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Xander vol.1 Transmutation, Page 6

Jaz Johnson

  “I – I’m so sorry,” she whimpered. “Are you okay?”

  “Move,” Xander coughed in response. Nora’s brows furrowed in confusion as he moved onto his knees.


  “Move!” he shouted as he pushed her back onto the carpeted floor.

  She looked up at him in disbelief as he hurriedly got to his feet and spun around. Almost on cue, his body collided with the overgrown lioness that came charging into the room. Loni snarled as she attempted to claw around Xander’s body at Nora, who squealed and promptly crawled back. Xander’s heels dug into the floor as he was pushed back from Loni’s force. His arms tightened around her torso as he fought against it.

  “Loni, stop!” Xander ordered. “She didn’t mean it!” Loni roared again as she tried to move Xander out of the way. But Xander was persistent. “Loni!” Xander bellowed.

  Loni morphed, swooping down to take her gun from her pouch and aim it at Nora, who was cowering against the far wall of the living room.

  “What are you?” Loni demanded.

  Xander still stood partially between them, though didn’t stop her, for he was curious of the answer as well. Nora, eyes wide, almost scoffed at the question as she looked over the woman’s body which had just moments ago been the body of a lioness.

  “What are you?” Nora countered.

  Loni hesitated against the comeback as the grip on her weapon tightened. Xander placed his hand on the gun, eyeing Loni warningly.

  “Ladies …” he started, glancing between the two fair-haired women. Mother help me, he thought to himself. “We all have some explaining to do, okay? Why don’t we just … put the gun down? Loni? And introduce ourselves,” Xander suggested as he successfully lowered his guardian’s hand, taking the gun from her.

  Loni and Nora stared each other down as Xander slowly placed the weapon back in the pouch that sat on the floor. He carefully placed himself between them, keeping more of an eye on Loni than Nora.

  “Right then … I’m Xander. And this …” he gestured to Loni with one hand. “… is my guardian, Loni. She can get a little protective when she sees someone trying to kill me. So excuse her hospitality, or lack thereof.” There was a short moment of silence before Xander continued, this time gesturing his hand to Nora. “And you are?”

  “Nora,” she answered flatly, her eyes still glued on Loni’s tense body.

  Xander nodded, giving an encouraging smile as he sighed.

  “Okay. See? That wasn’t –“

  “What are you?” Loni asked again, cutting Xander off. “You aren’t human,” Loni pointed out, having heard it from Xander.

  This time, Nora hesitated, anything but trusting of Loni. She glanced at Xander, seeing his expression of admitted curiosity. Her lips fell into a hard line as she averted her eyes. This wasn’t how she imagined exposing herself and the operation that the doctor was running. But at this point, she was in need of any help that she could get. And if Xander had helped her once, maybe he as willing to do it again.

  “He calls us Chimera.”

  “Chimera?” Loni repeated.

  “He?” Xander asked, more interested in the man behind the curtain.

  Nora gave a hesitant nod as she adjusted her back against the wall she sat against. Xander’s eyes instinctively roamed her body, driven by curiosity. He wondered how a mutation could be so subtle. He’d seen the humans – plenty of them. And Nora, she didn’t look anything out of the ordinary when he compared their appearances in his head. His eyes narrowed as he analyzed again. She looked just like any other human. Heck, she could pass as an Athenian whether or not she kept her vines to herself.

  “Chimera or not,” Loni glowered, pushing Xander’s hovering arm away from her as she bent down to pick up her pouch.

  They both watched her carefully as she turned around and began stepping towards the front door that had been carelessly left open.

  “I want it out of here.”

  “Hey,” Nora complained in response to being called out of her name. Loni spun on her heel to pierce her eyes once again.

  “It won’t be so easy to stop me next time.”

  “Loni –“ Xander pressed.

  “We don’t have time for this, Xander,” Loni scolded. “You know this. Bring her back to wherever you got her from, and get your work done. We didn’t come here for this.”

  Xander kept quiet during the foreseen scolding. He expected as much from Loni in regards to anything other than research he mentioned. And admittedly, Nora was a big anything.

