Part 4 - Fury

 

I looked at myself in the mirror, turned to sideways to it, and sighed. I was sure the skirt was too short; it felt like I was showing off everything, but no matter which angle I looked at myself, it covered me more than enough. I tried tugging the red and black pleated skirt down a bit, but it wouldn’t go any lower. I sighed again and looked at my blouse, at least that wasn’t too bad. It had taken me a moment to do the buttons up, they were the wrong way around and it felt weird, but it was just one more change I would need to get used to. At least it would probably be the easiest change to get used to.

I had spent 15 minutes brushing my hair out this morning and it now looked presentable in the mirror. I had cleaned off my make up and hadn’t put any more on. The rules stated it should be light. Since I wasn’t sure exactly what light meant, I went for none. I sighed once more and pulled up my tights, something else to get used to. I wasn’t used to having something touching my legs all the time, but I knew already I would probably would end up not even noticing them. I slipped a foot into a shoe and bent over to do up the buckle. It took just a moment to get both shoes on, which lifted me up an inch. I looked at the girl in the mirror and sighed once more. I slipped the tie around my neck, checked that it was in the right position in the mirror and deftly tied it into a Windsor knot, apparently the harder of the two tie knots, but the only one I actually knew. A few seconds of adjusting and I lowered my collar. Taking my Blazer, I slipped my arms into the sleeves, pulled it into position and smoothed it out. I did the buttons up and looked at myself again, the hem of the blazer stopped just short of the skirt’s hem, leaving about an inch of the red and black material peeking out at the bottom. Nodding, I quickly rearranged my hair so it was outside of my blazer and nodded. A quick look at my clock told me I had 30 minutes before Mel was due to pick me up. Time for breakfast.

 

****

 

I got down into the kitchen and raised an eyebrow. Dad was sat at the table reading a newspaper; mum had an apron around her suit and was cooking … pancakes?

“Morning,” I said with a smile of amusement.

“Morning, Sara,” my father said from behind his newspaper.

“Morning, Dear” said my mum. “Would you be so kind as to get some orange juice from the fridge?”

I blinked. O … K …  “Oh, can I Mother? I would love to.” I skipped over to the fridge and took out the cartoon of orange. “Father, may I top up you glass?” I asked as I stepped up to where he was sitting.

“Why yes, Daughter, you may. What an absolutely fabulous suggestion.”

“Oh isn’t it just? Mother would you like …”

“Pancakes? Oh God, are they doing their Victorian family thing again?” James asked as he stepped into the kitchen.

“Yes Darling they are,” sighed our mother.

“Why my favourite little brother, would you care for a drop of this freshly squeezed orange?”

“It is most delicious,” Dad commented after taking a sip and holding up his glass with a grin. James looked at me, looked at dad, looked at mum, looked back at me and then shrugged.

“Oh, Sister, that would be fantastic.”

“KAT!! You’re supposed to be on my side!” Mum screamed.

“But Mother? I am. Truly I am.” James said, I put the carton down.

“Mother, we do love you so.” I said as James and I quickly crossed and gave our mother a hug.

“I don’t know what to do with you three. I really don’t.”

 

****

 

“Looking forward to your second day at school?”

“Nervous. Very nervous.”

“That’s to be expected,” Dad commented as we tucked into the stacks of pancakes Mum had dished up. “I understand Mel and you seem to be getting on well.”

“Yeah, its weird, but I feel like I have known her a lot longer than the 3 days I have.”

“Her father was saying that she seems a lot happier as well.”

“I guess knowing that you don’t have to lie about what your father does to a friend is a big relief for her.”

“Could be it …”

“Here you go, Sara.” Mum pushed a folder across to me. It had the school logo on the cover, “and yours, James.” She pushed another over to my little brother.

“What are these?” I asked as I opened up the folder of paper work, finding a copy of my report from the testing centre, followed by a few forms my mum had filled in.

“Post MORFs re-admittance forms. The school sent them to us after we informed them both of you were transitioning. Now put them down a moment, I want to get a photo of you two in your uniforms before you leave and mess them up.”

 

****

 

“Kail!” I smiled as I wrapped my arms around his neck and tilted my head for the kiss he gave me.

Mel had picked me up from my house and we drove to school, her making comments about how good I looked in my uniform, me making comments about how much better she looked, which she didn’t believe and I couldn’t convince her otherwise, so I changed the subject to Kail and how he was doing. When we got to school there he had been, waiting for us.

 

****

 

Mel and I were sat in front of the Administrator’s desk; Kail was standing just behind us, as there were only two seats for guests.

“Let’s see. … Well, it seems you two girls have all your paperwork in place.” She sounded almost disappointed. “Your teachers will want to retest you both, and reclassify you for you your classes.” She looked at me sharply, “Weren’t you tested only last week?”

“The week before, Ms.”

“Yes, the end of if I remember correctly. Unnecessary expense if you ask me, but those are the rules.”

“Unnecessary expense?”

“Oh yes. It’s obvious you should be placed in the bottom classes for all subjects, but then I don’t get a say in these things.”

“Oh? What tells you that?” She looked at me, scowled slightly, stacked our three folders and put them on top of her in tray.

“Well, I see no reason to keep you here any longer. You parents rang to inform us you would be coming back in today so your schedules have been organised to allow you to be re-tested.” She passed us a sheet of paper with a temporary schedule on it. “You three had better hurry. You have two minutes to get to the Gymnasium or you will be late, and you wouldn’t want a tardy on your schedule.”

“Can we have a late pass…?”

“No, you may not.”

 

****

 

“That bitch! She intentionally kept us there until we were almost late,” I said as we hurtled down the corridor. Running was against the rules as well, but it was bad enough we were going to be late.

“That’s Sanders for you.” Kail said as he grabbed Mel’s bag for her.

“What?”

“The minute she knew it was me, you could see her attitude change,” he added.

“And the minute she realised you used to be male, she got worse,” added Mel.

“What? Why?”

“She belongs to Chastity’s Dad’s church.”

“Oh.” I had heard about that. A hand reached out and grabbed me as I was about to go into the changing rooms.

“Wrong one, Sara.”

“Huh?” I looked at Mel, then looked at Kail as he walked in through the door I had been about to enter. “Whoops” I turned and walked through the door with the picture of a stick girl on it.

 

****

 

I showed off on the balance maze. Having only done it the week before, I knew where I could easily put my weight. I also rapidly realised that with my lighter mass and reduced size, coupled with my relatively increased strength I was able to move more smoothly and with greater control than I could before. Miss Greyan the young lady, who was supervising me through most of the tests, seemed to perk up a lot when we started on the final tests, floor work. Starting off with basic moves, she started requesting more and more complex combinations. I had always been able to move around well in gymnastics but now … well, it made what I used to be able to do look clumsy.

“Would you be interested in trying out for the Gymnastics team?” she asked me as I completed a back summersault.

“Ms. Greyan. May I have a word with you?” an older woman called out condescendingly.

Ms. Greyan sighed. “Excuse me a second, we will continue shortly. Why don’t you take a rest?”  She quickly walked over to the older women and Mel came over to join me.

“She overheard Greyan asking if you had considered the Gymnastics team.”

“What?” I looked at Mel.

“That’s Mrs Greton. Since she took over female coaching, she has been slowly shifting all the funds into the non-morf comps for all the sporting, on the argument that we have better chances in these areas than in others.”

“Really?” I pulled at the back of the leg of my black leotard through the leg of the shorts I was wearing over the top.

“Yep.” We looked over at the two. It seemed to be turning into a somewhat heated discussion. I looked back at Mel and dropped myself into the splits. I used to be able to do them as Jace; the change in my body just seemed to make it easier.

“It sounds like it might be worth me trying out, just to annoy her.”

