Broken: Part XI

Broken Legacy

Part XI: Hard Goodbyes

The moment we came home, Caroline decided to make some tomato sauce in advance for tonight’s dinner, letting it simmer all day in some thingy that I didn’t know. Although we had a full kitchen at home, it mostly made toasts and microwaved pre-bought food. Ian could throw a birdarang at a running target a hundred yard away while blindfolded but kitchen knives were out of his league… Not that I was any better but I didn’t have kids.

A few minutes before Homeroom came, Caroline’s phone rang. She took it out of her pocket and stated at the screen.

“Is it…?” I asked, omitting the last two words.

“It’s my mom.” Caroline answered with a heavy sigh, just staring at the screen of her phone some more.

“Aren’t you going to answer?”

“I don’t know if I really want to…”

“I’m sure she just wants to apologize.” I said. As terrifying as mama bear could be, I didn’t want her and Caroline to be at odds because of me…

“I guess you’re right.”

She got up and went outside to talk. I kind of wanted to follow her and not leave her alone. But I couldn’t just butt in family business…

To my surprise, Caroline came back only a minute later, clutching her phone nervously. She wasn’t upset, which was a good thing, but I could still see that she wasn’t 100% a-okay.

“So?” I asked.

“She wants to see me like right now.” She said with a small sigh.

“Oh. Want me to come with you?”

There were a few seconds of silence as Caroline thought about it.

“Only if you want to.” She then said.

So I got my coat on.

“Ready to go.”

“Alright.” She said giving me the tiniest sliver of a smile.

We went out and the moment the door was closed, her hand found mine. I could feel how tense she was so I gently squeezed her hand which seemed to help. We didn’t talk on our way to the gate, instead I could just see Caroline being lost in thoughts, probably going through a thousand scenarios of what was about to happen.

“Who’s that?” Caroline asked once we arrived at the gate.

I looked and I saw that Shavek was the one on guard.

“Oh that’s Shavek. They’re a Shivat, they’re a castaway, really nice, just don’t be weirded out by their speech pattern.” I explained.

“Okay…”

Shivats were one of the alien species we’d encountered, but unlike the Itharii, Gimelians, Venusians or Tzaries, they didn’t have a population on earth. Three years ago, a misunderstanding had caused one of their scout ship to crash on earth. The mess had gotten fixed and the Shivats sent home but Shavek had been accidentally left behind.

Shivats are these colorful insect-like creatures, which varied strongly depending on their type. Shavek being a warrior. Since I’d spent quite a bit of time at Ravenhold with Ian, I’d gotten to know them. Although I still wasn’t sure about their gender; they’d told me they were ‘unmale’ but since Shivats had a separate group called queens which did the breeding, I wasn’t sure if that made them female or some third category…

Caroline and I came foward and Shavek’s head and their big bubbly eyes turned toward us.

“Greetings unmale shivat-untype fledgelings.” Shavek said, they didn’t really do names, instead using titles such as ‘fledgeling,’ ‘warrior’ or ‘worker’ to refer to different people. Shivats didn’t have vocal cords so Shavek relied on a translator to turn the chirps they could make. “How may Shivat-self assist?”

“Greetings Shavek, we need to leave the colony for ten minutes to meet unself mother.” I said, motioning to Caroline. One thing I’d learned was that trying to mimick the Shivat speech pattern typically resulted in easier communication.

“Affirmative. Shivat-self requires identification.”

I took out my school ID and let them scan it, Caroline doing the same. That done, Shavek opened the gate for us.

“Thank you. Have a safe and efficient day-cycle, Shavek.”

“Have a safe and efficient day-cycle, fledglings. Transmit Shivat-self greetings to fledgling queen.”

I nodded and we left the school ground.

“What did that mean?” Caroline asked, whispering as if trying not to let Shavek know she hadn’t understood.

“They want you to say hi to your mom for them. Queen and mom are synonymous for Shivats and the translator can’t do the difference.”

“Oh… Well, that was weird.” She said with a chuckle.

“Shavek’s really chill once you know how to talk to them. Like once you get pass the big bug thing, they’re a really nice person. Heck, they have their own ‘dear Shavek’ advice column in the school newspaper.”

The thing had apparently begun as a joke after a student had allegedly said they’d ask the Shivat for advice and then had done so and it had become a thing until it had been put in the newspaper as to not distract Shavek 24/7. Oddly enough, Shavek had kind of become a darling of the students after that. And really other than being a big bug, they were really nice and always so dang helpful and polite.

“You’re kidding?” Caroline asked, she just stared at me like she was expecting me to be pulling her leg.

“Nope. It’s pretty wild.” I answered with a laugh. I looked around and found Mama bear leaning against her car’s hood. “Hey, there’s your mom.”

“You mind waiting here for a few?” Caroline asked.

“Sure. I’ll be right here if you need me.” We were far away I wouldn’t hear the conversation unless it’d turn to screaming. I kind of wanted to know what they’d talk about but it was more important to respect Caroline’s privacy.

“Mind holding this for me?” She then asked, taking her big leather satchel off her shoulder and giving it to me. I took it and put it on my shoulder, opposite the one where my utility belt hung, hidden under my coat.

With that done, Caroline slowly walked toward her mom, leaning on the hood as well. I looked around and found a stone bench that was meant for the shuttle bus that went back and forth between Ravenhold and Havenport.

So I sat down for a few minutes, trying not to stare at Caroline and her mom. I shot a few text to my dad, telling him Caroline had accepted the dinner invite, something I’d forgotten to tell him when he’d driven us home.

Eventually, Caroline kissed her mom goodbye and she drove away in the family car. Caroline staying in place.

I got up and went toward her.

“Are you alright?” I asked. She turned toward me and I saw the conflicting emotions hiding behind her eyes.

“Yeah, it’s just goodbyes are hard.” She said.

I wrapped my arms protectively around her and she hugged me back gently. We just stayed like that for a moment.

“Well, we better get to class.” She said. “Or we’re going to be crazy late.”

“Alright. What about the gift?”

“Eh, I’ll put it in the house at lunch time.”

