Merry 6: Being Merry In Spite of It All (Part B)
A Whateley Academy Tale
Being Merry In Spite Of It All
( Merry #6b )By Renae, Branwen
With editorial thanks to Warren.
Saturday, November 11, 2006 ARC
”I don't care if your world is ending today because I wasn't invited to it anyway. You said I tasted famous so I drew you a heart, but now I'm not an artist, I'm a fucking work of art. What's my name? Hold the S because I am an ain't “- (s)Aint- Marilyn Manson
“Well she seems to be in a better mood today,” Kerry observed to Doctor Otto with a relieved shrug.
“She was a bit depressed the other day, though I can attribute that largely to grief more than anything else.” Otto glanced to the monitor where the girl in question was reading from a small thick book, “I see she is enrapt with Arturo’s book, still.”
“She does get some of the oddest expressions on her face, like now.” Kam pointed to the monitor where Merry was looking like someone had not quite pole-axed her.
Chris grimaced, “I am ‘not’ going to try and read her when she is reading that book anymore… It’s like a tidal wave smacks into you and then there is this disorientation that it creates as the translation unfolds and sucks you back; about like a riptide drawing you away from the safety of shore.” He winced, “If you will excuse me Doc, I need a aspirin or perhaps something much stronger.”
Otto studied the girl for a moment, and then he nodded in evident sympathy, “Go ahead Chris, I think she’s too absorbed to need much monitoring at the moment.”
“Bless you,” said Chris as he all but bolted through the door.
Kerry’s soft laughter filled the room for a moment, “Poor Chris, he’s be ever so diligent in trying to sort out last Sunday’s events for you, and for all his efforts he has a migraine.”
Otto sighed and shook his head, “I can relate.” For a moment he stood idle then leaned back to sit on a console trying to unwind slightly. “The logistics of extracting her sister and getting her to a true safe house are slightly problematic.”
“How so?” asked Kerry with a frown crossing her face.
“Well legally, there is a snarl in trying to prove harmful intent or environment by and of her Uncle.” Otto stressed the last word with some distaste. “Evidently he has some very good lawyer connections or rather his ‘church’ does.”
“Ugh, well if you want a snatch and grab…” offered Kam with wave of his hand.
Otto shook his head tiredly; “Willard and a Representative of the Church will be talking with Ms. Carson about using some of the schools, um, resources to extract the girl.”
“Ah, what is Sara’s take on the situation?” asked Kam cautiously.
“Sara, Sara is being inscrutable in that department,” Otto said with a hint of irritation, “I expect if anything happens to the girl in the interim… Well ‘hell hath no fury,’ might be a tame alliteration.”
“I’ll bet,” said Kerry with a savage smile.
“You sound like you hope something will go afoul,” observed Otto.
“Well considering what Sara put in the file concerning that ‘Camp’… let’s just say; I hope the Devil gets his due.”
“Hmm, I can hope for nothing so drastic.” Otto said with some resignation in his voice.
“Funny Doc, you sound like you expect things to get messy,” noted Kam after a moment’s silence.
“Kam,” he said gravely, “have you noticed that anything directly tied to our young guest as being ‘neat and orderly’?”
“Only the paperwork,” quipped Kerry.
As Kam shook his head slowly, Otto said, “Precisely.”
Galilee, Rhode Island
Head Quarters of Galilee Bayside Surf and Rescue
“Oh Richard, he’s burning up. Can’t you do something?” exclaimed a worried lady in tan and black spandex as the child that was the focus of the pair’s attention moaned softly. Her hazel eyes held a tense look filled with uncertainty as she looked over to her husband.
The man reached over and tousled the young boys hair grimacing at the amount of sweat that was in it. “It’s too early, just too early.” He waved to the various banks of equipment and laboratory equipment, “It’s not the flu, I checked, nor any other virus. It’s not a pathogen, which leaves us with…”
“Mutation,” commented the other older man in the room. He stood up and chuckled, “Gonna be a real handful when he gets though this.”
“Oh Dad, isn’t this a bit soon though? I didn’t manifest until I was thirteen.” The lady ran her hands through her copper hair nervously, and motioned to the boy, “He’s just barely twelve…”
The older man dressed in long shore man’s clothes, nodded slowly and ran his hands through his graying hair, “I can say he is in for a time of it, though I don’t ‘see’ any GSD in his body, so you can lay that bit of worry to rest, Jenny dear.” He paused and motioned to a bank of instruments; “While I am not as gadget happy as your husband, no offense Richard, some times the human touch is the best way of things.”
Richard snorted and moved his thumbs to tap the odd crescent that made up the buckle of his utility belt, “I can’t help it if you can’t program your own DVD recorder.”
“Still,” continued the older man with a chuckle, “you both and the rest do well at keeping things at bay, in the Bay as it were.”
“I may faint, did you just complement us?” chuckled Richard and he slid the red molded tactical vest off and dropped it into an empty chair. The same crescent moon was emblazoned on the universal sign for medical aid or rescue, a red cross on a white square. His tan and red wetsuit echoed the same theme as his wife’s suit, with a sigh ran his hands down his long braided black hair to wring some of the sea water out of it.
Collectively the three adults jerked as an alarm rang out, piercing the relative calm of the room. As various gauges spun and danced erratically, a small storm of energy washed across the child’s sweating form. The air was filled with the scent of charred fabric, though as the adults watched in amazement only the bedding around the child seemed to have damaged by the short burst of energy.
“Oh god, Richard!” cried Jenny as the sound of a fire extinguisher was heard in short bursts.
“I’ve got it,” he said quietly after waving a hand at a bank of switches turning them off.
“Sonny, I think you are out of your league on this one,” the older man said softly while resting his hand on the boy’s head, “Hmm, and out of mine as well,” he said gravely. “Time to call for help I think.”
“Dad…” began the woman.
“It’ll be ok Jenny, he’ll be fine, but even with what I can ‘see’, he will need some special help.”
“Sonny, even hero’s need help on occasion. This is one of those times.” The older man pulled a cell phone out of his pocket and chunked the semi-melted object onto a table, “I’ll have to use your land line. Now don’t worry, them folks up north owe me a few favors.”
“This is Delta-One-Niner, declaring a Hotel-Oscar-Tango Emergency. Primary patient is a juvenile male, pre-adolescent Evident Burn Out in progress. Secondary patients are medical crew, one adult female late twenties, two adult males, late thirties and late twenties, all suffering from visible electrical burns.” There was a wash of static that filled the control tower that served as ARC’s FlightOperationsCenter.
“Rodger Delta-One-Niner you are cleared for pad Red Tango, what is the condition of your transport over?”
“Not good, I am running on secondary systems,” there was a pause as various alarms sounded over the radio, “this is not going to be a soft landing without help.”
“Confirmed, are you declaring an in flight emergency at this time?”
An amused snort sounded back over the radio, “Yeah you could say that, the only thing keeping this bird in the air is the hardened systems and my own shiny personality.”
“Rodger Delta, we’ll break out the pillows for you.”
“I’d settle for Kam.”
“So young grasshopper, looks like it is you and me for a bit,” said Chris with a chuckle as he stood at the door.
“What’s up?” I asked, feeling almost grateful for the interruption.
“Oh the usual, just a medical emergency coming in, and the rescue aircraft is not quite crashing in the process.”
“Sounds like fun, can I watch?”
“No, from what I gather it’s going to be a bit hectic upstairs for a time.”
“Ah drat, so now would be a good time for an escape attempt?” I asked with a chuckle.
“Do your really want the answer?”
“Ah no,” I shrugged, “just idle musings.”
“Ri-ght, tell me another one.”
“Ok, well from what Sara told me, her dad was going to Parents Day…” I grinned wickedly, “Something about stretching the legs.”
“Um, yeah, that does sound like fun… Um which dad?”
“The one with the extra appendages.”
Chris blinked and then looked faintly amused, “Oh I bet that will set some bells a-ringing.”
I shrugged, “Parents, go figure.”
“Ok I see it,” said Kam as he looked through a very large mounted telescope, “it’s smoking some and that glow cannot be healthy.”
“Think you can bring it in?” asked the Flight Controller.
Kam cracked his knuckles and smiled, “Child’s play, though I may need a nap afterwards, inertia is a bitch.”
“Ok, when shall I tell the pilot to cut thrust?”
Kam peered into the telescope and lifted one hand, “Now.”
“Delta-One-Niner you may cut thrust,” said the Controller into his headset.
“This is Dela-One-Niner, Kam if you drop me I’ll be real upset.”
Kam chuckled evilly for a moment then shrugged his free shoulder, “No games while on the clock.”
“Delta, this is Control, Kam said that he’s on the clock, so I can presume you are safe.” The Flight Controller covered the microphone and said “for the moment. I am not sure if he has forgiven you for the flying stunt that you did to him,” to Kam.
“He only fell a few hundred feet, he was perfectly safe.” Kam stated in an injured tone of voice.
“Glad to hear it, so how long until you can get him down?”
“A few moments, you might want the firefighting crew on stand by, it’s smoking at the seams,” Kam noted as he focused on lowering the rescue ship to the medical transport pad.
“Already in place,” the Controller pressed a button, “Pad Red, you are go for action.”
Kam stepped away from the telescope and slowly walked to the large windows in apparent concentration, he pointed a finger to the craft as it floated serenely in mid-air. With a careful movement of his hand he lowered the smoking vessel to the pad, “And that is why they pay me the big bucks.”
“You don’t want to know what Delta said about the G-forces, but I think he is happy to be on the ground.”
“What, so I pulled him from half mile out to ‘here’ in two seconds, it won’t hurt him to get his adrenalin pumping.”
“Hmm, and how much stress would you say that little stunt caused you?” asked Otto from the doorway.
“Three or four servings of lasagna should cover it… I am kind of hungry,” Kam admitted with a grin, he then paused, “I have a harder time ‘dead lifting’ a shuttle to change tires or used to. This was pretty easy though.” Kam rocked back and forth on his feet for a moment then sighed, “Maybe six servings.”
“Go get some food, Kam, I think the others can handle it from here,” Otto said with a chuckle as the large man drooped somewhat as fatigue hit him.
“Yeah calories, lots and lots of calories. Takes power to make power and all that Powers Theory rot.”
“Kam, you are babbling. Go eat.”
“Right boss,” Kam gave the Controller a nod and weaved slightly on his way to the door.
Otto let the large man go his way, “Half a mile in two seconds?”
The Controller nodded, “Yes sir, more or less.”
Otto briefly attempted to guess the velocity and shook his head, “I don’t think I want to know how fast that was.”
“Yes sir, I don’t think I want to know either.”
The office had been scoured by Security, the files meticulously scrutinized and the room emptied of the owner’s belongings. An empty nameplate was sitting on desk that was clean, aside from a computer terminal. The computer had a tag declaring it ‘cleaned’ by ARC’s IT Department. Though that did not account for what happened next as the screen flashed and lit up.
/C: USER_QUERY_FAILSAFE: Execute in 86:40 hours: Override Y/N?
/C: USER_QUERY_FAILSAFE: Execute 86:35 hours: Override Y/N?
/C: LOAD_FILE : Awakening.exe
/C: RUN_FILE : Awakening.exe
Far below ARC an electrical switch was quietly set to off… Then the computer screen died, except for an occasional blip of light; which if you could see it, flashed a countdown.
Otto was installed in his upstairs office, doing the post mortem paperwork on the rescue transport. Technically the paperwork was something that could have waited until Monday, if not for the fact that it was routine, mundane; and to some extent relaxing. ‘A very expensive favor, thus far,’ Otto noted silently to himself as he mentally wrote off the medical rescue vehicle’s repairs.
“All the better to not have the child blow up a hospital wing though.” He muttered aloud then shook his head, ‘When a member of the board of directors says help; we help, not that we would not anyways…’ It was not surprising what when two talented people gave birth to a child, the odds favor the child garnering a gift or co-mingling of gifts. ‘Or something totally unexpected.’
Otto took a moment to call up a physics program he used for converting spurious information into comfortable numbers he could then put into reports. Otto typed in a few numbers, then he hit enter and blinked. “Kam, you just can’t change the laws of physics.” Otto tried to imagine the effects of the potential forces that Kam had countered so whimsically, would have on a human or inhuman body. ‘Tomato paste, certainly comes to mind,’ Otto thought and made a point to schedule more testing for Kam in the next week, either the large man hit a new plateau powers wise or they had missed something completely in his last testing session.
His musing on Kam’s abilities were cut short as the lights cut out and were as quickly replaced by the dim amber light of the emergency lighting, At first Otto cursed Merry, then he froze in his thinking, “If Merry is downstairs then…”
He sighed then with a hopeful query sent, ~’Chris, Merry is downstairs in her room, yes?’~
~’Umm, yes, and still reading that infernal book. Why?’~ Chris relied with a hint of puzzlement.
~’It’s going to get busy up here it seems. Do make sure she stays there.’~
~”Will do, mind telling me what is going on?’~
~’I am going to find out, but I suspect it’s our newest patient.’~
~’Oh gods not another Merry?’~ Chris sent back with some hesitation.
~’I think this child is the product of a natural union,’~ Otto sighed mentally, ~’Though I suppose a DNA check won’t hurt from now on out, in such cases.’~
~’Erg, yeah. Need Kam?’~
~’I hope not, but send him up, just in case.’~
“As I expected, I would find you rushing towards danger, and I was right.” Commented Walt with an upraised hand effectively halting Otto’s brisk walk toward the infirmary complex.
“Walt, I,” Otto paused at the other man’s negative headshake.
