The Valkyrie Princess (Act 1)

In the year 2530, the world has been reformed after the deadly attack by the Kree 500 years before. These humanoid aliens invaded, craving the high levels of Carbon and other elements in the height of the earth's global warming crisis. However, these elements could also be found in human blood, leading the Kree to attack humans. The brave warriors known as the Valkyries rose up and fought, saving humanity from total ruin. The world became a green utopia and natural preservation is strictly enforced to avoid another crisis and the potential for another invasion. Amelia, a charming, boyish, warrior, is the next in line to become Armenia's new Valkyrie, but then she meets Ellisia. This peculiar, but kind and beautiful girl changes everything she thought she knew and upon meeting, their tragically beautiful love story begins.


7. What Sleeps Beneath, What Lies Below

*** “The Foster Household”, Armenia-The West Province, Summer Year 2528 ***

            As their lips press together for the umpteen time, there are sparks between them that surge through their bodies. Their hearts and minds are connected as they ask themselves; what is this feeling? Has a girl ever smelled so good before? Has a girl ever looked so good before? Have girls always had such soft lips? Is this what it means to be in love with someone? All of these questions circulate through their heads as the heat flares up between them. Makena’s mind is in a frenzy, so many new emotions and desires are erupting from within her. She doesn’t completely understand her own heart and is powerless to control her body. It’s as though she’s on autopilot and her hands are moving on their own, as they reach to remove Navi’s shirt.

“Mak…wait.” Navi gently takes her hand, halting her from going any further. “I…I can’t.”

Makena’s face drops in disappointment. “I see. Well, sorry I couldn’t be a supermodel.”

Navi feels a sting in her chest upon seeing her sad face. “No, it’s not that Mak. It’s not that I don’t want to be with you, it’s just…well, I have to end things properly with my girlfriend.”

Makena becomes appropriately shocked. “Girlfriend?! Wait, so you mean you’ve been spending all this time with me and have even confessed your love while having a girlfriend? Navi….”

Navi puts up her hands in innocence. “I swear that wasn’t my plan or intention! I never meant for us to become so close. When we first met, I thought you were a materialistic, snobby nightmare.” She can see her face drop in anger. “I did, did! I don’t think that anymore! Over the month I’ve gotten to spend getting to know you, I’ve come to see that I only saw the mask of the girl beneath. Over time, you slowly began to peel off the mask around me, I’m not sure you even realized it yourself. You started showing the sides of yourself no one knew and on the night I came to see you, it was then that I realized you were not the Barbie girl we’ve all seen at school. I realized that you were a much deeper and cultured girl than you’d make people believe. Honestly, it was on that night I realized how interesting you really were and how much fun I’d had spending time with you. I realized you were only hiding behind your mask to protect yourself for the scrutiny you’d likely receive for being yourself. For admitting that you were actually a good person and a bookish nerd who was actually quite smart and happened to be a lesbian. You were afraid to show them that side of you; the true side of you, yet you showed it to me. I think it might’ve been then that I fell in love with you, but never having been in love before, I had no idea what I was feeling or how to handle it. I wanted to run away and never look back, but then I got to thinking about how’d I’d never get to see you again and I felt like dying. Then Megan went crazy and pulled that stunt and that was the final nail in my coffin. When I knew there was a chance that she’d steal away your virtue, not only was I terrified for you because no one deserves to have that stolen in such a crooked way, but to be honest I was jealous. Thinking about her touching you, kissing you, loving you in place of me, knowing she’d be the one to have your first time when she didn’t have the right nor deserve it, it made me madder than I’ve ever felt before and drove me to push myself further than ever before. We live in two different worlds and being together is all but impossible, yet the pain of leaving you behind and never seeing you again is far greater than any threat of punishment I may face.”

Makena looks into Navi’s eyes, which look at her with so much adoration and feels as though her stomach is doing flips. She’s sure that she just fell in love with her ten times over and the desires that’d been welling up from within her have reached the breaking point. Unable to hold back; she grabs Navi’s face in her hands and pulls her in, kissing her with intense passion that makes Navi feel weak. She pulls back and with her sultry gaze she whispers, “I need you so badly, please don’t make me wait too long ok?” She gazes at Navi, her eyes practically begging for her love.

Navi feels her entire body react, practically radiating with the heat of her lust. She strokes Makena’s cheek as she says, “I’ll do it first thing tomorrow, I promise you Mak. I swear it.”

“No, not first thing tomorrow. We have school and I’m not going to let you skip out and leave me alone. You can do it after school and we’ll go together. From now on; we’re in this together.”

Navi smiles and kisses her hand tenderly. “Commanding as always aren’t you babe?”

Makena smirks. “Hmph, that’s right. I’m very selfish and don’t like to share, I blame it on my parents for never having more children. I’m going to nag you and be very demanding, but I’m also a fair commander. I’ll always see to it that you are very well taken care of and rewarded.”

She winks seductively and Navi grins. “Miss Foster, I do think you may just be a naughty girl and closet freak…but I’m not complaining. I think it’s hella sexy and makes me want to cheat.” She leans in for another kiss, but Makena places a finger against her lips, stopping her cold.

“No more kisses for you until you’re a free girl; I don’t date cheaters. Let that motivate you.”

“Aww, you’re so cruel…but it’s ok because I’m a patient girl and like the chase. I promise I’ll end things tomorrow, but I want you to promise me something too. Promise me that you’ll stop pretending to be someone you’re not and putting others down in an attempt to hide your insecurities. Most of all, please stop being so derogatory about Elli’s orientation, especially now that you’ve realized, I hope, that you are the same. It’s not helping any of us and hurts us.”

Makena looks down in genuine shame for the first time. “I know…I feel like such a bitch about it. I was so determined to make people see me as that Barbie girl, that I was willing to trade my morals to do it. I wasn’t raised to be so shallow and judgmental, it was this judgmental and cruel society that made me that way. I used to be more like myself in elementary school, with my bushy red hair, freckles, glasses and all. I was the best reader in class and my writing was impeccable for a ten-year-old. That was the only thing my father ever really did for me; teach me the art of writing from a young age before he bailed on my mother and I. He was a professional writer and highly revered for his work. However, according to mom, he took his stories too far and was banished from the writing world. This turned him into a pretty despicable person and then he bailed; never looking back for either of us again. It was after this that my mother became distant and withdrawn from me. She threw herself into work at the hospital, taking any extra shifts she could, just so she wouldn’t have to see me and be reminded of him. Things have been a bit strained between us ever since. Things got pretty lonely after all that went down, but I held on because I had one friend who’d been with me from the diaper days. That was Megan of course.”

Navi can see the sadness behind her eyes. Predator or not, Megan was her friend. “I’m sure Megan was an invaluable friend to you. I’m truly sorry things turned out like this.”

