MythOS

MythOS: While repairing Necessity (the badly-broken sentient computer that runs the multiverse), Ravirn is thrown into a very different place, a parallel world where the Greek gods are only myths. This strange realm is ruled by the Norse pantheon of gods—Odin, Thor, and other fun-loving brutes—and their magic uses a completely different operating system. A system that Ravirn will have to hack if he ever wants to get out of Asgard alive…

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MythOS: Book #4 of the WebMage Story, an Excerpt

#Chapter 1#

“This is a really bad idea,” I murmured into my headset.

Melchior’s answering chuckle came through the earpiece, its wire trailing down my neck to slide under the wing of the stylized raven on the back of my leather jacket. The raven that covered the laptop pocket where he lay hidden.

“Shouldn’t that be my line, Ravirn?”

He had a point. Normally, when we’re teetering on the edge of disaster, I’m the one making the reassuring noises while my webgoblin spews pessimism. Not this time. The role reversal made me nervous. So did our location, floating amidst the wild cascading colors of the Primal Chaos and our cracking target. Necessity.

The world-sized computer-cum-goddess and Fate of the Gods is the closest thing to an all-powerful all-knowing deity the Greek pantheon has yet produced. When she says, “boo,” other gods run and hide. Add to that the fact that the Furies are her personal system administrators, ready to tear any cracker–say, yours truly–into teeny tiny shreds before delivering him to Hades in a bucket, and you get a feel for what a bad idea it is to mess with her.

With everyone from Apollo to Zeus terrified of her, why was I–a very mortal sorcerer and hacker–about to do just that? Lots of reasons, only a few worth noting.

First and foremost, Necessity was broken. Badly broken. The goddess is also a computer with all of a computer’s vulnerabilities. A really nasty virus had torn the hell out of her quite recently and very nearly destroyed the universe in the process. Since a small disagreement I was having with Hades had more to do with that than I’d like to admit, I felt a certain amount of ownership for Necessity’s current problems and a responsibility to set them right.

Which leads to reason two: the webtroll Ahllan, one of Melchior’s oldest and closest friends, not to mention the former leader of the familiar underground and current victim of that aforementioned conflict with Hades. Somewhere in the middle of the fight, she’d vanished in a way that involved the near-limitless powers of Necessity. If we wanted to know where she’d gone and why and, more importantly, how to get her back, we had to go to the source.

My third reason was less noble and one I hadn’t even shared with Melchior. To see if I could. I’m a hacker and cracker right down to the marrow, and even damaged as she was, Necessity was the hardest target imaginable. Cracking Necessity scared the crap out of me, but if I could do it and get away with it, it would be the hacker equivalent of pulling the sword from the stone.

“Hey, Ravirn,” Melchior whispered into my earpiece, “focus.

I started and he chuckled evilly.

“Relax,” he said. “Shara turned off the alarms and unlocked the locks. All we have to do is open one little door.”

Shara was our hidden ace, once a webgoblin, now a part of Necessity’s security architecture and our key to many locks. All of them really, except this first one. For that, I had Occam.

I reached back and grabbed the sword-cane tucked behind my left shoulder, swinging it around in front of me. Three feet of ebony with a steel base. The hilt was made of something like organic diamond, grown into an exquisite sculpture of a goddess, fiery-winged and naked. Tisiphone the Fury, my sometime-foe, sometime-lover.

A twist loosed Occam from its sheath. It’s an unusual sword, a doubled blade with +-shaped cross-section, not great for hack and slash but absolutely deadly for thrusting. The blade is made of the same organic diamond as the hilt, the stuff of Fury claws and security magic. With it, and under certain circumstances, I can pretend I’m a fourth Fury, one of Necessity’s sys-admins…reality’s sys-admins.

I pressed my right palm against the blade, then paused. Once I took the next step, we were committed and, quite possibly, dead. It wasn’t a decision I wanted to rush.

Melchior sighed. “Are we going to do this? Or are we just going to float here until the Primal Chaos devours us?”

“Patience, Mel. We’re perfectly safe.” I hope, I added mentally.

The Primal Chaos is magic in its purest form. Pure raw creation. It both contains and gave birth to the near infinite parallel worlds of reality. It’s incredibly dangerous stuff, except to those like me…maybe. When I became the Raven, I joined Team Chaos, theoretically immunizing me from the normal effects.

