I sit in a giant room with four other women. Apparently, there was one that quit .
The women seem shocked, but we all drank this sparkly pink drink, and we all feel better now. Not on the verge of a mental breakdown.
Any doubts that lingered in my mind are now gone. I’ve been shown some of the most advanced technology that is way beyond anything I have ever seen.
A surge of exhilaration courses through me.
“Ladies,” Pierce says as the virtual screen behind him shows a blue planet with clouds moving around it. “Allow me to introduce the Fairy Godmother.”
The doors open, and in walks a woman with silver hair piled high on top of her head like a bun. She wears a glittering black dress and red pumps, matching her lipstick.
She is stunning.
Elegant in that French way.
“She’s real?” one of the other girls says aloud.
The woman gives us a conspiratory smile. “Very.”
This is the weirdest day of my life.
The Fairy Godmother touches her chest and puts on her cat-eye glasses. “Pierce, you have to make this quick.”
He nods and points to the planet on the screen behind him. “This planet is called Valturn. Now, this world is very dangerous and full of magical energy.”
The Fairy Godmother speaks up.
“We have been here before with a successful mission in the past, and we can do it again. This is a water planet.” She looks up at us. “The landmass on this planet is the size of the United States. Everything else is water.”
My eyes widen.
“There are two primary races, amongst other smaller ones. The Valkyries and the Water Nymphs. The Water Nymphs look human, mind you, but they can breathe in the water.”
“Mermaids?” asks an Asian woman sitting in the front row. Her long black hair is silky and she has a pretty face. Very pretty, I muse.
They said names earlier, but I was too shocked to remember any of them.
“No, Sun, no tails or gills. They can process oxygen through their skin, which changes color.”
“Weird,” I hear someone say.
Sun is frowning. “So they live in the water then? How do they talk?”
Pierce chuckles. “They have a city under the water that is water-free. They prefer to breathe air, and their underground palace is stunning, full of wealth and riches. They have land allies who visit all the time.
That actually sounds amazing. I need to pinch myself.
I hear a lot of oohs and ~ahhs. ~
Clearing her throat, the Fairy Godmother begins, “Ladies, Poseidon Iphanthei is the king of the water realm who is married to the very powerful Kalypso Syrinx.
“Now, this is Poseidian’s second marriage. His first wife was killed by Valkyries, causing bad blood.” She pauses, frowning.
“Thetis Iphanthei is our man, everyone. He is the son of Poseidon and his first wife. Thetis is turning very dark due to jealousy and rage.”
Pierce chimes in.
“Ladies, we need you to work your magic on Thetis. He is the heir to the throne, but there is family drama that you will get briefed on later. Mainly caused by Thetis’s stepbrother, Raine Syrinx, who is also the king’s adviser.”
I am on the edge of my seat listening.
“Now, the Bowl of Destiny!” Pierce claps as everyone forms a line.
“Pssst,” whispers a petite blond who looks like Kristen Bell. “You missed a lot of information while we were waiting for you.”
“Get in line,” she says. “This is when we find out what our positions will be.”
“What? Positions?” I ask, and stand behind her, arms crossed over my white medical robe. I look at every girl and note that I am by far the curviest. I really hope this prince likes that, or I am screwed.
I have a J-lo butt and breasts that sag just a bit due to their size. I smile. But my tan skin looks gorgeous draped in diamonds.
“It’s all chance. Whatever position Fate picks for you, that’s what you will be for the next three months,” she whispers.
“Oh shit,” I murmur.
I bite my lip as the first girl puts her hands in the bowl. Her name is Crystal and she looks very nervous, her skin pale. She has the girl-next-door look, with brown hair and a cute face.
The screen reads: Zebia Empire royal family—Valkyrie.
Pierce nods. “They are the clan that killed Poseiden’s wife. But don’t get discouraged, they are working on peace treaties.”
That sounds like a shitty position to be in.
Next is a girl named Joniqua Hodge, who sounds Jamaican. A curvier girl like me. She places her hands in the bowl.
We all wait.
The screen reads: Poseidon’s Empire—Light activator.
She looks happy, and Pierce gives her a little clap.
Next is Sun Hai. and she seems like the most confident. A tough competitor, I can tell.
The screen reads: Poseidon’s Empire—Royal family.
The Fairy Godmother nods her head. “Sun, that is a prize position.”
I can tell the rest of the girls are not happy about that. The look on Sun’s face says it all, the arrogant bitch.
Amanda in front of me turns and gives me a weak smile before leaving to place her hands in the bowl. I feel nervous for her, my stomach twisting.
