*** “J.S. Lawrence High School”, Armenia-The West Province, Summer Year 2528 ***
“So it is with a heavy heart I must tell you that not only will this be Elli’s final two weeks in our 11th grade class, but unlike you all; these will be her final weeks at J. S. Lawrence High.” The homeroom teacher speaks with a soft tone. “However, we shouldn’t hurt too deeply for her or see this as a loss, as she’s moving on to an amazing opportunity. One of our very own, in a never before seen occurrence, has received the incredible opportunity to attend the Royal Academy in Garmin and even more amazing; she’s going to train with the Berserkers to take part in the Berserker competition where she will fight for the title of Valkyrie Princess. This would also be a historic occurrence if this were to happen, for many reasons. So let’s cheer her on ok?”
The room is silent as Elli’s fellow classmates give her dirty looks and whisper to each other. Their jealously and envy can be felt without them having to say a word, though Elli can hear their almost silent whispers quite distinctly. Ever since she’s learned of her true nature, almost as though a switch was triggered; she has been tapping into her latent abilities. These abilities are varied, but hearing low decibel noises is one ability she’s found herself using a lot recently. Before this announcement was even made, the entire class likely already knew the situation, as word gets around fast; especially news of such caliber. In fact, it’s almost scandalous considering that everyone is well aware that she and Amelia are a couple. The rumors have already started to be flung around; saying she’s just whoring herself around in order to weasel her way into the royal family and receive prestige. It’d make her sick if she didn’t find it so hilarious. They have no idea how things really are, but she’s got no intention of setting them straight because she’s not obligated to tell them a thing about her private life. Truthfully, they’re making it easier on her because now she can leave this place behind with no regrets as she won’t miss one single soul from this place. Though on the other hand, she can’t say she’s excited to leave one lion’s den for the other, but the difference is she’ll have Amelia by her side and that makes everything ok.
“Well, I guess that’s to be expected when a dyke like her spreads her legs to a butch princess.” Makena makes this offensive snide comment with a grin, causing Megan and Jenna to laugh and then the rest of the class follows suit. The professor looks uncomfortable, but says nothing. Makena starts to laugh too, until she notices Navi isn’t laughing and is giving her a disappointed glare as she taps her finger on the desk. Makena looks down in shame and abruptly ends it. “Ok, enough already. It wasn’t that funny.” That shuts everyone up and she turns to Navi for approval.
However, Navi has since turned her attention away from Makena and back to Elli, who’s clenching her fists and doing as well as she can at stopping herself from body slamming Makena. Navi scowls, absolutely disgusted by the idea that in a month’s time she’ll officially become one of them. She knew there was a good chance it would happen this way and maybe their queen even desires it, but this is the one thing she cannot agree on with her empress. “This is sick.” Navi stands and makes her way towards the exit. The teacher begins to protest, but the look Navi gives him stops him in his tracks. Makena starts to follow her, but Navi puts up one finger, immediately halting her and making her sit back down with a frown. Just before walking out, she seems to mutter something, though only one person would’ve heard it. “Meet me after school.”
Elli scoffs and whispers a reply. “Dream on.” She walks over to her desk and takes a seat. She places her head into her arms against the desk and attempts to salvage as much sleep as she can get away with. The teacher lets out an audible sigh and then begins the lecture.
Makena stares at Elli furiously, hating the attention Navi keeps giving her, even if she claims it’s not romantic. She’s still not certain about her feelings for Navi, or that she’s even come to accept her questionable sexuality, but she can just tell that somehow the two have secret exchanges she cannot have with Navi. She can’t understand or explain it, but she feels as though they’re part of some secret world she cannot enter and it frustrates her to no end. She wants to be the center of attention for Navi and she wants to connect with her on that common level, but she doesn’t know how. She knows Navi hates her jabs at Elli and she hates how disappointed Navi looks when she gives them, but that doesn’t mean she can just stop. She’s always been this way, it’s who people have come to expect her to be. It’s not so easy to suddenly change and introduce them to a whole new side of herself, even if that side is more endearing. She needs more time and more of Navi.
Beside her, Megan watches as Makena seems to have some internal struggle with herself and she’s willing to bet money it’s related to Navi. She’s not really sure why, but ever since Navi arrived, Makena has been acting differently. Most people haven’t noticed, not even Jenna, but Megan can always tell. She’s always been watching Makena closely, from the time they were children, moving through this lonely school system together and always by each other’s side. They share a bond between them deeper than anyone, and have seen all the vulnerabilities they each possess, even the ones she herself is not aware of. She can see the way she watches Navi, the way she vies for her attention, the way she becomes aggravated when Navi focuses on Elli and even how she subconsciously bites her lip when Navi walks into the room. She recognizes all the cues because it’s the very same ones she makes each and every moment Makena isn’t looking. She knows Makena’s true nature, but she didn’t want to push her to see it for herself until the time was right. She knew that the boys were never a threat and so she let them swoon. Jenna is as straight as they come, so she had no concerns over her either. Makena isn’t the type to make multiple close friends outside of her and Jenna and even Jenna was an accident that turned out ok. Megan never had to worry over if she’d get her chance to become Makena’s special person one day because she had always been the only contender…until Navi Dumont came along. She grips her pencil tighter as she thinks of the name. That playgirl bitch came in like a storm and turned everyone’s emotions upside down, but none quite as deeply as Makena. She’s got her wrapped around her finger and Makena isn’t any more the wiser. Megan didn’t want to make things complicated though and so she was prepared to keep the peace between them as long as she didn’t overstep, but for her to intrude on her special space and have the audacity to spend the night with Makena and to even see her naked…it won’t stand! Her pencil snaps in half and falls to the ground as she grits her teeth with intensity.
This snaps Makena out of her temporary daze and she looks at Megan. “Are you ok?”
Megan quickly regains her composure and smiles. “Of course, I just pressed a bit too hard, heh.” She laughs it off and then takes that moment to ask, “Hey, wanna hang out at your place later?”
“Sure whatever, if you want. Bring some of your dad’s scotch with you, I’m in the mood.”
“Oh my, you’re requesting the big guns, you must be stressed. From what if I may ask?”
“Just…it doesn’t even matter. I need a distraction, so for sure, come over today after school.”
“No worries, I’ll be there right away. Perks of being neighbors right? Things could get fun.” She laughs slightly, but the joke is lost on Makena as she gets back into daydream land. That’s fine though, as Megan doesn’t want to push things too quickly. She’d planned to wait until they graduated and went to college together, but it might be time to accelerate those plans and make a move sooner rather than later. As luck would have it, Makena opened up the gate of opportunity for her without even knowing it and so she will definitely make her move tonight. She’s not going to let a girl like Navi Dumont come in and swoop up her prey just like that. She’s been preparing her for this day for far too long. Makena will be hers, and nothing is going to get in her way. She’ll bury a bitch who interferes with her plan and spit on her grave. There’ll be no mercy.