“Boss, as much as you love to get your hands dirty, there is a time and place for everything. In this case your place is out of harm’s way.” Walter frowned then drawled, “Sides, I like my paycheck intact and losing one of my bosses would look bad on my resume’.”
“I was just...”
“Just, on your way to a safer area.” Walter chuckled, “Come on, your people know their stuff and we’ve a got a nice safeOperationsCenter for this sort of thing.”
Otto frowned, “I could overrule you.”
“Yes, but we don’t need another medical emergency on top of the ones they are already dealing with. Do we?”
“It’s that bad?”
“Well I would be lying if’n I said it was not serious.” The other man reached out and tugged at his bosses sleeve, “Come on I’ll give you the run down as we know it thus far.”
“Right. So what is the situation?” asked Otto as he was reluctantly guided towards the half buried cement and glass dome that was the above ground OperationsCenter.
“Well from the duty logs on the case, they brought in the kid in mid burnout, with an assist from our resident master of all things Tele-Kinetic.”
“I am aware of that bit.”
“Well from what we were able to pull out of the medical computer’s crash log file, after the site went off the grid and onto backup power.” At Otto’s nod he continued, “The kid was stabilized and seemed to be on the way to recovery.” Walter paused, “The all hell broke loose again.”
“Well the kid started screaming, then from what little remained of the video feeds, vanished.” Walter made an exploding gesture with both hands, he paused a moment as if listening to something, “Doctor Tanaka is en route, by the way.”
“Good, what of the other staff?”
“We’re bringing some medical staff up, and sending folks down to Level Blue Medical as needed… We are having some trouble getting folks out from the kid’s room though.”
“All telemetry from that room, much less the section, is out,” He held open the door and followed Otto through to the topside ARC Crisis Management Section. “We’re getting set to send in the bomb droid via Quenedo to see what we are dealing with and maybe with Kam’s help get the people in there to an extraction point.
“Why the bomb droid?”
“It’s a bit more sturdier than the powered armor and if we lose it we don’t kill a man in the process.” Walter shook his head and smiled grimly, “I am surprised our guest downstairs didn’t react to this.”
“Well we increased her external shielding and she has been working on her own shielding.”
“On the other hand, Richmond had to be sedated.” Walter grunted at Otto’s surprised look. “He tried to find out if the kid was alive, and well. I think he was overwhelmed by patients predicament.”
“Predicament, well that certainly covers it I think.”
“A bit more to the left Queny, is that a shoe?” asked Kam as he tried to make sense out of the distorted and fuzzed images the droid was sending back.
“Panning left, and bingo. Good eyes Kam.” Came the muffled voice from under the VR headset, Quenedo was moved a hand and the robot pulled a rolling table out of the way. “Drat, I can’t get a better view of the body other than the leg, is it enough?”
“Yes,” Kam said tiredly, “how many are left?”
Quenedo watched the body lowly slide long the floor and when the nurse was fully visible, she panned the droid’s eyes to make sure Kam had a clear view of the doors. “Just one more, and the kid.”
Kam took a breath and watched the doors open as he twitched his hand that was not cupped as if carrying something. “This would go so much faster if the power was on.”
“Well so far the robot is good to go, more or less.” Quenedo said as she followed the floating nurse out into the hallway. Once in the hallway she tracked down the corridor as Kam moved the unconscious lady to the stretcher and rescue team in powered armor.
“Warrantee about expired?” Kam half joked.
“Not quite yet, another month and I’d be sweating it,” Quenedo said with a sigh as she pulled the helmet off and rubbed her eyes. “Damned static is making my head hurt.”
“So who is left?”
“Just the Duty Doctor, Garamond,” Quenedo pulled the helmet back on, “he’s likely on the far side of the boy.”
“Great more distortion to wade through,” Kam said and turned to the monitors after briefly stretching out his arms.
“Try it from my point of view.”
“Well Quenedo says they have the room cleared, though the bot is nearly toasted.” Walter shook his head, “She’s ticked. The bot’s manufacturing specs were not as good as advertised, just ‘Good enough.’”
Otto smiled, “Some times good enough is all we can hope for, so the next problem: Getting the boy some help.”
“Ah. I have been giving that some thought.” Walter paused, “Seems to me, we have someone handy that could deal with the electricity. Though, if I am not mistaken the one you have on hand, is slightly nuts.”
“Walter, are you suggesting what I think you are?”
“Doc, we partially fried the bot by just in getting within visual lock range on the medical team just for Kam to get them out. We can’t get a lock on the kid with any sensors. Currently the only way we can even tell the kid is in the room is from the arcs of electricity flying around.”
“So in other words: ‘Use one problem child to help another problem child,’” said Kam as he dropped wearily into a chair during the momentary lull in conversation.
“Not to mention that his parents are here…,” said an equally tired looking Quenedo as she slouched against the door frame and rubbed her eyes.
“Besides if the kid tries to make a break for it, we can always dart her,” Kerry stopped then amended as she pointed to Walter. “Well he can dart her…”
“Not sure you want the notoriety of doing the deed Kerry?” Walter said with a grin.
“No, I prefer to not be on the same list as the Doc here.”
Otto frowned at the prospects of that potential, “You’ve been thinking Walter?”
“Well from what I can figure out she’s not a bad kid. Insanity aside, do you really think she’d not help a kid?” He paused with a chuckle, “Now if it were some one from the CIA…”
“Doing your homework?” asked Kam sarcastically. “Sorry that was a bit unfair. She’s a good kid Capitan, just, well…” Kam trailed off and let his hand drop to the arm of the chair.
Walter gave Kam a bland smile, “I read the file, a lot of blank parts in there Doc; but if the CIA tried to mess her over she can’t be all bad.”
Otto raised an eyebrow at that comment, “You are a bit biased about the CIA Walter.”
With a small shrug Walter grinned, “Yeah, but am I wrong?”
“So um, Chris, has everyone else gone nuts or is it just me?” I asked looking at the odd jumpsuit he was holding out.
He had the grace to chuckle, so I knew he wasn’t sure either. “Well kiddo, Otto said he’d be down shortly but he wanted you to have this in any case.”
I looked at the bland off gray suit and blandly said, “Gee my own super-suit, how nice.”
~:Well it’s clothing which might get us one step closer to an escape,:~ noted Chad with an inward smile, ~:though we did say we would wait for Sara.:~
“Well technically it’s the same insulated suit our power armored types wear. We have yet to figure out what sort of suit you really need.” Chris grinned, “You may have to wait for Edna Mole.”
“Well it doesn’t have a cape at least.” I smiled and did a rough parody of Edna myself, “No capes! I suppose this is mine forever?”
“Maybe, maybe not, though it’d have to be dry cleaned and it doesn’t exactly breathe like Egyptian cotton.”
“So in other words if I go for a jog in it I’d drown in sweat.”
“Yeah, let me get out of here so you can get dressed.”
“Fun, fun,” I called to him, “are the cameras dead or will I have to kill them too?”
He pointed to the camera and it stopped in mid movement, “There you go, the illusion of privacy.”
“Fine, it’s an illusion, now get out.”
“I’m gone,” he said as the door closed, but I could swear he was laughing as it did.
The jump suit didn’t fit well. Ok that was an understatement: It was bulky, ungainly and if the material wasn’t so stiff, I could likely work with it by rolling up the legs and sleeves. Sadly that was not the case, as it all but hung on me about the same way a starving elephant’s skin would hang on it. Considering it was light gray and seemed to have the same texture and weight of a small elephant, the alliteration seemed to fit. Though the elephant in question was not likely to step on his own skin.
Part of me wondered if I was the butt of a bad joke. Though when Doctor Tanaka entered the room, followed by Doctor Otto, and a few security goons in armor; the joke was destined to fall flat. Doctor Tanaka had the grace to seem embarrassed by my attire, though Otto seemed to give me a calculating stare. Otto was holding what I recognized as the box that had the sleeper headset in it. “Oh you have got to be shitting me,” I said with a finger stabbing in the direction of the box.
Oddly enough it wasn’t Otto who answered me, but Doctor Tanaka. “I need your help Merry.”
I looked back and forth at the two men and the box, “What, you need me to empty Fort Knox?”
“I have a patient I cannot get at, but we think you can.” Tanaka said simply.
“If I thought we had more time, I would not even consider it Merry,” Otto said bluntly.
“Well, well. What is in it for me?” I asked after a moment’s silence. Ok silence was a misnomer as I had three extra voices clambering to say: ‘Yes, no, maybe.’
“Merry, we do not have time,” Otto started to say more but was interrupted by Doctor Tanaka.
“Actually Doctor Otto, it is a fair question.” He paused then peered at me for a time as if weighing the thoughts in his head, “Though I might suggest that you owe me something for services rendered, Merry.”
I considered that thought for a moment, part of me leapt up to say ‘bill me,’ the other parts of me were less cynical. “So, we’re even after this, or?”
“I might even owe you a favor, then there are the boy’s parents to consider, favors do grow.”
“Boy, as in how old of a boy?” I asked uneasily.
“He’s twelve, and his mother is upstairs and thinking she’ll never see him again.”
~:Jeeze, lay on the guilt,:~ offered Chad with some odd emotion attached to it.
I sighed and rubbed at the Rose Mark through the thick suit, “Fine, I’ll help.” At Tanaka’s nod and odd half bow, I gave Otto a very direct look, “But if you think this squares us in any shape or form, think again.”
“No, I expect we’ll have to work that out, some time later.” His expression pretty much said he doubted it, which gave me small twist of self-loathing.
Which turned into bit of anger, just shy of pure rage from Chad, “I didn’t ask for this.”
He placed the dreaded box on the table next to one of the large chairs and opened it, “I know Chad, I know.”
“So much anger in one so young,” commented Tanaka as the child fell into an enforced slumber.
Otto half choked on a hint of bitter laughter, “Oh I am sure part of it is purely defensive, though a large part of it is not.”
“No, I read Sara’s notes,” Doctor Tanaka pursed his lips, “I do not think that to put this child in proximity to the Uncle would be healthy, for either of them.”
Kerry pushed past the guards with a wheel chair in front of her, “Personally, if I had a clear shot at their Uncle, I might be tempted to take it myself.”
Otto looked a bit taken aback by Kerry’s pronouncement, “Begging the question Kerry, how could you justify it?”
Kerry pointed to the peacefully sleeping girl, “Even in normal sleep, Merry or her various selves is never truly at peace, not like she is just now.”
“Though it is not a real peace,” said Doctor Tanaka slowly.
“I know, that’s what angers me the most,” Kerry said matter-of-factly, “and I doubt she’ll ever get that way on her own.”
I was using just about every dirty word in my dictionary and I may have even used a bit of Chinese considering the shocked glances in my direction. Personally I didn’t care, Otto, or some bastard had turned off the headset for me; with me at what felt like ground zero for an electrical storm. While screeching my indignation and pain, I tore the headset from my head and threw it firmly into a wall. “Chou wang ba dan!” roughly I directed in Otto’s direction. “I am not wearing that thing ever again!”
Kam had the good grace to look at Otto and said, “Oops?”
I must have been glaring as I glanced about the room, because just about everyone suddenly was busy doing something other than looking at me or Otto. “Well?” I all but snapped at him.
Rather than replying, he pointed over to a man and wife who were looking at me with a mixture of hope and uncertainty. I gave Mister and Misses Wheat-bread America the once over and returned to look at Otto. He definitely looked as if he swallowed a frog and it went down the wrong way, “The boy’s parents.”
I nodded in greetings to them, “Hi nice to meet you.” Then I tried to stand up, tried mind you as I was held firmly in place, in the wheel chair. “K-a-m, let me up.”
“Sorry, folks were worried you would bolt,” he said and the gentle pressure that was firmly holding me in place faded away.
“Look. I said I was going to help, didn’t I?” I sighed and rubbed my temples and then I looked back to the couple, “You’ll have to pardon my outburst, I don’t handle rude surprises like being unshielded and thrown to the wolves very well.”
“I’ll say,” commented a familiar voice and I looked over to see Arturo giving me a mocking salute.
“They drag you in for this?” I asked him.
“I was in the neighborhood, of a sorts,” he cheerfully responded.
“Oh goody,” I motioned to the all the strangers, as I glared back to Otto, “I guess code names are the order of the day?”
“Well you never know who might be watching or listening,” he said with a shrug.
“Well next time you want to play the code name game, you could at least give me a super-suit that fits.” I shrugged awkwardly in the elephantine suit. “I’m ‘Circuit Breaker’ for all that don’t know and love me for who I am. Or just ‘Breaker.’”
That produced a mild twitter from Kerry, who was pointing to a clock and was making hurry it up motions. I took a mental snap shot of the area where everything was so nice and overly bright and shiny, not to mention loud. “Now if you will excuse me I have a command performance not far from here.”
As I waddled through the doors I vaguely heard Arturo ask, “Inmates run the asylum much?”
I think Chad or Chaddy was mentally or not so mentally humming ‘The Baby Elephant Walk,’ as we collectively waddled slowly down the hall and into a storm of white and blue.
~’Merry?’~ asked Doctor Tanaka calmly.
“That would be me,” I said aloud if not whimsically.
~’You should find a spool of super-conductive cable near the red, ah purple colored pipe.’~
“Joy riding are we?” I asked as I found the large spool of cable and found the free end that had an odd locking bracelet on the end of it. “For me or the boy?”
~’Yes, and yes that is also another way of keeping you from running off. Not my decision,’~ He sounded irked.
“And if I neglect to put it on?”