The screen reads: Gaya Empire—The Light Air Force.
Pierce claps his hands. “A very exciting position. The Gaya Empire is the Nymph’s biggest ally. They have each other's backs.”
I swallow as I step up to the bowl and see the eerie metallic water. I say a silent prayer, Please do not make me a slave.
“Right,” I say, and place my hands in the substance.
My heart is pounding.
Please. . .
The screen reads: Gaya Empire—Royal family. Betrothed to Prince Brayja.
Relief washing over me.
I am to marry a prince?! Excitement explodes through me at the thought. I will have to ask if we can stay in the position we are in.
Who cares about this Thetis guy?
Pierce looks thoughtful. “Interesting. Brayja is very close to the Nymph family. Like I said earlier, the Gaya Empire is their close ally. I believe Brayja is Raine’s most loyal friend, and most hated by Thetis.”
I am to be married to a prince!
We are led to our briefing rooms.
The door suddenly opens and in walks Pierce with a little, weird-looking . . . person. It’s like four feet tall with large eyes.
What is that?
“This is your FGI personal agent.” He smiles at me and nods to his left.
My eyes widen as I take him in. He looks like a 1980s gigolo, complete with gold chains and an oversized beige suit for his chubby body. He looks like Zach Galifianakis and Seth Rogan had a baby.
His sandy blond hair is long and pulled back into a pony, and his large purple eyes are heavy-lidded.
He takes a pull of . . . weed?! I can smell it.
“This is Steve,” Pierce says, and gives Steve a stern look.
Steve holds up his hand, eyes watering from the hit. “How many times do I have to tell everyone? It's Steven.”
Pierce rolls his eyes slightly. “His kind are amazing shapeshifters, and he will be your guide through this new world. Steven, are you briefed for the mission?”
I stand up. “First of all, I prefer to work alone. And second, I am not having a pothead as a partner.”
Steve looks at me, eyes bloodshot. “The babe has a bite. I like it.”
Pierce checks his watch and glances at me with a sigh. “You want him smoking weed, otherwise he is not brilliant in the least. And he is brilliant.”
Pierce casts him a sideways glance. “Usually.”
I sigh. “Fine. What now?”
Pierce grins at me and tilts his head. “Most find this part the fun part. You may change three things about yourself to give you an advantage.
My eyes widen. “I can change anything?”
“Yes, but I would focus on abilities. This world is very alien to you—dangerous.” Pierce points at Steve. “Guide her. I will be back.”
Pierce leaves, and I glance at Steve.
He stares at me.
“So we are stuck together,” I mutter, and walk over to the large book on the table. “So do we all have to go after this Thetis man?”
“That’s the game, toots.”
I expel a breath. “I am to be married to a prince, though. I have already won by default.”
Steve’s eyes look blank, then he laughs, coughing a bit. “So you are playing to be a Sweet Pea?”
“What’s a Sweet Pea?”
“As long as the main objective is met, you may choose to stay in your position. I would prefer a Darling win, but a Sweet Pea has a pretty great payout.” He sits up and looks around.
“I have to pay some knockers back home, if you know what I mean. So I am down with cheating the system. I could use an easy win.”
I might like Stoner Steve.
“Will Pierce be okay with this?”
“Don’t know. I guess if you fall in love with the guy.”
“I have to fall in love?”
I can fake it.
It’s what I do.
“That might help. But there are some things you might want to know about your position first.” Steve takes another hit and grabs the book to open it.
“Okay, this dude Brayja is a prince, but he is engaged to three different women.” Steve looks up at me. “You have some competition.”
“What?!” I yell. “Are you serious?”
He laughs. “He has one month of courting to decide which noble daughter will be worthy.”
I close my eyes. “Shit.”
“I GOT it!” he yells suddenly, making me jump. “I have just tapped into my mystic brains.”
Steve’s eyes are wide, bulging. “Your extraction is perfect to get in with Brayja over the other girls.”
I stare at him to expound.
“Okay, your man Brayja is captured by the Kingdom of Qokar. They are Orc-type people, scary as hell.” He looks back to the book, reading, pausing.
“Brayja was with his bodyguard, Eluno, and Raine of the Nymph realm at the time. They are all being held captive.”
“Most likely from a trap set up by Prince Thetis. He really hates his stepbrother Raine. Like, a lot.”
Steve takes another pull. “Raine is Brayja’s best friend. They are like brothers.”
I frown. “What point are you making?”
“Get on Raine’s good side. He could sway Brayja into not picking you,” Steve says, like I am an idiot.
