Friday, June 25, 2010

Hunt For The Dark Phoenix (part 43) [Friday Fiction]

This week's Friday Fiction is hosted by the talented Laury Hubrich @ her pretty blog. Click here to read and share more great fiction!

Author's Ramblings: Ack! Two installments a week is killing me with all the ridiculousness going on right now. It's MUCH shorter than I wanted it to be--and hopefully it explains a lot of the little mysteries blended into this adventure. I had no idea how many things I had to do in June this year, but it seems like my writing schedule is filling up. LOL. Thankfully, it's bringing this story to a close and hopefully just another week will be enough to wrap this all up. This week's installments have covered a significant portion of backstory and explanations for things hinted throughout the series, so don't miss a single installment! This week finally has the DP and Eira opening up more to each other with important questions and strong emotions coming to the surface. Enjoy the read and Happy Weekend! Don't forget to leave a comment, I love the feedback! 

RECAP: On Wednesday, Eira recovers from being stabbed with a weapon crafted from the DP's energy, as a result, she is now a signature apprentice. However, Uncle Garrett seems to have different ideas for his niece and when a strange healer, Chessy, comes to take a look, then things take a twisted turn. Eira tries to escape the nightmare, by unknowingly entering a void where the DP resides. She begs him to let her sleep over for the night, only for her request to be refused--leading up to an argument she won't be able to win.

HUNT FOR THE DARK PHOENIX : SECRETS AND TRUE IDENTITY

“If you apologize again, I will personally have your head.”

Cold, thin fingers caught hold of her wrist and neck, pulling her back, further into the darkness. Eira found herself unable to resist as the hands pulled her back from the blank space in the wall and closer to the center of the room.

Something sparked from the ground a dull bronze glow rose from the floor to hover between master and apprentice, illuminating both faces.

“I meant no, that you couldn’t sleep here.” His voice was irritated. “I didn’t mean that you couldn’t stay.” There was a frustrated sigh and then he pulled her straight into his arms.

She gasped, softly, but welcomed the warmth of his arms to the coldness of his manner and his hands. A faint ache in her chest began to throb and several moments later, she twisted, fighting the pain beginning to spread. “W-what did you do to me?”

“That,” He set her gently on the bed. “Is a very long explanation, apprentice.” His hand rested on her head, heavy with his own darkened energies. “Does it still hurt?”

“Yeah.” She leaned into the hand, wincing as the fire began to race along the length of her upper body. “I mean, yes…it does. Feels like you yanked my heart out and put something weird inside. ..” She licked her lips. “It burns too.”

“That’s good.” He chuckled, seeming to find the strand of humor that she could not. “It means that the melding process is nearly complete. I’d apologize for putting you through such discomfort, but quite frankly I think you deserve it.”

“Huh?”

“Don’t think about it, your headache will get worse.”

“N-no…I want to know…please…can’t you tell me?”

“Perhaps.” He took a seat on the floor, bracing against the bed. “Sit here.”

She did.

“You can stay here…tonight, if you like.” He began. “However, it will be on my terms and for my reasons, not your own.”

Her head bowed. “I realize that.”

“Smart girl. I wondered whether you actually did use your head, or if you just liked the weight of it on your shoulders.” He smirked. “Your answer…do you realize the rest of it?”

“…y-yeah.”

“Then I’ll give you a moment to collect yourself for such honesty.”

“What?”

One arm reached over and settled around her shoulders. She watched, confused as his head bowed for a moment and his eyelids drifted shut.

“W-wait! What are you doing?”

The head turned slightly and he gave a half-smile. “Praying.” 

“For what? Me?”

“Yes.”

Eira pulled away. “I take it back. I don’t get it. I don’t get at all.”

“What part of it?”

“Do you even actually believe that?”

“What part of ‘that’?”

“That there’s like, a God and that closing your eyes and saying words actually makes a difference!”

The half-smile grew. “Yes.”

“Yes?”

“That is the simplest answer for the question you’re asking, but it is not the one you want answered so easily. Prayer encompasses so much more than I could explain to you...and I know you're not in the mood to listen to it, yes?”

