Chapter 62: Kailani
These are the little children, the future in our hands
When all God's children on this earth inherit all our plans
These are the lies they tell us but this is the only way

“I want to touch you.” It was Monday, after classes and dinner, and Kai’s fingers were itching as they walked back towards the suite.

Conrad smiled, wrapping his big hand around her small one. “What brought that on?”

“Meeting with Regine after lunch.”

“Really? I wouldn’t think she’d have that effect on you,” he teased.

She smiled back at him, glad she could tell he was teasing. “We were talking about some of the purpose of this school.”

“Yeah?” He tilted his head curiously. “And what’d she tell you?”

“Not all that much, since her primary goal was to make sure that I was all right after – this weekend. But she left out some charts, probably thinking I couldn’t read the notation.”

“So what was it all about?”

“Genetic markers. Essentially scientific family trees.”

“Not too surprising,” he nodded slowly.

“I asked her why the administration didn’t stop the predation. Why they let people like Rozen continue to wander around bullying.”

“And what did she tell you?”

“Very little.” It had been rather annoying. “But some of it is pretty obvious.”

He nodded slowly. “Like what?”

She looked at the line of his tail, and didn’t say anything for the minute it took to get them inside the suite. “Mendel used peas. But peas aren’t, well, magical elf-faerie mutants.”

“Um. Right?”

She stopped in the entryway, looking him over. “Am I wrong?”

“We don’t know the details,” he muttered.

She bit her lip. She was going to have to push him, and she hated that. “Tell me what you do know.”

“Part of the reason we’re here is to have kids, to send here in turn in the future. I don’t know why,” he frowned.

She nodded; he’d confirmed her suspicions. “What if we don’t?”

“We have to,” he said simply. “Or we don’t get out. It’s part of the graduation requirements.”

“Well, that stinks.” She frowned irritably. “It wouldn’t be all that hard to bypass the security measures…”

He just gaped at her. “You’re kidding. Tell me you’re kidding.”

“Science has yet to determine whether or not I actually have a sense of humor.”

Conrad smiled at that, at least. “Okay. But there’s no leaving without permission.”

“Well, I assumed that was why there was the invisible dome, and why there are no doors to the outside. But those problems shouldn’t be that hard to solve.”

“Kaia... you can’t seriously be considering a, a breakout...”

“Can you honestly tell me you haven’t considered it?”

“It’s not possible. Even if you got out, they’d go after you.”

“But at least I’ll have made an effort.”

He sighed, shaking his head. “Please, Kaia?”

“More geasa?” she guessed.

“Am I under one? No. But if you try to escape, you’ll get caught, and your mind may never be yours again.”

She twitched. “That… that’s.. . Okay,” she relented. “But that appears to only leave one option.”

“Which is?” he asked slowly, watching her.

“Um…” She bit her lip, feeling her cheeks heat up. “Fulfilling the graduation requirements. Or, I suppose, open rebellion.”

“Oh, hey, Kaia.” He wrapped an arm around her gently. “There’s plenty of time for that. Don’t let it worry you now.”

“I’m normally rather worried about graduation requirements,” she pointed out. “But I wasn’t… well, not really thinking right this minute.”

“That’s good,” he smiled. “If it happens, we’ll worry about it then. No sense pushing it though.”

“I agree.” It gave her time to figure out how to talk him into escaping with her. “So I guess we could probably finish getting in the suite.”

“I guess so,” he laughed.

“Besides,” she smiled up at him, “I still want to touch you.”

“And maybe we should get behind more closed doors, eh?”

“Did I hear talk of armed rebellion?” Cassidy’s voice cut into their happy circle.

“No!” Conrad answered, too quickly.

“Mm-hrmm,” he smirked in reply. ”If you two are plotting revolt, you ought to at least do it with everyone else. Take a seat.” He gestured to the couch grandly and without apparent escape. Kai, torn, glanced at Conrad for a cue. Conrad sighed melodramatically and sat on the couch. “Not you, too?”

Kai, giving in to the inevitable only as much as she had to, settled into Conrad’s lap before she lost her nerve. “Is this okay?” she whispered.

“Me, too? Not so much; this place has given me enough that I’m willing to overlook its little foibles. But we don’t want to be left out of the fun, either.”

Conrad put an arm around her protectively. “Ah, well, we’re not really planning anything.”

“Maybe we should be, though,” Kai countered.

“Should be what?” Taro flopped down in the armchair. “‘Cause you shouldn’t be doing that out here.”

