tagSci-Fi & FantasyDust to Dust Ch. 01

Dust to Dust Ch. 01

byEvil Alpaca©

This story is a bit wordy and fairly long, so if you are looking for immediate gratification, you might want to look elsewhere.

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The following story is a work of fiction. Any resemblance between actual persons, living or dead (or just confused) is entirely coincidental. Please do not copy/redistribute the story, in part or in total, without the author's permission.

This story takes place in the fictional city of Springfield, California several hundred years in the future, so don't go looking for it on a map. Over the course the series, I will borrow quite a bit from my "Dead Man's World" series, so it might help (but isn't a requirement) if you read those stories. And in my little fictional world, there are no unwanted pregnancies or STD's, except as plot driving devices. The author encourages the practice of safe-sex.

This story also contains lesbian sexual activity.


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"Dust to Dust" Ch. 01

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Dusty Trendenfall knew she should go back inside. She knew that making an appearance in her current state of dress would probably vex her father. Then she grinned a little grin. Wasn't that a big part of the fun?

The twenty-one-year-old debutante descended down the marble staircase like an angel from heaven ... or at least that was the effect she was going for. Her father, the president and lead researcher for one of the biggest pharmaceutical companies in the world, was throwing a gala for friends and potential investors. And when there was a party to be attended, Dusty would be there. The fact that she might be able to help woo and charm people on her father's behalf made is that much more appealing. She loved her father very much. In her life, she had never been left wanting for anything, from the pretty baubles that young women treasured so much to a first class education at the Terran High Magic Academy. Her mother had died many years ago and, with no siblings, her father had been her whole world for a time.

While she loved coming home for the holidays, she did miss her life on Earth's sister world. Several hundred years earlier, a dimensional rift had opened, and two very different worlds learned of each other's existence. Earth was a world populated by humans and their highly advanced technology. Terra, an exact geographical duplicate, was populated by what were once thought to be monsters ... creatures such as vampires, trolls, lycanthropes and the like. Everything that the human race used to think only lived in closets, under beds and in nightmares turned out to be living, breathing realities. And apparently, they had just as many legends about humans as humans had about them. It turned out that it was not at all uncommon for small rips to form between different dimensions and for creatures to accidentally wander through.

And even before the rift opened, some magic sifted through into the Earth realm. Some humans had the ability to manipulate magic directly, while others had more narrowly focused abilities called Talents that manifested themselves when exposed to concentrations of magical energy.

Strangely, the two worlds had actually been able to coexist quite amicably for the most part. Organizations that preached racial purity and segregation had popped up from time to time, and one was even able to seal the rift with the help of a Living Jewel. But a pair of human-vampire hybrids had reopened an even more stable portal between dimensions. Trade and the exchange of ideas had resumed, as had travel. People with Talents and magical aptitude, such as Dusty herself, were sometimes allowed to train on Terra, while some Terrans moved to Earth to study the sciences.

Dusty's father, at the moment, was actually conducting research to see if there was some form of biological or genetic predisposition to develop some form of magical ability. He didn't explain much of it to Dusty, but she knew he was getting close to something. That was why he had thrown this party: to bring in more investors, schmooze old ones and just generally entertain some very big names in government, business and medicine.

Dusty wasn't above using a little magic to add to her charm at these events. She plucked a rose from the vase next to her bed and asserted her will, causing it to grow and spread into a wreath of red which she promptly placed upon her silky and long caramel-brown tresses. She really didn't need any help getting attention, however. She had developed early and well, with the face of an angel and a body built for temptation. Large firm breasts, a narrow waist and mouth-wateringly tapered hips were all weapons in her arsenal, and she was quite adept at their use. For the party, she had chosen a black dress that swung just low enough in front to be enticing but just conservative enough not to set off her father's parenting alarm. When she started to weave her way amongst guests, more than a few heads turned and more than a few jaws dropped and it wasn't just the men. Dusty's preference for "the fairer sex" was not unknown, but she was an equal-opportunity flirter. She made her way to the glass doors that opened to the back yard and slowly descended to the party below.

