*** “J.S. Lawrence High School”, Armenia-The West Province, Summer Year 2528 ***
“So remember that your reports on the reading are due next week. I know you’re all looking forward to the weekend and of course you should enjoy it, but don’t forget about your paper. No late reports will be accepted, so be sure your weekend plans are worth it. That’s all.” The teacher leaves the class with his cautionary warning before dismissing the them and ultimately ending the day. No sooner than does he leave, the class erupts into a social hub, the excitement for the weekend flaring up like a fire in a dry grassland just waiting for nourishment.
The students of the class have wasted no time and as they have done since the day she transferred in a week ago, swarm around Navi’s desk, both girls and boys alike and fire off questions. In the middle of the circle sits Navi, Makena and her two lackeys she calls friends, Megan and Jenna. The four have become the class “Royals”, with immense popularity.
“Listen up! As always, you get to ask three questions per day and who gets to ask them will be chosen by Megan, Jenna and myself. You can ask anything, but no asking for her number, address, sizes or for a date. These are off limits and asking things such as these will immediately blacklist you from ever being chosen for questions again. Now, who’s first?” Makena stands tall in the center of the circle as dozens of hands shoot up. She smiles smugly, totally in her element of being the center of attention and being in charge. Beside her Jenna and Megan look around, thinking over who they are going to pick.
Navi simply sits there with a smile, going along with the flow. She never asked for this, nor was it her intention, but after her not date with Makena, she’s all but become the VIP of her exclusive group and so she’s taken it upon herself to be Navi’s personal manager, only allowing those she deems worthy to approach her. Navi can’t help but laugh to herself at all the effort she’s putting in to have Navi see her in a favorable light, when all she really needs to do is ask. But her pride is far too strong, so Navi just goes along with her, not that she really minds.
Jenna steps forward. “Ok, I’ve made my choice. My pick for today will be…Paul, you’re up.” She points at tall guy with sandy hair and a peach complexion. His blue eyes light up.
“Alright, I never thought you’d pick me!” He smiles with enthusiasm at the brunette beauty.
“Of course, this is an equal opportunity classroom. Now ask your question already.”
“Uh-, right!” He looks at Navi nervously, but musters up his courage to face her. “So like…do you really only date girls or would you ever consider dating guys too?” He glances at Makena.
Seeing that he’s waiting to see is it’s an approved question she responds. “It’s close, but I’ll allow it. Just be sure not to get your hopes up, she’d never be interested in a loser like you.”
He looks slightly disappointed, but turns his attention back to Navi, waiting for her response. She looks him directly into his eyes and says, “Paul is it?” He nods shyly. “Well Paul, I can’t say I’ve ever found guy that makes my heart race quite the way a girl can, but if that were ever to change I can assure you that I’d never overlook such a handsome guy as yourself. So don’t give up.” She says this with such a smooth and velvety voice, the crowd goes silent for a moment, smitten.
Paul becomes as red as a cherry and looks away bashfully. However, he squeaks out, “Thanks.”
Everyone is impressed with her answer, the girls’ hopeful and the guys optimistic that maybe they have a shot. Navi has further boosted her popularity with just one sentence and anyone who hadn’t already been taken with her now was. That is; everyone but one person, Ellisia. She scoffs at this and suddenly all eyes are on her, appalled she could mock their newfound queen.
Makena jumps on this to give Elli a dose of her daily insults. “Have something to say Lezzie?”
Elli glares at Makena with a frown, but says nothing. Instead she starts packing up her bag.
“What? It’s true isn’t it? You’re a total lezbo aren’t you? Or are you going to try and deny it?”
Elli pauses, gives Makena another side glance and grins. “Deny it? Me?” She gives her a “you can’t be serious” look. “I’m not denying anything Makena. I’m absolutely gay, like I don’t even think about guys in the slightest gay and I’ll tell it to anyone without hesitation. Since you’re so damn nosy, I’ll tell everyone right here and now. I’m gay, I do have a girlfriend who I love more than anything and we’ve been happily intimate on several occasions. I’m happy with who I am and am not ashamed. So now I’m going to walk my lezbo ass right out this classroom and meet my girlfriend. I’m doing just fine, thank you very much Makena, but can you say the same?”
The class is silent once again as everyone turns their attention now to Makena. Not liking to be put on the spot, she quickly takes control over the situation. “You can’t leave yet, it’s the rule.”
“I don’t care about your rules Makena. I’ve got somewhere to be and so you’re not going to stop me. Worry about your own business and I’ll do the same. Then you won’t have to evade my questions.” She smirks at Makena, letting her know she’s aware she was evading.
Makena doesn’t respond, she just scowls and tries to keep her high and mighty demeanor. However, Navi smiles, finally happy to see Elli stand up to Makena and for herself. As Elli begins to walk out, Navi calls behind her. “Are you sure you don’t want to stay?” Elli looks back with a curious expression. “I don’t really care, but maybe you’ll hear something interesting.”
“As if. I’m sure there’s nothing interesting about you. You’re just a part of the same old story.”
“Why not stay and find out?” Megan steps forward, her long auburn hair brushing across her caramel skin. “I choose Kelly, please go ahead and ask your question to Navi.”
A blond girl with pale skin steps forward. “Sweet! Ok then Navi, here’s a question. Where did you live before you moved here and why didn’t you stay there? Why come here now?”
Navi smirks in amusement. “I was just waiting for someone to ask that, thank you Kelly. Before I came here, I lived in the South Province, outside the capital city. I lived there with my parents, but then they were killed by the Royals, all because we didn’t share the same beliefs.”
The room becomes a bit somber at the sudden seriousness of the revelation. Kelly says, “What kind of beliefs? Like religion or something? I thought we were free to choose our religions.”
“We were; religion wasn’t where our beliefs were being questioned. It was more…personal.” Navi seems to get serious for a moment, but then recovers. “You see; my family was part of a community that lives a bit differently than the general population of the provinces do. You know how in the pre-war days there was an Amish community? Well, we’re kind of like that. We have a division in each of the four provinces, my family being a part of the South’s. Because we live so differently, the people of the Provinces generally don’t like us and fear us. This is unnecessary though, because if they took the time to understand us, they’d see we’re capable of living beside them in peace and both sides would benefit from doing so. That’s all we wanted.”