~’They would make Kam put it on you,’~ he paused, ~’I am sorry. I know you are as good as your word, but security has issues with letting a not quite sane paranormal kid run amok.’~
“You mean Otto has issues,” I sighed and reluctantly clicked the odd bracelet onto my right wrist.
~’Well let us just say neither of you appear to be making inroads to any sort of friendship.’~
I gave the cable a tug and it seemed to move freely with me, “Well he’s not the prisoner here, I am.”
~’True though you could work at being a bit more hospitable towards him.’~
“You sound a bit like Sara, is she coaching from the sidelines?”
~’No, she’s at school, I think Otto may have briefed her though.’~
I stopped and felt for her mark inwardly, it was slightly warm but it felt like her ‘attention’ was elsewhere. “Yeah right,” I closed my eyes and ‘looked’ around trying to feel for the kid.
~’Do you want me to tell her?’~
“No I expect she’d drop everything and show up if you did, and well I think she was looking forwards to ‘shocking’ the norms.” I chuckled a bit, “Well that was the impression I had from her.”
~’Oh dear.’~ I felt him chuckle then he added, ~’I can see where you to get along so well.’~
~’You both have an unusual sense of humor.’~
“One thing puzzles me,” I said as I stopped abruptly.
~’Yes?’~ he asked.
“Why isn’t everyone practically rushing me to the boy? I gathered it was a bit of a crisis?”
~’They don’t think he is dying, just very, very out of control.’~
~’Think of it as a practical exercise of your power.’~ he explained.
“This isn’t my real power.”
~’No, but you do need the practice yes?’~
“So they tell me.”
~’Well then, shall we get on with it?’~ he asked.
The closer I got to where I presume the kid was, the better I felt. As somewhere in the walk I was no longer ‘starving,’ “You never know how good the power is until you get to a pure source,” I absently quoted to my unseen passenger.
~’You may need to tighten up your shielding some Merry, you sound slightly drunk.’~ Doctor Tanaka commented softly.
I did feel slightly giddy, “Well it’s better than pain, though I expect it may get worse before we get done.”
~’Does it hurt?’~ he asked.
“Well if I compare it to the trip though the sewers with crappy shields…” I paused, “Or when John died.” I stopped for a moment and sighed, “I guess I got stretched somewhat that day.”
~’A difficult time.’~
“Yes,” I answered a bit tiredly and biting back on a hint of inner pain.
I could sort of see into the next room, through the doors that opened for me before I could get close to them. It seemed like the medical center from any decent sci-fi show with a decent budget, just blasted somewhat. Nothing was powered up to my eyes though occasionally I could see circuit’s flash and fry, adding some smoke to the already dismal conditions.
I pushed against the electrical fog that was flooding out from one of the side rooms, “I suppose that is our boy’s room?”
~’Fascinating, and yes he is in that room.’~
“You’re going all ‘Spock’ on me…”
~’Sorry, I rarely get to see such an interesting view of the world.’~
“Yeah it can be pretty spectacular, though it’s making my ‘eyes’ tingle some.”
~’Would closing your eyes make a difference?’~
I tried it then shook my head, “Nope, I still see what ever it is coming out of the room.”
“What is?” I asked as I pushed my way into the open doorway.
~’We were wondering how you actually were perceiving electromagnetic fields.’~
“Ah, well you can pass that tidbit on along to Otto, ever try going to sleep in a partially lit room?”
~’Yes, not easy I take it?’~
“Only if I am tired,” I admitted, as I pressed further into the room, ignoring the tidal surges of light and arcs of lightning that splashed off the boy and into everything around him. The air had a bitter taste of smoke and ozone to it, “How come the room isn’t on fire?”
~’Well the paint is flameproof and the room is heavily insulated I gather. They do get a lot of energizers so one wing is dedicated to that sort of thing.’~ He seemed to shrug, ~’My best guess from what I garnered working here off and on.’~
I looked down at my free wrist where the monitor Aladdin had made for me resided, “Well I think in my next upgrade I think we need some sort of coded vibration included in my monitor.”
“Everything is a bit washed out by the kid, I can see myself, my shield and the kid and not much else. Kinda hard to read anything currently.”
There was a pause then he said, ~’One of the techs say the bolts from the kid are very strong.’~
“Not trying to filter the information there, are you Doctor?”
~’No I am not well versed with electrical terminology, I am more lent to the medical side of things. The tech said something about a hundred thousand of joules. Personally, I think it surprised the husband that you are just walking into it.’~
I stood silently for a moment and tried to take in all the odd sensations and sounds that came off of the kid. I reached out and floated my hand over the cocoon that floated around him, “It tickles,” I said with a giggle. Then there was an odd surge and I fell down abruptly as my legs went all rubbery.
~’Merry!’~ I felt Tanaka shout distantly.
“Thas me, an not so loud!” I protested.
“Oh wonderful, she’s intoxicated on the power,” commented Otto aloud, to the room.
Doctor Tanaka opened his eyes with a sigh, “Well that was a new experience.”
“Are they ok?” asked the woman as she held her husband tightly.
“Yes M-Breaker is slightly overwhelmed though. It may take a few moments for her body to adjust. She’s been cut off from a great deal of things. One of which has been electrical power. Her ah, gifts enable her to absorb a vast amount of energy.” Explained Otto, “though she lacks a firm control when it comes to releasing it safely. It is one of the reasons she is a guest here.”
“So you think she can drain off the energy from our son?” asked the man slowly.
“Oh she can do it, but I expect she’ll need some, ah, coaxing to stand up and actually do it.” Otto tried to blandly say, “I think she’s binging on the power.”
Kerry and Kam exchanged a look, “Pizza or Chinese for dinner?”
“No anchovies, Vlad can’t abide anchovies,” said Kerry with a sigh as the large man got up and moved to a phone.
The couple looked perplexed at the pair, “Can you explain what that was about?” they asked Otto in unison.
Arturo chuckled, “I think it means they are expecting to work late, and that everything will be ok.”
Otto shook his head, “They are part of the team working with Breaker, and she can be a handful.”
“Ah,” said Richard as he looked at his wife, “her dad said something the same about our son.”
I lay on the floor in my own blue world listening to the ultra low buzzing that floated down from above me. Part of me was very detached, if not giddy, another part of me was cataloging things.
I felt the mark warm greatly then I felt Sara within my head. ~^Merry? Merry did they drug you again?^~
“Nope no drugs, just overly powered up a bit,” I sent back to her.
I felt the world slide back a bit and it was if a second shield rose up, ~^I suppose we need to work on layered shields for you,^~ she paused and I felt a kiss on my neck. ~^I expect I’ll have words for Otto about this, what is it you are doing anyways?^~
~‘Hello Sara, it is a rescue. A child came into ARC on meltdown and the staff did not fair well,’~ commented Tanaka to us both.
~^So you are riding Merry?^~ she asked cautiously and seemingly a bit amused.
~’Well it’s been a test of my own skills, I can assure you.’~
“No fair talking behind my back,” I muttered and slowly sat up.
~^Think you can handle it love?^~ Sara asked and I could feel her gently testing the shield.
“Yup I can get him out of his cocoon, I think. But that sound is terrible. Though it is very familiar for some reason.”
~^She means the distorted ultra low frequency tone she is hearing. Merry has perfect pitch rather, she hears things in perfect pitch… her singing needs help though,^~ she gently teased me and I could feel myself blushing.
~’Ah, so what is she hearing? I can’t make it out.’~
Sara was silent for a moment as if processing the sounds, ~^I have an advantage over you Doctor, I can hear what she feels and I have figured out what she is hearing.^~
“Well don’t keep me in suspense,” I said with what felt like a goofy grin on my face.
~^She is hearing a mix of the Van Allen Belts and the Schumann Resonance. Though normally they would be a pleasant hum or so low as to be inaudible. They do tend to flare dramatically when solar activity peaks or in Merry’s case slide to discord. Though I expect that it is the boy amplifying things greatly.^~
~’Ah but can it be shielded?’~ I felt Otto intrude with that question.
~^Hello Otto, yes it can be shielded and I think Merry can do it long enough to get the boy downstairs.^~ She paused, ~^You may have to hurry though, Merry.’~
“Um why?” I asked.
~^Solar storms can go in cycles, and I think while elevated you are in the lull of things.^~
“In other words this is the shit before the shit storm hits?” I asked rising unsteadily to my feet.
~’Yes Chad I think that is what she means,’~ said Otto hesitantly.
“Fine then get out of my head and let me get back to work Otto, I didn’t invite you in.”
~^Chad…^~ Sara said softly, ~^Remember what I asked?^~
“Yes, but it’s already been a day and Otto’s been an ass about things. But we can talk later about that,” was Chad’s commentary on the situation.
~’I am sorry you feel that way Chad,’~ said Otto.
“Just get out Otto!” I felt Chad growl and then he pushed me to the surface.
“Woah, nothing like a bit of attitude to get you focused,” I said.
~^Though some honest anger in it, I think.^~ I could sense Sara holding an image up in my mind, ~^You need to bring the boy into your shields Merry, I think that should block the energy source for his shield and his flares should dampen out.^~
“Easy for you to say, love.” I studied the image she held up in my mind, “I think I see what you mean though.”
~^Good, I am sure you can handle it Merry, I’ve got to get back to things before Dad seduces half the school,^~ I felt a warm rush as she gave me her version of a long distance hug, then she faded out of my mind.
~’What did she mean by her dad seducing half the school?’~ asked Doctor Tanaka after a moment relative silence.
“It’s Parents Day at her school and Gothy is on walk-about,” I said with a giggle while leaning unsteadily on the foot of the boy’s bed.
I studied the glow around the kid and sighed, “Ok, some of this juice has got to go, you might warn folks to stay away from the cable or they may get hurt,” I said to Doctor Tanaka. I then stuck my hand into the storm of light that cocooned the boy. The tickle of electricity I felt abruptly turned into a spike of pain, though it was much less than when I burned my hands to a crisp in the test. I shook my head and felt for the boy’s leg, part of me worried if this was too much power to draw in safely, the other part of me screamed ‘feed on it’.
~’Turning vampire on us?’~
“Eh, no Doctor, I am just trying to sort out how much I should take in versus push out.” I found the leg and worked down to his foot, it was cool but not cold. “The kid may be in shock, his foot is cool to the touch.”
~’Ok, work your way up to the neck, once we get a pulse I’ll have an idea how the kid is faring.’~
I winced as I ran across something hot at his pants pocket, “Gotcha, ouch, must be jeans with rivets, I think he’s got a burn or two considering I just burned my finger on them.”
~’Need to stop?’~ he asked as I found an arm and what felt like a watch.
“No,” I kept my hand in place and used my other hand to work the scorching hot metal watchband off of the kid’s wrist. I ignored the heated metal and dropped it to the floor. “I think plastic is going to be this kids friend. With luck his jeans did not have a metal zipper.” I commented as I felt blistered flesh on the wrist, “Second degree burn on the left wrist, possible burns at the groin region.”
~’Well that camp was good for something.’~ Doctor Tanaka commented to me silently.
“Yeah, can’t be a soldier if you can’t get your people out alive…” I stopped and pushed those memories away for later, “Let’s not talk about the camp shall we?”
~’Can you tell if he breathing?’~
“Yep his chest is rising and falling, so I think that equates breathing.”
~’Usually,’~ he paused, ~’Sometimes it means the body has not figured out it has changed.’~ I felt an odd hint of humor to that last bit.
I paused at the chest for a moment, “Are you sure we got a boy here?”
~’Let’s worry about a pulse before trying to unlock the mystery the child’s gender shall we?’~ Doctor Tanaka chided me.
“Sorry, just thinking about my own um, circumstances.” I shook off the on wave of vertigo those thoughts left me with.
~’Not every mutation results in a change of gender, otherwise Kam would likely be Kami or something like that,’~ he explained with a chuckle as I worked my way to the throat and found a pulse.
“Ok got a pulse,” I waited for him to tick off a minute for me as I counted the beats, then I whistled slowly. “Kid’s doing eighty-seven beats a minute, resting.”
~’Not unheard of, can you get him shielded now?’~
“People getting antsy Doctor?”
~’Well they did check the solar observatories; the Sun is ‘active’ today.’~
“As I need him shielded before the next wave hits?”
~’In the next minute would be a good thing.’~
“Geeze nothing like a little pressure to help a performance,” I ease myself up on exam table and lay down beside the cocooned boy, and then I took a deep breath and closed my eyes. Sara had shown me an image of me expanding my shield around the boy and tied it to a control in my head. We had not created that specific tool for me yet, so I think she ‘cheated’; but I wasn’t going to argue with my ‘Teacher.’
Once the kid was inside my ‘bubble’, things got a bit odd for me. I was rudely filled with an overabundance of energy; to where I felt extremely bloated, and it felt like I had ants crawling all over my head. I started pushing energy out of me and into both the cable that was attached to me, and the rest out to the shield. My other problem was that everything was dark, “Ok I can’t tell if it’s working as I can’t see jack squat.”
~’I had noticed that, it may be the child’s power working with or against your own, so for now relax. They are going to try and power up the robot to see if it will function. Do not be alarmed at the sound of possibly melting machinery if it does not work.’~ After a moment he sounded amused, ~’Or not, they tell me you and the boy are not visible, so you may have to stiffen up your shield yet.’~
“Ok I’ll do it the hard way, but it’s gonna hurt like a bitch,” I sighed and recreated my older not too effective bubble, around the outside of my current shield. “Ok supposedly this is my nothing in or out shield, and it’s not going to be something I can keep up long.”
