Author's Note: I should SO not be starting another story. I've already proved how irresponsible I am. How I can't be counted on at all to update, or even bother finishing the stories I've started. I'm even more busy, and more stressed, and more about to fall apart than I was six months ago, and yet here I am again. 'I'm A Nerd and Proud of It', I blame you. You got me thinking again, about writing and my favorite character and perhaps giving a shot of the Cyclonis/Aerrow pairing. Then it germinated in my mind all day until I knew exactly what I wanted to do with the plot, and so here I am. Giving Fanfiction another shot. I am so bad.

I'm probably not going to finish this story. I'm going to try to write it as much like a novel as possible, which means building suspense, people acting in character, and this is officially a vegan story: no cheesiness allowed. Although there might be a bit of blood. And it's a definite 'T' rating, people, as in the 'PG-13' side of 'T', not the 'PG' side.

Disclaimer: I do not own the Storm Hawks and this story is intended solely for the enjoyment of its readers and not for the sake of any profit.

Me: Oh no, Here we go again!

Chapter 1

Cyclonis's fingers shook from exhaustion, a barely discernable tremble as she pushed the last tack through the thick sheet of parchment. This one, covered in her own fine scrawl, depicted a soliloquy from one of her favorite childhood books:

"Come you Spirits

That tend on mortal thoughts, unsex me here,

And fill me, from crown to toe, top-full

Of direst cruelty! Make thick my blood,

Stop up th'access and passage to remorse;

That no compunctious visitings of Nature

Shake my fell purpose, nor keep peace between

Th'effect and it!"

Yes, perhaps it did not relate to the other drawing she had oh-so-carefully tacked up, diagrams of crystals carefully penned, ancient rituals and lore copied by her own sore hands. Still, it seemed to fit the mood perfectly. Besides, she could use some reminding of strong women. That the Lady died was rather beyond the point. Her own fault for developing a conscience, a folly Cyclonis would never indulge in.

Besides, it was a private joke. When she first heard the words of the ritual, she immediately knew where she had heard them before. Actually, it was speculated its author had included real witch's spells, which made even mentioning the book's title cursed.

Cyclonis smiled, her grin feral as a shark sensing blood in the water. Witches and curses? Mere fairy tales. But there was such a thing as crystal magic, extremely powerful crystal magic, then crystal magic when it got so powerful that you could skip the crystal part altogether. There were also Spirits of the netherworlds, the Far Side. Spirits of infinite power, who would bargain with you if you knew how to ask and you knew what to offer.

Cyclonis knew both.

It had taken her days, of digging through musty old libraries and experimenting with her crystals to create a temporary gateway, a portal, but finally it was done, it was ready. Her limbs trembled with the exhaustion of no food or sleep in the last sixty some-odd hours, but she cared not. She cleared her throat, and croaked,

"Come, you Spirits

That tend on mortal thoughts. Reveal to me here!

Come, I call twice, Come I call thrice,

Bargain of power, sealed in blood, I summon you here

That no compunctious visitings of Nature

Shake my fell purpose, nor keep peace between

Th'effect and it!"

Silence as the moments stretched on. She could feel the energy crackling in the air. The huge crystal mirror, a labor of her own hands, thousands of hours fusing the deep, purple-black stones together, began to glow, and shake. Suddenly, it shattered, leaving a gaping hole to nowhere, a hole not even light could escape.

"Cyclonis. Little Lark Cyclonis. The bird crying out in the darkness. Did your mother abandon you to your nest, all alone?"

A lesser woman would have cowered, but she was Master Cyclonis. She was made of stronger stuff. "Spirit, I have summoned thee from the Abyss, once I bind thee to do my bidding. Spirit, I name the Merkus, Lord of Darkness, and twice bind thee to do my bidding. Deal shall be sealed and thy shall be thrice bound."

A deep, malevolent laughter boomed across the chamber. "So the child actually knows what she is doing."

"Merkus, silence until I bid you to speak. In this bargain, I am the binder, and I am in control."

The chamber was silent. Cyclonis blushed a little as she realized she had been waiting for him—it—to speak, and covered up, blustering, "So speak. Ask what I have summoned you for. Allow me to gloat."

"My darling," the voice hissed, "there is a difference between me showing up, interested to make a bargain, and you gaining command over me. Hurry and state your terms, or I might just get bored and leave."