“So, you’re saying the royals killed them because they were part of this community?”
“Yes, but it wasn’t just them, they targeted our community as a whole. These royals are out to eradicate our communities entirely. I’m talking like a mass genocide. Total extermination.”
The class becomes actively louder, as whispers fill the space. “Seriously? They wouldn’t, right?”
“They would, they are. These royals intend to eradicate our community once and for all and they are getting all the Valkyrie Queens on board with it. They’d already been successful in convincing the North and the East, who’ve already begun to carry out the attack, but the South wasn’t as quick to jump on the bandwagon. You see, the South’s queen was very liberal and was the only Valkyrie willing to see us a people just the same as them. We were beginning to integrate successfully into the province, my family being among the first volunteers. I started attending the school there with the other kids and we were able to get along just fine with our classmates. We were all very happy and things were going well, but then those royals showed up and blackmailed my parents.” Her tone is becoming increasingly bitter. “They made our Queen believe we were staging an uprising, planning to take over from the inside and it destroyed our relationship with her. She turned away from our community just as the others and ordered us to be murdered. My parents gave their lives so I could escape, but my friends were not so lucky. They and their parents were also killed and all that remained of our community was our empress and her knight, along with a few lucky stragglers. We went into hiding after that, but once my aunt had gotten word of what happened, she offered me solace. With my Empress’s encouragement and my desire to avenge my parents and friends, I accepted her offer and came here. So now I live in our community division here with my Aunt and so now here I am.”
The room is silent enough to hear a pin drop. “So, based on what you’ve said, it seems that our Queen is also in agreement with this idea? I mean, is she also carrying out an attack against your community here? If that were the case, could you even be attending school with us right now?”
Now Navi looks visibly annoyed. “Is she in agreement? Kelly, who do you think I’ve been referring to this entire time when I said the royals? Your Queen is the one driving it all!”
The room becomes fired up now as everyone begins muttering amongst themselves. Even Elli, who’d only been listening idly for all this time, has become fully invested in the conversation, her bag dropping to the floor serving as the indication. “You can’t be serious!” She shouts.
Makena steps forward. “Are you implying that she’s lying Elli? Navi wouldn’t do that.”
Navi places her hand on Makena’s shoulder as she stands, and Makena immediately stands down as Navi turns her attention to Elli. “It’s true, turns out I may be a bit interesting after all huh?”
“So you’re trying to tell us that our Queen is leading an attack against an exiled community along with the other Queens? That she’d willingly kill an entire community just because they are a bit different and don’t share the same beliefs as her? I don’t believe it, I refuse to believe that and I think you’re a terrible person for saying such things about her. It’s seriously cruel.”
Navi jumps up and faces Elli seriously. “I’m cruel? I watch as your Queen and her King murder my friends and family with their own blades in front of my eyes and I’m cruel?” The friction between them is apparent. However, just as quickly as she became angry, Navi returns to a calm demeanor. “Anyway, why do you care so much? Do you have a personal relationship with her?”
Navi looks her in the eyes, smiling teasingly as she asks this, making Elli uneasy. “I…I don’t.”
“Then you shouldn’t care so much. Or is there another reason you don’t want me talking bad about her? Perhaps you share some other connection to her?” She tries to lead her.
Elli can see what she’s getting at and it pisses her off. “That’s none of your business.”
Navi can see she’s not going to take the bait, so she backs off and laughs. “Well, I can understand. She is your Queen after all, so for me to come and badmouth her in front of all her loyal subjects is wrong on my part. I won’t blame you for not wanting to believe me, but what I’ve said is true. Anyway, as to how I can be here so openly, well, for certain reasons they’ve left our division here to our own devices, deciding to focus on forming alliances with the other royals and cutting down our divisions in those areas. As a result of being the only safe community division for our people, many of the survivors from the other divisions have flocked to the one here. I guess you could say we’ve entered a truce between us here in the West, each side forming their alliances and the battle lines being drawn. Call me the bearer of bad news if you wish, but a new war is coming and soon each and every one of you will have to pick sides.”
The class is going insane with chatter, people unable to believe what they’re hearing. Elli had thought this all seemed a bit strange and as she stares into Navi’s eyes, she becomes aware of their strange color, seemingly even more so pronounced since she got fired up. Navi looks back at hers with a smirk, as though waiting in expectation for Elli to get a clue and all at once, she catches on to what no one else seems to have realized. Navi, Evani and her very own existence starts to flash before her eyes as she thinks back to all she’s ever been told, has seen and has experienced as her brain connects the dots. “No…that’s not….” Instantly, everything is black.
*** “The Almont Residence”, Armenia-The West Province, Summer Year 2528 ***
Amelia stands outside waiting for Elli, who was supposed to be home almost thirty minutes ago. She continually checks her phone, waiting for a text that informs her that she’ll be late and not to worry. She prays for it to come, so that she can ease her mind. Unfortunately, even ten minutes later, it doesn’t and now she’s starting to worry. “Where are you Elli?” After another five minutes of restlessness and no word from her, Ame decides that she’ll go to her, though she’d rather not cause a scene with her attire, but she’ll bear anything for Elli’s sake. Having made up her mind, she makes her way to the High School, ignoring the looks.
Ten minutes later, she arrives at the gates of the school and approaches the security booth to the side. The previously lounging guard becomes immediately alert and responsive when he catches sight of her. “Pr-, Princess! What brings you here today? Can I be of service to you?”
“I need to get inside. My girlfriend hasn’t contacted me and it’s been almost an hour past the time we were scheduled to meet. I’m worried about her.” She is frank and to the point.
Although slightly surprised, the guard waste no time opening up the gate. “Of course, please feel free to enter Princess. Would you like me to escort you?”
“No, I can take it from here. Thank you Sir.” She hurries through the gates, not wasting a second. As she ascends the path, she gets tons of gasps, shocked expressions and surprised gazes. Once she finally enters the school, she stops to catch her breath and to figure out just where to go to find Elli. She’s never actually been inside the building before, but Elli had mentioned that it was massive and that it’s easy to get lost. “She wasn’t kidding.” She says this out loud.
