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Diosa – Chapter 6: Intermission

Written by XionZeros :: [Friday, 12 May 2023 08:20] Last updated by ::

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Chapter Six: “Intermission”

Cytherea’s Ire

The sound of her high-heels could be heard echoing throughout the halls and corridors as Cytherea, now back in her human disguise of Cinthia Ocean, navigated through the crowds of confused men and women. She raised an eyebrow at the sight of her nightly excursion coming to an end as her spell was slowly wearing off. She was a vengeful deity, but she did have morals after all - she kept her word as per the terms of her deal with Diosa in the event that she lost their battle. She grit her teeth in a vain attempt to stifle her rage. The image of that defeat repeated briefly in her mind's eye. She easily overpowered that... pretender... to her kind, but ultimately lost due to a mere technicality!

A limousine awaited her in the back alley behind the night club with her driver holding the door open. She raised her rose-colored shades to shield her eyes from the morning sunlight peeking over the horizon and climbed instead after taking one final look at the venue. The driver closed the door behind her while Cytherea helped herself to the apple martini that was already prepared for her, next to the bottle of chardonnay that was chilling in a bucket of ice.

Cytherea downed the martini in one gulp out of frustration. She couldn't get the thought of a loss to a mere mortal out of her mind.

"That girl should be cowering at my feet and worshiping all of my magnificence like the rest of these pathetic mortals. UGH! I can’t believe this! At least I didn't give Majestuosa the satisfaction of knowing that loss got under my skin or I wouldn't have ever heard the end of it from her gloating..." she thought.

Her train of thought was interrupted by the driver speaking up through the intercom, "Where to, Miss Ocean? Your appointment at Starbright Studios isn't until four o'clock this afternoon."

She sighed heavily before answering, "Just drive. We don't have to take the mini-jet today, so we can kill time on the road. It will give me some time to... go over my lines."

"Yes, ma'am. I won't disturb you then. I'll let you know when we arrive in a few hours."

She calmly states, "Thank you."

She crushed the glass in her hand, only to watch the shards drop to the floor from her unscathed hand. It took no time before she retreated into her thoughts once again.

"I'm going about this the wrong way... This girl isn't one to be taken lightly. She already defeated Nemesis, along with one of my 'imposter's' followers. Nemesis left her mark on her friend, but what good was that when she can't tap into her full potential either. Nemesis truly was blind if she couldn't have seen how futile her efforts were in death.

All of this goes straight back to Daddy Dearest... He's the one who gave his personal God-Killer the orders to hunt down the orishas as a show of force to warn the Anunnaki of the consequences if they ever choose to challenge him. What he didn't realize was that mere decision made him look even more insecure of his own position of power, especially when these ungrateful humans distanced themselves from throwing themselves at our mercy on a whim to earn our favor. His insecurity... along with his infidelity... caused an imbalance in the entire hierarchy of the entire cosmos, causing all of the gods to walk among these mortals. Now we hide like rats since Daddy foolishly gave everyone - friend and foe alike, the means to destroy us all.

Given the fact that Oshun and Oya are part of this mess, I have no doubt that Daddy's mistakes are directly involved in this girl being bestowed with our divine abilities. If they survived Nemesis' wrath, then I wonder who else could have survived the Divine Purging..."

At that moment, the ringing of Cytherea's phone broke her train of thought once again, much to her annoyance. She motions to throw it out of the window instead of answering it, but curiosity triumphs over pettiness on this day.

She took a deep breath and answered with an upbeat tone, hoping not to make whoever was on the receiving end privy to her demeanor, "Hello?"

"Cytherea... I want to know all that you know about the 'special' individual that you had a run-in with last night."

Cytherea's eyes widen at the sound of this voice as she instantly recognizes it. She snapped back, losing all semblances of her earlier facade.

"How the hell did you get my number? I made sure to be careful about covering up my trail..."

"Please. I have been following your feeding habits for well over a century now. I just never opted to enlighten your Father about your extracurricular activities. Settle down. There's no time for idle chit-chat. I want to know what you know about this new player on the chess board that you had a run-in with."

Cytherea smirks, "Well then... It's going to cost you and I know you can afford it. And I don't mean money either... I'm going to need to satisfy my hunger sooner rather than later since my meal was interrupted last night.”

“Cytherea, don’t forget who holds your fate in their hands in this matter. You give me the information I want and I will make sure your extracurricular activities continue to be hidden from your Father’s eyes. After we sort out that business, only then will I see about providing you a few interns that no one will notice going missing. Deal?”

Cytherea narrowed her eyes as she reluctantly replied, “Deal.”


Majestuosa Attempts to Unwind

On the other end of the venue, Majestuosa - real name: Juliana Mendoza - navigated through the nightclub until she reached the VIP room that she occupied earlier with her two guests. The scantily clad cowgirl was still passed out on the floor while the African-American Adonis was getting his bearings. Majestuosa immediately addressed him.

“Hurry up and get dressed, Taurus. Being around this many filthy commoners makes me feel so disgusting. I got what I came here for - with interest, so there’s no reason for us to linger here while Cytherea’s spell is wearing off.”

Taurus points to the red haired cowgirl still out cold on the floor, “What are we going about her? She came in here looking to collect the bounty on your head.”

Majestuosa shrugged in a nonchalant manner, “What about her? I doubt we’re going to hear anything from her in a while after what she indulged in with us last night. Cytherea’s spell is going to wear off on her, but I made sure that those memories are firmly planted into her mind. And don’t worry, we’ll be long gone before she wakes up from the blissful slumber I put her under. I guess I have to hand it to the Jaegers though… My reputation precedes me if they are willing to send hunters to collect a bounty on me, despite knowing what I’m capable of.”

Taurus dresses hastily and follows Majestuosa out of the venue, where she actually exits out of the front door wearing her costume. To the people surrounding them, she’s wearing an evening gown and shades - thanks to the psychic projection of herself that she has been imprinting to their minds so that nothing looks out of the ordinary. She looks to Taurus and snaps her fingers for him to retrieve their car from the valet parking. A confused valet attendant hands the statuesque male the car keys, who then promptly gets into the purple sports car and starts up the engine. The Corvette roars to life and speeds out of the valet parking. Taurus wheels the car like a street racing pro as he drifts the car to a stop right in front of the venue. Taurus opens the door for Majestuosa, who climbs in and stretches out in the passenger seat.

After sitting back down in the driver’s seat, Taurus turned to Majestuosa and asked, “Where to, my mistress?”

She yawned, “Back to the hotel. I have plenty of time to kill before I deliver this package to Helena, so I want to get some rest and look my best. If she’s paying as handsomely as she promised, then I may have to consider making her a regular client. At the same time, I don’t trust her as far as I can throw her.”

“Why is that? If she’s got the goods then what’s the problem? I thought you’ve done a few jobs for her already?”

