Thumper was just minding his own business, taking a sip from the water cooler. He was a bit unnerved to get an uninvited tap on the shoulder.
"Excuse me, Mr. Bunny," said a sing-songy female voice.
Thumper turned around and suddenly he became unnerved in a different way. A pair of impossibly big and bright eyes was staring at him.
"Uh, yes, miss?" Thumper asked.
"Do you happen to know where the Office of Ezri Kerren is?" the blue eyes asked.
"Thanks, bunny!" the stranger thanked him. She finally backed away. The girl was beautiful, but very strange. She started to rush down the hall. Why was she in such an awful hurry? Thumper thought.
"Now wouldn't be a good time!" Thumper squeaked. Wait, Thumper thought, does she even understand me?
"There's no time to waste!" the girl shouted.
Apparently, she did.
When the girl got to the office door, she knocked. The only answer was a wail. The girl opened the door slowly, which apparently was not locked. Ezri did have an open-door policy, after all. But this seemed an inappropriate time for a solicitation.
"Excuse me, Miss Ezri Kerren?" the girl asked Ezri, who was still in a heap on the floor.
Thumper hopped in. "I tried to tell her, Ezri."
Ezri wiped her face and got up. "It is OK, Thumper. I need a distraction."
The visitor couldn't have been taller than five foot. She was remarkably beautiful, decked out in a sea-green and dark blue outfit that went well with her impossibly big and bright blue eyes and navy blue hair. Her hair was done in a fancy updo. She looked like a princess from another world.
Ezri was partly correct.
"My name's Callista," the girl said, holding out her hand in friendship. Ezri took it gently. "But you can call me Callie." She giggled.
"How may I help you, Callie?" Ezri asked, taking a seat at her desk. She didn't want to feel imposing.
Callie sat in one of the comfy guest chairs and crossed her impossibly long legs. Her proportions seemed to defy reality.
Or maybe Ezri's eyes really were going.
Or this girl was just really weird.
"I heard what happened." Callie explained. "So tragic."
"Yes, it is," Ezri said, clearing her throat. "I am afraid I have little time before I go down to the Town Hall to discuss compensation for the families of the victims in the bombing."
"That's not why I'm here, though," Callie said. "I am missing something."
"You need to file a claim?"
"Yeah, I guess you could call it that."
Thumper shot Ezri a nervous glance. He didn't like where this was going.
"What is it that you lost?"
"Well, it sounds silly," Callie laughed, but then became quite serious, looking Ezri dead in the eye. "I lost my Sword."
Ezri deadpanned. "Your what?"
"My Soul Sword, Symponia. She's missing."
"I see," Ezri said with disbelief, twirling a lock of her hair. Was this girl just wasting her time?
"You don't believe me."
"I am not a private detective," Ezri clarified.
"I know," Callista said. "You're an attorney, and you're the most trusted person in town. I did my research."
"I would not know where to start looking for a soul sword," Ezri admitted.
"Did you speak with the police?" asked Thumper.
"Yes, Mr. Thumper," Callie said with a condescending air. "They said I was wasting their time. They were too busy investigating. Not sure what was left to investigate."
"I am sorry. I cannot help you right now," Ezri said. "If you will excuse me." She got up and towered over Callie, who didn't appear the least bit intimidated.
"Well, if you change your mind," Callie giggled and handed Thumper a small silver disc. Ezri shook her head and looked up at the ceiling, as if to say, why now?
When she looked back, there was a light blue mist where Callista had been. The door was wide open and Thumper was just staring down the hall.
"That was different," Thumper observed.
"Yeah, it was," Ezri grumbled. "Let's go see Tika."
Tika turned the red summons envelope over and over in her hands. It was a letter saying that she was being called to the state capital of Unita for placement in a temporary home. It was some three or four hours away even by car.
But she wasn't interested in anyone taking her to the capital. She didn't want to leave her hometown and bounce between home to home until someone decided to want her.
She was only fourteen. She had already lost both her parents in a fiery car crash. Now someone had blown up her last remaining family out of anger over an unpaid hospital bill. Yeah, it was a sad story, and very unfair. But what was more unfair was that her loving aunt and brother were gone.
