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I wake up tied face down to a cold, metal table. No matter how hard I try, I can't get out of the cuffs. That's when I hear footsteps.

"Hello, Jessica. Miss me?" Damien.

"Flip you."

"If I were you, I wouldn't have woken up and chosen death. You're a very pretty girl."

"I'd say the same, but I can't see you."

"Choose a number from one to ten."

"Nein," I answer.

"I can speak multiple languages, you know. The one I haven't learned yet is–" And he calls me that word again. The one that sounds like fish. I hate that word. Almost more than I hate him. And that's saying something.

I feel that spiked whip lash at my back.


And again.

And again.

I don't know how long he continues. He stops just before I pass out again. I hear the sound of his footsteps retreat. I pull at the cuffs weakly. There's no way I can free myself before he comes back, especially with how hurt I am. Speak of the devil.

"Still awake?" he asks.

I pretend to sleep.

"Guess not." He throws water on me. "Morning, sunshine."

"Why..." I cough. "Why are you doing this?"

"Why not?" he answers. I smell salt.

Then I feel it.

"AH!" I jump up. I hate these flashbacks. Every night now. I turn to get out of bed. Max is asleep in a chair. He's my student. I've been training him to track people just in case I... can't.

"Max," I say, trying to wake him. "Max. MAX!"

"Huh? Oh. Morning, Jess."

"Can you grab my clothes for me?"


Max is a nice guy. He has silver hair and dark brown eyes. He's a little bit thicker and wears glasses. Light skin.

"Will these ones work?" He holds up a red tshirt and black jeans.

"Yeah. Thanks."

I was transferred to my house last night. Max has to stay with me for a while, just in case something happens.

He leaves the room. I switch the shirt he gave me to a red crop top. I get dressed, careful to not rub the shirt against my bandages too much. I'm running out of hairties. I put my hair up anyways. The band breaks. Fudge. I try a different one and leave the bedroom.

"I'm making pop tarts. You gonna want one?" Max asks.

"Two. Thanks. I'm going for a walk after, though."

"Okay. Call me if anything happens. I mean anything. Paper cut or gunshot wound."

"Okay, Dad."

"Hey. It's not my choice. I'd give you more freedom if I could."

That's the thing I like about him. He acts like he cares.

"I know." I eat the warm pop tart, s'more flavored, and leave.

As I walk down the cobblestone path, people stare. They whisper. I don't care. As long as I don't get attacked again.

"Hey," someone touches my shoulder. I jump away.

"Hey, Raven."

"Sorry. Didn't mean to scare you. Just thought I'd join you."


We walk in silence for a while, until Raven puts music on their chip.

"What's this one?" I ask. I've never heard it.

"It's called 'Daughter' by Ryan Cassata. It's a transgender song."

"Oh cool."

I listen to it, and it's not bad.

I didn't change who I am.

I've always been a man.

Still it changed your world.

But Dad, I'll always be your little girl.

"It's a good song."

"I know. I listen to it a lot now. I guess I've just felt really... dysphoric lately."


"I don't know. Maybe it's because on the outside I'm still a–"

"You do what makes you happy, Ven. If you want a surgery, I'm sure Zoe would be happy to give it to you."

"Thanks, Jess."

"Whenever you need me."

"Sir, yes, sir!"

"I can't hear you!" I yell at my troops.

"Sir, yes, sir!"

"Good! Now let's get moving!"

One by one, they jump out of the plane.

"You sure you're ready for this, Jess?" my commander asks again.

"I've been training for months. I'm ready."

I jump out. To battle. To war.

"You okay?" Raven bumps my shoulder.

"Yeah. Just flashbacks from life."

"Oh. Which war?"

"Can't remember."


"Yeah. How's Zoe been?"

"Pretty good. She's recovering."

"That's good. When do you think I'll get my super back?"

"Not sure. They're still working on the serum."

Right. The seven inch needle that needs to go into my spine. Thanks, Damien.


"Alright, Jess. Hold still," Zoe tells me. Four other doctors have me pinned to the hospital bed, face down.

The first inch of the needle stabs me. Not too bad. I've been stabbed deeper before.

Second and third inches. It hurts, but I've had worse.

Fourth, fifth, sixth. I try to get free. It hurts so bad.

"Stay still. Almost done."

She pushes the last bit into my spine. I growl, almost begging her to stop. She inserts the serum, then pulls it out.

"Stay off your feet for a while. It'll help it work faster."

Flashback Over

"You good?" Raven asks again.

"Oh. Yeah. Fine."

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