The Sacrifice

My name was Vanessa. I was a weak little girl with no mum, and that defined me. I could not fight and I was scared.

Now I am Caia. I am seventeen and I am strong. I will avenge my mother.

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2. One

 I was introduced to the Sacrifice when I was eight; six months after my mother had been killed. I was approached by a young woman and she told me she was friend of my mother. Being so young, I took any chance I had to cling to the memories of her. It had only been six months but she was slipping away from me. Sometimes I forgot how she spoke and the details of her smile were fading, lost in my grief.

The woman’s name was Lincoln, which I thought was strange for a lady.  I was later told that it was her place of birth, not her name. Her name had been taken when she’d entered the Sacrifice, and mine would be too, in time.

I didn’t know what to think of that – not having a name or a mother? Surely they’re the two things a girl needs most?

But I didn’t dwell on it too much because we had reached base – an old church in a ghost town. It was beautiful, all spires and stained-glass windows. It was crumbling here and there and one of the spires was on the floor rather than reaching into the sky, but that just added to the character.

“Welcome home,” Lincoln said with a smile before leading me inside. It was a lot more homely inside. We were in the entrance hall, a white-walled, windowless room with a lot of doors. We went though a large oak door. A myriad of passages and steps and twists and turns and doors later I was stood in a large office in front of a very intimidating desk.

What was I doing here? There were so many questions and fears running riot in my little head that I never noticed the man that walked in a sat behind the desk.

Lincoln shook me gently out of my catastrophising and drew my attention to him. He was a squat little man with large, square glasses and sparse salt-and-peppered hair. He was looking at me with a small smile, waiting for me.

“Sorry, sir,” I’d mumbled, scared out of my wits.

“That’s quite all right, young one. He indicated the squashy-looking chair in front of him. After looking to Lincoln for any help, I took the chair, perching myself on the very edge of it. My feet didn’t reach the floor.

“Before I say anymore, I’d like to introduce myself. I am Prescot North, though you can just call me Scot, if you like.” I smiled at him politely.

“Now, I’m expecting you’re wondering why you are here, yes?” he asked gently. I nodded. “Of course. We were friends, shall we say, of your mother. We are called the Sacrifice. Did Lincoln tell you this?” I nodded. She had mentioned it. “Excellent. We are a family of sorts that help protect people from very bad people. There are many people here who want to protect you from what’s out there, and help you become strong so one day you can go out and help save the world, too.

“Do you know what we protect people against?” he asked.

I started panicking again, then. How could he just expect me to know the answer? I thought and thought and then remembered they were friends of my mother. “The things that killed my mummy?” I asked tentatively, and was rewarded with a proud, somewhat smug grin. He glanced at Lincoln and nodded.

“Very good. You’re a very clever girl, aren’t you? Excellent. Now, this will be your home. Throughout your stay you’ll meet only friends. We are all a family and we are all fighting against the same evil. Training will be tough, and sometimes you wish Lincoln never approached you, but don’t you want those nasty men who hurt your mother to pay?” He had a strange glint in his eye when he talked about Them. I nodded and we had talked and talked about rules and regulations and where to go and where not to go and who to see if I needed help. It was dark by the time I was released and taken to my room.

And there it all began.

*

My training took six years. In those six years I had gained knowledge and power I never even knew existed. I learned how to wield weapons and how to fight bare-handed. I learned to move silently and with a speed I’d never seen a human move before. I learned how to decapitate and how to climb and crawl and free-run. I had made friends, too. They were a few years older than me but we became a team, Finn, Dayna and I. But most importantly of all to me, I learned about my mother. I gained pictured and a lot of fond memories about her that I could live vicariously through. I found out that she was a part of the Sacrifice but left to raise me in a normal world. Her freedom was short lived.

Everyone seemed to have loved her, which made me happy. It made the Sacrifice feel like a real family.

At age fourteen, after my training was complete, I was initiated officially. I had to fight my way through simulated streets crawling with Them and take Them all out. Miss one and I failed. Miss one and that was another year of training.

Then I had to recite our covenant and sign it. And then I had to be stripped of my name.

My name was Vanessa. I was a weak little girl with no mum, and that defined me. I could not fight and I was scared.

Now I am Caia. I am seventeen and I am strong. I will avenge my mother.

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