Scald-Crow 1: The Rocky Road to Whateley (Part 3)
A Whateley Academy Tale
Scald-Crow 1: The Rocky Road to Whateley
In Dublin next arrived, I thought it such a pity
To be so soon deprived a view of that fine city
So then I took a stroll, all among the quality
Bundle it was stolen, in a neat locality
Something crossed me mind when I looked behind
No bundle could I find upon me stick a-wobblin'
'Quiring after the rogue, said me Connaught brogue
It wasn't much in vogue on the rocky road to Dublin
The Dubliners, The Rocky Road to Dublin
Chapter 11 - Speak Softly
Early Evening - November 2nd, 2007 - Lummi Tribal Police Station
Something just didn't sit right with Henry after seeing the convoy of five cars making their way down Haxton. It wasn’t the Confederate flag nor the Humanity First bumper stick. Nor was it the conjunction of the two appearing on two separate vehicles like a Klanner tailgate. No, it was what he saw in a singular glance and a flash of expression. Just before the first car passed he made out the man driving the small sedan leading the pack. It's hard to really gauge what a man was thinking in a momentary frame of expression. But as a deputy and as an officer of the law Henry prided himself on his ability to read a situation.
Those men have no good intent on their minds. He made the general rationalization just as he pulled up to the small one-story building where the Lummi Tribal Police called home. He stepped out of his cruiser and eyed the two smoking officers leaning against the railing of the ramp leading the way up for the handicapped. Both were Natives at first glance, dark hair, and slightly tanned features. One couldn't be too generalized though. He gave a nod to the two Officers after passing them by on his way up and pushed the door to let himself inside. The Tribal Office wasn't as big as the Sherrif's, but it suited the needs of the smaller population of the Rez. In luck, his friend, Lloyd, was there and seemed to be sitting at a desk just beyond the reception area.
"Lloyd," he called out as an officer passed him, her face was set in a hard mask before she opened the door and disappeared.
"Oh look who it is," Lloyd said as he turned away from his computer screen and smiled at his friend. Being a Spencer the man was tall, at least six-two and bore a long braid of dark brown-black hair. His ochre complexion was easily visible in the bright halogens of the station's lighting.
Early Evening, November 2nd, 2007 - Jameson Home
Have you ever had the feeling that all your happiness was on a timer? That some cosmic entity was waiting over you like the Sword of Damocles and as soon you were unaware just dropped the hammer? When the strange man got out of the small sedan parked near the door of Jameson's home I didn't know what to make of him. I was easily able to pick out his features in the light of the alert lamps on the house. He was balding with slicked back hair to one side. Wrinkled eyes and a face went to pasture. His body was clothed in a simple two-piece suit and his tie was loose around his neck. The man carried a piece of paper which I guess was some sort of document or a script for what he was going to say.
He stood just outside the car, leaning against the top of its frame, and kept the door open. Another man made his way outside, and this one made me start to panic. Unlike the other man, this man took care of himself and his hair was still nearly there. Blonde thinning hair atop a strong square jaw head and blue uncaring eyes watched me above a roman nose. This man had to be Brad's dad and the way how he held himself he screamed: "I am your better". Both of these men were obviously the leaders of the circus lined up along the driveway and as they waited more men climbed out of the cars behind them.
At this point in the action film, there would be a standoff. But, sadly this wasn't an action film, no yippee-kai-yay motherfucker to save my family in a blaze of glorious machine gunfire. No, the men all walked until they formed a semi-circle around the front door. Gerald was still standing in the doorway as the leader by his stance took a step closer to the door itself.
"Gerald, it's good to see you again after so many years," the man said.
"Dickinson, why are you here?" Gerald asked carefully.
"We aren't here for you or your freak family. Just the redhead, she's caused enough pain and needs to be taught a lesson," Dickinson or whatever his name was.
"You know I'm not going to let you near her Dickinson, just as I never let you near any of my clients when we sparred in the courtroom," Gerald countered.
"I thought you'd say that, and I had the smallest glimmer of hope you wouldn't," he said with a shake of his head.
A crash was heard behind us and I rushed into the kitchen as three armed figures appeared. Each was dressed in black, a combination of what I can only assume were body armor, black pants, and combat boots. Even their hands were gloved, and their heads covered with ski-masks. You know, I'm an evil but smart mercenary look. One of the men moved forward and he seized my sister's hand and yanked her away from my parents. Mom let out a loud growl, "Don't you FUCKING TOUCH MY DAUGHTER!"
My dad raised his hands to indicate he wasn't armed and replied, "Gentlemen, you have to know that the Alliance is on their way. This won't end well. We don't know your faces you can easily walk away and never get charged with a thing."
The mook holding my sister placed her against his chest and held his gun while drawing a knife from his hip. I felt my fear rising as he pressed the knife to her neck and my eyes shot to Sophia. My friend was whispering to her mom as one of the men barked out, "ALL OF YOU OUT FRONT! NOW!"
My parents slowly backed away as I watched Corrine drag, Sophia, along.
"Grainne, don't do anything," mom ordered me as she and Corrinne shared a quick look. I could only guess that being a hero Corinne had some sort of plan for a hostile home invasion scenario. I mean, why wasn't there a panic room around here? That was a thing, right?
I watched as we were all ushered into the foyer and the three men blocked our path. Each from what I could make out was carrying some form of an assault rifle. Not being a military expert all I can describe them as being is somewhat AK-47 in appearance. They even had slings for the men to keep the rifle over their shoulders. The men themselves moved in a trained precision that only could be made through years of training as a team.
My body was shaking as my fear kept me in place, and I followed the direction of my parents. Gerald was busily sparring verbally with Dickinson from what I could make out. The two were definitely old frenemies of some make, and I could make out a few more characters in glimpses around Gerald's form. After about five minutes the three mercenaries began pushing us toward the door and Gerald shuffled forward as we all were filed out of the door. Now we’re standing in front of the Jameson home in the middle of the night. Offhandedly I registered the fact that I was standing in Corrine's flower bed, and even stomping over a heather bush I could only guess they planted years ago.
I let my view drag downward in a slow painful arc until it was on my shoes. I dug my feet in instinctively as I could tell my fight or flight response was now on high alert. Lifting my head up I finally focused on what Dickinson was saying.
"This is getting old," Dickinson sighed.
"Your delaying tactics are just wasting time, shoot the bitch and we'll be out of here," cried a man behind him.
"I've got this covered," Dickinson said and raised a hand to stop someone. In the glare of the headlights, I made out the third man.
"This freak should know her place!" came the party line from the man.
"I told you I would handle this, I have no interest in seeing you all hit by one of Gerald's spells," Dickinson said.
"Watch lass, watch!" My eyes snapped onto the two men and back to Gerald. He was thumping a piece of wood I could only guess he'd sneaked out of his pocket. Sly old bastard! "Yes he is, he got them talking as a distraction." I blinked as the realization sunk in.
"Light is a gift for all to see." I heard the words.
All of a sudden a strange suction flowed through the air and I could feel myself feeling a little dazed. Morgan uttered a series of comments to me in a language I couldn't understand at all. But I did pick out one word she said and it was, "Essence."
A flare of blinding light filled my vision and I raised a hand to block it out in reaction. I heard a scream as several of the men weren't fast enough and one fell over obviously blinded by the light. Gerald held out the light source as it began to fail. Adrenaline sparked my reaction as I heard a collision of bodies. Corrine had jumped into action against the three men behind us. Seeing a speeding energizer tear into a group of armed men was shocking, she wasn't a blur, but she definitely moved faster than the three mercs could react too. Just as she hit the three men I heard something whiz by my head as a series of pops rang out behind me.
Someone was firing off their gun. I caught sight of the bastard who'd attacked my sister and it took all of my self-control from running at him. Edging away from behind Gerald I considered putting myself in front of Sloan as the last of the light ended. The men knew at this point I think that their plan wasn't going to work. Come to think of it, we had two trained heroes on our side. How was this going to go in their favor? I thought about it for a moment but shoved that aside as the gunfire started.
My parents moved to grab Sloan as she was closest to them at that moment. I could see my father watching me out of the corner of his eye. I had no hard feelings, I knew my parents were doing what was the first thing on their mind, and I was right as my dad was already assessing if he could reach me. A whizzing sound sped past me as I dropped to the ground. The gunfire was a mix of what I heard in video games and a series of loud pops. It was like any Fourth of July on the Island when the kids when nuts with firecrackers.
I felt it at first when the men grabbed my sister, and before that when Brad attacked me a second time. My muscles went tight all at once as fiery heat bubbled up from my feet into my belly and further. Just as I began to right myself upward I dug my foot into that poor heather plant once more. Immediately, as I scanned the scene. The men were retreating from the front of the house back toward their cars. The speaker, Dickinson was already opening his car door as the other one he argued with was angrily pointing at me as he got into the passenger door.
The light of the car revealed his face, a nice square jaw, blue eyes, and blonde hair. An old version of my attacker. As if a light switched on in my brain all that pent up stress and rage sparked and I jumped from where I stood. Something struck my shoulder and a flare of pain blossomed along my right. Slowly I started to run until I was right in the car. Hitting it with all my strength the metal dented more and more as I punched a fist through the driver’s side window. More pain as shards of glass bit and sliced open my fist. I seized Dickinson by the scruff of his jacket and I began to pull. Dickinson or whatever his goddess fucking name was let out a moan of protest as I began to drag him from the car.
His clothing protected him from most of the glass as in one final yank I sent him flying out of the car window. Another flash of pain blossomed on my side as I felt something hot and wet running down my right shoulder. Mister Finkbonber stared at me in horror. His 'lovely' blonde hair was mussed with sweat and slick against his head. I landed two consecutive punches to the inside of the door before it creaked open. The stupid door finally came off after I dug in my heels and pulled with all my might. Finkbonner was struggling to undo his seatbelt like a complete fool.
"YOU FUCKING COWARD!" I bellowed as I ripped off his seatbelt and began pulling him free.
The man was kicking and fighting to get away from me at this point. I grabbed one of his hands and a loud crunch was heard as I crushed it. He screamed in pain and I threw him across the ground onto it with a loud thud. Stalking over towards him I growled as I kneeled to land a punch directly to his head. My eyes lingered on his hand and I snapped my head back to gaze at the car. All rage fell from me as I stood up just as a flash of lights entered my vision. I pulled back my fist as the sirens from those very lights finally caught my attention. My eyes caught on the words on one of the cars now pulling up behind the rest.
