The Better Man? Part 1
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Last time on Nexus:
The Punishment of a God, Part 3

France, Paris, 1800

Pierre didn't quite know where to look first. The brown-haired boy at the tender age of 14 finally decided to stare sheepishly at his worn shirt. That, along with his equally brown and dirty pants and shoes, was the only thing here that looked familiar. The room was simply too sumptuously furnished. Precious rugs littered the stone floor, two embroidered couches faced each other at a gleaming table, and several side tables held ornate vases and other expensive-looking items.

He had been suddenly grabbed on the street by two men and dragged here. They had been dressed like guards, so no one had responded to Pierre's calls.

Together with him in the room was a man in a blue doublet with gold buttons. His trousers matched it, and towards the bottom they merged into black leather boots. Like many of the nobility, this man with the angular face and hooked nose wore a gray head of hair, with a tricorn hat tucked under his left arm. He smiled amiably.

"Pierre Lapin, right?" he asked.

Pierre nodded briefly and hesitantly.

"Uh, what am I doing here? And who are you?"

"Oh, how rude of me. My name is Charle de la Croix. I brought you here because I want you to be my apprentice."

Pierre had expected a lot, but nothing like this.

"Apprentice?" echoed Pierre. "But sir, I can't even read! And I mean, I live on the street and-"

"I know, Pierre"; de la Croix interrupted him. "I am aware of your circumstances. Your father was killed in the Second Coalition War, your mother and siblings were carried off by tetanus."

Pierre looked down sadly. De la Croix shook his head.

"So much death, and before reaching manhood at that. Enough to break the mind of a child. But you, you fought through it. You're a bright kid, Pierre, and intelligence is a rare commodity in this day and age. Tell me, do you want to end up like your family?"

"N-no, sir."

"Good answer. So, Pierre, I'm giving you the chance of a lifetime here. If you refuse, I will send you back to the streets and everything will be as before. Become my apprentice, and together we will defeat death. What do you say?"

Pierre didn't have to think long. He didn't quite know what was being asked of him yet, but a hot meal and a bed were definitely more enticing than sleeping under a cart on the road.

"I, uh, I'd be honored, sir."

De la Croix grinned.

"Well then, welcome, Pierre, to the Humanist Gentlemen."

Germany, Dresden, Present

Everyone has their strengths and weaknesses. Some are good at sports, but terrible at math. Some are extremely good at science, but have no social skills.

Chloe was very creative and liked history.

It's just that she couldn't for the life of her remember all that was asked of her in school about it.

Right now, they went through the French Revolution and Chloe was supposed to prepare a lecture about the time after that. It was absolutely frustrating, because not too many interesting things had happened during that time. Well, the French had a constitution now, but who cared about that? She would have liked to start with the rise of Napoleon, but unfortunately, that topic had gone to someone else. She now had to deal with the everyday life of the French, try finding enough meaningful material for that.

Chloe scratched behind her ear with the pen. It creaked quite loudly.

She held the pen in front of her eyes, startled, before identifying the creak as that of her closet. It was opening.

A grinning Elli emerged from behind the ominously opening door. Well, her head at least, the rest was in the blackness that was the entrance to her nexus.

A week had passed since their last meeting.

"ELLI!" it escaped Chloe. "You can't just scare me like that!"

Nevertheless, she immediately got up and ran to her closet.

"Oh, I'm sorry about that," Elli apologized and stepped out of the Nexus to cuddle Chloe. Today she was wearing blue jeans and a pink t-shirt that read, "My eyes are further up, asshole."

"Nice to see you again, I like what you did with your hair."

"Oh, uh, that…"

Chloe's hairline had turned white after her encounter with the God Ku. At the moment, you could only see it if you looked at her more than casually, but the whiteness increased more every day as her hair continued to grow unflinchingly. Accelerated even, or so it seemed to her….

"Oh…", Elli made. "That will probably be a shock reaction to absorbing Ku. Divinity can have some strange effects on body chemistry. I'm afraid I can't help you there, the only thing that will help is dyeing your hair."

Easier said than done, Chloe didn't get much pocket money and she felt that with the amount of money one should have more important goals in mind than hair dye.

"Hey, snow-white hair is a unique selling point," she comforted Elli. "If you do it right, you'll have everyone's eyes on you."

"I don't really know if I could pull something like that off, I mean, I could never look like you, for example."

