(Hold up, I thought Natya was at the college! She is Kal, you know. Natya is Kal’s first name. I should know. I introduced her. But okay, let’s just go with what you said. Natya and Kal are separate people even though I made them the same because you think they’re different and let’s not start a fight. However, I did introduce them as one and the same.)

Natya leads me down a dark hallway (darkness seems to be a theme around here) and stops at what appears to be a dead end. She places her palm on the wall and smirks, closing her eyes. A purple glow seems to emanate from her palm, coursing through careful lines on the black wall, before it flashes. Natya closes her hand, placing it on my shoulder, and opening her eyes.

The door flies open and inside of it is a cloaked figure holding a crystal not unlike the one on the table on Floor 60.


(Oh. Smart me. I totally missed out that they were the same person. I’m sorry. We can switch it to be the Head of Science lady if that’s better. Something Chen, right? I’ll keep it up as Natya for this bit, but I can switch it if you want.)

He looks up and sets the crystal down on a table next to him. With a quick flick on his wrists he pulls down his hood. “Natya. Wonderful to see you. I assume this is Kassandra’s new recruit?”

“I’d say ‘recruit’ is an understatement. Kassandra has selected her to take down Tang after all. The title, ‘Head of Assassination’ perhaps, is a bit better. Anyways, yes, this is Mesa Wyatt, the newest addition to our ranks. We are to help her prepare for her upcoming assassination of an immortal being. Now, let us begin.”


(Her name is Ethea Chen. And it’s no problem, I misgendered Ed Terrell a few times too, character confusion happens to the best of us.)

“Wait, assassination of an immortal being? How am I supposed to do that?” I ask, confused. “I thought immortal meant they couldn’t be killed.”

“You will understand soon, dear comra… miss Wyatt.” Natya smiles, but behind her smile I can see her kicking herself for letting her old Luminescent habits shine through. “But I will tell you one thing - beyond this world is so many more, and by entering the Breach, you may gain the powers, the energies, and the minds of those many worlds. And through their guidance you may be able to kill an immortal being such as Tang.”



“Oh shit,” I internally say, “Of course I have to go through the rip in reality thing.”

Natya and the strange guy lead me to a worktable. It’s has a array of different weapons on it. “Now, back at The Academy, they selected you to use a spear. However, that was clearly a mistake. After some work, we’ve concluded you are most suited for this.”

Natya picks up a sword, made of black metal. “This was once Kassandra’s. When we learned you were best built for a katana, she had us rework it for you. Here, take it.”

Slowly, I take the katana from Natya.


(Okay, while I reread a bit I just realised we accidentally do in fact have two Kals!!! Courtesy of you. They are Natya Kal and that third-year chick, the girl who trained Ed in dagger and rifle, also named Kal, but as a first name. Her full name is Kalisinta Vynyr-Zi. I know, it’s really confusing. But you were actually right - Kalisinta’s at uni and Natya is in the Dark Realm. My mistake.)

The second I touch it, I sense this darkness coming from within myself, the same darkness that I thought Ed had gotten rid of. It seems to connect with the blade, glowing with my energy. I’m so incredibly powerful right now, and it scares me.

I drop the katana. It falls to the ground before flying right back into my hands. I smile, but my face shows a fear that no confident-seeming smirk can hide.

“Thanks, it’s really an honor,” I say, voice shaking, to Natya. She can sense my anxiety. I know she can.


(Oh my god. That’s hilarious. Glad we got it sorted though.)

“Give us a moment alone. Go!” she shouts at the strange guy.

He scowls, and leaves the room through the secret door. Natya picks up the katana, and setting it on the table she says,

“I know. The inner part of the blade is made from those crystals. I don’t know where Kassandra found them, but they’re essentially the Dark versions of Tang’s crystals. You still have Luminescent blood inside of you, and they’re going to try to drain it out of you. Whatever you do, do not touch that sword. I have a fake hidden around here somewhere.”

Natya begins to search the room, looking for her fake sword.


(It’s a continue the story novel! Everyone’s got nine different names!)

“God damn it, where is that stupid thing?” Natya says, cursing under her breath. She opens a cabinet and pulls out a similar-looking katana in the same shade of black. But when I touch it, I feel… the same. Like the powers deep inside of me do not awaken.

Natya smiles at me, but there is something deeper under her eyes. A light. Though it is dim, and merely a memory of what she once was, it remains. A remnant of her past life.


“Can I come back in now?” an annoyed voice shouts.

“One minute!” Natya responds.

She picks up the other katana from the work bench, and slips it into the cabinet. “Ok, you can come back!” she yells as she closes the doors.


The strange guy returns, staring at me. “Has she been Initiated yet?” he asks Natya.

Natya stares at the guy, looking so done. “We don’t have time to Initiate her. We don’t have time to Initiate anybody. We’re in a rush and we don’t have time for those stupid Low-era traditions.”

