“Yuri?” I gasp in shock at the familiar wavy black hair, leopard eyes and blood red lips. “What are you doing here?”
Yuri stands with a smug, slanted smile, posing like a supermodel in a photo shoot. “I’m the new Fed, precious.”
I turn to Ms Pink in shock. The new Fed?
Ms Pink’s poker face gives away nothing. The guards beside us give away nothing. Yuri’s smile gives away nothing. Super-fucking-naturals.
Just then, Edith comes up from behind and says, “Be seated.”
I lower my butt to the tomato-red cushion and settle in. Unlike Demortams, this room has no trace of glass. Just stone cold cement walls, barren like the desert. I assume Ms Pink knows what this is about but isn’t telling me for some reason. Maybe she doesn’t want to let on too much. Whatever the case is, it appears to be a private meeting, without the Sovereign or Parliament present. And other than the two guards beside me, there are no other forms of ‘security’ imposed on me.
Sintix shuffles to his seat and sets his crystal wand on the table before him. The crystal is appealing to me, for some reason and I can’t stop looking at it. Kharne passes by, blocking my view of the crystal for a moment and it’s like a spell is broken and I feel free to look elsewhere again. How strange.
“Now that we are all present, let’s commence the meeting. Our agenda is simple,” says Edith, “We are here to decide if Taeyeon can be allowed to roam freely as before.”
What? Why can’t I roam freely? Ms Pink has proven that I’m not lethal! I sit there, stewing in my thoughts, trying not to let my feelings show.
“I say we lock her down in the deepest dungeon and keep her away from innocent people like us,” says Charles.
“Charles, it’s best that you be less vocal about Taeyeon’s fate,” Miras retorts, “given the position you’re in.
Miras has officially become my second favourite person in this room.
Charles turns red in the face. “You have no proof of anything of that sort.”
“Proof or no proof, we all saw how you sided with Olympias in Demortams. We are no fools, Charles,” Miras replies with a cool expression, leaning back with her arms folded. The cool air in the room chills even more, making me shiver. Gee, the tension in this place sure is thick.
“Taeyeon is the issue for this meeting. Let’s not lose sight of our agenda,” Edith reminds them. “After witnessing Taeyeon’s demonstration of power, we have deliberated and formed the following options.”
I sit up and listen with interest.
- Dispose of this volatile source of power permanently.
- Conduct more research on Taeyeon’s Erika energy and keep Taeyeon under lock and key in the glass room.
- Attempt to remove the Erika from Taeyeon entirely.
If anyone is asking me, I am all for option three.
“I object to removing the Erika from Taeyeon,” says Ms Pink and I turn to her, dazed.
Shouldn’t your primary objection be option one?
Shut up, stupid human.
Back to square one, aren’t we.
If you lose your Erika, you won’t be immune to me. Do you want to be just like the other claims? Vulnerable to my powers all the time?
I have nothing to say to that. I don’t want to turn into a mindless lovesick zombie claim. Ms Pink is right. The Erika has to stay in me.
“State your reasons,” says Edith.
“No one knows a safe way to do it,” says Ms Pink, sounding as though everyone should know this.
“Sintix might have a way,” says Kharne.
Ms Pink shakes her head. “Might. Might is not good enough. Erika or not, Taeyeon is my claim. She is my property. No one will try anything on her unless they can prove it is completely safe and will not leave her in a disadvantaged state.”
“Besides,” says Yuri, her voice washing over us in a sexy drawl, “all that about the last Erika wiping out everyone is but a legend. There is no historical evidence that an Erika wiped out the land of supers overnight. But what I do have is a history book that accounts for a plague that killed millions of people.”
“We know about the Black Death,” Edith replies. “But it is your people who told us the real cause of the deaths. The gruesome black deaths. The plague was an explanation thought up by supernatural beings in power during that time, was it not?”
