The Valkyrie’s Daughters: Part X

The Valkyrie’s Daughters

Part X: Overwhelming Friendship

By the time we went home, I had a feeling I had done something wrong. Ike had just gotten quiet and withdrawn, but I couldn’t think of why… They wished me a good night and we went our separate way… I wasn’t tired yet to I went out for flight practice. I was getting better.

After a short night of sleep, I came out of my room still in my pajama. I stretched only for Avery to run up to me.

“Michelle! Hey, I was just wandering and it’s great that you’re here because I’m really bored and… wait, did you just wake up? I’ve been awake for over an hour. I didn’t sleep very well.” They said really quickly. I blinked and they sighed. “My hearing forgot to turn off and everything was loud.”

“I did. That doesn’t sound good, are you going to be okay for class today?” I said, frowning. “I stayed out late yesterday with Ike, then went to practice flying again.”

“I’ll be fine. I remembered to turn off my hearing now and I didn’t even hear you coming! Wait, you went fishing right? How was that?”

“It was so fun, I caught a huge fish and it was sooo good.”

“Ooh, that sounds cool! I don’t really like fish unless it’s breaded. Otherwise it’s slimy. Do you wanna go back to my room and talk for a bit in there before we have to go eat? I don’t wanna talk to new people.”

I took a second or two to process all that that before nodding. “Sure, it’s upstairs?”

“Yeah, follow me.”

I did. “I think I did something wrong with Ike…” I said as we reached the stairs.

“What happened?” They asked, turning to look at me, but just like me, Avery didn’t do eye contact, instead looking at my chin.

“I don’t know, we had a good time and then they just started playing on their tablet and kind of ignoring me… All after I asked them if they wanted to swim with me.”

“Maybe they’re self-conscious about their body? I know I don’t like swimming sometimes if I feel particularly bad about mine. Or they had a bad experience with swimming. You just gotta ask them, even if you’re sure that you messed up.” They sighed. “I had to do that once. I didn’t like it but it happens.”

“Maybe you’re right. I should talk to them later.”

“Yeah. Just don’t force them to tell you or you might push them away.” I nodded and we went up.  “Well, here’s my room. As you can see, it’s just like every other room.”

“Cool. I haven’t been upstairs yet.” I said. I looked around and saw Drew on her bed. I waved at her. “Hey.”

“Oh, look Drew’s back here! What’s up?” Avery said.

“Hey Avery! Hey Michelle!”Drew said, waving back. “Have you been by the kitchen? Watch out, There’s a massive creep in there.”

“Who was it?” I asked frowning.

“I think his name is Nine or something?” She answered, her arms wrapped around her torso. “I’m sure you’ve seen him, he has green hair and horns. Anyway he was being really creepy toward this guy Ryland about his friend, saying how he was ‘delicious’ and other shit. I left before it got physical. I didn’t want to get caught up in a fight.”

“That’s gross.” I said. “And I’m kind of hungry now…”

“I’m kinda hungry too, all I had was some juice.” Drew said. “We still have some cookies left over from last night. Want some?”

“Oh, do we still have oatmeal?” Avery asked. “Michelle, you gotta try them, they’re the best ones we made!”

“Yeah, we saved some just for you because you said they were your favorite.” Drew confirmed.

Right then, Riley appeared out of a portal right next to me. I froze. I hadn’t expected that…

“Good Morning!” They said.

“Riley! While I feel like I should be concerned that you can come and go from rooms whenever, I’m happy you’re here!” Avery said. “Want a hug?”

“I love hugs!” Riley said, Avery welcoming them into their arm.  “You give hugs that are almost as good as Michelle’s!” I blushed at the thought of my hugs being good.

“Hi Riley, want a cookie?” Drew asked.

Riley let go with one arm and picked a cookie from the plastic tub. “Y’all are great! Making biscuits last night was so fun we should make a regular thing of it!” They said, making me wish I’d been there.

With everyone in such a small room, I felt a little overwhelmed.

“Sorry that it’s so busy. I didn’t expect this to happen.” Avery said, coming out of Riley’s arms and coming to me.

“It’s fine, it’s fine.” I repeated, flapping my hands a little, focusing on the moment. “You said you still had cookies? Can I have one?”

“Yeah, here!” Drew held out the box to me. “You’ll probably like the oatmeal ones the best.”

I picked some of the oatmeal ones and popped one into my mouth. It was soft and chewy, just like I prefer them to be. “Those are good.”

“I made them! We have three types, they must be around here somewhere. Except I probably ate all of the chocolate chip oatmeal ones.”

Riley whispered to their shoulder and then sighed. “Sorry can Teddy have a biscuit? I told him they were yours and that he could have mine but he wants to try the oatmeal.”

I handed one of my cookies over to them. They picked it and brought it to their shoulder where it quickly disappeared in a shower of crumbs. I squinted my eyes and a darkish red blur on Riley’s shoulder. Was that Teddy?

“I think I can see Teddy… It’s kind of blurry.” I said.

Avery then came right into my field of view. “Michelle, I found the last chocolate chip one! Want it? I didn’t actually eat them all! I had a stomach ache yesterday after I tried to eat them all.”

I blinked and Drew laughed. “I told you so.”

I looked at Avery and then at the cookie they hand in their hand. It took a second for my brain to process it all and take the cookie. “Oh, thank you.”

“That must mean the wings are magic!” Riley said, bringing my attention back to them.

Wings? Magic? My brain was lagging behind, only remembering what I’d said to Riley about Teddy after a moment. “My sister says they are…” I mumbled. There was so much going on, it was getting really confusing… I popped my necklace into my mouth and started chewing, stimming always helped me focus.

“Sorry if I’m a bit much in the morning.” Riley said, I think to me, but I wasn’t sure of anything at the time. “I know not everyone is completely awake yet at this time.”

I felt the need to explain, people always thought I was weird. “I’m just not used to being with so much people at the same time.” I mumbled or tried to, my octopus still in my mouth.

“Teddy that’s rude!” Riley said out of nowhere.

“What did he say?” I asked.

“Nothing.”

“Okay…” I bit down on the octopus, everything was just getting so incomprehensible.

