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been out in the wild; danny.
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Cal needed allies. People who would believe she was Cal no matter what her mouth said. And there was one ally who mattered more than anyone.

She flung her wardrobe open, scrutinising. Mercifully, her shared room in the barracks was empty. The three women she shared the space with had donned their uniforms and left while she was running around in her pale, pearlescent pink nightdress, frightening everyone. Cal had faced social obstructions on countless occasions prior, had walked into a room of sneers with her head held high, but she’d never been beheld with such… fear.

The wardrobe, which spanned the wall opposing the beds and had four doors, one for each occupant, had mirrors built onto the inside of each door. Cal’s new blue-green eyes were drawn to her borrowed reflection even as her pounding heart screamed at her to grab something and go. She had the kind of face which looked like it had been crafted by a master sculptor and hailed the greatest work of art of all time. It looked… unreal, wrong, somehow, in its perfection. Her skin couldn’t have been this flawless even when she was a newborn, her hair had never been so soft, no part of her had ever been so clean. The human emotions overlaid onto the faultless canvas – chest heaving, eyes wide, rose-lips quivering – marred the masterpiece, as if Cal simply existing in this body was a blemish to it.

She tore her eyes away from the image, reached in and snatched from the wardrobe’s contents, barely seeing what she was taking. She hoisted the black denim jeans and boots on, buttoned a blue-and-white chequered shirt over her chest with shaking fingers and bolted for the door without even bothering to brush her golden locks. She caused less of a stir this time as she charged out of the barracks and skidded round the corner of the building, following the route she’d seen Buddy disappear down. Possibly no one expected to see Lorraine sprinting across the castle grounds in jeans and a shirt, so no one did see her. The only notice anyone took of her was a couple of guys who shouted and whistled in ‘appreciation’ as she ran past them.

Buddy was nowhere to be seen. Cal wanted to run harder, faster – to feel the pain in her chest and her feet – but after sprinting flat-out for twenty minutes she realised her breathing had actually slowed. Her feet felt fine, cushioned by… it had to be magic. There was no way this skinny noblewoman was physically fitter than her. She skidded to a halt, marvelling at and faintly annoyed by how normal she felt. She hadn’t even broken a sweat.

Buddy wouldn’t have gone far – not without her. She shielded her eyes against the sun – more from habit than need, since her new eyes adjusted to the light in a blink – and scanned the grounds for the familiar black-and-blue striped sight. Her familiar was nowhere, but someone else was crossing the lawn.

“Danny!” She hailed him, waving her arms frantically. Danny wouldn’t exactly have been Cal’s first choice in a crisis but right now she’d take any friendly face. She closed the gap between them faster than she could have done in her old ker body and drew up half a yard away, raking her hair away from her face with her fingers. “Danny, it’s Lorraine but everyone thinks I’m Lorraine.”

Ugh. She changed tacks.

“Danny, where’s Buddy?”

CALDERA



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