“It’s the Princess! Everyone, show your respect, it’s the Princess!” An older looking woman, wearing glasses and with her greying hair up in a bun approaches Ame while tapping all those who’s heads she passes, making the bow down. By the time the woman finally reaches her, everyone who’d been previously laughing and chatting with each other in the halls was now silent and kneeled below Ame. The woman is the last to bow down as she says, “Princess, I apologize for any disrespect these students have given you, I take full responsibility.”
Ame looks around at everyone bowing down and she feels extremely uncomfortable. This is exactly what she wanted to avoid, but she knew it was inevitable considering her outfit.
“Um…please, this really isn’t necessary, I’m not here on official business or anything and I’m not the Queen. I was just worried about my girlfriend and so I rushed over to check on her.”
Despite bowing down, there are several gasps among the students at her declaration. The woman looks up at Ame, attempting to hide her shock and calmly says, “I see. Well regardless, it’s an honor that you’d grace us with your presence here. Who is it you’re looking for Princess?”
“Ellisia Clara Almont. She’s in 11th grade, class 5, Mrs. Yohan is her homeroom teacher….” Ame realizes that it’s gotten extremely quiet and looking around, she can see only expressions of absolute disbelief on everyone’s faces, including the woman’s who now stands. Ame realizes she may have jumped the gun a bit, but it’s too late now. “Do you know of her Ma’am?”
“Ellisia Clara Almont you say?” She almost curses beneath her breath, but controls herself. “Yes, I know Miss Almont quite well, you could even say I look out for her. I’m Karen Tuffy.”
Ame almost laughs in her face. She actually had the nerve to tell such a lie to the face of the girl who’s dating Elli? Apparently she must not realize how often Elli talks about her and her hateful ways and how much she despises her. She wants to slap her, but she decides she’s already said too much and just goes with it. “Right…so would you be able to take me to her please?”
“Oh…yes of course. This way please.” With a heavy heart, Mrs. Tuffy escorts Ame down the halls and to Elli’s class. As they approach, they hear alarming shouting and chatter.
Ame wastes no time and runs to the classroom door. Just as she reaches it and looks inside, she sees someone leaning over, from her angle, looking as though they were kissing Elli. “Hey!”
Startled, they turn to look at her and when their eyes meet, there is an instant recognition and that previous violent intent between them returns. “Princess….” Navi’s tone is hateful and bitter. Her eyes burn with intensity. She turns her attention away from her and starts to reach for Elli’s neck.
“Hey, don’t you dare put your dirty hands on her you fiend!” Ame charges her and pushes Navi away, making her fall back and against a cabinet, banging her head. “You dare to kiss my girl?!”
“Navi!” Makena is by her side in an instant. “What are you doing you dumb bitch?” The class gasps, and Mrs. Tuffy grabs her head, fearing the consequences of one of her students calling the Royal Princess a dumb bitch. “Navi, are you ok?” Navi sits up as she rubs her head. Makena finally notices everyone’s gazes. “What? Just because she’s a Princess she doesn’t get a pass.”
Mrs. Tuffy looks as though she might blow a gasket. “Miss Foster! How dare you disrespect the Princess in such a way. You will face dire consequences. You come see me in my office just as soon as I’ve dealt with this situation!” Makena looks away in defiance, but says nothing.
“Elli?” Ame checks her neck for a pulse. She finds it steady and calm and she relaxes a bit. She rubs her hand across Elli’s forehead and through her hair tenderly, her love clear and apparent.
Navi watches this and feels sick to her stomach. Watching someone she considers her enemy being so personal with Elli. It burns her to the very core, but she can’t make too big of a scene, not yet anyway. “I wasn’t kissing her you know. I was just trying to check her pulse and breath.”
“I don’t care what you were doing, keep your hands off of her, or I’ll kill you myself, fiend!” She puts an emphasis on fiend, like she’s spitting it at her and Navi immediately understands.
“Good, so you know. Then you should understand something too.” She stands. “No matter how often you tell yourself she’s different, it isn’t going to make it true, Princess.” She’s smug.
Ame glares at her, wanting to tackle her right here and now, but her thoughts are interrupted by Mrs. Tuffy. “Please, let’s get Miss Almont to the infirmary at once. I’ll call a guard to help-.”
“No need.” Ame says bluntly as she gets a good grip on Elli and stands with her in her arms. “I’ll carry her myself.” She walks towards Mrs. Tuffy. “Please lead the way.” Holding Elli within a Princess carry and wearing her regal looking white pants and collared vest, lined in gold and her matching cloak, she really does look like valiant Prince coming in to save her Princess.
Mrs. Tuffy looks surprised, but accepts her request. “Very well, please follow me.” She looks to Navi. “Miss Dumont, I’ll ask you to come along as well. You hit your head a bit hard there, I feel it’s best if you get it checked out by the nurse, just as a precaution.”
Navi doesn’t think it’s necessary, but it gives her a good excuse to go with them to keep an eye on Elli and so she doesn’t refuse. “Yes Ma’am.” She starts to follow after them.
“Wait, there’s still one more question!” Makena shouts and Navi looks back at her. “I’ll go ahead and ask it this time. Why did you say you were here to get to know Elli? Why her specifically?”
Navi smiles, sensing the jealousy in her tone, but she knows they’re waiting and so she answers honestly but bluntly. “Because it’s what my Queen asked of me. I’ll call you later.” She leaves.
Makena watches them go, slightly confused at the entire exchange and even more so at Navi’s last words. Her Queen? What does she mean exactly? Just who is Navi Dumont really? She doesn’t know, but she does know that now, more than ever, she wants to get closer to her.
*** “J.S. Lawrence High School”, Armenia-The West Province, Summer Year 2528 ***
“She seems to be ok, just looks like she passed out from stress. However, since her file says that her doctor be notified immediately if she ever checks in, she’ll have to stay here until the doctor arrives. In the meantime, I’m going to go check on Miss Dumont. Please excuse me.”
