“What the heck were you thinking?” Dan asked me, glaring and looking slightly funny with his new hair cut, despite the fact that I knew that he was livid at me.
“What do you mean?” I asked, forcing myself to not smile.
“You seriously injured the commander of the Greek Mutant control group, and then you act like it’s no big deal!” he was bouncing on the balls of his feet, apparently to let out the built up tension. “Danae, do you have any idea how serious this is?”
“Not as serious,” I said, studying my hands, “as killing several guards. Even if they’re the idiots that killed your parents.” I snuck a glance up at Dan, who had frozen mid-bounce, so he was standing on the balls of his feet.
“You killed several guards?” he asked, shocked.
“Maybe,” I said, picking at the sleeve of the sweat shirt that the M.R.G. had given me when we had arrived at the safe house.
“You killed several guards,” he repeated, his face serious. “So that’s what all that killing stuff was about, a while back.” I nodded, avoiding his eyes. “Danae!” His voice sounded strained; sadness and shock had met, and the disappointment on his face was obvious to me.
“I’m sorry,” I hesitated, and then added, “for disappointing you.” I met his gaze defiantly.
“What’s happened to you?” he asked, his voice deadly quiet. I almost half wished that he would scream at me, get angry, do anything but this quiet disappointment. It was driving me insane, cutting into me, almost cutting through me.
“What d’you mean?” I asked, trying to hide my growing discomfort.
“You’re not the little girl that I knew as my sister. You’re changing… becoming cruel.” I rolled my eyes, slightly insulted.
“Don’t go preaching at me about how evil I am, Dan.”
“You’re a murderess!”
“That doesn’t bother you? At all?”
“Not really,” I said, both extremely angry and insulted by this point. “They killed our parents, Dan!”
“That’s no excuse!”
“Really? ’cause it’s a perfect reason for me!”
He stood there, staring at me for a couple of minutes. Thankfully the kind guard (who refused to tell us his name) stepped into the room, just then.
“Dan and Danae, we’d better get you on the plane now. You’re flying to the United States of America, to New York. Our contacts there will help you through immigration and then will take you to your family. Let’s go.” I obediently stood up and walked to the door, almost mechanically. Dan followed, and we got onto the special plane.
Several guards were standing near the front of the plane, and there were five other mutants on the plane. As we walked in, I felt everyone’s eyes on me. I slipped into a window seat and pretended to ignore them.
Having never been on a plane before, I was extremely nervous, and several times I felt like I was going to lose control of my stomach. It wasn’t until we were in the air that I finally relaxed. Dan got up to do something, and another person, a woman, came over to me.
“M’name’s Xanthe,” she said briefly. “An’ I know who y’are.”
“Who doesn’t, now?” I muttered under my breath. She smiled slightly.
“I wan’ed t’talk t’you,” Xanthe said. “’bout your power.”
“What about it?”
“You’re a powerful mut’nt,” she said, closing her eyes. “What color’s your blood?”
“I-” I rubbed my head, getting a slight headache. “Red, with silver and gold flecks.”
“Mmmm,” Xanthe opened her eyes. “M’power’s tellin’ what others powers are, an’ how strong they’re. Your blood agrees with ev’rythin’ else- you’re a devel’pin’ metal mut’nt.”
“Metal? So that’s why everything exploded in the prison?” I asked, beginning to dislike this woman a lot. She was really weird, and I was relieved when Dan returned and she finally stood up and left.
“What was she doing?” Dan asked me, eyeing Xanthe suspiciously.
“Telling me what my power is,” I said, not looking at him.
“What is it?” he asked, sounding a little surprised.
“Metal control,” I said, still not looking at him.
“Danae, what’s wrong?” he asked, changing tracks.
“I don’t know,” I said, looking out the window. “I guess that all of this is so sudden and so unreal, and we’re leaving home…”
“It wasn’t really home, though, was it?” he asked. I stopped talking to think.
“No, I guess not,” I said finally. “But it’s the only place I know. And they don’t speak my language in America, and I won’t know anyone-”
“There’s Aunt Persephone and Uncle John and all of our cousins,” he pointed out, cutting me off. “Besides, would any of your friends here in Greece care much about you, now that you’re a mutant?” His words stung, although I knew that he was right. “We’ll be alright, Danae.” I didn’t answer. I was scared and angry. Angry at the people who had ruined my life.
