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The Puppy-Dog Effect

"No!" Nico's words echoed around the Hostel, "I don't care what she said, you can't just bring anyone you meet on the streets home with you!"

The rest of the team turned to face their youngest member and the woman who was standing behind her. The stranger was dressed in form-fitting red leather-like armour that had both Karolina and Chase feeling slightly hot under the collar, but it was covered in several places by what could only be described as guts and entrails, and dark green blood dripped off of her fingers. Her shoulder length purple/blue hair was a mess, covered in the same mess as her body.

"Illyria's my friend!" Molly slammed her foot down, forgetting about her enhanced strength, causing the entire room to shake, "She killed a dragon that was trying to eat me!"

Old Lace made an odd, inquisitive sound as she walked up to Illyria and sniffed, her enlarged nostrils flaring widely. The dinosaur seemed unsure for a second, then her tongue snaked out and licked some of the goo off of the Old One's face.

"Well, if Old Lace like her, then that's good enough for me." Chase shrugged, feeling the dinosaur's emotions through the psychic link they shared, "You got a name, or should we just call you 'Red'?"

"I am Illyria of Vahla ha'nesh, God-King of the Primordium Age." The woman pulled herself up to her full height, which was still only about the same as Nico, "And I will not be spoken to in such a manor by the likes of..."

"Hold that thought." Nico held out the Staff of One in a slightly threatening manor, "Doesn't this sound a lot like the Gibborim?"

"The Gibborim?" Illyria sneered, "And how do you know of them? They are so useless that even the Senior Partners chose to ignore them when building their army."

"That sounds like an interesting story." Chase cocked his head to one side, "Why don't you start at the beginning?"

The Runaways didn't say a thing while Illyria stood as still as a statue and told them what had happened since her re-birth. It was unnerving to see her so calm and relaxed while she recanted the tale of a only just averted apocalypse, but then they'd seen more than their fair share of the strange in their short lifetimes. They took everything she said in their stride, not even blinking when she mentioned the Circle of the Black Thorn and its almost total destruction. Chase remembered the name from the Abstract he'd acquired from the young Geoffrey Wilder, and made a mental note to look it up later, when he was alone in his room.

"Well, she Talks the Talk, but can she Walk the Walk?" Nico asked, "Saying you want to be a hero, and actually doing it, are two very different things."

"If what she says is true, then she could be a worthy addition to the team." Xavin spoke up for the first time, "But she could also be a deadly adversary."

"Gender-bender's right: how can we trust her not to revert back to her old ways, first chance she gets?" Chase agreed, then looked at the team leader, "Any ideas?"

"Just one." Nico pointed the Staff of One at Illyria, "From the Dark Side, to Our Side."

The End

Yes, I'm evil.