The nurse leaves Elli in Ame’s care. Once she’s gone, Elli decides to move from the chair and sit beside Elli on the bed, as she strokes the side of her face tenderly. “You idiot, what are you doing passing out from stress and letting that girl put her hands on you?” She laughs, but a lone tear falls from her eye. She places her head against her chest, finally dropping her cool act and letting herself cry freely. “I was really worried about you; don’t you know that?” She sobs gently.
Feeling the weight against her chest, Elli starts to stir. She opens her eyes to see Ame’s teary ones looking back at her and she laughs. “I thought I heard a baby crying, it’s mine it seems.”
Seeing Elli’s Auburn eyes makes Ame want to cry even more and so she does. “Sia….”
“Oh come now, don’t go crying for real, I’m fine.” She wraps her arms around Ame’s head and rubs her forehead, like a mother does their crying child. This goes on for several minutes, until Ame has finally calmed down. “Were you scared?” Ame nods. “I’m sorry, I didn’t mean to make you worry. I just let myself get overwhelmed by some troubling news is all. I’m fine now.”
Ame suddenly looks serious again. “Troubling news? What news was this? Is Liam-.”
“No, no, it’s nothing like that. It was just…nevermind, it really doesn’t matter right now.” She finally notices Ame’s outfit. “Wow, look at you, all dressed up and looking like a real Princess.”
Ame laughs. “Well who’s fault do you think this is? I was waiting for you at your place for you to show up and you stood me up. I get meeting the parents is scary, but this was overkill.”
They laugh together. “Oh good, you’re smiling again. I like you best like this, not crying.”
Ame grins. “Oh yea.” Ame moves her face closer to Elli, the two only inches apart. “What do you think of my outfit then? I was hoping to surprise you, but then you messed it all up.”
Elli can feel her face flare up at Ame’s closeness, feeling her breath on her lips. “Well, I think it looks pretty cool and makes you look super sexy and hot. You should wear it more often.”
Their chemistry is through the roof, as their lips quiver in anticipation, until their lips finally meet. They kiss deeply and passionately, both heating up, until Ame pulls away. “I guess I should wear it more often if it’ll make you kiss me like that.” She laughs. “But maybe only when we’re alone, otherwise I think I might just lose myself in you at the wrong times like now.”
“Maybe that’s why you should wear it more.” Elli says this flirtatiously and kisses her again.
Ame pulls away again. “You are seriously becoming a naughty girl you know. I might have to punish you.” This time Ame leans in to kiss her and they do so passionately once more until they suddenly hear someone clear their throat.
Opening her eyes, Elli sees Liam and beside him is a woman wearing a matching outfit to Ame, with flowing blond hair, green eyes and a shiny tiara in her hair. Beside her is a man, with maple hair and blue eyes, wearing an equally regal outfit, but his cloak is more like a shawl than a long collared coat like the woman wears. They all stare at them with expressions of shock, amusement and discomfort and Elli’s face goes red. Ame finally looks up to see familiar faces, surprised.
“Mom, dad, what are you doing here? Did the school call you too?” She’s surprisingly calm.
“Mom? Dad? You don’t mean…?” Elli looks again and finally sees the resemblance between them. Her tanned complexion goes pale as a ghost. “Oh god, please kill me now.” She begs as it finally sets in that Ame’s parents, the Queen and King of their province saw them kissing.
The King speaks first. “We got word from Liam actually. The school called him and he was rather concerned and we’d also just gotten word that the Princess was apparently visiting the school to check on her girlfriend and so we felt it’d be easiest to all come over together in the Solar Chopper since Liam was in the middle of working in the garden at the time.”
Ame is impressed. “Wow, it’s amazing word reached you all the way up in the compound so soon. Technology is an amazing thing.” She jokes, but no one is laughing, Almyra least of all.
“Well of course it’d reach us quickly. It’s not every day you hear of a princess openly declaring that she’s looking for her girlfriend. I keep telling you Amelia, everything you do is observed. You mustn’t act so rashly, even in this moment, you’re acting so unrefined in a public space.”
Ame rolls her eyes. “Jesus mom, just drop it already! I don’t care about what everyone else thinks. I was worried about my girlfriend, I couldn’t get in touch with her, so I came to find her just like any normal person would do. I’m sorry if I disappointed you. I guess I just can’t help it. I’m a disgrace after all right? Such a shame Toby and I couldn’t have been born in opposite bodies right? I’m sorry to have shamed you mom, but I don’t regret it. This isn’t how I wanted you to meet her, but here she is, my girlfriend Ellisia. Now you can officially meet the final thing in my life that makes me a failure in your eyes. Are you satisfied? Are you happy now mother?!”
Before anyone can even react, the sound of a loud smack echoes around. The Queen had taken Ame’s hand and smacked it hard, like a mother punishing a baby who is misbehaving. Ame’s expression is one of a child that has just been scolded harshly by their mother. “If you act like a child, you will be spanked liked a child. This childish tantrum is what really shames me.”
Ame snatches away her hand and looks down in anger as she mutters, “I hate you.”
Almyra doesn’t even seem to flinch at the words, though everyone else is tense. “That’s fine.”
Elli looks at the scene unfold in front of her and then looks to Liam who happens to be looking at her as well. They silently agree that they feel as though they’re imposing on awkward family drama and desperately want to escape. However, it’s James who ultimately eases the tension. “Now, now, let’s not fight. What’s done is done, so no use fighting on it. Perhaps we should take our leave now? We wouldn’t want to cause any further inconvenience for the school right?”
Liam takes the chance to secure his and Elli’s exit. “Right, and really we should get home. So I’ll just take Elli and we can get out of your hair. Thank you for the ride, I appreciate it. Elli.” He motions for her to come along, but Almyra places a hand on his shoulder, stopping him.
“Nonsense, you pose no inconvenience to us, and it would appear you two were the guests we were expecting, so things ultimately came to pass as they should. So please, fly back with us so that we may have dinner and get acquainted as originally planned. Besides, I’d like Elli to be examined by the doctor, just as a precaution. She’s already at the compound waiting for her.”
Liam doesn’t really want to, but embarrassed enough as it is that it’s his sister that’s dating her daughter, he feels he’s in no position to refuse. “Well if you insist my Lady, then please do.”
