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They really didn’t look all that much alike. Illeria knew it was a long shot since they were only half siblings to begin with but she had hoped that she’d share more than just their father’s blue eyes. Not that she was too surprised; all of Adelaide’s true siblings were the same way. They took more after their mothers than their father.

Adelaide was nearly her polar opposite in everything else. Dark hair to her golden locks, almost a full head shorter than she was, and a nervous little thing; it brought out a protective instinct in her that none of her other half siblings could.

They were all cruel and cold; buying into the radical religious beliefs that had swept the smaller towns after the monsters turned the world into a wasteland. No doubt they cast rocks at Adelaide in the same way they did her for being different from them. An imperfection to their perceived world.

“This can’t be true.” The shocked whisper brought Illeria out of her darkening thoughts and she smiled brightly despite Adelaide’s denial. At least she was talking now. After dumping all of the information she could as proof, Illeria was wondering if she would ever speak again. “Father would never—“

“I’m living proof that he would. He wasn’t as perfect as he liked people to believe.” Not even close. The man had his secrets and his own needs. She wouldn’t be surprised if he had more illegitimate children running around out there somewhere. “I was tolerated only because my mother died giving birth to me but we both know what sort of existence that was.”

From the way she flinched, Adelaide knew exactly the type of existence that they were subject to. Silence followed for a few moments, leaving them both to their own thoughts. Illeria just hoped that she right in assuming that she’d find a real family in this long lost sister.

“How did you learn about me?”

“Father told me about you doing one of his episodes. That having a bastard daughter was just as bad as having a Vision one. A little push and I had a name.” That time they shared flinches, for different reasons though. She was the bastard, Adelaide was the Vision. The names for her kind had changed since the coming of monsters; superhuman, mutants, heroes, Visions. They were humans with extraordinary powers that stood between them and the dangers in the T-Zones. “I wanted to find you. It’s why I joined the Cirque. I was hoping—“

“Adelaide? What’s going on?” Both of their heads snapped up towards the sound and Illeria was suddenly the odd woman out. They had to be Adelaide’s friends. She was relieved that her half-sister had found people to care about her.

“Uhm, well…guys, this is my sister Illeria…” Adelaide managed to get out in between all of the questions. It stopped the others cold in their tracks and she couldn’t blame them. Shock had frozen her in place. It wasn’t twenty minutes ago that she had told Adelaide who she was and now she wasn’t even hesitating to claim her as family? This was beyond what she had dreamed of for a first meeting, especially since she had been wracked with nerves when she had been told that Adelaide was here just the day before.

Illeria beamed, ignoring sense and launching herself at her sister in a tight hug. In the short time they’d been talking, Adelaide had already treated her more like family than the people who raised her.

The returning hug was awkward but she didn’t care. What she did care about though was that the props for her costume were stabbing her, which meant they had to be stabbing Adelaide too.

“Sorry about that,” she giggled, pulling back and pressing the small gems on her costume back into place. The hesitant smile on the other woman’s face was such a relief but it was obvious that Adelaide wasn’t used to this kind of attention.

“Well you know who I am, and you all are?” Turning, she glanced from each person one by one. But another shock came when she locked gazes with the tallest male. It had nothing to do with his appearance or even his height and instead had everything to do with the way something inside her just seemed to snap into place.

For a moment, the world shrunk to focus on him and she blinked at the strange feeling. She was drawn to him almost against her will. As strange as it was, it was also exhilarating. As if she knew that all was right in the world now that he was around and she didn’t even know his name yet.

As if reading her mind, his mouth quirked up into a smile and he held out his hand. “Dimitrov Valdis. This is my brother Mirko and his bonded, Krystal.”

The pieces fell into place as she shook his hand. Not only was his touch electrifying but his words woke her mind back up like a bucket of cold water. Bonded… Bonded souls… Mirko and that other girl were soul mates.

Mate

The word felt so right in her thoughts and her entire body warmed with the realization that she just gained more than just a sister. But when she reluctantly turned her gaze away from him and back to her half-sister, she immediately realized that the others were staring at her oddly.

“Yes?”

“Well…we’re just wondering what is with the costume.” Krystal spoke up for the rest of them, Adelaide nodding in agreement. It was then that she realized that they didn’t know how they got to their city in the first place.

“It’s all part of the show,” she grinned, unable to keep from winking flirtatiously up at Dimitrov. “I’m part of the circus in town; Cirque de liberte. You guys should all come see it!”

Since she had found what she was looking for, it would be her last performance anyway. She might as well make a grand spectacle of it. That way the grandmaster wouldn’t think she slacked off on her final day.

“There is a circus in town? You travel outside in the T-Zones in a circus?!” Adelaide looked so confused by it all and Illeria nodded, pulling a rolled up flyer out of the pouch at her hip.

“What exactly do you do?” Dimitrov looked over Adelaide’s shoulder at the flyer but his eyes kept catching hers. It was going to be hard to focus if he kept that up. She had no idea that the pull of bonded souls was so strong.

“I’m a fire dancer,” she laughed at the looks on each of their faces and planted a hand on her hip, “What? Don’t believe me? Come see the show then.”

Plucking the flyer from Adelaide’s hand, she pulled a pen from her pouch and wrote a quick note on the back. Signing it with a flourish, she handed it back to her sister. “I have to be getting back but show that note to the ticket master, it’ll get you all in free. He owes me a favor.”

“You’re leaving already?” She held back another giggle when both her sister and newly found soul mate spoke up at the same time.

“For now, but don’t fret. I’m not going to disappear on you.” She had no plans to disappear on either one of them. As per her contract, she’d found her sister and now she was free. “You guys will come right?”

“Of course.”

Well, at the very least she knew Dimitrov would be there. Hopefully Adelaide and the others would come too but if not, she knew they lived in the city at the very least.

“Then I’ll see you afterwards.” It was for all of them but the flirty undertone was for him alone since he was the one who answered. She still had a few more flyers to hand out on the way back to the circus tent so she gave a dramatic bow before continuing on her way.

Illeria giggled to herself as their conversation about attending echoed down the street after and she hummed under her breath. For the first time since leaving the abusive shadow that was her father, she felt like she had found a real place to plant her roots. It would take some adjusting after living the carnie life for the last few years but she would figure it out.

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So I know some of the characters are familiar. This was the original post that I was going to post yesterday but when the other one popped into my head, it kind of took over. I’m not sure that I like this one as much but since I told Maura about it already I had to finish it. 🙂

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