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Two Become One - Part 2

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4 years 9 months ago - 4 years 7 months ago #4050 by Pioneer
Pioneer created the topic: Two Become One - Part 2
A Whateley Academy (Fan Fiction) Tale
Two Become One - Part 2
By Pioneer


Ding! The elevator opened with a swish, quite unlike any I, ZJ, had been in.

Upon arrival at the Rangers' HQ, Cat quickly led us by our arm deeper into the building. The 'rents and Maggie had to stay behind for the first day, but would get to come along on the next session. Mom and Dad had to sign several wavers, since...I, was a minor, so that they could perform the test and exams needed.

We'd been through so many in the last few days that We were already tired of the needles. The other gadgets that we'd been subjected to had entertained Ev as she laughed at their silliness. But even that didn't detract from how tired We were of all of the odd hour vampire calls.

Today on the other hand, We were irritable because of hearing a screeching pulse noise that kept grating on us to no end. So our mood wasn’t the best going into the testing.

As soon as we'd arrived, Cat had to let us have a little good news, "Since HCM is an accredited hospital, you won't have to have all of those tests repeated," she said with a happy tone of voice.

Both her deceptive tone and her words gave me a glimmer of hope. Only that spark was crushed when my lie detector picked up on something that I couldn't put my finger on. I had a feeling that they weren’t telling me something and that hope seemed to evaporate.

We learned that We'd have to always trust that feeling.

Doc started out complaining, "We don't ever have enough in my budget to get into the really detailed stuff," he said almost in a pout, "And everything that I've been able to cobble together is too invasive for most non-bricks, but I do have enough equipment for the basic ratings."

As he spoke, Cat whispered, "He's got the skills to do anything he wants. He just wants to buy it over having to do it himself."

"Did you say something Cat?" Doc intoned his question to say that he knew exactly what was said but didn't call her on it.

"Oh, nothing..." she answered in a completely innocent tone.

What followed was nothing short of a torture session headed by "Doc" as their resident Gag/Dev was known as. Of course Jerry P. Lemmings MD, PHD, was an actual doctor when he wasn't running around as a power suit jockey.

Did he tell us all of this? Absolutely not! But We still knew anyway and the info was a little reassuring. At least it was a little beneficial sometimes. It was nice to know that he was qualified for the title they'd slapped him with.

The first test was what they called the Xavier test. The test started with running for a couple of hours, while answering questions on a monitor built into the odd looking treadmill. At first they were easy with our improved memory, but eventually I was just guessing because Ev didn't want to give me the answers. Adding to this, We were distracted by having to hold ourself down so that we wouldn't float off he treadmill.

I was surprised that the pain I remembered from gym class never started. This proved to be another distraction that We could have done without. I was wondering about it during the tests when We heard a whirring sound that was familiar.

"Ahhhh...OWWWWW!" We shrieked as soon as the ball made contact, and then slipped on the treadmill thing. We would have wiped out if gravity hadn't chosen to forget about us. "You had an air cannon fire a tennis ball at me," We exclaimed as much as questioned as the ball hit the floor.

Our echolocation detected it kind of late because I was so focused on the questions. We, unfortunately, were able to deflect it...with our tail, with a knee jerk reaction. We certainly regretted it because We nearly passed out from the pain this caused us.

The second time We were paying better attention to our surroundings. We could practically hear Jiro-sensei on…my case for failing one of his first lessons. When We felt the push of the ball coming towards us again, We somehow pushed back. The result was that the ball stopped a few feet away from our head and just hung there.

"Whoa...Ugh, is it supposed to do that?" We asked sort of shocked.

"One danger sense, check," Doc said absently, "Oh, we'll have to have her doing some testing to see what category it falls under," he continued as it we weren't in the room.

"Hey, We're right here you know," we said waving our hands to illustrate.

"Catching it didn't seem to take her much concentration either...Hmm..." he continued talking to himself before finally addressing us, "I think that's enough running for today. Next, I want to try one of my new toys to see whether you have PK or TK."

One of the testers explained that TK meant Telekinesis and PK meant Psychokinesis so that We'd know what was going on. But the testing they put us through still left us both physically and mentally exhausted. Afterwards the dingus let us know that it was TK and then we all went on to test that.

"Okay, now lift this box here,” Doc said as we entered another room, "It'll check your strength, control, and longevity," he said indicating yet another device.

We could tell when it got heavier and lighter. We had to try and keep it level even with its weight shifting in different directions. After about ten minutes We had to drop the thing because it got too out of control to handle.

Afterwards they asked several questions to determine what form of danger sense We had. It turned that we were relying on what they termed TK Sensing.

"What you've been calling echolocation, or EL as we refer to it, is actually mentally based. You're sending out TK echoes instead of sound," one of the techs, Dave, said as the good doctor muttered to himself about something. He then went a little further to explain it, "You're able to mentally “feel” your surroundings and make a 3-D map in your mind."

From how they talked about it, it was quite rare for an emergent ability. And it was still hard to find even in those who’d trained for years with their abilities because of the control level inherently necessary. They were quite surprised because having it always active was something they'd never heard of.

The results were similar to EL, but far removed at the same time. With EL, for example, it is limited to near line of sight projection but has the benefit of near super hearing. Yet with TKS one can see through walls and it can be used in conjunction with other abilities, making it far more versatile.

Dave explained it this way, "A regular TK user would have trouble unlocking doors because of the need to visualize what he’s doing," he said indicating the door, "PK users wouldn’t have trouble at all, because all they'd have to do is touch it," he said demonstrating his own ability by carrying it out on the same door."

