First Letter Home

From the Story Arc: There's No Place Like Home

Next Story in the Arc: Got the Red Blues by Althea Nagy (Tuesday, May 10, 2005)

(posted Sunday, May 08, 2005)

Althea Nagy was exhausted, discouraged, and physically battered. It had been the longest "day" of her life, and despite a hot bath and a meal, it had definitely been the worst.

But she could not end the day without writing a letter to the people she considered her real parents, to let them know that she had arrived safely. And to lie about everything else so that they would not worry.

She sat down at the tiny table in the room of her boarding-house in King's Row, and set pen to the Hello Kitty paper she had found in the "Dollar Store."

Dearest Mama and Papa;

I don't care what they say, you will always be my Mama and Papa, and I miss you terribly. But don't worry, I will be all right. There was no room left in the CCCP headquarters because the headquarters of the Young Champions had an accident, so one of the Amerikanskis found me a room in a boarding house.

The girl had been, holy saints, blue. And while Thea had been vaguely aware of such things as metahumans and mutants before this, she had never personally known one. Such people were generally snatched up by the state and whisked away to special training school. That had been the first of many, many shocks.

The blue girl, "Bella" had taken her off the hands of Russian Consul who had met her at the airport, apologized that things were going to be rushed, and taken charge of her---which had amounted to whisking her straight to something called "Outbreak" where she began training as her very first act on American soil.

The boarding house is very nice, and you would like my room, Mama. It has lace curtains and the landlady is very clean. As soon as I got off the airplane, they took me to a place where they taught me some magic, just like Ivanova told me they would.

They had, in fact, given her enough time to look through that intimidating book---the family grimoire---to learn two of the first spells. Then they dumped her in some burned-out war-zone to use them against thugs with glowing eyes. Then, with only enough time to study one more spell, she was sent to get on a tram to meet with the Commissar herself. Meet! That wasn't the half of it!

Then they took me to where some of my new comrades were fighting and I helped, a little. There were things like tall walking trees and mushrooms and rocks, and I wanted very much to get a sample of the trees, but I suppose it would be too dangerous to try and grow them.

She made it sound as tame as possible in case---for where the Metahuman Bureau was concerned you never knew---some of this might get back to her parents and they would worry. But the reality! She got off the tram into an M.C. Escher nightmare of a place with stairs and ramps and catwalks going everywhere called "Skyway City." It had clearly never been designed for someone who could not fly. The Commisar had met her at the tram station and she had, of course, immediately done stupid things by being unable to get around in that madman's playground , but eventually she did get to the building---

Which was another M.C.Escher nightmare of a building full of bloodthirsty plantlife and walking stones the size of houses that were trying to kill them all. And everyone assumed that she would be "helping" her new comrades. One of whom terrified Thea more than the murderous plants---the Commissar, Red Saviour, someone that Thea had seen only in posters and pictures and never dreamed she would meet.

If there was to be a point in her life that was lower than this, Thea thought she would probably rather fling herself off a building than endure it. She had collapsed three---or was it four?---times under the plants' attacks, probably proving beyond a shadow of doubt to anyone in the "team" just how useless she was going to be. And when it was all over, Red Saviour had made it very clear that these monsters were nothing compared to the upyr---the vampires---she had been sent here to hunt.

Only being met by the blue girl and three of her friends (who were refreshingly normal, if exceedingly American) at the tram stop in King's Row put any kind of a good ending on a horrible day.

Then the Amerikanski took me to the boarding house. It is in a place called King's Row.. Here is the address.

The blue girl was amazingly efficient; while Thea had been training and with the "team" she had somehow collected the luggage, found the room, arranged for the room---with the key factor being that it was within walking distance of the CCCP headquarters, for Thea did not yet have a motorcycle---arranged for the room to be paid for, and gotten Thea to the room. But she had her own circle of friends, did Bella, and Thea doubted there was any space in that circle for a new person, even had that new person been less shy than Thea.

I have been doing patrols. The Amerikanskis who have tried to make a team with me have not been very good or clever. I am almost always better off patroling alone. It is certainly safer.

The Amerikanskis at her own level were hideously immature. That, at least, had given her back some of her lost self-confidence. No matter how bad she was, it was obvious that there were plenty who were far worse at this hero business.

I have seen no vampires and if it were not for the walking trees and other things, like thugs with fire coming from their hands, I would think that there were no such things. Many of the Amerikanskis are only interested in making teams for the Arena, which is irresponsible.

The Amerikanskis were Arena-mad. This made no sense. There were criminals everywhere here, and all they could think about was foolish games against each other.

The Commissar Red Saviour is as in the posters, very beautiful and very stern. I hope I do not attract her attention.

Stunningly beautiful in fact, making Thea feel like a little white freak of a mouse. And clever, and brave, and strong---all those things that Thea was not. So competent she was more terrifying than the killer plants. And the rest of the comrades were of the same caliber.

I miss you very much. I hope I can apprehend the vampires I was sent to find so I can come home very soon.

Your loving daughter,


Althea took off her glasses and wiped her eyes, being careful not to get any tears on the letter. She didn't want them to know how lonely and how scared she was. She was very glad that the blue girl had found her this boarding house, which actually was quite clean and nice, because she had a room to herself and no one in the CCCP would ever notice that she wasn't strong, stoic and sturdy.

At least she had gotten a few things right. She had placed the "sticky" spell very well, she thought, and she had managed to get some of the healing spells off, though they made her uneasy, to think that she was stealing the health of the enemy to give to herself and her teammates, like a vampire....

She would try and make sure that the Commissar never noticed her again. Perhaps it would be possible for someone else to supervise her training. The woman had excoriation in her eyes, and was the living embodiment of perfection. Thea could not imagine that she had ever done anything wrong in her entire life.

A hot tear leaked from her right eye and she hastily blotted it.

'I mustn't feel sorry for myself,' she thought, trying to feel the words as well as think them. 'Life is not so bad here. I am an adult. I have had a year at university. I am not a child, to cry from homesickness.'

Truly, things could be worse. The room was small, but very pretty in a faded, much-washed way. It was only a block from headquarters. When the Amerikanskis had discovered how little she had brought with her, they brought her things they said they didn't need, as "welcome gifts" they said, which was very socialist as well as very kind of them. So she had a nice little radio, and a clock so that she did not oversleep, a tiny little television, like a toy, and some pretty pillows, and the biggest Hello Kitty she had ever seen, the size of a five-year-old child, so big.

And the blue girl had found a plant store, and somehow had learned what Thea's favorites were so there were three very young orchids and four flourishing bromeliads lined up on the windowsill.

She got ready for bed, forcing herself to think cheerful thoughts. No, life was not so bad......

Not so bad, except that none of the food tasted right, even the water was not right, the sounds were all wrong, the air smelled strange, and she was frightened half to death of her new "comrades"---

And she wanted, with all of her heart, to go home. She would trade all her magic and the tiny television and all, if only she could go home again.

And despite telling herself over and over that she was too old to do any such thing, at the end of this, her first day in America, Thea Nagy hugged her giant Hello Kitty to her, pulled the blankets over her head, and cried herself to sleep.