01 – First Flight

Brisbane, 1905.

‘And she was the turtle all along!’

Ryan stared. ‘Sir?’

There was a look on his Director’s face. It matched certain facial profiles that he saw on Reynolds’ face throughout the day. A microsecond later, he deduced that Reynolds was expectant. He expected something of Ryan, though he was unsure what.

Ryan kept his eyes on Director Reynolds, and looped the audio from the last section of their conversation. It seemed unrelated to the as-yet-unstated reasons for them standing on the Agency roof.

Something was wrong. It was inconsistent behaviour. A rooftop meeting – sometimes a location to meet with fae, or to get a view of the area immediately surrounding the Agency; however, it was predominantly for show, the roof of the Agency was as much a part of the Agency as any other room. It was all system territory, the same rules applied on every square inch.



The expression Reynolds wore changed – expectation became disappointment. ‘It’s a joke, Ryan,’ Reynolds said, gently slapping his arm. ‘You’re supposed to laugh.’

‘I didn’t see the humour, sir, I apologise for-‘

‘I have to keep reminding myself you aren’t a newborn, but you certainly act like it, agent.’

‘Sir, can I ask what we’re doing up here?’

‘There’s something you need to see. Can’t you feel it? Can’t you hear it?’

Ryan concentrated and listened, fixing his eyes on the shadowed brick of the building next to the Agency. There were the usual night sounds – everything was within usual parameters. Everything was in order.

‘Nothing, Ryan?’

‘Nothing out of the ordinary, sir.’

Reynolds gave a small laugh and leaned his forearms on the wall of the roof. ‘I’ve heard it said among the fae that if you can’t feel this, it means you have no soul…because you need a soul to hear it. It’s nonsense, of course, but people do find their ways to be cruel.’

‘We’re agents, sir, we don’t have souls.’

Reynolds stood straight, brushed brick dust from the arms of his suit, then placed his hands on Ryan’s shoulders. ‘Listen to me, newborn, really listen, because this is important. Souls are inertia, and they are self. We don’t have the inertia, we get that from the system, but the self, the important part, of course we have that. We are reasonable, thinking, people. We have thoughts, we have feelings, wants, needs and fears, so by every measure that counts, and by every damned god, we have souls Ryan, and I won’t let you think otherwise.’

A question formed. An opinion. An impertinent response to what his Director had said. Impertinence was against the spirit of duty – it was against the system to question authority, to argue with those in power above you, but Reynolds thrived on chaos and discourse.

‘If you recognise what we have, sir, is there a need to call it by name, sir? We do not have souls in the technical sense, and that would be what a lot of people gauge-‘

Reynolds threaded his fingers through Ryan’s. ‘This isn’t a fight you’re going to win, agent, so give up now. Close your eyes and listen, you’ll hear it, I promise.’

‘I gain no extra auditory benefit from-‘

‘Shut your damn eyes, Ryan.’

There was no need to argue with a direct order, even if it wasn’t a standard instruction.

Ryan closed his eyes and listened.

Reynolds squeezed his hand. ‘You’ll understand in a moment. Listen, what do you hear?’

Horse shoes striking the street and the sound of wheels. The faint sounds of a man drunkenly singing. Noises so familiar and banal that he was able to easily filter them. There was nothing that needed his attention. Nothing that warranted this disruption to their schedule.

A woman was singing.

He pulled away from Reynolds and gripped onto the brick wall. Long, perfect notes came through the night, so loud and beautiful that it was impossible to think that he hadn’t heard them.

Beautiful. A subjective term. He considered the descriptor and allowed it. His ears tingled, and he drew in a sharp breath as the music seemed to sink into his chest. Background thoughts considered the use of a sonic weapon, but more immediate thoughts recognised the sensation as benign, even if it was overpowering.

The best course of action was to decrease his chance of being off-balance. He sat, his back to the brick, and looked up at the sky.

The moon was large, far larger than it should have been, far larger than it usually was.


Reynolds’ voice shook him from his reprieve. ‘Sir?’

‘I’ll be back in a few, Ryan. Don’t be scared.’

‘I see no need for terror, sir-‘

‘You will.’

Reynolds shifted away, the blur in the air disappearing a moment later.

The song stopped, and the pressure on his chest disappeared. He allowed his attention to go back to the moon – it was also behaving in a non-standard way, so the logical course of action was to keep an eye on it. He stood and walked in a small circle, to see if a slightly different angle would give him further information.