The day passes quickly and with the tone of a loud chime, the school day has ended. Elli quickly packs up her things and beats it out of the classroom before her classmates even think of moving. On her way out she notices Makena glare at her, but she ignores her and makes her way down the stairs and through the double doors to freedom. She looks around, almost expecting to see Ame waiting for her, but she quickly realizes that’s a dream unlikely to ever be true. After the very public display she gave that time, her mother has effectively banned her from stepping foot on the school grounds unless given permission and with an escort. As much as Elli would love to see her waiting there, she actually agrees that it’s for the best that she stays away. She’d like to get through these final two weeks with a minimal amount of complications and her being here for even a moment would make everything doubly complicated. So Elli makes her way down the sandstone path, ignoring the spiteful gazes and heads for home. However, she’s intercepted by the last person she wants to see. “Hey! Didn’t I tell you to meet me after school?”
“That was what you said, but I’m not obligated to listen to any of your demands. So I’m going home now, just try and stop me.” She says this without breaking her stride or even looking up.
“Calm yourself, I’m not going to force you anywhere, even I’m not that brave. However, I don’t think I’ll need to force you if you listen to what I have to say. You’ll want to come then.”
“I doubt anything you say will change my mind, but go for it if it’ll make you feel better.”
“Well, what if I told you that our queen wants to meet you?”
“Um…I’ve already met our queen, have you forgotten? Better luck next time.”
“Not their queen, ours. The empress of our Sect. She’d like to officially meet you right away.”
“Yea…there’s only one queen I acknowledge as my own, so gonna pass on that one, sorry.”
“Ok, then what would you say if I said your mother wants to meet you? Now will you come?”
This finally gets her attention and she stops in her tracks. “My mother? Do you mean….” She hasn’t actually taken much time to think about it, but considering all she’s heard and learned, it seems to follow that Evani may be some sort of Kree species and she also may be her mother. However, she hasn’t met with her since finding all this information out and so she hasn’t had to face this fact until just now. “By my mother…would you happen to mean Evani? Is she really-.”
“Every question you have will be answered and more, you just have to follow me.” Navi holds out her hand. Elli looks at it skeptically, contemplating if she should take it. “Trust me, ok?”
Elli frowns and smacks her hand away. “I’ll give you an hour, but that’s it. I can walk on my own, so keep your hand to yourself.” Navi retracts her hands with a smile. “Get a move on!”
Navi can only laugh at the headstrong girl in front of her. “Right away, as you wish, princess.” Her voice drips with sarcasm as she leads the way.
Makena stands in the distance watching as they leave together, scowling as she does. Megan and Jenna stand beside her. “I just don’t understand what she likes about her. It’s aggravating!”
Jenna laughs. “Elli really gets under your skin doesn’t she Makena? Though I can understand.”
“Yea, she’s the worst. That’s why we’re totally getting drunk tonight. You want in Jenna?”
Megan tenses, not really wanting Jenna to join, but she can’t tell her no either. However, luck seems to be on her side. Jenna grins. “I’d love to any other time, but I’ve got a date with Hunter tonight since his parents are out of town. We’ll be busy all night, if you catch my drift.”
Makena sighs. “Yea, we got it. No text, calls or otherwise inconveniencing actions. Aren’t you the lucky one getting to spend all night with someone special. I’m feeling a bit envious.”
Jenna laughs. “No need to be envious Makena. If you really want to get a guy, then just pick one. You know you could get any guy you wanted just at the snap of a finger. Perhaps your prince charming is someone you already know and are close to. Just pay attention more.”
Makena scoffs. “Yea right. As if any of these loser guys are my prince charming. You two are my only real friends, so I’d say it’s highly unlikely they will just fall into my lap.”
Megan takes this opportunity to chime in. “That may be true, but who says it has to be a guy?” Both Makena and Jenna look at Megan. “What? I’m just putting it out there, that’s all.”
“Don’t even joke about something so gross Megan, seriously. Anyway, let’s hurry and get home already. Come over in an hour with that scotch. My mom is working all night, so we’ll be good.”
Megan nods and Jenna just shakes her head. “Well, you two have fun tonight. Get drunk enough for me too. Don’t get caught though because I’m not coming to bail anyone out.”
“Don’t worry, we won’t call you. We’d hate to ruin the minute of fun Hunter will give you.” Both Makena and Megan laugh and Jenna just nods along sarcastically.
“Hah, hah, you guys are hilarious. Get out of here already, you virgin bitches.” They all laugh again and then wave goodbye, going their separate ways. As they walk, Makena has her mind on Navi as usual and Megan’s is on Makena. She not backing down anymore, tonight is the night.
*** “The Deep Woods”, Armenia-The West Province, Summer Year 2528 ***
Elli follows behind Navi as they make their way into the deep woods; further than Elli has ever gone before. “Hey, where are we going? We passed the hut a long time ago.”
“We’re not going to the hut today, actually we probably won’t ever again. Evani only used that as a point of contact between you before you knew you weren’t human. Now that you know your true nature, she’s finally ready for you to see our home. It’s much nicer than that dusty hut.”
“Oh ok. So is it going to be an upgrade to some really nice teepees?”
Navi laughs. “How do you envision our Sect exactly? Do you think we’re a gypsy camp?”
“To be honest yes, I do kind imagine it’d be something like that. A nomad camp or the like.”
“You really are so misinformed. Look, it may be called a Sect or even a Community, but our home is actually a fortress in its own right. However, for obvious reasons, we must stay hidden underground. Only authorized persons such as the guard or exceptions like myself can leave.”
“Well aren’t you special. If that’s true, then will they even let me in? I’m an outsider.”
“You’re wrong.” Navi shakes her head. “You really know nothing, but you will, very soon.” Elli looks at her in confusion and starts to ask what she doesn’t know, but then they arrive to a thicket of trees and vines that doesn’t look out of the ordinary compared to the rest of the surroundings.
“Why are we stopping here? There’s nothing but trees and vines. Should I prepare to run?”
“No running will be necessary, just calm yourself and have some patience.” Navi reaches for the vines and starts pulling them apart. It seems useless at first, but then a stone door is revealed.
“Is that….” She doesn’t complete her sentence, but her question is already answered. Navi presses the stone in a specific spot and like a hidden switch, the door unlocks and slides open.
