Alphas: Templars by Nancy W

Fifth story in the ALPHAS series.

The boys' official story was that they were the children of United Nations aid workers who had been evacuated due to political turmoil in the country where their parents were serving. The boys were briefed on their cover story as if it were part of a mission. They did not question it, nor did they have any problem lying, which Travis found  a bit disconcerting. Evie didn't seem to even notice.

Travis had expected the girls to be at Holy Cross also, but since too many 'foreign' children at the same school might have aroused suspicion and because it was easier for the girls to work together without actually being together, they would be attending the Van Buren schools on the other side of town. Van Buren was three separate campuses for elementary, middle and high school. Unlike Holy Cross, it was an all-girls school.

Two days after the boys had returned to the Travis household, Evie took them for new student orientation at Holy Cross. In the morning they were given placement tests, although it was explained that they were to determine if a child had any deficits that needed to be remedied, rather than their academic achievement level. They would be placed with children their own age, regardless of how high their scores were - and they were high. Some of them were off the scale for certain subjects. Even Six - who had received the least academic coaching of the group - tested two years above grade level on almost every subject. JD went into the kindergarten program, Vin was placed in second grade, Ezra in third, Nathan in fifth, Buck in sixth, Chris in eighth and Josiah in ninth. Evie doubted that any of them would have a problem keeping up academically, with anything.

They would continue to work with Omnichron tutors in an after-school setting to keep up their "Alpha" skills. So many kids were in after-school programs that no one would be likley to even question where they went and what they did when they weren't in school.

All of the students, Evie learned, participated in the school's music program. She had presumed with all of their intensive training, they had not had time for music, but it turned out all of them had learned the violin starting at age 2 using the Suzuki method, and they were all very good. They could also play piano, although their degree of skill with that instrument varied. All of them could read music.

The boys knew so much, but when Evie was alone with Sister Ricardis, she tried to explain that there were many things they didn't know that other children took for granted. They didn't know about television, or video games, or money, or what was 'cool' and what wasn't. She was afraid that they would be bullied.

"Oh, I sincerely doubt that will be a problem here at Holy Cross," Sister Ricardis assured.

Evie wasn't convinced. All schools had bullies - some were just more reluctant to admit it. That wasn't what worried her, though. "You should know," she explained, "these boys do know how to fight. I don't know how well they will take being pushed around."

Sister Ricardis smiled sincerely. "Please, Mrs. Travis, don't worry about them. They will be in good hands here at Holy Cross, I assure you."

Evie hoped that was true.

In the afternoon, they were given a tour of the campus. Holy Cross was a converted business park, with Kindergarten through fifth grade in what was once an office building. The older children were in another office complex where they rotated among different teachers throughout the day. Two warehouses had been converted into gymnasiums and a third was the dining hall. A former conference facility served as an auditorium. Holy Cross Cathedral, which had been there long before the complex was built in the early 1980s, was within walking distance across grounds that were spacious and well-maintained. Even though it was technically a Catholic School, it apparently was non-sectarian in its enrollment criteria. They didn't even ask what religion the boys practiced. All in all, Evie was impressed with the place, and with Sister Ricardis. The nun was in her late sixties, but strong and fit and full of enthusiasm. She clearly loved her job, and had greeted the new students - including the boys - warmly, taking time to talk to each one.

Evie left with a good feeling about the place in general. The boys, though, didn't have much to say on the way home. They were about to be separated for the first time in their lives, and that had to be unsettling, despite their self-confidence.

+ + + + + + +

On the first day of school, Theta arrived to give them one last briefing, as though he were sending them on a military operation. Travis and Evie smiled when Theta reminded the four older boys of the "talks" they'd had about girls, and how he expected a certain standard of behavior from them. Four was still young enough that he made a face at the mere mention of the opposite sex, but the three older boys were listening.

All of the boys were physically attractive children. Josiah was tall, and soft-spoken, with wavy dark hair and clear blue eyes. Chris was blond and his eyes were dark green. He was average height, but had a presence about him that made him seem much larger. Buck was also tall for his age, with roguish smile, dark hair and pale blue eyes. Nathan was quiet and studious, but his smile was sure to win over just about anyone with a heart. Ezra was short and athletic, with amazing green eyes and straight chestnut hair. Vin's hair was dark blond and gently curled, his eyes a deep cobalt blue, and there was a smattering of freckles across his nose. JD's pale skin was a sharp and stunning contrast to his jet black hair, and the tiny boy had a natural ebullient charm and a gift for chatter. The girls were not going to ignore any of them.

