Chapter Sixteen

"Glad to see you're final awake. You gave us quite the scare, Kid."

Travis groaned, and then opened his good eye. He startled when saw the giant slug creature next to a gelatinous blob with tentacles.

"Easy does it. Your wounds are still fresh and we're at least two cycles from Midas."

Travis was confused as to why the creature acted as though they were acquainted.

"Where I am and who are you?"

"Kid, must've hit his head," Jell-O Man said to the slug creature.

"You're on Knox's ship. When I didn't hear back from you I got worry. So I told him to check in on you on his way home. Good thing too `cause believe you me, you were all kinds of shecked up." Jell-O Man passed him a cup of Mido. Before it hit his lips Travis knew it'd taste awesome. Three cups later he rested comfortably.

Once on Midas they got his injuries taken care of by professionals. Travis was back to normal in a week's time, except for one detail. Somehow after their fight he and Phoenix fused back together and for the time being were stuck with each other. Travis tried separating them but only succeeded in causing one massive explosion after another.

His days were spent doing running errands for Knox and guarding his cargo ships. Travis enjoyed this arrangement for the most part and began formulating a plan to reverse engineer the various alien technologies he'd encountered and sell them back on Earth. In addition to trade, Knox taught him commerce. They used an electronic currency system. A senie was their basic unit. There were 100 senie per man and 500 man per kin.

While Knox mainly traded in tech he also dabbled in precious stones and gems. Gold and platinum however were not one of them, and as they were valuable on Earth Travis made a point to horde as much of each as he could. When asked why his reply to Knox was a shoulder shrug. Things were going along alright until the Nekoshins attacked.

They were in the process of delivering a gross of fusion generators to Asimov when the fur balls ambushed them. Travis reached for his S-blade but instead Phoenix's axe came forth. The pair fought for control of the body and forgot about the Nekoshins until they descended upon them like locusts.

For the time being Travis allowed Phoenix control while he concentrated on sensing where the next attack would come from.

Behind you!

Phoenix turned and sliced the unsuspecting fool in half then pivoted. He struck the next one and its head soared into the air, showering them in blood. Their focus slipped for half a second, enough for a fur ball to get the drop on them. Its laser cannon blew a chunk out of their right shoulder and sent the axe hurtling to the ground.

Travis took control, summoned two blades of energy and went on the attack. One by one he destroyed their cannons. Done, he gathered energy in his right index finger and unleashed it. A million blades of energy exploded outwards tearing the Nekoshins to ribbons. The threat over Travis reined their powers in and to his surprise Phoenix separated from him.

"Whoa didn't know there were two of ya."

"Well now you do. And if you want to see another cycle you won't tell anyone."

"Hey is that any way to treat my friends?"

Phoenix got in Travis's face and the pair squared off.

"Cool it boys. We need to get out of here before the fur balls come back."

"So what's it gonna be? Quit acting like a twunt ,or I kick your ass?"

Travis glowered then his face became a blank slate.

"You are beneath me. Do whatever you want. I'm going back to Earth."

He closed his eyes and focused on his grandmother. Before Phoenix could stop him, Travis was gone. But just as quick he was back and covered in ice.

"Whoa, what happened to you?"

"Popped into the dead of space," he said through chattering teeth.

"Ha-ha, epic fail."

"Like you could do better?"

"Touché. So what now?"

Travis encased himself in flames and shook to get the kinks out.

"Now you do whatever, I don't care. But I'm going back earth. The next time we meet it's war."

"So you're just gonna run home and pretend to be normal then?"

"No. A normal is life is boring. I have much larger ambitions."

Travis closed his eyes and plotted a course back to Earth that took him past inhabitable planets. When he next opened his eyes he was back in the cave and there was Phoenix smirking at him.

"When did you get here?"

"About twenty seconds or so after you did."

"Boys."

