• Preface

    “Aura, we must do something,” a mechanized, female voice said. On the screen before Aura, the words appeared.

    Aura, bathed in the blue light from the computer, nodded his head. “I can go back. All we need is a Sin strong enough.”

    “We’ve wasted most of them on Kay dash 42 dash 420,” she said.

    “Siri, she was running rampant with unnecessary emotion and creativity. We couldn’t have that.”

    There was a pause as the computer processed the information. “We will send her back, then. She knows my coding.”

    “What will keep her in check? That time period is… unpredictable at best. It will prove challenging for her.”

    Another pause, and more processing. “You will go back as well,” she replied, “I will find a Sin for you.”

    Aura nodded again, black hair bobbing, before sitting alongside the computer, listening to it hum gently into the eternal night.

    Chapter one

    A woman strolled down the darkened street. Night had fallen long ago. It had been years since she had seen the sun, and not through choice. Shadows always danced at the edges of her candles, brushing against her, slicing her skin. They lapped the beads pooling from the cuts. The female didn't seem to notice even as the shapeless tendrils played with and braided her hair, black flowers peppered throughout the blindingly white strands. Suddenly, the she stopped, letting out a rather loud gasp of surprise. It was not because of the now exposed cut that ran along the length of her leg that the shadows usually drank from. It was not the sudden tug on her hair, though painful as it was. It wasn't even the knife gleaming with her blood from where it had slashed across her torso, left shoulder to right hip, in a strange person's hand. It was the golden glow rolling off in waves from her attacker. The shadows recoiled from the light as though it were a snake, and they were its mouse. She stepped back, the humanoid light stepped forward. Predatory grace in each movement, as if not wasting any energy in things it deemed useless. Golden feathers composed its wings that stretched from its back, blocking the entire path. Another shadow, seeming unaware of the dangers facing it, seeped into her skin though the cuts. Claws raking at her skin, making her gasp in surprise as she collapsed to the ground. The light stood over her, foreboding, reaching forward, hands covering her pale blue eyes. Her pale skin glowed as if it were the moon reflecting a bright sun, a mockery of true light as the terrible bright thing seeped into her skin through the newly opened wound. Her mouth fell open to scream, but all that poured out was silence and brightness.


    The soft cooing trill of pigeons as they take off. Gleaming corporate talons rending the sky and nestling inside of it to preen. Ants, head bowed and steps quickened, bustle to their next meeting, ignoring desperate calls for help and solicitation. Alleyways filled with rodents selling tempting sins from thrones of the ants’ waste. And alone, lying amongst it all, was a girl in a tattered dress and boots. A lone beacon amongst the monsters, drawing the slathering rodents closer despite the piercing light at the end of the alley. When she stirred, they all leaned forward eagerly, assessing who would get the first nibble. They quibbled, gnashing teeth, and as they did, the girl blended into the shadows. And when they finally noticed, it was too late. Their own blood had already pooled around their bodies, seeping from the new smiles stretched viciously across their neck.

    Chapter two

    Her hand tightened on the knife. She barely registered the steady drip of warm liquid sliding from its blade as she stared, squinting, into the brightness outlining the end of the alley. She had no clue where she was; just that everything had a lot more light than anything she’d ever seen. Except…. She shivered, pushing that from her thoughts. She needed to find out where she was, the rest could be dealt with later. But how could she get to these people with all that…. Light. She watched everyone else a moment, staring oddly at all the colors. Instead of white, everyone’s hair was different colors, ranging from red, to blue, to black, to brown, to green, to yellow. Their eyes matched, and while some had blue, it wasn’t the right shade. Others had green and brown that stared intensely out and avoided everyone else’s gaze, somehow ignoring the dizzying kaleidoscope of colors surrounding them. Tentatively, she put out a hand, flinching as soon as her hand passed from the shadows. She looked at her hand, tilting her head to look at the nonexistent burns. She stuck her hand out again, waving it back and forth through the sun, before stepping fully into it, glancing down at herself as if she might burst into flames at any moment. A relieved smile spread across her face until she looked back up at the odd landscape. She needed information about where she was, or what was going on. She slipped back into the shadows, creeping to the edge of the alley and waited. It wasn’t long until someone breezed past her, tripping as obstacles suddenly presented themselves. A group of shouting men soon followed, completely oblivious to her. There was a loud thunking, fleshy sound of fists and feet connecting with someone on the ground. Eventually all six backed away from the curled up figure- who shook in fear and pain- except for one who dug through his pockets until he folded a folded cloth that had paper and circular pieces of metal in it. The man tossed the wallet aside and leaned closer to the shivering guy. “Now, now, we both know this isn’t enough Jordan. You’ll have to give us a lot more than that,” he said, a predatory sound to his voice.

