The officers were almost more infuriating than the boy—if that was possible. They questioned her about every little detail and had her explain what had happened step-by-step multiple times. Once the officers were done, scientists pestered her (after examining the Raged) about the Raged's behavior: actions, word choice, bodily movement. Soon Luci was getting extremely annoyed and was about to snap at the scientist that she had no idea how their "speech patterns compared to other Raged" when a fair skinned and haired man in a spotless suit pushed through the crowd that had formed around the scene. He strolled towards her, shoving his ID into any guard's face who dared challenge him. Once he reached them, he barely glanced at Luci before turning to the scientist nearest to her and flashing his ID. "Who's in charge?" Luci's grandmother's assistant, Mr. Johnsson, snapped.
The young scientist seemed speechless. His orange hair seemed to stick straight up from his head. "Umm . . ." His eyes were glued to Mr. Johnsson's ID—rather the badge above it with the Mace family crest.
"Dr. Vaaler is in charge of our division!" an eager looking young woman next to the speechless redhead piped up. She pointed to a middle-aged man with a stern expression regarding the Raged. "But Detective Walthour will be here shortly."
"Have her report to me the second she arrives," he said curtly. "Are you alright, Lucilia?" He didn't even turn to Luci when he spoke.
"I'm fine," she said to one of the people she disliked most in the world. "Is my grandmother coming?"
"She has more important matters to attend to."
They stood in silence for a few minutes as the scientists and officers continued to rush around them. Luckily they were no longer bothering Luci with ridiculous questions.
"I've been told to report to you?"
Luci turned to see a woman strolling towards them. She didn't need a badge or any sort of identification—everyone knew who she was: Detective Walthour, head of the Force. Besides Luci's grandmother, she was the most powerful individual in the city. However, Mr. Johnsson didn't seem to care. "Haraldur Johnsson," he snapped, shoving his ID forward.
"An honor to meet Mayor Mace's assistant. I'm Angela Walthour, head detective at the Force—"
"I know who you are," Mr. Johnsson snapped. "Mayor Mace is deeply displeased with the way her granddaughter has been treated."
"The girl was attacked by three Raged—but lived to tell the tale. We have every right to question her—"
"You had no right." Mr. Johnsson declared. "There was no consent from her legal guardian."
"Lucilia is eighteen, therefore needs no permission. She has the right to choose not to be questioned—but she does not need consent from a legal guardian."
Mr. Johnsson took a step closer to the detective. "Do you know who I am, detective? Do you know who I work for?"
Detective Walthour appeared unfazed. "I do—and I happen to consider Isabelle Mace to be a friend of mine. She would understand and respect the rules and the law. I suggest you do the same, Mr. Johnsson." Her narrowed eyes held a threat, though her tone stayed friendly. "Lucilia, you may leave now if you wish, but it would be of considerable value if you stayed and gave us more information. Good day." The detective spun on her heel, shouting orders to some officers.
The look on Johnsson's face was priceless. Luci absolutely loathed him and immensely enjoyed seeing someone stand up to him; Johnsson walked around bossing everyone around—using his position as the mayor's assistant to get what he wanted. Luci had no idea why her grandmother had chosen him to work for her.
"Let's go, Lucilia," Mr. Johnsson finally said once he'd regained composure.
"No," replied Luci with as much hospitality as she could muster. "I'd like to answer a few more questions." She stomped away from him, feeling his glare following her.
For the next two hours she answered every question anyone had for her, enjoying watching Johnsson standing around looking incredibly bored. Her annoyance with the questions was nothing compared to her amusement with Johnsson's impatience.
Too soon the officers left in their cars and the scientists loaded up the Raged and left in their vehicles to head to labs to examine the bodies. Johnsson strolled over, sipping the coffee he'd commanded a low ranked officer to get for him. "Let's go, Lucilia."
She reluctantly followed as he led her to a black limousine parked near the scene. The driver, a short man with friendly brown eyes, exited the car to open the door for them. "Hello Ms. Adams, Mr. Johnsson."
Luci smiled at Ezra, one of the few people who worked for her grandmother that she liked. She slipped into the car, Mr. Johnsson following behind her. "Where to?" Ezra asked once he returned to the driver's seat.
"Home," Johnsson snapped.
The moment the car started moving, Johnsson turned towards Luci and said, "What the hell were you doing, foolish girl?"
