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Crashing of the Planes

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Chapter 1

Jenn blinked as the disorientation of inter-planar travel faded, her eyes slowly coming into focus. The bland tan walls of the apartment she had been assigned came into view. She appeared to be standing in the middle of the living room, between a scratched coffee table and a large brown, sagging couch. The walls were plastered in various posters of what Jenn assumed her favorite bands. She couldn’t help but smirk, clearly whoever put them up had a sense of humor, as the words ‘demon’, ‘devil’, and ‘hell’ seemed to feature prominently in all of them. Two bookshelves rested against the walls, books arranged haphazardly. Jenn smiled at that, happy someone remembered how much she enjoyed reading.

A muffled groan came from beneath her. When she saw a humanoid figure with a newspaper on its face laying down on the couch, trapped underneath her, she yelped in surprise and leapt up. Forgetting the coffee table was in her way, her eyes went wide as her arms windmilled, falling backwards to land hard on the floor.

“Owwwww…” Jenn hissed, sitting up and rubbing her bruised buttocks. The sounds of newspaper shuffling came from the figure on the couch. A perfect duplicate of Jenn sat up, stretching her arms as she yawned, eyes droopy the doppelgänger glanced down at her fallen counterpart.

“Ah, you’re finally here. Took you long enough Jenn. I’ve been waiting for hours!”

Jenn blinked at her own face, cocking her head to the side slightly. “Uh…who are you?”

The clone gave Jenn a deadpan stare for a moment, before muttering something under her breath. “Did you actually read the briefing on how you’re going to blend in here?” Jenn sheepishly glanced away, the clone rolling her eyes in response. “I’m a simul, made from some of your essence and the aether. A magical construct that pretends to be you, going to work, paying bills, gathering groceries, blah de blah, so no one gets suspicious while you go out and do your ‘important’ work of hunting or whatever. You can just call me Scarlett.”

“You…don’t seem much like me. Actually, you’re a bit mean.”

Scarlett scoffed at Jenn. “It’s just us, so I don’t have to pretend to be someone I’m not. Trust me, out in public, I’m the cute little ball of energy that you’re so well known for back in the Maw. Anyways, here you are. I’ll just go over all the stupid crap you should have already known. So you’re here in New York City, one of the biggest cities the humans have built. We’re on the outskirts, not directly in downtown, which gives you a bit more leeway to get around sneakily. Lots of humans means lots of Scura. We’re on the thirteenth floor, so you have an ok view, but a crappy stair climb when the elevators don’t work. You, and by you I mean me, work as a cheery secretary at a local bank. You get the bedroom…I like sleeping on the couch here. When you go out, try not to look like a stupid tourist, supposedly you’ve lived here for three years. Anything you wanna ask?”

Jenn blinked, trying to digest the rapid fire information Scarlet threw at her, shaking her head slightly to clear it. Before she opened her mouth, she scrunched her nose, an expression of disgust spreading across her face. “What is that smell?”

“Humans have what they call a "high tech" society that relies on burning a substance called ‘fossil fuels’. I’m not gonna explain it, but it puts a ton of smoke into the air. It’s really bad around cities like this. You're gonna have to get used to it, clean air is practically non-existent in the material world.”

“Oh yeah, I remember them telling us that in class. Wait, is it really true humans can’t use magic?”

“Yep. No magic. So watch what you do. Humans will turn a blind eye to a lot of things, but best not to take chances” Scarlett replied.

Jenn waved her off, strolling over to the large set of blinds hanging down to the left of the couch. She glanced back at Scarlett for a moment, who sighed.

“That’s the balcony. Go get it out of your system now.”

Jenn slid the blinds to the side, the afternoon sunlight blinding her for a brief moment before her eyes adjusted. Her mouth dropped open in shock as she froze in place. A magnificent skyline, dotted by massive structures reaching up towards the sky in the distance before her, across a large body of ever churning water. The light glinted off the buildings as the sun set behind them, millions of tiny lights flickering on, blinking into existence as the fire in the sky slowly slid into the cool darkness of night.