“Of course. Come along now Amelia, we’re taking our leave.” She walks out of the room.
James sighs. “Forgive us you two for that display. Things will not be so awkward once we return to the compound. Please come along with us now.” He turns to Ame, who is still looking down at the floor. He takes her hand, the one that was slapped, and kisses it. “Come along now Lia.”
She finally looks up with her teary eyes and moves closer to him, nuzzling her face in his chest. “Papa.” She cries softly and he comforts her, holding her with his arms, gently soothing her.
“We’ll just wait outside. Come along Elli.” He grabs her hand and pulls her along, realizing that they are having a private moment and not wanting to intrude on it.
Although she’s worried about Ame, she understands what it feels like to just want to be a baby for a little while and cry in your father’s arms, in her case, her brother’s arms. She thinks that she may have just gotten a glimpse of what it’s like for Ame at home and she feels sad, finally able to understand the meaning behind her words and her tears that night. Hearing her father call her Lia also makes her realize why she loved it when she called her that for the first time. It was because it was what dad calls her and they obviously have a very loving and deep relationship. It would seem she’s much closer to him than her mother, no doubt because he takes the time to listen to what she has to say and isn’t as strict as her mother seems to be. Although she’s sad for Ame, Elli feels strangely happy. Happy that she understands a bit more about Ame now and happy that Ame isn’t ashamed to declare her love for her openly any more than she is.
They join Almyra outside the curtain, both feeling extremely nervous. Without them saying a word, she can feel their tension and she smiles. “No need to be so on edge, I won’t bite.”
“Oh, yes of course, we know…my Lady.” He laughs nervously.
“Yes, I’ll admit, it was shocking to learn it was your own little sister that my daughter has been so smitten with, but I can’t say I’m unhappy. To be honest, when she mentioned that she wanted us to meet her girlfriend and that she lived outside the compound, we were nervous. I know how it must seem from the outside, but I assure you, it’s not the fact that you are not a noble that made us worry. We were just concerned about the intentions of this person, as I’m sure you can understand that people are sometimes willing to do anything if it means getting close to us, even courting our daughter. So we agreed to meet her and her guardian so we could see for ourselves. So believe it or not Liam, I’m quite pleased to know it’s little Ellisia who is that girl. We can rest easy now knowing that our own little girl is in good hands. So no need to be nervous at all.”
“Thank you my Lady. I too only found out recently that Elli had a girlfriend and although she mentioned her name, I didn’t connect the dots that it would be your Amelia. To be honest I never thought it’d be possible that a royal would take interest in the likes of simple folks like us.”
“Don’t be foolish. Royal or not isn’t what matters, it’s the heart. You shouldn’t talk down on yourselves either. Your mother was a wonderful woman and very dear to me.” Elli notices her expression change ever so slightly and become almost…nostalgic? “I owe her for some of the greatest moments of my life, so having her son’s sister dating my daughter is my honor.” Elli notices her look off in the distance at an imaginary image, seeming to recall precious memories and with her brain quick on the incline, she thinks she finally understands and smiles slightly.
Liam notices and silently asks her why she’s smiling, but she just shakes her head. She knows that it’s something he wouldn’t understand. What it means to find love as a woman with another woman. It would seem Ame and her mother are a bit more alike than it initially seemed. However, she also can’t help but feel uneasy, wondering why that love never came to pass and concerned over whether or not a similar fate awaits her and Lia. She’d rather not wonder.
“Sorry to keep you waiting, we’re ready now.” James and Amelia come walking out from behind the curtain, Ame seeming to be much calmer now. Elli walks over to her and takes her hand. Ame smiles at her, silently telling her she was ok now. This allows Elli to smile too.
“You seem to be fine, so just take it easy today and call a doctor right away if you feel dizzy or lightheaded.” The nurse, Mrs. Tuffy and Navi all come from behind another curtain. Mrs. Tuffy sees the King and Queen and immediately bows, the nurse soon following suit. She calls up to Navi, encouraging her to bow as well, but she simply stares at the pair, her eyes flaring up brighter than ever before, making even Elli shudder along with Liam. However, the three royals are calm as ever, simply staring back at her as though they dare her to cause a scene.
Navi looks from one to the other, feeling as though she might lose control, but then she sees the band around Almyra’s wrist and she calms herself. “I shall not bow down to the likes of them.”
You could cut the tension with a knife, but they say nothing. Almyra leads the way, with James following close behind. As Liam, Elli and Ame follow them out, Ame and Navi share a final look of malice. Ame whispers so only she’ll hear, “Stay away from Elli or I’ll end you.” Navi simply smiles. She silently vows that one day she’ll have her revenge and they all will burn.
As they make their way down the hall, anyone who was in their path immediately shuffles to the side and bows down. However, once the King and Queen have passed, they return to a standing position and whisper amongst themselves. There are whispers of excitement, surprise and admiration. However, there are also whispers about the more scandalous topic, the fact that the Valkyrie Princess, is holding hands with the girlfriend she just openly admitted to having and walking happily down the hall. Most shocking of all, this girlfriend is none other than the school outcast that no one ever saw as having any real significance. The fact that a nobody like Ellisia Almont would be the girlfriend of such a notable figure is unbelievable and it causes a significant amount of unrest, resentment and envy through the halls as the whispers become judgmental and harsh against her. Elli tries not to hear, but even as whispers, they are deafening.
“Who does she think she is?” “What’s a nobody like her doing with such a high class group?” “Maybe it’s a forbidden love affair?” “Must be, there’s no way the Princess would seriously date a girl like her.” “Yea, she’s no better than a concubine, she’ll never be allowed to stand beside her when she’s queen.” “I’m sure Queen Almyra will cast her out soon enough.” “The Princess is surely already betrothed to a noble man, so it’ll never work.” “I bet she’s just looking for a handout; her family is poor after all.” “Yea, I bet she gives the Princess sex for money, I’ve always thought she was a slut. The quiet ones usually are.” “Yea, what a whore.”