They continued talking and I lost track of everything. I liked my new friends, but I had a feeling everything was going to be confusing and overwhelming… I was used to only having Lina… Hopefully I’d get used to it soon…

Advertisements

The Valkyrie’s Daughters: Part IX

The Valkyrie’s Daughters

Part IX: Fishing

I came running out of the administration only to see Ike was still waiting near the entrance. Good, I wasn’t too late… They were packed with gear, it was quite impressive. I guess you needed that much gear to go fishing. It looked so complex.

“Ike!” I called, waving at them.

“Hey, ready to check out the beach?” They answered.

“Yeah! Sorry I’m late, Freyja got the costume department to make me some new clothes that fit my wings.” I explained, moving my wings a little, showing them their new mobility.

“Oh, awesome. That must be a relief. I’ve never thought about it but I guess having wings can be a bit inconvenient.”

“I had to cut holes in my old shirt and it’s like a huge gymnastic to get them in or out. I don’t have to do that with these clothes, they’re made with the same stuff they make superhero costumes out of, hyperweave it’s a—” I cut myself off. “I’m infodumping, am I?” I said, laughing nervously. I didn’t want to geek out and be too much of a dork.

“It’s fine, I infodump about history stuff. Kind of a history nerd.” They said with their own laugh, although I doubted they could

“Let’s go?” I proposed, smiling.

“Yup.” Ike said, I took a step only for them to speak again. “Are you going to be okay with the carrying and flying? I don’t want you to push yourself…”

I hadn’t thought about flying, I’d assumed we’d walked. I was kind of surprised they trusted me to carry them.

“Sure.” I said. “Just point me in the right direction.”

They explained the way to me, pointing west of where we were. I then picked them up, which was kind of awkward with all the stuff they were carrying. I took to the air and started flying in that direction, keeping fairly close to the ground to avoid attention and if something happened it was a short drop down…

After going over the wall then some woods, the coast went from rough slope to a small lagoon hidden by tall reefs. Unlike most of the island, there was a legitimate beach with white sand.

“Ooh this place is cool!” I said, letting us lower down to the ground where I let Ike down.

Ike slung their bag off their shoulder and onto the sand. They looked at the sky before speaking up, “looks like it’ll be a clear night so we’ll see the stars easily.”

There was an old ring of stones on the beach with some ashes in it. Clearly we weren’t the first there, but for now it was just the two of us. Ike gathered some wood that had drifted onto the beach and began making a fire. I just stared at them, not quite sure what to do to help.

“How did you find this place?” I asked after a quiet minute.

“Oh, I looked at satellite imaging of the island to get an idea of what was around. I noticed this secluded part of the beach and thought it’d be a good place to go if I ever needed time to myself.”

Secluded was right, the sea side had a reef and there was an incline about a meter or two high with thick bushes on the other sides.

“Coool.” I said. I looked around and removed my shirt. I’d switched to a bikini top earlier. “I love beaches, my parents and I went to Italy a few years ago and it was amazing.” I put it down by Ike’s bag before removing my shoes and letting my feet sink in the sand, enjoying the feeling of thousands of little grains softly brush against my skin.

“Not many people fish on this island, it’s all offshore with boats, so we should be able to get something.” They said as they finished the campfire, small flames starting to erupt on the logs.

“It’s so cool you can cook. I can only make curry.” Cooking was hard, there was so much stuff to know, so much stuff to watch out for, different techniques to master.

“Don’t worry too much about it. Everybody has different strengths.” They went to their bag and grabbed the rod, fiddling with it and doing things I didn’t really get. “So, do you wanna try out fishing? I’ve already put the bait on the hook.”

“Sure.” I came to their side and we went to the shore line. They made a little demonstration on how to cast the line and how to hold it and move it.

It took me a few tries to get it right. I had to be careful, didn’t want to risk mess up, have the rod slip and fly away…

“And now we wait and see if anything bites.” Ike said. They walked back toward the fire.

“How long does that usually take?”

“It varies. I’ve not fished here so I don’t know how long it could t-”

I let out a little scream, I’d felt something tug at the rod, almost panicked and dropped it. I froze then looked toward Ike who had come back. “What do I do?” I asked.

“Slowly real the line in, I’ll grab the net.” They grabbed a net and I reeled it in, very slowly. “Take it carefully, if the fish freaks out too much it could rip itself free.”

It was kind of exciting but scary, I had to be careful and steady. Ike’s encouragement helped me stay focused and not panic. After a long struggle, the fish got closer, started splashing water in the shallow and Ike caught it with the net.

“Nice catch.” They said, showing me the fish.

I grinned. It was big. I think. It was almost as long as an arm. It had gray scales with black lines. “I caught a fish.” I practically screamed in excitement. I couldn’t stop myself from flapping my arms in excitement, only to drop the rod. Ike caught it before it could hit the water.

“Sorry.”

“Close call, but it’s fine.” They said with a laugh.

“What is it?”

“Looks like a striped bass to me. I’ll prepare that, want to try catching another one?”

I nodded. “I won’t drop the rod this time!” I promised, casting the line again after Ike baited it.

This time, it didn’t bite right away. I looked back at Ike and saw them cutting up the fish. “What are you going to make?”

“I’m going to fry the fish in oil with some spices.” They kept their eyes on the fish, removing the fillets. “Got veggies cooking in foil that I just buried in the hot ashes.”

“That sounds good though.”

“Glad you like it.” They said.

There was a quiet moment, nothing was biting and Ike was focused on the food.

“Do you cook on a campfire often? It must be hard, it’s so hot.” I asked.

“I’ve done it once every other month for the past couple of years. I’d spend a lot of my holidays with my uncle when I wasn’t…away for family engagements.”

“What kind of family engagement?”

“Erm, charity balls, fancy brunches. All events to help my parents stay socialites, more my mum. She thrives in that environment. My dad just did it so he could catch up with other tycoons in the business. I was there to be a wallflower and help the family look good. Until I cut my hair. That really pissed off my mum.”

“But why?”

“My mum has outdated notions on what a ‘girl’ should and shouldn’t do. My dad didn’t get angry, but I could tell I disappointed him. My uncle Niels didn’t care though.”

I frowned. “That’s not good… Except for your uncle, he sounds nice.”

“He is, he took an essay I wrote and applied for Ravenhold for me, heh. I’d wanted to come here and mentioned it to him but I wasn’t in a good place with my parents and there was some other stuff. I wasn’t in a good place in my head either. I would’ve never had the courage to apply.”

“I’m sorry… ” I came back toward them.“Can I give you a hug?”

“Sure,” they replied, smiling.

