Kristi Ann Eve, also known as Amby was alone, her two best friends- Belle Alice Grey and Ani-ise Calamity Kingsley- were kidnapped and she had only Maugin Arya Black left to comfort her.
"Laurel!" Amby shouted through the dust. "Where are you?".
"Here, Amby", Laurel coughed, brushing bits of timber off her while the bitter wind blew her brown hair into her eyes. She looked around and smiled at the sight of her friend. Something was stirring around them, they couldn't see for the sandy blanket that blocked all vision. Dust blinding and stinging their tired eyes, they desperately covered their faces with their jackets. For hours it seemed they hung onto each other as though life depended on it, or maybe it did.
The story started four years ago with Andalusia, or Ani-ise Calamity Kingsley, ran away from a secret scientific breakthrough testing organisation composed of elite scientists from Poland and Switzerland when she was just ten years old.
Andalusia snuck into the luggage compartment of an aeroplane that was heading to Korea. From there she pretended to be a wealthy merchant's daughter and it worked -she was taken in by an old Korean couple and spent a week there in peace. But after news had come from Switzerland that a girl had escaped, Andalusia fled from Korea and worked her way to Austria, through illegally stealing, forging, lying… knowing nothing of the place, until she finally reached it six months later. Thin, and sick, nearly on the brink of death, and knowing not their language, as she was Australian, Andalusia started her desperate struggle to live a life.
The other girls mentioned, Callice, Amby and Laurel, had nicknames. These were their nicknames. Their birth names longer existed; they hid away from the dangers of the world, hidden behind another name- another person entirely. Kristi Ann Eve was known as Amby, hence her amber-coloured hair, was twelve years old. Kristi had pale skin and was also Australian. She had immigrated away to Austria a long with her friend Laurel who was twelve, also. Laurel, a gentle soul, was willing to do anything for anyone, even if she had to make sacrifices. Callice, was fourteen, from Britain but was very different from the rest; very maverick and cautious. Callice wasn't her intentional nick-name, but it was given to her by her "friends" based on her cold character. The once pretty face, which reflected why she was called Belle, was nearly completely masked by a horror from her past which now dominated her life.
Four years ago in Austria, Amby, Callice and Laurel were just walking home when Amby foresaw a girl hiding behind a dumpster two blocks down from their house. As usual, she got a huge fright by this as she felt an ice-cold shiver run down her spine. She was still not accustomed to this gift she possessed. She felt she never would, knowing she was different, but she wasn't the only one like that. You see, these girls have powers, gifts. All just as unique as the people they lurked within that no-one could explain- this is why they were wanted so badly by scientists. In hiding, they lived a life of solitude with just a few others.
"Guys, I think we might want to check the alley when we get home," Amby sighed in her Australian brogue, swaying a little, brushing her hair out of her eyes.
"Why, did you see something?" Callice asked in a coarse, British accent, studying the surroundings with her dark eyes.
"Yes, a girl about our age" Amby continued.
"Come on, you two let's go!" Laurel smiled, tugging Amby's hands, eager for adventure.
Amby looked around the alley, jumped back and squeaked when she saw a small girl who was scared and shaking to the bone behind a garbage can, white as snow, and as thin as a twig. Suddenly, the dumpster next to the small girl started to melt into liquid, , and started seeping all through the gravel and rocks, weaving in and out like a snake. The little girl watched in horror, recoiling from the sinking dumpster as it collected into a glossy pool. But her fright only increasing the speed of the melt.
"I found her!" Amby cried, behind her, stepping back, away from the molten metal.
Callice and Laurel rushed around the corner to find Amby wrapping her jacket around Andalusia's frail body, which was now shaking more violently than ever. She stared at Amby with terrified eyes, mouth agape, panting, but at the same time, tugging the blanket as close to her as possible until she resembled a cocoon.
Callice approached slowly, "Don-"
"Jesus! Amby, you were right!" Laurel interrupted, and realizing that Andalusia was still scared, she lowered her voice, making sure no-one else heard. Brow furrowed, Callice knelt down level with the girl, her eyes boring into her. Wanting to find out who she was, "Belle Alice Grey," she stated very unwelcomingly.
