Mini-Interlude 5 – Koren

Previous Chapter            Next Chapter

“How do I do it? What do I say to her? How do I tell her anything without telling her everything? How do I ask her what the weather’s like without blurting, ‘by the way, Mom, I met your little sister, she’s my classmate in our demon-hunting school. Oh, you didn’t know demons existed? That’s probably because the supposed good guys kidnapped you and the twin brother you didn’t know you had and used you both as hostages to force your mother to surrender so they could erase her from everyone’s memory.’”

Koren Fellows almost laughed at her own absurd declaration. Except for the fact that just because it was absurd didn’t mean it wasn’t true. And somehow, knowing what had been done to her mother as a child (not to mention the rest of her extended family) pretty much erased any desire she had to chuckle.

She was standing in her dorm room, staring at the laptop that sat on her desk. The icon for Skype was sitting there, waiting for her to click it. She needed to see her parents, needed to talk to them as close to in person as possible. That meant using the video chat, not just hearing their voices. She needed to see.

See what, she couldn’t explain. It wasn’t like her mother was going to look any different. She wouldn’t be able to see Flick Chambers or that security guard dude in her mother’s face. She’d just see her mom.

And, even now, she couldn’t tell her the truth. She couldn’t tell her own mother about her true history. Not only was there real question about whether the woman would remember anything she said about it, but the security in this place would probably overhear it. Plus, even if her mother did remember it, believing her was another story. After all, hadn’t her parents dismissed Koren’s talk of the Hiding Man?

No, she couldn’t tell the truth. She had to call and check up on her parents without ever letting on about how worried she was, how terrified she felt that the necromancer Flick had mentioned would be there already. She had to act surprised about their upcoming move while avoiding letting on that anything was wrong. And she had to do all of it without accidentally blurting out something she shouldn’t.

“Yeah,” Koren muttered aloud to herself. “Because not saying something I shouldn’t is totally something I excel at.”

Fuck it. Maybe if she sorted out exactly how she actually felt about the situation, it would be a little bit easier to keep those feelings away from her parents.

So, how did she feel about it? Chambers—Flick was her… aunt. Her classmate was her aunt. How did she feel about that? Flick was okay. Kind of a dork, especially with that rock of hers. But not too bad. Koren didn’t hate her or anything. Her roommate was kind of a bitch, but… yeah, maybe Koren had had that whole mayonnaise thing coming. She still insisted that she was just kidding about throwing Vanessa over the line to test what the magic defense did, but it was probably a bad joke with really poor timing.

Okay, so she didn’t hate Flick, and grudgingly accepted that Avalon, while still kind of a bitch, had had a point. Fair enough. How did she feel about Chambers being her aunt, specifically?

Weird. She felt really fucking weird about it. Aunts were supposed to be much older. Even cool, young aunts should be a few years older than she was, shouldn’t they?

So, she felt weird, but not necessarily bad. There were far worse people at this school to find out she was related to. Like that Deveron dick. Koren couldn’t figure out how the asshole managed to keep his mentor job. Their own mentor, Andrew, was great, and even then she still felt overwhelmed by everything they had to do. The idea of having a mentor that was as lazy and useless as everyone said Deveron Adams was would horrifying.

The point was, there were much worse people to be related to in this school. So Chambers wasn’t that bad of a draw. And if thinking of her as an aunt was too weird, maybe… maybe she could think of her as a sister? Or, better, as a step-sister. Yeah. Maybe that would help her put it in perspective and avoid being too weirded out. Just think of Flick Chambers as a step-sister or a half-sister or something like that. That might make it less confusing.

So, she could accept that she was related to Chambers. What was next?

That security dude. He was her uncle. … okay then. Actually, that one wasn’t nearly as hard to accept as she might’ve thought. Sure, he was weird and paranoid and all that, but… something about the man actually endeared him to Koren in spite of herself. She couldn’t explain it, except that his eccentricities made her feel more… sad for him than anything else. Which was weird, because even Koren knew she wasn’t the most empathetic person around.

Either way, learning that he was her uncle made her… kind of want to hug him. Except she knew he’d freak out.

Okay, next? Grandmother. Her grandmother had been some awesome, badass rebel leader, standing up against the tyranny of the obsessed Heretic hard-liners. Which kind of tied into the next bit she had to try to understand: the idea that not all Strangers were evil.

Fine, think about that second part first. Not all Strangers were evil. Could she accept that? Did she believe it?

Maybe. It wasn’t impossible, after all. The idea that everything that wasn’t outright human would be evil was kind of… really god damn arrogant, when she thought about it. Sure, she’d accepted the idea that every non-human was evil pretty easily. Maybe that was just the human mindset?

