Author's Note: So, for the curious who wouldn't bother looking it up, you have a very famous soliloquy from Lady Macbeth of Shakespeare's play, Macbeth. It is considered horrible luck to say the work 'Macbeth' in a theatre, in which its called 'The Scottish Play,' and you can read horror stories from Google about what's happened when people have decided to test that. I might throw some more quotes in, see if you can find them ;-).

Special thanks to pixie blue, who recognized it immediately—feel good about yourself, you're very smart.

And you know I don't own it.

Chapter 2

Cyclonis looked at the prisoner prostrating himself beneath her feet, her lip curled up in a sneer. He had been a Talon once, but did not get the memo that it was a lifelong job. Besides, she needed to test these new powers, figure out their exact limitations and how she could best use them to destroy her enemies.

Slowly, languidly, she sucked the power towards herself, and the man collapsed, crumbling into dust.

She grimaced in disgust. It wasn't good enough. She couldn't control the amount of energy she was pulling, couldn't take just a little and leave the man alive, and it was so frustrating she could feel herself boiling with rage and—

Try drinking their blood.

Merkus? she called back with her mind, but only silence greeted her.

"Send in another prisoner," she ordered. Everyone complained that the dungeons were overcrowded, and it drained precious resources to keep the rats alive.

The next quivering prisoner was shoved into the room. She brought her staff down immediately, slashing his cheek. Blood dripped to the floor. She brought the crystal to her mouth.

She shuddered as she lapped it up, not at the taste of the crimson liquid, but at the thrill, the elation it gave her.

What's going on? She's going to kill me! She's going to eat me! This is just too weird, what's going on, in this just some weird dream? I'm going to die!

His thoughts slammed into her, but not only the petty little statements running through, also his fear. She could taste his fear. It was sour, but at the same time, oh-so-sweet. She experimented, pulling the energy in to just the slightest degree, and his flailing became weaker, but he didn't die. "Take him away again," she called out. "But keep him under observation. I want to see if he can recover."

She experimented a lot over the next couple of days—how much could she take so that they would recover, die minutes later, hours later, days later. She put down the rebellion on Terra Gale (the 'Rebel Ducks' managed to get away, but it served the same purpose, she had prisoners to experiment on again). She discovered that the more energy she stole, it took exponentially longer for the people to recover, until, when she reached about 80%, 85% of their life force, they would reach what she called the 'death constant' on her graph, approximately y=378.5003.

She began experimenting with thought control, then, on some of her Talons, with taking energy and replacing it with crystal energy. It didn't work quite as she expected—they burned off the energy as if it were a super-power, and were left with whatever she hadn't taken. The first few died, before she realized that she could supply far more energy from the crystal than she had to take. By taking a smidgeon and giving a lot, she could create herself a super-powered army.

Of course, since Merkus had been so good at keeping his side of the promise, she personally set out to find and retrieve the doorway. It was simple work, really—after all, it had been kept hidden by her family for generations—and all she needed was the key, then she was the all-powerful Empress of the Atmos. The true Master of All, God-woman of life and death…she shivered in anticipation. She had the ambition and the means to accomplished such a wish, a wish that her ancestors dared not dream of.

Cyclonia had fallen apart with her gone, which she really didn't mind. She took Ravess's blood, but decided to let the manipulative woman go—after all, with her new powers, she could use her whenever she wanted to, and it might be good for her enemies to think that the ex- commander would leak information for revenge. Besides, it gave her a good number of traitors to practice on. She perfected the act of what she called 'the Binding'.

She killed the final test subject—after all, she couldn't let any word leak out. Then she called Dark Ace into the chamber. "I am experimenting on a new weapon, a new form of fighting that I'm calling, imbuning a warrior with crystal energy," she informed him. "We can use it to defeat the Storm Hawks. In the meantime, I would like you to bring me the Storm Hawks' blood."


Arygyn shook his head, and rolled over, trying yet again to fall asleep. Something was wrong, something in the air, something in the fabric of the world, and he could feel it, like a bad splinter or—


Merkus. I did not know the veil between the world grew so thin as to—

Oh, it isn't thin. Some fool called me. I'm coming back. And as I come, so you shall fade.

So that was what he felt. He bowed his head. If my time is coming, I accept that. He sighed. He only wished to give Aerrow a few last words of advice, concerning the prophecy, and see how Piper was doing. It wasn't his path to correct fate, but sometimes that ideal of his frustrated him a lot. The least he could do was try to give the boy courage, and hope the girl could discover her own power. She was the only one whom had been gifted with energy control from birth, yet she flew through life, oblivious…

He could sense the seas of blood coming in the future, dark clouds covering the shining diamonds that normally lit up the knight. He was a forseer to his bones, and he had the uncomfortable feeling that the red tides would wash them all away…


Blood. Blood. She dreamed of blood. It flowed all around her, and she bathed in it, laughing maniacally. She would rule this world and its people would pay, pay in the sweet life- energy that ran through their veins, and when she had drunk it all, drunk so much that she had nearly burst, perhaps then the horrible gnawing would leave her and all that would be left was the power, the blessed power, and the glorious numbness it brought. She would kill every single person in the Atmos, and feel no qualm for it; Stars, hide your fires/ let not the light see my dark and deep desires. But it tasted so sweet…


She shot up straight. "Dark Ace."

"Should we speak later, and you retire for the night…?"

"You're not my mother," she snapped, whirling on him. "And you're in no position to talk. You don't look like you've been particularly successful." Her eyes strayed down to his blade. "Your weapon is clean. The little brats, however," she moved forward, her fingers brushing his cheek, tracing the crimson line where the boy had broken through his defenses. He tried not to wince or shiver. "Seemed to have managed to nick you. Getting old and senile, Dark Ace?" She brought her blood-covered finger to her lips.

This time, he couldn't suppress a shudder. His Master had been acting weirdly lately, locking herself in her tower with many prisoners, who never returned, not even in body bags. Now this obsession with blood?

Then the moment passed, and she was back to normal again. "The key to my success lies in a…weapon…that can be found on the Far Side of Atmos. We go tomorrow to retrieve the key."


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