FILE 2: “Let me tell you another-”
April 1st, 1619.
Yaovi leaned in close, and smiled, “It was about… three, maybe four months just after the Cataclysm war ended. It was a quiet time. Nothing major was happening except that we were rebuilding. Hecate was devoting their time to Mystryal, Hergie was constructing her Guild, and I… was working my day job- you know, managing souls and preparing them for reincarnation- when I was approached by this interesting fellow by the name of Brendan.” Yaovi smiled fondly, “He was going into work as a Diagramer- he did the job that would be replaced by Imaging Gems a decade later.”
“Quicker, more expedient,” Tyler recalled the words without much effort- despite being quite sure he’d never heard them spoken to him at all in this life.
“Exactly,” Yaovi nodded. “Brendan was… quirky. He much more preferred working with dead bodies than live ones. Of course, at that time Mystryal hadn’t been fully set up yet, but it was a thing people were aware was going to happen. Still, work was very scarce for him. Very few people would hire him on full time. So… he wanted to beef up his resume for when.” A blush began to form on her cheeks, “He asked me if I would model for him.”
“That was me, wasn’t it?” Tyler asked, a faint blush of his own forming on his cheeks as he began to remember what that request really involved.
“Oh, yes, very much it was you,” Yaovi giggled again, much like the school girl she hadn’t been for centuries. “I did quite a few poses for him, staged crime scenes and the like. All sorts of… Illegal activities, captured on pencil and paper.” She winked at him. “I’ll admit I had more fun doing that then I did anything else at the time. Even when it came time to move from the first place I called home, and set up the new place where I still live to this day.”
“Did he… I… ever get the job?” Tyler asked- though, he suspected he knew the answer already.
“No,” Yaovi shook her head, smiling warmly. “But we were having too much fun to stop anyways, so I hired him on to keep doing what we were doing. Brendan actually started the position that Cah’le currently fills- that of an assistant. At least, that’s what I told everyone else. We became… much more than that, very, very quickly.”
“I think I remember some of the details,” Tyler massaged at the bridge of his nose. “Did we really-?”
“With the bowl of noodles-?”
“In the Middle of–?”
“…Fuck,” Tyler exhaled in disbelief.
“Exactly,” Yaovi wriggled her eyebrows at him as she giggled.
Tyler couldn’t help it- he started to laugh. “How the hell did I have the guts to do any of that?”
“You were one of very few people of that generation to treat we Creators as people, rather than gods, especially after the war, and all of our best efforts to dissuade that illusion in the public eye,” Yaovi answered, smiling. “It was nice. To be treated not for what I was to the world, but for who I was simply to him.”
“And Cah’le?” Tyler asked, having a very firm idea of where she’d come from now.
“Oh she was the most welcome surprise for both of us,” Yaovi smiled on. “Neither of us were expecting parenthood, and yet… there she was. A miracle child. I’d thought I’d never have one of my own, but she’d come to us anyways. Brendan proved himself over and over again why I… why we…” Her smile faded a bit- and tears started to brim in her eyes. “Despite everything, I couldn’t make either of them immortal. I couldn’t force them to ascend, not that I would. We’d discussed it… and Brendan said, ‘Even if you could… sometimes things end on their own time.’”
“’And if we’re meant to be,’” Tyler continued, remembering the words as if they’d been spoken mere minutes before, “’Then we’ll meet again some day.’”
“Of course, when they died,” Yaovi sniffed, “I did everything in my power to make sure their souls would wind up as far away from me as possible. I didn’t want to go through that heart break again.” She laughed again, but it was a bitter, sorrowful laugh. “It’s somewhat maddening that I did a better job keeping you away than Cah’le… and even then, for us to meet again like this by sheer coincidence…”
“Girl’s smart,” Tyler said, “she knew better than to leave you alone for too long.”
“Not that you didn’t try,” Yaovi remarked, a flicker of the warmth she’d had before returning to her smile. “I’m half convinced your recurring occupation in death related jobs wasn’t meant to be a sign being waved at me.”
“Maybe,” Tyler shook his head. “Who knows.”
“Who knows, indeed…” Yaovi looked up at the stars above, and silence fell between them for a precious minute.
Hesitantly, Tyler reached his right hand out to grasp Yaovi’s left. And she glanced at him, raising an eyebrow.
“I don’t know if the me of this life is someone who can keep a relationship of that kind running,” Tyler spoke, “but I’d still like to talk with you about all of this some more some time.”