I nodded and we hurried toward class, arriving a few minutes late. Thankfully Ravenhold wasn’t too pointy on class attendance so long as you performed well enough, didn’t get into trouble and it wasn’t too common.

Homeroom passed really quickly, Caroline and I just cooperating and helping each other through her lesson; I was better at math while she was better at english so it was win-win. After which was lunch time, where I settled for delicious tacos.

We were in the middle of lunch when Michael or Rook — whatever you want to call him — stepped toward us.

“Class three of year one. It’s nice to see you’re all assembled here, that makes everything easier.” He declared. “Some of you have had the luxury of skipping our first class. I believe it’s time we rectify this.” He said.

My head turned toward Allen, I couldn’t help but smile.

For once Michael was going to do something I’d appreciate; hurting Allen. And call me awful but it was going to be fun to watch.

Previous                                                                                                                       Next

Advertisements

Hunted: Part XI

Hunted

Part XI: Lunch Outside

In the end, Amber and I made it to homeroom with only a few seconds to spare before the bell rang. I could feel people staring at us, like they knew exactly what we’d been up to… Judging us… I let paranoia take the better of me and I sat down next to Tyler rather than sit with Amber…

“Up late again?” Tyler asked.

“No, I was just hiding in my room all morning.” I said, avoiding to mention Amber.

“Oh alright. Say, my HotM supergroup is doing it’s weekly raiding today, want to join us for buried Ziggurat?”

“Sure. I mean I’ll think about it.”

“Awesome.”

We went back to our daily lessons, which I kept screwing up, words and numbers getting jumbled in my head, much to my frustration. I’d only ever reached 12th grade without being held back due to massive amount of remedial classes and pity from my teachers… Although each classes was only about an hour and fifteen minutes, Homeroom felt like it took hours for me as I struggled so much… Eventually, Lunch came about and I was freed from my misery. I knew I’d have to ask Mr. Martin for help eventually but I hated failing so miserably. It made me feel so stupid…

The fast food counter had something I hadn’t seen in three years; poutine, which I’d first tasted on my family vacation to Canada a few years back. It was a mix of french fries, gravy and cheese curd. It was pretty freaking delicious. Once I got out of line, I saw Amber heading toward me, a tray in hand. Unlike me, she’d gone for soft-shell tacos.

“Want to go have lunch outside? It’s a nice day.” I proposed.

“Sure I guess.” She answered. “And it’s a bit more private than the cafeteria…” She then added suggestively. That made me blush.

So the two of us left the cafeteria together, finding a nice spot beneath the shade of a willow tree where we weren’t easily visible.

“What the hell is that thing?” Amber said once she saw my choice of lunch.

“Poutine, it’s amazing.”

“That looks like a mess.”

“A delicious mess.” I corrected her. She didn’t look convinced so I speared a few fries and bits of cheese curd before raising it toward her. “Try it.”

She hesitantly leaned forward and put the food in her mouth, chewing for a few seconds before swallowing.

“It’s nice, but damn there has to be enough grease in there to oil a car.” She said, making me feel self conscious. Being fat, people often judged me by my choice of food…

“Crap, I said something wrong.” She said, looking at me. “Greasy food just makes my stomach feel heavy and my whole body sluggish.”

I nodded and dug into my food. Amber offering me a bite of her tacos in return. She’d picked some shrimp tacos which were pretty nice and fresh. As we ate, we just talked about random things, nothing serious. Apparently we were both fan of old school metal bands, which was pretty cool.

“So, I’m not entirely sure how to phrase this without being weird or insulting…” Amber began, looking uncomfortable. “And I don’t want to like pretend not to notice… But you’re Asian, right?”

It was a question I’d gotten a million times, although most people just phrased it as either ‘are you Chinese or Japanese?’ as if no other East-Asian ethnicity existed or they just asked me where I ‘was really from’ as if I really wasn’t from California…

“Yeah, I’m actually a sixth-generation Korean-american. My great-great grandparents emigrated here like forever ago.”

“Oh.” She said, thinking about it for a moment. “I’m an immigrant too, well, my parents are. They’re German and Irish, they came to America just a few years before I was born.”

“I knew I detected the slightest hint of an accent.” I said, teasing her.

“Ja.” She mumbled, becoming shy all of a sudden. “I don’t speak much German or Gaelic though. My parents didn’t seem to think teaching us was a priority.”

“My family doesn’t speak Korean, my grandparents know a little but my parents couldn’t speak a sentence to save their lives. I took a few classes so I know how to ask for the bathroom but that’s about it.”

She let out a snicker. “Guess I’m not the only one who get screwed with the family heritage.”

“So, what’s the story with your sword? Like you’re pretty good with it, so it’s not like you just randomly got it.”

“It’s a family gift I guess… My folks made me take sword fighting when I was young.”

“They made you learn sword fighting? Most parents would swing the opposite direction.”

“It’s complicated.” She sighed. “But with my mutant abilities, enhanced strength and endurance, using a greatsword is fairly easy.”

“So it’s a greatsword?”

“Well, it’s inspired by Scottish claymores, although a purist would say it isn’t a true one since the cross guard doesn’t end with a quatrefoil.” She explained all serious. There was an enthusiasm I hadn’t seen before in her voice. “It’s actually made of duranium, which is a titanium based alloy; only about a third of the weight of steel but twice as durable, which is better than pure titanium based sword, but far more expensive. Even then, it’s actually one of the most commonly used material in superhero gear, most armors you see out there are actually duranium based.”

I couldn’t help but just stare at her, captivated. She was pretty darn cute when she was being a weapon nerd.

“Of course duranium isn’t the actual name, just a brand name. In reality it’s called compound T14–”

She didn’t finish that sentence as I kissed her. It took her a second to process what I’d just done and return the favor. For a moment, we just sat there, our lips meeting again and again.

“You’re hella cute, you know that?” I whispered when we broke apart.

In answer, she looked away and turned red in embarrassment.

“Aww look at you, all shy.”

“Shut up…” She said, jokingly but still clearly embarrassed.

“Wait, am I your first relationship?” I asked.

She nodded.

“Oh come on, big gorgeous girl like you? You’ve never…”

“I didn’t really have the chance… I moved around a lot.”

