Kallisti the Friar sat on a bench in the park near to the cramped flat she was sharing with the other Kallistis, idly tapping the concrete with her quarterstaff, not really looking at what she was doing, her thoughts far away.

 “Whats up kiddo?” It was Kallisti Red, dressed in her usual red biker leathers. She sat next to her on the bench, drinking from a plastic cup with a straw. She patted Kallisti the Friar’s shoulder in her usual brusque but kindly manner. The Friar shrugged, not looking at her. “Homesick? I was too for a while when I first arrived, even though where I came from was a total shite hole. I missed it for a while, its what you get used to.”

 “This world is so different from that I am accustomed to. There is so many wonders and marvels that I cannot comprehend. It is the freedom I do not understand. There is nobody telling me what to do, no discipline, no punishments… ” Her shoulders slumped a little as she said the last word. Kallisti Red narrowed her eyes. They’d all see the scars on the girl’s back from the discipline that had been the norm in her old world. Red’s own tough background had exposed her some of this nastiness – when you come from a post nuclear-holocaust world, rapidly being overtaken by a new Ice Age, you get to see a more visceral side to society. Institutional abuse, however, was something else entirely in her mind.

 “Well, there is law here and we as Heroes are part of keeping that Law and Order bollocks ticking over. If you want we could go find some thugs to knock about a bit?” Friar smiled slightly at this. “I like watching you move with that staff, its almost balletic”

 “Purity of Movement and Mastery of Staff is what I was always taught by the Master at Arms” the Friar said, rolling the six foot long staff across the back of her hand. “The movement should be enough to execute the manoeuvre and keep your balance, no more no less. Anything else is wasteful, allows the possibility of mistakes and opens your defences.” The words were recited in a cadenced voice, as if learned by rote.

 “Make sense to me.” nodded Red. “Personally I just beat them to a pulp until they stop moving, keeps me happy. Scarlet is pretty much the same, just she doesn’t always stop when they stop moving. She’s a bit more single-minded like that and I can get along with that. She punches a bit harder than me, but gets hit a bit more. Me, I don’t like them hitting my friends, I’d rather they had a go at me!”

 “You are very noble in that cause, I had a friend in my old life who was much like that. He used the staff to block attacks on others and draw the demon’s attention to him rather than us so we could dispatch the evil faster.” Her head lowered again. “He died, the demons consumed him.”

 “So these demons you talk about… real demons summoned by evil buggers? Not poor victims of DNA resequencing like Bronze?”

 “I do not understand those words, but the demons were real and yes summoned by evil sorcerers. Bronze has done some research and believes that there was a magical invasion on my world many hundreds of years ago which was the reason my Martial Order of the Friars of Norton Folgate was founded. We were all the orphans of families taken by the demons, so our lives were dedicated to avenging them and protecting those that remained.” She looked around “This place does not exist over there – we know nothing of this ‘America’ – we were ruled by King Henry the Fifteenth of England and Anjou. My Angel has started teaching me to read so I can find out more of this world – I do not want to go back…” her voice cracked a little, “I do not want to live in fear all the time, I do not want to be…” She stopped talking and looked down again “used by others. You are all so kind and generous taking me in when I arrived…”

 “Well you were in a bit of a state when the airhead found you in that alley in Skyway City with all those Vahzilok around you. She seems to have a knack of finding the newbies when they come through. You scrubbed up pretty well in the end”

 “Oh showers! What a miraculous invention!!” the Friar finally smiled for the first time in a while. “That wonderful feeling of warmth… and new clothes! My Angel took me to the clothes shop and bought me all new clothes to replace my old ones.”

 “I know, we had to burn those horrible old robes – how many people had worn them before? They were lice infested, ugh! I can see Gold has inflicted you with her dubious taste in outfits though” Red smirked. Friar adjusted the new jacket she wore over the clingy revealing outfit she wore beneath.

“The clothes My Angel showed me were sinful, but… ” she took a deep breath “I liked them!”  Red raised her eyes heavenward.

 “She’s corrupted you already! Next you’ll be running around in another of those metallic mini-dresses she likes and…” Red looked at Friar blushing. “Seriously? Already?”

 “She said she would take me to Pocket D and teach me to dance! She said my staff training would make me a natural dancer!”

 “Oh yeah and when you pull that ‘spinning around with your legs in the air’ move I can see all the blokes in Pocket D suddenly wanting to know you better! Its green isn’t it – the dress?” Friar nodded, smiling shyly.

 “My Angel said I looked good enough to eat when I tried it on” Red raised an eyebrow.

 “Did she now? So when is this expedition planned? I have a feeling it might be worth tagging along… The Kallisti Girls hit Pocket D! The poor buggers!”

Authors Note: The next story about Kallisti the Friar is one I had problems with and have not been able to complete. I felt uncomfortable with the direction the story was taking and it fought me all the way until I got to the point I couldn’t write it anymore. Its a shame because I knew the ending would have had a big emotional punch and develop the character of Kallisti the Friar in a very powerful way. However the route to that was going into places that I feel uncomfortable writing about. This was supposed to be a fun thing, not create problems or anxiety.

Here is a summary of the plot which skips over some of the more uncomfortable bits. Be warned, there are adult themes in this story so those of a delicate or juvenile dispostion should read no futher!



Kallisti the Friar is approached by a girl member of the Skulls gang  she met and helped before.  If you’ve done the Kings Row Skulls arc The Lords of Death, she’s one of the girls on the upper level of the mission where you are disguised as a Skull and trying to infiltrate the gang.  She’s one of the people who escape with you when the building is raided. Violet explains that girls are going missing and she is worried what is happening to them. Friar decides to dig out her undercover gear to become a Skull girl again, enlisting the aid of Longbow to do so. By the time she is ready to go undercover though, Violet herself has gone missing. Friar goes undercover pretending to be Violet’s cousin from out of town and makes a name for herself with her athletic dancing!

