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(authors note: Story contains mature content, including mature language and themes. Reader discretion is advised. Also note, liberties have been taken with certain characters that may or may not reflect cannon. I hope however that you are entertained with my portrayals.)

The smoke drifted up in lazy little rings, eventually disappearing into the haze above the fogged-over streetlamp. Old force of habit that came mainly from being lost in thought. She blew the rest of the smoke out in a huff, crushing the cigarette against the streetlamp. It didn’t even taste right. Not tonight. Her eyes fell back the weak line of illumination disappearing around the corner of the foggy street. #&(% Samael. Her brows drew together in an angry crease, and she pushed off the streetlight with a snarl. It was across the street and into the pub that had been cleared out by the Guild earlier that day. The light through the windows from the streetlamps outside could have passed for moonlight, stretching shadows of tables and chairs across the floor in strange, eerie patterns. None of which caught Sonnia’s eye. She went straight to the washroom, pushing through the swinging door with a surprising amount of silence for the amount of force used shoving the door, as it caught on it’s hinges and lightly creaked back, then back again several times before coming to rest. There was only enough light to see because she had become used to the dark.

“You indiscriminate soulless STUPID bitch!” she screamed, the only witness the age-smudged mirror in front of her. “Why not let the rift just rip you a new asshole? Did you even think beyond the capacity of a lilly-brained schoolgirl? #&(%! That assaholic! Ego-maso-#&(%in-cistic! Man! No, wait. No, #&(% YOU! You’re the dumbass might-as-well-be whore who can’t let well enough alone!” she screamed at the mirror, her face distorted in passion and rage and bitterness, making angry pointing motions seemingly at random.

The one thing no one could see. Must never see. She leaned in closer to the mirror and her own tortured reflection. And wiped her eyes clean from the mist of not-quite tears. The anger broke, and she heaved a broken sigh, letting her knees give, easing herself against the sink, sliding to the floor. Banging her head lightly against the cabinets several times. It was supposed to be distant past. Before her great change. Things like… trusting, or …admiring… those don’t belong any more. Wanting. She buried her forehead in a gloved hand, rubbing along one brow. “I’m …losing it.”

There had been a time, long ago, she had been called Livian. Another when she had been Samantha, a passing memoir of the younger sister she once had. Samantha had hated her name. Had gone by the name Sam J. Sonnia now had her real name back, but she hated it just as much as Samantha had hated hers. And their last name… The corner of her mouth curled up in a leer without her even realizing it. It was easier in those days, in some ways. Those days between. Between the catalyst and the Creed.

Her head tilted back, and she stared past the ceiling, off somewhere into the past. Once she had stayed with a gambler. In those years when she had tried to lose her identity, had handed out lies as often as she smoked cigarettes, had leeched from the souls of both good men and those stained… or perhaps they had been stained by her presence. Whether they turned sour before or after she ran from them didn’t matter. Everywhere, inescapably, was her own failure. Both to save the innocent bits of the world she loved that, bitterly, always would lose their innocence at some point, and to ultimately fulfill the vow she had made. Her Criid.

“I will scour the stains from the soul of this earth. I will live until all is as clean as at birth.” She spoke into the darkness, softly, passionately. The moment stretched on, until her sword settled, slipping slightly upon her back. Sonnia frowned.

For years she had been trying to exorcize the world of the monsters that ripped at reality. Cheating fate. Destroying her fate. She had been happy as a girl. Well, happy enough. Even if she had been corrupted by lesser evils all too young. But it would have been a life. A worthwhile life. Hell, maybe she would have grown up to have married a man by now, have a family… She turned her head to the side suddenly, violently. Stupid thought born in ignorance. Who could say it wouldn’t be much the same? Maybe worse. She was the one touched by the demon, wasn’t she?

And something caught the corner of her eye. A pair of small, bare feet under the swinging door in front of her. “Yes, you are the one Sonnia.” It said from the other room, the voice of a little boy. “And you know why we come, don’t you? That little spark of hope you have, that soft spot for children. That love for men who deserve nothing and deserve far better than you. Until these die completely, we will come to you like a moth to a flame. It is anathema. It is beautiful. It burns and hurts and you wield this, so we wield you.”