“Like you’ve never done anything not even just to try or as part of a dare or something?”

She shook her head timidly.

“Dang. Guess I’ll have to go gentle on my girlfriend then.”

There was a few seconds long pause before she spoke.

“Say, you don’t think we’re kind of rushing into things?” She asked. “I mean, we’ve just met… It’s not exactly normal…”

I shrugged.

“Honestly, I don’t know… My life is all crazy and I don’t even know what normal is anymore… All I know is that you’re cute and that life’s too short to waste time thinking about when it’s too soon to do what I want to do.” In my case, life’s shortness was all too real, the Shigeo-kai could have tracked me down and their assassins could jump me any second…

My thoughts were interrupted when I noticed a large gathering not too far from us. It wasn’t hard to recognize that it was our class; Rowan and Ahti were very noticeable, even from a distance.

“What the hell is going on over there?” I asked myself out loud.

Amber turned around and saw the rest of the class assembled nearby, watching Allen getting his ass kicked by the Rook.

“We should probably join them.” She said.

“Yeah…”

We got up and joined the others.

“I yield.” Allen said, on the ground in a heap at the Rook’s feet.

“Uhm.” Rook intoned before turning toward the others. “Hopefully one of you will be less disappointing.”

Previous                                                                                                                 Next

Changing Faith: Part VI

Changing Faith

Part VI: Family Secrets

When I woke up Sage was snoring softly. I showered and dressed quietly, mentally preparing for the rest of this day. I knew I needed to apologise to Jaeger but how I was going to do that I wasn’t sure. I know I’ve offended others in the class but I doubt they’ll make themselves known to me. I guessed that Sage and Allison were not the only transgender people in our class. I walked downstairs and noted the breakfast made up, I wasn’t that hungry though. Jaegers eyes immediately rested on me and I froze for a moment at his glare. I grabbed a slice of toast and, fighting the urge to gulp and run back upstairs, sat on the sofa next to Jaeger and Sanjay. There was a moment of silence which Sanjay thankfully interrupted.

“Want to join me for a run?” he asked Jaeger.

“Uh, I would but I need to go see the doc in this place,” He answered, glancing at his tablet briefly.

“Me too,” I jumped in.

“Good for you,” Jaeger nearly growled. Casual conversation was going to be difficult, but I knew that would be likely.

“I’ve been there before. It’ll save you time getting lost if we go together,” I added, hoping the offer might alleviate some of what had happened yesterday.

“I don’t get lost easily. I could just search out the place with medical equipment with echolocation if i had an issue following signs,” Jaeger shrugged.

“Woah, that’s cool,” I replied without thinking. So far everyone seemed to have a useful ability, or at least one that had more purpose to it than hurting people. Sanjay excused himself then to go running. Jaeger quickly left after that. I bit my lip and followed. We had barely the house when he turned to confront me.

“Allen, in case it’s not obvious I do not want you anywhere near me.You’re an offensive shit to be frank,” he said, sounding tired. I couldn’t help shrinking at his words.

“I know, I’m sorry. I’m working on it,” I murmured, hoping he’d accept my apology. Instead he made a noncommittal noise and turned to keep walking.

“I ain’t forgiving you anytime soon,” he said. I opened my mouth to push but he kept talking. “But I won’t stop you following me to the doctor, it’s a free world after all. Just don’t try to talk to me.” I let out a small sigh and followed him. The academy grounds looked the same as yesterday, although it was nice to take it all in with a less panic-stricken mindset. When we reached the waiting room silence quickly descended again.

“I really am sorry,” I said, well aware he might, and would have every right to, yell at me. I was still dimly aware that he was something unnatural but chimeras were made, so in a way the sin was someone else’s. Jaeger had no say in the matter. I tried not to think about how I justified myself or the others with mutations.

“Sorry would’ve worked the first time, but i had already told you not to use the G slur before the party,” he muttered, clearly bored of the conversation.

“I know, I’m not going to try to make any excuses. All I can do is say sorry and I won’t do it again,” I replied.

“And what about Ahti?” he threw back, surprising me. “Do you plan on giving them trouble because they’re an alien?” I hadn’t really considered what to do regarding Ahti. Truthfully the idea of interacting with it left me feeling a little sickened, but no one else had an issue with the creature. Speaking of terrifying aliens, the doctor from yesterday appeared. I tightened my grip on the armrests and mentally readied myself. I tried asking Jaeger to come with me but all he did was mock my fear. I guess I shouldn’t have expected anything else as a response. Sij looked exactly as I recalled, two sets of creepy cat-like eyes included. I sat down, fighting the desire to run from the room. I knew logically I wasn’t in danger, an academy wouldn’t employ something dangerous to treat their students.

“I understand you’re struggling to settle in. I just wanted to say now that my door is always open if you need to talk. I am a trained therapist as well as a doctor,” she explained. I didn’t think it would be very tactful of me to talk about my inner freak outs from aliens.

“I hope that over time you will feel more comfortable and safe in my presence, but I understand this must be overwhelming for you. I just need to run some of the same tests I did yesterday to ensure there was no effect on yourself from using your power,” she continued, surprising me a little. Was I being that obvious? I don’t know why but her continued professionalism made it easier for me to relax. I followed her instructions, relieved she was letting me do stuff as opposed to her touching me. Although I couldn’t take my own blood with a needle. She instructed me to hold a cotton swab to the injection site and let me put on the plaster on afterwards.

“I took a look through your medical history. In case you didn’t know Ravenhold is very inclusive of all LGBTQI individuals so never feel embarrassed to discuss anything related to your condition to me,” Sij said afterward. I frowned at her and she paused, taking in my confusion before extrapolating. “You have Klinefelter Syndrome, correct? I have the dosing information for your future injections.”

“Oh, that? I don’t really know much about it. Mum spoke to the doctors when they found it and sorted out the injections when I hit puberty,” I shrugged.

“Ah, I see,” she said. “Klinefelter Syndrome is a type of intersex condition.” I stared at her blankly and she spoke further. I listened as she explained what intersex meant, that it was considered a part of the wider gay community as intersex individuals can encounter similar barriers to others in the community. When she finished speaking my neck hurt from nodding on habit. I was still trying to process the information when I thanked her and left. Jaeger as talking to someone who left upon my arrival. Jaeger told me they were the raven and I managed a reaction.