“It serves a practical purpose, Natya, please!” The guy is saying, “We definitely have time to ensure that the girl-”

“Her name is Mesa.”

“That Mesa”, he says as Natya glares at him, “can handle Dark Crystals without dying.”

“Excuse me, what’s the Initiation?” I ask.


“Traditionally, it’s a series of tests that determine your resistance to Dark energies. If most are successful, than you become a fully-fledged Darkling. However, due to time’s sake, we have must been preforming the final test, and turning them.” Natya explains.

“You talk about saving time, but you decided to take time to explain it to her. Oh how ridiculous you Luminescents are.” the weird guy drawls, looking bored.

Natya, now looking extremely pissed off, says, “If she can handle the sword, she’s as good as Initiated. Kassandra promised she wouldn’t turn Mesa, so there! Her Initiation is over!”


“But I can’t handle the sword,” I blurt out without thinking.


Natya glances over at me, clearly annoyed and nervous. “What is she talking about?” the strange man asks.

“I don’t know. Mesa, you were fine with it just a minute ago.”

Trying my best to fix my mistake I say, “Yeah, I can totally use it. I don’t know what I was thinking.”


I pick up the sword. “Yeah, perfectly fine!” I say, slightly anxious.

“Okay,” the weird guy says, rolling his eyes before leaving.

Just as the door closes, Natya stares directly at me, and asks, “Why the fuck did you say that?”


“I have zero idea Natya. I swear, I did not try to mess that up.” I say, terrified and guilty.

She sighs, and turns away from me. “Kassandra didn’t tell me much about why you joined us. So, pray tell Mesa, enlighten me. I know of your past, you were my ward, no matter how short a time. You were in a cult. They worshiped Low. So, since you hated that life so much, why join the exact side you fought, again and again?”


I am at a loss for words. My eyes empty of every little ounce of belief that was once inside of them, and I shake. My hands ball up into fists. My mouth wants to speak but my brain forbids me. Until finally, a few words slip out.

“It’s nice to be a part of something bigger.” My voice seems certain, but my expression is one of confusion and fear.

“So that’s what it is, huh?” Natya remarks.

“I mean, I think-”

“So you’re just another joiner. Another person who would rather doom the entire goddamn world than be alone.”

“No, wait, I don’t want to kill people!” I scream.

“Well if you keep doing this you sure as hell will. I want to know why you keep wanting to be with us.”

In my confusion, words pop out, almost formulaic: “Aren’t you overstepping your bounds here? Defaming the Dark Realm? You’re supposed to want to assimilate me.”

Natya is visibly offended.


“You think this was my choice! You think joining Tang was my choice! God, you are stupider than I thought! I only reason I joined Tang was… No, there was no reason. I didn’t have a choice. Just like you, I was stranded. Everyone I loved was de-” Natya breaks off after exploding on me, tears streaming down her face.

“Natya?” I say cautiously.

“No… Go to Floor 29. Someone’s waiting for you there.”

Slowly, I start to walk towards the door. I feel like I shouldn’t be leaving but… Natya clearly doesn’t want me around. As I open the door, I look back. Natya is hugging herself, and mouthing what looks like “I’m sorry” over and over. Concerned, I step outside, and run right into someone.


The same caramel-haired boy from the Academy, Ernest, is standing in my path. He is wielding a black trident. His eyes are as firey as ever.

“Mesa! That you?” he asks. “Girl from the Academy who couldn’t throw a spear to save her life?”

“Yes,” I say, rolling my eyes and mentally preparing for a torrent of insults.


“What are you doing here? I thought you’d joined Kal’s side.” he says instead.

“Yeah, that didn’t work out so well. So I’m here now.”

Ernest looks at me, worriedly. “She offered you a deal, didn’t she? Kassandra I mean. There’s no way you’d become a Darkling, not after what we went through as kids.”

“Look, whatever you want Ernest, I don’t care. Just leave me alone, and let me get this stupid thing over with!” I shout, shoving my way past him.

“Is this about Ed? Mesa, is this about him? I’ve heard some things, so is this about Ed?” he calls.

I can feel my blood boiling. My hand goes to the katana, but I force myself not to. “Goodbye Ernest.” I say coldly.

I turn a corner, trying to reach the stairs as fast as I can. The entire way, I hear him shouting my name, and running after me.


I reach the stairs.

And I bolt.

Two at a time. Three at a time. Five at a time. I’m pretty much jumping. I have to get to floor 29. I have to.

And then I trip.


My body slams against the stairs, and I proceed to continuously roll down. I feel my head collide with the wall, and my awareness of the situation begins to fade in and out. I smell blood, and feel it sliding down my neck. I’m still tumbling as the outer edges of my field of view begin to go black. My entire body hurts, and I feel extremely dizzy. I can’t move my arms or legs to stop myself from moving. I just have to let it happen.