She’s picked by the local boss, Bonespur, for ‘special attention’, which ends up with her being drugged and waking up in a cage with several other girls including Violet, on board a ship destination unknown. During the trip the girls are treated to a variety of degrading and humiliating abuse designed to break their spirit (this was the part I found most difficult to write). They are told that of the 12 who start the trip, they only need 10 left at the end, a tactic designed to pit the girls against each other in a struggle for survival. . Friar has a constant internal battle as she knows she could stop this abuse at any point but it would then mean they would not get to the bottom of what is happening to the girl and who is responsible. During the journey,  Violet is murdered in front of them all as an example of what happens when they rebel or don’t comply with everything demanded of them. Friar herself having to endure abuse, both physical and sexual, some of which makes her question the treatment she experienced while growing up in the Monastery in her original timeline, recognising that the regime she grew up under was itself highly abusive and manipulative.

As the journey continues, she discovers that another girl she has befriended is pregnant and if their captors find out, they would almost certainly dispose of her! In the end, one of the ‘enemy’ girls who they had clashed with early in the journey and had caused Friar to be punished in a sadistic manner, sacrifices herself to save the pregnant girl. At journey’s end, the surviving girls are cleaned up and paraded in a ‘slave market’ where a  collection of rich and powerful men bid on them.

It is only at this point when the organisers of this despicable trade can be identified that she breaks cover, summons her team of heroes and Longbow  and takes revenge on her tormentors. She find it hard to control her fury at what was done to the girls she travelled with as well as the girls who had gone missing before but manages to restrain herself and avoid killing the perpetrators.

 After the fight there is an emotional reunion with Kallisti Gold and the other Kallistis who came to her aid, but she is heartbroken by her inability to save all the girls.

In an epilogue, Friar visits the pregnant girl, Sally, some months later. She has settled down with her ex-boyfriend back in her home town outside Paragon City and has had her baby, a little girl. She tells Friar that she has named the baby Violet in memory of their friend who never came back. Friar reveals that she too had a baby girl in her youth back in her original timeline, but just says that she died, revealing her grief that she has suppressed for many years.

Friar returns to Paragon City, but she is changed from the person who met Violet a few months before.   

Being a superhero isn’t always about thwarting world-shattering events…

Author’s Note: This takes place during the Halloween period, 2019:

So you are telling me he’ll get away with it?” snarled Kallisti the Friar, standing in front of the Longbow prosecuting officer’s desk, her fists on the desk, her body leaning over toward the bespectacled lawyer sitting on the other side. The lawyer squirmed at the very obvious anger in the young blonde woman who had broken up the kidnapping ring a couple of months before. She shuffled the papers on her desk and cleared her throat.

“He is a very prominent member of society and has powerful friends, if you get my meaning” she said, peering over the rim of her spectacles, trying with all her might to get the message across. “Strings have been pulled and the lines of evidence have been questioned… there is usually a little leeway when it comes to evidence acquired by super-powered representatives of law enforcement, however enough doubt has been generated…”

“Doubt? Doubt? I saw him with my own eyes! He tried to kill me!!!” Kallisti almost screamed.

“I’m afraid there were no witnesses to this and the injuries he sustained when you defended yourself make it difficult to present a credible case… and the fact that your own legal status is still in limbo…”

“That was supposed to be dealt with by FBSA! Gold said it was all sorted!”

“Well Kallisti Gold’s own immigration status is also under question, after all she isn’t a citizen of the United States and you Kallistis do seem to keep appearing out of nowhere. It was not an issue when there were just four or five of you, but just how many are there now?”

“That’s beside the point… I went through HELL to stop that gang of slavers and abusers – they killed girls, I had to watch them do it!” Kallisti’s eyes were filled with tears as she remembered the horrors on the transport ship and in the camp at the end. “I had to stand by and watch those men hurt them so it could all be stopped, so we could find the ringleaders.” She slumped into the chair, gripping the edge of the desk with despair.

“I know, I was one of the people in the recovery team, I remember too” the lawyer reached across the desk to touch Kallisti’s hand. “What you did saved so many girls. We’ve got all of the gang who ran the kidnapping operation – its just the people running it are too powerful…”

“I thought this world had proper laws? Bronze told me things would be done properly here, that people get punished for being evil.”

“They do…” the lawyer said, taking off her glasses and polishing them, not willing to meet Kallisti’s gaze, “unless they have enough money to pay for lots of lawyers.” she finished. The crash of the door slamming made her flinch, one stray long blonde hair remained on the chair opposite, silently accusing her of failure. She clenched her fists, wishing that she too had a super power so she could mete out the sort of justice those bastards deserved.

* * *

Kallisti the Friar sat in the park opposite Atlas Plaza, holding her head in her hands to blot out the hubbub of people around her. The trees here were taking on autumnal hues and it was noticeably cooler than the past few weeks. She glared at the grass at her feet in fury. After all she had gone through and the others who had suffered, the people responsible were going to get away with it!!! Her blood was boiling!

She became aware of the sound of small footsteps nearby. “Hey lady, trick or treat?” She looked up into the face of a child wearing a demon mask…

* * *

The phone rang insistently as Kallisti Gold tried on her new hero outfit, a gold and red shiny form fitting metallic skin. Scowling she picked up her phone and checked the number – it was the Paragon Police Department!! She frowned and answered it.

“Is that Kallisti Gold? the voice on the other end asked. “Yes, whats up?” she replied.

“You need to come to Atlas Park there is an um incident with your um sister…”

“Oh no what has Red been doing this time?”