When I walked into homeroom I searched more on my tablet as opposed to my planned lesson. Why had Mum never told me all of this other information? I had began struggling at school as a child which had led to extensive tests and discovering this. I had been too young to really listen when the doctor explained it to her, but I remember her insisting I overcome my fear of needles and get injections. I’d gotten so used to them I’d never wondered the why. Sij explaining the mix of secondary sex characteristics suddenly answered why she had been so frantic I start them.

The bell ringing shook me from my thoughts. I shut down the webpage I had been ringing and followed the others to the cafeteria. I didn’t even care if any of them were glaring at me, although to be honest they seemed more interested in their own lives than mine. Which I couldn’t blame them for. Would their attitude towards them change if they learned about this? Did I ever want someone to learn about this? I’d never thought about children but suddenly I now knew having them would be difficult.

A further rude awakening came in the form of a teacher turning up. He was dressed in dark grey and black armoured clothing with a bird-like mask and red goggles. A cape, utility belt and metal staff also stood out.

“Class three of year one. It’s nice to see you’re all assembled here, that makes everything easier.” He declared. “Some of you have had the luxury of skipping our first class. I believe it’s time we rectify this.” I glanced at the others, seeing a mix of confusion and worry.

“What class is that?” I asked, surprising the others.

“Follow me. It’s time to test out how strong you newbies are,” he answered. I assumed from that some kind of combat class. I glanced at Sage and Jaeger who both stood up. Allison joined as well for some reason. Outside his cape moved in the light breeze as he walked ahead of us. We reached a large grass area, shaded by trees.

“My name is the Rook, it’s my job to make sure you all prepared to fight villains.” I nodded, realising I was a few steps ahead of the others. Apparently the others had followed out of curiosity. “A volunteer?” he joked.

“I don’t have any weapons,” I replied. I glanced behind me but no one seemed interested in helping me out. “Right,” I murmured.

The Rook rested his staff against a nearby tree. I somehow suspected that didn’t even the odds much. The last time I had fought someone had been when I was nine in the school playground. It had been a draw on account of teachers splitting us up. He gestured for me to make the first move. I rushed him, aiming to punch him. The world became a blur, pain flaring as my back collided with the ground. Soft grass didn’t help much when you were flipped and thrown down with force.

“Do you yield?” he asked.

I pulled myself up a little and tried to kick his legs out from under him. He easily avoided this attempt grabbed my leg, dragging me into the air so I was hanging upside down. I muttered a curse, flailing uselessly. My fist connected with the back of his knee and he dropped me in an ungainly heap. I contemplated trying to use my power, but the thought of it going out of control and hurting anyone stopped me. Screw this I thought.

“I yield,” I muttered.

Leaving Darkness: Part IX

Leaving the Darkness

Part IX: Medical History

The room smelled of antiseptic, all the metal and tiled surfaces squeaky clean. I took the seat opposite the Venusian and waited patiently while she got my record up on the screen. I wondered how much they could have on me. I remember getting drug tests in the past at juvie but I never really went to hospital. Heppenheim always worked out my hormone dose and administered it. I noticed there was a simple silver photo frame on the desk showing three venusians in what looked like mid-20s, although I know they aged differently to humans.

“My children,” the doctor spoke, seeing me looking. “I’m Sij or Doc Venus,” she introduced.

“Nice to meet you,” I said. “They look happy,” I added, nodding at the picture.

“Yes,” she said, the tentacle-like decorations on her crown moving a little as she spoke. “Sraa and Sjut are on Earth Bet. Skifth returned to Venus to see the ancestral homeland. I’m proud of all my children,” she gushed. I returned her smile, although felt a bit awkward doing so. I couldn’t help being reminded of old memories with Heppenheim and Kellen. In the background I could see a setting sun flowing near the horizon, the sea shimmering behind them. I remembered the last holiday to the seaside where Kellen and I first … I shook my head.

“So, what did you want to see me for Doc?” I asked.

“This is just a general medical check up really. We don’t have much information on your record and I always like to be aware of any conditions my students might have,” she explained.

“Okay,” I replied. I pulled in a breath before speaking. “I’m a bat chimera, three different species. I’m a transguy on testosterone injections for over a year now and had chest surgery.” She nodded as she typed everything into the computer.

“Are you satisfied with your HRT medications? If not, we could discuss alternatives,” she replied.

“I’ve never had any issues but Hep- someone else always took care of it before. So I don’t really know the dosing I was on…” I trailed off.

“That’s fine. I can do some blood tests and work it out for you,” she said. “When was your next injection due?” she asked.

“In a week.” She nodded and opened a drawer to get a needle and syringe. I held out my arm, I’d been used to needles since childhood and had no issue as she found and jabbed a vein. I licked my lips, not really wanting to say anymore but knowing I would need too.

“I’m a failed chimera.” She paused in her typing, thinking for a moment before speaking.

“In that case I’ll run some other tests on the blood to check your general health,” she said. “Do you want me to-”

“No,” I replied, already knowing what she was offering. I wasn’t interested in knowing how many years I had left.

“Is it okay if I see the extent of the damage?” she asked. I nodded, standing up. She motioned to a small curtained area and I went in, removing my shirt and t-shirt underneath. I could feel the malformed wings trying to stretch at the freedom and shifted uncomfortably.

“Are you okay for me to enter?” she asked.

“Yeah.” The curtain moved aside briefly and I kept my back to her as she looked at the damage.

“Do you have any side-effects from this mutation?” she asked.

“Stiff shoulders sometimes but nothing huge,” I responded. The physical examination went on as she decided to check other paramorphic features such as my ears and nose. After another ten minutes she was satisfied and I could cover my chest. We sat back down and she did some more typing on the computer.

“One more thing,” she said. I fought an internal sigh, I wanted to leave the room already. “Do you feel like a mood stabilizer might help you?” she asked. I blinked at the question.

“I’m not depressed,” I replied.

