The Valkyrie War (Act 2)

With war officially declared on Merope, the tension between the humans and the kree is greater than ever, with Amelia and Ellisia stuck in the middle of it all. They promised to stay together no matter what and without any secrets, but as more secrets are revealed, the pressure mounts and when King James starts his plan in motion, they will find that it's not as easy as they had hoped. With the battle lines forming and sides being chosen, will the two ever have the happy, quiet life they so desire? Or will their differences be far too great to handle and force them to turn against each other? Don't miss the epic second act and conclusion to this beautifully tragic love story, of the star-crossed lovers, born from different worlds.

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1. Undercover Spies, Secrets and Lies, With a Side of Broken Minds

 

*** “The Royal Academy”, Garmin-The West Province, Spring Year 2529 ***

             The air is crisp and warm, as the sun shines brightly in the sky. The day is clear and inviting, so much so that not an inch of grass is unclaimed. The Academy students are spread far and wide across the lawn, in pairs, in groups and even a few loners who just want to nap beneath a shady tree. It’s lunch time and although they are meant to be eating, most would rather take in the beautiful day for as long as possible, before being forced back into the stuffy and boring classrooms of academia. Although the masses can be found lounging on the front lawn, there are other more secluded spots that can be accessed by those who are willing to look for them. There are far less students seen on the side lawns and the back lawn is practically empty. Most avoid the back lawn due to the lack of sun, activity and social opportunities, but for certain students, that’s exactly where they wish to be. One girl in particular stands out above the rest and watching from behind the cover of a large willow tree, another girl is entranced by her beauty.

            She stares at the girl in awe, with her long, curly, reddish-brown hair shining brilliantly in the sunlight and her slightly gold-speckled amber eyes lightly gleaming. These features compliment her darkly tanned skin, looking like rich caramel. Her lips are plump and full, pursing up just slightly as she becomes more deeply engrossed in her book. She sits in the center of the back lawn, with her knees pulled up against her chest; serving as a platform for her book. Her skirt rides up a bit with her knees and because she’s not the type to be dainty and refined, it’s easy to notice the grey cloth beneath the white and gold-lined skirt, which matches with her button-up blouse. The girl watching from behind the tree frowns slightly, not because she doesn’t like what she’s seeing, but because she doesn’t like that others like what they’re seeing.  She can see a couple of guys peeking and commenting to each other, but they quickly stop and jet away when they see a pair of emerald green eyes glaring at them. Once they’re gone, she runs her fingers through her short maple hair and shakes her head with a smirk of amusement. She smoothes out the pants of her uniform, tucks in her polo shirt and partially buttons her uniform jacket. She had thought it’d be a strange adjustment since she’d previously always worn a girl’s uniform at school, but she’s found that the boy’s uniform feels very natural to her and she can’t deny she loves the way her girlfriend looks at her in it. She’d decided to switch for her, so she could show she was her Prince and that girl was the only Princess that really mattered.

            She tip-toes over and attempts a sneak attack, but before she can say a word, she’s caught off guard instead, as she’s pulled in to an upside-down kiss. She’s finally released by the sly vixen who grins in satisfaction, leaving her cheeks flushed as all her cool evaporates and causes her to look away like the bashful young girl she actually is deep down. The reading girl laughs as she closes her book and faces her cute girlfriend. She finally speaks in a playful tone.

“Amelia Diane Mangier, please don’t tell me that was an attempt to sneak up on me. You know you’ve got to do better than that. I heard you coming literally from a mile away.”

Amelia pouts as she responds with, “that’s so unfair. I don’t think Ellisia Clara Almont should be allowed to use her supersonic hearing. Wouldn’t you say that’s cheating?”

“What ever could you mean?” she says innocently. “I didn’t intentionally try and cheat. You know I can’t control it. I wish I could actually, because then I wouldn’t have to hear the repulsive things guys like those two you scared off say about me.”

Amelia becomes enraged. “What exactly did they say? I’ll go and teach them a lesson right no-.”

Elli grabs her hand and instantly calms her down as she says, “down girl. Don’t go raising hell over meaningless words. Don’t think about them….” She pulls Ame down and places her head on her lap. “Just think about me. I think you’ll be much happier.” She beams a bright smile.

Ame looks into her eyes and feels as though she could easily get lost in them forever. She leans her face against her stomach and closes her eyes. With a smile, she says, “forget being much happier, I’m freaking ecstatic!” They laugh together and then Elli begins to stroke Ame’s head and run her fingers through her hair with one hand, as she holds her book and continues reading with the other. They lie like this for a long while, with Ame napping in between, in total bliss.

There is a tone of a bell, meaning lunch break is over. The mass of students who’d previously been playing around, socializing and resting outside quickly begin to move inside, to return to their dreaded classes. With the war lingering above them, threatening to destroy these happy days forevermore, they try not to waste precious times like these. It’s easy to get discouraged too and wonder why bother going to school if their city may very well be destroyed by the Kree anyway, but the King and Queen have done well to keep their spirits high, even in this tense time. They’ve already announced that the kingdom is officially at war with the Kree empire, however, they’ve insisted that the battles have yet to begin. The past six months or so have been spent as preparation for the actual war and setting battle lines. No combat has occurred between the forces of either nation yet and they’d like to keep it that way for as long as possible. Specifically, they wish to wait until the Berserker competition has been completed and the Valkyrie Prince, or Princess in the case of Ellisia, has been crowned and publicly recognized as the lifetime partner of the official Valkyrie Princess, Amelia. To that end, this decisive battle will be on May 21st, which is in two months’ time and just happens to be the same day as Ellisia’s birthday. As it turns out, today is not only the first day of Spring, but Amelia’s birthday as well.

