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Xander vol.1 Transmutation, Page 3

Jaz Johnson

  “Sven,” Sera scolded in distaste, while Anavae squeaked in agreement with her.

  “I’m just saying,” he chuckled, his hands raising in surrender, or perhaps apology. “She comes from a family that was able to bare an Ekechi. I’m not trying to mess with that.”

  “I always knew you were a trader,” came the sharp voice of Ziva, who was walking in through the entrance on the other side of the arena.

  Her hips, covered, just barely by the hugging fabric of her black spandex-like pants, were giving a generous sway, as they always did. Her torso covered by a fashionable, just-functioning corset. Her skin, pale indigo in colour, was bare from her shoulders down, allowing her long, wavy, dark violet hair to contrast against it as it fell.

  Sven allowed his eyes to settle on the curve of her torso a moment too long before coming back up to meet her wicked rust eyes. They narrowed at his greeting. He smiled, his free hand flattening against his chest, late in response to the insult.

  “I would never betray you, Ziva.”

  “Only your kingdom,” Ziva scoffed, moving away from the arm he tried to loop around her partially exposed waist.

  She moved to stand closer to Sera, who noticeably tensed in response. Sven’s eyes dropped once again as Ziva walked away, before he flinched, being poked by the long beak of his Guardian. Sven shook the hand Anavae was perched on, mildly glaring at her. She flew over towards Sera, the three women now visibly sided against him. He rolled his eyes, raising his hands again in surrender as he explained himself.

  “I’m just saying it wouldn’t be easy to defeat her,” he reasoned.

  “But she will be defeated,” Ziva argued. “Ruining lives to take what is not yours is not acceptable.”

  “It’s not like I’m not rooting for us,” Sven noted. “I’m just wary of what she’s got under her sleeve. And I know I’m not the only one.”

  “No, I suppose you’re not,” Sera agreed, her arms crossing. “But you’re right. Kiran’s defenses will be considerably higher now that Saphora is back, regardless of her skill level.”

  “Regardless?” Ziva repeated skeptically, sliding her gaze in Sera’s direction.

  “I’ve spoken to Hydra. She’s the one that delivered the message to Oisian. She’s told me some of the things she’s seen of Saphora’s power, as unexperienced as she is.”

  “Like what?” came Sven.

  “It’s quite interesting really. She told me that during one of their collisions with Tebias that her body defended itself.”

  “What do you mean?” Ziva furrowed.

  “She was hiding behind this – one of their land vehicles, trying to protect its driver. And the vehicle exploded. Right there with her beside it.”

  “Point-range explosion contact?”

  “Yes,” Sera nodded. “Hydra had thought her dead. But when she washed over the area, Saphora had surrounded herself – and the driver, in a force field.”

  “And? What’s so great about that? I’ve got a cousin that can do force fields,” Sven shrugged. Ziva was silent in her agreement.

  “Because,” Sera pressed. “Saphora looked at it as if she herself was just as surprised to see it. She didn’t know she was doing it. That her body was protecting itself.”

  “But bodies don’t do that,” Sven argued.

  “Athenian bodies,” Sera pointed out. “We know nothing of an Ekechi body’s capabilities.”

  “But I mean … the body needs the mind to function,” Sven went on.

  “Haven’t you ever done something without realizing it?” Sera challenged. “Take breathing for instance. You hardly ever notice it’s being done until you call attention to it. What if her body’s self-defense – for her, is as subconscious as breathing?”

  “Could such a thing be possible?” Ziva asked in almost obvious amazement.

  “Saphora may have just proven it to be.”

  “But if that’s so … Would she not be unstoppable?” Ziva pondered aloud. But Sera shook her head in response.

  “I’m sure everything has its limits. Even the Supremes are not immune to death.”

  “Still. That’s pretty awesome. I don’t think my cousin can do that,” Sven admitted.

  “I don’t think anyone can,” Sera agreed.

  “Hm,” Sven mused, his hand finding his chin as he silently shifted subjects. “Now that’s Saphora’s back … Is the marriage still on?”

