The Next Generation Part 21

A Debt Repaid

By Krazy Sam

Mio yawned loudly and twirled a lock of dark brown hair around her little finger. Another slow day in the palace… personally, she didn’t see how Layith stood it when she was still alive.

“Lady Mio?”

Mio’s head snapped up. “Yes, Caira?”

A timid blond servant stood in front of Mio, her dark maid uniform billowing in a sudden draft. “General Laeri is here to see you.”

Mio scoffed. “Send her away.”

Caira shook her head. “She said it’s urgent.”

Mio shook her head. “I don’t care. Send her away!” she screamed, her pale face turning purple with rage. Suddenly, Flea appeared in front of Mio in a puff of smoke.

“Oh, dear Mio… how could you ignore an old friend?” she cried out in mock indignation. Mio folded her arms across her chest.

“You’re a traitor to the Mystic race. You’re not even fit to walk upon the deserts of Hell,” she murmured. Flea smirked.

“Oh, please, Mio. Do you think that your childish insults will even dent my good mood? You haven’t changed a bit… still weak, immature, and completely helpless. In fact, I’m sure you couldn’t last in a fight against an imp!”

Mio drew her sword and brushed back her long dark hair. “Oh, it’s a fight you want? If that’s so, then I’ll be glad to use your blood as a dye for my carpets!”

Flea shook her head. “Not today. I’d rather make things much more painful for you.”

Mio grinned. “You’re afraid.”

“I am not afraid!” Flea cried out, her hands balling up into fists at her sides. “You just watch, I’ll show you who’s afraid!”

Mio grinned. “That’s the spirit!” she taunted.

Flea leaned close to her former friend. “If it’s fear you want, it’s fear you’ll get, but don’t come whimpering to me when you’ve gotten more than you bargained for.”

Mio’s hand began to take on a dark hue. “Enough!”

“Oh, so I see I’ve struck a nerve with ye?” Flea taunted. Mio’s face contorted into a mask of hatred.

“Get out!” she screamed. Flea snickered.

“Oh, I do believe you challenged me, Mio… and if it’s a fight you want, it’s a fight you’ll get!”

Mio raised her sword above her head and cried out in sudden fury. Bringing the heavy weapon down on Flea, she screamed with rage. Flea’s eyes widened as the sword dug into her left shoulder, slicing down to her shoulder bone.

“Oh, I see you play rough now… if that’s the way you want it…” Flea’s right arm shot out and a thin sword materialized within her open hand. Clenching down on the hilt, Flea swung forward with all of her might, connecting with Mio’s left elbow. “I knew I should have killed you when I first had the chance, Mio!” Flea screamed.

Mio grinned despite the sharp pain shooting up her left arm and stabbing into her chest. “If I had known what a bastard you’d turn out to be, I would have killed you before you even had a chance to become my first officer!”

Flea’s eyes narrowed. “Why you…” she grumbled, her face contorting into a mask of hatred. Her right fist began to glow with a fiery hue, and Mio’s eyes widened, her left arm still dangling limply at her side. Flea’s mood instantly changed as she began to grin crazily. “That’s right, Mio… cower in fear!” she cried out. “I don’t give a damn about what’s going to happen to this cursed planet! If you die, so be it! That’s one less annoyance to worry about!” she screamed. Her lips curled further upward as she let out a loud chuckle. “Cower! Fall to your knees and whimper like the dog you are! You wretched knave, kneel before my power! Kneel, ‘last hope for the Planet’, and show your loyal subjects how strong you really are!”

Mio’s gasped in agony as another fiery jolt of pain ripped through her left side. “You’re crazy! A lunatic!”

Flea’s right hand grew darker as a steady stream of deep red blood poured down her left arm. “I may be crazy, but you’re the one who’s going to die!”

Mio’s hand suddenly disappeared under a shadowy ball forming in her palm. “Oh, really?”

Flea’s palm began to glow a fiery orange. “Oh, please. Your puny power is no match for what I have achieved!”

Both women thrust their palms forward at the same time, with the two beams of magic clashing with each other. The bright throne room reflected the gleaming orange light from the resulting explosion. Mio and Flea were both thrown backwards in an instant, hitting opposite walls. Mio hit the wall with a sickening crack, headfirst. Her vision blurred instantly. Seeing the shadowy figure of Flea slowly stand up and limp over to her, Mio’s eyelids began to close in silent resignation.