She ignored him - they weren’t doing anything salacious! Yet. - and looked back at Cassidy. “Bad stuff is happening around here. Dr. Regine’s plans notwithstanding, there’s something out there hurting people. Not just me,” she added defensively.

“There does seem to be something awry,” he admitted grudgingly.

She looked between him and the others. “I don’t like it, but I understand the purpose of Hell Night. But why is everyone sitting on their thumbs about real problems, problems that aren’t - that are likely not caused by the Administration?”

“Well, do we even have any idea what the problem is?”

“No, but we’re clever. I’m sure we could figure it out. It could have been a student - you said that. Dysmas, maybe. That’s a place to start.”

“What, are we the Scooby Gang now?” Taro sneered.

“And do you really want to go questioning people like Dysmas?”

“Why not?” She looked to Cassidy for support, but he was just smirking at all of them.

Conrad, in turn, looked to Cassidy pleadingly.

He chuckled. ”All right, Taro has a point. We’re not the Mystery Machine crew or anything, and we shouldn’t go hunting down monsters on our own. That’s a good way to end up messed up, Kai, and get your Kept messed up in the process.”

She nodded unwillingly. She didn’t want Conrad to get hurt.

“If you really want to help, we could ask the staff if they could use support, rather than making like the Hardy Boys on our own. I’m sure Luke’s on the case.”

She swallowed an angry retort. "'Scooby Gang.' 'Hardy Boys.' I'm not five, you know."

“Neither were they,” Conrad smiled. “The Gang were all in their twenties, as I recall.”

She looked back to Cassidy, but he was no help. “Conrad’s right, you know. I’d talk to Luke and Doug if I were you.”

“Okay,.” She could tell when she was outgunned, and maybe Doug would be more help. ”I can do that.” She settled back in Conrad’s lap. “Okay?”

“Okay,” he nodded. “So, now what?”

“I suppose ‘go talk to Doug’ is out?”

“Doesn’t have to be, but make sure you know exactly what you want to say first.”

“Well, what do you think we should do?” she dithered.

“I think we should talk more privately.”

“Ooh, keeping secrets?” Taro taunted.

Cassidy chimed in, “he’s got a point, Con. Since when do we hide things from crew?”

Conrad glared at them. “You know I’ve got no secrets. There are things she might rather not discuss in public, though.”

“She’s an inch from just fucking you here on the couch,” Taro sniggered. “What could she want to hide?”

She looked between the two of them, aware something was going on, but not really sure what, exactly ”What does it mean?” she asked Conrad, “When he gets that little tic to one side of his mouth and starts being nasty?”

“It means he’s an insufferable little bitch sometimes. Come on.” He stood, lifting her from his lap.

“Well, I knew THAT already,” she complained, holding on tightly as he lifted her.

Conrad began walking towards the door of his room.

“God, you have turned into SUCH a bitch,” Taro complained.

Kai looked over at him, surprised to realize she wasn’t even hurt by that, and then back to Conrad. “Have I?”

“Of course not, Kaia. He’s still whining about blowing whatever chance he might have had with you.”

“Oh.” She blinked. “Well, he shouldn’t leave bruises, then. Um... where are we going?”

“My room.” He stepped inside, not turning around.

“Bruises? What are you talking about?” Taro called. Kai toed the door shut, blocking him out.

“Our room.”

He sat heavily on the bed, sighing.

“What’s wrong?” She settled near him and brushed her hands through his ponytail.

“Everything, today... I didn’t want you to find out about this place like that.”

“From my Mentor?”

“Well, yeah... just, some things I would’ve liked to tell you myself.”

“Well, you can tell me now?”

“I suppose. Not much point since you already know everything now.”

“I doubt that.” She unearthed the key from her purse and unlocked his collar before he could tell her not to. “There’s thousands of things that don’t make sense. There’s this whole family tree genetic chart. There’s crews and Hell night and Taro…”

“Um. Well, I can probably fill some things in. Where do you want to start?”


Chapter 62b: Kailani
Another day, another drama
Guess I can't see the harm
In working and being a mama

“Where do you want to start?”

It was a good question. There were so many holes in the patterns, so many problems, not to mention the more personal questions.

“I guess with the logistics.” It seemed like a safe enough place. “Say twenty students a year, this is a four-year program, right? So five babies per cohort per year...”

“Actually a bit more, the two per student is just a minimum requirement,” Conrad noted.

“Two?” She wrinkled her nose. “How do the women have time to study? And how is that fair?”

“It’s a load on everyone. But it’s expected, so everyone works around it.”