This fact may very well be why everyone has been on their best behavior today to both Amelia and Ellisia, who are otherwise usually jeered at. They’ve always mistreated Ame and only gave a false act of respect, but once Elli arrived, they diverted some of that hate towards her. They are all aware that she’s Demikri, as they all felt it was better to be upfront about it now, then it to become a scandal later, and so this has caused animosity towards her, even more so that the war has been declared. As far as they are concerned, she’s Kree just the same and doesn’t belong here, let alone to be a candidate for Berserker. The fact that the Princess is dating her only fuels their dislike of them both. However, neither Elli nor Ame let it get to them, because as long as they are together, nothing will or can bring them down. So, although several passing students glare at them, none say a word or even whisper amongst themselves as usual, which is nice.

“Lia.” Elli gently shakes Ame awake. “Amelia. That was the bell, so we should be heading back to class now or we’ll be late. Come on Amelia, wake up!”

She’s finally roused awake, but makes no effort to move. She shakes her head and says, “don’t want to. Let’s just stay like this for the rest of the day.” She nuzzles her head in Elli’s lap.

Elli sighs, but smiles, happy that she’d rather stay there with her. However, she prides herself on being a good student and so insists. “No Lia, we have to go to class. We have a quiz today.”

“And?” She says nonchalantly. “As if a quiz is going to affect us much, least of all you miss honor student. You could miss every quiz for the remaining two months of school and still graduate with high honors. As for me, I do enough to get by, but I have no desire to be an overachiever like you. I’m not a nerd.” She sees Elli frown. “What? I’m not a nerd, but that doesn’t mean I have issues with them. I love a sexy little nerd of my own after all.” She winks.

Elli snickers at Ame’s comment. “Ok, maybe I’m a nerd, but you’re a total dork. That being said, it’s time for you to get up. If you want to get your present later, you won’t fight me on this.”

Ame perks up. “Present? Exactly what kind of present are we talking about here? Could it perhaps be of the intimate persuasion?” Her eyes are hopeful and excited.

Elli shakes her head, amused at her enthusiasm. “Is that all you think about? Don’t even bother to answer because I already know what you’ll say. Anyway, you’ll never know unless you get up right now and head to class with me.” She puts on a stern expression and Ame gives in.

“Ok, ok, I give up. I’ll go to class. So, don’t take away my present. Please?” She pouts seriously.

Elli laughs as they get to their feet. “You’re such a softie, behind all that Princely demeanor and pride. Though I can’t say I dislike it. I won’t take it away, I promise. Now come here.” Elli pulls her into a wide hug and lets her head rest against her chest. “I love you Lia, always.”

Ame returns her hug, taking her all in and replies, “I love you too Sia, always and forever.” This time, Ame leans up to kiss her and they do so passionately until they hear the whispers.

Elli pulls away first and says, “ok, I think that’s enough public displays of affection for the day. Let’s hurry onto class before we really are late.” She takes Ame’s hand and they walk together to their next class, happily chatting along the way.

            The rest of the day goes fairly quickly and before they knew it, the school day was over. Elli, Ame and Spencer all happen to have the same final class for the day and so start to leave together. Ame says, “so, you two have Berserker training now don’t you?”

Spencer nods and replies, “yes, they’re going pretty hard on us now that we’re in the final two-month stretch. They obviously want us to be ready for the competition, but now with the war looming, they need us to be good regardless, as even if we don’t win, we’ll still be needed on the front lines alongside the army units. This year is different from before, as we have no choice.”

Now Elli chimes in. “So, what he’s basically saying is that no one wins, because either way, we’re going to war. We won’t have the luxury of deciding to pursue other paths outside of military service like the Berserker candidates before us, because as the kingdom’s highest trained individuals, they need us give the kingdom a fighting chance against the impressive Kree army. We’re the kingdoms best chance, yet even with our skills, most of us will probably die.”

Both Ame and Spencer feel the heaviness of what Elli just said, making things feel a bit tense, but neither can deny it because it’s basically true. The Kree forces are no joke, Elli knows better than anyone. Spencer tries to lighten the mood with humor. “Well, not sure I’d have said it as seriously as Elli, but I guess that just means she and I will have to hold it down for the team.”

Ame laughs. “Oh is that so? You’re good, but do you think you’re a match for Elli?”

Spencer shakes his head. “No, Elli would totally wipe the floor with me, but against others….”

Elli says, “he’s right Lia. Out of all the others, he’s the only one who can hold a candle to me. To be honest, I didn’t see him as being that good when I first met him and learned he was not only a Berserker candidate, but the one expected to have been your top contender, but once I saw him in action, I was blown away. I was intimidated by many of the others who look nasty and fierce, but it turns out that Spencer was more frightening than any of them in mock battles. The best part of it all, was that as good as he was, he never boasted or got conceited. He was always kind and polite, and never looked down on me when I first joined the team like the others did. If I can be even more honest with you Spencer, I wasn’t interested in being friendly with you at first, because to me you felt like a threat. I know how stupid it sounds now, but knowing that you were with Amelia before me, even if it wasn’t an official thing and knowing that you could give her something I couldn’t, made me feel inferior and so I resented you for it. But then you approached me with such a genuine desire to get along with me and realizing just how much Amelia meant to you as a friend, I realized how baseless my hate for you was and it made me feel like the threat. And so now here we are six months later and I can honestly call you a friend.”

Spencer looks like he could start to cry. “Elli…thank you so much. That makes me feel so happy. I’m sorry if I ever made you feel like that, but I hope you can see now that I’ve got no interest in Amelia that way. I want nothing more than for you two to be together because I know just how much you mean to Amelia. Amelia isn’t any happier than when she’s with you, so please keep staying by her side. She’s an idiot sometimes, but she’s got a pure heart and is kind.”