They turned and saw Isis approach then and then begin running tests. Over next week they were poked and prodded, but the results were the same. When they separated Travis should have been left completely human. Instead they were both left human-Torin hybrids. There was neither precedence for such a union, nor what effects it would have on their powers. They parted ways. Phoenix opted to use the cave as home when things got hot out in space. Travis meanwhile headed his grandmother's house.

***

Helena Goldsmith was old money. An oil heiress, she was New England royalty and spent her days gardening and working for philanthropic causes. Her current cause was the ASPCA. She was at the local humane society when the call came that someone had attempted to break into her home. When she got there Ray, the security guard, nursed a split lip and a shiner.

Next to him was none other than Travis. It had been ages since she seen him last but, what was up with the red eyes. Must be contacts she thought. And grey hair at his age? Unheard of. Must be from his father's side. No matter she still recognized that face anywhere and crushed him in a hug. Her Five foot frame just reached his chest. Travis returned the greeting in kind and they retired to the parlor for tea.

"Your mother's been worried sick and half the country is looking for you."

"I know that's why I came here. I need a place to stay while I get my affairs in order."

"Think nothing of it dear. I'll tell Hubert to prepare your old room and when you're ready I'll contact Harry Mason and let him know you're in a bind. He's the best lawyer in state and served us for years without fail."

"Thanks Grams. You wouldn't happen to have a computer I could use?" Travis sipped his tea and sighed.

"If memory serves me correct your Cousin Austin got me one this past Christmas. I haven't bothered to mess with it though. You can have it if you want."

She placed her hand on Travis's knee. He stopped himself from flinching as he remembered how Demeter did that each time she was in the mood. He schooled himself then dug right into setting up the computer in his room. He cursed himself as a cursory read of Helene's mind revealed his glamour had failed.

His room was just like he remembered it. A four poster bed with cowboy wallpaper, in the corner an ebony claw foot desk with a high backed chair, and on the other side of the room there was a white bureau.

For a time he and his mothered lived at Helena's while his parents were separated. How he loved riding the horses and sailing in the boat, but he had too much work ahead of him to be day dreaming.

Over the next week he had Helena install internet access and showed her how to navigate the web, while he worked out a way to transmit his thoughts into type. It was slowing going and required several trips to Clark for replacement parts, but he managed it.

After a week he'd filled a Terabyte hard drive full of plans, backup plans, and back up plans for those. He always kept in mind Athena's words: "Plan for the unexpected so that even if your scenario fails it advances you're end game. If your opponent thinks three moves ahead, think twelve. Improvise, adapt, overcome."

Done for the night he kicked off his sneakers and closed his eyes. The wards in the room lit up like stars as they absorbed his energy. Travis sighed lost in the moment as he let himself go.

"Damn it," Travis said as the wards overloaded and shattered. He summoned his athame and redirected the wild energy into the ground. The floor glowed blue for a moment then the glyph took form and he poured more energy into it until he felt relaxed and drifted off to sleep.

Sometime later he awoke to a tapping sound. Travis searched the room and finally found the source: an old hand mirror in the bureau. He dusted off the glass and saw Lip's face greet him.

"Master Travis, Hades and Balder plot against you. Lord Abe says they fixin' to send a mess of shadow assassins."

"Got it, but how goes the war?"

"Be troubling times indeed me lord. Eris and Necron march against us. Minerva refuses heed to give us aide."

"I can return and even the odds."

"No, Lord Abaraxas be clear. You's ta stay put `til the war be over."

"Why? I'm more than capable of fighting."

"Aye, but Abe fears you mights go releasings the Old One."

Travis gritted his teeth and cracked his knuckles. Lip nodded head and told Travis to prepare for the attack. He agreed but this conversation was far from over. He went back to sleep. In the morning he went to the garden and spotted Helena repotting a bunch of petunias. The unseasonable warm March weather had cause them to bloom prematurely.

He gave her a hand as they talked about their day, and when she wasn't looking he breathed his essence into the plants. He waited until she went into the house to set his plan into motion. Athame in hand he set up wards around the property. Done he gathered several stones and when he had enough set to work.

