The Right Hand Man was tired.
She hated being confined in this weak body. Adult as it was, as pleased as she was to know she had a good pair of jugs if she could ever have grown up, this was the wrong Rye. And she could feel that with every fiber of her being. This body did not know how to throw a proper punch. As strong as these legs were, they could not leap from buildings. Lastly, she was missing her most precious artifact, the key hanging around her neck.
Most of all, last Rye had known, she was 13. Rather, she had been 13 for 8,000 years. She had known a girl named Luna for 2,000 of them. 300 years ago or so, she picked up Ben, and lastly, during World War II, they had scooped the last member of their little quartet – Jack. The four of them adventured through the world with their immortality. For the past 40 years, Rye had been having the time of her endless life, journeying across the Earth to see the sights they never would have been able to if they were mortal.
And suddenly that was all gone. One morning, Rye wakes up in an unfamiliar bed, moving to get up and collapsing on the ground right away when she’s suddenly a foot taller than she was yesterday and her limbs are longer and – well – weaker. She sorely missed being a tiny powerhouse. Rye had completely mastered use of her old body, and here was this one and she was back to square one.
She is not alone in her head. It’s her own internal voice – the voice that she can’t really describe the sound of. The one that dictates all the things she’s reading aloud. Her own voice, but it’s relaying thoughts she couldn’t possibly have. It’s the owner of this vessel. It’s still her own voice, and when Rye looks in the mirror, it’s still her face. The hair might be an ugly yellow now, but it’s her hair style without a doubt.
She dubbed the other voice Blondie. Rye was a brunette, and had been for thousands of years. Everything looked the same except for the hair. Blondie got upset about being called by her hair color, but Rye thought of a reasonably stupid name for herself – The Right Hand Man. It was always her kind of role, so she thought.
Time to adjust to the “situation.”
Hellifyno was thoroughly alien. Blondie called this place home. She whispered of a place called Consequence, of the Blue Moon Tavern. Blondie grew warm when she thought of her friends, of Daloki and Rom and Crystal and Echo, and lamented those who had slipped away without a farewell. She was wracked with sorrow when she remembered a particular face, with dark skin and white hair and brilliant red eyes – Ben. What had happened to Ben? Ben had been waiting at her beck and call. That’s how it always was. He was her designated driver. Her damn feet couldn’t reach the pedals. In this world, he was nowhere to be seen.
In this weird planet with a weird Red Sun Inn and weird patrons, Rye tried to piece together the puzzle. Why was she here? Why was she sharing a body with… herself?
Blondie was not helpful. When she was not radiating sheer, overpowering cheer, she was weeping. Constantly. She cried and cried and cried within their headspace, wondering if she was cast away. Wondering if she was forgotten. If it was her justly deserved punishment.
Calm down a little, Rye had thought to the sad little blonde version of herself. I know a thing or two about divine retribution. You’re fine. An echoing wail came back, Blondie unable to conjure words. Her mental presence wasn’t strong enough. But she listened, if only barely. Good. Rye could finally hear her own thoughts.
It wasn’t until she was talking to people at the Red Sun Inn that she realized a very fatal flaw.
There were almost no differences in personality, no one thought to second guess Rye’s identity. She was Rye Simmons, without a doubt, in the flesh.
No, Rye had no idea who half these people were. Nor what they were talking about. Slayer War? Nonsense. Fae War? She knew a person named Fae, but never heard of a war. Wyrm? Even less! Blondie had gotten herself up to so much shit, Rye thought, and yet didn’t share THAT information.
Blondie was a goddamn moron. She was all too content to waste away, thinking her friends she sang praises of day and night didn’t care about her anymore and it’s what she deserved. This frail body was sick and thin and forgetting how to battle. So Rye takes the Herculean task upon herself to repair what damage had been done. She worked out all the time. She ate and ate and ate – and found out this body was so fucked up that no matter how much food she choked down, no matter how healthy she tried to eat, this body still remained underweight, her ribs showing through skin left untouched by the sun.
This body had a lot of problems. It was energy inefficient. Even with training, that might not be solved. It Rye took off the gigantic, bulky bracelet that came with it – which was indeed, very annoying, and she hated wearing it – then all the sudden the way it changed powers was different. The powers changed with what she ate. Highly unstable and bizarre, Rye noted. A pain in the ass, more like. But a back up was good. She forced the bracelet on. It was the lesser of two evils.
This vessel required tons of sleep, too, on top of being malnourished all the time. So when Rye wasn’t stuffing her face or honing these powers, she was in bed, sluggish and tired even when well rested.
It reeked of a powerful curse. While Rye could ascertain that this was a human body, it exuded a tainted aura at all times, almost choking. Rye knew this feeling. It harkened to madness, of growing evil, a wish of chaos and vengeance. Luckily, she was too smart for this. But it still stifled her and made it hard to breathe sometimes. What was wrong with all of this? It was perplexing.
How did this version of me survive so long, under such bad conditions?
Things became slowly more clear, seen through a fog instead of the ocean.
She couldn’t have. There’s no way. She should have died years ago.
It’s then she starts to hear someone else speak besides Blondie.
A different voice, still of her own, yet foreign. The new voice wondered where she was, and why she didn’t have L or Gokudera. Oh? Rye knew these names. She’d named her two favorite Pokemon that – Son of a bitch! So this lucky hag was from a universe where Rye had known them in person and not as pixels on a screen?