So, conditionally, she’d accept that there were non-evil Strangers. She’d have to meet them herself, talk to them, try to… understand them, but for the time being, she’d accept it as a possibility. Maybe even a probability, if she was perfectly honest with herself.

Yeah, okay, she’d accept it. If there were evil humans, there could be not-evil Strangers. And her grandmother had been working with them to stop the Heretics from exterminating all of them. That was… kind of cool. Her grandmother was a freedom fighter. A hero.

… Except that now she wasn’t. Now, she was the slave of some vicious, evil, genocidal necromancer. And why? Because the Heretics had kidnapped Koren’s own mother and forced the woman to choose between her children and her cause.

And yet, if they hadn’t done that, Koren herself wouldn’t even exist. She wouldn’t have been born if her mother hadn’t been sent away and put into hiding as a normal, average person. Koren loathed the people who had done that to her mother. But if given the choice to undo it and in the process, erase her own existence, would she?

“God damn it,” she muttered to herself. “This is too damn complicated.”

Hate them for what they did, get justice for her grandmother and the rest of her family, but still be glad that she had been born. Could she do that? Was that even possible without being inherently contradictory?

After another couple minutes of inward debate and uncertainty, the girl physically shook herself. “Fuck it,” she declared while stepping over to click the icon. As the program booted up, she picked up the headphones and adjusted the mic while giving a brief glance over toward her roommate’s empty bed. Aylen was out with Sovereign, but she had no idea how long the girl would be gone. And this conversation was going to be awkward enough without letting someone overhear what she was saying.

With that in mind, Koren grabbed the laptop and moved it over to her own bed. After activating the privacy screen, she hit the button to call her parents’ computer. They had been waiting for her to call back.

It took a few long moments before the call was accepted. As the window popped up, she saw her father’s face. Kenneth Fellows wasn’t a particularly large man. He worked as an accountant for some big firm, and he looked the part in every possible way, from his clean-yet-ill-fitting suit to the thick glasses that he wore.

“Hey there, Nugget!” her father called, giving her a dorky wave. “How’s life in cushy private school?”

Somehow, Koren managed a weak, “You know, boring.” Pushing on past that, she asked, “Is Mom there? She left a message about… some kind of opportunity.”

Her father laughed at that. “Heck yeah, it’s an opportunity. Hang on, I’ll get her on here.” Stepping away from the computer’s view, he called, “Abigail, the little Nugget’s on Skype. You wanna tell her yourself?”

A few seconds later, he stepped away, leaving room for Koren’s mother to move into view. She was smiling broadly, clearly excited. “Hey, baby. You doing okay?”

A lump stuck in Koren’s throat when she tried to respond. Fuck. Seeing her mother, knowing what had been done to her, that she had been taken away from her own mother and her twin brother, put things into perspective.

Fuck being understanding. Fuck the fact that she wouldn’t exist if it wasn’t for what happened. Fuck all that. Her mother was ripped away from her own family. The people who did that deserved to burn. Each and every one of them.

“Honey?” Her mother must’ve seen something in her expression. “Are you all right?”

Swallowing hard, Koren forced herself to nod sharply. “Y-yeah, I’m fine. What—umm, what was the opportunity you were talking about?”

Her mother’s near-giddy smile returned. “Well, you remember that client I worked with a couple years ago? The Vacenta case. The firm we contracted with in Miami called up. Apparently one of their associates quit unexpectedly. They need fresh blood, and the partners remembered the work I did with them on the case. So they offered me a job, with moving compensation and a fast track to partner within two years.”

“Partner…” Koren echoed. The Heretics had managed to get some law firm that her mother actually knew and had worked with before to offer her a job that would make her a partner within a couple years of working there? Just how much influence did they have in her—never mind. She was afraid to know.

“Of course, the deal is contingent upon being there to help them with the big case that they’re stuck with now,” her mother added. “Which means we have to move down there… well, within the next day or two. It’s almost crazy. They’re offering us a house, Koren. It’s a beautiful house, they sent pictures. It’s right near the beach. You’ll love it, when you visit.”

When Koren didn’t respond, her mother paused, then lowered her voice. “Sweetie, listen. If us… moving, if it upsets you, if you’re worried about all that change and… if you hate it that much, tell me. I’ll find another way. I’ll tell them I can’t go.”

Koren blinked at that. “You… you’d turn it down if I asked you to?”

“You’re my daughter, Nugget,” Abigail replied easily. “That’s a job. I wouldn’t put it before you.”