“Sara!” she sounded shocked, but there was a grin on her face as she came down into another split in front of me.

“You know, several of the guys have stopped their lesson to watch us.”

“Half of them stopped when you were jumping around. I’m not surprised.”

My eyes went wide. I remembered what I used to think when I watched girls doing Gymnastics … When I looked at them sharply, they all looked away and tried to look like they hadn’t been staring.

I looked at an amused Mel. “What?”

“The look on your face, I could see shock! Then for a moment, you were happy they were looking at you, and then you went angry that they were looking at you.”

“I wasn’t happy they were looking at me … I was remembering what used to go through my head when I saw girls doing what we have been doing.”

“Oh.” Her eyebrows had risen. “And this made you angry because …”

I blushed, and looked away.

“Sara! Boys are perverted.”

“We are? I better get some practice in,” Kail said as he sat down next to me.

“How is it going?” Mel asked.

“Seems your boyfriend has been having words with the coach. He wants me to try out for the football team.”

“What makes you think Jimmy had something to do with that?” she said.

“Just a hunch. What about you two?”

“No change for me, really. I’m not fitter, stronger or faster. Just the same old me.”

“Ditto … only I’m in a smaller package so it’s all relatively improved …”

“You’re sitting there doing the splits and you’re saying nothing has changed? You saying you could do them before?” He looked at me, shocked.

“Yep.” I nodded. “Much easier now though, this position would have been uncomfortable, before.” I rolled backwards into a handstand, keeping my legs still spread, then closed them back together. I allowed my legs to fall forwards, curved my body around and stood looking at Mel and Kail.

“Show-off!” They both said at the same time. I arched my back and did a bow.

“OK, you three. We have finished doing your tests. All three of you are in the top sets,” Miss Greyan said as she came over. “I also think you three should try out for some of the school teams.” She stopped Mel and Kail from speaking with a finger, “I know you two quit in protest over some of the actions of certain people, but it would look good on your college applications, and the School Board has said that any group of students that can get a teachers support can create a school team, even if it is competing with a current team.”

“Really?”

“Yep, though only the official team can get school support, so they members of any unofficial teams would need to support themselves without school funds.”

“But we could use school facilities?”

She nodded, “As long as the official teams don’t need them. They have priority.”

 

****

 

“Why are you so excited?” I asked Mel as we were getting changed after our showers.

“Miss Grayson was one of the few teachers who protested the change to the non-MORFs leagues for sports. But seeing as the school board sided with the senior members of staff and certain admin, there was nothing more she could do. She wanted to let the kids join the other leagues if they could though, have the school put forward teams, but Greton convinced the board it would be a waste of money and claimed we didn’t have athletes skilled enough to be more than a laughing stock. Kail will be able to explain it better than me; This was all before I came. I joined the cheerleaders just before Kait and the others left it; I left because I agreed with them. Grayson I heard, is now the Gymnastics team coach, so she probably wants to get the best the school has to offer in one team and enter multiple leagues. It’s what she proposed. I’m guessing Greton didn’t like that.”

“Excited?” I prompted.

“Oh, what she said about being able to form teams and use the school facilities to practice.”

I was about to ask her to clarify the point when … “Hey good looking.” I was suddenly spun around to face a muscle bound boy smiling at me. I resisted the urge to hit him and tried to turn away from him. “You new, huh? How about you and me go out some time/”

“James. Aren’t you supposed to be dating Chastity?” I looked at him properly after Mel’s words, his jaw was bruised quite heavily, but it was the same guy I had knocked out over a week before.

“I don’t date people who are already dating.” I said matter of factly, the guy was a chump. I turned away from him, shaking my head I caught up with Mel and we walked into the class we were supposed to attend for maths tests.

“What was that about?” I asked. “One week he wants to pound me, the next he wants to date me…”

“Do you not look in the mirror?” she asked with a smile.

“Girls, you here to be re-tested? Good, good,” A short bearded man informed us we entered the classroom. “This shouldn’t take long.  Here, you have two hours to answer as many questions as you can.” We took a copy of the rather thick test and went about doing it.

 

****

 

Over the rest of the day and Tuesday I sat tests once more in Maths, Science, English, Geography and History. The first two I felt confident in, English … well I hoped the teacher accepted I learnt English in England and doesn’t expect me to use American spelling and grammar. I know there are some spelling differences. Geography was pretty easy, though I skipped past the questions expecting local knowledge. I’ve only been here 2 weeks, how am I supposed to know the name of the street that the school runs on? History … jeez ok, I failed this, I know I did, hell I did the first time, though I’m hoping there is some improvement this time. Hopefully they will let me drop it. We had Wednesday off, as my new school plan wouldn’t be finished, so Thursday would be my first proper day of school. Eep.

Mum picked me up from school on Tuesday then dragged me down for my second fitting at the dress makers. After school Monday, from the moment I’d walked in the door till I went to bed I had been in the high heels, Mum had even spent an hour teaching me how to follow a dance partner, all while wearing those heels. I don’t didn’t think Dad’s feet would recover any time soon. So when Tuesday came I found it easier to stand in the dress with the heels on. No more comfortable, but at least I didn’t feel like I was about to topple over and break something.

****

 

“So what’s your plan for today?” Mum asked as we sat around the table in the kitchen. I was still in my dressing gown, which since it was from my Jace days, swamped me, I had rolled up the sleeves, but they were still very baggy.

“Thought I would give Mel a ring and get her to show me around town. Hopefully my new time table should be here tomorrow morning.”

I could see James wanting to grumble, unlike me, being in the right set for him was not as important as they could easily move him up or down in the few classes that were already placed into sets. Unlike mine his year took the classes at the same time. “Or maybe Kail…”

“Get dressed; you’re coming into work with us,” Dad told me.

“What?”

“Sara, I’m not letting you sit around all day, and I’m not letting you go off to meet young men I haven’t met.”

“But ….”

“And Mel is going to be there as well, she might want some company.” He ginned at me.

“I’m glad you didn’t have any concrete plans …” Mum teased.

“Mel’s dad and I were discussing it last night, and we would like you and Mel to run through a program for us. Give us your opinions on it.”

“Why us?” I asked between mouthfuls

“Because you’re both uniquely qualified.”

“Huh?”

“You’ve both received training from your fathers, who think themselves very special in their fields.” Mum grinned.

“Cas, …” Dad sighed. “Neither of you have preconceptions of what the training will entail. So were considering you for our test group.”

“Oh … OK, I guess.” Like I really had a choice.

 

****

 

I’m not sure what the material was made off, but it was black, and it was tight, and it was very hard in places. Dad had been right, Mel was there and she was looking as sulky as I felt. Well nothing concrete had been agreed on; we had just had a series of pretty hard tests, which considering our age had pretty high importance for the level of education we would be getting over the next term. So we had planned to take a nice relaxing day, maybe do a spot of shopping for Mel, but show me around some of the places I should learn about as soon as possible.

“I’ll feel naked in this.” Mel commented, I turned to look at her with a smile, she was holding up the black outfit our dads had given us when we arrived at the OTI. I turned back to my own, it was, at first glance a simple cat suit, though it seemed a little thicker in some places than in others. After a bit of examination I discovered it had been given to me inside out. The instructions said to don it naked, starting with the legs.

“It says naked…should we leave underwear on?” she asked

“Err … I’m going to assume not.” Quickly stripping, I removed all of my clothes. Checking the suit to make sure I had it right, I poked one of the suit’s feet in and slipped one foot into it, then repeated with the other. It was tight but not uncomfortable. I slowly worked the material up my legs till I got it to my waist. The suit had a tail hole so I worked my tail through it and started to pull it the rest of the way up my body.