“Yea, me too. But you know, having reflected on it over these last couple of hours; I’m starting to realize that she’s probably just as broken as me. I mean don’t get me wrong, I can’t forgive her. I won’t forgive her, but I do think I can understand why she felt she had to do that. It’s possible that I may have given her the impression I felt the same for her and was just too scared to admit it. You see, we were so close growing up, it was like we were sisters. There’s nothing she didn’t know about me or me her. We’d seen each other at our most venerable many times, but she was always supportive and did her best to be a good friend. In our last year of elementary school; we both started to experience changes. You know, puberty, mood changes, and most of all, self-awareness. It was like we both looked at each other during a bath one day and realized that it was embarrassing to be seen that way. We’d finally start to wonder, “why are these lumps on my chest getting bigger? Why does it tickle and leave a weird sensation when they are touched? What’s this slippery stuff between my legs? We’d started to experience lots of things we didn’t understand and no one explained to us, so we turned to each other to find out. We started to explore our own bodies together, learning what it meant to masturbate, showing each other what felt good and how to maximize the pleasure and we even went as far as to feel each other up and kiss from time to time. That’s as far as we’d ever go, as I wasn’t comfortable in doing more. However, I realize now that it wasn’t that I didn’t want to do more, my dreams of making out with my teenage babysitter proved as much, but rather because I didn’t feel that way about Megan. She was my dearest friend and I loved her, but more like a sister than a lover. I never realized that for her, it went much deeper than that and she wasn’t just messing around or exploring. She’s always loved me and I’m just the idiot who never realized it. If I had, maybe I could’ve set her straight before it got to that point. Maybe I could’ve shown her how important she was to me and how much I needed her without becoming an item. None of this is an excuse for what she’s done, but I can’t help but feel guilty that I could’ve prevented her fall into this darkness if I’d just been more aware. If I’d stayed true to myself, rather than change from middle school on just so I’d fit in. So I’d no longer be suspected of being gay. I was scared of being outcaste for it so not only did I hide and deny that part of myself, but I began to bash it, as though to prove that I definitely wasn’t the type. I was a coward, but I’m not going to be anymore. I’m done hiding myself and living a double life. Barbie Makena is a disgusting, homophobic bitch and I refuse to associate myself with her any longer. From now own, I’m going to be Makena the Bookworm, aspiring writer and lesbian with a hot and sexy girlfriend. Imagine how shocked everyone will be when we walk in tomorrow hand in hand and I look like a totally different person? I think they’ll question their sanity. It’ll be interesting for sure.”

“Well to be honest, I think the recent events will be far more prevalent in their minds, but it should prove entertaining all the same. I don’t think you should feel guilty about it because ultimately she had the choice to tell you her feelings at any time. She chose to keep them hidden and then to use an underhanded scheme to show you instead of facing you directly. She’s the coward in my opinion, but I’m proud of you for genuinely feeling remorseful. I’m proud of you for be willing to even face school tomorrow and come out after all of this. You are so amazing.”

Makena blushes slightly at the compliment and then returns to her tough demeanor. “Yea well like I said before; I know. You know though, I think you’re pretty amazing too. You ran what seems like a very long distance to get to me on time and managed to bust through my window. I know you haven’t really wanted to discuss it and I haven’t pushed it because to be honest, I don’t really care what you are, but I think it’s the best time to finally ask, just what are you Navi?”

Navi tenses a bit, but tries to maintain her composure and play it off. “What am I? Mak, did you hit your head too hard or something? I’m just the same as you of course. I climbed up to the window and jumped through it since it was locked. Anyone could do that.”

“Don’t lie to me! You don’t have to tell me the truth, but don’t you dare lie to me and insult the intelligence you just admitted to liking. I’ve known from the start that your so called “community” was just a cover for the truth. I’ve read many books in case you have forgotten and there were several on the Demikri sects and even more on the Kree. If you don’t want to tell me outright, then allow me to give it my best guess. You’re clearly not the Kree as we know them, so that leaves one of two things. You’re either a hybrid or a Demikri. Considering the fact that our environment is intentionally devoid of the elements Kree thrive on and therefore would never allow a true Kree to sustain life or avoid reverting to their reptilian form, hybrid is ruled out too. That only leaves Demikri, as you would not need these elements to survive and can easily integrate into our societies. Also unlike the hybrids, your eyes are not nearly as distinctly Kree, so it’s easy to blend in even more. So I think it’s pretty obvious that you’re Demikri, but I’d like it if you could admit it yourself and explain exactly what that means. I know what the books say, that you’re a monster that’s simply learned how to hide in plain sight, but I don’t believe that. The Navi I’ve gotten to know over these weeks is no monster and so I want to know the truth of not just Demikri, but Kree in general. If the books are wrong about one, then they’re probably wrong about the other, so who better than someone directly involved in the subject to explain?”

Navi starts to deny it again and continue on with the act, but looking into her eyes, she realizes that Mak’s too smart for any of her lies. “Damn…you’re too smart for your own good you know. Haven’t you ever heard that saying, “curiosity killed the cat?” she laughs. “You’re a persistent little kitten.” She sighs. “Ok, you’ve caught me red handed, so I won’t lie to you anymore. You’re right, I am Demikri, but you’re also wrong. I am Kree Mak, wearing a different skin doesn’t change that. I was born from Kree and I will die like a Kree too. I’m Kree, this is me.”

Makena watches as Navi looks away as though ashamed and she frowns. “You say such a confident phrase, yet you turn your head down like you can’t accept it. So you’re Kree, and? Does that mean that you can’t still live virtuously? Does that mean you are any less than I? I won’t deny that I was terrified along with everyone else about the chance that we could be invaded by Kree and devoured. It was what we were taught and until I found my books, what I believed. However, through my reading I’ve come to realize that if we close ourselves up to the knowledge held within them and choose to only follow the teachings of others, how could we ever grow? To do as your told and never question is the same as being a slave. However, the difference is we’ll become enslaved by ourselves, the Kree won’t have to do a thing. Not all Kree are good, but I understand now that not all Kree are bad. Just as humans have bad seeds, our fellow races would too. I think the problem our nations face is that no one is willing to seek out knowledge to understand each other. There are prejudices on both sides fueled by fear and past events that were likely due to poor communication and understanding as well. Everything I’ve read has shown that humans and Kree could live together with a little understanding and that it’d only be in the best interest of both sides to do so. If you’re looking down in shame because you think that I will look down on you for being how you were born, then you clearly have no faith in me. Do you believe I’d truly be so shallow? I’m in love with Navi Dumont, my milk chocolate sweetie. So I don’t care what you are as my love won’t change. I only wish to understand you better. I want to know who you are and the truth behind this scar.” She gently brushes her fingers across it, making Navi flinch momentarily, but then she relaxes and lets her do it as she tenderly holds her arm in her hands. A few tears manage to escape her eyes as well.

“I really don’t deserve you. You’re the only person who’s ever accepted me so honesty and genuinely, Kree and Human alike. Most people look negatively upon me for my scar and find it gross or take it as an indicator that I’m no good, but you’ve always praised it as something interesting and cool. You haven’t judged me for being who I am and even knowing the truth you still say you want to be with me. I used to think humans didn’t deserve our help and all the products we’ve provided for you because you were selfish, prideful creatures, but now I see that just as with my kind, humans also have a variety of people. For as many bad humans there may be, there are still good ones like you and that means everything to me. It makes me feel like that young girl again who believed I could be one of you too, without having to stop being myself. So thank you Makena, for telling me it’s ok to love myself and for loving me like I love you.”

