Breed Book 4, Part 29

Note: Jesus Christ, we’re already back full circle. Well, like I said two weeks ago, I’m going to try and keep going, til the wheels come off. Might start taking Saturdays off, just so I can have a little more me time (by which I mean family time, and not literally me time- nothing gross should be inferred from this); I think I’ve been de facto doing that unintentionally because I keep getting caught up over the weekend and missing a posting. Also, just a note on continuity, I think the chapter with Mahmoud is going to be first, so 29 brings us back to Rox’s group, and we’ll be going back and forth going forward.


Rox couldn’t sleep. They drove all night to get over the border into Texas, but now that they were back in the US, she couldn’t shake the feeling that they were being pursued.

Mahmoud felt it too. At least, that would explain the way his breath kept hitching, and the way he was twitching. He was sharing the other Queen bed with Rui and Ben, nearest the Queen she was sharing with Sonya and Anita. Suddenly, he sat bolt upright, screaming. The lights went off, the alarm, the television- every electronic in the room shut down at once. Rox was already on her feet, running to the window, and watched as a shockwave washed through the nearby city, killing every light in its path.

“Goddamnit,” Mahmoud muttered, standing beside her.

“I don’t blame you- I don’t. But you just lit a signal flare even the Drump Administration dummies could see from space. We can’t be here when they get here.”

“I’m sorry,” he said, his voice dripping with self-loathing.

“Shut up.”

“Sorry. You don’t need my whining right now.”

“No. I mean shut up,” she grabbed him aggressively and his instinct told him to fight, to get away, hit her if he had to. His fists were balled, without even thinking about it; a wave of shame shook through him when he realized she was hugging him. “You have every right to be upset, to be traumatized. It’s going to take time for things to even approach a semblance of okay. So don’t take it out on yourself. I want to collapse into a weeping ball just thinking about what you’ve been through- and I know I can’t truly understand it without having lived through it. So if you need to freak out sometimes, if you need to cry, if you just need to be held,” she squeezed his ribs tighter for emphasis, “we’re all here for you- at least as best we can be. We’re all dealing with this open wound of a world, and we all have days and nights like the one you’re having. But the absolute last thing you need to do is apologize. We’ve been there. We are there. We’ll be there again tomorrow. But we’re here for you, whatever you need, whatever we can do to help.”

“Yeah,” Rui said, yawning, “what she said.”

“Shit,” Mahmoud said. “Didn’t mean to wake you.”

“If it makes you feel any better, Rox was the one who woke us up,” Ben said from beneath a pillow. “Just as well,” Rox said. “We need to be in the van in 5-” she was interrupted by Sonya, snoring loudly. “And somebody wake Sonya.”

Breed Book 4, Part 28


“What can I do to help?” Rox asked.

“I just spoke to Mira,” Mikaela said.

“You what?”

“We talked. Not the first time. She’s conflicted. Still more of who we knew than I, at least, might have thought. But that’s why she came to me. She wasn’t sure what to do, and wanted my help. So I’m helping. She needs to be stopped.”

“Agreed.” Rox thought a beat. “You mean something specific, don’t you?”

“They’re going to try to kill the President.”

“Of the school?” Rox asked.

“Of the country.”

“Oh.” She pondered a moment. “So?”

“Okay, I know what you mean. But if one of us kills him, we go from being that minority he oppressed for years because of his massive insecurities to that dangerous group who martyred him and need to be oppressed indefinitely to save society.”

“Oh, right,” Rox said, “because we live in a world where even when a rare good thing happens, the consequences render it actually bad.”

“You know the Secret Service is definitely listening into this call by now, right?”

“Yeah, but I’ve been off their Christmas card list for a while, anyway. But hopefully you have more to go on that that. Because otherwise I don’t see how we can actually help- especially since we can’t exactly move freely about in D.C.” 

“You can help because you know Mira., and that should get you close enough for your luck to take hold. If you can find her, you can stop this, Maybe even stop that bloated asshole from saying so many bigoted things about us.”

“Hah. Thanks I needed a laugh, after all of that. Oh, and do me a favor. There’s going to be a bunch of new students coming to the campus. Help them adjust- because it is going go be one hell of an adjustment. And take care of them. This can be an awful, lonely, shit-filled world. Don’t let them drown in it.”

“I’ll do my best.”

“You know if you don’t I’m coming home and kicking your ass, right?”

“Almost makes me want to half-ass it, just to get you home. You deserve that, you know? You were kids when you left. Nobody deserves to be exiled from their homes like this.”

“We’ve got each other. That’s almost the same thing.” “Yeah,” Mikaela said. “Almost.”

Breed Book 4, Part 27


“You have friends in Cuba?” Rox asked, wiping strawberry milkshake from her lips.

“The Bureau of Breed Affairs didn’t exist a decade ago. When it started, it started in a hurry, recruited from other U.S. Agencies.”

“You were a spook,” Anita said. “I knew there was a reason I didn’t like you.”

“Takes one to know one- or is that why you also hate yourself?” Laren asked.


“That’s a lousy reason to hate yourself,” Laren said, touching Anita shoulders. “You’re beautiful no matter what genitalia you have.”

“But the other refugees?” Rox pressed.

“The Cuban government was happy to take them, at least for now, just to show up the U.S. Gives them a black eye and a half; they didn’t just turn them away, no, they spirited them away to a black site, then lost them into the welcoming arms of the Cubans. Not that we can assume things will stay hunky dory. For now, the Cubans will keep them safe and happy because it fits their propaganda. But hopefully come November we can permanently settle them in the U.S. Though ironically, if we can get Cuba to give them permanent status here the US will welcome them as refugees with open arms.”

“And the Americans?” Sonya asked.

“Those we can take straight back to the states. I’ve arranged a flight directly into Bellingham. Two, actually- one into Seattle- that’s the one on the books, so if Drump does try to intervene, he’ll be at the wrong damn airport interdicting an empty plane. We’ll be going directly to the campus. They’ll be safer there, at least in the short-term. I called the Dean, and he’s offered to give them all honorary status at the school until they can figure out their next steps.”

“How you liking your shake?” Ben asked.

“Well,” Mahmoud said, stabbing his straw into it, “for the last year or so, I’ve eaten nothing but nutritional pastes, first force-fed, then eventually through a hole in my side.”


“But this tastes way better. Plus, it isn’t prison food.”

“How’s that taste?” Rui asked.

“You ever had a dream that felt like it lasted years, and when it took a turn you just felt this heavy, pervasive, suffocating dissatisfaction, like life wasn’t worth living anymore?”

“Yeah.” Rui said.

“And then you wake up. And everything awful- well, maybe not everything, but at least the worst of it, the shit you thought you couldn’t handle- it’s gone. And your life is back, and normal.” A tear slid down his cheek. “I still kind of can’t believe that I’m not going to wake up back in that cell. And that’s everything.”