“Any idea what we are testing?” I asked as pulled my arms into the top half and began to slide the zip, which ran from my waist to my neck.

“None …” I sat down on a bench and pulled on the black boots, which were knee high, flat, and in leather.

“Ahh to be in flat shoes.”

“Huh?”

“Oh Mum has had me practically living in these 3 inch demons since Sunday. Except for when I’m in school, I have to be wearing them to get used to being in heels for Friday.” I walked over to the mirror and had a look at the tight outfit, The stiff parts I realised were a form of armour. Triangular plates ran down my back, overlapping each other, so the whole spine was protected without loss of flexibility, the upper chest area seemed to be similar, but the stomach area was soft to the touch. My arms and legs also seemed to be protected, but not enough to inhibit movement. Curious, it was very well designed

“Oh, you’re being dragged to that Ball as well…”

“Yeah.”

“You girls both ready?” Dad called from the doorway.

“Not quite, Mr. Neumer.” Mel quickly finished zipping up her boots, “But we’re both dressed.”

“Kinda …” I added.

“Kinda?” he asked as he walked in.

“Yeah, I think I would be less exposed naked. So you two finally going to tell us what this is about?”

“Well … we have this test that we will want graduates to take. We have the times for the lecturing staff, but we all have some idea of what to expect. You two don’t.”

 

****

 

Gauntlet. ... So far it had been nothing but a long well lit corridor with some hurdles for us to jump over, and low ceilings for us to duck under. I knew I was fit and with my reduced mass improving my mass to strength ratio, I was quite happy. What had surprised me was the ease with which Mel had been keeping up, so much so I had felt comfortable upping our pace. That came to a halt when we came across a long pit with a metal bar crossing it. The bar looked like it was made of segments, each spinning at different speeds and in different directions.

“Could be interesting …” I commented, then lined myself up to try and cross it.

“I have an easier way …”

“Oh?” I looked over at her “I thought you said you didn’t have any special powers?”

“Err ... well I lied …” she looked a little embarrassed. “It hurts a lot when I use it. So I decided I didn’t want anyone to know.” I looked at her, seeing a pale silhouette of a pair of ghostly wings sticking out, making her seem angel like.

“You can fly?”

“No … I can glide quite well, though.”

 

****

 

With Mel’s arms around me, we ran forward, jumped, and at the peak she spread her wings out wide and we slowly glided across. I could say we made it across, we almost did, we were half a meter short, but fortunately we had kept ourselves in line with the randomly rotating bar, and we used that to launch us across and on to the solid other side. Mel’s wings disappeared as soon as we touched solid ground, the ghostly light ending at her body and disappearing till only the tips remained, then, they too disappeared. She clasped her hands around her body trying to rub the area on her back where they had come out. I reached over to help her and make sure she wasn’t injured. While I had a hole for my tail she had two flaps that had opened up for her wings.

“It always stings,” she said as I took over the rubbing, I could see where some of her skin was bright red like it had been scalded. “Let’s get going.”

“Ok.” I added as we got up and hurtled down the corridor, I could see it still annoyed her. “You shouldn’t do that, if it hurts so much.”

“Its getting easier. When I first did it, my back was a bloody mess. Now it just stings.”

The ceiling of the corridor suddenly dropped down, I dropped and slid underneath. It gave us a ˝ meter high gap between it and the floor, a gap Mel quickly took advantage of shortly after I had slid under. We crawled  along about 20 meters until the ceiling shot straight back up and the floor before us came to a wall which went straight up with a 1m wide gap between them.

“Guess we climb.” I nodded, kicked off one wall, and bounced against the next. Twisting, I braced myself between the two walls and started to walk up, using my hands and feet, Mel shortly followed.

“How do you think we doing?” she asked.

“Who knows? They didn’t even tell us how long it was,” I replied. “Which is something I think we should bring up with them first chance we get.” I levered myself over the edge. Twisting, I pulled myself along the short meter gap. I turned and moved into position to help Mel, who got herself over it easily enough. We shimmied along, practically in silence till we came to a slope.  The ceiling stayed at its height, but the floor started to slope down more and more. Soon we were running full pelt down this ramp and hurtling towards a corner.

“I guess we’re half way … it looks like it doubles back.” We jogged around the U turn and headed back along a corridor that was parallel to the one we were on.

Then I heard it before I saw it. Swoosh, thud.

 

****

 

Must resist temptation towards violent thoughts, must resist desire to destroy. I was sitting next to Mel and we were both sitting opposite our fathers, who in between grinning to themselves, caught glimpses of Mel’s and my expressions. We were all sitting around a large conference table, as a video of our trip through the gauntlet was playing on the projector. Mel took a small sip of her fruit juice and I took a sip of my tea. The video had just gotten to the part where a foam padded bludgeon slammed out of nowhere and sent Mel and I flying. Both of the men, burst out laughing. The camera had followed us for a bit, then it switched back to a different one for our landing. The whole sequence had been shot in slow mo. My father, grinning, switched a button and the image switched from the camera recording to the holographic image, which was now displayed in the middle of the table. I looked down at the long corridor which doubled back on it self and watched the holographic me run at the trap, bounce just as it was about to hit me and cleared it. I remembered the world had dulled just before the trap had hit me, I didn’t have time to react, but I did see the trap move into me. The second time though, I was ready for it, the minute I heard it start I launched myself over the trap. Mel followed behind me, using the time from when I set off the trap, till it reset to move on. Looking at the holographic representation a good 1/3 of the return trip was made up of these bars shooting out of the wall and floor, but with the slowed down world Id’ had more than enough time to avoid the trap, and with my forewarning, Mel was able to dodge them as well.

“You realise you girls just set a new record on the gauntlet?” Mel’s dad said.

“We did what?” I looked up sharply. My dad smiled at me and nodded.

“We didn’t expect anyone to dodge those traps so easily, don’t know if you noticed, but most of them only reset if they hit something.”

“When Slash and I did it, we leap-frogged. One would set the trap off and if he was able to dodge it, good. Otherwise the other would know where to look. But you two dodged all the traps ... ” I looked down at the projected image, it showed me jumping over another of the traps, twist in mid air, land and almost immediately backwards somersault over another trap, land, move a few steps forward towards a door, then stop. Mel landed next to me shortly after that, tapped me, shook her hand in front of my face, tapped me again, then picked me up and carried me on. Fortunately by the looks of things, it had been the last trap. Mel had crossed through the door, carrying me, which closed behind her. She put me down and ran back to the door.

“You look confused.” My father commented as I watched Mel seemingly run around the room before the door opened. “You don’t remember any of this?” I shook my head.

“After that last trap, I saw a flash and then Mel was carrying me through the last door.”

He nodded, “There was a series of puzzle rooms. We’re going to have to get that checked out … I’m not happy about you blacking out like that…”

“It’s fine …”

“No, it’s not. Your mother and I are very worried about it.”

“You said something about beating your time?” I said, trying to change the subject.

“Yep, granted only by 5 secs, but still. The speed you two did that trap section means our idea of using your time as a minimum standard is out the window. Now let’s go through what you did and why, maybe we can make some improvements…”

 

****

 

Thus began our first debriefing, sadly the first of many. Our fathers carefully talked us through every thought and had us justify every action, picking us up for wasted time, like when we stopped to rub Mel’s back after she flew us over the pit. Anyone would think we were students, and not their daughters.

“How comfortable are those suits? No raw spots?” Mel’s dad asked as we stepped out of the conference room.

“Nope, not for me, fits like a glove.”

“Not sure I would want to go out in public dressed like this …” Mel added. “But it’s not physically uncomfortable. To be honest, I had forgotten I was wearing it.”