Amelia blushes and says, “ok, stop being such a corny dork.” They all laugh. “In seriousness though, you both have no idea how much I need you. I know things got a bit tense for a moment there Spence, between us after you started going out with Toby. I was angry and felt betrayed, but later I did come to realize that not only did you genuinely love him as you’d always said, I could see that he loved you too. I saw him behave in ways I’d never seen before until he was with you. Since you guys have been together, he’s been much nicer to me too. So, thanks for being the best friend I could ever hope to have.” She places her hand on his shoulder and then her smile becomes a grin. “But just know, I don’t intend to have you as my Berserker.”

He grins back and replies, “good, because I don’t intend to be your Berserker. I’ve already decided that my sword is going to protect Toby for as long as I live. But never fear, as I will gladly use my body as your shield should the need ever arise.”

“Wow, how knightly you are. I appreciate that, but I’ve already got my shield and sword in one.”

Elli sees her look to her and she feels nervous. “I’ll always be ready to protect you of course, but don’t you guys think we’re getting a bit ahead of ourselves? I mean, we’re assuming it’s going to be a final between Spencer and I, but what if someone unexpected rises in the ranks and defeats one of us? I think we should just focus on our goals and declare ourselves later.”

Amelia squeezes Elli’s cheeks playfully. “Oh, you worry too much babe. You’re going to be the winner and we all know it. This is all just formality at this point. No one will ever defeat you.”

“I guess, but I don’t know. I just…I kind of have a bad feeling about all of this.” Elli voices her concern, but before anyone can respond, there’s a sudden crash behind them.

“Stay the fuck away from me, all of you, or I’ll give you a real reason to be afraid of me!” A girl with rusted hair and the same eyes as Elli stands in the doorway livid, having just thrown a couple of their classmates into the desks. She glances briefly at Elli, frowns, then leaves.

“Navi….” Elli whispers her name to herself, but she knows Navi heard her. She’s been so lost and broken ever since they found Makena dead and although she’s already been cleared, most people still believe she did it. She killed Makena in cold blood as the dirty Kree she is. Elli knows she’d have never done that and more so, she doesn’t even know if she believes Makena is dead at all. Navi won’t talk about it, or anything really, not even with her. She simply attends class as ordered, attends private training as ordered and stays away from everyone by her own choice. Elli thinks about running behind her, but knows she doesn’t have time because they have their Berserker training, but even more importantly, Amelia won’t like it.

She may not look the same on Demikri as she used to out of respect for Elli, but she still makes it clear she doesn’t like Navi nor does she want anything to do with her. Therefore, she gets upset if she sees Elli talking with her. She’s never outright told Elli not to see her, as she promised she’d never treat her like property again, but she can tell that she doesn’t like it. Although she won’t allow Ame to dictate what she can or can’t do, she’s made it a personal promise to herself that she’ll never do anything to make Ame feel uneasy or rejected again. They had a heart to heart a few days after she’d returned and recovered from her injuries. They put everything out there on the table, everything from their expectations to their deepest secrets. Elli even went against her better judgement and told Ame the truth of what she was planning and how she felt her father had become corrupted. She was ready for her to curse her, but to her surprise, she didn’t get upset. She even admitted that although she loved her dad dearly, she has sometimes seen him talking in secret with shady characters that have even made her slightly suspicious.

She promised that she’d respect Elli’s feelings about him if she was willing to give him the right to innocence until proven guilty. She agreed of course and from that point on, they promised to never keep secrets from each other, no matter what. So, when Ame admitted to almost killing herself over what Elli had done in her rash judgment, Elli felt guilty. She knew she’d sometimes talked about how she’d thought about those things in the past, but she never thought she’d be so dependent on her that taking a break lead her to feel that was the only option. She says she knows now that it isn’t the answer and promised she’d never try it again, but Elli doesn’t want to give her a reason to think it ever again. So, although she doesn’t intend to give up on Navi, because she promised Alice she’d look out for her, she won’t be so involved when she’s with Ame. With the commotion dying down, they get back to their original conversation.

“Anyway, I think Spencer and I should be going now. We’ll be in trouble if we’re late.”

Spencer quickly catches up and agrees with Elli. “Yea, being late is the worst.”

Ame was still a bit distracted by the incident, but can respond. “Yea, you’re right. I wouldn’t want you guys to be punished because I kept you. I’ll see you later Elli?” She’s hopeful.

Elli nods and says, “yes, I promise. Meet me at my place at six tonight. Liam will be out.”

Spencer raises an eyebrow at Elli and smirks, which she returns and Ame notices. “What? Why do I feel like you two have a secret between you two? I want to be in on it too!”

Spencer pats her on the back. “We couldn’t possibly ruin the surprise, now can we? Just be patient Amelia, good things to those who wait. Anyway, we need to go, so see you later.”

Spencer starts to walk away and Elli follows, but only after saying, “just trust me, ok?” Ame nods, deciding to trust her as she’d promised to never doubt her again. So, she packs up her things and makes her way to the estate and back to her room, as she fantasizes about Elli’s plans.

            Placing her bag down on the ground beside her desk, she falls out across her bed and stares up at the ceiling. Even though Elli just left, she finds herself missing her already. However, she knows that they both need to have their space and being together every second of the day isn’t realistic or healthy. However, she’s always going to be thinking of her, that won’t change. To pass the time and keep her from missing her too much, Ame decides to take a short nap and then get homework out of the way. She closes her eyes and falls into a deep sleep within minutes. So deep in fact, that she doesn’t hear her window open ever so quietly.