Theta was fully aware that the boys would likely appear strange or different to some of their classmates and that, as Evie had feared, bullying was an issue even in an exclusive school like Holy Cross. He explained some scenarios they might encounter.

"But that's mean," JD observed. "Why would they want to be mean to us?"

No one really had an answer for that, unfortunately, and as Theta further addressed the subject with the boys, Travis and Evie listened in, expecting the usual common sense advice - avoid confrontation, walk away, tell a teacher, etc.

Instead, he told them, "No one can take advantage of you unless you allow it. You're Alphas, they're not. Remember that."

He lined them up for one final inspection. It didn't bother them a bit to be dressed alike - they had done that their entire lives. Oddly, the exclusive school did not have an extensive dress code. The uniforms were dark brown polo shirts with the school insignia - a red templar cross - on the left breast, brown trousers for the older boys, brown shorts for the younger ones, and brown or white socks. That was it. They had declined Evie's offer to take them to buy new shoes, which had surprised her until Josiah explained that the shoes they had were made especially for them - they fit perfectly in every way. Travis suspected they also concealed small tools and weapons, but he chose not to think about that. The school did require plain white sneakers for gym, and those had been harder to find than one might expect. Evie had finally ordered them off the internet.

Evie had packed their lunches, but Omnichron had provided the menus for each boy and paid for the groceries. All she'd had to do was put everything together in the right lunch kit, for which she was grateful. She remembered trying to decide each morning what to put in Stephen's lunch so he didn't get bored with the same thing every day, or worse, trade it for junk food. She couldn't imagine doing that times seven.

The boys piled into the new 9-passenger GMC Yukon Denali that had magically appeared in the driveway three days before, fully registered to Evie, and complete with three booster seats for Five, Six and Seven. The extravagant vehicle had plenty of room for backpacks, lunch kits and gym bags.

Travis took Theta aside. "Do you really think it's a good idea to tell them to fight back if someone bothers them?"

Theta looked unapologetic. "These children are trained soldiers. They have to believe they can take care of themselves, and I assure you, they can."

"But what if they hurt someone?" That was Travis's big fear. He recalled how easily little JD had taken Billy down and could have seriously hurt or even killed him if he'd wanted to.

"They won't," Theta said simply. "They have their own code that they live by. We didn't do that - they did it themselves. They will protect each other, but they won't hurt someone for being mean or stupid. Not seriously, anyway. They won't do anything foolish."

Ezra, Vin and JD waved happily as Evie pulled out of the driveway. Adjusting to school would be easiest for them, because they were young. Josiah, at the other extreme, appeared to be dreading the experience. He was fourteen and about to start high school without ever having been in a classroom with anyone other than his fellow Alphas.

The boys had studied the layout of the school and oriented themselves quickly. Most of the kindergarten students were being dropped off by parents, but JD quickly found the group he belonged with and confidently got in line alone. All of the other students were small, like him. He wouldn't need to remind anyone he was not little.

Vinton - who had decided he'd rather be just 'Vin' - was a bit more hesitant - he was feeling unsure of himself without his weapons, not that he was completely unarmed. He had the slingshot elastic in his shoe and a duoplast knife in the lining of his backpack. Duoplast was 'otherworld' technology - the knife was soft and rubbery and undetectable, but once its air-tight case was opened, it would harden instantly. All of the Alphas had black leather backpacks with a 7-pointed star on the front and the back. They looked like decorations, but they were shuriken - throwing stars. Good things to have.

Ezra found the third-graders with no problem. Some of them were grouped around a dark-skinned boy. The other children appeared to just be curious, but the boy looked frightened, and as they asked him questions, he kept responding with the same answer, "I don't understand you." Ezra understood him, though. The language was Somali. He was not fluent in it but he knew some words and phrases, enough to make his way through the group and say hello to the boy and tell him his name. The boy's eyes widened in surprise at hearing his own language, and then he smiled and said his name was Khalid. They were both 8 years old and going to school for the first time.

When the bell rang, it was time to go inside. The desks in the fifth-grade classroom had names on them, and there was a few minutes of confusion while everyone found his or her seat. Nathan was still getting used to being Nathan Jackson instead of Four. His desk was at the front of the second row.

"Who's that new kid?" he heard someone ask.