"Hey, cool, so you’re a PK user I take it?" We asked just to make sure.

"Oh, yes, but what's cool about you is that, as a TK with TKS, you don’t need to get through a door as long as whatever you need is within range…about ten to fifteen meters from what we can tell...

He was interrupted by Doc, who seemed to be constantly talking to himself, “And now for the real torture…” he trailed of as he saw that we’d heard, preferring to act as he hadn’t said it.

And yes, what came next was the “real torture.” The less said about our Regen testing the better. Yet they seemed fascinated with our version of the trait. For some reason, when our attention was on what they were doing, we healed much faster. I had to have a discussion with Ev in her space for them to get an accurate gauge of my regen.

“Just say’n, ya’ll really need a new way to test regeneration abilities,” we said with a hiss as Dave made another cut into our arm.

"Hey, if you can come up with something, be my guest," he said with a grimace, "How do you think I felt? I had cuts for a couple of days when they did this to me," he said pointing at his arm, "you should consider yourself lucky that you heal so fast."

As he was speaking, I heard a grumbling sound that seemed to grow in intensity and settle at a dull roar. As all eyes turned towards us, We belatedly realized the sound had emanated from our stomach. We were embarrassed until our hunger presented us with a new appreciation of the words 'hunger pain.'

As we doubled over, clenching our stomach, we spoke in the most controlled voice we could manage, "NEED.FOOD.NOW!" our best effort came out to all observers as a primal growl that promised loss of limbs if not fulfilled promptly.

"Word to the wise: Don't starve the energizer. They tend to get cranky when hungry," the voice of a member of the Rangers We'd yet to meet in person came from the doorway.

My parents followed behind him and were heralded by a delicious aroma. When they came in bearing food stuffs, We could barely keep from wolfing down everything before they got to eat.

The staff was so excited about getting to use this doodad or that thingamabob that they'd completely forgot to eat too. With so many asking for a bit, We came to know why animals tend to growl over their meals. Even after eating our portion We were still starving.

Doc, seeing out plight, rummaged through on of his many cabinets, "Aha! Found them," he said as he spun around and approached us cautiously, seeing the look in our eyes, "This should help with the hunger you're experiencing," he said unwrapping what looked like a breakfast bar of some kind.

Without thinking I snatched it from his hand and scarfed down most of it before the taste even registered, "BLAK! What is this...it tastes horrible...gulp..." We nearly choked on the last bite, but then noticed that our hunger had abated noticeably.

At our questioning look he explained, "Oh, these are one of my attempts at a deviser food," he said smiling, "though I could never get them to taste any better than burnt rubber," he said scrunching his face, "but one bar can keep a baseline going for a week...if you can get past the taste."

"Tell that to the on you tested the other versions on, Doc," the newcomer muttered from behind my parents.

Via our now very annoying ability, We knew that this was Wes L. Narran, aka: "Billy the Kid." He'd gotten that moniker because he was the youngest of the original four members. He was the team speedster and had a blaster ability thrown into the mix, making him extremely versatile.

The testing gang brought us back from our reprieve when they decided that we’d had enough of a break. That or they’d gotten the results of my last round of torture and wanted more.

They'd been told of our Vi's sensitivity to touch and wanted to test a few things. One benefit to all of that pain was that we also discovered, for some reason, our tail had no problems with synthetic materials. That, of course, prompted another shopping trip much to Mom and Maggie delight, and Dad ultimate horror, when they found out.

After they'd left, We were subjected to a the boredom of 'name the card' to gauge our Telepathy and Esper abilities. We ended up acing them without really trying. Yet We admitted to not seeing what they were beforehand. We also got nothing from touching them, so they scratched both clairvoyance and psychometry.

Cat stepped in to help with helping to describe the odd way my EMP/TP worked. “From my experience, many, if not most, TP’s tend to use the so called "string method" of psi communication,” she illustrated with her finger pointing out a line between both of our heads, “But what I’ve seen with the kid has been completely different.”

“What do you mean? Can you describe it to me?” Doc sounded like a child getting a preview of a new toy.

“When she isn’t shielding, somehow, her TP is working with her other PSI traits,” she explained with confusion evident in her voice, “this is something I’ve never seen before…”

When she trailed off for a moment, Doc motioned her to continue, “And? You’ve gotta give me more than that.”

“It’s like having a phone call,” she grabbed the surprisingly ancient land-line phone from Doc’s desk, “Normally, most TP's have a land line connected to one or multiple other minds and the user has to deal with all of the background thoughts and emotions.”

“And how would you describe what you’ve seen in ZJ’s case?” Doc asked as he furiously scribbled in his notes for future reference.

This question gave her pause for a moment, “ZJ…is more like a Wi-Fi hub. H…She, allows each person in her…bubble, to “connect” to her,” she said holding her hand I a loose spherical shape, “Within this area, even baselines get a…pseudo-psi ability towards her.”

“This is exciting, I’ll need my...and I’ll definitely need to test out my…” Doc descended into devisor babble that no one else could hope to understand.

Dave stepped forwards to try and get more detail seeing that Doc had ventured into his own world, "Sorry about him, he gets a little too wrapped up in his toys,” he said to me, then asked Cat, “Is there anything else you can tell us about ZJ’s ability?”

“Other than that I wish I had it?” she asked with a little genuine jealousy tinging her voice, “Well, the benefit for her is that she doesn’t have to worry about all of the background noise,” she said messaging her temples, “But the drawback is that hers is only reactive to what is directed at her or concerning her.”

“Then why haven’t more people talked to us this way?” We said a little confused.