"Oh, the bimbo look is not for you, trust me," Elli waved it off with the certainty of a veteran. "I like it mostly because it makes some people think I'm dumber than they are. I love the look on their face when they realize the opposite. Hehehe… What are you doing right now, homework?"

Elli had noticed the state of Chloe's desk and was curiously studying her writing so far.

"History homework… Hmm, you haven't really gotten into the famine yet, they got really inventive back then."

"You know about that sort of thing?" asked Chloe in amazement.

"I was in those times, Chloe."

It took her a moment to categorize that sentence?


"I can go anywhere with the Nexus, Chloe, not just to other universes, but to the future and the past. Why do you think your absence only lasted ninety minutes last time? I'll demonstrate it for you if you don't believe me."

"I'd like to see that…," Chloe agreed.

"Well then, come with me. We're going to go back in time."

She turned, bursting with motivation, and headed for the closet. She hadn't counted on Chloe's zeal for duty, though.

"Ho-ho-hold on, I have to finish this first, Elli!"

Elli stopped mid-step and turned her head. Her left eyebrow was raised.

"This is going to be a time warp, Chloe. We have all the time in the world, if not more. Think about it, last time you were only absent for an hour and a half, this time I've had practice. Hitting the right time is always a bit of a balancing act, but I think I can even get the time you're gone down to twenty minutes now."

Chloe was torn between her sense of duty and the desire to experience something exciting again. Elli seemed to see this in her face, because she helped out.

"Don't you think you could make your presentation better with first-hand experience?"
Chloe wanted to retort something, but hesitated while still catching her breath.

Elli was right…

"Iiii think I might be able to make an exception there…"

Chloe avoided looking Elli in the eyes, however, she literally felt her triumphant look on her skin.

With slow steps she approached the portal…

France, Paris, 1801

As always when the Humanist Assembly was coming up, dozens of well-heeled gentlemen throughout France set out to attend. This time they would meet in Paris.

It was still a day away, but some Gentlemen met in advance to exchange news and do small-talk.

This plan was also followed by Phillipe Ambroise, a thick-set man with a face that seemed a little too small for his chubby head. At the moment, like many people in his position, he was wearing white pants and a white shirt, black leather boots and a blue jacket. Sweat was dripping from under his brown hair, which made him look rather stupid, while he was looking at a painting that showed a landscape near Avignon. He was not aware of its effect on others, however, because no one had ever pointed it out to him.

The wall on which the painting he was paying attention to hung was, like its counterparts, covered with wood and belonged to a salon decorated with all kinds of ceramics and glassware.

By a large fireplace stood a group of armchairs, each flanked by a side table. Light flooded in through several windows.

"I see you've found something to suit their tastes."

De La Croix entered through a white double door. Amboise turned ponderously to face him, giving the impression of a moderately interested hippopotamus.

"Oh, yes. I was in this area once, it's very well struck. Great place, Avignon, I highly recommend it. Tell me, how much did it cost?"

Nice try, de la Croix thought to himself. He could already guess why Ambroise was here.
"It was a gift, I don't know how much it's worth. Tell me, did you have a pleasant drive here?"

"It was relatively bumpy. And we hardly made any progress here in this city. Paris is always so busy, I had the impression of being in an anthill."

"Yes, that's always a bit annoying. Can I offer you something to drink?"

Smile, always smile…

"I appreciate your hospitality, but unfortunately I come with news too bad for me to take advantage of it in good conscience."

Inwardly, de la Croix rolled his eyes. Wretched hypocrite…

"Oh? What grief-stricken news could you have to report?"

Ambroise measured him with a pitying look that almost made de la Croix's blood rise.

"I'll be honest with you, my friend. Your approach to the creation of the Better Man does not necessarily meet with the understanding of the rest of the Cavaliers, moreover you have not been able to show any results for three years. I'm afraid if you don't change that quickly, the Assembly will cut, if not cancel, your funding."

Which was to be expected… Yes, de la Croix's research was difficult, time-consuming, and very costly, but what mattered was the damn end product! The other cavaliers were so incredibly short-sighted. His ideas were revolutionary! You couldn't just stick to the old to create something that was beyond the imagination of ordinary people. The mere fact that de la Croix spent almost his entire fortune on his research should have shown them how much he believed in it, but no, of course, you had to cut off a man who could barely afford the membership fee. But de la Croix, after so many failures, was finally so close…. The only thing that helped was…

"Well, I actually made a breakthrough some time ago, dear Ambroise."

