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B3 — 22. The Future

POV:  Rachel Sung Park

Recap:  Rachel’s a little surprised about a much warmer welcome than she was expecting, but things have turned a bit tense after Scarlet’s introduction.  Now, she needs to talk in private with the President of the United States, and while the flex for her family has had an effect, Rachel’s now worried she’s throwing Scarlet to the wolves.


Rachel took a deep breath as she moved into the guest bedroom, closing the door behind her.  She could hear her father sitting back down in his armchair with a long sigh in the study.

“So, Scarlet, you’re a Vampire, then?  I trust my daughter wouldn’t be running around with someone like the Seattle Vampire, which gives me a reason to blow-off that connection, but I’d appreciate a confirmation.”

Her sharp ears caught Scarlet lick her black lips, giggling nervously to likely release some pressure.  “No, nothing like the Seattle Vampire, Mr. Park.  I’m also not really a Vampire … umm—specifically, I’m a Mythickin Vespertine Reaper, whatever that means.”

“You have fangs, though?”  Chan-hee asked with slight interest.

“Yes,” Scarlet said, likely smiling to show them off.

Nam hummed softly, shifting his legs the opposite way.  “What about blood?”

“Ugh,” Scarlet sucked in a sharp breath.  “I know I’m not selling it well … yes, I drink blood, but the Military is providing me with blood bags.”

“Have you tasted human blood from the neck?”  Her father pointedly asked.

Scarlet was silent for a moment.  “Terrorists … people that killed dozens of citizens.”

“The South Beach thing?”  Nam asked with sudden interest.  “We’ve seen a few reports about it on the local news networks.  So, Rachel and you were involved in the rescue with the Military?”

Rachel’s attention returned to her call as President Capell cleared his throat.  “Ms. Park, are you there?”

She swallowed a lump that had formed in her throat, breathing easier now that some of the hard things had been at least addressed with Scarlet as she began the story of their raid against the gangsters, starting with Maria.

“Yes, Mr. President.  I apologize for the delay.  I was worried about leaving Scarlet alone with my family, but it seems like they’re accepting her for the moment.”

“No troubles, Ms. Park.  Now, down to business.  I assume you are somewhere private?”

“Correct.”

“Good,” he chuckled softly, leaning back with a tired yawn.  “There’s a lot of talk in Washington; hell, some of Congress, the Senate, and even people in the Executive Branch have changed, and there are high tensions all-around.

“For one, the economy needs to start back up.  Some nations are falling into anarchy as governing bodies break down, but that won’t happen here.  I’ve already met with many CEOs of the Fortune Five-Hundred companies, and if we can get it running quickly, then they won’t need a bailout, but we’re working on a Small Business Stimulus Package.”

Rachel sank into the neatly made bed, pulling her hair around before falling onto her back; her tail folded into a comfortable position as she eased her tension.  “Umm, that’s great, President Capell, but what does this have to do with me?  That seems like something my father would be best suited to talk to you about if you want input from small business owners.”

“Right, right,” Campell mumbled.  “I’m used to addressing the foundations of something, so the intentions aren’t taken out of context.  You see, we need a strong image to show other companies that those that changed can still work.  Investors are holding their money because they’re scared the market will continue to tank, but we need to show them that the economy will come back stronger than ever.

“I heard about the contract you have with Tempest, and one of my advisors thought to mention you in the next Presidential Speech; you’re working as a model, and the successes the company is having in the East could quiet many of those fears.  It might sound a little ridiculous, but people need evidence that the world isn’t ending.”

Rachel’s lips pursed.  “It was kind of a compelled contract, and Fiona’s friend would likely want to look over it … in fact, my dad just found out about it and wants his lawyers to go over it.  I don’t know how binding it really is, but I can see where you’re going.”

“How do you feel about the thought, though?”  Campell pressed.

“Honestly,” Rachel closed her eyes, holding the phone above her head, “I never really wanted to be in the limelight.  I’d happily decline, but if you think it will help the nation, then I’d begrudgingly do it … I’m not a fan of the types of clothes they were putting me in, but I’ll deal with it if I can help everything get back to normal.”