“These big business types are always scheming and plotting, looking for the next big thing that they can use to get the edge. I’ve dealt with enough of them during my corporate espionage assignments to know how they think. As for your question, yes, I’ve done business with Helena before, but it was indirectly since she was a regular buyer of the various corporate espionage secrets that I would come across from her competitors. This is the first time that she has personally requested my services for a job like this - directly no less. That’s why I feel that it’s safe to assume that Helena Dumond is no different than the other business bigwigs with a sizable ego. It’s safe to assume that she sees me as another tool that she could exploit for her own benefit.”

“What do you think she wants with your prizes?”

“With beings like Cytherea roaming the Earth, there’s a variety of things that could be learned with these individuals in captivity. Since these three aren’t much of a threat, they would make for excellent guinea pigs to help determine some sorts of countermeasures for those types of beings. Think about it, the Sentry Corps specialize in taking down wildcards while the Jaegers have open season to anything and everything for their own bounties. There’s room for either of those groups to hunt down divine threats too; it’s just not currently in high demand at the moment.”

“You have a point there. Imagine how much cash you’re going to bring in for this job for merely catching three of them no less.”

Majestuosa shrugs, “It definitely tops the peanuts I get paid to lucha (wrestle) back home, but you should know that I don’t do that for the money. I have too much respect for my father’s legacy as a luchador not to continue honoring him in the ring. My parents have accumulated so much wealth with their powers, so it’s only right that I continue to do so with my own.”

Taurus silently nodded while continuing to drive to their destination.

The Corvette pulled up into the parking garage of the nearby hotel that Majestuosa is currently residing in for her current assignment. Taurus parked the car, exited out of his driver’s side door and helped Majestuosa out of the vehicle after opening her passenger side door.

Majestuosa waved him off while she stretched, “Taurus, be a doll and get that luggage out of the truck. I’m going up to my room for a shower and a nap. I’ll make sure to wrangle up some refreshments on the way too.”

She strolled through the lobby as only she could, compelling the bellhops and other workers in the lobby to drop what they were doing to bend over backwards to her whim. Majestuosa wasn’t shy about using her telepathic powers in this manner to get what she wanted. It was one of the few things that she and Cytherea had in common. The difference being that while Cytherea mentally forced her victims against their will to be compelled to do her bidding, Majestuosa only had to give anyone who took one look at her an emotional push (via telepathy) to act on that desire to do anything in hopes of being with her. Majestuosa was one of those rare women that demanded all of the attention in a room once she entered it. With her caramel-colored tan skin exposed through her costume (she didn’t even bother putting up her disguise in the lobby like she did while exiting the nightclub), her iconic Latin curves (and hypnotic sway of her hips with heart-shaped ass on display from her choice of attire), and sizable bust with ample cleavage on display, she was a knockout sight that was hard to ignore. This hotel lobby was no different - she merely used her powers to take things up a notch to her liking. By the time she reached the elevator, she already had a glass of champagne (along with the rest of the bottle for later), a breakfast order for herself and Taurus to be delivered upstairs, along with her room upgraded to the rooftop luxury suite.

Once she arrived at her suite, Majestuosa laid across the comfortable luscious queen-sized bed and removed her domino mask. She stared dreamily at the ceiling as she retreated into her thoughts momentarily.

That job couldn’t have gone any better. Cytherea has to be seething right now that the girl beat her due to a technicality. The joke’s on her even more so since she did almost all of the heavy lifting for me - figuratively and literally with this job, subduing and impairing Oshun and the others. It would have gotten a bit… messy if I had to get my hands dirty.

Capturing not just one, but THREE divine beings is one hell of a catch, if I may say so myself. I hope Helena realizes the hot commodity that I have in my possession. If she doesn’t pony up the goods, then I will have to take my business elsewhere - which shouldn’t be a problem to find a potential buyer in no time.”

She took a moment to sit up and cup her ample bust and removed her prize - the three confinement cards that contained the captured essences of Diosa, Priscilla/Oya, and Oshun. After removing them from being stashed in her cleavage and inserting each of them carefully into a lockbox before tucking them away for safekeeping within her purse.

At that moment, her mobile phone vibrated in her purse. Majestuosa took it out of her purse and unlocked the screen to read the text message that she just received:

To: Majestuosa:

From: Underw0rld

Status on current assignment?”

She ran her manicured fingers over the screen and engaged in a series of back and forth text messages:

To: Underw0rld

From: Majestuosa

Objective completed without any complications. Waiting to meet with the client for payment this evening. I would like to set up a back-up buyer for these divine goods if the deal isn’t to my liking.”


To: Majestuosa:

From: Underw0rld

That can be arranged. Those relics from the past have a substantial asking price on the market for anyone who is willing to part with them to the right seller.”


To: Underw0rld

From: Majestuosa

Keep me posted. You know I want more than adequate payment for my services. I never settle for anything less. Not to mention that this is a rare acquisition that doesn’t come through our line of work very often.”


To: Majestuosa:

From: Underw0rld

Agreed… We have two alternative buyers for your acquisitions, given the possibility of your client failing to meet your specifications of your updated agreement and payment to your current assignment.”


To: Majestuosa:

From: Underw0rld

Also, your travel arrangements for your next assignment have already been booked. Don’t hesitate to contact us again to make any adjustments.”


To: Underw0rld

From: Majestuosa

Perfect. I shall update you on a secure channel after the transaction takes place. For now, that’s all that I need to complete the task at hand.”

After sending that last message, she tucked her phone back into her purse and walked towards the bathroom with it slung over her shoulder, taking care not to allow her prize(s) to leave her sight. At the doorway, she stops mid-stride and glances over her shoulder, scanning the room once more visually and telepathically for any possible threat or hidden intruder - or voyeur.

Content with the fact that she didn’t see nor sense anything, Majestuosa stepped into the bathroom. She turned on the hot water and began to undress as the steam began to fill up the room. She wasn’t privy to the large shadow moving independently along the walls of the bedroom, slowly approaching the bathroom. Majestuosa sat on the sink, unzipping her thigh-high, black leather stiletto boots down each side, and placed them on the floor. She removed her matching leather gloves and laid them over the side of the sink before reaching behind her and zipping down her leather bodysuit. She slid off of the sink and allowed the garment to slip down over her shoulders as she fished her arms out, slipping the garment down and over her torso and child-bearing hips, before finally allowing it to fall to the bathroom floor at her feet. She stood on her tip-toes and stretched her arms towards the ceiling before stepping into the shower with the accompanying steam from the hot water leaving the bathroom in a hazy fog.

The seemingly living shadow from that remained idle at the bathroom door stepped through the mist, moving silently and swiftly as it originally appeared in the bedroom. With the steam encasing the room like a veil of smoke, a transparent, yet feminine silhouette could be seen standing in front of the mirror in place of the living shadow. She looked around the room cautiously, taking a moment to watch Majestuosa lather up the liquid soap and run the suds over her naked body from head to toe. One couldn't blame this entity taking note as it was an alluring sight to behold with this Hispanic-born goddess in all of glory. The intruder snapped out of her stupor after noticing her prize in the corner of her eye - Majestuosa's purse that hung in the corner with the bath robes on the accompanying hooks. She took her eyes off of Majestuosa just for a moment and reached towards the purse...