That lump in her throat was back. Koren swallowed hard, head shaking. “Mom… take the job. Fly down there today. Check it out. I’ll see it next week, when I visit for Thanksgiving. Oh,” she added, “I… might have a… classmate come visit. Is that okay?”

Her mother watched her expression for a moment before nodding. “A classmate, huh? I think that would be okay. Let’s ask your father. Hey, Gerald, your daughter would like to have a friend come visit us at the new house for Thanksgiving.”

Gerald Fellows, a tall, classically handsome and athletic man stepped into view of the camera. His smile was broad as he embraced his wife while watching Koren. “Oh she does, does she?”

Something… strange went through her mind just then. Seeing her dad, seeing her father standing there, Koren felt… weird. There was something… odd about the whole situation. Something wrong. “I…”

Then the feeling passed, and Koren blinked a couple times before nodding. “Yeah, is that okay?”

“Sure thing, squirt,” her father assured her, giving the girl a quick thumbs up.”You go right ahead and bring your little friend.

“We’ll all have fun.”

Previous Chapter                 Next Chapter

 

 

Advertisements

23 comments

  1. This! This right here was a mini-interlude commissioned by Hendy853. I hope you guys enjoyed getting a look into Koren’s head and at her discussion with her mother and fathers. Clearly no plot twists here, nosir.

    Another bit of thanks goes to BBBence1111 for posting the chapter alert and the tags last time while I was busy driving cross-country. It’s very much appreciated.

    The tags for today’s mini-chapter aaaaaaaare: Abigail Fellows, Damn It Deveron Stop Making Your Relatives Hate You., Gerald Fello–Wait What?, Kenneth Fellows, Koren Fellows, Well That Was A Twist – Wasn’t It? Yeah The Fact That Koren Wants To Hug Wyatt Surprised Me Too.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Okay what the fuck?

    I am terrified now.

    Because *wow* I didn’t actually even notice that until I read the tags.

    Which means they’re getting to me and I’m just *reading about it*.

    I need an adult.

    (What do you mean I am one?)

    Liked by 2 people

  3. Koren’s thought processes are about as interesting as I thought they’d be. Seeing her thoughts on her newfound family was great. Interesting that she’s asking questions about how she wouldn’t have been born without everything that happened when Flick hasn’t really thought about it. And the hating on her grandpa is hilarious and to be expected.

    As for her parents. I’m not at all surprised to find out that Abigail is a lawyer. It just feels right. And Kenneth immediately endeared himself to me.

    On the other hand, I inmediately want to punch “Gerald” in the face. Because fuck that guy. I like to think that Crossroads has enough decency towards ordinary humans to not insert a watcher/bodyguard/possible executioner that closely into someone’s life, so for now I’ll assume/hope it wasn’t them. Who else could it be? One of Joselyn and Deveron’s mysterious allies? Their memory magic appears to trump Crossroads magic. Another Alter or Nocen like the Hiding Man? I need more information. So we’re back to the waiting game.

    Like

    1. “I like to think that Crossroads has enough decency towards ordinary humans to not insert a watcher/bodyguard/possible executioner that closely into someone’s life, so for now I’ll assume/hope it wasn’t them.”
      Er….that’s EXACTLY the kind of thing Crossroads does. Did you forget about Wyatt’s interlude?

      Liked by 1 person

      1. It actually did slip my mind as I was hurriedly typing that message up while on my break, so point. But we still don’t know how much of that was the Committee as a whole as opposed to Ruthers in particular. Nor do we know of it’s all of them or specifically him that’s continued to send more spies after Wyatt.

        It’s obvious that he went behind the Committee’s back to enact the kidnapping in the first place. If he had approval, he wouldn’t have needed to lie on the reports Flick and company read, nor would he have had to threaten Joselyn into keeping quiet about what actually happened.

        I have no doubt that Ruthers or his friends would be willing to do it. As you’ve pointed out, he’s done it before. But I’m talking about the organization as a whole, not that one admittedly influential guy (of twelve) in particular. And while the organization clearly thinks nothing of neurolyzing the shit out of ordinary people on a regular basis, I have yet to see any indication that they would take a step as drastic as inserting someone as a second father/husband on a day’s notice.

        It’s also obvious that Ruthers can’t go behind the rest of the Committee’s back like he did in 1964 when they’re paying close enough attention. If he was, he simply would have kidnapped Flick after Joselyn disappeared and Gaia prevented him from doing it “officially”.