No one answered, but he could sense he was being stared at. He ignored it, but when the teacher told them to take out the 5 spiral notebooks that had been on their supply list and put them on their desks, the boy across from him reached over and pushed his to the floor. Nathan calmly leaned over, picked them up, and put them back on his desk. The boy tried to push them off again, so Nathan grabbed his hand in a wrist-breaker grip, which made the other boy gasp with pain.

"Please don't do that again," Nathan said politely. "I don't want to have to put your hand back together." He gave a little extra nudge to emphasize his point and the boy yelped loud enough that the teacher noticed.

"Is there a problem?" she asked.

"No, ma'am," Nathan replied. Because for him, there wasn't.

Bucklin - who had decided he preferred 'Buck' - was enjoying sixth grade immensely. Four girls had already said hello to him. He'd never known any girls except the Alpha females. These girls were way more interesting than whatever his teacher was talking about, and he was caught by surprise when he realized Mr. Willis was talking to him. "Mr. Wilmington," he said, "perhaps you can enlighten us on the principles of the first class lever, since you seem to be finding it unnecessary to pay attention."

Buck smiled, first at the girls, then Mr. Willis. It was true that he hadn't been paying attention. Not one bit. His Omnichron teachers would have noticed long before he'd actually missed something. But, he remained calm and tried to remember lessons from when he was three years old. He walked up to the blackboard and drew a picture of a first class lever and then labeled the input and output source, then proceeded to explain how to achieve balance around a central fulcrum (which was not what the teacher had asked, exactly, but he was in defensive mode and doing what Theta called 'faking it.').

Mr. Willis studied his diagram for a few moments and then said, "Thank you. Please return to your seat." Which Buck did, as the girls smiled at him.

The obstacle course for the eighth grade boy's PE class resembled the Alpha conditoning course at Omnichron for the little ones - except this one was even easier. Chris watched with perplexed interest as other boys struggled with a simple fence less than two meters high. Seven was too little for a fence that tall, but Five and Six probably could have done it. There was a climbing net, swinging ropes, hurdles and other obstacles after the fence, but some of the boys either never got that far or skipped some of the obstacles. When it was Chris's turn, he ran headlong at the fence and then kicked it with his left foot, then his right to transfer his momentum upward. He grabbed the top and easily pulled his legs over. The rest of the course didn't even cause him to break a sweat.

The last station was a bar for pull-ups. A boy named Eugene who had pretty much failed the rest of the course, was attempting to pull himself up so his chin would touch the bar. Any of the Alphas could have done that easily, but Eugene was heavy and his muscles were not adequately developed. Chris did the 10 pull-ups the course required while Eugene couldn't even do one. The coach was just yelling at people, not really telling anyone how to do the obstacles - things the Alphas had been taught one step at a time since they were babies.

Chris turned to the struggling boy. "Don't pull yourself up to the bar... pull the bar down to you."

Eugene looked at him, confused, because the bar was stationary.

"Get a good grip on it, then pull, as hard as you can," Chris said, and pointed to his head, "close your eyes, and think of it coming down to you, instead of you going up."

Eugene took a deep breath, closed his eyes, and then did what Chris said. Slowly, his feet lifted off the ground. He didn't quite make it up to his chin, but almost. "Whoa, that was cool!" He grinned.

"It gets easier with practice," Chris advised.

"Can you show me how you got over the fence?"

"Maybe," Chris replied. "Let's go find out."

Josiah checked his class list, even though he had already memorized it. 1st period was Algebra I - where he had skimmed to the back of the book and easily worked the problems presented there. 2nd period was General Science, where the teacher had told them they would have units in the various sciences, but it seemed to be basic information that would be covered - things he already knew. 3rd period was Civics. He wasn't sure what that was, so maybe it would be something new to learn.

So far, though, the most interesting thing about school was the other students. Some had talked to him, briefly, some had ignored him, and some had behaved in a hostile manner, for reasons he did not understand. The latter were apparently attempting to assert their domination by demoralizing those around them with demeaning acts and comments. They would never be good leaders, and yet, there was a small group who followed them without question. They were of no consequence to him, however. He was an Alpha, and their leader was Two - Chris. He had to remember to call him 'Chris' now.