“You lie like a clockwork whore, D.” she said softly, with a strange hint of compassion edging her tone. And sighed deeply. The demon out there, that Neverborn, had taken the likeness of her little brother David. She couldn’t be certain if it had been the demon itself that had possessed her brother, or her brother who had created the demon… blood dripping from his hands, eyes closed, calling out as she hid under her bed in desperately frightened tones about the monster in his closet. So long ago, and none of them had believed. Chompy Bits, he had called it. He had walked down the stairs… and fallen. She had escaped onto the roof, run to the authorities. But he hadn’t been there when they returned. Apparently, instead, he had chosen to haunt her. But only when she was alone. Only when there could be no witnesses. The medallion around her neck always grew uncomfortably hot, but never actually removed the presence of this particular perversion. “You know you haven’t come just to bruise my ego, D. Not a hell of a lot you can do about that. So what’s the news this time?”

“He comes. But not alone.”

Her eyes widened. “You’re sure? How is it you always know what’s on my mind, anyway?”

“I want your dreams more than any other. Until you let them go, they are not yet mine.”

“So why don’t you crush my hope and lie to me?”

“They draw me because all the little dreams you discard so readily make me see how delicious those you hold on to will be when you eventually give them to me. Why take them before they are ripe and rotten?”

“I #&(%ing hate myself, you know that?” Sonnia said, figuring her own personal demon as good an audience as any. “I get my head messed up about a man after I foreswore men, love, my old life, my old way. I’m supposed to burn you to ash. It’s what I’ve sworn. It’s my Criid. But it’s me, D. I’d have to give you up. And somehow you have me thinking I’d screw myself over if I forsook one of the few things left that defines my humanity. Sometimes I think it’s the humanity that needs to get burned out of us all. Sometimes. But then I remember. People like Sam and you and dad. Or who you used to be, anyway. And I think of other people. Hell, I do sometimes think of Sammael. Even if I’m the worst hypocrite on Malifaux, I’d die before giving up on them. Potential, I suppose you could say. And I hate it. I hate the people who abuse it. People and #&(%ing… people that shouldn’t be called people, twisting and perverting… making the lie real. Doing the same damn thing I did back before I understood the things I needed to learn. Idiot girl that I was. Why the #&(% didn’t you just let me die, D? Why couldn’t you have just let me #&(%ing die?”

“I love you. You keep the monsters away.”

Sonnia’s brow furrowed. She didn’t understand. “Like hell. You are a monster, you little shit.” Just then, the medallion on her chest pressed into her bosom with a painful weight and there was a silent sort of thump from the other room.

“YES, AND SO ARE YOU.” Spoke a voice pulled straight from your worst nightmares, a huge silhouette rising even above the top of the swinging door. Before it was gone after she blinked.

“#&(%.” She swore, rising to her feet. Pushing through the pub in a rush back to the street, the mist had thinned and the light from the streetlamps seemed much brighter than before. She had just enough time to pull out a cigarette and light it when she saw the silhouette in the mist coming toward her from the end of the road.

“You BASTARD!” she yelled at the approaching silhouette. “Next time, you say when you want to meet you’d by all the rifts better be FIFTY MINUTES EARLY!”

“Sorry Sonnia. She got away. I only managed to off another of her golems, and had to catch the next train. If it’s any consolation, I learned they make great icecubes for margaritas.” A witchling trailed out of the mist behind him, eerie shriveled little thing that it was.

“So why do I put up with you? Give me some sign way above Guild level or so help me, Sammael…”

“Whoa, speaking of Guild level authority, boss, I’ve got a request. Seems like there’s a new Neverborn around they’re calling Dreamer. Got the tags, time to bag.”

Sonnia rubbed her temple. Sammael actually took a few steps backward.

“Sonnia,” croaked the witchling, “I feel something near here, like you…”

“You are in violation of your privelages!” Sonnia snapped acidly at the witchling, flicking her hand at it and snapping her fingers. The witchling burst into a ball of eerie pale flame and was gone. “I don’t like to repeat myself. To you, I am Master. I #&(%ing hate my name.” she said, tossing her cigarette aside not even half finished. “Come, Sammael. We have a lot of work to do.”

Edited by shawnreed343
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