  “And keep this door closed!” Loni shouted before slamming the door behind her. Nora flinched at the abrupt volume, her brows furrowing as her eyes rose to Xander’s face.

  Back at Clemming’s City Mall, there were officers crawling all over the area of the broken fountain, tagging and bagging anything they thought they’d need. There was yellow tape all over what was left of the fountain, which was crackled and crushed against its raised edges.

  The rubble was scattered about the scratched and dusty floor. There were little triangular tags around various pieces of rubble, as well the wall that Nora had put up, for Richard to tear down. The mall had been closed since the incident a couple of days ago.

  With a heavy sigh, Agent Elba crossed his arms, his feet spread a fair distance as he gave the area a once over. A grimace took over his features as his thoughts caught up with him. He’d gone nearly a month with no leads, no answers, and no convictions since Saphora.

  Both Fran and Maverick had disappeared without a trace, but he had believed that wherever they were, they were with Saphora. Whom they also could not find. The agency was getting tired of having no answers.

  In the time they had to rethink and analyze what happened with Saphora, they realized that how they handled the situation was not best. But there were still questions that needed to be answered. Reasons that needed to be given. And without Saphora, they had no chance of getting them. Or so they thought.

  Walking up to him, with a clipboard and pen in her hands, was his partner, Agent Whitestone.

  “So, you know her? Like, know her?” Nora asked, leaning forward on the sofa.

  Her eyes and body language were clearly showing off her interest in the current subject matter. After things had calmed down after Loni’s departure, Nora finally felt up to speaking, having gotten understandably skeptical of her company. She and Xander had spent the last few hours talking about themselves, and sharing various information about where they lived.

  Xander had gotten some information out of Nora about Earth, but the conversation always seemed to curve back into Athena and its inhabitants. Which Xander had no particular problem with. Only he was eager to learn more about Nora and the Chimera that she had mentioned, which they still had not gotten to in full detail.

  Every time they had, Nora had found a way to relate it back to Athena, or to change the subject to Xander and his people. Eventually they had fallen on the topic of Saphora, and her connection with Earth, having lived there for such a large portion of her life. This triggered more interest in Nora, having seen Saphora several times on the news when she was still Earth-bound.

  Xander smirked, nodded in response to her question. He was to wed her, but he didn’t think it was necessary for her to know such details.

  “I do,” he simply put. “Our families are very close.”

  “But then … why was she here? And why was she killing people? And talking to dragons?”

  Xander grimaced at the accusation. Saphora had mentioned the human’s refusal to believe what had happened with the man, Gary Jones, while she was there. Until it was too late.

  “She did not kill him,” Xander corrected. “Tebias did.”

  “Who’s Tebias?” Nora asked with scrunched brows, never having heard the name in reference to Saphora before. “Another Athenian?” she guessed.

  “Yes. He was sent here after Saphora to kill her.”

  Nora’s eyes went wide at the blunt
and unexpected answer.

  “What? Why? Because she was on Earth?”

  “Yes,” Xander paused. “But not in that context. She wasn’t an outlaw, mind you. She is a very powerful asset to the Kiran kingdom in an approaching war. Tebias was sent to kill her while she was young and vulnerable. But she acquired memory loss, and her power signal was low enough to avoid him for some time, giving her the time she needed to survive and return.”

  “There’s a war going on?” Xander nodded. “Then why are you here? Aren’t you allies?”

  “The war hasn’t actually started,” Xander clarified. “And when it does, I will be called back to Athena to fight.”

  Nora fell silent at the sudden realization that Xander would not be staying to help her. She held back the urge to frown. She had been foolish in thinking that one act of kindness would continue throughout her entire mission. Her eyes lowered, which was noticed by Xander. He chuckled, misinterpreting, and said,

  “Don’t worry. I do not see death in my future. I am fairly capable,” he gushed proudly. Nora gave half a smile.

  “I hope so. I’ve never been in a war, but I’ve learned about them.”