Finding it hard to hide her blushes, Makena now turns away from Navi. “Yea well, I guess someone has to love you, so might as well be me. I’ll be sure to keep you straight…well you know what I mean.” They laugh together and then Makena lies against Navi’s chest like she did that night. “I’m tired, so tell me a bedtime story. I want to hear the story of Navi the Demikri.”

“That’s a pretty boring story, but I suppose if you insist, I can’t possibly deny you. Don’t blame me if you fall asleep in the middle and miss some of it though.” She chuckles and then with a deep breath, she begins to chronicle her life from the beginning to the day she arrived there.

            “I was born 16 years ago to a family of commoners in the city of Karachi, in the South province. My parents were one of the selected to integrate into the human society, leaving our sect when they were young adults. They became blue collar workers and five years later; they gave birth to me. We didn’t have loads of money, but we had enough to get by and we were far richer than any of the nobles in our love for each other. Our neighbors accepted us too and growing up, I played right along with the other city kids. I began school with them and became good friends with many as well. I grew up thinking that even though I was a type of Kree, I still belonged in the human world. Of course there were those older citizens who cast their stones, but with the love and support of my friends and family, I was able to get through it. I even got to experience the joys of my first love, who as it turned out was a human. Now understand, when I say love I don’t mean the same love that I’m feeling now with you. The love I had with that girl was much purer and more or less superficial. She was the one who made me realize I could only love girls and she was my first in my path of sexual discovery. We shared all of our firsts together and besides this, she was a true friend to me. Even when things went downhill and all of my human “friends” turned their backs on me. She even went as far as to follow me when things did go bad and even gave up her human life, just to stay by my side. To be honest, I wish that I could have fallen in love with her, because she’s been far too good to me for me to have rejected her as I have. But at the same time, I won’t force love where there isn’t any.”

“Is this girl your current girlfriend? Is she the one you’re going to break up with?”

“No, we haven’t dated since I arrived here a few years ago. She’s just an irreplaceable friend who I hook up with in my times of weakness, usually after a break up. I’ve been trying to stop that though, mostly for her sake because I know it continues to give her hope that we’ll get back together one day and that I’ll come to fall in love with her. I won’t though, for anyone but you.”

“Well then, if you really don’t want to hurt her, you should make sure you set her straight tomorrow too. You have me to turn to now in times of weakness and so you don’t need her in that way anymore. However, I’d never tell you not to be friends with her. I’m selfish, but I’m not that insecure that I can’t trust you to be honest with me. I promise to put my faith in you and always give you the benefit of the doubt until you break that trust. Just know that I don’t forgive easily, so be mindful of that if you ever think of squandering my trust.”

“I know and I appreciate your trust in me. So please trust me too when I say that I’ll never betray you Mak, I’ll always be honest and if anything, were to ever change by some rare chance about how I feel about you, I promise you’ll be the first to know. As I told you when we first met, I take my relationships seriously and always treat my girls right. I’m not a cheater.”

“I know; you don’t have to convince me. Now, I want to hear more about your past.”

“Seriously, you’re not bored yet? I guess I’ll keep going then. When I was fourteen, your King and Queen arrived to our province, accompanied by some strange man. He was apparently the royal scribe and was there to record the official business between the kingdoms. The King and Queen were already holding their noses high from seeing how the South did things in terms of allowing integration of Kree and Humans, but once that man started sneaking around, their suspicions got worse and tension began to rise. He began telling them lies about our race planning to revolt and take over from the inside out, using Demikri as their pawns. Of course this was a lie, but when you put out enough “evidence” and pack on the pressure to the point where the South’s royals were beginning to be criticized, naturally they’d cave. Unable to avoid it any longer, they decreed that all Kree and Demikri alike were immediately banned from the city and had to return to our sect, one that those like me didn’t even really know. However, we were willing to oblige to avoid bloodshed, but a couple of rogue Kree attacked the South’s Queen and this broke our treaty. We suddenly became a threat and so were ordered to be immediately executed. Not one man, woman or child of Kree origin was to be spared, not even those in the sect. It became a full on genocide and your King and Queen were the leaders of it all, pulling the South’s royals along for the ride to avoid being shamed. It was a massacre, an absolute bloodbath and that scribe stood off to the side jotting it all down in his book like it was the most exciting thing he ever saw. I’m certain that he was behind it somehow, or at least heavily involved, but there was no proof. My parents were passive and so attempted to plead with the royals and reason with them, but their words fell on death ears. My father was decapitated right in front of our eyes and then your King stabbed my mother through her heart, while your Queen pierced her head with the blade. They did this all while she was shielding me. So when she fell, it was on top of me, her blood pouring out of her and onto me. I’ll never forget the smell of her blood, the weight of her body or the condescending looks of your King and Queen as they watched my mother bleed out and die or this scar they gave me when I fought back. My heart became filled with hatred for them and all humans that day, vowing never to trust them again. I was rescued and managed to flee with the empress of our sect and a few others, but most died along the way. Only the empress and I made it here and she died soon after we arrived, leaving just me to live with my Aunt who’d immigrated here years before. I still wonder why I had to be the only person of my sect to survive and I often think I’m betraying them by living and even having the nerve to be happy about it. So for me to have found such happiness with you, it feels wrong.”

Navi didn’t even realize she was crying until Makena wipes away a tear from her cheek. “Of course you deserve to be happy! It’s because you had to go through such a traumatic experience that you do. Living on isn’t a betrayal to your sect, it’s an honor! By living in their name, you are ensuring that no one will ever forget they existed. Your existence is proof that you will not ever be able to snuff out the righteous. Every time the King and Queen see your face, I’m sure they’ll remember that horrible day, even if they don’t feel they did anything wrong. To experience something like that, to lose your family is such a gruesome way, Navi…you are the strongest person I’ve ever met. I don’t think I could’ve stayed sane if I experienced that, not many could. I’m sure your empress worked hard and gave it her all until her last breath to see you make it so that you could live and carry on their legacy. You are the very soul of your people and if the day should come where you have to face the royals again, you will have the force of those thousands of souls behind you and they will surely give you strength. So you must keep fighting for them.”

“Mak you…thank you.” Her voice starts to break. “Thank you so much!” Navi completely breaks down, unable to hold back any longer. It all comes flowing out at once. Her pain of losing her parents and her people, her sadness and regret for being allowed to live and all the newfound love and feelings she has for Makena. She’s never felt more loved, more important, more worthy of anyone in a long time. Makena comforts Navi with complete compassion, holding back tears of her own.

