Book One: The Innocent Heart

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Her Second Skin

Part 21.1 of 1.9: Three months later…

The trees with their pink/violet blossoms fell gently in the wind as Ashlyn walked along the dirt path. She wore her white shirt with a navy colored skirt uniform. Her medium length dark hair was braided behind her with her head tail resting over her broad shoulder. Her body muscles shrank as she was no longer this stocky sized ‘Pit Fighter’ that she trained herself to be. In the three months of isolating herself within the orphanage, she kept to her regular cardio to stay fit and athletically strong.

In doing so, the beast got smaller and lost weight. She was no longer this dark beast with dark highlights. As she kept her dark image, Ash became this innocent sixteen year old teenager who wanted to understand and experience a side of her she never had the chance to explore.

The sixteen year old held her tablet close. A chill was in the air as the beast shivered slightly. It had been a full three months that passed into the cold month of November. The air got colder and people wore longer clothing to keep warm, but not her. Ash was a cold woman. She felt innocent again trying to understand Cameron’s world in order to experience his perspective on his own world.

Ash did this for her benefit because Cam was the only one who softened her fall after her father’s abuse. After killing the Pit Champion, she felt lost. Even if Mackie held her hand for a brief moment, it was Cameron who offered what she really needed. It was her personal space. Mackie made her stifled with her constant following. It caused the beast to run away from the Paxxian.

Ash walked along the path toward a building. She passed two girls in white navy shirt and skirt uniform. They pointed and offered her a wink. Covering their mouth, they giggled walking away. The shivering beast opened her fangs with a snarl confused by their actions. However, she turned when someone called her name, “Hey Ash!”

Cameron wore his white shirt and navy pants as he rushed toward her. Holding the tablet to his side, he smiled grasping Ash’s hand. Ash looked down at his hand gripping hers. Cam moved close and kissed her on the cheek. The girl stared back coolly at Cameron’s cheerful expression. He inquired, “How was your morning?”

Ash nodded giving him a slight smile responding, “Cam-”

The boy gripped her hand and responded, “Hurry! We are going to be late for class. You know how An’Pol gets with tardiness?”

Gripping hold of Cam’s hand, she nodded as they walked into the building. As they walked along the corridor, they entered the classroom. The room shifted as An’Pol transformed the entire room into a different scene. The navy colored Tricetra glared at Cameron and wagged her finger scolding him. Cam gulped waving at her as he pulled along Ash toward his seat.

Finding it, Cam gripped Ash’s hand as they sat down side by side. The headmistress pressed the device as the class flew across the large sea near the ancient ruins of the stoned columns and the Pantheon. She spoke beginning the class, “The Aegean Sea-“

The class gasped with awe as they were washed over with waves and the sounds of the surfs clashing with the sandy beach. An’Pol resumed, “After that third World War as a cankerous disease turned the world’s oceans into mostly salt and sand with little water, the Aegean Sea remained one of the great bodies of waters fortunate to have survived. A large man made barrier was crafted during the war. It held back the Mediterranean Sea from the ocean. This great barrier was tough and thick with five lanes across the top of the wall. It connected south of Spain with Africa. From the lower tip of Gibraltar, Spain to the top head of Ceuta, Spain along the border of Morocco, Africa, the barrier held strong. For that, the Aegean Sea continued to present its beauty. However it was nearly lost when the great sea slowly dissolve to a size where hidden temples below the waters were now visible. We had nearly lost the sea, but new treasures were found because of this.”

The Tricetra portrayed an air of calmness and understanding while instructing her children helping them understand. Thrusting her classroom through the marvels and discovery of the ancient sea, she spoke, “The Aegean Sea was also one of the greatest seas. It was a reminder that we must not forget the beauty Earth once held before the war took it all away.”

Cameron gripped Ash’s hand as he kept his mouth open gasping with awe at the wondrous feeling. Ash gazed upon the holo images as her mind learned while gathering information. She barely noticed Cam besides her or her hand turning white from Cam’s gripping power.