Majestuosa immediately pulled her handgun from out of her purse telekinetically and fired a single shot blindly as she opened the shower door. The bullet hit the chiseled chest of Taurus as he stood in the doorway, only to fall harmlessly to the bathroom floor upon impact.

He holds his hands up, “Whoa, whoa, whoa! No need to have the claws out. I was just checking in with you since you did give me your spare room key to bring your luggage up to the room.”

Majestuosa's eyes scanned the room, looking to see if anything was amiss, but there was no trace of the intruder. It disappeared without a trace.

“Sorry, something just felt off since I came in here earlier. I’ve done a psychic sweep but I don’t see nor sense anything amiss, but I just can’t shake this feeling that something isn’t right here. I’m going to call Helena and move up our time table for my payment. The sooner I get paid for this job, the better. I swear, every time I run into Cytherea, I always feel like my skin is crawling from all of the eyes watching me afterwards. And not in a good way either…”

Taurus smirks as he eyes her nude body, barely covered by the remaining suds, “I thought you loved the attention with all eyes on you.”

She turned away from him, intentionally whipping her wet hair at him and grabbed both her purse and a bathrobe from hanging off of the wall.

“I do when I can read all of their dirty little thoughts like a book and I can make them do anything I want, but it will never sit right with me that there are still things that not even I can sense with my powers. My powers fear even the gods themselves but here I am, freaking out over what could be nothing.”

Taurus handed her a towel for drying her hair.

“Your hunches have always been right though. Wouldn’t you feel better if I stayed here with you… just as a precaution?”

Majestuosa pats him on the cheek in a condescending manner.

“You’d love that wouldn’t you? You’ve already seen more of me than most ever could ever dream of seeing in their entire lives in a single day. Why push your luck when we already had our fun at Cytherea’s party?”

“I guess that I’m feeling extra lucky. I did survive being shot after all,” he said before trading another playful smirk at Majestuosa.

She rested her hand on his chest while her eyes scanned his body from head to toe. “You’re a big boy. I know you can handle whatever I dish out at you.” She dragged her nails across his chest and grinned, “Look, not even a scratch at all.”

Taurus took her hand and placed it on the middle of his chest for she could feel his heartbeat.

“You could really hurt me if you wanted to, but we both know that you wouldn’t…”

He leaned down closer, staring deeply into her rich brown eyes.

She teased, “Care to put that theory to the test?”

Majestuosa stood on tippy-toes, locking eyes with his own as she pressed her robed body against his chest and snaked her arms around his neck.

Taurus took this action as an open invitation as he lifted her up by the waist and into his arms so they looked at each other at eye level.

"Business before pleasure, Taurus... NEVER forget my golden rule. Just because those lines were severely blurred while dealing with Cytherea doesn't give you the excuse to play the fool now. You should know me better than that by now."

She bit down on her thumb in annoyance as she pondered how someone or something could have slipped into her room without any sort of detection by her powers. Taurus struggled against the force of telekinetic energy that was pinning him to the bathroom wall, but it was useless. The wall itself would give way well before he could escape this hold that she effortlessly held within.

Majestuosa strode back into the bedroom with her purse slung over her shoulder, anxious to call Helena Dumond to move their scheduled meeting up sooner.

She thought aloud, "The sooner I get rid of this hot commodity and get paid, the better..."

She left Taurus slumping down to the bathroom floor after releasing her telekinetic hold on him.

Majestuosa’s visitor watched from the top of the adjacent building with a pair of binoculars as she spoke into her wireless communicator housed within her ear.

“Acquisition of the assets was unsuccessful. My shadow clone wasn’t properly suited for this type of extraction. I have vastly underestimated the capabilities of the target’s telepathic and telekinetic abilities. There are far too many variables at play to ensure any high probabilities of success with the telepath now aware that something is amiss. Fortunately, the target is meeting with Dumond this afternoon. Do you wish for me to continue the extraction effort?”

She pauses for her client’s response. “Understood. Terminating the order for the acquisition of the assets and will commence extracting the requested files from Dumond’s private servers. It shouldn’t be a problem to evade Heaven Industries’ security with Dumond’s business with the telepath taking place.”


Sentry Corps’ Mission Debriefing

It’s been a few days since the incident involving the malignant beast that slaughtered the residents of the small town of Greenview in which the combined efforts of both the Child of Venus and Diosa were able to put an end to. The members of the Sentry Corps that were sent to investigate the scene of the crime currently find themselves reviewing their findings into their own reports with other strange occurrences as of late from other squadrons. The Sentry Corps exist and operate as a government-supported, independent militarized task force that specializes in dealing with policing and apprehending super-powered crimes and mysteries as a countermeasure to the rise of wildcards - those who are born with superpowers that manifest as they mature in age - and other super-powered crises and crimes. Their organization is full of ordinary humans who are armed with advanced technology created by Dr. Adrian Maxwell. The senior, high ranking officers in this organization have opted to volunteer to have their bodies augmented even further with Dr. Maxwell’s technology, combining man and machine to further expand their offensive and defensive capabilities to deal with the increasing threats around the world in these troubled times. Lower ranking rookie officers aren’t provided with that “upgrade” of sorts. Instead, they are provided protective high-tech armor that augments their physical attributes and provides minor protection in the field.

After his squad’s most recent investigation trying to piece together the massacre in a nearby town by some unidentified wild animal, Private Cameron Tate’s thoughts still linger on his sights of the “heavenly” image of Diosa flying away in the distance from the scene as he walked back to his quarters within the Sentry Corps’ main base of operations, Subsistence.

Hell, I still don’t believe what I saw that day. There’s no way that I’m going to share that with our squad leader and Nguyen. Hell, I still don’t even fully believe what I saw. They would send me straight to the psychological evaluation ward and off sorties for good. I enlisted up to be a soldier to make a difference out there. It’s best that I keep this to myself until I can make sense out of it. Good thing we’re allowed to download our own field data to our own private terminals. That way I can snip out what I saw to my own private files before uploading the rest for the mission debriefing later.”

Tate had just enough time to extract the video from his optical recording software (special contact lens that is issued to all non-cybernetically enhanced officers to record and review their field data) to his private terminal, edit video to exclude the footage of Diosa, and export it back for review at the upcoming debriefing right as his fellow squad member, Private Michael Nguyen came knocking on the door of his private quarters.

Nguyen jokes, “C’mon, Tate. Put your pants back on. You’ll have plenty of time to get your rocks off those hot girls that you left behind in your hometown later. Debriefing is in five minutes.”

“Shut up, you ass. I’m coming. Give me a second.”

Nguyen mumbles, “That’s what she said…”

Tate logged out of his terminal and exited his room hastily, making sure to push Nguyen aside for his remark. The two rookie officers make a short sprint down the corridor and around the corner to access the debriefing room with most of the other officers already seated.

Pollux addressed them as they saluted their superior and took their seats. “Right on time for once. I’m shocked and impressed.”

The rookie officers took their seats while Pollux presented a holographic display of the corpses from their recent investigation.