Ame wakes with a start, sitting up in a defensive pose. She looks around, ready to see an intruder, but there’s no one. She relaxes, but still feels weary. She’s sure she felt someone watching her, but maybe it was just a dream. She starts to lie back down, but just as her head barely hits the pillow, there’s a knock at the door and someone comes in. Ame sits up with a frown and then rolls her eyes as she says, “guess the knock and wait for permission to enter doesn’t apply to you Mother? This is exactly why I don’t spend time with Elli here.”

Almyra walks in, not paying her snide comments any mind. She sits in the living area and waits saying nothing, which only pisses Ame off more. She jumps up and stomps over to her and shouts, “get out! You waltz in here like you have the right to, and then you just take root on my couch and say nothing like the entitled royal you are? You may rule the place, but this is my space, it’s MINE. It’s the one place I can be free and do what I want, so I don’t appreciate you invading it for no reason. So, unless there’s something urgent, get the hell out of my room!”

It’s so quiet, you could’ve heard a pin drop, or more accurately, a spoon. Amelia turns to see a maid bending down to pick up a small silver teaspoon, while another holds the tea tray. They both look extremely uncomfortable, as though they just walked into an awkward situation, which technically, they did. Amelia feels bad, knowing they’re just doing their job and so she calms down enough to speak kindly to them. “Thank you, but we won’t be needing tea, as the queen was just on her way out.”

They look at the queen, likely seeking validation, which annoys Amelia slightly, but is not surprising since her Valkyrie Princess rank means nothing when in the presence of the Valkyrie Queen. She finally looks over at them and with a pleasant smile says, “please enter ladies, we will in fact be needing the tea.” Needing to hear nothing more, they quickly rush in, curtsying briefly as they pass Amelia and placing the tea down on the coffee table. Almyra nods and sends them off with a thankful smile. They hurry out, curtsying to Amelia once more before they do.

“I guess my words mean nothing then? Actually, no need to answer, I already know the answer. No matter how much time passes, it seems things never do change. So, what do you want?”

Almyra pours two cups of tea, adds sugar and milk to them and pushes one cup closer to the arm chair on the opposite end of the table as she says, “please sit down Amelia, we have to talk.”

She doesn’t raise her voice, not does she sound threatening, but it’s for just those reasons that Amelia doesn’t say another word of opposition and does as she’s told. She knows that calm and reserved Almyra is the most terrifying. “Ok mother, I’m sitting. What do you have to say?”

She takes a sip of tea and smiles, savoring the taste. After a few more sips, she finally places the cup down and faces Amelia, who gives her an evil glare. She looks her dead in the eyes and says plain and simply, “We’re having a ball tonight in honor of your birthday. Therefore, you will attend it and be cordial. We’re going to be welcoming very important guests tonight as well; your fellow Valkyrie Princesses and their Berserkers. It will surely be a joyous occasion.”

Amelia can’t stand formal events and so immediately objects. “No. I refuse to go.”

“I wasn’t asking Amelia, forgive me if I didn’t make that clear. This is for you after all.”

“Is it? Seems awfully convenient for the other Valkyries to be attending in a state of war.”

“I won’t lie to you, I had every intention of inviting them here within these last few days, but it was your father who suggested we make it more formal. Rather inviting them on any normal day and causing unrest in the kingdom, he felt it would be more efficient to invite them for an actual event. Your birthday was conveniently close, so he suggested we throw a party for you and invite them as guests. Once they’re here, we can discuss matters about the pending war and their role.”

Amelia scoffs. “Oh how kind of you. It makes me feel so much better that you only saw my birthday as a formality and convenient opportunity to make things easier for you. I mean, you’re supposed to be my mother. Shouldn’t you have wanted to throw me a party of your own accord? Why did dad have to suggest it? He came here early this morning before I was even up for school and brought me his present. He tickled and played with me, he kissed my forehead and said “Happy Birthday Baby Love, I love you.” He did all of that before heading out for a busy day ahead of him doing everything you’re too lazy to do, yet you haven’t once uttered birthday wishes to me even this late in the day! Isn’t that a pretty fucked up thing to do mother?!”

Amelia knows that she’ll likely get slapped for speaking to her mother that way and even braces for it, but is shocked when it doesn’t come. Her mother doesn’t even look at her, let alone make a move to slap her. Instead, she finishes her tea and continues speaking. “It begins at six, the maids will see to it that your dress is laid out and help with any adjustments. Please be prompt.” She stands and prepares to take her leave. However, she makes one final statement. “Also, Spencer will be your escort tonight, as your interim Berserker. I imagine you’d have preferred to bring Ellisia, but I’m afraid she’s not invited tonight. It’s best if we keep her existence a secret for the time being, as out guest have not had the privilege to know her as we have. That’ll be all.” She begins to take her leave, however, the empty teacup whizzes past her head and smashes into the wall next to her, making her pause, but she doesn’t turn to look at Amelia at all.

“You,” Amelia starts. “You dare come into my space uninvited, order me to attend an event I have no interest in and as the final slight you deny my own girlfriend to my birthday party? Are you serious? Nevermind that she already had plans for me at the same time, but you have the nerve to tell me I can’t even postpone her plans and invite her to this with me instead? You must be mental because I’m not going to accept that! You want to deny me my night with my girlfriend and then go as far to ban her from the event like a dirty secret? Like a monster you want to use for your own gain, but are too ashamed to show off in front of others? Hell no mother! I’m not going to treat Elli like an outsider ever again! If she can’t come, then I’m not going and I don’t care how important it is. You’ll have to drag me there first and I promise I’ll cause a terrible scene if you do. You’re despicable mother. The absolute worst! You don’t love me or care about me and pulling shit like this is exactly why I’ve always hated you!”

