I remember my last perfect day.
It was yesterday.
It was before I had to get on the bus and say goodbye to my parents. It was before everyone stared at me in horror. It was also the one day I had decided to put up my hair.
I had gone to my graduation ceremony to stand up proudly before my family and friends. A proud Celeste my parents could celebrate. Pure, clean, knowledgeable, and obedient.
Trying to close my eyes I brought myself back to that morning, wondering where in my life I had gone wrong to deserve this. The sunlight on my skin as I smiled looking out the window, birds singing as I stretched. Everything felt amazing. No more school, just waiting for my acceptance letter for the Celestial Academy. Tying on my shoes for a morning run- the same shoes I had on even now.
The joy of what once was.
I supposed all good things truly did come to an end. I couldn't help but think as the image faded within my mind unable to grasp with how hopeless I felt.
The world had gone to war with itself about fifty years back, and my era was supposed to be one of peace. What was different about this war though according to my parents who lived through the ordeal; angels and demons started blatantly appearing before us. Letting us know that the new world order and the final war, was finally upon us.
In fact, it had been for a while but people were too blind to notice.
This time it wasn't a war so much as we just lived in a world with superior beings playing on a chess board without us humans understanding the rules of the game. We could join in the fight for the betterment of humanity and the world- or destroy it. Considering the stories and amount of protection we had received on the Celestial territory since my childhood; it had made sense to want to join the Academy.
It was the right side of things as heavenly beings always had been.
The Celestial side had angels, benevolent beings that let us rule over ourselves. They wanted the betterment of humanity as much as we did, and they unlike the other side didn't believe in ruling over us. Though traditionally anything handed down by the Celestial Council would be honored. They were divine beings we had worshiped for generations made by the hand of god.
Michael, Raphael, Gabriel, Uriel, Sariel, Raguel, Remiel... and many more angels kept us safe. Being a soldier wasn't something I could do to help the Celestial side. My mind was a wonder but physically? I was pretty weak despite my increased exercise in the last few years running track.
All it had done for my physical form was reduce my breast size slightly and tone my hips and butt. I still was curvy and jiggly, a curse unlikely to leave my body even with additional exercise. It still bothered me, because I wanted nothing more than to give my life to the cause. Or die trying.
While I could possibly run from someone trying to hurt me I wouldn't be able to fight them off, and I was not match for any of the horrors hell had unleashed in the out-lands. Even the best fighting humans often didn't make it back from out there.
I tried not to think of how many times I might need to run in my new home. Where I wouldn't have anyone or anywhere to run to. No friends. No family.
I had a vanilla and cinnamon oil I had grabbed, rubbing it into my skin and enjoying the slight shimmer it put on my olive skin tone. I hummed and smiled as I played with my hair. Somehow thinking today with the cap and gown it had looked the best up. Tediously spent an hour trying to find an outfit underneath for the after-party.
My eyes popped open a moment before the bus lurched forward and stopped, making me thrust out my hand to keep myself from falling forward. Narrowly avoid a giant wad of gum between my index finger and thumb. I tried not to gag shooting my hand back into my chest and putting up a foot defensively to help me stay away from the gum.
The trip alone was already a travesty. Beyond the comforts of what was normal for a Celestial citizen. Everything was dirty, the bus barely looked like it wanted to function and the eyes of everyone else looked like the eyes of future enemies even if they looked just as terrified.
I don't belong here.
Another girl came onto the bus, looking even more haunted, the first twinge of sympathy I could feel for another as our eyes met. Her mark wasn't visible until she passed; the inky blackness marred her entire right arm as she passed me where the sleeve had been torn off. She carried a small trash bag with items in it, items that looked drenched.
The pain in her face was clear.
We all were. That was nothing new. It didn't matter who your Celestial family was.
If you were stained the only choice was to leave Celestial territory to the one territory you were safe in. Staying resulted in persecution if we became a danger to ourselves or others. Families trying to keep or hide the marked were punished severely- not that it was needed.
We always became a danger to ourselves or others. It was safer for everyone for us to disappear. To pretend... we never existed.
To my shame I shrunk away, curling up into my luggage away from her.
There were no friends here so there wasn't a point in trying. We were all under scrutiny here, and once we went over the border it would be a free-for-all. Every person knew what the mark meant. Demons would want us as property, something about our souls worthy enough to want to claim but not pure enough for the Celestials to try and save.
Unworthy of Celestial territory. Tainted. Invalid as humans. Vessels for Demons and their spawn.