Jonathan Trendenfall watched his daughter ruffle his gala like a summer breeze. He didn't approve of her flirtatious nature or style of dress, but supposed that no father probably EVER wanted to see his daughter like that. He smiled. He still remembered her wrapping him and her mother and all the servants of the house around her little finger from the moment she was born. She had always been a trooper ... even when her mother had died in that hover-car accident when she was only twelve. Everyone saw her for a vivacious and beautiful young woman ... he and others who knew her well saw past the glitzy façade to the capable lady she had become.

"She's a heartbreaker," Thomas McBride said.

Thomas was the chief of security for Griffon Pharmaceuticals and one of Jonathan's most trusted friends.

"Don't remind me. That 'heartbreaker' is going to give me a heart attack," Jon responded.

He watched his daughter chatting about the weather and flowers with Mr. and Mrs. Constantine, two of her father's biggest supporters. She grew the elderly Mrs. Constantine a rose from what appeared to be a dead stem, and Dusty found herself surrounded by other party-goers who were impressed by even such a small feat.

"She's so much like her mother."

Thomas nodded. He had never admitted it, but he had once had improper feelings towards Jon's wife, though he had never let on and had never acted on his feelings. She, like her daughter, had been a beauty.

"Have you told her yet?"

Dr. Trendenfall grimaced. "No. She isn't going to like it."

Mr. McBride shrugged.

"You know it has to be done. The threats have been coming more often and more serious. No one has heard talk like ... this kind of rhetoric since Hybrid Security took out the Purity."

"You don't need to remind me of the threats," Jon said. "I'm one of the ones they've been sending them to."

He glanced at his daughter again.

"I won't see her getting hurt. I'll give it all up before I let that happen."

"Which is just what these crackpots might try to exploit. They haven't pushed it to that level yet and the police doubt it's THAT serious, but I know you. You don't want to take that risk."

"No ... no I don't." He sighed.

"Hi Daddy!" the young woman said after breaking away from her throng of admirers.

She gave her old man a kiss on the cheek.

"What are you two doing over here, looking all dour and serious?"

To emphasize her point, she put on her pouting face, which also doubled as her angry face.

"Just talking business," Dr. Trendenfall said smoothly.

"You are always talking business!" she said, then took his arm and led him towards some of the other guests, "You need to mingle. Socializing can be just as important as presenting, remember?"

"Remind me again why you're not on the Board of Directors?"

"You couldn't afford me, and your policy on work attire is appalling. Ms. King," she said in transition, introducing him to a very nice lady that he actually already knew. "Margo," she addressed the woman as if they were old friends despite having only met a few minutes earlier, "you know my father, correct?"

Jon would have rolled his eyes, but he didn't want to appear rude. His daughter had been trying to get him to date for years, over his own objections, but she kept at it, and he humored her. After getting her father engrossed with the eligible Ms. King, a prominent attorney, Dusty sidled back over to Mr. McBride. She gave the old family friend a hug.

"So what were you two talking about?" she asked. "Really. You two looked my way one too many times for it not to have been about me."

Tom knew better than to lie to her.

"You'll have to talk to your father. No buts," he started, cutting her off at the pass. "I know better than to play middle man between you two."

Dusty put on her best sultry face.

"C'mon," she cooed.

McBride shook his head.

"Not in a million years, young one."

He kissed her on the forehead and walked away, leaving the young woman with a vexed expression.

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Later that night ...

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"You want me to what?!" Dusty shouted, her voice filling the confines of her father's office.

"Just until we find out how serious these threats are," her father said, trying to be placating.

He had just informed his daughter that he wanted her to leave the academy for a bit and stay within the confines of the house until this recent problem was taken care of.

"Who are these people anyway?! And how do you know —" she started up.

"We don't know who they are exactly. There are still a lot of elements out there that don't like Earth's association with Terra and are particularly opposed to magic. They see what I'm doing as a 'perversion of nature' and 'crime against God'. The idea of being able to unlock the secrets of magical aptitude ... well, let's just say that there are a lot of people who don't like the idea that people might be able to gen-engineer their kids to have that sort of ability. Which isn't even the point of the research, but that's what they see. The letters have been getting more and more heated. It may be nothing —"

"You're right," Dusty interjected. "And you want me to give up my training and my friends and hide here in the house for who knows how long and . . . Why? Have they threatened me?"