“It doesn’t fit!”

“What doesn’t?”

“You! This!” Eira threw up her hands. “I don’t get it. I don’t get you…you’re not like…”

“I’m not like what you expected?”

“Yes!”

“I usually am not.” This time, he did smile. “Please do not twist your head up into another headache, I don’t think I could digest more than one of them per day.”

“Huh?”

“Your headaches are the result of excessive stress and physical strain. I can digest those in the form of negative energy, it is one of the…good things I can do with this…form.”

“Form of what?”

“Darkness.” He leaned back, tilting his head towards the ceiling.

Eira followed his gaze and a gasp left her lips. The ceiling was a slowly swirling mass of black and purple haze. Her mouth opened and closed and finally, she turned sideways to look at him, hoping he could answer the questions she wasn’t sure she could ask.

“Void.” He said, simply. “Don’t try to understand it.”

“Why do you keep doing that?”

“What?”

“Treating me like a little kid.”

“Am I?”

“Yes! You are!”

“My apologies, that was not my intent.”

Eira scoffed. “Yeah. Sure.”

“Very well then, I’ll give you chance…ask your questions.”

“What? Now?”

“You have between now and tomorrow…tomorrow is not that far away.”

“What did you do to me? Explain it! I want to know!”

“I turned you into a signature apprentice.”

“And…? What’s a signature apprentice? Why Me? What’d I do?”

“It’s not a matter of what you did, but rather, what you are.” He steepled his fingers. “I have nine signature apprentices, total…you make ten. Even numbers are good, I think.”

“That’s not an explanation! What does it do? What is it doing?”

“It allows compatibility and synchronization between teacher-student couples by specific process of energy exchange. The teacher shares or…taints, the student’s energy with a sliver of their own. The student then inherits traits, abilities and connections, to solidify their partnership, most of the inherited abilities and such are quite mild and never reach the actual scale of the true bearer—the teacher, however, it expands the understanding between them. More specifically, it means our mental bond is now stronger and cannot be overheard or hacked, unless both of us are in the same weakened state. We can share healing energies to some degree, because I created the energy you now carry inside you and your body will be better able to adapt, because the environment has now liked somewhat to mine. In the event that we are attacked and you need to fight, or, if in Pietrasaan, you engage in unnecessary combat of any sort, synchronization will significantly increase the odds in your favor.”

“How?” Eira shook her head. “I don’t like where this is going.”

 “Synchronization is where a shared energy is split between two people, in our case, it is just a tiny sliver that has been melded, in a sense, not merged. Your energies are still separate and so are mine, however, in a case such as your street fight, you could have pulled on my energy and used it to sustain yourself, heal your injuries and also…improve your own skill.”

“Through what, that creepy energy impersonation?”

“Yes, and it is not creepy. In a serious fight, it allows us to move and operate as a single unit. It is specifically for that purpose that I tainted you. Being a signature apprentice also means you will have my name behind you for whatever reason should you need it and also entitles you to the benefits that come with it. It is position of prestige and demands responsibility of its holder, I thought it would suit you.”

Eira blinked. “Really?” She chewed on her lower lip. “Thanks…I think….why do you only have nine…er, ten?”

“Because it is a great responsibility and there are requirements.”

“So, I fit the requirements, it’s not like…you felt sorry for me or something, right?”

“That must be your other ‘master phoenix’ because this one cannot fathom making such a poor choice on such specifics.”

She almost laughed. “I’m sorry…didn’t mean to…offend you, or something. It’s just…nice, I guess. People don’t usually do that sort of thing…for me.”

“You’re welcome.” There was a hint of sarcasm.

She blushed. “Thank you.”

“It works both ways...because of that, you will have to bear a burden of knowledge...knowing about me and some of the things I will have to share with you. It is dangerous." He paused. "But I think you will do fine. Next question.”

“Oh, right.” Her hands curled into fists as she hugged her knees to her chest. “You said you didn’t ask any names…what was that supposed to mean? Why? I don’t get it.”

“Because I intend to verify the names today.”

“What? How?”

“This is not the explanation you want, but it is the best I can give…Eira, I am the Dark Phoenix. There is a great deal I know.”

