Syd Swallowtail stared boredly at her computer terminal, tapping her fingers against the mouse as she waited for the files to load. She hated this part of her day. Come in, check on her computer stuff and then ship out for traffic duty. Her helmet sat on the desk, awaiting use. Her uniform was zipped up to her chin. The only thing out of order in her immaculate cubicle was her hair. She didn't bother grooming in only to squish it flat when she put her helmet on.
Everything seemed in order on the computer screen. Everyone was where they should be. Nothing new with the inmates and her one message was a simple reminder to not use computer terminals for personal use. She rolled her eyes. As if she had any personal business to attend to. Her life was work. She rarely talked to her family anymore. Her parents, her sister. She just... didn't want to. An outdated framed picture sat on her desk. Her mother, father, sister and herself. Seated before the great fireplace in their house, dress to the nines. Even Syd was in a lacy, frilly dress and crinoline although she looked dull next to her sister. She frowned at the photo.
She grabbed her helmet and exited her cubicle.
There were plenty of LEP officers milling around. Syd almost wished one of them would come talk to her, just to break the monotony.
Merry Swallowtail started her day late. She untangled herself from the downy white bedspread and rolled out of bed. Humming, she slipped on a silk robe over her skimpy pajamas and literally danced down the hall. She carried her favorite teddy bear, Mr. Snugglums, in her arm. She ran into her father in the foyer.
"Good morning, Daddy," she said, sweetly kissing her father on the cheek. Her father patted her on the bed. "Good morning, my princess."
Perhaps Merry was a bit too old for this sort of treatment, but her parents and the hired help didn't seem to noticed Merry was no longer a child. Merry took breakfast in the dining room. Toast with marmalade, hot tea and one fried egg. After breakfast, she went back to her room to dress.
Her room was already tidied, the bed made. Teddy bears sat on shelves, in nets attached to the ceiling, on the bed, in chairs. Teddy bears everywhere. Merry sat Mr. Snugglums down on the vanity and dressed in her usual outfit. She sat at the vanity and chatted with Mr. Snugglums as she applied her make-up.
"Oh, Mr. Snugglums. I wish you could come with me today. But I'm afraid I'm going to see my new friends and you can't come along," she said, genuinely upset. She patted her cheek with a large puff ball. She looked at herself in the mirror and smiled. She thought, I'm so happy Syd is the ugly one. I'm naturally perfect. Poor Syd, all those years with a mouthful of braces. Too bad she can't be beautiful like me.
Dressed and made-up, Merry grabbed her purse and shrugged on her coat. She said good-bye to her teddy bears, her parents, her maid. And she walked out the front door and off to the secret meeting place to talk with the other H.A.A. members.
She would never tell her family about the H.A.A. Never. Especially not Syd. Her parents had questioned her request to walk alone into the Haven city center, but Merry put on her pouty face and no more questions were asked.
Back on the vanity, Merry's face was no longer reflected in Mr. Snugglums' black button eyes.