Lena is six months old when her parents flee the country of her birth, refugees of the Omnic Crisis like so many others across the globe. Her grandparents stay, too many years spent in the country to abandon it in its darkest moment. But Lena’s parents just can’t. They have too much to lose. In the dead of night, they pack up and make for the nearest port. They finally wash up like so much detritus on the shores of the United Kingdom a week later, barely keeping their heads above water in the rising tide of refugees flooding the country.
Lena is five when she realizes she is different from the other children.
“Todd, get away from that dirty immigrant!”
Lena is in the sandbox with a sandy-haired young boy, singing quietly in Dutch as she plays, when she hears it. Her head stays down, the words not registering in the innocent mind of a child. It’s not until she sees the boy pulled away by his fuming mother that she finally realizes.
She is an outsider.
And she is hated.
Lena’s very presence is despised. Her people are spat upon in the streets, and still new ways are found to express the distaste incited by her mere existence. Lena tries desperately to understand, to rationalize the hate.
Maybe it’s the way she speaks, she reasons, thick Dutch clattering its way across her tongue just as easily as the English of her new home, her accent marking her “foreigner” in a way the color of her skin doesn’t.
“Hey, weirdo, talk a normal human being!”
Perhaps it’s the way she talks about the homeland her family left behind, voice echoing the joy and sadness of her parents’ stories in equal measure.
“Go back to your own country!”
And still, the irrationality of the hate confounds.
As refugees, they are hated.
Too weak to fight off the omnics invading their home.
Too cowardly to stay in their own country and accept their fate.
Too lazy to work to better the country they take advantage of simply by stepping foot on its soil.
Nevermind that no honest business will hire the trash that lines the doorways and street corners.
The cacophony of hatred continues.
Ever on and on, the chorus goes round.
Useless, they are called. Like they are merely tools to be used, and not human beings with their own hopes and dreams and fears. It is this final indignity that truly tears at their hearts as they grieve the only home they have ever known. The tears of a nation are united in loss as across the water fires rage and the blood of their countrymen soaks the blackened soil of their dying homeland.