Origins Part II: Pride
The next day the news didn’t get any better. Social media was flooded with phone recorded seconds of a large ship descending on Moscow, Russia. When I tried to call Ace I got ignored. We stayed around Lissa and Joy, travelling in a group was always better. Classes were still on hold and families were starting to organise private secure travel for some of the richer girls. So many different security forces with weapons left me on edge, my eyes darting everywhere, at the same time I kept going into echo, double checking the new people and vehicles were clear of hidden explosives. It was exhausting.
The last convoy of the day left at 11:52pm and I could finally collapse into my bed. Kellen had stayed up with me, running down to the kitchen with Lissa or Joy to grab me coffee as and when she could see me beginning to fall asleep. She handed me a fresh cup now and I thanked her. It was good thing Lissa’s room was on our corridor.
“How much longer do you think this will go on for?” Kellen asked.
“I don’t know,” I answered honestly, scrubbing a hand over my face. “But I’ll keep you safe.” She nodded before giving an overtired laugh.
“Technically I’m the eldest here, but here you are reassuring me,” she murmured.
“Pfft, you only turned fourteen in April. I’ll get there in a few months, not the biggest age gap,” I shrugged. “You should get some sleep.”
“I’m pretty sure you need it more,” she threw back.
“I don’t know if anyone else is going to turn up to collect someone,” I replied.
“Look, my bodyguard is no good if she’s falling asleep on the job. I need you alert,” she said, fixing me with a determined look. I open my mouth to argue and snapped my jaw shut.
“You’re right,” I sighed. I pushed aside the bed covers and got comfortable. “Wake me if anything happens.”
“Cross my heart,” Kellen smiled.
The following morning it was deathly quiet. Apparently Rodeon wasn’t going to resume classes as too many teachers had travelled to spend time with their own families. The housemaster Tom was still here but Vivian had left. There were only four other teachers left and three other house keeper staff alongside a barebone security staff, but then there were only about hundred students left. Lissa was still here because her father had a high rank in the British military and were understandably a bit busy right now. Her mother had passed away when she was a baby and she was an only child. Joy’s parents and older brother all lived in Paris and by this point all governments had ceased air flights. Somewhere above us, heros and villains were teaming up to take on the Tzaris so airspace was being kept clear.
“Oh god,” Kellen whispered from her bed. All four of us were gathered in our room, both Kellen and Lissa sitting on their laptops on her bed. Joy was reading on my bed next to me, while I kept a watch out the window. Our windows had a perfect view of the main school gates which was handy.
“What is it?” Joy asked, looking up from her book.
“They’ve attack Munich…” Kellen said. I snapped my attention to her, remembering that was where she was from. “It’s the block I used to live in.” She hadn’t talked much about her life before Gregor found her and brought her into Syndicate protection so it was difficult to gauge how to react. Luckily Lissa took over for me.
“The Tzari were clear that they were going to avoid hurting civilians, so-”
“They were. Then the German military decided it would be safer to bomb the block than risk the Tzari’s getting close to the embassy,” Kellen explained. I muttered a curse and shut my eyes.
“You’re both from Germany?” Joy asked. To be fair neither myself or Kellen were that talkative, but my accent should’ve given it away.
“My parents lived in that block. I haven’t seen them in months, they might have moved but-” she cut herself off and sighed. “Fuck it, it’s not a huge loss anyway.” I widened my eyes at her, more worried she might be giving away too much as both Lissa and Joy were watching her with open mouths.
“My dad was a useless drunk and my mum let him walk all over her,” she shrugged by way of explanation. “My uncle got me away from them for a reason.”
“Shit,” Joy murmured. “I didn’t realise. I’m sorry.”
“The force that landed in London have been contained by the Legion so far,” Kellen continued, acting indifferent to the history bomb she’d just dropped in this room.
“That’s good news at least,” Lissa sighed. Joy was looking back and forth between Lissa and me, she seemed disturbed by Kellens attitude.
“Are we really gonna just not talk about this?” she asked.
“Why, need it for your next gossip session in who-knows-when because we’re at war right now?” I shot back. Her mouth closed with an audible click.
“Sorry,” she whispered. Joy looked at her phone and sighed. “I need out of this building, can we walk around the grounds a bit?”
“Fresh air might help all of us,” Lissa agreed. Kellen glanced at me, checking it was okay. I hesitated, considering the variable, but really I wanted out of the room as well.
“Let’s do it,” I sighed. I held back, double checking the safety and that I had spare bullets. Then I joined them in main dining room before we headed outside. Afternoon sunlight had warmed the grass and pavement. The security staff did their usual rounds. I was relieved to see we weren’t the only group wandering the grounds. I did a quick echo scan but there was nothing out of the ordinary, well nothing out of the ordinary with two days ago being the baseline for normal.
“Hey, if things are still locked down in July, do you think trans pride will be cancelled?” Joy asked.
“Probably. Too many people at risk in a large gathering like that,” I shrugged.
“Aww,” she sighed, crossing her arms. We passed a pair of security team who paused mid-conversation, one openly glaring at me. I didn’t bother with a staring contest. Once they were passed however the other exploded.
“What the fuck was his problem?” Lissa muttered.
“Do you want my mum to complain? Get that bastard fired asap,” Joy yelled with her face half-turned so the guards could hear.
“Are you okay Julie?” Kellen asked. I looked at all of them in turn, completely thrown.
“He’s just some xenophobic idiot. I’ve dealt with worse,” I shrugged, feeling uncomfortable. I’d never had to discuss my paramorphic features with either Lissa or Joy before and didn’t want to start now. However, the line had been crossed and it didn’t stop.
“Do you have parahuman abilities as well?” Lissa asked, tilting her head and studying me.
“No,” I replied, shoving my hands into my pockets. It wasn’t a lie; my echo was a result of the chimerism. I’d been VGN tested, nothing parahuman was there.
“Damn, no secret hero to help us,” Lissa sighed.
“I wouldn’t say this, Julie can handle herself in a fight,” Kellen commented, shooting me a smile. I blinked at her, and shook my head. I was no hero. At that moment my phone rang, I frowned at the new number. I answered and stepped away from the others, keeping an eye on Kellen as I spoke.