He took a seat in the Civics class and a blond girl sat across from him. She smiled and asked his name and other questions and kept staring at him. He recognized this as 'flirting' and while he was flattered by it, he kept thinking of the Alpha girls, especially Ai - her new name was "Emma Dubonnet." He liked the way that sounded. It was kind of like a bubbling stream, cool and fresh. Like her.

He was jolted out of his thoughts by one of the more disagreeable students, whose name was Guy something, jarring his desk roughly. The blond girl smiled at that boy, too.

Guy addressed Josiah. "What are you looking at, butt-nugget?"

Josiah laughed, because the term 'butt-nugget,' while clearly meant to be insulting, also struck him as funny. He'd have to remember that one.

The teacher called the class to attention. Guy looked at him crossly - apparently angry for absolutely no reason - and said, "Later."

+ + + + + + +

The morning had been busy and confusing for Ezra, Vin and JD.

Ezra's class had a teacher, Mrs. Smythe, and a 'student teacher,' who was not a teacher of students, but a student learning to be a teacher, Ezra discovered. His name was Mr. Javier, and he had been in a war and he was blind and had a dog that lead him around. Ezra had never seen a blind person, and even though he could say 'dog' in 22 different languages, he'd never seen one of them, either, except in pictures. He was a little bit intimidated by the idea of introducing himself when the children were asked to do so. Mr. Javier had a slight accent that told Ezra maybe he spoke Spanish, so Ezra introduced himself in that language. Mr. Javier seemed surprised, and asked him some questions in Spanish. Some of them Ezra couldn't reply to, not because he didn't speak Spanish fluently - because he did - but because he didn't know the answer. Questions like 'Where did you learn to speak Spanish?' - Ezra had no idea. He couldn't remember not knowing how to speak it. Mr. Javier seemed to think he was just shy, though, and said he was happy to meet him. When it was Khalid's turn to introduce himself, Ezra translated Somali into English and back again as best he could. He could have translated it into Spanish, too, but that was what Nu would call 'showing off' so he didn't. He really wanted to meet Mr. Javier's dog, Custard. Custard was a Golden Retriever. Ezra wanted to touch his pretty, soft fur, but it wasn't allowed. He wondered where people obtained dogs.

JD's teacher was Sister Josephine and she had read them a book called "The Hungry Thing." The hungry thing was a large reptile and it was smiling and had a sign that said "Feed Me" on it. Once when the Alphas had gone through the MATSAP port, they had seen large reptiles like The Hungry Thing. They had been everywhere, only they weren't smiling and what they had wanted to eat was them. JD had been very, very scared that time. He was only 4, so now he probably wouldn't be so afraid - fear, he had learned, was unproductive. What was going to happen, would happen, so fearing it was pointless. But those reptiles were big enough to swallow him in one bite and he didn't like thinking about them. When the teacher showed everyone the pictures in the book, he covered his eyes. If he didn't have to look at the pictures, it was a pretty good book.

Vin's teacher, Mrs. Manfredi, told them to draw a picture of the most fun thing they had ever done. Vin took a long time with his picture, because Alphas were taught to draw so as to capture minute details. This was necessary for recalling events where the timeline did not allow them to record information digitally. Mrs. Manfredi seemed very pleased with the quality of his work, but she asked him what event it depicted.

"It's when we went to the sky station and broke up a meteor with a laser cannon," he explained. They'd let him aim the cannon. He pointed to the figure at the controls, drawn as he remembered them. "That's me, there," he said shyly. He had done a good job with the cannon, but it was wrong to be boastful about something you had been well-trained by others to do.

Mrs. Manfredi took her glasses off and looked down at him. "Vinton, the assignment was supposed to be about something you really did."

Vin was confused. He had just told her he did it.

"I think you are a wonderful artist and you have a terrific imagination," she said, "but next time, try to follow the instructions, okay?"

Vin's shoulders slumped. He didn't understand, but said, "Okay."

+ + + + + + +

Holy Cross students were allowed to request assigned tables in the lunch room, and sit together in family groups, or club groups, or just groups of friends. The boys gathered at the table assigned to them, and made room for Eugene and Khalid. Khalid didn't know anyone at the school, and Eugene didn't seem to have any friends.

There was no actual food service at the school - everyone either brought their lunch or, in the case of some of the more affluent students, had it delivered. The boys set out their food while Eugene looked on curiously. He had three pre-packaged meals that the boys had seen at the market. Nathan had determined that they were not as nutritious as other food available, so they hadn't tried them.