"This is Kristi Ann Eve, you can call her Amby and this is Maugin Arya Black - you can call her Laurel," gesturing to the two girls, not taking an eye off the girl.
"I'm Ani-ise-" Andulusia stuttered, her voice cracking.
Could she trust these people? Would they torture her like those horrible, evil men back at the organisation? But these girls, they looked familiar, as if they had something different that she and no-body else had. Too scared and cold, she had no choice but to trust them. She didn't know about this girl- Callice though. Laurel, the dark haired slim girl, and Amby the pretty girl with flowing amber hair had a pleasant face, as if she could tell her anything and she would understand. They made her feel welcome, even though they hadn't said much, Andalusia could almost immediately interpret them. But Callice… beneath the face was a constant awareness… maybe she didn't trust her. She didn't have pale green or bright blue eyes that usually seem frightening or noticeable. Andalusia had bright green, eyes, but Callice had piercing grey ones, hot with intensity.
"I'm Ani-ise Calamity Kingsley, but my nickname's Andalusia," she coughed, pain coursing through her body. Making her legs feel like jelly as a cold wind blew down the alley.
Scottie, the girls' little terrier came rushing out through a side door, fur flying, yapping at Laurel.
"Scottie says there's a massive snow storm coming," she smiled, scratching behind the dog's ears, as it gave her an affectionate lick.
Andalusia stared at the girl- laurel as if she had just grown a second head. What?
She didn't have enough energy to ask about how ill or delusional their poor friends could be when...she discovered what these girls had that was different.
Laurel could communicate with animals; hence the terrier talking to her. Amby had the gift of foresight. They talked for what seemed like half an hour, more them than her, for she was so confused. She also felt her head would blow up from having to remember all of people's names, nicknames, ages, places, situations…There were other people like her? How is it possible? She'd been on the run for as long as she could remember, she hadn't known anything about this.
Ignoring the fire that burned for something to eat or drink, or sleep, she kept asking over an over again if this was a dream, or whether she was dead. Her mind didn't agree with what was happening, it still hadn't got around how she escaped from her home and her family... how she lived here.
Callice had telekinesis, the ability to control atoms. She could split them, levitate them… kill them. That's what made her so terrifying, not that she had done anything… yet. But without these powers, she was still scary.
According to Callice, who became even more menacing every second, stated Andalusia had the gift of changing the state of things. From liquid to solid, gas to… nothing.
The Catalysts were a secret society that scoured the world searching for unusual children that possessed a GiftI, would educate them, teach them to harness their ability. They didn't consist of students all as powerful as these four- Amby, Laurel and Callice, they were what you would call the most extraordinary of the Catalysts. Most students, only about ten others, had much simpler
"We must report her," Callice ordered.
"W-what?" Andalusia croaked. Was she going to be arrested. Judging by Callice's face, it seemed so.
"Not report, Callice!" Laurel corrected.
"Scare her off why don't you!"
Callice scoffed, "that would be more tactful."
It was obvious to the naked eye that Laurel and Callice certainly detested each other more than once would think possible.
Sensing Andalusia's discomfort, Amby said reassuringly, "we won't report you, don't worry. We belong to the Catalysts, a small society made up of people like us. It's our home now. They ask us to tell them anything interesting or unusual they should be aware of. And you are definitely something. One of our jobs is to be on the constant look out for-"
"Murderers," Callice finished for her.
Andalusia's stomach dropped, murderers?
"Shut up, Callice!" Laurel hissed.
"M-m-ur-rderer-rs?" Andalusia whimpered uncertainly, trying to pluck up the courage to run from a place that could be roaming with murderers.
"No, no, certainly not." Laurel said, kneeling down next to Andalusia, pushing Callice aside. But to be only cursed at by Callice.
"Just kidding... no murderers," Laurel winked.
"Callice was just kidding."