That and the words "Lummi Tribal Police" made me feel so damn relieved.
"COUNTY SHERRIF!" said a voice from one of the cars another figured yelled, "TRIBAL POLICE! GET ON THE GROUND! DROP THOSE GUNS!"
I raised my hands. A Tribal Cop came near me and gestured for a woman to quickly frisk me. Perhaps five minutes later she nodded and I headed back to my family. Tears flowed down my eyes as I felt the pain from earlier far more clear. I cried at the agony throbbing in my right shoulder as I realized a bullet had grazed me. The opposite shoulder or more accurately my clavicle was bleeding as well. One of those bastards had finally shot me. Those idiots had the aim of Imperial Stormtroopers. Closing my eyes my mom waved to a cop for an ambulance.
"You'll just need to stem the bleeding," Corrine remarked as my mom waited by me.
"Why?" mom asked.
"Your daughter, her initial tests point to her being an Exemplar Three or Four. She'll heal fully in a few days."
"Really?" mom asked as she glanced at dad. My father gave me a confused shrug. Neither of them had worked with many mutants in the past. Me, I just gave a nod as it sounded about right. It seemed to fit every bit of loose internet lore I'd read over the years of fanfiction.
"Officer does anyone have a first aid kit to help clean out her gunshot wound?" Corinne pulled aside and asked the Sheriff's Deputy.
"Yeah, I have one in my cruiser, just give me a few moments," the man said.
"Hey Gerald, Corinne, a bus should be here in a bit to look over you all. Also to look to the man with the crushed hand, and the other with the possibly broken back," said a Lummi Cop.
"Broken back?" I asked in shock.
"Yeah, he was thrown hard enough and landed on his spine, could just be a bruise, but he's reporting limited feeling in parts of his body," he replied.
"I did that, I pulled them from the car," I said monotonously, "I hurt them."
"Babes, you were defending us and you didn't mean to do anything," my dad assured me.
"No - no, I was going to cave Finkbonner's head in when I stopped myself," I could feel fear coming over me. Maybe, I was being a little dramatic, but the amount of anger I felt when I attacked Finkbonner was overwhelming to my senses. The other problem, it felt good at the time. Now I felt exhausted, and my body was starting to go leaden. This made no sense, why was I so tired.
A lot happened in the time between the sudden drain of my energy. First, the man I would later come to know was named Henry Duvalle returned with a first aid kit and properly disinfected my wounds. He applied a bit of gauze and medical tape and after about another ten minutes a loud siren signaled the arrival of an ambulance. I could only watch, a glum expression on my face, as the two men I'd attacked were placed on stretchers and taken into the bus.
"I'm a monster," I said, before closing my eyes and letting my mom's hug bring me some measure of comfort.
Chapter 12 - Revelations of the Dead
Morning, October 15th, 2007 - Dublin Ireland
A normal morning in the ancient city of Dublin, the capital of the Republic of Ireland. The Oireachtas, the Irish Parliament hall, was abuzz with morning activity as security personnel prepared for the gathering of the lower house, the Dáil Éireann. As the various Deputies filed into the room, a pair of women walked out past them. One had long black sable hair, held up in a bun at the top of her head. Her stark blue eyes were furrowed as she was in deep conversation with a middle eastern woman. Both were dressed smartly in a pair of pencil skirts, button-down pastel blouses, and low heeled shoes.
"By the Lord's breat', I am feckin' tired o' Sinn Feinn's nonsense," groused the ravenhead, a woman by the name of Maeve. Or more appropriately Second Lieutenant, Maeve Maguire, military liaison to Ireland's Ministry of Paranormal Investigation. As a mutant, she rarely wore the mask of her persona, Glass Witch or 'Ceallach Gloine', in her native Irish tongue. Late the night before Maeve was confronted by a Deputy from the up and coming, Sinn Fein party. The bitch wanted a favor in return for backing a pro-Mutant act a month earlier.
"You are the one who decided to date a Deputy's secretary and got caught," replied Revi, a British born Kurdish woman.
"Not all of us get to meet non-Irish girls all the time Revi!" Maeve quipped as she giggled with her friend.
"Not all of our work for Interpol," Revi replied.
Maeve was the youngest of two daughters born and bred on the Emerald Isle. Growing up in the shadow of the Troubles of the North they both became heroes in their own right. Sinnead had gone off to the United States to train at a special school whereas Maeve stayed in school and later joined the Irish Defense Forces. Even as Glass Witch, Maeve spent more time staving off government bureaucracy than out in the field. As a practitioner of the old arts, she found it irritating her scrying skills were more often used to locate missing cell phones than missing people.
Still, even with her sister galavanting about the west of the country as the great and beloved Song Spirit, she and Sinnead shared a bond that was strong after years of being apart. Their mother wasn't happy with both of them being masked heroes, but at least when push came to shove they had each other's backs. Maeve was looking forward to her sister's return at the end of the week. Already, she had lined up a few pretty lads she might find fun to dance with at a small pub in their old home town.
Her personal prospects weren't that good. The queer community of Ireland was a strong one, but her double life made it hard. It didn't help further she wasn't a mutant as well.
"Hey, what’s with the fancy bloke waiting outside our office?" Revi blurted out. Both were so caught up in their conversation they'd barely noticed how fast they'd strolled to their current base of operations.
"Second Lieutenant," the man said. He was dressed in a military dress uniform. The dark grey-green most people saw when the modern Irish Defense Forces conducted their formal drills outside the government buildings. This man didn't wear the usual high billed hat and instead held a small beret under his arm. He held a dispatch in one hand, a small envelope waiting to be opened and addressed to "Second Lieutenant, Maeve Maguire."
Upon coming close enough the man offered her a salute which both women returned. He then handed her the dispatch as she gave a small murmur, "What does DJ2 wan' wit' me?"
DJ2, the Directorate of Military Intelligence, she worked for them on and off when her assignments were required. Seeing a uniformed officer outside her door wasn't unusual especially when she worked on active counter-terrorism details. Still, her breath shook as she opened the door to her office.
"Tea or Coffee, sir?" she asked, the man gave a shake of his head.
"Sorry mam, but I must return to Headquarters," he gave a nod and turned on his heel to leave.
Maeve was perplexed as she set the dispatch down on her desk in the small spartan office. Revi shut the door and locked it behind them both. The woman kicked off her heels and set them beside her own desk as she walked over to her friend.
"What does it say?" she asked.
"Let's find out," Maeve wondered.
Using a silver letter opener she sliced open the dispatch and retrieved the message inside.
"Oh...by Mary's good graces," she whispered, as her hand flew up to cover her mouth.
"What is it?" she asked.
"Sinnead had - a heart attack and then...something crushed her heart. She's dead, me big sister is dead." Tears came to her eyes as her friend embraced her. Her mind raced as all she could think about. By the Briars! How could this happen!
Early Morning, November 3rd, 2007 - Downtown Seattle
Break the balance and debt would need to be paid. The words rang loudly in her head as she set down all of her work for the day. Dressed in a black kimono-style robe, she was leaning across her bed as a list of items were placed out before her. As promised a few days after their meeting the Average Man delivered her a series of documents. His commander preferred things on real old dead tree format over the newly arising digital. The documents in question were all files carefully put together to give her what she needed. Already, the edge of her debt was against her neck figuratively and if the commander wished for another direct hit she had a lot to pay for.
Elizbeth Monaghan was a woman running out of time. The death of the Song Spirit was an item on a laundry list likely to see her dragged down beneath the mounds. She sighed and rubbed her neck where the razor stood, and she began looking through a list of acts. A series of accounts were on one document, and she rolled her eyes at the amount of money she'd have to bleed just to stay alive. Next, there was the list of targets she could place the blame on. A few local criminals who were more than able to take on a bit of the burden as necessary. The amount of footwork required to find it all out was beyond imagining, and only the sources of the Average Man could suffice.
"I'll need to set up these feckin eedjits first," she hummed. The plan would require allocating some of her growing bad luck to the motorists who seemed to be avoiding hefty drunk driving charges. A few rich kids who could absorb the bad news in her favor. A few signs anchoring the luck on before they went driving the night before the hit. Of course, if she could set up the hit as the actual fault of someone else she could circumvent it all. The knife pressed closer still as she felt her jugular pumping in her neck and she shivered.
"She's going..." she trailed off and shivered again.
"Agree, to this Bess, and I'll keep you alive,"The words were a reminder why she did all of this. One little mistake and she could end up...there. More shivers, and more problems down the road. If she didn't own so much on her tab she would just go retire in Belfast as she planned years ago. A small tick in the form of an eye twitch appeared as she read through the information on her primary target, Glass Witch, the sister of her previous hit.
She and Glass Witch went back a bit, to say the least. Not like any sort of comical former friendship like one might see in a cartoon or some sort of high action blockbuster. No, when she was starting out as a petty thief and learning the basics of her magic and Sinnead was just off attending that stupid school in New Hampshire. In fact, it was through the sister that Elizabeth knew Glass Witch. Now that they two would be going toe-to-toe again. Easily it would end in her death, and Glass Witch getting her revenge.
Oh gods, how would the Balance take that one.
"Not this time old friend, not this time," she crooned as the knife at her neck eased, metaphorically of course.
The spell in question would be easy, once she set it all in motion the pendulum would swing as it would. The particulars were going to be annoying as well as keeping all of the parts of her rube-Goldberg-esque plan moving. Rubbing her hands together she glanced at the last bits sent to her via unknowing courier. More vessels filled with essence, enough to do what she needed.
On the bedside table to her right lay her regent's bag. Made from the sacrificial kidskin, it radiated a simple spell that hid its location and made it seem completely innocuous to anyone, but herself. The constant essence cost was worth it though, as she retrieved her athame. At the beginning of the spell required she offers a bit of her own blood to anchor the threads of luck in her favor. No more traversing the world of mirrors this time.
"By the blacken Oak,
I invoke the twisting ties of Loki.
Venom of the serpent,
I seek the chaos of the Trickster."