Lana shut her eyes slowly and put a cold hand to her forehead. “Something’s not right…”

B’Tanya, Stal, Sari, Nika, Maro, Kash, Slash, Elena, Olana, and Spekkio stared at Lana, their eyes wide with shock.

“You’re looking awfully pale, Lana…” Stal noted.

“Are you sick?” Elena piped up. Each other being began to offer their own personal advice.

“Need food?”

“Maybe you should get some rest.”

“Rest? Ha! She needs to get up and walk around- helps the circulation.”

“I think I have some healing herbs in my pouch…”

“Better yet, we should make a fire! Does anyone have any dry wood?”

“Not on my cobblestones! You’re not going to char my beautiful cobblestones! Do you know how long it took me to set each one?”

“Gracious! Doesn’t it seem like her skin is turning transparent?” B’Tanya finally gasped, placing a hand to her mouth.

The whole “room” grew silent as all eyes were on Lana. Lana shivered and glanced around nervously.

“W-what…?” she stammered fearfully. “My skin’s tingling… and why is it so dark?”

Maro gasped. “Her skin IS transparent!”

Elena screamed and covered her eyes. “What’s going on?!?” she cried out, sobbing.

Lana groaned as a sharp jab of pain shot into her left arm. “Somebody… please… help!” she cried out as she slumped over.


Maro stared, wide-eyed. “She’s gone…” he murmured. Sari nodded, her mouth hanging open in shock.

“What’s happening?” she breathed. “It is getting pretty dark…”

Maro glanced over at Sari. “Not you, too!”

Kash cried out in surprise. “Sari, it’s happening again! What the hell is going on?”

“The time flow is being disrupted greatly…” Spekkio called. Slash narrowed his eyes.

“Flea… that little…” he cursed loudly.

Sari glanced down at her dissipating body. With every second, she became fainter and fainter… until a bright light blinded her with its power. Pain ripped through her whole left side, and with one final anguished scream, Sari fell to her knees, covering her face.

“Sari!” Stal screamed. Sari uncovered her face and tried to scream back, but she couldn’t move. Some strange force held her whole body back… and suddenly, there was nothing but black. No feeling, no sights, and no smells… her own agonized fear was the only clue that she could still be alive.

Is this what it’s like… to die? Sari wondered.


Pain ripped through Flea’s left side as if her arm had been torn off at the shoulder. Her heart was on fire, her torso moist with sweat… or was it blood? It would take all of her power to heal this wound…

Grasping her sword firmly, Flea stared down at her unconscious ex-friend. Suddenly a vision of long ago took over her senses…


The attack began at dawn. As the new general of Mio’s squadron, Laeri personally led the assault on Dorino, but at the front line of the Humans’ side stood a Mystic, tall and proud…

“NO!” Laeri screamed. “It can’t be!”

But it was… the Mystic fighting alongside the enemy was none other than Mio! Laeri’s heart felt like it was twisting into a knot. She couldn’t fight… not against her oldest friend… as the battle raged on around her, she couldn’t find the courage to even draw her sword.

“Forward!” Laeri heard Mio cry out. It couldn’t be… the fact that Mio was alive was surprise enough, but to see her on the opposing forces…

Turning on her heel, Laeri began to head for the camp. As long as she was against her best friend, she was useless. Suddenly, she felt the cold of metal on her neck.

“What’s the matter- too scared to fight?” Mio’s voice taunted. Laeri slowly turned around.

“Mio…” she murmured. Mio’s eyes widened.

“Laeri…” she whispered back. Her gaze suddenly lowered. “I… know you…”

With that, Mio turned to leave.

“Mio, wait!” Laeri called, but Mio was running back for Human lines… Mio could’ve killed her with no trouble… yet her life was spared… “Mio…”


Flea lowered her sword slowly. “You had every chance to kill me, yet you didn’t… I can’t do it…”

Mio’s eyelids fluttered in reply.

“A life for a life… but now we’re even and I have nothing to hold me back next time!” Flea growled, vanishing in a flash of green light.