Josiah had two chicken breasts, a large plastic bowl of salad, an apple, a banana and 2 cartons of yogurt. He was the biggest and got very hungry. JD had a small cup of cottage cheese, four whole wheat crackers and half an orange. He was small and didn't need a lot of food.

"Are your moms some kind of health food freaks?" Eugene asked, looking at their lunches.

"We don't have moms," Chris said.

Eugene looked abashed. "None of you?"

"Nuh-uh," JD answered.

"Did they die, or what?"

The Alphas considered their answer. Finally, Buck said, "We really don't know. We have... " he tried to remember the word, "... foster parents."

"Oh man, I'm sorry," Eugene said. "That sucks."

Chris had learned this new meaning for the word 'sucks' from Stephen. But he liked Miss Evie and Mr. Travis. "Not really, they are good people."

Guy walked past the table and then stopped and walked back. "Find some new geekoids to hang with, fat-ass?" he asked Eugene.

Josiah wasn't sure what he'd said, but he didn't like his tone. "Go away, Guy," he warned.

"Or what?" He looked at Khalid. "Who's this little freak?"

"Go way," Josiah said. "Not telling you again, butt-nugget."

Josiah, Chris and Buck all made a point of staring directly at Guy, until he backed down and left.

"He's got other friends," Eugene said nervously. "He's one of the Dragon Skulls."

When the other boys looked confused, he elaborated. "They're like a gang... a secret society - except they let everyone know who they are. They think they run the school."

"Do they?" Nathan asked.

Eugene shrugged, "Their families are all filthy rich, so they pretty much get their own way. If they want you to do their home work or steal beer for them, you better do it. If you don't do it, you can end up having an 'accident.'"

Josiah just laughed. Chris smiled, but it was a cold smile.

"Bunch of fucktards," Nathan commented. He had just learned that word.

They got to eat their meal in peace but when they were done, they went out into the courtyard and spotted a group of boys approaching them. They were all ages, but most of them were Josiah's age or older.

"Dragon Skulls," Eugene said, and took a step back. "Guy Royale, Stuart James, Rafe Mosely, Pud Garber, Del Spivak, Paulo-something... Bobby Spikes, Dickie O'Shea... I don't know the little one."

"That's Eli Joe," Nathan said, recognizing the boy who had knocked his notebooks off his desk. "He's in my class."

"We should leave," Eugene said.

"No," Chris said calmly.

It seemed like everywhere they turned since leaving Omnichron, people wanted to fight with them. These boys were coming straight towards them, and they didn't look like they wanted to be friendly.

It was true the Alphas were outnumbered, although they did have Khalid and Eugene to even the sides. Chris did not think Eugene would fight, though, and half of his group was 10 or younger. And, they were unarmed, although Chris was pretty sure Six - Vin - had some kind of weapon. He always did.

There was no real threat, though. All of the Alphas could fight effectively with their hands and feet if they had to, even little JD.

He ignored the Skulls when they approached. He'd wait for them to start something.

It didn't take long.

"You're new here," the one Eugene had identified as Stuart James spoke, and the Alphas now knew who the leader was.

"Yes," Chris said calmly.

"Guy tells me you need some instruction on the way things work around here," Stuart said.

"No, thank you," Chris replied casually.

Stuart was momentarily taken aback by that, but then said, "Is it because you're scared?"

Chris chuckled softly. "No, it's because I don't care."

"Do you know who we are?"

"We don't care about that, either," JD spoke up. "Go away."

"Shut up, diaper pail," Guy Royale said.

JD didn't know what a diaper pail was, but he knew he'd been insulted. He just stared at Guy, though, and didn't respond. He knew the bigger boy was trying to make him mad, and he wasn't going to make him happy by showing anger.

"He's right, though," Josiah said calmly. "We don't care who you are... or who you think you are."

"Meet us behind the gym after school and we'll settle this," Stuart said.

"Not going to happen," Chris replied.

"They're scared," Guy mocked.

"No, we just don't want to hurt anyone... even you."

Stuart laughed. "You really don't get it, do you, douche-bag? You do whatever we say.... Paulo, Dickie..." he nodded towards those two.

The moved in on Eugene. Paulo grabbed him from behind and Dickie pulled his pants down. Rafe took a picture.

Josiah and Buck pulled Paulo and Dickie away from the mortified Eugene.

"Vin, Ezra, JD," Chris mocked Stuart's tone of voice.