Cyclonis could feel panic rising in her throat. The hours it took to draw all the careful designs, the pentagrams that covered every surface of this great chamber, not to mention all the crystal energy this conversation drained each second—she had neither the resources nor the internal energy to organize such a ritual again.

"I am offering you passage into this world. My ancestors created a door to the Far Side, to your realm. I would activate it and free you, if you do as I ask."

The creature behind the hole in reality sucked in the chilly air quietly. "You offer me my freedom? Now we are getting somewhere, little girl."

"Master Cyclonis," she replied, chin raised.

"Cyclonis," it amended. It could taste her fear, palpably filling the air, yet no discernable tremble entered her voice. She was an interesting specimen, this girl-queen. "Propose your deal."

"I want your power. The power all spirits have." She took a deep breath, then plunged into her explanation in a rush. "Crystals allow us to access and use limited amounts of energy, but they are mere smidgeons. We are blind. We are powerless. Everything in this world is energy, the heat, the magma of the Wastelands, the wind, the water, even life itself—and Spirits can see all that. They can access all that. I've been studying," she continued, a note of pride entering her voice, "and all death stems from either an excess in energy—burning up, exploding—or a lack of energy, it spewing out of the body in blood or being robbed by miniscule invading organisms or it simply slowly leaking out as the ages pass and the body loses efficiency. I want the power to control the life and death of everyone and everything as easily as I control my crystals. I want control over the boundaries of all energy in the physical world."

Merkus laughed. "You ask for a very difficult prize, child. You don't just want just an infinitely powerful crystal or some other trinket?"

"An infinitely powerful crystal?" she scoffed. "What use would I have with an infinitely powerful crystal that my enemies could steal or destroy when I myself could be infinitely powerful?"

"Then you are less of a fool, but greater." A deep sigh emanated from the hole. "I shall give you thus power, yet I warn you, with thus an infinite power comes and unsuitable hunger for more. Besides my freedom, you shall sacrifice your humanity. The one you care for the most. And hurry, little Lark. I want to breathe your air within a moon."

"Then thrice I seal the deal in the terms you have just spoken, and thrice I bind you to me."

Merkus's laughter rang throughout the chamber. "No going back now, little bird." The air in front of the hole rippled as it collapsed in on itself, a ball of energy, compressed air and mist and essence of evil flew from the space it once occupied and struck Cyclonis straight in the chest. She flew backwards, her moth open in the little 'o' of surprise, then all went black.

.

Her eyes flew open. She felt cold—then the violet orbs flickered up to the gaping hole where the wall of her laboratory used to be. It seemed ripping holes in the fabric of spacetime also meant decimating one's personal space.

She felt different. Sort of dizzy and clear-headed at the same time. There was a gnawing feeling in the pit of her stomach. Her head hurt, and she could hear the slightest of buzzing sounds, like everything around her was humming.

She pulled herself up and surveyed the ruins of her once-great workspace. Oh well, she could fix it tomorrow. She was damn tired, and nothing could stop her from going to sleep.

"My Lady?"

One of her idiot minions, those failure 'Talons' stood at the edge of the stairs, gaping wide-eyed at the rubble. She would have to kill him for his insolence, and for the fact that he saw her like this, lying vulnerable on the floor.

Suddenly, she had a better idea.

"Come over here and help me up," she snapped.

Slowly, he picked his way over through the rubble and offered a hand. She gripped his forearm, nails digging in through his skin, and let the hunger fill her being completely.

He was gone before he even realized what was going on, all his warmth and life forced sucked into the black hole inside of her. The gnawing abated somewhat, and she stood up without her head wheeling. All that was left of her Talon who investigated was the blood dripping beneath her fingernails. Almost as if in a trance, she raised her hand to her lips and carefully licked the crimson liquid from her porcelain white fingers.

It was the sweetest thing she had ever tasted.

.

A special shout-out to anyone who recognized the work of literature Cyclonis quotes, and extra koodos if you can name the character. I own neither, but for the sake of this little competition, I won't site them until the next chapter.

If you actually give a review, you might as well put some thought into it, so go do your research and tell me exactly why people speculate that the alluded piece of literature is cursed, and I would love to hear some discussion about what you think I'm foreshadowing by including it.