Callice certainly wasn't someone who told joked.
"Anyway, we bring Andalusia to them" Laurel smiled; Callice stared at Laurel as if she had suggested something ludicrous. She opened her mouth to protest but caught Andalusia's gaze. A wave of pity seemed to flash across her features for a split second, instantly covered up again by a face as hard, cold and impenetrable as stone.
"She's not a bloody rabbit, Laurel. You can't just bring her along!" Callice objected.
"Yeah? Well we took you in Callice, no matter how… different you are!" Amby shouted back, for a second, their too was an extreme aura of power that surrounded her. Callice, scowling turned and strode off, kicking the dirt up and she walked.
Had Andalusia just imagined it, or did Callice just make a rather large dent in the hard dirt? Terrified, she let Laurel and Amby stand her up and support her, latching onto them like a bat. They all began to walk, Laurel and Amby holding a very confused Andalusia, supporting her every step. Callice walked a fair way ahead. Every so often, eyeing the new girl, as if she would suddenly pull out a gun from her jacket. Andalusia couldn't help herself from not liking this girl. She hadn't done anything wrong…
Within half an hour of very slow walking through what seemed an invisibly path that curved all through the growth of shrubs and trees, until the sky itself couldn't be seen they were so deep, Andalusia heard noise.
A faint chatter in the distance struggling to keep her eyes from falling from tiredness, she forced them open. And there, small tents were stationed; only six large tents, with dainty lights flickering, giving the whole scene an eerie feel. More people… she thought. Smiling weakly up at Amby, she made an extra effort to walk to the nearest tent, eager to see another face. Maybe it was someone she knew. Someone who could get her back to where she belonged.
Desperately wanting to drink, sleep, eat, wash and get dressed into better clothes that weren't all dirty and ripped, all at once, her legs did the walking for her.
Picking up her pace, she pushed herself away from Amby and Laurel, and hobbled faster and faster until…
THUMP! Andalusia fell over a protruding rock lodged in the ground. Skidding on the gravel, she grazed her knee. Wincing, as if that was all she could do to react with the little energy she had left, Andalusia didn't bother to move, she just laid there. Finally she could rest… before she closed her eyes, the last thing she saw being Callice's dark hair whipping across her face, and her eyes- showing no sensitivity, before she disappeared into the closest tent.
"Andalusia!" Amby shouted. Running to her and helping her up once more. Laurel came over and heaved her up, supporting her on her shoulder, Andalusia's blonde flowing hair cascading down her arm, her green eyes frightened but tired.
"It's okay…" Andalusia whispered, wincing again.
Amby knelt down and looked at the wound…
"Gosh, you really are going through lots aren't you…? OUCH!"
Laurel had kicked her in the arm, "That doesn't help Amby!" She said out of the corner of her mouth.
"Alright, alright… keep your hair on…" Amby stood up and walked with the two into the nearest tent.
Pulling aside the flaps, Amby walked the nearly unconscious girl to a nearby bed and sat her there next to Callice. With an annoyed scoff, Callice abruptly moved off the bed to the other end of the room.
Amby, rolling her eyes, said comfortingly, "Hey, you alright?"
She brushed Andalusia's hair away, before being interrupted by a friendly voice.
"Dinner's ready!" A voice shouted. Soon after, a woman with fiery orange hair, carrying a huge, steaming pot came rushing into the room. The aroma of its contents filled the room with mouth-watering scents.
"Who's that?" Andalusia whispered, she thought she should at least know the person if she would be eating or scoffing something she made.
"My mum- Jessica," Amby replied.
Andalusia felt significantly more alert, she had been scourging the garbage for... how long? As she contemplated actually jumping off the bed just to get to the pot, she was interrupted by Amby.
"Hey, mum, we found someone- a powerful someone too!" Amby explained, grinning, standing to attention revealing a slightly smiling Andalusia.
The woman faltered so much she nearly dropped the massive pot.