She had no idea such cruelty could be dealt by the hands of the King and Queen she’s always looked up to and knowing that it was their will makes her feel sick.  For the first time in her life, she feels disconnected from her life, as though her existence has all been a lie and that she’s just been a sheep in a flock controlled by wolves. She’d always been taught that the Kree were dangerous, bloodthirsty beasts who’d kill you in a second, but so far she’s only come across those that are really no different from her. Even Elli, who she can’t say she cares for, is a good person. She realized pretty quickly that she was like Navi and that made her jealous to know they could connect in that way when she couldn’t. She finds herself now wishing that she could be like them too, so that she may truly stand beside Navi as an equal. She doesn’t need to be a genius to see that the relations between the two nations is becoming strained and taking a turn for the worse. Like Navi said before, war is coming and surely she will too have to pick a side. She knows it’ll also mean that Navi will have to leave and she finally understands that she’ll be left with nothing if she goes. That’s why she’s going to involve herself in every aspect of Navi’s life, to make it clear that she intends to stay by her side, even if it means that she too must sacrifice her humanity. She never had much doubt about it, but after hearing of the lies their kingdom has told and the horrors they have brought, she finds it much easier to walk away. She’s quickly come to realize that the love she has with Navi only comes once, as it is destined love and so she’s not going to let it pass her by. She’s going to chase after it, no matter what she has to sacrifice and no matter who she has to leave behind. “That’s my promise to you Navi.” She kisses the sleeping Navi’s forehead and then rests her head against hers and falls asleep too.

*** “J.S. Lawrence High”, Armenia-The West Province, Summer Year 2528 ***

            The room is dead silent as Navi and Makena walk in, one hand in the other. The tension is high and not even because they are holding hands or that Makena is almost unrecognizable with her naturally curly hair and glasses. As they expected, word got around quickly and everyone is unsure of what to do or say knowing what happened between her and Megan, who is not in today. Makena feels slightly nervous, but feeling Navi tighten her grip on her hand, she feels stronger. So with her head held high and with little fear, she walks them to their seats, and tries to carry out her day as usual. Jenna sits beside Makena on the side opposite of where Megan sat and looks at her nervously. The teacher hasn’t arrived yet and Jenna takes the opportunity to say something. “Hey Makena, are you…ok?” She asks this carefully, unsure how she’ll react.

“It’s ok Jenna, you don’t have to be so anxious. I’m ok and I really don’t want to make this awkward. It happened and I’m sad of course, but I’m not going to fall apart. So just relax.”

Jenna seems to relax a bit, but still seems nervous as she says, “oh, well that’s good news. I’m really glad you’re ok. I honestly never imagined something like that would happen. I mean, I’ll be honest, I kind of knew Megan had a thing for you, but I never imagined you were gay too, so I never said anything. I figured she’d just accept that it was an unrequited love. I feel bad because maybe if I’d said something to you anyway, maybe things would’ve been different.”

“I wouldn’t feel guilty over it Jenna. I was also told recently that things go both ways and so the blame isn’t solely your own. I’m sorry Megan couldn’t feel comfortable enough to share her feelings with me honestly, and even though I can’t forgive what she’s done, I don’t hate her. She’s always going to be in my heart as my best friend, even though we have to part ways. Also Jenna, I just want to say that I’m not going to hold you hostage. She’s your friend too and she did nothing wrong to you, so I encourage you to continue being her friend in my place. I’m sure she’s going to feel very lonely now that she lost me and is going to need support. So if you want to help me, please keep her safe and give her that support. Of course, I’ll still be your friend if I can, it just can’t be all three of us together anymore. I hope you can understand.”

“Yea, I understand Makena and I appreciate that. I actually spoke to her last night after she got home and the news had just started to break. She called me crying, saying how she messed up and lost you forever. I actually went over to her house because I really thought she was going to kill herself at one point in guilt. Thankfully she didn’t try to do that, she was just really messed up emotionally and cried on my shoulder most of the night. Not to mention her parents ripped her a new one for what she did, saying she’s disgraced their family. They are actually considering sending her to live with her Uncle and his family in the North Province, especially now that she can’t be near you. She won’t even be able to finish out the last weeks of school here. All she can do is stay in her room, basically under house arrest and cry in her regret. I know you said you won’t forgive her and I totally respect your feelings, but if you really mean it about wanting me to be her support, then please let me pass on this message. She’s so sorry for what she’s done and won’t ask for you to forgive her, but she desperately wants to see you just one more time before she’s sent away. Just so she can finally face you directly and tell you everything she was feeling and just how sorry she was. She needs a proper rejection for closure.”

Makena is silent, thinking deeply of what she was just told. She can’t deny that she also secretly wished to meet her once more, to get answers, but wonders if it’s a good idea, especially since it’s already become a legal matter. She looks to Navi, who understands what she needs without her having to say a word. “I won’t make your decisions for you, but I can’t say I support it.”

Jenna looks disappointed, all but certain that Makena will refuse, but is pleasantly surprised upon hearing her response. “Ok, I’ll meet with her, but only for a few minutes so we can say a proper goodbye and I want you to be there as a witness. Is that ok with you?” Jenna’s face lights up.

“Of course! I’m so happy Makena, really! I know how good of friends you two were and so to see it end so poorly would’ve been devastating. I promise you won’t regret this Makena.”

“Yea, I’m not worried. Anyway, did you do the homework last night, because I didn’t?” They start talking and laughing away like old times, but Navi can’t help but be bothered by the smoothness of it all. She has a really bad feeling, but decides to trust Makena’s judgement.

            Once the school day is over, everyone packs up and leaves in a hurry. Navi and Makena get many stares as they walk through the halls holding hands and the murmurs can be heard, but neither hangs their heads in shame, using each other’s support to stand tall against it all. Once they get to Makena’s house, they drop off their bags and then Navi leads the way towards Merope. “Hey, so did you guys decide on a time to meet?”

“Yea, tonight at Megan’s house. Her parents won’t be home so we can talk in secret. You can come too by the way, the more people the better probably.”

“No, I’m sorry, but I don’t think I can stand being in the same space with her without wanting to ring her neck. I can’t forgive her either because she hurt you. So I’ll pass this time.”

“Ok, I understand. I’d rather you not get carted off to jail. So then, you’ll wait for me after?”

“Of course. Just call me after and I’ll come pick you up. Then we’ll have our first real date.”

“Ooh, I like the promise of that. Will you teach me all of your skills master?”

“Girl, you are naughty. Here I was thinking of a nice, wholesome evening and your mind is totally in the gutter. I do kind of like to wine and dine my ladies first you know.”

“Oh didn’t you hear? The most virtuous girls are usually the freakiest, just so you know.”

“Hmm, point noted. I’m still going to wine and dine you first, so cool your engines a bit, ok?”

She grabs Navi’s arm playfully. “Fine, I’ll let you have your way, but then I’m going to have my way next time. I’ll do anything you want me to do and in return you’ll do the same, deal?”

