*cough, cough*

Exhausted, Nova slowly crawled out of the water and collapsed in a panting heap, her eyes closed. She lay for a long time on the beach. It was made of coarse, gritty sand and pebbles, all of which poked uncomfortably at her. Her lower body was still half-submerged, the surf striking rhythmically against her legs. She’d discarded her helmet along the way; the thing had been so heavy and cloying while swimming it had almost drowned her.

Her limbs ached abominably. The fall hadn’t done her any favors, and then the swim back to shore had given her the coup de grĂ¢ce. It hadn’t been the distance, so much as the difficulty of staying above the surface of a very disturbed sea, with tall, frequent waves doing the absolute damndest best to push her under.

Really, couldn’t the god-thing have made an effort and teleported all of them back to safety, instead of just the privileged few? How did it make sense for the weakest of the lot to go through the toughest challenges right off the bat?Continue reading

Nova was drifting along in zero gravity, what looked like 400 kilometers above Edea. She wasn’t wearing a space suit, but she did have a motorcycle helmet, which ought to be enough. She was pretty tough, after all. She could even reliably sleep in bed sheets that weren’t made of silk, nowadays! How much tougher than that could you possibly get? And anyway, a little bit of vacuum never hurt anyone.


No, vacuum wasn’t the problem. Through magical shenanigans of one sort or another, Nova could somehow breathe, and her blood wasn’t boiling in her veins. Hopefully, the magical shenanigans would remember to shield her from the radiation the sun was no doubt blasting at her body right now and hiking up her chance to die of cancer a few years from now.

The real problem was that she couldn’t control her flight.Continue reading

Angela Chapelle had died once, under a different name, on a different planet.

It was long ago; she could barely remember it, now.

Well, she could barely remember the details of her old life. The circumstances of her death, however, were still quite fresh in her mind. At 27, she’d suffered the explosive consequences of one of her failed inventions. She hadn’t exactly had time to study the causes of it before the blast devoured her, but Angela blamed faulty equipment. She couldn’t think of anywhere she might have made a mistake in her design.

But her death hadn’t been the end, unexpectedly.Continue reading

Nova woke up when her bracer started vibrating against her wrist.

Truthfully, by now, it wasn’t a bracer anymore. Recent advances in holographic technology had reduced it to more of a transparent, almost invisible bracelet fitting snugly around her wrist. A trio of pinpoint-sized projectors inside that bracelet handled the work of casting the screen into the air above her wrist and detecting presses and interactions with that hologram from her other hand. There was no need for a physical screen anymore.

It felt like a huge upgrade, and for the past week or two since she started wielding it, Nova was still kind of thrown off by the change, but the old design had been mostly the same for almost two decades. An overhaul was long overdue. She’d get used to the new model soon enough.

I wonder if Dad upgraded it to reward me for finally spilling the beans on the supernatural stuff. Maybe the upgrade was ready since a long time ago, but he kept it in reserve for a big occasion.Continue reading

The engines howled loud enough to shatter glass as the race car soared down the track like a berserk space rocket on wheels. The tires were already smoking from the speed and the heat, even though it had only been minutes since the race started.

The suspensions were pretty good, in that all of Nova’s bones had yet to shatter even though she sat right in the middle of this speeding coffin, but it still wasn’t comfortable. Demanding the same smooth ride she might enjoy in a proper vehicle, however, would be a bit much to ask in addition to record-breaking speed.

It was fortunate Nova’s ears were protected from the noise, though. Otherwise, she’d never have been able to drive the car. More likely, she’d have fainted the moment she revved up the engine. The thing was louder than a fucking flashbang, and it lasted for longer too.

But it was unavoidable. Ryner was pretty good at this. If Nova wanted to keep her lead and win, she couldn’t afford to slow down too much. Esfir, Lynn, Aaron, and even Marian had all already been eliminated. Just one more challenger and Nova would have won the Grand Storm Championship™, with all the bragging rights this feat entailed.Continue reading

Nova woke up to the feeling of a hand stroking the curve of her hip. The sensation was very gentle, the fingertips just barely grazing against her skin. It almost tickled.

It made for quite the pleasant wake-up call.

Nova didn’t bother opening her eyes; they were still heavy with sleep. Instead, she clumsily patted away the hand that had suddenly left her hip and launched on a journey toward more… adventurous territory. Her feeble resistance only elicited an amused chuckle from the warm and soft body next to her.

Warm…Continue reading

Nova followed Iris out of the gallery through a service doorway on the side of the building, far from the bustle of the tourist-infested main entryway.

“My place isn’t far. Here, this way,” Iris said, taking Nova’s hand in hers and intertwining their fingers together in a quite intimate fashion.

Nova shook her head and extricated her hand out of Iris’s grasp. Then offered her right hand instead. The fingers of her left danced. ‘I can’t speak without this hand, so I’d be grateful if you could use the other.’

Iris did so as she gazed at the movements of Nova’s left hand. “Sure. What’s up with that? Are you mute? Is that why you’re speaking through a machine?”Continue reading

Nova woke up the next morning in a rather sore body. She stretched out her limbs while still in bed, trying to work off some of the pain.

It wasn’t just her shoulder. That had mostly healed, in fact. But the sequelae of the previous night’s stunts were starting to be felt. Slamming a truck into another vehicle at high speed was little different from being involved in an actual car crash. Nova had had time to brace for impact, of course, and when her body had been warmed up and full of adrenaline, she hadn’t suffered many adverse effects. But now, with a night’s rest cooling down her muscles, she realized once again that she wasn’t quite as indestructible as Sirius was.

It wasn’t debilitating, though. She’d likely be fine by tomorrow.

Rubbing the sleep out of her eyes, Nova slowly crawled her way out of bed and carelessly dug into her suitcase for clean clothes. She found the same outfit she’d worn on the plane trip to Verizen, with the suspender skirt and black thigh-highs. It had already been cleaned and pressed by the suitcase’s internal mechanisms upon being stored back into it, so Nova put it on without further ado, though she left her hair unbound, this time.Continue reading

Rana sat on the living room couch, leaning her body against Fareed with her cheek resting against his shoulder. Her eyes were fixed on the TV before her, but her mind was focused on something else entirely.

Namely, the girl her son had invited into their home yesterday.

And the implication of that girl’s presence here.

Of course, Rana’s concerns weren’t as frivolous as Camilla’s. Rana’s daughter was convinced that Sirius and Nova were lovers. Camilla felt threatened, as if their guest would steal Sirius’s attention away from her. Which is why she was currently sulking in her room after being excluded from tonight’s outing. Rana too was curious about the exact nature of the relationship between the two teenagers, but her actual worries were somewhat more serious than that.Continue reading

Sirius lay prone behind a wall. Fragments of plaster and stone dust rained down all around him as the gunmen at the other end of the hallway sprayed assault rifle fire toward his position.

Alarmingly many bullets made it through the wall, but it was thick enough that even the few that touched Sirius’s body didn’t have much momentum anymore and bounced harmlessly off his suit. Still, their enthusiasm in expending all their ammunition did force him to keep his head down, at least for the moment. He wouldn’t die from a direct hit or three, but a few of his ribs might break. Healing from that wouldn’t be an issue but would take a little time. Considering the amount of work he still had to complete after this hotel, however, he couldn’t afford that.

Ordinarily, he would’ve pushed himself a bit and dealt with his trouble on his own, but tonight, he wasn’t alone. The situation changed.

Suddenly, out of the six sources of gunfire aiming for him, one fell silent. The others also faltered, and in the momentary hush, Sirius heard the dull thump of a body toppling to the floor.Continue reading