“That’s a great goal. You don’t have a lot of experience with Zeroes, so let me give you a piece of advice,” Vegas said. He stepped to the side and gestured the girls towards the house. Dirge took the hint and headed towards the door. Dread followed. Vegas fell in step alongside them and kept talking.
“No matter how many of her you meet, you’ll never meet the same Glory again.” The reached the screen door and Vegas opened it to let the girls in. The group walked into Vegas’ living room and Vegas sat down on a brown leather loveseat across from a matching couch. Dirge and Dread sat on the couch and continued to listen. “A lot of Uniques think that every Zero is like its other copies, but each one is unique in its own way. If you’re looking to meet her again, just give up now. You won’t,” Vegas said. He wore a serious look that Dirge recognized as his “Listen to what I’m telling you.” face. She did not see it often so she made sure to listen when he had that look.
“How do you know?” Dread asked. “There’s infinite universes out there, right?” Vegas nodded.
“Yep, there are. But, Ballisea’s out there too…” Vegas started to explain, but Dread interrupted him.
“We met her, and we totally survived,” Dread puffed her chest out, and deliberately chose to leave out the fact that Ballisea let them live on purpose. Vegas chuckled.
“Well of course you did, she won’t kill Uniques ‘less they get under her skin. It’s Zeroes she goes through like popcorn. I wanna know what went down, but first lemme finish what I was sayin’,” Vegas said.
“I mentioned Ballisea was out there. Not as a warning, but because she’s still out there killing Zeroes. She kills every Zero she sees, hoping to spawn her husband again.” He explained. A noise distracted them. Dirge and Dread looked towards the entrance to see Lauren, Vegas’ wife, coming into the house.
“Hey girls! How’s it going?” she asked, excited to see the teenagers. “Staying for dinner?” she lifted a pair of shopping bags to indicate there was plenty. Dread stood from the couch and grabbed the shopping bags from Lauren without a word. “Thanks, Dread!” With her hands-free
“Yeah, we’d love to stay, thanks!” Dirge said. Dread sat next to Dirge.
“You’re just in time, babe,” Vegas said. “The girls were gonna tell me about their run-in with Ballisea.”
“And Flutter!” Dread added. She stood from the couch and reached into her pocket to pull out Flutter’s golden scale. She held it up proudly for Vegas and Lauren to see.
“Well I’ll be a monkey’s uncle,” Vegas said and stood from the loveseat. As a habit Dirge replied.
“Oooh oooh aah,” she giggled. Vegas and Lauren joined in, but it was the first time Dread had seen the interaction. “Cause he’s my uncle,” Dirge explained in a whisper to Dread while Vegas disappeared to the kitchen.
“Oh. okay,” Dread said. Vegas returned with a large, long, golden box.
“Bring that scale over here, let’s try something.” Vegas set the box on the table with a heavy drop. Dread walked over with the scale, Dirge and Lauren also moved closer to watch.
“What is it?” Dread asked.
“Well,” Vegas said with a grin aimed at Dread. “If that’s really Flutter’s scale you got there, then you can consider this a reward. This used to belong to Flutter,” Vegas pointed at a small black circle on the top of the box. “And only she can open it. But that scale should do the trick.” Dread stepped forward and pressed the scale against the black circle. It blinked a flashing green light, made a beeping sound, then the top of the box unlatched.
“Congratulations. Now thank your lucky stars that Flutter isn’t known for holding grudges.” Vegas opened the box. Inside a long sword with a wide green blade and a golden handle rested in a green silk-lined recess.
“Whoa…are you sure I can have it?” Dread asked. “Wait, what do you mean she doesn’t hold grudges? How do you know that?” Dread pulled the sword out while she waited for Vegas’ response. It felt heavier in her hand than her axe in the AlterNet. She gave it a couple of test swings and decided she liked her axe better.
“Flutter’s as gentle as a kitten, everyone knows that. That’s why I’ve been telling you to run if you see either of them. They won’t chase you,” Dread gave Dirge a side-glance when Vegas said that, because Ballisea seemed to take a special interest in them. Dirge giggled. “And if you get out of their way they won’t bother you.”
“If Flutter’s so gentle why’s she evil and killing Zeroes with Ballisea?” Dirge asked.
“She doesn’t have a choice,” Vegas looked at Dread. “You especially need to listen to this. Calaveras are as tough as they are because they’re meant to be guardians. Calaveras can form a link with a Celestial Unique that makes them both stronger, but that link is kinda like an open door between their minds. They’ve been linked for so long, and Ballisea is so powerful that she can pretty much run Flutter’s mind if she wants to. Luckily for
“Is it enchanted?” Dread asked. Vegas laughed.
“Nah, nothing like that. Ballisea’s really petty and takes a lot of things personally. She hates that sword.”
“Yes I do,” Ballisea’s voice said from a corner of the room. Everyone turned to see her stepping out of a black portal into Vegas’ house.