This is very much a work in progress. Very, very.
This story does not begin with "once upon a time" - because it seems unlikely that anyone will ever know it happened. I say this because, quite simply, I never saw it coming. Few people ever see such things coming. Especially when they're tied to stories that have been forgotten for thousands of years, remembered only by a select few - none of whom were acquainted with me. Perhaps it would be better to say that I never saw it coming, because I didn't know that "it" had ever been. I was shaken, half out of one world and half into another. The woman I called my mother for the better part of my life used to say that - that sometimes, the world shakes you.
She also used to say that all the interesting things happen when you least expect them.
I was fourteen years old when it started, and quite certain in that there was nothing unusual enough about me to ever matter to the world. The world itself was changing quickly enough that I didn't think I'd ever be noticed - and sometimes, I despaired in how sure I was of that.
The world was changing. Politics, society, biology. The Global Union had been formed a few years previously, a tentative alliance of all countries under the common banner of understanding and peace. Like the United Nations, but with the theoretical ability and authority to enforce its tenents. And as this authority had been given by the member countries and not some single, overwhelmingly superior leader-nation, it held the promise of actually being able to fulfill its goals. Unfortunately, among its many other flaws, there was one primary one; like the Geneva Convention, the United States had not signed the Union Charter. This seemed, sometimes, to doom the whole enterprise to failure, or at least, to laughable inability.
Nevertheless, the Union seemed to tentatively promise hope for the total union of all world governments at some future date. It was only that no one knew just how far in the future that kept the world on a slightly uneven keel.
Simeltaneous to the formation of the Union was the international recognition of the rise in what were being called Hyper-Evolutionary births. People born one step above Homo Sapiens on the biological ladder. The next stage in evolution, said some. Others called them freaks, abominations. Common people called them mutants, Hypes. And the same kinds of people who had formed the KKK in the last century arose in some parts of the world as the self-titled True Humanity Coallition. They presented themselves as well-meaning parents and politicians, kindly and condescendingly concerned for the well-being of them families and their consituents. They paraded around before the public the public those mutants with capabilities like telepathy, like superhuman strength, calling them a "danger to the public", constantly raging about how these people should not be allowed to run free, should be controlled, confined. Should be enslaved - though that was never how they put it. The True Humanity Coallition fooled a lot of people, and those it didn't had no say in stopping them.
It was around the time I started high school that things started to really change - True Humanity's larger member base was made up of little more than uniformed thugs - the red-and-black oval logo appeared with alarming frequency, and in disturbing places. The government tentatively supported the goals of the THC, because they had so much support from the voter populace. The THC had the same support as had the anti-homosexual movements of the nineties. Religious right groups, people set in very out-dated ideas of right and wrong, and people being led by unadulterated ignorance were their greatest allies. Tyranny of the majority. I had never seen it in action before. And I had never been raised to be dragged underfoot of the herd of the world. I saw the members of THC for what they were - bigots given validity. They scared me. For a long time I had nightmares - especially after it all started, and I had a reason for nightmares, or to fear for my life.
Something you should know about me is that I was adopted - left on the doorstep of an elementary school when I was barely two years old - and that though I was raised by wonderfully loving people, I never had any idea of who I was, where I'd come from, or for that matter, what I was.
And when I started to find out, almost entirely against my will, I didn't know what to make of it at first.
But then, I was never given any choice in the matter.
The first day of the school year dawned with a kind of threatening cheer. The sun all but forced its way through the cracked blinds and spilled over the patchwork quilt on the double bed underneath the window. Bright splashes of red and blue from the stained glass inlay framing the window appeared on the opposite wall, and a warm yellow fell on the face of the young girl asleep in the bed. It fell on her hair and turned it to the colour of embers. Just as the sunlight was about to vanish momentarily behind the tree just outside, someone knocked on the door. The girl stirred, and then the knock was repeated. She opened one eye as the door opened, admitting a woman in her early fourties with curly, dark honey hair, grey-blue eyes, and a face that seemed younger than it was. Ellen MacPine stood in her adopted daughter's bedroom door, arms crossed, a smile on her face, as Areahannah closed her eyes again and took refuge under the covers.
Ellen rolled her eyes and marched into the room. "Come on, Arrah, it's time to get up. School starts in an hour."
Whatever Areahannah said was muffled by the blankets, but Ellen sighed and pulled them back. The just-fourteen-year-old blinked blearily up at her. "Muh?" she said, and Ellen laughed.
"Come on, up," she ordered, and Areahannah sighed, rubbing her eyes.
"Do I have to?" she asked, eyes startlingly green in the light from the window.
"Yes, you do," said Ellen firmly. "I'll get in trouble if you don't. Come on."