Unfortunately, that immunity doesn’t fully extend to those around me–which was why Melchior was riding inside my jacket in laptop shape. There’s also the part where I’m not immune to its abnormal effects, the ones reserved for creatures of chaos, even minor powers like myself. For example, the present circumstances has pretty much the same effect on me that hanging around in a billowing cloud of marijuana smoke would on a human.

Have I not mentioned the bit about being inhuman? Sorry. I’m a mortal child of the gods. On my mother’s side I descend from Lachesis, the second of the three Fates and the goddess who measures the threads. On my father’s side, I trace my line to Thalia, Muse of bucolic comedy. And yes, Fate and Slapstick are the two forces that dominate my life. It’s less entertaining than it sounds; picture a cream pie with broken glass in the bottom.

The name of my soul and my power is Raven. It is not the name I was born with, nor one I would ever have chosen. It was laid upon me in one of those tragicomic cream pie moments by Clotho, the Fate who spins. The name has shaped me, as names must, made me more impulsive and sarcastic. More prone to take risks like, oh, say…cracking Necessity.

I still prefer to be called Ravirn, but whether I like it or not, I am Raven and one face of the Trickster. Because of that, both my triumphs and mistakes have grown in scope, and all too often, one flows so smoothly into the other that it can be hard to tell which is which. I was really hoping this would be a triumph day, but I never know.

“Bossss!” It was Melchior. “Hellooo, are you still out there?”

I pulled my attention back to the here and now–damn chaos…damn good chaos. So sweet. I shook my head and blinked several times.

“Sorry, Mel. I lost my concentration again. Chaos.”

“Uh-huh, that was really my point. That we want to be on the other side of the wall of reality.”

“Right. Good point. Oh, and Mel?”

“Yes?”

“How many times have I asked you not to call me ‘boss?'”

“Two-thousand-three-hundred-and-twelve, if you count this one. Why do you ask?” he added brightly.

I sighed. “It’s not doing me any good, is it?”

“Could we get back to breaking and entering, and save the philosophical questions for later?”

“Right, that’s what I thought.”

Sliding my right hand along Occam’s edge opened a deep cut in my palm, a cut that filled with chaos rather than the blood a more normal blade would have drawn. Then, taking the hilt firmly in my wounded hand–to make a bound between the sword and the stuff of my soul–I slashed a vertical hole in the wall between reality and chaos, or more accurately between chaos and one specific corner of reality.

I slipped through the rift and out onto a dark hillside where the smell of pines hung heavy in the air. Behind me, the hole sealed itself with a zipper sort of sound and I felt a trickle of cold sliding down my spine like icy water. Reality shouldn’t do that. Open the walls of reality with any tool other than a sharpened bit of Fury-stuff and Primal Chaos pours through from there to here with generally catastrophic results. I’d killed a cousin that way a couple years back–an act which still haunted my nightmares–and I’d very nearly done the same to Hades later–likewise the stuff of nightmare, though for very different reasons.

“Melchior?” I whispered, doing a slow turn and scanning for movement, “I need a touch of night-vision, please. Then, why don’t you come out and play?”

Through my earpiece I heard him whistle “Redeye,” a binary program, or codespell if you prefer. It would temporarily allow me to see in the infrared.

“How do things look out there?” he asked.

“Nothing’s tried to eat me yet.” I turned again, surveying my surroundings with improved vision. “Nothing’s moving. Northern hemisphere, pine forest, probably late summer, though it’s hard to tell. With Persephone free the seasons are all amuss in the top dozen DecLoci.”

“You say that like it’s somebody else’s fault,” said Melchior. “Hades didn’t just spontaneously decided to let Persephone go and cancel winter. She’d still be his prisoner if you hadn’t stepped in.”

“Just in the wrong place at the right time,” I said. “Or perhaps the wrong place at the wrong time. Depends on how you feel about getting on Death’s to-do list.”

“How about right place, right time?”

“No. Hades is never the right place.” I shivered, though not from cold. “Do you suppose the weather change will ripple out to other decision loci?”

“I doubt it. Once a new world’s split off from the old, there’s not supposed to be any more interaction. Well, aside from you and your family and the mweb.”

“No,” I agreed. The mweb is the magical network Necessity built. It connects the various levels of reality, allowing the Greek pantheon and all of its many children to access worlds as easily as normal mortals do websites. “But with Necessity messed up, who knows what might be moving through the network. You still haven’t told me if you want to come out.”