“Amelia Diane!” King James stands in the doorway, looking very unsatisfied with Amelia.

She immediately disengages and changes her expression. “Papa…I-.”

“How dare you speak to your mother that way, have you lost your mind?! Apologize, now.”

He’s stern and Amelia feels like she might cry, but holds it back. She looks at her mother, who’s back is still to her and with a strained voice says, “I’m sorry mother, for speaking that way.”

Almyra is silent for a moment and finally responds with, “I accept your apology. Excuse me.” She walks out, saying nothing more and James looks after her with a saddened expression.

He turns back to Amelia and with a strict tone says, “we will talk about this later young lady. For now, I expect you to prepare yourself for tonight and be ready. Spencer will come meet you a quarter to six, don’t be late.” He follows behind Almyra, leaving Amelia alone.

Her tears finally break, falling heavily from her eyes. She returns to her bed and falls into it, her tears soaking her pillow. She’s never felt more rejected and unloved than she does now, even by her Papa. The one who’s always been on her side until now, even he’s turned his back on her. She’s alone and the only one who can make her feel better isn’t here. How can she face her and tell her that she’s also not wanted? That they see her as something to be ashamed of and would rather keep behind closed doors? That’s the worst kind of rejection, but it’s one she can’t save her from. She may be 17 today, but that means nothing when you hold the position of Valkyrie Princess. Even she is a slave to the rule of the Valkyrie Kingdom and when things are over, Elli will be too. How can she accept that when Amelia herself doesn’t want this fate? How can she allow the love of her life to become a slave to this Kingdom, shackled down, left to lose everything she is? Is there really nothing she can do to save her from that fate, and save herself?

As though it was a sign from the heavens, Amelia catches sight of a piece of paper on the other side of her bed. She shuffles over to it and reads what it says, making her once again become alert. She sits up and defensively looks all around the room, even getting up to check the closet and under her bed. While under the bed, she hears a slam, as though the window just dropped shut. She jumps up and faces it, but sees nothing at first. However, once again, on the edge of the bed, there is a second note. She takes it and sits back on the bed, keeping her sight on all possible exits in case someone was still there. However, after several minutes of nothing, it seems whoever was here, has gone, likely through the window she’d heard closing. She reads the second note and it makes her feel extremely vulnerable, knowing her life may be in danger.

            “Match!” Elli bends down and places her hands on her knees as she catches her breath. “Winner is…Miss Almont!” The bystanders clap, but with little enthusiasm. It’s hard to get excited when it’s a given that Elli’s always going to win, no matter who she’s up against, even Spencer, who she helps get to his feet. “That’s it for practice today everyone, you get a free pass due to our Princess’ birthday celebration tonight.” There are quiet cheers. “Yes, yes, enjoy it while you can. That just means tomorrow, we’re making up for the lost time. Two more hours beyond our usual three hours. So be prepared.” There are now groans. “Also, before you go, I’d like to introduce a new member of our team.” Everyone’s attention is had now that he’s said this. “This man is transferring over to us from the North Province. Usually we don’t accept outsiders, but his reputation precedes him. Besides, it’s not like we haven’t made exceptions before.” Dennis and the other guys all look Elli’s way and she just rolls her eyes at their shade.

“He’s supposedly the real deal, even said to be a match for Miss Almont.” Now the murmurs enhance, the thought of anyone being able to face her equally unbelievable. “Please welcome, Johan Richter.” A tall and thin, but muscular man enters the training room, commanding immediate attention. He’s got buzz cut blonde hair, peach skin and sharp blue eyes. He gets Spencer’s attention to an even greater degree, because he’s very attractive and seems to ooze sex appeal. It even appears that the moment their eyes meet, he smiles at him flirtatiously.

Elli sees this reaction and nudges him. “You’ve already got your Prince dude, snap out of it.”

He snaps to attention, his cheeks going red. “Sorry I got sucked in for a sec, thanks for the save.”

“No problem, we’ve got to look out for each other, right? I’d expect you to do the same.”

“Yea, of course I would, but you’d never have eyes for anyone else, so it’s all good.” He notices that she doesn’t respond immediately and turns to face her directly. “You wouldn’t, right?”

Elli finally seems to break out of her momentary trance and answers him. “Right. I’ll never be in love with anyone other than Amelia. She’s my one and only love, my soulmate.”

“I know that, but that’s not exactly what I meant. You’d never have eyes for another girl, right?”

She looks at him with uncertainty, but before they can say anything more, Dennis begins again.

“Johan will be joining us from tomorrow onward and he’ll also be competing in the competition. Each of you will have a chance to go up against him, with Miss Almont going last for obvious reasons. Treat him with respect like you do each other. That’s all, you are dismissed.” Everyone clears out, wasting no time. Elli and Spencer begin gathering their things to head out as well.

“Ellisia!” Elli turns to see who called out to her and sees it was Johan. She glares at him, not liking his forwardness. “I wanted to meet you right away, I’ve heard so much about you.”

His voice is surprisingly husky, and he seems to have a slight accent. She responds with suspicion. “Well, I can’t say I’ve heard anything about you until just now. Just who was it that told you so much about me and gave you the impression you could use my name so casually?”

“Oh, I’m sorry, please forgive me. Perhaps I was too forward. It’s just, it’s such a pretty name and hearing you had such strength to back it up, well to be honest, I found it quite interesting. Seeing you now, I can see your beauty truly matches such a beautiful name.” He smiles endearingly and Ellisia has to stop herself from almost sighing out loud.