“That’s good, the boys in development will be happy. They had used recordings of your testing exercises to get your exact measurements.” Mel stopped and turned on her father.

“They did what? With what?”

“Errr”

“Would you rather be rubbed raw from a bad fitting outfit?” I asked.

“Sara, these are pretty form fitting everywhere … they must have gotten videos of us in the shower as well to be this accurate.”

“What?” I turned on my father and raised an eyebrow.

“No, not in the showers, they got a few minutes of video of you two walking around the base and on the training simulators. It was your mother who authorised the videos, Sara, not me.”

“A computer can pick up a lot of data from watching a video, we can create a pretty accurate model of your outlines with ease.” I turned to look at a greasy haired man who had walked up behind us. “I trust the suits worked well in testing …”

“We got plenty of data, Sein. Not enough to sign off on them yet, though.”

“What else do you need to test? Surely your little gauntlet was sufficient.”

“The gauntlet put these two girls through their paces, but the suits were only needed once and it was little more than a love tap. They are supposed to be bullet proof. We have yet to test that out.” He turned to us, “Why don’t you two go along to the canteen? Follow the pink line, we will join you shortly.”

 

****

 

“Gah! I can’t believe how much you can eat.”

“Wha?” I asked in between mouthfuls.

“That’s your 2nd plate of food.”

“I’m always a little light headed and hungry after I blank out … I think it uses a lot of energy to do that.”

“That doesn’t surprise me,” Shelly said as she sat down at our table, putting her tray which held a salad and an orange juice, down as well. We were sitting at one of the smaller tables up against the wall of the cafeteria, which was made up of a variety of tables and benches and a large open plan kitchen. I hadn’t paid much attention to the ID card my father had put around my neck, but the women on the checkout had scanned it and waved me through. There were a variety of monitors dotted around the room, each with a names with times or scores on them.

“Hi, Doc.” I said

“You need to be careful with that ability of yours. It could be dangerous if you find yourself in a hostile situation and freeze up like that. Your father has asked me to give you a full examination. However it is lunch time and I haven’t eaten yet, so I think we should eat first.”

“How are you. Dr. Darkwater?” Mel asked.

“Call me Shelly. And I’m fine, thank you. I’ll need to check your back as well if you don’t mind. From your run I saw you were in pain just after using your wings.”

“You saw that?”

“They weren’t broadcasting it, I was in the control room watching to make sure you weren’t injured. That was pretty impressive from both of you. I can tell you there were some gasps from certain people during the trap section.”

“It was impressive from behind as well, it took all I had to keep up, even if the traps had all been set off.”

“Yeah, but what about you? Carrying me from the trap zone to the exit. I’m no light weight, so that was damn impressive.”

“No light weight? Sara, you weigh less than I do, and trust me, having watched how much you eat I think that’s really unfair.”

“Girls! That was a team effort. That’s why both your names are up on the scoreboard.”

“What?” we both said at the same time.

“You were both registered for the run, so your scores were recorded, your times are up there.” She nodded her head towards one of the monitors, a sign read gauntlet over the top of it, and the image rotated through several tables, the first one was staff, Black Slash/Eagle Pain at the top of a full screen of names, followed by students(1) which was blank, students (2) and Students(3) which were also blank, then Guests which had two names on it Eagle Soar / Grey Blur, then it came up with Best Times, and at the top Eagle Soar and Grey Blur, with a time marginally better than Black Slash and Eagle Pains one.

“Seems you two have been given new names …”

“Huh?” Mel asked.

“Code names …Handles … don’t know why though.”

“Is it a joke?” Mel asked watching the board between mouthfuls.

“No…” Shelly said. “No joke. Unusual, but no joke. Could be your fathers though, doing it to keep your real names from the boards.”

“Seems like a fun name to live up to though … maybe one day I will soar like an eagle.”

“Sara..?”

“I am Grey … a colour?”

“You know about colours?”

“Mum explained it once, briefly. ...”

“I doubt it means that … probably someone thinking it was cute, black and white... making grey.”

“Colours?” Mel asked, “What’s so special about colours?”

“Colours have been assigned to certain agents, usually after they do something extraordinary, but sometimes every now and then, someone finds out their handle has been coloured, often they go onto great things … a number of times it was even someone who hadn’t even finished training.”

“My Father …”

“You know about that as well? I only found out from reading his record.” She shook her head. “Its not my tale to tell. Though I’m surprised your mother told you that.”

“She didn’t, my father did in passing. I hope it is a joke … or someone who didn’t realise, just being cute.”

 

****

 

“Ok, extend your wings, a little further, a bit more … a little further … keep going …” I watched as Shelly kept measuring the Mel’s wing span, a nurse holding one end and having to keep moving it when Mel made her wings a little bigger. “You’re right, they are a lot bigger than they were.”

“Think my MORFs had an effect on them?”

“No … just your puberty. You carried the pair of you across with them this big?”

“No a little smaller.” I squeezed Mel’s hand, I was sitting next to her, I could see the pain from the concentration on her face. “The pain was less, and I could hold it longer.”

“Have you been doing your exercises?”

“Yes, each night, before going to bed I extend them as wide as I can.”

“The tissue is becoming used to the flows of energy and aren’t as affected as they use to be. You seem to be getting stronger, as well. Thank you, you can retract them now.” She did and Shelly felt along where they had been. “No damage, that’s a good sign. Ok, Sara, your turn. Though I don’t think there’s anything I can do other then check your blood sugar level, which after the amount I just saw you put away, should be fine.”

 

****

 

We finally did get to go shopping, but it was 2 in the afternoon, and it was to a supermarket. Since to get out of helping out in the office we had to volunteer to cook dinner for everyone that night. Which meant Mel’s parents, Shelly and her partner and my parents, which meant that the 6 adults would take up the dining room while us kids sat in the kitchen. On the plus side of this, we would miss having to sit around for hours listening to boring adult conversation and Mel’s quick reactions had ensured Kail and Jimmy would be there to keep us company. Assuming we could convince them … The trip over had us discussing our pasts. It seems Mel’s dad had been training her in as much as he could get away with, mostly on the pretence of self defence, or father/daughter bonding. It seems that unlike with my family, her mother didn’t want her following in her father’s footsteps. Mel, as I discovered today, really enjoyed doing the sorts of things her father had taught her, much to her mother’s chagrin. The shopping in the supermarket was done with as near surgical precision as we could make it, which to be honest, involved a lot of laughing. On entry we split off with individual baskets, moments later to convene near one of the tills with our baskets loaded with the food needed for tonight’s meal. Mel had gotten the food for starter and desert and I had gone for the main course.

 

****

 

“We fridge these, then we have the rest of the afternoon to ourselves.” I grinned as we pulled up outside my house in Mel’s car. What do two girls do with an afternoon to themselves? Apparently we go up to my room and practice applying make up and putting my hair into different styles, while simultaneously going through my wardrobes, both my new feminine one and my old male one. Then once we have done that we sat in front of the TV and watched a movie while doing each others nails.

“Do you need a hand with the main course?” I looked at the clock it was coming up to 5.30.

“Nah, not really. It’s pretty easy, shouldn’t take long to prep the meat and bung it in the oven.”

“Ahh, good I’ll head home and get ready.”

“Cleared it with Jimmy?”

“Just did, he can make it.”

“Hopefully, Kail will be the same.”

“Yep. He will be.”

 

****

 

Prepping the lamb was easy enough, small incisions through he flesh of the joint and slip a thin slice of garlic into the hole I made. I washed my hands after the meat was in the oven and picked up the phone.

“McSammuel Residence.”

“Errm … Hi, Is Kail there?”

“Hello, Sara is it?”

“Err, Yes Ma’am.”

“He and his father have just come in, … Kail Phone for you.”

“Hello?” I heard him say.