“I couldn’t help but notice the randomness of this attack and the fact that there was nothing left in the wake for our own investigation of the isolated incident on Helena Dumond’s beach front resort.”

Cassiopeia, another armored superior officer within the Sentry Corps, spoke up. She was clad in crimson colored armor, unlike the tangerine hued armor that Pollux wore. Her blue eyes scanned the room as she addressed her peers.

“I thought it was rather diplomatic of Miss Dumond to pay for the medical treatment of those college students. Anyone else would have left those teenagers’ families to pony up the coins for that or go into debt trying to do so. I still think that matter was the result of some kind of drunken hijinks over Spring Break that weekend that none of the affected parties want to confess to. Since Helena Dumond didn’t seem too pressed about identifying whoever was responsible for the property damage to her resort, we didn’t press the issue at the time.”

Pollux smirked, “Let the pencil pushers in the local law enforcement in that area deal with the teenagers. We have bigger fish to fry.”

She added, “It would have been a simple matter to drop the issue if we didn’t get another report recently about an armed robbery being thwarted by two bulletproof ‘amazons’. Witness accounts at Dumond’s resort reported seeing some sort of a wild woman or amazon fleeing the area during the night of the incident at hand. This suspect would wind up being comparable to testimonies from the witnesses of the thwarted armed robbery. The eyewitness accounts from the hostages on the scene said that the two amazons subdued the criminals, freed the hostages, and left as quickly as they appeared without a trace. The criminals that were barely conscious when our agents arrived on the scene were literally begging to go to jail after running into those amazons.”

Cassiopeia displays an image of the warped vehicles and state of disarray from the apprehended criminals. There’s several gasps of surprise and awe around the room, with Tate’s thoughts immediately going back to the woman that he saw.

It HAD to be her… Couldn’t have been anyone else, right?”

Nguyen's jaw hung on the floor, “Whoa, superbabes that could do something like that could easily crush a ton of beer cans at a keg party that’s for sure.”

Pollux questioned these reports with his own deduction.

“So we’re supposed to believe some superpowered amazons are going around defeating monsters and fighting crime behind our backs? I’m finding it hard to believe that there’s not any other motives out there than that, especially since they have been adamant about not wanting to be seen in the public eye.”

Cassiopeia agreed, “That’s why I have deduced that these incidents are more contributing factors to the influx of vigilante activity in the world, mainly due to the popularity of the Jaegers’ theatrics with their own bounty hunting exploits. Don’t forget that the Jaegers’ activities have made bounty hunting ‘trendy’. Plus with bounty hunting being legalized and openly supported by the President himself, there’s not going to be any shortage of amateurs trying to get into the limelight to make a name for themselves. Eventually one of these rank amateurs is going to get in over their heads and we’ll end up being the ones who have to be called in to clean up these messes… Or worse, we end up being forced to apprehend these vigilantes for their rogue activities.”

Pollux sighed, “It’s not like we don’t have enough messes to clean up with all of the rogue wildcard activity as of late without tossing in this supernatural crap into the mix.”

Nguyen laughs, “If it ever came to that, the good doctor and the rest of the eggheads would have to outfit us with silver bullets, holy water, and crucifixes.”

Cassiopeia didn’t take kindly to the rookie officer’s attempt at humor.

“I’ll make sure they disable all of your offensive and defensive parameters and arm you with only a plate of spaghetti the next time we’re assigned to patrol the borders to the Shadow Blanket region. I’m sure the vampires that reside there would not take too kindly to that type of insult…”

Nguyen gulped hard and uttered, “Yes, ma’am. I’ll make sure to keep my bad jokes to myself in the future.”

Cassiopeia concluded, “It’s not only that, Private. Dr. Maxwell’s technology and innovations have saved and helped a lot of people, including us soldiers on and off of the battlefield - and will continue to do so as long as we do our jobs to the best of our abilities. You should have the utmost respect for what is allowing you to do your job - as well as keeping you alive out in the field.”

Pollux chimed in, “That’s why I volunteer my squad to continue our investigations into these ‘irregularities’ and get to the bottom of them. We should be able to pull our own weight without having to call in the Gendarmine for everything. They have their hands full enough as is.”

Cassiopeia added, “And the less we have to see of that scowl on Agent Armor’s face when she’s not pleased is for the best - for all of our sakes. Unless anyone else has anything to add to this debriefing, I think that’s enough for today, ladies and gentlemen. You’re all dismissed. Don’t forget to upload your sortie data if you haven’t already for review.”

Nguyen nudges Tate in the arm after they exit the conference room and head to the mess hall.

Nguyen chuckled, “I definitely dodged a bullet there with the corporal, huh?”

Tate shrugged his shoulders, “I guess, but one of these days you’re going to get what’s coming to you for all of your goofing around and bad jokes. This is some serious shit that we’re dealing with as part of the Corps. I thought after we graduated from basic training you would start taking things a little more seriously. Everything isn’t just one big joke, y’know.”

Nguyen scoffed at his words, “My sense of humor is harmless. It’s not my fault that there’s not a single funny bone in anyone’s bodies around here. You’d think that the good doctor would install that in with all of the higher ups’ fancy upgrades too… along with a better personality.”

Tate elbows him in the midsection, “See, it’s talk like that right there that will end up getting you court martialed for disrespecting your superior officers if the wrong person heard you talking like that around here. For Christ’s sake, at least try to understand that we’re in the big leagues now, especially after that debriefing. Our superiors are going to be looking for us to carry ourselves like professionals on and off of the battlefield.”

Nguyen smirks, “Sure thing. I’ll dial it back a bit with the comedy, ‘cause in no time, I’m going to have this pretty face showing up on the news right next to the rest of the Gendarmine, kissing babies and signing autographs.”

Nguyen found him taken back from the sound of Tate’s sudden outburst of laughter and added, “I didn’t mean that to be funny, y’know.”

Tate composed himself and remarked, “You on the elite squad? C’mon, even I don’t think that highly of myself and I seriously doubt that they are looking for any new additions anytime soon. They aren’t the elite simply because they are literal walking advertisements for Dr. Maxwell’s greatest inventions and advances in technology and cybernetics, but they are the best at what we do. No one else comes close at their efficiency and abilities to get the jobs done - no matter the cost - when it comes to their missions.”

Nguyen teased, “Is that envy I hear in your voice or is that a tinge of jealousy that you’re never going to ascend to that level in your career?”

Tate shrugged again, “Shut up… I’m just being honest with myself. They set that bar really high and it feels like no one else is going to make it through that glass ceiling…”

Nguyen pats Tate on the back, “And that’s where you’re wrong, my friend. Glass ceilings are made to be broken. Do whatever you want, but I’m not settling for anything but the best. Speaking of which, are you joining me at the mess hall for a bite to eat? My treat, of course.”

Tate shook his head, “I would love to, but I’m going to head back to my quarters and take a load off, y’know?”

Nguyen smiled, “I totally understand. I’ll bring a plate to your room later. Just don’t throw out your arm cranking out more knuckle children!”