Her old friend the knife was back this time under her chin as she sliced open her right index finger. The circle below her was drawn out in Futhark, and as she felt the blood well up from the cut she pressed it to the circle. Immediately one of the vessels filled with essence drained away like sand falling in an hourglass. The sigil glowed as she smiled. Several smaller pieces of crystal started to glow in time with the sigil. Already, the paper began to burn away as she picked up a small piece of mistletoe from her bag, a line of witch's nest she'd gathered before. The crystals were small and would contain the effect, as the mistletoe would wrap around them all.
"Yes....just what I needed."
Each of the items would look strange, a piece of quartz bound in a wrap of mistletoe. She smiled as she reached out and used her athame to draw the auric lines from the slowly burning sigil paper into the crystals. The mistletoe would contain the bad luck she was purposely drawing around her. Then whatever probability required to cause what she wished to happen.
"I hate dealing with this shite," she murmured as she reached into her bag one last time. A small hello-kitty band-aid would serve its purpose as she used it to close up the cut on her finger. Sucking on it a little bit before bandaging it she let out a loud sigh. She felt a nonexistent hand caress her throat as the knife disappeared.
"I have too many damn debts ta pay," she smiled before returning to her work.
Mid-Day, November 3rd, 2007 - Seatac Airport
If there was one thing in this world that Maeve Maguire hated more than dealing with gun-wielding Irish Provos, it was flying internationally. Well, not the usual European concept of international, no, inter-continental would be a better definition. Being an anti-terrorism agent would make many think Maeve was fine with international transportation and in question flying. The truth was though, she hated it. The lift-off scared her to her bones and the landing only increased the claustrophobic feeling. Oh, begob, why did they hafta stick me next to the damn windoh seat? Feck this! Luckily, a quick sleeping draught brewed for this very occasion let her get through most of the flight in a deep restful sleep. But potions only lasted so long, and hers left her awake the last two hours of the flight.
The worst of it all was that gentle increasing sense of falling she felt each time the plane circled down closer and closer to the landing site. All she had to look through was the blastedly small window. Tiny little buildings grew larger and larger as she felt the plane drop again. Another drop and at last it came in for the landing. A sudden hard force and roar filled her ears as the plane touched down and began it's a final taxi to the exit. Her breath quickened while the landing came to an end. Every time, every damn time! Maeve reached for the bottle of water sitting on her small tray and downed it quickly. As the entire wretched machine came to a halt a loud ding signaled it was okay to unbuckle and stand. Most people hated leaving airplanes and Maeve was one of them.
She let the first few rows of people in front of her move before she stood from her seat. A pair of jeans covered her legs and a smart red collared shirt. Her black jacket completed the ensemble. Reaching up and around she grabbed her overnight bag and unhooked the carryon beneath her seat. Enough supplies for a few weeks and she already had a town-house rented to act as her base of operations. All she needed now was to get through the visa checkpoints and see customs dealt with. Luckily her MMID was prepared and so was her official badge as an agent for the Irish Ministry.
She tied her long black hair into a tall messy ponytail. The long black tresses would need a bit of a wash after she hit her town-house. The last two rows of seats in front of her emptied out and she walked down toward the end of the aisle. The British Airway attendants were offering goodbyes to everyone. A quick nod to the cute blonde she flirted with at the start of the flight led to blush from the blonde in question.
"See ye next toim Luv," she offered and the girl blushed again.
Her blue eyes wandered over the exit and she took a step over into Yankee land. The push through the entrance continued all the way down the long hall. She inhaled the fresh air and admired the total lack of heat which she preferred. It was a reasonable chill outside and the switch to the air calmed the last of her nerves. A glance across the line of seats for the folk waiting to shuffle their way into a plane for the flight back. The scene before her was typical of most airports. A tiled-floor easy to clean and a series of shops just beyond the rest area.
"I'd fancy a tea if I didn't have to run," she murmured to herself. She followed the rest of her fellow passengers toward the exit, her secondary carryon rolling behind her connected to an extendable handle. Cheap and easy to move, and with her other bag slung over her arm along with her purse. She spent the next while just trying to keep track of where everyone was going and finally she was in customs. Up an escalator and she found herself in front of a desk for the customs agents along with an MCO detail. A small roll of her eyes was her immediate reaction to seeing Mutant Commissions Agents, and even as the black-suited jackboots drew closer she stood her ground.
Not being an exemplar nor suffering from GSD Maeve knew she was lucky. Unless someone pressed her, she could easily pass off as a baseline. She stopped in front of one of the black suits as he asked for identification. Maeve removed her MMID and her Ministry Badge as the man seemed to take a moment to look it over. He was close to two meters tall, golden tanned skin, and a rough carefully shaven shadow on his round jaw. The man was completely bald and as he moved she could tell he was not just another desk riding agent as well.
"M'am, I'm going to need you to come with me," the man said. She gave a simple glance at the man as she twisted her face into a frown.
"Yer checkin' me Irish Ministry identification correct?" she asked.
"This says you are a military attache?" she nodded in response, "Second Lieutenant, Maeve Maguire, I werk as a terrorist expert fer the Irish Republic."
"You have all of your credentials?" he asked as she walked behind him slowly keeping an eye on his two co-agents.
"Aye," she replied in a slightly gruff manner. They opened a door to a small side room and she walked inside. The inside was grey painted walls more tiled floors and a singular cheap grey table. Knowing the drill she set her bags down and let them do a quick personal inspection as she set down her passport for them. The youngest of the agents, a white man stopped as he retrieved a large manilla envelop stamped with the words "CLASSIFIED" and the Seal of the Irish Republic. The man's hands hesitated as he licked his lips before he roughly grasped it. His brown eyes narrowed as he reached for something in his pants pocket and retrieved a red pocket knife. Immediately, the senior agent raised his hand to stay him.
"Sir, she could be faking this," said one of the junior agents.
"Not every mutant coming through is trying to pretend to be James Bond, Krezinski," the senior agent relayed.
Good, it looks like what I hearin' bout the local MCO was correct.
"Your background checks out, sorry agent," the man replied.
"No problem sir," she said as she watched as the older man directed Agent Krezinski to put everything back. About two minutes later her luggage was all back in order and the older agent opened the door for her.
"Tank ye very much agent?" she asked and offered her hand.
"Agent-in-Charge Jeffrey O'Dell," he said and she shook his hand harder.
"Good ta meet another Irishmen!" she laughed as he released her clasp.
"Dad's actually from Donegal, met mom just after coming here," he said and she gave a nod, "Did he tell ye bout the Troubles?"
"Yeah, about the gunmen in the night from both sides, " he gave a curt nod.
"Well AIC O'Dell, I tink one of those arseholes is the reason I'm here," she sighed.
"Sorry to hear that Agent Maguire, I can only hope your stay here in the States is a good one," he replied.
"I can only hope," she smiled and gave wave before heading toward the checkpoint. The American at the desk gave her more sass than the MCO as he checked over her Passport and joked about her accent. A cold glare met his gaze as she walked past him and stepped onto another escalator to head into the baggage claim.
Her regents and other items needed for her magic as well as an armor were stashed in the larger checked bag she kept. She preferred to travel light when abroad and as she picked up the large black roller-bag she set it down on the ground. The carousels were already moving the large sheets of metal shifting over each other as bag after bag lumbered down the conveyor belt from the loading dock. With her baggage already in hand, she took her time to scan the signs hanging from the ceiling and walls.
This place is better organized than that shitter in Cleveland.
The layovers were boring as all hell, and being left in Ohio of all places didn't help. She swore she saw a Humanity First preacher while traveling from one terminal to the other. Most of the surfaces of the place were either black, brown or taupe. Whoever designed the placed really loved grey as well. A light annoyed frown graced her features as she began scanning for whoever was supposed to pick her up. All the contact information told her was to head to the baggage claim and they would find her. Maeve was getting more annoyed by the second as she was already hungry from being asleep and missing the in-flight meal.
I need ta get over me fear of flying. She chided herself as her phone beeped loudly. Perplexed, she reached into her back pocket and withdrew her smartphone and stared as a simple text appeared.
BLOCKED: Welcome to the States, Agent Maguire.
"Feckin, 'ell," she growled.
MAEVE_MAGUIRE: Who is this?
BLOCKED: You'll see me right by the exit, I'm wearing black tie.
Of all the things to encounter, now it was time for a Lil' old cloak and dagger. Rolling her eyes the Irishwoman let out a series of unkind curses in the recesses of her mind. Dammit Sinnead, this kind o' shite was yer thing!
Five minutes later she lugged her rolling luggage past carousels six through twelve. A small lobby met her surrounded by the same square black faux-leather seating. Each bench was attached to the next in a long steel black frame. Several men and women sat at the bench as more travelers brushed past her. She eyed her phone in her right hand and began to scroll through her messages. Another loud bleep as she turned back to her messages. Upon seeing it she scowled at the glowing screen.
BLOCKED: Lookup Agent, I'm waving at you.
"Mother Mary," she switched to more child-appropriate curse words as a troop of children toddled by surrounding a fairly tired looking gaggle of parents. Are those scouts? She eyed their small little brown jackets and let the sight distract her as another bleep announced yet another message.
BLOCKED: My hand is starting to hurt, I'm in plain daylight perhaps a few meters away. Are you blind Miss Maguire?
Her face was about to turn red from what she saw before she grabbed her luggage and glanced about. Her eyes narrowed in on a small short Hispanic man, his eyes covered by a pair of aviator glasses. He was dressed in a grey tailored suit and as his text indicated he wore a black tie. Barreling toward him and nearly shoving an old woman aside she came to rest in front of him.
"By all the Heavens, that took forever," the man said and carefully removed his glasses. He was a head shorter than her, dark brown skin and slightly almond eyes. He brushed off his shoulders before offering his hand. The Irishwoman glanced at it, her lips screwing into a frown before she took it in hand. A firm shake not unlike Agent O'Dell.
"Agent Jimenez, DPA," he said and removed his credentials within his jacket pocket. He even let her read the badge number before she handed it back to him. She offered her own papers in kind and he read through them with his eerie yellow eyes.