“Now, this may look really easy to crack, but the truth is the stone exterior is just a cover. No matter how much a human presses the very same spot I did, this door will never unlock. There’s a built in sensor that detects our unique fingerprint signature that no human shares. Demikri may appear identical to humans, but we are not humans, no matter how much your queen may tell you otherwise. We are still Kree Elli, it’s just that we’ve perfected our disguise. Follow me.”
Navi leads her down a corridor that also appears to be made of stone. However, as they get closer to the door at the end, things seem to become more advanced; the wall becoming metallic. They finally reach the door and it appears to be more electronic based than the first one. Navi holds up what Elli originally thought was a necklace, but can now see is actually a key card. Once it registers with the sensor, the door opens and Elli suddenly feels she may have been teleported to some kind of scientific base. There are many people roaming around, many seeming to be scientists from their long white coats and notepads. There are also several uniformed people standing around or patrolling; they must be the guards. The walls are all white and there are several doors lining the long stretch of hallway and Elli is in awe. “Wow, this is….”
“Not what you were expecting right? People often think it to be the other way around, but truthfully the Kree are not the archaic barbarians the humans think we are still living in the stone age. If anything, you humans are living that ancient kind of life with your kings and queens and class separations. We’ve always been very scientifically and technologically advanced and our research is the reason many of your human diseases cease to exist today. The provinces have been contracting us to give them all these advanced products from the beginning, even when they were trying to kill us. We didn’t start out as the beasts you’ve come to see us as Elli. We’ve always been an advanced species, even more so than humans, but it was due to their betrayal that we are now the mindless zombies you’ve come to hate. They made us that way and now they want to destroy us for good. Bet your precious queen didn’t tell you all of that did she?” She shakes her head. She’s never heard of this and doesn’t wish to believe it, but she can’t prove that it’s not true. She’s knows a lot, but there is still so much she doesn’t. So she’s hoping she’ll be able to find out more information from both sides, so she can truly understand the way things are and only then will she cast any judgements or choose sides, though she doesn’t wish to do so.
They continue down the corridor. As they walk, Elli can’t help but notice the stares she’s getting. This isn’t unusual for her, as this is her daily life at school, but the difference is they hate her. The stares she’s getting from the people here are not of hate, but more so of…marvel? They approach an elevator and in front stands a woman in uniform. “Navi…I can see you’re well.”
She sounds agitated. Navi laughs nervously. “Yea…I’m pretty good I guess. You too I hope?”
“Yea, I’m just fine. I was more concerned about you Navi. I was certain you must have been hurt or captured since you never bothered to text or call. Were you shacked up with her?” She gives Elli an evil look and then glares at Navi again; who’s now looking a bit uneasy.
“Destini…I’m really sorry. I just got caught up with something, just a devilish little Barbie girl I had to attend to, but I promise I wasn’t doing you wrong. You know I’m not the type to do that.”
“You say that, but how can I be so sure? We’ve only been dating for a month you know? Then you go to that dreadful place for school right after, which limited our time together even more and now you stroll back here with another girl with you. What should I think?” She pouts.
Navi softens her expression and then steps forward to hug the girl tenderly and it seems to settle her down, while Elli becomes more uncomfortable from this awkward situation. She sees Navi lean in and whisper something into her ear and seconds later the girl has an expression of excitement and Elli is left feeling like she wants to gag. She’s really got to figure out an off switch for her supersonic hearing ability. “I promise I’ll come by tonight ok? So for now, would you be so kind as to transport us down to the city? We’ve got to meet with the Empress.”
Full of life and glee, the girl is much more receptive. “Of course I can baby!” She scans her ID. The door opens up and they walk inside. She presses a button and then she steps back out. Before the door closes, she turns to Navi and says, “I’ll be waiting for you, so don’t you forget ok?”
“Don’t worry babe, I’ll be there as soon as I finish up with them ok? Thank you Destini.” She smiles widely as the door closes and waves. However, once the door shuts, her smile fades and she looks more bothered than excited. She finally looks at Elli, who’s trying not to laugh. “What are you laughing at? This is not a joke you know; I really have to go to her now. So annoying.”
“Well, why did you put yourself in that situation? If you don’t really want to go, then tell her.”
“Do you ever simply tell Amelia you don’t want to see her and everything goes over fine?”
Elli tilts her head to the side and winces. “Ok, so maybe you have a point. Still, it’s too much.”
“Yea, but I knew she was the clingy type before we even started dating, so it’s my own fault.”
“Why’d you even bother dating her? Why not pick someone more like your type?”
“I don’t know really. I guess I was looking for something different. I was getting bored.”
“Oh my, such a popular girl you are to be getting bored. Haven’t you ever settled for love?”
“Love? No way, that’s a joke. Love is a human luxury and it’s what makes them weak. We choose our mates simply on personality and looks alone. We don’t discriminate either, we just simply find someone who fits our criteria and date them. If we find ourselves getting tired, we’ll move on to other people, no pain or jealousy involved. It’s all very superficial. Destini is one of those rare exceptions who tend to get genuinely attached, which means settling down will be difficult for her because she’s looking for someone who’ll love her the way she loves them, but that’s just not how we function. I don’t fall in love with any of the girls I date, but I also don’t like to trample on them either. If I commit to a relationship, then I stay committed until I end things properly. I guess you can say that’s a way I differ from the others. Polygamous relationships are not uncommon here, but it’s not my thing. I’ve only ever loved one girl in my lifetime, and believe it or not, she actually used to be-.” The door opens and someone shouts.
“Navi!” Before she can even react, someone is tackling her and pushes her against the wall. Elli steps out the elevator, not wanting to get caught in what seems like another awkward situation. She’s got black hair down to her upper back, with tight spiral curls and fuchsia highlights. Her features appear to be of Asian descent and she’s got a tall and slender build, with curves in the appropriate places. Those curves are displayed by her skin tight leather pants, crop top and matching leather jacket. Her heeled black boots come partially up her legs. She looks like one of those hot biker girls you’d see in a car magazine and even Elli can’t deny, she looks badass and sexy. She’d certainly be the perfect match with the gothic chic style that is Navi. She seems to be exactly Navi’s type, so she can’t help but wonder what their story is and why they broke up.
“Alice, what a surprise to see you here. I thought you were visiting your grandparents.”
“That was only for the weekend silly. Why, is this a bad time or something?” She eyes Elli.
“Well yea a bit, but only because we’re on our way to see the Empress. So I really need to go.”
“Oh I see; well I won’t keep you then. I’d rather Destini not come down here and stab me either for hugging up on you like this. Will you hurry up and break up with her already? I miss you.”
“Why are you rushing me? Even if I do, it’s not like I’m coming back to you.”