Thoughts of a historical movie they showed us in class with a woman chained next to a giant blob of an alien crossed my mind making my stomach pitch. Forced to wear nearly nothing while entertaining. A slave.
That wasn't the half of what slavery could entail though. How harsh the reality was could be very earth-shattering once we arrived. Sheltered by our Celeste brothers, sisters, friends and family. I covered my mouth, wondering if I refused to eat; would my teeth remain. Or if they would just let me perish.
Perhaps they had found ways to feed the unwilling.
A sob formed in my throat as I covered my mouth, and the bus began to move forward once more. Attempting to keep as quiet as possible. This had been the last pick up from my guess, because we were moving faster than before.
My heart pounding as I felt us move smoothly onto one of the few main roads still available to everyone. Ground transportation was limited to special occasions such as this; gathering the impure after a blood moon every three or four years and returning them to their proper territory. I hadn't been concerned about it... thinking I wouldn't be effected. Such a small part of our population ever one.
The Celestials didn't have to recruit humans by force. Yet another reason I would have rather fought for them. Angry tears building and spilling at the thought.
Now that choice had been taken from me.
Part of me wanted to vow I would fight on behalf of my kind at every turn. That being a slave just meant my life and so fighting would only make my suffering shorter. But as I stared at the gum, I speculated how weak I truly was.
Not just physically.
They might destroy everything that makes me... me.
I held onto the thought for a while, the bus moving before it came to what looked to be the checkpoint of the Celestial territory. Panic began to set in, building in my stomach and climbing up my throat and shoulders as we drew closer to the Fallen's checkpoint. Growing to full alarm as the bus halted to a stop like I knew it would.
This would be the first inspection. The first encounter with a demon for all of us. Men and women this age were never allowed to advance until past the blood moon window and fully graduated. Sheltered and protected as lambs.
Lambs that now came to the slaughter...
All of our eyes were glued to the front as my breath came in small, panicked pants I attempted to keep quiet.
She was- nothing we expected though. This demon looked like any other beautiful woman, though her hair was dyed pink and purple hair with pink contacts. Colors that weren't permitted within Celeste's territory to be worn like that. It was highly distracting.
Her smile was sweet and overly charming and while she wore a lot of black and fishnets she overall looked like a grunge version of human attire. Each movement, was full of confidence as she walked down the isles she put her eyes on each one of us. When she came to me, she paused bending down to sweetly caress my face. Her breath smelled like bubble gum and lilacs making my head spin as she pulled away her icy fingers. "You're a pretty one."
Beyond the comment though she hardly batted an eyelash as she let go of me moving on and checking the seats behind and next to me. Two rows back; you wouldn't think she was the same person. Her voice turned into a violent whip. "You haven't been kissed by the darkness. You're unwelcome human."
"No. Please. Test me again, look in my eyes. I-"
The hairs on my neck prickled as all of us looked back. A boy- for he had to be only about nineteen or so with dark dusty brown hair and stunning green eyes had a bag. He indeed didn't look like he belonged. A backpack zipped up, a jacket on; and a look of determination no one else had.
"You are an unworthy soul of our king and lords. You belong here unless you can find your way out yourself."
"No, please I-"
A strange force forced the alarm to blare, the back door flinging open though none of us saw who had touched it. The boy was kicking his feet, a mark similar to ours on his neck despite her accusation as she grabbed him by the shirt lifting him with ease. With a few steps, she flung him out the back, his head cracking on the concrete with a nasty thud making me cringe.
I hoped he wasn't dead.
None of us said a word, quiet as two men appeared outside the bus covered entirely in black and collected the (hopefully) unconscious boy. The female turned back with a sweet smile. "Only the worthy may cross the border, consider yourself highly lucky." Her words were perky and sweet as she clasped her hands together.
Someone caught her eye again as she smiled widely reaching out her arms and stepping forward to the last girl that had entered the bus. "Oh, Olive. We had hoped you were going to make it. Come with me."
"M-M-me?" She stuttered, her hands around her trash bag shaking as she held it to her chest.
The female demon tutted walking forward to place a hand on her back and guide her to the back door where another pair of men in black were waiting silently, their faces covered by the same black masks as the previous people had been. "Of course. Alec Morningstar demanded it."
She had caught the attention of the royal family.
I felt nothing but pity as she was escorted away, her pale parlor betraying nothing.
Olive would likely be dead by morning.