I approached, only to realize I was still holding the fishing rod. I put it down and then gave Ike a hug, wrapping my arms around them, my wings too and holding on tightly. I kept them in my arm for a moment before letting go.

“Your wings are really warm and nice…” They said. “Oh, eh, Dinner’s ready.”

I smelled the air and the food’s scent mixed with the salty breeze of the ocean. “That smells so good.” I said. I grabbed the rod again and reeled the line back and put it down by Ike’s bags. “No luck on fish number two.”

“That’s fine, the first one was plenty enough for the two of us. Striped bass is a tough fish for a newbie too.”

“Maybe I’m gifted.” I joked. “I can fly, I can punch things really hard and I can catch fish!”

Ike laughed. “If we ever get caught on a deserted island, that’ll handy.”

“I’d just fly us away though.”

Ike took out paper plates and put fried fish along with potatoes and chopped corn on the cob they had cooked wrapped in foil. They’d prepared that ahead of time, it was really smart of them.

Ike laid down a blanket and we sat down on it, although I buried my feet in the sand, enjoying the sensation. With a plastic fork I took a piece of fish and put it inside my mouth; it was lemony, and peppery, the fish itself had strong flakes and a rich flavor, not like frozen fish I was used to.

“This is so good!” I said. “You’re amazing.”

“I’m just letting the fish shine with its own taste and freshness, you’re the one who caught it.”

“But I would’ve burnt it, or probably not been able to get it off the bones like you did.”

“I’ve had plenty of practice, you could do it too.”

We kept eating for a moment. The vegetables were great, they’d cut up some spicy sausage and cooked them in its juices.

“What do you think of the school?” I asked. “I think it’s great, even if Rook beat my butt.”

“I love it! The Rook beat all our butts so don’t need to feel bad … Although the fight against Erik was pretty funny. You’d think he would’ve been able to manage at least a few seconds if he’s come to Ravenhold.”

I laughed. Although to be fair we hadn’t well as a group except for one or two of us.

“Want to go swim? I haven’t gone swimming since I got my wings.” I asked once I was done with my portion of our dinner.

“We should probably wait til 30 minutes after eating.” They said with a weird little laugh.

“Isn’t that a myth?” I’d never had any problems before.

“It’s a myth you’ll drown but some people do experience discomfort if they swim immediately after a meal.”

“Oh. I really want to see how my wings take water. They were okay in the shower, but swimming’s different.”

“Okay. I’m not really up for swimming right now. It’s getting late and the water’s gonna be pretty cold. But you’re probably able to handle that knowing your powers,”

“Oh okay…”

I went into the water alone and slightly disappointed. I was expecting my wings to get heavy and take water, but they didn’t. Instead I found them useful to swim ever faster. On the shore, Ike was lost in his tablet…

The Valkyrie’s Daughters: Part VIII

The Valkyrie’s Daughters

Part VIII:  New Duds

Avery and I joined back with the others, who did not say anything about us holding hands, and a few minutes later the bell rang through the cafeteria, announcing the end of lunch break and the beginning of our third classes. Avery seemed to know where we needed to go so I just followed them.

We found ourselves in another classroom but back with Miss Contreras. She explained to us that as we were minor Ravenhold was by law required to provide us with education matching standard school’s standards. Homeroom was a time to work on our math and english, but rather than having the teacher give a lesson, it was all individual on the school provided tablets.

“I hope you don’t mind homeworks, because we do have to compensate for the time lost in the classroom because of your cape related classes.” She said.

She gave us a test to do and when that was done about a million different things showed up for me to do and I had no idea where to start.

“Michelle?” Miss Contreras called, almost like she’d read my mind.

“Yes?”

“Would you mind if we have a word outside?”

I nodded and got up, following her outside of the classroom and into another adjacent empty room. She turned toward me and I looked at her, well at the tip of her nose really. Her luminescence wasn’t so bright it hurt the eyes.

“How are you adapting to Ravenhold?” She asked. “And our cyberschool schooling program?”

“I’m a little loss…” I said, looking further down. “There so much stuff to do.”

“That’s alright, your parents have sent us your IEP, and told us about your difficulties. Normally, we give our student some freedom to work as they please, but seeing your difficulties, I was thinking we could work together your schedule for the next few days. Would that help?”

I nodded and she sat down at a table. Together we went through my tablet and the course options and we made a list of which one to do in what order.

“If you need any help, please come and see me. Outside of classes, I’m at my desk every weekday until six pm.”

I nodded, there was a second of silence before I remembered you’re supposed to thank people. “Thank you.” I mumbled.

“You’re welcome. Shall we go back?”

I nodded again and we went back to class. I sat down and she called Avery next for an interview. With my course procession decided, I was able to sit down and work on it, even if I really hated the math portions of it…

After much struggle with numbers, the class ended. I gathered my things and joined my new friends only for Freyja to come to me.

“Michelle.” She said.

“What do you want?” I asked.

“Well, there’s something I wanted to tell you at lunch, but our conversation veered away.” She said and I frowned. “I talked to the costume people here and got them to hook you up with some clothes that’ll work with your wings.”

I blinked. I hadn’t expected that. “That’s really nice of you.” I said.

“We’re going to need you for fitting, like right now.” She said flatly. “Come with me.”

I nodded and waved at my friends. Avery looked concerned… I think…

Freyja and I went to the administration building, then walked down into a basement and followed a hallway, Freyja seemed to know where she was going so I followed her. We didn’t say a word through the whole way. For a moment there was doubt in my mind, but then we arrived at a room with a ‘Costume workshop’ sign on it. She went in without knocking.  

I’d expected some kind of sewing room like mom had at home, but it was completely different. A huge machine took most of the left hand back side of the room and people were working with computers.

“I’m back with Michelle.” Freyja said.

“Ah, Michelle, welcome.” A tall white woman with salt and pepper hair came toward us. She extended a hand and I hesitantly shook it. “I’m Gardenia Nikolaev, I’m in charge of the costume department for all students and alumni.” She said, a hint of a Russian accent in her voice.

“I’m Michelle.” I blurted out without thinking.

She smiled at that. “Freyja informed us of your clothing situation and we can in fact help you with that. If you’d just step with me inside the fitting room, we’ll take your measurements.”

I nodded and followed her inside some high tech booth, she stayed outside. “Just spread your arms wide and stay still for a moment.”