“You say that, but I know you better than that Navi. I’ve always been there for you to fall back on after your break ups, so this won’t be any different. Anyway, you go on ahead, I’ll find you later.” She kisses her cheek and then sashays away, trying to entice Navi as she does.
Elli steps forward. “Another one? Who’s that one? You were saying about polygamy?” She grins at her, calling her out on her previous declaration. “Just admit you’re a total player already.”
“She’s not another girlfriend or something ok, don’t get the wrong idea. She was, but that was many years ago. We’re just friends now and I have no intention of dating her ever again.”
“You sure she knows that? She seems to think that you two are getting together again.”
“Well we’re not. We have a habit of hooking up after our breakups, but it’s nothing more. Now just drop it already and let’s go. We’ve kept the Empress waiting long enough.” She cuts the conversation there and continues along. Elli doesn’t push it any further and instead looks all around at the city before her. It looks like something out of one of those old space movies, but in real life. She’s never seen anything quite so fascinating or captivating. It’s a real sight to behold.
They walk deep into the city and arrive at the largest building of the underground city. It appears to have multiple levels and a few tube elevators coming up from the ground level and reaching several floors high. Elli can’t help but wonder how there can be such tall buildings when above them is a whole other world; the human world. Looking around Elli starts to notice a variety of people walking around. There are those who look human like them, likely the Demikri, but then there are some who look like they may not totally human, but also don’t look totally Kree either; these must be the hybrids. Finally, there are many walking around that do look like Kree, but not nearly as vicious or rabid as she’s only ever know them to be. They act just like anyone else, the only difference is they look physically different. Seeing them like this actually makes them seem not nearly as scary as Elli thought they were and she actually feels at ease. There are many mixed families out and about as well. Families with a Kree or hybrid parent and a human parent. One child is Kree, another is a hybrid and one looks human. They are one unit.
As though she can read her thoughts, Navi explains the family unit. “Families like that are really common here, though let me correct the misconception I’m sure you have. That human parent actually isn’t human at all, but Kree. I know they don’t teach you this up there, but Kree don’t have to be the beasts you’ve seen. When Kree are healthy, they can choose what form they wish to appear in and many choose to look human, while others choose to embrace our alternate forms. Either way we don’t choose one over the other because we are ashamed or not. Shame has nothing to do with it. It’s simply about preference. Some Kree like the reptilian look and so do their partners, even if said partner wishes to take on the natural human-like form. Both sides or anything in between in the case of hybrids are accepted because we are all treated equally here. No one in a particular form is better than another and there are no unfair class systems. We have no bias against interracial or homosexual couples either. We don’t even look at those things in a judgmental light. We simply encourage everyone to live in a way that will make them happy and in a way that keeps us all safe. That is our ultimate law and is enforced above all else.”
“So mixed families of various Kree types are not unusual at all. As long as they are adequately nourished with the key elements, they can look human, just as Demikri look. The difference between us however, is that we as Demikri don’t need those elements to survive, though we can use them. Kree do need them and it’s only when they don’t get those elements that after a while, they become the monsters you’ve always seen. Think of it in terms of what humans would call a vitamin deficiency. You know that being deficient in the vital vitamins humans need to survive can cause physical and mental changes. Well, it’s the same for us. Those elements are our vitamins and when deprived of them we also experience physical and mental changes. We can go insane and become the mindless zombies you know and our physical appearance becomes reptilian-like in an effort to absorb as much of the elements as possible in limited environments, just as certain reptiles do. It’s all about survival Elli, that’s all we’ve ever wanted. We just want to survive, like humans or anyone else. We wished for harmony between us, but it was denied.”
“Denied? You mean the humans denied forming a unified society with the Kree?” She nods. “If you were not dangerous to us, which I can see now that you weren’t unless deprived of your nutrients, then why would the human society deny that kind of relationship? Especially since it seems like it could benefit us, most of all back then when our world was polluted with those vital elements that were bad for us, but just what you needed. That’s a win-win situation to me.”
Navi raises her arms in frustration. “That’s precisely the question Elli, to this day we still don’t know. The humans wanted us for their own selfish needs and to give them all the luxuries, but as soon as we were no longer needed they tossed us out and treated us like monsters all because we looked different from them and required different things to survive. That’s why you won’t find humans here, not a single one. There was a time in the past where our rulers allowed humans to intermingle and unite with us, which is how hybrids came to be, but about twenty years ago or so that was suddenly changed and no humans were permitted to enter our society ever again and those here were cast out.”
“How could they know though? If Kree look human when healthy, couldn’t they blend in?”
“No, simply because our eyes are a dead giveaway. If you were to go and look that “human” parent in the eyes, you’d see she’s got that burnt orange glow just as any other Kree and as we do to a lesser degree. No matter how human we look, the eyes are really the windows to our souls and will always give us away. No human has eyes like the Kree, which is why it’s easy to separate the two on either side. There was an exchange of sorts I guess you could say, where all the humans were sent back to that world and all the Kree who’d been integrating with the humans were sent back here. It was like a mass deportation on both sides and all the provinces were doing it; with the exception of the South as I mentioned before. That’s where I was born and the Valkyrie kingdom there didn’t jump on the bandwagon like the others. That was until your king and queen jeopardized that. Anyway, I won’t get into that again.”
“I wonder what was so bad between them that such extreme measures were taken? It’s so cruel.”
“Even I don’t know the full story, so that’s why we need to see the Empress. She can tell us everything we need to know and more. So let’s not linger any longer, she’s waiting. Follow me.” Elli simply nods and follows Navi as they pass through the doors just as before, with Navi scanning her ID. Elli takes a moment to think about all she just heard as they make their way to an elevator. She had no idea there was so much more to the Kree and now she really wants to know everything. They enter a large room that looks more like a control center than a throne room, but in the center on an elevated platform, there is indeed a throne. It looks equally futuristic with its glowing accents, but it’s unmistakably a throne just the same. Sitting in that throne is a beautiful woman, with long black hair, deep orange eyes, tanned skin, dressed in a cloaked jumpsuit and a modern headpiece. “May I introduce to you the Empress of Merope.”
“Evani…?” She may look more elegant and refined and her Kree features seem to be suppressed, but Elli could pinpoint her anywhere and in any form. This was her Evani.
The Empress smiles and as she stands, the room goes silent. She carefully makes her way down the stairs and approaches them. Reflexively, Elli bows down as is custom in her world, but she quickly notices that no one else is doing so and catches Navi from the corner of her eye smirking at her and laughing, teasing her with her eyes. Elli’s cheeks get hot from embarrassment and anger all at once, but that’s immediately dissipated when she feels a hand on her shoulder. “Raise your head child, there is no need for such formalities here. We do not govern under an absolute monarchy here as you are accustomed to, but rather a democratic monarchy. I may rule over our nation and make all executive decisions, but I hold an open court such that my people may voice their opinions and desires without fear of punishment. If the majority of the people wish it, then I feel it’s my duty as their ruler to see it through. I never force my wishes on my people without their general agreement, unless it concerns the welfare of our nation in which I will not hesitate to act as I see fit even if they don’t agree. That’s not a common practice however and during my time as ruler; things have been quite peaceful and everyone is happy as far as I know it to be. Would I be correct in feeling this way Navi? Can you honestly say you feel happy here?”