“You’re right, that’s a lousy explanation…okay, um, how do I get out of this void?”

“Leaving already?”

“I can’t leave?”

“I have to unlock the door for you.”

“The door?”

“You haven’t recognized anything yet, have you?”

“What?”

“Take a closer look, Eira, if you look really close at the walls, you’ll realize they don’t have corners.”

Eira squinted for a moment and then her eyes popped open. “Okay, now I am officially freaking out.”

An eyebrow went up. “That is freaking out? Sitting calmly on the floor with your eyes about to-”

“Shut-up.” She tossed her head. “This whole room…this isn’t even a room, is it?” She shook her head. “I mean, this isn’t the guest room at Uncle’s house!”

“Correct.”

“Where is it?”

“In the void.”

“Where is the void?”

“Between time and space, or did I fail to mention that?”

“Excuse me if it slipped my mind, I mean-”

“This is my room, back home.” He gestured to the area.

“We’re…in your house?”

“Something like that.”

Her eyes quickly scanned the room.

“You won’t see it like that.”

“Hmm?”

“The door, you won’t see it like that, it’s over there.” He tilted his head. “But you can’t see it.”

“Why?” Eira stared hard at the directed corner.

“You don’t believe in it.”

She snorted. “What’s belief got to do with any of it?”

“Plenty.” He reached over with one hand, covering her eyes. “And I will come back to that, but you are not ready yet. Here, look through my hand.”

“I see it.”

The hand dropped. “Told you.”

“That’s your front door.”

“Mmmhmm.”

“The locks…are…?”

“Save it for later.”

“Do I have to?”

“Yes.”

There was a moment of silence.

“It’s your turn now, isn’t it?”

“Yes.” 

“I don’t suppose there’s any way around it, is there?”

“Not from this, no…you do deserve it.”

“I-I know…I just have-”

“No excuses, apprentice.”

She slowly let out a breath. “It’s going to hurt worse than the last time…isn’t it?”

“Yes.”

“I’ll tell you whatever you want to know. I’ll tell the truth this time. You don’t have to pry it out of me.” She rubbed her arms. “Really, I will.”

“Good intentions are exactly that, intended actions, which are not necessarily the ones carried out.”

“You don’t trust me?”

“On the contrary, after today, I trust you more than before.”

“Why?”

“Now you’re a signature apprentice.” He smirked. “You cannot betray me, even if you try.”

“What?”

“It is one of the signature perks that comes with the title and it is the only reason that synchronization is possible—because there is literally no room for anything other than perfection. You will understand, soon enough.” He paused. “The questions I ask you won’t be the easy ones.”

Her hand slowly slipped into his and she tried to smile, turning to face him. “That’s fine. I didn’t exactly…well-”

He smiled. “We’re even.”

“How?”

“You’ve kept your secrets and I’ve kept mine.”

“I don’t want to keep mine anymore. I’m tired of turning into the waterworks all the time and always…running. You were right, you know. I always run. It’s like I can’t help myself.”

“You have so many tears…have you never let them out?”

“Tears are a sign of weakness. It means you can’t handle the pain.” Eira smacked them away from her cheeks. “People use them against you.”

“Tears are a sign of release. It means you can let go of the pain. People who abuse them, suffer the most.” He held out his other hand. “Once we start, no breaks allowed.”

She gave a trembly smile, head rolling forward as she accepted both hands and closed her eyes to the nightmares to come.

*******

The truth mark flared a bright blue, the signal of a neutral filter currently in use. It hadn’t faded at all, even with the constant use and for a moment, Eira wondered how long it would last.

But her attention was recalled to the forefront as she realized that answers were now required of her.

“Tell me about Garrett Omaha. Basic summary. Full Truth. Names.”

The energy trickled through her hands and up to her elbows. Eira let her eyes close while her mind was coaxing the requested answer out. It was easier to let the mark find the answer it wanted, than trying to explain on her own.

It was easier to give in than to resist.