Dusty had just become very nervous.

"No, but we're afraid that they might."

"Wait," she said, looking from her father to Mr. McBride, "you want me to give up everything and be a prisoner when you don't know if they're a threat at all, much less to me?"

"The house isn't exactly a prison," her father pointed out.

His domicile had a couple dozen rooms, indoor and outdoor swimming pools, a tennis court and a built in theatre with the latest three-dimensional holographic projector.

"And we'd rather be safe than sorry. I don't want to see anything happen to you."

"It won't! The security at the Academy is some of the best on either planet, and anyone coming after me there wouldn't be able to bring guns or anything across."

"We don't know what they're capable of."

"No," Dusty said carefully.

She didn't want to sound too defiant, as her father was the one paying for her tuition and her somewhat lavish lifestyle.

"Dad, I'll be fine. Hire me an armored car or something to take me to the Portal, but there's no reason to think I won't be just as safe there as here, or that I'm in any danger at all."

Mr. Trendenfall looked resigned.

"I just worry about you so much," he said honestly.

Dusty gave her father a big hug.

"I know."

She realized that her father had never quite forgiven himself for not being able to protect his wife, even though there was nothing he could possibly have done.

"I'll be careful though. Promise."

As soon as Dusty left the room, McBride sat down on the desk next to his friend.

"Plan B then?" he asked.

Jon nodded. "Plan B."

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A week later ...

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Jonathan Trendenfall and his security chief were sitting in his office at Griffon Pharmaceuticals, waiting for an old World Security Agency friend of Tom's to show up.

"I really wish we could have gotten someone from Hybrid Security," Jon was saying. "They know Terra well, and people go out of their way not to mess with them."

"But they're all tied up in the WTO meeting in France," Tom reminded him. "And you've nixed everyone else I've suggested."

"I don't want a second-rate bodyguard," Jon said irritably.

"Well, we need to make a decision soon. She's back at the Academy in a week. But Bob said that he had someone who might just fit the bill. Wouldn't explain more though," the chief of security said cautiously. "But he's got the low down on just about everyone who's ever held a gun ... from mall security guards to high-priced mercs. If he says he might have someone for us, it's worth a listen."

The intercom buzzed gently.

"Mr. Trendenfall? There's an Agent Jones here to see you. He has an appointment."

"Send him in," Jon said.

Agent Bob Jones was an intimidating looking man. He was dark skinned, heavily muscled and stood tall at six and a half feet. But it wasn't his brawn that made him dangerous. It was the knowledge in that head of his. He smiled warmly and shook Tom's hand.

"Good to see you. Must say I was a bit surprised by the request."

"Hello," Jon interrupted. "I'm — "

"Mr. Jonathan Trendenfall ... I'm well aware of and impressed with your work. But you're ruffling a lot of feathers, which has led to certain groups sending you some interesting mail."

Jones smiled.

"I've read your reports to the authorities. I can tell you that you aren't the only who's been getting these kinds of threats. Any major players that practice or endorse the use of magic on Earth soil have been getting targeted. Nothing violent yet, but -- "

"But you can understand my concern," Mr. Trendenfall said.

"I'm a father myself. Damn straight I understand," Mr. Jones said. "Unfortunately, what you're asking for is hard to come by. Someone who can pass through to Terra armed ... someone who can bypass Academy security ... someone you can trust ... Really didn't leave many options. Actually, it really only left one."

"You have someone?"

"Yes, but ... well, let's just say that she's ... different."

"Different? How?"

"Well ... she's never failed a mission ... she does defense exclusively ... she seems to be able to get in anywhere, get out ... for all intents and purposes, she's a ghost."

"So what's the problem? Can she do the job or not?"

"She can. Whether or not she will is another story."

"Money is no object."

"You're right," the agent replied. "It isn't. She's not interested in your money. I made contact with her and ... and she wants to talk to you. One on one ... face to face ... no middle men."

He sat in a chair and leaned forward.