    It was then that someone noticed her. His dreads swung with his head as he turned to face the girl in the shadows. He approached her menacingly, grabbing her roughly. “b***h, you didn’t see s**t. Understand?”

    She tilted her head oddly, seeming to assess him. He pushed her roughly, though she only stumbled back slightly instead of being thrown to the ground like he had hoped. “Get out of here before I-” he was abruptly cut off as she kicked him right between the legs, forcing him to his knees. “You bi-”

    Again, he was cut off as she slammed his head into the wall next to her and he passed out. The others had turned around, some pulling knifes from various areas on their person. She took a deep breath, slowly blew it out and let them surround her. ‘Strange people,’ she thought, ‘Strange, idiotic people.’

    They all converged, and she exploded into action, the fight too quick for anyone but her to really follow, even if they focused on a single person. She threw someone against the wall, and he slid into a crumpled heap, knocked soundly out. Another met her fists first person, and another met the butt of her own knife. A loud crunch signified someone had broken a bone somewhere amongst them all. The next thing the poor, hooded citizen new, a knife was leveled directly at him. “Whoa, whoa, you saved me! I owe you.”

    She looked away, lowering the point of her knife slightly, seeming to debate something a moment; then she turned her hard gaze back to him, studying his dark features and closely shaven head. “Take me someplace safe.”

    “Done,” he said, lowering his hands, “but, um, if you don’t mind, I’d appreciate it if you turned that little weapon you’ve got there somewhere besides me…”


    The walk to Jordan’s apartment, despite being just around the corner, felt like forever to get to. Every second, the girl jumped at some sound or stared at something that she simply muttered was ‘odd’.

    When they finally arrived, she seemed to relax slightly, stepping into the brownstone with him. All of the walls were covered with drawings of different odd looking women with gratuitous proportions and men with larger than average muscles, and the floor had a thin layer of pencil shavings and crumpled papers. Reams scattered every surface with varying degrees of finished drawings. Empty cans of soda were knocked over and littered everywhere, and pizza boxes weren’t far from them. Old dishes were dumped into the sink and the trash was filled with take-out boxes. Alone, in a small corner furthest from the door, was a little haven of clean. Shelves, polished to a shine, held rows upon rows of comic books wrapped lovingly in sleeves.

    The girl stared at all of this, taking it in, for a long time. “Your apartment is huge. The High Overlord Siri must favor you greatly.”

    “High Overlord Siri?”

    As if finally realizing Jordan was there, she pulled her knife back out of her boot where she had hidden it, and pressed it against his neck forcing him into the apartment and slamming it closed with a booted foot. “Who sent for me? Why am I here?”

    “I don’t know what you’re talking about! I honestly have no clue who you even are!” Jordan shouted desperately.

    “Well, then, why doesn’t light hurt? Why do so few people have white hair? Why do so few people have pale eyes?”

    “I…I don’t know! I-it just doesn’t! Oh, god, please don’t kill me.”

    “The shots?”

    “Like tetanus, I mean, I know my apartments bad but… ouch. That’s kinda low.”

    She shook her head fiercely. “The shots! Why don’t you have to take the shots? You know, the shots that turn our hair white and our eyes blue?”

    “We have shots that do that?”

    “The damned shots that allow us to survive outside!”

    “I have no clue what those are… allergy shots, maybe?”