“It isn’t Red this time, its the one with the staff, you’d better come to the park opposite Atlas Plaza as quickly as possible…”

The Ouroboros portal dropped her in the corner behind City Hall. Striking her normal pose, she punched the air and took off, flying up over the dome and under the statue of Atlas. Ahead she could see a cluster of people and some flashing blue and red police lights. In the middle in a clear area stood the person she loved above all others but this did not look good – Friar’s staff was in her hands and she was brandishing it angrily at the small crowd.

Gold landed close the PPD officers. “What’s going on?”

“Ahh you are here already!” one of the cops said, taking his cap off and scratching his head. “It seems she just went berserk and almost hit a child with that staff. We’ve told her to stand down but she just keeps shouting something  in her funny accent we can’t understand.”

“Okay let me talk to her” she glanced over to see a mother and child being treated by paramedics. The woman shot an angry look at her and then turned back to her little boy who was still clutching the broken demon mask in his hands. He didn’t seem to be hurt, just shocked and frightened. She stepped through the small crowd of onlookers and approached her doppelganger.

“What is wrong with you people that you celebrate this evil time with games and tricks!!” Friar pointed at Gold with the staff that was forged from a slice of her own soul.

“You mean Halloween? Its just s time of the year for silly dressing up and parties, there nothing serious about it.”

“YES THERE IS” Kallisti the Friar bellowed with such power that the crowd stepped back. “All Hallows Eve is the time when the barrier is weakest and the invasion is at its height, the time when the demons come to feast and lay waste! It is the most dreadful night of the year!” Kallisti Gold could now see the tears running down Friar’s face. It was obvious in her expression that all the memories of her old life were coming back, all the horrors she’d lived with daily until the portal brought her here to Paragon City to a new life, to find love and some relative peace.

“They sacrificed my baby on All Hallows Eve to close the rift!” there was an audible gasp from the small crowd. Suddenly it was as if something had broken within her and she slumped to the grass, her body racked with sobs. Gold rushed to her and held her tightly

“Oh my darling I’m so sorry” she whispered and kissed her cheek. Friar clutched at her as if life itself depended on it, her body shuddering with emotion. “I didn’t know, you never said anything before. Its not like that here, its just a silly time of year. My darling…”

Friar pulled away roughly. “I never said anything because I didn’t want to remember it.” she clutched at her chest.  “Who wants to remember watching priests offer your baby on the bloody altar?” she wailed and beat the grass with her fists. “I was only fourteen and they killed my baby!”

Kallisti Gold felt a numbing cold at the realisation of the untold horror her beloved had been through. This was beyond anything she had ever dealt with in her own life. In comparison she’d had a pampered and privileged upbringing in Oxford. She had no idea what to say but simply reached out her hand to touch the face of this wonderful person she loved. Friar batted the hand away and glared at her. “I thought I could escape from those things here with you… with all of you…” she looked beyond Gold to where Kallistis Red and Bronze had arrived and were talking to the police. “But I can’t, they still live here” she put her hand over her heart, “and they will never leave me.”

She looked back to Gold and her fierce expression softened slightly. “You have given me love and acceptance and a place to call a home. I love you dearly My Angel in Gold, but I must confront my demons and I can’t do that while hiding with you. I feel a darkness growing in my heart – there are injustices that being a hero cannot fix and I can’t be with you while I feel this way.” The tears were running down her cheeks again as she explained and watched the expression change on her Angel’s face.

“No, you don’t have to go away, I love you, we all love you, we’ll help you.” the tears were running down Gold’s face as well now. Friar smiled affectionately.

“Don’t cry my dearest, it’ll make your mascara run.” she gently wiped away a tear. Gold smiled and sniffed but the tears would not stop. “You have no idea how much you mean to me my dearest Angel. I’ve never before felt such happiness than being with you, but that happiness is a barrier that keeps me from dealing with what I must do and I have to do that alone… at least for now.” She cupped Gold’s face in her hands and kissed her. Stepping back, the Ouroboros Portal opened beside her and she stepped through, the portal closing behind her.

Kallisti Red rushed to Gold’s side and wrapped her in a bear-hug as Gold cried.

* * *

The Ouroboros portal opened in Grandville and the vigilante Kallisti the Friar stepped through. She was still wearing her usual green and white, but her clothes were much less revealing, more sober and serious. She looked around and scowled. The callousness that showed in the very architecture of this place seemed to chime with the mood in her heart. She knew what her first task would be… a certain person of money and influence – justice WILL be served!

Kallisti the Janitor sat behind her office desk, engrossed in the latest cleaning bot schedule she was compiling on the computer screen. Since she had arrived in this version of Paragon City, she had been snapped up by the municipal authority that ran Kallisti Wharf. She suspected that her name and association with the Kallisti Girls was the primary motivation for her employment, but since then she had shown excellent organisational skills and she had been rapidly promoted. She found this recognition very rewarding. She wasn’t a super-hero like the other Kallistis – she had no powers to speak of, just an ability to organise and a mechanical aptitude that had taken her through a Engineering degree in Cybernetics. However it was her project management skills that had kept her in gainful employment in her old world.

Her timeline was similar to this one, although it hadn’t suffered quite so much with the Rikti invasion. It seemed that at some point in the 50s and 60s her timeline had focussed on robotics and by the time she grew up, robots and androids were commonplace and much more advanced than in this timeline. When the spatial dimensions ripped and dragged her through, she had conveniently been carrying some of the more advanced prototypes from her employer and these had been very useful to her in the new job. She glanced out of her office window to see that her smallest droid who she had renamed Sweeper was busy pushing the lawnmower across the patch of grass that bracketed this side of the Kallisti Wharf Municipal Facilities Management office. Her thoughts were interrupted by the ringing of her mobile – this was an area of technology that this timeline had exceeded in over her own, although she was not so keen on the ‘surveillance capitalism’ that had grown up around the devices. She checked to see who was calling but it didn’t identify them, just a telephone number – the code indicated it was a public phone booth.

