Forrest Cameranesi, Geek of All Trades

Beyond the Eye of Chaos: Part 1

In an apparent high-fantasy world, the Valkyries mostly live quiet lives of bountiful leisure. The world is layered into tiers, its inhabitants sorted by powerful angelic figures into groups by their respective ethics and strength, and most of the Valkyries spend their time in the upper tiers where their constructive passtimes can proceed uninterrupted. But one of them, Dominic, the youngest and newest member of the group, is more interested in testing his strength in the lower tiers, and engaging in the more carnal activities favored by those tiers' inhabitants. His colleagues look down on his interests, but they are harmless as apparently even death in this world is but a temporary inconvenience, albeit a painful one. They look at even the harshest activities of the lower tiers as though they were childish games. But when one of Dom's lovers, Tamara, tells him about a legendary figure, the most powerful fighter of the deepest tier, known as the Queen of Hell, the Valkyries' superiors begin to take note. A man named Xio, to whom they report in an organization called the Foundation, asks the Valkyries to dissuade their colleague from the quest he has adopted to fight his way down into "Hell" to witness its renowned Queen firsthand. Xio asks this both because the Valkyries are nearly at their destination and do not need a distraction like this when the mission will need their full attention soon, but also for the sake of the Queen herself, who it seems Xio would not like disturbed. (More details).

Despite their best efforts, the other Valkyries are unsuccessful at dissuading Dom from his quest. As Dom trains with his lover Tamara, who is far more skilled than him, to fight their way together into Hell, the other Valkyries must reluctantly engage in and perfect their own combat skills to follow him deeper and deeper into the lower tiers and continue their efforts to convince him to give up this foolish quest. They must use not only unarmed and traditional weapons combat, in which many of them are already quite adept, but also the magical powers apparently available to all in this world, abilities with which most of them are unfamiliar. Because they do not have a skilled guide like Tamara to help them train and fight, their progress lags increasingly further behind Dom's, and the Valkyries worry that they will not be able to stop him before he finds the Queen of Hell and stirs up some kind of trouble they don't have time to deal with. (More details).

Eventually Dom and Tamara reach Hell, and witness the fury of its Queen firsthand. She seems to be in a state of continuous rage, fighting off the many who constantly come to challenge her, all the while screaming nearly incoherent but intriguingly cryptic things. But when Dom arrives in her presence, she stops, taken aback apparently by the Foundation logo worn on his uniform, which she calls "the mark of the gods". From that mark she infers that Xio has sent someone to her in his stead. Dom tries to tell her that, to the contrary, Xio didn't want him to come here at all, but that he had to witness the legendary Queen himself. He also remarks that he is surprised that she knows Xio, since he didn't think Xio would ever come to a place like this. She says she has known Xio for thousands of years, and is bemused that this newcomer seems so uninformed of "their" past, asking whose child is he, and remarking that he looks like someone she calls Kron. Before that conversation can continue, however, the rest of the Valkyries arrive, accompanied by a stoic female figure called Amitabha who fights with effortless, inhuman competence and has escorted the other Valkyries this far. She informs Dom that they have arrived at their destination, and it is time to disengage from this place, which she called Virtuality, and awaken aboard their ship. Over Dom's protests, all the Valkyries dissolve into energy one by one, leaving only Tamara and himself, pleading with the Queen for more information, before he is dissolved as well, leaving only Tamara, confused and consterned, who is promptly sent fleeing from the again-enraged Queen. (More details).