Xia stopped at her busted door, and gazed into her room in dismay. Several of her books had been ripped apart, and her little computer lay in pieces on the floor. Gritting her teeth and ignoring the three guards, she stomped over to her little bed. Bending down, she retrieved her shoes and shoved her feet into them. Blinking back tears, she kept her head lowered and turned back to the doorway.
“I’m ready,” she declared to the group.
Uno spoke up. “You are thinking we did this. We did not. We found it this way.”
Xia snorted. “Whatever. It’s no secret you all hate me. What’s a little vandalism among enemies?”
The other guard exploded. “Shut up, freak! We didn’t ask to guard you, you know! This job sits on the lowest rung in the ladder of success, and I will climb it. And when I’m at the top, I will destroy freaks like you.”
Rei snapped, “Greeley! Hold your tongue, boy!”
Greeley shouted back, nastily, “No, you hold your tongue, girl. Or should I say, freak-lite? You don’t hold your secrets as closely as you think you do. Watch yourself,” he warned her. He stepped toward Xia, raising his weapon. “Walk, freak,” he commanded her.
“Fine.” Xia concentrated only on putting one foot in front of the other. To think anything else in the presence of someone like Greeley would be a mistake, she felt. Keeping her eyes and ears open, and her mouth shut, was the only way to survive this forced move intact.
She felt Rei’s anger; it radiated off her in hot waves, threatening to scorch anything in its path. She felt Greeley’s disgust, and even Uno’s detachment. She frowned. Never before had she felt the emotions of other people. Could her powers be changing? No, she thought emphatically, shaking her head briskly from side to side. Xia knew she did not need another reason to be hounded and hated. Simply existing was reason enough.
The group was outside, walking across the dead lawn and crumbling path. Xia’s thin shoes were not suitable for the short journey to her new home. She stumbled often, and several small rocks had made their way inside here shoes to irritate her feet. She gritted her teeth and hoped that their walk would end soon. Taking another step, she felt herself go down at an odd angle. Her toes had gotten trapped in a large crack in the walkway, and she fell forward. She thrust her arms out, attempting to break her fall and save her body.
“What are you doing, freak?” Greeley’s voice broke into her thoughts. “No funny business, you hear?”
“I tripped,” she said, feeling the sting in her palms from where they landed on the broken cement. “I can get up myself.”
“Good, ‘cause it’s not like I’d touch you anyway.” He waited for her to right herself and stand, pointing his heavy rifle at her head the entire time. Shame at her situation and anger at Greeley’s exploitation of it rose in her throat like bile.
From somewhere behind her, Xia heard a sharp intake of breath. A voice said “Oh no!” and there was the sound of running. Unable to focus to anything other than the feeling of power building in her body, Xia released her rapidly weakening grip on proper behavior and turned to face Greeley.
He appeared to be small and had turned a sickening shade of green. His weapon wavered, unveiling his apprehension and fear. “I’ll shoot you, I will. Back, freak! BACK!” His commands fell off deaf ears, for Xia was far removed from caring what he had to say.
His her lips curved upward in a grimace. “Stop,” she said quietly.
Greeley frowned. “Stop what, freak?”
“Stop. Calling. Me. FREAK!” The runes on her left arm flared to life, and crackling white light surrounded her. Xia shouted, “I AM NOT A FREAK!” as the world exploded around her.