“It’s is not something most are used to and thus goes unnoticed,” she admitted, “And that’s probably why you hear an “echo” as you call it when you speak…”

She looked like she was about to say more, but we caught her nervous look and realized that she almost mentioned our lie detector ability but cut herself off.

Following the questions, Doc wanted to get right into some of the tests he’d been muttering about. They first had me demonstrate by dropping my shield completely.

“CAN YOU HEAR ME NOW?” Dave thought to me as loud as he could.

“Oh, yes,” we replied pleasantly back to him, “and by the way, it’s all the same volume to us…” We trailed off when his face lit up and he realized we were having a two way conversation.

“This is awesome…” he thought with the excitement of a kid with a new set of walkie-talkies.

Then the other testing geeks had fun leaning to “talk” mentally with us. A few were shocked by our begrudged feelings towards them and their test. Afterwards, they were arguing as to how to rate such an ability, Ev sort of stepped forward as both of our thinking and emotions were similar on the subject.

“No!” their expressions became both fearful and curious as our outburst drew their attention, “We cannot do as you claim,” we continued in a more calming tone, “Our power is not as strong as you claim.”

Some of their speculation was getting out of hand, I mean, Ominous was a villain in that range and he managed to enslaved hundreds at a football stadium before he was brought down. We had to correct their estimates.

“And how do you know that?” one of Doc’s interns asked snidely.

“Oh? I noticed earlier that you have started using plural pronouns. So to whom are we speaking?” Doc asked in a more patient tone.

“We are in unity, separate you know ZJ as our…prime. We also have another within our unity. d’Vra e’Vrun has joined and together we are one,” We said addressing Doc, then turned to the technician, “Her kind developed this ability and its only aim is communication. To force change upon one’s mind is considered a crime in most cultures.”

“Ah, so your other half finally showed itself?” Cat asked.

“No, Ev has no control over our actions. We act as one or We do not act.” I hadn’t even noticed before they mentioned it.

As we spoke as one, though, my emotions took on a fearful quality. As this was the first time this had happened, I was unsure of how to react. Ev seemed to have no trouble with our “merging.” My own fear eventually forced our unity apart and she went back to her space.

One of the techies said something about hating Avatars, but I let it go. Looking at the time, Doc decided that we wouldn’t be able to finish all of the testing today.

Even after the others reminded him that Maverick had denied that I was one, he couldn’t come up with any other way to describe my “unity” with Ev. So Doc went ahead and put me down as an AV-? just for form sake so that I could get more thorough testing later as I developed.

As far as my other ratings, Doc seemed to think I had an affinity for quite a lot. I was labeled tentatively as an Esp-3, TP-3, TK-2, Reg-5, and EX-2 since this was just initial testing. But each had odd limits and advantages. He mentioned something about an Ex-3 mental package but just went with the physical rating as that’s what most were interested in.

Then Doc put the AV-? rating and noted it as highly speculative and could be dropped entirely. He also wondered aloud if I’d had some form of shifter ability that had burned out but disregarded that due to confirmation that I was an exemplar with a BIT.

_____________

Herbert Residence

The kid had done it again. Another TV...in parts.

The new gaming system he _had_ to have...no longer recognizable, though the wrapping was nearby for identification.

Ugh. We'd even taken out two of my...modified, power tools this time.

"I'm gonna have to get a handle on that kid. He's not old enough to send up to the school but...How am I supposed to keep the eventual creation of a WMD from happening in the meantime?" Donna thought rubbing her face to clear the last of the fog her abilities left her with after extended use.

If only he'd had another power. Something not related to her own, she’d be able to deal with him better. Not only that, but he had also gotten her talent for getting in trouble.

"Just breath," she reminded herself as she shook her head, "remembered all of the times you showed off one of your devices to...the people who _called_ themselves your parents," she thought as she let out a frustrated sigh.

Did she once get commended for the cool things she was able to make? No! She was always met with anger. She could no more help that she was driven to invent than she could help that she was a mutant. And, as a child, she didn't have the means to go out and buy things specifically for things she made.

Fortunately, she was allowed to go to Whateley and escape the endless badgering about things she did wrong. She would never treat her son that way. But, because of the nature of his ability, she was always an accomplice anyway.

There was nothing for it. Luckily, the computer had survived the encounter. So she logged on and placed an order for the items she could replace easily...and parts for those she couldn't.

That done, she went to examine the fruit of all of their technological destruction. Her son floated above a platform that emitted an odd glow. The little boy she could remember holding in her arms and making "child friendly" devices for, was gone.

Now a sandy haired thirteen year old _teenager_ had replaced him and she had to deal with the reality of raising a teenage mutant. He'd emerged early and we'd enjoyed the odd bonding experience his powers had created that same day.

His eyes had changed, from his father's green to a midnight blue with gold flecks, when we came out of it. Sigh, yet another reminder to vanish. We didn't even realize it until later that evening because we were so distracted by the device that was the end result.

I was rated as a Devisor 2 and do well enough making little do-dads to sell with just that. But I don't know how to rate what we were able to accomplish together. If it's sy-fy for a Devisor, what do you call it?

Well...if I remember the tech I'd seen in the Tunnels, it was probably in the range of what a DEV-5 or 6 would be able to do. We are still finding new functions on H.E.M.I. (Home Enveloping Maintenance Intellect). Don't ask me how it named itself, I still have no idea how the thing has so many functions.

But somehow our latest creation was tied into it. My son was wearing what looked like a visor that glowed at the same pulse rate as the base that he floated over. When I approached the kid whipped off the visor and gave me the biggest grin I've seen on his face.

"Mom, you've got to try this thing! It has some totally wicked graphics!"