She shook her head at him incredulously. “So every student walks out of here with two children. Where do they stay while they’re still in school? We’d be knee-deep in toddlers if they were here. What about afterwards? How do you walk out of college prep at twenty, twenty-two years old with two young children and do anything with your life? Wouldn’t it have been easier to wait, or to just develop test-tube gestation?”

“There’s a support structure, the Village. Most of the kids live there, with staff, grandparents, parents who’ve already graduated. And the unfortunate fact is, many of the people here don’t walk out with their kids. Do you know a single student here who was raised by both of their real parents?”

She hadn’t thought about it that much, but as she did now, she nodded slowly. “So you have a generation of children being raised in single-parent households. Then what? Repeat the cycle?”

“Seems that way. I know when we leave, we’re bound to have our kids come here when they’re ready.”

“As unprepared as we were?”

“I don’t know. I’m not sure how much say we have in the matter.”

“So there’s, what, child care? Preschool? Do you already have a child from last year?”

“No, I don’t, although the majority do have one the first year.”

“I’m not surprised. If most of the new students end up Owned…” She blinked at him. “If you hadn’t warned me, Taro would have ended up Owning me before I knew better.”

“That’s right,” he nodded. “And you wouldn’t be having this conversation. You wouldn’t have a choice.”

“I still have to have two children before I can graduate. But I do have a lot more say about where, and with whom.” She kissed his neck. “Thank you.”

He smiled softly. “You’re welcome. I kind of got lucky last year - I figured out the score before Sima got her hooks into me. She still makes a play occasionally, but it’s not too hard to say no once you’re in the know.”

“And now you Belong to me.” She was growing to like the sound of that.

“Well, yes. So I guess if you want my baby, I’m stuck now,” he chuckled.

She looked at him from a new perspective. He was handsome, gentle, clever, with Changes that weren’t unattractive. He would be a good father, genetically, possibly the best she’d met. “Hrmm.”

After a moment, he fidgeted a bit uncomfortably under her gaze, looking back at her.

“I hadn’t thought of that before, having a baby with you.”

“And now you’re thinking about it. What are you thinking about it?”

“That it wouldn’t be a bad idea...” Inasmuch that having any child at this stage in life wasn’t a bad idea.

He smiled, his anxiety evaporating. “I’m glad. I think I’d like that.”


“Although... I’d like to be involved with any kids,” he said softly.

“Like joint custody, or more like traditional parenting?”

“Um. I wasn’t really planning on making that kind of a decision yet.”

“Oh. Oh! Yeah.” She looked down at the bedspread. “I think it would be good for kids to have two parents involved in their life – whatever way.”

“I think so, too,” he nodded. “And, about the rest... well, we’ll see how this goes. Take it a little slow maybe?”

She smiled, abashed, but not looking up at him yet. “Yeah. I didn’t mean to get ahead of myself. We have three years, at least.”

“Although we do need to think about kids before then. They take time.”

She nodded, and finally looked back up at him. “Aside from the Owned thing, you haven’t said how you feel about this.”

“About... us? The future? Babies? It’s a lot to think about.”

“Babies. The future can wait.”

“I’d like,” he swallowed once, then looked back at her. “I’d like you to have my baby.”

“I think you would make very nice babies. And I don’t really want to go about this with anyone else right now.”

“Okay then. Well.”

She studied him, trying to get meaning out of those few words. “I understand that that’s not a happy expression,” she tried, “but not why.”

“No, not unhappy, I just wasn’t expecting you to be so direct about all of this.”

“I’m not very good at dissembling.”

“That’s okay. No, it’s not a bad thing at all, you just caught me by surprise with all this.”

“I was a little surprised, too.”

“I can imagine. What did you say to Regine about it?”

“That she could have found a more pleasant manner to achieve her ends.”

Conrad laughed, shaking his head. “Really? That’s it?”

“Well, I asked questions, mostly, but she wasn’t being very forthcoming.”

“There’s a shock,” he commented dryly.

“She wants to keep everything to herself, like a scientist hoarding her data. It doesn’t seem fair.”

“It’s not, really. But there’s not a lot we can do about it. We don’t even know what she’s trying to accomplish.”

“Well, she is my Mentor. She told me she’d give me access to her research.”

“Really? That’s something, then. I don’t think she actually mentors students herself very often.”

“It’s my genes.” It was unpleasant to admit it. “She bred me to be brilliant, out her own bloodline.”

“Hey, at least you got something out of it.”

She couldn’t help but smile at that. ”I like being brilliant.”

“It looks good on you,” he smiled back.

“Thanks.” The compliment threw her for a loop; she struggled to bring them back on topic. “We could have brilliant children.”

