She didn’t know how far or how long she ran. All she knew was that she was tired and exhausted beyond belief; her heart sore at having to leave one of her best friends behind. The afternoon sun cast shadows on the pavement yet failed to provide warmth for the girl as she ran on. She now wished that she did not have to ditch the warm jacket. But she could not risk being identified as the criminal that was now being broadcasted on all the news networks.
Tears drifted down her cheeks as she imagined the heart wrenching grief her friends would feel at her tragic predicament.
“Don’t morn for me my friends.” Kallista whispered dramatically and raised her tearstained eyes to the sun. “I vow! I will find my way back to you and we shall be united!”
As she bravely ran on, people passing by would step out of the way, eye her suspiciously and wonder why the girl was running dramatically in slow motion.
“Where IS she?” Lizzy practically shouted as she paced the fifth safe house looking for Kallista.
But the black haired beauty was not there just as she had not been in the other four safe houses.
“Where can she BE?” Lizzy ran a frustrated hand though her hair.
This had to be one of her worse days ever. After Kallista had taken off, Lizzy had been hustled into a squad car still playing the frightened victim and taken to the nearest hospital for a check up followed by interviews with the police.
Thanks to Skyril, her friends Nicolette and Aquila showed up soon after that, dressed in police uniform with documents to release said victim into their care. The documents were false of course, drawn up by the cleverness and brilliance of Quinn, Bryony, and Lenka. It was their specialty to get members of the Purple Roses out of tough and sticky situations and they always came through.
Lizzy had been thrilled to drop the whole victim act and could not wait to get to Kallista with the Pink in her hands.
“Calm down Lizzy.” Aquila spoke soothingly from the doorway. “I’m sure Kallista will be here soon. I’m sure she is probably at some ice cream parlor enjoying eating an ice cream cone.”
“Yeah, that’s right.” Lenka spoke up having joined them in the search for the missing Purple Rose. “This IS Kallie we are talking about.”
“What about pet stores? We could not get her out of that last pet store.” Nicolette grumbled. “She tried to buy all the puppies and kittens there!”
“Right! “Lizzy spoke determinedly. “In that case we will search ALL the ice cream parlors AND pet stores.”
The other girls looked at her in astonishment.
“Wow. She is really worried about Kallie.” Lenka murmured to Aquila and Nicolette under her breath. Aquila nodded.
“No. I just want to wring her neck!” Lizzy said suddenly right in front of them. “Come on. We need to hurry.”
Not far away from the fifth safe house sat a mansion that was currently full of writing geniuses from all over the world. All were gathered there at that mansion for a week long rejuvenation retreat and to be inspired in their writing creativity.
Currently, all were relaxed in the great house as various members of the SP gang did their own thing. In the center of the room Hellboy and Dragona were having a deep discussion of game talk. Alex, Chan, Thor, and Pyro set at a nearby table working on their writings.
Everyone paused for a moment when the sound of pounding interrupted them from overhead followed the sound of someone running through the house. It sounded like the person was coming down the stairs. But when they looked towards the stairs they saw no one. Unexpectedly the panel in the wall near Chan and Thor opened up and Gepard popped out.
“SURPRISE!” He said, grinning. Then suddenly he was holding a bloody nose. “Dang! You broke my nose!”
At least that was what Thor figured he said after he punched the other boy. It sounded more like. “Dawg! Ewe bwok m’ose!”
“Sorry pal.” Thos shrugged as he set back down after being startled. “I don’t like surprises much.”
Gepard glared then turned and kicked the wall several times and fought to hold back a groan of pain.
“It’s ok. It doesn’t hurt at all.” He lied.
Pyro and Chan looked at each other and tried not to laugh. Alex only sighed and looked up from his writing.
“It’s getting a bit to hard to write at this moment.” He looked at Gepard. “You might want to stop kicking the wall and get something for your nose. Your bleeding all over the house Kallista loaned us for our use.”
“I’ll go and get some ice for him.” A cultured voice spoke from the fireplace.
Everyone turned to see Octaboona standing there grinning, just like Gepard had been grinning a moment ago. The fireplace was opened like a door revealing another secret passageway behind his tall frame.
“I now know a shortcut to the kitchen. Be right back!”
He turned away and took off down the passageway, the fireplace closing up behind him.
“This place is full of secret passageways and more!” Niall’s voice came from above them.