~’They say you are now visible as is the boy, I would ask you to open your eyes for me, but I think for a moment you should keep them shut.’~
~’The child is burned and we do not want you to stress over that right now.’~
“How badly burned?”
“Not so much that you could not heal him,” that was Arturo’s voice.
I opened my eyes and looked a round for him and saw nothing but darkness, “I see or don’t see, rather.” I felt oddly calm and detached when I made that pronouncement.
~’Focus on your shields Merry, the next wave is suppose to hit in seconds.’~ That was Otto’s mental voice, and he didn’t sound happy.
“Should you be here?” I asked the darkness and was rewarded with a chuckle.
“I’m at the doorway and I know how to duck. Just focus on getting through the next few minutes, and speaking of ducking…” I heard what sounded like the doors to the room slamming shut.
Then the world seemed to stop for me.
~^Your strength of will is impressive beloved.^~ I felt Sara wash into my mind, pulling me back from the shadows, ~^But you need to breathe and get back to your room.^~
I opened my mouth and gasped out through the pain, “Breathe?”
“Who? You or me?” asked Arturo from a distance.
“Me I think.”
I felt Sara proudly and possessively poke me from a distance, ~^Definitely you.^~ I felt an odd tug of something from her, ~^You have nine minutes until the next wave Merry, I’ll tell Otto to get his butt moving.^~
“We gotta get him down to my room, I don’t think I can take another bashing like that,” I said aloud to the room though a partial daze of giddiness and pain.
I heard the doors open a bit wider, and then the cable and bracelet fell from my wrist. “You did good kid, now just keep him and you in that bubble of yours, while I, Kam the wondrous, do my thing.”
“If my head was not pounding I would laugh. We gotta get down to my room, no side trips Kam.”
“That’s the plan, now just lay still as I put you both on the gurney. Though you may want to not squeeze the kid so hard, you might break him.”
“Oh,” I said and eased up my grip on him. “I can’t see squat at the moment Kam.”
“No worries Doctor Tanaka says it’s likely a side effect of your two powers clashing,” Kam said with an air of confidence.
“Speaking of the Doctor, where is he?”
“Taking a powder, as he road through most of the wave with you.”
“Ouch, well I hope he is not feeling as crappy as I am.”
“He’s taken much tougher rides in his day, if I remember correctly,” commented Arturo. “Not a bad days work ‘oh youngest of knights.’”
“The jobs not over yet,” I murmured trying to keep my mix-mash of shields up.
“Soon enough,” said Kam as I floated over to lie on cold linen, “soon enough.”
I had forgotten what burned flesh smelled like, though I was doing my best to ignore it. The boy moaned occasionally, of which I took for a good thing, though his parents seemed a bit stressed by it. Can’t say I blame them, but then there was not much I could do for the kid and keep him bubbled up. I on the other hand was feeling fairly blurry, though the pain from my bubble offset that greatly. Part of me was humming ‘Going down, down,’ as the other part of me was trying to block out the vertigo from the descent.
Evidently we were on the express elevator to hell or if you prefer, my cell. Personally I don’t fear heights; it is that sudden stop at the bottom that worries me from time to time. Mentally I had this image of the sled ride that was in the Chronicles of Riddick, the one that goes down into Crematoria. Well in any case the ride was swift, breezy and unnerving. I think the part that made it unnerving was that lack of seeing it on my part, as I was blinder than a bat and without the handy echo-location that bats have.
“Are we there yet?” I asked the elevator in general.
“Hah, no,” chuckled Kam, “and asking me twenty times won’t make it any faster.”
“Awww, ruin the game before it starts,” I blew a raspberry in his general direction.
The combination of the burned flesh odor and the sudden deceleration eat the end of the ride did not go over well for anyone in proximity of my side of the gurney. As I revisited my breakfast, the various and dismayed groans; could only have come from the armored security drones. “Sorry folks, not like I could see to aim…”
“Rough ride kid?” asked Arturo.
“Bleh, you could say that,” part of me really wanted to spit, but I wasn’t sure where to do it at.
“Well we have a few more doors and such to get through,” said Otto.
“Umm, great,” I was not feeling well and it must have shown. I could feel a rise in pressure inside the bubble each time the kid groaned. “The kid must be feeling somewhat better, I think.”
“We’ll likely have to sedate him until we can treat the burns,” Doctor Tanaka informed me.
I vaguely remember Arturo saying something my being able to heal the kid and myself, “Arturo, upstairs you said something about healing?”
“I don’t think you can do that and shield the kid at the same time Breaker.” I could hear him smirk, “It’s a bit intensive.”
“Is that your way of saying it can hurt?” I asked.
“You’ll see,” he answered in a sour tone of voice.
It almost took too long to get us into my room, as there were a few locks that needed to be mechanically bypassed. That was probably my fault though, as my shielding is not the best in normal circumstances. Having someone blasting energy at me from inside my shields only compounded the matter, though from what I could tell the kid was seriously out of it. Which was likely a good thing as I heard Doctor Tanaka listing the medical supplies he would need.
I was hoping to hear in his litany of medical items, some sort of painkiller for me. My brain hurt or so it felt to me, then there were the odd bits of vertigo that made no sense as I could feel the gurney solidly under me. I will say the high-speed turns the gurney was making did not help matters as I once again leaned out into the darkness and spewed. Yes I was miserable and I don’t think that I have felt this cruddy in a long time. I did catch one bit of semi-revelent information; evidently my shield would let organics pass through it unchecked… Though I am not sure who made that observation.
Once in my cell it felt very crowded, even in my unseeing state. Fortunately the argument in my cell as to who was staying in and who was going out was a brief one, and one I made pretty much up on my own. “Excuse me! Anyone not immortal or resistant to very high voltages needs to leave now. As I can’t keep my fucking shields up much longer, and on a lesser note; my head hurts like a son-of-a-bitch. So get. The. Fuck. OUT!” I paused and took a breath, “This means all of you!”
~^Trouble love?^~ asked Sara as her mark warmed.
“The semi-sentient life form you are trying to contact is not in at the moment. Please leave your name, phone number and plane of existence after the tone. Beeeeeeep!” I replied amongst the feelings of delirium and pain.
~^Hmmph, I see.^~ There was a pause and them I was pushed from the pain via a primal rush of pleasure, ~^That should kick your endorphins up a notch or four, and help with the pain Merry. Once you get everyone out of your cell let all of the excess energy go that you can.^~
“I think I can guess who she is talking to,” muttered Kam. “No one else has that effect on her…”
“You are just jealous,” I said with a giggle. “You should be l-e-a-v-i-n-g now.”
“We are going,” said Doctor Tanaka with a harried sounding chuckle.
~^I’ll try and poke in later Merry, though I don’t think I can get over there tonight. Dad is having too much fun, and sends his love, since he can’t send other things at the moment.^~
“You will have to remind the old letch I am taken already.”
I felt her laugh inside my head then she said, ~^I have to get back to things here, things are lively if you will.^~
“Who is she talking to?” asked the mother.
“Anyone I know?”
“I certainly hope not,” I think was Otto’s reply, then I heard the door close and the click of the locks.
“Any one still in here?” I waited for what felt like a very long moment for any answer and then I let all my shields go at once.
“Not a moment too soon,” said Chris as he muted several alarms as the others trickled into the control room. With a nod to Otto he hung up a phone, “I’ve called the techs they’re bringing the back-up field generators back online and have the spares ready to be installed as needed.”
“Anticipating a blow out?” Kerry asked as she sat in her usual place and nodded thoughtfully after glancing at the monitors, “Ouch even.”
“Report please,” Otto calmly said as the various gauges flashed in an odd tempo.
“That will take a moment Doctor, I am having trouble differentiating the two children.” Kerry said as she poked and prodded at the controls.
“His name is Larry,” the mother inserted into the lull, with a hint of exasperation.
“Sorry ma’am, we didn’t have time for proper introductions upstairs,” offered Kam as he sank into a chair, “I am so tired.”
“I drafted Vlad, since he’s cleared for Breaker’s um case. He’ll be fetching some food and stuff along with his usual kit.” Chris said as he leaned over to tap a separate row of buttons.
Kerry brightened visibly, and then nodded “Ok I think I got them, Larry is out of phase with Breaker.” With a frown she added, “Though they seem to be synchronizing or balancing out… and I thought Breaker was a bit hard on sensors.”
“The budget will adapt, I am sure,” commented Otto with a chuckle.
“Could some one tell me why a priest is here?” asked Richard as he held his wife.
Otto gave Arturo a look that clearly said ‘your ballpark,’ as he motioned to Arturo. “I am her priest and spiritual advisor. The Holy Mother Church does look after her flock, all of them.” Arturo smiled gently, “I am not here to administer Last Rights, if that is what you are concerned with, and you are?”
“Oh, I’m Richard Taliesin this is my wife Jenny, sorry if we seem out of sorts,” Richard added as he shook hands with Arturo.
“Understandably so. I answer to Arturo, Father or if you really want formality, Bishop Curisor. Personally I prefer Arturo unless I am in vestments.” He chuckled and motioned to Kam, Kerry and Chris before expanding his gesture to include Otto and Tanaka, “Your child is in good hands.”
“You said something about healing?” asked Jenny with a puzzled frown.
“Breaker has a few gifts, aside from her ability to walk though lightning unscathed,” Arturo said slowly.
“Ah, so why is she in a padded room?” Richard asked hesitantly.
Arturo waved his hand over to Otto passing the buck deftly, “Breaker, suffered an immense amount of emotional trauma and some abuse, in her change. Also some of the shielding was already in place, so largely it was a matter of convenience,” Otto answered cautiously.
“Is our boy safe in there with her?”
“Breaker would not hurt a child, that much you can rest assured of.” Doctor Tanaka paused, “Personally, I think if any one tried to break in and try hurt your son, they would not escape the encounter intact.”
I lay in the darkness for a long period of time, just letting go and pushing energy out. Sara’s influence had helped in more than one way, though I still felt the headache, it was lost somewhat from the other sensations she had sent into me. The kid was still sparking oddly, that much I could hear and almost see, though it didn’t hurt when the sparks hit me.
~’Merry are you functional?’~ asked Doctor Tanaka.
“If I said ‘fully functional’ I would be lying,” I muttered into the darkness.
“Kerry says you seem to be balancing out or synchronizing with the boy.” He paused and then added, “His name is Larry by the way.”
I gave the kid a pat on the head, “Nice to meet you Larry,” then I did my best to crawl over the arms of the gurney and fell to the floor with a thud. “I found the floor,” I announced with a giggle.
~’Unfortunately we can’t get into the room yet; the ambient voltages are still dangerously high. Higher than that suit they gave you is rated for, incidentally. So I can’t borrow one and get to work on Larry.’~
“Ok so what should I do about it? I am having a fun time just trying to get rid of everything he is dumping on me.”
~’You may have to wait it out, the Van Allan Belts are a huge source of potential energy and Schumann Resonance is not all that well understood. From what I gathered.’~
“He’s in pain you know?”
~’Regrettably true, however Arturo seems to believe you could heal him.^~
“I’ve read up on that bit, though Arturo doesn’t make it sound like fun.”
~’From what I gather it can be disturbing, but then I have only known a few of the Church’s Knights,’~ he admitted with a sigh. ~’I know I am asking much, but given the circumstances, it may help if you tried it.’~
“Can’t hurt the boy in other words,” I said as I worked my way to the toilet, “I’ll need a few moments of privacy here Doc. But I’ll give it a go in a few.”
~’What? Oh, quite right,’~ he seemed slightly embarrassed but he faded out of my head.
“Breaker said she would try in a few moments, and she requested a few moments of privacy.” Doctor Tanaka motioned to the monitor as Merry weaved unseeing towards the toilet.
“Got it,” said Kerry with a quick press of the button.
“I could likely do it, if Breaker can get the voltages low enough to where I could get in the room,” Arturo offered.
Chris hung up the phone he was talking into, “Well we have another ten minutes of heavy solar activity, according to the folks upstairs, and you are wanted on line five, Doctor Otto.”
“I’ll take it in my office, we can likely dispense with code names down here,” he said after a thoughtful pause, “Since it may likely be that Larry will be here a few days. Now if you will excuse me I have to take a call and make some preparations.”
“So how did she end up with the code name of ‘Circuit Breaker’?” asked Richard after Otto left the room.
“She’s hard on electrical equipment, very hard,” said Kerry as she tapped in a few notes.
“That must be expensive for a place like this,” Richard said as he glanced around.
“You have no idea,” added Kam with a chuckle.
I fingered the Rose Mark, locating the hardened point under the branded flesh. To my fingers it felt to be dead center of the flower and not so deeply buried. All I had to do was make the point break through the flesh to access the power of the blood. It sounds much easier in print, than it does when it does when you are faced with actually doing it. So it was with some hesitation that I made my way back to the gurney where Larry lay moaning.
Nervously I reached up to where Sara’s Mark sat, and I felt its reassuring warmth on my fingers, “Right,” I said mostly to myself, “let’s do this.” I found Larry’s head and ignored the crackle of energy around my fingers as I touched his forehead. With my right index finger and thumb I pushed firmly down around the hardened point. For a long moment I could feel the flesh of the brand sickly resisting the point, “Come on damn it, I’m trying to help here,” I said through gritted teeth.