Part 21.2 of 2.9: Sanità Ayuers, now a Ghost that dropped through the cracks of the Terrian Alliance

Sanità pushed herself across the Sands. She survived the past few months alone through hardships. Several Ghost outcasts passed her along the way but she didn’t pay them any attention. It was her journey to walk alone. Her dirty blonde hair grew several inches longer as it reached over her stocky arched back. Fluttering in the wind, it remained a messy tangled mess with salt and wet sand clinging at the strands. Her face and arm was riddled with the scars of her isolation.

A long scarred gash cut across her upper arm. It stung but she barely felt it. On her lower wrist, a flashing light of her damaged wrist device surged once again across her nerves. The numbing pain was barely noticeable as the large, stocky woman trudged across the flowing salty sand shallow ocean. The salty water lapped around her ankles filling up the footprints she left behind.

Her stomach growled. The nineteen year old woman grew hungry. Her body was big enough that she could go on for days without food or drink, but she still needed protein to sustain her body mass. She needed food soon and wasteland of the Sands provided plenty of that. Even if the world’s oceans vanished killing the ocean life, hard shelled crustaceans and soft shelled sand burrowers survived.

Looking down on the flowing salty sands, the starving woman spied a large tail sticking out. Recognizing it as her next meal, Sanità snarled lumbering her way toward it. The thick tail had a stinger on the end. Grabbing hold of it, she uttered a roar pulling the hard shelled crustacean out. It was a scorpion crab with a hardened shell protecting the soft inside. The sea creature flailed snapping its large pincers. The tail flipped over as the stinger rammed against the woman’s exposed muscled triceps. It sank into her tanned skin sending paralytic venom onto her arm.

With a snarl, Sanità let go of the shell and grabbed hold of the tail. Pulling, she grunted with effort as she tore the tail off the scorpion. Liquid rushed out from the opening as she tossed the tail aside. Being immune against the paralyzing liquid, she grabbed hold of the shell. The Sands scorpion crab flailed snapping its pincers at her other arm and hand.

Her other arm was covered with the marvelous tech of the nano fibre. Grabbing hold of the pincers, she pulled tearing it away. Tearing the other pincer, the starving woman tore the head off killing the creature. Her long hair fluttered in the wind as she crouched over the Sands clutching her food. The meat inside was raw, but still edible

Gripping the underbelly of the scorpion with her left hand, she clenched her right fist and rammed several blows against the hard shell. With each grunts of her breath and the thud of her fist against the shell, she cracked it. Gripping the side of the broken shell, she removed the hard casing away exposing the meat. Taking the sides of the shell with both hands, she moved it toward her face crouched down to taste it. Her face turned to disgust spitting the venom to her side.

Picking at the small sac of the paralytic venom sac on the underbelly of the meat, she removed it with her nano fibre covered finger and tossed it. Placing the hand under the soft belly of the shell, she used her other hand to pick at the meat and place it into her mouth. It was salty to the taste and had a rough texture. Chewing the meat, she placed the shell near her mouth and gobbled ripping through the tough meat taking in the juicy protein. The liquid dribbled down her mouth, along the defined rippling muscles of her arms and onto the flowing sands.

Part 21.3 of 3.9: Back at the Orphanage a week later…

Ashlyn walked along the path in her uniform. She took a break from her lessons. With the ear plugs in her ears connected to the MP3 player in her skirt pocket, she listened to the thrumming beat of the soft rhythm. A cold wind gusted as her dark hair ruffled. Her small head tail rested at her shoulder. Stopping before the garden, Ash gulped. One of the teachers was tending to her flowers. It was the same woman she met along the path when she was eight in the Great Lakes with her father.

Patricia Helms worked on her flower garden. Ash spoke approaching gently, “Ms. Helms?”

The woman turned to her offering her smile. Getting up, she inquired, “Yes Ashlyn?”