They all looked up to see Niall’s face in a painting, the original face having been pulled away.
“Weird.” Hellboy muttered with a strange look on his face as he gazed up at Niall.
“What?” Niall looked back down. “This house was designed by Kallista. What did you expect? It’s beautiful yet full of secret hidden thing and surprises. Everything Kal likes.”
“And now we are in it.” Dragona smiled.
Everyone chuckled but looked back at Niall and tried to keep from laughing at him.
Niall glanced down to see he now was the face for a scantily clad mermaid. “Lovely.” He said dourly and shut the painted window once more.
Octa came back, this time from the same passageway where Gepard had been.
“Here you go, Gepard.” Octa said helpfully. “Just press this to your nose and tilt your head back”
Everyone jumped when they were interrupted once again by another loud noise. Turning swiftly they saw Dan and Leo sliding down the stairs and hollering at the top of their lungs. The stairs had disappeared and turned into a slide.
“Kallista!” Alex face palmed and shook his head. “So much for peace and quiet.”
Leo and Dan were arguing as they stumbled into the room.
“You MUST have pushed something to make the stairs disappear!” Leo was insisting to Dan who shook his head.
“No” He protested most sincerely. “I know I was careful not to touch anything I’m not suppose to. I just rested my hand at the top of the banister and then suddenly the stairs disappeared!”
Chan stood up and stepped in between them.
“The fault lies with neither of you. As we have all just been informed, this house so kindly donated for our use is not only owned by Kallista but designed by her too.”
Everyone stared at each other in a mixture of numbness and horror. The TV rambled softly in the background.
“Oh, Gosh NO! Tell me it isn’t so!” Pyro burst out and began back away from the walls, glancing around wildly so sure Kallista was there somewhere now, waiting to pounce and dish out noogies and hugs.
Chan nodded grimly and paced the room thinking out loud. “With this being Kallista’s house, locking the doors will not be an effective way to keep us safe from her attacks!”
“I know!” Gepard jumped up from where he had been sitting. “We can each booby trap our room!”
“Good idea!” Pyro brightened. “Quick! We all need to find some materials! SEARCH THE HOUSE!”
“Just make sure she doesn’t get hurt.” Dragona spoke up as he went back to go sit on the sofa.
Hellboy moved to go sit back down to then he did a double take at the TV.
“Hey! Look at the news!” He pointed at the TV. “Doesn’t that look like Lizzy?”
“You mean the girl being held hostage?” Octa asked as they all moved to look at the TV which was showing breaking news. “I do believe that IS Lizzy!”
“That creep better not harm her!” Thor snarled and moved to leave.
“Where are you going Thor?” Leo called after him.
“I’m going to see if I can help Lizzy!” He answered back, storms in his eyes.
“Wait! Just everybody hold it!” Dragona called out as he inspected the dark clad figure closely who was holding their friend hostage. “That’s no creep! That’s Kallista!”
“What? Are you sure?” Pyro asked skeptically.
They all turned to see the figure wave to the camera in the sky.
“Yep! That’s her.” They all said at the same time.
“Kal has got herself in trouble.” Hellboy shook his head.
“Again.” Dan added.
“I guess we should go and help her.” Niall said as he came into the room. “That would be the gentlemanly thing to do.”
“Then it’s decided.” Alex said. “We find Lizzy and she can fill us in.”
A short time later they found themselves in front of another mansion, only bigger and more stately then the one they were staying at. Three vans crammed with boys pulled up to a beautiful stone wall that surrounded the lush landscape of the school, hiding it from prying eyes. The proud sign read: Columbus Academy for Gifted Girls.
A snicker came from the back of the first van.
“Gifted? Kallista goes to school here?” Gepard laughed.
“I don’t know. This is where Lizzy told us to meet her when we called.” Hellboy shrugged.
He looked up at the cameras on top of the stone wall watching them. Quickly and expertly he noted other signs of top notch security devises set to protect those who resided inside.
“Good security.” He murmured to himself as he nodded approvingly.
They must have been recognized because the elaborate iron gates opened without any further delay. The vans pulled in slowly. The boys looked out of the windows curiously as they drove up the gently winding drive way to the mansion beyond. As they has glimpsed from the entryway outside the gates, the grounds were exquisite and well maintained.
In the distance they could see a group of girls in dark gray uniforms walking from the massive mansion to a slightly smaller building that was situated off to the side and back a ways from the main building.