“Of course! Empress, you are a wonderful ruler and I’m sure anyone you ask would agree, right?” She looks at the others in the room and they all nod and cheer in agreement.
“I’m happy to hear that then. All I want is for all my people; Kree, Hybrids and Demikri included, is to be happy and equal in terms of their rights and opportunities. There should be no hatred amongst ourselves because we may be a bit different from another or have more wealth. It’s foolish to think that we can be equal in every way, as our society demands that there be a varied socio-economic standing across all citizens for the sake of business and otherwise, but that doesn’t mean a sanitation worker is any less important than me as ruler. I may have a better opportunity than them, but at the same time I’m Kree just the same as they are and share the same values. We are all one people and should be given the same chances to achieve as any other. We must help each other in whatever way we can, we must keep each other safe and we must continue to pride ourselves as Kree, never to forget that we are not monsters or beasts as we are so often called by the humans. We are simply who we are and we should celebrate that. So that’s why I say child, lift your head. You are no different from me and I respect you the same.”
Elli sees her standing before her, smiling as she always has, but now it seems different. Before she was just Evani; her only real friend in this world outside of Liam. However, now she is seeing her in a brand new light and it’s such an amazing one. She’d never have guessed that Evani was something so incredible as Empress of an entire nation, when she’d always been so laid back and simple during their times together. But even more than that, Elli can’t help but feel a warmth between them, stronger than she’s ever felt and suddenly she just knows. “Mom?”
Evani gasps abruptly. Not from shock, or fear or sadness, but in happiness. The words she’s longed to hear every day for the last sixteen years has finally graced her ears as her precious daughter looks at her with such expectant eyes. She can feel her own start to quiver. She places her hands tenderly against Elli’s cheeks and with a warm smile says, “yes that’s right. Elli, you are my daughter, my precious daughter and rightful heir to this throne. It’s always been yours.”
Elli’s eyes slowly begin to water as she comes to terms with the fact that her mother; who’d she never thought she’d get to meet is right in front of her. However, she realizes at the same time, she just dropped another huge bombshell on her. “My throne? Wait, are you saying that I’m…?”
Evani nods. “That’s right. Ellisia is a beautiful name and I commend Liam for picking it, it really suits you. However, that’s not who you truly are. You are my daughter, Angeli Conti, Crown Princess of Merope. Like I did with the empress before me; my own mother, when I die, this nation will be yours and it will be your duty to rule it justly and just as effectively in my stead.”
“Me, a princess? I’ll have to rule this entire nation?” Elli feels overwhelmed by this new revelation and Evani can see it. She pulls Elli in against her chest and comforts her.
“Don’t fret child, it’s early yet to be speaking of such things. For now, I just want you to understand yourself. I no longer wish for you to struggle and be confused about the things happening to you. For so long I had to hear you speak of the horrible prejudices and assaults those humans put against you, but be unable to say anything about it or even explain why you were different. You have no idea how often I considered just stealing you away and never letting you near those animals again. I almost did once; on that day you woke up alone in those dark woods. I’d released my pollen, which leaves the recipient in a sedated state and proceeded to take you away, but then I thought of Liam. I realized how fondly you spoke of him and how important he was to you. I knew that if I had taken you away from him so suddenly, you’d come to resent me. Even if I had told you it was for your own good, you surely would’ve hated me for taking away the only family you ever knew.”
“So I brought you back and just as I placed you down you began to stir. I heard someone coming and so I hid, but kept watch in case it was someone who planned to harm you. But it turns out it was a different case all together. When your path crossed with Amelia’s I knew, from the very moment your eyes met; she would become your everything. Even more than Liam. I think I saw it before either of you realized it yourselves and to be honest it made me sick. Of all the people it could’ve been, it had to be that girl specifically. The only one I wished for you never to meet. But then I realized there was an opportunity there and so I cashed in on it. It would allow you to stay with the one you love, while carrying out my plan from the inside. Even though I may have used the situation to my advantage, please don’t think I only wish to use you as my pawn. I wanted to tell you so many times who I really was, but the truth was…I was scared. I was terrified that you’d call me a monster and turn away from me and even if I had tried to tell you what you were, you wouldn’t believe me. So rather than risk it and lose you forever, I chose to love you from the distance and simply be your friend Evani. So to hold you like this now, to hear you call me Mom; it’s a dream come true.” She’d been holding back, but at last, Evani’s tears begin to fall. “For so long I’ve dreamed of this day. My Angeli, Mama is here for you now.”
“Mom…mommy…?” Elli’s eyes become filled to the brim, with a heavy stream they pool over. She returns Evani’s embrace and snuggles deeper into her chest. “I’ve always wanted to see you. Even though I knew it was impossible, somehow I just felt like there was a chance, even if really small, there was a chance that you could be out in the world somewhere. So for it to be you, for all this time…I’m just so happy! So, so, happy!” She cries even harder, almost like a baby and both overwhelmed in emotion, they fall to their knees on the ground, still wrapped in each other’s embrace. Neither has noticed that the throne room has been cleared out, leaving Navi.
She watches the touching scene unfold and is happy, always wishing that they could have this reunion one day. However, it also makes her think of her own mother, who’s final words to her were said in such an embrace, before she died in her arms. She’ll never forget the stench of her blood and the burning hatred she felt looking at the King and Queen. The scar across her eye is proof of that hatred, a reminder who her true enemy is and how much she wishes to burn their entire kingdom to the ground. Feeling that she’s intruding on their special moment, she leaves.
She steps out and decides to take this opportunity to go see Destini, since she’s sure they have a lot to catch up on and discuss. She’d been looking forward to hearing more of the story, but it seems she’ll just have to get the highlights from Elli later. Just as she starts to make her way there, her phone rings. Looking at the caller ID, she can see its Makena. Navi can’t help but laugh, feeling that even when she’s nowhere near her, Makena can somehow sense when she’s giving attention to another girl. She answers in amusement. “Hey Mak, did you know stalking is a crime? Do you want me to report you? Or should I just come over and teach you a-.”
“It’s just so frustrating…you know? She keeps putting all her time into Elli, to the point it almost seems like she’s obsessed, yet she tells me she’s not in love with her. How can I believe that?”