Ash stared at her for a moment. The woman didn’t seem to recognize her. The beast pondered trying to figure out what to say. It was her second chance. Taking out one ear plug from her eardrum, she found her words and replied, “Can we walk for a bit? I want to talk.”

With a concerned expression, the teacher nodded as she put away her clippers and removed her gloves. Extending her hand toward the path, she responded, “Sure. What’s up?”

As they walked along the path, Ash took out her MP3 player. Patricia turned to her and looked at the little device. She gasped recognizing it. Ash studied her as they stopped before the trees. She handed it to her and Patricia accepted it. She gulped inquiring, “Where did you get it from? “

Ash responded cleanly, “Seven years ago. You recognized it?”

The woman nodded studying it while turning it around. She replied, “My husband Giles used to own one of those. It was long ago I think before-“

She paused for a moment as she shook hearing the telltale faint sound of a clatter. It was from within the device. Ash didn’t notice the sound till now. Patricia’s features darkened with confusion as she muttered turning it over to the back, “It can’t be-“

Ash saw the faint line across the small corner of the player. Patricia took her finger and opened a small compartment. Shaking the content out over her hand, a piece of jewelry tumbled out. She lightly gasped recognizing it. It was a wedding ring. Ash took the MP3 player as Patricia handed it back to her while studying the ring on her hand. Picking it up, she noted the engraving. It said, ‘Love Forever’.

Holding the MP3 player, Ash looked at Patricia and gulped. The woman froze in a trance. The wind blew across her features fluttering her hair while the woman remained still. Suddenly the beast felt someone behind her. Turning, she noted the man in black uniform before her. The Secretary didn’t look happy.

Part 21.4 of 4.9: Listening to the Secretary, his harsh words never forgotten

The uniformed man curled his lips into a snarl as he spat grabbing her MP3 player. He spoke harshly, “Ashlyn, what have you done? You were supposed to remove every last piece of evidence to connect her to you. By recognizing you, you have made yourself the subject for her to accuse you of murder!”

Finishing his words, the Secretary took the MP3 player and tossed it onto the ground with anger smashing the technology. He approached the woman in a trance and took her ring. Taking the jewelry, he placed it into his uniformed black jacket pocket.

Ash felt this surging anger toward the Secretary that she hadn’t felt in awhile and spat, “You! Why do you intervene? I just wanted-”

Pausing for a moment, she looked for the words. Not finding any, the beast snarled and approached him. Grabbing his throat, she snarled at him with a threat to bite at him.

The Secretary grunted with discomfort grabbing her hand. Twisting her wrist aside, the man touched Patricia on the shoulder spoke with a bit of anger, “This is not the place to speak!”

By command, they vanished in a blinding light of a teleporter and appeared in a dark room with a single light. Ash gasped with surprise withdrawing her attack. The curious beast looked around her new unfamiliar surroundings. She watched as the irritated man spoke, “Observe!”

Turning away from the girl, the Secretary faced the frozen woman. Looking into her eyes, he spoke with reverberance, “I am the Secretary. You are Patricia Lassi Owens, the wife of Giles Ty Owens who died eight years ago. In ten years, you have moved on and you have finally found someone else who shared your burden. His name is Vincent Petreli. You have recently married him and are currently in a honeymoon. Your ring-”

He spoke grabbing her hand. With his other hand, he removed the other ring from his jacket pocket. Placing it into her ring finger, he replied, “-engraved love forever was a token from your lost husband and was passed onto you to keep him memory. However, he was not lost forever as you loved Vincent Petreli the same way. He will take care of you as Giles did. Listen to him. Listen to Vincent Petreli and you will love him forever until your death. You will awaken from this trance with the sound of my fingers snapping once and you gone from this place.”

After the finger snap, Patrica was teleported away. Looking at Ash, the uniformed man kept his irritation in a controlled level speaking sharply, “Ashlyn Sadie Techryn! What you almost did do not do that again. You were lucky I was there to stop it. If you attempt to find her or look for her again, I will not be there again. She and you will be dealt with harshly. She will be killed and you will undergo what I did with her. I will wipe your mind.”