Ambroise listened up.

"A breakthrough, you say? Why haven't I heard about it before? Can you show it to me?"

De La Croix began to sweat slightly. He had just dug his own hole in his haste….

The boy is not ready yet.

Improvise, then…

"Well, I was saving him for tomorrow's meeting. As a surprise. To raise me like the phoenix from the ashes, you know?"

Ambroise nodded in agreement.

"Oh, I see. Now I'm really curious. Let me see."

De la Croix nodded with a put-on smile and motioned Ambroise to follow him. Slowly, mind you, because Ambroise's corpulence slowed him down noticeably. De la Croix briefly wondered if they would be faster if he just rolled him…

The two cavaliers climbed up to the second floor of De la Croix's estate, to a room secured by a heavy oak door and a guard. An unshaven day laborer, mind you, for de la Croix, as mentioned, was not exactly flush financially.

"Monsieur de la Croix," he announced as politely as possible.

"Is he awake?" the person addressed only asked.

"I don't know, he was cursing pretty long and loudly a while ago, but everything's quiet now."
He must have hurt himself again somewhere, de la Croix thought resignedly. Mending the quirks of his creation had proven rather complicated, but Rome hadn't been built in a day, either, after all.

He pulled out a heavy, wrought-iron key and used it to open the door with a sigh. It swung open with a malicious creak.

And allowed a view of a scene of destruction.

The shelf with the many books was still intact, but the narrow bed had obviously been used as a battering ram to break open the window that had once been nailed shut. The sheets were knotted into an improvised rope that was attached to the shutter and ended outside about six feet above the ground.

It dawned on de la Croix that the loud cursing must have served to disguise the noise that had inevitably been made during the escape. Noise that was impossible to hear on the first floor.

Ambroise, who had noticed, as had the pale de la Croix, that the showpiece had escaped, looked at it with quiet astonishment.

"There's a darn ice-cold wind blowing through your finances," he remarked.

De la Croix, visibly sweating and determined to take a close look at the peon later, turned to the cowardly man and raised his hands placatingly.

"Don't worry, we still have time. I'll find him again. We'll show up at the Humanist Assembly together tomorrow, I promise."

Ambroise measured him skeptically.

"De la Croix, this will be your last chance, honestly. First you talk about a breakthrough and then you present something like this, you're lucky no one but me noticed."

"Of course Ambroise, but don't worry, I'll think of something. After all, that's what we are known for."

The peon behind him began to shake his knees with a dark foreboding as de la Croix closed the door again and, apparently without realizing it, crushing the cast-iron doorknob…

Nexus, ???

The reader probably knows this. Some sights are so unbelievable that your jaw drops at first. Examples of this are other people's new and better furnished own apartment or the cheating of one's own spouse.

For Chloe, plate-sized eyes joined in as she now entered the Nexus in full consciousness for the first time.

Elli had described it to her last time as a spaceship, but if that was true, it had to be an extremely huge spaceship. After all, there was a blue sky and a sun shining down through a cloud. Chloe was walking on soft grass that was joined by a gravel path. This led to probably the strangest house she had ever seen.

First, there was the paint job. The house had no uniform color, but was painted in a variety of colors and patterns. The whole thing could best be described as a rainbow that had decided that it wanted to be different from the other rainbows. The architect had probably made a similar decision, because the house, with its apparent five stories and several towers, twisted and turned into the most impossible shapes. And everything here seemed so incredibly real. More real than Chloe herself…

"Is-is this your house?"

Elli next to her was taking a sip from her flask, so she didn't answer right away.
"Sure, homemade. Do you like the paint job?"

Chloe nodded, even though the house seemed odd to her.

"Were you sober when you built it?"

Elli just chuckled.

"Nope, why?"

"No reason… So this is your spaceship?"

Elli seemed confused for a moment before understanding flashed across her face.

"What, no. I just told you to imagine the Nexus like a spaceship. But that was just as a crutch. This is anything but a means of transportation. This is my own little private dimension. Here I can do whatever I want."

"Well, without a law enforcement agency, that's certainly easy."

Elli raised an eyebrow in amusement, then pulled a violet out of her nose.

"You're thinking too small. Look at that."

Chloe, just running, fliched as her feet suddenly felt no ground beneath them. Confused, she looked down and realized she was just slowly toppling backward.
Two inches off the ground.