“Mak?” She calls her name, but there is no response. “Hey Makena, are you there?” Still no response. Navi realizes she must have butt dialed her or something. She starts to hang up, but then she catches on to the conversation and reconsiders, since it’s about her after all.
“Does it really make a difference if she does? I mean, is it really your concern how she feels about Elli? If all you want is to be friends with Navi, then you can do that even then.”
Navi recognizes the second voice as Megan. They must be hanging out and it sounds like they may be drinking as Makena seems to slur her words as she speaks. “Don’t go crazy Mak.” Navi shakes her head, surprised at herself. Why is she suddenly acting like a concerned girlfriend?
“It’s not my concern! I know that ok? It’s just…I don’t know….”
“Well…do you have feelings for Navi or something? I mean, you’re always watching her.”
“What?! No, I…I don’t…I…don’t…know?” There’s silence. “Maybe…?” She sounds confused.
Megan’s tone seems to change slightly. “Well, I think you should stay away from her.”
“Huh? Why do you think that? It’s not like you know her, so why are you saying that?!”
“Because…she’s no good. She’s a total playgirl, a womanizer and would never love you the way you deserve to be loved. If you think that you might be open to having a relationship with another girl; then…it should be with someone you can really trust and will worship, you.”
“Worship me? That’s kind of creepy isn’t it? I’m not into psycho, clingy boys or girls for that matter. If anything I’m the clingy one. That’s what Navi says anyway, but she doesn’t mind.”
Navi laughs under her breath. “You’re right about that one, you’re so annoyingly clingy.” But strangely, she really doesn’t mind; though she’s got to do something about her dirty mouth.
“It always comes back to Navi somehow doesn’t it? What the hell is so good about her?!”
Navi frowns. “Everything bitch, you’re the weird one who can’t see it because you’re too busy being obsessive over Mak. Don’t think I haven’t noticed you watching me. I’ve been watching you too. Mak is never going to be into you because you’re not considerate of her feelings.”
“You think so huh? I wonder about that. After all, I’m the one watching you right now.”
Navi is suddenly alert, realizing that it’s gotten quieter and that Mak never responded to Megan. “Hello? Mak, are you listening? Can you hear me?” It’s silent and then Megan laughs.
“Sorry, Mak is a little bit sedated at the moment, so she can’t hear you, but I’ve known you’ve been listening in this whole time, because I’m the one that called you. Surprising right?”
Navi frowns and grips her phone tighter. “What have you done you crazy bitch? Is Mak ok?”
“Of course she is, do you think I’d hurt her? She’s my best friend ever and I love her. I just need her to see that, so I decided to show her my love, that way she’ll really be able to understand”.
“So you think drugging her and getting her drunk is the way to do that? You really believe that’s a friendly thing to do? Last time I heard, performing sexual or any intimate act with someone when they are too out of it to give consent is still rape. Are you serious about this?” As Navi speaks, she’s begun to walk back the way they came. She’s preparing herself to leave quickly.
“Rape? No, I would never do something so unsavory. I know Mak wants this, the wetness between her legs is telling me so. You like it, don’t you Mak?” She can hear low moans.
“You…you’re crazy!” Navi starts walking faster, almost in a run. “Don’t you dare touch her!”
“Or what? You think you’re going to save her? I don’t know where you are, but wherever it is, it’s certainly too far away for you to get from there to here in enough time. I haven’t taken her clothes off just yet, but we’re getting there. A little foreplay is important you know. She laughs.
Navi’s face finally becomes panicked as she has now begun running, opting to skip the elevator and take the stairs. “You really are a sick girl; I hope you know that. Mak can really pick em.” She busts through the exit door and runs past Destini, who starts to wave, but then stops.
“Navi?” She watches as she runs for the entrance door. “Hey Navi, where are you running off to this time? Don’t you dare forget about our date tonight! I’ll never forgive you if you do.”
Navi ignores her, trying to stay focused on the call as she runs. She knows she needs to keep her on the phone as long as she can, to buy herself time to get there. She can run fast, but even she’s not superwoman. “You’re really stupid you know. You realize you are telling me exactly what you’re doing right? So now I can tell the guard and you’ll definitely be locked away.”
“Oh is that right? You really think you could do that? As if they’d listen to Demikri scum.”
Navi’s voice almost gets caught in her throat. “What? I don’t know what you’re even ta-.”
“Don’t try to play dumb with me. It’s so obvious just looking at your eyes. Same goes for Elli. My papa is a researcher at the compound and he’s dealt with Kree and those like you for years. He knows everything about your kind, including the best ways to kill you. Anyway, the point here is I know what you both are and I can easily alert them to it. Mak would find out too. You think she’d ever look your way again when she finds out? She hates monsters like you.”
“Tell me something I don’t know. All humans are the same, she’s one of the interesting ones, but still human just the same. I’m not looking for her to like me, I know that’s impossible. I just found her to be fun and so I thought I’d hang around a while. I never intended to stay by her side forever, so if you had just waited patiently and not gone full psycho, you’d probably have won her in the end. But now that I know what kind of despicable person you are, I can’t let you do as you please with her. Not for me, but for her sake. She deserves to come to terms with her sexuality in her own time and to have an experience she can enjoy. Doing this in such a shady way isn’t thinking of her feelings or showing her your love her. It’s only helping yourself.”
It’s silent for a few moments and Navi gets nervous thinking she may have hung up, but then she hears her taunting voice. “Wow, look at that scary face. Don’t worry, I won’t hang up on you. I want you to hear everything I’m doing as you run and realize you have failed to save her. Yea, I can see you’re running, but it looks like you’re pretty deep in the forest, so good luck getting here in time. Actually….” There’s a pause and then her phone lights up. She looks to see Mak’s video has now been turned on and she can see Mak sprawled out across her bed naked, as Megan leans over smiling for the camera. “Enjoy the show. She kisses Mak’s cheek and smiles tauntingly at Navi. She can see Mak is conscious, but not completely alert as she moans slightly.
She can hear various sounds as Megan starts making her move and although she doesn’t wish to look, the sounds alone are enough to make her sick. “Dammit! I swear I’m going to kill you!” She enters hyper drive, pushing herself to run faster than she’s ever even tried before. She has to make it to her. Even if it kills her, she can’t let this happen. She’s already been violated enough with all the superficial teasing, but she refuses to allow Mak to be violated in such an unforgivable way. She won’t let her first time be stolen from her when she wasn’t even aware enough to acknowledge it. This desire to save her pushes her to the extreme and somehow gets her to Mak’s house in a couple of minutes. She can see her small balcony window.
