July 31, 2016 by Lyn
Year Three of the Addergoole School, Day One
Being home for a month had been too weird. Allyse’s skin felt itchy, working around the layers of geasa that were at once unnecessary and far too confining. She’d wanted to ask her mother about Addergoole. She’d wanted to show off her claws and her new tricks. Instead, she’d spent her days at the dojo, her evenings hanging out with people who used to be her best friends and now felt like strangers. Worse than strangers – they felt like children, worried about their hair (not that Allyse’s hair wasn’t perfect) when the world was so much bigger, and darker, than they knew.
It was a relief to step off the plane, to sit in the SUV and crack jokes with Finn, Rozen, and Magnolia, to be within the walls of the school again. It was more of a relief to step into their suite and find her crew already there. It was perfect when they stepped into the halls together, prowling, scoping the new Third Cohort.
“Del?” She wondered if Sima heard the note of hope in her own voice. That was Delaney, back straight, the long braid clearly showing her bare neck, walking alongside Ardell, also naked-throated. Had Meshach freed them? They’d watched her all year, tried to help and only made things worse, and finally resolved to stay out of the way. But if she was free, things might be looking up.
She turned around to look at them, and Allyse’s heart sank. Things weren’t going to get better.
Year Three of the Addergoole School, Week Four
She came home early from training, hating the necessity even as she acknowledged it. Her stomach was a mass of cramps, and while she would have soldiered on, Doug and Acacia had been firm.
She kept her back straight until she was inside the suite: Never show weakness to your enemies. Everyone not your crew is potentially an enemy. They’d learned their lessons well. Once home, she slumped into her favorite chair and indulged the weakness. She curled her knees up to her belly, its curve just beginning to show, and swore quietly. She’d never had cramps this bad before.
The silence caught her attention. It had its own feel and smell to it, not the quiet of an empty room, but the silence of a rabbit that knows the hawk is overhead. She’d forgotten about the boys. They were sitting on the couch, frozen. Afraid, of course. Cay’d had to slap the one around more than a few times before he’d gotten the point. The crew’s training sessions were probably the only time the boys had to themselves.
Another cramp bent her over with pain. She swore into her knees, then looked up blearily at the boys. “Draw me a tub. Get me a little tea. Then… if you didn’t hear anything, neither will I.”
Carter, quicker on the uptake, headed for the bathroom. She unfolded herself and limped after him, sinking herself into the hot water gratefully.
She was unconscious by the time her crew returned with the doctor.
Year Three of the Addergoole School, week Thirty-Four
She hated the parasite inside her, the way it fucked with her balance, made her slower and clumsier and quicker to tire. She hated the way Doug had slowed down their training to a crawl as they got rounder and rounder, and found it hard not to resent Massima for the September miscarriage that had prompted this current worry.
And then there was this. She glared balefully at Rozen and Smitty waiting by the SUV. “What the fuck, Doug? I thought we were going out on a hunt today?” She’d been waiting weeks for something their Mentor thought was suitably non-fucking-baby-threatening.
Rozen grinned at her, showing white teeth against his midnight skin. Smitty, at least, had the common sense to look worried.
“We are,” Doug soothed. “Their Mentors asked me to bring them along; they both need the combat practice. And I don’t want you three in the front lines anyway.”
“We’re not invalids, we’re just pregnant,” she snarled
“You’re soldiers, and you’ll do as you’re told. Besides, I think you’ll have fun, training fresh meat.”
The look on Rozen’s face was almost worth it. “You’re the boss, boss. What are we fighting?”
“I think it’s just a Feral – livestock damage but no missing people. Team tactics, you direct but let Rozen and Smitty take the brunt of the attack.”
She studied her Mentor for a minute. He was clever. The target was beneath them, but they could pretend it was geared down for the two boys and not the crew’s parasites. “All right.”