I did and the booth light up, gizmos moving about with light kind of like a barcode scanner. It went back dark and still after a moment. “We’re done here, now we just need to select some clothes for you.” Gardenia said, opening the door of the booth.

“That was easy.”

“With the volume we handle, technology is essential to save us some time.” She smiled. She made a little hand sign for me to follow and we sat at a computer. “For now, we’ll get you seven items, one for each day of the week. We can make more for you when the start of the year rush is over with.”

“Start of the year rush?”

“We have all the new student’s costume to design. In addition, we offer clothes for paramorphic students who otherwise can’t find any.”

I nodded. “We’ve already worked the right algorithm so just point to me any style you’d like.” Her computer screen started displaying a gallery of different shirts, dresses and other assorted tops. I picked a few I liked.

“Can I ask for something specific?”

“Sure, if we can do it, it’s yours.”

“I really like my Komet shirt, but I can’t wear it anymore.”

She gave me a look, what it meant I had no idea. “Let me see.” She made a search and found some the Komet merch.

“Oh it’s this one!” I said pointing at an orange shirt with the big stylized ‘Komet’ logo where the ‘O’ was replaced by a tailed comet.

“That, we can definitely do.” She smiled. “Now just wait here, we’ll get them printed.”

“Printed?”

She nodded at the big machine in the corner. “It’s a hyperweave fabber.” My eyes widened, Hyperweave was the stuff they made superhero outfits off, it could resist bullets, it cleaned itself, changed shape! And my clothes were made of that? It was super expensive too!

She pressed some keys and the machine came to life, it was kind of loud so I covered my ears. One by one, seven items including a new Comet shirt were popped out by the machine, coming out neatly folded. When it was done Gardenia took the pile and gave it to me. It had a weird chemical smell to it.

“Don’t worry about the smell, it’ll dissipate soon. The clothes are self cleaning and can adapt to be fitted or loose depending on your preference.” She grabbed a little wrist watch thing and fiddled with it. “You can adjust the options with this.” My hands being full, she tied it around my wrist.

“Can I change now?” I asked, looking down at my old worn out shirt.

“Of course.” She guided my back to the fitting booth and I went in. This time it didn’t activate. I took out the Comet shirt and looked at it. It didn’t have holes for my wings… I checked the watch and couldn’t find a ‘wing hole setting’ either. “How can I put it in? There’s no holes for my wings.”

“Just try putting it on like a normal shirt, keep your wings spread and don’t try to fit them inside whole.”

I hesitated but did as she asked. I expected my wing to block once the rim reached my shoulder but there was only a little resistance before the shirt went down, coming all the way to my waist. I looked back and saw little holes had opened in the back of the shirt.

“How did it do that?”

“It’s smart fabric,” Gardenias explained from outside the booth, “It’ll shift to allow your wings to pass through when it detects resistance. We had to whip out the code in a hurry so we’ll send you patches soon, iron out any kink.”

“That’s amazing!” I grinned. It was so cool, much better than my old ones. The new shirt was also so nice; it had a good weight to it and it was so amazingly soft.

“I’m glad to be of service. Now, I hope you don’t mind but we have another client in need of our services.”

“Right.” I grabbed my clothes and came out of the booth, Gardenia giving me a bag to carry them. I left the costume department, Freyja was just gone, which was okay. I didn’t really want to talk to her after what had happened…

Then my phone beeped. I opened it and saw a notification I’d set for myself.

Meet Ike @ admin building.

Crap! I’d forgotten about that. I rushed out of the building, hopefully I wasn’t too late.

The Valkyrie’s Daughters: Part VII

The Valkyrie’s Daughters

Part VII:  Family Duty

After we got our desserts and sat back down, Freyja came up to us.

“There you are.” She said. “I gotta talk to you. Alone.”

“Oh sure.”

I waved a goodbye at the others and followed Freyja a little further away, standing in an empty spot by the walls.

“What is it?” I asked.

Well, for one I’m glad you’re making friends with chicks.” She answered, switching to our native German.

I think Riley and Avery are non-binary, actually.

Whatever,” she swished her hand dismissively, “what matters is you can get one of them pregger.

I frowned. “Stop it with that… It’s not funny.

I’m not joking, Michelle. I’m not gonna stop, if you die, mom’s legacy is probably gone. I won’t allow that to happen. Beside, it’s not like it’ll be hard for you, just stick it in a girl and you’re done.

I’m leaving.” I mumbled, I turned back only for Freyja to grab my arm.

If you don’t care about the legacy, then why don’t you give over the powers?” She said, a frustrated noise coming out of her mouth.

How? Can that even be done?

Grandma’s sister was the one who inherited the powers but she renounced and it jumped over to Grandma inherited instead, so I know it’s possible.”

My thoughts jumbled for a moment, trying to think about what would happen. “I won’t abandon this.” I said.

Thanks to the powers, I had friends, I had a purpose. I couldn’t throw that away. It had chosen me, not her and there had to be a reason for that.

You are so fucking selfish you know that? You have no fucking clue about all the sacrifices I’ve made for mom, for you, for this fucking legacy! All you care about is that you get to be a like your idol, is that it?” People were definitely staring at us now.

That’s not true… Why do you care so much it happens now? It’s not like I’m in danger now.

Maybe I was selfish, true, she’d trained all her life and I had been freed, but there was nothing I wanted more than to live up to Valkyra’s legacy, she had been my hero and idol…

Because mom’s legacy the only fucking thing I have left.” She mumbled those words. “I can’t live with the idea it might be lost and that I can’t do a fucking thing about it…

I’m sorry.” I tried to reach out for her, but she pushed me away.

I don’t want your damn pity. Just do your part for the family duty… Do it for mom.” Her voice was breaking, like she was about to cry.

Having said her piece, she walked away, all tense, while I just stood there. I wanted to help her, but how could I? The idea of doing what she wanted just felt wrong, they were my friends, I couldn’t just use them…

It was then that Avery found me. “Michelle, hey. What happened?” She asked.

“I don’t know… Freyja’s just so hard to deal with…”

“I’m sorry. Do you wanna talk about it?”

Should I tell her? Was it weird to talk about how Freyja wanted me to make someone pregnant… But then we were supposed to be friends, you’re supposed to trust your friends, right?

“She thinks I don’t take being Valkyra seriously…” I mumbled. “And that I’m selfish for not giving up the powers to her.”