  “Oh? Have there been wars here as well?” Xander asked curiously. Nora scoffed, nodding.

  “Plenty. Even now, this very minute,” she said solemnly. She thought of the wars going on in her own mind, which would soon enough manifest themselves in the world. Xander’s brows rose in shock, hearing of ongoing wars so casually.

  “And we sit here idly? Why do you not fight if you know of them?” he asked, obviously perplexed.

  “There are militaries – soldiers that go out to fight. While we stay here, awaiting the outcome.”

  “Waiting – That’s ridiculous. Everyone fights on Athena. At least in our kingdoms. Most everyone is trained in some level of combat.”


  Xander nodded.

  “And how can you just sit when you know that there is war around the corner?”

  “No,” Nora corrected. “They’re not actually here. Our troops go to other countries. Other nations and fight. We haven’t had a foreign war on our soil in some time.”

  “Hm,” Xander thought aloud, considering the tactic. “I see.” he said, rubbing his chin with the palm of his hand.

  He was juggling a handful of questions, from which he was trying to choose. But Nora beat him to it.

  “So Saphora is going to fight, too?”

  “Of course,” he answered. “She is their secret weapon.”

  “What do you mean?”

  “Her power, once fully tapped, will be unmatched by any living Athenian. And quite possibly Guardian.”

  “Why? Why is she so powerful?”

  “She is an Ekechi,” he pointed out, his index finger raised theatrically. “A cross between an Athenian and a Guardian. The first of her kind, and quite possibly the only.”

  “A cross between …” Nora trailed off, thinking of Loni.

  The lioness. Her brain struggled to process the explanation, before the fitting term of bestiality struck her. Her face scrunched in disgust and she instinctively leaned back, physically rejecting the conversation.

  “Ew!” she exclaimed.

  Xander’s brows rose in wonder, before furrowing at the exclamation. His head shook just slightly, his expression demanding an explanation.

  “You people mate with animals?!” she squawked. “And reproduce!”

  Xander stared blankly at her, his mind registering the comment as idiotic. Of course they didn’t. That wasn’t how it worked. And then he realized, possibly for the first time, that looking in on the outside that they in fact did. His hands shot up, eager to explain the misunderstanding.

  “No, no,” he rushed. “Not in their born form! As Guardians – when they can change their physical anatomy to match ours.”

  “But you –“

  “It’s not a common practice, mind you. In fact, it’s forbidden,” Xander made note. “All before Saphora’s mother have died either during pregnancy or childbirth. And the offspring have never survived before Saphora. She is the only exception.” Nora’s face was still a mess of twists and frowns. “And they’re not just animals, as you’ve clearly seen. They are people. They are Guardians. With emotions and compassions and thoughts of their own. Capable of providing and receiving love. Just as you and I.”

  “But they’re still –“

  “It is forbidden for that reason,” Xander noted, more to himself than to her. “Saphora is the only exception. We do not know why her, or Vida survived.

  Nora fell silent, her opinion of the subject a little less clear as she took his explanation into consideration. If she had not seen Loni as a lion before she came barging into the house, she would have never known. She would have thought she was a person. Part of her still did.

  And thinking about it, until she saw her as a lion again, she would most likely continue thinking of her as a person. She could only imagine that it was at least similar on Athena, to those who have been living with them for so many generations. Her expression fell somewhat in the beginnings of understanding.

  “I guess …” she trailed off, “So, wait. That dragon that was at the zoo that everyone thought Saphora was trying to talk to. Was she actually talking to it? Was it like … Like Loni?”

  “A Guardian,” Xander nodded. “His name is Arol, and he is her guardian. Perhaps one of the strongest our kingdoms have seen thus far, and he is also fairly young. They are quite the duo.”

  “Are they … a couple?” Nora asked timidly, trying to grasp at strings of comprehension. Xander’s brows furrowed in confusion of the term. Nora averted her eyes, feeling her cheeks grow hot as she struggled to explain. “You know …” she said, gesturing her hands together. Clicking, Xander’s eyes shot open as he understood. He burst into a fit of laughter, shaking his head.