Not one to pass up a new experience, I joined him on the platform, floating up as well, as a visor appeared before me. I pulled it on and was suddenly in another world with him.

"Isn't this awesome?" He yelled over the suddenly loud scene that surrounded us.

____________

The rest of that day was rather uneventful. Their headquarters had a few rooms set aside for just this situation. (Someone figured out that the power testing crew would go overboard and forget any time constraints.) We got to enjoy talking to the Rangers that were on duty that night.

"...And then he goes and wipes out on a skateboard!" Cat burst into laughter, "Nocked himself clean out! I mean for someone that powerful, he had no situational awareness." she said, continuing to laugh with everyone, as she described the downfall of the area's last "Big, Bad, Supervillain."

It turned out that "Dark Cage" really was a formidable villain. But after that humiliating event, he ended up in the "Austin Remediated Meta-Offender Underground Repository." It really was a mouthful just to get A.R.M.O.U.R as an acronym, but they were dead set on it. All joking aside, it lived up to the name.

"It's the only ultramax prison facility in the southern states," Billy explained as he saw confusion on Dad's face, "I helped at the time and it was a bear to get approval for all of the safeguards that were put in," he said rubbing the back of his neck.

"I still don't know how they go the okay for the lava moat...for an _underground_ prison," Cat cut in, "on top of all of the wards and force fields," she added.

"Well, when it's devisor-designed, you gotta take the go with what works for them," he said with a sigh, "but the near perfect record has made it worth any headache it caused."

"Oh, I heard Hiker got out," a younger guy who'd joined us countered.

"Yeah, he's the one prisoner that has escaped," Billy admitted, "he was able to because he possessed a guard and "hitched" a ride out," at Mom's concerned look he went on, "He's back in there, and safeguards are now in place to prevent such from occurring again," he said as we all stood at a call for dinner over the intercom.

On our way to the dining hall, I got to meet Henry C. Thomas. His alter ego was "Kit" Carson, “Yeah, my middle name really is Carson,” he said a little embarrassed by his alter ego name, “Another, simpler, explanation is that "Kit" was the closest they could get to calling me kid.”

“So you’re one of the superheroes here?” I asked as he looked really young for one.

“Heh, I’m only a sidekick or “hero in training” as they call it,” he said rolling his eyes and doing air quotes, “I’m still in high school, and can't go out on any dangerous missions. Sigh...I get to man the control room for the team when they do though.”

“But it’s still kind of a cool job isn’t it?” I asked in confusion over his description of it.
“Oh, it does have some good points,” he said with an odd look towards me.

I was about to question further when Cat cut in, “Down boy,” she said patting him on the head, “she’s a little young and…new to form for you," she siad with a not so subtle hint then laughed as I turned beet red getting what she said.

“Hey Cat…or should I use the M word?” he asked none too cryptically, and she only shrugged.

“She’s your mom?” I asked to clarify as I pointed between the two of them.

“I only claim him when he’s not making a fool of himself,” she said in her defense.

“So, I take it not too often,” I added and couldn’t hide the smirk as he got defensive.

“Hey, no teaming up with the parent,” he said in mock outrage, “isn’t that against the teen code or something?”

“Well sense I am only thirteen,” I said with extra emphasis on our age, “and haven’t been fully briefed on this “teen code,” I continued, copying the air quotes he’d done before, “for this reason I believe I deserve a full pardon.”

Cat simply said, “Granted…” before being cut off by Kit.

“Oh no,” he said emphatically, “parents can’t give pardons for teen code violations. It’s completely out of their jurisdiction.”

“Too late,” I said before doing something completely sophisticated and totally against the guy code by blowing a raspberry at him.

“And" Cat said a little tersely and pointed at us, "she’s the one that we spoke about not trying to hit on,” she said grabbing his ear, “You are to be on your best behavior around her, because everything is new and she’s having a hard time. You hear me mister?”

Of course all he could do is mutter, “Yes Ma’am,” as his eyes and mouth seemed to have locked in the open position that showed his shock at my transformation.

Before the horror of having someone close to my age know my secret set in, the heavenly smells promising wonderful culinary delight wafted from the kitchen area. And…

Dinner was awesome!

The team had its own chef and support staff on payroll. We ended up finally getting full…something that drew the gaping stares of everyone. Even the resident Energizer, Billy, seemed to be impressed as they carted away a stack of _trays_ (with only crumbs reaming) a foot high.

"What? I'm a growing...girl," I nearly stumbled over my new designation as I looked back at the peanut gallery.

"You just out ate Billy, really? Where did you put everything?" Cat asked both rhetorically and incredulously.

Turning to my parents, Billy's only response was to show sympathy saying, "You poor people. You might need to take on another job...or three, just to feed the kid."

Of course that drew laughter from everyone...and a few concerned looks from my parents as they again looked upon the aftermath of _one_ fulfilling meal form me. That much food would have lasted me a couple of weeks before.

I was thinking about the prospect of always being at least a little hungry. That thought brought our "unity" closer and I got a nudge from Ev telling me that We wouldn't have to worry about it for much longer, whatever that meant.

After that, "We" began speaking as one again, which prompted another bout of Q&A. Everyone asked questions. From "Where is Ev from?" to "How does this "unity" that you speak of work?" Then to my horror Mom had to ask something embarrassing.

"How does each of you feel about becoming a real girl?" she asked much to my horror.

After the shock and the resulting jokes about how red we were, we finally mulled over the question, "I…It feels odd...but it also just feels...right?" I ventured, playing with the word, as We couldn't explain it any other way.

