Chapter 1: Other beginnings
Tamara’s footsteps in the hallway sound like an echo in the silence of the night. The sun had gone down for a while, but Lily’s still in her office accompanied by Brook when Tamara walks in determinedly.
“I looked for you today”, she says to Lily.
“I know. I am here now.”
“Where have you been?”
“I took a walk with Isaac around here. I checked if there are any dragons and demons left.”
“I can’t explain how they got here. Anyway, we will be prepared. We’ve increased the guards around the Base.”
“That’s good. What is this about? Why did you look for me?”
“I got an answer.”
Brook suddenly turns to Lily when she quickly stands up from the chair.
“The Bases B, E, F, H, I, and O are not with them yet.”
“Are you sure?”
“No… but they are the only one from which I haven’t received the usual answer. The others didn’t answer or they might have figured out that the message comes from here. We don’t have too much time. We have to meet up with their leaders.”
“Tomorrow at sunset.”
“Too soon…” speaks Brook without being asked.
“We need to take the Guardians with us in case we will face trouble.”
“Yes. We will. Are you gathering a team?”
“Ten Guardians are enough?”
“Ten besides the closed ones who want to join us”, says Lily.
Tamara starts the electronic device in front of her and nods.
“Then I will message the leaders. I hope that there won’t be trouble, but I will still choose the best ten Guardians I can find to come with us tomorrow.”
“Okay. Thanks, Tamara.”
“Do you want someone in particular?”
Lily thinks for a second, and then she smiles with the corner of her mouth.
“In fact, I actually want.”
Tamara’s waiting curiously for an answer. She has Isaac in mind, Gloria, maybe even Alice or Sam, but her answer shocks even Brook, who jumps like burned from the chair, throwing away the soft pillow.
“Lily, are you sure? I mean… you have plenty of Guardians to choose from…”
“And Alice”, she continues.
She nods while Lily leaves the office. Brook follows her close, not before she throws Tamara a strange look. She replies lifting her shoulders, for she doesn’t want to get into Lily’s strategy.
“Have you lost your mind?”
“And why are you asking me such a thing?”
“Lily, stop talking to me like you’re the boss! Addison? Really? Alice as Alice… I get it. But Addison?! You don’t like her, and I’m pretty sure that she doesn’t like you either!”
“They’re both good fighters”, says Lily touching her shoulders. “Good night. See you in the morning.”
Brook remains near the wide windows, watching her friend walking away on the long corridor. She’s moving her body in an elegant way, and the black and tight suit she’s wearing makes her look mature. But she knows that Lily has changed, for she had become a lot colder the past few weeks. She sighs when her ponytail disappears around the corner, and she leans on the window. Leo’s appearing cheers her up a bit, and makes her not to think about her energy sister’s change.
Lily walks among the few Guardians who aren’t asleep yet, and they greet her with their heads, while she gently moves her body between them, keeping her serious face and cold look. Something moves inside her belly, but her facial expression doesn’t change. When she passes on the corridors of the Base she is now a leader, the Guardians always look at her in a different way. She is changed, and she inspires respect for some of them, but also an unknown fear for the others. She is seen as a strong woman now, one who knows what she wants and how to lead. They have chosen her to be their leader for a purpose.
She opens the door to her room, and then she locks it and runs straight to the bathroom. She takes off her jacket before she arrives there, pulls her shirt and breaks two buttons, while she grabs her forehead with the other hand. Her head leans in the sink now, the water’s running, and Lily’s tried by a horrible sensation of sick.
She had changed all inside that room, including the wall’s colors, on which she had thrown purple and yellow spots, hoping that she will forget that was Dean’s present for her. The bathroom wasn’t red anymore, but pinker, for she had put white over it and it didn’t go so well. Yes, she had been busy the past few weeks: to cover up the traces Dean had left in her life and in the Base. She had avoided Artemis all this time because she reminded her of that man who had humiliated her so bad.
She ends up with water on her face, spits in the sink and leans on the mirror. She tries to control her breathing, and she gets lost in her own eyes in the mirror, forgetting about her and the passing time.
The insisting knock on the door and the door handle moving make her look that way slowly.
“Lily? I know that you’re in there. I can see the light on! Are you all right?” Isaac asks her from the other side of the door.
Lily takes off her clothes in a rush, covers herself with a towel, wets her hair, and the runs to open the door.
“Hey. I was in the shower. Sorry. What happened?”
Isaac searches her with his eyes, putting aside his wild thoughts about her, for the one staying in front of him now, covered with a towel, is his own sister.
“I wanted to see how you’re doing.”
“I getting ready to bed.”