“I suppose,” he said after a long moment of silence. “I feel awfully safe under all this leather and Kevlar, but the view’s lousy.”

“I’m so sorry, your highness,” I said with a chuckle. “I just wasn’t thinking ‘picture window’ when I had Tech-Sec make my new riding gear.”

Reaching back, I caught hold of the zipper that ran along the lower edge of the raven’s wings and slid it aside. The deep pocket beneath held a sub-notebook. It was pale blue with the darker outline of a goblin’s head etched into the top–bald with long pointed ears and a sharp chin. On the underside of the case lines of LEDs traced glowing dragon’s scales.

“Run Melchior. Please.” I said, placing the computer on the ground.

The spell prompt worked its desired magic and the laptop began to flicker, its flat shape alternating almost too quickly for the eye to follow with a bald blue goblin only slightly larger than a house cat but infinitely more contrary. After a few moments the strobing effect stopped and only the goblin remained.

“A little sloppy with the new transformation,” I noted.

“I get nervous. Even nine months on I’m not completely comfortable with this whole quantum computing thing. I liked binary–something was either a one or a zero, none of this spooky both and neither. I’m always afraid I’ll end up leaving my ears in some sort of horrible in-between state.” He reached up and checked, exposing a mouthful of pointed teeth with his smile a moment later. “Einstein was right about quantum mechanics; it is disturbing. Melting smoothly from shape to shape was a whole lot more comfortable.”

“So run the old process in emulation,” I said. “You’ve got tons of spare computing capacity.”

He blinked several times, looking thoughtful. “You know, I might just try that. In the meantime, shouldn’t we be moving? We don’t want to bump into any Furies, not after the warn-off Tisiphone gave you last time you suggested we drop by Necessity central.”

Melchior’s mention of the fiery-natured Fury gave me an odd feeling in the pit of my stomach. It was the strangest relationship I’d ever had. I didn’t know (A) whether we were still dating, (B) if she was in love with me, (C) if I was in love with her, (D) whether she’d try to kill me if she caught me sneaking in here or just jump my bones. The mixture of dire threats every time I mentioned anything to do with Necessity and the way it usually came up after she’d stopped in at Raven House for a bit of rompery was giving me seriously mixed messages.

“I thought you said Shara turned off the alarms.”

“All the ones she knows about,” replied Melchior. “Necessity is a huge interconnected network of systems installed over hundreds of years, and Shara’s only firmly in charge of the primary security software. You never know what else might be tucked away somewhere she can’t reach.”

“There’s a lovely thought. I wish you’d mentioned it earlier.”

Melchior raised an eyebrow–a habit he’d picked up from me–and I looked away. He wasn’t telling me anything I didn’t or, more accurately, shouldn’t know already. Shara, the former familiar of my ex-girlfriend Cerice, had ended up running much of Necessity after the mess with Hades and Persephone gave the computer-goddess the digital equivalent of a massive stroke. While Shara was a truly stellar individual, and a damn fine fusion of the various warez that make up an AI, she simply didn’t have the capacity to run everything as Necessity had. Not even close.

While I contemplated that, Melchior whistled up a connection to Shara. She appeared in the center of a golden globe of light projected from Melchior’s eyes and mouth. Vividly purple and decidedly female, Shara shared Melchior’s pointed ears and teeth, but added some serious curves and a thick head of hair.

“Hey, big boy, it’s been far too long between…contacts. We’ve got to fix that.” She winked suggestively at me, her voice and mannerisms echoing the late Mae West. “I still can’t believe Cerice let anything as yummy as you get away.”

I grinned. It was nice to see her returning to her old flirtatious self–dying had taken a lot out of her, not to mention starting the whole mess with Hades and Persephone.

“I missed you too, Shara. I wish we had more time to catch up but we are right in the middle of a cracking job….”

“And you need information and you’re in a terrible hurry,” sighed Shara. “Point taken. I still don’t know exactly what happened to our friend Ahllan, but I did manage to find out where it happened, or rather, what part of Necessity was activated in the process.”

“That’s a start,” I said. “What can you tell us about it?”

“Well,” she paused. At first I thought she was just taking a deep breath, but then she seemed to freeze, her eyes going glassy as the whole projection shimmered reflectively.

“Mel, what’s up with Shara? Is that a signal problem or is the encryption–”

“–I can tell you that it’s one of the oldest structures in the system,” said Shara, continuing as though nothing untoward had happened. “It may even be the oldest.”