“Yes,” Yaovi nodded, “That would be nice.”
“Maybe in my next life, I’ll come hunt you down again for some drawing practice?” Tyler squeezed her hand, and then let go of her hand as she smiled at him. “I’ll let you be then,” Tyler gave a curt bow, and then turned to leave. “I hope you have a good night, M’lady.”
“Thank you,” Yaovi gave a sad smile. “Hopefully we’ll have the chance to talk more later.”
It was such a shame that they wouldn’t have more time to talk.
“Hurry through the Way-gate, Cah’le!” Yaovi ordered without even looking, instead focusing her gaze firmly straight ahead. “I want you on the other side just in case this fails.”
“…I…” Cah’le paused, even as people all around her continued through the way-gate. “I will. But I’ll keep the portal open so you can jump through at a moment’s notice!”
Yaovi shook her head, “I’m not going to argue, Cah’le. Go. And, Tyler. A word before you go as well?” As Cah’le pushed her own wheelchair’s occupant through the Gate, Tyler Obonz handed Miri’s Wheelchair handles over to Tsukia, who gladly rushed Miri and Sylia through the way-gate the moment it was clear.
“Yeah?” He stepped over, being careful not to step into the spell circle that was being charged with magicka and raw energy.
“As one who deals in death to another who deals in death,” Yaovi risked a glance over her shoulder to look at Tyler, and he knew damn well why. “Make sure Cah’le does not step through that portal to come back over to this island.”
The subtext was clear: “Please be the Father you once were. Just for now.”
“Understood,” Tyler nodded. He could do that much. And so with that, he crossed over the threshold of the Way-gate, crossing from Yuugo Yisela to Kono Yisela alongside Ranagi Kaie and Kana Mayoi.
On the other side, he watched Cah’le as she made sure her once hospital bound charge was okay. And then she looked back at him- giving him a strange look in return.
He gave a brief wave.
Frowning, she marched over to him. “I don’t like that look you’re giving me.”
“I’m under strict orders not to let you back through,” He informed her, deciding truth was the best policy here- even as Mikari came through the way-gate in that moment, and decided it was safest to stand over near them lest she be trampled by people coming through the gate behind her.
“That’s insane,” Cah’le shook her head. “Why would she tell you not to let me through? You barely even know each other!”
“In this life, maybe,” Tyler remarked, which caused Mikari, standing there watching, to raise an eyebrow. “But not so in the past.” Oh, her eyebrows raised at that. Tyler knew she was working it out, and looked back to Cah’le.
“What…?” She seemed to be trying to process his statement- but the gears seemed to turn in Mikari’s head faster.
“Oh Alcor, you can’t mean–!” Whatever Mikari was going to say was interrupted as Chief Llewellyn pushed through the gate, and grabbed her by the shoulder, dragging her off with a “I need your help with something.”
“Huh?” To which Cah’le turned to look in confusion. “What did she mean by that?”
“Later,” Tyler shook his head. “It doesn’t matter right now.”
“What do you mean it doesn’t matter right now!?” Cah’le asked- glaring at him now. “We could die any minute! Of course it matters! Now’s the perfect time FOR it to matter!”
“Fine, you want to know what it means?” Tyler sighed. “It means that I’m-”
The explosion’s roar- barely contained by the shield on the other side of the Way-gate- still was loud enough to cause everyone to cover their ears for a few moments before the pressure stabilized, and the rush of people coming through the way-gate briefly paused before resuming at full speed.
“Crap!” Tyler swore. At least the shield Yaovi had been casting held up…
It was holding for now… and he heard singing. Yaovi was singing defiantly against the cracks that reverberated through the air. Each glass-like sound made his heart twist in ways he didn’t think it should.
Cah’le turned to the gate once the flow of people going through had finished.
“Shut down the Way-gate!” Yaovi called out from the other side. “NOW!”
“No!” Cah’le protested, stepping forwards towards the Waygate’s portal. “I won’t let them! Hurry over before it’s too late! Wait! No! Let me go!!”
Tyler had grabbed her- restrained her by looping his arms up underneath her arms and around her shoulders, and flared his wings out as he tried his very best to hold her still.
“Thank you,” Yaovi said, and he knew she was smiling even though he could see it. “But if I could make a request of you further?”
“Of course,” He said- not sure if it could be heard over Cah’le’s screaming.
“Keep her out of trouble for me.” The ‘My love’ went unspoken, but was heard.