“Hi, Kail.”

“Sara! I was just going to call you.”

“Oh?”

“Yep, My parents are going out tonight and I was wondering if you wanted to come round and have dinner with me …”

“Oh … I’ve got plans …”

“Oh …” he sounded a little crestfallen.

“My parents are hosting a meal, and I’m making it …”

“Oh …” I was starting to feel a little bad.

“I’ve made a really nice roast Lamb, and Mel’s got the patč and the pudding underway.”

“Mel?”

“Yep, Mel’s folks are coming. Our dads work together.”

“I thought you two were getting pretty close …”

“Yeah, so we thought since our dining room can only sit 6 comfortably, it would be cool to sit in the kitchen with our boyfriends, while they sit in the dining room.”

“Oh … well sorry to both … huh?”

“You want to join us for dinner?” I asked.

“What time?” he said, sounding a lot happier.

“7.”

“I’ll be there.

“Cool.”

“Err … Damn …”

“Kail?”

“Oh my God, I have nothing to wear. I’ll be meeting your parents for the first time and I have nothing to wear …”

 

****

 

Food on. Check. Kail invited. Check. Shower. Check. Annoy little brother when he walks through the door. Check. Answer the door in just my dressing gown. Check.

“Sara!! You could have at least done it up,” said Mel as she pulled my dressing gown closed and pushed me back into the house.

“What? I’m wearing underwear.”

“Only panties. Get in touch with Kail?”

“Yep, though I think I’m going to have to make it up to him.”

“Huh?”

“I kinda teased him a little before inviting him.”

“Oh, don’t worry about that. I do it to Jimmy all the time. Decided what you are wearing?”

“Yep.” I took Mel’s coat to find her in a black mini skirt and black tee shirt. “Though I think I might have to re-evaluate my choice.”

“Oh?”

“Yeah, too flashy.”

“Go for your little Black dress?” I nodded. “Thought so, Mum called, apparently they were originally just going to have take out. But when we offered, your mum decided to take advantage.”

“What? Damnit.”

“Yep, that’s what I said. Want me to call Kail and make sure he doesn’t come in a shirt and tie?”

“Could you? I’ll just go finish drying my hair like I got shown to.”

“Hard?”

“Painstakingly.”

“Joy of being a girl.”

“Bah.”

****

 

Now, what was it I always felt looked good on girls …I smiled as I pulled out a black mini skirt and a Dark blue tee shirt. Laying them on my bed, I grabbed a bra and put it on, then the matching panties, then pulled on the skirt and top. Opening a packet I pulled out the thigh high black stockings I had brought from the super market and pulled them on. I added a pair of ankle socks and pulled on my black trainers. I looked in the mirror and smiled, then headed downstairs to get the potatoes ready. I managed to get half way down the stairs before I stopped, I finished my journey down and looked at myself in the mirror. Yes I had just smiled at myself, I had just been happy with my appearance …

I looked over as the front door opened. It was Mum and Dad coming in from work, pulling out my eCom, I realised it was hitting on 6.30.

“How was work?” I asked, forcing a smile and turning towards them.

“Same old,” My dad said. “Can you get the kettle on, I could do with a brew.”

“Coffee for me, please,” Mum added as she put her briefcase down and kicked the door shut.

“Sure,” I said with a sigh and headed to the kitchen.

“Looking good,” Mel said as I walked in. She was putting the kettle onto the chassis and clicking it on. “I overheard your parents.”

“Thanks.” I smiled and walked over to the sink to start peeling and chopping potatoes.

“Hello, Melanie,” Mum said as she came into the kitchen. “Sara, go put your shoes on,” she added after looking at my feet. “You’re going to be in them all night Friday, You need to be used to them.”

I sighed and headed off to get them. “Can you peel those potatoes for me then, Mum. I’ll be right back.”

“Sure thing, dear. Don’t do anything for James, he has an evening with his dance class.”

 

****

 

When I got back to the Kitchen, Mum had finished peeling and slicing the potatoes.

“Ahh … Thanks, Mum.”

“What time will dinner be ready?”

“You guys will be sitting down at 7.30. You told us they would arrive at 7.”

“Yep. Well if you will excuse me, your Father should be out of the shower by now, so I can take mine.” I nodded and my mum headed out the kitchen.

“Your Mum … her knife work … is kinda scary.”

“Huh?” I looked at the peeled potatoes, the peeling was a little all over the place. I started shifting them into the oiled baking tray. “She likes to wind down like that occasionally … I should have warned you…”

“By throwing a potatoes in the air and peeling it on the way down?”

“Yep… she likes to sharpen the knifes just right to do that …”

“Those shoes make your bum look hot.”

I turned slightly and tried to see. “Really?”

“How long have you been a girl now?”

“5 days, 6 hours 45 minutes …” I said without stopping.

“You’re keeping track?” I nodded.

“Its hard isn’t it?” I nodded again.

“You just want to scream, you keep asking yourself why you? Why did you change?” I looked at Mel. “Is it obvious?”

“No ... not until you answered my question so accurately. I thought you had either been a little feminine to begin with or you were a quick adaptor, but it’s neither is it? You don’t want anyone to worry about you, so you’re forcing yourself to conform.”

“I guess I’m to blame for that …” Dad said from the doorway. We both turned sharply to look at him, I hadn’t heard him come down the stairs. “I taught you too well, how to conform and adapt,…”

“Dad …”

“No … You know I was furious when I saw the score board. No, not because you two beat our time. That made me prouder than I ever thought possible. No, it was you being named a colour.”

“Dad … It must be a joke,…”

“I thought so too, it’s why I was angry, that someone in my command would think it was funny to take a joke so far. To actually publish on the boards a time with that name … but they didn’t. ICT took the system half apart trying to figure out how it was done.”

“What was done?”

“Someone got into the system, and completely rewrote it.”

“What?”

“You’re a Colour, Sara, The youngest I have ever heard of … You have been acknowledged by central. They have your profile in their own systems … though its been encrypted so deeply only 3 other people I know of can access it to see more than just your name.”

“No …”

“She’s too young … surely it’s illegal …”

“Well, … yes, it is illegal for her or you Mel to work more than 10 hours a week, or even to be classed as a field agent, which is 18 just to begin the training and since it requires a degree, is usually 21. But as I was informed by central when I tried to clear this up, while colours have always been field agents in the past, it’s never been a requirement. In fact, the requirements for the colours is one of the most heavily guarded secrets in the agency.”

I shrugged; I had been planning on following my folks into the family business so to speak since I first heard about it, but I never thought … not for a moment. I pushed the potatoes into the oven.

“So … Where do I go from here?”

“Where else … Starting Sunday you can start to attend some of the training sessions at the OTI. I suppose tonight we should pull out the Champagne.”

“Champagne?”

“Well, it’s not every day you get a third Colour in the family, your mother and I celebrated my being named, her being named, and it’s only fair we celebrate you being named.”

“Kail …”

“Who?”

“Kail is joining us for dinner. Didn’t Mum tell you? We arranged for him and Jimmy to join Mel and I for dinner, here in the kitchen.”

He smiled. “Well, I hope he is good enough.”

“What?”

“Well I’m a little un-prepared I was expecting a few more years before I had to start being an over protective father … but I think I’m up for it … hmmm, where did I put the shotgun …”

“It’s between the rifles and pistols in the training room.” I said with a straight face, “What do you mean over-protective father?”

“Well, I was saving up for when Kat started to date, however …”

“No.”

“What do you mean, no?”

“I mean, Father, even if I have to break your arms and legs you will not embarrass me.”

“Break both my arms and legs? Hmm, while I think it might be fun for you to try. … Ok you have my word I will not try to petrify the poor boy.”