“What do you suppose that is?” Niall asked as he leaned forward to get a better look.
“I think that’s a gymnasium.” Pyro said in awe. “It’s HUGE!”
He was about to say more when they arrived at the front of the mansion. The boys took in the magnificent structure made of brick and stone that would rival any royal house. It’s design clearly resemble the Mediterranean style. Through the heavy massive double Spanish doors, several girls came and walked daintily down the marble steps up to the doors of the vans. Calmly, they waited for the boys to get out. It was clear to the boys that they were expected to follow the girls.
Dragona got out first from his van and recognized Jaffa. She was standing aside and watching the other two girls, Jasmine and Skulgirl as they waited to show the boys where to go. She appeared to be like a supervisor. All three girls wore the same uniform as the girls they had first seen in the distance: a dark gray skirt that flowed down to mid thigh, a matching gray jacket with princess seams, and a white blouse. A tiny purple rose was embroidered on the pocket of the jacket. Knee high stockings and Mary Jane shoes completed the outfit.
Dragona was going to greet his friends as were some of the other guys, but the girl’s expression remained neutral and formal. He shrugged and raised a questioning eyebrow at Hellboy and the others. They just looked back and shrugged silently then fell in line behind the girls as they led the way into the grand foyer. Each girl walked in step together, a graceful walk. Once the doors had been firmly shut behind them, the girl’s facade fell and they whirled around on the boys and greeted them with friendly smiles.
“Hi, boys!” Jaffa beamed, visibly more relaxed.
“Hi Jaffa, Jasmine, Skulgirl.” The boys greeted and nodded.
“Why all this formality?” Niall asked as he adjusted his glasses.
Jaffa hesitated as the other two girls watched them closely with a smug expression on their faces.
“I think I’ll let Skyril explain.” Jaffa finally said, smiling mysteriously. “She is waiting for you. Follow me.”
As they walked the boys eyed their surroundings. Everything was top of the line and beautiful. They rounded a corner and gasped in wonder. Along an expansive corridor, a set of tall arched stain glass windows lined the entire length of the space on either side, letting in plenty of sunlight. Silhouettes of cherry trees danced on the outside, petals of blossoms falling gently to the ground. The refection filtered in through the windows creating a magical display, an illusion of movement. The effect was not lost on the boys. Even the girls were in awe of the beauty.
“This is what Kallista wanted, to have nature always close at hand. I never get tired of walking down this hall.” Skulgirl smiled wistfully.
Inside the large conference room the student council was gathered. Skyril stood at the very center beside a large window, a large table before her. To her left sat Lizzy. On Skyril’s right an empty chair was placed where Kallista usually sat. Lizzy sat next to Bryony, followed by Mary Hiashi, Lenka, Florence, Darkane, and Skylara and Rachel. Next to where Kallista usually sat were Quinn, Rosella, Nyx, Aquila, Nicolette, Venice, and Legolas.
Any moment now she knew the boys would be entering through the double doors. Skyril had watched them come in as she peered through the window just moments before.
The time had come to make a few major changes in their school. Turning back around she gazed once again at her fellow student council members and friends, hoping they would be ready for the changes their school was about to face.
“Good afternoon gentlemen!” Skyril greeted as they came through the double doors, the same design as the front doors, only slightly smaller.
Skyril’s eyes sparkled warmly as she greeted her friends. Normally she would hug them as would the rest of the girls. But this was not to be a casual meeting. It was a crucial meeting. It all depended now on the boys.
“Please have a seat.” She gestured gracefully to the row of elegant chairs on the opposite side of the table.
“Sure Skyril.” Hellboy grinned at her with questioning raise to his eyebrows.
“Um, why are both Nicolette and Aquila in policemen uniforms?” Dragona asked as he cocked his head, curious. He winked at Aquila as he sat down, but she only gave him a demure smile.
“I will tell you in a moment. “ Skyril assured him
All the rest of the girls except for Lizzy, Nicolette and Aquila were dressed in the school’s uniforms. Lizzy still had on her street outfit from earlier that day. Quinn set like a queen with a bouquet of purple roses before her.
“I love the flowers Quinn. “ Octa smiled at her tenderly.
“I stole them!” She mouthed out with a quick mischievous look. “From a wedding!”
“Well done!” Octa beamed back at her proudly.