“I’m sure you will, regardless of who else is involved.”

“I don’t know,” she tried to sound like she was joking, “Taro probably makes some pretty sub-par children.” And he’d almost had the chance to make those children with her. The thought was sobering. ”So, are we... dating, now?”

“I suppose so,” he smiled, and leaned in to kiss her.

She let him distract her with the kiss for a moment – he kissed very nicely – but held on to her thought and returned to it when he did pull back. “I mean it. I know you don’t want to think about being with me long-term, but what about the next year. The next three years?”

“I’d like that,” he nodded.

She smiled, relaxing again. ”I’m glad. I don’t think I’m suited to try to look for dates, here at Addergoole. Or anywhere.” She blinked as she realized the last part had been spoken out loud.

“Oh, finding a date in Addergoole is easy, it’s finding one you’d actually want to have that’s the tricky part.” If he noticed her gaffe, he gave no sign of it.

“Well, I almost got taken in by Taro. And,” she smiled, “Rozen seemed kind of nice the second time I met him.”

He barked a laugh, then sobered quickly when he saw she wasn’t laughing. “Kaia, Rozen’s a monster.”

“I know,” she answered levelly, “but at least he’s a monster where I can see it.”

“Ahh. Yeah, some of them aren’t quite so obvious.”

“And I’m pretty inept at such things.” She frowned. ”But I have you, so I don’t have to worry about that for the next three years.”

“That’s true. And your last year, you’ll be one of the eldest, so no one will mess with you.”

“Or I could just try to graduate in a shorter time.”

“I don’t think that’s really necessary,” he hedged. “We’ll work it out.”

“Well, if we’re going to leave everything to figuring out in the future, there’s no need to talk about logistics at all.”

“I didn’t expect the babies part of the conversation to be so short,” he admitted.

“Well, we can go back to it?”

“No, no, I’m not complaining,” he said hastily. ”Just... well, most new students aren’t so cool about it.”

“I’m not ‘cool’ about anything.” She blinked. “Oh. Cold, not ‘trendy.’ I guess. I’d like to know how we’re stuck into this – is it a matter of Law? Did some ancestor swear an oath getting us stuck into this? Why would they do it? – but if we can’t leave without having children, well, I don’t really like Literature classes, either.”

“Basically, yeah. Our parents promised, and now we’re stuck. And... how does Literature figure into this?”

“Graduation requirements. Our parents promised? Moonchild promised this?”

“I’m not 100% clear on all the details. You seem to already know as much as a lot of people were ever told.”

“I just extrapolated. It’s the sort of chart people draw when breeding traits into horses.” She frowned. ”I have trouble believing my mother would agree to this.”

“I imagine Regine’s very persuasive when she needs to be. Or some of her minions, maybe.”

“Minions? That makes her sound like a Saturday-morning-cartoon villain.”

He laughed, lying back on the bed. ”Yeah, yeah I know. ’And I would’ve got away with it too, if it wasn’t for you meddling kids!’”

“Well, you keep telling me not to meddle!” She lay down next to him, pillowing her head on his arm.

“I know, I know. Maybe if we knew more about what happened, who our parents really are, all that, it’d be easier. Or maybe we’d just have more questions.”

“We could call and ask them.”

“Um. I guess so?” He laughed again. “Just like that, huh?”

“I’m bad at dissembling, remember?” She frowned. “Would that be bad? To ask why they did this?”

“It’s a good question, but it’d be more than a little tactless to come right out and ask it like that. I’m sure everyone has their own reasons, and they’re probably very personal.”

“But their personal decisions have made choices for us.” The enormity of it was beginning to hit her. “I was going to get my doctorate.”

“You still can, Kaia. We can do anything we want to, once we leave here. And from all I’ve seen we’ve got a hell of a lot longer to do it, too.”

“It’s not going to be an easy job with two toddlers in tow. My mother had to wait until I was in school to finish her degrees.”

“And if we need to do that, we can. An extra sixteen years isn’t the big deal it was before we came here.”

“So we inherited unnatural longevity from our missing deadbeat parents?”

“Seems that way. I mean... well, look. Luke’s my Mentor. Sometimes he likes to reminisce, tell old war stories. But he has stories from the Revolutionary War.”

“Oh. Oh. Well, that would explain some of teachers' oddness. I guess I can take a few years to raise children then.”

“Yeah, that was my take too. So. Children, then.”

“Yeah. How do you want to do this?”

His cheeks actually colored slightly. “Well, I’ve always been partial to the old-fashioned way.”

She smiled happily at him. “I think maybe we should practice, then?”


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