Tate flipped him off and went into the opposite direction down the adjacent corridor back towards his private quarters. His mind was on one thing - reviewing the footage he extracted from his sortie field data and cross-matching it with the reports of the super-powered amazons that Cassiopeia mentioned earlier.

He thought, “There has to be a link… There just has to be! I know I’m not going to be able to get much sleep until I find out.”


Xolani’s Unexpected Visitors

Xolani took the morning to finish cleaning up Ximena’s room for whenever her granddaughter decided to make her way back home from whatever nightly excursion that caused even Oshun to pursue after her with great haste. She knew better not to worry - Ximena has literal divine powers at her disposal with even the great Orisha Oshun coming to her aid.

Oshun promised me that she would protect Ximena. I just have to trust in her and Ximena’s abilities. Whatever mess that they have gotten themselves into, it’s in their own hands to overcome whatever obstacles that stand in their way, even though I wish I could do more to aid them. Caring for Hanney is the least that I could do to lighten the heavy burden on their shoulders…”

Xolani’s thoughts were interrupted by the ringing of the door bell. Xolani put down the broom and dustpan in the corner to go answer it. She looked through the peephole and her eyes widened with surprise. She opened the door with great haste to greet her visitors.

“Rufaro… Xiomara… what brings you two to my neck of the woods?” she asked.

The African male spoke up first.

“Your son doesn’t need an invitation to visit his mother!” Rufaro greeted Xolani with a warm embrace with his Hispanic wife (Xiomara) following with one of her own shortly thereafter.

Xiomara raised a question of her own after hugging Xolani.

“Have you seen Ximena? She’s not answering her phone and I haven’t been able to reach her in the dorms. All of the parents at the university were contacted about the ordeal at Helena Dumond’s resort, but clarified that she and Priscilla weren’t among the ones who were hospitalized. Thank goodness for that, but I would like to know if our little girl is out of harm’s way.”

Xolani shook her head as she cooked up a white lie.

“She came by to pick up some more clothes from her room upstairs, but went off with her friend just as quickly as she came in. She didn’t stay long at all. Don’t be shy and come inside. Make yourselves at home. Y’know that you’re both always welcome here.”

Xiomara sighed heavily, “That sounds like her alright. She was positive that she wasn’t going to have a good time on Spring Break but now look, we can’t even beg her to check in.”

Rufaro rested a hand on Xiomara’s shoulder.

“You know how Ximena gets when she’s really into something. She gets tunnel vision while she’s laser-focused on that one thing and forgets to come up for air sometimes. She’s with Priscilla so she’ll be alright.”

“I know, mi amor, but did you see the photos of how messed up some of those girls were from the resort? It’s like they lost a fight with a trash compactor or something.”

Hanney comes down the stairs, wearing one of Xolani’s old dresses from her youth.

“I heard some voices and I thought Ximena may have returned…” she starts to say before gasping at the strangers standing in the living room.

Xolani beckons Hanney to join them as she introduces the young woman to her guests.

“This is Hanney, my latest tennent to join me here.” She turns back to Hanney. “These are Ximena’s parents, Mr. and Mrs. Vega.”

Hanney bows formally to them and says, “It is a great honor to meet you. I owe my life to your daughter bringing me here safely…”

Xolani cuts her off and says, “Hanney’s so dramatic. Ximena merely found her all on her own and offered her a place to stay since she knew I always have rooms for rent. She’s been a big help to me around the house already. I’m considering allowing Hanney to stay as a permanent tennant if she would like to.”

Hanney’s eyes widened with shock and awe before welling up with tears of joy. She hugged Xolani tightly and exclaimed, “Yes, I would love to call this place my new home! I came here with nothing but the clothes on my back and you’ve allowed me a place in your home without question - without hesitation. I can’t repay you enough, Miss Xolani, but I’m gonna do my damndest to try. ”

Rufaro smiled, “Mom, I’m glad to see that you’re wise enough to realize that we worry about you in this big house all by yourself in this neck of the woods on the outskirts of town when we’ve invited you to move in with us in the city countless times. At least with Hanney, we can trust her to keep an eye on you and help you around the house, especially now that Ximena doesn't have much time to check in on you while she’s off to college.”

Xiomara frowned, “It’s too bad that Ximena wasn’t here to share in this joyous occasion…” She checks her phone after feeling it vibrate in her purse. “Oh my. The university is notifying everyone that those girls from Dumond’s resort are being sent home today. Maybe now everyone will finally get a clear understanding of what went down.”

Rufaro laughed, “I seriously doubt it if those kids don’t want to snitch out their friends. This whole thing sounds to me that those crazy kids had a little too much fun on the strip. You remember how we used to get crazy in our younger days. That’s how I managed to bump into a lively mamacita dancing on the bar after way too many drinks…”

Xiomara playfully nudges her husband, “Yes, but I vaguely remember trying to kick your ass for making me stop too until I sobered up a little.”

Xolani stood up from the couch and walked towards the kitchen.

“Would you all like to join me for a bit to eat? I was just about to have some lunch before you arrived.”

Rufaro nodded, “Sure, Mom. What’s on the menu?”

Gatsby sandwiches… You used to never have enough of them as a child. I suppose Ximena inherited that appetite for them from you,” chuckled Xolani.

Xiomara shook her head, “I don’t see how those things don’t put the pounds on either of you being full of sodium and starches.”

Rufaro laughs heartilly, “You know how hard I work, ‘Mara. I like to think that I deserve to have a healthy appetite to put fuel to the fire to keep me going!”

Hanney motioned to get up and help Xolani in the kitchen, but a spasm of pain wracked her body momentarily, causing her to fall back down onto the couch. Xiomara immediately rushes over and tends to her.

“Hanney, child, are you feeling alright?”

Hanney raised a hand to her forehead as she felt the throbbing pulses of pain of a migraine consuming her.

“I… just stood up a little too fast ‘tis all. If you all don’t mind, I’m going to go up to my room and lay down for a bit to shake off this headache that’s come over me…”

Xiomara helps Hanney up to her feet, “C’mon, child. At least let me help you to your room.”

Hanney didn’t deny her request as she continued to hold her hand on her head in a vain attempt to alleviate the pain. While Xiomara and Hanney headed upstairs, Rufaro joined his mother in the kitchen. He started setting the table while she prepared the sandwiches.

“When Ximena came here, was she okay? Is she eating well? Is she getting enough bedrest?” he asked.

Xolani laughed as she cut the first sandwich in half.

“That’s just like you putting on a brave face for Xiomara when you were clearly just as worried about her as she is…”

“You know how she is. If we both worry, then she would be an emotional wreck. I get that Ximena’s not a kid anymore, but she’s always going to be our little girl.”

Xolani added, “Yes, but she’s a girl that is becoming a very capable young woman in her own right. It’s just like your father used to tell me about you when you were so adamant about leaving here and going off on your own to see the rest of the world. All of the baby birds have to leave the nest eventually to fly on their own. The best advice that I can give you right now is stand back and have faith in your daughter, Rufaro. That’s what I did when you left the nest. It’s only fair that you and Xiomara do the same for Ximena. Trust that you raised her to make the right decisions in life. If she needs help, I’m sure that you two will be the first two people that she will reach out to above all else.”

