Chapter 130: Shahin
I wish the real world
Would just stop hassling me
They were something of a ragtag group, Shahin mused, as they headed out to the Texas State Capitol on the fourth day of their trip. The Fifth Cohort were adjusting well enough to being back out “in the world;” they’d only been in Addergoole for a couple months, after all. Even Nydia and Kendra were beginning to relax. Although they all missed their men, Keepers, Kept, or boyfriends, they could still enjoy the trip.
The upperclassmen were having varying degrees of twitchiness, or, perhaps, being twitchy with varying degrees of covering it up. Shahin kept an eye on her cy’ree, worrying a bit about the public’s reaction to them, and their reaction to the larger world.
The State Capitol was going to be the problem if there was one. The metal detectors would probably be okay, but the security guards made even her a little uncomfortable; she watched her group carefully and subtly stood back, letting Caity of Team Misfit, the most harmless of their whole group, walk through the checkpoint first.
It might be a long morning, Shahin thought, as the detector sounded, the flashing light blinking off of Caity’s pixie-cut hair. She stepped aside and rifled her pockets, producing writing utensils, a plastic protractor, a length of twine... oddities, but nothing metallic. Patting down the pockets of her cargo pants, she laughed a little as she neared the bottom, and unbuttoned one of the myriad compartments. A metal tape measure and a set of miniature screwdrivers fell out, and she shrugged sheepishly at the guards, who were beginning to regard her pile - and the group - with obvious skepticism. At least Caity was clear, now, walking back through without a peep and reclaiming her property.
Shahin contemplated her own outfit for a second time, as well as that of her party members, while nodding Kai through. The redhead should be fine… and she was. Likewise, Kendra made it through without incident. Shahin, like the security staff, had just begun to relax when Carter set off the detector again.
Caity, despite her eccentricities, was still clearly a young girl; Carter, on the other hand, was an eighteen-year-old boy, and the security seemed to be keenly aware of the difference. He stepped aside, fumbling in his pockets as Shahin held her breath.
Change. Loose change, long forgotten, tumbled to the plastic bin. He walked through again and was clear.
Ooo…kay. She watched as Taro headed through next, but he got through without trouble. Next was Nydia, who was too thin to be hiding anything and, yes, made it through just fine. Shahin began to relax. They were just students, after all (strange, inhuman students, but still, just teenagers). They should be able to handle a security checkpoint.
Callista was next to go, and to Shahin’s surprise (and mild chagrin at her own smugness), she set off the detector as well. Her loose clothes had no pockets at all, though; what could it be? Was she actually concealing something? One of the guards began patting her down lightly.
She held very still for the pat-down, watching, not the guards, but their proctors. D.J. had moved closer, protectively or preemptively, but Callista didn’t seem likely to freak out. On the other hand, she didn’t seem to be wearing any metal, either. “Any piercings, miss?” one guard asked tactfully.
“Yes,” Callista said quietly. “You need to see?”
The guard covered his surprise with a glance to one of his associates; from her angle, Shahin could read the calculation in it.
“Yeah,” he said slowly, looking back to Callista. “Step this way, miss.” He indicated the open door to the small security office.
Shahin stepped quickly forward, taking Callie’s hand. “Since you don’t have a matron available,” she asked the guard coolly, “may I come in, too?”
“Through the scanner, miss,” the guard said sharply as she approached. When she passed through without a peep (she’d planned for this, and left the steel-boned corset in her luggage), he grunted in acquiescence.
“Thank you.” She reclaimed Callista’s hand to follow the guard into the security office.
The second guard followed the pair of them and closed the door, as the two remaining at the station began to continue processing their line.
“Okay, let’s see what you’ve got. I mean, this piercing,” the first guard said.
Callista dropped her pants with no further fanfare and hooked her thumbs under the sides of her panties to drag them down. Shahin didn’t stop her, but she stayed close, watching the guard’s reactions. They appeared mildly surprised by the girl’s willingness, but obviously weren’t going to stop her either. One of them stepped in closer as Callista sat on the table to put herself on display.
Shahin took one step forward, just enough to remind them that she was there. “Piercing, see?” she pointed out.
“Uh, yes, yes it is,” the guard said. “But... is that silver? Bobby, you wanna grab your wand?”
“They can wand you with your pants back on,” Shahin coached Callista.