  “Oh, no,” Sera answered immediately. “Aredelle and Vida have already spoken. And it would be immensely inappropriate on all of their parts if they were to continue as planned, considering the circumstances. Surely if the time she’d been away was not so vast, perhaps the arrangement could have been honored. But now?”

  “No, I’m glad. I didn’t like the idea of them getting married, anyway,” Sven clarified.

  “Wanted her all for yourself?” Ziva said with narrow, but sarcastic eyes. Sven smiled.

  “You’re the only one for me, Ziva,” he assured, placing his hand over his chest sincerely. Ziva rolled her eyes as he sat back up in his chair. “But I don’t think it’s a very good idea to have the only two respectable Athenian kingdoms joining together. What would that mean for the land? Would they attempt to move castles? Or have merely one? One kingdom? Leaving people with no area to choose their whereabouts is dangerous territory.”

  “But there are people that are not bound to either Kiran or Oisian. What of them?” Ziva argued.

  “I’m not talking about them. Not all citizens of Kiran get along with citizens of Oisian, and vice versa. And forcing them to coexist may do more harm than good. Resulting on a lesser scale of either party deciding to leave the kingdom altogether, or you could end up with kingdom-wide violence.”

  “I doubt it would come to such a thing,” Sera scoffed, crossing her arms in skepticism.

  “And what would you call the new kingdom? Kirasian? Please. They’d have to combine kingdoms in order for them to sit side by side on their thrones.” Sven shook his head, waving his hand dismissively. “I just think it would have been a big mess. And not to mention me not being a fan of the whole arranged courtship thing.”

  “Well I guess it’s been avoided then,” Sera huffed. “I wonder how they’ll take the news.”

  “I’m sure Xander will be jumping for joy, being a free man,” Sven laughed.

  “And Saphora?” came Ziva.

  “Meh,” Sven shrugged. “If what happened is still in any effect, I doubt she even remembers being engaged.”

  “Xander knew because he was older,” Sera reasoned. “But I don’t think Vida had told Saphora about it before she was sent away. She was barely a child, let alone a young adult.”

  “True,” Sven agreed. “She probably doesn’t know.”

  “I wonder what Vida will do now,” Sera sighed. “I wonder what Saphora’s future will be like.”

  “Welp,” Sven sighed, leaning back in his seat and reaching over the table to grab and vine of grapes. “We’ll see after the war.”


  “It’s not really just one person leading,” Maverick explained to Xander. “Even though they’re the present, they can’t make decisions by themselves. Other people have to approve it.”

  “What?” Xander scoffed with narrowed eyes. He shook his head, waving his hand in disapproval. “How is it that the man in power must seek the approval of others? Does that not defeat the purpose?”

  “Kind of, I guess … Especially since the people who have to approve never agree with each other.”

  “With each other? Why does that matter?”

  “Well – it’s complicated.”

  “That, human, is an understatement.”

  Maverick laughed, nodding.

  “I know. I don’t really fully understand it myself, either.”

  “Madness,” mumbled Xander.

  “I like it here, though,” Maverick admitted. “It seems a lot simpler. And people seem a lot happier.”

  “People are
happy,” Xander agreed, leaning back on the sofa bench that sat near the throne. Maverick nodded.

  “I hope I can stay.”

  Xander arched a brow.

  “Why wouldn’t you be able to?”

  Maverick snuck and glance at Vida, who was still chatting with both Aredelle and Edmon. Maverick’s eyes fell as he shook his head, trying to laugh it off.

  “You never know, right?”

  “Would you like someone to tell you your future? We have people that can do that, you know,” Xander offered. But Maverick was quick to shake his head no nervously.

  “No, no. I’d rather not know.”

  “If you insist,” Xander shrugged. “I have the same thinking. I’ve yet to have my future told.”

  “Does it frighten you, too?”

  “Frighten?” Xander laughed. “Of course not. But if I were to know everything, life would be so boring! Boring or stressful, if I spent the remaining time trying to change it.”

  “Hm. There’s a story on Earth about that. Trying to change your fate and doing more harm than good.”

  “A story?”

  “Oedipus Rex.”

