They came on very quickly. Even with his superior reflexes, he nearly didn’t react soon enough. The first one fell on him from above. Rising as quickly as he could, Zephyr rolled out of the way, directly into the second one. It was waiting.

And that was the only way to describe them. “It.” They were clearly not human. Zephyr chuckled inwardly at the thought. He knew that humans were a lot less common than they realized. Many even believed themselves to be human and were not. Some, of course, knew what they were. The Anemoi had known for millennia. That knowledge had allowed them to protect the planet for some time.

But these things didn’t even appear to be human. They were quite clearly something different. Something new.

Someone had been busy.

Nearby, a scream split Zephyr’s thoughts in two, and his reflexes faltered.

Iris. Zephyr’s instincts had caused him to forget her briefly, and a third one had appeared and grabbed hold of her from behind. He turned toward the scream, prepared to rush to her aid, when the second one took advantage of the opportunity.

Lights blossomed behind Zephyr’s eyes. These guys hit hard, he thought to himself as he crumpled to the ground, a feint. The second one stepped in, eagerly. With his eyes still closed, Zephyr kicked out and up, snapping the thing’s head back with a sickening crack. His third eye, the one that could see everything, was satisfied that it would not stand back up.

One down.

“Zeph, help!”

Zephyr’s eyes fluttered open. The first one was missing, but the third was busy dragging Iris away. Zephyr rushed toward her, but was snagged from behind. The first one had slipped around behind him and it’s grip was deathly tight. Zephyr twisted and heaved, trying to break free, but found no way out.

“Sweetie, no…”

Iris’s voice had changed. It was softer, calming. She was no longer panicked. Zephyr looked up to see that the third had let her go and was standing idly by. Zephyr’s confusion radiated and Iris seemed to bask in it momentarily, a sad smile breaking out on her face. She approached him and placed a hand upon his cheek. Zephyr looked into her eyes and his heart shattered. There was no welcoming glance, no loving look from one who had claimed to love him. Only betrayal. For a brief moment a look of regret flickered across her face and vanished, to that place where suppressed emotions go, never to return. But it was in his head. It stayed there, and he treasured it for the rest of his life, knowing that a part of her still truly loved him.

Iris leaned in and kissed him on the lips, her tongue probing. His lips parted without thinking and his tongue suddenly felt a pinprick. He jerked back, the taste of blood in his mouth. The thing holding him shoved him to the ground at a nod from his love.

Zephyr struggled to his feet. The drug was working quickly. Too quickly.

What did she hit me with?

His mind reeled and his body faltered. He was strong, always had been, but even this drug was more powerful than he was prepared for.

“Iris…”

She appeared before him. His lover and betrayer.

“I forgive you.”

The world went away for a long time, and Zephyr found rest for the first time in months. A longer look of regret crossed her face, but Zephyr did not see it to take with him, and the two with her didn’t live long enough to inform their master that it ever occurred.

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