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The Gender Lie

By´╝ÜBella Forrest

1

Violet


The steady beep of the equipment monitoring Viggo’s vitals had become a soothing and constant reminder that he was still alive. I shifted in the chair that had become my second home and stared at his unconscious face, both here and miles away at the same time.

When I had first sat by his bed, the beeps of the machine had felt like a metronome, counting down the minutes until he died. Every missed beat or change in rhythm would cause my heart to leap into my throat—out of both fear for the worst and hope for the best. By now, I was numb to it. I knew that there would be no change, no miraculous recovery, until we got the laser that was needed to seal the tear in his heart.

The tear that he had put there while protecting me from the twin princesses of Matrus. He had used adrenaline patches to try to buy me time to escape and in doing so, his heart had given out. He would have died, if not for the intervention of a group whom I’d since learned called themselves the Liberators—run by Desmond Bertrand, former spy of Matrus.

When I first met Desmond, I didn’t know whether to trust her or not. She seemed honest and allowed me to stay, promising to help me with Viggo and Tim if I would consider joining her side in a war against Matrus. But then again, her son had seemed honest, and he had tried to kill me.

Still, Desmond’s offer was tempting. Matrus hadn’t done me any favors in the last eight years, and after all I had been through, I was in no rush to return—especially since I was being blamed for Queen Rina and Mr. Jenks’ deaths.

My eyes glazed over as I stared at Viggo’s chest, and my thoughts wandered to my brother. So much had changed in him during the years he’d been used as a guinea pig with the other lost boys of Matrus, as my homeland had tried to turn them into a better breed of human. Enhanced speed, strength, endurance, intelligence—all tested here in this hidden facility within The Green.

When Tim fought with Marina, he had held his own with her for several minutes because of his enhancement. It was why I had assumed he possessed the same enhancement as hers: Strength. But after looking at a file pilfered from Mr. Jenks’ lab, I learned differently. It was Tim’s reflexes that had been enhanced, making him able to react faster than a normal person.

All the enhancements came with a price, however. I had discovered that Tim’s was tactile sensitivity—everything that touched him hurt him in some way. Even his clothes caused discomfort. He was also dealing with years of isolation and trauma due to the so-called stress tests that Mr. Jenks had designed to test the boys’ limitations and weaknesses.

It was lucky for Mr. Jenks that Lee cut his throat. If he were still alive, I would’ve done a lot worse to him.

And to Queen Rina, considering she allowed her unborn children to be among the first experiments.

As my mind returned once again to our narrow survival of the twins’ attack, I frowned, thinking of Ms. Dale. Desmond kept her locked in one of the cells that had been empty, and I hadn’t seen her since that day. I had asked about her more than twice, but Desmond had warned me that Ms. Dale was their enemy. I had tried to argue on my old teacher’s behalf, but my words fell on deaf ears, and I needed to be cautious when it came to Desmond. She had the power to keep me off the mission to procure Viggo’s cure, so I had resigned myself to keeping my mouth shut and my ears open.

Although, given what I had learned about the Liberators, they all seemed… reasonable. They were people, just like Viggo and me, who had found out their government was lying to them. The majority of them were from Matrus, but there were a few here and there—mostly women—from Patrus.

All were disillusioned like me, but I had been a pawn in this game for far too long—which was why I didn’t want to join Desmond’s rebel faction. I didn’t believe that there was any way to win a war with Matrus, let alone start one, so I had kept my mouth shut and fended off her requests to make me a full member. I’d told her that at the moment, I was only concerned about Viggo, and making him well.

But, if I was truly honest with myself, I was starting to like Desmond.

She was brusque, but fair. Her orders were rarely ever refused, but when they were, she opened her door to whomever had problems with them, and heard them out. Sometimes she even changed her mind when a good argument was presented. It didn’t happen often, but I had seen it once with Owen—the young man who’d tried to kidnap me in The Green—and it impressed me.

Tearing myself away from my thoughts, I refocused my eyes on Viggo. I had come here to tell him that I was leaving.

Reaching out a hand, I smoothed a lock of hair from his face. I still didn’t feel ready to say goodbye—even if it was to depart on the mission to procure the object that could heal him.

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