“Ahem!” Skyril interrupted them. “Let’s get down to business.”
“Is this about what we saw on the news earlier?” Thor asked. He had settled down somewhat after seeing that Lizzy was okay. But his issues with Kallista remained the same. “What the HELL was Kallista doing?”
“Yes. This is what this is about.” Skyril answered. “First, let me explain. To make a long story short, we are a network of spies known as the Purple Roses who do work nationally and internationally. This is our main headquarters, disguised as a normal school. We also have our international departments too. Aquila heads up Germany.”
“I can’t wait to get back.” Aquila muttered. “It is so much nicer there.”
“The UK and Ireland are headed up by Quinn, Rachel, Bryony, and Lenka.”
“And we do a pretty good job!” Bryony said smugly.
Several “Hell yeah!” followed her proud statement. Bryony leaned over Mary and high fived Lenka. Mary sighed patiently.
“The Mediterranean and eastern Europe branch is headed by Nicolette, Darkane, Skylara, and Venice.” Skyril continued. “Florence heads up our Russian department and Mary is responsible for our Canada and Asian divisions.”
“It is a most delightful opportunity.” Mary spoke elegantly. “One that suits me perfectly.”
“Australia and New Zeeland are the responsibility of Nyx and Rosella. Legolas, Lizzy and I head up Central and South America.” Skyril finished.
Hellboy set back amazed but not totally surprised. He had known something was up for a time now. “I wondered about that. What about Kallista?” He asked
“She’s in charge of the bunnies!” Lizzy muttered and turned away.
The other girls giggled softly trying to smother their laughter.
“How did you guess Hellboy?” Skyril asked slightly worried.
“Well, there was that last time we were all together. Kallista kept lurking behind us and….” Hellboy was interrupted by Dan.
“I remember! Kallista kept ducking into bushes thinking we didn’t see her!” Dan laughed.
“That’s right.” Octa paused, thinking back. “Didn’t she roll into a pricker bush?”
“Yes she did.” Alex said dryly. “If that was a covert training assignment. I would say she failed. She gave her position away when she started crying. It took four of us to get her out.”
“I think I still have scars from that pricker bush.” Niall frowned as he remembered his hands.
“Yeah, but nothing beat what Kallista looked like after we got her out!” Leo laughed. “She looked like a human pin cushion!”
Skyril shuddered remembering.
“It all was rather amusing. “ Aquila smiled as several of the other girls agreed.
“She has improved a bit.” Quinn spoke up in Kallista’s defense. “Though fences still give her a bit of trouble.”
Briefly she thought of the time Kallista had to run from a pair of junk yard dogs and lost her pants when trying to clear it.
“So I take it that Lizzy and Kallista were on assignment.” Pyro spoke up, amused by the fact that Kallista was a spy.
“Yes.” Skyril answered simply. “It was an assignment that went bad. Someone else saw the gun dealers arrive and notified the police.”
“Trying to be good citizen’s no doubt.” Mary spoke eloquently. “But they ruined our plans and put our agents at risk.”
“What you saw on the news was Kallista’s way of trying to ad lib.” Skyril sighed and shook her head. “This is why we need your help.”
She paused and looked at all of the boys individually. Her eyes spoke of the risk she was asking them into. “Lizzy’s identity has now been compromised. Yet we still have a chance to bring down these arms dealers. We have come to a point in our missions where it is useful to have the help from male counterparts. I would like to ask if each of you would consider partnering up with us to bring these guys down.”
“I’m in!” Octa spoke up.
Hellboy leaned forward in his seat and looked back at Skyril with a smile. “I thought you would never ask. I’m in.”
Relief filled Skyril as each boy agreed to be part of the team.
“Just one question.” Thor spoke up. “We won’ t be know as the Purple Roses too, will we?”
The girls again tried not to laugh at the expressions on the boys faces as they considered this possibility. Octa looked thoughtful almost hopeful as the rest looked uncomfortable.
“How about the Thorns? Thorns are what protect the roses. We can go by that name.” Niall suggested as he looked ardently at Venice.
“I like it!” Dragona smiled as he looked at Aquila. “I like the thought of protecting Aquila.”
“Then it’s settled.” Skyril smiled. “You are now part of our team. We can give you the full tour of the mansion. It‘s to be for your use now too!”
“The home you are staying in now,” Nicolette began with a secret smile. “The one Kallista built. It’s child’s play compared to this one.”