“I noticed the old scars on your chest, I just thought I should let you know the offer was there,” she explained, smiling. I shifted in my chair contemplating the offer.

“I’m fine,” I insisted. I’d never needed drugs before and I wasn’t going to start now.

“Okay, then that’s all we need to do. Welcome to Ravenhold.” I fought an eyeroll at the last part, waving my goodbye as I stood up.

“Thanks Doc.” In the corridor my eyes paused briefly on someone scribbling in a notebook. They had long black hair and pale skin. A pair of dark eye met mine for a moment and I looked away. I considered looking back their way and talking but a quick check of the time told me I couldn’t. I had to get to homeroom asap.

Some of the others were already there when I reached homeroom. It was pretty clear who had grown close to who since they were always together. It wasn’t a bad thing but I was aware they’d had longer to know each other. I was also wary after Ahti revealing my secret to everyone. What did they think of me? I’d barely ever interacted with someone who wasn’t part of the Syndicate so I had no clue how to predict their responses. Sanjay was sat on his own so I joined him.

“Hey, how did the doctor’s appointment go?” he asked, looking up from whatever he was working on. It looked complicated with diagrams and figures.

“Good,” I replied, turning on my own tablet. I had a feeling by the end of this I was going to have a headache. Sanjay remained patient when I did get stuck though. I tried not to feel too embarrassed that I struggled with things everyone around me probably knew.

“What’s our next class after lunch?” I asked as the bell rang.

“Science,” Sanjay answered. Finally, A class I had a hope of actually being able to understand. Heppenheim at least taught me that much. I waited in line with Sanjay, going wherever he went. I felt a little bad constantly hanging out with him but I didn’t feel ready to confront talking to the others yet. Even so we sat near the others to eat. We hadn’t been there long before some guy turned up.

“Class three of year one. It’s nice to see you’re all assembled here, that makes everything easier.” He declared. “Some of you have had the luxury of skipping our first class. I believe it’s time we rectify this.” I glanced at Sanjay who sent me a mildly worried glance.

Generation: Part XI

A new generation of heroes

Part XI: Complicated

Once Allen and Jaeger left, the rest of the party slowed down. I noted Sanjay had snuck out and the others hung out with their friends; Annabelle with Tyler and Amber, Caroline and Charlie, Yougen was talking to a surprisingly visible Yikaru who seemed a little lost at the party. Although Ahti hung with us for a few minutes, they eventually went to be with Rowan.

It got dark soon after so we retreated inside, Sage looked like they were about to drop dead and so they went upstairs to get some PJs before going down to change. So I did the same, getting everything I needed from my room.

I reached out for the bathroom door’s handle only for the door open from the inside. The door swung open and I saw Allen, just staring at me for a second, looking a bit tense, before he just left. Just behind him was Sage, toothbrush still in hand.

“Are you okay? He didn’t try to hurt you or anything did he?” I asked frowning.

“No, he was apologising,”Sage said, coming out of the bathroom, shutting the door behind them and leaning against the common room’s wall.

“Wait, are pigs flying?” I asked, making them laugh out.

“I broke my own rule and checked his mind. He meant it at least.” They said looking away from me and at their feet, clearly ashamed of having done so.

“I don’t blame you. He’s caused a lot of trouble in just one day of being here.” I shrugged. Although mind reading wasn’t the coolest thing to do, Sage’s safety and comfort was miles above Allen’s right to privacy in terms of priorities..

“I should probably go to sleep.” They said.

“You know, if you ever wanted a time out from Allen, you could crash on the floor in my room. I don’t think Rowan would mind if I asked them in advance…” I offered, feeling my chest tighten a little… Although I’d said floor, I was A-okay with letting them sleep with me in the bed, but didn’t want to make it awkward…

Still Sage gave me a bit of an absent smile, seemingly lost in their thoughts for a minute.

“Thanks, but I’ll be fine I think. I might take you up on that offer later though,” They answered.

“I’ll maintain an open door policy for you.” I answered a little too quickly, I really hoped I hadn’t sounded too forward with that.

“Goodnight Allison,” They said.

There was a short moment of nothing before I got myself to step forward, reaching for Sage and hugging them. They hugged back and it wasn’t just a simple hi/bye hug, rather it was like neither of us wanted to let go.

“Goodnight.” I said, finally letting go of them.

Sage went back into their room and I went to change quickly before practically running to mine. I didn’t lie down or anything, instead I just stared through the window at nothing, forehead pressed against the glass. My brain simultaneously worked in overdrive while being at a complete standstill.

I’d known Sage for only about five hours and yet I was pretty sure I was stupidly crushing on them… Then there was also Mace who was chill and all, but I didn’t know what I felt about him and there was also Sheila, the girl I loved, waiting for me back home.

Worst of all, I had no earthly clue what in G-d’s holy name that I wanted… At that moment, I felt so lonely. I took out my phone, looking at my contact list. It wasn’t a big one; My dad, Tyrone and Sheila at the top followed by a few school and synagogue friends.

I wanted to talk to someone, get my head in order, but I couldn’t bring myself to hit dial.

“Are you alright?” Rowan asked, coming into the room almost as if fate had answered me.

“Yeah… My brain’s just not cooperating tonight.” I said.

“Oh okay.” They said with suspicion.

“I’m going to lie down. Goodnight Rowan.”

“‘Night.”

Even with my head all twisted and full of confusing feelings and thoughts, I slept like a baby that night and woke up much later than usual. For once I was feeling well rested. The after effect of Sage’s power had faded by morning, but the memory of it was still fresh.

I came out of my room into a busy common room, the others hanging about, Sage however was nowhere to be seen. There was a massive pile of pancakes that had been left on the hot plate and I served myself quickly, also chugging down coffee to get my brain working.

“Is Sage up?” I asked Yougen who was enjoying a cup of tea.

“Yeah, I saw them earlier, not sure where they are.”

“Alright, thanks.”

My breakfast done but more coffee in hand, I got up and searched the house, I went to their bedroom first but got no answer. In the end, I found Sage in the sunroom, sitting on one of the big comfy couches I saw that they had their phone out and were talking to someone, although I couldn’t hear the words from behind the glass door. And then there was Ahti hiding out and watching them.