Rufaro smiled as he reminisced to those days, “Dad was always so supportive about no matter what I wanted to do with my life, no matter how foolish or crazy that it sounded. I didn’t realize until I became a parent myself that he wasn’t trying to be my friend. He just wanted me to live my life and learn from the experiences - if they didn’t work out, so what? I could still pick myself up and try something else. That’s what I want to do for Ximena despite how afraid I am on the inside to set her out in the world all on her own with so many known and unknown dangers out there.”

Xolani smiled, “Correction, the world has always been a scary place, my son. It’s just that those dangers have many more distinct faces and labels than they did when your father and I were raising you. Your father was like that because his parents were so strict. When he got the opportunity to leave home, he never looked back - even more so after they didn’t approve of our marriage. When I gave birth to you, he promised me that he wasn’t going to raise you in any way like his parents raised him. He wanted to give you the life that was denied to him.”

Rufaro stood up from the dining room table and rested his hands on his mother’s shoulders.

“And I thank you both every day for that. You both allowed me to spread my wings and to fly towards my dreams - no matter how crazy they sounded.” He smirked, “So… Mom. Are you going to allow me to sample the first sandwich or what? I have to make sure your legendary sandwiches continue to live up to the hype or Xiomara won’t let me hear the end of it.”

Xolani sighed in defeat and turned around, handing her son the first freshly made plate of food.

“You win - this time. You’re lucky that I always take joy in people enjoying my cooking.” She adds, “And do me a favor - continue to have faith in not just your daughter doing the right thing and faith in the gods to continue keeping her and all us all safe.”

Rufaro corrected her with a mouth-full of sandwich, “Don’t you mean God? You said gods as plural.”

Xolani shook her head, patting her son on the back as he sat down to continue consuming his sandwich in front of him, “Oh yes, God. Silly me in my old age…”

She thought, “You and Xiomara may not be quite ready to come to terms with the gods that Ximena has aligned and entangled her and Priscilla’s fates with. I leave that secret to Ximena to tell when she’s ready.”

Upstairs, Xiomara had helped Hanney up the stairs and into her room where she wasted no time helping her into bed and tucking her in underneath the covers.

"Sorry, old habits die hard, I suppose," blushed Xiomara as she checked Hanney's temperature. "It's times like these that remind me how fast Ximena grew up. It still feels like yesterday when she was that quiet little girl who would spend hours in front of the television watching her favorite cartoons or reading her beloved fictional stories up in her room."

Hanney spoke up, "From the little time that I have had interacting with your daughter, I could tell that she is a very kind and considerate young woman. She definitely came from a home that gave her a lot of love, otherwise, I would fail to see how she could have so much for those around her."

Xiomara walked to the connecting bathroom and returned with a cup of water and a bottle of Tylenol in hand.

"From that temperature that you're running, it seems like you're coming down with a fever. Hopefully, these old remedies will do the trick and make you feel like yourself again... or rather better than your old self, amirite, Hanney?"

Hanney looked a little confused before Xiomara continued.

"I'm sure Ximena failed to mention that her mother is a doctor. She adores my line of work and what I do for people, but at the same time, she doesn't like to brag about it. That being said, I see a lot of things in my line of work. One look at you and I can easily tell that you haven't been getting the proper nutrition in your body for quite some time. Fortunately, you've come to the right household to take up residence."

Hanney looked away sheepishly, not wanting to lie to this woman who is taking the time to care for her, but at the same time, she doesn't want to expose Ximena's secret.

"When Ximena brought me here, I was recovering from an addiction. Your daughter and Miss Xolani have been pivotal in helping me put that part of my life behind me."

"Is this the first time that you've been coming down with symptoms like this?"

Hanney shook her head after staring at the two pills in her hand quizzically for a moment. Xiomara urged her on with a silent invitation to consume them. Hanney did as she was instructed and popped the two pills into her mouth. She took the glass of water from Xiomara's hand. She drank from it slowly to allow the pills to finish dissolving in her mouth after making the costly mistake of chewing on them first. Xiomara could only chuckle as she watched Hanney wince slightly from the bitter taste of the pills.

Hanney coughed a little after swallowing the water and the pills.

“Tastes like chalk… Are you sure that would make me feel any better?”

Xiomara nodded, "You should take it easy and give your body time to adjust not having whatever you took away from it. The transition will be difficult and your withdrawal symptoms may get worse. The most important thing is maintaining the willpower not to fall back into old habits. Do you understand, Hanney?"

Her mind’s eye trialed back to the image of herself as a Child of Venus - all of that statuesque beauty and divine power filling every fiber of her being from head to toe. The power to do anything and everything that she ever wanted... All that was gone now - thanks to Diosa destroying her divine jewelry.

“Hanney?” Xiomara asked again when she didn’t get a response as Hanney stared at her blankly while she was lost in her own thoughts.

Hanney snapped out of her stupor and looked back at Xiomara.

“I understand. I can’t show any weakness. That life is behind me now.”

Xiomara smiled and patted her on the head.

“Good. Get some rest and I’ll have Xolani bring you up something to eat when you wake up, okay?”

Hanney smiled back, “Thank you, Miss Vega. I don’t know how, but someday I’m going to repay all of the kindness that you and your family has shown me tenfold.”

Xiomara stood up from the edge of the bed and walked towards the door.

“Think nothing of it. Just take care of yourself and keep Xolani from working too hard at her age and we’ll call it even. I’m going to arrange for Xolani to bring you to my clinic so I can give you a proper look when you’re settled in.”

Hanney nodded silently as she pulled the blankets up to her chin. Xiomara took the hint and left her to rest while making sure to close the door quietly. Once Xiomara was gone and Hanney was left alone, a cold shiver shot up Hanney’s spine, stronger than the one from the night before. She grabbed the blankets tightly as her body shakes uncontrollably. Much to Hanney’s relief, the sensation passes as quickly as it started, leaving her to wonder what it could mean.


Zabrina Released From the Hospital

The scene playing out at the rear of Elysium Bay General Hospital sees Zabrina Sawyer as the last of her sorority sisters to be wheeled out from their rooms to the shuttle bus that would take them back to the university. Her parents, the renown donors and politicians, Jaxon and Virginia Sawyer, follow closely behind, much to the annoyance of their daughter.

Zabrina’s mother, Virginia, continues pleading with her daughter.

“Zabrina honey. Why won’t you reconsider? Don’t you want to have us press charges and get the police to dive into a full blown investigation about that freak who roughed you and your friends up?”

Zabrina snaps back, “No, I trust Ms. Dumond when she said she would handle the matter herself. Besides, I’m not missing any more time from the university when finals are right around the corner for the semester. I’ve already been robbed of my Spring Break. I’m not going to allow you or anyone else to rob me from the end of another monumental year for my sorority. The sooner I put this mess behind me the better.”

“But what if that freak follows you back to the university and tries to finish what it started?” asked Zabrina’s father, Jaxon, as he chimed in.