  “No, no,” he urged. “Goodness, no.”

  “Oh …” Nora fizzled, embarrassed. “Wait so then, why was he at the zoo?”

  “I can’t say,” Xander frowned, the laughter ceasing. “Your people attempted to imprison him. Him,” he scoffed. “A dragon. Your people are foolish.”

  “So … That giant thing could turn into some guy?”

  “Yes. And I’d say he still has some growing to do.”

  “All that,” Nora repeated, somewhat in denial. “Into one person.” Xander raised a brow, repeating his answer in silence. “How is that even possible? How do they do that in the first place? And why would they chose to look like that?” she whined, finding herself overwhelmed once again with the anatomy of the Guardians and their lack of consistency.

  “No,” Xander offered. “Taking our form is not their immediate decision. It is because they choose us as companions, that they take our form,” he explained.

  “So …” Nora began. “If like, Loni’s companion was a tree?”

  Xander laughed but nodded.

  “Then her form of choice would be a tree, though not very practical.”

  “So if I were to go to Athena could I get a Guardian?” she asked, her eyes brightening at the thought of the possibility. Xander chuckled, seeing her profound wonder.

  “It is possible, yes. Though it takes years to be able to create a bond strong enough to have the link made between us. Athenians go large portions of their life without so much as beginning. Some, anyway,” Xander explained. “Most are able to find a connection, on average, by their eighteenth year.”

  “Why? Is it like a rite of passage, thing?”

  “No,” Xander shook his head. “It just happens to be that most Athenians have mastered some level of their power at that age.”

  “How old were you?”

  “Sixteen,” he gushed, obviously proud of his somewhat early blooming.

  “How old was Saphora?”

  “Six,” he grumbled. He waved off the fact nonchalantly, trying to move on. “But she had an unfair advantage,” he said waving his hand a
round. “Being an Ekechi and all.”

  “So then … What do they do before they get a companion?”

  “Hm,” Xander pondered. “I suppose nothing. I’m not heavily involved in their field of study. I’m not sure if they roam as they are, waiting for their companions, or if they are able to morph at will. I’ll have to ask my father.”

  “And what if their companion dies?”

  Xander frowned, his hand lowered from his chin.

  “They lose the ability to morph to that form. The link between their anatomies is broken. The brainwaves necessary no longer exist.”

  “And what about for the Athenians? Does anything bad happen to them if their Guardian dies?”

  “We become significantly weaker. And vice versa. The bond between us makes us stronger. The closer we are to one another, physically, mentally, and spiritually, the stronger we both become. When one link is broken, we steadily grow weaker.”

  “Can you get new ones? Like, new Guardians or companions?”

  “It’s very rare for Athenians to bond with another Guardian. And even more so for Guardians to find another companion,” Xander explained. “In fact, it’s yet to be recorded – Guardians taking on another companion. Though when speaking to those that have lost them, they say it is based on a sense of loyalty and grief, rather than an incapability. So the answer remains unclear.”

  Nora nodded slowly, taking in the information. She couldn’t help but be continuously overwhelmed, as well as curious. At first, she had tried to reason with herself and convince herself that what she saw with Loni was an extensive magic trick, and that Xander had been lying about being an alien.

  But hearing more and more of his culture, there were entirely too many facts to keep track of for the lie to be so complex. And then there was of course, Loni, who, while she was learning more and more about her species, seemed more and more real.

  And now Nora was stuck with the unbelievable fact that the man sitting next to her was a full-fledged alien. And that he wasn’t at all trying to abduct her, or conduct tests on her, or do anything of the things Hollywood had suggested. He was just a guy, studying the planet, and possibly helping her save it.

  “At any rate,” Xander exhaled, readjusting himself in the sofa cushion. “We’ve gotten off subject again.” He raised a brow, catching Nora’s sudden tension in her body language. “Chimera.” Xander demanded. Nora frowned, averting her eyes. “I suggest that if you wish to continue having my protection, that you enlighten me on just what I’m getting myself into.”