“What are you doing?” I asked them.

Ahti made a ‘Krrriiisshh’ sound in surprise, freezing up for a moment before turning my way still obviously surprised. When they did, I could see the spit glands at the side of their mouth opened up.

“Sorry, didn’t mean to scare you.”

“Is Sage going to be okay?” They asked out of the blues, clearly worried. “They fell and hurt their leg and then they left but they said they have this sickness and it made them fall… Are they going to–” They kept talking, really quickly and getting visibly upset.

“Woah, calm down little guy.” I said putting a hand on their shoulder. “I’m sure they’re going to be alright. I’m going to check up on them and if they aren’t I’ll bring them straight to doctor Sij, is that going to be alright?”

Ahti nodded and I took another look in. Sage had apparently finished their phone call so I knocked on the glass. Sage turned my way and motioned for me to get inside.

“Good morning.” I said with a smile, sitting next to them and putting my coffee on the nearby table.

“Hey. Late sleeper?”

“Not usually, my fibro usually kills me awake early.”

“Ouch, that has to suck. How are you right now, not too much pain?”

“I’m alright, I’m surprised you know what that is.”

“I do volunteer work at my mom’s clinic, I’m not really supposed to say, but there’s a client who also has it.”

I nodded. Processing the information. Sage knowing what fibromyalgia was saved me the need to explain what it was and that you couldn’t just happy thoughts it out of existence.

“I’m disabled too; Narcolepsy.”

“That explains what happened. You really got Ahti really worried, you know. They were spying on you.” I said. I knew a little about narcolepsy, having read up quite a bit on other disabilities.

“Really? Wow…”

“Did you hurt yourself?”

“Just some minor bruising, I’ll be alright.”

“Ahti will be happy to hear that. They wanted you to see a doctor.”

“They’re really that scared?” Sage said, their eyes widened.

“Well, Itharii are actually a lot less enduring than humans, what is just a minor injury for us is far more dangerous to them, they also heal much more slowly. I’m not sure Ahti knows that we’re tougher than them.” Unlike humans who’d evolved as endurance predators, Itharii were more like leopards; fast (aquatic in their case) sprinters but they weren’t built for endurance.

“You know a lot about Itharii.”

“Yeah, my little brother’s in love with them, they’re one of his special interests and he loves to info-dump every bit of trivia he knows. It’s really cute and informative.”

“You have a brother? What’s his name?”

“Tyrone Chasdiel Walker, he’s eleven.”

“That’s quite the name.” They said with a chuckle.

“Well, my full name is actually Allison Avital Walker, mom wanted us to have Hebrew names too.”

“Ah, I’m just plain old Sage. So, do you have any other siblings?”

“No, just the two of us. What about you?”

“No, I’m a single child.”

“That’s a shame, you’re missing out on the totally awesome experience of having your little sib steal your stuff and then making you to be the bad one when they tell on your parents because you won’t share.” I loved Tyrone to death, but he was still four years younger than I was, sibling squats was a thing that happened.

“Such a shame.” They said with a smile.

“Maybe I can lend him to you for a week.”

“Nope, I’ll pass.”

“Aww, shucks.” I said faking a pout.

Since there was still plenty of time before the start of class, we kept talking and having fun. Although I tried not to think too much of what had happened the night before.

Previous                                                                                                                       Next

Adventure: Part XIV

Adventure of a Lifetime

Part XIV: Apologies

As soon as I got home, I started some food prep. Nothing complicated; just a simple marinara sauce that I put in the provided slow cooker so it’d cook all day long and be ready for dinner time which we could use a hundred ways.

There was about twenty minutes left before the start of class when my phone started vibrating. I sat up from the couch and checked my phone.

“Is it…?” Charlie asked.

“It’s my mom.” I sighed, just staring at the caller ID for a moment.

“Aren’t you going to answer?”

“I don’t know if I really want to…”

“I’m sure she just wants to apologize.”

“I guess you’re right.”

I got up and went outside to talk, sitting on the edge of the deck.

“Hey Caroline.” My mom said once I picked up.

“Hey mom.”

“I hope I’m not bothering you.”

“No, I wasn’t doing anything.”

“Alright, well. I’m at the gate, would you mind coming down to see me?”

“I guess I have a few minutes before class start.” I said, not sure if I was ready to see her so soon.

“So?” Charlie asked once I was back inside.

“She wants to see me like right now.”

“Oh. Want me to come with you?”

I hesitated. It wasn’t right to drag Charlie into my drama. I mean she probably thought I was being dumb being angry over my mom being protective… But I didn’t want to go all alone either.

“Only if you want to.”

In answer she got up and gathered her stuff and coat.

“Ready to go.”

“Alright.”

We walked out the door and I reached out, taking her hand in mine. She didn’t mind, instead she squeezed it firmly. We arrived at the gate after a few minutes, the guard wasn’t the same guy we’d met last time, instead, I could see a massive green and gold bug in a similarly colored armor waiting at the guard station. .

“Who’s that?” I asked nodding toward the creature.

“Oh that’s Shavek. They’re a Shivat, they’re a castaway, really nice, just don’t be weirded out by their speech pattern.” She said.

“Okay…”

“It’ll go faster if you just let me talk.” She said with a chuckle. “You’ll see why.”

I nodded and followed her. We walked to the station and Shavek’s gaze fell on us.

“Greetings unmale shivat-untype fledgelings. How may Shivat-self assist?” They said, their voice digitized by something that had been installed on their suit. It was a good thing Charlie was there as it took me a second to understand.

“Greetings Shavek, we need to leave the colony for ten minutes to meet unself mother.”

“Affirmative. Shivat-self requires identification.”

Charlie took out her ID card and I did the same, letting the Shivat scan them.

“Thank you. Have a safe and efficient day-cycle, Shavek.” She then said.

“Have a safe and efficient day-cycle, fledgelings. Transmit Shivat-self greetings to fledgeling queen.” They said before opening the gate for us.

“What did that mean?” I asked in a whisper to Charlie.

“They want you to say hi to your mom for them. Queen and mom are synonymous for Shivats and the translator can’t do the difference.”