Ev was in agreement, as We nodded our head, though We added. "For our other it is also the same. Having physical form and stimuli for emotions is odd for us also. But our unity seems nearly as strong as We'd enjoyed with her people. Something We had never known possible."

"Ugh, the pronouns thing takes some real getting used to, doesn't it?" Billy said as a way to ease up on the embarrassment I'd taken the brunt of. For which I gave him a thankful look and smile.

Dad spoke up at that point with a question for the hero, " So, why have you stayed with the same code name, Billy?" as soon as the question was out there was an audible gasp from the other two.

Looking at the them the with his hands raised he said, "It's okay, I can talk about it," turning to my dad, he pointed to the gray hair above his ears and shrugged, "Yeah, that name hasn't matched my age in years...but I kept it because my late brother..."

Dad broke in, "I'm sorry, I shouldn't have..." but was cut off himself.

"Don't be," Billy said, waving a hand, "he was a baseline, and died years ago of old age. He had picked it out more as a joke," he said looking far off, " but I just wanted to keep the memory of all we did together alive."

Outliving loved ones was a plight that many mutants had to deal with due to the exemplar trait or regen abilities. This only reminded…me of my earlier conversation with Ev and how she'd been so casual about being effectively immortal. I would have dwelled on it more but another question came.

"So, have you picked out a codename yet?" asked Kit to lighten the conversation and succeeded.

"Oh, yeah, I wanted to know that too," Cat said excitedly.

"We...haven't really thought about it much...Can we get back to you on that one?" as We started to yawn as fatigue was catching up to us.

Even with Cat, Billy and Kit there, We were so tired that after we ate dinner that We ended up crashing around 7:30 that night. We were thinking that if We saw a hospital bed again it will be far too soon. Yet the Rangers had sprung for a sharp contrast for which we’ll be eternally grateful.

Eternity, it had new meaning for me but was a concept that seemed so natural for Ev. Just thinking of it was staggering. Imagine looking back and remembering the tree that has long since petrified. Or maybe looking upon your grandchild…only with x107 tacked on to the end.

As We lay half-awake, We discussed the question about what we'd be called, both publicly and privately. It was with these thought that We drifted off. The last thing I heard can only be described as a lullaby coming from Ev, as she tried to soothe my disquieting thoughts. And, yeah, it did help.
______________

Breakfast was great…awesome…no wait, I gotta better one: Epic! (Just remember to do it in a singsong voice in your head and you’re about there.)

Much to our misery, We had _further_ testing to do this morning. The only consolation being that it would only run half of the day…or so Doc promised.

"Not nocking your ability to gauge time but," We gestured to the fact that our presence was still required, "We did go overtime yesterday, hence us being here still."

"There's only a few more tests that are needed," he said defensively as we ate, "how long could they take?" he asked as the ominous feeling grew in our stomach...or maybe it was just the pancakes, eggs, bacon...oh never mind, you get the picture.

W made our way down to the labs via the elevator…that I forgot to mention because I was so distracted earlier. This building had some ten floors _below_ ground level. Think: Super-secret club house, only for grownups…that wear costumes. (Yeah, it loses some coolness there.)

They started me out with the little revelation that I was…somewhat…debatably…just barely…well okay, only tentatively, considered _human_ still! That is, if you consider what humans might turn out like in a million years or so to be the same. Ugh!

The results from my bloodwork were in and included a DNA mapping.

“You are very odd,” Doc said in his, now expected, flat tone, “with so much extra information stored in your DNA, it took extra time to get the results from my mapping system,” Doc broke it down as much as possible, even if was still way over my education level, “...but, as of now, you’re the first “human” to have the honor of bearing the ӾӾ chromosome pattern.”

“What does that mean doctor?” Mom asked sounding worried.

“Oh, for ZJ, not much as far as we can tell other than being a mutant,” he said continuing his cold tone, “Though, I believe we can work out a research deal to help your family deal with some of your expenses. In exchange for rights to study the fascinating adaptations presented in her code, but we can discuss that later. But several research companies will be interested.”

After that exchange, the second round of test wasn’t as bad as the first day. They began with trying to figure out how I was able to fly.

Doc said, "I am thinking that it was just an extension of your TK, but want to be 100% sure," as he gestured us toward a five by five…vault, so in I went.

“Now ZJ,” Dave said over and intercom, “try to stay at the same level throughout the test,” he continued as a whirring sound could be heard.

If I’d had claustrophobia, I would have suffered in that thing just listening to an odd humming noise. The reason? They left me in there for twenty minutes and nothing happened. Nada, zip, zilch!

“Couldn’t ya’ll at least put some elevator music in this thing or something?” We asked no one in particular.

We were beginning to wonder what had gone wrong when the noise abruptly stopped and the really thick door swung open on its own. Taking that as my que to exit, I floated out to be greeted by slack jawed expressions from the testing crew. Dave was grinning broadly as he slipped a wad of cash into his lab coat pocket. Doc gave him a withering look before turning back to me.

“ZJ,” he started in a flat tone, “could you please describe what you felt within that machine?” he asked as he pointed to it.

“What do you mean, Doc? We thought that something went wrong with the thing because all that was noticed by us was the odd humming sound. Why’d ya’ll leave us in there so long?” of course was our confused response.

“Okay, definitely a Warper of some kind,” he said going over to the charts.

“Didn’t you tell us that you thought that it was from the TK?” Ev was as confused as I was, hence the duel talk and pronouns.

“Ah!” he said as if he’d had an epiphany, “No insight from your passenger either?” he questioned. When We shook our head, he continued.