There was a sickly popping sound and I had to bite down on my nausea as I felt the point lance deep into my thumb, “Jesus H. Christ that hurts.” As I dis-impaled my self from the point, I could feel it sink back under the flesh of the Rose and warmth trickling down my wrist to my fingers. The scent of it was that of wine, blood and roses, which I guessed was appropriate, considering where the power of it flowed from. The boy moaned again, and I tried to find appropriate words, I guess I wasn’t all that inspired as the only thoughts that came to mind were ‘Oh god let this work.’
A wash of odd sounds and vibrations filled the air, rushing down upon me from a great distance. The air solidified around my body, not crushing me, but holding me firmly in place. I tried to look into the glow that surrounded my hand that dripped with the blood from the Rose, though it refused to shed any hidden truths for me. I felt someone say ‘αυτό είναι το μου αίμα’ and I could feel a warmth spring out and fill me. Surprisingly it gently skimmed the area of Sara’s Mark, and then seemingly ignored it.
I watched as the glow flowed down the boy’s unconscious form, then for a time it seemed to waver around the groin of the child as if slightly confused. I frowned, “Look I can’t force a gender on the kid if that’s what you are trying to puzzle out, hell I wish you would have left mine alone.” I sighed as it wavered, ”But, we don’t always get what we want, just what we need, so get on with it what ever you plan on doing.” Don’t ask me why I felt the need to urge it on. It just seemed right, as all I could hope for was the kid to be all right. The glow did soften for a moment, then it seemed to gather some form of resolve and wove in and out of the boy’s body.
I guess spellbound is the only word that covered my immobile state. In some ways it was more annoying than being held in one place by Kam, as I could argue with Kam. This force that had a hold of me was for all intents and purposes ignoring me, of which I should have been grateful for, though when I got fed up with the duration of it all and said: “Come on already,” I must have irritated it.
Abruptly I found myself effectively pinned to what I assumed was a padded wall, as I did not hear any breaking glass. Part of me wondered if my mouth had finally overstepped itself, then I got angry. “I am not a puppet, I will not be played with. So either take back your damned mark, kill me or find someone else to do your dirty work.” At that point I felt Sara’s Mark awaken and I was slowly and gently lowered to the floor. “I was tricked into your service, you accepted me and then you accepted her though me. I took a breath then shook the hand the ring was on angrily, “So you will just have put up with it.”
I glared at the flaming Rose on my arm, “Well?” I demanded of it. When no answer was forth coming I let my arm drop and I walked over to the boy. In mid-step there was an unpleasant wash of vertigo and I found myself falling to the floor. Part of me was really glad the cell was padded, the other part of me was pissed. “I am –so- not playing this game, either get used to working with me or get the fuck out and let me get on with my life.”
I heard the door of my room open and I could hear Arturo chuckling, “Having a war of the wills are we?”
“Yes and I think I am winning, though I could be wrong,” I half growled and forced myself up into a seated position.
“You are making the folks outside a bit concerned.”
“Them!” I barked out at Arturo lifting my left arm up over my head and waved it around, “I’m the one stuck with this flaming flower stuck on my wrist!”
“True, I expected something to occur, just not that.”
“Great.” I let the word fairly drip with sarcasm, “So now what?”
“Well I suppose the next trick is paying the price for the healing,” he said after a moment’s hesitation.
“Ok, so how the fuck do I get that over with?”
“Lass I don’t think cursing will help.”
“Have you tried it?”
“Not as such no, afterwards a few times…”
“Right, there are two ways of paying the price the first way is shorter, and there is no way to prepare you for it other than to say, it will hurt. Hurt a lot. Though the second part of it is not so bad, but reentry is a bitch.”
“Uh huh, and the other way?”
“You know what the Stigmata are?”
“Duh, the wounds of Christ.”
“Well it’s that but you get to feel every hour of agony that Christ did at the Crucifixion as well.” He frowned, “The first one you can choose simple by tasting the blood, the other one will just come onto you if you ignore it. Neither one are any fun.”
“So I am screwed in either case?”
I could hear him shrug, “Normally there is some training and such before you even get to where you are, oh ‘Youngest of Knights.’”
“Sorry oh ‘Eldest of Knights’, I didn’t plan this you know.”
“Yes, I know. So how are you going to take your medicine?”
“Is Otto already freaking?”
He chuckled, “Yes, as a matter of fact he is. Which is why I volunteered to have this chat with you.”
“Has the solar storm died down enough?”
“No, not really.”
“So you risked your ass to come into here with me?”
“Yep, that and to ease the mother’s fears that you were having a daemonic outbreak. But I would have come anyways; can’t have anyone so stubborn as you get walloped unduly.”
“All part of the Job, so going to take the plunge?”
“I guess, any tips?”
“Laying down may help and I recommend getting drunk afterwards, but that is me.”
I considered that for a moment, then I lay back down, “You are ever so comforting.”
“I won’t lie, it is a bitch, you may even want to die in the process of it, but it will end. It may help to focus on something very important, like love or hate.”
“I have enough hate in my life already, I think I’ll go for love.”
He grunted, “Good choice, just let me have a few seconds to get out of the room, I’ve no desire to be your next patient if I can help it.”
“So what will happen with her?” asked Otto as Arturo reentered the control room.
“Well for one, don’t try and ride her telepathically for the next few minutes, if you value your sanity.” He sighed, “It’s different each time but it always starts with fire.”
“Fire?” asked Kerry cautiously.
“Hellfire, to be precise, about four seconds worth. One second for each day Judas spent in hell, then is the hard part.”
“The hard part?” asked Otto incredulously.
“Yes, you come back from Heaven, to here, the world. Trust me when I say it is easier to take the first part in Hell than the last part.” He sighed, “What makes matters worse is that this is her first time.”
“You mean to say that little girl is going to…” Jenny trailed off in disbelief.
“Yes she is quite literally going into Hell, to pay the price of healing your son and herself.”
“That sucks,” said Kam as he walked over to stare at a monitor.
“Yes, it does,” Arturo turned to face the wall, “does it ever.”
Time, I discovered, has no real meaning in Hell. You suffer, try to endure and when you think you have it managed, and it rips into your senses once again. When I was unceremoniously dumped onto a carpeted floor I was a bit surprised.
“I suppose that was a bit of a shock hmmm?” asked a voice from across the room.
“No shit Sherlock,” I said with a moan, and not quite sure if I was done or not with the burning as everything still felt hot.
“Now that’s the spirit!” I heard the voice say as I rolled over to look at the odd roof. “Don’t mind the décor, its a bit staid if you ask me, but one must keep up pretenses.” I think he was referring to the various body parts that were melting reforming and melting again.
I sat up and looked down at the carpet I was running my hands through, then I quickly put my hands in my lap… it was human hair. “Uh, yeah and you would be?”
“Oh, lets see, I have so many, many names.”
I rolled my eyes and looked around to see something that was not quite man and distinctly not human. In many ways he was perfect, yet that perfection lacked something, “Uh, Satan?”
Suddenly there was a ringing of bells as if I was on a bad television game show and had just won a prize. “Bingo, would you like Baelzebub to tell you what you won for guessing correctly?”
“I’ll pass, I think.”
“Aww, for shame and he was so excited about giving it too you to,” he was making a rude humping motion with his waist and arms.
“I’ll definitely pass,” I said with a shiver.
“Oh, oh well, I’ll just have to give you to him some other time.” He smirked, “It will piss Kellith off to no end I am sure, but it is with my rights; as you are in my realm.” He licked his lips and leered at me, “I might even save you all for myself.”
Rather than responding to that, I counted my heartbeats for a few moments, “I thought I only had to endure this for four seconds?”
“Merry, you of all people should know time is an illusion or function of perception. You play tricks with time in your own manner, I play tricks with time in my own,” He sounded a bit overly pleased with himself. “Normally I don’t bother with the knightly riff raff as they drop in, drop out and get the boot to heaven.”
“So why all this?”
“Let’s just say I needed a messenger and you are uniquely suited for that task. Do you remember the thorn in your foot that you ‘brought back’ from your trial?”
I felt down to my foot and felt the scar that remained from it, ”Yes, so what? Do I look like your personal messenger girl?”
He laughed at me, it was a coldly personal laugh that seemed to cut deep into my bones. “Oh I do so like your fire, no wonder Kellith claimed you.”
I shivered for a moment shaking off his laugher and slowly stood up, “If you are just going to mock me…”
“Oh I don’t have to mock you Merry, I could do so much worse.” For an instance I was covered with snakes and then the instant passed. “But like I said, I need a messenger, quite fitting I think that you should be it, Daughter of Jehanne.”
“Listen fucker, I am not into mind games.”
“Such a delight you are to my ears, and yes this is a game; but not like one you would expect, I think. You have played chess, so you know what a stalemate is. You’ve seen that oh so amusing movie called Constantine, so you know of The Balance they brought up so many times in it, yes?”
“Yes,” I admitted.
“Splendid, then I can cut right to the chase without having to spell things out for your edification. The Knights and others play a part in keeping the stalemate intact. Since neither God nor I want to really win, we need players working to maintain that stalemate.”
“Huh, you don’t want to win?”
“Hardly my dear child, hardly. You’ve read Revelations, now do you really think I want that to happen, much less God, his own damned self?”
“Is this a mind fuck attempt on your part?”
“No, no and no. While I may be the Prince of Lies, All that is Most Foul and Unholy, yadda, yadda, etcetera, etcetera and adnuasium. I so rarely bother with lies.” He walked over and lifted me up to where he looked me dead in the eyes, “If you hold half of creation, as you know it in your hands, why bother with lies?” He paused and then whispered, “Especially when the truth is much, much more fascinating?” Then he dropped me painfully to the floor and walked a few paces away. “Believe me Merry if I wanted to ‘fuck’ with your mind, you would have no way on knowing what I did.”
“I’ll take that into consideration,” I said with a bit of uncertainty.
I watched him pivot and walk away to a water cooler that seemed to be boiling in an unhealthy yellow way, “In truth Merry, I rather approve of you, and your union with Kellith. As it will invariably disturb and shake up the old farts in the Knighthood, maybe even clear up their thinking some.” He shrugged and grinned wickedly, “Not only that, but those semi-sanctimonious bastards upstairs will dance nimbly around you as well.”
“Yes, but I expect they will have to put up with you, considering they need the stalemate as well.” He snorted, “Half of them should be down here, stuck up wishy-washy cowards.” He chuckled, “Too bad there are no real Bartelby’s or Loki’s out and about sitting stuck betwixt Heaven and Hell. Oh the Irony that plays out in the movies.”
“You don’t say,” I tried to find a comfortable seat on the ‘floor’.
“Nope nary a one,” he paused and seemed to grow horns briefly, ”though there are agents; such as yourself, the Knights and others.”
I gave vent to my sarcasm, “You don’t say.”
He tisked at me, “Merry, Chad, Chaddy and of course Mai, surely one of you can see the ring on your finger, is that a lie?”
“Ok. So there are agents,” I conceded after a glance to my finger.
“Brilliant, now that that bit of information is lodged firmly in your ever so cute noggin, let us move on the another truth.”
“We, God, I and the other collected powers of this corner of the cosmos or what have you, prefer the likes of Cthulhu to remain asleep. Having someone wake up their lesser minions or to have them randomly plucked from slumber is a disruption to the stalemate.” He paused, “Most untidy you might say.”
“Sara or Kellith if you will, offsets other bits. You might say someone got too big for their britches and it has allowed other players to place more agents in the field. Frankly I ‘like’ having Kellith -awake-. Besides, what’s a bit more lust in the world going to hurt? Certainly not me.”
“Ok so I gain a few points,” he waved his hands around dismissively, “its not enough to tip the scale in any one direction. Then there are souls like yours, which she keeps. A bit rude of her I must admit, but I’ll settle for having you in my clutches every now and again. After all time is just a form of perception to us, isn’t it.”
“So you say.”
“Quite right, now since I expect I’ll be seeing you frequently at best or infrequently at worst, here is your first message.” He stopped and reached into the sickly red wall and with a slightly sinister smile, withdrew a snake.
“Uh I don’t do snakes,” I said and started backing away from him slowly.
“I wasn’t asking, and well one must hearken back to their roots, if you believe that crap in Genesis,” he said as the wall surged up behind me and a multitude of arms held me firmly in place. He held the snake up to my mouth and then pinched my nose with his other hand, “Now be a good girl and take your medicine,” he said as he pressed the impossibly large snake against my lips.
Somewhere, in that time, I think I screamed.
“Aren’t you a bit young for this trip?” asked an elderly woman sitting in the seat next to me.
I blinked and tried to take in my new surroundings, “Umm, where am I?” It looked like I was on some old fashion western style train coach. Complete with western décor and landscape.
“Well I expect since you missed the last stop, you must be on your way to Purgatory,” the old lady pointed out the window, “it’s not far.”
“Funny this looks nothing like Purgatory Chasm State Park,” I said looking out at the desolate plains.
“My you are a witty one. No dear, Purgatory, as in that place between Heaven and Hell, you are Catholic yes?”
“I suppose, kinda.”
“Hmm, you sound as if you are not sure, do you have a ticket?” she asked as if that might explain things.
I looked down to where a pasteboard rectangle sat in my hand, it read, “One child, unaccompanied. Dest: Purgatory, intermittent layovers only.”
I held it out to her and she frowned as she read it, “Most particular indeed. Surely there should be a final destination ticket?”
I shrugged a bit confusedly, “Beats me, I was expecting something different.”
“Most people do child.”
“So,” I asked, “where are you off to?”
“Oh I am off to rejoin the Lady and her Lords for a time,” she said with a pleasant smile, “I’m a Witch, you see.”