He ran a quick check through his HUD of fae events to see if any festivals or celebrations were scheduled that would explain all of the out-of-sorts behaviour. Nothing. It wasn’t a mystery, just an event with delayed answers, due to his Director’s want to keep their regular patterns of behaviour…irregular and “interesting”.

The discolouration on the moon began to fade – things were going back to normal.

Ryan felt his mind adjusting to new data as the discolouration intensified in the centre of the moon’s face. A small, dark red ball. The ball shook, violently, and he began to open up emergency procedures, perusing them as quickly as he could whilst looking for other information, other signs of danger.

The ball exploded, and he began to run emergency protocols – each of which came with a swift override from Reynolds.

He stared up, and felt fear as fire took on form and a screech reached his ears.

He tried to process information.

He tried not to feel fear.

Ryan didn’t need the window in his HUD to identify a phoenix. It was impossible to go five years of life as an agent without hearing about their power, about what they could do. Their capabilities and their duty were one – they were creatures whose purpose was destruction.

He could hear the phoenix’s heartbeat. Loud. Reverberating in his chest, just as the song had done. Each beat brought the end closer.

Red, a death by fire. A planet burnt to cinders, until all were ash. Blue – flood a planet with magic so that any non-magical being disappeared as surely as if they had been shifted away. Green, for when there was a need to utterly destroy an ecosystem and replace it with a new one. Purple, to sunder the air, to take breath from all. Glittering, for when a heart worked in concert with death to consume all. More colours than anyone knew about. More deaths than could be imagined. Innumerable ways for the Agency to fail, for everyone to die.

Red phoenix. A burning death for every person he had been created to protect. A city, destroyed. His duty, failed.

His breath came in ragged gasps.

There was nothing he could do. Any warnings would be-

A hand touched his shoulder and he screamed in alarm.



‘It’s not for our world, Ryan.’

Ryan felt relief, and he allowed his body to slump. It was unprofessional, as were the tears on his cheeks.

Reynolds steadied him. ‘Goodness, gods, Ryan, how could you think- Would I have ever left you alone if it had been for Earth?’

‘You gave me no information!’

Reynolds put a strong hand on his shoulder and looked him square in the eyes. ‘Agent, I thought you knew me better. If it had been for us, would we be standing here, waiting for the end?’

‘It’s a phoenix, sir,’ Ryan said as the firebird wheeled across the sky. ‘There is nothing we could do.’

Reynolds smiled. ‘I might have to take a look at your base code, agent, there’s no provision in my Duty for giving up just because it’s hard.’

‘Impossible is different to hard, sir.’

‘Not in my dictionary.’

There was a cadence to Reynolds’ words. An invitation. A chance to make up for his failing to recognise the earlier joke. ‘Not- I might have to take a look at your base code, Director, I fear your dictionary may be out of sorts.’

Reynolds gave a wry smile and ruffled his hair. ‘Not bad Ryan, you might have a sense of humour buried under all of that newborn stiffness and Dusker shit.’

‘Do me a favour, agent?’



It was an order. It was his duty to follow it. He jumped, and his feet didn’t touch back down. He looked down. He was hovering. ‘Sir?’

‘Time to fly, angel, it’s good for your soul.’

[table id=15 /]

02 - Everything Old is New Again

  30 comments for “01 – First Flight

  1. MacDitch
    June 17, 2013 at 5:47 pm

    …walked in a small turned, to see if a slightly….

    Er, what?

    • Stormy
      June 17, 2013 at 10:13 pm

      >_< The things I write sometimes, at least this I have an explanation for. The line was originally going to be "turned in a small circle", it became "walked into a small circle" and the two kinda got smushed together.

  2. MacDitch
    June 18, 2013 at 7:02 pm

    Given the amount you write, and the number of edits/re-writes, I’m impressed that there aren’t more of these really. 🙂

    • Stormy
      June 19, 2013 at 6:06 pm

      A bunch of them are caught by the flunkies (ie, Wraith and Shade), but needless to say, I keep my ashreader in constant fits of laughter and confusion.

  3. June 19, 2013 at 2:40 am

    And now I’m retrospectively mourning Reynolds’ incapacitation. ;_;
    Damn, but that is one epic agent. I can see why Ryan looks up to him.

