Chapter One: The Start
Suddenly the world was tipped on it’s side. I watched the young girl being whipped . And whipped. And whipped. Her screams were getting louder and the whips was going faster. My heart clenched and my throat shot up bile, but I swallowed it. My fingers went numb and I could barely think.
The video then ended and our teacher turned the lights back on.
Everyone was frozen. No one spoke a word.
“Students, this is the reality of the world. Young children globally are being tortured for absurd reason. Women being beat because they disobeyed an order. ”
“Here at Werin Preparatory Academy we will teach you how to fight these monsters. My name is Seung-Hye Kim, and I will be your history teacher.”
From that moment on I knew this school was not normal.
That day was the day I lost all innocence.
My childhood was gone.
Code Name: Athena
Affiliant: Werin Prep
National Mall was the only place in DC where I could escape the chaos that was my life.
I could watch all the clumsy tourists who held pamphlets and thick books walking around, trying to see all the monuments before their reservation at an expensive restaurant that marketed itself an an ‘authentic Italian restaurant’. When in reality it was run by a guy who had a layover in Rome and ate an airport cafe.
I could see all these people wasting money just to see the patriotism this country offered.
It felt refreshing honestly.
When you had no friends the best way to forget all your pain was to surround yourself with nonsense.
My name is Fatima Shriki. On the outside I look like a fresh college graduate, on the inside i'm a magma filled box with a shit-ton of issues.
I’m sitting outside a small coffee shop downing a cup of hot cocoa. In the middle of May.
I had gotten strange looks, but in the long run it was worth it for this silky goodness.
My phone buzzes and I look to see that my mother was here to pick me up.
It had felt weird to see this as I had grown used to driving on my own. Being alone. Now I had to depend on her, not because I wanted to, but because she wanted me to.
I sigh and got up to throw away the cup . As I am reaching forward I hear some disturbing voice.
“You listen to me now. You will call me ‘dad’ and you will act like you are happy. It is your birthday and I am treating you all to a day out. You try to escape and I will find you and hurt you worse than the other guys. Understand?”
My mouth dries up and my hand freezes.
“Now go use the restroom and come back out quickly. I will be waiting for you at the vendors. ”
Out of the corner of my eye I see a tall, sturdy man walk away from a young girl who I assumed was only 11 or 12.
My heart dropped at the sight.It couldn't. I couldn't have heard it correctly.
It had been years since I even heard the language...
This wasn't happening.
HOly shit this was not happening. I had heard stories, watched TV shows, and always wanted to help girls like her.
I just never knew it would be so near me.
I had to do something.
I take out my phone and call my mother as I walk towards the bathroom.
"Mama, listen to me very closely. I need to be cooperative.” I gasp as I get inside. It was empty except for the young girl. I speak in my native language just in case the guy heard anything.
"Fatima what’s wrong?”
I press the phone between my head shoulder as I take off my jacket and pull out my extra scarf.
"In a little bit a young girl with my black hijab will come up to your car. I need to you to be outside and guide her in. Mama please I need you to do this. If you don’t something very bad will happen to her. Where are you?”
I could then sense panic in her voice, ”Im in front of Starbucks.”
"Good. Promise me Mama you will help her. Promise!”
"Ok...but you have you to explain everything later!”
"I will mama. But for now, just do as I say."
We hang up and I then call 911.
“Hello this is 911, what is your emergency?”
“I need to talk an officer, now!”
“Ma’am, please state your problem.”
The toilet flushes.
I lower my voice down to a whisper.
“I believe there is a girl here, At National Mall around the cafe area, who is being sexually and mentally abused by a guy. Possibly a sex trafficker. I need the police to come but they need to be incognito or else he could get away.”
“Ok ma’am. Thank you very much. The police will be there in no time.” She pauses, “Can you describe the man?”
“Tall, about 6′3. Brown hair, military cut. Brown eyes. White male. Sturdy. Wearing a black jacket and jeans.”
The girl comes out.
“Ok thank you miss. I need you to keep the girl away from the man without endangering anybody. Can you do that?” I look at the girl who is quickly washing her hands.