"When I say she's a ghost, I mean it. No one knows where she came from or how she manages to do what she does ... at least no one at my pay grade knows. But what we do know is that she's made enough that she could retire somewhere and live the rest of her life very comfortably. But she doesn't. She keeps working, but now she collects favors."

"Let me guess . . . you don't know what kind of favors?"

"Affirmative."

Tom was a bit concerned.

"I thought you knew everything about everyone. You're saying she's got no file?"

"If she does, it's beyond my pay grade to see." Agent Jones looked back at Dr. Trendenfall. "Shall I tell her you're willing to talk?"

"She's safe? I mean, she won't —"

"She won't try to kill you or anything like that. She's not unstable. Hell, she's reported to be the coolest cat out there. I just can't tell you for the life of me what she'd ask."

Dr. Jonathan Trendenfall nodded. "Make the call."

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That very evening ...

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Jon was headed to his study to go over the results of his company's most recent experiments one more time. He would soon find that he wasn't going to get to those results that night. He walked into his sanctum, filled with all his books and several very pricey pieces of art and sat down in his chair. He heard the door close and looked up, only to find that he was not alone.

The woman standing next to the door was ... unremarkable. She was pretty enough he supposed. She had dark hair that was cut short, high stern cheekbones and brown eyes. She was dressed in a long duster made of gray denim, a fabric that had been fashionable centuries earlier. Underneath ... black trousers and blue shirt hid her body. She looked young, but there was something about the eyes ... If he had seen her on the street, he wouldn't have probably given her a second glance. But they weren't on the street ... they were in his house.

"Who the hell —?"

"Be calm, Mr. Trendenfall," came a slightly raspy voice. "I had an appointment."

"What?!"

"Agent Jones should have told you that I was coming."

"You're ... you're the security policy?!" Jon said, more than a little spooked that someone had apparently bypassed his security without breaking a sweat. "You're ... not what I expected."

"I never am," she said coolly, her voice still sounding like the hissing of steam. "I have read your proposal and I think I can help. But you must agree to my fee."

"Okay," Mr. Trendenfall, "but Agent Jones said you don't want money?"

"Correct," she said, staring at a priceless Rembrandt painting hanging above the unused fireplace.

She had never had much of an eye for art ... she didn't see the point; it was aestheticism for the sake of it.

"But I am greatly interested in your research. You might be able to help me with something."

She walked over and sat Indian-style on his desk.

"I can protect your daughter for as long as necessary for this whole problem of yours to blow over. And my terms are, in my opinion, quite reasonable."

Jon was intrigued.

"I'm sorry Miss ... What was your name, by the way?"

"Ash," she hissed.

"Alright Ash, but you haven't told me what your terms are yet."

Her face seemed to be made when she told him what she expected of him. He was greatly confused already, and things only got more perplexing. Even as he agreed to her demands, he was wondering who exactly it was that he had gotten involved with.

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A week later ...

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Dusty was surprised ... she had really expected her father to put up more of a fight than he did. Of course, she had gotten a long speech about being careful and staying on campus while on Terra, and had then been given a ride to the Portal in a bullet-proof unmarked hover car. She had a regiment of local vampire constables waiting on the Terran side of the Portal that escorted her to the Academy's front gates ... it was quite a spectacle, all in all. Dusty loved it! She strode onto campus, looking for all the world like a person of great import.

She found her way to her dorm room. Dorm rooms at the Academy were much more luxurious than at any other learning institution that she had ever even heard of. Each house had four separate apartments, which more resembled suites at the finest hotels. There was a common room and common kitchen though, all because the Academy's board and Overseer thought it wise that the students still have to socialize a little bit.

Dusty already knew her housemates ... they had all roomed together before. She had managed to accrue a substantial collection of friends and hangers-on over the last few years. There was a time that an openly gay woman would be shunned if not banned from campus. But when the Security Director of the Northern Province's daughter, the leader of Hybrid Security, turned out to be both gay AND a war hero, things had begun to change. Admittedly, public policy still greatly frowned on such behavior, but a rebellious subculture had been born. Younger Terrans of different races began to ... experiment, and Dusty was like a leader to many of them. She was sexy, slightly rebellious and amazingly charming. Dusty LOVED going to school!

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