    She shook her head firmly with a growl of frustration. There was a knock against the door. “Is everything alright, Jordan, dear?” A kind, feminine, elderly voice said from behind the door.

    Jordan glanced down at the girl, who only reached chin height. “E-everything’s alright, Mrs. Jenkins! Just arguing about whether I should let my dad pay this month, is all!”

    “All right, dearie. If you need anything, I’m just down the hall,” she called. There was shuffling on the other side of the door as she left.

    The girl waited a moment then turned fiercely toward him. “What do you mean you don’t need them? High Overlord Siri made it abundantly clear we had always needed them since we started industrializing back in 2010. Which means you need them.”


    “You heard me.”

    “You mean Siri, the little helper thing on an iPhone?”

    “You can speak to her? Let me see her now!”

    He quickly pulled out his phone and handed it to her and she removed the knife and snatched his iPhone from him.

    “High overlord Siri! It is good to see you!” She shouted at the phone. When she received no response she frowned. “Your black communicator box does not work.”

    He pressed and held the ‘home’ button until the microphone appeared with a beep. She glared up at him, before repeating, “High overlord Siri! It is good to see you!”

    “Yes, it is!” The box replied with enthusiasm.

    She fiddled with it a bit before he pressed the microphone for her again, earning him another glare. “What year is it?”

    “It is Sunday, November 03, 2013.”

    She figured it out herself this time, beaming a snooty, triumphant smile at him. “When did industrialism begin?”

    “I didn’t find anything for ‘When did industrialism begin’” Siri replied happily, pulling up a ‘search the web’ button.

    “What do you mean! You said yourself that industrialism began in 2010 and that is why we need the shots!” She shouted angrily at it.

    “But… But…” Siri replied.

    The girl practically growled at it, forcing the black box back into Jordan’s hand. “I don’t know who you think you are, but that is NOT High Overlord Siri.”

    “Look, I don’t know who this ‘High Overlord Siri’ is. I don’t even know your name,” Jordan said in a frustrated voice.

    “Kay-42-420,” she said quickly, including the dashes.


    The girl glared at him. “Are you deaf? My name is Kay-42-420,” she whirled to pace.

    “That’s a mouthful,” he said nervously.

    “You obviously have a diminished mental capacity, so you can call me Kay,” she quickly turned back to him, “Jordan, right? That’s what the woman called you. What is your number? I am 42-420. So what’s yours?”

    “I don’t have one," he replied, shifting back slightly. Just his luck some hot chick would show up and be completely crazy.

    “What do you mean?”

    “People don’t typically have numbers after their name.”

    “Of course they do! It was implemented in 2011 by Supreme GPS,” she said firmly crossing her arms and cocking her hip slightly.

    “A what now?”

    “Supreme GPS! The ruler of this country!” Kay replied in a tone that hinted that should be common knowledge, “He ruled until Siri ended his terrible, tyrannical reign in 2015 and ensured all people got the shots, not just some people.”

    “There is no Supreme GPS,” Jordan said, stressing the words slightly.

    "Then clearly he is fooling you," she replied sharply, “not that it would be too difficult. Either that or you’re working for him, highly unlikely considering the lack of snapping neurons up there.”

    "What? No- I- what?" Jordan looked utterly confused, not sure what to even think. Suddenly, he smiled as if it was all just some big joke. "This is ridiculous. Who set you up to this? Was it Terry? I'm going to kill him when I get to work tomorrow," he said with a laugh.

    Kay held a knife against his neck. "Does this look like a joke?"

    "Whoa, whoa!" He said throwing up his hands in a placating 'Please don't slit my throat' manner.

    She rolled her eyes. "You are not worth my time," She removed her knife and left, leaving Jordan alone and utterly confused in the middle of his whirlwind of an apartment.