“Good afternoon you are through to the Facilities Management, Kallisti Hamilton-Stathis speaking, how may I help you?”

“Its me” came the female voice on the other end of the phone. The accent was English but it had that sing-song twang that had persisted from the medieval English…

“Friar! Is everything okay?” she frowned. She had not been present at the breakup between Friar and Gold a few days ago but had witnessed the aftermath at the apartment they all shared. Gold had been inconsolable and was still in a state of misery and dejection.

“Well mostly but I have a problem…”

“Is it Crey? Council of Thorns? Banished Pantheon?”

“No nothing like that its just… ” Kallisti the Friar sounded hesitant, if not embarrassed “I don’t have any money and I can’t work out how to use these cash machine things!” she blurted.

“Oh!” she tried not to laugh. Kallisti the Friar had never really gotten to grips with the everyday modern technology that surrounded them in Paragon City. It had never really mattered before because there was usually one of the other Kallistis to cover for her. “So where have you been staying since you left if you don’t have any money?” Hotel’s did not accept influence!

“Um well I went to Granville first…”

“Granville? You mean you went…”

“No no I didn’t go that far but I spoke to Mender Tesseract and he explained how to get the portal to let me travel over there. I didn’t’ stay there as the place just made me feel creepy – the Fortuntas made me think of the priests – watching you all the time while not watching you… anyway then I got the Ferry to Port Oakes but that place smells awful so I went back to Ouroboros and spent the night on one of those floating islands…”

“So where are you now?”

“I’m in Kings Row – I thought I could find somewhere to stay here as I know Kalli Golden found somewhere to live here, but I need money wherever I go and…”

“When did you last eat?” Kallisti the Janitor suddenly felt her eyes well up as she realised just how vulnerable Friar was without the support network the other girls had provided.

“Um…” the hesitancy was enough to convince.

“Okay I’ll be right there. Meet me at the train station!”

* * *

“What are you like?” Janitor hugged Friar on seeing her waiting at the Kings Row station. She’d been shocked at the difference just a few days had made. Friar’s long blonde hair was a mess and she had resorted to the old trench coat outfit she’d used in her early days in Paragon city for warmth. It did not look particularly clean and Friar herself wasn’t exactly sparkling. Friar clung to the Kallisti she thought of as the most practical and ‘normal’ of them all.

“I didn’t think it would be so difficult.” she said. She’d fought giant robots, monsters, helped stop dimensional invaders, Rikti invasions, zombie hoards but the simple everyday tasks of just looking after herself in the modern world were beyond this girl displaced from a mediaeval world. “I never really thought about how we lived and what needed to be done.”

“The rest of us just sort it out and never think about it. We have money coming in from mine and Bronze’s jobs and Gold’s appearances and…” she broke off as she saw the look of sadness in Friar’s face.

“Is she alright?”

Kallisti the Janitor paused and looked into Friar’s eyes, trying to gauge how truthful to be. “She’ll live… she’s a blaster so is used to being knocked down!” she lied.

Friar bit her lip. “I didn’t mean to go quite so far but things just happened…”

“Yes I heard about the kidnap gang prosecutions… or lack of them…”

“Hmmm, yes that is something I have to sort out.” There was a look that chilled Janitor.

“Okay first things first, lets get some cash and some grub. Anything you fancy?”

“Fish and chips!” Friar’s eyes lit up.

“I’ve been trying to persuade Harry Ramsden to open a branch in Paragon City but they don’t see the benefit somehow. I’m sure we can get something in Talos.” Kallisti the Janitor realised Friar had no idea what she was talking about and had missed the joke. “Come on I’ll show you how to use the hole in the wall…” she linked her arm through Friar’s and led her to the cash machine.

* * *

“Fries are no way a substitute for proper chips.” Janitor dipped the last one in the ketchup. Friar had eaten her fill, catching up on two days of missed meals. “Okay so you now know how to use the cash machine – don’t forget the pin number again!”

Friar shrugged, “Will you tell her that you’ve seen me?”

“I don’t know. On the one hand it might annoy her that you reached out to me and not her, on the other hand if I don’t tell her and she finds out she’ll think we’ve been going behind her back – which we have.”

“Oh! You should tell her then, and tell her I miss her.” Friar’s expression softened as she thought of her Angel.

Janitor glanced out the window of the seafood restaurant they were seated in on the board-walk on Talos Island. ‘That would be a BAD idea!’ she thought. “I’ll sort it out, don’t worry” she said out loud. “So I think the next thing will be to find you somewhere to live. I heard there is a nice apartment block in Atlas Park that’s been recommended by Hero Corps. Its called Renaissance Suites and I’ve heard good things about it. So long as the rent is reasonable, it should be okay. Are you going to take on paid jobs now?”

“Well I did meet a couple of people in Granville who wanted me to help rob a bank but I don’t like the thought of that, its wrong.”

“Well yes, I’m glad you haven’t started down THAT slippery slope! You should enrol in Hero Corps, I bet they’d love someone with your talents, experience and influence!”

“Could you help me apply, I’m still not that good at writing and its going to be difficult for Bronze to help me.”

“I reckon we can sort something out… if necessary I could probably get you a job on my staff – how good are you with a boom and a mop?”

The bedroom was quiet apart from the snoring of the middle-aged man in the bed. There was a faint light in upper one corner of the plush bedroom, indicating the security system was active as this man was sensitive about his own safety, particularly after the unpleasantness of a few month before. He slept peacefully though, knowing that his influence and contacts shielded him from the worst that could happen. The faint light in the corner of the room flickered briefly then faded to darkness. The man continued to snore. The girl on the other side of the bed jerked awake as a hand was placed over her mouth and strong arms held her still.