“Ah,” I blinked a few times, “I’m a Knight, supposedly.”
“Why yes you are, I must be getting old if I did not notice the Ring,” she grinned and then cackled loudly losing years as she did so. Eventually a young woman with piercing green eyes stared back at me, “Hmm, such a child you are, woven into Destinies’ threads.”
“Is that good or bad?”
I looked over to the girl that was suddenly not much older than me as she giggled, “Well Merry, I can say you will not lack for things to do.”
“Oh,” I said glumly.
“Cheer up Merry, you only live as many times as you want to, and some times; more often than that.”
“And how many lives are you on?” I asked sarcastically.
“This would be my sixtieth turn on the wheel.” She said proudly, “But then I am a bit of a busy-body, unlike Stephan Shorts, whom you might know as Dead Man. Now there is a man who can’t make up his mind as to stay dead or not… But I suppose he’s been having fun with it.”
“You don’t say.”
I vaguely felt my feet touching the dead dried up soil of Purgatory, before I started falling into the darkness. That fortunately was a very short trip; as I solidly smacked face first into the padded floor of my cell. I had a few moments to realize I was indeed in my cell before my stomach twisted horribly and I felt something sliding back up my throat. I know I screamed that time, and then I started to choke on it.
Kerry blanched and was visibly sickened at the sight on her monitor, “Ka-m, Doctor, somebody!”
Kam looked over to where Kerry was mutely pointing at the monitor. Uncertain he looked at Arturo who was crossing himself, “Once that thing is out of her, kill it.”
The big man turned a mixture of gray and red as he watched Merry helplessly vomit the snake out. Then with little thought he lifted his hand and squeezed, then he grunted with satisfaction as the snake’s head turned into a paste.
Collectively the group listened as Merry coughed and wheezed as her stomach heaved visibly, then they heard her say, “Message fucking delivered.” Then they watched her pass out on the padded floor of the cell.
“O-h boy,” said Kam as he floated the snake away from the unconscious children.
“And deliver us from evil, amen.” Arturo turned around to where the group stared aghast at the floating snake as it dangled in the air. “It is a python, nothing harmful.” He noted aloud, “Still, a bit disconcerting yes?”
“Just what kind of priest are you?” asked Richard as he held his trembling wife.
“One who stands against the darkness, so folks like you can save the world, and sleep easy at night.”
“And her?” Richard asked uncertainly while pointing at the monitor.
“She will walk in darkest shadows so others won’t have to,” Arturo said softly.
“So she’s what, the next Buffy?” asked Chris with an odd frown.
“Oh no, she’ll have to deal with more things than a few pesky vampires or zombies,” Arturo smirked, “vampires are easy compared to some of the things we deal with.”
Doctor Otoo nodded grimly, “So her ah alliance with Kellith is not coincidental?”
“I don’t know. Part of me suspects no one will really know,” Arturo admitted after a breath.
“You sound like you fear her,” said Kerry after a moment’s silence.
“No, no I do not fear her, I fear for her.” He shrugged, and then impatiently nodded to Kam, “If you can open the door safely to get that thing out of there, I should see just what the message is.”
“That is a message?” asked Chris. “Should I ask whom from?”
“No,” replied Otto, Arturo and Tanaka in seeming unison.
“So is Merry going to be all right after disgorging that?” asked Tanaka as Arturo carried the snake to a room adjacent the cell.
“This sort of thing, while uncommon is not usually fatal. Just unpleasant, now I expect Merry is phobic of snakes, correct?”
Tanaka nodded, “Though we suspect that fear may have been planted, something we have yet to confirm or disprove.”
“Some how I think if she was not phobic, she is now.” Observed Otto hesitantly, “This only reinforcing the other… If that is indeed the case.”
“Well the Enemy has a habit of, shall we say, using phobias to reward, punish or in this case get things across the gulf.” He paused to look at the other men, “Be thankful Merry in not phobic of bugs or worms, that can be really unpleasant.”
“I’ll bet, and the message?” asked Otto.
“Ah yes,” Arturo reached into his black jacket and produced a switchblade, with a practiced motion he pressed the button and the blade slid out of the end it.
“Slightly illegal in most states, should I ask security to check you from now on?” Otto asked cautiously.
Arturo chuckled, “They would not find an aluminum baseball bat if I so wanted it hidden, and needed it.”
“Do you often need knives?” asked Tanaka cautiously.
“Well no, usually all I need is a cross, a few drops of holy water, the odd rite and a hell of a lot of determination.” He chuckled, “Occasionally I have to resort to violence, and then I use whatever is needful.”
“You mentioned something about movies with Merry a few days back,” when Arturo nodded and proceeded to skin the snake Otto continued, “how often is violence like that needed?”
“Well that would be telling tales,” he paused and dropped the meat and eviscera of the snake into a can marked ‘Bio-Hazard: Handle with care.’ “Suffice it to say, most Knights don’t grow old unless they are very cunning and dangerous or have something else going for them.”
“Oh, from what I gather she’s going to be around a goodly long time.”
“How long?” asked Doctor Tanaka as Arturo flipped the skin over and studied the tattooed markings on the inside of the snakeskin.
“Well I expect she’ll live as long as she is needed, and that could be very long.”
“Or short?” asked Otto.
“No. Call me optimistic but I think she’s tougher than you expect.” Arturo chuckled, “I’ve seen Knights come and go, and Merry is as feisty as some of the better ones.”
“Feisty, well that is an adjective I had not connected with her,” said Otto, “and the message?”
Arturo indicated a portion of the tattooed skin with the point of the knife, “Well this part is a warning for our guys to be better armed and in greater numbers than planned, for an operation in the next day or so.”
“Why would the Devil want the Church’s Knights to be prepared for something?” asked Tanaka.
“Occasionally it suits his needs for us to not fail. It’s complicated and you really don’t want a discourse on the various and sundry natures of the Universe from me; without a lot of beer to wash it down with.”
“I’ll bet, and the other half?”
“What do you know of…”
Somehow I managed to crawl to the toilet when I came to, and then somehow managed not to puke until I was over the lip of it. I am not sure how long I sat there with the dry heaves and mucus, just that it seemed to be way too long. I flushed without blowing the metal fittings, though the metal did glow sullenly at me. I closed my eyes and then opened them; yes the glow was still there.
Sighing I slumped back to lay half curled around the bowl of the toilet. The faint sounds of snoring were reassuring, so at least something went as planned, and since I was not smelling sulfur or charred flesh, all was good.
~’Merry can you check the boy for me?’~ that was Doctor Tanaka.
“I’m not in right now…” I said with a sigh.
~’His parents are a bit concerned…’~
“The kid is fucking snoring, can’t you hear it?”
~’No the room is blacked out due to too much electrical disturbance at the moment,’~ he paused, ~’they are barely containing the pair of you.’~
“Oh, ok I guess, I can see again, thanks for asking.”
The was the feeling that he was slightly embarrassed by my statement, ~’Sorry Merry, things have been…’~
“Strange, weird, gross? And just where the fuck is the goddamned snake?!?!” I asked in sudden fear.
~’Dead, you needn’t fear it any more.’~
I took a shuddering breath, “Easy for you to say.”
~’Kam killed it, and Arturo dissected it, it is –quite- dead,’~ Doctor Tanaka said matter-of-factly.
~’The child’s parents are disturbed by events. So if you could please drain enough of the power from the child and yourself, to where the sensors and cameras will work; it would help to alleviate their fears.’~
“They are disturbed… What the flying fuck do you think I am?” I asked incredulously.
~’Merry, I know you just went through an ordeal and then some. One I would not care to endure. But right now I need for you to put that aside and help us to help the boy and his parents.’~
“No good deed,” I sighed and forced myself to stand up, “You need to have them shut off the water to the toilet so I don’t blow the pipe or fittings and flood the room.”
~’I’ll pass that along.’~
I wasn’t exactly stable on my feet but I made it to the gurney the kid lay on. I lowered the rail on one side of it and then felt his foot, it was warmer than I remembered it, and I got a small jolt for my efforts. Cautiously I checked one wrist then the other for a pulse and burns, the pulse was there but the burns were not. I placed a hand on the boy’s chest then shook my head as it rose and fell, I spent an uneasy moment reviewing the conversation we had upstairs.
“Uh Doc, you know that bit where we were going to sort out the boys gender later?”
I felt him *blink* in my head then he seemed to focus on my train of thought, ~’Yes, I see what you mean.’~
I peered down into the girls face and wondered if I was looking into a mirror, “You may want them to sit down before you tell them their daughter is fine…”
~’Ah yes, a remarkable likeness to the mother I think.’~
“Oh and one other thing,” I said with a sigh.
~’Yes?’~ he asked.
“I have some really bad cramps, among other things,” I said with a look to the mirror and studied my glowing reflection.
~’I’ll see what we can do, once you get the power down to a safe level.’~
~”You are very welcome, now?’~
“Ok, ok,” I said with a sigh.
It took me many tries to get the power down to what they considered a safe level. I also learned what the cumulative effects of immense electrical discharges into the plumbing were. Not that I minded the extra humidity from when the super heated water vapors vented into the room from the side of a pipe, how ever it was a bit of a rude shock to see it explode in the vicinity of my hand.
Occasionally I would get the odd flash from Sarah that she was both amused by something and very proud of me. Though she seemed to be very distracted by things, one of which was a boy or girl who had gold eyes. It was an odd kaleidoscope of images and feeling that wafted briefly across her mark to me then were as quickly hidden.
Larry, proved to be a fairly sound sleeper, I guess she was worn out by her own ordeal. She did stir briefly when the pipe blew, but even then she only turned over and started snoring again. It was cute, to some extent. I did my best to keep from disturbing her as I wandered back and forth from her to the pipes. I was still feeling the cramps in my lower regions though the pain my abused throat and stomach had eased up on me.
I was more than relieved when Doctor Tanaka and the girl’s parents all but rushed into the room. I gave them a nod and dropped into one of the over stuffed chairs, in some ways I was slightly envious of the girl as her parents swept her sleepy form up into a hug. I watched as the boxes in the room silently and for the most part unobserved, floated out the door. I raised an eyebrow at Tanaka but he shook his head cautiously.
The father of the girl came over and hesitantly sat in the chair next to me, for a time he was silent. “I am not sure what to say,” he admitted after a bit.
I was tired but I managed to keep my cynical side from leaping up to the fore, “Just say: ‘Thank you’.”
“I, uh, thank you… I was so…” he started and stopped uncertainly.
“Yeah it was spooky, but it is over,” I shrugged off the feeling that I creeped him out.
“How did you?”
“Funky mystical powers, God only knows where I get them from,” oddly enough that was pretty much the truth.
“But why a?”
“Girl?” I looked over to him and sighed, “I don’t know, does it really matter? Larry will be fine and with some help will adapt. I know I did.” ‘Or am trying to,’ I silently added.
“Yes, but that is very complicated… trust me.”
“Oh, can I ask?”
“I would prefer if you didn’t.”
“Um, I thought your hair was shorter…” he looked at me carefully as if trying to change the subject, “before.”
I ran my hands through it and lifted out from behind my back, with a sigh I noticed my nails were much longer as well. “More mystical funky powers crap,” I said with a chuckle.”
~’Mislead them intentionally?’~ asked Doctor Tanaka.
I nodded slowly in his direction and gave a helpless shrug.
Doctor Tanaka continued with out skipping much of a beat, “Larry, will be fine, I don’t know how to handle the solar storms, but the folks here can figure out most anything.”
“She will likely need to go to Whateley to get full control of his um her gifts.” Otto said with some sincerity, “However for the next few days Merry will be able to keep her in check, should the need arise.”
“Yup, that part of my powers is definitely non-mystical,” I chuckled at Otto’s odd look but he nodded as if hearing something.
“I am curious though, why a padded room?”
I sighed and gave him a tired smile, “They think I am slightly nuts; though if you ask me, everyone else here is nuts too… However, my family was seriously into Humanity First’s Doctrine and this, didn’t go over well.” I motioned to myself and did my best to keep my face neutral as I stretched the truth slightly.
“Your parents abused you?” he sounded outraged and mortified.
“My uncle had a large part to play in that, but yes.” Ok so I was deliberately stretching things slightly, just slightly, “I’d rather not talk about it.”
“Oh, I’m sorry…” he trailed off looking over at his wife and his new daughter.
“I’ll heal in time, you should go spend time with your daughter before the storms kick off again. She’s got to be feeling confused as hell by all of this.”
Kerry walked in and gently eased a blood sugar testing unit and supplies into my lap, “Merry we need a test.”
I partially suppressed a groan, and proceeded to tune out the general commotion of the family as Doctor Tanaka started a hurried check-up of the girl. In some ways I was glad for the boring mundane and annoying test, I guess it meant things were back to semi-normality for this place. I watched as the test progressed to normal, if a bit low, and shrugged to Kerry. “I think I lost a few meals, much as I hate the power bars… I could prolly eat a case of them.”
“How are the cramps, and where are the located?” she asked softly.
“Bad enough I really don’t want to eat, even if I seriously need to and well.” I pointed to a spot below where I thought my belly button was, and moved my hand to point all the way down.
She looked at me thoughtfully and then blinked and whispered to me, “It’s possible you metabolized your um, shot sooner than we would have expected it.”
“Ah great,” I wiggled my finger and clicked my longer nails at her, “something else happened with the excess power I think. Not as bad as ‘that place’ but,” I shrugged at her.