“Oh…” I mumbled “Well, that was weird.”

“Shavek’s really chill once you know how to talk to them. Like once you get pass the big bug thing, they’re a really nice person. Heck, they have their own ‘dear Shavek’ advice column in the school newspaper.”

“You’re kidding?”

“Nope. It’s pretty wild.” She answered with a laugh. “Hey, there’s your mom.” She then said, nodding in her direction.

I looked to where she motioned and saw my mom, sitting against the car’s hood, arms crossed. She noticed us and waved at us.

“You mind waiting here for a few?” I asked Charlie.

“Sure. I’ll be right here if you need me.”

“Mind holding this for me?” I said, giving her my bag. She took it and I went toward my mom.

“Good morning Caroline.” She said in a neutral tone.

“Morning mom.” I said, leaning against the hood next to her.

“So, I called you here so I could apologize. I’m really sorry about last night. I didn’t mean to hurt you, but I know what I did was wrong.”

“Mom, I know you’re trying to look out for me, but I’m a big girl I can protect myself. I’m not that terrified eight-years old in a hostile world anymore. I’m not only older and stronger but I’m somewhere where I don’t need protection.”

“I know… It’s just hard to see my baby girl grow up so fast.” She said, a sad nostalgic smile on her lips. “So, that’s why I’ve decided that it’s time for me to go home and stop being in your way. So that you can finally make friends and live your life. And who knows, maybe you’ll find someone you like here.” She said, ribbing me with her elbow.

I normally would have just rolled my eyes, but instead my thoughts became preoccupied by her words… Someone I liked… I’d never really thought about it. I knew I wanted children and that kind of required someone else, I’d never really thought about having an actual partner.  

Although I knew I was definitely ace, I wasn’t as sure if I was aromantic as well…

My eyes drifted toward Charlie who was sitting on a bench further away. I couldn’t help but remember what I’d felt just a few minutes earlier…

“Caroline?” My mom said, calling me back to reality.

“Sorry, I got distracted.”

“Alright well, I better go if I don’t want to miss the ferry. But before I go, since I won’t be there for your birthday I think I should give you your birthday gift.” She said, going to the back of the car and taking out a box wrapped in a an abstract and colorful leafy paper. “Don’t open until Sunday.”

“I promise I won’t.” I said, taking the box.

“Oh, I decided to look into the local churches for you. Reverend Burke of Saint Andrew’s presbyterian church assures me that they are LGBT positive and that you’re welcome to attend services. You can look them up later.”

“Alright. Thanks mom.” I said, giving her a hug. Sure, a minute ago we’d talked about how I didn’t need protection, but church-finding was always a scary thing so I was glad she’d taken care of it for me.

“Goodbye Caroline, take care of yourself.”

“I will. Bye mom.”

I kissed her and she climbed into the family car before driving away. I couldn’t help but have my heart feel heavy from the goodbyes.

“Are you alright?” Charlie said, coming up next to me.

“Yeah, it’s just goodbyes are hard.”

She wrapped her arms around me and I hugged her back.

“Well, we better get to class.” I said. “Or we’re going to be crazy late.”

“Alright. What about the gift?”

“Eh, I’ll put it in the house at lunch time.”

Charlie and I ran toward the school building, arriving a only a few minutes after the bell rang. Still, Mr. Martin let us in without issues, not even asking why we were late. Thankfully the others had been nice enough to leave us a pair of seats together seeing as we usually worked together, what with being in the same grade and all.

So homeroom went really smoothly, Charlie and I alternating between English and Math lessons until lunch time came about. I went for the Mexican counter and Charlie followed me like a little puppy. Food in hand, we went to our usual table where the others started coming one by one.

I started digging into my chile verde when Allen came closer, just hovering about for a minute before coming next to me.

“Would you mind if I sit here?” He asked. “You said I had one more chance… And I don’t know where else to sit…”

“Alright, you can. Did you read what I gave you?”

He sat down and nodded.

“I did.” He went quiet for a moment, absently nibbling a few fries, before speaking up. “So… Ehm…” He began and I tensed just a little expecting trans-related questions. “You’re Christian, right? I mean, I saw your necklace…” He said instead. Reflexively my hand went to my neck where the little silver cross hung, it’d been a gift from my grandma the day of my first communion.

“Yeah. I’m Anglican.”

“Oh, I’m Baptist.”

“I see.”  

There was another bout of uncomfortable silence, I could see in his eyes that he positively wanted to ask me a thousand questions, but didn’t as not to risk angering me or anyone.

I was halfway through my lunch when something dark and tall came into my peripheral vision, I looked toward it only to find the Rook fully dressed and staring at us.

“Class three of year one. It’s nice to see you’re all assembled here, that makes everything easier.” He declared. “Some of you have had the luxury of skipping our first class. I believe it’s time we rectify this.”

Immediately, we turned to the others; Allison, Jaeger, Sage and Allen. They were in for a crappy afternoon…

Previous                                                                                                                      Next

Half Blood: Part I

Harley Tănăsescu

September 2016

The Pădurea Hoia, or Hoia forest for english speakers, is one of those place famous for one thing; alleged supernatural phenomena which brought its share of people wanting to meet the supernatural. Unlike most of those supernatural hotspots, the pădurea wasn’t a friendly one.

And supernatural meant idiot tourists and clueless children messing where they shouldn’t have been. The world might have held wonders; aliens and people with powers beyond human nature, yet people still yearned for the supernatural. And the supernatural yearned for them in return… As food.

So Mama and I patrolled the forest and surrounding lands to cleanse evil from it, which had been our family’s duty for centuries.

The sun was already set when I heard something, a distant howl of pain. A normal human wouldn’t have picked it up, but I wasn’t one. I ran in the sound’s direction at full speed only to arrive at the site of an attack; A lone middle aged man with a camera around his neck amidst the ruins of a trashed camp. On top of him was a wolf, or what one would have mistaken for one; large as a horse and black as the night. It held the man’s arm in its maw. I let out a whistle and the The Pricolici turned toward me, sensing my own supernatural nature and ready to fight what it saw as a potential competitor over its lunch.

“Come on ugly.” I snarled at it in Romanian.