Spencer laughs and decides to run interference for her, since whoever it was that told him about her, must not have filled in a pretty important fact. “You might want to slow down there dude, you might get burned. I know she doesn’t want to crush you, so I’ll say it for her. As flattering as that all was, she’s not interested in your flirts even the slightest bit. She has a girlfriend.”

Johan looks at Spencer like he’s just suddenly noticed his presence. “Oh, I’m sorry, I didn’t realize you were there. Anyway, I’m aware of her inclination towards woman and I had no intention of making a move. I simply have a natural flirtatiousness with people, women and men alike. In fact, now that I see you more closely, you’re quite attractive yourself.”

He becomes immediately flustered and in an impressive reversal, is now the victim of Johan’s charms. So once again, Elli steps in. “Ok, it’s great you’ve got such a strong appeal, but can you please answer my question? Who was telling you about me and why?”

“I apologize, I suppose I made things too personal too soon. The King had heard of my skills and so he vetted me. He’s been looking for someone to be a worthy opponent for you. No offence uh-, I’m sorry, I don’t know your name. But anyway, no offence to you, but none of the guys here are a match for you Miss Almont and so the competition wouldn’t be much of a competition at all. That might make the results seem fixed and could cause some difficulties for you and the Kingdom. So, to avoid anyone calling foul, The King felt that if you had a match and still won, then no one would question the results. That’s why he asked me here and I accepted.”

“Well this is certainly news to me.” Elli looks at Spencer, who shrugs. He had no idea either. “Ok then, so now let me ask about you then. What’s so special about you, that you could possibly be a match for me when no one else is?”

He laughs and nods. “I was waiting for this question. Well, the truth is….” He reaches for his eye and pinches at it. At first it looks like he’s just touching his eyes, but then something comes off and once his eye is exposed, Elli immediately recognizes his nature, as does Spencer.

“You’re Demikri too?” She’s genuinely surprised, as she’s only ever met one other authentic Demikri in her life, which was Navi of course. So for Johan to also be one, it makes her wonder just how many are out there. The King and Queen had said she was the very first, but this guy seems to be older than her. “How old are you?”

“Well, that’s an odd question, but I’m 17, since January.”

“So you’re older than me then, as I thought. I’m sorry for acting so strange, but I was under the assumption I was the first Demikri they discovered. It would seem I was not though.”

“Well, I think I can explain that actually. See, no one knew what I was when I was born, they thought it was just a weird mutation. So they had me undergo conversion therapy, so I’d resist the urge to be different and conform to our society’s norms. We’re the biggest Province, spanning across all of Europe, therefore making us the most diverse culturally. Spanish, German, Russian and English, all of those cultures crossed and came together into one nation under our Valkyrie Princess from generations ago. Now our current Valkyrie Princess rules our nation, in place of her parents, our King and Queen, who’ve sadly since passed. Anyway, that’s more than is relevant here. My point was simply that it was easy to be a bit different, but still conform to one nation and so I did. I began wearing colored contacts to better fit in with my family and my peers and I was careful to never use my abilities unnecessarily. I worked to build my strength naturally, with hard work and dedication. It paid off quite well if I do say so myself.

However, once I got older and joined the Secondary School Military Ranks, I utilized them to increase my strength and become an unstoppable opponent. Your King got word and scouted me and so now here I am. I’ve sworn my loyalty to this Kingdom and therefore will fight at my best for it. That means that I will face you honestly and with my full power Miss Almont. I know how strongly you wish to be your girl’s Berserker and she wants you to be, but I’m fighting for that honor fair and square. I’m fighting to be your Princess’ royal partner and so if you don’t take me seriously, you will lose her to me. I must say as well, she’s also quite the beauty.” He grins and suddenly there is a defensive air in the room between them, as Elli glares daggers into him.

“Listen, I don’t appreciate you coming here and acting all familiar with me. I don’t appreciate you treating Spencer here like a nobody either. However, most of all, I don’t appreciate you coming in here and challenging me to a battle for Amelia’s hand like she’s some prize. She’s a person! A beautiful, kind, sensitive, girl who’s a major pain all the time, but is also the most passionate person you could meet. She’s the girl that I love and so when I say I’m fighting for her hand, it’s not because I believe it’s a prize to win, but in order to prove that I deserve to have it if she so wishes to offer it. She’s made her intentions clear, that she’s only planning on offering her hand to me and in return, I’m doing this to show her I’m willing to play fair and square and earn the right to have it. She’s my soulmate and I’m hers, so no one is going to come in so late in the game and tell me that they’re fighting for something she’s not even offering them. I made her a promise and I intend to keep it, so I’ll be damned if you’re going to try and mess things up. So, if it’s a challenge you want, then you’ve got it. There’s no way in hell I’m going to let you win.”

He suddenly breaks out into a deep laughter. “Good, that’s wonderful! I was worried you weren’t going to put up a worthy fight. Understand, by no means did I come here to steal her from you, I simply want the glory and honor to say I won against The West’s so called “Berserker Princess”. However, if she comes with that glory, then I’m not the type to turn away such a fine woman. Never fear however, as even when I win, I will not demand monogamy. In fact, I’ll likely never practice it. Therefore, I’ll of course give Amelia the right to take other lovers, such as yourself. That doesn’t sound so bad, now does it? So, what do you say, sound fair Miss Almont?”

Elli reacts by lunging at him and pushing him against the wall, with her face close to his, practically snarling. “I don’t know if you’re a comedian or something in your free time or what, but I don’t think you’re very funny. I’m not going to let you anywhere near Amelia, win or lose. I’ll tell that to the King directly if I must. I don’t know why he suddenly decided to set fire to this game, but if it’s meant to hinder me in some way and prevent us from being together, I promise you it’s going to fail. So, don’t you every speak of Amelia in such a derogatory or familiar way again or so help me god I will hurt you. Don’t let my pretty face fool you, I’ll kick your ass!”

