Written by Sorina Șchiopu
So you brought that brat here, but now…what will you do?
His thoughts were chanting at the back of his head, louder and louder. Why did he even agree to bring her back for interrogation? She looked so young, merely a confused, lost child, surely not a-
“Just what are you doing, Mister?”
A voice. The girl. That’s right. She had spoken and now, there was no going back. He had to question her and serve the Kingdom that had taken so much away from him.
“There is no point in wasting such a question on me, girl.”
He hadn’t intended to go back to that arrogant, superior tone of his, but it just…somehow…happened. What was he hoping to accomplish, acting all high and mighty in front of a child anyways?
He stood like that for a while, being led far from the scene in front of him by his very own thoughts. After a while, he unwillingly let out a pained sigh. What was he doing, really?
“Why were you in my office earlier?”
Once again, Eric searched for the girl’s eyes, almost hunting for her attention, yet she didn’t seem to care for him at all.
She might have seemed small at first glance, but now that he finally got a good look at her, she could have easily been older than he had initially thought her to be. Fifteen, maybe even sixteen?
“How old are you, Miss?”, he asked carefully, more courteous this time.
Yet again, there was only silence in response to his question.
And another pitiful sigh from this so-called investigator. Even he himself was getting bored of this repeating scenario already and it hadn’t even been going on for that long. At this rate, his lunch break would be compromised.
“Listen here, honey, the last thing I-”
“Don’t ever use that word again! Do not dare to call me that ever again!”
While her interruption did surprise him a little, it was only mildly. Ever since he had gotten his hand on this little delinquent, he’d been observing the look in her eyes. It was not the look of a tame, innocent little girl. Not at all.
“Oh?”, he exclaimed in a deeper voice than intended. “Did I hit a sensitive chord? Good to know, honey. Then maybe you could answer some of my questions…”
Finally, triggered by his words, she looked up.
“Not happening”, she said.
Rage had formed in her green eyes and it was quite the distracting scene. Her looks were peculiar altogether and there was something about her that made him feel uneasy, but she had pretty eyes, he had to give her that, even as rage-filled as they were right now.
Feeling a little disheartened, the young officer let himself sink in the chair. He watched her for a little while in sheer silence, but at some point, he was getting sick of this nothingness that was surrounding them. So, he finally demanded, in a totally different tone than until just before:
“Just listen to me, kid. You broke into the office of a Governmental Behavior Supervisor and I highly doubt it was by mistake. God knows what you managed to get your hands on before we caught you.”
Eric paused to see if there were words she might have wanted to throw at him, but, as he feared, there were still none. He continued.
“The theft of classified information is a serious crime in our kingdom, darling. You could be thrown into prison for years for that alone. Do you want to be accused of obstruction of justice, too?”
There was annoyance in her eyes, but she still said nothing. In some way, she was indeed obstructing justice. If anything the Government was ever demanding could be related to actual justice.
“How old are you and what is your name? Please, answer me. I just want a peaceful, long lunch break.”
The sudden warm undertone of this young man’s voice seemed to have persuaded her.
“17.” She bit her lower lip in an attempt to kill a giggle, but failed, so she continued either way: “My name is Emilia.”
So much for wanting to sound mature and serious…
Eric looked at her in surprise. 17, he thought, flabbergasted. But she looks so… ahem.
“Forgive my manner of addressing you, Miss. Well then, continue talking. What reason might you have had for breaking into my office?”
Sadly, they were back to square one because the girl had again decided to embrace silence.
Now this is slowly getting on my nerves…
“I’m probably the youngest Governmental Agent of such rank, kid. I’m 23, you know that? 23! Merely six years older than you and still, this successful! Do tell me, do you sincerely think that succumbing to a little rebellious phase will get you any-”
“Done…” she mumbled in such a low voice that Eric shuddered. It resembled the growl of a feral animal maybe a little too much.
“Are you done?!” she then said, almost spitting those words like they were poison, like they were meant to poison him. “A little rebellious phase? Are you kidding me?!”
Now that caught Eric off-guard.
“I’m so done!” she yelled. “Done listening to anything this kingdom’s officials have to say! It’s been 35 years already, since this horrible Ranking System was implemented. Look what it made of this place! And what’s that ‘Justice’ that you all protect? They’re only feeding us lies, only using everyone who doesn’t resist…”
By the end of her last sentence, she had tears in her eyes already, but was refusing to let them roll down her cheeks. Only emptiness was brave enough to take over afterwards.
She’s like me. She’s just like me…
“Hey…” Eric was the first one of the two to speak up and it took him all the strength he ever had.
“I want you to tell me everything, your full name, the organization you are working for, …all of it.” His words came out tenderly, his gaze also gently embracing the girl before him. “I am on your side”, he added, in such a feeble voice, he was afraid she didn’t hear him.