Jenn didn’t know how long she stood there, transfixed by the vision, but eventually she felt a presence next to her. Tearing her eyes away from the vision before her, she glanced to her side, to see Scarlet with a contemplative expression on her face.

“You know, the humans sure can build some beautiful things,” Scarlett’s voice was soft, softer than Jenn had thought possible from the simul. “It’s sad though. They still haven’t learned to let go of their own internal hatreds. Too busy killing ‘those people’ to work together to keep building.”

Jenn, eyes having slid back out to keep the view of the sunset in her eyes, replied without taking her eyes off the slowly descending sun. “Didn’t they learn anything from the Great War?”

“Humans weren’t involved, remember? As far as they know, we don’t exist. Besides, it’s not like the rest of you learned much either. We simuls are outside your species. We’re just created beings, and all we know is what we’ve observed over the years. Can I tell you what I’ve concluded so far?” Jenn just nodded to Scarlett, inviting her to continue. Scarlett went on, giving a sweeping gesture to encompass everything.

“You, the angels, and spirits are just as bad as them. Midnight just forced the treaty on you guys after reminding you that none of you were the true power of the world. And look at how well that’s turned out! He’s dead by his own hand, and the rest of you still can barely sit in the same room without getting into fights. Can’t even respect another intelligent species…how will you ever beat the Scura?”

“I know it’s wrong, but I don’t hate angels or spirits. Or even the dragons for that matter. I don’t hate anyone but the Scura. But it’s hard; growing up, all I ever heard was how much the angels hated us, or how the spirits taunted us, or whatever. I wasn’t alive during the war, but lots of my kind were. Some awful things happened back then I’m told. I guess old grudges don’t fade easily.” Jenn’s words were soft spoken, refusing to turn away from the view before her. She felt more than saw Scarlett’s shrug.

“If you say so. All I know is what I’ve seen. But we’ll see if you keep the whole ‘no hate’ thing when you actually meet some angels or spirits.”

A silence stretched on for several minutes, Jenn desperately trying to think of something to shift the conversation towards. “How do you guys get created anyways?” Jenn asked, curiosity evident in her voice. Scarlett chuckled briefly.

“All done by one man actually. A beastfolk artisan named Reimar.”

“Beastfolk still exist? I thought they were extinct?!” Jenn exclaimed, tearing away from the view to look at Scarlett wide eyed.

“Almost. One tribe is still around, and Reimar is the son of the current leader, he’s the only one who knows how to make my kind. He really has you, the angels and the spirits bent over a barrel on it, but he’s pretty generous. All he asked for was a place for his tribe to live in peace, so there is a small village in the spirit world that belongs to his tribe. No one interferes with their lives, so they do ok. It takes a long time to make one of my kind though, that’s why only the best get sent to the human world. We’re a hot commodity!” Scarlett laughed, throwing her head back as she posed with a smirk on her face.

“So guess that makes him like, your dad or something?”

Scarlett shrugged. “Creator, sure. Dad, eh…family isn't something we really have. We just have ourselves.”

“Seems kind of lonely an existence…are you really ok with it?” Jenn asked, cocking her head to the side.

“Sure we are. We’re essentially humans…we live normal human lives. We just know more than them. Don’t get me wrong, we’re not actually forced to do this. Reimar gives us a choice when he creates us; he tells us everything, and tells us we can either do this, or go off and make our own choices. But you gotta remember…our essence is the essence of the person we’re pretending to be. Part of me is you, and you wanna be a hero who helps stop the Scura…so naturally I have that drive too. Besides, I enjoy the same things you do…so I just spend a lot of my downtime reading. I’m content where I’m at, don’t you worry your pretty little head over it.”

“…did you just call yourself pretty by calling me pretty?” Jenn asked.

“Pretty much, yeah.” Scarlett replied with a smirk.

Jenn stared at Scarlett for a moment, feeling that strange sense of discomfort slowly fade as she took in Scarlett’s words. Scarlett smirked at Jenn, before gesturing towards the doorway to the right of the room. “Anyways, let me cook you up some dinner, then you can get started. Night is coming…it’s the time of the hunter.”

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