My first encounter with the Aerie was when I was thirteen year old. I had just arrived home from school. The front door was already open, which I thought strange at the time. And as I entered, closing it behind me, I saw a confusing sight.
The first thing I noticed, were the three men wearing black suits in my home. MIB II had just come out, and they reminded me strongly of the movie, only meaner and not as funny. They didn't seem like the type to strike up relationships with alien women. But then I noticed my parents. My mom sat on the sofa. She was crying. My dad stood beside her. His hands were folded into fists, and there was such…controlled violence…in the way he stood, it mesmerized me for a moment. But my mom sobbed loudly, and the moment broke.
"What's wrong?" I asked. And then I saw him.
I don't know how I could've missed him. My only excuse now, is that he was made to be unnoticed. He wasn't wearing a suit, just a shirt with some jeans. The incongruity of it was that he so obviously held the upper hand in the room, and yet, he didn't look special at all. When he met my gaze, he exuded openness and camaraderie, but something strange was in his eyes. I couldn't figure out what it was. Even so young, my instincts were already right. He wasn't to be trusted.
He stood to my left, directly across from my parents.
"What's wrong?" I repeated.
"Ms. Brillantes," The stranger cut in. "My name is William T. Lawrence, and I am from the Arial Defense Corp. Aerie for short."
I looked on at him steadily, a slow growing anger starting to build in my chest. My mother's crying continued in the background, and my father had not moved even once. It was as if they and the three men in black suits were separate from me in and the stranger I faced, despite all of us being in one room.
Perhaps he grew tired of my silence, for he continued on speaking. "You have recently taken the Bloodwork Test in this district scheduled last October 29, 2010, and I am here to inform you of your results."
No. My face felt stiff and tight. I didn't want to move. The weight of my bag over my shoulder seemed too heavy. No. I did not want to process what he was saying.
"I think you, personally, would be happy at the results." he said, eyeing my family all the while.
No. I am not happy. I did now want to reach the inevitable conclusion this conversation seemed to be taking. Personnel from Aerie did not go to the houses of testees themselves with unsatisfactory results in mind. I looked directly into his murky gray eyes, hating them.
He bent down. The movement surprised me so much, I took a step back. But it wasn't towards me, it was towards my parents. I followed his movement with my eyes as he took a piece of paper from the table in front of my crying mother. Straightening, he passed it over to me.
Numbly, I moved forward and took it from him, my eyes blindly going over the words, but not making sense of most of them. There were so many nonsense symbols and acronyms, I wondered why he even bothered to give it to me.
All I took note of were the simple words. Avelin Brillantes. Female. Thirteen. Non-Blood. And the damning ones. Positive. Gene-Potential.
"This is impossible." My voice was harsh. I don't even know what face I was making. Most likely ugly, judging by the look on his. At the corners of my eyes, I could see the MIB stiffening. "I'm not even Blood. My lineage has never had potential in it. This test has quite clearly made a mistake."
That bastard smiled. He actually smiled. "Yes, I am aware of that Ms. Brillantes. However, in every Testing, there has always been a one percent chance where gene-potential may come from Non-Blood. This shouldn't be a surprise. It's why the Corp tests everyone."
I looked to my parents for help, but my mother was still crying, and my father stood as stiffly as before.
"Where's my brother?" I don't know why the inane question left my mouth. I guess I needed time.
"Not here." My father answered tersely. "In school." I looked into his eyes for help, but I recoiled from what I saw in them. And then I understood. The next few steps had to be mine, if they were to fall into my favor. My father was helpless, and even more, he'd be at a greater disadvantage if he pummeled the Aeries stooge standing so relaxed in front of him as he obviously wanted to do.
Sighing, my shoulders slumped, and I slung my bag into my hand. "Can I…Can I go to my room and change?" I fidgeted, rubbing my arm with my other hand. I looked up into the stranger's face. "I'll be right back, Mr. Lawrence. I'll be fast. Then I'll…" I fidgeted some more. "I'll listen to you, I guess." I wondered, would he note the sudden change.
He softened. I guess not. "Of course, child. Although I do have to say," His voice grew disappointed, "I thought you would be happier about this. Most children are."
I matched my eyes to his. I could feel them growing watery. "You see…um…I'd have to leave my parents, wouldn't I?" My voice was audibly unsteady. Fool.
