The Ugly Truth

  Exhausted. Mentally, physically, emotionally. I drifted in and out of partial consciousness. I vaguely recall going through the border check point, Chrysalis bribing the guards with American dollars and flawless Arabic. Funny, I kept forgetting how talented Chrysalis was. Indeed, there were few tasks that she could not accomplish, and aside from our relationship, I could not recall anything that she attempted failing to come into fruition. But then again, maybe our relationship was suppossed to fail.

  By the time we got to the airport, my drug induced haze had begun to fade. At first, I tried to play possum, but my body betrays me, randomly flitching as the drug worked its way out of my system.

 "Not yet baby." Chrysalis leaned over and kissed me, undoubtedly a show for any eyes lingering upon us too long. Then,I felt her tongue push a pill down my throat. My mental haze returned with a vengenance.

  I think that the next thing I realized was that we were airborn.

  We have reached our cruising altitude. It is now safe to move about the cabin.

  I stir again, and Chrysalis leans over to me, and whispers, "Shall I join you?" Reaching across her seat, she gently touches my chest. A strange sinking sensation overwhelms me. I want to hurl as if I were on an unending drop on a rollercoaster, but my vertigo is merely mental, although my chest shudders from the imaginary debilitating sensation.

  Just as I reach my limit, the falling feeling stops as I crash inside of myself, on a dreamscape that I knew well. Question was, how did Chrysalis bring us here?

  "So, this is the Darkness? Words cannot convey the angst of this place. My lord, Magnus. I, I never knew that you were carrying this around." Rising to my feet, I turn and stare at Chrysalis. "Why are you here?"

  "I want to talk." I stare at her for a second before snorting loudly.

  "Fine. Let me rephrase that, we are going to talk whether you want to or not."

  Then she struck with a quickness, and power, that I, again, failed to anticipate. I caught the open palm strike square on the jaw, and slid back a few feet. "Not bad. But you seem to have forgotten ..."

  Chrysalis's laugh interupts me, "You are not the only one whose powers have grown, Magnus. Last time, I let Kip define the terms of our engagement, but this time, I chose a different tactic." Then, she shifted her footing and somersaulted toward me. I tensed to deflect the blow. But then I notice the blades on the tips of her boots.

  Haha. Chrysalis fought dirty now. Huh. I liked it. I then sidestep, and attempt to grab her left leg as she twirls by, but somehow I misjudge her speed and grab a handful of pant leg. Shit, she must have unthunk that. Now anchored in place with a handful of fabric, Chrysalis quickly sweeps my knee from underneath me, and I stumble forward. She finishes her flip, lands, and springs back at me like a cat.

  Oddly, Chrysalis was keeping it close and personal, but she had to know that these attacks would not defeat me. And then, things became a little clearer, as she raked her claws across my eyes. Manifesting Wrath and Justice, I just block the serrated edges of her claws. Sparks fly, and I reach for her again, and this time, she doesnt move. I wrap my hand around her forearm. Gotcha now bitch.

  Then, Chrysalis's countenance darkens, and a Chrysalis I had never seen before smiles at me, and forming her hands into a triangle, whispers, "Bass Cannon".

  My smug grin evaporates, as I catch the sonic blast from her heavy cannon flush in the chest. Brilliant. Utterly brilliant. Last I knew, Bass Cannon was a slow, unwieldy attack that Chrysalis normally couldnt get off very quickly, and if memory served me, she normally required both a distraction and a supporter to even fire the powerful, but rather clumsy weapon.

  Apparently, that was no longer the case.

  I tumbled several hundred feet before I came to a stop. And before I could even lift my head, Chrysalis struck again, leaping straight up into the air and landing squarely on my chest, driving the tips of her boots deep into my flesh. I coughed up blood, as she just sat down on my chest.

  Looking down, Chrysalis muses, "I assume that I have your attention now? Or do I need to show you more of my new, improved arsenal?"

  I fall back and sigh.

  "Smart man, but see I need you to not just listen but actually converse with me. Are you going to do that willingly?" This time, I roll my eyes.

  "Dammit Magnus, is anything ever easy with you?"

  "Nope. I dont converse with my enemies, baby." Chrysalis's eyed glowed red. "Mutha fucka." And she started wailing on me, the sound of cracking ribs driving her forward, her power flowing with unusual ease. My blood splashed over her like water from a broken drinking fountain. Lightning flashed across the sky. Chrysalis startled, and jumped back off me. She looked at her blood covered fists with clear bewilderment on her face. "What the fuck is this?" She looked around and frowned. "Oh my goodness, is this, is this the source of your power? this malevalence?"

  I lifted myself up onto my elbows and spitting out blood, laughed a dark, menacing growl. "What's the matter Chrysalis? Dont you want to play anymore?" I knew I was being unfair, as few could withstand the mental and emotional onslaught that is the Blood Haze.

  "No, Magnus. I want no part of this power. This is a terrible and horrible place inside of you. And if I were still that scared little girl that you once knew, I might back down. I might even run away. But I am not that girl anymore, I am a woman now. Do you know what the means Dark Champion? Men grovel at my feet for a mere glance from me. Nations go to war for the love of me. And I know the truth of men."

  Chrysalis then slowly gets up, and walking casually toward me, reaches down and lifts me up from the ground by my neck. My best efforts aside, I helplessly dangle in the wind like a pinata - awed and dumbstruck by Chrysalis's show of courage and inner strength.