The smaller boys happily stormed Rafe, and without delivering a single blow, got his phone away from him.

"HEY!" Rafe shouted. "You little shits! Give that back!"

Ezra deftly opened it and removed both the power source and the sim card. He stuck the sim card in his mouth and bit down on it. He tossed the battery to Vin who flung it onto the roof of the dining hall. JD calmly put the case back together and gave it back.

 "If that picture gets circulated," Chris said. "Every electronic device in your house will be hacked and destroyed."

"You can't do that!" Rafe protested.

"That's true," Chris said. "But we know who can." The Alphas had just learned about the internet, but the Alpha girls were experts. They could pretty much go anywhere they wanted in cyberspace.

Stuart planted himself in front of Chris as Rafe tried vainly to get his phone to work. He wasn't so stupid that he thought it would, he just seemed unable to accept the fact that Chris's smallest companions had destroyed it.

"You don't threaten me!" Stuart said. He was six inches taller than Chris, who was not afraid to look up at him.

"I believe I just did," Chris said. "You leave us alone... and by 'us' I am including Eugene and anyone else here that you think you can intimidate with your artificial courage."

"Just what do you think you can do about it?" Stuart said, stepping even closer.

"Things you can't even imagine," Chris said. His voice and his eyes were cold, and Stuart backed off a few steps.

The Dragon Skulls clearly knew better than to start a fight where teachers and other adults could see them, but if they thought the Alphas were going to meet them later, they would end up waiting. This was a battle the Alphas could choose not to fight. They had nothing to prove, and what the Dragon Skulls thought of them didn't matter to any of them.

"We'll come after you," Stuart said. "One at a time if we can't get you all together."

The Dragon Skulls had been so focused on Chris, waiting for him to take Stuart's bait, that they hadn't noticed the other Alphas had spread out and now encircled them. Little Khalid, who didn't seem entirely sure what was going on, still took a spot next to Ezra, ready to fight if he had to. To Chris's surprise, Eugene stepped up and joined their circle too. That was when the Dragon Skulls realized they were surrounded.

"That would be a big mistake," Josiah warned them.

"Well, I'm not afraid of any of you!" Eli Joe boasted and he ran at Vin with his arms outstretched as if to push him down. Vin sidestepped him easily and then tripped him. Ezra and JD pulled him to his feet - only they were not being helpful. They grasped his elbows so that they had a crushing grip on his radial and ulnar nerves - both of his hands were instantly rendered temporarily numb and useless. "Ow... ow... " he whined.

"You don't want to try that again," Buck said. The two smaller boys released him. The whole thing had looked nothing like an altercation. No teachers came running and no one else even noticed.

The bell rang for them to go back to class. The Alphas turned their backs on the Dragon Skulls and walked away.

From the second floor window, Theo 'Theta' Morris watched with Sister Ricardis.

"It looks as if you have solved my problem with those nasty Dragon Skulls." The nun wrinkled her nose. "Abominable little wretches... may God forgive me."

"Our boys have done well on all of the challenges that have thus far been put before them," Morris said. "I think, with our guidance, they can safely proceed in this timeline."

"When do you think Travis will realize the truth about himself?" the Sister asked.

Morris shrugged. "Maybe never. Sometimes, they sense it, like Evie. But others never remember."

"Well, these are good boys," she said, nodding at the Alphas who were disappearing into their respective classroom buildings. "We did well with them."

"So, they can stay here?" Morris said.

"Of course they can. I can't think of a better place for them until the lab is rebuilt."

"Thank you, Rho," Morris said.

"It's Sister Ricardis now," the woman chided him. "I haven't been 'Rho' for a long, long time."

"Oh yes," Morris chuckled. "Since you found God."

She looked at him with a twinkle in her eye. "You and God should be well acquainted, Theta. You've attempted to play Him enough times.... Whatever happened to those little super-men you were creating?"

"They both escaped," Morris sighed. "I am sure they are now both leading lives of quiet obscurity. Such ingratitude."

"Obscurity can be a good thing, sometimes," Sister Ricardis said. "For now, obscurity will keep our youngest Alphas safe. They can learn to be little boys."

"When they aren't guarding the port," Morris reminded her.

 "Ah yes," she sighed softly. "When they aren't doing what they were born to do."

Morris sighed, too. "The youngest guardians of our holy grail. . ."

Sister Ricardis nodded. "The new templars."

Continues in "Aztecs"

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