“Already am. ” I hang up and then go towards the girl.
I could sense a look of fear in her eyes.
She looked of asian descent, I could only assume some where from southern asia.
" Honey, don’t panic. I need you to listen to me.” She tries to run. I grab her.
Breathe. You can still speak it.
“No, I am here to help. To get you away from that bad man.” She is shaking.
I give her my jacket and put on my spare hijab. I then take out my old pair of prescription glasses and take out the lenses.
“Do you know Starbucks?” She nods.
“There is a woman there, with a red car, and also a headscarf.” I point to the hijab, “You will get into the car with her and lean down. She is a good woman. She will help you. And whatever you do, don’t look back! Promise me you will do this?” She nods again.
“Here we go. ” I sigh and prepare myself for the worst.
I pray to god that this would work.
I come out of the restroom and eye the man. He is looking at come girls near a McDonalds.
The girl runs the opposite direction, not once looking back.
The man then looks at my direction.
I felt digusted.
I smile and start to go towards him.
“Hello sir, my name is Jane Alan. I know the scarf might confuse you, i’m half white-” I try to act like a preppy soccer mom.
“Get lost bitch.”
My jaw drops.
Ok. I see how it is.
“Well I would but I mean I am assuming you are the father of the young girl in their, right?” I point to the bathroom.”
His attention spikes up, ” Yes. What about her?”
“She is crying for her daddy, sir. I do believe you should check up on her.”
Come on, take the bait you bastard!
He then runs to the bathroom and opens it.
Only to find no one in their.
“HEY!” He yells and turns to me, my heart rate going faster than before.
“Sorry, asshole! This is what happens to rapists, am I right?” Suddenly the sound of sirens fills the mall.
And all eyes are on me and the guy.
“RUN!” I hear him yell to the girls as he goes in their direction.
People start to run away and scream.
“OH HELL NO!” I run after him, dodging any lost figures.
He is faster than me, but he is distracted.
I see him headed towards Starbucks.
I see my mothers car parked with the girl clearly in front.
“YOU LITTLE WHORE!” He yells at the car. The girl looks at the window, wide eyed.
I told her to keep her head down!
I suddenly gather all my stamina and jump on the guy.
“You sick jerk...you piece of...shit.” I gasp as I try to pin him down.
I hear the gasps and cries of people everywhere.
“You ruined everything...bitch.” He grunts as squeeze his hands tightly.
For a very sturdy guy he sure could bend to my will easily.
“Doing that to young girls is wrong. bitch.”
“It brings in good money. And pleasure. But you wouldn’t know anything about it, would you?”
I scoff, “Try guilt tripping me hmar. The only pleasure I receive is when I see sick assholes like you get locked up.”
“Police! Freeze!” I put my hands up.
“I’m the one who called! This is the guy!” I say.
The police officers take a look at the man beneath me.
“He’s the sex trafficker.” I blurt out.
I was scared.
I didn’t believe this was happening.
It was like I didn’t do anything. This was a dream. While others had taken their phone out to film, I was pinned on this man.
One of the officers was speechless. Others came and I got off.
The man was arrested.
I could hear cheers and claps.
“YOU GO GIRL!”
But I didn’t care for them.
I looked straight at the other girls who were huddled up together.
“Where are the girls?” Another police officer asks me.
I point to them.
He thanks me and a he, along with a few others, go towards the girls.
I turn to see the young girl I met in tears.
I go to open my mothers car and pull her in.
“You’re ok now. I promise you, you are ok.”
And I held her, not knowing who she was, but I still felt the need to love her.
I should have been prepared in that situation. I mean I was, physically.
But not mentally.
Even after Werin. After the Navy, I still couldn't handle myself in a situation like that.
Sure I could handle beating up guys twice my size and age. Hacking servers in order to retrieve information.Jumping out of a plane.
But this and romance?
Kids and innocence were my weakness. I couldn't handle kids being tortured. Parents being stripped away from their kids. Anyone I loved in danger.
I just hope that it won't affect me
The rest of the day was a blur.
I was taken to the police office with the girl who I now know as Mary.