Part 21.5 of 5.9: Ash realizing the part she plays in her journey, she listens carefully…

Ash thought for a moment trying to understand what was going on. Making her first question, she inquired, “Who is Vincent Petreli? Does he know this, or is he being mind-wiped?”

The man shook his head responding, “No, he is a SIAD agent whose sole duty is to keep her close to ground making sure she doesn’t wander off. He is also tasked to keep her away from you sixty kilometers away from you wherever you end up. He would even move her to a colony if possible.”

Confused and trying to understand, the beast asked, “Wait, why didn’t you just kill her now if you are trying to clean up.”

The Secretary exhaled explaining, “Because it just isn’t my style, Ashlyn. I am only human. I care about my people and I only want them safe and secured. The future of the Terrian Alliance must be held safe from and protected from her enemies. I do not want to be your enemy, Ashlyn. I only want what’s best for your future in the SIAD. Do not cross my path and you will never see me again.”

When he finished, he tapped her in the shoulder with a device. Ash vanished in a blinding light and reappeared in the same spot she left from. Looking around again, she didn’t find the woman. Patricia Helms was gone. Looking at the ground, she noted her broken MP3 player. With a shrug, she picked up the player, pocketed the broken pieces and moved on down the trail. The beast headed back toward the orphanage for her next lesson.

Across the blazing wasteland of the Sands, Sanità walked as her heavy legs sank into the flowing, damp ground. Sinking to her knees, she gripped with her left hand on the ground. The harsh wind gusted against her long flowing dirty blond hair. It was a light sand storm with winds below fifty five miles per hour. Her suit covered her nose and mouth as she trudged through the blinding sandstorm.

Keeping her right bare arm with the cobra tattoo in front of her, Sanità cut most of the wind from her eyes as her thick arm provided the windbreaker for keeping the sand out of her eyes. Keeping her heavy upper body hunched forward, she stood solitary without being pushed around by the wind. With another step across, she crossed into the end of the sand dune. As the flowing salty water rushed down, the sand dune broke under her heavy stocky form. She slid down.

Rolling to her back, she flipped over to slide down to the bottom of the sand dune. Getting up, she pushed forward. Her hair fluttered madly in the wind. Suddenly, as if it was called, the sandstorm lifted. The howling in her ears died down as the sands fell onto the ground. Dust dispersed as Sanità looked beyond her. She found her first sign of civilization in her months of wandering lost in the sands.

It was a large five lane road miles high from the Sands. From the distance, she could see a small section of buildings clustered among the long bridge. It was a small town. Sanità pushed forward until she came before a strong, sturdy sign. It said,

Town of Homeward, please leave all your worries behind when you pass town limits. Those searching for a home, seek no more. Those on a journey, please stop by for rest.

Sanità scowled at the sign and walked past the town limit into Homeward. Around her were people sitting around their shops, broken down homes, tents or were simply walking around. She made her way toward the bridge. Looking around, the tired traveler searched. This town was a part of her trial and it was the one she wanted to pass before moving on to her destination.

Part 21.6 of 6.9: As several weeks passed her by, her beast meets an old friend…

Several weeks passed. It was almost Thanksgiving. Ashlyn carried Delphi in her arms as she giggled at her animal companion. The Maltese breed barked back licking her hand. She gave the little dog a kiss on the head as Delphi licked her face. She stroked its white hair as its small tail wagged. Entering the main building of the orphanage, she looked up as someone called her name, “Ashlyn!”

Ash turned to the sound as one of the teachers approached her. He spoke, “Someone is here. She says she knows you.”

“Who,” she inquired stroking the small toy dog.

He responded, “I don’t know, but she’s a Paxxian and her aggression toward me is making me doub-“

Ash gasped as her eyes widened. Knowing who he was taking about, she inquired, “Where?”

The teacher stared at her and responded curiously, “But, how did- Have you-“

“Yes,” she half shouted baring her fangs while making the small dog yelp with agitation. Lowering her voice, she tried again speaking, “Yes, I know her. Where?”