Elli keeps her head down, trying her best not to meet anyone’s gaze or allow them to see the tears she’s holding back, but she can’t avoid gripping Ame’s hand tighter, which only pushes Ame closer to the breaking point, as she too can hear the whispers. She’s been trying to ignore them, but hearing the terrible, disgusting things they are saying about Elli is making it difficult. Just at the point of explosion, as though she could sense it, Elli tugs on Ame’s arm and shakes her head at her, pleading with her eyes to just let it be.
Ame lets out a deep sigh, but does as she asks, knowing deep down that reacting would probably make things worse for Elli, nevermind the fact that her mother would flip. However, she’ll be damned if she lets Elli come back to this despicable place. Despite how much Elli complained about it, she never mentioned that it was this bad. It’s clear that the entire school treats her like dirt all because she’s different and now that they’ve seen that she’s dating Ame, she’s certain they will only abuse Elli more. It’s become quite clear that Elli is no longer safe here and so Ame will do anything she must to protect her. Even if she has to go toe to toe with her mother.
*** “The Royal Compound”, Garmin-The West Province, Summer Year 2528 ***
About ten minutes later, they land on a helipad located inside a massive fortress. The King and Queen disembark first, followed by Liam and finally Ame takes Elli’s hand and helps her off. Once they’ve all disembarked, a man who looks like a classic butler approaches.
“Welcome back your majesties, I’m pleased to see your safe return. I see we have two guests.”
Almyra speaks. “Yes Herman, these are the two we were expecting today. Mr. Liam Duncan Almont and his little sister, Miss Ellisia Clara Almont. Please take them into your care as well.”
“Of course my Lady, I’ll see to it that they are given only the best of care while they are here. Shall I have the chefs begin preparation for dinner? Will our guests be needing bedrooms?”
As they discuss the particulars of the day, Elli is awestruck at the sight of the estate. Although one might expect to find a castle as the home of a King and Queen, this compound is actually more like an enormous mansion estate. All around there are trees and flowers and fountains, the greenery almost as extraordinary as the estate before them. Spanning what seems like miles, the massive mansion is adorned with statues, crests and emblems, while its white walls are lined in gold. The path leading to the front entrance is white stone and at its base are two heavily armored guards, standing like statues. There are a couple of men tending the garden and upon seeing Liam, they wave. He waves back, then turns to Elli. “Flies will get in if you keep that up Elli.”
Elli regains her attention and turns to Liam. “That’s easy for you to say, you’ve seen this all before! You never told me it was this beautiful. You really get to work here almost every day?”
“Well I work the lower areas of the compound more often, but yea, once and a while I do.”
“You’re so evil for not ever bringing me here once!” She thinks about the fact that this isn’t any regular workplace and takes it back. “Nevermind, I guess you couldn’t have just done that.”
“Actually, he could’ve brought you if he wished, I told him so on several occasions.” Almyra interrupts their conversation with a smile. “It seems he wanted to keep this all to himself.”
Liam blushes at her teasing, and rubs his head in embarrassment. “Well, it’s not that I didn’t want to share, I just didn’t want to burden you. Elli has a tendency to be a bit…rowdy despite her good nature, and I didn’t want her causing any trouble. I guess I also just didn’t want to impose.”
“You wouldn’t have been imposing at all, I’ve been telling you that for a long time now. Your mother was my best general and won us many battles against the Kree. She probably saved me many times and gave me the openings I needed to strike down my enemies. I don’t think I could’ve been as successful as I have been without her. So looking out for her boy is the least I could do. I owe her that much at least.” She has that same look of nostalgia as before.
“Oh boy, there you go raving on about your beloved general again. I’m sure Liam knows how wonderful his mother was, so I’m sure it’s not necessary to keep repeating it. Right Love?” James joins the conversation, with squint-eyed smiling expression. Although slight, Elli swears she can hear a hint of jealousy in his voice. “So, how about we go inside and get settled. We should get Miss Almont in to see the doctor as well, we wouldn’t want to keep her waiting.”
Almyra doesn’t show in any obvious change in expression from James’ comments and with the same smile agrees. “Yes, you’re right darling, we should get inside. Please come along now.” Leading the way, she makes her way towards the estate, James following just behind.
“Well, I guess we should be following along then Elli. Let’s go.” Liam follows behind them and Elli starts to as well, until she feels someone grab hold of her hand. She turns to see Ame.
“Hey, hang back with me a minute would you?” She gives Elli a million-dollar smile.
Almyra looks back to see they’re not following along and starts to call out to Ame, but James touches her shoulder. “Just let them have some space, the doctor’s not going anywhere.” She thinks it over for a moment and then nods, continuing on her way. James quickly calls back, “You’ve got ten minutes girls! Then it’s straight to the doctor for Elli, understood Lia?”
“Got it dad!” Ame wastes no time in dragging Elli along into the garden. They get to a secluded area, where an awning resides and they sit side by side. Roses surround them. “Welcome to my private place. This is my secret little corner where I come to get away and think, mostly of you.”
Ame cheeses a smile and Elli laughs. “You are such a dork you know. My cute, baby dork.”
“You know you love it.” They laugh again, together and then go silent, their heads resting against each other’s. After a couple of minutes of silence, Ame finally addresses the elephant in the room. “Are you ok? I know you heard all of those nasty comments and they hurt you because they hurt me too. To think people would think such things. I hope you know none of it’s true.”
“I know, I know you Ame, so you don’t have to tell me that. It’s not that I’m worried about your intentions or that your parents will think poorly of me, it’s more so I just…I’m tired of all the bullshit. I’m tired of trying to show everyone that I’m not a freak. I know I’m different, but that doesn’t make me any less human does it. I mean I am still human right? Even if….”
Ame can see that she’s struggling with something and it’s concerning, especially considering her comment earlier. “Even if what? What is it that’s troubling you? Does it have something to do with what you said earlier. Something related to that troubling news that made you faint?”