“Good, because Kail used to be Kate, and I like him a lot. If you mess this up. …”

“Sara, you already have my promise. I will not say an unnecessary word to him.” He smiled and walked out the kitchen.

I scowled after him. “He’s up to something …”

“What?”

“He gave in too easily. He’s up to something.”

“You’re paranoid …”

“No … I know him too well …”

 

****

 

Kail and Jimmy arrived right on time. We quickly showed them into the kitchen while we finished the dinner. Fortunately for us, Dr. Darkwater and her husband had arrived just before and both Mum and Dad were busy entertaining them to come and interrupt us. Mel’s parents arrived a few minutes later, her Mum popped into the kitchen to say Hello to Mel and Jimmy, and greeted Kail warmly once she realised who he was. Then she remembered about me I think, because she smiled warmly at us and headed to join the others in the Dining room.

“Think we should take their appetizer in?” Mel asked.

“Might as well do.” I said “We will only get moaned at if we don’t.”

“Want a hand?” Kail offered.

“Thanks.”

Taking a bowl of pâté and a basket of toast each, we moved into the dining room to place them in the center of the table. Mel and I had laid it earlier, it was a large circular one with everyone sitting equally from each other and no one really at the head.

“There are four types of pâté, consider it an experiment to see which one is which.” Mel said with a smile.

“So who are these young men you have with you, Sara?” Mum said with a smile. MUM!! Damnit I had forgotten my Mother.

“The one on the right is Jimmy, Mel’s boyfriend,” Mel’s mother Dana said with a smile.

“I think its time we left these people to their starters,” I said and tried to herd everyone out the door.

“Hi, I’m Kail McSammuel. I hope to be dating your daughter,” he said with a smile.

“Kail is it? My name is Micheal.” My father stood and offered his hand, which Kail took with some hesitation. “This is my wife Cassandra.”

“Sir. Ma’am. It is a pleasure to meet you.”

“I trust you know Mel’s parents…”

“Morfs has done a big change to you, I hope you will be as good a young man as you were a young lady,” Dana said. “Young Kait here, was a wonder when we first moved into the area helping Melanie settle in.”

“Mum!” Mel said.

“I don’t think either of you have met Shelly Darkwater, she’s the family doctor, and her partner Jeremy Darkwater.”

“I’m the head surgeon at the same hospital Shelly works at,” he said with a smile. I smiled briefly and tried to get my 3 dinner companions out of the dining room before something embarrassing happened …

My mum offered her hand to Kail, who had no choice but to politely shake it. “Call me Cassandra please. It seems my husband has made a promise to Sara not to embarrass her. Which forces me to ask the questions.”

“Mum!” I said in a tone almost identical to Mel’s.

My father shrugged with a grin.

“What are your intentions towards my daughter?” she continued unabated.

“I hope to enjoy a delicious smelling meal, and then take her out to the movies to see the new romantic comedy,” he said without a second thought.

“Oh … This isn’t as much fun as I expected it to be,” Mum sighed.

“Not on a school night … ”my father suggested to my mother.

“Oh, of course not, I was thinking Saturday night,” Kail said before my mother could open her mouth.

“I think that’s the trouble with having your daughter date someone who up until recently was a girl her self. I understand Senator McSammuel was very protective of his only child,” Shelly said. That caused a round of laughter from the adults while we kids just tried to edge for the door. Well, I tried to edge for the door and take them with me.

“Go and enjoy your meal, kids,” Dad said with a grin.

 

****

 

We sat around and enjoyed our own starter with little conversation.

“Sorry about that,” I finally said.

“What for?” Kail asked from my right, We had arranged the chairs so I was sitting opposite Jimmy with Mel on my left

“My parents.”

“They are nice. You would have gotten the 3rd degree from my father no matter what promise I had gotten from him, if you had met him as Jace.”

“Don’t worry about it Sara. You should have been at the meal the first time I met Mel’s folks.” Jimmy

“Oh, God, that was so funny!” Kail giggled, showing there was still a bit of girl in him.

“Huh?”

“Oh, Kait and I were having a sleep over so we ordered a Pizza.”

“I used to deliver pizza’s for my uncle … It was the last one for the night, and when Mel asked me to stay and share it with them, I thought  hell  why not?”

“One thing led to another and we ended up kissing.”

“Only guess who walks in the door while they are mid-kiss.” We started laughing.

“Gah! My dad went ballistic. I don’t know what he was thinking, but he threw Jimmy out. We started dating properly after that.”

“The next time I met them I was dressed in a shirt and tie and had a bunch of flowers.”

“That went down well with my Mum, and she brought my Dad around.”

“You two were the first Cheerleader/Football player match up?” I asked.

“Yep. Since Chastity took over the football team has been kind of neglected Cheerleader wise.”

“Oh?” I asked

“Yeah,” Kail commented, “She made it clear the cheerleaders were above half breeds. It was the major factor which caused us to quit.”

“Which reminds me,” Jimmy added. “Kail, you going to try out for the football team?”

“I don’t know …”

“It will be good fun. Trust me, I think you will be a natural, and unlike the other sports ours is MORFs friendly. It’ll be good for your College application as well.”

“My dad was kinda hinting he would like me to …  well he would like me to at least try and get on some teams. Any chance you could give me some pointers? I have only seen it from the sidelines.”

“Sure, what are you doing after school tomorrow? We could go down the park and I can run you through the basics.”

“Sounds good. I don’t think I have any plans.”

“Have you received your new timetable yet?” I asked Kail.

“Received? No, we’re supposed to go in and pick it up tomorrow morning.”

“We are?” Mel seemed surprised. “We were told it would be sent to us.”

“Who told you that? Sanders?”

We both looked at each other and nodded. “Would she really be that petty?” I asked.

“You can guarantee it …”

 

****

 

The main course came out well, the meat was just right, the potatoes crispy on the outside soft and fluffy on the inside. Again Kail and Jimmy helped Mel and I carry the food in for our parents and the Darkwaters, then set about on our own meals. Just as we were about to tuck in, Dad came in carrying four glasses and a bottle of red wine.

“I trust neither of your parents would object?” he asked the boys after putting down the bottle of wine and the glasses. “Enjoy.”

“Thanks Dad,” I said with a smile. Normally I am allowed a glass or two with my meal as long as I drink maturely. I guess it’s a sign I’m growing up and he trusts me … then again it is only one bottle, and with four of us that’s pretty much only a glass each.

“Nice of your dad,” Jimmy commented after I had poured us a glass each.

 

****

 

The boys left shortly after pudding, it was getting late and we did have school in the morning, so Mel and I moved into the dining room to join our parents.

“You two have a good meal?” We both nodded as we pulled the extra chairs from the wall.

“It was very nice, thank you.” Shelly’s partner Jeremy said. I looked at him and smiled. He, like Shelly was mid 30’s, blonde tussled hair, and had that air of confidence that I later learned all good surgeons extrude.

“Thanks. It came out surprisingly well … I usually burn at least one thing.”

That got a few chuckles.

“Modest as well as a colour. Your daughter seems pretty talented, Michael.”

“She is …” Dad said proudly.

“Are you completely sure it’s not some sort of joke?” Shelly asked.

“I thought so to start with. But central has a file on her, it’s a highly classified file granted, but its there.”

“How complete?” Mum asked.

“Handle and sex, everything else is either classed at a security level above mine, or is marked as unrated. I’ve asked a few people I know there to try and find out more … but so far nothing.”

I rested my head against my Mum’s shoulder.

“What is a Colour? Mel asked. “Shelly mentioned them earlier, but neither her nor Sara would say much about them.”

“Colours are the specialist operatives in the ASA. As a rule, if a colour says jump, you tend to be mid air before he or she has finished,” Mel’s father began, which got some quiet chuckles from the rest of the adults. It occurred to me, I still didn’t know his name.