"That's zero-gravity," Elli explained, still standing firmly on the ground. "Fun?"

Chloe helplessly rowed her arms and legs. She said nothing, but growing panic spread across her face. Elli frowned.

"Hm, I imagined that differently…"

She positioned Chloe correctly again and pushed her back to the ground. The girl was reassured to find that gravity was grasping her again.

It took her a moment to recover from the shock.

"You can really do anything here?"

Elli nodded.

"That's possible because of the special properties of the Nexus. The only downside is that I can't take anything I create in here to other universes. As soon as my creations leave the Nexus, they immediately cease to exist. Pretty annoying because it means I can't eat anything I make here. If I were to leave then, I would lose a noticeable part of my body. Even the air in here I had to import from somewhere else…"

They reached the door of the house. Before Elli could reach for the door, it was already opened from the other side by a Dean who was obviously taking part in a contest for the best cleaning lady's outfit. He wore a blue apron with green flowers, a purple bandana and two rubber gloves. In his right hand he had a mop bucket including a mob.

"Oh, hello Chloe. I'm just cleaning up here."

"Forget cleaning, Dean," Elli waved it off. "We have things to visit. France. Beginning of nineteenth century."

Dean rolled his eyes.

"It was very dirty back then… Elli, that's going to have to wait until I get the house-"

Elli snapped her fingers. Not much changed, except that the water in the mop bucket was much dirtier now. And inside the house, it suddenly looked cleaner…

"You should do this more often, Elli," Dean noted. "Or finally set the Nexus so nothing gets dirty."

"Then I won't be able to get you out of here at all," Elli remarked, pushing Chloe past Dean and into the house.

"Go make yourself appropriate for the time period, I'll take care of Chloe. And dump the water."

"Yes, my Emperor," came in a robotic voice from Dean before he turned and left, shaking his head.

"Ho-hold on! Where are we going?" asked Chloe as she was led by Elli through the mind-boggling hallways and halls of the house. The floor curved into spirals in places, at times she walked on the ceiling, and once they even went through a wall.

"Well, if you show up here with the clothes in the past, you'll have to put up with some questions. That's why we're going to get changed real' quick," Elli explained, opening the door to what was probably the largest dressing room in the multiverse.

The room couldn't possibly fit into the house it was in, it was just too big for that. Elli seemed to have enough clothes to dress the entire population of Earth. Chloe saw everyday clothes, historical garments from all sorts of eras, including some animal skin scraps sewn together that must have been in fashion during the Stone Age. Then there were clothes whose design was completely new to her, such as a blue cloak with raised, long prongs on the collar, a dress that looked like a machine, and a garment where it had to be assumed that Elli needed to feed it regularly. In addition, there were more absurd artifacts such as a bear costume, a space suit, a beekeeper's outfit and, at this point Chloe's face flushed with shame, bathing suits whose fabric was probably not even enough to cover a small saucer.

While Chloe stared at these myriads of clothes, Elli pulled out a rather plain dress without sleeves and accessorized it with a red scarf. With it came a pair of shoes, tied with ribbons to the calves. Chloe saw right away that Elli's scheme had a fatal flaw.

"Elli, this is way too big for me."

Elli paused for a moment and seemed to measure with her eyes. The garments abruptly shrank to a size that fit Chloe.

"Problem solved," she announced with a grin.

"Wha- Elli, didn't you say earlier nothing you create in here would last outside the Nexus? I'll be standing in the street in my underwear as soon as we arrive!"

"Now slow down," Elli commanded. "I didn't create anything, on the contrary, I destroyed. The dress will remain, even if you leave the Nexus."

Chloe felt queasy.

"You didn't have to fit one of your dresses for me, did you? You can't get that back to its original size, can you?"

Elli waved it off.

"I have too many clothes anyway, and you won't believe how cheap I got this."

"Cheap is still pretty expensive, I'm sure. This looks valuable."

"It is, it's silk muslin. You don't have to bother with the price. I stole it."

There was a short silence.


"I told you you wouldn't believe it. Don't worry, the clerk in the universe I got this from got completely different problems two hours later anyway. In the Marseille there, a war against squirrels had suddenly broken out."

Chloe had only an incredulous look to spare.

"Yes, squirrels, Chloe. Those little buggers are a lot smarter than you think. Had decided to become the dominant species on the planet in this universe. I think they even got away with it, huh…"

Chloe was still just staring at her. Elli put on a stern look.