I glanced a nervous question at Mel. He gave me a thumbs-up out of sight of his video pickups and I relaxed. Whatever had happened, we were still talking to Shara. Between magical soul-signatures and encryption, a goblin-to-goblin link is basically impossible to spoof. Doubly so between webgoblins who knew each other as well as these two.

“Did things just stutter on your end?” I asked Shara.

“I don’t think so,” she replied. “Give me a second.” Her face took on the distant expression of a webgoblin accessing outside data sources. “Odd. I’m showing a hiccup in the communications feed and garbage data in a number of processor nodes. At least I think it’s garbage data. Necessity is such a big system and there’s so much I wouldn’t understand even without the complications caused first by Persephone and then Nemesis. It’s probably just a glitch, but if you want to abort and try again later, I’ll understand.”

“No, if you think it isn’t serious, that’s good enough for me. I’d hate to have to try this again. My nerves are frazzled enough as it is. Mel?”

“I’m with Ravirn,” he mumbled around the stream of light coming from his mouth.

“All right,” said Shara. “Let me give you the coordinates…”

#

“It all started with Crete?” asked Melchior as we glided in to land beside a low mound on the shore of the big island.

“Maybe we’ll find out,” I cawed in reply.

Melchior is not the only shape-changer in our partnership, though my process is messier and more painful than his. Once I’d set Melchior down, I folded my wings and turned my attention inward. When I touched the place where magic and blood were one and the same–the inner chaos inherited from my Titan ancestors–a great black shadow fell over me like a cloud passing between the Earth and the bright moon above. It was the shadow of the Raven.

I let the darkness settle over me, conforming to my current body before I reshaped both shadow and self with a wrench of my will. For just an instant I felt as though every atom of my body had been individually heated to incandescence. The agony of it drove the breath from my lungs and made sweat pop out all over my body. Then, almost as quickly as it had come, the pain vanished. The huge raven I sometimes become was gone, replaced by Ravirn. I quickly ran through my normal post-transformation inventory of appendages by number and composition. I prefer to leave the feathers with the other body, though the inner Raven is with me always.

Of all my magic, shapeshifting is least comfortable and most dangerous, both because of its nature and my own. I am a hacker of spells, composing and performing much of my magic off the cuff and on the spot. With the more modern digital programming magic, where I work through Melchior and have the luxury of spell-checking in emulation first, I have some margin for error. Not to mention a second pair of eyes examining my code. But with the primal stuff of deep chaos, it all happens in the moment. There is no beta-testing and even though I’ve done the Raven/Ravirn thing often enough to feel pretty sure it will all work out fine in the end, I can never be certain I won’t make a mistake and turn myself into a loose cloud of disconnected organic material.

“So now what?” I asked, once I’d confirmed I was all there and all me.

“Just a second,” replied Melchior, tapping his claws on something hard, “I think…yes! Got it.”

I turned in time to see a series of cracks in a nearby boulder flow together into the irregular outline of a door. Beyond, broad stone steps led under the hill. Necessity is nothing if not a traditionalist.

I asked Melchior to refresh Redeye and he whistled the binary with a speed and sureness I could never match, demonstrating another of the many reasons I prefer codespells to chaospells.

“After you,” he said. “Height before intellect.”

“Why don’t we go together?” Catching him by the back of his neck, I lifted him onto my shoulder.

The stairs wound deep into the earth, halting in front of a heavy steel hatch. Words had been carved into the stone above in the most archaic Greek I’d ever seen. It took me several seconds to parse it out and I wasn’t sure what I had when I was done.

“Central Temple for the…Calculation of the Fates and Locations of…Mel, what’s that odd word? ”

“Pantheoo, panth…. Hang on, I’m not sure you’re putting it together in the right order. Maybe something like ‘Divine Center for Panth–no–Pantheoretical Calculation and the Fate and Stations of the Gods Themselves?'”

“Should ‘calculation’ be ‘computation?’ Normally I’d say that made more sense.”

“I don’t know, the implication seems closer to calculation.” Mel shook his head. “Why don’t we just see what there is to see?”

When I grabbed the handle a magical crackle rolled across my skin from the point of contact, as though the feathers I didn’t wear in this shape were all slowly rising to stand on end. I paused and put my ear to the door. I don’t know what I expected–maybe the hum of hot vacuum tubes, or some such evidence of primitive computing systems. What I heard was a series of sharp metallic clicks almost too rapid to count as separate sounds.