"I'll hand you the briefing information once we are alone," she stated to him. He gave a nod before picking up her checked luggage in one hand and gestured for her to follow. An exemplar? She wondered as the man scanned the street near the exit before waving his hand and a black unmarked sedan pulled in front of them. The woman in the driver's seat on the left tilted her head before smiling at Jimenez.
"Good to see you finally found her Bobby, and here I thought we'd be waiting till the saints sung his name," the woman said in a slight accent. It wasn't like Jimenez's and instantly she pegged it for something back east. To her knowledge that's where all of the strange-sounding American's lived anyway.
Jimenez opened the door for her and she got in. He then opened the boot to stow her larger luggage. Strangely enough, the small car was fairly comfortable, and interestingly enough had a leather interior. I wish our bloody budget paid this well. Maeve glanced out the window as Agent Jimenez sat down in the front. She crossed her arms over her chest as she waited. The damn flight and the annoying agent, what the hell was I facing?
Night, December 3rd, 2007 - Dreamscape
I could feel the cold as it brushed the tips of my fingers and my face. It wasn't real, but by the goddesses, it felt real. A cold harsh kiss against my skin as I pulled the cloak around my shoulders tighter still. The deeper I went into my dreamland the more and more real it felt. Everything was becoming more confusing as the puzzle I thought my life became was adding pieces every day. Morgan's realm was pieced together from my own memories and dreams of what Ireland was. From the very fabric of the books I read as a child and what I often thought about in my earliest writings. So it wasn't surprising at all when the cold hit me and I found myself staring at a dank rolling moor.
I swore, my dreams shifted faster than normal. Fog rolled over the moors straight out of The Hound of the Baskervilles. The damp ground itself was unevenly made of peat, moss, grass and much more. I kicked over a rock which littered the ground of the sod beneath my heels. Boots crafted from wrapped leather and bound wool on the inside. They were soft and gave me a grip on the uneven ground. Atop my head was a light helm crafted from bronze. I pulled it down over my head as my hair tied in a series of braids fell over my shoulders. An upper mask of metal covered my face and ended just above my nose. The metal of the helm was etched with scrolling birds.
My chest was encased in a leather cuirass fitted with pieces of bronze metal. Studded leather armor, I giggled a bit as the cuirass swept down to my legs. A wide belt held it all in place as I checked my helm and stopped moving. The spear strapped to my back moved against my legs as I reached behind to check the straps. I didn't remember manifesting the spear, but it's weight felt nice in my hands. I walked a bit further and stopped. The moors were quiet, not a single sound, only that of my feet. This wasn't right.
Even in my dreams, the wind made a noise. The crackling of animals shifting around as they went about their lives. I knew this because this is how my dreamland was made! A sudden movement caught my attention as I gasped. Something ran across the ground thirty paces away just on the edge of my vision. Fog deepened, and shapes started to shift around me. I was a green hand, and I could feel my fear increasing. This was my dream, I -knew- it was my dream. There shouldn't be anything at all which pushed me out of power.
Only Morgan could shape the dream in any way. A quick scan of whatever I could see out in my surroundings showed not a single sign of the standing stones. I drew myself close to the ground as slowly something shifted out of the mist. It walked with a limp, its feet were wrong. Immediately a smell gripped my nostrils and I wretched at it. How could? Squinting I stepped back once as I felt my footing give way. Slipping, I flung out my right hand to catch myself, but the impact of the ground knocked the wind out of me.
"You," it groaned and the thing moved closer and suddenly as it came into view. I gasped loudly. It looked to be me, well I think it was me. I glanced at the doppelganger and my eyes widened. Its eyes were glassed over, and it brought a finger to its lips. The thing's skin was - dead, that was the only way to pull it. It appeared to be a zombie, but as the thing limped closer I could tell it wasn't any sort of the thing. One of the pauldrons on its shoulder was torn off revealing a gaping wound. Another wound appeared as gunshots through its middle. Two more steps and it was nearly towering over me.
Its hair was greasy and the skin on its face was completely weathered. A piece of her lip was missing. It let out a loud groan as it stared down at me and shushed me finally.
"Whaaaaaaat are you?!" I squeaked.
The thing shuddered slowly as it froze in place.
"Portent," it hissed through lips and with a voice that sounded broken.
"Okay?" I asked it.
"WARNING," it hissed as the helm covering its face fell off to reveal a gouge from a blade of some sort. One of its eyes fell out as it shook its face.
"STOP BEING FUCKING VAGUE YOU DAMN GAUNT!" I screamed as I felt my feet scrabble at the ground.
Suddenly, the thing lifted it's face up toward the sky as a flash of lightning struck. From its throat came a loud blood-curdling scream that filled the air. It seemed to cause the air around me to reverberate as the thing started to float in the air and its hair drifted in the wind. A whirlwind swept up from the ground beneath me as it turned its face and I noticed its dead eyes looking at me.
"It has come....one has died," it pointed at me and as I gaped at the thing it seemed to swim in the air as its body drifted away.
"Fuck....a..." I said carefully through my dread.
"A banshee, an ancient spirit of warning," said a voice above me and I craned my neck to see Morgan standing there behind me in all her glory.
"What is it doing here?" the keen was slowly dying down as I felt Morgan's hands pull me up.
"They follow people like me, and you, those attached to the land. When someone dies they appear, and they keen the coming," she said to me slowly. Her face was stern as the fog around us was slowly dispersing. I could tell something was wrong as Morgan placed a hand on my shoulder. Her normally pristine appearance seemed sallow and pale.
"What's going on?" I asked her as she turned me around to face her.
"Someone has died, my heart," she sighed, "someone by your hand."
I could only mouth 'no' as I shook my head. No, I couldn't be a killer, right?
Chapter 13 - Meaning of a Name
Dinner Time, November 4th, 2007 - Jameson Residence
Sophia awoke early that morning in a cold sweat, just as she did the night after the men attacked her family. One night in her mother's room and another on her own. Both nights she woke up screaming about men with guns breaking into her room and slipping a black hood over her head. The MCO was the bogeymen of her dreams just after she manifested. Corinne warned her of young mutants getting taken by the agents of the international agency and never being seen again. So, of course, she quietly quaked at what they could do. They almost took her new friend for gods sakes! Instead, it was the bastards of Humanity FIrst who now haunted her.
Instead of the Men in Black, she got the second coming of the Ku Klux Klan. There was no other way to describe Humanity First other than they lacked the white hoods and weird fetishes for burning crosses. As a Native woman, the event of what can only be described as a Night Ride was all more real. Saturday was nothing more than an impromptu therapy session with her grandfather. A man who'd been in more than one major villain fight, he was someone who could give her a sense of where to start. Her mother said she would offer the help herself, but something didn't feel right about what she said. Grandpa told her stories about his work with the Alliance, and fighting crime along the border. He told her about the early work operations with members of the DPA in the mountains against the Grand Hall of Sinister Wisdom.
"There are more than the MCO and Humanity First Lil' Wing," he said slowly, "I cannot lie to you about what lies ahead. But we can do our best to make sure that your trauma does not come to rule you."
Her mother didn't say much the Saturday after the attack and was mostly on the phone. Not long after a repair team arrived to replace the window and begin to clean up on the grounds. In between talking to Grandfather and her mom Sophia was pretty much adrift. Scared of her own shadow she just wanted for it all to be over and for life to go back to the way it had been.
Waking up on Sunday morning to the alarm set by her mother, and finding herself completely unprepared for another day she simply stared at the ceiling. What is wrong with me? I'm jumping at every sound. The nightmares won't stop and I don't want to leave my bed. What am I? A little kid? She pulled the blanket up tighter to her chin and let her body go slack. More staring at the ceiling and she started to count the cobwebs in her room. Right around the thirteenth she stopped and found her eyes being drawn to the outside. It was light out and she knew it was time to get up, the alarm had woken her up before she turned it off and sat there like a lump in her own bed.
Her moment of low motivation could only last for so long right? Rolling over to sit on her side she nuzzled into the pillow as she let the weight of her blankets press down to her.
"Lil' Wing, time to get up," came the loud knock at her door. The knock announced her mother's entry to her room.
"MOM!" she cried out and ducked her head under the covers. “I'm not getting out of-”
"Breakfast is ready, get your bum dressed or I'll come back with cold water." Her mother's words interrupted her train of thought.
"Fine, FINE!" she yelled loudly as her mom laughed and exited. Rolling out of bed a few minutes later she was able to shimmy into a pair of pajama shorts and a tank top. Her body shivered in the cool November air as she thanked her mother and grandfather for not dropping the night temperature too much in the house. Already, the heat was kicking in as she could hear the rumble of the vents beneath her feet. Pulling a robe around her body she walked down the stairs out into the open hallway. Many of the pictures which once lined the walls were currently leaning against it on the stairwell. Others were off to the framer to be fixed.
The attack on the house had unsettled everything and upended her entire life. Now, only a few days to go, she would soon be off to a school more than a thousand miles away across the country. Sophia padded into the kitchen just as her grandfather was setting down a large pot of deer stew for breakfast. Her mother meanwhile was slicing pieces of bread and grilling them on the cooktop with butter. Texas toast and stew for breakfast was a time honored tradition in her family. Especially during winter where her mother's energizer body required large quantities of calories to maintain itself. Personally, she just loved eating venison after one of her cousins did the yearly cull to maintain the health of the prey population.
"What did you add this time grandpa?" she wondered aloud as he placed a bowl and spoon in front of her. Gerald could only smile at how his granddaughter was slowly returning to herself. Sophia was thinking quietly to herself about a similar thing. Maybe mom and grandpa are right, I can't just keep wallowing. But still...
"Deer meat and some elk from your cousins up in Nooksack," he replied. His brown eyes shined with mirth as he served her up a large heaping mix of potatoes and other vegetables mixed with thick chunks of meat.
"I love elk," she smiled before digging into the bowl. The simple spices made her mouth water and as she hungrily tore into the bowl her mother finished the bread. A pile of it was placed in a basket in the center of the open counter in front of her. The young teen was eager to get a second helping as she began eating a portion of the bread as well. Ten minutes into her dinner, her mother joined her while grandfather took care of the dishes. Gerald joined them not long after portioning out the last of the stew for himself and sat back while drinking a glass of milk. His long hair was freely falling down his shoulders with lines of grey running through it.