“Colours usually get assigned those very tough, almost suicidal missions, and more often than not come back without a scratch. Before I met your folks, I used to think one of the requirements to become a colour was to have no sense. I have seen a colour charge into a burning building to rescue a child’s stuffed toy and heard of one jumping from the top of a 40 story sky scraper, then use a grappling gun on the wall between 5th and 6th, to enter a room on the 3rd.”

“It was a helicopter, the roof was alarmed and the target needed to be terminated,” my mother said as she stroked my hair.

“Pardon?” Shelly looked a little shocked and the others around the table were a little wide eyed, with the exception of my father.

“I still can’t believe you cheated on that coin toss.”

“You wouldn’t have let me jump otherwise.”

“You were two months pregnant with Jace.”

“Well, it wasn’t showing.

“No wonder I’m crazy.” I said.

“You are not crazy dear.” Mum said, giving me a hug.

“It’s weird. I know you’re a colour as well Cas, but, you seem so much more restrained and mature than most colours do. I sometimes forget.” Shelly said.”

“Thanks, Shelly. I think.”

“So Colours are the super agents then?”

“Not exactly.” My father said. “Colours are just like the rest of the operatives, but they are expected to do well. They don’t get any special treatment per se, but they always excel and prove themselves. Most of the colours come out of the ranks, but they do something extraordinary that makes them stand out. Or at least stand out to whoever it is who chooses the colours. When I got named Black in training, everyone assumed I would come out top of my class. When I didn’t, it really upset a lot of people, including some in command. They assumed I was a mistake, and sent me and a few other people on a suicide mission.”

“Our first mission together …” my mother said remorsefully. “We were the only two who survived, and I was named White on our return”

“Out of 6, only two survived, both without a scratch, the mission complete, the enemy believing it had failed … That mission is now part of your legend isn’t it.” Jeremy said.

“Legend?”

“The Legend of the Black Claw. Its used as an example of what colours can and have done, and why as a rule, we always follow their lead,” Mel’s dad said.

“What do you mean?” I asked sleepily.

“The colour almost always end up in command positions, leading teams into missions. Where colours lead and the rest follow, the success rate more than triples what it is expected to be, and friendly/unnecessary fatalities almost disappear.” He replied.

“Overconfidence can be our downfall,” my father apparently quoted.

“The minute we start looking at and believing those figures, the more careless we become, as we believe we can do no wrong.” my mother added.

“Which also explains why you colours tend to be a sombre lot,” Jeremy said “The last I met berated himself constantly for not expecting that patrol, which only came back because one of them had been attacked by a wild animal and needed medical treatment.”

“Yellow Diamond.” My father nodded. “He almost failed his mission due to his injuries.”

“I thought the world was a safe place, but you sound like there are dangerous missions going on all the time.” Mel commented

“The MORFs virus has been a blessing and a curse. In some ways it has allowed people to come to terms with being different, to accept others differences and their own. However it’s also indiscriminate, and has given great power to those who would abuse it,” her mother told us, looking first at Mel, then at me. “The ASA was formed to fight these people.”

“Why are you telling us now?” I asked

“Because we now judge you both to be old enough and mature enough to be able to handle it,” Dad said.

“And, because you asked.” Mum replied. Both my parents always believed in telling me the answers to the questions I asked, though there were exceptions, like certain things that simply were not my business.

“And knowing might save your lives, and those of your friends,” Dad added.

“We had better be going. Long day tomorrow.” Shelly said, standing up. Jeremy nodded and also stood.

“We should as well, Dear. It looks like the little one is already dropping off.” I looked over at Mel who had her head against her fathers should and her eyes were closed.

 

****

 

“Sara!” Dad called after we had seen everyone out and I had started going for bed.

“Yes Dad?”

“I don’t want you being named a colour to go to your head. You still have a long way to go.”

“I know Dad … I don’t even want to be a colour.”

“That’s a good place to be, dear,” Mum said. “Now off to bed with you, you have a big day tomorrow don’t you, first day of classes.”

 

****

 

There was that growl again, the deep rumbling growl, the growl of my nightmares. I awoke to my mum cuddling me tightly, telling me it was OK, no one was going to hurt me or Kat. The growl subsided into sobs as I turned my face into Mum’s dressing gown and started to sob. Soon Dad was cuddling me from the other side.

“Are you OK Sara?”

I nodded, but kept a strong grip.

“The same as before?” I nodded. The same nightmare, the same one I hadn’t had in years. Waking up in the middle of the night had been a regular thing for a few years, ever since that day. Kat didn’t remember it, but I did. The day some bastard had tried to kidnap her. The dream had never been clear before but it had been tonight, not totally clean like some of my other dreams, but cleaner, I almost felt I understood what had happened. In some ways I did. It always ends though, with me waking up with the image in my head, the image of the guy’s face hanging off revealing the bone and ruined muscle below, his body an almost destroyed mess, where crushed limbs hung painfully in almost random positions. I can almost hear the rasping noise as the man tries to breathe.

The nightmares had stopped though, around when I was Kats age. Well they had almost stopped, and I had almost forgotten. Not completely, never completely! But now months would go by and I wouldn’t even thing about it, then I would hear something that would remind me, and then I would stop thinking about it again. I slowly stopped sobbing under my mothers loving attention, the last I remembered before waking up the next morning was my own contented purring.

My alarm woke me up. I hit the snooze button to roll over. Only for it to go off again in what seemed like seconds later.

The shower woke me up, the cold water shocking me awake quicker than anything else. I stepped out and began the slow process of patting my self dry, I knew my expression in the mirror wouldn’t be much to look at, and it didn’t disappoint, the make up I had left on the night before had run down my face, partly from my tears and still more from my shower. I was a mess.

I finished patting my skin and rubbing my tail dry, grabbed a washcloth and got to work on cleaning up my face, removing my make-up residue in the process. I walked back into my room to use the hairdryer which my mother had given me to dry my fur.

My bedding was shredded. When I have this nightmare my claws come out, and my bedding inevitably ends up ruined.

I finished drying my body and pulled on my uniform, I put the smallest amount of make up on, barely enough to be worth it and made my way downstairs.

“Morning, Dear,” my mother said from the kitchen table. Whatever the system she and my father had figured out, it was my father’s turn to do breakfast.

“Morning, Mum, Dad.” I collapsed into my chair

“Feeling better?” Dad asked as he came over with a full English breakfast and put it down in front of me.

 

****

 

Mel picked me up for school. We didn’t really talk much on the way there. I didn’t feel like chatting and I’m guessing Mel realised, as she didn’t push it. The look on Sanders face when we arrived in the school admin office though, told us we had been set up. Why she was being so petty, I couldn’t figure out. She grudgingly passed us our timetables, and practically shooed us out of her office.

We had a few matching classes, but for the most part, we were in different parts of the school for most lessons. Bidding her goodbye, I set off for my first lesson. Mel had given me good instructions on how to find my next class, I just hoped it would be enough.

“Who do you think you are, coming in here and stealing girls boyfriends, New girl?” I turned to look at the girl, once I realised she was shouting at me. That’s when I realised it was Chastity. What she mean, stealing her boyfriend?

I turned away from her and carried on down the corridor, the girl was obviously delusional.

“HEY! Don’t you be walking away from me when I’m talking to you.”

“What are you talking about?” I asked politely. “I have absolutely no interest in either you, or your ‘Boyfriend’”

“Look, you stupid slut.” She grabbed the lapels of my jacket and pushed me into one of the lockers lining the walls. “I know you told James you would date him if he dumped me.”

“Let go of me.” I said calmly, my eyes locking onto hers.