    • Stormy
      June 19, 2013 at 6:03 pm

      Reynolds was/is a great guy. Considering he was born fairly early into the “agent” cycle – he’s not one of the first, but they were really slow in making each new agent back in the old days.

      The idea; way for him to be would have been to embrace the code of behaviour exemplified by “the best of us” as Ryan puts it, those agents who don’t speak with their mouths if at all possible, who do require each breath when they do talk, who run the emotionless line harder than a Vulcan…

      But he decided against that, he became fun, he embraced the more lax laws they had in place in comparison to some previous models, and became…for lack of a better word, human.

      He has his missteps with Ryan – consistently comparing him with Rhys did absolutely nothing for newborn!Ryan’s self-esteem, it very much came across like a comparison to a dead older sibling; multiplied exponentially because Ryan was very slow to develop (as we see here).

      [Point of comparison: This is Ryan at five years old, the Darren we see hanging out with chibi!Mags is the same age. Darren is a bit of an idiot (which, if you think about it, is huge growth for an agent that young), has a steady relationship, and wants children (even if he wants seventeen kids named Chester). Ryan, on the other hand…can’t recognise a joke with a tricorder.]

      But they found their level – and as Ryan has said, Reynolds essentially filled every role for him: father, brother, best friend, mentor. When Taylor came along, he shifted (hehe) into primarily acting like a father – which does put Ryan and Taylor into the position of siblings. (I do half-expect in Blue Dust, when they’re all back together again, that Reynolds is going to grab them both, smack their heads together and make them shake).

      He taught Ryan to be a good man. He gave Taylor the freedom to go to war, and make mistakes. He accepted Samuels as the smartest person he ever knew (wait till he meets Jones), and gave Applebaum somewhere to go when a lack of options may have meant recycling.

      He’s great…and his absence is why our Agency fell apart.

      • June 19, 2013 at 6:42 pm

        I cannot wait for when Reynolds (supposedly) wakes up. Unfortunately, that just sounds too… nice.

        I don’t trust you with nice, Stormy… <_<

        • Stormy
          June 19, 2013 at 6:54 pm

          He’s awake-ish, even if he’s in shock.


          <_ < >_>

          I can do nice! I can…no wait, that was horrible. And that…no, that didn’t work out as planned. And Stef…let’s leave her out of the equation. But Curt, wait, nope. Ryan…would gladly shoot me. *pretends Taylor doesn’t exist*


        • Shade
          June 20, 2013 at 6:13 am

          Except in Blue Dust, when they’re locked away from each other. Although, to be fair, the sex to make up for it had to have been beyond epic.

          Also, Parker-2 can be an asshole, but he’s also the only one that we’ve actually seen that’s yelled at Taylor and GOTTEN AWAY WITH IT.

        • June 20, 2013 at 3:52 pm

          >_< Forgot about that…

          Okay, let me rephase that to 'stays alive until the end of Blue Dust'

          That worries me more.

  4. Stormy
    June 20, 2013 at 6:42 am

    (Ah, this is why I capped threaded comments at five – they’ll get too tiny otherwise).

    Shade – yeah, except for in BD. (Ok, ok, they lost their connection for a bit in OUB, but they could at least still touch), but I’m not sure it counts, considering every other agent was also going through a nightmare (I think that zeroes the board for BD).

    And yes. That sex was epic. So epic, it had to be off-screen, because sometimes the imagination is just flat-out better.

  5. Stormy
    June 20, 2013 at 6:53 pm

    Liam – if I can say nothing else about BD, it’s that we get to keep Reynolds for good. He’s obviously traumatised by what happened, but he retakes his position of Director. (What this means for the other Agency staff and how they shuffle into new positions might be a little unexpected though…).

    • June 21, 2013 at 5:52 pm


      This has made my day.
      I am looking forward to more BD so hard right now…

      • Stormy
        June 22, 2013 at 10:45 am

        So am I, but I don’t want to wreck this new groove that I’ve gotten with MH (I’m actually writing on the commute to/from work, something I haven’t done in over a year), so I want to work at it until I start to slow down again, then I’ll switch back to BD.

        Which I do appreciate is annoying for everyone who isn’t a newbie, I’d like to try and get the rewrite stuff done as efficiently as possible, so that there’s less of a gap between new readers and old – and far more importantly, less hurdles for new readers trying to get into the series.