“That’s crazy. You just got them, you can’t be expected to master them and start saving the world after this small amount of time.” They smiled and I had smile back.

“She wants me to have a baby.” I finally admitted.

“You’re not very old though.” They blurped out. “That came out wrong. You’re not an adult yet. Most people wait til they’re adults and can support one financially. Do you even want a baby? Like, I think it’s important to get the legacy to continue if I remember correctly, but still, do you want one?”

They were a little rambling, maybe they were flustered by the idea? I wished I could tell…

“I don’t know… But she says I need to have an heir for when I die so she inherit the power.” I sighed. “That’d be easier if I was a cis girl…”

Despite what Freyja thought, if I had been cis it would just be a question of getting pregnant, getting someone else to agree to carry a baby was so much more complicated… And the thought of not being able to do it myself resurrected that icky feeling I’d been plagued by my whole life… The thought I wasn’t really a girl, that Wycked and her ilk were right…

“That’s a fair point, but she shouldn’t be pushing you. I’m sorry she’s not being nice.”

“I was hoping I’d get a sister, but I don’t think it’s happening…” I mumbled. Thank you for being so nice.”

My body felt so gross at that moment, I wanted to hide.

“Can I have a hug?” I begged.

“Yeah!”

They pulled me closer and held onto me tightly. I did the same, with both my arms and wings. They smelled nice… Their natural scent wasn’t covered, just accented by the smell of unscented soap…

Everything felt so exhausting, I wanted to go back home and hide, collapse in my bed. I would have right then if Avery didn’t hold me… I was tired and felt so disgusted at my own body…

“Michelle, your thoughts are loud.” Avery said, still holding me. “This hasn’t happened before. But that doesn’t matter, because you’re upset I think. Wanna talk about it?”

“Sorry… I don’t mean to bother you… It’s just all this talk of babies and things make me aware of my body and how wrong it is…”

“I wish you didn’t have to feel like that. It’s stupid and bad.”

They hugged me even tighter and I just leaned against them, enjoying their presence. They were no nice… Cute too… Maybe they could be— I stopped myself, what was I thinking? Were they still reading my mind? Had they caught my dirty thought?

I focused on elephants. Repeating the words over and over.

“You feeling better?” Avery asked.

I nodded and let go. They were looking at my and my skin turned burning hot. “Let’s go back?” I proposed, muttering the words. I tried to look further from their gaze, my eyes going down. I saw their hand and had an idea… I didn’t think before saying it out loud.

“Can I hold your hand?” I asked.

They looked toward me for a moment before nodding shyly. I brought my hand closer to them and theirs brushed against mine for a moment, our fingers lacing together. They held on tightly, it felt so nice…

“Let’s go back now.” I said, a smile breaking through.

The Valkyrie’s Daughters: Part VI

The Valkyrie’s Daughters

Part VI:  Clique

Avery and I went to the cafeteria and looked around the options. Much to my dismay, they didn’t have curry, so I joined Avery in the fast food line.

“What are you getting?” I asked them.

“They have chicken nuggets.” They said with a smile, it came their turn and they ordered. “Look at them, this one looks like a heart!” They said receiving their plate, all happy and bouncy. “Is it bad if I only eat these and don’t get anything else?”

“Maybe a little. But if it’s just this once, it’s okay.” I laughed. “No curry here so I guess I’ll have some nuggets too.” The cook took my order along with fries, but they didn’t have curry ketchup, just the regular kind, which was a shame. “Do you see anyone?” I asked, once I had my food.

“Yeah, there’s my roommate, Drew. Do you want to meet her? She’s really awesome and she has these fire powers that are so amazing. She lit a candle from across the room yesterday. That was awesome. But then I smelled it and it gave me a headache and we had to put it out.” They spoke so quickly and excitedly, it was adorable. “Anyways, let’s go say hi!”

They started walking and we reached Drew’s table. She was all by herself, others were on the same long table a few seats away though. Drew was black like me, but unlike me her hair was the more the kinky type and made into little braids.

She was wearing dark blue jeans, a purple tank top under a green jacket, high heeled boots and her eyes had purple eyeshadow. A long crystal necklace hung from her neck, plunging toward her cleavage. She had style, I was kind of jealous.

“Hey Drew!” Avery said. “This is my new friend Michelle. Can we sit with you?”

Drew smiled at us, looking up from her wonton soup. “Hi Avery! Hi Michelle, nice to meet you, I’m Drew. Of course you can sit here. I was looking for you earlier but didn’t see you.”

“We took a detour at the house. I needed to change.” I explained.

“Drew, look! Michelle gave me a chewy necklace!” Avery added, pulling the necklace from around their neck closer to Drew.

“Okay, that’s cool.” She said to me, then looked at Avery. “That’s really neat Avery!” She then looked back at me. “How are you enjoying Ravenhold, Michelle?”

I nodded.  “I love it. I always wanted to be a hero, but I didn’t have powers until a week ago.”

Someone else came to our side. They were also black and they had this amazing multi colored afro. Their clothes were odd and patchworked. “Hi! Mind if I sit with you guys!” They asked. They carried this plate with a huge pile of food on it.

“Hey Riley!” Drew said.

“Hey!” I waved quickly at them. “What did you get?”

They sat down and for a moment I saw something on the corner of my eyes, like there was something on their shoulder, but when I looked at it there wasn’t anything there…

“Oh a little bit of everything. I’ve never seen this much variety in one place!” Riley said. “Michelle, right?”

They extended a hand, I looked at it for a moment before I realized they wanted me to shake it. I took it and shook it awkwardly.

“Riley! All my friends are here with me, this is great.” Avery said with a little excited clap. “Did you get chicken nuggets? They’re really tasty, like even tastier than my favourite ones from home.”

I took one of the nugget and popped it into my mouth. They were great. “Avery’s right.”

“Yes, I’m glad they’re good!” They dug around their mountain of food until they got to the nuggets.

We all enjoyed our meal for a moment. “What do you all think about the school?” I then asked.

“Everyone is so cool!” Riley said between two bites.

“Oh, can Michelle bake the cookies with us?” Avery asked.

“The more the merrier!” Riley said.

I looked at them and Avery explained. “We were going to have a cookie baking party after school. We’re making all kinds of cookies. Wanna join in?”

I wanted to, but I’ d already promised Ike we’d hang out. “Oh, I already had something planned with Ike this evening. We’re going fishing.”