“Shh, don’t move, don’t make a sound, you are safe, nobody will hurt you” came a quite whisper in her ear. The hand was removed from he mouth and she took a deep breath but before she could scream a warning, blackness descended and she fell unconscious.

“Told you not to trussst her!” came a different, sibilant whisper.

“Had to give her a choice!” the first whisperer replied.

“Security are watching a loop, all the sensors have been intercepted and showing normal” said a male voice, quiet but not a whisper.

“Okay lets wake the git.” the first whisperer spoke, a female voice with an English accent. Kallisti the Friar removed the black hood that concealed her blonde hair and set up a lantern on the side of the bed. Her two companions also removed their hoods to reveal a short female with scales on her face, no hair and a forked tongue that flickered out, tasting the air and a man with cybernetic enhancement on his face and over his bald head. She nodded at them and with a good portion of her strength slapped the man in the bed across the face, causing his head to bounce into and then up from the pillow.

“Wha!” he woke in surprise, hand automatically reaching out for the panic alarm at his bedside. A staff crashed down on the outstretched hand with a bone shattering crunch and the man screamed in pain. Kallisti glanced at Interference, her cybernetically enhanced electric corrupter colleague, who shook his head.

“Surprise!” She smiled at the stunned man who’s grey eyes widened as he realised who he was confronting.

“GUARDS!!!!” he bellowed, nursing his broken hand and trying to crawl up the bed away from her. His free hand collided with the unconscious girl beside him and he glanced at her briefly before trying to push her aside. He was hampered by only having one hand and as he scrabbled at her his nails scratched her face, narrowly missing her eyes. Kallisti grabbed him by the front of his pyjamas and dragged him off the bed to the floor – she wasn’t prepared to let the girl get hurt, enough girls had already been harmed by this man!

“You can’t do this, I’ll have you thrown in jail until you rot!” he blustered, trying to get to his feet. Kallisti’s staff swept his legs from under him and he crashed back to the floor, crying out in pain as his broken hand was caught between his bulky middle-age spread and the floor.

“You can’t threaten me, I’ve seen what you do and I’m going to make sure you never harm another soul – you’ve bought the courts, you’ve bought enough lawyers, but I’m here to dispense real justice!” she spat.

“You can’t – you are supposed to be hero, heroes don’t kill!” he sneered.

“I gave that up after meeting you – your corruption is so pervasive that I had to change. Thankfully that meant I could meet up with some new friends from Grandville!” she gestured to her two companions, who bowed and waved. “Anyway I’m not going to kill you…”

“Hah, spoken like a coward, unwilling to kill – well when this is over I’ll make sure you and all those other Kallisti whores suffer for this – you’ll watch as I have each one of them tortured…”

“Oh shut the hell up you disssgusting excussse for a man, we’re not going to kill you what we will do to you isss ssso much worsse you can’t comprehend…” hissed Kallisti’s companion with the scaly face, the psychic who called herself Psython. She moved over to the man on the floor, her movements sinuous and hypnotic. “I’m going to do things in your mind that you can’t imagine. You’ll wish we’d killed you instead!” her eyes glowed and the man’s face paled. His eyes widened as images started to appear in his mind, images taken from his own memories by the telepath and replayed in front of him but instead of him watching his victims in his memories, they were transformed so he became the victim. Horror overwhelmed him and his body lost control as he soiled himself. As the telepath manipulated his memories, she was shutting down control of his body and he slumped to the floor, locked into his own mind, unable to communicate, unable to move, all he could do was experience the horrific memories that overwhelmed him.

Kallisti stood over the helpless man, her rage still unfulfilled. “Did you get where they are being held?” she asked the telepath.

“Oh yesss and a lot more… there is a ssafe behind the toilet… sssome interessting things in there!”

“Will anyone notice if they go missing?” Psython shook her head.

“Only he knows itsss there!”

Kallisti smiled, “Then this is your paydirt for helping me! I couldn’t have done it without your both.”

Interference shrugged, “What the hell, you are paying me, its not like we are buddies. You wanted shit done, I did it for you. Sounds like this guy was a nasty piece of work, surprised Lord Recluse didn’t take an interest.” he spoke with a hint of a southern drawl.

“There is villain evil and then there is just plain evil. This is plain evil, someone with no morality, too much money and some nasty perversions.”

“Darlin’ I know loads of them… well apart from the money. Its no shit to me, so long as I get paid.”

* * *

The Commander of the Longbow raid team came out of the concrete bunker, his face pale from what he’d seen inside. He looked to Kallisti the Friar dressed in her green and white combat armour, her blonde hair cut much shorter than when he had last seen her. During the raid, she had been kept waiting by the flyer that had brought the raid to this remote hillside in New York State so early in the morning.

“How many?” she demanded angrily. She had not been allowed to take part in the raid, even though she had supplied the location of the hidden bunker, allowed along just as an observer.

“Its hard to say but its more than enough.” he replied grimly. “We’ve got three survivors and five people in custody. One TP’d away but we have a trace on the destination. You can follow that up if you like, it was Sharkhead Isle and you seem to be getting familiar with the territory over there.” He narrowed his eyes at her. Kallisti found herself unable to hold his gaze and looked away. “We also have video evidence… he is easily identifiable on the video. He’d better be paying his lawyers a lot of money for what they will have to watch!”

“This should do it, though, this should be enough to get him.” he nodded. “Its handy you were able to get someone to crack the encryption on his messages…” he let the sentence trail off. Kallisti raised her head and faced him down. She didn’t understand the technological words but Interference had come up with a plausible explanation of the source of the information.