“I will.” The ‘See you next time,’ also went unspoken, but equally heard.
“Mom… NO!” It was for the best that none of them could see the other’s crying faces.
“I love you, Cah’le,” Yaovi said. Tyler’s arm’s loosened just a little.
“NO! DON’T!” The way-gate closing mercifully cut Cah’le’s escape off even as she finally stopped struggling in Tyler’s grip, instead settling for wailing uselessly for her mother.
Tyler glanced slightly to the side, and saw that it was some random teacher of theirs who had shut the Waygate off. He nodded to the woman in thanks–
–And then the containment spell failed- and the fireball consumed the Reaper in Green, and Yuugo Yisela entirely, before traveling across the ocean in the blink of an eye, aiming to devour the other island, Kono Yisela, in much the same way.
And Cah’le stopped screaming- and instead started shaking unsteadily in his arms. Tyler grimaced, bracing himself for something his long ago past self had discussed with the girl’s mother… the possibility of Cah’le ascending upon Yaovi’s death.
And then a supernatural force ripped the girl out of his arms, pulling her into the air as a blinding light emerged from her eyes.
Tyler could only stare, and hope that Yaovi’s memories didn’t come with the shiny new powers. He had no idea if that was how it worked… but he couldn’t help but worry.
Cah’le didn’t need that kind of stress added to an already giant mantle of energy being passed down to her.
A few precious moments later- and she fell back down into his arms.
Cah’le shivered as the bright light in her eyes faded away into a dim glow.
‘…I am in way over my head,’ Tyler sighed, even as someone knelt down next to him and started checking Cah’le’s pulse for whatever reason he couldn’t even be bothered to puzzle out. He lost track of how long he knelt there, keeping an eye on the girl who seemed changed physically in some way from the explosion of energy that had happened.
And then the Way-gate activated again. Tyler ignored it, instead continuing to just hold Cah’le until she’d recovered. Well, he continued to ignore it until someone yelled, that is.
“They broke onto the island!?” a loud, booming, and excessively masculine voice was the culprit, and Tyler looked up to see someone in a Knight’s outfit. “What did they use? How did they manage it?”
“I Don’t Know!!” Chief Nahgi Llewellyn roared back at the Knight with just as much frustration as he had just demonstrated. “We only literally JUST survived the damned explosion that nearly killed us all! So you’ll have to forgive me for not knowing anything- ALRIGHT!?”
And then Hecate shifted into the form of a young girl, leaning back in surprise. Tyler almost laughed at the reveal of identity.
“Sorry… I forgot.” Hecate said, bowing for forgiveness. “I only just found out about this and-”
“It’s fine,” Nahgi interrupted Hecate with a terse interjection and a tiny growl in the back of her throat. “Look. Just… Give us a minute to sort things out here- okay? We only just started a head count to see who made it.”
“Alright,” Hecate nodded… and then turned their attention to Cah’le. “Is that…?”
“It is,” A cat girl next to them- must be Hergie- nodded. “That’s Yaovi’s replace-”
“No.” It was so quiet, Tyler wasn’t sure he’d actually interrupted her until Hergie actually stopped talking because of it.
“No?” She asked, raising an eyebrow, and meeting his gaze. “Wait… Aren’t you…?”
“I don’t care who you are, or what you’re doing here,” Tyler decided, getting to his feet, and hoisting Cah’le up with him. “But Cah’le-” He settled for what he hoped was a stern glare. “-is not anybody’s anything- let alone her mother’s replacement- until she’s damn good and ready to figure it out on her own. And right now, she’s not. So thank you, good night, and don’t call us, we’ll call you.” He glanced over towards Mikari- who was talking with Detective Mayoi- and decided she’d do well enough. “Mika’n!” The sudden use of her nick name caused the Imp girl to jump to attention. “Help me carry her somewhere safe.”
Mikari glanced over at Hecate and Hergie- then back to Detective Mayoi, who nodded from her wheelchair- and then hurried over to him with a “Sure thing, Bones!”
And so they left, entering the murmuring crowd of survivors, and disappearing into the masses. Tyler barely heard Hecate strum out a confused “What just happened?” before they left hearing range.
Good, maybe that confusion could buy them a few hours of silence to figure things out.
It was Mikari and Lizzy’s apartment that they chose to take Cah’le to. Out of either of their apartments, Tyler’s was the most obvious that anybody would go searching for him at, Mikari’s second. Needless to say, for Elizabeth Smith, seeing the Reaper’s former apprentice stretched out between Tyler and Mikari’s arms was something of a shock.