She nodded, “We’ll have to make some more tests; seems like both you and Kam are doing some sort of testing next week.” She rolled her eyes, and whispered, “Evidently Kam got fancy with his part of the rescue, so wonder boy is going to go through the testing ringers, again.”
The thought of Kam as ‘wonder boy’ and doing more tests struck me as more than a bit silly and a real laugh escaped. ”Oh dear.” I drew a few looks and I just shook my head, let them guess.
Kerry tapped the arm of my chair, “I’ll drag in some sports drinks and some power bars with luck we can get you a real meal, before the next bit hits.”
‘Larry’ ended up needing a shot to calm her during the waves of solar activity. Part of me was slightly envious as I was stuck shielding her during the waves, and draining off the excess power; needless to say it was very long evening. I was exceptionally grateful when they found the key that blocked out the frequencies that Larry was attuned to. So once they keyed that shield to the ones all ready in place, I more or less was allowed to collapse.
“Ug, what is wrong with me?” I heard as I opened one eye to look.
“It’s the medicines. You had a rough day, Larry, and you need to rest,” said her mom.
“So I got my powers?”
“Yes, Larry a bit early but you got them honey,” to my ears it sounded is if the mom was a bit more than happy.
~’You are awake?’~ I head Doctor Tanaka’s voice fill my head and I nodded slowly. ~’You might want to come out into the side room, I need to give the girl a real examination, and there is food.’~
Food, food sounded vaguely interesting so I slowly pushed myself up out of my chair. The mother nodded at me and I eased out of the semi darkness to the doorway as it opened for me. Partly I was amazed that decided I could be trusted to go that far, but then again I felt like shit and not up for much of anything.
Once Doctor Tanaka eased past me and the door shut, I pretty much fell onto a stool and blearily picked at the various boxes of Pizza that sat on the table. I should have been enthused to have a real feast, though it was all I could do to eat. I winced slightly as the outer door opened, bashing at me with a wave of energy and I tiredly raised my shields up again.
“Rough day?” asked Arturo.
“Yeah, all of us are fucking beat.”
“No doubt, had I wondered if the multiple personalities had been cured along with…”
“Nope my menagerie is still very much here,” I tapped my head with a finger.
He chuckled, “Well they are not daemonic so it likely wasn’t going to happen.”
“Fun, so what happens with the Knights that go nuts?”
“Oh we find ways to cure them or make them comfortable,” he shook his head tiredly. “Mostly we find ways to cure them.”
“Ah, good,” I forced a bite of pizza down then asked, “so the Message, was it that fucking important?”
“It will save lives and keep things from getting out of hand in that region.”
“Oh good, I guess.” I looked up at him as he leaned against the wall, “Does Satan, did Satan lie to me?”
“The intentional stalemate?”
For a time he was silent then he shook his head, “No, I don’t think he would lie about that,” Arturo sighed, “I have been around far too long not to see that much as true.”
“Yeah, that pretty much sums it up.”
“So how do we tell if we are doing the right thing?”
He laughed for a moment, “Well I have not heard any angelic trumpets blowing nor have the seas boiled, so I think we are doing ok.”
“Ha, I guess, though my head is freaking killing me still.”
“No wonder, from what I understand all of this is not really your gift.”
I laughed albeit bitterly, “No, just the carrier for it.”
He grinned, “Maybe your last name should be Curisor too?”
I smirked and shook my head, “No, I think one of you is enough.”
I think it was somewhere around three in the morning when I finally got to sleep. I had scraped in a few catnaps between the solar tidal waves that kept sending Larry deep into the electrical surf. Solar tides, waves, sinking, surf, metaphors for Larry’s life. And I, I seemed to be stuck in in-box of the out-box of my mind. Which fortunately wasn’t a litter box, but I had my own problems.
“You take the blue pill, the story ends,” said Mai with her hair slicked back and was dressed to look like Trinity, as she sat in a dark brown leather high backed chair and kicked her feet loosely.
“Guys? A little help here?” I was trying to outwrestle a giant anaconda in a pit of thick red bloody goop, and I seemed to be loosing.
“Yes, but if you take the red pill, you get to see far the rabbit hole really goes,” added Chad from a similar chair, though his hair was slightly disheveled as if tossing and turning in his sleep.
Chaddy, Chaddy was in a corner mostly singing to himself, “Where is my mind, where is my mind,” over and over and over again. You know the song from Fight Club, the movie where the guy never seems to sleep?
“The fundamental concept that man is flawed, hence his creations are flawed; is invalid,” stated Mai.
“Yes, hence man is imperfect and must be destroyed to make way for machines.” Chad observed, “However, machine intelligence does not seem to be cohesive enough to bridge the gap alone, you need to add that which is indefinable.”
“Oh soul-em-mio,” sang Chaddy with a goofy smile.
I stared into Dr. Palm’s eyes as I tried to choke the snake into submission, “You made a worm virus into a monster, then you just had to go and put your soul into it.”
“It’s not a rabbit hole, you know?” asked Mai.
“No, it is a paradigm, one man stretching to become divine,” stated Chad as he put on the Pope’s white hat. “I make myself into the image of god therefore I am God and all of you lesser beings must fall down and worship this thing I have created in the image of me.”
“Yes, you must worship me,” said Mai as she stepped onto a pedestal.
Chaddy wearing a Wyld Stallyns t-shirt was on his knees singing with a crowd of other Chaddys, “We will, we will rock you!”
“I see,” said Sara as she walked into the large white box,” someone has had -quite- a day.”
“And it is not over,” I muttered as I played Dundee with the snake.
“Yes it is. This is a dream Merry, only a dream. Snakes have no power over you, here. Especially small –toy- rubber ones.” Of which she plucked out of my bleeding hands, “Nor is there tomato paste in dreams, seriously Merry your imagination is way too active at times.”
“Tomato paste?” I said looking at my hands.
“Yes, I think the first clue was the garlic odor, dinner was tasty I take it?”
I sat up and looked at the odd posturings of Mai, Chad and Chaddy, “I suppose they are a figment too?”
“Well, dreams to tend to affect the dreamers, though I am not sure if Mai and Chad were dreaming or debating,”
“He’s tucked away dreaming of toy cars, in his own dreams,” she said simply.
“I am so screwed up, aren’t I?”
-Crack- went the whip Sara was suddenly holding, “Now that I have your attention, there will be none of that crap,” she paused and was suddenly wearing most of the outfit that Harrison Ford was wearing in the Indian Jones films, minus the pants and shirt. “Now,” she said as the room turned into something more like a bedroom, “I want you to tell me how your day went.” She kissed me soundly while holding me in place with the whip, “but later.”
Sunday, November 12th, 2006
10:00 am, ARC
“I'm never gonna last unless I live until dying is a thing of the past and all these girls I know out turning boys into men I know I am never going down again never again.” Living In Darkness – Agent Orange
“It is one thing to be married to your work Otto, it’s another thing to live in it.” Sara said as she opened the door fully, “I think that I knocked three times solidly, before you grunted…”
Otto looked up from his desktop where a small flood of papers sat, “Good Morning Sara, come in and have a seat while I wrap this up.” He motioned to a chair across from his desk and then neatly placed one set of papers into a row and an initialed them in sequence. “I gather you are aware of out newest guest?”
“Just bits and pieces from Merry,” she watched as Otto nodded and stacked the forms and set them off to one side, to her eyes it was fairly obvious Otto was tired, and distracted.
“Now then, Larry is twelve.”
Sara grinned wickedly as Otto seemed to be staring unfocused at things, “Good, hook'em while they're young.”
For a moment Otto flushed and his face turned red, “Sa…”
Sara clapped her hands together briefly, “Just kidding Pee-Tee.”
Otto gave Sara a pained look, "I am not sure that was the response I was looking for."
“Well then,” Sara grinned and concentrated for a moment, seeming to shrink in upon herself as she did until she was roughly twelve, “how about this?” she asked hopping off the chair and stepping around his desk, then impishly asked in her most seductive voice, “Mr. Otto can I marry you?”
Otto blinked a few times in rapid succession, “I swear Merry is a bad influence on you...”
“You're just too serious for your own good at times Otto.” Sara said then grew a tad bit somber; “Do you think Larry would feel better having someone her own age to talk to?”
“A good question, frankly I am not sure.” He paused, “On one hand it may keep the child from using Merry as a role model... I hope.”
Sara’s eyebrows rose, “Caught between the Devil and the Deep Blue ARC?”
Otto rolled his eyes with a tired sigh, “Merry isn't exactly stable, and the boy’s parents are slightly concerned about the pairs proximity after events the other day."
Sara reached over and with a sigh poked him in the belly, as he seemed to be drifting off, “What happened?”
Otto startled briefly then gave Sara a sour look, “In the course of healing the child, Merry took a slight trip to hell, and when she came back she was carrying a message from the Devil... Needless to say the delivery of the message was unnerving.”
“Old Luke?” Sara asked as she rolled her eyes, “Let me guess, snakes?”
“Well yes, a python in fact,” he held his hands roughly four feet apart indicating its length, “I am not sure Merry enjoyed the experience.”
“Well, no, that's the whole point.” Sara shook her head, “Sorry, Otto, it seems you're on the peripheral of a whole mess of divine politics.”
“Trust me I would rather be at the edges of it.” He let his chair lean back, “Instead I have, The Church, and evidently the Devil on my doorstep. Along with other bits in my 'normal' life…”
“Forget it, the Devil is my problem when it comes to Merry.” She took on a slightly lecturing tone, “In some ways, he has as much a hold over the hearts of Christians as God.”
“I'll take your word for it.” He sat up slowly, “So how did your day go aside from Merry's interruptions?"
“Oh, Dad had a lot of fun.” Sara said with a bright laugh, ”There were lots of young girls to flirt with, as you know.”
“Well I didn't get any special alarms from folks there, so I should be grateful.” Otto paused and said in a cautious tone, “I trust that your father um, returned to his place of power?”
“Yes, yes, he knows his treaties just as well as anyone else.” Sara dismissively waved her hands about as if chasing the topic away, “So, what can you tell me about Larry?
“Larry’s, your not so typical burn-out case. We think that the event was exacerbated by bad timing.” Otto shrugged slightly and shifted in his chair, “If I were one to think of conspiracies I would think some one has been seeding the pot.”
Sara frowned and mumbled audibly, “I haven't been that busy...”
Otto paused to raise an eyebrow at Sara and then continued, "Statistically, would you say the norm for the genetics dice hitting a transition to female as high or low?"
“Low. Very low.” Sara studied Otto’s face for a moment then said, “Otherwise, there'd be more of us in Whateley.”
“True, though if I were to look at the past two years, I have to wonder. Take for example the current 'crop' if you will at Whateley; One or two might be the norm yes?"
Sara nodded thoughtfully.
Otto reached out to tap a folder with a post-it-note that read ‘Larry’, “I may reaching, but I have to wonder if there is not some one deliberately spiking the genetic pool to favor the trend, at least in the short term scale of things.”
Sara nodded after a moment, “It's possible. It's also possible that there's been some sort of environmental change that is skewing the odds in that direction. Or maybe the mutant traits tagged to the X chromosome are starting to manifest in earnest.”
Otto chuckled and his eyes narrowed briefly in thought, “Well I can bet it's -not- global warming. In any case the trend seems to be there. I am sure I do not want to see the tabloids pandering to the sensational theme of; ‘My son, my daughter, my god...’ As it is, we have more important things to deal with.”
“Ok, that issue aside for now;” Sara nodded at Otto’s shift of topic, “what's her designation?
“Well the easy part is that we know she is an energizer of some sort and she seems to be tied to the Van Allen belts.” He pointed upstairs, “Even without any testing we can likely expect to see some sort of gravity and electrical effects.” He tapped the arm of his chair, “Then the child has some sort of defensive energy barrier to add into the mixture.”
“Electrical, I take it?”
Otto nodded, “Largely, and fortunately for us in that Merry can negate a huge chunk of it.” Otto paused and pointed over to a monitor where he played the scene where Merry brought Larry into her shields. “From what we have been able to observe, there is no way to actually monitor the child when the barrier is up, apart from the 'light' show it puts off."
“How's Merry been handling the voltage? Physically, I know the mental part.”
“Well she started her cycle evidently,” Otto waved his hands to a folder marked C.B. “and her hair and fingernails seem to grow with every surge she absorbs over two hundred thousand volts. Which is roughly what the child tops out at just before going into what Merry calls the ‘lightshow.’”
Sara blinked and raised her hand to forestall the litany of events, “Otto, say that first part again.”
Otto flipped open the folder to show where Kerry made an annotation recommending a Deprovera™ shot in the next few days, and tapped it thoughtfully with a finger, “Merry started her cycle, I am not sure if it's too early or not.”
Sara rubbed her eyes and then gave a slightly frustrated sigh, “Otto, why didn't you tell me that first?
“Well it's not uncommon,” he paused to regard the ‘child’ Sara. “Or am I missing a larger piece to a puzzle?
“I'm thinking of her mental state, Otto.” ‘not to mention my own,’ she said under her breath. “It's probably just as well I'm going in there as a twelve year old. She'll need a break from sex for a bit.”
Otto rocked back in his chair for a moment as he digested that bit of information, “Um, yes.” He sighed loudly, “I don't think the parents would react to hearing about that sort of thing very well. While Rhode Island Schools may be progressive.” He shook his head and shrugged, ”Evidently the parents know someone who knows a member of the Board of Directors... Strings pulled, that sort of thing.”
“Oh, well, I better get on with this.” She looked thoughtfully in the direction of Merry’s Cell, “Do you want me to meet the parents first?”