“I had to pay a lot for it and Sharkhead Isle was the only place I could get that sort of help since I got little elsewhere.” she said, throwing his accusation back at him, her face unreadable.

“Boss!” the purple-skinned lieutenant arrived holding a phone up for her Commander, “Apparently they just found him in a coma!”

“Damn!” he cursed, looking back to Kallisti. She frowned, her expression showing shock at the news. Inside however, she wondered why she did not feel content with the justice that had been served.

The entry-phone buzzer sounded loudly in the for once, quiet flat. Kallisti Gold looked up from her tablet, taking her eyes off the fruit icons cascading down the screen for a second. “Door!” she shouted. Looking back at the screen, she swore and quit the game, her high score ruined. The buzzer sounded again. “Door!!” she yelled once more then realised that the flat wasn’t just quiet it was silent. That was very unusual… dragging herself off the couch, Gold grumbled as she slouched to the hallway where the entry-phone was located. She pressed the button that activated the video camera in the hall and could see a carton of strawberry cheesecake ice-cream showing in the screen held by someone out of the camera view.

“I brought ice cream” a voice came through the tinny speaker, the accent was unmistakable.

“What the fuck do YOU want?” Gold replied angrily.

“I brought ice cream… I thought we could share it.” came the response.

“Huh, I hope you brought another one” Gold pressed the button that unlocked the door. Kallisti the Friar stood in the hall, holding two cartons of ice cream. She was dressed in a green trouser suit with white embroidery down the leg. The jacket had tails at the back and more white embroidery.

“You cut your bloody hair!” Gold exclaimed, taking the offered carton of ice cream. Friar shrugged and stepped over the doorway cautiously in case the door was slammed in her face.

“The hair salons in Mercy Island aren’t as good as Talos Island.”

“Well serves you fucking right! You shouldn’t have been over in that dump.” Gold turned her back and went to the kitchen for a spoon. Friar followed her, noting the unkempt hair, crumpled pyjamas (gold coloured silk of course) and the lack of make-up, something Gold had usually been contentious about. She was not even wearing her bunny ears!.  In the kitchen Gold took a spoon from the drawer and ripped the carton top off. She scowled as she attacked the ice cream with the spoon. “Huh, you’ve even defrosted it a bit…” she looked up at Friar, realisation dawning. “You arranged all this – the rest of them buggering off, Flame defrosting the ice cream…”


“You are all bloody conspiring again me!” Gold tucked into the ice cream anyway, grumbling.

“Because we all love you and… they wanted to help me say sorry.”

“Sorry? Sorry?” Gold gestured angrily with the spoon, drops of ice cream splattering over the kitchen counter. “You think ‘Sorry’ and a tub of ice cream will be enough?”

“It got me into the flat without you slamming the door on me. That’s a start.”

“Pah!” Gold helped herself to more ice cream. She glanced at Friar and opened the cutlery drawer again, pulled out a spoon and threw it at her. “Here!” Friar caught the spoon easily, suppressing a smile. She stood next to Gold and opened her carton of ice cream. Gold peered over at it. “Rum and raisin? When did you start eating rum and raisin? Is this your ‘New’ friends in Mercy Island?” she made the inverted comma sign with her fingers.

“I just fancied a change. Want some?”

“Oh so its short hair and rum and raisin is it?” Gold scooped some ice cream out of Friar’s carton anyway, sniffed it and ate it. “Got a boyfriend as well now?”

Friar put the ice cream on the counter and looked away so that Gold couldn’t see the tears in her eyes. “No, there is only one person in this world for me…” she sniffed and turned back to face Gold. “I’ve missed you so much I thought I’d die… it horrible over there but I had to go… I had to do something, something you can’t do here, something I couldn’t do with you…” it all poured out of her suddenly.

Gold carefully put the carton and spoon on the counter and turned to face Friar. Quick as a flash, her hand flashed out and slapped Friar. “You silly cow, don’t you realise there is NOTHING on this earth I wouldn’t do to help you?” Friar raised her hand to the stinging cheek. “If that meant slumming it in Mercy Island or Granville or  where ever the fuck, we would do it TOGETHER!! If it meant sneaking into some rich wanker’s mansion and putting him in a coma coz of what he did to you, we’d do it together!!” There were tears in Gold’s eyes now. “Its you and me, ALWAYS you and me, I don’t want to live without you, the world is empty without you…” she reached out to the cheek she’d slapped. “You’ve been alone too long, that ended when you came here. You aren’t alone any more, you don’t have to solve problems on your own any more. I am here… we all are here…” She grabbed Friar’s collar and pulled her close.

“Don’t EVER do that again!” she kissed Friar fiercely and a crackle of uncontrolled electricity grounded through them both as they embraced. The circuit breakers cut in and the lights went out, the hum of the refrigerator died…

* * *

Sitting in the corner booth of the coffee shop across the road from Christie Apartments, Bronze, Flame, Red and Scarlett glanced up as the lights in the top floor apartment flickered and went out.

“Well thank fuck for that, we can have Christmas without her being a misery-guts!” Red breathed a sigh of relief. Bronze closed the webcam screen as the connection dropped out due to the power surge.

“I was impressed with that slap, Friar wasn’t expecting that!” said Flame, lightly toasting one of the crumpets they had ordered with the fire from her fingers.

“Yeah she was – I bleeding warned her Gold’d been practising on the cushions.” Scarlett slid her chilled tea cup over to Flame who obligingly warmed it up for her. “Friar has been practising NOT dodging for days!”

“How long do you think before its safe to go back in the flat?”  Flame asked.

“About a week I reckon, let them get it out of their system…” said Bronze

“We can send Steel in first as she’s got the best chance of survival!” Red high-fived Bronze.