“Aw, too bad. Maybe some other time. Have fun fishing, though.” Avery said.

“That sounds fun.” Drew said. “We’ll save you some cookies. What’s your favorite?”

“Chewy oatmeal cookies.”

“Awesome!” Drew answered. “I think we were already making some so that works out great!”

“Thanks.” I said with a smile. Fresh oatmeal cookies were like the best cookies ever. Too bad I couldn’t bake. “Do you bake a lot? I don’t know how. I’m not good at cooking.”

“I love to bake!” Riley said. There was a little puff of black smoke over their hands and suddenly they had a tiny notebook in hand. They wrote something and it disappeared in the same manner.

“That’s cool.” I mumbled.

“What? This?” Riley said, doing it again except now they had a bottle of water in their hand.

“Where did you pull it out from?” I asked.

“Hell” They answered. I couldn’t read their tone. Surely that was a joke?

“What?”

Riley shrugged. “At least that’s what Teddy tells me.”

“Teddy?” I asked.

“Not a lot of people can see him so I’m not surprised you can’t but…” They gestured to their shoulder. “My friend Teddy is here. He kinda gave me my powers.”

When they said that, I felt a little bit of tension in the air, it was hard to explain.

Were they teasing me? It was so hard to tell… I looked at Avery. Hoping they might clear things up.

Avery sighed. “Why is this the first time I’ve heard about this, Riley? That’s so cool! Seriously. Why didn’t you tell me this yesterday?”

Riley shrugged. “Just didn’t think to.”

“You seem serious.” Drew said. “I mean, that’s really cool. Hell is real? I mean, I guess I shouldn’t be surprised, but…wow”

“Ah.” Avery said. “Well, from now on I’m reading your brain to see all the interesting facts you have stored up in there. Like, hey, you made friends with more demons than just Teddy.”

I turned to Avery. “Demons?”

“Yes. But they aren’t bad though!” Riley said.

Demons weren’t real… But Valkyries also weren’t real, but I was one… I really wasn’t sure of what to think anymore. Was this all a prank on me? They didn’t seem the kind to do that… I focused on my fries for a moment. I noticed Avery had already finished her food so I gave them some of my nuggets.

“Thank you for more chicken nuggets, Michelle. You’re my favourite!” Avery said.

I smiled at them. “You’re welcome.” My wings stretched and the next thing I knew the one on Avery’s side wrapped around her shoulder. When I realized what had happened, I pulled the wing away.

Avery giggled. “Michelle, we’ve been over this. Give me your wings back and never let go!”

I blushed at the thought. They wanted me to wing hug them. I’d never had someone want to be close to me like that. I wrapped that wing around their shoulder again, consciously this time.

“Better?” I muttered.

“Much! Thank you.” Avery answered. “They’re so fluffy and soft and warm! Riley, you gotta feel how soft!”

Riley looked at my wings. “They’re so pretty… can I touch them?”

Was it weird to let them? Was it weird to only have Avery? I carefully reached out with my wing over the table. Riley reached out and pet the white feathers.

“Your wings are gorgeous. I’m glad I’ve met you all, you’re so nice and welcoming.” Drew said, I offered her the chance to touch it and she agreed. “They’re soft.” She smiled. “Can you fly?”

“I just grew them last week, I’m still getting used to them and I only learned how to fly yesterday. I can carry people too, I’m strong enough that I lifted Ike into the sky this morning.”

“That’s really cool.” Drew said.

“Avery told me you control fire. That’s pretty cool too.” I said.“Can you fly? Like do a rocket thing some pyrokinetic do?”

“I probably could? I don’t know, I’ve honestly never tried.” She said.

“That’d be cool.”

“Yeah. I have pretty decent control over my powers, but I’ve never really had the chance to practice something big like that. It’s one of the main reasons I wanted to come to Ravenhold.” Drew said.

“How did you all get here?” I asked everyone. “I almost got killed by nazis.”

“I heard of it and applied so I could get away from my parents.” Avery said, looking down. The wing around her shoulder moved to be tighter around them. The move startled them but then they rested against the wing. “You’re my best friend, Michelle. I never had friends before but I’m pretty sure you’re the best one in all of history.”

“I try my best.” I said with a smile.

“I have a mentor and he recommended I come here.” Riley said.

“Ooh, who is it?” I asked. Mentors were rare nowadays, it wasn’t like the old days when to become a superhero you become someone’s sidekick.

“Tohu wa Bohu.”

My eyes went wide. “Tohu wa Bohu? From the Legion?” I squeed at the thought, if Riley was his apprentice, then maybe we’d meet him too!

Riley nodded.

“One of my reasons was kinda like yours Avery.” Drew said after a moment. “My grandmother is really conservative, so it’s a bit hard living with her, seeing as I’m a gay mutant…”

“That’s not good. But here it’s going to be better.” I said.

“I really hope it will be.” Avery said. “I just wish I could forget about them but seeing as that’s literally impossible, I guess I’ll settle for never seeing them again.”

“Me too. Ravenhold seems so much better already.” She said.

There was a little bell ringing and we looked at the source.

“Is that a desert cart?” Avery said.

“Looks like it.” Riley answered.

So we got up and lined up for desert. Hopefully, they had blondies, those were great.

Previous                                                                                                                       Next

The Valkyrie’s Daughters: Part V

The Valkyrie’s Daughters

Part V: A Friend Like Me

Then, someone came toward me, a girl I think, she had short curly blonde hair and was wearing a baggy sweater and jeans.

“Uh, do you mind if I sit with you?” She asked. “I don’t really know anyone and I can’t seem to find my roommate and she’s the only one I really know that well and everyone else seems to have friends and I just really don’t want to talk to a group.”

I nodded a little, not quite verbal. Her presence at least served as a distraction.

“Are you okay? I’m Avery, I got by they/them.” So she was not a girl, I think… They sat down next to me. I noticed they weren’t looking at me, we were both just sort of looking a little off.

“Little shook.” I managed to mutter. “Michelle.”

They nodded. “Is that a stim necklace? I’ve always wanted one but Mom says they’re for freaks. I don’t think you’re a freak though. You seem nice. My parents just don’t get it.”

I nodded and smiled. Most people thought it was weird or gross… Maybe Avery was autistic too?

“My parents are just happy I stopped chewing my shirts.” I managed to say, the words were hard to say though. “Yours sound mean.”