“What the hell-” Lizzy began ranting as she quickly let them into the apartment. “No- What the FUCK did I do to deserve today!? First I get exploded at my parent’s house- then watch Kyiahlnah try to kill us all, again- and then there’s a huge explosion outside my window and now you three show up TOGETHER?” Lizzy’s rant ended with her closing the front door as quickly, and as quietly as possible. “What. The Hell. Is going on today!?”
“April first,” Cah’le mumbled as Tyler and Mikari laid her down on a couch, “April Fools…”
“Didn’t that used to be a holiday or something before they canceled it for being too dangerous?” Lizzy scowled, eyes narrowing at the girl, who was just sort of blankly looking ahead at nothing. Her eyes were half-open, just barely open enough to reveal that the clouded look in her eyes was receding somewhat, and yet….
Lizzy could have sworn that the girl’s eyes should have had pupils in them even with the cloudy haze that had settled over them.
“Hell if I know,” Mikari shook her head. “But the way things are going today, it certainly fits.”
“And to answer your question,” Tyler sighed, flexing his wings. “Apparently in my far, far past, I fucked the Reaper, and we had a lovely bouncing baby girl, who, several reincarnations later, became this lovely little lady currently crashing on your couch.”
Lizzy just stared at him for a moment, before hesitantly saying, “Congratulations?”
“Also,” Tyler continued, “Yaovi is almost certainly dead, and I’m pretty sure her powers have transferred down the line to Cah’le. Somehow. Not quite sure how it works out given reincarnation but hell- here I am playing father to a girl who was literally my daughter in a past life. So… Fuck me, I guess.”
“…Fuck you, indeed,” Lizzy breathed out as she leaned back against a wall- not quite trusting her own feet to keep her rooted to the ground.
“That about sums it up, doesn’t it?” Mikari shook her head. “Okay, so I get all of that… except why we just took her away from two Ascendants who could probably help her sort through all of this!?”
Cah’le groaned at Mikari’s sudden shout, and Tyler shot the Imp girl a stern glare.
“…Sorry,” Mikari whispered.
“It was probably a slip of the tongue,” Tyler sighed, “but that cat called her Yaovi’s Replacement.” He shook his head. “We don’t even know if the powers she’s got now are even remotely similar to Yaovi’s.” For some reason it nagged at him. As if someone were trying to miscast someone for a part in a play. He wasn’t even terribly fond of plays anyways, so the strange comparison felt exceedingly odd. And yet… There it was.
“…Fair enough,” Mikari nodded. “It’d be like someone coming up to me and saying ‘Hey! You’re Kyiahlnah’s mom’s reincarnation! Now go spank her with the awesome fire powers you don’t have nor have shown any sign of ever having!’ Right?”
“Yeah,” Lizzy laughed nervously, “Or me being Zuzol reborn and having techno-mage powers instead of being an all inspiring muse who can’t carry a tune to save her life.”
“Yeah!” Mikari laughed as well, seemingly missing the point. “I don’t think I’ve ever heard you play a lute!”
“Something like that…” Lizzy glanced at Cah’le for a brief moment, before nervously looking at Tyler. He gave her a small, hopefully comforting smile in return.
It probably wasn’t, given how she flinched and looked away.
“Hey,” Mikari coughed. “So… I’ll let her have my bed for tonight. I’ll sleep on one of the couches.”
Tyler glanced down at the still out of it Cah’le, and nodded. He wasn’t even going to argue. “I’ll take the other couch, then.”
Tired, lying on a couch but not quite yet asleep, the two team-mates both stared upwards at the apartment’s ceiling.
With a sigh, Tyler shifted himself and tried to get comfortable. Not an easy task given his wings, but one he was determined to accomplish nevertheless. Once he’d done that, he went to shift the blanket around so it wasn’t caught under him.
“…Tyler?” Mikari whispered once he’d finished settling in.
“Yeah?” He asked.
“Was it just me, or was her hair getting darker?” Mikari sounded concerned.
“Not just you,” Tyler replied. “I was seeing it too.”
“What the hell happened tonight?” Mikari asked.
“A lot of things,” Tyler replied. “Pick a point to start?”
“I…” Mikari considered her options for a few moments, then settled on a topic, “I need to tell you something about Chief Llewellyn’s dad.”