She glared at him. "I was walking home. Surely that's not a crime now?" She shouldn't be this snarky—it always got her into trouble—but she couldn't help it with him.
"You wanted attention from your grandmother, so you sought out the Raged."
"No," she snapped. "The Raged attacked me. They tried to abduct me. I did nothing to aggravate them. I was simply in the wrong place at the wrong time."
"Foolish girl," murmured Johnsson.
Anger shot through Luci's body, but she ignored her rage—knowing it would only get her into trouble. As much as she wanted to punch him in the face, she chose to stare out the window and ignore him.
Instantly her thoughts turned back to what had happened. She hadn't mentioned the boy who'd helped her to anyone—she'd just said she was lucky enough to get ahold of some of the Raged's weapons. His determination to avoid the Force must be based on some sort of illegal action on his part—but he'd saved her life. She couldn't get him thrown in prison after he'd done something like that. She hoped he wouldn't tell anyone what she'd done . . .
For as long as Luci could remember, she could heal. She'd always assumed it was an ability everyone had, but as she grew older she'd realized it was just her. Her father said that he would explain it someday—but he'd never gotten the chance. He had told her, however, never to do it in front of others. She'd lived in the outer ring for the beginning of her life mainly interacting with just her father and close friends, so they were the only people who knew. She'd never healed anyone outside of them and herself, so she had a feeling choosing to help the boy would backfire, but she knew she'd had no choice. He'd saved her life, and helping heal his foot was the least she could do.
"What?" She'd been so distracted she'd missed the fact that Johnsson was talking (yelling) to her.
"Listen to me when I'm speaking to you!" he screeched. "Lord, your grandmother is a generous woman for taking in an impolite little bitch like you."
She forced down the white-hot rage again. Get over it! she told herself. If you fight back, he'll find some way to punish you. Last time she'd argued with Johnsson, she'd been locked in her room for a week, and not allowed to visit her best friends for two months. Johnsson had just told her grandmother that Luci had been incredibly rude and had to be punished. The mayor had better things to be worried about than another grandchild, so she accepted it. Even though Isabelle Mace was technically her legal guardian, Johnsson had all of the control over Luci.
"I'll be telling your grandmother that you are no longer allowed to walk home alone—"
"I will send a driver to pick you up from school every day—and you'll get a ride there as well."
Luci grit her teeth. "Mr. Johnsson that is not fair!" When Luci had first arrived she'd been carted around by a limo wherever she went. Luci hated it—she'd just wanted to be alone, not always with a driver. She and her grandmother had agreed Luci would attend the social galas held at their home every month and smile the whole time if she could walk or use public transportation to go everywhere. Isabelle happily accepted the deal based on the fact that everyone loved the idea of Luci—the girl who'd lost her father with the kindhearted grandmother who took her in.
"Silence, girl! Keep speaking and I'll ban your weekly visits to the hospital. Why you wish to go there is beyond me."
Luci was silent for the rest of the ride while Johnsson yelled at people over the phone.
At 7:49 the next night, Luci snuck out of her grandmother's house. Everyone had been distracted by the party Isabelle was throwing for her 12th or 13th election (Luci didn't remember which, nor did she particularly care). Her grandmother was expecting her to attend, but Luci doubted anyone would notice she was missing.
So, instead of being dressed in a flowing dress she wore simple clothing, her face was free of extravagant party makeup and her hair hadn't been brushed.
She walked swiftly towards the train station. She was in the upper ring, so she doubted any Raged could have gotten in, but she was still wary. Her pocketknife rested in her jacket pocket just in case. She reached the train station with ease and quickly boarded the train going to the west corner of the upper ring; Luci was visiting her best friends.
Luci's best friend, Talia, had been living in the assistive care section of the hospital for two years now. Talia had always been slightly weaker than most children and had many medical problems when she was younger. She was always getting sick, but her family was poor and there wasn't much they could do but watch her get weaker day after day. But when Luci's father was killed her grandmother became her legal guardian she requested that Talia be cared for and Isabelle agreed—probably because it added to the sympathy vote she was receiving for the upcoming election.
Luci had been allowed to visit Talia once a week as long as she attended the best private school in the city. She agreed and saw Talia as much as she could. Every time Luci came, Talia seemed a bit more energized—but then something would happen bringing her back down. The doctors had no idea what was going on with her—how she got sick so much and why she could never fully recover—however they were able to keep her alive and comfortable enough.