Dan and I arrived safely at our Aunt and Uncle’s place safely, and had been living at their place for a month with absolutely no problems. That’s when I got into a fight with our youngest cousin, Alex, and had threatened to do what I’d done to the commander to him. Needless to say, Aunt Persephone wasn’t happy.
“We feed and clothe you like our own children,” she yelled at me. “And this is how you repay us? By threatening my children?” I bit back my anger, trying to keep from crying. She took my silence as more rebellion. I was grounded, not that it meant much to me. I didn’t have any friends, and I didn’t understand the shows on the TV. I preferred to be inside, alone in the room that I shared with two of my cousins.
Of course there was no telling my aunt that. In her mind it was a punishment of the highest sort. I suppose I should have been grateful that it was so nice to have a reason to not get to know people.
Dan wasn’t happy about my behavior, but he didn’t understand. I just wasn’t like him. People didn’t like me, and I didn’t like them.
Several months after that fight passed uneventfully. Then, one day, there were two brochures in the mailbox for a school for “special” and “gifted” teenager, addressed to my brother and I.
Aunt Persephone was livid that there hadn’t been anything for her precious children, but the chance to get rid of us was too appealing, so she called the school and made an appointment.
We met with the Principal of the school the following week, a pretty woman named Angel Peters. She cheerfully gave us a thorough tour, while explaining to Aunt Persephone that the classes were challenging, that the rules were enforced and discipline was maintained.
After six hours Aunt Persephone ran out of questions, and she decided to enroll Dan and I on scholarship immediately. Principal Peters assured us that we would enjoy the school a lot as she handed us a copy of the class schedule for the next semester.
Later we learned that the scholarship we were put on had it’s own price to pay. When we arrived at the school, we had not known that the school was funded by an organization called the VI4C (someone told me that it stood for Villians Incorporated in Four Countries, but even now I’m not sure), and that it was a group of mutants who fought for eachother.
My brother had four years at the school, and at the end of those four years he was offered a position in the VI4C itself, which he accepted. I was so proud of him, my big brother, a strong fighter. He claimed that he did it for me, to protect me.
As for me, my eight years at the school were another matter all together. While Dan was a straight A student, and never got into any trouble. I struggled for good grades, and it was a rare weekend when I didn’t have detention.
Despite all of that, I grew to love the school. Sure, there were tiffs in the dorm, and cliques and bullies, but not everyone was from America, or even spoke English well. No one was without a power, and for the first time I was able to learn how to use and control my powers.
The year I began high school was the same year that Dan had joined the VI4C. He graduated that spring, and had agonized over what to do. I knew that he felt his role was to protect me, and to stay close to me, but there was nothing for him to do, work wise, near by.
His joining the VI4C surprised all of his school friends, as he was known to be calm and peaceful. He was a good fighter, sure, but he just didn’t seem to match up with everyone’s idea of the group of fighters. When Dan moved out of the school, he assured me that he’d call me, and came to visit often.
High school was nightmarish for me. Half of the time I didn’t even understand my school work, and my powers and fighting training wore me out. Dan’s phone calls became a much anticipated part of my routine.
We talked about a lot- my classes and his missions, my room-mates and his team-mates, my training and his training. He helped me with my homework, and I felt like I could do nothing to repay them. I came to him with my problems, and he’d help me solve them.
When I graduated, I joined the VI4C, too, anxious to prove my worth. I was easily one of the best rookies, a natural at fighting. My power made me invaluable, or so I thought.
I was given a job- repairing and making weapons for the members. I loved it. The world could not have been more perfect.
I advanced through the ranks, and I fit in for once. I was well liked by the other members, and I had a lot of friends.
However, we all know that something so perfect can’t last long. Steppe, the commander, planned a mission; to destroy the loners- mutants who had graduated from the VI4C school, but not joined the VI4C itself. A lot of us were upset by the thought of killing our former classmates, but there wasn’t much that we could do but obey Steppe. If we didn’t listen, we’d just end up in the same position as the loners.