He grins in amusement at her ferocity as he says, “you are a firecracker, aren’t you? It’s too bad you don’t play on the same team, I think we could have a lot of fun together, both of you in fact.” He smirks at Spencer. “Anyway, it was a pleasure Miss Almont, I look forward to our first match.” He pushes himself free effortlessly, catching Elli by surprise. “Good day to you both.”

 He leaves just as carefree as he came, but has now ruffled Eli’s feather’s considerably. Spencer can see her anger and tries to calm her. “Hey, it’s ok. That guy just wanted to get a rise out of you and psych you out so he could weaken you. Don’t let him break your focus. You know what you’re working towards and so never lose sight of that, no matter what loser tries to blind you. Amelia and you are meant to be, so nothing is going to get in your way, least of all a total tool like Johan. So just chill alright? Your princess is waiting for your big surprise remember?”

Elli hears his words and knows they’re true, allowing her to calm down. “Thanks Spence. I feel so much better now. I won’t let him get to me, but I just felt it right now, his power. He’s strong, I can feel it. I definitely can’t take him lightly. You shouldn’t either.”

“I won’t, I hate deplorable guys like him. To think I found him attractive too.” They laugh. “Anyway, we should get going. You have stuff to set up right? Actually, it worked out pretty nicely that we got done early today. Though first I’m hearing about a party for Amelia.”

“Yea, me too. I wonder why Amelia didn’t say anything? Maybe she didn’t know either?”

“Either that or she forgot, with Amelia both are plausible.” They laugh and exit the room. They begin to leave together, but then are interrupted by an aide looking for Spencer.

“Oh, there you are! We need to get you prepared right away Spencer, for the party tonight. You’ll need to escort the Princess, so you’ll need to pick her up at her room a bit early.”

Both Spencer and Elli are confused. “Huh? What do you mean Miss? What party exactly and why am I escorting Amelia. Shouldn’t that be Elli?”

“No, the King insisted it was you and that I needed to get your prepared. So please come along.”

Elli was very confused at this point and inquires more. “So, should I be preparing as well? If this is a formal event, then I guess I’ll need to wear my best dress? Anything else I need to do?”

The aide looks very uncomfortable and at a loss for words, but for the sake of time, she realizes she must be blunt. “I’m sorry Miss Almont, but you’re not invited to this event. In fact, he specifically forbids you from attending. We’re going to have important guests attending, so….”

She doesn’t need to say anything more for Elli to get the message. “Oh, I see. I understand.”

“Thank you for understanding. Anyway, Spencer please come with me. We can’t delay.”

She grabs him by the hand and pulls him along. However, he looks back in sadness at Elli, feeling guilty. “I’m sorry about this Elli, but I’ll get to the bottom of this. It’s a mistake I’m sure, so don’t get too depressed over it ok? I’ll check with Amelia myself.”

Once he’s gone, Elli’s face becomes visibly upset. First he brings Johan here and now he’s banning her from events, even one as important as Elli’s birthday celebration? That’s really sick and makes him seem all the more suspicious. If he’s trying to drive them apart, she won’t let him. No one is going to keep her from being with Amelia, no one.” She clenches her fists.

“Sucks to be treated like scum doesn’t it?” Elli turns to the direction of the voice and finds Navi sitting in the corner of an empty staircase with one knee up against her chest and the other leg stretched out straight on the ground. Her hair is messy; her clothes are rowdy and she just looks like dread and anger. She’s nothing like the confident, outgoing Navi she used to know.

“Navi…I didn’t know you were there. Did you just get done with class or something?”

“Perhaps you will finally wake up a realize that you’ll never be like them, no matter how you dress yourself up or change.” She says, completely evading the question. “You’re choosing to participate in this sham of a competition to “prove yourself worthy to stand by Amelia’s side”, but to who? Perhaps you think it’s for your own conscious, but deep down you and I both know it’s for them. You want to prove your worth to them, so they’ll treat you like them and not like they treat our people or even me. You claim to have pride in who we are as a people, but you hide the very thing that makes you special and clearly that’s what they want. They don’t want to have you around such important guests, because they don’t trust you. The only reason they treat you even as nicely as they do, is because Amelia loves you. If you two weren’t together, you’d be treated like all the rest of us, hidden from the world except when needed, beaten and forced to be their slave, doing any and everything they ask of you, regardless of your morals or feelings!”

Elli can see the disdain in her eyes and hear the frustrations in her words. She’s angry that Navi said those things, but she also realizes that she doesn’t know the current state of Navi’s life, nor what’s going on with her. She doesn’t want to believe such things, but she can’t deny that at least as far as the King is concerned, he may be secretly cruel. That’s exactly what she’s meant to find out. So rather than blow up back at Navi, Elli instead calmly asks, “is everything ok Navi?”

Navi suddenly begins to laugh a bit crazily, showing just how unhinged she’s become. However, just as quickly she stops and looks at Elli with spiteful eyes, between the part in her hair, which falls over her face like a veil. She stands and like a corpse, walks down the stairs and over to Elli. Looking her dead in the eyes, she says, “I’m just fucking fine Princess, thanks for asking.” She glares at her for a second more and then turns to walk away. Just before turning the corner, she pauses and whispers so that only Elli could hear, “we’ve all lost the ones we love, soon you will too.” With that hanging heavy in the air, Navi is gone and Elli feels a sudden sense of dread.