  Human will -- the will to fight can end many struggles before they even begin.

 "Let me show you something very special Magnus, something only the man I love would normally see." And then, she reaches out her other hand, and softly touches my forehead. "Truth's Embrace", she utters. A flash of scintillating light pulses from where she touched me on my forehead, and I get that sickening feeling in my gut again, as we fall even deeper into my psyche.

  The flash of light subsides, and my vision slowly returns. I suddenly hear Chrysalis roar with laughter. "Holy shit Magnus! Flowers, rainbows and clouds and shit?!? This is what you are like on the inside?! Muthafucka. Look at you! you are like a little kid." I look down and notice that my physical form resembles that of a small toddler.

  "Where are the rivers of blood? The rotten corpses? The eternally grey skies?!?! The blood rain?!?" Chrysalis falls down laughing, and soon, she is gasping for air. "Wow. I had no idea. Are you serious? Is this a trick, fearsome and mighty Dark Champion?" She then sits up and looks at me for a brief moment. "I always wondered what our babies would look like. I bet they would have those cheeks! Awww, I just wanna bite'em." I swat away her hands as she tries to pinch my admittedly chubby checks.

  "C'mon. You gotta let me! Cuz if you dont, I will take what I want!" And right on cue, she drops to all fours like a cat and begans to "stalk" me. I slowly back up, but it is too late. She pounces, and we roll in the grass for a while before coming to a stop, with her on top. We both laugh, and for a brief moment, gazing up into her eyes, I almost, almost forget.

  This was never meant for me.

  While Chrysalis had banished my Darkness with a mere touch, its remnants, its effect remained. And no matter how badly I may have wanted to linger in that place, with her, I knew, had always known, that such things could never belong to me. And so, I dissolve my toddler form and drift away, materializing a few feet away in my more traditional form. The juxtoposition causes Chrysalis to laugh again. "You look ridiculous. You know that right? The spikes and black cape against the flowery fields and rainbows? There is no dark knight in care bear land."

  Tired of her teasing, I retort, "What do you want woman? You know that I will not tell you what the First Elder's dying requests were."

  "I know. I just, I just wanted to have a moment with you. To see if, you know, like whether or not somewhere out there in the Omniverse, you and I are, you know, like together, and that we are happy. That we have a beautiful life, with beautiful children, who are all greater than their mother and father."

  "We are not in that world, if such a place even exists. You, no, we both made sure of that. You chose this Chrysalis. We live in the world of your creation."

  That stung Chrysalis, and her face darkens. "Yes, I made a choice, but at least I had the courage to choose something. You have not chosen anything Magnus. You exist in a state of neutrality, duality, of undecidedness. You and Kip are the same. You are, entangled. And I cannot be happy with him until he choses, or you do."

  "I have nothing to do with that. The Zion is his own man. He is who he chooses to be." Chrysalis shook her head. "No, Magnus. You and he are forever entangled. This is why the First Elder searched the world for one of your kind. Because he knew that his grandson needed a foil. In order to bring great good into the world, you must bring great evil. Abel had Cain. Jacob had Esau. David had Saul. In order to save the world, the First Elder knew that he had to risk its destruction."

  Interesting. But why would the First Elder have Chrysalis show and tell me all this? "So, did the First Elder tell you to deliver this message to me?"

  The captain has turned on the fasten your seat belt sign, indicating our initial descent into the Geneva area."

  "I do not have time to answer that question. We are preparing to land. Once we are in Geneva, I will escort you to the First Elder's facility there, and the lawyers and bankers will complete the execution of the First Elder's will. You are about to become a wildy wealthy, and powerful individual, Magnus. But I wonder, what will you do? The First Elder bet that you would succumb to the Darkness, and force his grandson to ascend to greatness."

  Chrysalis pauses for several awkward moments, then she rushes toward me, and embraces me before I can react or even move. She presses her astral form into mine, and she begins to emote.

  "I want to be happy Magnus. I should not share this with you, since the First Elder only asked me to bring you to Geneva and show you your dual nature. However, I do not want anything to do with this destiny or fate or whatever it is, I just want to be with Kip. To be happy, Magnus, like what I just showed you. The power of love Magnus, it really does conquer all. And I know that you do not believe in love, but I do. Power is a versatile tool, and can produce many things. But love, love exists in and of itself. It needs nothing Magnus, yet demands everything." She then pauses. "Magnus, if you ever loved me, take this fate from us. Bear this horrible destiny alone. You are strong enough to do it, without Kip and without me. You were designed to walk alone."

  I do not push away. And emote back - "What would you have me do? Walk away? The Monk will not let me walk away. The Victor the Undying One will not let me walk away. The Zion will not let me just walk away. The Sanhedrin will not let me walk away." Tears burst from Chrysalis's eyes, and she breaks our connection. Falling to her knees, she grasps my hand, "Arbiter of Succession, Keeper of the Staff of Moses, and Protector of the Future, I implore you to deny my beloved the staff. Let us be Magnus. Choose someone else."

  And then, we are sitting in our seats, as the stewardess walks by and asks us to bring our seats to their upright positions. I cannot even look at Chrysalis, yet her eyes race back and forth, searching for mine. I did not expect this, nor did I expect the feelings that now swirled in my chest.

  But two things were clear to me now. First, that I did, and do, feel something for Chrysalis. And two, apparently, I was now the Arbiter of Succession.

  Damn you First Elder!

  My palm started to itch again. I absentmindedly scratch it.

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