Dan, a rookie girl by the name of Septi and our former Principal (Angel) were assigned to this mission, and it was fine, I thought. I knew that the three of them were excellent fighters, and that they were all extremely powerful.
Maybe that was my mistake. I expected things to go the way Steppe expected it to go. Need I even say that they didn’t?
I waited up for Dan to get back, and it was nearly dawn when they arrived. Septi and Angel came back, horribly bloody and filthy. Both of them looked upset, and Septi looked like she’d been crying.
“Where’s Dan?” I asked, looking between the two of them, afraid that I knew the answer. It wasn’t unusual for a team member to die on one of Steppe’s missions, and we all knew it.
“Danae,” Angel said tiredly, looking old, exhausted and hopeless. “We weren’t expecting you to be up.”
“Where’s Dan?” I repeated, my voice rising.
“There were too many,” Septi said, peeling her bloodstained gloves off. She knelt down to remove her boots, avoiding my stare. “And they were waiting for us. Dan-” her voice caught, and Angel rescued her.
“Dan didn’t make it, Danae,” she said gently, crossing the room to get to where I was standing. “He created a fire to hold them back, so that we could escape.
“He’s dead,” Septi said, finally looking up at me. She had tears in her eyes, and her voice held so much anger in it that it surprised me.
“No,” I choked, staggering back to the couch, gripping the back of it. “No. No, he can’t be.” For a moment I was that little girl that I had been eight years before, watching my parents literally being torn apart in a Greek prison.
My knees gave out from under me, and I gripped my hair by the roots. A moan escaped from me, and I felt someone’s arm around me.
“Don’t touch me!” I snapped, pushing whoever it was away from me. “You left my brother to die, and now you’re trying to comfort me? Get away from me!” The tears were flowing freely and copiously, and that old, hot rage was rising within me again.
“Do you think that’s what we did?” Septi snapped back, angrily. “You you think that we willingly let him go to his death?” She paused for a breath, and I rose to my feet, livid.
“We had killed as many as we could. There had been a group of them living in the trailer park. They knew that we were coming, somehow. There were too many, and they surrounded us,” Septi was crying too, as she continued, even though her stance was a fighting one.
“You bitches left my brother!” I screamed, not caring that the rest of the VI4C was asleep. “He’s dead, because of you!”
“Danae, please, you need sleep,” Angel said, trying to calm me down. “We can talk in the morning.” I proceeded to curse her out in both English and Greek, the words stumbling over one another as I dissolved into tears and sobs.
“What’s going on here?” Steppe’s voice came from the stairs.
“She’s upset, understandably,” Angel said, turning to face him. “Her brother was killed on the mission-”
“Did you complete your assignment?” Steppe demanded, his voice emotionless.
“That’s not the problem at the moment, Steppe,” Septi said, crossing the room to stand by my side. “She lost her brother-”
“So?” Steppe interrupted. That did it.
“You bastard!” I screamed as I lunged for him. Septi and Angel each grabbed one of my arms, holding me back. Steppe leered at me. “You monster! What’s wrong with you, that you don’t care? He gave his life because of you and for you!”
“Why should I care?” he asked, as I stopped trying to free myself from Septi and Angel. “He was nobody. Nothing but a tool.” I started my fight again, but between Septi and Angel I was forced to my knees.
“Don’t,” Septi whispered to me. “It will only make matters worse.”
“Let me tell you a secret, Danae,” Steppe said, approaching me. “I don’t appreciate traitors, and anyone who tries to hurt me is no friend of the VI4C. Do you know what is done to traitors, Danae?” I licked my lips nervously as he placed a hand on top of my head.
The VI4C rules made no exceptions, and they specified that traitors would be put to death. Suddenly his grip tightened around a substantial lock of hair. I gasped surprised as he tugged it, forcing me to look at him.
“Traitors die, Danae,” he whispered. “You’d better be on your best behavior if you won’t want to end up like your dear brother.” I spat in his face without thinking. He backhanded me hard before throwing me across Septi by the hair. I dissolved into a puddle of tears and lay still and un-moving as he started up the stairs again.
“I’m so sorry,” Septi whispered, helping me up and hugging me tightly. “I am so sorry.”