Camille was up and dressed before Charlotte even rolled out of bed. After the fire alarm incident the night before, Camille hadn't been able to sleep although she hadn't been able to work out if it was because of the nightmares she wanted to avoid or because the golden eyes that had been staring at her from across the forecourt during the fire alarm. It still felt surreal for someone like Camille to see real life Draygonians. Her exposure had always been through social media and the news. The aliens had been transparent about their kind but none of it could prepare Camille from being around them. She wasn't scared but rather blown away by their beauty.
This particular male had to be at least 6ft 11in and well built. His pitch black hair was cropped close to his dark blue scalp along the sides and longer on top. Golden eyes were set on either side of a strong straight nose, coupled with sharp cheekbones, strong jawline and intriguing symbols on his chin and eyebrows. Camille could see why women were fawning over the visitors and yet she was happy to stay well away. She didn't need any more excitement or drama in her life. Hopefully it had just been a wandering gaze on the alien's end and nothing more.
Yet something deep inside the recesses of her mind told her that wasn't necessarily true.
"Coffee?" Camille asked her friend who staggered towards her.
"Yeah but best make it to go, we need to get you to HR for your work badge." Charlotte replied tiredly as she flattened her pink hair which was stuck up in all directions. “Heather is expecting us soon and it takes a bit of time to get into the compound.”
“How come the contactors are housed outside of the compound?” Camille asked curiously as she searched for a flask for her friend.
“Well because someone had the great idea to build the base along with the security fencing then realised there was no space for the contractors quarters.” Charlotte explained. “So they had no choice but to put them outside of the compound because the New York officials didn’t want to admit their mistake and spend more money rectifying it. It’s fine though, it makes going out so much easier and there are passages underground that lead to safe rooms if there is an attack but so far that’s never happened. Well, not at the base anyway.”
Camille nodded. Neither of them had to mention it. Five years ago, a faction of anti-everything had detonated a bomb in Union Square killing fifty people and three Draygonian guards. Hundreds of people had been injured not to mention the damage it had caused to buildings, the park and to businesses. The members of the terrorist group had been caught and were serving life sentences but they weren’t the only ones looking to cause fear and mayhem. While there hadn’t been any more attacks in New York since, there had been attacks elsewhere in the country and the world. Life generally went on for everyone but fear left a bitter taste in the air. No one knew when the next attack would be or when peace would finally reign.
“Did you get much sleep?” Charlotte asked curiously and yet she already knew the answer.
She had woken to Camille’s whimpers just before the fire alarm went off but hadn’t made any attempts to wake her friend. She knew some of what Nathan had done but she suspected there was a lot that Camille hadn’t yet confessed to.
“A bit.” Camille gave a smile that didn’t reach her spring blue eyes. “Come on, let’s get ready. I don’t want to be late before I even start.”
While Charlotte showered and dressed, Camille found herself playing with her hair or rather, what was left of it. Gone were her mousy brown waves which had fallen down her back like silk. Now she had a short pixie cut that framed her round face and was blonde. Charlotte had suggested she change her appearance as much as possible. After all, Nathan was going to be looking for a brown haired girl not a blonde one. It was only until Nathan gave up looking or Camille made it to Canada then she could grow her hair out or change the colour all she wanted. She would be free to do as she pleased; a concept that was very foreign to her. That said, she quite liked the short cut even if the blonde was a bit bright for her.
Using a bit of concealer, Camille carefully worked to hide the bruising on her face. She had become so used to doing it that she no longer felt disturbed by just how good she had gotten at it. Within minutes she had the bruises hidden while a reddish lip balm hid most of the but on her lip. It wasn’t too over the top but enough to make her look less tired, less pale and less beaten up. It occurred to her this would be the last time she would need to hide bruises, a dizzying thought she couldn’t quite get her head around yet.
She opted for black skinny jeans, a dusty pink sweater and her beaten up sneakers making sure to hide as much of her body as possible. Had her hair been long she might have been able to hide the silver scars on her neck from where Nathan had burnt her with cigarettes or where the collar had cut in repeatedly. At least everything else was hidden and hopefully no one would notice.
“So I told Heather a bit about your situation.” Charlotte explained as they walked, the fresh spring air biting at their cheeks. “Not too much but she volunteers for a charity that helps women out of domestic violence. She knows a thing or two about how to help someone hide in plain sight.”
“I don’t want any trouble.” Camille frowned a little.
“It’s not any trouble.” Charlotte chuckled and paused at a set of gates where two US Army personnel were stationed with rifles. She showed them her ID as well as a piece of paper that had an approved request to let Camille into the compound before they were on the move again. “I can’t think of anywhere safer for you right now than on a heavily guarded base with several thousand US soldiers and Draygonians.”