“Listen to your mother, dear. At least let me hire an entourage of bodyguards to keep an eye on you on campus. That would at least make your mother and I feel better about sending you back to the university.”

Zabrina scoffed again, “I don’t need any unkempt losers following me around and biting my style. Besides, you knew what the world was like when you sent me here to begin with. I’m not going to back down in the face of any freaks or any other weirdos, especially when those same peasants will be falling at my feet in a few more years when I’m in charge of the family business.”

Jaxon internally admires his daughter’s fire, but heavily sighs aloud as he knows that he’s not winning this fight with her.

“Let’s not get ahead of yourself, Zabrina. You know our family has a lot of business rivals that would see no better opportunity to see our young heiress off the table so they could swoop in and capitalize on our assets.”

Zabrina rolls her eyes.

“I’m not going to live my life in fear, Daddy. I promise you if that freak shows its face again, it’s going to be a different story when it’s all said and done. I’ll give you both a call when I settle back into my dorm room. Ciao.

Virginia added, “Don’t forget to call your aunt too. She’s been rather concerned about you too. She wanted to know if her care package had arrived at your dorm.”

After Zabrina waves her parents away, the nurses that were pushing her wheelchair offered to help her climb onto the bus, but Zabrina stood up from the wheelchair of her own volition and joined her sorority sisters onto the bus.

Imani Jacobs, a tall, lanky yet athletic African-American girl from Zabrina’s sorority, was sitting in one of the first seats near the front. She greets Zabrina with excitement, “Bree! You made it! Now it’s totally going to be lit when we get back on campus!”

“Yeah, whatever…” Zabrina mused as she continued to check her phone for any clues of what transpired that fateful day that they were hospitalized.

Ericka Chen, the short, stout Chinese girl sitting next to Imani, pouted, “What’s wrong, Bree? We thought that you would be pumped to get the party started again once we’re back on campus. Y’know, we can continue where we left off since we still have the weekend to enjoy before Spring Break is officially over and we have to go back to classes?”

Zabrina snapped back, “I know what I saw… yet all of these sheep who were there act as if nothing happened. That amazon woman roughed us up like mere child’s play then got into an argument with that nerd Ximena. After that, I woke up in the hospital. It just doesn’t make any sense. Why wasn’t that geekette in urgent care like the rest of us?”

Ericka shrugged her shoulders, “No one hasn’t seen nor heard from her and her friend, Priscilla.”

Zabrina’s ears perk up, “Priscilla? Why does that name sound familiar?”

Imani chimes in, “Y’know, Priscilla… Priscilla Lennox who was pledging that night when all of that went down. She was the one who insisted on bringing the geekette along on the trip, despite the warning that it wasn’t going to help her chances of getting in Alpha Sigma Omega.”

Ericka adds, “Maybe we should just count our blessings that they didn’t go straight to the authorities about trashing them and the beach that night. Otherwise, Miss Dumond probably wouldn’t have covered our medical expenses if they knew we did that, y’know?”

Zabrina gritted her teeth in a combination of anger and frustration.

“I’m not going to allow this matter to be swept under the rug, Ericka. We have a reputation to uphold for Alpha Sigma Omega. We aren’t going to take any shit from some muscle-bound freak, no matter who or what she is. We’re going to handle this our way without getting the law involved and potentially winding up on academic probation.”

Ericka looked down sheepishly at her arm already in a cast hanging from the sling around her neck, “But Bree, you saw what that amazon did to us the first time on a whim. What the hell could we do against that in the state we’re in right now?”

Zabrina shook her head, “I don’t know, but I would love to have some payback if the opportunity presented itself. I would love the chance to show that freak what real power looks like.”

Imani added, “I’m with Bree. We can’t take this lying down. We can’t let this one slide. We have to remind people that no one fucks with ASO.”

Unknown to both Erika and Zabrina, the shuttle bus driver was listening to their conversation with great interest. Zabrina’s desire for power spoke volumes to her as she took a moment to glance briefly at the elegant bangle that decorated her wrist.


Majestuosa Meets with Helena Dumond

A few hours later, Majestuosa’s Corvette pulled up to the entrance gate of Heaven Industries. Taurus rolled down the power windows to speak with the security guard on duty.

Taurus spoke up, “We’re meeting with Miss Dumond…”

Majestuosa sat in the passenger seat and was growing more impatient by the second. She quickly lost her patience and took control of the situation with her mental telepathy. She took hold of the guard’s mind and got the information that she needed while simultaneously giving him what he needed to know.

The security guard stared blankly into the vehicle towards Majestuosa, looking past Taurus in the driver’s seat, “You’re free to go inside, Ms. Mendoza. I’ll let Miss Dumond know that you’re on your way up now. I’ve unlocked her personal private elevator for your use in the parking garage. Feel free to use my clearance code, 3516.”

Majestuosa flashed him a warm smile, “Thank you so much!”

Taurus asked her, “I’m surprised that you aren’t properly dressed for the occasion since we’re taking care of business here.”

Majestuosa looked down at her choice of attire - a spaghetti strap long dress with a plunging neckline to emphasize her ample bust and matching stiletto high heels.

She retorted, “I don’t see the problem when I can make anyone around me see whatever I want them to see without a problem. As far as anyone else is concerned, I’m still wearing my costume from last night. I rather not have to change my attire when I have a flight to catch after we’re done here. The Underw0rld already has my next assignment lined up and I would rather not linger here longer than we have to.”

Taurus shook his head while he continued to drive. “I wish you could have told me that ahead of time. I would have worn something a little more casual.”

Majestuosa smacked him in the chest playfully.

“Don’t be a spoilsport. You’re my personal bodyguard. I want you to look the part at all times to prevent anyone from getting any bold ideas. I don’t have to remind you that Helena Dumond’s no fool to have amassed as much wealth and power that she has in such a short time that she has. Then let's not forget our 'visitor' even though I can't necessarily prove it. I just know something was trying to get these cards before I hand them over to Dumond to get paid and that really doesn't sit well with me. Who or what would be crazy enough to try to get in the middle of one of the Underw0rld's contracts?"

Taurus interjects, "I have one better... Who or what is crazy enough to try to cross paths with you of all people?"

Majestuosa batted him an audacious smile, "Good point. A lot of people know my reputation but they don't have the slightest idea of what I look like or any of our personal information as I'm really thorough about that. And whatever surveillance footage there is of us on the scene, I have the Webmaster erase from any servers. What bothers me is that this individual knew what room I was staying in and exactly what to look for."

Taurus asks, "But the sooner we hand this thing off to Dumond, it'll become her problem instead of ours right?"

"Exactly, but I don't like leaving any loose ends that could come back to haunt me later. Diosa and her friends don't know who I am in the slightest, so they aren’t any threat to me whatsoever. Then there’s nothing to worry about from Cytherea as we have a lasting arrangement."

Taurus looks confused, "And do I need to ask what happened between you two?"

"Long story short without all of the messy details... We have a deal established between us that I won't expose her for what she truly is as long as she doesn't do the same about me, given the fact that those with my particular talents are highly sought after by her kind."