“Ugh!” Lana grunted, falling on the hard cobblestones of the End of Time. Another thud was heard behind her… and the next thing she knew, her allies were surrounding her.

“Lana! Sari! What happened?” Maro called.

“Are you hurt?” Stal added. Lana shook her head.

“I’m fine,” she grumbled. Sari nodded in agreement.


Lana suddenly whirled around to face Sari. “A life for a life…”

Sari paled. “But now we’re even and I have nothing to hold me back next time…”

Olana shook her head. “What are you two talking about?”

Spekkio lowered his head. “Fate has smiled on these two young ladies. Laeri’s conscience has been cleared… but if that freebie has been squandered…”

Lana closed her eyes. “Nothing will hold her back now. Her debts have been paid.”

Sari nodded. “The next time we see her could be our last.”


“Damn it!”

Screaming in agony and frustration, Laeri backed up against the wall of her Pandua retreat, clutching her left shoulder tightly. White light flashed between the fingers of her right hand, illuminating the dark walls and casting strange shadows on every surface.

Laeri gritted her teeth once more and pressed down on her wound even tighter. The burning she had felt back at the castle had intensified a hundred fold. If she didn’t black out, she’d consider herself lucky…

“Why? WHY?!?” she roared, letting go of her wounded shoulder and knocking over a collection of tiny glass bottles. The colored glass shattered on the hard wooden floor, its tinkling a sharp contrast to Laeri’s wails. Shards clung to her skin, drops of blood already forming around the jagged edges of the glass. Suddenly snapping out of her rage, Laeri glanced down at her new wound.

“Ohhhh….” She whimpered, her eyes widening. Convinced that her shoulder laceration was at least half-healed, Laeri turned her attention to her right arm and proceeded to pick out the tiny bits of glass from her skin, white light radiating from her fingertips with every move. With her right arm healed, she could concentrate on her more threatening injury…


“Mio? Lady Mio, can you hear me?”

Mio’s eyelids fluttered open. “Caira? What are you doing here?” she groaned. Caira grinned, her pale hair falling over her shoulders.

“You’re all right! We noticed you laying here, bleeding, just about an hour ago. You were unconscious for the longest time… we thought you were dead!”

Mio tried to pull herself up, and promptly screamed in pain. Her whole body was either throbbing or was completely numb…

“Don’t try to move… we managed to stop the bleeding. Don’t be alarmed if you can’t feel a few things- we tried our best to numb some of the larger wounds.”

“Why didn’t Flea kill me?” Mio wheezed, leaning heavily on the stone wall. Caira glanced away.

“I don’t know. It seems she had an attack of conscience…”

“Flea has no conscience!” Mio screamed, even though her throat was raw. Pain ripped through her neck, forcing her next words to be little more than whispers. “She’s the personification of evil… someone must’ve stopped her…”

Blurry images flickered before Mio’s eyes- images from the Mystic war… smells, screams, faces… and her own act of mercy. “She did have a sense of honor, though…” Mio whispered hoarsely. “Who would’ve thought?”

Caira smiled as she placed a cold cloth to Mio’s forehead. “Yes, who would’ve thought…?” she murmured gently. Mio’s eyes drooped slightly. “You need to rest, Lady Mio… your body needs a chance to heal…”

Mio grunted in reply. She heard the shuffling of feet, the calling of voices, and a sensation of rising up. Before she could realize that she was being transported to a more comfortable location, she was already asleep.


Meanwhile, back at Pandua, Laeri had already curled up in B’Tanya’s childhood room, clutching a faded stuffed rabbit.

“Baby…baby…in the cradle you sleep…” Laeri sang softly, rocking back and forth, “Each little sight in your mind you keep… As you dream and you sigh, Mommy’s nearby, ready to hold you when the sun rises, ready to lavish you with sweet surprises.” That had been B’Tanya’s favorite lullaby when she was young… Laeri’s eyes watered, reliving the dreadful reunion between mother and daughter. The coldness of it all… the hatred… Laeri pressed the stuffed toy even tighter against her chest, the button eyes and nose digging into her skin as she rocked. The front of her loose white shirt became stained with droplets of blood where the buttons dug into her chest.

“Baby… baby... in the cradle you sleep…”


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