the screen and pointed at the first small fighter; the broadcast cut in and out, glitching and going fuzzy. "It's one of mine!"

"Huh?"

The program cut to a scene showing a male figure, who was very youthful, with a shaved head. He had a thick choker on. "It's a child from the laboratory! This is an illegal fighting broadcast!" she explained, trying to figure out who it was, and began reading the lineup of competitors. "Someone on Amoï is getting the stream of this broadcast!"