His face grew sad, commiserating. Bastard. "Yes, dear. But you know it's necessary. All children with gene-potential must be taught by special teachers. It wouldn't be right if the potential was fulfilled, and they wouldn't know how to control their powers. It could be very dangerous."
I sniffled for good measure. "O-Okay.I-I'll go change now." He nodded, so I left the living room. I could feel his stare boring into my back, and instead of making me shiver, it intensified my resolve.
Once I was in my room, I went into action, immediately emptying my bag of books and filling it with clothes. All possible scenarios entered my mind, and the ramifications of what I would do left me cold. But I could see the helplessness in my father's eyes, and the wet eyes of my mother, and a sadistic pleasure filled my mind at the thought of doing a run-around with these Aerie bastards.
My bag was packed with essentials. I just needed one thing left. Going to my book stand, I took a big paperback book and slipped it into my bag. It was heavy, but it would fit. Then stepping on my bed, I opened the big glass window beside it, hooked my leg over, and then got the rest of my body out. The light was still on in my room, so I needed to be fast, or else someone would see me and think I was a thief. I smirked, or a kid with gene-potential running away.
I ducked down, closing the window behind me as I went. I was thankful that my room was at the back of the house. And what was behind it but a forest, Rinalin forest, in fact. My mother and father were rangers, two of many, taking care of the largest protected forest in the world. A forest which I have lived beside all my life. One I have played in as a child, and one I have explored without my parents knowing. I had always wondered if I could live in it on my own, making use of natural elements to survive. I guess now I would find out.
There was no fence between me and the inviting gloom of Rinalin's trees. Seven steps from the wall I leaned against, the light from my room ended, and the forest's shadows began. I could hear someone going to my room, no doubt to check on me. Tensing hurriedly, I ran, and was within the comforting embrace of Rinalin's shadows in a moment.
Crouching behind a tree, I gazed back at my house. The stranger with his goons had entered my room, as well as my parents. I didn't smile. I was too tense. But I couldn't help the slight feeling of victory that filled me as I saw my parents. My father no longer seemed so helpless, nor was my mother weeping any longer.
I thanked my luck again that night fell so quickly in this part of the world. By 5pm, school had ended. By 6pm, the skies were dark. The stranger was visibly angry now. Gone were his open smiles and comforting looks. Instead, a frustrated frown was on his face.
I held still, afraid that any movement would call their attention. The three men in black soon left the room. They'd be after me soon. They took my parents with them. I needed to leave, but the stranger was still there and he was making me nervous.
One second passed, two, I needed to leave now. Turning back, I crept silently deeper into the Rinalin. My eyes were used to the dark, so I was confident that I'd be able to lose them. I looked back once, and I froze. The stranger, Lawrence, he was looking right back at me. But that was impossible. The forest was too dark. No doubt, I was just in the direction of his eyes. But it made me a shiver for a second, as if a ghost were walking on my skin.
I shook it off, thinking myself paranoid. My plan would work, and I'd turn the tables on Aerie. Or at least, embarrass them at the thought that they'd been duped by a thirteen year old girl. It wasn't right to just take children away from their parents. I grit my teeth, building up my anger, and I ran, speedily and silently into the forest.
The Aerie bastards didn't find me until two months later during December. I wasn't even able to spend Christmas with my family. I thought I'd be able to hold out until then, but they caught me as I was creeping nearer to my home.
Those two month were not wasted months, though no doubt Aerie would think differently. They caught me in the end, so what did they care? But I learned something important, about the forest, and myself. I realized that I could do it. I could survive alone. I didn't need my parents anymore. It was a test, and I had passed it. Last, I began to believe in something…amazing. No doubt, everyone would think me crazy for even believing in it. I began to imagine that the forest was not only alive, but that there was something within it, something, strange, and powerful, and terrible. I have never encountered it, but I could sense it. I began to call it the Rinalin, because it was the forest. And the forest was it. It is real. It is entirely real. And I wondered, is it the only one? And I thought, were there others?
They caught me, but it doesn't matter. I learned what I needed to learn. Now I knew I could survive, Aerie didn't matter. I'd get through this, as I got through everything else. I was no longer the Avelin Brillantes Aerie had tried to take two months earlier. I was stronger now, more determined.
Something had changed within me. I had resolve.