“The Black Death ocurred more than seven hundred years ago. The only supers who lived through that period and are still here today are Olympias and Kharne,” Yuri states. All eyes turn to Kharne and he shrugs.
“I don’t know much about the Black Death. I know a bunch of sailors turned up dead on a ship, looking all black and burnt and bloody but I don’t know who or what killed them.” Everyone stares and that seems to put him on the defensive. “We didn’t have the internet or things like Twitter back in those days. You hear stories from drunks in taverns. Tales people tell. You won’t know if something new is added or something old is left out. ”
“So what you are saying is after all this time, we don’t really know who or what killed those people?” Ayers asks, with eyes darting from Fed to Fed. “But everyone thinks the Black Death was a plague because that’s why the history books say?”
Kharne stands, his palms slamming the table before him. “I don’t know.” He turns, looks at his fellow supernatural members and bristles. “Don’t sit there like mutes, damn it.”
Yuri stands and smiles at Kharne. “It’s not your fault. We know you were busy sailing the seas and conquering lands.” She turns to the table of human Federation members. “What do we know about Taeyeon? We saw her with Pan Ni. Yeah sure, she has some energy, force field thing going on. And that field of energy will snuff the life out from a super. But there has to be triggers, right?” Yuri walks around the table and struts to the middle, no doubt enjoying having all eyes on her svelte body. “Praneso tried to kill Pan Ni. That was the trigger. Pan Ni gave her an orgasm. That’s another trigger. So the solution is simple. Don’t trigger Taeyeon and nothing will happen.”
“But how do we know what triggers Taeyeon?” Ayers questions.
“There is a fourth option,” says Ms Pink and all eyes turn to her. “It’s similar to the second option. Research. But instead of keeping Taeyeon under lock and key, she stays with me.”
“Now, that doesn’t sound safe—”
Ms Pink holds up her hand, silencing Miras. “Taeyeon is my claim. She trusts me. I also know her better than any of you do. If there is anyone who can make headway into understanding the power that lies in her, it will be me.”
“And who’s to know if you decide to use Taeyeon’s powers for your own agenda,” says Charles, his tone thick with malice.
Ms Pink turns on Charles and rains down her contempt for him, on him. “I never had an agenda. If you call the act of loving your family an agenda then I suppose everyone in this world has an agenda. I never got an explanation for the death of my entire family. What I did get was abuse and torture. If it weren’t for Helene, I would have died and I would have been happy to. An explanation was all I sought after, and perhaps a confession if luck was on my side. Is that an agenda, Charles? Would you deny a bereaved daughter knowledge of the truth behind her family’s massacre?”
“Princess Pan Ni, we understand,” says Edith quietly. “Charles, please hold your silence.”
I stare, wide-eyed, at the performance Ms Pink put up before the Federation and I realize that Ms Pink is not someone I want to cross, ever. How Ms Pink managed to pull wool over the Federation’s eyes and have them believe that her agenda was so. Ms Pink isn’t what meets the eye, I realize. I wonder what else she has hidden. Was vengeance really Ms Pink’s only intention to when she went after Praeson? Or does Ms Pink have a hidden agenda that nobody knows about?
Ms Pink is back on her seat, shoulders heaving from her agitation. I take her hand in mine and squeeze it, which she reciprocates with a tiny smile. Maybe I’m over thinking things. Ms Pink was after all, only a young girl when she lost her family and fell prey to a sick captor. She had suffered so much in silence, beyond anything I can ever imagine enduring, and lived to tell the tale. Revenge is only natural for someone like Ms Pink, a princess of her time.
Or is that all . . . ?
Ms Pink’s glare is a little nerve wracking but nothing I can’t handle as the Federation talks on. In the end, it is agreed that Ms Pink will have me and she will send reports of my Erika status to the Federation for monitoring and research. And while I am allowed to resume my life as a college student, I am warned to remain mum about everything that has happened so far, or face a certain death should I leak anything or cause any harm to a supernatural being. Yuri’s slanting smirk emerges as this decision is agreed upon and it leads me to think that something is going on between them. Is Yuri on Ms Pink’s side? And what is their relationship exactly? Are they only playmates? Or something more? And how many palms has Ms Pink greased in the Federation?