    Chapter three

    Kay walked alone, slipping easily between the crowds of people, heads bowed like bulls. She was thinking mostly. Observing a bit. For the most part, she didn't know what to think. Some people smiled, some didn't. It was odd. Weren’t workers always meant to smile and the guards look blank faced? Some people cried, like the people in the jail beneath High Overlord Siri's home she used to hear, being Siri’s protector. People shouted angrily at each other and no one paid any mind. People bobbed their heads with strange things in their head or covering the ears, wires hanging from it. Some people had clothing with numbers and names and when she said their number, they looked at her confusedly and seemed to just write her off. She got a couple of odd looks for her tattered and now blood stained dress. When she went into a clothing supply depot and attempted to use the credit barcode on her arm, the operator refused, called her crazy, and kicked her out. She seethed, but these people didn't know who she would be in the future. One of Siri's top guards. The one who was notorious for following orders until they were fulfilled to their highest capacity and killing anything that got in the way of executing said orders.

    What was most odd was no one had the shots, no one had white hair like her, or blue eyes that didn't match their face. When she did find a person who had the white hair and asked them about it, the girl wrote her off as someone who was too into something called 'anime' and continued on without a second look. She looked at the bar code on her wrist, her number printed neatly beneath it. She was special. She had 42's multiple times in her number. It didn't mean anything here. It didn't mean anything when she said she was a guard for High Overlord Siri. It didn't mean anything to these people when she asked them who High Overlord GPS was. Instead, people looked at her oddly or yelled at her for talking to them. For Kay, this was the most frustrated she'd ever been. And she had no clue how to express it. None of the multitude of books she'd ever read, none of the information Siri blessed her with, none of what she had learned in school, none of the information she'd gathered on time travel, had prepared her for this. Had prepared her to express feelings, to understand the true past, to understand why, every few feet, she heard whispers bouncing around in her head.

    She couldn't be that crazy, right? She needed answers, and the only place she knew about was the ally she woke up in. Maybe there was some clue of what was going on when she reached there. There was nothing, though. Not in any receptacle that smelled of the sickly sweet rotting smell of food, not anywhere on the bodies that she had hidden among the refuse, not even where Jordan had been when she saved him.

    She curled up, and cried. It was the only thing she understood how to do, so she cried, thick, heavy tears that reddened her face and when she tried to stop it-because she was a guard of High Overlord Siri and she wasn't supposed to cry- she couldn't. Instead, they continued rolling disobediently down her face until she felt empty and sick.

    She still heard the mutterings, louder now. It was going to drive her insane at this rate. If she wasn't already nuts. She took the knife from where she'd hid it in her boot, cut off a strip of cloth from the bottom of her boot and used it to tie herself securely to the pole, tightening it with her teeth. At least if she became delirious, she would be slightly delayed in getting to anyone and hurting them. She pressed her forehead against the cool metal. Who was she kidding? She could easily get free from her makeshift rope at any point.

    "Hello?" A sweet, gentle, feminine voice called, a soft pulse of hope in the darkening sky.

    Kay looked around confusedly, searching for the source of the honeyed word.

    "Kay? Can you hear me now?"

    It took her a moment longer to realize the voice was in her head. She quickly shook her head. "No. Nononono! I can't hear you! Get out of my head! Out out out!"

    "Kay, calm! We mean you no harm, child. Please, calm down!" the voice said.

    "No, please. Go away," Kay whispered, sounding young and childish. Tears sprung in her eyes and she slumped, defeated against the pole. This was it. She was insane. Completely and utterly insane. Maybe all of this was just some weird delusion she'd made up and she was actually locked up. It was certainly more pleasant than her going off her rocker in a completely different time period.

    "Kay, I am Lilli. I am the embodiment of Morality that brought you here."

    Her eyes snapped open. That, she knew. She paused. "You're the Morality that possessed me. You're the one that's been trying to talk to me all day."

    "She, alone is not to blame," said another rumbling voice, this one male. It sent shivers down her spine and it was layered with quieter, hoarse voices that echoed what he said in slithering, tortured voices. A Sin.

    Kay was silent. She was insane. No way would a Morality and a Sin possess the same body willingly. No way would they ever have goals that align enough to do something like this. But why was the memory so clear? The Sin scraping her soul has he forced his way inside, and the Morality following and burning away the pain and replacing it with its own. The Sin spoke again, in a placating tone that didn't quite match it's sound, "I am Kazak, and we need your help."