Elli had been trying her best not to bring it up or make Ame worry, but she knows that just as she knows her so well, Ame knows her more than anyone too and would catch on sooner or later. “I, well…it’s about some things that Navi said. She told us a lot about this Community, one where the members are apparently different and disliked by most of the general population. She said this community had divisions in each of the four provinces and that they were being destroyed all because they are seen as a threat, but they are actually not and just want to live with everyone in peace. She said that her particular division in the South Province had been blackmailed by the royals at some point in time and it lead to their deaths outside of their Empress and her knight and a few others. She was able to escape, but only at the sacrifice of her parents, who were killed by those said royals. She recently came here to live with her Aunt, and apparently thinks that being here will get her revenge. It was troubling to me because she said that these royals want to lead a full out extinction against this community, like a mass genocide and supposedly the one leading this mission….” She pauses for a moment, but Ame nods for her to continue. “She claims that the royals behind this expedition and for killing her parents…are your parents.”
Elli looks at Ame nervously, expecting her to blow up any moment and adamantly deny it, but she doesn’t. She doesn’t even look surprised. “Is that all? Did she say anything else?”
“Yea, a lot of stuff actually. Something about there being a truce for certain reasons between that community and the kingdom and that a war was coming and we’d have to all pick sides. But the most troubling thing of all is that through her entire speech, I started to get the feeling that this community has something the do with the Kree. I’m not exactly sure how it all ties in together, but I’ve been thinking about it more and more, all the similarities I mean. Her eyes most of all look very similar to the Kree, though they are not quite the same either. It’s confusing because her eyes are like mine and even Evani, her eyes are like mine too. I may be the same as them.”
Ame’s expression becomes a bit more serious. “And just what do you think they are?”
“Well…I’m scared to think it, but considering all my really strange qualities and the fact that I do have such similarities with them, if they are in some way connected to the Kree, then that would mean…that’d have to mean…that I…I am also…could I be something like the Kree?”
“No!” Elli is startled by Ame’s sudden outburst. She grabs Elli’s face, firmly but gently and says, “Don’t be ridiculous Elli. The Kree are soulless, evil beings that have no compassion for human life. Even if they can put on disguises, they are still monsters! Monsters that killed my grandparents, monsters that killed Liam’s parents and monsters that continue to kill innocent people every day. These communities she speaks of are just camps for civilized monsters and their blind followers who believe in something as ridiculous as peace and integration between monsters and humans. Nothing good can come of those communities and so that is why they must be wiped out. It may seem cruel Elli, but monsters cannot be allowed to roam freely through our civilizations or we will face the threat of extinction as humans once again. It’s either kill or perish, there is no other option. I don’t know how much involvement my parents have in these matters themselves, but regardless of that fact, I’m sure they have their reasons. But listen Elli, I don’t want you listening to anything that girl says. She’s just trying to corrupt you. Now more than ever, you must stay away from her because now that she knows you’re connected to us, she’s going to try and use you for her own evil agenda. That girl isn’t a Kree, not really, but she’s just as bad and so cannot be trusted. You may share similar features, but don’t you for a second think you’re the same. You are nothing like those people, do you understand? Nothing!”
Elli is shocked by Ame’s frenzied outburst, but seeing her tears, she can tell that she’s scared. She can tell that she’s dancing around the truth and trying her best to find every reason why she and Navi are not the same, but the very fact that she reacted this way, gave Elli her answer and she feels surprisingly calm. She feels as though she finally knows who she is, or at least has a clue. She may not be the Kree, but she cannot deny that she shares a connection with them one way or another, not anymore. But she understands what Ame is saying. Even if she does share a connection, she is not the Kree as they know it. She is not a monster, but where they differ is that Elli doesn’t believe Navi is a monster, nor is Evani. Elli realizes that although she knows, there is still a lot she doesn’t know and so resolves to learn more about herself and this mysterious community. She hugs Ame and says, “I know, I won’t ever say that again. So calm down, ok?”
Ame hugs her back, gripping her tightly as though she may disappear. “No matter what happens, don’t leave me alone ok? Promise me that you’ll always stay by my side even if the world ends.”
“I promise; I’ll never leave you. Not until the day where you slay me with your own blade.”
They kiss and continue to embrace for a few more minutes, until Ame finally realizes that their ten minutes are up. “Well, we should be getting you to the doctor now, before my mom comes out, guns blazing. Besides, now I’m starting to worry you really did bang your head up pretty badly, with all that foolishness you were saying. Please don’t bring that stuff up again, ok?”
Elli can see how much Ame dislikes the topic, for understandable reasons and so she decides that it’ll be for the best if she investigates more on the community on her own with Navi’s aid. “Yea, I know, it was dumb. As if I could be anything like the Kree, I’m far too pretty for that.”
“Damn right!” Ame takes her hand and they start walking back to the estate, happily together.
*** “The Royal Dining Room”, Garmin-The West Province, Summer Year 2528 ***
Following behind Herman, they all pass through a large double door and enter a dining room right out of a storybook. Following the same color scheme as the rest of the estate, there is a lot of white and gold along the walls. The table is long and stretches down the hall, easily able to fit twenty. Gold plated dining ware and utensils are arranged perfectly along the table, and several waiters stand on either side, ready to be of service.
“This is amazing!” Liam can barely maintain his excitement. “I’ve always wanted to see inside, I never imagined it’d be this amazing though. I wish I had been able to be better dressed.”
“Don’t worry Liam, considering the unexpected situation, I completely understand. Besides, I don’t really want this to be a stuffy meeting of formality. At this time, I am not the Queen and James is not the King. We are just two parents who are meeting our daughter’s girlfriend and her brother for the first time. So please don’t feel the need to be formal with us right now.”
“Thank you my lady, it’s an honor to be here. Thank you for having us.”
“Almyra. Please, just call me Almyra. Like I said, right now, I’m not the queen.”
“I couldn’t possibly….” She frowns at him and Liam understands her insistence. “Ok then, at least allow me to say Mrs. Almyra. It would make me feel more comfortable.
“Very well, I’ll allow it. May I call you and Liam and Miss Almont Ellisia?”
“Of course my-, Mrs. Almyra. It would be our pleasure, right Elli?” She nods.
“Great, then I will as well. You two can call me Mr. James or even Papa if you’d like.”
Liam laughs nervously. “Uh, thanks, but I think Mr. James would be fine for us.”