“Take your clothes off.” Ms Pink sits on the edge of her pink bed and pats her thighs. “Lie over my lap. Face down.”
I hesitate. “But we only just got home . . .”
“This is not for pleasure. You should know why.”
So much for the moment we had in the glass jail. Mere minutes into our return to Ms Pink’s castle has my princess vampire turning into Ms Do-not-defy-me-or-I-will-spank-you Pink again.
“Ms Pink,” I begin to say, hoping to remind Ms Pink of our moment of tenderness but she cuts me off.
“It’s Tiffany. Or have you forgotten our conversation?”
A smile leaks over my face. Ms Pink isn’t the same old Ms Pink after all! “T-Tiffany.”
“You will call me Tiffany when we have privacy. Ms Pink when there are others. Do you understand.”
I nod. Yet at the same time, I’m not entirely pleased with the way things are. “Tiffany, I would like to have the choice to call you Tiffany or Ms Pink when we are alone. And you can tell me what I did wrong but I won’t take spanking as punishment. I am not a child.”
Ms Pink stands and three strides later, she is in my face, her breath hitting my skin. “I was under the impression that you enjoy being spanked. You have also demonstrated willingness to be my claim, or am I mistaken?”
I search my soul, looking for the truth within myself. I want to be honest. I want to be open with Ms Pink. “Ms—Tiffany,” I begin, looking straight into Ms Pink’s eyes, “I enjoy being spanked by you. I also like it when you’re being all dominant and decisive. You’re very attractive when you’re that way.” I take a deep breath, preparing for the part that Ms Pink might not enjoying hearing as much. “But things have changed. And you agreed with me. In the glass jail. You said I’m right. You said we’re not the typical vampire-claim pair. You said—”
“I remember what I said. But I’m not relinquishing you as a claim. You are still my claim. A claim who can call me Tiffany. A claim who chooses to be with me without the influence of my vampirism. I need to have a claim, Taeyeon. I am Princess Pan Ni. I am the assurance the Feds need to let you walk free. So, as it was in the beginning, it is again here in the present. I am the only one standing between your freedom and capitivty or even,” Ms Pink pauses, “death.”
“But why are you spanking to punish me? I don’t understand.”
“Because you lied to me Taeyeon.”
“I didn’t lie to you.” I’m flustered. “I didn’t.”
“You said nothing when there was something.”
“Well, that’s because there are some thoughts I’d rather keep to myself.”
“I cannot allow that.”
Now, I’m angry. “This, coming from you, Ms Skeletons-in-the-closet? Have you shared all of your thoughts with me?”
“There are things you are better off not knowing. There are also things that are difficult for you to understand.”
“Well then, same to you.”
“Stop this childishness, Taeyeon. I have never allowed any claim to go as far as you have.”
“Stop comparing me with other claims! Stop talking about your ex-claims. I am not like them. Our relationship is nothing like your previous ones!” I am aware that I am yelling now. Calm down. This isn’t going to make things better. Breathe. Breathe . . .
Ms Pink stares at me with her luminous pink eyes and lips pressed into a line of displeasure. “As you wish, Erika,” she says in a cold tone that sends a chill running through my body.
I stare, jaw dropping and hanging loose as Ms Pink walks past me and slams the door shut, leaving me standing in the bedroom alone. Then I shut my mouth and eyes too and throw myself into the bed, face down. Tears of frustration threaten to fall but I take a few deep breaths and calm myself down. Perhaps I have been too brash with Ms Pink. It can’t be easy for her to allow a claim to rise up to par with her. Perhaps I have been too impatient and not understanding enough. Perhaps, perhaps. Baby steps. I’ll have to take baby steps with dear Princess Pan Ni aka Tiffany Pink.