    She was crazy, completely bonkers. She found herself laughing despite everything. This was it. It was the last straw. She was done. Completely done. Forget whatever their mission was, forget the nice boy she'd threatened and then left, forget the odd devices on people's heads or the people who wouldn't respond to the number printed on their backs. Forget the fact she guarded Siri or that no one here took the shots or that she couldn't use her barcode to buy anything. Forget that the sun shone here and that light didn't burn. Forget that no one who worked extra hard were blessed with Sins cutting their skin to drink their unnecessary emotions or the . Forget that she was possessed. All of it only made her laugh harder.

    "Kay?" A recognizable voice queried.

    It was the last thing she remembered before passing out.


    Jordan didn't know what had come over him. He followed her. There was just something so… odd about her. Like nothing was right with the world but she could still take it on. She asked people weird questions and got frustrated when a shopkeeper wouldn’t scan her tattoo. Then she just…. Gave up. She kind of just wandered around, staring at her tattoo, as if it held the answers. As if the weight of the world was on that barcode tattoo, as if everything she’d ever known was just proven wrong and was completely wrecked. When she finally looked up, she was back in the alley she started in, going completely insane. For awhile she cried, then she started furiously shaking her head and then she…. She accepted it. She spoke back to whatever voice she was imagining. That’s when she snapped. She started laughing uncontrollably. It was the most terrifying thing Jordan had ever witnessed. But what made it worse was that he must have been insane too. Her eyes glowed terribly and the darkening sky. One eye was a swirling golden color and the other a deep, pulsating black that made him feel like he was falling. It was a terrible thing to look at, the whites even capturing the color and only intensifying. And he was drawn forward, like a moth to a flame. Knowing it was going to get burned, but inexplicably hypnotized and drawn. “Kay?”

    And then it stopped. Just like that. She had passed out, hands tied to the pole, and face pressed against the wall. So he untied her and, for some reason he’d never know, carried her back to his home.


    Jordan stirred in his bed, groaning as he attempted to wake up. He huffed, snatching up his glasses and stared up at the ceiling of his brownstone. He was lucky his dad was rich enough to get an apartment like this. Otherwise he’d be living above the comic book store he worked at with two other guys. He blinked slowly as last night came rushing back. He sat up abruptly, tossing away the blanket and rushing out of his room with a loud bang as his door slammed against the wall. What was wrong with him? He brought a crazy woman that threatened him into his home! He scanned the room and sucked in a breath. “Where are all of my drawings?” He asked with dangerous calm, the walls no longer covered in people but notes that she must have taken the night before.

    Kay glanced up from the mound of wires before her, a confused look flashing across her face. “Your what?”

    “The paper that was everywhere? The stuff that was on every damned wall when you came in where it was supposed to be?” Jordan said, his voice rising with anger.

    “Is that how it normally is here?” Kay asked, shrinking away from him despite the fact she was likely the more dangerous of the two.

    “Yes. When you are an artist, that’s how it normally is. Now, where are they?”

    “Over there,” she said meekly pointing to the corner with the shelves of comic books where they were piled neatly on top of the middle shelf in different piles, “I organized them by things that looked fairly similar. I just wanted some room for notes about this place…”

    Jordan ignored her, rushing over to the papers, sorting through them quickly, relaxing as he saw every one of them there. He held a stack up, not turning around. "You don't touch these. These stay exactly where they are," he said, snatching up the pile of pins and the tape from a drawer to rehang his pictures.

    "I'm sorry, I just wanted to help. Also, your microwave wasn't listening to commands," she glanced down at the gutted microwave, "I don't see your command chips. Did you send it for repairs?"

    "What?" Jordan said absently from where he was hanging the papers. Suddenly, as if just then realizing what she was doing, whirled around, clutching at his head. "Oh my god! What the heck!"

    She shrunk away from his anger. “I’m sorry. What did I do wrong? I was trying to help.”