"Chloe, there's pretty much nothing in the multiverse that isn't there. I've visited universes that consisted entirely of porn magazines or where Earth was ruled by a school of mackerel. It's really no less implausible than standing in a little dimension you entered through your closet, is it?"

Chloe continued to say nothing, but expressed thoughtful agreement with her face.

"There you go, like this, I have a dressing room here somewhere. Take this and go change, and I'll meet you with Dean at the entrance in a minute."

"In a minute" became a bit longer, since Chloe didn't really know how such dresses had been worn back then. Elli joined her a little later, already in a similar getup, only her cloth was blue. She first grinned knowingly at Chloe's getup, then frowned.

"What did you do to your arms?"

The question was directed at a couple of scabbed welts on her forearms.

"Got caught on a chain-link fence," Chloe explained.

She didn't remember exactly when it had happened, but she had decided back then, in her eagerness, to try a shortcut home, if she remembered correctly…

"Hmm…", Elli made. "Wait a minute, you've got that on backwards."

She pulled the dress over her head and stared silently at her back for almost a beaten minute.

"Elli?" asked Chloe. "Are you all right?"

She turned to Elli, who nodded choppily in response.

She helped Chloe put her dress on properly and then led her into a room that, Chloe realized only after closer inspection, was for cosmetics. The casual observer would have mistaken the room for a chemistry lab.

"Do you only have rooms this big for everything?" asked Chloe, slightly disconcerted.

"Sure, wait until you see the walk-in refrigerator."

Elli, meanwhile, was stirring together some sort of translucent pomade, which she applied to the injuries. The stuff immediately took on the color and texture of her skin. Her scabs were no longer visible underneath.

"We want to look a little nice, don't we?" said Elli. "Let it dry briefly and it will last until the next shower. Biodegradable."

After this cosmetic emergency care, the two made their way back to the entrance via a similarly confusing path and met Dean there as planned. Chloe had to try hard not to start snorting, because he just looked ridiculous. His pants were pulled up to his stomach, he wore uncomfortable-looking calf-high boots and what looked like the ancestor of tails with a collar that reached his ears.

He eyed them both scrutinizingly.

"Elli, your purse."

Elli looked down at the black purse she was carrying and rolled her eyes.

"No one noticed that one, Dean. But now that you point it out to me…"

Elli pulled a small metal Celtic cross from her purse and handed it to Chloe. Then she gave more to Dean and herself.

"What's this?" asked Chloe.

"It's an AAT," she was told. "It's an anti-attention talisman. It makes people overlook us, but it doesn't make us invisible. It makes it easier for us to get around, but it's useless if someone is focusing on us, like if we're drawing attention to ourselves. So don't remple anyone or talk to anyone who would be better off leaving us alone."

"I see…"

"Good," Elli exulted handily. "And here we gooooooooo!"

A black portal appeared in front of them in mid-air, quickly taking on a rectangular shape.

France, Paris, 1801

Chloe found herself in a side alley. The portal at the moment blocked the back door of a pub and led onto a muddy cobblestone street. Dean, the last to emerge from the Nexus after her, gave Elli a reproachful look.

"While you were changing, I went ahead and picked out a suitable apparition site. If we come out on the Main Street, there will be too much commotion," Elli explained as she closed the Nexus.

"I just had the shoes cleaned…," Dean fretted as the trio stepped out of the alley and into the bustle of the city.

"We should be in 1801 here, Paris. Hard to tell because the Eiffel Tower won't be built for another eighty-five years. It's still five to the Arc de Triomphe," Elli began.

Chloe listened only with half an ear. There were a lot of impressions to take in.

Most noticeable was the smell, which caused Dean to put his hand over his mouth. Take a gym and add a note of horse manure, and you got an idea of the aroma that hung over the street. Chloe already knew from her research that people didn't wash too often in this temporal cultural space, but this exceeded all her expectations.

Through her translation patch, she understood what was being talked about and shouted on the street. Some rich-looking men were discussing Napoleon's efforts to win over the former Jacobins, two women were discussing the best way to do laundry, a merchant was touting goods from the colonies, and a gang of children were playing tag in the street.

None of the passersby took any notice of them.

"Ghastly here, isn't it?" asked Dean, a little annoyed. "Look at the hair on that one, too much arsenic and lead."