“You’re right. They aren’t very nice. I was happy when I got accepted here. I wish I had one of those to keep myself from chewing my shirts.” The collar of their sweater had chew wear at the collar.”Do you have any other stim stuff?”

I frowned, I did, but not with me. “I have a spare, I don’t use it much, the octopus is just so good. I didn’t bring the rest. It was kind of an emergency exit…”

“Oh, man. Did you run away from a situation? I do that lots. I haven’t quite found a good hiding spot yet, or I’d share it with you.” They shrugged. “Have you seen the book collection in the living room? They have some pretty good ones and books usually help me stop feeling like I want to scream.”

Clearly they were excited by the books. They seemed so nice.

“I didn’t find one yet. And Wycked tried to kill me.”

They looked at me and I felt something odd, like a tingling in my brain.

Was that what I thought it was? “Is that you doing that? My head feels weird…”

“Oh, right, sorry. I didn’t mean to poke around, but you were just very sad and I didn’t think you wanted to talk so I thought that it would be better if I figured it out myself and I just really hate Wycked now so much and ignore her, Michelle. You’re a great girl and I really hope you defeat her one day and become super happy.”

I blinked. How much had they learned from reading my mind? It wasn’t like I had secrets, but it was odd… It had to come in handy, getting to learn stuff about people, being able to tell how they were.

“It does come in handy.” She confirmed out loud with a little laugh. “People tend to get upset about it though…”

“So you can read minds?”

“Yeah. I can also store a ridiculous amount of information. Like, I don’t really forget much anymore unless I really try hard. And I can hear from like kilometres away when I forget to turn it off. What are your powers?”

That sounded so useful, if I had their power, maybe I wouldn’t lose my things or forgot what I was supposed to do all the time. It took me a second to remember to answer her question.

“I fly! And eh… I guess I can hit things.”

“Yours sound better than mine. How could I even fight if I’m just normal? Ha, the one time I’m normal I’d rather be different. Strange.”

I took a moment to think. They were right, telepathy wasn’t the most superheroic power. Lots of villains were psychic, but not a lot of heroes… “That is a problem…” I conceded.

“Yes, I agree. I suppose I could someone who helps from the sidelines with planning and stuff. I just need to figure out how to read minds without people knowing I’m in there.”

“Practicing must be hard, people don’t like psychics.”

“Yes, that’s true. It gets frustrating sometimes. But listening is fun because I can hear heartbeats if I listen really closely, and they’re just so rhythmic and soothing. I like it.”

Maybe I could help. I thought. It wasn’t like I had anything to hide, and beside it’d be easier to be friend if they just knew me right away? I really hoped they were autistic too, I didn’t have any other autistic friend…

“Are you good at flying?” They asked. I’d gone quiet again.

“I only learned yesterday, but I practiced a lot last night.” I said with a smile. Just then, the bell announcing the end of class rang. “I guess we’re free now. I think it’s lunch time.” Just then I had an idea to make friends, hopefully it wasn’t going to be too weird… “Want to go to the house with me before we go to the cafeteria?”

“Yeah, sure. What kinds of food are there at the cafeteria?” They said.

“I don’t know. I hope they have curry, it’s my favorite thing.” I got up and we walked out along with everyone else.

“Maybe they have chicken nuggets? Those are good.”

I laughed a little. I too had my history with chicken nuggets. “I used to eat those all the time when I was young, it was one of the only things I liked.”

“When you were young? Aw man, I feel behind now. I still eat them all the time. They’re the best!”

“I’m better with food. Not so much with crowds and noise.”

“I’m a lot better with food too but chicken nuggets, Michelle. They’re great!”

I had to agree with them. “Nuggets are indeed amazing.” Whenever I’d have a sensitivity episode, nuggets had been one of my go to food along with potatoes and peanut butter sandwiches.

We split from the rest of group and headed to the house, which wasn’t far. We went inside and headed for Freyja and I’s little annex.

“Should I just follow you to your room or wait here or what do I do?” Avery asked.

I looked down at myself. My shirt was sweaty and had a few bloodstains from my cut. “I need to change shirt, so you should wait outside?”

“I’ll be out here waiting.”

I went inside my room and removed my shirt before putting another one on. It took a few minutes to get it correctly, having to get my wings to cooperate and fit inside the slits… When that was done, I looked through my drawer and found just what I wanted. I took it, clenched my hand around it and went back outside.

I came to face her, even looked her in the eye for a moment before focusing my gaze at her neck.

“You said you didn’t have one so I thought you might want it, if it’s not weird, I mean, I barely ever used it.” I handed her what I had gotten to her. It was a little purple rubber flower on a cord. Unlike my octopus, there was no obvious chewing marks. “Is it weird?”

“Are you sure? I don’t think it’s that weird. I would like to wash it before I chew on it though but that’s just because I would be nervous about dust or dirt or something. It’s very pretty. Can I give you a hug to say thanks?”

“Yes. I don’t use it. And I’ll take a hug.” I said. I opened my arms and waited for them.

Avery wrapped their arms around me and squeezed tightly. “I’m happy I made a new friend today! You’re really awesome.”

“You’re welcome!” I said, grinning. “I’m glad to have made friends too, I don’t have a lot back home, just Lina.”

I squeezed them and my wings wrapped themselves around them by instinct.

“Ooh! Your wings are soft and warm!” They said, which got me to realize what they were doing and pull them back.

“They kind of have a mind of their own sometimes.”

“Why did you pull them away? That was great! I loved it! I don’t have many friends either. Just Drew, she’s my roommate, and maybe Riley but I haven’t talked to them much.”

I put my wings back around them. “I don’t want to be overwhelming. How are they?”

“They’re great! It’s like a hug but it’s even better because it’s soft and everywhere. It’s almost as good as my weighted blanket! That reminds me, do you have one? I taught myself how to make them and I could probably make you one. They’re really great. Mine is purple and made with fabric like t-shirts so it’s really soft.”

“I left mine at home, I hope I can get it back soon. Let’s get something to eat now? Maybe we can meet Riley and Drew at the cafeteria.”

“Yeah, sounds good! I’m hungry.” They answered.

“But first, washing the necklace.” I reminded them.

We went into the kitchen and rinsed the flower thoroughly before Avery put it around their neck.

“There! I got it!” They had a huge smile on their face with I matched.