“No, you stupid bitch, you don’t get it, I’m the one who gives the orders, you just follow.”

“Sara. You ok?” I looked over to see Kail walking towards me.

“I’m fine, Dopey McDumbdumb here was about to let me go.”

“Ha, you think I’m scared of him? I know less than a week ago he was Kaitie McSammuel.” She turned her full attention back onto me. “She was too weak to fight, and I see no reason why he would be any different. Besides, if he interferes I will get him pounded,” she said with a smile.

The smile suddenly dropped from her face when she realised I was grinning, as well. “Why are you smiling?”

“He isn’t the one you should be worried about. I am.”

“What?” I grabbed one of her hands and twisted. She wasn’t very strong, and I soon broke her grip and had her arm behind her back, I twisted it close to the breaking point. “Tay! I thought you said she was a pacifist.”

“She’s supposed to be! Her parents signed her out of Self Defence combat training for personal reasons, which always means they are pacifists.”

“Well, don’t just stand there, help me! Friggin Bitch.” She tried to kick back. I was expecting it, so I just kicked the back of her other leg as she put all her weight on it and let her collapse.

“Don’t interfere, Kail.”

“Wouldn’t dream of it.”

One of her friends, the one called Tay came at me. I could see from her movements that she had had some training. The first thing she tried, a round house to my stomach, that had it connected would have hurt like hell, opened her up for a easy attack. I didn’t take advantage of it. Instead, I waited till she had recovered, then kicked her in the arse to knock her flying. Turning, I grabbed the jacket of the girl who was trying to sneak up on me and threw her after her friend.

The thing about weighing around 100lbs and being able to bench press close to 200, is that most people your size don’t have anywhere near your strength, and these girls …  well, … not one of them was as strong as I expected them to be. Did they starve themselves or something?

They decided to stop trying to sneak up on me and just come at me. They began to realise how outclassed they were when after just a few seconds , I had Chastity on the floor, her arm in a arm lock and tears on her cheeks, and not one of them had touched me.

 

“This is boring me now.” I released Chastity, bent over and picked up my bag, then walked over to Kail, reached up, wrapped my arms around him and kissed him deeply.

“Thanks,” he said smiling.

“Gross, you’re a lesbian!” said Chastity with a snarl.

“She doesn’t know when to shut up, does she?” I told Kail, then turned to her, “Chastity isn’t it? I don’t know what your problem is, but you really need to grow up. Kail is my Boyfriend, the only boy I’m interested in. I have no romantic interest in James whatsoever.”

“If so,” she snarled, “why do you know his name?”

“I consider it good practice to learn the names of people I have knocked out.”

I turned to Kail, “I have Maths with Dr Realms, is that near here?”

“Yep, that was where I was headed. Come on I’ll show you the way.”

 

****

 

“Fancy going to the park to see Kail and Jimmy practice?”

“Sounds like a plan. Want to go home and change first?”

“Sure.”

 

****

 

We stopped of shortly at Mel’s where she quickly got out of her uniform and put on a Denim miniskirt, pink t-shirt and her denim jacket. She slipped on a pair of thick thigh high stockings and her trainers then we headed over to mine. I pulled on a Skort and a matching T shirt, both in blue and red, while Mel reapplied her make up. I followed suit after getting changed and we headed off to the park, my feet now happily in my blue trainers and not in the high heel demons, my mother would later no doubt, berate me for not wearing.

 

****

 

We got to the park to see the Kail and Jimmy, with a bunch of other guys playing a game of touch football on the field.

“Kail is doing well,” Mel commented after we had been watching them for a while. Mel named a few more guys as people from school, mostly from the football team joined them while we sat watching them from some benches.

“He seems to be enjoying himself.”

“I can’t believe he used to be Kait.” Said one of the other girls, Jenna, who had joined us after her boyfriend had gone to join in the game. “You’re really lucky, you know. Half the girls in school have been talking about how cute he is.” She smiled at me.

“I feel sorry for the guy she apparently started dating just before she went down with morfs.”

“Yeah, I heard he was kinda cute. Mel, what was the guy like?” asked another.

“Jace? Didn’t meet him, but I reckon he was a really nice guy.” She stifled a giggle, I did the same.

“Really?”

“Well yeah, Kait had some pretty high standards, and Sara here is a really nice girl.”

“Sara? … You mean? …”

“Yeah, I went down with it the day before Kait did. I came out like this, he came out like that.” I nodded in the boys’ direction. I heard a click, and a gasp from the girls as they turned to look at me.

 

****

 

“Why don’t you all keep quiet, or I will blow this little things brains out?” a rough voice said from behind me.

I slowly turned to look to see a small pistol aimed at my head. The hand that held it was of a tall man, dressed all in black leather. “You!” he said looking at Mel, “Call over Kail McSammuel!”

I judged the distance between us, I could take him out … then I heard a snick, as of a branch being snapped and looked quickly in that direction, seeing another man holding a Glock. I might have been able to take out one, but not two, not so far apart,  ... not unless I could go turbo.

I heard voices and turned to see the boys coming back across … all of them and Mel hadn’t called any over yet. I reached for my phone, ‘They are after Kail? My Kail? Why?

The anger was there, I could feel it, I just couldn’t tap it.

“Is he one of them?” the first guy asked the second

“Yeah, the one on the left.”

“Can we help you?” Kail called out. I think they could see the scared expressions on the girls, even if they couldn’t see the guns.

 

****

 

Blinding pain in my head, I was on the ground.

“Are you OK?”

“How many fingers am I holding up?” My head was being supported in the lap of one of the girls. I opened my eyes to stare at the 6 … no, only 3 fingers being held in front of them.

“3.” I sat up and felt the world spin.

“Take it easy. The ambulance is on its way.”

“Kail?”

“They took him along with Mel …”

“They said they needed an expendable hostage … in case they had to prove how serious they were.”

“Bastards.” I muttered as I forced myself to stand up. “Where’s my phone?” I swayed slightly.

Jimmy caught me before I collapsed and led me over to the bench. “You were hit pretty hard, Sara.”

“It was just a light …” I turned my head and was promptly sick onto the floor,  “… tap” I finished.

“Nonsense! You’re concussed.”

“How long was I out?”

“Not long. 2 minutes.” I looked up at Jimmy.

“Aren’t you worried about Mel?” I asked,

“Yeah …” he sighed. “I am. But worrying about her isn’t going to save her, or Kail, for that matter.”

“Oh, I’m not worried. I’m too angry to be worried.” I pulled out my mobile and hit the speed dial for my father’s. I let it ring and when he picked up. “It’s me, Kail and Mel have just been kidnapped.”

 

****

 

A smile formed on the small woman’s face. Her white hair framing her face, she had been laying on the large soft bed with her eyes closed. When she opened them, they showed the same mirth as the smile did. Pushing her self up, she manoeuvred herself into a wheel chair and started to move herself across the room to a computer. A number of faces looked up from the other beds on the ward. Some heads were nodding almost in agreement, some simply accepting. A few key strokes on the desktop and a click later she sat staring at the flashing screen. A nurse came over to wheel her back.

“It begins …” the white haired women said. The nurse blinked in surprise. In the 10 years she had worked this ward, the women had never said a word before. She looked at the screen, a profile was displayed, a young red haired girl. Codename: Grey Fury.

 

****

 

Michael Neumer hung up his mobile phone, his eyes looking up at the scoreboard as it flickered briefly. Though more names were now on the guest list, the names at the top shouldn’t have changed. But they had. It was now Eagle Soar and Grey Fury. He didn’t have the time to get to the bottom of that change.

“Pain, you’re on compassionate leave. Mel has just been kidnapped along with Kail McSammuel.”

 

To Be Continued...


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