“Oh, seems like you’ve stopped. Have you finally given up? Too bad, I’m just getting to the best part. You’re welcome to continue enjoying the show though. I don’t mind sharing the view.”
“No, I haven’t given up at all, but you’d better say your prayers, because I’m coming for you.” She hangs up the phone and prepares herself to make the big jump.
“She actually hung up on me? Ha, well whatever, now I can really have some fun.” She angles her fingers, ready to take the plunge, but just before she does, there’s a loud crash. “What?!”
The window shatters and through it Navi comes flying right for Megan and tackles her. “I got you bitch!” Navi wrangles her to the ground and holds down her body, locking her in place.
“Hey, let go of me! I’ll call the guard. I’ll tell them you assaulted us and you’ll be-.” She’s instantly silenced after Navi hits her hard on the head, knocking her out cold.
“You talk too damn much!” She grabs Mak’s robe string and ties her hands and feet together. Then she runs over to Makena, examining her, praying she didn’t get too far. She breathes a sigh of relief as she confirms that Megan really only accomplished superficial acts, but it still doesn’t excuse her actions. Knowing Mak she’d probably want to brush it under the rug and say that it wasn’t a big deal, but Navi won’t be so forgiving. She takes Mak’s phone and finds a number, hitting the call button. “Hello, Mrs. Foster? I’m sorry to be calling, but I need to tell you something important.” She explains everything that happened and Mak’s mother promises to be home right away and bring the guard with her. After hanging up, Navi returns to Mak’s side. “Your mom is on her way Mak. I can tell that she only gave you a light sedative, so you’ll be ok.” She covers her with a blanket and sits beside her. For the first time, now that she’s calmed down, she realizes that she’d been terrified. More so than any other time in her life, but why?
About thirty minutes later, Mak’s mom, a guard and Megan’s mother all arrived. Both Mak and Megan had come to and were questioned separately. Mak really didn’t remember much, but was devastated to hear that Megan would do such a thing. Megan had tried to lie and say she found Navi assaulting Mak, but things weren’t adding up and so she eventually got caught. The guard allowed the mothers to discuss it privately and after what seemed to be a very tense conversation, Megan was allowed to go home with her mother, escorted by the guard. It seems they agreed on paying a fine for the window and suffering, as well as on a restraining order. Megan and Mak exchanged no words before she left, there was nothing they could say to each other. Their friendship was over. Navi was prepared to leave, but Mak asked her to stay and her mother gave the ok, feeling it would be good to have a trustworthy friend with her tonight. Navi agreed reluctantly, knowing that she’d be abandoning both Elli and Destini tonight, but she decided to worry about that later. For now, she had to be there for Mak, she needed her now.
Mak lies beside Navi, resting her head against her chest. She’d just taken a shower, but she still feels violated, even if Megan hadn’t gotten that far. Thinking about it again makes her sob and she clutches Navi’s shirt. Navi just lies silently, with her arms wrapped around her in support. “She was my best friend. The one person I always thought would be there for me. So for her to do something like this…it just isn’t right. She’s my person. I won’t make it without her.”
“Sure you will, just take it one day at a time and find a new person. You still have Jenna.”
“But it’s not the same. Jenna’s my friend, but she’s not my person. Megan was the only one.”
Navi is silent for a moment and then says something even she can’t believe. “Then I’ll be it.”
Mak sits up a bit to look at Navi. “You? What are you even saying? You can’t replace Megan.”
“I’m not saying I’ll replace her!” Her voice cracks under pressure. “I mean…I’ll be a new person.” Navi suddenly feels more nervous than ever but continues like on autopilot. “I’ll be there for you anytime you need me, if you want to talk or need someone to tell you when you’re being stupid. I’ll stay by your side for as long as you need me…if you’ll have me. Because I-.”
Navi stops abruptly unable to finish, but she doesn’t need to because in a moment she feels Mak’s lips on hers. Mak looks at her and responds simply with, “I know. I know because I love you too.” They kiss again, both their chests heavy, as their hearts are filled with newfound love.
*** “The Merope Sect”, Deep Woods-The West Province, Summer Year 2528 ***
Elli holds up her new ID card, just like Navi’s, but with her own name and number. She smiles, strangely feeling like she just got her entry pass into a super-secret society of people similar to her. She still doesn’t know much about this nation, but knowing it’s where she came from and that she has a mother who’s very much alive; it’s a wonderful feeling. She’s still absorbing all the other stuff about being the Crown Princess and otherwise, but for now she finally has a place she truly belongs and it feels good. She can’t wait to tell Amelia. “Officially one of us now huh?” Elli turns to see Alice. “Congrats, it is a pretty big honor I must say.”
“Alice…hi. Oh, um sorry, I guess we haven’t officially met, but my name is Ellisia. I’m-.”
“I’m aware of who you are Princess. Anyway, Navi just texted me and asked me to see you home, so let’s get to it. Not to be rude, but I do have other things to attend to you know?”
“Oh, I wasn’t aware Navi had left. It would’ve been nice if she let me know too.” She pulls out her phone and her eyes go wide. “Jesus….” Twenty missed calls, forty messages, all from Ame.
“It’s the girlfriend right?” Alice laughs. “I remember those days. I was just like that too. Always texting Navi like crazy, or calling or just always needing to keep tabs on her. I was clingy as hell and treated her like she was my oxygen. I couldn’t live without her, maybe I still can’t. Perhaps it was that behavior that pushed her away…. No, I know the real reason, we both do.” She seems to drift to an unhappy memory. “Well anyway, I can see now that those actions were not healthy and I needed to detox myself before I’d ever have a chance at a lasting relationship with Navi. So take the advice from a stranger who’s been in the other shoes, distance yourself a little. A relationship won’t grow and become stronger unless it’s given adequate space, so get it.” She laughs. “Oh look at me. Sorry, I get a bit too involved with other people’s business at times. Just ignore me, you don’t have to take my advice. Anyway, shall we go now?”
Elli looks at Alice with an initially aggravated expression, but then softens it when she realizes she may not be so off base. However, she doesn’t want to think of such extreme things. She does ultimately decide though, that she should visit Amelia at the hideaway, since she wanted to share her news anyway. “Actually, I appreciate you offering, but I can see my way out on my own. My girlfriend’s place isn’t far from here, so I’ll just meet her there.” Alice looks uneasy. “Really, I’ll be fine. Thank you. I’m sure I’ll see you around, I think I’ll be coming here a lot from now on.”