There’s more. They speak and whisper of lives Rye has never lived. Ones that sounded so much better than this one, without a cursed body that was eating itself from the inside out. Rye counts four others over time. There’s five of them, sharing the steering wheel, and the Right Hand Rye angrily shoos the rest away to take control herself. She lets Blondie do the sweet talking, and then she talks about the technicals and the being a stone cold bitch part. It was her thing. Back at home, Rye had been something of an expert on the dimensional anomalies. Yet this was unprecedented.
Blondie complains. All the time. To anyone but the Right Hand Rye. She can’t remember all those adventures anymore, the ones people kept asking Rye about like she knew. Oh, so there was NO knowledge of these past wars between them. Blondie can no longer remember people she just met. She starts recalling things that the other Ryes spoke of like they were her own memories.
She’s mad when Blondie starts talking about Old Man Vanvelt. That’s the Right Hand Rye’s memory, not Blondie’s. How dare she speak of Vanvelt like she knew him.
So Rye takes the next horrible task onto her shoulders. To learn about these adventures that were hers and yet not all the same. Holed away deep in the Library she could find in Persistence, Rye digs. She finds as much as she can. A lot of these wars were recent, only a handful of years ago; information is sparse. When she does find a book or some records that apply to the vague stories Blondie told, there isn’t much “Rye Simmons” to speak of.
I wasn’t much of an action girl, Blondie admits sadly. Everyone is stronger than me. I was never a war hero. I just kind of helped.
“Helping isn’t much of an issue,” Rye says out loud, back to the voice in her head. The real owner of this body. “Helping is good. You being there has changed the course of fate, even a tiniest bit.” She’s flipping through a book about the final battle against the Fae. This account seems biased and unhelpful – but it’s when she starts to relay the information to Blondie that something happens.
I remember! She cries, clambering within their head for control, but Right Hand Rye holds steady. I didn’t command any troops – so chances are the military didn’t bother recording it. But I was there! Laughter echoes in the headspace. I fought alongside Daloki and Girly and Rom! And all my friends!
It was a start. Rye smiles to herself. And so they spent hours together, finally moving forward. Blondie could remember.
You know, Blondie interrupts after a while. For acting as bad and tough as you do, you’re really nice.
“I do what I must.” Rye says, still in the section of this book about the Fae War. It was the one Blondie could tell her most about. “That is all.”
But you’re helpful. You’ve been helpful this whole time. Blondie is glowing.
“Don’t say that,” Rye sighs, flipping the page. “Your memory is far from solved. All this proves is nothing is wrong with YOU, so to speak. It’s our interference that caused this.”
Then we have to ask why you are here.
“The million dollar question…” Rye murmurs. She keeps reading. It was going to be a very long night. But it was the least she could do, to stop this horrible, inefficient little body and scrambled mind from collapsing. Rye knew it was her destiny to be consumed by encroaching madness – it was the destiny of all immortals like her, to fall victim to their own minds. Luna had told her once, long ago, to be wary of hubris for it meant that her downfall would be soon.
Blondie had no worry of this. Blondie suffered no delusions of grandeur. She was a human. A tainted human, but she grew. She got sick. Wounds didn’t automatically sew themselves up.
Rye was tired. She was tired of being mortal, tired of being in a world that was not her own. Tired of being a pain to her current vessel, herself. Tired of how confusing it made things.
All this work and still no answers. Why did this happen?
This body would tear itself apart if it weren’t for me. Rye thinks. Blondie wasn’t capable of taking care of herself. It’s been a month like this, and Rye has put on a few pounds and looks less sickly. She finds that on top of eating the necessary nutrients, she had to gobble down candy and sweets and all sorts of fattening things or else she’d just fall back into underweight again. Not that she minded being able to eat cake for breakfast every day, but it was worrying how much she could force down and gain next to no weight. How come all the other Ryes were far luckier than her? Or did the immortality she no longer had cost her all the luck of a lifetime? She’d punch herself in the face if she could. But that was not the current issue.
The magic. The magic burned up so much energy, it’s why this creature needed so much sleep and junk food to eat. Rye was deeply jealous, many would kill to have this problem. But then it occurs to her – This Rye, the blonde one, came from an Earth without magic. How come she was a magician? That wasn’t a slim chance or anything, it was a statistical impossibility. In a universe with no magic, she shouldn’t have been able to use it. And yet it made so much sense that a sickly, inefficient mage came from a world with no magic in some twisted way.
A weird array of elemental powers – Ice, Fire, Electric, Psychic, and Grass. For some reason, the “default” type was Ice. A body that burned too much energy and was completely unaccustomed to magic, like it was never intended for that in the first place. A completely unconventional way of switching between them, based on sense of taste and rather brilliantly aided in that with candies and now augmented with the bracelet studded the odd stones that crackled with power.
This was the makings of something that was not supposed to exist. It was like someone duct-taped a human together in a rush.
Rye came to her epiphany – this mess – five Ryes in one – it was a fix. It was a slipshod method to stabilize an existence that was never meant to be.
All held in place with a powerful curse, Rye notes. It’s a seal.
She answered quite a few things today. But it still left more in the dark. Who had done this? Why go this out of the way to save a single girl who bore no significance in the fate of Hellifyno?
Rye sighs. The Right Hand Man, namely herself, was very tired. This would go unsolved yet again.