“Why does that bloody Christmas tree make so much sodding noise?” Kallisti the Friar drew her staff and threatened the glowing, humming, buzzing tree that occupied a corner of the lounge in their flat. She was wearing her green pyjamas with white highlights along the cuffs and pockets.

“Its those arcane glowie things, I think they are semi-sentient and are talking to each other.” Kallisti the Fae, the diminutive fairy Kallisti flew up to the upper levels of the tree and pointed at the green and red glowing balls. She had resisted their request to sit on top of the tree – she had called it insulting and had thrown tree decorations at the Kallistis who laughed.

“Well it keeps waking me up and I’m getting fed up of it!” Friar stomped over to the kitchen to get a drink.

“Oh so its the TREE that’s keeping you wake is it, nothing to do with Gold eh?” Red was lounging on the sofa glugging from a bottle of beer. She wore a Christmas elf hat and had added white fur trim to her usual red leather biker jacket. Friar grinned at her with a glint in her eye.

“Well we had a bit of catching up to do after I’d been away for so long.”

“Uh huh, yes we heard!” Red laughed. “So did they do Christmas on your world?”

“No, we didn’t have Jesus as the Christ figure in our theology, which is odd since Bronze reckons the Arcanium was derived from the Catholic church about 600 years ago. A lot of the rituals we undertook were based upon Catholic rituals but the belief was the saviour that would give us victory over the demons was yet to come.” Friar sat on the couch opposite Red and opened her own bottle of beer she’d taken from the fridge.

It was the evening of Christmas Eve and many of the Kallistis were out partying or chasing frostlings. There was a planned mass snowball fight under the Atlas Statue which many had gone to take part in. Kallisti the Janitor, now promoted to Kallisti the Facilities Manager was working in City Hall, organising the snow ploughs that were keeping the roads open.

“So what has Santa brought her for Christmas?” Red gestured to the pile of presents under the noisy tree.

“Well you’ll see the one under the tree tomorrow… the other one none of you lot get to see!” Friar winked. Red laughed.

“You two are so cute! You going to regrow your hair now you aren’t an evil villain any more?”

“Hey, I never was a villain… a bit villainous maybe…” Friar shrugged. “It had to be done and being all goody goody wouldn’t have worked. To be honest I was never really cut out for the pure hero thing… there are some people who should be taken out permanently. Its a bit hypocritical of the heroic ideal when its okay to kill aliens and monsters but you’re supposed to arrest the villains behind them, it just doesn’t make sense.”

“Phut, that’s civilisation for you, we’re both from worlds where it was all about survival and no room for namby pamby moralistic angst. So how come our are out here and not being all golden?”

“She’s sleeping, worn out, she is a blaster after all and doesn’t have the stamina” Friar grinned wickedly. Red offered her bottle and they toasted each other, clinking the bottles together.

There was the sound of the front door opening down the other end of the hall and Kallisti Flame came in, steam rising from her coat as her body heat melted then evaporated the snow. “Gave up on the snowball fight, even with insulating gloves on, I was mostly throwing soggy slushballs!” she hung the coat on the rack which continued to steam. “At least I could keep the mulled wine warm.”

“Now you know how I feel in the summer ‘Can you cool my drink?’ Then again the ice cream is handy.” Red clicked her fingers together and an ice cream cone appeared from nowhere. Bronze had so far never been able to explain this minor extra power possessed by Red that on the surface was entirely trivial, but when it came to practicality, made Red a very popular person during the summer.

“Someone down in the lobby was talking about a Winter Lord sighting just up the road. Apparently the Crey guards are fighting it and making a right mess” Flame slipped on an insulated glove and took a cold beer from the fridge. “Should we give them a hand?”

“Nah, they’d just try to sue us for damages again probably, let them do something useful for a change. I also heard that there was another Rikti Mothership raid on the cards – do those things ever achieve anything apart from lots of Rikti casualties? Its almost as if they had an infinite supply of splods fighting for them.” Red drank from her bottle.

“Was it Boy Band? His raids are usually fun as he takes a sound system and plays music while everyone is fighting, its quite bizarre but they sometime play this great song Ballroom Blitz by a band called Sweetie or something like that, its quite catchy!” Friar tapped her foot to the music in her head.

“I prefer Murder on the Dance floor”

“…and you accused me of being a villain! When did you go purple?”

“I’ve always been purple… Red and blue… purple darling!” Red threw her hands in the air, narrowly avoiding spilling the beer. “Oh look at the time, its just gone midnight, Merry Christmas girls, especially for Friar’s first Christmas!”

“Merry Christmas! Wheeeeee!” Fae flew over them all scattering fairy dust.

“I wish she wouldn’t do that, I’m sure she’s peeing on us or something, can’t be healthy!” Flame brushed the dust away, incinerating it with a wave of her hand.

“I know we are doing presents later, but I’ve got a special one for you Friar, since you were away from us for so long.” Red rummaged around the back of the tree and came out with a flat, gift-wrapped package. “Here, you can open it now.” she gave it to Friar who excitedly ripped open the package to reveal a picture frame with a photo of her and Gold from a while back when her hair was still long. In the photo, Friar is looking directly at the camera, saying something to the person taking the photo, but Gold is standing slightly behind her and to the side and is looking directly at Friar. The photo has caught a moment where her expression shows a look of such tenderness and love that Friar felt a lump grow in her throat and her eyes fill up. “I found it on my phone and thought it was a perfect way to show you the difference you’ve made since you came to us.” Friar reached for a tissue then reached out to her sister who wasn’t her sister and hugged her fiercely.

“Underneath that foul-mouthed ruffty-tuffty exterior you are a softie at heart you big red-haired tart!” she whispered in her ear.

“You betcha!” replied Red, hugging her in return, “Merry fucking Christmas!”