Alice accepts her decision and they wave goodbye. Elli runs off and through the woods. They used to seem so scary, but now they seem harmless. Maybe because now she knows that rogue Kree are not nearly as dangerous as they’d always been told. She approaches the fort and sees the light is on. She reaches the door and walks in casually, like any other night. “Hey Lia, I have so much to tell-.” A loud slap echoes through the walls and Elli’s face stings from the impact. She places her hand on her cheek and looks at the girl in front of her with a shocked expression. Ame stands before her, her face red in fury, while tears fall from her eyes. “Amelia, what are you-.”
“Where were you?” She says this in a low tone and Elli doesn’t respond. “I asked you where you were! You’d better have a good reason for ignoring all my calls and messages. Who were you-.”
“Hey!” Ame is cut off by Elli’s shout, which startles her. “Just who the hell do you think you are? We’re dating and yes I am your girlfriend, but do you think that gives you the right to interrogate me as soon as I walk in and slap me? Do you think it’s ok to blow up my phone with all these messages and calls? I’m not your child, or your dog or your slave. You don’t own me. I spent the afternoon doing something on my own that didn’t include you. Sometimes that’s going to happen. You can’t freak out like this every time I’m out of your sight for too long or if you can’t reach me for a few hours. You need to calm down a little, ok? I’ll always come back.”
Amelia didn’t seem to be listening, her attention instead on the new ID around Elli’s neck. “What is that? Isn’t that the same sort of lanyard Navi wears around her neck? Is that who you were with all this time? What were you doing with her? I told you to stay away from her Elli!”
Elli was trying to stay calm, but now she finds herself getting angry. “Woah, back up there a sec. You told me? You didn’t tell me anything because again, you don’t own me and I don’t have to listen to your commands. I know you requested that I stay away from her, but honestly that’s not your decision to make. You can’t dictate to me who I can and can’t hang out with. I also thought Navi was bad news and intended to stay away, but then I found out something amazing today thanks to her. I’d like to share it with you, but with you acting like this, it almost makes me want to not. Just drop it. Now, as I was saying, I found out some great news today. I met my-.”
“I don’t want you spending time with her! I refuse to let her corrupt you and turn you into one of those monsters. She’s no good Elli. So just listen to what I say. Don’t waste your time finding out about those beasts. As long as you stay with me, everything will be fine. I’m all you-.”
“Those beasts, those monsters, that’s all you ever call them. That’s all you ever say, but have you ever really gotten to know them? I know you don’t want to accept it, but you do understand that they are me right? I am one of them, I am Kree! Yes, maybe I’m Demikri specifically, but that still falls under the same species. So hearing you and everyone else call them monsters and beasts really hurts because they’re the same. You saying that of them is saying that of me!”
“No, you’re not like them, I already told you! You are human Elli; you always have been.”
“No, it’s what you’ve always wanted me to be.” Elli takes a breath, as she realizes the truth. “You never really intended to accept me as I am, did you? You and your mom and even Liam all keep saying, you’re human Elli, you’re not like them. But the truth is I’m just like them, but it was all of you who’s been blinding me to that fact. What I learned today is that I’m not alone anymore. I have a place I belong, I truly belong and am not judged because of my differences. You know what else I learned? I learned Evani is my mother, I learned that she’s the Empress of Merope, the Kree nation in the North. I also learned that I’m the Crown Princess of this nation. I learned all these amazing things thanks to Navi today and I was so eager to come share them with you, but you jumped on me immediately before I could get a word in and accused me of doing wrong. You offended me by saying such offensive words against those like me. All this time I’ve been letting it all slide because I believed I was human. But I’m not human Ame and clearly you’re not ready to accept that. You’re not ready and I can’t keep doing this with you.”
Ame finally calms down enough to hear Elli’s words. “What, what are you saying Elli?”
She takes a deep breath and takes Ame’s hands as Alice’s words come to mind. “I’m saying I need some space, we both do. I need time to discover exactly who I am and what I’m capable of and you need to learn how to stand on your own two feet. You rely on me too much Lia. I can’t be your oxygen and still stay afloat, I need room to breathe too. I also need you to decide if you can accept what I am, because I’m not going to hide it any longer. I’m not ashamed of who I am and I’d like if you weren’t either. I’m not saying it’s forever, but just for now. There’s a month before I have to move in to the compound, so let’s just take a break until then ok?”
“No…no, I don’t want that! Elli, please…I’m sorry! I’m sorry so just please don’t leave me….”
Elli hugs her. “I really do love you Lia, never forget that. I’ll come back to you soon.” She kisses her tenderly and starts to walk away. However, she’s embraced tightly from behind and halted.
“I’m sorry. I’m really sorry, so please…just stay with me. I do, I accept all of you, I swear! So just….” Ame pulls Elli back and together they fall back onto the bed. Ame kisses her, more sensually than before and Elli finds her resolve quickly weakening. Ame may have initiated it in desperation, but Elli has no will to resist and returns her embrace. They make passionate love, neither of them certain if it’ll be for the last time. They fall asleep afterwards, Ame clinging tightly to Elli like a lifeline. Elli wakes up and eases herself from her grip and the bed. She gets dressed and watches Ame for a bit longer. She looks so venerable, just like a child.
Elli leans down by her ear and whispers into it. “I know you don’t understand right now and I don’t expect you to forgive me, but I have to do this, for both our sakes. I’ve discovered a whole new world, one that I actually belong to and so I can’t just ignore that. I need to find myself and learn about the past from the other side. I need to connect to my roots before I can consider trying to rule over this nation by your side. I need to be sure that this is the right path. I really do love you Lia and I will see you again, I promise you. So please stay strong and be safe.” She kisses her lips and then removes the hair band from around her wrist, placing it on Lia’s. Just as Lia did for her three years before, she leaves this hairband as the promise that she will return. She covers her up with a blanket and then with one final look around their precious home, filled with memories of their time together, she steps out and walks off into the night. She starts off walking, but as she does, her legs get heavier along with her chest and she finds herself running, as the tears pour down her face. She runs deep into the woods and finds herself back at the entrance to Merope. She falls to her knees and cries harder as she sobs. It all sets in that she just broke up with her girlfriend and knowing the pain she’s going to leave her with almost kills her. She feels someone’s arms wrap around her and at first she thinks it’s her mom or Navi, but is surprised to find Alice. She looks at her with sympathetic eyes, understanding everything without Elli having to say a word. Elli takes solace in her unexpected support, crying harder. Alice somehow had a feeling she should follow her, as though there was a bad omen and she’s glad she did. Her heart hurts for Elli, but she knows all too well that this is how it has to be.
Behind the cover of the trees, someone watches, his hand moving rapidly as he writes in his notepad. “Such pain, such emotion! Yes, this is what I’ve been waiting for. We have at last come to the crossroads and our first act is at an end. Now girls, how will the second act begin?” He closes his pad and walks into the night with a sinister smile. “Oh, how I love a good tragedy.”