She was US born but went to live in the Philippines with her grandmother after her parents died. Then around the age of 9 she was kidnapped. And forced into being a sex slave.
My stomach churned when I heard her story.
The fact that monsters out there took advantage of young girls made me want to kill them.
But I would dropping down to their level.
“Her grandmother died after finding out her granddaughter was kidnapped, and her only other living relative in China. She seems to be really alone. All the others have found their families.” The officer who helped me through all this said as he sat down.
“So what does this mean?”
“It means she will have to be put into the foster care system.” He seemed to have not liked the idea.
“Hey...is it possible I could take her in? I’m of legal age and I am financially stable and my mother works along with me having a decent degree.”
He looks at me.
“It’s possible. You just need to fill out some paperwork, attend an orientation, a few classes, and then she can go.”
I nod, “I will. I will even pay if I have to. But where will she stay since then?”
“I have fostered a kid so I am allowed to bring her home with me. I can give you my address to take a look at her. ”
I nod, “Thank you officer, it means a lot.”
He smiles, “Well you did save a lot of girls today . I think this is the least we can do to repay you.”
The feeling was still surreal.
“Is my mother ok?” My mother had a panic attack after seeing me fight with the man.
Basic Moroccan mother reaction.
“She is. I think everything that happened might have been too much for her to handle.”
“And the other girls?”
“They were taken to get showered and have some new clothing. Their old ones were...” He pursed his lips, “Raggedy.”
He wanted to say dirty and to revealing for girls their age, but I would only guess it made him uncomfortable.
“Well thank you officer for everything. I’m glad I could help.” I start to get up.
“One last question.”
Back down again.
“The man, who was in charge of it all, you do realize he weighed over 200 pounds?”
My eyes widen, “Seriously?”
He nodded, “Yet you were able to taken him down with just one push.”
I look at my hands. He didn’t seem that heavy.
“Well...I don’t know what to tell you sir.”
“You’re good to go. Thank you.”
I walk out of his office, feeling dazed.
As I start exiting the building, i’m met with a flurry of camera’s.
I could exactly remember what had happened, only that I lost consciousness.
Right, I also can't handle camera's. At least when Im not ready.
My eyes open. I see my mother standing over me.
"Oh sweetie you’re awake!" She hugs me, ”Are you feeling ok?”
I nod, “Where am I?”
"At the emergency room. You had an anxiety attack and fainted when you were met with the camera’s.”
I groan as I try to get up, her hand on my back helping me.
“You’re famous you know.” My brother speaks up, “Number one trending on twitter. Video of you taking him down is also #1 and getting a ton of views. News outlets are finally picking up the story, not slandering it. Though one guy tried to say you were a terrorist who wanted to kill an American citizen. He then found out the guy was a sex trafficker. He’s getting a lot of hate now.”
“Oh, and the white house press secretary called you a hero and thanked you for keeping those girls safe.”
I stare blankly at him.
My god...was he serious?
"What’s twitter?” My mother asked.
"It’s this app where you can basically post whatever you want to say.”
She nods, ”Well your sister needs some sleep after all that has happened."
"I’m staying here.” My brother commended as he placed his head on my bed.
"Just don’t make any noise. I have to go pick up your grandmother and aunt from the train station."
"Mema and emti are here?”
"Yes. As soon as they heard about what happened they came here as quickly as the could.”
I thought it took a while to get here from Jersey.
"How long have I been out?"
She bites her lip.
"Over 14 hours."
No wonder I felt so rested, I slept for more than half a day.
“Your uncles are also coming.”
“California, Vancouver, and Virginia.”
“California has a meeting with someone here about his children and Nadia and Nidal. Vancouver and his family were actually here to visit us. And oubviously Virginia is close so when they heard they got in their car. They are at our house already.”
As my mother kisses my forehead and leaves, my brother speaks up again.
“I guess Werin prepared you well, didn’t they?”
“They did brother. They did.” You see, everyone has a secret.
My brother and I shared one.
It just didn't live up to normal standards. Not when that secret made you able to take down someone so heavy.