However, she only wearily opened her eyes (she had kept them closed) and stared at him with an unreadable expression. She didn’t believe him.
“You know, Emilia…I used to be a rebel, just like you. Illegally entering an agent’s office was probably one of the most innocent things I did back then. I know you don’t believe me, but…we are the same, you and me, maybe with the exception that I was never caught.”
Her lips curled up in a little insecure smile, but nothing changed in her gaze. It was all an act.
They locked eyes for a split second and Eric discovered something there that he didn’t quite like. Bloodlust, probably. He tried to shake off the odd feeling it was giving him and demanded her full name again.
Redmond? He could’ve sworn he had heard that before. And in quite the important case nevertheless, but he just couldn’t remember exactly.
“Alright, Miss. Redmond, just a wild guess, but…are you a spy?”
At that, she giggled, as if spies equaled cockroaches in her eyes. He felt quite hurt, in his young days…he used to be one.
“Not a spy, no, something of much more importance, a scout.”
He quickly decided that an impressed reaction would be of no use.
“And for what organization?”
“Have you ever heard of Serenity, kind Sir?” Her smug grin was putting him off. There was something about her that bothered him so much, it nearly made him feel like he was in grave danger. Just what was this kid planning?
“Serenity, you say?” If she sees any trace of weakness in my behaviour, I’m done for. “I’m…maybe just a little bit surprised, my dear Emilia. Using such a young girl as a scout? Serenity’s leaders sure are getting old.”
She tilted her head to the side, slightly amused.
“You don’t believe me? I can show you.”
Her sudden obsession with appealing to him and with getting as impressed reactions from his side as possible…was worrying to say the least. She shouldn’t have had any interest in doing so.
In spite of his worries, when she motioned him to come closer and take a look at the organization’s mark, he couldn’t refuse. He was intrigued to find out what she was scheming, what her next move would be. And besides…he was already being watched by one of his men. He couldn’t afford acting cowardly or scared in front of an underling.
He stepped closer, just as she had demanded from him and waited for her to roll her sleeve up. As the girl was slowly revealing her mark…it occurred to him.
Why would they mark their members on the forearm like this? They’re basically risking… OH?!
By the time he realized, the girl had already prepared a pocket knife and swung it at him. Now whose idea had it been to not tie her up? His, of course. A most wonderful turn of events.
His reflexes were still flawless, but his intuition, common sense or basic logical thinking? They were completely nonexistent as it turned out.
Of course that tattoo had to be a fake. And if she really was part of Serenity, then there was simply no way for her to be this cooperative.
Eric scrambled to his feet from where he had fallen and cracked a smile.
“You don’t believe my little story, now do you?”
She stopped for a mere second and turned around, seeing that he wasn’t chasing after her.
“Even if I did…I do not accept traitors in my proximity.”
With that, she charged full speed at the unguarded door that was, very ironically, unlocked.
What is wrong with today and all these coincidences? Eric’s thoughts mumbled.
I understand now, girl. I thought you were bluffing at first, but…you must indeed be part of Serenity.
His inner voice seemed to be inclined to praising her, but there was more to it. The moment he had first locked eyes with her…he had known. She was strong, probably the ace of the rebels, but nowhere near strong enough. To oppose the System was brave, but dangerous and it could hurt you more than you could ever imagine. He knew that better than most former rebels.
Besides, being part of any of the rebelling groups guaranteed you nothing, not even backup in case something was to happen and you got caught. Everyone was a pawn in their eyes and you could be easily discarded.
A little melancholic, Eric grabbed his phone and dialed a number.
“Dusk, listen to me carefully. That girl got away. Secure the building, call guards over and catch her. Make sure not to hurt her though.”
“No, Agent Adkins, you listen to me. Probably half of the Criminal Records Division agents are on their way here. She’s Emilia Redmond, the daughter of the Minister of Internal Affairs. What have you been doing?!”
Dramatically, but unintentionally, agent Eric Adkins dropped his phone and was staring blankly at the door before him, the unlocked door that had let the girl escape.
He’s right…what was wrong with me today? How could the Redmond case slip my mind?!! She ran away from home a few months ago and has shown supreme disobedience toward both the royal family and the government. She ran away from the Noble Ranking System and now…they’re going to catch her. Serenity is probably going to abandon her.
Slowly, after picking up his phone, he started walking again and dialed the number of an old friend, former vigilante as well, without thinking.
“Phil, hey there, I had Emilia Redmond, but I lost her. Come to the office, we need to get her before the authorities do.”
“But, er, you’re also…part of the authorities.”
Eric smirked. “No, I am not. Never truly was and never truly will. And as of today, Raven is back in town.”