Seeing the devilish glint in her eyes, Navi feels a chill run down her spine. “I think I should be scared of you and probably say no, but I’ve always liked adventure. You’ve got a deal.” They shake on it and then laugh as they continue through the woods, eventually arriving to the entry point of Merope. Navi presses her finger to the spot as before, and the stone door opens. They walk into the tunnel and stand in front of the second door. Navi turns to Makena seriously. “Ok now Mak, we’re about to enter the danger zone for humans like you. I will protect you, but I can’t guarantee you’re going to be welcome. I know I can get my empress to allow you a pass of entry as long as you’re with me, but you mustn’t draw too much attention. So I want you to stay silent unless I tell you to speak ok? It’s all for your safety. Can you do that?”

“Yes of course. I know how to stay quiet when necessary, so just do your thing.”

“Ok, thank you.” She scans her badge and the door opens up. They walk inside and don’t make it more than a few feet before they are approached. However, it wasn’t the guard as Navi expected. Instead, it was a single girl, with fury of a thousand men behind her. “Oh Destini, I was just-.”

Navi’s face is suddenly pummeled by her fist, making her stagger back. She’s then punched repeatedly in the stomach, finally bringing her to her knees. Only then does she speak. “You liar! You jerk! You bitch! You promised me, you promised me you’d come see me last night, but you didn’t! You lied to my face and instead left to be with another girl, yet you claim to be so faithful? You insist you’re not a cheater, yet you go spend nights as some other girl’s place? Do you think I’m really that naive? I’m not a genius but I do have common sense. You’re a terrible person and I hope you burn in the pits of hell!” She kicks her in the face, sending her falling back to the ground. Makena can no longer just stand idly by and gets down to check on Navi. Seeing her be so familiar with her only makes Destini angrier. “Oh I see, so this is the girl isn’t it? This is the bitch you’ve chosen over me? You really downgraded to a cheaper model huh? I thought you had more class than that, but clearly I was wrong all about you Navi.”

Makena gets angry and shouts. “Step off bitch! Navi has been faithful to you. You don’t even know how many opportunities she’s had to cheat, I wouldn’t have pushed her away, but she did.”

“So? Is that supposed to make me feel reassurance? Even if she didn’t sleep with you, it doesn’t change that she clearly wanted to be with you more than me, her girlfriend. Would that not be a form of cheating too? It’s a worse kind actually, because at least if it was only your body she wanted she would’ve done it and then left you behind and returned to me. But no, she preferred to simply sleep beside you without any physical gain for herself rather than coming to get guaranteed gain from me. That’s emotional cheating and that hurts more than anything!”

“Well, I can’t say anything about that. I can’t help it if she loves me and not you.”

“You….” She starts to lunge for Makena, but Navi quickly intervenes and blocks her.

“Destini…I’m sorry I hurt you and I deserve this beating tenfold, but don’t you dare place your hands on her. She’s got nothing to do with this. I’m the one who chose to stay by her side and neglect you. It’s all because of me, not her. Be angry at me, not her. She’s innocent in this. She didn’t even know you existed until I told her last night. She refused to let me touch her until I broke things off properly with you. She’s not trying to tear us apart, she just had the misfortune of falling in love with me and I’ve received the blessing to fall in love with her. No one could’ve seen this coming and we’re all powerless to stop it. So please, just stand down and accept it.”

“Love? You actually expect me to believe you’re genuinely in love with her, a lowly human?!” Her declaration suddenly gets everyone’s attention and they all turn to face them, scowling at Makena. “You had some nerve bringing a human here. Surely the Empress will crucify you.”

“What’s the meaning of this?! Navi, you brought this human into our domain? Are you mad?!”

Navi stands upright and faces Bovi, one of the officials. “Please Bovi, allow me to explain-.”

“No, you know the rules Navi; no human shall pass through our gates. She must be executed!”

A guard comes up behind Makena before anyone even realized it and constricts her. “Navi!”

“No wait! Please let me explain. Just let us have council with Empress Evani and certainly-.”

“No, a human shall not be allowed to stand before our ruler. She will die like the scum she is!” The guard prepares to remove his gun from the holster and so Navi charges at him. They fall to the ground and Navi wrestles with the guard. “You traitor! This is treason! I’ll kill you too!” He grabs the gun and aims it at Navi as they continue to struggle. Makena is nervous.

“Navi! Please stop! I’ll leave, so please just leave her alone. Don’t hurt her!”

“Yea Toni, stop before someone gets hurt. She deserves to be punished, but this is too much!”

“Silence Destini! Do you want to be called a traitor too? She brought this on herself!” The struggle continues, until suddenly a loud bang is heard and there are multiple screams.

Navi feels herself to see she’s fine, but looking down, she can see blood pooling beneath Toni’s now limp body. “No! I didn’t mean…it was accident; I was just trying to….”

Now more guards have gathered and they all look at Navi with vengeance. “Look at what you’ve caused! All of this commotion and now our fellow Kree is dead because of your lust over a human girl? You must be punished for this you traitor! You and your human harlot!”

Navi is unable to move, caught in the paralysis of guilt, even when two other guards turn their guns on her. “Navi!” Makena jumps down and wraps her arms around her, using her own body a shield. The shots are fired, but just before they hit Makena, Navi turns, bucking her off and taking the bullets in her chest. “Navi, no!” Makena kneels beside her, grabbing her face.

“What’s going on here!” Everyone turns at the loud voice that resonates through the room.

“My Empress, this traitor brought a human here and even fought against Toni. He’s dead!”

She approaches Navi, who’s conscious but breathing shallowly and a crying Makena. “Bring her to the medic at once and be sure she’s properly revived. Traitor or not, she deserves to be treated just as well as our own should be treated. I will deal with the matter afterwards. As for this human girl….” She looks down at Makena with a frown. “Imprison her for now. I will always decide on her fate after Navi has been healed. I’ll hear no oppositions on this, understood?”

No one looks satisfied, but they will not go against their lady’s final words. “Yes Empress!” They all get to work and carry out all her demands quickly and efficiently. Makena is too weak to resist the pull of the guards taking her away, too worried over Navi. “Navi…I’m sorry….”

“I’m going with Navi, is that ok Empress?” Destini asks this in desperation and she nods.

“Yes, please ensure she receives the best care.” Destini nods and runs after the med team.

“Mom!” Elli runs up beside her, seeing the scene unfold. “What’s happening? Wait…Makena?” Elli is shocked to see Makena here and being dragged away in tears as Navi is carted away.

“I take it you know that human child?” Her eyes look intense and narrow as they fall on Elli.

“Yes…she’s my classmate. Well, she was…. Why is she here and Navi…?”

“It seems Navi let her desires get the better of her and cloud her judgment as she dared to bring a human here. Even you know at this point that it’s one of the biggest taboos and can be considered high treason right? Can you understand what this will mean for them both?”

“I have an idea, but Mom…isn’t there another way. I don’t know what Navi was thinking, but I’m sure she must have had a good reason. You see, her and Makena are kind of…well….”

“Their personal relationship doesn’t matter in this situation Elli, regardless Navi broke our law.”

“So then what? Are we going to execute them? They’re in love, isn’t that terrible to do?”