Laugh lines formed around his face as he offered a smile to his granddaughter and she returned it.
"Lil' Wing," her mother said suddenly, "We do have to talk about a few things."
Sophia frowned and nervously eyed both her mother and grandfather. Gerald crossed his arms to watch both of the women in his life.
"Your mother is right Sophia," he intoned, "we have spoken to someone at Whately Academy. They will help you find a therapist on campus to help."
"I don't want to see a shrink," she scoffed.
"They helped me," her mom said, her face tense, "after I left your father I needed someone to talk to."
Sophia eased up at hearing the words and listened.
"I needed someone who would listen, not shrink me, but listen and walk me through how not to let my experiences rule my life," her mother said poignantly.
"I don't want to be broken on the inside," she lamented.
"You aren't broken," her grandfather affirmed as he enveloped her in a hug, "you experienced a trauma. And, like anyone who experiences trauma you need help working through it."
"Okay," she said.
"Now listen," her mother told her, "There are a few you need to be careful around at school. The big school cliques, the Alphas, stay away from them. Keep your head down and try to avoid the bigger politics. Some of the worst supervillains have their kids there as well as the world’s most famous superheroes."
The teen listened for the next few minutes as her mom laid out the basics of what she'd already eavesdropped from the night before. She did that a lot recently just sat there and listened. It was something she was used to in her family. Her mother tried her best to not act like the overbearing mother. The few times she did get to see her dad he fit the role quite well. always asking her how she was doing in school, and if she'd made any decisions for college. Corinne did make decisions for her without any consultation, but her father demanded she gave up her childhood.
"Mom..." she spoke up suddenly.
"What honey?" her mom asked.
"Thanks for just....caring for me," she said as she gave her mother and then Grandfather a hug for a few minutes and her grandfather let her go, but not before giving her forehead a kiss.
Mid-Morning, November 5th, 2007 - Meche's Tailoring Shop
I never thought I would ever meet a banshee, and I never thought I would kill a man. Seeing that creature in my dreams, and then having its warning confirmed the next morning rocked me to the core. Mom found me screaming that night, and after I finally quieted down she didn't fall asleep at all. So, when she confirmed it after a call with Gerald Jameson all I could do was sob. I hadn't cried so hard in years, and when I was done my mom sat me down and I offered me some hot apple cider. After sipping it my parents did their best to inform me about what was going to happen this upcoming week. First, they were going to enroll me in a therapist on campus for Whately. Mom already spoke to the Jameson's who were doing the same.
It was good to know that both Sophia and I were now not just friends, but we'd both understand the wonderful world of no consent given therapy sessions! I love it when the adults in my life take my agency! It's for my own good, right?
"They mean well love, but your father and mother are just worried." I continued to mentally rant for about an hour after they informed me of that part of the schedule. In fact, they let me go for a run around the island after that and I did so. Being able to just speed along the road without too much worry helped me burn off my initial outrage. I decided thereafter to just return home at about mile four, and after jogging back I walked into the house at about the time my dad was finishing dinner. I barely noticed it was dark outside as I looked out and I gave a sheepish grin as dad shook his head.
"My daughter, the superhero to be who likes cheating death by wearing blackout and running in the middle of the road." He's not kidding I did that. I had run off in all black and didn't bother to carry a flashlight. My red mane sailed past my ears on the run and as I sat down to dig into a massive pile of tuna melts made by my dad I just listened. Or as my mom liked to say, "mouth closed, ears open."
After a bit of explaining dad told me mom would be taking me to a tailor the following day and after that the Alliance Headquarters. All I could do was a nod. I mean what else was I going to say? Please don't pay tons of money so I can go to a nice school? Yes, unthankful spoiled brat words straight out of the manual we're all given upon birth, right? I rolled my eyes internally and I could hear Morgan chuckling at my own self-awareness. I was trying to hide my own sense of denial in self-depreciation. A habit I wouldn't break for months or even years down the road.
So here we were, the tailor, a place called Meche's Tailor, and the woman who owned it named Cynthia was a pretty friendly middle-aged woman. She explained thoroughly what would be happening that day and that I wasn't the first student of Whately of hers to come in as a client. My eyes widened at the little revelation and I smiled. Who could it be? I was pretty sure Corrine Jameson, Sophia's mom, attended the school. Maybe even Gerald himself was an alumnus.
Mom and Cynthia chatted while I remained quiet and pretty much engrossed in my phone.
Grainne: I'm at the tailor, where r u?
Sophia: At the Alliance HQ, I'm going over school rules with mom.
Grainne: IS your MID ready?
Sophia: Yeah, my temp is done, and I even picked a codename! :)
Grainne: Oh? What did ye pick?
Both Sophia and I got into the habit of texting each other mostly during our respective downtime. It was a nice way to keep up. I hadn't even learned my class schedule yet, but the application package itself was hefty. Mom and dad sat me down at the computer to fill out most of the information. I still can't believe the amount of detail the application required, including a small essay about who I was. That was weird, I've never written an essay to get into a school before. They also asked me a few questions about my powers. It was all under a section for "powers testing preparation".
So I tried my best to describe what I could do, and what I remember they did for my initial testing. The very idea of having to go through the process all over again was, not high on my list to say the least.
Cynthia's purpose in all of this was to get the measurements I would need for my school uniform. One which I found to be a tad over the top. But, let's be honest, I think school uniforms are just an excuse to charge tons of money to my family for a few sets of clothes. My synthetic allergy was going to be a problem. I could barely wear anything not made from a organic fabric, and luckily my allergy wasn't a severe as some (as Corinne told me). This, of course, added weight to the already growing cost of my time at school. Mom decided to have most of the clothing made by a tailor located in the nearby town of Dunwich. A woman named Cecilia Rogers was the one my parents were commissioning for much of the cloth itself.
The measurements Cynthia took of me were to be transferred via email to Cecilia so that she would be able to produce most of my clothing for the upcoming semester. With that added to my already existing wardrobe I wasn't completely screwed. But, if I wanted things to be perfect I had to remain still. A small pinprick of pain drew a yelp as I jumped in the air.
"Please keep still miss O'Callaghan," Cynthia scolded me playfully.
I flushed pink in my cheeks and could only give a slow nod.
"I am sorry for the pin though, I moved it too far to the left," she said as she removed the pin and freed up her measuring tape.
"It's okay, my skin is a little over-sensitive," I blushed before closing my eyes. How much more of this would I have to undergo?
"Be patient, my heart. Once we are at this school we can train to defend ourselves."
Morgan was right, as she usually was. Focusing my mind I decided to consider what I was going to choose as my codename. Cynthia asked me to raise my arms and I let my mind wander for long enough I began to daydream. I imagined myself dressed as I usually did in my dreamscape. A brigandine coat covered my torso, and a half helm guarded my face. My long red hair was pulled into a tight series of braids from beneath my helm. Gazing across the bogland on the coast of what I assumed was Ireland I smiled.
"When my sisters and I went to war they gave us a name." Morgan appeared beside me in my daydream in her usual green dress. More than a head taller than me she placed her hand on my shoulder. It comforted me as I watched a small fox race after a rat across the bogland. Its red tail rose up as it bounced straight up into the air to land on the rat.
"It was the three of us Banba, Fódla, and Eriu. We left our forest and our families and became the Morrigna." Her grip tightened and I let my daydream self lean against her.
"Honey are you paying attention?" mom asked snapping me out of my dream. Morgan was gone leaving me in the small shop again wearing a skirt and a blouse. My recently shave legs had a few cuts from my first attempt, but I was proud I finally accomplished my next level in teenaged girl!
"Sorry, I was thinking about my codename," I replied meekly.
"Well, we're almost done here," Cynthia chirped as she was busily using a Gizmatic tablet to type out my measurements.
"So, sorry to ask but," I stressed the 'but' and gestured to my figure emphasizing my chest and behind to Cynthia. The older woman's reply was to burst out laughing as I blushed bright red. Hey, I was a girl for only a few weeks and I had no idea what my measurements were.
"You're a thirty-four B, twenty-four waist, thirty-four hips," she smiled. My face was a deep bright red as I could barely contain my embarrassment, but I was happy.
"Thank you very much, Cynthia," I was able to stammer after mom dragged me over to the cash register to pay the woman.
"You're welcome little Rose," she smiled at me and I gave her a confused look.
"You're mom said your middle name is Róisín," she said.
"Yeah, it is," I nodded. Mom was chuckling to herself at our interplay, and again I blushed in embarrassment.
"Cynthia, I think my daughter's head is going to explode either from the compliments or from embarrassment," Lynn O'Callaghan declared as I rolled my eyes. Mom was dramatic when she wanted to be and was where I learned my hard sense of sarcasm.
"My head isn't that big," I pouted.
"Not yet, little Rose," she smiled evilly at me using my new nickname.
"Mom!" I squeaked before I sighed. Mom's am I right? They love you and toss you under the bus as soon as they can.
Early Afternoon, November 5th, 2007 - Whatcom Alliance Headquarters
I was lost in thought for most of the drive north to the Alliance Headquarters paying little to no attention to whatever my mom was saying. Honestly, she wasn't really talking either. The last few days had definitely wounded my family's morale to a new level of strain. Mom was more protective than usual, keeping me within arms reach of her, and glaring at -anyone- who gave me a weird look. Luckily, except for my eyes, I could easily pass as a baseline if I didn't show off my strength. Yeah, the problem with my eyes were they glowed now. Yup, they glowed.
You see I grew up on stories where some of my favorite characters were psychics. My eyes gave off a strange aura, and if I moved in the night my reflection would actually show a flame-like energy-burning there. Morgan said it was the rage she's pent up for years slowly leaking out of me. I think it's the essence I'm taking in and my body decides to show off by having it flame up in my eyes. One random person said I had the "geas" of the fae in me. I tilted my head when he said this in passing while we were walking back to the car from the tailor.
"Weirdo," I scoffed just an hour ago.
But you know what, I'm not so sure. I'm definitely not magically gifted as I barely rate as a Wizard 1 from what Sophia relayed to me after seeing my initial results. "If you name yourself something eyes, I'm going to leave your body." Morgan's sense of humor had grown or should I say darkened over the last few days. This is where my constant silence began an ongoing debate about what my codename was going to be.