“We may have just found…one of your definite mutant traits by accident,” he mused, “Since your…other half didn’t know of it…not a traditional Avatar…or maybe working in conjunction to the AV trait and energizer… it’s something that must have…yes… it must allowed your partnership in some way she’s never seen before….” by this point he was talking to himself.

“What are you talking about Doc?” We asked as he was still lost in his thoughts.

“And Warper powers are so varied and little understood…Tell me? You said something about her being in some kind of “space” of her own, right?”

“Yes, e’Vrun resides within us. We are able to communicate and see each other within her space with telepathy too,” We answered as another lightbulb flashed over his head.

Doc rushed over to a workbench that looked strewn with half-finished bits of his inventions and hurriedly threw something together. Returning with what looked to me to be a _very_ wide needle and had me hold out my arm. He quickly applied some clear gel that made that area tingle slightly.

“We thought that you wouldn’t need more samples doctor?” our question was a little on the terse side, but We were getting tired of being a pincushion by this point.

“No, no, this isn’t to draw blood or anything,” he said holding up the jury-rigged device, “This is a light emitting probe that I just rigged up with camera on the tip.”

"So, what is it supposed to do?"

"Hold out your arm over the table please," As I did, he unceremoniously stabbed me in the arm with the thing!

And yes I did let out a slight scream at this also. We'd like to see you try holding it in when someone stabs you and then we’ll talk about how well you do.

The device had to be at least eight inches long and he stabbed it in almost all of the way! The crazy thing was that it didn’t even come out the other side of my scrawny arm. Yet Doc was able to get an idea of what I was doing.

"What the...?” is all we could manage, but Doc seemed to have just confirmed something that had been bothering him.

“Well that confirms it," he said making another note in my chart, "you fall under a little known class called Intra-Spatial Warping,” he continued excitedly, “it’s something I’ve only read is in the “theoretical” range of Warper abilities,” he said as he wrote as quickly as possible, “this must be how you manage flight. Not by TK as I assumed, but by warping your spatial orientation thus ignoring thinks like gravity, inertia and friction.”

I waved my hand in front of his face as he spoke and got no response, “Yeah, he’s in deviser land again,” Dave said from a few feet away.

When he finally came out of it, Doc tried to explain it, “In some ways, your power has made you something like a balloon,” he said holding his hands to resemble one, “You can hurt the outside by poking it with a needle, but it won’t necessarily “pop” unless the needle is too big or the balloon is unstable,” he thought for a moment more, “you also heal very quickly because you’re only having to heal a few layers of skin.”

“We know that look,” we said in a wary tone as he started towards the are we’d done the Regen testing, “oh no, not the torture treatment again.”

Of course my protests didn’t stop them from testing my Regen again. At least there were no sharp objects this time around. On the other hand, getting hit with a small hammer isn’t fun either. We found that we were most definitely vulnerable to blunt force trauma.

"Since the normal laws of kinetics don't apply to you the same as everyone else," Doc started in on his exposition, "you'll have to be aware of the dangers," he said pointing towards the receding black and blue marks on our arm.

He had us follow him towards a heavy bag for demonstration, "Now hit this bag," after fulfilling his wish, with a little too much enthusiasm, the bag swung back and forth wildly on a creaky chain.

"Normally, when you hit something, it moves with the force of the blow," he said pointing to the effect that our strike had. Then he motioned for Dave to hold onto it.

"Now hit it again," We did so and were rewarded with a sizable tear in said bag along with a sore hand for our troubles, "With you, ZJ, your warping will make you absorb the entire blow," he pointed towards the damaged exercise bag to make the point for him, "Try to keep this lesson in mind."

We got the point. Our ability would hurt whoever hit us, but would cause even more damage to us. It was something We’d have to watch out for since he ended up nocking us back down to a Regen-3. But this also revealed that We were effectively immune to sharp or pointy objects.
________

The next test was form the Mage rating. They brought in Maverick as one of my testers, who I’d learned was some sort of federal agent or something that had recently moved from further east. They also brought in Cochise as my other tester.

We followed the two of them to a different area, far removed from Doc's labs. Entering the room was odd for the fact that my parents seemed to be more impressed at what they were seeing. To me it just looked like a room with odd looking murals drawn on the walls, floor and ceiling.

"You don't see anything odd," Dad asked when We didn't react as they had.

"No, other than some odd artwork on the walls and stuff, there's nothing really exciting to see," We said with a little confusion.

Maverick seemed to count this as odd himself, "That artwork should be glowing even to the most magically resistant I've come across," he said incredulously, "You're telling me you don't see anything?" he asked in disbelief.

"Ev's race forsook magic, as a form of cheating, many ages," We answered in reply, "nothing but the most powerful of wills can get near our defenses against such things."

Shaking his head, he had us hold onto a crystal and do everything but jump up and down...while scratching our head.

"We have no idea what we were supposed to be accomplishing with this," we complained, intoning a bit of sarcasm as we gave up on what he was tying to have us do.

“I mentioned this to the others, but I can’t find any inherent magic within you, ZJ,” he seemed slightly disturbed by this, “Nothing, not even luck, so you won’t have any at all from now on...literally or metaphorically," he said scratching his head.

"Oh joy," we said in a dry tone, "just what we wanted to hear."

"But you are conversely not affected by it from the outside," he said as he demonstrated by trying some on us. After the puff of smoke and sparks cleared, Maverick stood blinking his eyes as if he'd seen a bright light or something.

As he regained his composure, We asked, "So, what does all of this mean for us?"

"Well..." he rubbed his eyes to help get rid of the spots, "my own opinion is that you should become skilled at whatever you do, because you’re not gonna have it easy kid.”