“Garrett Omaha, older brother of Leesha Omaha, third wife of Sandor Durheim. Head of Omaha clan, rules fourteen beneath him, including two older brothers, now current head of the Durheim families as well, due to his impeccable business sense and management. Currently unmarried with an adopted son, Bryan. He has used me.” Her hands twisted together, her brow furrowed, the rest of the words on the tip of her tongue were all having to do with things she didn’t understand. Things she couldn’t verify as the truth.

“Apprentice…?”

“Known as…Schol. Current head of the Rebellion, founded by the Shadow People. He provides necessary funds and resources in exchange for their protection and immunity from his…activities.”

“Is he…you-know-who?”

Please don’t hurt me. “…yes.”

“Who is Bryan? Full summary. Truth.”

“Bryan Omaha-Durheim, originally the adopted son of the first wife before her second marriage to my father, Sandor. He possess a kinetic ability and his powers are strong…and blue. After a stage incident resulting in casualties among the attending audience, he was transferred out to Uncle Garrett for disciplinary problems. Uncle adopted him within the year and allowed him to return to the main house for a few days out of every month. He toured with me whenever I preformed…because…he could contain my powers to some degree, so it wouldn’t hurt outsiders. H-he…has a daughter…Grena.” Eira winced, the expression of pain registering on her face, head bowed. “He has never hurt me.”

“Why did Garret Omaha adopt Bryan?”

“Because of his powers.” The answer was quick and direct.

“Is this why Garrett wants you?”

“…maybe.”

The mark flared blue and the phoenix frowned. “Repeat, explain if needed.”

“I am a weapon to him.”

“I see.” The Dark Phoenix sighed. “Who is Chessy? Full summary. Truth.”

“Chessia Mureton. Current private family healer. She has been on both sides of the healing world and has been suspected of illegal dealings by aiding the Shadow People. She likes to take things apart to see how they work and Uncle Garrett lets her do that in exchange for working for him. She has no family that I know of. I do not know her alien type. No one in my family likes her, except for Leesha and her kids. She works for the shadow people. She has hurt me.”

“Are your parents aware of what you have told me?”

“Leesha doesn’t care, but she knows enough. Dad doesn’t care as long as we’re making money. Uncle Garrett pays them to have me stay with him. They don’t care. They’ve hurt me.”

“Tell me about the Durheim family. Basic summary. Truth.”

******

“No specifics needed, tell me about your uncle.”

“I hate him.”

“Why?”

“For everything…he’s a monster. He doesn’t look like it, he doesn’t act like it, but he is. I can’t get away from him.”

“Is he the one you were running from?”

“Y-yes.”

“Tell me more, start from the beginning.”

A shiver ran down her shoulders and Eira squeezed her eyes shut, feeling his energy drawing the answer out of her and bringing it to her lips. She opened her mouth and let the words out. “My dad’s a singer, kind of a famous guy in the entertainment industry. I know a lot about business stuff because of him and Uncle Garrett. Mom’s a dancer, she used to be able to control whisper, but she can’t anymore, not since recently anyway. I don’t remember when.” Her brow furrowed. “Well, this current Mom, I mean. I don’t know about my actual Mom, I guess she had something to do with whisper too, because Dad only goes for the ones with something to lend to the business. He’s not really as bad as it sounds, I think, I don’t know. I hardly see him and when I do, he’s usually yelling at me to…”

“To…?”

“To listen to Uncle Garrett.”

“I see…continue.”

“There’s so many of us that it’s ridiculous. It’s a whole twisted family in so many ways you can’t begin to imagine what it’s like. I was always getting into trouble, mostly because the others would pick on me and I…I have trouble keeping my temper, so there’d be fights. It was sort of good, in the way that…I got good at fighting…enough that my brothers, well…half-brothers and step-brothers anyway, took notice of me. Most of them lived with Uncle Garrett, they said it was because he was rich and liked kids.” She shuddered. “He doesn’t like kids. He hates them…he won’t even look at his own son.”

“I thought he wasn’t married.”

“He wasn’t. The son is adopted.”

“Who is it? Is it Bryan?”

