I stood out on the balcony and looked out at the city that I was now a full leader of. Valerie’s premier Gatekeeper power was transitioning to Sierra making me the strongest Gatekeeper in the Northern City. I had been waiting for this day for as long as I can remember, but now that it is here, it is tainted with doubt.
As I look out at the strikingly beautiful spirling towers of glass and Earth, I can’t help but question everything that I thought I knew about my beloved city. My childhood lessons had all been built on a foundation of hate towards the human-bound Valkyries. And that hate had been rooted in the attack on the daycare that had killed five infants, including the fourth Gatekeeper. The stories of the attack had always deeply affected me because that fourth keeper was supposed to be my pair. The human-bound didn’t just end the lives of five innocent children, they had also taken my future away from me. That fact had provided fertile ground for the seeds of hate and resentment to flourish within me. And I had used those emotions to steal Mariana away from Nahuel.
But what if everything I knew about that attack was a lie. Sierra had sounded so confident when she told me that I didn’t know the truth of what happened that hollowed day. Begging the questions, what had really happened and why hadn’t I of all people, been told the truth.
I took a deep breath and turned to join the others in the antechamber. Valerie was sitting in her normal chair at the head of the table, but she didn’t look well. Her shoulders were tense, her skin pale and clammy, and her eyes less focused than normal. All signs that Sierra would enter her final transition any time now, draining Valerie of all of her gifted power and leaving her practically comatose for a span of days. It was something that I knew she dreaded and had stubbornly refused to believe would ever happen to her.
I should be tending to her in private. I should give her at least that much respect after everything she has done for me and the Northern City. However, the Sierra crisis was too dire to ignore, even for a little while. She had proved herself immensely powerful with a mix of gifts that no Gatekeeper before her had ever wielded. This would have been a huge advantage for us but after what happened in the human-plane, it didn’t look like Sierra was on our side of this war. Conversely, it didn’t particularly seem like she was on their side either. I mean they had made her kneel before one of their Queens and been publicly whipped. Meaning that we still had a chance to win Sierra to our side.
But I couldn’t hope to be successful in that venture if I wasn’t armed with the truth.
I let Valerie keep the chair of power this one last time and instead stood at the other end of the table and crossed my arms over my chest. I decided to skip over Valerie for the moment and get my information directly from her most loyal lapdog, Constance. “Care to explain why the human-bound Valkyrie attacked you on sight? Or why Sierra didn’t hesitate to help him nearly kill you?” I asked in a voice that clearly indicated I expected her to answer.
Constance’s dead eyes locked on my own and she said in a low monotone that didn’t hold a shred of emotion, “I would assume because she was raised by her sperm donor. No doubt he filled her head with all sorts of prejudices against me and our people.”
“The human-bound Valkyries didn’t gain access to the Doba until years after Sierra was born. How is it possible that she was fathered by one?” I asked, subtlety questioning the story about the murdered children.
Constance didn’t answer and instead just continued to stare at me with her emotionless eyes. I suppressed a shiver and turned my gaze towards Valerie. She only hesitated for a moment before finally telling me the truth. She told me how she had devised a plan to strengthen the future generations of our people that stemmed from integrating human-bound genetics into our bloodlines. She told me how they had taken an especially Gifted clan from the Americas Northeast. She told me that after the men were thoroughly questioned, many of the high-standing single women were ordered to become pregnant with one of the stolen men.
She then told me how the men had finally escaped and gone after the children that they unwillingly fathered. Sierra had been right. Everything that I knew about that day was based on lies. How much more about our interactions and history with the human-bound were also derived from falsehoods?
“None of that is important now,” Valerie declared and I had to bite my tongue not to snap at her. Of course, it mattered. Ever since I was a child, Valerie had told me that my generation was the battle generation. That my leadership would mark the start of the war so that we could regain our rightful place in the human plane and rule over the humans. But my reasons for agreeing with her and following through with her plans were based on revenge. The human-bound Valkyries had taken away my future, so I was going to destroy theirs. This war was going to be fought in Sierra’s name.
But now I had serious doubts if that was a valid reason.
Going to war would incur lethal consequences. I didn’t know if I could condemn my people to that when we had lived in peace for generations. Not if there wasn’t a good reason. Not if the human-bound Valkyries weren’t the monsters that I believed them to be.
On the other hand, just because I had been lied to about the past didn’t mean that we were wrong about the human-bound. They had gleefully whipped Sierra when she was desperately trying to save them from our invasion. What did that say about them? Maybe they really were monsters.
“What is important is that we get Sierra on our side. Her Shielding power combined with the ability to lock down Travel between the planes of existence will be a huge advantage in the war. It is imperative that we either convince her to join us or eliminate the threat that she poses,” Valerie continued, completely oblivious to my thoughts.
Constance shot up from her chair, causing it to tip backward and crash loudly to the ground. “You will not harm a hair on that child’s head,” Constance hissed with far more emotion than I have ever witnessed from her in the past.
“Come now, Connie. Stop being so sentimental. You haven’t laid eyes on the girl for over fifteen years and I had to practically force you to have her in the first place. There is no reason for you to pretend to be the concerned parent now,” Valerie declared in a demissive tone that clearly didn’t sit well with Constance. Constance took a moment to digest Valerie’s words and then turned to me.
“What Valerie wants no longer matters. My daughter will soon claim her power and be the strongest premier Gatekeeper this world has ever known. If you try to hurt her, I will stop you,” Constance told me with that same novel passion laced in her voice. I was more powerful than Constance with Weapons, Traveling, Emotions, Water, and Speed, not to mention that Mariana would do anything I tell her to. But Constance was one of the most ruthless and vicious Valkyries that I had ever met. I didn’t particularly want her on my bad side.
More to the point, I didn’t want to hurt Sierra. I wanted her to rule by my side. Just as she would have if her father had never stolen her away. I just didn’t know if Constance would be a help or a hindrance to that goal.
-Louka Le Roux, Gatekeeper of the Northern City.