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*Final instalment in the 'Little British Girl' Trilogy *
One year after Elia’s death, and the entire planet is rebelling. With the news of Xander’s assassination attempt against his own daughter alarming the world, Elda and Luci are leading a powerful resistance, competing with the Southern rebellium, with no powerful government to stop either of them.
And yet, nothing seems to have changed.
Annabeth, alongside Beverly, Zacharia, and Steve Ryans, hide out amidst the chaos , unable to prevent what’s happening right in front of them. Disheartened and helpless.
Then one day, a girl turns up, a girl with heterochromia, with some interesting letters, and some even more interesting information. Could it be that Xander Moore had another daughter? And that Luci has a half-sister?

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6. Chapter 6 - one year earlier

Luci seems surprised by my lack of resistance as she tugs my hands behind my back and ties me to and old broken streetlamp at the back of the alleyway, securing my ankles and waist shortly after. If I’m honestly I’m surprised that I’m not struggling, what’s wrong with me? Why can’t I find the will to fight back and resist whilst she ties me up? I’m never this passive, I’m never this weak. Why am I so frozen?

“If you’re here than that means the resistance are protecting this festival,” She figures, “How many of you are there?” When I don’t answer her she kicks down hard against my shin, but I still don’t speak. Apparently this frozen thing makes me immune to interrogation as well as muting my basic instinct to be free. Realising she’s not going to get anything out of me, she tapes my mouth shut and gives me one last kick before turning back around and searching through my bag. There’s not much in there of any significance, but she’s quick to break my radio, destroying any chance I might have of calling for help. “There...that should sort out that problem.” She smiles, walking back over and kneeling down in front of me. “It was a mistake for you to come here Annabeth, you shouldn’t run straight back into the field after losing so much. Your heads not in the game. You’re broken.” She leans back, taking a moment let her words sink in. “I know what Daniel did, I know that he’s abandoned you, in fact, I even know where he is,” she reveals, I could be imagining it, but there’s a hint of sympathy in her voice, “I think that, deep down, you know where he’s gone too…” she pauses, bathing in the tension, “He’s at your mom's old house.” My chest sinks as soon as the words escape her mouth, but she was right, deep down I already knew it. Daniel didn’t have the resources to get back to the North, and it’s the only safe place he could have gone to here in the South.

I was born in the North, and so was the rest of my family, but my mom worked as border control between the North and the South, and that meant that sometimes she needed a place to stay in the zone that wasn’t her home. So she was given a small apartment to stay in whenever she needed to work a late night or early morning shift. I was only seven or eight at the time, and the idea of having a place to live in the South excited me, I wouldn’t stop nagging her about going to see it some time. Of course, that was illegal, and my mom never failed to remind me of that, what scared her and my dad most was that I didn’t seem to care, I wanted to go, and I wouldn’t give in. One year we spent Christmas at my Aunt and Uncle’s house, and I couldn’t help but brag to my older cousin Daniel about this amazing apartment in the South that fascinated me, mom told me to stop going on and on about it, but I didn’t. It embarrassed her to have a daughter so oblivious to the basic rules of common law regarding the two zones, especially in front of the rest of the family. Everyone in our ancestry seemed to be a border officer, a police officer, a politician or some other form of law guidance and enforcement. To get me to shut up she promised me there and then that I’d get the house in her will. It worked, and I did. Years went by and whilst I seemed to want to go in a different direction to the rest of my family, my amazing cousin Daniel was training to be a police officer in California, all I ever heard about was how great he was, and how much of a disappointment I was turning out to be in comparison. When I was fifteen my mum left for a late shift and never came back. She was shot down stopping a few dozen armed idiots from crossing the border. As it turned out, she’d changed her will a few months before that, leaving her Southern apartment to someone she trusted a lot more with it, Daniel. He promised me he’d never use it, as if that would make me feel better, as if wasn’t the whole point in her giving it to him. Besides, it wasn’t about the house, it was about the three of us. Daniel was the child she wished she had. I was the stupid little girl who was going to let the whole family down. I ran away the night after the funeral, I’d already make friends with what my mom would have called ‘the wrong sort’, people with links to the resistance. I was enrolled, and by the time I turned seventeen I was all set up with my own base and my own team in Arizona. The next time I heard about my oh-so-perfect cousin was when a blonde girl with deep brown eyes turned up at my base one day claiming she wanted my help in rescuing him.

“Wake up Annabeth- he doesn’t care about you! Without her he doesn’t have any reason to work with you. You’re better off forgetting about him, forgetting about all of this, and starting afresh somewhere. No Daniel, no resistance, no more trying to prove yourself.” I can’t look her in the eye as she lectures me, her words are already crawling under my skin as it is, if I look at her then I’m not sure what’ll happen, and I don’t want to find out, I’m never going to break down in front of Luci Reeds. “I have to go kill another dumb politician now, but I’ll be back within the hour, then I’ll decide what to do with you.” She announces, getting up and walking away, leaving me alone in the alleyway.

So...what now?