Eyes wide, "Oh, you are that girl that ran away from that Switzerland organization!" Jessica exclaimed, pointing, barely holding the pot. "Oh you poor thing!"
She rushed to Callice and thrust the pot her arms, earning a gaze of utter revulsion.
The woman hurried to a cupboard and brought three blankets and smothered Andalusia with them, knocking the other girls out of the way, including Callice who crashed onto the floor, along with the pot. This rolled over and dribbled several serves of stew all over the floor.
Not noticing, brow creased with worry, the mother embraced Andalusia in a bear like hug.
Confused, all Andalusia could say was, "I'm, I'm sorry to be a burden but I need a place to stay" Andalusia said anxiously, surely they would take her in… for at least a night.
"Kristi says I can stay here… please". She started sobbing.
Jessica whimpered, and said softly, "Of course you can! Dear, we look after people like you. We took in Callice a few years ago, she's family now." Jessica started wiping tears from the girls' face.
Callice? Family, that's hard to believe…Andalusia, thought. Amby and Laurel clearly didn't approve of Callice being considered family and neither did Callice it seemed. Andalusia noticed, as she was looking around the room, that Callice was standing a fair way away from all the others (stew free), arms crossed.
"Callice, dear…" Jessica started. Callice stiffened at this, looking annoyed.
Callice raised her eyebrows, "Yes?"
"Would you mind fixing this-uh…" the woman gestured to the mess. She trailed off, looking at Callice for a long moment. Tears welled in her eyes, "Never mind dear…"
With that she spent a whole twenty-minutes nursing to the gash on Andalusia's knee which really wasn't that big, then the woman fussed over Laurel and Amby's grazes. Looking at Callice, she had nicks too, along her arm and legs, but the woman didn't fuss over her. After being given some of Laurel's clothes and drinking mugs and mugs of ice cold water, the second she got a chance, Andalusia fell onto the soft pillows into a deep, dreamless sleep.
Andalusia woke from a short nap, and wiping the sleep from her eyes, she found Laurel and Amby doing what seemed to be writing a very long essay together (she didn't know what on Earth for), and found Callice sitting on a bed reading. Sitting up, she yawned.
"Ah!" Amby said, skipping over to Andalusia, "How are you feeling?"
"Better," Andalusia admitted. She really needed that sleep after all that. Callice noticing this slammed her book shut and stood, and leant against a wall, looking at them unblinkingly.
Laurel joined them, and put her arm around Andalusia, twirling her long blonde hair.
"You have beautiful hair," she said, admiring it.
"Can I braid it?"
"Oh, for Christ's sake..." Callice muttered.
Nodding, Andalusia let Laurel braid her hair into a beautiful hairstyle, finishing just as Jessica walked in again, wearing a very blotchy apron.
"Oh! You're awake! I say, you look lovely," she said, gazing over Andalusia's still neatly braided hair.
"I reckon you need a bit of fresh air, my dear" she observed. Andalusia agreed and stood, a lot easily that she thought she could.
"Take dear little Andalusia out will you? The girls have to help me make some soup; Amby can foresee whether I will end up burning the whole cabin!" The woman said to Callice, but stopped abruptly at the look of resentment on Callice's face.
"Jessica…" Laurel interrupted.
"Really we can…"
Andalusia, would do absolutely anything than to be alone with Callice, it was bad enough being in the same room as her.
She tried to protest but her words were lost in urgency.
"No, dearies… Callice can take her, like I said I need you two to help. Now go on." Jessica waved Andalusia towards the flaps. Callice walked out briskly from the cabin, looking defeated.
"Sorry dear. She's never been quite the same since…" Jessica faltered, tears welling in her eyes.
"Come on," Amby urged, "before she drowns us in tears. She gently manoeuvred Andalusia out of the cabin,
"I'll see you in a sec." Amby winked and went back inside.
Andalusia spotted Callice leaning against a tree, sharpening what looked horribly like a knife. Reluctantly, she walked less than a few strides and barely breathing in the fresh air when Callice bounded right into a detailed discussion that was incredibly complex.