“It’s just an option,” Campell said before shifting gears.  “Now, the real reason I wanted to talk to you was about your change.”  Rachel frowned as she heard someone knock on the President’s door.  “Ah, give me a moment.”

The phone went silent, as the call was muted.  She turned her attention back to the conversation happening in the study.  Scarlet was getting into how she couldn’t eat human food anymore.

Campell’s voice quickly drew her attention back.  “So, the changed people … I’ve had reports from a host of other conflicting opinions, from sociology, psychological, Military advice, and everyone else under the sun.  It’s exhausting, to be honest; we know the dynamics of our society are going to change.  How to prepare for it and evolve as a society will be a difficult task to keep up with legislatively, but we’re rushing bills through TPA Fast-track legislation like clockwork.

“The thing that concerns me is … what is your honest opinion on the Demi, as one yourself?  Can you function properly in society as you once did, or have things changed so drastically to the point you can’t even see yourself going back to the world before The Oscillation?”

Rachel’s tongue slid through her lips, and it took a moment for her to respond.  “Honestly … no, I can’t see myself returning, and that’s for a number of different reasons.  Do you know my bio?”

“General Dallas gave me a rough idea.  You were a MU student majoring in Law.  You had excellent grades, enough with the high Asian scholarship standard to land yourself partial tuition.  There was something about Muay Thai in there, too, with a side job for cash.”

“Right … well, no, I don’t see myself going back to that, which does concern me a bit.”

Campell’s tone fell slightly, and she heard him rise out of his seat, turning around to likely stare out of a dark window.  “Even if we return everything to normal … can I ask why?”

Rachel opened her eyes, ears shifting against the sheet as she rested the back of her left hand against her forehead.  “There’s this system … have you been briefed on it?”

“A system … I’ve heard it described as a set of protocols.  There’s a set of rules you must conform to in order to accomplish something.”

“I suppose that works, but the more I look into it, the more game-like it appears.”

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“Game-like, huh?  Are you referring to video games?”

“How else would you describe Achievement Skills, Race Trees, levels, proficiencies, and other such concepts being linked to our very biology.  My hearing is in direct relation to these Skills, and I’ve even experienced how we can screw up our balance by messing with it.”

“Could you explain further?”  Campell whispered.  “My little nephew changed into something called an Aberationkin, and … my sister’s really concerned about some of his mannerisms.  You mentioned balance being messed up?”

“I’m sorry to hear that,” Rachel took a deep breath before letting it out.  “The only Aberationkin I know of was a Slime-man … Fiona was the one that killed him, and he was a horrible person.  If it was a product of being an Aberationkin or simply his personality, I have no clue, but I can tell you that there are forced changes within Mythickin.

“Maria, a Sunlit Unicorn, can’t lie anymore, but in return, she can tell when someone is lying.  My changes have turned me away from being a lawyer … my body cries to be in conflict, and with the upcoming crystal crisis…”

When the President didn’t interject, she continued.  “It’s like a pulse in my veins … a drug that courses through my blood, drawing me toward conflict.  Now, I can channel that to a certain extent, but it’s a product of what I’ve become, and there’s no way I could curb it.  Saving those people in South Beach was a complicated situation … it didn’t feel bad saving them, but that was more of a side-mission, as bad as that sounds.”

“Did you feel any remorse for what you did in South Beach?”

A smirk lifted Rachel’s lips as she pondered the President’s reason in calling her about all of this.  “Remorse … the correct answer is yes, and I could lie to you about it, but I truly want you to have all the facts to make an honest decision.  You called me to gain my unfiltered opinion, correct?”

“Yes.  I want to know exactly what’s going through your head as a Mythickin.  Reports tell me that Mythickin are essentially the monster variants highest-tier in comparison to the Legendkin to the Champions.  What is it like from the top?”

“Did I feel remorse for killing?  No, nothing in the least.  I felt more remorse for letting the gangsters get away than taking their lives, and I still don’t believe it was the wrong decision or feel.  The FBI will be calling us in to have psyche evaluations in the coming days, and I’m sure they’ll ask a similar question.