Pocket D was heaving! New Years Eve and it seemed that most of Paragon City and Etoile Islands had decamped to dance the new decade in, ignoring the pedants who insisted the new decade didn’t start until next year! The Kallisti Girls were, of course, making a night of it. Wolf and her pack was hanging out in the Winter Chalet with several other animal trainers, lions, wolves and dogs chasing each other all over the ski slopes. Fae was flying above the crowd looping the loop and dancing with a ‘frolic’ of faeries buzzing over everyone’s heads and raining fairy dust over the collected throng.

Gold, Friar, Red, Scarlett and several others were dancing on the raised podium the packed core of the club. Fae zoomed around and hovered over Gold and Friar.


“Oh no, who gave her caffeine! We’re never going to get her to slow down!” Gold shouted over the noise.

“We just need to make sure someone catches her when she crashes!” Friar leaped upside down and span on one hand in a dance move she’d adapted from her quarterstaff training. Her specially adapted mini-skirt stuck to her and preserved her modesty as she span around. Even still a number of men dancing close by stumbled in their own dance, with some of them receiving a slap from their partners for watching too closely!

The music changed and Gold grabbed Friar “I need a drink!” she yelled in Friar’s ear.

“Feeble blaster!” Friar laughed and grabbed hold of her hand and led her across the crowded dance floor, brute strength forging a path through the dancers. They made their way to the upper level redside where the bar wasn’t quite so crowded. Pushing aside a couple of Arachnos soldiers who glared at the cute blonde girl in the low cut mini-dress who was obviously a lot stronger than she looked. Friar simply raised an eyebrow and they gave her space at the bar.

Getting served was no problem using the sparking smile she’d learned from Gold, the barman came over to her, bypassing several others who waved their cash angrily. Taking the two bottle of chilled water, she pushed her way back out to find her Angel – a gang of catgirls rushed past squealing and laughing as they chased each other through the crowd, eliciting shouts and curses as they jostled their way through. Gold was standing by a table, next to Mercedes Sheldon their friend from the Midnighter Club. She and Gold had been friends for a long time, both of their fathers knew each other, Mercedes’ father being an antique specialist and Gold’s father being a historian.

“Friar darling, lovely to see you!” Mercedes hugged her as Friar handed the water bottle to Gold. “I was just telling Kallisti that you had been on my mind recently – can you come and see me at the Club sometime soon? I’ve been hearing a lot about you and your demon killing staff and I wanted to see you in action!”

“I’ll come and see you tomorrow – unless you are on holiday?” Friar held the cold water bottle to her forehead to cool down.

“No holidays fighting evil is there?” Mercedes grinned, waving her wine glass toward a coterie of Arachnos Widows gathered at an adjacent table. This was obviously not her first or even second glass of wine! “Oh god, there is Percy – hide me darling, he’ll try to chat me up again!” The two Kallistis flanked Mercedes and edged toward the bar as Percy Winkly fought his way through the crowd, heading towards the entrance to the Winter chalet.

“You’re safe now” laughed Gold. “I remember when I had to save him in Croatoa, he was constantly trying to chat me up afterwards, I regretted wearing the metallic swimsuit for that mission” The other girls laughed.

“Hey its almost time!” Friar grabbed Gold’s hand and waved at Mercedes with her other hand, trying not to spill the water. “See you later!” Pushing their way to the edge of the balcony Gold grabbed Friar around the waist and activated her hover power. Jumping out over the rail they floated across to the other Kallistis, attracting a flock of fairies as they flew. Kallisti Fae flew in ever faster circles around them her singing so high pitched they could only just hear it!

“If she goes supersonic I’m not paying for the sonic boom damage!” Gold lowered them to the dance floor near Red and Scarlett. Bronze was nearby dancing with a half-bull half-man and Sapphire had folded her wings away but her glowing eyes were easy to spot in the semi-darkness. The DJ lowered the music volume.

“Okay folks it that time… counting down to a new year and decade! FIVE…”

They all took up the chant: “FOUR… THREE… TWO… ONE… HAPPY NEW YEAR!” Fireworks and explosions went off all over the club. Gold held Friar close and kissed her.

“Happy New Year! This has been the BEST but the next will be BETTER!” Friar held her tightly and closed her eyes, revelling in the moment. This was the first time she had ever celebrated the New Year, in fact it was the first time she had been aware of the new year, it was not something that anyone cared about on her world. She was enjoying the new traditions she was learning about in what she now considered her home.

* * *

The road from Statesman Plaza to Christie Apartments was quiet at this time in the morning, well except for the gang of Kallistis walking home after the New Year party. Friar walked beside Gold, carrying a sleeping Fae in her arms. Fae was curled up, hugging her spoon close to her chest, snuggled up comfortably against Friar. Occasionally she would murmur and a burst of fairy dust would surround them. Friar looked down at her affectionately, memories long buried of holding her baby in her arms surfaced and she felt her eyes filling.

She looked at Gold, still skipping along and singing to herself, Red and Scarlett holding hands and Bronze and Sapphire laughing as they shared a joke. Flame was missing from the group though, last seen snogging some hero type, both surrounded by flames – hopefully the fire department would be able to cope with whatever happened where they ended up! She could handle the memories now, even the most heartbreaking ones – she had a new family now who she loved and was loved in return. Gold came to her side and looked down at Fae.

“She’s so cute when she’s asleep and quiet” she put her arm around Friar. Friar rested her head against Gold’s.

“What a year its been, I can’t believe how much has changed.” she said quietly.

“Well we’ve got a new year to enjoy now and a lot of badges to collect!” Gold pirouetted and held her arms out to encompass the world. Friar smiled, but a nagging doubt was in her mind – what was it Mercedes wanted to see her about?