I could try to escape, I could fight against these ropes until my wrists bleed, I could bruise my back thrusting back and forth, trying to break free...but what would be the point in that? These knots are too strong for me, there would be no point in trying. And what if Luci is right? What if I’m better off if I just stop resisting? I’m not even good at it. I was sent away from Washington within my first month of joining the resistance, I didn’t notice that my tech genius best friend was an insane sociopath despite living with her for nearly a decade, and almost every mission I’ve ever led has either failed, or resulted in some sort of complication or tragic death.

When I first arrived in Yuma I was nineteen, and the resistance was just twelve years old, still a new organisation gradually trying to expand. The base they found me was a deserted children's home which had been empty for years, with the owner of the land it was built on long-dead. From the outside, it looked completely desolate, like it could crumble and collapse at any moment, but on the inside it was just a little dusty. Once I’d cleared away the cobwebs it was almost homely. At the end of the week my second-in-command arrived, some failed recruit who’d led a failed unauthorised mission and got sent down here as a punishment. He didn’t seem very happy to be there, he spent most of his days phoning Washington and begging to go back, but within a month he’d learnt that, whether he liked it or not, he was stuck in Arizona, just like me. Still, we didn’t talk much, in fact, we didn’t really bond at all, we were strangers living together. Then Luci arrived. Neither me or Max had the necessary computer skills to run the base effectively, and when this became a clear issue, we got a new addition to our team, a tech genius who had probably only been sent away from Washington because she was too obnoxious for anyone to stand working with her. Luci didn’t seem uncomfortable at all in Yuma, she made herself at home instantly, and on her first night at the base she cooked us all dinner, and we talked, and we got to know one another, and we bonded. And a clutter of mediocre misfit recruits banished from the main headquarters became a team.

Now, that team is gone.

Max is dead, Luci is a traitor and a madwoman, and I’m tied up to a streetlamp in a deserted alleyway.

I’m rescued from my memories by the sickening sound of a bullet being fired from a great height, followed milliseconds after by screams and cries, and the sound of yet more gunfire. My body seems to urge me forwards, longing to run towards the danger, to at least do something, but the ropes around me hold me perfectly still. I just sit helplessly, my ears unable to mute the sounds of chaos and carnage erupting just meters away from me.

Moments later Luci returns, running around the corner, a huge adrenaline-fired grin spread out across her face. She pants heavily as she makes her way over to me, laughing between each heavy breath. She falls down to the ground beside me, smiling up at the sky as she begins to catch her breath.

“Oh wow...that went perfectly. I mean seriously, couldn’t you have done any more to try and protect this little insignificant town? It was almost too easy…” She goes on and on, I stop listening to her, not giving her the satisfaction of having my attention. After a few minutes she calms down, the rush of the moment almost fully drained out of her, she moves to lie on her back, gazing up at the grey sky, suspiciously silent. This blissful peace doesn’t last however, within a minute she was talking again. “Do you remember my first day in Yuma?”

I freeze, surprised by her question. I was expecting further gloating, or some clever comment, or a lecture on the flaws of human nature...but not a question, especially not that question. What was the point of asking it? What does she want out of me now? What does she want me to say?

“Yes.” I nod, unsure of how else to reply, “You made us dinner.”

“Is that all you remember about that week?” She prompts me, sitting up and staring at me inquisitively. I shift, uncomfortable under her curious gaze. I look away and think, what else did happen that week?

“Um, you hacked into the main database and released files about the new welfare cuts to…”

“You really don’t remember, do you?” She interrupts me, her voice quieter than before. I turn to look back at her, her eyes are no longer sharp and judging, they’re softer...more human.

“Remember what?” I murmur.

“The conversation we had after the dinner, when you helped me with the dishes. We talked. You asked me where I was from originally-”

“Yeah, and you lied.” I cut her off, not needing to relive the moment, “You told me you were born in Washington.”

“But I told you more than that,” she reminds me, “I told you that I was raised by my mother, that I’d never met my father, and that I never wanted to. I told you the truth, that all I knew about my birth father was that he was a truly awful person.” I think back to the conversation, faintly able to recall her words.

“I told you that I’d never been close to my father either, and even less so to my mother. I told you that I’d found my second family, my real family, in the resistance…”

“...and you told me that the resistance could be my second family too.” Luci finishes for me.

For a few minutes, we both just sit there in silence. I don’t understand. Why did Luci want me to remember this? That was years ago, before she left us, before she betrayed us, before she let two of my closest friends die.

“It turns out that you were right, the resistance did become my second family. It wasn’t enough though, in the end I still had to go after him, but I did feel worse about it than I expected to…” Luci trails off, looking down at the ground, “I never wanted Max to die, or Elia, all I wanted was for him to die, my father, I never wanted anyone to get hurt along the way. I-I wish… I wish that I could go back and stop them both from dying. I want them to still be alive. I’m- I’m sorry.” I pause before replying, letting her words sink in like salt to my wounds before speaking again.

“That doesn’t make any of this better, that doesn’t make any of this okay.” I shake my head, feeling tears brim up in the corners of my eyes. I will not cry in front of her. I will not cry in front of her.

“I know that…” She mumbles, “I just needed you to hear it, I needed somebody to hear it.” I turn my face away from her, trying to hide my damp red cheeks, crying into my shoulder to muffle my sobs. “I’m going to let you go Annabeth. I’m going to let you go so that you can get away from all of this, away from me...please, find somewhere quiet, find a third home.”

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