“I don’t think I’m that different than any human in the same situation.  I feel remorse for some things; I’m not a robot, but some people are worse than dirt.  Like I said before, my emotions need to be channeled, and our nature has definitely changed since The Oscillation.”

Campell hummed tiredly.  “What’s your opinion on the Demi that use their powers to break the law?”

“No different than any other criminal,” Rachel mused.  “We all have laws that we don’t agree with, but to live in society, we conform to those rules.  If we had our way, then we’d change them, but we live with the good and bad.  Do I think I did wrong by killing those terrorists?  No, and I think the nation would agree with me, but I never relied on the opinion of Mob Rule.”

The President’s grip tightened on his phone; Rachel could hear the case squeeze against the aluminum.  “Yes, well, it’s one reason why the U.S. is a Constitutional Republic.  We’re built to give everyone a voice, and not a Democracy that stamps on the little-guy,” 

Campell sighed.  “The Constitution protects everyone the same, and we’ve already amended it to include any and all Demi.  Demi are in the minority, though.  The next election cycle will have a lot to do with the promised changes of each party … what is it that you want as a Mythickin?”

Rachel folded her hands behind the back of her head, fingers weaving between her locks.  “Honestly, not much, but I can’t talk for all Mythickin.  Fiona and Maria are very family-oriented; it’s not like they’ve lost that, and I love my own family.

“What I want, though … I’m just waiting to hear how the U.S. will handle the crystal conquests.  I want to be on the frontline; my blood runs hot at just the thought.  I think there will be a whole new industry that will develop out of this around the world.”

“A world at constant war,” Campell whispered.  “It’s frightening to me, honestly.  I understand it’s eat or be eaten, and we’ll be introduced to creatures that are likely our superiors in combat, which means we need to use everything at our disposal.

“I hate it, though … we’ve just started pushing toward peace as a world.  We were starting to talk about the environment, human rights, and how we could live better than our ancestors, but now … all I see is my children inheriting a pillaging, war-loving culture.  Yet, that’s a better alternative than being slaves or fed to monsters as cattle.”

Rachel chuckled.  “Really?  It’s no different than the circle of life that we’ve dealt with over the millions of years of our existence as a species.  Every creature that enters a new environment seeks to dominate it.  We’ve just been thrown into a bigger pool, and perhaps this will pull humanity together; after all, humans love their tribal conflicts.”

Her eyes sparkled as she envisioned the conflicts ahead of her.  “This is just the beginning, and my skin prickles with the challenge.  Of course, there will be opposition, but what’s the alternative?  It’s always been, eat or be eaten, as you said, but we’ve been so high on the food chain that we’ve forgotten what it was like to truly struggle.”

“You’re not wrong,” Campell said, returning to his seat with a huff.  “Perhaps my vision was just a dream, to begin with.  World peace was always one of those dreams that always ended in utopian nightmares; perhaps it’s a religion in itself to envision such ideals.

“Anyways, you’re saying this change has had a massive impact on your mind?  You are not the same young woman you were a few days ago.”

“The change was gradual enough to be hardly noticeable,” Rachel analyzed, shifting to her side to stare at the black screen in front of her.  “I think I’m still changing now.  I’m more calculative, cold, but burning with a competitive edge that branched out from where it was before The Oscillation.”

“I see.”  Campell tapped his desk four times before asking, “Then … you believe these changes within you were more enhancements or augmentations to your previous personality, branching out from there?”

“Sharp catch,” Rachel chuckled.  “Yes, I believe these changes are in direct response to something already within us.  People that gained power and did bad things with it already had that inclination, to begin with.  The power didn’t corrupt them but merely revealed what was restrained below the surface.

“A Law Firm is a very competitive place, and I was drawn that way for a variety of different reasons, but now … now there’s something even more enticing to me, and I feel like many people, human and Demi, will feel the same way once you reveal the information about the crystals.”