  “Ha! I have an uncle that goes by the first name there.”

  “Yeah, well. He had holes in his feet.”

  Xander’s eyes widened in sudden disgust, grimacing as he glanced away. Shaking the thought from his mind, he sighed, looking back at Maverick, who was fidgeting with his hands.

  “So, explain this whole president thing to me again,” Xander said to Maverick, who laughed in return.

  Their heads lifted when they heard the pitter patter of feet coming down the hall and the faint sound of yelling in the distance. It wasn’t long before they saw Lyla sprinting into the room, grabbing their attention.

  “Lyla?” Maverick questioned.

  Xander peeked over him, leaning to the side to peer around at the little girl.

  “Is that the human girl? She looks scared.”

  Vida, Aredelle, and Edmon stopped their conversation to see the little girl running into the room, followed by the stumbling in of a confused and hesitant guard, who looked at Vida questionably. Lyla skid to a stop in front of Maverick, panting as she looking around him, her hands reaching out for him cautiously.

  “What is it, Lyla?”

  “Where’s Saphora? Arol?” she asked frantically.

  “Saphora’s training in the forest with Dakota. Arol’s probably on his way to join them,” Xander answered, arching a brow as he looked down at her and her bare feet. “Are you the human girl?”

  Ignoring the question, Lyla whined, her grip on Maverick getting tightening as she looked back down the hallway from whence she came.

  “Why are you looking for them? What’s wrong?” Maverick asked, his concern obvious.

  “Can you bring me there?” Lyla asked. Maverick hesitated, his head moving from side to side.

  “I’m not so sure that’s a good idea. I don’t think it’s safe to interrupt their training.”

  “Is it normal for you to go around without footwear?” Xander questioned, completely disregarding the apparent urgency of the situation.

  The bridge of Maverick’s nose scrunched up as he turned towards Xander in both annoyance and confusion.

  “What?” Maverick asked.

  Letting go of Maverick, Lyla spun around just as Dizabethere entered the correct hallway. She took off to the nearest exit, shouting, “Artemis will take me!” Maverick’s attention snapped to the running Lyla as he stood up and took a couple steps after her, his hand extended in her direction.


  “Is it a normal thing for humans to run off in the middle of a conversation?” Xander asked, folding his arms as they watched her run off. Maverick kept walking in her direction.

  “I should make sure everything’s okay,” he said, more to himself than to Xander. But Xander’s hand came slapping down onto Maverick’s shoulder to assure him.

  “Don’t worry about it. She said Artemis was taking her. She’ll be safe with her.”

  Maverick hesitated, considering the fact. He wondered if Xander had known. That Artemis was dead. A ghost protecting a little girl. Could she?

  “Now then,” Xander cleared his throat, tugging on Maverick’s shirt. “Presidents.”

  Chapter 5

  “Why the hell would you want to go to Earth?” Sven asked with crossed arms, leaning against the trunk of a tree.

  Xander climbed a bit higher before finally picking a branch near the resting Loni to sit on. Loni’s tail thwacked in his direction as a mundane greeting as he situated himself.

  “Other than the fact that it’s not Athena?”

  Sven scoffed. “And they call me the trader. What’s wrong with Athena?”

  “Absolutely nothing,” Xander defended.

  “Well, now that’s just optimistic. Or blind.”

  “Nothing’s wrong with Athena. I just want to explore another world. I want to see their culture.”

  “And why are you so interested all of a sudden? What’s got you hooked on the human culture?”

  “None other than the humans, of course. I spoke to one of them yesterday. Two, almost. She kind of ignored me, though.”

  “Oh, right. The visit. How did that go?”

  “Eh.” Xander laid down against the length of the thick branch, looking up at the rest of the tree. “Vida sent Saphora off to train when we started talking about Ares. And Maverick ran after her after there was some crisis with the human girl, who went looking for her. Big mess.”

  “And this,” Sven laughed. “Makes you want to learn their culture.”

  “It doesn’t make me not want to.” Sven laughed. “Besides. It was relatively important. The forest beside the castle was covered in flames and smoke. Ares’ work, no doubt.”