“That hurts.” She winced. “I don’t want to tell you…it hurts…” The resistance appeared as she gripped his hands tighter, struggling inside before the name was voiced. “Yes. It’s Bryan…his name is Bryan. He is actually my adopted step-brother from dad’s first wife, but none of the others liked him. When Uncle Garrett came along with this last wife…Mom…she did something and the next thing I knew, Uncle Garrett legally adopted him.” Eira shrugged. “I don’t know, I don’t know who he really belongs to either. I know most of the others don’t like him…just like how they hate me, but no one ever argues with Uncle Garrett. I was eight years old when they told me I was too much trouble and sent me to stay with him. They said he’d teach me some manners and how to better respect my elders, like he did with Bryan. Bryan was always nice to me.” One hand tightened again. “They said he’d teach me how to use my powers.”

“Did he?”

“No. I learned on my own. Bryan took care of me at Uncle Garrett’s, I survived at first, because he was there. Uncle was always…strange. He said he’d kept an eye on me since I was born. I don’t know how that could be true. He was always after me to use my whisper power, but I don’t…I didn’t have it…working, then. I only that the red ones. The white came later. He made me practice every day, dance routines, singing and dance, traditional dance. I hated it. I hate dancing. It reminds me of Mom. Dad said she was a pretty dancer. I don’t know if that meant she was pretty, or just pretty good at dancing, but when I was twelve, we visited her grave…Uncle Garrett took me. When I got home, he made me sleep outside. He said something about how her spirit would finally have release and if there was anything she wanted to give to me, I needed to be able to take it.” A single tear trickled down. “So I stayed outside. The next week…I had whisper. I couldn’t use it at will and it didn’t show up in tests.”

“What tests?”

An irritated look registered. “All kinds of tests.” She frowned. “All kinds. Chessy would do tests. Other people would do tests. The League did tests…Annamarie.”

“Tell me about Annamarie.”

“She was a League tester…I was her…test subject.”

“What was she testing you for?”

“To see what I could do. She wouldn’t tell me. She just insisted on seeing my…true power doing whatever it was I wanted to do.”

“And what would you do?”

“I’d…dance. I didn’t know what else to do…so I’d dance. I learned that Uncle Garrett didn’t like it when I preformed with freestyle dance. He wanted me to be traditional and all of that…junk.” She shook her head. “I can’t do it. I can’t stand the traditional dance or the music, there’s no…freedom in it. No life…and he liked it, so I hated it. That’s when I got mad. I started…talking back to him, breaking things, hurting people…anything to get myself returned, but it didn’t work like that. No matter what I did, he wouldn’t send me back and then things got worse.”

“Worse like how?”

“Then I started running away. I kind of got good at it. Then the people he sent after me got better. Eventually we came to a mutual understanding. They’d ask me how long I wanted to run for and then they’d give me that must time before they came after me. We never told Uncle. It was the only kind of freedom I could buy.” His hands tightened around hers. “The more I ran, the better my powers got. Whenever I was free of his house, his presence…his touch…my powers exploded. One day I had a fight with him. He won.” She scoffed. “He doesn’t even have powers, but he has minions…lots of idiots willing to die for him. He won. They sent my stuff from the main house and I was told I could never go back.”

“The main house…where is it?” 

“It’s…on a ship. It’s not a house…we just…call it a house.” Eira frowned. “The ship is called Hayro-Wing. I have my own room and practice room there. We’re not allowed to have pets though. Uncle Garrett was glad that I was stuck with him. He was so happy, it made me sick. He booked up my tour schedule, gave me a signature act and pushed me out into the public world. I built up a name and a stage-presence. He made sure I maintained it. I would always have to perform tricks of some kind and when the show was over, I’d be so exhausted I could hardly move. The moment I’d step off stage, he’d….he’d…” The words choked in her throat and her shoulders hunched forward.

“Thirty-two major leech points, one hundred and ninety-two minor ones.” He sighed. “That’s why you always acted strange when I mentioned it. I am sorry for what he did to you. He didn’t have a right to do that and you’re not at fault. Please don’t blame yourself for something you had no control over.”

“I should have done something! I could’ve stopped him! I could’ve hurt him back, but I didn’t! I couldn’t!”

