Author's note.I keep trying to create a spoiler, but it never works. So I just quoted this part instead.
It's been a long time since I posted part of this so here's a catch up: Melvin and Kyra are in the trial room standing in front of the Archaic. Macey asked Kyra about Phillip, the man she works under, and what he's been doing. Macey reveals that Phillip is a known criminal and that Melvin is an extrinsic. Extrinsics are regulars who were turned Zodiac and transported to Welloch to live the rest of their lives. These people are at the bottom of society and are not respected at all. Kyra is surprised by the new and wonders why Melvin never told her.
And that's where this chapter begins.
“Is she telling the truth?” I ask Melvin. He refuses to look at me.
“Of course I am,” Macey scoffs. “Who do you think I am?”
“Why didn’t you tell me?” I implore, ignoring Macey. She can wait. This is something that I need to work out between me and my best friend. “I thought I could trust you.”
“Of course you can trust me,” Melvin says, finally meeting my gaze. “But some things just shouldn’t be talked about, no matter how good of friends you are with someone.” His facial expression is sad and he looks defeated. He looks like he’s ready to give up. And I cann’t stand seeing him this way.
Melvin is strong, protective, smart. The Melvin I know would do anything to keep me safe. And here he is, standing in front of the Archaic, defeated by a simple word. Extrinsic is a derogative term because of what it means. The Zodiacs are pure and come from a definite ancestry. Anyone who breaks that tradition is not appreciated.
But the crazy thing about all of this is that new extrinsics appear almost every month. It’s not a rarity to find a new Zodiac in the middle of a sector, unsure of what they’re doing here. Extrinsics are the planets’ way of keeping our society growing. Diversity; it works wonders.
“So why is he still here if he’s an extrinsic?” I ask Macey. I try my hardest to direct my anger at Macey rather than Melvin. I don’t want to have to put him through this. I’m upset that he didn’t tell me what he was, but more than anything, I felt bad for him.
“Here in this room or here on Welloch?” There’s a hint of amusement in her voice. Now I’m livid. She thinks all of this is funny. “Because both of those problems can easily be fixed.”
“Problems,” I repeat incredulously. “You think my friend is a problem?”
“He is a burden to our society.” Macey says pompously. I can imagine that if it were acceptable to stick your nose up at someone, she would have. “The only reason that he is still here is because of you, my darling.”
“The only – because of me – I don’t understand.” I stammer. None of this is making any sense. I turn to Melvin, but he won’t even look up. There must be a spot on the floor that is much more interesting than all of this.
Macey waves her hand dismissively. “You have gotten me off topic. We will not talk about the extrinsic anymore. Let us focus on Phillip. What has he been doing lately?”
“Nothing,” I say, clenching my teeth. “Absolutely nothing.”
“Nothing,” Macey clarifies, a smug grin on her face. “Very well, you two are free to go.” She turns and walks back down the dark hallway. I am too confused and upset to even yell at her for wasting my time. Why would she call us here and not demand a better answer out of me? This was all just a waste of time.
The rest of the Archaic follows her out from left to right. None of them look at me as they leave, not even the Scorpio. Which surprises me because I’m sure that he knows who I am and he’s dying to get his hands on me. Not in a literal sense of course. He just wants me on his side for the invasion. All Scorpios do.
Too bad he won’t get me.
Ryland is the last one to leave. I watch as he stands, takes a few steps and then turns back to face me. He looks right into my eyes. We both stand in silence. I’m waiting for him to say something profound, but that doesn’t happen.
“Stay safe, Maurey,” he says. “People wanna tear you down.” Without another word, he turns and walks down the dark hallway. I’m left staring after him, wondering what he meant by that. No, I know what he meant, but I’m wondering why he’s telling me this.
Melvin turns and walks out of the room as fast as he can. I don’t blame him. If I was just ripped to shreds because of who I am, I’d be out of there faster than anyone could ever imagine. I sigh and follow him out. I know what I have to do now and I’m not really looking forward to it.
But just as I reach for the door handle, I hear someone clear their throat. I turn to see the Scorpio sitting at his spot. My heart pounds and anger returns.
“What do you want?” I growl. “I know who you are.”
“Well congratulations on that,” he says, smiling. “And what are you going to do about it?” His dark eyes are giddy, playful even, and I’m unnerved. I open my mouth to speak, but my voice refuses to work. The man laughs.
“You aren’t so brave without your extrinsic friend, now are you?”
“Stop calling him that,” I growl. “He’s as much of a Zodiac as you are.”
“I am a pure Zodiac. And you of all people should know that.” The man responds. I look at him curiously.
“What does that mean?”
The man gets up from his place and walks around the table. I can see now that he’s wearing a brown, checkered suit with a tan tie. His grey hair stands out against the outfit. Even his presence scares me. I am not very fond of Scorpios, especially because they’re responsible for my parents’ death.
“Do you know anything of your lineage?” The man asks. I stare at him.