Callice didn't pause at times like Amby or Laurel did to check if Andalusia was keeping up and feeling comfortable with what they were saying, Callice just talk on and on in the most threatening manner as she explained the rules they had to abide. Every time she mentioned one, she raised her voice, and eyed Andalusia like a hawk.
"So, if SOMEONE were to STEAL supplies, they will be DEALT WITH. Understand?" Callice practically threatened.
She explained that Andalusia couldn't use their nicknames in front of Amby's parents as they didn't know who they really were.
"Like I mentioned, they seem to trust you, and I must honour that… as they do so much for me." Callice concluded looking pained, then shook it off then walked far away from her, her eyes boring a whole into her own.
Andalusia struggled to walk, couldn't she just rest? Feeling dizzy she couldn't help stepping on a twig. It cracked, piercing the silent air. Callice, as fast as lightning jumped back, raised her hand as if to summon something. The wind blew fiercely, intensifying the moment. Callice, teeth bared, hand rose, Andalusia was sure she would die… until…
In a flash of orange, from the bushes a huge creature leapt out, it seemed to be some sort of huge cat. It pounced in front of Callice, guarding Andalusia. Andalusia screamed and ran for it, right into Amby, sobbing. She tried avert her eyes from the terrible scene… but couldn't.
"What the hell do you think you're doing?!" A voice, sounding like Laurel shouted over the violent hissing of the animal. The creature bared its teeth ready to strike. Callice hair flying, clenched her fists, as leaves whipped the air like a cyclone.
The huge-cat leapt at her, Callice, blinded by anger, thrust her hand forward, sent the cat flying backwards. Puffing she turned on Laurel.
"Callice! Control yourself!" Amby screamed, holding the still crying girl.
"Talk about control!" Callice retorted, wind whipping even more fiercely.
"Helping a girl in the dump, not knowing who she is! She could be anyone!" Callice shouted. Looking at Andalusia right in the eye, "I take back what I said about these… rash people! They're wrong to trust you!"
"What? You think she's a spy? This girl? She's no older than eleven! Just because you're older doesn't mean you're the boss!" Laurel shouted back, birds flying overhead, agitated.
"I ought to be! I'm the only one who isn't fooled by some crying child!"
"You leave her alone!" Amby shouted. Andalusia was crying, she didn't know what was being said, but she didn't like it. She felt as if she was going to faint.
In a flash of white, a bird flew at Callice, leaving a bloody gash on her arm. Callice doubled over in pain, clutching her wound which was pulsing blood.
"Argh!" She cried in agony.
"You stay here! No wonder they called you Callice for nothing! You ARE callous! Don't talk to us until you can recognise an innocent girl from a spy!" Laurel said, not practically covered with birds flying around her.
Callice still angry, stormed off, running out of sight.
Andalusia couldn't take it anymore, she drifted off, her head pounding, fit to burst.
It seemed she had been asleep for hours, until she was woken again in the tent. Embarrassed she sat up again once more, but this time Laurel and Amby were next to her, holding her up. They brought over tea and biscuits and a delicious broth, which Andalusia ate so much she lost count of how many bowls she had skulled.
Thirst quenched, stomach full for once, Andalusia felt as if she was in heaven. She even smiled a few times.
Sometime later, what followed was a calm, warm discussion. She felt at home for once in a long time.
After meeting John, Amby's dad, she found he was surprised about Andalusia and how she managed to escape from the facility in Switzerland. She learned Amby's parents had been some of the founders of this camp. She learnt about Amby, Laurel and Callice's lives here, where they had to mature much faster than any other child their age in order to live.
Callice stilled hadn't returned at all for hours, but none of them seemed worried, they were used to her disappearances. So Andalusia was assigned to Callice's bed.
Once by one, each member started to feel drowsy and yawned, until it was only Laurel and Amby sitting awake. Dressed in their pajamas, they watched Andalusia with smiling eyes.
"She really is special you know," Amby whispered.
"I know, and she's one of us now," Laurel promised.