Areahannah grumbled, and then sat up, throwing off the covers. Ellen headed back downstairs to make breakfast, after giving Areahannah a time limit of "fifteen minutes, or else".
Areahannah watched Ellen disappear down the stairs, sat on the edge of her bed yawning for a few minutes before getting to her feet. Then she closed the door, and gathered up the clothes she'd set out the night before. She stood before the mirror for a moment before getting dressed, brushed out her hair - which reached the middle of her back, thick and dark, curling at the ends, with the tendency to glow red in direct sunlight.
The red in her hair, along with her pale, freckled skintone and the clear, multi-toned green of her eyes would have made it fairly obvious to anyone looking that Ellen and Peter MacPine were not her biological parents - Ellen had tanned skin, light hair, and blue eys, and Peter was the same with dark brown hair. Neither was similar to her in body-type - Peter was wide-shouldered and wiry, and Ellen was tall, soft and curvy. Areahannah was barely five-foot-two, and had a delicate bone structure, but a sort of stocky look about her, although both she and Ellen moved in the same way, were muscled the same way - because Ellen hadbeen a ballet dancer in her younger days, and still owned a dance school. Areahannah was her prize pupil, and had been dancing almost since before she remembered.
Peter was a teacher - English and literature, mostly, and he taught at Simon Fraser University. He was a favourite among the students. He was also a writer, with some minor local fame for his published works. Peter was the reason Areahannah had always been at the top of her class in everything where reading, writing and literature was concerned - having taught her to read at the tender age of three, immersing his adopted daughter in the things he loved - mostly fantasy, science fiction, and mythology. In math and the sciences, Areahannah had never excelled, but that mattered very little, since everyone expected for her to follow the same path as Peter - English in University, perhaps literature, perhaps teaching, herself.
She pulled on a long-sleeved black t-shirt and her favourite pair of jeans (faded, with the cuffs frayed off - Ellen hated them) and a pair of sneakers, pulled her hair back into a ponytail at the base of her neck, and took one last look into the mirror. The last thing she did, before picking up her bookbag and heading downstairs, was to tuck the ovular amulet of red and silver underneath her shirt - the only thing left with her by her real parents, twelve years ago. As always, she felt a rush of electricity when her fingers brushed the red stone.
Ellen and Peter MacPine awaited their adopted daughter's appearance with entirely different levels of composure. Peter sat, as usual, inscrutable behind his newspaper, the only sound the rustling of paper every time he turned a page. He always liked to read the entire thing from cover to cover before he left for work. It gave him a feeling of confidence that he understood as much of the world as he could, at least, in the space of half an hour.
Ellen bustled back and forth, from one end of the table to the other, between the dining room and the kitchen, practically radiating nervousness. She rattled dishes and rearranged cutlery so many times that Peter, from behind the haven of his newspaper, would have sworn that she was arranging the table settings according to some mysterious ancient geometry. Only the little impatient noises she kept making, as he saw, over the top of the newspaper, Ellen glancing up the stairs, checking her watch, made him finally fold the paper and set it aside.
"Ellen," he said, and the first time, she didn't acknowledge him, occupied with re-folding a napkin, so he said it again.
She started, looked up, dropped the napkin she had been re-folding, and in the process disturbed it. She made an irritated noise and re-folded it again.
"Would you calm down? You're more nervous than she is. It's only the first day of school. She's done it before."
"It's her first day at high school, Peter!" Ellen admonished him, crossing her arms, then restlessly recrossing them a moment later. "It's different. And... oh." Ellen sat down suddenly in her chair. "She's never been good at making friends. I hope she makes some this year."
Peter shrugged at his wife. "She's a private child, Ellen. It never hurt her before. She's just... independent."
Ellen glared at him. "She's downright difficult, Peter, and no thanks to you, when it comes to dealing with other kids. She's never really... fit in. She's... different from them, and she knows it, but she doesn't know why."
"And?" Peter asked her, one eyebrow arched.
"And you tell her it doesn't matter!" Ellen said annoyedly. "You always told her so!"
"I told her she shouldn't live her life trying to please other people for no other reason, if that's what you mean," Peter replied, nettling a little. "Ellen, would you rather she were one of some of those vapid little twits in your classes?"
Ellen glared at him a moment more, then sighed. "No; of course not. I don't want her being someone she's not - but I worry sometimes, that maybe she cares more than she lets anyone see. It's all well and good to be yourself, but for that to work, you have to know who you are."
Peter favoured his wife with a faint smile. "You know that's not something we can give her, completely." He stood up then, came around the table, and covered Ellen's restless hand with his own still one. "All we've ever been able to do, all we ever will be able to do, is give her the freedom and the resources to let her find out, to help her decide."
Ellen leaned into his arm. "I suppose that's all any parent can do, after all."
Sigh. Fire away.