“Well, that wasn’t exactly a difficult checkpoint to get through.” Camille countered, glancing behind her at the two soldiers they had just passed.
“Wait until you see inside.”
Charlotte hadn’t been exaggerating about the security protocol. While they easily walked through revolving doors into the massive glass foyer of the HQ building, they were still faced with body scanners and security gates made of reinforced glass that only opened when someone put their hand on a scanner. Additionally, more soldiers were stationed at designated sections of the foyer and the security obstacle course. There were even dogs to sniff out any weapons or devices that cause harm. At each control point a camera took a photo of the person who stepped into the device. It reminded Camille of the passport control setup for Gatwick airport that she had seen in a magazine. There was no room for faking it. Green meant you had passed the checks and red meant you had failed and had to try again. Too many fails and a giant blue beast of a male would wander over and take you to one side to be searched and vetted the old-fashioned way.
They had turned up when it wasn’t too busy and yet it still took them five minutes to get past the gates. However, once they were past the gates, everything seemed much quieter. The elevator took them down to the third floor where Heather was waiting for them at the doors. Heather instantly struck Camille as the motherly type, her jet black hair was done up in twist braids and pulled into a ponytail while her warm brown eyes glittered with friendliness. Her sepia skin glowed under the sterile lighting of the hallway which did little in taking away Heather’s warm and welcoming aura.
“Hi Heather.” Charlotte greeted the HR manager with a grin and motioned to Camille. “This is my friend Camille.”
“Lovely to meet you, Camille.” Heather smiled, clasping one of Camille’s dainty hands with both of hers. “I’m so happy you are joining the team. Come, let’s go to my office and we can sort out your paperwork and get you all logged into the system.”
“I actually need to get to work.” Charlotte smiled, looking at Camille apologetically. “Think you’ll be okay with Heather? I’ll come grab you when I’m done if you like.”
“Sure.” Camille nodded. “I’ll be fine.”
The three women parted ways, Camille following Heather while Charlotte disappeared down the other end of the hall. Heather and Camille passed a number of offices, most of the doors open showing the occupants hard at work or chatting to each other. So far everyone was human but it made sense given that this was the contractors offices. Eventually they reached Heather’s office, the lights blinking on as they entered the room. The set up seemed like it had come out of a sci-fi show but then again it didn’t seem too surprising given the visitors. Several screens that resembled glass panels lit up to show several programmes and files open. What appeared to be a smart mirror hung on the wall between two windows showing the forecasted weather as well as headlines from around the world. The desk surface appeared to be smoked glass until Heather touched it and a keyboard and trackpad lit up on the glass. Despite the rather futuristic feel to everything, there was something homely about the room. Lush plants sat around the room while photos of Heather and her family adorned the walls between certificates and awards.
“Normally we need to do full checks on new employees but given your background, I’ve managed to get that sorted.” Heather began as she sat at her desk. “I know cleaning isn’t particularly glamorous…”
“Oh no. I am more than happy to do the work.” Camille smiled shyly, tugging the cuffs of her sleeves over her knuckles. “And I’m grateful for the opportunity.”
“You deserve it after everything you’ve been through.” Heather gave a sad smile. “I am going to suggest you change your name. Camille isn’t too common and if your ex is looking for you, he’s going to make sure your name is everywhere. A new hairstyle isn’t going to be enough.”
“Oh.” Camille blinked in surprise. She hadn’t been expecting that. “How about Emma Sampson? It was my grandmother’s name.”
“Emma Sampson is good.” Heather nodded, typing it into her alien computer. “I’ve already put Charlotte as your next of kin and her address as your address. Now, I don’t need to check, have you been tested for the Isis gene?”
Camille froze, her heart leaping into her throat.