“You’re a chick, you always know to get on good terms with the bestie.”
Maybe Steve is not as dumb as I thought.
“Kalypso knows her son is caught and is coming for them.” Steve is still turning pages.
“Kalypso wears the pants in the relationship with Poseidon. She is one bad bitch to cross. Which is why Raine is dangerous not to have on your side.”
I shiver, excitement and nerves coursing through me.
“They are all held in dark prisons on the side of a cliff with Orc guards patrolling everywhere. So I was thinking you could sneak in and help them escape.”
“You will tell them you were on the Gaya ship that followed them. Your ship was sunk and you are a brilliant woman and put on a disguise as a slave to help Brayja escape.”
I smile. “Right . . . So how do I break in?”
“This will be very tricky. You have to break into Eluno’s cell first and wait until the guard leaves to make it to Brayja’s.”
My mouth opens in protest.
“It’s the only way you don’t get caught and use a lifeline. You only get three lifelines before you are ejected from the game, by the way.”
Steve looks at his large gold watch.” Dammmmnn. We have to pick your three traits—hurry, before ~king~ Pierce comes back.”
A flash of nerves washes over me. “So, any pointers on what to change?”
Steven gives me a once-over. “You’re packin’ a lot of curves, so you might need to be in superb shape.”
I can feel my cheeks heat. “Fine, Steven. What else?”
“I would be an exceptional swimmer.” He laughs. “A lot of water there, toots.”
“Don’t call me that, it’s weird.” I think for a second.
“Okay, what else? What does this man Brayja like in a woman?” I ask, looking down at myself.
I have long black hair that I always keep plaited or braided, and my heart-shaped face is delicate and exotic. My eyes are slanted, and my lips are full.
Steve leans up. “You need a talent. I don’t think he will complain after FGI airbrushing. Airbrushing is a freebie.”
“Then I want my talent to be special, rare,” I say, leaning closer. “What are Nymphs weak to? Since they are our enemies.”
Steve points at me. “I like the way you think. They fight with electric currents. Especially Kalypso and Raine. Poseidon and Thetis’s blood-line is more brute force.”
Steven looks at me. “What are you naturally good at?
“I am good at stealing,” I say, and shrug. “Pretending.”
I look down, feeling a bit uncomfortable.
His eyes widen. “I got it.”
“A manipulator,” Pierce says from behind us.
We both jump and turn to see him leaning up against the door with an amused expression.
“Right on, my ninja,” Steve says in awe.
“A manipulator is a talent of an ancient Warlock bloodline,” Pierce says. “Rare. It allows you to temporarily steal abilities off the people around you for a short time, like five minutes. If you get good, you could be very dangerous.”
“Yes,” I breathe. “That actually sounds like me.”
“Into the pod you go,” he says. “You are the last to be extracted, so we must hurry.”
I’m so excited and terrified. I nod and walk towards the alien-looking pod, stepping inside. I feel a burst of cold air. It closes around me and I gasp.
“Alright, Camila. The first trait?” Pierce says over the intercom.
“An FGI favorite.”
“Then the ability to swim.”
I hear him laugh. “That would be wise.”
“And then the manipulator.”
“Alright, this might . . . tickle.”
I roll my eyes then instantly hiss and suck in a breath as I see a white flash all around me. My body feels hot and foreign.
The door opens with a pressurized sound. I stumble out and Pierce grabs me, steadying me.
“Duuuuuuude,” Steve says, covering his mouth.
My gaze finds the large mirrored wall and I scream. “La concha de tu madre! I look like I am a Latin Barbie Doll.” I touch my hot body. “Look at my skin.”
Pierce nods. “We mean business here at FGI.”
They are violet and slightly swirling with colors.
“Yes, that is part of the manipulator trait. Very rare—and stunning.” Pierce agrees. “I need to prepare you for extraction. Spin, please.”
“Toots, like Cinderella.”
I spin and my whole body tingles, making me scream again. “What the hell?!”
Pierce laughs. “Extraction in 5.” He touches his earpiece.
“Steve will brief you once you have landed on Orc mountain.”
“Steve,” he looks at him, not really paying attention to what he said, “you will be her adviser, as you already know.”
“You got it, my ninja.”
I look in the mirror and see that I am in a brown dirty cloak, hiding my body. How the hell did he do that?
What kind of shit is this?!
“And 5 . . . ”
“Pierce, wait…” I say.
“3 . . . ”
I close my eyes and grit my teeth, trying to control my erratic pulse. “Oh, god. I’m going to be sick,” I moan.
Pierce is frowning at me. “2, 1!”
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