The teacher nodded as he pointed responding, “Just behind the school and down the path near one of the park benches.”

Holding the dog close, she nodded and followed his directions outside. Walking the path down behind the school, she quickly walked along the way toward the park away from the buildings. From a distance, she saw a Paxxian lying on the bench resting. Delphi barked as it yelped jumping out of her arms. The toy dog ran toward the Paxxian as Ash followed her quickly.

Musing in her thoughts, Ash remembered meeting her in that fateful day six years ago in the Underground when her enemy Sani introduced her to her friends. The dark beast grew up with Sackie being at her side as a thorn jabbing at her. It was through hardships and blood that Ash eventually won over Sackie to her side

That bond they made with the four S’s with Sani as their leader and Sammi her pawn was eventually broken by Ash’s own hand years later on New Year’s Eve when the girls betrayed the dark beast. Ash survived to make her former friends pay and ended up killing Sammi in the process leaving only Sackie and Sani alive. Sani became broken as she snapped under the stress and recieved brain damage as she was sent to prison for her crime.

Sackie became Mackenzie Kagan Ubex as Ash took her in under her care training her to become a Paxxian as she should be. Since then, their bond was stronger than ever and could never be broken. Mackie loved her dark beast and followed her while defending her like Ash trained her to do so. Taking herself out of her thoughts, Ash approached the bench where her twin beast rested upon.

From the park bench, Mackie rose from her lying position. She yawned stretching her muscular arms. Her long, sharp canine revealed as she opened it for a few moments before closing it. Turning to the yelping dog, the Paxxian stood from her chair and snarled at it. Stopping before the Paxxian, Delphi placed its little paws against her furred legs and yelped. Bending over, Mackie picked up the dog and stroked its fur. Delphi panted and licked her claws while her tail wagged. Mackie giggled cooing at it holding the toy dog close.

Looking up, the Paxxian noted Ash approaching. With a fanged smile, she spoke as her short brown tail flicked to one side, “Hey Ash. Is she your dog?”

Approaching her friend, Ashlyn shook her head responding, “No Mack. It’s the headmistress’s and the school. What are you doing here?”

Mackenzie nodded getting close to her and held out the toy dog. Delphi yelped panting happily for the twin beast. She spoke, “Umm, I don’t know. I came to see you. We haven’t gotten in touch in a long while.”

Part 21.7 of 7.9: The Twin Beasts reunited!

As Ash accepted the dog, Mackie got a little close to her and gave her a peck on the cheek. It was a small kiss. The twin beast smiled back as Ash gave her a confused look. She responded holding the small dog close to her arm and stroked the fur, “Mackie, umm-“

The twin beast stared back and cocked her head at her dark beast’s expression. Taking Ash’s hand, she gripped it while stroking the top of her hand with her claw thumb and inquired with concern, “Are you okay, Ash? What’s going on?”

Still holding the toy dog with one strong arm and hand, Ash spoke hesitating, “I don’t know.”

The brown haired twin beast stared back. With a snarl, Mackie released her hand and spat with anger while flashing her fangs, “Is that why you haven’t talked to me in three months? Is that all you have to say? How about hey how are you or I missed you too?”

“Mack,” Ash tried, but Mackie scoffed turning and walked away. She spat again, “Forget it! Go about what you were doing. If you don’t have anything else to say, then leave me alone!”

Mackie cried a little and sniffed. Delphi whimpered as it yelped with concern for the twin beast. Ash quickly placed the Maltese on the bench and approached her twin beast. She touched her shoulder. Mackie grunted brushing her hand off. Touching her, she stroked her arm and pulled her around gently responding, “I apologize, little beast. It isn’t you. It is me. I am confused.”

Ash wiped Mackie’s tears as Mackie stared at her. She asked furiously, “Is that why you broke our bond apart and we lost touch? You’re confused about where we stand or where you stand with Cameron? Which is it?”