I began thinking of naming myself War Song, and of course, Morgan pointed out that Blizzard's World of Warcraft wasn't a good source of names. Shrugging it off easily, I went through another five names before finding myself at a complete creative block. By the time I was completely out of my internal wanderings I was on auto-pilot and closing the car door. The pleated skirt around my legs kicked up and I moved to shove it back down. While I loved the free feeling of dresses and skirts, I hate the fact one wrong gust of wind gives everyone a glance at my underwear. I now understood why in the world anime girls were so damn angry about their skirts. Who wants to know about my preference for purple boyshorts, because I really only want ME to know this fact alone.
I found myself in the office this time, a small building located to the left as you entered the lobby. Much like most offices it for some reason had a small window looking out into the lobby. Inside I found several filing cabinets all organized along the far wall. To the right were three desks each dedicated to where one of the logistics staff usually worked. I found a seat just past the doorway by a desk set aside for RavenWing. Another had a small placard for Ogun, and the third was for someone named Agent Jimenez.
There was lettering under the name and I squinted to make it out. "Special Liaison Office for the Department of Paranormal Affairs". My eyes widened, an actual agent of the DPA worked here? I mean it made sense at least one government official in the area. I mean there wasn't another super team for most of the state outside of the teams in Seattle. A single mug of coffee still steaming hot remained on the desktop meaning its owner was just out for a few minutes.
The smell of fresh black coffee made my stomach gurgle as I realized I needed to eat soon. Mom glanced at me from where she stood reading through an email on her phone. A faint smile of shame graced my lips as a man brushed past us and went straight to the desk holding the mug. He was a dark-skinned man, short, and at first glance, I assumed he was Hispanic. His eyes though were ocean blue, and a faint mustache covered his upper lip. He was short-statured, probably shorter than me, but each move he made spoke of years of training.
This guy was a real-life James Bond type, hell I could hear the theme music playing as he just sipped his coffee like a pro. Not long after mom stepped aside this time and Gerald appeared with Sophia in tow. Both appeared a little frazzled with Sophia yawning just after entering the room.
"Ah now that we're all here we can get this done," Agent Jimenez spoke. I assumed he was Agent Jimenez because it was a cardinal sin in Washington State to steal another's coffee.
"Yes, Sophia has already chosen her codename," Gerald replied and he patted his granddaughter on the back.
"DuskWing," she stated with a shrug. I looked at her and before I could reply she said, "If you make a Darkwing Duck joke I will sew your lips shut."
"I wasn't going to at all jeez!" I sighed before singing, "Daring Duck of Mystery!"
Mom just laughed as she shook her head, Sophia instead of rounding on me laughed out loud herself. It made sense, we were going to a High School so having a sense of humor about her codename choice was a good starter.
"Alright," Jimenez said as he leaned over a small printer and a little card popped out. Furrowing my brow in wonder I watched as he walked over and handed the card to her.
"This is your Probational MID which you'll get replaced at Whately once their power's testing lab completes the job," he said simply.
"I'm a Wizard 3 and an Exemplar 1?" she asked staring at the piece of plastic.
"Uh," I said raising my hand. Those piercing blue eyes and solemn impatient faced were now aimed at me.
"You pick a codename yet Miss O'Callaghan?" he asked me.
"Um, no can you give me a few minutes," and I could see his eyes roll.
"Yes, I need to call my partner, we have an Irish woman to babysit in Seattle," he laughed before walking out of the room.
Everyone turned to stare at me, and I fidgeted in my seat. This was the moment in the drama where everyone expected me to act scared and I was. There was no hiding it, I was completely dumbfounded about what I was going to call myself.
"This is silly expecting a child to select a name for themselves. My sisters and I were given our names and not all of them we liked." Morgan the ever stoic highlander woman in my head added her two cents.
"Yeah, well," I said.
"Well, what?" Mom asked.
"Oh I was thinking out loud," I said. I mean, how do you tell your mom you were a glowing-eyed faery woman because you actually bonded with one. Oh yeah, mom, you see I met a woman in my dreams and she said she could make me a girl. There would be a very long heated debate where I'd be reminded that I shouldn't make deals with cosmic entities.
"Sounded like you were talking to someone." She said and sat down in the seat beside mine.
"Ye canna hide me forever." I swear she purposely trilled her accent up when she wanted to play Obi-wan.
"So um mom," I began, "I...kind of am bonded to a spirit."
Mom's face went from concerned to confused. She glanced at me before Gerald rubbed his jaw in that usual "I'm thinking" gesture people liked to do.
"So you're an avatar," he said and then added, "A mutant who can host a spirit."
"You're saying my daughter is possessed," Mom answered.
"Not possessed, bonded, Spirits are limited from what I understand," he offered. Mom didn't appear entirely convinced as she turned and let out a demonstrative sigh.
"She...she made me who I am mom," I replied plaintively.
"Okay, okay," she held up her hands to placate me inhaled to calm herself. "I'm guessing the Academy knows more, so when you take her there Gerald please ask if there is some sort of brochure-like 'So your child is a mystical spirit host', I can read."
Dad was likely going to get a kick out of mom's reaction. Out of my parent's mom always came off as the most assertive and aggressive. She told me it came from years growing up in parts of Tacoma as a child. It made sense, she lost her mom as a kid and unlike didn't have the easiest time growing up. Dad reflected this almost entirely. He was quiet, and easy going and when pushed easily exploded if he didn't like the way things went. It was my mom's aggressiveness and my dad's anger which led to my "Scandinavian rage" as my mom called it.
"You aren't Loki come again little one, lying isn't one of your skills." Again, the wise woman speaks the truth and I put my mind to what I needed to decide, my codename. Since I had the weird eyes I considered calling myself Faerie Fire before I heard an unapproving chuckle from Morgan.
Jimenez returned and let out a loud yawn while waving his hand in front of his face.
"Sorry about that, apparently my partner almost lost sight of our charge, and she ended up getting caught up by a pack of reporters," shaking his head he grasped his mug to drink more of his coffee.
"It was like seeing crows crowding over a fresh piece of roadkill," he said after setting down his cup once again.
Now that little line from Jimenez helped. Digging into my beloved hobby of reading random online resources of mythology and folklore something came to me.
"The raid on Cúalṅge, I remember that story. I did appear as a crow to warn that stupid idiot calling himself the bull." I smiled, if I was going to be tied to a spirit steeped in mythology why not embrace it.
"Scald-Crow," I said speaking up.
"A what now?" Jimenez asked.
"It's a banshee-like omen, it signals oncoming battle and misfortune." Not going to bring up the death part, but I mean if I'm going to be some fighter why not be the one that end's the fight right?
"Okay, weird, but okay," Jimenez said, and I could tell this was his every day. Like before he entered some information on the little card printer and a few moments later it spat out another probationary MID. Mine was a little different than Sophia's as the man handed me the card I noticed my ratings.
"Initial tests say you're an Exemplar 3, but your healing suggests Exemplar 4. Also, nice try on hiding being an avatar, but we have the latest information from ARC this week," the man smiled at me. My eyes finally fell on the rating of Wizard 1. Wait, I was an uber strong teenager, but a shitty ass witch? "Heh, you didna ask for the magic lass."
She was right, our deal was I was to be the girl I wanted to be. Not the magical witch, the brightest of my age. I was Supergirl, not Hermione Granger.
Chapter 14 - In Nemain’s Shadow
Early Evening, November 5th, 2007 - Harborview Hospital
Oi, mother mary and by the saints in heaven, please God grant me the strength to not murder an American journalist. Her anger rippled off her form as she stalked down a side alley to break away from the pack following her. One was holding a KONG labeled speaker another a KING-5 one. From only a day in the city of Seattle, she'd easily identified the major local news outlets via a few cursory minutes watching her hotel's Television. Even as she ducked further into the alley she could hear a few of them scrambling to figure out where she went. The alley trick was not likely going to work, but as they drew closer she heard the sound of, "DPA, desist or you will face federal charges."
"You can't silence the truth?" said one voice which she guessed was a reporter, and a third yelled something about government overreach. Yeah, course you say that. But when there's stuff like Humanity First bullshit, ye dun care. A regional news outlet up north had reported on the death of a prominent community figure a few counties north of Seattle. Turned out the bastard was also a bigwig in the local H1st chapter and got his arse handed to him. She canted her head as her handler for her trip to America appeared. One Agent Jimenez, and his partner, Agent Fanous, was always at her side to some point.
The tall sepia skinned woman reeked of professionalism, and even when she was cracking a joke at her partner, she rarely showed anything beyond a light smile. Her long black hair was usually tied in a bun at the base of her neck while a Coptic cross hung around her neck. Even as she moved the woman's energy screamed federal agent. Her steps were poised like a runway model and her face was always set in a mask of detached impartiality. To her, Maeve was part of the job, and in her tailored grey suit, she was here to get the job done.
She's got to be an exemplar at least a level one or sometin! Maeve wracked her brain the first few nights as her room lay silent after she’d arrived.
When she saw both agents reappear, she let out a visible demonstrative sigh.
"One would think you'd stay nearby us, Second Lieutenant Maguire," Fanous chided her. Brown eyes beneath arched manicured brows swept upward as the judgment of the Egyptian-American only seemed to increase by the moment.
"Yeah, well, I need some air since yer not lettin' me near where my sister died," she calmed herself to keep her sharp tongue in check.
Verbally sparring with Agent Jimenez was one thing, and going up against the serene 'standing bitch face' of Agent Kasrin Fanous was a terrifying prospect to the Irishwoman.
"I was busy up north, some kid needed a rush job on her temporary MID," Jimenez said in passing.
They were right outside Harborview Hospital, and after dodging the reporters the chase took the trio a block away. Now they were slowly making their way back as the two DPA Agents expounded upon the importance of a 'low profile' to one 'Hurricane Maeve'. She was a military specialist trained to deal with terrorist cells and to disarm violent mutant magic users. Cloak and dagger was something she played well at, but not when she had a pack of reporters obviously tipped off to her arrival. All she wanted to do was get away from the reporters and continue the journey back to the primary West Hospital building of Harborview Medical Center. Her eyes rolled as a car sped past them, a bright red pickup truck which almost ran a red light on Ninth Avenue.