        *** “Secret Underground Bunker”, Unknown-The West Province, Spring Year 2529 ***

            The room is silent other than the quiet hum of the machines, hard at work to reach whatever scientific end they’ve been programmed to reach. The walls are a cool blue, the floor and beds are white and there are multiple tables covered in various chemicals, serums, scientific devices and documents. It’s all characteristic of a typical research lab and is the secret pride of the Chief Scientist, Walter. He and his team have performed the most cutting edge research and experiments of the four provinces, outranked only by Merope, the hub of the Kree nation. They won’t deny that Kree technology has given them the resources, but what they’ve done with it has been exclusive to their team. The things they’ve achieved are going to change the world and even more so now, the tide of the coming war. With their Demikri Initiative, they will create an army of Demikri that will not only turn the tide of this war, but ensure their world domination. That is their goal and none is more eager to reach it than King James himself. He will bend the Kree nation to their Kingdom’s will and force them join their fight to be the leading province of a new world order. One without the need of Valkyrie Princesses, but under the single rule of one man. That man will of course be King James and the world will be his kingdom to rule. Always keeping this in his sights, Walter never stops pushing the envelope, and now commands his team.

“David, what’s the status on units one and two? Have they reached full maturity?” Walter walks over to a junior scientist, who sits at a computer, looking at data from their research.

“Sir, they appear to have reached full gestational maturity and are likely ready to receive the serum. It seems they are going to be just as successful as the previous units were Sir.”

“Excellent! Our Demikri army is shaping up quite well. What will this make now, 100 units?”

“Yes Sir, 100 total units of 500 each, that’s 50,000 Demikri soldiers available for combat.”

“That’s amazing. The King will be quite impressed. Who’d have dreamed that we could use growth incubators and serum so efficiently well together that we’d be able to create so many pure Demikri soldiers in just a year’s time? Even more impressive is that they all came from eggs from the same woman and were fertilized by the same man. It’s just extraordinary!”

“Yes Sir, it’s quite amazing. I’m so happy to be a part of such a massive project. However, speaking of their mother, she’s been giving us some difficulty lately. She’s been resisting our retrieval of her eggs, insisting she’s not giving us anymore unless we allow her to see her children. She refuses to accept that being exposed to her would only hinder the success of this experiment. It’s best for them to never know their parents, for compliance’s sake, right Sir?”

“That’s right David. We can’t let them think they are loved, it’ll make them soft. The best soldiers learn to rely on no one but themselves and they’ll be more obedient because they won’t ever think someone will be there to save them. So no, she mustn’t ever meet them.”

“Well, perhaps then you could have the father talk to her. Or even the other one? Maybe she’ll listen to one of her own better. It’s getting tedious to keep sedating her and hear her screams.”

“Yes of course, I’ll have them straighten her out right away.” He notices someone walking outside the lab. “Speak of the devil, there she is right now. Keep up the good work David, excuse me.” Walter leaves him and approaches Navi, who’s just returning. “Navi, a moment please.” Navi turns to look with a bitter glare as her response and he continues. “Please calm Amy down, or we’re going to stop being so kind to her. Make her more like you and Johan.”

“You mean you want us to break her right? Sure, we’ll try and drag her down and snuff out the last bit of hope she has. Leave it to us Sir.” She stomps off. Navi enters a room no better than a prison cell, where Johan and a girl sit distressed. She joins them, their broken trio now complete.

The girl runs into Navi’s arms and Navi accepts her kindly. The girl cries as Navi holds her and Johan rubs her back in comfort. Through her tears she says, “they won’t let me see them.”

Johan tsks and frowns in anger. “They won’t let me see them either, which I didn’t expect anyway, but you’d think they’d let their own mother see them. I mean, she’s had her eggs taken from her for an entire year, fertilized with my sperm and then grown exponentially by some weird technology, yet they won’t let her see them? She’s not even asking for contact; she just wants to see her children! Is that so wrong? What sort of screwed existence is this that we can have 50,000 kids at only 17 and not be allowed to see a single one of their faces? I’m sick of this! I don’t know how much longer I can take this Navi. Now, the King wants me to be this big, bad, rival against Elli, when I don’t have the slightest interest in Amelia. It’s exhausting!”

Navi can see how close to the breaking point they both are, understandably considering they’ve been slaves to the King for far longer than she has. However, she needs them to keep it together, at least until she can execute her plan. “Johan, I understand your frustrations, believe me I do. However, we can’t let them destroy us. We must keep pushing ourselves up even when they smack us down. I’m going to get us our freedom somehow, but first we must figure out where they’re keeping them. I hope you haven’t forgotten who we’re actually doing all this for.”

“Of course I haven’t, Skye is my world and so I’ll never stop fighting. But it’s still so hard to see Elli live a life of luxury even as Demikri, while we’re down here in this cell, with the bare minimum, beaten and enslaved. Add in all the science experiments we’re subjected to and we’ve got a literal hell. She still has her love, but what of the rest of us? We have no idea if our loved ones are dead or alive, not for sure. All we know is the King has them “secured” and will return them to us if we do all he says. Are you certain they’re still alive Navi? I mean her body was-.”

“That wasn’t her body!” Navi shouts, startling Amy and so she calms down. “Trust me, that wasn’t her. I know her body and her scent well enough to know that was a random girl’s body infused with her DNA. Makena is still alive; therefore, I believe your Skye is still alive as is your Nathaniel Amy. I will find out where they are and get them to safety. Then I will bring this entire kingdom down to its knees, I promise you that. So please Johan, Amy, trust me.”

They look at each other and then back to Navi. Johan speaks for them both. “We trust you and believe in your words. I just hope you know what you’re doing and that we’re not already dead.”

 

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