“I’m glad you like it. Now food. If we’re lucky they’ll have curry and nuggets. Maybe a nugget curry!”

“That’d be heaven!”

Previous                                                                                                                       Next

The Valkyrie’s Daughters: Part IV

The Valkyrie’s Daughters

Part IV: The Ravenhold Education

We all rushed to the school and into our first class of the year, guided by the map on our tablet. The teacher wasn’t there by the time we came in so we all took a seat, me between Ike and Freyja.

A minute later the same woman with glowing skin that had showed us to our house came in. She was dressed in a black pantsuit that seemed to block out her natural luminescence.

“Good morning everyone.” She said, walking over to the whiteboard and taking a marker. “For those of you who were a little too excited to remember me guiding you around, my name is Valeria Contreras.” She wrote her name on the whiteboard before turning back to face us. “I’ll be your supervising teacher for the year, so if you need anything or have questions about the school, please come to me.”

The teacher decided our first class was going to be about the ethics of killing while caping. Which was wrong, but she insisted it was just a thought experiment and we should play devil’s advocate.

There was a lot of arguing back and forth and it was really hard to follow, especially since I wasn’t sure who was even talking most of the time. With so many people around, my ability to tell voices apart wasn’t really working…

One person I recognized arguing was Freyja. “They don’t get to escape from Jail.” She said.

I frowned. I hadn’t expected her to think like that. She was Valkyra’s daughter and raised by her… How could she support killing people?

“It’s not like escaping from Mingulay or the Freezer is easy.” I answered her. Prison was the right thing to do. What if there was a mistaken identity? What if they had information on other crimes? Killing was just wrong…

She laughed at me. “Tell that to the people who died on bloody Monday. You’d think a norse death goddess would understand grey morality.”

Everyone knew about the Bloody Monday incident of two-thousand, when the Xenobreed had destroyed Mingulay and released all its inmate to join their parahuman supremacist movement or die. But that had been a one time thing…

Then the teacher stirred the conversation on the benefit of not killing and thankfully some people had the right idea about what being a hero meant. Eventually we were dismissed and we left for our next class.

That class was the one I was looking forward to: Combat training. It was the class to become a hero, we’d learn to fight villains! We came into a dojo kind of place and I followed the others who sort of stopped in front of some benches before looking around.

Then our teacher came in. He was dressed in armor from head to toe, even his eyes were covered with goggles. The mask kind of looked like a bird. I had to stop myself from flapping right then and there. It was a hero, a real one.

“My name is the Rook. I’m your basic combat training teacher.” He declared.

Everyone knew the Rook! Or at least cape dorks like me did. He was one of the Raven family; they fought supervillains without having any powers, just gadgets and their fists, they were amazing. If there was anyone to teach us to fight, it was him.

“My job is to teach you the essential of how to survive through a fight, defend yourself, and protect others.” Rook continued. “To do that, I will not be pulling any of my punches, make no mistakes, you will get sore, bruised, maybe worse even. Hate me as much as you would like, but when I’ll be done with you, you’ll stand a chance to survive in the big bad world out there.”

That didn’t sound so fun, but it was for our benefit.

“To do that, I need to see what you are all made of. So you and I will have one on one fights, I don’t expect you to hold back. And do trust me, I suggest you don’t.”

Leo decided to question just how dangerous could the Rook be to him. So he got to go first, taking place in the middle of the dojo while a protective glass came out of the ground and separated us.

Within a few seconds Leo was down on the ground unconscious after getting kicked in the head. He woke up a few seconds later. He tried to get up but feel down, still concussed. Rook had Ike and a boy named Erik drag him to the school’s clinic.

“Your turn, bird girl.” Rook said, pointing at me with his staff.

I nodded. “Yes sir!”

“I like the enthusiasm.” He laughed. “Hope you can match it.”

We got ready, I took a fighting stance and Rook did the same. I opened my wings and let the magic flow through them. When he gave the ready, I flew at him, trying to punch him like I’d seen Valkyra do so many times.

He was so fast though. He stepped aside, grabbed my arm and tossed me down onto the ground. I fell on my back and felt a painful crack in my wings.

“Too slow.” He said, he let me get up before attacking. “Come on, show me what you’re made of, Valkyrie.”

My right wing hung at a weird angle and hurt. I stayed on my feet, I tried to swing some punches at him but he deflected them easily despite my enhanced strength.

“Is that all you’ve got?”

I grunted and tried to bull rush him only for him to trip my leg and send me down on the ground face first. The he kicked me right in the kidney and my body folded itself in half.

“Very disappointing. Come on, this can’t be all you’ve got?”

I got up and didn’t get to do anything before something wrapped itself around my legs, sending me down onto the ground again.

“That wasn’t fair. I wasn’t ready.” I said, trying to pull the rope off.

“No shit Sherlock, I’m here to prepare you for the outside world, Villains don’t play fair, they will kill you the first chance they get. Learn your weaknesses, adapt and overcome. That’s how you stay alive.”

He took out a knife, then grabbed me by the hair, raised my head and slid the knife across my cheek. I felt a warm and painful sensation followed by something wet. I touched my cheek and there was blood.

“You might be a brick, but you’re not indestructible. If you go in guns blazing everytime expecting strength and endurance to carry you, you will die.” He said. “You’re dismissed.”

I got the rope off, turns out it was a bola and walked back to the others.

“The new Valkyra, ladies and gentlemen.” Freyja announced with a slow clap.

I frowned, why was she mocking me? It was my first try… I felt myself tense and frustration build up in my head, it was like I was trapped and it started building up.

“Mom could heal her injuries if she focused on them.” She then said to me. “Let me reset your wing, I’ve done it before.” She didn’t wait for permission before grabbing my bent wing and forcing it back into place. “Now, focus, do the magic thing.”

Ike came to my side with a tissue, putting it to my bleeding cheek. “Are you alright?” They asked.

I nodded, I really wasn’t but I wasn’t feeling too vocal at the moment.

They didn’t get to stay at my side as Rook called them to fight.

I could feel the incoming meltdown, but I had to try… My body began a little rocking motion, back and forth. I called the power from my wing and I fiddled with it, it radiated through my body and the cut on my cheek felt better…

I popped my chewing necklace into my mouth and focused all my attention on the mechanical movement of my jaw and the sensation in my mouth, hoping to starve away the melt down.

Previous                                                                                                                       Next