The Fox had taken Dauphine and me into a room hidden beneath the church. A room that none of us had ever dared to dream existed. We had heard stories of such a room, but had always dismissed them as just that, stories. That was what we were supposed to do, and so we did without question. But those questions and more bubbled out from the dark recesses of my mind where they'd been stored and bubbled up to the surface and threatened to break loose from my lips.
“I can understand what is running through your minds at this moment,” the Fox said as he put one hand on my shoulder, the other on Dauphine's. “Many of the same things were running through my mind when I was first brought here. This room has been content to lie beneath the mists of legends and stories while we work protecting it,” he said.
“Is this really...?” I asked, my voice trailing off.
The Fox nodded. “This is the Per Cella,” he confirmed.
Dauphine and I ran to the edge of the catwalk we were on and leaned out over the railing, looking down. Beneath us was a glass and steel castle, and inside that, we could see the royal family walking around in their castle.
“Can they hear us?” asked Dauphine as she watched on of the princes look up and motion for his brother to look.
“No. but they can, obviously, see us,” the Fox replied. “We can hear them, but only if we are in the Imperium.”
“So if the Per Cella is real, then so is the Niger Manus Manus?” I asked.
“Unfortunately, yes. That is why we keep the royal family in here at all times, to prevent those assassins and rebels from killing them,” explained the Fox as he walked forward, hands clasped behind his back. “And that is why you have been chosen, to join the ranks of the Vixens and continue to fight alongside your brothers and sisters, the Lions and Lionesses. Congratulations, young Vixens,” he told us.
“Can we tell anyone about this?” Dauphine asked as she turned toward the Fox.
He shook his head. “No one can know. Not even your parents,” he warned.
“Then what do we tell them when we have a detail to work? How will we explain the long absences and when we have to leave in the middle of the night?” she asked.
“A letter explaining to your parents the particulars and a loose explanation of your jobs have been sent out. All they need to know is that this is for the Kingdom, and in turn, for their safety. We have taken care of that,” replied the Fox.
“And school?” I asked.
“The same letter has also been sent to your school. There is nothing to worry about, we have taken care of everything. Now come, follow me,” he said as he began walking, his boots clomping loudly against the metal catwalk.
I pulled Dauphine away from her resumed position of gazing into the castle and followed the Fox.
“Why do you think they chose us?” Dauphine whispered to me.
I shrugged. “I'm a soldier, not a mind reader. So are you. You know whatever the reason is for the good of the Kingdom.”
“I know,” she said as she shook her head. “It's just...sudden. And a lot to take in.”
I nodded in agreement. “True, but we have to trust their judgment. That's what we do, remember?”
She nodded. The Fox finally stopped in front of another door.
“This is the room that you will stay in while you are here. On your cots are the new uniforms for you. You will put them on, and not take them off,” he said.
“But won't the uniforms raise questions if we have to wear them all the time?” I asked.
“No. They look exactly like the female kit's uniform. The only difference is that you will both be allotted one sonic blaster, that is to be worn at all times. All soldiers carry weapons, there will be no questions asked about the gun on your hip.” He entered a code into the keypad on the door and it soundlessly slid open.
Dauphine and I walked in. The door shut behind us and a soft light filled the room.
“Looks like we get to go home tonight,” I observed, staring at the schedule on the wall.
“That's good,” Dauphine said as she unfolded her uniform. “So I think these are going to be easier to move in than the kit's uniform.”
I turned around to see what she meant. Instead of wearing black denim, we were going to wear black leggings, a white shirt that stopped four inches above our knees, and black leather boots that laced up just above the knee.
“Guess this job requires a lot of movement, then,” I said as I unfolded mine and took off the coarse gray kit shirt and replaced it with the softer white one.
I quickly finished dressing, then turned to Dauphine. “How do I look?” I asked.
She smiled. “Like a taller and darker haired version of me,” she said with a laugh, then began braiding her waist-length copper-red hair.
I clipped the sonic blaster in its holster on my thigh and pulled my shirt down over it. “Funny how these guns don't show through the shirt,” I said.
Dauphine nodded. “So now that we've done all this, I think it's time to go home. I want to enjoy spending time with my family as much as I can now, since I won't be home as much.”
I nodded in agreement as we walked out of our new room in the Per Cella.