- Age: ~21
- Species: Human with some potential “other” in there
- Weapons: Strong user of kelar/The Gift (magic), Gonturan (the Blue Sword)
- Special Attack: Using Gonturan and the Old Tongue to cast powerful magic
- Well trained in battle
- Magical powers, including healing powers
- Nifty sword that can bring down a mountain
- Honorable and brave
- Can be proud, stubborn, and willful
- Age: 33
- Species: Human with alien DNA
- Weapons: Her purse (a portal), a Glock, adrenaline “harpoons", an unreasonable number of animals
- Special Attack: Always goes with the crazy, which always works
- Is the beloved favorite of a variety of incredibly powerful universal beings
- Has a penchant for convincing enemies to switch sides
- Able to keep the bad guys monologuing long enough for backup to arrive
- Always willing to give an enemy a second chance to do the right thing
By Gini Koch
“So, why are we here again?”
The woman asking this question is in her early thirties, wearing an Aerosmith t-shirt, distressed jeans, red Converse, and a big, black leather purse slung over her neck. She has a curvy figure, her blonde hair is pulled back into a ponytail, and her expression is curiosity mixed with suspicion. She’s also wearing earbuds connected to her phone, and for a moment, an observer might think she was on a phone call.
“Here” is a rocky desert area, devoid of much other than sand, rocks, and various shades of beige and brown.
“Just wait a moment,” a voice next to her says. The speaker isn’t visible.
She heaves a sigh and rummages around in her purse, pulling out three fluffy balls of fur, all of which start purring. “That’s my good Poofies, who come to keep Kitty company on mysterious, boring journeys the King of the Elves makes us go on for no discernable reason.”
There’s a squawk that sounds offended coming from near ground level. Kitty leans down and pets something which becomes visible as she does so. It’s a large predatory bird that looks like a peacock – a peacock that’s been to the gym and taken steroids for years.
“Didn’t mean to diss your devotion, Bruno. Extra scritchy-scratches for that Peregrine.” After making her avian pet happy, Kitty straightens up. “Okay, the animals with me are appeased. I’m bored as hell. Seriously, Algar, why are we here? And why are you insisting on being invisible?”
“My presence might be seen as… cheating.”
“Wow. Cheating at what? And, by the way, I’m all for cheating if it means the good guys win and the universe — nay, the multiverse — isn’t destroyed.”
Algar clears his throat but doesn’t say anything else.
Kitty heaves another sigh and looks around again. “Not much here, really. But it’s not Pueblo Caliente. Or Phoenix. In case we’re in a different part of the multiverse than I’m used to.”
“As to that…” Algar’s voice trails off as another young woman appears.
This one is in her early twenties, is dressed as a kind of desert warrior, and carries a large sword that’s covered in blue flame. She’s bareback on a big horse. “Why have I been summoned?”
“No clue. Who are you?”
The younger woman stares at the elder. “I am Angharad Crewe, bride of King Corlath, the Queen of Damar.”
“Uh huh. Well, I’m Katherine Katt-Martini, First Lady of the United States of America, married to the President of such, and also, conveniently, the Queen Regent of Earth for the Annocusal Royal Family of Alpha Four. Top that, however you pronounce your name. Heard it once, it sounded like so much jumble-speak.”
“Ah. My friends call me Harry.”
“Super! My friends call me Kitty. So, Harry, why are we here?”
The sword flames blue and Harry seems to be listening to it. The flames subside and Harry looks slightly uncomfortable. “You don’t know?”
“If I knew, why would I ask? Earlier you said you didn’t know, and yet, now I believe that you do know, don’t you?”
“Good points. I have been told, just now. We’re here to do battle.”
Kitty waits. “Gotcha, battle. That’s it? No why or anything? Just, show up and chick-fight it out?”
“You’re asking me? That’s a laugh. So, why are we fighting? Are we somehow enemies?”
“Not that I know of,” Harry admits.
“Oh, good to know. So, back to the question of why? As in, why us, doing this, right now? Any news from whatever voices you’re hearing in your head? Which I am in no way dissing. I hear voices in my head all the damn time. Usually telling me nothing while acting like they’re giving me great clues for what’s coming next. Clues that only make sense when I’m in the middle of the whatever.”
Here Harry seems on firmer ground. “It’s the same for me!”
“Yeah, it’s great, isn’t it? We could just go get a drink, hang out, and compare voices, you know.”
“I don’t think that’s allowed. Though that does sound somewhat… enjoyable.”
“It is when I do it, but I digress. So, your voices? They’re saying what?”
The sword flames again. “Apologies, they have shared now. We are fighting because it is foretold that we will do so. We will battle and the winner will battle again and again until a champion is found. I have never done something like this before,” she adds a little uncertainly.
“Wonderful. It’s a freaking tournament. Great. The best. I’ve seen Mortal Kombat, a lot, and I’ll bet you haven’t, have you, Harry?”