Right before them, the street continued past the massive Jefferson Building to her right and a smaller unnamed building to her left. Quickly, she picked up speed on the pavement as her black ballerina flats barely made a sound. Her ever-present shadows only added to her urgency to get to the hospital so she could get a clue to her sister's killer. Maeve's long dark hair was blown in the wind as the stormy grey sky above her threatened to unleash a torrent of rain down upon her. Just like home. She smiled to herself as she prepared to step off the sidewalk onto the street. Carefully honed instincts from years dashing across streets from Galway to Dublin primed her for ready to dash across the perils of American traffic.
She glanced both ways and stepped out. However, just as she took three steps she heard a roar of an engine, witnessed a flash of red and only just in time jumped back as the red truck from early nearly collided with her. Instead of being sent flying across the street she felt the torrent of air as the car zipped in front of her and collided with a traffic light. The screeching of breaks signaled an attempt by the driver to stop. The poor sod reacted too slow as his entire front caved in and the windshield of the car cracked as it impacted against the pole. The base of the traffic light groaned as it bent inward forcing the light to fall forward.
A body lay on the ground bleeding out after being ejected by the impact. Maeve raced over as several people from inside the nearest hospital building soon joined her. One glance at the driver, a young caucasian male with brown hair, and stereotypical frat lad look. She grimaced as she checked for his pulse and found none. His head was smashed open, and the gore of his brain matter was slowly coagulating in his brown hair. Both passengers were dead, and it felt almost if they had implicitly aimed to hit her.
Maeve stepped back as she considered what she could do. Hmmm, it can't be, can it? Simple logic would tell her that the poor idiots had made a coincidental decision to turn around and speed their way back. She walked around to the back of the truck. Like any American pickup truck it was large, and obviously a statement of one's male virility. That was what they did right? She cocked an eyebrow as she spread her hand over the truck's partially intact flatbed. Essence bled into the spell as she mumbled out the words in Irish.
"Nocht a rún," she uttered the command and waved her hand over the empty black plastic bed. Nothing happened, at first, she walked to the left coming toward the rear left wheel. Suddenly, a small tingling occurred along with her hand at the point of a small silver ring on her left hand. As she concentrated she held the hand out palm flat as she moved it back and forth over the wheel until she found the location with the most intense feeling. She ceased the spell and reached inside just above the wheel. Her fingers found a small package and as she removed it she felt a charge of negative energy shoot up her arm. It was akin to being shocked, and made her arm ache as she picked up the object and held it in her hand.
A hex bag, or a ramshackle version of one from what she could tell. The 'bag' itself was made of a small kidskin leather pouch. Carefully she set it down and stared at it. There was a barest hint of bad luck tied to the bag and as she thought about opening it she sighed. Her ingredients were mostly back in her hotel as today was just suppose to be a basic scrying. Who knew whoever she tracked would play their hand so quickly. Maeve usually kept a purified silver knife on her person for such occasions and as she withdrew said knife from her back jean pocket she fingered it. The knife blade was made of high-quality silver and was regularly cleansed in ritual water. Then there was the white oak handle to complete the evil slicing combination, and she had it as a basic folding-blade.
Thank ye to all the Gentry for simple forward-thinking. She laid the hex bag onto the plastic truck bed and muttered a few small words of prayer. A flick of her wrist sent the knife's blade outward and she carefully drew it along the cardinal directions, and finally invoked the name Saint Brigid as an extra precaution. After finishing her incantation she felt the air around her go still as others were already inspecting the bodies of the two men. She drew the knife across the twine holding it shut and sliced it open enough to peek at the contents. Inside was a long piece of blackened quartz almost rotted completely through. Wrapped around it was a string of mistletoe. Maeve made a quick judgment and used the knife to nudge the vine apart, as she thought there was something else inscribed upon the crystal.
This magic bound many different things together, and reminded her of the witchcraft she once faced against a mercenary from Germany. It was almost all the same down to one single difference. The hex bag, in that case, used the double thunderbolts of Thor in an attempt to electrocute her to death, and this one was quite different. No, this crystal had the Kenaz rune, the rune of Loki the Trickster. It meant knowledge, and intuition, but combined with the mistletoe the plant used to slay Baldr God of light in Norse Mythology.
"Clever girl," she growled as she flipped the knife back into its handle. She had a basic idea of who would invoke a God of Chaos and a powerful Symbol of darkness tricking the light. It was a simple spell of diversion, and yet she knew of only a handful of practitioners who were foolish enough to use it.
"I'll find you - ye damn slag," she said before she placed the knife in her back jean pocket. Agent Jimenez finally decided to approach her at that moment as he read her sharpened focus.
"Was this related to your sister?" he put the pieces together as her expression gave away by the cogs working in her head.
"Yes, same magic, or at least someone associated. This car was suppose to hit me, but since they put it in place to activate when I walked by instead of direct it themselves they missed," she explained clinically.
"Your government forbade anyone, but you to do this search, so I trust you know what you are doing." He gave a wave of his hand as she stopped for a moment.
Something was still off. Much like a cop straight out a of hardboiled noir book she felt a tingling in her gut. Her eyes swept the scene one more time and she considered destroying the hex bag. Even if she sliced it open the rune would continue to attract bad luck and jinx whoever was foolish enough to touch it. I'll need ash from a Rowan, and need to get some iron, probably a horseshoe. The woman's mind alit with thoughts as she tabulated the necessary ingredients for the proper purging. The amount of work alone was going to set her back a day or two not including the legwork to get the damn ingredients.
A pinch of moly would do the trick, if she still had that damn Rowan ash!
She pinched the bridge of her nose and closed her eyes. Agent Fanous hovered on the edge of her vision, and she groaned. Please don't tell me I have to fill out paperwork cuz some stupid bint tried to kill me with a hex bag. Feckin' Yank Bureaucracy!
Maeve shook her head and released the bridge of her nose as that tingling in her gut popped up again. Cocking an eyebrow she uttered her spell once again and this time she didn't move her hand. Silent casting and whispering the words often dampened the spell's effectiveness. It's all in me head anyway. Walking around the truck one last she didn't feel the unease in her gut nor did the ring on her finger give off any feeling.
"Are we done here?" Agent Jimenez asked appearing behind her.
Immediately, as the man drew near to her the sensation in her ring returned. Rather than tingling the feeling traveled directly to her heart as a wave of depression swept over her. Maeve pinched her nose again so that the ring directly faced Agent Jimenez. The man appeared impatient about her lollygagging, and just as the ring pointed at his face she felt a surge of emotions. Rage, vengeance, along with inadequacy and much more. It wasn't the agent's actual emotions. Her eyes narrowed, she recognized the taste of the aura her ring was feeding to her.
Breaking off the spell, she knew she had to think. The miasma of her working would likely decay quickly as she used a little essence to reveal the aura attached to the man. Jimenez kept his gaze on her while she gathered up the hex bag and was handed an evidence bag by Agent Fanous.
"I need ta see the hospital room," she stated, "and as soon as possible."
Yes, and I need ta find out why my sister's Spirit left an auric trace on the agent. She smirked to herself at finally getting a lead in her case, and a small tinge of joy came to her. If the Spirit had found a new host she could be tracked. The Emerald Soul, could tell her who killed Sinnead, and bring the vile magician to justice.
Early Morning, November 7th, 2007 - Kings Street Station
The sun gave me no respite that morning, it somehow found a hole in my curtain and landed it's bright burning rays upon my eyes. I woke irritated, and as the wonder of attending a new school hit me like a punch to the face I was wide awake. The night before I'd tossed and turned as the anxiety of the trip across the country to go to 'boarding school' came closer and closer. I could say I hadn't felt uneasy, but it was a bald-faced lie. My life became a quick blur of constant events as the rush of change tore into my life like a hungry dog. Sitting up in my bed I winced at the cool concrete of my basement room floor. Already the space heater was kicking on to reheat the room after being off for more than a few hours.
I heard the steady "THUNK" of my father splitting a piece of wood to restart the fire for the morning. Breakfast was a bowl of oatmeal, a plate of bacon, and a large quantity of juice. I ate it all in only a few minutes and could almost feel my body digesting it by the minute. The charge of energy would last me long enough for the two-hour drive to Seattle.
"The winds of destiny be callin' little Draoi." Morgan's voice crooned in my mind, and I could tell she wanted to tell me something. I decided to use the upstairs bathroom. A last-minute shower to clean out my hair and get me ready for the long cross-country ride. Looking around I dropped my towel on the ground. My family's shower was built of a wood frame covered in tile. The greenness of it was astounding, and as I ran my hands over the glass blocks that formed the wall I smiled. Inside it was big enough for three people to stand, and I traced a hand over the cool red interior tile.
"What ye wan Morgan?" I asked her aloud, and I noticed a sudden shapeshifted beyond the glass. Immediately, I shook my head and turned on the water to let the heat wash over me. Soaping my hair now took far longer than it did, but when I washed out the hair mask after shampooing I was overjoyed. Proper hair care was important to a girl, and mom had carefully schooled me in the care of my bright red locks.
"I can feel your strength returning little Draoi after so long we are almost ready for what awaits." My spirit sounded far more confident than she had been. After fifteen minutes I stepped from the shower and toweled off my hair, and my body. I glanced at the shifting hair falling over my shoulders as I turned around to moisturize my face.
Upon seeing the mirror my image stared back. A pair of emerald-colored eyes that faintly glowed with a burning intensity. It reminded me of my favorite video games, and as I leaned forward I smiled at the small bronze ring near my cornea. Skin the color of porcelain and pinked with the flowing of blood. I smirked and revealed my rosebud lips, and opened my mouth to smile widely. The day after the attack my front canines had fallen out to be replaced by a pair of sharpened ones. Honestly, my pale skin, and reddened lips, plus the actual teeth did make me look vaguely predatory. I leaned forward to marvel at random freckles which covered my face, nose, and jawline.
Unlike some redheads, I wasn't 'dusted' with freckles, and my skin while yes pale, held a healthy hue to it. Each movement I made showed the muscles used to make my curves, and to give me the strength I exuded.