After giving back the crystal, he addressed another rating altogether, "As for the Avatar question, as far as I can tell from what you two have told me, is that you were a nascent Avatar," he said to my obvious confusion, "But your companion doesn’t fall strictly under the "spirit" category. The closest we can come is a class 3 entity."

"You don't sound very sure to us," We replied at what sounded like guess work to us.

"Ev, as you call her, is effectively blocking any and all magic, none of our tests...much less another spirit, can reach your hollow," he said shaking his head, "In effect, as long as you two are joined, you aren't a true Avatar anymore."

"So I would have been...an Avatar that is?" I asked as Ev needed no confirmation.

"Well, the dreams are a big clue there...I seriously doubt you were able to attract _the_ Tiamat. "The Glistening One" is definitely a high level spirit. If it's true, then the other you talked to might have been Quetzalcoatl. But that's neither here or there."

After Maverick had put us through his trials, We were passed along to the next tester. Thing turned out differently when Cochise stepped forward, speaking in that same strange language as before. Only now I could understand him better.

“Good health to young Princess of Light,” he said casually, somehow knowing we’d understand him despite the heavy accent added to Ev’s language over the years.

“We see you decedent of the B’Vacu'Am, and wish you well also...She would be happy to know that her children have survived this long,” We continued in his tongue.

Instead of the crystal that Maverick had tried to get me to make glow somehow, without preamble, Cochise handed us a golf ball size piece of turquoise. This, like our earlier experience upon the Rock, had very dramatic results.

Gasp!

Maverick stood slack jawed as not only did the piece of stone glow, but it changed shape as well. When it was done, it had formed into the most uniform cube you can imagine. It also became more gem-like. A clear turquoise exterior surrounded a brightly glowing center.

Of course, Cochise was overjoyed by this outcome and let me know why, "Our people have only legends of the effects of you True Light young Princess,” he said awed by the sight before him, “And only myths of the great darkness that destroyed nearly all evidence of our once proud people," his grimly weathered face changed completely as a smile overtook his normal stone features, "To have the light of the d’Vra among us again is a great honor,” he went on as he knelt in a formal bow.

At first, when I offered it back, he refused, "...it is too precious for one so old and feeble," but, at our insistence, he eventually accepted it from us.

The affects were immediate, as a bright flash of light enveloped and revitalized him. Although he didn’t get younger, when the light dissipated there was a marked difference in his stature as he seemed to not need to stoop any longer. After this, he carved out a larger whole in his staff so that it would fit and placed it snuggly within.

After this display, Maverick was adamant that it wasn’t magic. Ev actually agreed, explaining clearly as mud, how the Vra had long ago become attuned to the mineral they’d called a’Va.

"This is how We were able to store some of our energy within the stone," We explained, and when they didn't understand We went on, "...the best way to describe it is to liken it to both a battery and a seed," We said cryptically, with Ev more or less telling me as We spoke.

"I can see how it's a battery," Doc said as he franticly pulled devices and gadgets out to take measurements, "but how is it like a seed also?"

"If it isn't destroyed, one day it will gain sentience and be "born," in a sense, as one of the Vra."
We said as my proverbial jaw hit the floor. Ev, feeling my panic, called me into her space.
"Be calm young one. I know you to be troubled by this news, but you mustn’t fear something so precious."
"But...from what you said...we're already _parents_ in a sense...Aren't we?"

"As I said, calm down ZJ. An empowered a'Va would take _decades_ to mature among the Vra, and that is the most ideal conditions imaginable."
[/i][/b]
"So...How long would it take here?"

"Given the most _ideal_ conditions here on Earth, it would be at least a century for an a'Va to gain enough energy to mature."
[/i][/b]

"Sigh! Wow. Near heart attack there...a little warning next time would help. I don't know if I'm ready to think of having children, let alone _alien_ children...or if I ever will be."
_________

Once We'd returned our focus to the outside world, she explained further to everyone just what We'd talked about. Only adding that the energy within the stone would continue to draw upon Psi energy of it's holder, sort of like a solar collection system does with light. She also mentioned that _We_ could draw from its power, almost like it was an external battery.

Yet an a'Va wouldn't produce much unless it "bonded" first. This wasn't surprising, seeing that human babies only grow properly with loving attention. Yet, since it had obviously bonded with Cochise, this one would continue to grow. Gulp!

Seeing what a great honor our gift was, Cochise offered to give it back. It didn't surprise me for, in a sense, we'd just given him our "first-born." But We would have none of this...Well I wasn't one to take back a gift. Ev on the other hand was in agreement for another reason.

"Once an a'Va has bonded, the Vra chose to refer to them no longer as a'Va," We said as We tried to get our point across, "The bond you now share with this z'Va, it is something sacred to the Vra," as Ev thought how to best phrase it, We paused for a moment, "Similar to your people's parent-child relationship, as it will gain much of its own viewpoint from you."

He again tried to give it back, as he put it, "I am unworthy of such an honor, young Princess," he tried to reason, "I am old and have only a few years to give to such a great task..." he would have continued but We cut him off.

"Never relinquish it over false humility," We said making a hand motion to cease such at once, "The only way to pass this one on is if you find another with whom it will choose to bond with. Never call upon it in anger or for evil ends, for this could make it display such qualities itself," We said releasing a single tear, "Protect it, and it will protect you as well," We said quietly.

After Ev's description, Doc decided to chalk it up to yet another of her abilities and not mutant in origin. Yet Cochise ended up giving us the small bag he’d had in the cave. Within was contained a sizable quantity of turquoise.
_________

The last test started with a table covered in a pile of broken gadgets and a few devices. The end result surprised everyone. Once I approached the table, we couldn't help ourselves. In short order, we'd assembled a multi-phase energy coupling, some flight boots, two particle guns of different types, and a pair of force gauntlets.