“Elli, you must understand. This is our way; these are our laws. They are there to maintain order and keep us safe. If we get lax on them even once, it could mean the end of us. Sometimes this means that you have to make the hard decisions and do what’s right for the greater good, even if it means hurting those you care for. You mustn’t let your personal feelings affect your ability to make the best decision for the everyone. That is what it means to be an Empress Elli and as Crown Princess, you must begin to understand this. In the future, you will be in my place.”

“I understand that Mother, but still…this is Navi, surely her loyalty holds some weight?”

“Look, I have not made a decision on the matter and must go meet with the council to discuss it further, but I will say this to you because you are my daughter. I don’t wish for Navi to be killed either and so I will do my best to see it doesn’t come to pass. However, I cannot promise anything and I definitely cannot guarantee the safety of that human girl. Even if I can save Navi, the odds of me being able to save that girl are slim. I hope you can understand my position.”

Elli wants to press the issue further but she realizes it’ll be pointless. So she accepts her mother’s words. “Very well mother, I understand. Could I go see her and discuss the events today?”

“Yes, I’ll allow it. You will be under surveillance though, so don’t be reckless child, ok?”

“Yes mother, I understand. Thank you.” Elli runs after Makena and Evani sighs deeply as she watches the medics collect Toni’s body. If this hadn’t cost them a life of their own, Navi could get off easily with a warning. However, now that blood has been spilled, she’s in serious danger.

            “Ah! Ah!” Navi’s screams echo through the med room and ring in Destini’s ears.

“What are you guys doing? It shouldn’t be that painful should it? Do it the right way!”

“We are doing it the right way! You should know how these bullets work. They fragment into several piece when they make contact, embedding into the body. We have to dig each piece out! They were designed this way so they would be effective not only against the stray human, but our own as well. Reserved for traitors like this. Be happy we respect the Empress’ orders, otherwise we’d leave her to bleed out right here. Now either shut up, or get the hell out!”

Destini shuts up as they request and simply watches as Navi writhes in agony, feeling this is all her fault. If she hadn’t shouted that out, none of this would’ve happened. She lost her cool and had such a public display in front of everyone. Not only was it unprofessional, but it may cost Navi her life, be it by bullet or execution, a fellow guard is dead and a human is who probably is innocent is definitely going to be executed. This is not how she wanted it to turn out.

After about thirty minutes, the medics can finally stich her up and bring her to a holding cell. Destini attempts to follow her in, but the guards stop her. “Sorry Des, but she’s not allowed visitors at this point. She’s to be detained in the cell until she recovers and gets her sentence.”

“Fine, but don’t you dare hurt her! I’m going to talk with the empress and try to explain.”

“Ok, but don’t get your hopes up Des. She’s responsible for the death of our fellow guard and citizen, she’s not getting off easy for this one, especially since she’s not a native.”

“Seriously?! So because she wasn’t born in this sect she’s not valued the same as us? How’s that fair? I thought we were all one Kree race, isn’t that what we stand for? She’s Kree like us!”

“That may be true, but that doesn’t change the fact that she’s not the same. She’s never been like us, even down to how she considers our polygamous nature inappropriate. It’s our natural way of life, yet she treats it like a sin; just as the humans do. Say what you will Des, but the truth is that girl is a Kree in body with a human mind, even if she doesn’t wish to believe it. Personally I feel all Demikri are too human, falling a bit too deep into the disguise. Even our Princess is a bit-.”

“What was that Josi?” The guard stiffens up at the sound of a familiar voice. He slowly turns to see the empress looking at him with dissatisfaction. “What were you saying about my daughter?” He breaks out into an instant sweat and tries to recover from his deadly blunder.

“Empress! I was just…uh, well I was….” He stumbles over his words as he panics.

“Your duty is to stand guard and that is all. Leave the political matters to me, understand?”

“Yes ma’am!” He stands in attention and says nothing more.

Destini takes her chance to speak to the empress. “Empress, please allow me to explain what-.”

She holds up a hand, silencing her. “No need Destini, I’ve already discussed with my council and made my ruling. Open the door please.” The guard immediately does as she asks and it opens with a beep. Evani enters and allows Destini to follow. “Navi, can you hear me? Navi?”

Hearing her empress’ voice, Navi awakens and does her best to sit up. It’s not straight up, but enough to allow her to face her. “Empress…please forgive me. I’m ready to take my sentence-.”

“I know, no need to push yourself to speak. You have been so very loyal to me Navi, most of all with looking after my daughter in my place. Before today, you have always been so devoted to our sect and to our nation, so for that I thank you deeply.” She strokes her hair. “However, you’ve broken one of our greatest laws and it’s one that could very well destroy us, be it through the hands of the human’s schemes or worse, from the wrath of their kingdom out for blood and to rescue their abducted citizen. If they get wind of this, this will be considered a breach of our treaty and war is imminent. You may have sentenced hundreds of our soldiers to death at their hands all for the sake of a simple human girl. Love is a powerful thing. It’s so very wonderful, but it can also be a curse. Sadly, for you, it was the latter. I’m not sure what you were thinking, but this cannot be forgiven. My heart truly hurts for you and your aunt, who is distraught to hear of my verdict, but she finds it to be most merciful considering the circumstance.” Navi gulps, as she knows what’s coming. “So my verdict is this, let it be heard and acknowledged by all who are present here, and confirmed by the judicial council. Navi Dumont, you are hereby exiled from this city and excommunicated from our sect. You will leave here the moment you are able, your badge will be revoked and you shall never step foot within our gates again. So it shall be.”

Destini cries, but she knows the only alternative was death. Navi accepts her fate respectfully as she also knows this was the best she could hope for and was prepared for it, but there’s only one thing she needs to know now. “I understand Empress, but what of the human if I may ask?”

Evani closes her eyes in pain and then opens them again as she says, “I’m sorry Navi, but that girl is to be executed at dawn. Now that she’s seen our home, we can’t risk letting her go and spreading the word or our secrets. I know this is painful to hear, but there is no getting around this. I just pray her death will not bring the fires of their hell down upon us. Goodbye Navi. I really do wish you all the best.” She walks away and back out the door. “Destini, come now.”

She continues to cry, but does as her empress commands. However, not before kissing Navi and whispering, “I’m so sorry Navi. I really loved you.” Navi just smiles, which makes her cry more.

Once they’ve left and she’s alone in her cell, she whispers weakly, “I’m sorry too Des, Mak.” She breaks down at the sound of her name, the empress’ verdict finally sinking in. “No! No, no, no! Makena! This wasn’t supposed to happen! No! No…Mak…I’m sorry. So, so sorry….”

A guard enters the room. “If you’ve got strength to scream like that, then you’re ready to be on your way. We’ve collected your things for you, so now off you go…traitor!” He snatches her off the bed. Navi follows along, having no strength or desire to oppose. “You’re a lucky girl.”

“Yea, blessed I’m sure. Don’t I at least get to say goodbye to her? Just one more time?”