“Of course I do. My great-great grandmother began this society. She gathered all of the Zodiacs on Earth and started a colony in New York. Everything grew from there.” I explain. “And my father was leader of the Archaic before one of your kind killed him and my mother.” The man chuckled.
“One of my kind.” He’s dangerously close to the balcony now. “Whatever do you mean by that? I am a Libra, the scales of balance and harmony. What makes you think that a Libra would kill your parents?”
“You aren’t a Libra,” I growl. He’s at the balcony now and is leaning his palms on the railing. I want to run up to him and punch him for lying to me, but I stay at the door instead. “You’re a Scorpio. I know that you think you can trick the Archaic--”
“Which I have.” He interrupts.
“—but I know the difference. I’m a—”
“Sagittarius.” He says, finishing my sentence. “Yes, I know. We Scorpios like to keep tabs on all of the Zodiacs here on Welloch. I know all about you, every little bit of your past and all of your future.”
“My future?” I squeak. I wish my voice hadn’t have cracked. It’s a sign of weakness. And this man was definitely not on my side. I don’t want to show weakness in front of my enemies.
“Yes,” the man says, amused. I’m sure he’s laughing at how pathetic I sound. “The planet Pluto has blessed us with the power of seeing the future.”
This makes no sense to me. I have never heard of Scorpios having the power to see the future. And why would they all of the sudden develop a power? That just doesn’t happen. And I would know if Scorpios had this sort of power. I’ve spent my life studying everyone, every tribe.
“You’re bluffing.” I say.
“Care to take that risk?” he says, smirking. I’m just about to retort when the door opens behind me, pushing me forward. I look back in surprise to see Melvin standing there.
“What’s taking so long? We have to…” he stops and looks up. I’m going to explain, but he glares at the man at the balcony and growls in the back of his throat. “Aeron.”
“What, you didn’t recognize me before?” he jokes.
“Not from that far away,” Melvin says, walking towards him. “But now that you’re up close I recognize your ugly face.”
“Oh, I’m so scared,” Aeron says sarcastically, but I see him tense and back up a step as Melvin gets closer. “You know, you passed your prime a while ago, Liemer.” I wince. That was ever worse than calling Melvin an extrinsic.
“You’re pulling out some pretty brave words there. Are you gonna back them up or what?” Melvin has reached Aaron now and is staring down at him. There’s about a six inch difference between the two and it’s almost comical.
Aeron shrugs. “I don’t want any trouble. I just want to warn you. There is no way you can hide her from us.” He looks around Melvin and stares pointedly at me. I narrow my eyes and try to make a believable scowl. “She’s either going to save our world or she will lose everything. And if she wants to be responsible for destroying us all, then she should stay with you.”
After glaring at Melvin again, he walks back around the table and down the dark hallway. I watch him walk away until I can’t see him anymore. Melvin turns and smiles at me.
“You alright?” he asks. I nod and he walks to me. Without warning, he wraps his arms around me and squeezes me tight. It’s not that I’m not grateful for the hug, but we’re not really into the whole physical contact thing. Over the past two years I think we’ve hugged only four times.
Melvin pulls away and looks me in the eyes. “I’m sorry for not telling you what I am. But you saw how everyone treated me. I didn’t want someone else to do that.” I smile sadly and look up at him.
“Do you really think I would do that?” I ask. He chuckles and puts an arm around my shoulder.
“Well, you are Zodiac royalty.”
“Oh shut up,” I say, smacking his stomach. We laugh and walk out of the trial room into the hallway. I don’t exactly remember how to get out of the building, but Melvin seems to have the route memorized. We walk along in silence until we reached the door leading outside. Melvin stops and turns to me.
“You can stay at my house tonight if you want.”
“Thanks, but you don’t have to do that.” I say. “I’m a burden already. And your mother has the twins to take care of.” The only downfall about Melvin being like my big brother is that he’s extremely protective. He doesn’t like the idea of me wandering around all night until I’m exhausted and fall asleep against a wall somewhere. So I spend many nights at his house.
The only problem with that is his mother can’t afford to feed me. It’s bad enough that she has three kids to deal with. Melvin has two younger sisters who are twins. They take up all of the attention considering they’re three years old. And Melvin’s father works on Earth so he’s never home.
I am ever grateful for Melvin’s mother. No matter how many times I come over and steal away their extra food and make Melvin sleep on the floor, she treats me like her daughter. I feel at home there. But like I said, I feel bad for her. I hate being a burden.
“My mother keeps asking when you’re coming back so you better take me up on my offer. Otherwise she won’t stop badgering me.” Melvin jokes. I laugh and agree to spend the night at his house. I reach for the door, but he pulls my hand back and looks at me intently.
“So what do you want to do?”
“What do you mean?”
“What Aeron was talking about,” he explains. “Do you want to save our world or destroy it?” I look up at him and grin.
“How long have you known me? Of course I want to destroy it.”