Ash shook her head as she sighed, “Umm, that’s part of it. It’s me. Since the death of my father, many unanswered questions continued to surround me. Since no one could give me the answer I’m looking for, I have been lost. Cameron isn’t helping much. He is only adding to my confusion.”

Mackie looked into her eyes and sighed shaking her head replying furiously, “Well, that doesn’t mean you can just stop talking to me. I missed you so much. Even I did a few matches in the honor of you hoping that you were watching. I waited and when I heard nothing, I got mad and furious even. You know how temperamental I get. I would have helped with the questions too, you know!”

“I,” Ash started as she backed looking down finishing, “I apologize, little beast. I did not mean-”

Mackie studied her and touched her chin to get her attention. She licked her fangs and smiled with concern, “It is alright. No harm done. Our bond is still strong. You are still my twin dark beast and companion. Talk to me.”

Ash gulped responding, “Umm, I do not understand what Cameron is trying to do. I’m still lost and he is trying to portray love to me but I don’t know. I don’t exactly feel what he is feeling.”

“You mean this,” Mackie inquired softly as she moved her close with a kiss on the lips.

Their embrace was brief as their lips met. Mackie released as she gazed upon the dark eyes of her beast. Ash stared back unsure. She felt something then but it faded quickly. Mackie tried again forward, but Ash quickly held her back and spoke, “Mack-umm-“

Mackenzie stared back and asked, “What is it?”

Ash responded plainly asking for a reason, “What are you doing?”

Part 21.8 of 8.9: Ash trying to feel what her twin beast feels.

Mackie stared into Ash’s dark eyes and into her dark soul as she responded with love for her dark beast, “Ash, ever since I saw you for the first time I felt something. I did not know what it meant for me, not for a long time. Not until that day when you spared my life and offered your hand. That’s when I truly knew it was you. You were the one for me but I did not know how to say it. Now I am saying it because I am not afraid anymore. I love you, Ashlyn Sadie Techryn. I hope you share the same thing because I would be crushed if you don’t. I was hurt bad when you dismissed the bondage and stopped responding to my messages, you know! I will understand though and I will give you your space.”

“Mackie, umm-,” Ash tried again stroking her brown hair and responded, “Little beast, I do feel something there, but this isn’t the right time or place for it. I can’t-”

Mackenzie gave her a look and grunted noisily as she uttered a growl rolling her yellow eyes. She snarled whipping her hand away furiously, “It is right for me! I do not understand your attitude!”

The twin beast turned her back on Ash. Ash let out a sigh and responded with a snarl gripping her hand again. Touching her arm muscles, she responded, “Don’t do this, Mack. Don’t do this to me. You know how confusing this is for me. I needed my space, so do not dare turn your back on me. I still need you. I need my little beast, but not now. I need my Paxxian back, okay Mack?”

Releasing another guttural growl from within her throat that was similar to a defeated sigh, Mackie rolled her eyes again turning back to Ash. She spoke with a nod gripping her hand, “Okay Ash.”

Ash smiled at her and nodded. Mackie smiled back pecked her on the cheek with her kiss. Taking her hand, she led her twin dark beast toward the bench where Delphi had been watching them with interest. The small dog yelped at the Paxxian happily as Mackie released Ash’s to scoop up the little dog. Stroking the fur, Delphi licked Mackie’s hand as the twin beasts sat on the bench. Turning to Ash, Mackie spoke, “I quit the Strykers.”

Ash stared at her and inquired with a question, “Oh, how come? Was Ty the reason?”

Mackie shrugged looking down at Delphi. Setting the dog on her lap, Delphi barked back as her tail wagged. Mackie’s own tail flitted over onto her lap. Delphi looked at her tail and yelped at it. She swiped at it with her little paw and barked before resuming panting with her tongue hanging out.