When Luci reached the hospital, she headed right to the cafeteria. Every time she came to visit, Luci would get herself and Talia hot chocolate from the coffee shop—their favorite drink. Talia claimed the hot chocolate available to her from room service was terrible, but she loved the coffee shop's.
Once Luci had gotten two hot chocolates, she headed to Talia's room. "Hey, Eva!" she called to the woman working at the entrance desk.
"Good evening, Luci," said the pump elderly women with a kind smile. "Isn't it a little late, hon?"
Luci waved a hand, shrugging off the question as she walked to Talia's room.
"Lulu!" a voice called when she entered Talia's room. Her other best friend, Talia's twin brother, grinned up at her from his chair next to Talia's bed. A book rested on his lap that he must have been reading to Talia. As he closed it she caught a glimpse of the cover—it was one of Talia's favorite romance novels. Asher must have been in a very generous mood to read her a book that he claimed was profoundly stupid. "What are you doing here?" he asked.
Luci smiled at them. "I was in the mood for good hot chocolate. Sorry, I would have gotten you one, Ash, but I didn't know you'd be here."
"You knew, Lulu," Asher said scowling. "You just hate seeing me happy."
"You caught me," Luci responded, ruffling his dark hair as she passed. "How are you, Tal?"
Talia gave Luci a small smile. "I'm okay. Better now that I have hot cocoa. Dame!"
Luci had grown up with Talia and Asher living next door. Their parents were her father's close friends, and Luci had played with the two all the time. They were one year younger than her. She and Talia were closer, however, due to the fact that they were both rather shy with the other children. Asher made friends easily—he was the most charismatic person she'd ever met. While he was off with other children, Luci and Talia would play together. Luci loved both Talia and Asher—but Talia was truly her best friend.
"It's not Sunday," Talia mentioned, once she'd taken a small sip of her hot chocolate. "Why are you here?"
Shrugging, Luci sat down in her usual chair. "Wanted to come see you."
Talia narrowed her eyes. "Does your grandmother know about this?"
Luci flashed her a guilty smile.
"Lulu!" Talia protested. "One of these days she'll find out how often you come here when you're not supposed to! What are you supposed to be doing tonight?"
Luci looked down, suddenly very interested in the carpet below her feet.
Talia gasped. "I saw on television that tonight is Mayor Mace's election celebration party! Luci, you better not—"
"It's fine, Tal."
"Are you really surprised Lulu found another way to avoid wearing a dress and being surrounded by attractive rich people?" Asher asked. "Honestly—do you know what I would give to go to a party like that? The dresses some of those girls wear . . ." He gave a low whistle.
Luci shot him a glare. "Really, Tal—she won't even notice I wasn't there."
"But there are so many pretty people there," Talia pouted. "Why would you turn that up? I never get to see cute people my age anymore."
"I'm dashingly handsome," Asher pointed out.
"You're my brother, idiot. And you're not who we're talking about."
"Where in the sibling rule book does it say that one sibling cannot point out his attractiveness to another sibling?"
Luci groaned. "How do you survive him, Tal?"
Talia grinned fondly at her brother. "No idea, Lulu."
Luci stayed much longer than she'd originally intended. They played a few games, did a puzzle and the two girls spoke in broken Spanish just to annoy Asher. They both had been taught a little bit when they were younger by their parents, who'd grown up speaking Spanish and English, while Asher had refused to learn another language thinking it was a waste of time. Talia usually went to bed fairly early, but she seemed to stay alert as the night wore on. However, at midnight Luci knew she had to leave and let her sleep. She said her goodbyes and headed back to the train station.
Wanting to avoid her grandmother's for as long as possible, Luci got off a few stops earlier than normal, deciding to walk the rest of the way.
Thinking it'd take just a bit longer, she decided to take only back streets, so she strolled down the dimly lit streets. Soon she began to realize that this was a fairly awful idea: Luci had a condition that made it difficult for her to see in low light situations, so her eyes barely allowed her to make out anything in the dark and she really didn't need to get attacked again.
Just as she was about to head back to the main street, she thought she saw some sort of movement out of the corner of her eye. She whipped around, yanking out her flashlight and knife in one movement. "Who's there?" she hissed.
She growled in annoyance and was about to go to the main street again when she felt something collide with the back of her head and everything went dark.