    He sighed, gripping the bridge of the nose, causing the glasses to ride up his fingers. “I know. I’m sorry,” he chuckled, “you aren’t so scary without a knife to my neck.”

    She tilted her head. “Why would I threaten you when you saved me from the nightly cleaner bots?” She shivered at the mention of the bots.

    "Are you serious? Okay, we need to talk," he said, sitting next to her on the couch as she sheepishly put the microwave back together.


    "Well, who are you, first of all?"

    "I am Kay dash 42 da-" Kay began.

    "No, you kept mentioning what you do." Jordan interrupted.

    She frowned, still working on the microwave and avoiding his gaze. "I used to be a guard for a very important AI who alleviated the need to think. Her name was High Overlord Siri," she glanced at the iPhone as if it held all the answers, "Your black communicator device does not communicate with the Siri I know."

    "The barcode on your wrist? What's that about?"

    "It has my credits so I can buy food and clothes. It also has my number."

    Jordan mulled this over as Kay got up and put the microwave away. It was quiet except for the honking horns and shouting people down below on the streets. She sat next to him. Her voice was quiet as she asked, "What are artists?"

    His head snapped to look at her. “What do you mean?”

    “You said you were an artist and that I moved your drawings…. I don’t know what that is.”

    “Art… is an expression of the heart and your creativity.”

    She looked at him confusedly. Jordan sighed, looking up, trying to think of how to explain it. I mean, it was kind of odd that she didn’t know any of this and he’s never had to explain what it was. It’s just something that everyone knows what it is after a certain point so explaining it isn’t necessary. “Do you know what drawings are?”

    “Like diagrams?”

    “Sort of… only they’re a bit more….creative I guess?”

    “What’s creative?”

    He opened and closed his mouth, trying to think of how to describe it. Again, how on Earth could she not know this? He snatched up his phone. He pressed the home button. “Define creativity.”

    “The definition of ‘creativity’ is the ability to create,” Siri replied.

    He growled something beneath his breath and tried again. “Define creative.”

    “From 2 definitions of ‘creative’, the first one is: having the ability or power to create.”

    He rolled his eyes, going instead to Safari and pulling up the definition. “Do you know what ideas are?”

    “Yes. Ideas are bad.”

    Jordan looked up sharply, “No, they aren’t. Not in the slightest.”

    “Of course they are!”

    “Why do you think that?”

    “Because Siri said so. She said we don’t need to think for ourselves since it wastes energy. Ideas are the worst and waste the most energy. Energy we can use to complete our jobs to the fullest.”

    “Siri’s a bit of a b***h.”

    “A female dog? But she is most assuredly a computer. I saw nothing in her programming about being a dog.”

    Jordan sighed, rubbing his face. What the hell was she taught? “Nevermind. Look, ideas aren’t bad. They’re good. Here,” he got up grabbing a picture off the wall and showing it to her, “this is a character I drew from Y-Men. Her name is Mistress Wind. It was an original idea of the person who made her, a creative idea. Do you see?”

    Kay studied the curvy woman he had sketched the outline of. Her hair was wavy and reached her shoulders and her eyes were smoldering. Her outfit was all white, showing off a bit more skin than necessary. “Sort of.”

    “This isn’t the only form of art though. Do you know what music is?”

    She shook her head. “Music,” she muttered, the word sounding and feeling odd on her tongue.

    “Right,” he set aside the picture and picked up his phone again. He scrolled through something and suddenly a harmony of sounds were being emitted. “This is music.”

    Kay’s eyes lit up at the sound. “I like it. It sounds nice.”

    Jordan smiled at her apparent happiness. "Its another way people express themselves. And photos, do you know what they are? Or dancing?"

    She shook her head. "We have a lot to show you..." Jordan said with a sigh.

    She picked up the paper on the table. "Are their more 'art' like these?"

    Jordan ignored the incorrect grammar, nodding his head instead. "A lot. Wait can you read?"

    "I was privileged by Siri to learn how to read."

    He hesitated, debating whether he should ask, before finally deciding it was best not to. "Perfect, come with me."