Ame sighs. “Dad, stop being such a weirdo.” She tries to sound serious, but she’s smiling.
Herman addresses the group. “Welcome everyone once again, I’m pleased to announce that dinner is now served. If you would please take your seats, it would be much appreciated.”
Everyone quickly finds their seat and immediately after one of the waiters are at their side and pull out their seats. Once they sit, the waiters proceed to place a napkin on the ladies laps and tuck one in their collar for the guys. They pour water into their glasses, wine in the cups of the adults and sparkling cider into Elli and Ame’s cups. Soon after, they roll over a cart and begin placing some dishes in front of them, with lids over them. Once everyone has received their dishes and the waiters are all lined up, in perfect unison they lift the lids and then roll away the carts. In front of each of them sits a plate filled with the fanciest food that Elli or Liam has ever seen. It looks like something they could only see in a storybook and they are awestruck.
“My, you two look like you haven’t eaten in days with those faces.” James’ sudden voice breaks through their trance and Liam looks at him, completely ashamed and apologizes.
James laughs deeply. “Relax Liam, I was just having a bit of fun, you’re so easy to tease.”
Liam laughs nervously again and Almyra smiles. “Forgive my husband. He’s very tough and refined when dealing with important affairs, but outside the public eye he’s a big kid. He’s surprisingly sensitive and cries over the most trivial things, like a big baby.”
“Yea, he actually cried once because we were out of his favorite pudding, how childish.”
Elli can’t help but laugh, getting their attention. Almyra asks, “What’s so funny Elli?”
Liam looks at Elli seriously, and she realizes that she might be being rude, so she regains her composure, but still answers the question. “Sorry, it’s just…I thought it was funny for Lia to say such a thing when she’s exactly the same way. She once cried over dropping her ice cream.” Ame flails her arms, as though she’s shocked by her words.
“Elli! That’s top secret information. Don’t tell them that. I didn’t cry over that…much.”
Elli laughs again and Ame looks embarrassed. Liam looks nervous, but then he sees Almyra is smiling. “Yes, that sounds about right. As much as she may not want to admit it, she’s very much like her father. She’s got that cool exterior on the outside that makes her seem like a Prince, but in truth she’s very immature and childish and requires a lot of attention and care. Where her brother Tobias is quite the opposite. He seems very fragile, but he’s actually quite serious and emotionally stable. He’s not afraid to take control and make split decisions. He’s very independent and is always the most respectable young man at all times. A true Prince.”
Elli can see Ame’s expression change. “Well, maybe he should be the next ruler then mother.”
The bitterness is apparent and the atmosphere starts to become tense like before, but once again, James quickly turns it around. “So Elli, I see you call Amelia Lia as well. I’m almost a bit sad that it’s no longer reserved for just me anymore. Though I’m happy to share it with you.”
Elli turns her attention to him. “Yes, I was surprised to learn that you called her that as well, but it also made me happy because it meant that she saw me on the same level as you.”
“Yes, I agree. I think that you are an important factor in her life Elli. In just the short amount of time I’ve seen you two together and interacting, I can see how grounded you keep her. As I said, she’s like her father, especially the way he was when he was her age, and just like you two, I was the one keeping him grounded and stable. He tended to act rashly and do things without thinking about the consequences, where I was a very calm and collected person who never acted without first thinking it through. I called him out on his nonsense and told him when I thought he was being an idiot; just like you do with Amelia. I saw how you were able to talk her down from reacting to those whispers back at the school. If you hadn’t done it, I doubt anything we said would have reached her ears. The more I look at you Elli, the more I get to know about you, I feel more and more that you’re like me. I think you and I share the same values and thoughts.”
“No way! She’s nothing like you mom. She’s not nearly as cold hearted and cruel.”
“I’m not referring to our personalities Amelia. I mean she’s like me in her drive and willingness to stand up for her convictions. She’s being respectful right now, but I can tell, she’s got something she wants to say and if I were not the queen, I believe she would say it. Right Elli?”
Elli is caught off guard by her frank question, but she’s also a bit impressed that she could tell. She’s normally very good at hiding her true thoughts, but she can tell that the queen is no fool and on that note, she has to agree, they are alike in that regard. They both tend to speak their minds. However, she doesn’t want to jeopardize things for any of them, so she attempts to keep up her façade. “No Mrs. Almyra, I’ve got nothing to say in particular, except this is delicious.”
Elli smiles as she takes another bite of the food and Almyra smiles back. “Yes, it is isn’t it? I picked all the dishes myself. You have very good tastes as well Ellisia. I’m impressed.” There is an awkward silence in the room and although neither of their faces have lost their smiles, the others can easily pick up on the tension building. “How about I open up this conversation then? Dr. Wanda tells me you were quite interested in knowing your medical history and asked a lot of questions about the Anatomy and Physiology of the Kree. I can’t help but be curious as to why you’d want to know such a thing. Is this for a report or something for school?”
“I wasn’t aware that the confidentiality laws didn’t apply here, silly me. No Ma’am, it isn’t.”
“Naturally nothing is confidential from me Elli. It’s imperative that I know everything for the safety of my people. However, I’d never use that information to deem them unequal to us.”
“I see. So then, does that really apply to everyone or just those who conform to your society?”
“It applies to all of humankind of course. Animals and monsters do not fall under that tag.”
“So then it’s true.” Elli looks at Liam and gives him an apologetic look. He understands that she’s done holding back and he sighs. He doesn’t know what this is about, but he knows he’s going to be apologizing profusely later. “It’s true that you’re planning on exterminating an entire community all because they don’t fall within your definition of humankind? Are you serious?”
There is a clank as Ame drops her fork onto her plate and looks at Elli in shock. “I see you’ve been talking to that Dumont girl. Let me caution you Elli, you should be careful about who you befriend and listen to. No good people like that will lead you astray and corrupt you.”
“No good people like that you say? So then please, if you know so much about people like that, please then, tell me, do I not fall in that category? Am I human? Please tell me who I really am!”
The tension reaches its peak, as she finally says it. Almyra smiles and places her Valkyrie band on the table, like a noose. “My dear Elli, I think the proper question is, who do you wish to be?”