The athame glowed yellow as he inscribed sun runes onto the stones and then placed them around the perimeter of the house. He placed the final stone in his pocket and waited. Around 2AM the wards woke him. Travis retrieved the stone and slammed it to ground. Sun light flooded through the windows and he laughed as their screams reached him. He surveyed the property and saw one shadow assassin had survived and was embattled with his plant guardians. Travis watched for a moment then snapped his fingers. The plant guardians returned to normal and the shadow assassin thrashed as it tried to escape the Demon Snare he built that morning.

"Give it up. Lady Athena taught me that trap herself. Now tell me why I shouldn't devour you." Travis's eyes flashed red and he licked his lips.

"Spare me, and I'll do whatever you ask."

"You take me for a novice? You are bound and must do my will until I release you."

"Young master is wise in the ways. Please have mercy on me."

"Can it and tell me your name." Travis called up a ball of flames and the creature flinched back.

"They call me Blix, my Lord."

"I bind you Blix from doing harm to yourself and others in this realm and all others." Chains encased Blix then disappeared, and in their place was a necklace. The Chain of Fate secure, Travis gathered a handful of soil, placed it on the ground then pricked his finger. As the blood mixed with the soil a body took form. Travis approached the shadow assassin and struck a deal.

"Eighteen souls by sun up and you'll gain freedom and a new body."

"Yes my lord." Blix disappeared.

Travis stippled his finger and smiled. Rule four: never waste power on what you can force others to do for you.

In order for his plans to work he needed people who weren't above bending or breaking the law. But they had to be trust worthy. He'd done some investigating but his round table was still empty. The encounter with the shadow assassins had him on edge. travis felt the hunger growing and fingered Abe's bracelet, surface nicked his flesh and once blood made contact it had the desired effect. But Travis knew this only prolonged the inevitable.

"Earth to Gramps, need back up now!" Phoenix said through their link.

"I'm on it."

Travis donned his armor and death mask and popped to Phoenix.

"What took ya?"

"You're lucky I came at all. What's the situation?"

"Fur balls got some new armor that's a bitch to penetrate."

"OK, stand back." Travis removed his bracelet and the hunger took over. He devoured soul after soul, tore the hearts from their chest and bathed in their blood.

Phoenix looked on and retched. What had happened to the boy who couldn't stand the sight of blood?

He pondered this for thirty seconds before going on the attack. He summoned his battle axe and Travis countered with his tendrils. Phoenix dodged, but Travis popped behind him and sent Phoenix soaring into the air with a kick to the back of his head. Travis gave chases and unleashed blow after blow on him. Phoenix released an energy blast and sent Travis to the ground. Before he recovered Phoenix slammed into his chest.

Not done, he rained down blast after blast. When the smoke cleared Travis stood, the right side of his body a bloody mess. He gathered the blood in his hand and slammed it into his chest. His muscles doubled in size and his body was encased in a white aura. Phoenix charged at him and swung his axe, but Travis blocked like it was nothing and punched Phoenix in the gut. The blow sent him a hundred yards and he left a crater upon impact with the ground.

Phoenix struggled to his feet but found his legs broke, along with his arms and several ribs. He blacked out.

Travis, eyes blood red stared down at him and laughed. He heard Oblivion whisper to him, "Kill him, you know you want to." Travis fought back the urge and put the bracelet back on, but Oblivion's voice was still there, egging him on.

"I refuse!"

"Boy you can't resist me. You know sooner or later you will give in. Why drag it out?"

"Because it's what I choose. Now get out of my mind!" For a split second Travis became a mass of golden flames, and then he passed out. Sometime later the pair awoke and glared at each other.

Travis salvaged what was left of the Nekoshin armor and headed back to Earth with Phoenix in tow. They remerged and spent the rest of day healing. A simple glamour was enough to hide the wounds from Helena, and by sun down they were good as new.

"So what know?" Phoenix said through their link.

Author's note: Sorry about the long wait between up dates but rest assure the next chapter will be up next week. Thanks again to all the readers out there and remember to donate to nifty to keep stories like these free.