“I’m not sure that I understand you, Kitty.”
“So few do, Harry. So few ever do. So, are you a bad queen? Torture your subjects, cheat on your husband, extra taxation just ‘cause, cruel to children, animals, and the elderly?”
“No!” Harry sounds horrified. “How dare you accuse me or my lord king of such?”
“Just checking. I’m a good guy, too. So, I’m wondering why two good guys have to fight each other when it seems so much smarter to join forces and kick butt all the way to the ultimate goal.”
Harry shakes her head. “It’s forbidden. In the rules.”
“The rules. Gotcha.” Kitty seems lost in thought for a few moments. “So, you’re going to attack me with that sword which, if I was a betting girl, and I am, I’d say was magical?”
“Yes, it is magical. Gonturan is as filled with the power of the kelar as I am myself.”
“Magic sword, magic user, check. So, are you super-strong?”
“No, no stronger than any other.”
“Quicker than many, not as fast as some.”
“Uh huh. And is your horse there magically inclined as well?”
Harry pats her mount. “No. Just a well-trained beast with bravery in his heart.”
“Talk about cheating,” Kitty mutters. “It doesn’t seem fair. Where are we again?” she asks in a louder voice.
“I believe we are at the outskirts of my kingdom.”
“So, your universe then? ‘Cause this doesn’t look like my world.”
“Yes.” Harry looks around. “All seems familiar and as it should be.”
“Okey dokey.” Kitty looks at the Poofs in her hand. “So, she seems benign and is likely telling the truth.” The Poofs purr. “And we don’t want to hurt her or her horse at all, right?” More purrs. “So, expedient or nasty, what’s your pleasure?”
One of the Poofs jumps down from Kitty’s hand. “What is that?” Harry asks politely.
“This is Harlie, otherwise known as a Poof. The Head Poof, to be exact. Harlie, do whatever you’re going to do with your bad self.”
Harlie purrs at Kitty. Then Harlie transforms into a fluffy white monster over six feet tall with razor-sharp teeth. And then Harlie roars. A roar that shakes the landscape.
Harry’s horse rears, but she keeps it under control and manages to keep the animal from bolting. “This is an attack!”
“Not really. Not yet. Impressive horsewomanship, though, you go, girl. Right now, though, Harry, it’s time for you to choose. Leave or fight. I think you’re kind of too nice and noble to survive what I’m now guessing is coming. I’m not all that nice and I’m not all that noble, and I’m willing to break the rules and you aren’t.”
Harry shakes her head. “I am a warrior and I will not yield!” With that she spurs her horse towards Kitty and the rest.
“I like her style, I have to say that. Let’s do what we do best, gang.”
Bruno screams a war cry and flies into the air, talons aimed at the horse’s head. The other two Poofs also go “large and in charge” and begin roaring, while moving out of the way of Harry’s attack.
Kitty runs now, using hyperspeed, which is a speed so fast that no human eye can see it. While the Poofs roar again, Kitty ducks under Harry’s sweeping sword and, using super-strength, wrenches the sword out of Harry’s hand. Then she runs to where Harry had appeared.
Harry, meanwhile, sees her foe gone in the blink of an eye and finds Gonturan removed from her grasp. She spins her horse to see Kitty standing with Gonturan in her hand, the Poofs once again small and on her shoulders, the Peregrine calmly held in her other arm.
“So, I’m betting that didn’t go like you saw it in your head,” Kitty says.
“No,” Harry admits, “it did not. May I have my sword back, please?”
“Maybe. Admit defeat, go home to your kingdom, stay being a total badass here, in your world, and let me handle the rest of this madness from here on out.”
“And if I do not?”
Kitty rolls her eyes. “Poofikins?”
One of the Poofs jumps to the ground, extends its mouth in a way that should be impossible, and swallows Gonturan whole. Then its mouth goes back to normal and the Poof burps. Discreetly.
“What have you done?” Harry shouts in anguish.
“Ensured you have to do what I want. Go home. Your sword will be waiting there for you.”
“And if it is not?”
Kitty shrugs as the Poofs all go back into her purse. “Then you’ll have to follow me through whatever this tournament really is. Stay home, babe. Let the professionals handle it from here.”
There is the sound of a snap, and then Kitty and her animals all disappear from Harry’s view. Harry lets out an aggrieved sigh. “I will find you if Gonturan is not returned to me,” she shouts at the heavens.
The sword drops at her horse’s feet. Harry dismounts, to see there’s a note attached. She grabs the sword and reads the note.
You seem cool. In another time and place, we’d be friends. In this time and place? Be glad we chose the expedient option.
Harry stares at the note for a while. Then she remounts and, with Gonturan safely sheathed, heads home. “I hope you win, Kitty. And that you come back and tell me the full tale.”