Looking back at Ash, Mackie explained, “Yeah well, it is nothing really. I love the team so much but Ty still pisses me off bad. I hated him. He misses you, you know. Several times he was crude to me behind my back. He still blames me for you leaving the Stykers. I wanted to kill him but I know it will be wrong of me. When I quit, he was happy and sent me off quickly from his little clubhouse without anything but good tidings and good wishes. The team got mad at him. Pax and Amara tried to convince me to stay, but I couldn’t. That meant a lot to me that I still had friends within the Strykers. They’ve been so good to me, but I already made up my mind.”

Ash shook her head and snarled baring her fangs, “The son of the admiral is an ass. You do not deserve his abuse. I think a part of it is my fault, little beast.”

Mackie shook her head and kissed her cheek. She smiled interrupting Ash’s thoughts, “Thanks. No, it is not your fault. That part is me as I thought it was high time I left. I have been thinking over something. I even sent you a few holo messages about it because it’s been driving me insane.”

Mackie clenched her hand as Ash responded wondering, “What is it? I never got it as I’ve been ignoring your messages. It was driving me crazy.”

Part 21.9 of 9.9: Mackie’s thoughts about her father

Mackie giggled shaking her head, “Oh no, the fault is mine. I should have just given you the space. Anyways, umm, I’ve been talking to my father. He missed me and I got to see him a couple months back when he sent me another one of his holo messages. He even saw me in a match and disappointed when he didn’t get to meet you. Oh by the way, yeah I told him all about you. How much I loved you and respected you. He was okay with this bond I have with you. As long as I am happy and talking with him he’s happy too. He wanted to meet with you to say thanks for saving his daughter and putting her on the right track.”

Ash nodded. Taking Delphi from Mack’s lap, the small dog growled and yelped at her companion. Stroking the dog’s head, Ash caressed the toy dog into her arms as Delphi cuddled into her strong muscles. It yelped again panting. Ash responded, “That’s good as long as you are in talking terms with him. Tell me more.”

Mackie smiled shaking her head. Her tone changed as she spoke, “He, umm, did something when he visited me in holo. He said he put my application in for military training and my resume was accepted. I start training in a couple weeks and I am not sure whether I should be mad or not. He did that without my permission. He also kinda sensed I wasn’t happy about it so he gave me a couple of months to mull it over. He’s meeting with me tomorrow and I wanted to talk with you before I could make the decision. I don’t-”

As Delphi drifted off to sleep within Ash’s warm muscles, Ash touched her cheek with the other hand distracting her and responded, “Take it, Mack. It does not matter what he did. Take the training. You need it. This is your part of your journey. It is a new one without me.”

Mackie stared back at her and purred a little, “Oh, Ash. You think so? I should just take this? I won’t be able to see you for a while.”

Ash nodded, “Yes. Take the training. It is in your blood and the military life would be good for you. You are a Paxxian. Do it for me. You deserve it for all the hard work I put you through. It will give me time to deal with my issues.”

Mackie smiled and responded pecking her on the cheek with her kiss, “Thank you, Ash. That means a lot coming from you. I love you so much as long as you promise me one thing.”

Ash nodded, “Yeah, I know. Keep in touch. Mackenzie Kagan Ubex. I promise you this time. What was the military again?”

“Oh,” Mackie started, “The Talon Hunters. I’m in officer training because I want to command a squad just like my father someday.”

Ash responded, “That’s good. Good luck.”

Mackie giggled, “Thanks. Umm, I have a request. I would like you to come with me to see my father. He wanted to meet you and I wanted to-“

Ash nodded interrupting, “Say no more, little beast. What time?”

The brown haired twin beast smiled. Grasping Ash’s hand with her claw, Mackie spoke kissing the top of her hand, “Tomorrow at noon, Ash. This means a lot to me. I love you.”

Ash nodded as Mackie scooted over to her twin dark beast’s side and gave her a hug. She stroked the top of Delphi’s head and kept her arms around Ash keeping her in a tight embrace. Ash stroked the top of her head and studied her features. She gave her a small kiss on the top of her head allowing her to stay close to her personal space. Mackie was still her little beast.

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