Dread sat cross-legged in the dry dirt of a dying Earth, in front of a pitch black portal. She stopped “waiting” an hour ago and meditated to pass the time instead. A brilliant golden glow emanated from her body; its light kept an army of skeletons at bay. They surrounded Dread but made no other moves as long as her light filled the darkness around her. A pale girl with raven curls and orange eyes popped her head out of the dark hole in front of Dread, but she did not notice because her eyes were closed.
“Hi! I’m Dirge!” the girl said. Dread’s eyes popped open, then she stared at the head while she stood up and dusted her well-worn blue jeans off. The girl walked out of the portal. She was shorter than Dread; Dirge looked up and smiled. Dread extended her hand.
“I’m Dread.” Dirge accepted the hand and shook it, then she walked around Dread to appraise her. Dread felt self-conscious for the first time in a while; she could not remember the last time she felt that feeling gnawing at her. She stood up straighter, and ran her hand through her bone-white, short spiky hair. The curly haired girl grabbed Dread’s red shirt and pulled down the hem to look at the logo of a tiger and shark in a yin-yang formation in the center of her chest.
“I love your shirt!” Dirge said.
“Thanks. It was my dad’s.” At the mention of her father, a quick flash of remorse shot across Dirge’s face.
“Oh yeah, Regal was telling my parents about what happened when I came through. 400 years, huh?” Dirge asked. Dread nodded.
“He said Conquerors age at a slower rate when they’re not in their universe. One year for every 100,” Dread said. She felt the need to explain why she looked so young. She wasn’t used to lowering her guard and feeling inadequate, but somehow it came easy with Dirge.
“Yup,” Dirge nodded, she already knew of course. “And Celestials like me don’t age at all when we’re in a different universe,” Dirge said. She looked around and noted the skeletons forming a large circle around them.
“You’re a Celestial? What number?” Dread asked. She stepped closer and looked into Dirge’s bright orange eyes. She’d met lots of Uniques during her travels, but she’d never run across a Celestial until she met Regal.
“14, La Muerte,” Dirge said and smiled.
“Can you do portals yet?” Dread asked. Dirge nodded causing her curls to bounce.
“Yep! Since I was two,” Dirge smiled. A deep male’s voice that each of them recognized shouted out from the black hole.
“Threnody! Dread! C’mon back.” Dirge stamped her foot on the ground then stomped through the portal. Dread followed her to a nice white tiled kitchen on the other side. Regal stood talking with a couple. The woman had bright red hair, the man’s black hair and orange eyes matched Dirge’s.
“Daddy! Didn’t you tell Regal my new name?” Dirge asked. The man with the orange eyes gave her an apologetic look.
“Sorry hon, but we were kind of busy discussing your new sister,” he said, then he looked at the blonde, bearded man. “Threnody decided her name is now Dirge.” Regal nodded.
“Well she is her father’s daughter,” Regal laughed. Dread stepped closer to Dirge and whispered in her ear.
“What does he mean?” She asked.
“My dad’s name is Poseidon, but it’s too long, so he just goes by Posie.” Dirge shrugged. “Threnody was too long so I picked Dirge. It’s pretty much the same thing,” Dirge whispered an answer.
“Cool,” Dread said.
“How do you feel about sharing your room, Threnny?” Dread watched Dirge’s orange eyes roll upward in her head.
“It’s fine, mom. But can we go play first? I can make portals and Dread has been through a ton of Earths. She said we can check some of them out.”
“I did?” Dread whispered, but her only answer was an elbow in her side.
“How long?” Dirge’s mother, Robin, asked. Dirge shrugged.
“Till Dread’s birthday?” Regal leaned closer to the redheaded woman and whispered something in her ear. Robin’s eyes grew wide with surprise, but Regal kept whispering. When he stopped, her face changed. She nodded.
“Okay. Regal thinks it’s a good idea for you two to do some bonding. You know you can come home if you get bored.” Regal pulled out two black and gold business cards and handed them one each.
“Hold on to these. If anything happens you can use them to open a portal home. The each took their card, then Dirge waved a hand at the air. An empty black portal opened up. Dread started to walk through, but Dirge walked up behind her and shoved the taller girl through the portal.
“Tag you’re it!” she giggled, then she turned to her parents and waved as she stepped through the portal herself. “See you in a hundred years!”