“We’ll speak in the morning then”, he says suspiciously. “Are you sure that you’re okay? You look pale.”
“I’m fine. I’m just tired. Good night, Isaac.”
“Good night”, he replies with half of the mouth.
Lily closes the door carefully and leans on it slowly. She knows that Isaac’s still there, for she can hear his worried thoughts. She covers her mouth with her hand, to keep inside the sound that’s about to come out, and when Isaac’s thoughts disappear along with his footsteps, she runs again in the bathroom. Her bare feet slip on the wet floor, and she falls, hitting her head on the sink.
She loses her conscience for a couple of minutes, and when she opens the eyes again she feels her cheeks wet. The water’s flowing on her face from the sink, and she can’t explain the way she could possibly turn the water on in her falling. She gets up and enters the shower, grinding her teeth and squeezing her fists, and she lets the ice cold water flow over her. A trace of blood appears at her feet, from the hit on her head. At first, it’s yellow, and only after that it turns red, but she doesn’t wonder, for she knows well that she has dragon blood in her veins.
“The messages are sent, and the ten Guardians are chosen”, Tamara tells Lily when she meets her in the morning.
“That’s good”, she answers like she wasn’t paying attention.
“Haven’t you slept?”
“Is it so obvious?”
Tamara doesn’t answer that anymore, but Lily knows that last night has ended well. The nights before that were a nightmare for her, especially the first ones, because when she used to walk into that room she started crying instantly, every single time. She was releasing her negative energy over the day in there, where no one could see her, and she cried, even if the next day she didn’t seem like she did that. She had kept the appearances and managed to show everyone how strong and changed she was. She had fooled even Brook, and Isaac as well, but they still had their suspicions sometimes. She had played her card well and had worn a mask which was going to give her an advantage, especially in the eyes of the ones around her. She was thinking that was no use for her to seem weak or to show how much she suffered, for one could have taken advantage of that.
When Lily arrives downstairs, she hears Gloria raising her voice to the guards from the entrance of the Base.
“What? Isn’t it a free Base? That’s what it was supposed to be!”
Lily approaches, waving at them that it was okay to let her pass.
“Really?” says Gloria indignant.
“Where have you been?”
“It’s just a question. They were told to ask this the people who use to get out and take long walks.”
“Oh. I went to take some air.”
“I haven’t seen you since yesterday at lunch when you were saying that you’re going to take some fresh air.”
“Well, I’ve been back since that moment.”
“Obviously”, says Lily smiling.
Gloria gulps, and she rushes to get to her room. Brook stops her on the way.
“Are you coming with us?”
“To meet the leaders.”
“Oh, I believe so. I’m going to take a shower.”
She leaves before Brook can say anything else, but she becomes suspicious when she realizes that Gloria was wearing the same clothes the day before. She rushes to get to Lily’s office, but she bumps into Tamara.
“Oh, it’s good I found you too. Where’s Lily?”
“I don’t know. She’s probably getting ready for the meeting. Why are you so nervous?”
“Maybe I’m just being paranoid, but I want to check something out. Do you have access to the button’s room?”
“Will you come with me? I don’t want to worry Lily for nothing.”
“If you are convinced that’s nothing, why do you want to check it?”
“Well, it’s weird. Do you want to help or not?”
Tamara rolls her eyes and walks Brook to the button’s room. After a lot of explanations and images from the day before Tamara finds the camera which was headed to the front door. They can see Gloria going out of the Base, and not coming back until past midnight, agitated and confused.
“Where has she been?” asks Tamara.
“I have no idea, but something’s wrong.”
“Look. She left again last night.”
“And it seems like she was back just a couple of moments ago…” says Brook disappointed.
“Will you take care of this or shall I announce the guards to bring her to me?”
“No! Are you crazy? I’m sure that’s a misunderstanding. I’ll look for her and I will talk to her.”
When Brook and Tamara step out from the button’s room, Artemis waves at Tamara to follow her. Brook searches for Gloria in the whole Base, but when she arrives in front of Leo’s room she thinks of having a break.
“Hey”, she says walking inside from a habit.
“Hey”, he replies and jumps out of bed.
He grabs her by the neck and kisses her, making her forget the reason she was running in the hallways of the Base.
“Less talk and more action”, says Leo and pushes her in the bed.
He throws over her and grabs her long red hair, arranging it gently. Brook makes if fall from bed with a simple gesture of her head, and Leo bites his lip. Brook’s mission had already been compromised since the moment she had stepped into the corridor leading to Leo’s room because she had completely forgotten of herself. In fact, she made a habit of forgetting her jobs when she was meeting Leo. She was madly in love with him, and he made her feel free and more of herself when they were spending time together.