        Plus, really, after the MS rewrite, everyone can enjoy stuff, because most of that content will be new (OUB is getting pulled into three or four separate books), with each rewritten significantly to compensate for that.

        And yes,it is going to be the case of finishing off BD before getting through all that, but- (Rah, Can you see why my brain gets messed up sometimes? -_-). New stuff and rewrites are equally important, so one is always going to suffer.

        (Well, except for the last six months, both were suffering. -_-).

        • June 22, 2013 at 8:47 pm

          Oh, don’t worry, I can wait.

          I trust you to write in whatever order and pace you feel best, and I just look forward to reading whatever comes out of your brilliant mind. ^_^

          As it is, I’m loving the rewrite.

        • Stormy
          June 23, 2013 at 8:36 am

          And by “brilliant mind”, you mean “the labyrinth of madness with an ok gift shop on the way out”? 😛

          I’m really digging the (new) rewrite – I’ve already spotted a couple of problems with it, but I feel like it’s going to have a better flow than the first attempt.

          And it means that I’m going to get to preserve some of the cool things from the original that I was going to lose with the new direction (like the monsters), and I always did enjoy the idea that Stef was a prop for half a book. 😛

  6. June 23, 2013 at 9:32 pm

    Stormy – I guess I have a somewhat skewed perspective, since I just loiter around in the gift shop, mostly. It’s a pretty nifty gift shop. 😛

    I’m glad to hear that most of the original stuff will be kept. It’s odd having conflicting head-canons, and as I recall, I did quite like the original.

    • Stormy
      June 25, 2013 at 9:38 pm

      I think the conflicting head-canon thing goes away after a while, and the new stuff supersedes it in your head – I barely remember MF1.0 any more (which is why going through it again is fun).

      • June 25, 2013 at 9:58 pm

        Yeah, mostly. Though I have a feeling MF1.0 is still the version most stuck in my head. Something about reading it through for the first time, perhaps. I think I read it a couple years earlier than the rest, back when it was all there was.

        • Stormy
          June 25, 2013 at 10:05 pm

          Holy cripes, you read the original? Like, back in the WordPress WibblyPress days?

        • June 25, 2013 at 11:23 pm

          Those words sound familiar. Let’s see, with an extremely rough guestimate, I’d say somewhere between 5 and 7 years ago? I can’t quite recall. But yes, quite some time ago. I’m pretty sure it was the first version published online. I think there was a link from Tales of MU.

          I may be mistaken, but I have a feeling MH wasn’t up yet, if even the end of MF.

          But yes, I’ve been lurking for some time. ^_^

  7. Stormy
    June 26, 2013 at 5:27 am

    Liam, yeah, that sounds about right. o_o I thought I’d lost pretty much everyone from way back then.

    • June 26, 2013 at 7:53 am

      Aww, I’m sorry to hear that, but I’m glad to prove an exception.
      Surprise! 😀

      I really have been lurking a long time… <_<

      • Stormy
        June 26, 2013 at 8:41 am

        I had this mass exodus the firs time I killed Stef off – before MH had been released, because there were too many people who didn’t the realise the implications of Stef being stabbed by wishes, and assumed I was just flat-out killing her. -_-

        …and it still kind of amazes me how long this has been going. I’m hoping the next five years will be a lot more productive.

        • June 26, 2013 at 8:47 am


          They failed the test.
          They don’t deserve your genius…

          Well, I’m glad to see that you’re still here and going strong!

          I wouldn’t hold it against you if you don’t become more productive, though – what we get now is still plenty enjoyable.

  8. Stormy
    June 28, 2013 at 10:19 pm

    I do want to get stuff done – especially the rewrites so we can just charge ahead with new content so I don’t feel as though I’m spinning my wheels for more years. -_-

    • June 29, 2013 at 1:02 am

      Well, I can’t argue against new content! 😀

      • Stormy
        July 1, 2013 at 6:44 am

        I’m going to do a quick-ish post later about what I hope to get out this year.

        …mainly so I can come back in 18 months and wonder what I was thinking. >_>

        • July 1, 2013 at 6:51 am


          I eagerly await the unveiling of your master plan!

  9. DPalmz
    June 29, 2018 at 3:44 pm

    As a first time reader, I feel like i have to balance my comment reading because on one hand it feels like im getting more lore for the world, which is nice, but on the other hand, most commenters i’ve seen are rereaders and occasionally post spoilers.

    I do wish your website had a “next chapter” button though…

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