“Shhh, yes, that’s right, you couldn’t. That wasn’t who you were then and it isn’t who you are now. If you reacted, do you know what might have happened?”

“N-no.”

“Interrupting the process is dangerous. You might have died…not him. Leeching is dangerous and only meant to be something between two consenting parties. The League has taken care to see to emphasis placed on specific laws. Exhaustion is not an agreement, it is only proof that you were defenseless.” He stacked her hands together and began tracing shapes along the inside palm of the top hand. “Tell me how. Truth.”

Tears slipped down her cheeks again. “Something was always over my face and something was always around my neck. I could never see who else was with him and I could never breathe.” Her breath had shorted to small quick inhalations. “The mark would take almost a month to fade…I can’t forget what they look like, because they never really faded away, there was always another one somewhere. He…was never…gentle. It was always in a dark room. It was always in a corner. Somewhere where I couldn’t move…somewhere my powers couldn’t function.” A shudder passed through her.

“Was that all he ever did?”

“Please…don’t hurt me.”

“…let it go for now. Did he do that to anyone else?”

“A couple of the other girls…once, maybe twice. They never said anything. They never stopped him. He’d always come back to me. He’d tell me I was special and that special people like me have to help people like him. He said if I didn’t…other people would get hurt.”

“So he lied.”

“Y-yeah…”

“You knew.”

“Y-yeah. I guessed. Especially when no one seemed to care what happened to me…even when they knew what was going on.”

“People knew?”

“Sort of. No one really knew everything…I didn’t know everything, but I knew enough that it was…a problem.” She twisted her hands in his. “It’s bothering me now.”

“The locks he put on you?”

“Yeah. I can feel you trying to break them…and I can feel them…trying to kill me. I hate it. Feeling like I'm going to die...I really hate it.”

“You won’t die that easily.”

“Are you sure?”

“I wouldn’t lie to you. Please continue.”

“He started to get other people involved.”

“With what?”

“I’m not sure…it was always something to do with…energy. He said I was the best source of renewable energy he’d ever known.”

“He’d drain you, wouldn’t he?”

“What?”

“Leeching to exhaustion…that’s a technique used by fighter-healers and also an acceptable punishment under League law for a legendary apprentice under a lower-ranking master or teacher. You leech their powers to half-strength and store it. We call it a drain. The stored energy can then be used for a number of things at any point in the future. It can also be done after a point of exhaustion is reached, it takes the secondary power…the more vulnerable energies and confiscates them instead.” The phoenix frowned. “It sounds like he did that to you as well…which would explain your split energies.”

“No…I got my whisper energy on my birthday for-”

The mark flared red and they both flinched.

Eira stared at him in horror. She tried to pull her hands away, but he held them tightly. “Why are you trying so hard to ruin my life?”

“Because you’re doing a lousy job of it on your own.” He snapped. “I’m trying to help you, Eira.”

“How is this helping?”

“You know what Schol is wanted for?”

She stiffened. “I don’t keep up with the news.”

“But you know what he’s wanted for.”

“Everyone who cares to know…probably does.”

“Answer. Truth.”

“Yes.”

“Do you know what happens when one person alone holds tremendous power for the sake of imposing their desires on others?” He smiled, sadly. “People get hurt, Eira…and the scars from that kind of hurt, don’t ever go away.”

“What are you trying to tell me? That I’ve been used all my life? That I’m useless and worthless and all I’m good for is-”

“You have been used for most of your life, there is still a future within your grasp. You are no more useless than I am, in your uncle’s case, you are very useful. Eira…final truth, please? I didn’t want to ask you directly, but you are still skipping around the truth. Why?”

“Because I don’t want you to start-!”

“I won’t.” He touched a finger to her lips. “You do not need words of assurance…simply understand it.” A surge of warmth flowed through the shared energy between them. “And the truth…what was your uncle doing?”

She pulled her hands away and he released them.

For a moment, she rocked back and forth, hugging her arms to herself, and then, she couldn’t keep it to herself any longer. When she threw herself forward, his arms wrapped tightly around her and the darkness hovering over head, pressed in closer.

“I’m sorry…I’m sorry…” She cried into his sensible shoulder. He simply held her.