A thought occurred to Rachel as she twirled around one of her long locks of hair, studying the pinkish glow it radiated.  “If I were you, I’d use the crystals and gateways as your political foundation, and how the Demi can be of use within it.  Spark a new industry for investors to jump onto like bees to honey.  After all, it’s not a risky investment … we need to survive.”

Campell groaned.  “There it is … the war machine roaring to life in my mind.  So, Demi have enhanced characteristics that are connected to their type of change.  Thank you for being honest with me, Ms. Park.  You’ve given me a lot to think about … more than those reports those supposed experts gave me.  Everyone’s tippy-toeing around the issues.”

“Who can blame them,” Rachel mused, rising to glance around the rather bare room.  “No one wants to make a decision that hundreds of millions will judge them for.  So, in short, first, you want me to go to Tempest and make an appearance.  They’ll make a big deal about it to hype people up, and show that Demi can function just fine in the workplace.

“Second, you wanted my opinion on Demi to better understand the changes in your family and to give you a perspective you weren’t getting.

“Third, you wanted to pick my brain about this new system.”

He released a soft laugh before clicking his tongue.  “Nothing so structured.  I just wanted to get a few things clear, unfiltered, from someone that was going through the changes themself.  An interview with some popular news organization might be helpful, too … Maria’s interview didn’t go too well.  She gives the impression that Mythickin can’t hold their temper, and a counter view might be in order.”

Rachel sucked in through her teeth before letting it out.  “I’m sure the comment was pointed on the reporter’s part, but yet, Maria does have a temper.”

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“It was a bit of a mixed message,” Campell muttered.  “On one hand, she’s doing truly miraculous work that is already causing waves.  On the other, her attitude and comments … let’s just say they raise a few eyebrows.”

“I’ll have to look up the video,” Rachel said with amusement, but her voice soon fell.  “However, what you’re asking of us is going to cause us trouble.”

“Oh?  How so?”  Campell asked, straightening in his seat.

“Do you know about Carter and Relica?”

“The terrorists?  I believe I’ve heard those names in a briefing, but so many names pass through National Security briefings that sometimes names escape me.  Remind me what your connection to them is.”

“Relica is a Legendkin that is being pursued by the Military; she might be a little obsessed with Scarlet, and Carter is an Anti-Vampire extremist that wants to kill Scarlet.  Carter has many Military contacts himself.  If we publicize ourselves and give them more information on our lives, then they’ll know where to find us.”

“I see … that could be an issue.  I can assign a protective detail to you if that helps?”

Rachel licked her lips as the potential danger made Lunar Pride rear its ugly head.  “No, I think we can handle it ourselves, but I just wanted to make you aware.  I personally have no issues with them coming after me, but I am concerned about Scarlet.  I think it’s something the FBI would be more in charge of than bothering you.”

“True,” Campell yawned again, pausing a second before continuing.  “Alright, Ms. Park.  I may end up calling you another time, but I think it’s about time I see my family.”

“Anytime, Mr. President, and if you need me to shut another crystal, then don’t hesitate to call.”

“I’ll keep that in mind.  Goodnight, Ms. Park.”

“Goodnight, Mr. President; it’s a brave new world.”

The line cut, making Rachel’s ears twitch with anticipation; the dread she felt had vanished.  Times are certainly getting interesting.  What’s there to look forward to in the next few days?  An interview, meeting up with the others, modeling … I never thought I’d be a model, but I definitely have a unique appearance to do it now.

Free sports clothes are always a plus, and maybe I can get them to fashion something I can actually run in.  There’s also the psyche evaluation.  We could run across Maëlle and Kyle while there … how will Scarlet take that?  There’s Anthony, too…

Her tail quivered at the thought of her last encounter with the Legendkin, and she flipped to her back, lifting her ears high to stare at them.  How will that reunion be?  He was considering moving down to Miami … that will be interesting.

Scarlet had just finished their story about the gangsters and was moving onto their time in FBI custody, and surprisingly, her family seemed to be enthralled by the information.  Although, Alexa was finishing up her bed-time preparations and was getting ready to head downstairs.

Rachel hoisted herself up with a long sigh.  Well, here we go…


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