August 6, 2016 by Lyn
April 11, Year Five of the Addergoole School
Read about the Addergoole Fourteen
“I’ve been wondering, Professor. Why Addergoole?”
It wasn’t the primary thing on her mind, of course. They were studying an array of Change descriptions and, of apparently more interest to her Mentor, “inherent non-Working abilities,” something that Kai hadn’t really been aware existed.
But she found that thinking about Changed and other things of that ilk for too long left her uncomfortable, and she had been wondering, for quite some time, about the school’s name.
“I mean,” she clarified, as her Mentor looked up at her, “why name the school that? I did some research in the Library, and the parish in Ireland which shares that name, well, it’s most well known for the loss of eleven parishioners on the RMS Titanic.” Not exactly the best omen, if I believed in such things. Perhaps I should have asked Shahin instead?
“Ah, yes. That was 1912.” Regine leaned back in her chair, staring at the ceiling. “My mother had passed long ago, and Michael, Luca and I were planning another venture after the collapse of our first attempt.” She pursed her lips in a humorless smile. “No, the school is not named for the parish’s relation to the Titanic and its sad demise. Our family – well, to be accurate, in this case, my family – has an older connection.”
Her family and not mine. Interesting. Kai leaned forward. “Your family?”
“My mother came from Addergoole Parish; my father, your grandfather, brought her over to the United States, although it was at the time not called that.” She made another humorless smile-face. “He smuggled her over, because he had fallen in love with her. Like you, she was a half-breed, but a lovely one. Stunningly beautiful.”
For a moment, it seemed the Director was lost in memories, staring off in to space. She shook her head abruptly, and was as she had been before – collected and cold. “She missed her home, so he built her one similar, between two small rivers. That’s what ‘Addergoole’ means: ‘from between two fords.’ Our childhood home was called that, after the land my mother had left behind.”
She frowned now, staring at the ceiling. “It wasn’t enough. Nothing my father did was enough. She withered and died, uprooted from her native land. She was never happy with us. Never happy with me.”
She made an abrupt gesture. “I grew up at Addergoole. My father remarried, and my brother Falk, your father, was the result. A half-breed. My father considered him a failure of the blood. As a child, so did I.”
It wasn’t in Regine, Kailani supposed, to be tactful, but it still stung. She looked down at the sheets – directly in front of her at the moment was Conrad’s. Exhibits an above-human level of social manipulation, as well as…
“I no longer think so.” Regine’s abrupt announcement brought her back to the conversation at hand. “After my first child Changed as a half-breed, I began reassessing the terminology and, indeed, the entire concept between the so-called half-breed – pure-blood distinction. Why is one Change considered a true breed, and others, which could be just as consistent, given generations to develop as the Daeva, Grigori, and Mara have, considered lesser. Regard the Thorne girls, for instance, or Lyell Nolan’s children. Why is that not a breed?”
“Longevity of the bloodline?” Kai hazarded. “Reinforcement of genes? If you had the chance to line-breed back in…” She frowned and fell silent. These weren’t horses she was talking about.
“My mother’s pattern doesn’t appear to breed true.” It was as if Regine hadn’t heard a word she said. “Nor, so far, my brother’s. Or mine.” She frowned deeply. “Caity is your half-sister, you know.”
“I wasn’t aware.” Caity had Changed, hadn’t she? Not a lot; her hair had gotten shinier and her nose cuter. But Caity had an innate power. “We don’t look all that much alike.”
“No, but you’re nearly equally brilliant. That lack of similarity worries me, however. I see the same thing in my own descendants.”
“Agatha looks like you,” she offered. “I’m not certain what her Changes are, however.” She had a half-sister. And she’d Changed. She frowned. “You’re trying to breed stable bloodlines.”
“I’m trying to discern if half-breed bloodlines can be bred true.”
“Starting with your own. With our own.” She frowned down at her hands.
“With my mother’s and my brother’s, yes.” Regine, Kai had long since figured out, wasn’t the best at empathy or comforting. She set a hand on Kai’s shoulder now, patting awkwardly. “The results have been, I must say, very telling.”
“But not true-breeding.”
“No. But in that ‘failure,’ we can learn so much more. And in your children and Caity’s, Agatha’s and Ofir’s and Oralee’s, we will learn even more.”
It was too much to think about, her own children as science subjects. Herself as a failed experiment. As awkwardly as Regine’s comforting, she changed the subject. “You named this school after your childhood home, then?”
“After my mother’s home, and my home, as homage to my mother and my brother.” Regine hesitated. “And, yes, I was thinking of those doomed people from the Addergoole Parish on the Titanic, as well. They paid a hard price for the failures of progress.”
A long, uncomfortable silence hung in the air. So quietly that Kai thought it was probably not meant for her ears at all, Regine whispered, “they all paid.”