The comment was directed at a man with a very unhealthy looking head of hair.

Chloe suddenly noticed something.

"Wait, we're in the past here, aren't we?"

"Yes," Dean confirmed.

"Don't we have to be careful to not change the future?"

"Time is a weird thing," Dean explained. "As long as you don't do anything with too far-reaching consequences, you'll be fine. Elli, for example, isn't going to march off to kill Napoleon, even though that would probably keep five hundred thousand soldiers from perishing in Russia. But you can go over there to the pub and order yourself a stew with a clear conscience."

"What happens if I-"

Chloe didn't get out more than that, as a crowd suddenly pushed past them, threatening to take them with it. Reassured, however, she felt Dean's hard hand close around hers. It took a while, but then the streets were clear again.

"Thank you, Dean," Chloe said. "Elli, where exactly are we going exa- Elli?"

Chloe, as well as Dean, looked around searchingly. Elli was nowhere to be discovered.

Her face went asleep.

"Oh- Oh no," it escaped Chloe. "Dean, what are we going to do? What if something happens to Elli!"

"Elli can take care of herself, even if she has a dangerously high alcohol level," was the dry reply.

"So what do we do now? Go back to the Nexus?"

Dean shook his head.

"Only Elli can open the Nexus. But we've got a backup plan for that kind of thing. Look, here's what we're gonna do…"


De la Croix hurried through the streets. In his hand was a small, compass-like device with which he could locate soul energy. The only problem was that it didn't work like a real compass, but like a bloodhound that had to follow a scent. The cavalier had already had to heave himself over walls, squeeze through fences and maneuver through houses in order not to lose the trail. His wardrobe looked accordingly battered. There was dirt everywhere and he had lost two buttons. But he had to find his subject again, no matter what the cost. But he was getting closer, because the rash of the needle was getting stronger now.

And then it suddenly changed direction….

De la Croix stopped, confused, and slapped the device twice briefly. No, it remained the same, the direction in which the track led had changed. In itself, this was logical, of course, because the escaped man had to run around corners, too, after all, but normally the curve of the track was not so sharp…

As he continued in the previously indicated direction, his suspicions were confirmed. Something that radiated more soul energy than his creation had crossed their path. This had obliterated his trail, as the needle would now always align with that better one. What a bloody mess! He really had to come up with something to present! De la Croix decided to follow the trail, because with any luck, the unknown and the wanted had teamed up. And if not… Then he would have to improvise….

While he was on his way, he couldn't get one question out of his head: What could be emitting so much energy?

"…and that's why lower class families eat from a common bowl they all share," Elli finished her lecture.

Heeding applause, she looked around for her companions, only to discover them nowhere to be found.

Her first response was to take a hearty swig from her bottle.

The next was to dodge a cart that almost ran her over. Annoyed, she gave the driver the middle finger before realizing that she was wearing an AAT. She then tried to neutralize her savage gesture with a V-sign. Not that anyone noticed.

In such a case, the emergency plan took effect, so she marched, or rather staggered, off straightaway.

That was annoying. Hopefully it wouldn't spoil Chloe's trip.

She turned into a side alley to take a shortcut, but only got halfway….

Elli could still hear someone stepping behind her. She reached into her purse, but wasn't fast enough to stop a knife from going to her neck. Meanwhile, a very cold hand grabbed her shoulder.

"I need your money," whispered a voice whose owner was obviously struggling to move his lungs.

Probably terminally ill, would explain the cold hand.

"What if I don't have any money?" asked Elli tentatively, as her hand closed around the desired item in her pocket.

"Don't lie, you're too clean for that."

"Thanks for the compliment, if you're going to rob someone, there's one thing they need to watch out for…"

Her hand sprang out of her pocket while her neck leaned in the opposite direction. The knife that immediately followed was parried by the handle of her frying pan, which she had pulled out of her purse, whereupon Elli rammed the elbow of her other arm into where she suspected the robber's solar plexus to be. What she hit felt suspiciously like the targeted body region, but triggered no reaction. On the contrary, the hand with the knife squeezed with inhuman force, despite Elli's resistance, and restored contact with Elli's neck.

"Actually, I was going to say watch where your victim has his hands, but what the hell are you?"

Elli tentatively turned her head and caught a glimpse of a face that seemed to come from a nightmare.

Next time on Nexus:
The Better Man? Part 2

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