“What’s making that noise?” I said.

“I don’t know, but there’s really only one way to find out. Unless you want to turn back now.”

“No.” I shook my head. “Better to get it over with.”

The door was unlocked, though whether that was because Shara had arranged for it or because such security was unnecessary here, I couldn’t say.

“That’s different,” Mel said, a moment later.

I didn’t respond, just stepped over the threshold and into one of the strangest rooms I’d ever seen. It was huge, stretching off into the gloomy distance, and it smelled of dust and copper. Where I had expected ranked racks of computers I found huge abacuses, several hundred of them, their metallic beads clicking back and forth at dazzling speeds.

The nearest stood ten feet tall, with hundreds of thick bronze wires in two horizontal bands. The wires in the top set each held five heavy copper beads, the ones on the bottom only two. All of the beads at every level seemed to be in constant motion, clicking and clacking, and calculating Necessity-only-knew-what at speeds that probably exceeded early modern computers.

“What’s it for?” I finally whispered.

“I don’t know,” replied Melchior, hopping down and padding over to look up at the clattering beads. “More importantly, what can we do with it? Do you know anything about using one of these?”

“Not a bit.” I circled the nearest abacus. It didn’t appear connected in any way to the others, or to anything at all. How do you program a computer with no interface, no visible inputs or outputs, and an unknown programming language? “I don’t even know whether it’s a peripheral legacy system that wasn’t worth the hassle of upgrading or if it provides some core function so vital that can’t be interrupted even for an instant.”

“I think it’s Necessity’s soul and that you should step away from it very, very carefully.” The voice belonged to Tisiphone, and her tone did not invite argument or any response beyond obedience. Knowing Tisiphone as I did, I recognized the threat of extreme violence just beneath the surface of the words.

Moving with exquisite caution, I put my hands out to the sides with my palms open and clearly visible to anyone standing behind me. Then, just as carefully, I began to back up, not stopping until I’d reached the nearest wall. Melchior mirrored me a few feet away.

“That’s a good start,” said Tisiphone, fading into existence between us and the abacuses–or rather letting her chameleonlike camouflage drop away. “Now I want you to stay right where you are and hold very still, while I make sure you haven’t hurt anything.”

“Would you rather we stepped out into the hall,” I asked, careful to move only my mouth, “put a heavy iron door between us and that?” I indicated the bank of abacuses with my eyes.

The expression she turned on me was hard and cold, devoid of any of the affection she had shown me so often in the past even at times when we were at odds. This was a Fury right on the edge of killing, one who had closed down every mortal part of herself in favor of the role of Necessity’s personal assassin. My throat and stomach felt as though I’d recently dined on several pounds of finely ground and deadly dry sand. For a long second I thought she might kill me on the spot, but finally she shook her head.

“No, Ravirn. If I let you out of my sight, you’ll be gone from this DecLocus faster than a rat down a hole. I want you where I can see you and put my hands on you quickly. No movement. No magic.”

“I take it now would be a bad time to suggest a kiss hello then?” I couldn’t help myself–it just slipped out.

There’s something about being on the edge of death that seems to disengage all the safety features on my mouth. Now I watched Tisiphone and waited to see if that bad habit had finally gotten me killed. Her deadly expression seemed to completely freeze, and she took two long strides that put her face within inches of my own.

“A kiss before dying?” she whispered. “Is that your request?”

“Yes….” I trailed off and let it hang for moment. Then I winked at her. “Preferably long before, but I suppose I’ll take what I can get.”

“You’re mad,” she said, “and maddening,” but her expression softened just the tiniest bit, as though a smile might be trying to tug up one side of her mouth. “Don’t. Move. I’ll be back.”

She turned away from me and went to inspect the abacus Melchior and I had been standing beside. When her back was fully turned I wiggled the tip of my left pinky, the one I’d so recently grown back.

“I saw that,” said Tisiphone, this time with a definite hint of a thaw in her voice. A thaw that was gone a moment later, “Don’t make me kill you, Raven. I don’t have a real wide margin at the moment, and it’s going to get much narrower once my sisters hear about this.”

“So there’s no chance of keeping this just between the two of us?” I asked. I noted that she’d called me Raven this time, and wondered whether that was her way of acknowledging that not all my risk-taking was voluntary.

“Boss, would you please stop digging?” said Melchior before Tisiphone could respond. “I know you like holes, but do you always have to make them deeper?”