“You don’t have the right to ask for favors anymore you traitor! Be lucky you’re being allowed to leave at all. You should be on your way to die right now, lucky the empress likes you.”

“Yea, lucky me. Don’t worry though, I won’t be alive much longer anyway.”

“Hmph, just like a traitor. Betray their nation and then take the easy way out after being faced with the consequences. Even death is too merciful for you. I hope she was worth it.”

“She’s all that’s worth it now. So if I can’t have her, then there’s no point living.”

“Well, whatever you say. Either way, you’re never coming back here. Give me this!” He snatches her ID from her neck. “Now here’s your stuff. Get out of here traitor!” He shoves her through the door and she falls on the stone as the door shuts behind her. She staggers up.

She walks, like a zombie, out into the forest and walks through the trees, not knowing where she’s going. “Makena…I’m sorry. I’ll see you again soon. I promise….” She repeats this over and over as she walks and still weak from her injuries, she doesn’t sense someone coming up behind her. She’s hit in the head from behind and can feel herself being dragged as it goes dark.

            “Navi….” Makena sniffles, just about out of tears crying so much. “I really messed up.”

“You’ve got that right!” Makena is startled, but also surprised to see Elli standing outside her cell. She walks closer as she says, “you really messed up and now Navi is paying the price.”

“Do you know what’s happening to Navi? Is she alive? I didn’t mean for this to happen!”

“I’m sure you didn’t, but it is. Navi is alive, but she’s been exiled. She’s leaving as we speak.”

“Oh, thank goodness! I mean, I’m sad she’s getting kicked out, but at least she’s alive.”

“You really think she got a good deal? Mak, I don’t even know her that well and I can tell, she’s so in love with you. Do you think she’ll feel like living knowing you’re dead? Not to mention, being exiled is the same as being stripped of her Kree heritage, which she’s very proud of. It’s only delaying the inevitable really. You two will likely be meeting very soon in death.”

“No…I don’t want that. I don’t want to die of course, but if I at least know she’s safe than I’ll take the consequence. But if she’s still going to end her life, then what’s the point? I don’t….”

“Yea, I don’t want that either, so that’s why I’m going to help you escape. Well actually, I suppose I’m just watching you escape, Alice is doing the hard work. She’s a genius.”

“Um…who’s Alice? What do you mean you’re watching me escape?”

“Exactly what I said. Now, in a moment, it’s going to get dark as the power goes out. That door is electric and so obviously it’ll open without power. When it does, you’ll have 30 seconds to throw on these guard clothes leave disguised as one. You’ll head for the exit and say you’re just going on a security check for the empress is they ask. They won’t question you further. Got it?”

“Yes, I do, but why are you helping me? Don’t you hate me? I was so rude to you.”

“Listen Makena, you’re not my favorite person, but even I don’t want to see you die. Also, I want you to save Navi even more, she’ll be lost without you. So go to her right away ok?”

“Ok, thanks…I guess. Are you staying? Are you leaving your princess behind?”

“I’m not leaving her behind; I’m just keeping her at a distance. She’s similar to Navi in a way, in how hopeless she’ll be without me. So be sure and knock some sense into her for me too. I just might like you after that.” She laughs and then the lights are out and Makena moves into action.

Everything went smoothly, just as Elli had promised and soon Makena was back in the forest. It had gotten dark now, so it was a bit hard to see, but she didn’t care at the moment. She took off the guard uniform and began searching. “Navi?! Are you out here?! Navi, answer me please!” She doesn’t get an answer however, not even after another hour of searching. “Dammit Navi, where are you?” She realizes that it may be dangerous to wander so late and so decides to call it a night. However, she’s not going to give up. “I will find you Navi, every time. I promise.”

*** “Unknown Underground Cell”, Deep Woods-The West Province, Summer Year 2528 ***

            Navi feels a rush of cold and snaps awake with a jolt. “Ah, looks like she’s awake!”

Navi can hear a familiar voice and laughter. “Yea, looks like she is, about time.”

She immediately recognizes that voice. “Megan!” She gazes right into her wicked eyes.

“Oh you recognized my voice, how wonderful! It means so much to me you know.”

“Hey, what about me? Recognize mine Navi?” Navi is fairly sure she knows and is pissed.

“Jenna! You’re in on this too? How could you do this to Makena? She’s your friend!”

“That’s right! She is my friend and that’s exactly why I’m doing this. Look, yes Megan was rash and made a mistake, but she’s not the monster everyone thinks she is now. You ratted on her when Makena probably would’ve let it go. You got her in a lot of trouble and turned Mak away from her forever. That’s not even the biggest issue though. The worst part is that you’re dirty Kree scum that wants to be with our friend. That’s not ok and so we’re not going to allow it!”

“Yea, you may have won her over with your tricks, but let’s see how long she’ll wait around for you once she believes you’ve abandoned her. She’ll never forgive you and will be heartbroken. That’s when I’ll save her and make up for my mistake. She’ll finally realize I’m her soulmate and we’ll be together. Meanwhile you…well, perhaps I’ll leave them to introduce themselves.” They laugh together and wave goodbye. “Oh and I’ll be sure to love Makena real well for you.”

“Screw you!” Navi yells out, but they are already gone. In their place, two men walk forward. One is wearing a trench coat and a hat, writing in his pad and Navi instantly recognizes him. “You!” He sneers and then moves aside as the main man walks forward and Navi is equally disgusted. “You too!” Before her stands King James, with the evilest grin she’s ever seen.

“I should’ve known you’d be behind this. You’re just as despicable as you were back then!”

“Dear Navi, you should really let that go. Grudges aren’t good for your health you know.”

“Yea, well neither are you old man! Let me out of here! Or even better, just kill me already!”

“No, no, don’t be so rash Navi. Killing will come later, but for now, I need you quite alive.”

“For what evil purposes are you planning to use me for? I just want Makena! But she’s-.”

“Very much alive actually. Our young Elli and friend helped her escape. So she’s fine.”

“What? That…you’re lying. There’s no way she’d escape so easily.”

“Well yes, you’re right. If we hadn’t been running things, she surely would’ve been caught. Lucky for everyone though that we have it all under control. We’ll gladly let you see her again, provided you do as I tell you. It’s all very easy Navi, it’s just up to you to take my offer.”

“Are you serious? How the hell did you infiltrate our city? There’s no way humans are hiding out on the inside, so you must have turned the guard. How’d you do that? They’re so loyal.”

“Well, you’re close. We did “turn” many of the guards and key officials, but more literally.”

“Huh? I don’t get you. What do you mean more literally? You actually changed them?”

“Yes that’s right. We changed our human soldiers into Kree of various types and had them infiltrate your city. During the time that all Kree were called back to your city and humans back to our kingdom, we sent in our agents. With the serum that was developed by our brightest scientists and thanks to the sacrifice of many of your kind. We can now turn humans into Kree and they’ll never know the difference. They have infiltrated deep into your nation and when the time comes, they will rise up and destroy you from the inside out.”