  Sven shook his head, rolling his eyes before looking up at the sky. His eyes quickly zipping to the left to follow the swift movements of his guardian, who was coming to land on his head. Sven smiled, reaching his finger up for her to perch on.

  “Good luck getting permission for that voyage.”

  Xander sighed a groan, resting the back of his hand on his forehead.

  “I know,” he grumbled. “She’s going to kill me.”

  “Better come up with a better reason to go than exploring. Especially with war so close on the horizon.”

  Xander paused on the thought, struggling to come up with a reason that would prove to be good enough in his mother’s eyes. He frowned, not coming up with one on the spot. His frown deepening when his thought process was disrupted by the high frequency squeaking of Anavae. Sven raised a brow to his feathered friend, listening to her considerately.

  “Hm, good point,” Sven hummed. “Xander, did Hydra bring back Saphora’s escape pod?” Anavae squealed again. “And/or Arol’s?”

  “No,” Xander said, matter-of-factly, his frown vanishing. “The human told me that they had left some of Hydra’s things in his living space, too.”

  “Well, maybe you can say you’re going to get the stuff. I’d think it would be a good idea to have it back.”

  “I doubt she’d care about one or two pods,” Xander scoffed.

  “Well, it’s better than saying exploring.”

  Xander fell silent in consideration. Mischievous consideration.

  “Hear me out, Mother,” Xander said, stepped up behind Aredelle as she sat before her vanity, brushing her long, muddied pink locks.

  She raised a brow at her son in the reflection of the large, elegant mirror as her brushing slowed to a stop. He had come to her chambers specifically while his father was away so that he would not be lulled into her decision on his request. Aredelle’s full lips tightened into a somewhat hard line as she turned her head in his direction, skepticism written all over her features.

  “You sneak in here without so much as a greeting?” Aredelle scolded. “And without your father.” Her chin remaining high as she turned to face the mirror again,
her eyes lowering to her lap. “I don’t like it already.”

  Xander rushed over to her, wrapping his arms lovingly – strategically around his mother’s shoulders, leaning down and kissing her cheek. She couldn’t help but grin at the affection as he took her brush from her and sat it atop the vanity’s surface. She glanced over at him as he laid another peck along her jaw, making her giggle.

  “Enough, Xander,” she laughed, swatting him away. “I’ve just brushed my hair.”

  “And you look as ravishing as ever,” Xander complimented. Aredelle laughed, shaking her head as she turned her body completely to face him.

  “Calling your mother ravishing,” she scoffed with a giggle. “People will talk, you know.”

  “I assure you I’m not here with such intentions,” Xander said with somewhat of a cringe. Aredelle smiled, shaking her head once more, as a mother would to their playing and fumbling child.

  “What is it, Xander? It’s late.”

  Xander held up his hands in compliance, backing up towards the bench that sat in front of his parents’ bed, plopping down on it when he’d reached it.

  “You’ve got to hear me out on this, mother.”

  “Don’t make me repeat myself,” she sighed, resting her forearms on her knee, which was propped over her other. Xander nodded, again raising his hands.

  “Earth,” he said bluntly, while remaining perfectly still.

  He watched for her reaction before continuing. Aredelle arched and finely trimmed brow, watching her son in question. Her head shook slowly, almost distractedly.

  “Earth,” she repeated, as if to ask what about it.

  Xander took in a breath, his shoulders dropping as he moved his hands to his knees, his eyes squinting somewhat, almost wincing.

  “I want to go there.”

  Aredelle’s face dropped as the fog was suddenly whipped from her perception. Her brows immediately furrowed, her lips parting in the beginnings of a long protest.

  “Hear me out,” Xander begged, his hands rising once again.

  “Absolutely not,” Aredelle scoffed, turning away from him. Xander stood and walked up behind her again, looking at her from the reflection in the mirror.

  “I wouldn’t be by myself. Loni would be with me, and –“

  “You told Loni about this?” Aredelle questioned, her eyes snapping up to his in the mirror. “And she didn’t tell me?”

  “Not …” Xander shrugged his shoulders, rocking his head from side to side. “… Exactly.”