Origins Part 1: Indoctrination
“They were a mixture of escaped convicts, homeless people and people who had betrayed our organisation,” Ace said, disturbing the silence.
“So…you never intended for anyone but me to get out?”
“The boy you ran into and left alive was also of the correct age. He was newly involved in the drug ring here although Gregor had preference for a girl since he would like to send Kellen to a particularly prestigious all-girls school.” I nodded, feeling a weird numbness physically and mentally invade me as I realised I was always going to end up here.
“Who cleaned and dressed me?” I asked.
“Heppenheim. He’s waiting in another hotel room to say goodbye and has packed your things already.” I didn’t choose to correct him, my things were still packed since arriving. So much for Newcastle being our new home.
“I don’t get on with school,” I said, making Ace laugh.
“As long you maintain the same grades as Kellen so you’re in the same classes it will be fine. You are already her friend and if you do a good job we will train you further. This is a very good thing for you Juliette, a job for life that does pay rather well.”
“How well?” I frowned. I hadn’t even considered money through all this conversation.
“£5000 a month.” I laughed, he didn’t.
“Shit, you’re serious.”
“I very rarely kid. Now go say your goodbyes and then come back here. We have a jet ready to take both of you to your new school.”
Kellen was gone when I left the office so I went straight to the hotel room Ace had directed me too. I knocked once and walked in to see Heppenheim pacing impatiently. He gasped upon seeing me and then froze, unsure of what to say.
“I shouldn’t have said anything,” I said, closing the door. “To Jacob about Kellen,” I added.
“I should’ve tried harder to stop it,” he immediately cut in.
“The Black Ace organised this. I just met Gregor Gustke.” Heppenheim paled slightly before nodding. “Is Jacob here?” I asked.
“No, I don’t know where he is,” he sighed, sitting down. I knew he was old, of course I did, but I saw the age now in the lines on his face and greying hair. How much stress had he endured with tonight?
“They’re going to pay me to stay with Kellen in some fancy boarding school and protect her,” I said. “It’s a lot of money, more than enough to get a better house when I come back.”
“That’s good,” he said, something about his smile seemed sad. “I had hoped to avoid getting you involved though.” I frowned, what did he mean by that?
“Ace said my stuff was here. I don’t think we have much time,” I said, changing the subject.
“Yes,” Heppenheim sighed. He pointed in the direction of a small dining table where my stuff was collected in the same bag as before, with an additional bag that looked new. Heppenheim had mentioned I would need new stuff when we moved but I hadn’t expected him to buy it so fast. I hefted the shoulder bag and backpack and turned. Heppenheim was standing by the doorway, that same bittersweet expression still on his face. We stared at each other for a moment before I hugged him. I only meant to do it briefly but I held tight, memories of the maze still haunting me. I knew it would take me days to process it along with everything else that was now happening.
“I’ll miss you, but I’ll see you again,” I promised. He smiled and nodded.
“Yes, you know the address to send letters in any case,” he said. I promised I would and went back to the penthouse. Kellen was standing by the windows of the main living area, three huge suitcases packed by the L-shaped sofa. I left my stuff with them and joined her.
“So, you really are joining me?” she asked.
“Yeah,” I replied. She blinked and I realised my tone had been cold. “Sorry, tired,” I lied. It wasn’t fair to take any of this out on her. Time to go. I shuddered at Ace’s mental voice.
“Let’s go,” I said. Kellen frowned, apparently he had only spoken to me. “Follow me,” I said, grabbing my bags and also carrying some of her. Leaving her to pull along the lightest. I had a feeling generally looking after her was a part of the contract. Ace gave me directions to the roof where a small jet waited. I saw Jacob up there speaking to some guards. He regarded me with an unreadable expression when our gazes locked. I suspected this wasn’t the last I would see of him.
“Come on, we can’t stay in this city any longer. No doubt our enemies know Gregor was here,” Ace whispered to me. I nodded and followed him on board with Kellen. We settled down in fancy leather seats and I looked out the small window into the clouded night sky. No stars tonight.
“So where are we going?” Kellen asked next to me.
“Rodeon, it’s a boarding school in Brighton,” Ace supplied, sitting opposite us. His phone rung triggering him to stand and speak in a quiet tone.
“Oh, I’ve always wanted to visit the beach! We didn’t get the chance to do it when we were traveling,” Kellen said excitedly. She shared her excited look with me and I forced a smile. If she noticed she didn’t show it. I decided there and then I would never tell her what I’d gone through. She had no control over what her uncle did and seemed so genuinely happy I was with her.