Taurus' tone changes, concerned, "Are you up to this though? You didn't get much rest since last night and we have been all wired since this morning from our little intruder or whatever you want to call it. I don't want us to walk into some sort of an ambush because you've been pushing your powers too hard."

"That's cute, Taurus, but you don't need to worry about me. I use my powers as easily as breathing. The lack of sleep is going to catch up to me sooner than later, but that double espresso I drank on the way should keep me more than alert for this transaction."

Unknown to both Taurus and Majestuosa, they have an unwanted passenger - the same one that attempted to steal Majestuosa's prize - crouching effortlessly on the rear of the vehicle as it speeds along throughout the parking garage. The speed of the vehicle nor the constant state of motion has no effect on this individual's ability to maintain its position on the vehicle. When the vehicle comes to a stop, their passenger is the first one to exit from the vehicle unseen or unheard with its presence still hidden completely from Majestuosa's detection. Taurus gets out of the car and helps Majestuosa out of the car from the passenger side. Majestuosa stands up on her high-heeled feet, clutching her purse cautiously to her chest as she stops to scan their surroundings - both with eyes and again with her mind telepathically, sweeping the area for any and all possible threats. Once again, her stalker-turned-unwanted passenger on this business trip remains undetected.

Majestuosa sighed heavily as she turned to Taurus annoyed, "Still nothing. I can easily sense the thoughts of those in the floors above us, but here I feel that same nothingness as in my hotel room this morning. It's like staring right into the void."

The irony of that statement was that the source of her ire and confusion was staring right back at her from the rear of the Corvette, hidden from both her and Taurus' eyes with an illusionary spell of deception.

Majestuosa and Taurus approached the private elevator and Majestuosa punched in the code. The elevator opened and the pair stepped in. Majestuosa’s passenger watched the pair enter the elevator before she sank into the shadows of the parking garage as if it were a pool of water.

Inside the elevator, a voice echoed through the elevator's speakers.

"That's pretty bold of you to take my private elevator, Miss Mendoza."

Majestuosa corrected her, "While on business, I prefer to be called Majestuosa."

"Majestuosa it then. My two assistants, Bliss and Bless, will escort you both to my special conference room where I am preparing for this unique type of transaction."

Majestuosa spoke to Taurus telepathically, "From here on out, stay on your toes. The moment this transaction shows any signs of going south, we're getting the hell out of here. Understood?"

Taurus silently nodded.

It didn't take long for the elevator to ascend to the top floor of the skyscraper that served as the base of operations for Heaven Industries. The two elevator doors opened and there stood two spectacled, formally dressed, yet statuesque women at the sides of the door, ready to welcome them as Majestuosa and Taurus exited the elevator.

They spoke in unison as they addressed their guests.

"Follow us, Miss Majestuosa. Miss Dumond has been anxiously awaiting your arrival and made the necessary preparations."

Majestuosa merely shrugged and followed their lead with Taurus following closely behind. They were led down a few corridors until they reached a large laboratory of sorts, with three holding cells setup along the left wall. Several technicians were running diagnostics and final preparations under Helena Dumond's watchful eye. She turned around at the sound of the double doors being opened, smiling at the arrival of her guests.

"Are the cells ready?" she asked one of the technicians.

"Yes, ma'am. We're positive that it could hold the entire Gendarmine if deemed necessary."

"Excellent. You're all dismissed for now. I need the room... and some privacy for my guests."

The technicians gathered their things and scattered like cockroaches out of the nearby exits, making sure not to gain the ire of the chairwoman.

Helena Dumond spoke again while continuing to smile at her guests.

"Computer, lock all entrances and exits to this room. Limit all video surveillance to my private server as well. Director Code, 1-N-4-N-N-4."

"Code accepted."

The sound of the doors locking echo throughout this large space while Bliss and Bless stride over to stand between Majestuosa and Helena Dumond. Majestuosa placed a hand on her hip as she grew more impatient.

Helena steps between them as she extends her hand out towards Majestuosa as the first olive branch. Bliss and Bless look concerned at this gesture as they normally stand guard at their boss’ side but she stepped between them with complete disregard for caution.

"That won't be necessary, ladies. I have the utmost respect for a fellow businesswoman such as Majestuosa here. I have to ask though, do we really have to play around with the aliases though? Seems a little childish to me..."

Majestuosa laughed before accepting the gesture to shake her hand, "I would, but I'm not the only one in here using an alias, so it's only fair - for the record."

Helena grinned, "Touché. And it seems that you did her homework... Or did you happen to cheat on that test too? Seems like the only thing you telepaths are good for from what I hear."

Majestuosa cut the pleasantries short as she fired back.

"Cut the shit, Helena. Either give me my money or I walk right out of here - after I tear through you and your lap dogs over there. I already have another buyer in mind if you didn't want to agree to the terms of the payment for my services."

Helena pulls out her personal tablet from her pocket and scours her bank account and sets up a private transfer of funds.

“Straight to the point - I like that. Ten million for the job, am I correct?”

Majestuosa corrects her, “Forty-five million… Ten million each for the three divine beings. Another ten for having to deal with Cytherea… and another five million for being stalked by someone clearly after the same thing that you’re after. Take it or leave it.”

Helena grits her teeth, “Fine… Forty-five million it is… But before I authorize this transfer, I want to make sure that I’m paying for the authentic real deal instead of some forgeries. Show me that you really have what I asked for. Insert one of the cards into the panel on the cell.”

Majestuosa opened her purse and retrieved the three confinement cards that contained the captured essences of Diosa, Priscilla/Oya, and Oshun contained within. She took Diosa’s card and inserted it as instructed into the slot.

The naked form of Ximena Vega materialized within the cell, still visually beaten and exhausted from her battle with Cytherea that pushed her to her limits. She slowly regained consciousness, only to immediately cover herself with her arms in a feeble attempt to preserve her modesty.

Majestuosa was quick to attack her mind, taking care to remind the young woman what had just transpired as Majestuosa continued to appear in her costumed attire from the night before to everyone in this room. Unfortunately for Ximena, the only person she saw in this room right now was just Majestuosa standing in front of her and nothing else.

She spoke to Ximena aloud, “You should be thanking me, Pequeñita. Without me, you would be just another one of Cytherea’s mindless slaves, just like your crazy little amiga… What was her name again? Oh yes, Priscilla!”

The mere mention of Priscilla's name lit a fire within Ximena, despite how hurt and tired she was from being thrashed royally by Cytherea a few hours ago. In a blinding flash of light, she instantly transformed into her fully armored divine form of Diosa and charged directly at Majestuosa with a punch directed right at her head. Majestuosa stood her ground with her arms folded, watching Diosa’s fist impact the wall of her energized prison instead.

While Diosa was left looking around confused, Majestuosa looked back at Helena Dumond and asked, “I think that more than qualifies for a demonstration, am I correct?”

Majestuosa released the veil on Diosa’s mind and revealed the surroundings to her while Helena Dumond walks up to the wall of the cell. She smiles at Diosa and says, “You and I have a lot to talk about, young lady.”

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