“Well they are in counseling upstairs currently; yesterday was a bit of shock for them, in more than one way.” He shook his head tiredly, “Mostly it is to give them a bit of extra time to decompress and well, I don't think their normal routine lands them many scenes like that of The Exorcist."
“Ok, just buzz me through. If they ask, say that I was visiting Merry, that way they won't freak about strange girls visiting their child.” Sara grinned wickedly; “I'll win them over later.”
Otto made a coughing noise and rolled his eyes, “Strange girls… well they don't come much stranger than Merry, and to think I am considering you as the 'normal one'… I may need a week or three off once we settle Merry once and for good."
Sara smiled innocently, “I'm not the normal one, Pee-Tee, I am just the one who is nice to you.”
“There may be some truth in that,” he admitted with a soft chuckle. “The Headset may have been a mistake, but..." he shrugged, "I would settle for less surprises for the next few days. As Chad puts it 'My tidy little world' is not quite the land of confusion, of late."
Sara reached over and poked Otto in the side, “You need a nap or more caffeine.” She seemingly lost a few years in the pitch of her voice, ”Ok, no more stalling, I have a little girl act to do.”
“Ok. Off with you, I'll try and warn folks you are showing up, a few years younger than normal,” he smirked. “Sara, no random miracles without warning me ahead of time.”
Sara nodded briefly then for a brief instant developed a tail and horns, “Who me?” she asked over her shoulder, and then she lightly skipped though the door, pulling it shut behind her with the tail.
“Sleep or caffeine…” He eyed his bed in the back portion of his office with some resignation, “Like I could sleep.”
I was sitting in my bunk wearing a new tracksuit; evidently they thought I needed real clothing if I was going to have a roomie. It fit slightly better that the insulated suit they had me wearing most of yesterday, to my eyes it was gray, but then my eyes lie often enough when it comes to colors. Fortunately they also gave me enough items and such to handle my sanitary needs, though I was really wanting something for the cramps.
Larry, was taking my ‘visitor’ with the typical, ’Ewwww grosss’ of which I agreed with wholeheartedly. As a –by product- of my ‘visitor’ I finally got something for the room that I’ve only wanted since I got here: a privacy screen for the toilet. Though I suspect that was due to someone not wanting to explain why I had both sets of equipment.
One thing I could have wished for were scissors or a sharper nail trimmer as my hair, finger and toenails started growing every time junior lighting rod went into lightshow. It slightly comforting to know there is a level when things will ‘kick off’ healing wise. But sheesh, I ruined a pair of sox and the only good thing about flip-flops is that they don’t pinch the nails. So in between draining the kids power and my own, I got to hack at my toenails and eat power bars.
Larry sat on her bunk watching a movie on the wrist gizmo that Aladdin had made up for me. Evidently the movie was on the ‘not until you are older list’, but since the ‘rents were out… well you know how it goes. What they do not know cannot hurt them. Admittedly I was slightly jealous of the whole parental bit, but the odd looks where disturbing. I don’t think I was responsible for Larry’s sudden change into a girl, but I suppose it may have looked that way.
To my eyes Larry was a good hand span or so shorter than I was and a maroon haired tomboy. One that was just starting to hit that same point where my sister Joni was; forced to wear something a bit better than a training bra. Unlike Sara, Larry’s hair was slightly metallic in effect, of which she had the same trait as her mom, so I ruled her out as getting my hair. While Larry’s eyes did glow like mine, hers were a deep yellow, which I found odd as they ‘should’ have been green to my eyes. Fortunately she has whites and a pupil to go with her eyes, so at first glance she just appears to have odd contacts in.
We had a fairly odd stream of visitors all morning, but when Sara walked in I was not expecting her to be roughly the same age and height as Larry. Though when her mark warmed to a near fever pitch, I about fell over, I so wanted to sweep her up in a hug after yesterdays events; but then my stomach knotted up and I took a few breaths to settle it.
Sara gave me a look that could only have been one of possessiveness and sympathy. ~^Hello love, we’re playing for a crowd, unfortunately. So try and play along, as they want me to try and get a feel for how Larry is –really- coping,^~ She rolled her eyes up in the direction of the camera.
I suppressed an squeak of outrage and rubbed my eyes with both hands in confusion, ‘Jeeze what now?’
Not quite looking one hundred percent certain she bounced on her toes a moment then said, “Hello, Merry, I love your new nails. Who's your new friend?”
Mentally I fumbled the ball a moment and then said, "Hi Sara, um, Sara this is Larry, this is Sara my.” About that time she gave me a small tremor and I may have squeaked aloud with it. ‘I am so going to strangle Otto.’ I took a breath as Larry looked at me oddly, “This is my best friend Sara, who unlike that wicked man, Otto, is really cool.”
Sara stuck her tongue out me, “Otto's nice! Pleased to meet you, Larry,” she bowed in Larry’s direction as I got an odd mental push from her.
"Hi, nice to meet someone who is not a grown up or trying to take my blood or other stuff," Larry held out an arm that sported a few bandaids.
“Well, you never know, I could be a vampire...” Sara grinned and briefly flashed her teeth at us, “grrrrr!”
I laughed at her antics and mock screamed, “Eeek! A vampire oh dear… where’s my garlic.” I paused and mostly muttered under my breath, “Not that it stops Vlad from ordering extra garlic on his pizzas.” I blinked at another of Sara’s odd pokes, “Oh, you missed the pizza party... and things.”
Sara rolled her eyes in my direction before turning to study Larry, ~^Cute girl… bit young for me…^~ she sent, sending me into a mild choking fit, then she added aloud to Larry, “I never eat... pizza.”
Larry eyed me oddly but she smiled, “It's ok, she ate enough pizza for three people.” She looked vaguely impressed by her pronouncement of my dietary intake; “An she doesn’t run out of the room when I start to glow."
Sara nodded solemnly, “She can be a little shocking herself.”
“Yeah there is that,” I paused and nodded to Larry. “Oddly enough I've not overly shocked junior lighting rod here.”
Sara gave me a thoughtful look, “Yeah, it must be rough not being able to touch anyone.”
“Yeah, I got to hear all about that,” her eyes crossed in exaggeration producing a giggle from Sara. “Merry's been telling me all about that... and things.”
Sara stepped forwards and hugged Larry briefly, and from over her shoulder I saw Larry relax, “Don't worry about it, I'm sure you've just gotta learn some control, just like Merry does.”
“Yup, shields, shields and more shields. Or other things,” I gave my toenails one last snip and sighed dropping the debris in to a small canister by my bunk. “At least Larry won't be called Circuit Breaker all her life. Though Larry is um... reluctant in the name department.”
Sara gave us both a blink and the room seemed to ‘warm’ up to a friendly level, “How so?
Larry sat back uncertainly, “I don't want a girly name, an my mom and the other people say I have to change... its n-not them that has to be a girl.”
Sara blinked as if surprised, “You used to be a boy too?”
“Uh, yeah… I was yesterday morning,” Larry gave me what I could only call a suspicious look, “and well last night I wasn't...”
“I had nothing to do with that,” I interjected, “I tried to explain it but...” I trailed off giving the mirrors a dirty look.
“Wanna talk about it?” Sara asked, “I've been a girl for about two months now... 'cause, I'm also a Goth and an elf, apparently, but the girl bit's still true. The Doctors say that it happens sometimes, nobody's fault.”
“My mom said it was something she did, um, accidentally,” Larry pointed in my direction, “An Merry of course says it's the suits fault. An then the big guy says that is just Chad talking…” She blinked and looked at me oddly, “So which one of you is talking most of the time?"
"Just me," I said with a sigh, “like I said, it was 'magical mystery stuff’, I don't go around changing folks into girls...” I trailed off as Larry looked at me dubiously.
“It's nobody's fault,” Sara said shaking her head, ”just luck.”
“I guess, I dunno.” Larry took a breath then asked, “How am I supposed to go to my old school like this?” and then she indicated her chest.
Sara scratched her head briefly, “Uh, well... you probably won't. They had to transfer me to a new school for mutants.”
“Eventually you would have had to change school anyways, right?” I asked fielding the conversation while Sara seemed lost briefly in thought, “You granddad said you were gonna get your powers sometime. You just got a few years jumpstart.”
Sara hugged Larry again and I watched some of the tension drain out of her that was building up, and some of her glow residing, “Besides, being a girl can be a lot of fun, really.”
Larry eased out of Sara’s hug looking slightly dazed, “Uhhh, sure, dolls and things.”
“I don't think Larry had 'Discovered' girls...” I said in a soft voice, “but then I can't say too much that ways either... Parents...”
Sara blew a raspberry in my direction, “Oh, poo to that. There's talking to your friends, parties and dressing up... Granted, it seems a little weird at first, but you get used to it. You know, I never would have hugged you as a guy. Too embarrassing.
Larry wrinkled her nose and nodded in agreement, “Yeah, guys don't hug... it's weird. I don't mind being hugged but. It's different I guess. Now.”
“Well, if you need to talk about it or if you've got some questions?” Sara asked and sat on the edge of Larry’s bunk
“At least you had a coach telling you to sit down to pee...” I rolled my eyes inwardly ‘that’ had been a near thing, “You can trust her Larry, she is not going to weirded out by anything.”
Sara giggled loudly at me, “I'm Merry's best friend after all.”
I grinned back at her, “I am prolly the weirdo of the group, at least you two are not nuts, yet,” I finished with a deliberately loopy smile.
Larry snickered, “Nuts… Uh yeah, Merry babbles in her sleep.”
I watched as Sara visibly seemed to bite her tongue, and through the mark I could feel her struggle not to say ‘something’ about last night. I grabbed a pillow and for a brief moment, I was going to whap them both with it, then I lowered it to my lap and squeezed it tightly against my abdomen. I then zombie-like said, “Drugs need drugsss.”
Larry made a disgusted face, “Am I gonna get that too?"
Sara glared briefly at me, ~^No funny drugs for you! Can you picture us trying to explain –that?-^~ Then she looked over too Larry and with a shrug said, “Most likely, yeah. It's a downside.”
I struggled for an innocent look as a way of replying to Sara, ‘Mea culpa.’ Then I closed my eyes briefly trying to suppress a giggle, “Yes ‘normal’ girls get this sort of thing too, so you will prolly have to get this bit too. Just not for a few years."
“But, hey,” Sara said brightly, “no point in worrying about it now.”
"Yep you have bigger things to worry about,” I grinned like a banshee, “like bad code names and worse costumes."
“And learning to control your powers...” she said in a serious tone, “which will probably mean mathematics.”
“Mathematics? Larry asked, “Why, don't powers just happen?"
“Ah, yeah, but that's the problem.” Sara looked over to me, “Merry, what would happen if you were chasing a bad guy and he jumped into a swimming pool full of people?
“Well I could not just dive in after him...” I looked over to Larry and explained, “as it would kill everyone who was 'normal' in the pool.” ‘Then there is the question as to if I could get out of the pool by myself afterwards,’ I added silently to myself.
“See? To know what to do with your powers, you have to know how they work.” Sara pointed at the pair of us, “Electricity means physics lessons, and physics is based on mathematics... Which leads to?”
“Math,” Larry made a face, “aww man, I guess my swimming lessons are out for a time."
“I don't envy you,” Sara said with a bland look at me, “All I did was turn into an Elf.” She then reached up and pulled her hair back to show her pointed ears, “See?”
I bit my tongue at the ‘only’ part of her powers description, “Yep some people get all the breaks. Sara can go to conventions and play a Vulcan... Me I have to buy fake ears to do that..." I said in a teasing voice.
Sara speared me with an amused glance, “I don’t do psychics much 'cause am an Elf. An that means I have to learn about magic. Win some, lose some.”
“Magic? Lose?” She looked at Sara and me oddly, “I am confused again.”
Sara nodded slowly, “Ok, here's how it works with me. I'm an Elf or a faerie or something like that. I got the hair, the white skin and the black lips, not to mention the ears. Faeries are magical beings, so I can do magic... just a little. So I have to learn lots of um, spells and things, it's complicated.”
“Magic follows different rules than Physics and they sometimes have to make it up as they go along,” I did my best to look studious and seemingly failed.
Larry blinked then giggled at me, “Oh.”
I pointed to Larry and then indicated myself, “You are a bit like me, I am an Energizer, which means I have to know math,” I made a rude noise, ”and a few dozen other things like shielding. Then I get to figure out how to use them, when I need them, and like you will.”
“So is that why you went nuts Merry?” asked Larry in all evident seriousness.
“No that was complicated,” I stuck my tongue out at Sara.
Sara responded by rolling her eyes and falling backwards on Larry’s bunk, “It always is.”
Larry looked down at Sara’s face, ”Are all your friends like Merry?”
Sara giggled insanely for a moment prompting me to throw my pillow at her, “No, Merry didn't have parents or anyone to look after her, so when she changed she had lots of problems that most mutants don't have to cope with.” She tossed the pillow back at me while sticking her tongue out, “Most of my friends still have family and a home.”
“No family?” Larry asked me.
“Only the family you make up as your go along,” I replied softly.
“She means friends, good friends the kind that feel like a family.” Sara looked at Larry and smiled, “So you could say I am Merry’s family.” I smiled as her mark warmed on my neck, “So… Do ya wanna be our friend?”
“I guess, just as long as I don’t have to go nuts like Merry,” Larry said with a giggle.
“Oh you,” I produced my pillow. “Now you are going to get it, little miss lightning rod,” I said as I leapt up and whapped Larry soundly with it, and then things got very silly for a time.
And onto Merry 6 C