        Of course, this raises the question of how he got his stooges installed as Wyatt’s “parents” but didn’t manage it with Abigail and Flick. The best answer I can come up with is that Wyatt would have been subject to less direct attention from those in charge because he was already in the care of Heretics rather than Bystanders. Why attach a watcher to report to you when you can just have the agents already there take care of it and save the manpower?

        Like

  4. “There were far worse people at this school to find out she was related to. Like that Deveron dick. ”
    Me: Ahahahahahahaha. I cannot wait for that little gem to be revealed to everyone.

    “So, conditionally, she’d accept that there were non-evil Strangers. She’d have to meet them herself, talk to them, try to… understand them, but for the time being, she’d accept it as a possibility. Maybe even a probability, if she was perfectly honest with herself.

    Yeah, okay, she’d accept it. If there were evil humans, there could be not-evil Strangers. And her grandmother had been working with them to stop the Heretics from exterminating all of them. That was… kind of cool. Her grandmother was a freedom fighter. A hero.”
    Me: Hm, surprisingly open minded of her. Guess it runs in the family, as it were.

    ” Kenneth Fellows wasn’t a particularly large man. He worked as an accountant for some big firm, and he looked the part in every possible way, from his clean-yet-ill-fitting suit to the thick glasses that he wore.”
    “Gerald Fellows, a tall, classically handsome and athletic man stepped into view of the camera. His smile was broad as he embraced his wife while watching Koren. “Oh she does, does she?””
    Me: *squints* I know it has been mentioned multiple times already, but wow. Something’s definitely afoot. Koren almost pegged that something was wrong, too, but that damn memory/mental influence magic. Gah.

    ““Sure thing, squirt,” her father assured her, giving the girl a quick thumbs up.”You go right ahead and bring your little friend.

    “We’ll all have fun.””
    Me: Insert obligatory concern/dread at that last line.

    Like

    1. It’s not Fossor. This guy is described as “tall, classically handsome, and athletic” while Flick made a big deal of how average Fossor looks in appearance and height, and slightly overwreight.

      It’s possible that Fossor is behind this, but it’s not him personnally.

      Liked by 1 person

  5. Interesting seeing Koren’s thought processes as she tried to figure out what to make of her newly-discovered family, especially the sort of relationship she wanted to have with Flick, or what to do with all the things she couldn’t actually tell her parents. Also interesting that she wants to give Wyatt a hug- the guy could probably use one, but not sure how well he’d take it. Though considering just what Koren thinks of Deveron, it’ll be interesting to see her response when she learns that he’s actually her grandfather.

    And Koren proved to be surprisingly open-minded about Joselyn, the rebellion, & the concept of non-evil Alters.

    Plus, Koren’s even developing some self-awareness by admitting to herself that Avalon had a point in tearing her a new one over trying to toss Vanessa into the security field.

    The Crossroads Heretics must have a lot of pull in the Bystander world one way or another if they could arrange a new, high-level job for Abigail just like that.

    Though of course, something disturbing has to happen, and here, it’s when Koren’s Skypeing with her mother, when something or someone replaces her father. Koren almost notices it but doesn’t quite, because of some high-end memory-altering effect, suggesting that there’s either a powerful Stranger or Heretic at work here…. Wonder who (or what) it is, what their agenda is, & whether Koren & Flick are going to have a messy run-in with one of the still-evil Strangers or a ‘rogue’ Heretic come Thanksgiving…..

    (Also, this makes me even more interested in getting back to that assignment where they follow an old investigation, so we can see just what was up with the ‘Hiding Man’ who attacked Koren & her neighbors when she was a child and how that was resolved.)

    And yet, if they hadn’t done that, Koren herself wouldn’t even exist. She wouldn’t have been born if her mother hadn’t been sent away and put into hiding as a normal, average person. Koren loathed the people who had done that to her mother. But if given the choice to undo it and in the process, erase her own existence, would she?

    “God damn it,” she muttered to herself. “This is too damn complicated.”

    Yeah Koren, thinking about possible temporal paradoxes is known to confuse people & give them headaches….

    Like

  6. After seeing Koren’s thought process, it’s a safe bet that she’ll help Flick and her allies bright down Ruthers.

    Oh, I can’t wait to see her reaction when she learns that Deveron is her grandfather.

    I bet you anything that she’s going to be giving Wyatt all the hugs he needs after learning what he’s been through.

    After reading that paragraph, I’ve come up with two theories on what just happened, either Koren’s father can shapeshift or a Stranger or a spy for Ruthers just killed and replaced Koren’s real father.

    Thanks for updating. 🙂

    Like

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s