When the tears faded enough for her voice to return, she welcomed the darkness thickening around them. Perhaps voids were useful for something after all, because the shadowy interior of the room-like space was now vaguely comforting. She took a few shaky breaths and then twisted her head to the side to speak.

“I…am a summoner for Schol, the leader of the underground rebellion, aided by the Shadow People.” Her hands fisted in his over-tunic collar. “I was aware…most of the time. I…helped them. I set things on fire. I used the whisper folk…as a personal army. I…hurt more people…than have ever hurt me…and I liked it. I liked the screams. I liked the power. I liked it. I liked being in control.” His arms tightened around her. “I summoned many things for him…I don’t even know all of them, most of the time, I was in a separate room and whatever I called…I didn’t see. I know that Uncle used them…I…I even summoned hunters. Two of them…they were…the people who attacked me in the clearing. They were sent by Uncle to retrieve me…I used my powers to send them back. I did it…in such a way, that Uncle…got mad at them.” She swallowed. “The same thing with Rory…”

“Speaking of which,” One hand loosened to reach for her neck, drawing out the silver charm. “What exactly is this?”

“Can I keep him?”

“Excuse me?”

“It’s Rory…he…changed. His loyalties.” She fingered the charm. “Uncle was always…mean to him, but Rory was good. He’s really good. He deserved better.”

“We’ll get back to Rory in a minute, I need to think about that. Finish your original thought.”

“W-what happened in Pietrasaan was my fault. Aois…he was the storm child…I’ve fought him before. Uncle had him brought in from the Shadow People, so I could…practice. I know how to fight…a little…but…I fight…dirty.” She blushed. “Bryan taught me to wrestle. Dana taught me to dance. Aois…taught me to kill.” She chewed her lip. “I…scared myself when Grena came along. You’ve met her, right? I saw her…during the dinner…dance.”

“She’s an adorable child.”

Eira snorted. “I don’t know about adorable, but she’s…special.”

“Like you?”

“Yeah…kinda. I…I couldn’t justify it any more…so I stopped. He got mad.”

“That’s when you went to Annamarie?”

“Yeah. I mean, yes.” She sighed, slowly. “She told me I could get protection through the League.”

“Why did Garrett let you stay in the League?”

“They pay good.” She shrugged. “For every test, things are covered, all my expenses and there are nice healers who make sure I’m in the best of health, there’s lots of really good food and…nice people. Uncle didn’t want me to stay there too much though, he made a lot of deals with them in order to get a bunch of stuff, like, all my specs…test results and everything? He got copies of ‘em, Annamarie was always mad at that. She said he shouldn’t have been allowed to have them. She also suggested I take basic training, but Uncle wouldn’t go for that. Annamarie came up with an idea…on one of the test days, she swapped me out with a regular student and I got a bit of…experience that way. She wrote it up as basic training and I had a few more days stuck in here and there, that’s where I picked up what I know…about the League, anyway…and that’s why I don’t appear in the League base. I’m not there. I’m not supposed to exist, because…I didn’t take it.”

“I figured as much.”

She half-laughed. “Good. Because I hate pretending…I know…zip, really, about the League, except for, it’s not as bad as I thought it was. I couldn’t keep the formalities straight or the trainings that they tried to help me with, but they were always nice…and then…”

“Then there was the attack on Iylenmar, with repercussions to Vanderoone. You ran to the safest place, logically—you expected that the Shadow People wouldn’t return to their own destruction and they didn’t.”

“It wasn’t that well-planned out.” She slowly pulled away, settling closer, shoulders touching. “Annamarie helped me.”

“Uncle figured out that something different was going on when he wasn’t getting enough test results in relation to the time I was spending at the center. He started turning it into a battle…I couldn’t do anything. Every time I went to the center, things would be really bad when I got back. He set it up well…I started dreading it and then I realized that I wouldn’t be able to go back, so I had Annamarie help me…run away.”

“Annamarie Richmond? Testing Division, A-H-32?”

“You know her?”

“She tested me.”

“No way!”

“She’s older than she looks.”