“Well, better to make sure this way,” the guard identified as Bobby hedged as he approached. “He’s right, I don’t think that’s it.”
Callista glanced between them all, but didn’t move, letting the man pass the wand over her silently. Shahin kept her displeasure to a faint frown, glad she’d decided to come in with them. Callista didn’t seem likely to say no to anything they tried to do.
The guards stepped back, looking at each other.
“That wasn’t it,” Bobby said.
“Well, what do we do?”
“We’re supposed to search her, but... y’know, lemme check the book.”
There wasn’t much more they could search on her. Shahin frowned thoughtfully at Callista, trying to figure out what it was. She wasn’t wearing her collar, at least not visibly…
Bobby pulled a small handbook off a shelf, thumbing through it as they waited.
“Well, we’re allowed to do a full search. But, you wanna try the scanner again first miss, check the calibration?”
Callista seemed ambivalent about the whole thing. Shahin wondered when the last time she’d had to make a decision was. “Callie,” she asked gently, “why don’t you put your pants back on and go through the scanner again?” At least out there, maybe one of their adult “protectors” might be able to help.
Callista nodded wordlessly, dressing herself and heading out the door, where another unusual tableau confronted them.
Eris had gone limp, her knees up to her chest, her hands over her knees, only the hands of the security guard holding her off the floor. Carter and Nikolai had moved closer, but were being held off by Doug and the fourth guard.
Bobby and his friend ran over to help, having a quiet and hurried conversation with the third guard. Shahin sidled over to Kendra and Channing. “What happened?” she whispered.
Channing seemed too stunned to speak, but Kendra answered her. “She beeped it, and he was going to pat her down, and...” She gestured vaguely at Eris as the three guards attempted to haul her to her feet.
“And she doesn’t want to be touched. Why aren’t the teachers helping?”
“Well, they’re, I mean, they’re not doing anything wrong really, it’s their job right?”
“They have an interesting interpretation of their job,” Shahin glowered. Eris, it seemed, was getting worse, sobbing quietly, her whole body shuddering. The guards clearly had no idea what to do about that, but they had her upright, two of them holding her arms loosely while the third gave her a quick patdown. Shahin bit her lip unhappily. “Can’t we do something?”
“I don’t know?” Kendra quavered. “But look, something’s happening.”
The guard stepped back quickly, holding something in his hand. “She’s armed, I’ve got a knife here.”
“Oh, fuck,” Shahin whispered. What had Eris been thinking?
The other guards had reacted instantly, moving from an awkwardly supportive stance to one of confrontation, pinning the girl’s arms behind her. Kendra and Channing both took a step back, placing them behind Shahin. Doug stepped forward, but a warning look from the fourth guard halted him.
Shahin took another step forward, uncertain what she was going to do, but feeling like she had to do something. Eris was muttering under her breath… or Working?
“In the office,” Bobby said, directing the two guards who were holding Eris. “The rest of you who haven’t come through, move ahead, slowly.”
Channing and Nydia moved through, carefully, not setting anything off; Nikolai, still bristling, followed. Eris was behind closed doors with the guards by the time the group was finished; thankfully, no one else had any issues. Shahin was left with a distasteful, angry feeling in her stomach, though; thugs! Emrys’ solution of setting people on fire seemed to be a very good idea about now.
The two remaining guards kept watch over the milling group as they waited in the lobby. Shahin wished evil doom on all of them, while sticking close to her cy’ree. If the real world is this hard now, how are we ever going to manage after graduation?
It’s okay,” Valentina was saying, moving amongst the group. “Just an oversight. We’ll be on our way soon.”
“An oversight,” Shahin muttered. They were damaged goods, didn’t anyone see that? But Eris was coming back out, looking wan and red-eyed but walking on her own.
“See?” D.J. pointed out cheerfully. “Everything will be just fine.”
One of the guards returning with her addressed them. “After speaking with this young lady, we believe this was an innocent mistake. Carrying weapons into the Capitol is a serious matter, though, and we advise you to be more careful. You’re all free to go.”
“Free,” Shahin couldn’t help but echo, looking around at her friends. She hurried over to hug Eris, wondering if they’d ever really be free.
Copyright © 2009-2011 Lyn Thorne-Alder with Elasmo. All rights reserved.
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