And now she was "damaged goods." That what she overheard people saying, even one of the social workers who tried to talk to her.
Right now, Tika wished she had the amazing beautiful hawk-like body she had in her dreams. She could blow all of them away and be left alone.
And the breeze was strong and favoring her intended direction, which was out to the country. So it was not the most laborious flight, had she had the wings to do so.
To not respond to a summons was a crime. But she wouldn't let anyone take her. To her, going to juvenile detention would have been no different to her. Where she ended up now would be of little consequence to her. As it was, her nightmares were taking over her mind and spirit.
At least she could ponder out her remaining days while being fed and cared for in a penal colony, she figured. Although, the penalties for ignoring summons were rarely so severe. Tika was getting way ahead of herself.
She was still puzzling over the summons when she finally saw someone she actually wanted to see. It was her Aunt Jenna's best friend Ezri. She had practically been her big sister when she was very young.
Whatever this was about, she was happy to see Ezri. It had been too long. Ezri was such a powerful attorney, and way too busy for life anymore it seem.
"Tika, it is good to see you!" Ezri said, meeting with Tika on her front steps.
"They're taking the house," Tika said blankly.
"Why is that?" Ezri wondered.
"Social workers won't stop talking to me. They said my aunt and brother had to pay their debts or something. So they are taking the house." She handed Ezri the summons.
"You are not going to Unita," Ezri assured her. "I will personally make sure of that."
"How are you, Ezri?" Tika asked.
Ezri sighed, a tear falling from her eye, “You and I both have lost someone dear to us. I will make sure that I can take care of you.”
"I'd really like that," Tika said. Then a dark look came over her face. "The dreams are getting worse."
"I am sure," Ezri agreed.
"So what are you doing over on this side of Petro?" Tika asked.
"Seeing you, actually." Ezri explained. "I want to take you to the Town Hall with me. I have business there. While there, I will make sure that I can keep you here in Petro temporarily. If you do have to go to the Capital, I will vouch for you. You can always stay with me. Damn the state."
"That's why I love attorneys," Tika laughed.
"Ah-ha, I am no magician but I know the law. Your aunt and brother had plenty of life insurance. It will be sorted out. I will buy the house if necessary."
"I don't really want to talk about this right now," Tika groaned., twiddling her thumbs.
"I am not letting the state take advantage of a young girl who just lost everything."
"I am not a young girl," Tika protested.
"No, but you are below the age of consent. That is all they care about."
"They took the car. I saw them tow it from the hospital."
"I will get it back," Ezri promised.
"Why are you being so extra nice?" Tika seemed annoyed. "You don't have to do that."
"That is why. Because I do not have to, but I can." Ezri explained. She could afford it all. After all, they were assets. Her father always taught her to appreciate assets, even old cars. Ezri was going to be sure that when Tika turned fifteen she would get the car, and at sixteen, the house. That was her aunt's will.
But Tika didn't want her life being planned out right now. She had bigger problems.
"You want to hear something funny?" Ezri asked her, changing the subject.
"Sure," Tika said with a shrug.
"This strange girl with blue hair came to me looking to see if I could help her find a Soul Sword. Is that not odd?"
Tika didn't seem amused. She was fascinated. "A Soul Sword?"
"Yes, it was very strange. The police thought she was crazy. She probably is, but someone does not simply come to me for nothing."
"Why are you telling me this?"
"I figured you could use something else to think about."
"Symponia," Tika blurted out. She had no idea why that word came off her tongue.
Ezri couldn't believe her ears. "How did you know?"
"I don't know," Tika admitted. "One of my dreams there was a blue-haired girl with a sword she called that."
"We definitely need to talk about this later," Ezri told her.
"OK," Tika sighed. "Not like it will change anything."
Ezri rubbed her chin. "It might. Let us say hi to Thumper in the car and get down to the Town Hall. I am already late for the meeting with the hospital people."
Tika nodded and they went to the car. It was going to be a long afternoon, Tika knew.
It would be an even longer night.