It didn’t hesitate to charge, after all it had claws and fangs while I was seemingly unarmed. As It did, I threw myself sideways, easily tumbling back safely to my feet before muttering the incantation my mother had taught me; summoning my blade,  Mâncător or the Eater… It just appeared, forming as it flowed out of my hand, crystalline and jagged in nature.  

As the Pricolici turned around for its second charge, I took a defensive position. Putting the blade between us. In a swift movement, it pounced, landing on top of me, letting my blade sink into its gut, something that it would have normally shrugged off.

However the Pricolici didn’t expect the power of Mâncător as it began spasming about impaled on the blade before slowly dissolving into ashes, having had its essence devoured by my sword.

My gaze turned toward the man, who was still paralyzed by fear, desperately trying to understand what he’d seen. Having a glimpse of the secret world of magic rarely ended well for humans, it wasn’t something they were equipped to deal with.

“Leave.” I snapped at him in English. He didn’t move so I snarled at him, which got him on his feet and running.

There was nothing preventing him from telling what had happened, but most people wouldn’t have believed him anyway. Magic and the creatures of the other worlds only showed themselves to those whom they wanted to.  

“Are you alright?” My Mama asked, coming up behind me. “I felt Mâncător’s power.” She said before looking around. Unlike me, my mama was fully human but imbued with the power of her magical lineage, which was how she’d created Mâncător.

“Just a Pricolici, one of the dumb ones.” I said.

“I was worried for a second.”

“I can handle myself mama. But do you think you’ll be able to handle yourself when I’m gone?” I asked. Although she was a competent sorceress, she hadn’t been the best hunter.

A few months ago, I’d decided to register for Ravenhold academy, the American superhero school. Surprisingly they hadn’t thought me a crazy person when they’d read my honest introduction letter… I was scheduled to leave in a few hours.

“I’ve been handling myself before you were born Harley.” She said sternly. “Dragă, are you sure you want to go to America? That you’ll be alright there?”  She then asked her face twisted in a worried frown.

“Mama… We were literally demon hunting a few minutes ago. I think I can handle living in a dorm and going to high school like a normal person.”

“You know I worry about you Harley.” She said, putting a hand on my shoulder. “And I’m worried about how people are going to treat you.” Mama had always been good toward me, even when I come out as non-binary.

“Can’t really be worse than here.” I said with a shrug. As good as my mama had been, others hadn’t been…

“Dragă, they’re our family.”

“No, you’re my family, Mama. They’re just blood.”

She stopped and gave me a hug.

“I’m sorry for everything you’ve had to deal with.”

“It’s not your fault, you’ve been better than I could ever ask for. But how about we get back home? I’m starving.”

She nodded and we went toward town. As we walked across it, we were met with a thousand glares. Being a feminine genderqueer person with my body type tended to attract the wrong kind of attention, even in big cities like Cluj-Napoca. Which made me incredibly self conscious.

Romania wasn’t the most queer friendly country in the world, having arrested people for being gay as late as 1995. It was only in 2001 that the law had been repealed and only so the country could join the EU. Even then, the constitution had recently been changed so that only heterosexual marriage could be legally recognized…

Which was why I’d been homeschooled since I was little. Well, that and the dhampir thing. Officially the story was that I was an early activated paramorphic mutant, which explained the unearthly pallor, my sensitivity to light and my enhanced physique and senses.

Eventually, we reached the family house, located in the posh side of the city. It was an old house, build at the turn of the century and kept mostly intact. It was also fairly large and luxurious. When you had magical powers for centuries and and made a living fighting supernatural beings, collecting a fortune wasn’t exactly hard.

“We’re back.” I announced, not receiving any answer. We went upstairs to drop our things and wash up before coming down, finding everyone sitting around the dinner table eating. There was a silent acknowledgement of our presence and we sat down but I still felt like we were intruding.

Mama and I were the black sheep of the family, when you come from a proud lineage of demon hunters, running away and having a child with one of the strigoi you’re meant to hunt hadn’t won her any points. As a result, we were more tolerated than liked by the family.

Mama and I tried to enjoy the meal in silence, it was always best to avoid confrontation. Although the dislike between us and the rest of the family was mutual, we generally needed them for protection. Our bloodline came with countless enemies, so we hadn’t been able to just leave…

“Pavell, When are you leaving?” Klaus, the family patriarch and my great grandfather, asked, using my birth name rather than the one I preferred. It didn’t take supernatural senses to see how happy he was that I’d be gone, after all, he’d be getting rid of a queer and a dhampir at the same time. The only reason I’d ever been tolerated was because I was a useful weapon to the clan.

“Tonight at three in the morning, or rather that’s when my flight leave. I’ll be gone before then.” I said, attempting to be polite as best I could.

“I see.” He noted before going back to ignoring me.

“So you’re just leaving the family?” Cousin Nicolae asked, his voice full of disdain.

“I believe the family has the matter currently in hand, should the situation change, then I’ll return if called to.”

“Why would you want to be one of those costumed clown?” He snickered.

“As I can’t learn the family’s art, my education here is stagnant. I feel Ravenhold offers a good alternative suited to my talents.”

Rather than continue engaging him, I simply focused on my Sarmales. Trying to enjoy the food as best as possible. Thankfully most of the others finished their dinner quickly and were dismissed from the table by Klaus. Once the meal was over, I spent the rest of the evening with Mama, just enjoying silly things , knowing it was the last time we’d be together for months we didn’t want to spend the time we had left dreading my departure.

Still, the time of departure came and she drove me to the Airport with a heavy heart, saying goodbye with poorly concealed sadness… And just like that, I was headed to America. It takes about ten hours to go from Cluj-Napoca to New York and then it was one long boring bus ride across the country. Thankfully it was a fairly rainy day so the sun was minimal so it wasn’t uncomfortable for me.

Once we were there, there was a welcome speech by the Raven but I couldn’t concentrate on it, my ears assaulted by the cacophony of the tightly packed crowd of new students. In the end, I found myself with my class; Fourteen of us including two paramorphs; one who looked much like a mountain lion and another one who was a big lizard-like creature. But also our class had both a Tzari and an Avian.