“That’s…scary.” She wrinkled her nose. “And…you’re not really that old, are you?”

“Excuse me if I fail to find the humor in that.”

She stifled a giggle. “She helped me. She found Dana…who was willing to help me. She’s the only…sister, well, half-sister, but still, the only sister that really cared about me. I don’t even know why. The two of them worked things out. I had to do the rest on my own.”

“How did you leave?”

“I…told Dana…and Mom.” She shuddered. “Leesha, I mean. She likes to pretend that she cares, but she doesn’t really. She hates me…I think, because I’m something that…that couldn’t be taken. If she didn’t marry Dad…Uncle Garrett…couldn’t have me.” She scoffed. “Strange family, huh? Anyway, I told Leesh—so she’d tell Uncle, since he wouldn’t talk to me. He offered to let me take the League basic training, because I was suggesting that I would take a vacation—away from his influence. When I’m in the main house, people can’t…there’s…protection there.”

“From your mother…your real mother?”

“Hmm? I don’t know…Dana says I’m adopted. I believe her...even though, I still miss Mom and Tomeeka. They both died...in case you haven't figured that out.” She shrugged. "I was adopted as a baby, so I don't really know much, but Dana was around that time...there's like a medallion imprinted on the Hayro-Wing."

“Your birth mother then?”

“I don’t know who she is. I don’t know who my dad is either, but I don’t think it’s important.” Eira shrugged. “But…there’s a female signature of protection…a safety medallion, all around the Hayro-Wing…whenever I’m there…he can’t touch me. So he usually finds other ways to get me off of there. He got wind that I was running again…” She laughed. “We got an understanding you know, really. The retrievers and I, we’d get to the point where they’d ask how far I wanted to run and I’d tell them. They’d give me the time and then they’d come for me…and I’d go back. He heard I was running again, but…Dana and Annamarie…” She jerked away. “The boots…you knew about the boots, didn’t you?”

The phoenix shrugged. “I knew enough.”

“That’s why you wanted me to get rid of them?”

“Yes.”

“Dana made Leesha pay for them. Dad was mad. Leesha isn’t good with money at all. Annamarie set it all up…said it was a gift. Told me to never take them off if I could help it. She also…helped me find you.”

“I did wonder about that.” He stifled a yawn. “How did you end up chasing after me?”

“Have you seen your League picture?”

It took a moment for the words to register. The Dark Phoenix buried his head in his hands with a quiet moan. “I told them to take it down! They never listen!”

Eira laughed. “I saw your picture…and…I thought if there was anyone who could help me, it would be you.”

“And Annamarie let you think that?”

“Oh no…she absolutely was against it. She tried to convince me to pick someone else and everything, but…my mind was made up. So she worked it out for me to get passage to Vanderoone, the last place where you’d supposedly been spotted.”

“Andy.” The Phoenix muttered darkly.

“What?”

“Nothing…just the watchdog they assigned to me.” He scowled. “and you waltzed onto Vanderoone like that?”

“Yeah. They were actually going to have a party for me…Uncle’s doing. I think they were going to try and kidnap me, but Dana played interference…so I escaped. By the time he caught up, I was already found by you and…well, that’s that.”

He half-smiled. “Now about that Lyrith…we need to have a talk about that.”

© Sara Harricharan

5 comments:

LauraLee Shaw said...

Fascinating, dear one. I STILL don't know how you whip these out. To be inside your head for just one day...

Sara Harricharan @ Fiction Fusion said...

Aww, thanks Lalee! I'm planning to wrap this serial thing up soon. (To make more room in my head-lolz) <3

Laury said...

This is shorter than you wanted? Silly girl. You make my head spin with your writing frenzy! Hope you're having a good summer, even though it's busy. Love you!!!!

BethL said...

You are a master of dialog (among many other things!) :) You are amazing, Sawa! :)

Kristina Rohder said...

Wow... So much information for me to wrap my mind around!
However, it was wonderful to finally know some of the details of Eira's mysterious past. The poor girl has been through so much! I hope she and the Dark Phoenix can find a way to break her family's power over her so she is never hurt again.
Your writing is simply capitivating, dearie. I love it!