“The little man gives wise council,” Tisiphone said as she moved deeper into the room.

“Somebody appreciates me-glrgh!” Melchior’s words trailed off as his mouth and eyes shot wide and beams of light poured out of them, one red, one green, one blue, meeting to form a golden globe in the air.

Firelight flared from the direction Tisiphone had gone–her internal flames leaping high. “What are you doing!” she demanded, her voice rapidly approaching.

In seeming answer, Shara’s image formed in the heart of the globe.

“Ravirn, I’m sorry I have to send this as an emergency override,” she said, “but you need to know that Ne…” She froze again then as she had earlier, her eyes glassy and vacant.

I felt the nonexistent feathers rising on my skin. The globe holding her image shimmered as dozens of pinpoints of dark silver static like tiny mirrors flared and sparked, rapidly spreading until the whole became an opaque silver ball. In that same instant Tisiphone came around the last abacus, her wings and hair burning so brightly it hurt to look at her.

“What’s happening?” she screeched and I heard the echoes of her sisters speaking through her lips–the tripartite voice of the Furies coming through one mouth.

“I don’t know,” I said. “Mel?”

No response. I turned my head and found that he looked just as frozen as Shara.

“Mel!”

Still no response.

“Melchior, cut vlink. Please.”

Nothing.

“Melchior, cut vlink. Execute.”

I hadn’t used the execute command in over two years, not since the day I’d discovered Melchior was more than just an automaton, that he had free will and was as much a person as I. I didn’t want to use it now either–it was a violation–but between the threat of the Fury and the message of my feathers I knew I had little choice.

Melchior’s mouth shut with a snap, and he closed his eyes as well but gave no other sign of life. The light that had streamed forth from those portals flicked off, but the floating silver ball remained. Tisiphone struck it a spearing blow of her right hand, her claws extended six inches from her finger tips. There was a sharp ringing as of two swords struck together and Tisiphone slid backward, driven by the force of her own attack encountering a seemingly immovable object.

She hit it several more times in quick succession, each with the same result. Then the sphere moved, rising and turning. Though it had no apparent features I got the impression of a great disembodied eye trying to get all three of us into range of its vision.

I wanted to run, but Tisiphone stood between me and the door. I feared she might kill me out of hand in her current state. Quickly but cautiously I scooped up Melchior–he was stiff in my arms.

“Tisiphone?” I said.

“Silence.” Her voice was sharp, angry and scared. I raised my hand like a student asking permission to speak, but she only said again, “Silence.”

“What have you done to her?” she said to the sphere in that same voice.

It was only in that instant that I realized her “silence” wasn’t an order. It was an observation. The abacuses had stopped clicking. They were still. The sphere started to swell, growing quickly from the size of a beach ball to something bigger than a car. As it lifted toward the ceiling, the nearest abacus started clicking slowly, first one bead, then another and another, all moving from left to right. Almost against my will, I stepped toward the abacus. Tisiphone blocked my way.

“No, Ravirn, I won’t–”

But whatever it was that she wouldn’t, I never heard it. Instead there came a single enormous metallic clash as all the remaining beads in the room suddenly moved from left to right. The great silver ball started to drop toward us, falling like a hammer.

Then everything went away behind a curtain of blackness as though all the lights in the universe had gone out.

When the light came back, everything was different, as if someone had changed the sets during the blackout between acts, someone with a very strange sense of humor. The cavern with its abacuses and falling silver sphere was gone, replaced by a dying lawn under a westering sun and a stately gothic cathedral. The only problem was that with exception of its towers, this cathedral stood barely chin high.

“Where are we?” I said, glancing around to see whether we were about to be attacked by Lilliputians.

“Lost,” said Tisiphone, very quietly. Her voice had reverted to the one I heard in our private moments. “We’re lost.”

“What do you mean?” I asked. The Furies are never lost, Necessity always keeps them informed of exactly where they are in relation to everything else. Even broken as she was, Necessity had never failed in that task. “You can’t be lost. It’s not possible.”

“I don’t need this,” she snapped at me. “Not from you, not from anybody.”

She extended the claws of her right hand and sliced them through the air to open a gate into chaos as I had opened one out of chaos earlier. There was only one little tiny problem–nothing happened.

Maybe we really were lost.

#End of Chapter 1#

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Copyright © Kelly McCullough 2009. May not be reproduced without the author’s permission.