According to records, Isis was a goddess worshipped in ancient Egypt. She was worshipped as being the goddess of fertility (among other things) so when the gene that made human subjects compatible with Draygonians was identified and a test was developed to help identify it, scientists nicknamed it the Isis gene. It wasn't a particularly new find. In fact, this particular piece of hereditary data already had a name but it was one no one cared for, especially when naming the gene after a goddess associated with fertility sold more headlines.So was the birth of the Isis gene.This gene didn't live in everyone though. Only females had it and even then, not all females were born with it. However it was this gene that could save the existence of Draygonians. The women with the gene were responsive to a Draygonian male's pheromones but more interestingly, it wa
The whole time Kal spoke, Jag was unable to keep his eyes off of the tiny blonde creature before them. In the brilliant light of day Emma was more stunning than Jag first thought. Draygonians were naturally blessed with heightened senses compared to their human counterparts but nothing could have prepared the warrior for seeing the human female in broad daylight. Her blond hair was cut short to frame a round face. It reminded him of the styles the female warriors preferred as it kept them cooler and also from getting caught in things but this particular style seemed more about style than comfort. Blue eyes that matched the shade of the sky were framed by thick dark lashes while Emma’s nose dipped softly before coming to a soft upturn. Her lips were what held Jag’s attention the most. They were soft pink in colour and were full and bow shaped.Golden eyes flickered as they ran over the lit
"So what are we going to do?" Kal asked as he continued to pace.Trying to get through the rest of the day after meeting Emma had been torturous. It had been a surprise for all three Draygonians to find their female but to find that they all had a female had been a bit of a shock. They had known it was possible. Those who were compatible with each other tended to be drawn to each other in one way or another. The fact they had all become best friends and seemed to know what the others were thinking only backed that up. Still, it had left them all a little surprised when they had come across the blonde haired female.On Draygon it wasn’t uncommon for females to have multiple partners. It didn’t always happen and usually it was two or three males. Jag’s mother had only one partner, his father. However Sid&r
“Sid, hey!” Charlotte recovered quickly much to Camille’s relief.Her cheeks felt painfully hot from her blush but Sid was more focused on Charlotte giving Camille time to calm down before those golden eyes were on her. Up close she could see they weren’t just a simple orange colour like pools of fire. There were flecks of gold and thin shards of black that sliced through the fiery colours. Unlike with humans where the sclera was a bluey white, Sid’s were black making the irises appear as if they were hunter’s moons against the inky darkness of the night sky. Oddly the contrast against the soft hue of Sid’s skin wasn’t jarring but rather complimented the exotic shape of his features.“Charlotte. Emma.” Sid smirked, a flash of pearly white fang peeking past lips that sh
It was closing in on midnight when Camille finally found herself outside of the Ark and the apartment building. Before she had even escaped the studio, Camille felt awful for blowing up at Charlotte in the way that she did. Charlotte wasn't doing any of the things Camille had accused her of. In fact, Charlotte was just being a good friend and Camille had overreacted. So, wracked with guilt for not only blowing up at Charlotte but also for a whole list of other reasons, Camille had gone for a walk. Around her central Manhattan was buzzing with life in the same ways it was portrayed in movies. Yellow cabs were bumper to tail as the traffic on the roads were virtually static. The lit up signs of various businesses hung proudly over the sidewalk as thousands of people went about their lives. People headed to dinner or stood outside of bodegas smoking cigarettes, the soft rumble of a train passing underneath joined the chaotic tune of the city.Camille walked for hours, her eyes taking in
When Camille turned towards the voice, she wasn't sure what scared her more; the enormous Draygonian male towering over her or the creature approaching her. It took just a split second for her mind to register that the creature wasn't something she had seen before and it was the size of a large dog. Instead of fur though, it had smooth skin like a snake. Thick muscled legs gave way to giant paws that looked like they belonged on a tiger or lion. The body was similar to a dog with a broad chest, thick neck with what appeared to be gills that opened and closed with each breath and a long thick tail that flicked like a cat's tail would. Its head was equally unusual. Camille had never seen an animal like it. It was similar to the head of a komodo dragon but much larger and the maw was a little stubbier. Two black eyes watched her curiously as the nostrils flared to take in any scents sitting in the air. Whatever it was was a sandy colour with darker spots much like a leopard. The sight
"I told you he was a dick." "I know." Camille sighed, picking at the hem of her sleeves. "If I had known it was his office I would have been quicker about getting out of there.""You learn from your mistakes." Charlotte shrugged and finished applying the dark reddish brown lipstick to her lips. "Now, how do I look?" It was Friday night and Charlotte hadn't let Camille forget for one minute that they were going out. The pink haired girl hadn't stopped regaling Camille with stories from nights at the Silver Dollar (or the watering hole as it was affectionately called). Camille would be lying if she said that she held the same level of enthusiasm as her best friend but the more she was around Charlotte's excited energy, the more it rubbed off on her until she wasn't so petrified of the situation. Before Camille could say no, she found herself in a long sleeved black number made of crushed velvet and barely made it half way down her shapely legs. It reminded a little too much of the gar
Despite it not being all that late, the street wasn’t particularly busy for a Friday night. Cop cars, taxis and buses trundled along the roads while the smell of food wafted from the restaurants and diners along the way. To an outsider, the pair simply looked like two friends walking together and yet Camille could feel the tension crackling between them. She was relieved that the hulking god like creature didn’t try to touch her again not because she didn’t want him to but because she had liked it when he did and it was confusing her to no end. The man had just flat out admitted he had been staring at her like some creepy stalker and yet his touch seemed capable of settling the storm of anxiety in her while starting another storm in her that was much more hot and salacious. Perhaps I am crazy. She thought. That has to be it, someone’s touch shouldn’t be driving me this wild. “Why did you decide to leave early?” Jag broke the silence, his voice much more gentle now but still deliciou