“Well I’m intrigued.” Octaboona smiled. “I can’t wait to see everything!”
“I am interested how you came about such a place” Niall spoke mildly as he looked about curiously.
“I will tell you as I show you around.” Skyril promised. “It all begins with Kallista.”
“Of course it does.” Leo rolled his eyes. “Speaking of Kal, where is she?”
“Oh, she has not returned yet from the botched up mission. Don’t worry though. She’ll turn up somewhere.” Mary shrugged as she stood up with the rest of them. “If you excuse me, I have to take care of some business elsewhere.”
She walked elegantly passed the boys saying goodbye as she left.
Skyril followed her with several of the other girls.
“Are you coming Quinn?” Skyril called back to her.
“Yes! Just a minute.” She smiled back prettily as she gathered up the roses. “I know the perfect spot for these roses.”
Octaboona hastily stood up and stepped courteously aside as she past then followed her. “Can I help hold those for you, my dear?”
Her answer was lost to the rest as she moved further down the hall. Chan and Pyro looked at each other, rolled their eyes and moved to follow.
Dragona stood and moved to Aquila glancing briefly to the door then back to her. Thor eyed them with a raised eyebrow.
“So, Aquila.” Dragona began.
“Yes, Dragona?” She smiled at him.
“You doing anything to night?”
“DRAGONA!” Thor suddenly barked. “You are needed in the hallway.”
“Damn.” Dragona swore under his breath and moved out the door.
Thor smirked as he looked back at the retreating figure of his friend then moved quickly over to Aquila and leaned over slyly.
“SO Aquila. You doing anything tonight?”
“THOR!” Dragona stood there scowling at his friend with his arms folded across his chest.
“Hey! It’s cool!” Thor stood back up, laughed easily and moved past Dragona, patting him on the shoulder as he passed by. “Chilax, man!”
Dragona stared stonily at him and growled as Thor threw one last wink towards Aquila.
Kallista stopped her running to sag wearily against the brick building of a store. Her breathing was ragged as she checked her pulse. Never had she run so far. Curious she looked back from where she had come and noted the half block with satisfaction. Yes, she thought to herself. She was definitely improving.
“Now how to get back home.” She spoke out loud as she started to walk.
Then her stomach growled alerting her to a greater problem.
“Oh!” She groaned softly. “I never did get to eat this morning!”
Above the noise of the street a faint sound reached her ears that sounded like heaven. A broad grin spread across her face as she raced towards it with glee.
“ICE CREAM TRUCK!”
Once again, innocent by standers found themselves leaping out of the way as the dark haired girl dashed madly past them, only one thought on her little mind.
There it was. The ice cream truck painted in a cheery yellow and white striped pattern, playing familiar happy little children’s classics. It was out early and was slowly moving down a residential street, hoping to attract some young customers. Kallista found that even she could catch up to it.
“Hey Mister!” She called out cheerily. “How much for the whole truck?”
“What?” The collage age kid had slowed to a stop and stared at the vision of beauty standing before him.
“Your truck and the ice cream!” She spoke slowly so the kid could understand. “How much is it?”
“Are you serious?” The kid laughed dumbfounded but kept a wary eye on t he girl. There was something off about her.
Ignoring his hesitation she reached into her pocket of the sweatshirt and pulled out a gob of money. It was not like her to usually carry around so much with her. But she had her reason and knew it would come in handy.
Smiling in awe th e boy took the money an counted it.
“This will so!” He said as he tucked the money into his pocket and climbed out of the truck. “She’s all yours!”
But Kallista mumbled a bit awkwardly then whispered into his ear as she looked shiftily about. “Could you please let me throw you from the truck and make it look like you were high jacked?”
“Uh, is it going to hurt?”
“No! Not at all!” She insisted innocently.
“Um, well. OK, then. What do you want me to-Aaaaaaaaaaaah!” He screamed as Kallista suddenly lunged for him with a snarl and grabbed him roughly by his coat front.
She tossed him off the truck and j umped in herself, laughing like a villain from a melodrama.
“You OK?” She leaned out and whispered as she looked wildly around.
“Yeah, sure.” He responded bemused.
“Oh, good!” She cheered. “Bye, now!”
He just watched open mouth as she drove like a maniac away from him, her laughter still reaching his ears from several blocks away.
Shrugging, he turned and walked away, counting his money again.