"Impressive," a voice said from the mirror. and as I moved I saw her, Morgan. Just like from my dream she stood there leaning forward in the mirror, and her eyes blazed brighter than my own. As she moved, I felt a small rapture grow in my chest as I placed my hands on the edge of the granite sink top.
"Ye look fantastic," I chortled to her.
"As do you my heart, as fine as any lass who graced the sweepin' lands of Merica an Eirinn." I hugged myself as the joy spread through me and I gave a cant of my head.
"Much is ahead of us my beloved, as you host me, I will as we grow stronger lend you more of my power." She said as I wrung my hands together a small bit of unease coming to me.
"What...do you want in return?" I finally inquired.
"You have saved me, my heart, you give me a second chance to right the wrongs done to me and mine. For this I am eternally grateful."
I could tell then she was telling me the truth. Morgan hid from me many things and yet, I knew she never said a thing that was meant to cause me harm. Now that I was fed and showered, I snuck downstairs to wear the freshly laid out dress mom picked out. Strangely enough, Sloan had suggested the small peplum dress, the color of my hair, and just tight enough. Not a pure body-con, the dress had the small frame all like it did, and it ended in a nice clear-like lace. The bodice itself ended a few inches above my cleavage for a tasteful look, and yet emphasized my newly gained exemplar figure.
Along with my quirky little bull-dog headed purse, I struck a memorable figure. Leaving my hair free I helped dad load the last of my mass of luggage into the car as mom handed me a massive mug of coffee to drink. The energy from the coffee eased my mind as all of us piled into the car. We caught the early Seven AM Ferry, and as we left on the opposite side I waved to the crew.
"Bye guys! See you in a few months," I called out as the captain leaned out from the piloting tower to return my wave.
Driving to Seattle was a long boring affair and I soon found myself lost in the student handbook. Yeah, I know, I'm a nerd, sue me. I was reading the damn thing not to be a good girl, no I was reading it because I wanted to know which rules they were likely to enforce. Which were likely to be ignored, and which I could find my ass handed to me over. The experiences shown to me in High School over the years, plus a long-standing love of history had taught me a thing or two.
A fool knows how to play by the rules. A clever girl knows how to play the rules.
Maybe this is why whenever I assign an alignment to myself in 3.5 edition in Dungeons and Dragons I was chaotic neutral. I mean, I tried my best to stick to rules, and yet, I saw no reason to bend them to make it easier on everyone. Now, I am completely new as a Dungeon Mistresses, but as someone who reads doorstopper novels for kicks, I think have a good sense in my pretty head.
"A new chapter dawns, my heart." Morgan's words crooned in my head as I watched the landscape of Whatcom and later Skagit county whiz by. I could feel the growing anticipation as every town came and went.
"What do you feel lays before us?" I asked her in a whisper. Sloan didn't register me talking to myself and nor did my parents.
"And those who were seen dancing thought to be insane by those who could not hear the music." She quote to me.
"What?" I asked quizzically.
"Friedrich Nietzsche, a man who was far ahead of his time. Maybe not the most accurate, but his words are apt for this moment." Morgan spoke quietly and I could see the outline of her form reflecting to me in the window. "You are a beautiful soul, my heart, you hold so much potential. I can only hope whatever aid I render in our upcoming life together finds you successful."
"Thank you," I smiled and turned to face forward. My parents were busily discussing a few things. I tried to listen in a few times and all I could make out was. "Therapy" and "Training" was all I could make out as mom gave me a stern look for trying to eavesdrop. Failing in my spy attempt I closed my eyes to let the rest of the ride to the station give me some peace.
Arriving in Seattle proper, you know past Stanwood and finally we were passing the mall at Northgate. The traffic gods were in our favor as my dad zoomed carefully with precision from lane to lane. Years of life in Seattle taught my father how to move among the growing chaos of the traffic. Twenty minutes later we were pulling off at the exit and were slowly driving through the streets of downtown. Boulevard passed by fast as we rounded through the streets beyond high rise and boutique shops. My life was speeding up it seemed, and all I could do was hold on for dear life.
"When we marched to war, me mam kissed me cheek and bade me good luck. We do this together as sisters." I could feel Morgan as I shifted my body and cracked my neck. Newfound confidence lit along my limbs and I licked my sharpened teeth. The world lay ahead of me and I was going to tear into it with determined gusto.
"Kings Street Station," mom said aloud, and I stared into the mirror from her window cover. Mom's kind green eyes were filled with tears as my emotions suddenly built. Did I mention I feel things harder? Yeah, when I'm sad, I am really sad. It's profound, and just as my dad stopped the car I leaned over and hugged my sister.
"What's happening? Why are you touching me? MOM! Grainne's lost it!" Sloan protested in jest. I laughed with her as her smile told me how serious she was.
"We need an adult, I can't stop myself!" I jeered and pulled my younger sister into a hug. Today, she wore her stereotypical Hot Topic form. A pair of black hip-hugger pants with black hanging suspender belts, a black crop top, and of course black platform boots. She even had on black lipstick to complete her ensemble.
"You two," mom sighed as we both exited the car and I closed the door carefully. All of my confidence surged forward as I walked to my mom nearby and hugged her as hard as I could without hurting her. Pulling away I let her plant a kiss on my forehead and I gave a hug to my dad after he unloaded my luggage. Two large suitcases, my backpack, and a large carry-on roller case.
Each case in hand and my dad pulling the small roller I glanced up at Kings Street Station. A beautiful light bricked plaza lay at my feet filled with chairs for a small cafe located just inside the station. The station itself was a neatly built square redbrick building tapering to a small steppe pyramid roof. Atop in large metal letters the sign read "Kings Street Station" about twenty to thirty feet above the plaza. To the right as I waited was the long row of train tracks and the platforms for waiting passengers. The strangely eye-catching light grey pavement was brightened by the appearance of a bright fall day sun.
My dad started walking first, pushing us all to the inevitable end of this chapter of our lives. A few feet in front of the front doors we met up with the Jamesons. Corrine, ever the stylish mother wore a green dress over a pair of black leggings, and a leather jacket. By her side was Gerald, brown leather jacket over a black button-down shirt and jeans. Sophia matched her mom in a dress, leggings, and a denim jacket. Altogether I felt a little underdressed by both, but I decided to just run with it. The cool air of the autumn day made my bare legs become covered in goosebumps.
"Looking good lil Rose," Corinne said to me as she offered my mother a hug. Gerald and my dad started to discuss the travel times of the upcoming train as well as break the school offered between classes. My backpack slung over my left shoulder and my purse along with it I followed Corinne and Sophia into the building. I looked above me and watched the form of the massive clock tower nearby disappear from sight. A thirty-foot vaulted ceiling and beautiful white painted walls replaced it.
I followed the two over to a row of connected brown leather chairs. Finding my place I sat down and decided to rest my feet while Gerald and dad continued to talk. From what I could make out, we'd transfer onto one other train once in Boston which would then take us to the Dunwich Station in New Hampshire. It seemed pretty straight forward to me, as I pretty much decided to just wait. The two passed a few papers between the two of them and I noted Sophia's gaze lingering on her smartphone. I considered just losing myself in a book on my own but instead decided to just observe the world around me.
Dad handed me a ticket not long after and I noted the departure time, only about ten minutes away. I inhaled as I rose up and gave my father a hug and he whispered, "I love you dearest."
Tears filled my eyes as my emotions threatened to overwhelm me. Two baseline teenaged boys watched me as I pressed my face into my father's shoulder and cried. I didn't want to leave my home and family or let that bastard Dickinson control my life to the degree he did. Circumstances were not so kind, however, and Ferndale High School was closed to me. The friends of the men I fought against last Friday were already doing their best to make my family's life a living hell.
"Dickinson's widow has already tried to press charges three times against your daughter," Gerald informed us all.
"How goes the lawsuit?" I asked carefully.
"Good, the fact that Brad's father was present at the night ride is more than enough evidence to show malice." That was good right? My family was already watching their backs and thinking of increasing security. If Gerald could financially bleed the Finkbonners and the school maybe some of my suffering could be alleviated.
"More than good, when we got them to release you I already had more than enough evidence. This new addition shows that the family is out for blood. With all of it tied up in public appearances, plus their own patriarch being so reckless they'll be begging for a cash settlement." Gerald rubbed his hands together as I smiled. It was good to hear that after so much my family was going to finally get something out of this entire ordeal.
"It's better to let the enemy hang themselves my heart, or let them fall into a trap than play their game," Morgan purred. She was right, and as I realized it this was how I would have to be in my life. For years others stole from me the simplicity of choice. Yeah, let's get the hyperbole aside, I could decide how I dressed, or what I said. But in the greater scheme of things I couldn't present myself as a girl without fear of being harmed. Throughout my life until I made a deal with Morgan I didn't have the power necessary to stand up against cruel fate.
I stared off into space for a moment, as I felt the world melt away for just a second. Another daydream as I found myself standing at the edge of a vast forest. Three women stood with their backs to me, each wearing a dress similar to what Morgan always sported. One was dark green, another scarlet, and the final one a blue of the ocean. As I watched the tallest of the three the one in green turned away from the others and faced the forest. She was redhaired, and her eyes the color of burning emeralds. But, it wasn't Morgan. It was someone else.
Just as the woman glanced my way she turned and the three began to shrink as they drew farther and farther away. Just as I was about to call out to them I heard the call for boarding. My eyes snapped me back into reality as Sophia waved at me to get my attention.
"Hey, dreamer girl, we gotta go!' she giggled as she picked up her luggage. It came, the last goodbye between myself and my family. Sloan was the first to hug me and whisper "give ‘em hell" in my ear, and dad was the last. Mom's hug was perhaps the strongest as I tried not to break into sobs.
Five minutes passed as the last call for boarding came. An angry rail employee dressed in the blue waistcoat and white shirt uniform of Amtrak nearly yelled at us to board. Finally, I pulled everything on board as my bags and carryon were stowed in my sleeper car. It was a rush, a blur of motion as I couldn't contain my thoughts and as per usual saw myself lost in them. As I kept repeating to myself - this was a new chapter of my life. So many questions rushed in front of me. What was I going to learn? Who did I want to be when I got there? All I knew is one thing, I now had a voice in what was going to happen. I had the power to change my fate, and by the wyrd, nothing was going to stop me.
* The End *