“This is a truly wondrous invention!” Kallisti the Monk came out of the bathroom wrapped in a large fluffy towel, drying her long blonde hair with another towel. “These showers are miraculous and magic!”
“Funnily enough Friar said almost exactly the same thing on her first day here” Kallisti Gold laughed and sipped her tea. They were in the lounge of the main flat in Christie Apartments. Since they moved in a year ago, so many Kallistis had turned up that they’d taken over all of the apartments on the upper floor. Mr Line, the apartment block manager was in seventh heaven with so many versions of Kallisti Gold in his block. His secret shrine to them all was – he thought – carefully hidden in the basement, however Kallisti Fae’s inquisitiveness had discovered it months before, much to Gold’s embarrassment!
“Well that I can understand. We never had enough time for bathing very often and when we did it was in the river!”
“The Thames? Wow, I’d never have thought of going swimming in the Thames through Oxford when I was younger – then again your river probably didn’t have the same levels of pollution… and you won’t have had swimming pools anyway… um…”
“This is very strange – we are from the same town but it is not the same town. This will take some getting used to!”
“That’s normal, we’ve grown used to helping newcomers now. I’ll have to take you over to England sometime to meet Mum and Dad. They love to meet the new girls… so long as you can handle seeing them?” Gold looked to Monk sympathetically. Monk frowned.
“I – I don’t know. I can only just remember them but it was all so different. We were hiding all the time, Mother was unwell from a wasting disease the demons had spread and Father was looking after us both. Then we were caught up in the attack at Abingdon and…” Monk stopped drying her hair and stared vacantly at the floor, her memories overwhelming her for a moment. Gold came up to her, took the towel and carried on drying her hair tenderly.
“I know, it happened to Friar as well. She found it emotional to meet Mum and Dad but she felt better after. She told me that knowing some version of our parents were living and happy made a big difference. Now where did Sable put that bone comb? I’m sorry to say you’ve still got nits in your hair, but we’ll get rid of them in time, just need to keep using that shampoo every few days.” Monk wrinkled her nose, the shampoo smelled awful, but the thought of not having parasites in her hair made it worthwhile.
“Here, sit and I’ll comb for you” Gold led her to the armchair and patted the floor in front of it. Monk knelt down and Gold sat behind her having retrieved the fine-toothed comb from the drawer. Monk closed her eyes as Gold started combing her hair, the tingling sensation it gave her was so relaxing and pleasant that the occasional tug of knots in her hair was insignificant. The two girls sat silently for a while, sharing the peaceful moment.
The sound of the front door opening interrupted the silence. “Its only me” came a familiar voice that in no way identified which of the dozens of Kallistis it might be.
“Which me?” replied Gold.
“Me me, the one who fixes all our shit!” the Kallisti known as “The Manager” walked into the lounge. Dressed in a smart business suit, wearing glasses that she didn’t’ really need but said it added gravitas and with her hair held back in a pony-tail, she was their fixer with various ranks of officialdom in Paragon City. Not being super-powered herself, her talents were in organising, management and dealing with the bureaucracy and as such was one of the most important Kallistis!
“Oh hey, hows it going with getting our latest recruit officially recognised?” Gold waved then returned to combing.
“Well it appears the immigration office has a ready made template with the name Kallisti already filled in! I think they are getting used to us.” She nodded her head toward the Kallisti sitting on the floor. Gold nodded back. “So are you okay with the name ‘Kallisti the Monk’? I know you are also a Friar like… um… Friar but you need to have your own name.”
Kallisti the Monk looked up at her and shrugged. “I was a Monk, the Friar is just a specific section of the monastery so it will suffice to allow us to be individuals. What happens when someone asks for ‘Kallisti’?”
“Chaos usually.” Kallisti the Manager shrugged. “Lots of arguing about who is the ‘senior’ Kallisti…”
“Which is of course me” interrupted Gold. Manager rolled her eyes.
“Our glorious ‘leader'” the sarcasm in Manager’s voice was palpable. Monk smiled.
“Well I do have the highest profile and I was the original one who started it all…” Gold’s voice tailed off. It wasn’t always a good idea to bring that up. Some of the Kallistis enjoyed it here in Paragon City, but some of them bitterly resented being torn from their home timelines and held a grudge against Gold and the rest. Notable amongst these was Kallisti Purple whose villainous antics had embarrassed the other Kallistis. Kallisti Green had also parted company with the majority of them, taking herself off to the forests of Bloody Bay where she hunted Shivans and raided the town for supplies. Kallisti Sable had also become a thorn in their side, ostensibly aligned with the majority of the Kallistis, she had a habit of going ‘off message’ and causing trouble.
“Anyway,” continued Kallisti the Manager consulting her tablet PC, “I’ve got the paperwork sorted for your Green Card and identity documents. The bank is opening an account for you which will have an allowance paid into it from the management trust we set up to support everyone. All earnings you make as part of the Kallisti Girls will go into that and any extra you get to keep. If you decided to go on a bank robbery spree, we don’t want to know and don’t want any of those funds either. It would be really handy if we got a lawyer Kallisti come through one day…” she sighed and tapped the screen. “What else? Oh I’ve enrolled you in the ‘Introduction to Superpowers’ course at the Hero Corps facility, it will tell you what you can and can’t do as a legitimate hero in Paragon City and generally across the USA. Other countries have different rules, but for now its unlikely you’ll go that far afield, except if you visit England and we’ve got special arrangements there too nowadays thanks to Dad’s contacts in the Home Office.”
Monk looked up at Gold and shrugged, confused. Gold smiled back and pushed Monk’s head around so she could continue combing.
“I think Friar said she’s going to help you get used to how things work in this modern world. There are so many differences to what you are used to, but she’s been through this before so is definitely the best person to instruct you.” she winked at Gold. Monk had closed her eyes and was simply enjoying the sensation of being looked after, the words just washing over her in a soothing wave. This new home was strange and marvellous and frightening and comforting. The revelation that there were other versions of herself was baffling, even more so that there was a version with such a similar background. They had talked for ages after meeting in Perez Park and she had sympathised at Friar’s loss, but was also shocked at the difference in their training regimes had been. When the split with the Arcanium had happened, the Abbot of the Monastery had been deposed and his harsh regime replaced by a more benevolent one, as typified by the kind authority of Arch-Prelate Horsa, who in Friar’s Monastery had been sent out on a suicide mission when he tried standing up against the Abbot’s abusive practices. The schism has happened when she was too young to have been ‘farmed’ out for favours as Friar had been when she was in training and of course the barbaric sacrifice of innocents was put to a stop immediately.
“Then finally it will be a matter of taking you shopping for clothes and outfits.” Manager ticked it off on her tablet. Monk frowned again.
“Outfits are what we wear when being heroes or – ahem – villains, clothes are what we wear normally, although sometimes they are indistinguishable.” Gold explained, indicating Manager’s suit and her gold-coloured bustier. “There shouldn’t me a problem in the meantime, you look about the same size as me and Friar so you can borrow ours for now, at least you haven’t got a big arse like Sable or Red!” Gold patted her on the head. “Okay all done, go get changed and then we three can go shopping! Maybe we can even get Manager to buy something that isn’t grey!”
Manager glared at Gold over the top of her glasses!