“You bastard! So all this time you’ve been accusing us of planning that very act, but it’s actually been you humans the entire time. You’re trying to eradicate us by making us kill ourselves!”

“That’s right. We will not stop until every last one of you Kree scum have been eradicated.”

“Why do you hate us so much man? I mean, beyond the normal limit of most humans?”

“Why you ask?” He chuckles and then gets abruptly serious. “Because you’re hopeless!”

“We’re hopeless? What are you smoking pops? We are certainly not hopeless.”

“Who do you think you’re telling? Listen girlie, I grew up in that city, so don’t tell me I don’t know! You are hopeless because you can’t even tell you are! Your kind is weak! You have the power to annihilate this entire world, yet you want to live in harmony? I told my father twenty years ago that we needed to rise up against the humans and take control, but he said no. I realized it then that my father had been corrupted by that dreadful woman he married, the empress.”

Navi gasps. “Wait…you don’t mean…. Are you referring to Empress Kolani? She was our previous empress who married a human man when her husband died in battle. He had a son and he became the adoptive crown prince beside the true crown princess Evani. You’re that boy?”

“That’s right. I was the crown prince and together with my stepsister, I was ready to rule this world. But then my father rejected the idea along with his empress. My sister was all about duty and so followed in what her mother expected of her. She rejected me too, that cut me deeper than any other. That was when I decided I was going to take matters into my own hands. So I killed them. Both my father and the empress, I killed with my own two hands and then I gave my sister a choice. I told her either she joined me or she became my enemy. Obviously you can see which she chose. She outcast me and all the other humans, feeling we were toxic and that we’d never be able to live together with them. She in return requested all the Kree in our nation to return as well. I promised her I’d find myself a kingdom and make her sorry she didn’t listen to me. Now here I am. I’ve managed to steal my way into this kingdom as the Valkyrie Prince, even when I bombed the qualifiers, I married the Queen and thanks to her disinterest in diplomatic matters, I run the show too. She’s simply my powerful weapon. Killing that stupid woman made sure of that. Then we had Tobias and Amelia five years after him. At the same time, I’d sent one of my newly turned Kree men in to infiltrate Evani’s bed chamber and get her to conceive a child. That would be Elli of course, in case you can’t keep up. Hence the birth of Demikri. We ensured one was born in every province, care to guess who the original Demikri of the South is?”

“You mean…I’m the one? I was the product of your lab rats?! No, I won’t believe it!”

“Well believe it because it’s true! Your father was not true Kree, but our turned Kree. I didn’t plan it to be you of course, that was purely chance. However, you ending up in our province was not. I had your people massacred for one reason only, to drive you here. So welcome Navi.”

Navi finally loses her cool! “You bastard! Is this a game to you?! I’ll kill you when I’m free!”

“Yes of course. Anyway, you, Elli and two others were the original Demikri. All those who came after are a result of our expansion of the project. We began giving the serum to volunteers around the provinces and thus when they’d mate with a Kree woman, they’d birth Demikri. We then rounded up all these Demikri and are keeping them in a very secure facility in the compound. Your city is the only one that still has your Demikri born citizens, but that’s only because we wish it. Your sect is the only one left to take under our control, but Evani is a smart girl and continues to thwart our efforts. Damn what a woman she is. If only she’d accepted me as hers.”

“Are you mad? You’re in love with your own sister? Stepsister or not, it’s still creepy.”

“You wouldn’t understand such a special love. It wasn’t one sided, just so you know.”

Navi’s head is spinning with all she’s learned. King James used to be the crown prince of Merope beside Empress Evani and the two allegedly had a secret forbidden relationship going on. Elli was conceived by one of his turned Kree agents and then presumably stolen away by that same agent to end up here. This is nuts! Does your wife know this?”

“Of course not. Almyra is battle hungry, but she isn’t ruthless. She’d never go along with any of this. She’s about as oblivious as everyone else, Amelia included. Tobias has his suspicions, but chooses to stay quiet since he wants to see his sister fail anyway. This has all been my game to play and we are nearing the climax of my plan, over twenty years in the making. You are going to help me with that plan and do anything I say if you wish to ever see Makena again. If you defy me, I’ll see to it that her throat is cut right in front of your eyes and make you watch her body rot away. Or even better, I’ll allow Megan to have her way with her in front of you. Understand?”

Navi sneers at the despicable man in front of her and wants to curse his name. However, she knows that he’s serious when he says he’ll hurt Makena and she can’t allow that. “Fine, I’ll do whatever you want, but you have to swear that you’ll keep her safe and free from Megan.”

“You have my word Navi, I promise. Besides, I’m not so sure my comrade here would like to see his daughter killed unnecessarily. He’s cruel and nuts, but not evil. That’s more my calling.”

Navi’s eyes go wide. “Thank you for caring for my daughter. You may call me…The Author.”

“No way….” Navi is stunned to know that they’ve all been played and they are all doomed.

*** “The Deep Woods”, Armenia-The West Province, Summer Year 2528 ***

            Makena finally finds her way back and can see the walls of Armenia. However, someone appears from the cover of the trees and blocks her path. “Who are you? Stay away from me!”

The figure puts up their hand in surrender. “I don’t mean you any harm, the contrary in fact.”

It’s a woman’s voice. “Who’re you and what do you mean? You want to save me or something?”

“That’s right, I want to save you. You’re about to be in danger and if you meet with your friends, you’ll be walking right into a trap. They’re going to kidnap you in order to bend Navi to their will and to incite the war. Naturally, if a citizen is taken by the enemy, the treaty is void and the Kingdom has just cause to attack. You are going to be that pawn who sets it in motion. They may not actually kill you, at least not right away, but you won’t have your freedom either. Also, you can’t go home, because they’ll still get you if you do. So I’m offering you a better choice. You’ll still have to leave your life behind, at least for now and the Kingdom will still declare war on the Kree nation for your abduction. No doubt that wretched King will still spin it in his favor, but at least he won’t be able to use you for his other plans. This is a tough decision and I’m sorry I must pressure you, but I need your answer now. I can’t be out of hiding for too long.”

“Wait just a second though, who are you lady? What exactly are you offering me?”

“I’m someone who’s been cast out and left for dead by that evil King and wants to get my revenge for having to leave behind my child and the love of my life. I refuse to let that man win and am gathering a force of my own to help the Kree fight against him, especially since their forces have been infiltrated by his agents. Consider me the independent force in this war. I’m offering you the chance to become powerful and be able to stand beside Navi as you desire to. I’ve been able to acquire a serum that will give you the power of the Kree. You will be a faux-Demikri, similar to Navi, but more human. However, you will have to sacrifice your human life to do so. Are you willing to make that sacrifice for the Kree? For Navi? Please choose quickly.”

Everything is coming at her so fast, but she knows what she must do. She promised Navi. “Ok, I’ll do it. I’d always been prepared to walk away from my life. But may I ask, who are you?”

The woman moves closer and her face is revealed. Her black hair blends with the night and her ash eyes illuminate in the moonlight. She smiles and says, “my name is Clara, Clara Almont.”

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