Most of the devises were left untouched. Yet one helmet stood out from the rest, actually making sense. Taking out one of the pieces of turquoise, We empowered it and placed it within said device. And it worked!

Since it was a device, Doc wanted to mark us as a Devisor, but We refused such a notion. We found out later that the power supply was the only pure device in it. When tested, it actually worked better with one of our cubes anyway.

As Doc was about to mark me as a Gadgeteer-2, Ev suddenly became playful...

***************

The next thing we remembered after the fog wore off, everyone was staring at us. I looked around and found that, during the time lapse, we'd created something that was unexpected. Doc began excitedly babbling about how cool our creation was.

Upon the table stood a small mechanoid made out of what we'd mentioned earlier. The middle portion was comprised of the coupling device with arches of energy connecting the other pieces. All of this was powered by the one cube in the helmet. When we or Cochise directed it to do something, it would without fail carry it out with an eerie intelligence.

We (mainly Ev) explained that, when We were in agreement, our ability with technology was greatly boosted by her knowledge. Even though I was technically a lower level gadgeteer, I was adapting tech from _Ev's_ memories with our own.

Yet, since We were getting a boost to my ability from Ev, Doc went ahead with his original rating anyway. As he was writing everything down, Ev let me know she wanted to talk. So into her space I went.
"Please forgive me for that."
"What do you mean? That was pretty cool seeing what we were able to do when we're united."
"No, this is very dangerous. The people of this planet aren't ready for the technology of mine."


"It's just a robot...Isn't it?"
"No...It is much more than that. Even now, it is absorbing Psi energy and growing to an extent. As I said before, the a'Va are like seeds. Remember?"
[/b][/i]
"Of course I remember. How can I forget that we are a sort-of mother already?"
[/i]
"Let us try another illustration. Think of a child raised in a bad environment. Is that innocent likely to grow up to be a model citizen?"
[/b][/i]

"No...Lots of'm end up on the street or working for criminals."
[/i]
"Yes. Now to go along with this, what if we had the ability to pick who gets to be that child's parents instead?


"Well I wouldn't give'm to bad parents or criminals..."
[/i]

"Likewise, we must choose wisely so that none of our a'Va bond with those who would corrupt them. Even within this automation, this a'Va is vulnerable. You wouldn't leave a child lying around for anyone to come and collect, would you?
[/i]
[/b]

"Of course not, not with all of the monsters out there today!"
[/i]

"Likewise we cannot leave this one behind."
[/i]

************
With that, We unitedly retrieved the a'Va from our creation so that it wouldn't fall into the wrong hands. It sunk into our hand and out of sight. Testing our ability, We reached _through_ and grabbed it out of the pocket space it had disappeared into. After that We just let it go back into our hand. (Which I didn’t tell Doc about...What a girl's gotta have her secrets.)

All done with his last test, Doc printed off our initial power ratings. The sheet had a lot of other junk but listed us as: Warper-3(xi)(vb), Regen-3, Psi-3(Limited), Energizer-2, Telekenitic-2, Gadgeteer-2, and Exemplar-2.

He also gave me a copy with the more technical details he'd observed.

"Now this has instructions for more testing on the less obvious traits," he told us as we were all heading for the elevator, "We haven't been able to test for everything, but you keep it away from any government agency," he said making sure that I kept it separate from my rating sheet.

He paused and tried to hand me a thick envelope, "This is a pamphlet for a boarding school up north that I spoke with your parents about," but Dad swiped before I had even gotten to look at it.

At our questioning look, he acted as if it was no big deal, "Well read it over and discuss it later," he said with an oddly cool tone.

Our ratings seemed a little on the low side to me, but he said that these were just preliminary anyway. There seemed to be more leeway than later tests.

"This is due to the understanding that: a) you may develop something new; b) new understandings might develop; or c) something might have gotten labeled wrong the first time around," the last point had him rolling his eyes.

We questioned about the Psi rating and got a lecture explaining his reasoning. It had to do with how our Esper traits were so connected with our TK and TP. He chose not to give them separate ratings because it would draw even more attention to me. (And to the surrounding area, for some reason, I gleamed from my ability.)

And with that final test complete, we were through with testing. Hurray! Now we had to go have an interview with the MCO, who had been trying to arrest me at the hospital. Yeah, out of the frying pan and all.

_______

At least they'd allowed me a small reprieve to refuel. Lunch, like breakfast was, again, awesome! (Don't forget the singsong voice. You must use that so it comes out right.) And after my fourth tray, we were able to get a nice size portion of three layer chocolate cake. It had just the right amount of bittersweet chocolate in between each layers and shavings of it on top too.
.........Heaven........

On top of everything else, my sense of taste had gone up a level, so that's what We think it was closest too. As this was our first experience with chocolate as a girl, We were both caught off guard against its effects. Or foodgasm gained us unwanted attention and pot shots from the peanut gallery.

"Damn. I wish it was that good for me," Kit loudly whispered.

"Yep, girls get too much out of that stuff," Maverick stage whispered back.

"Hey _I'm_ a girl and I'm jealous of that look," Cat said pointing at me.

After they had their fun at our expense, We were left in what looked like an interrogation room for thirty minutes while waiting for the MCO agents to arrive. To say the least, our experience with them was enlightening. Especially with the new senses telling me exactly when they were lying, bluffing, or omitting something important.

We knew who they really were, but choose not to give a name them because they seemed like cookie cutouts more than people. It went something like this:

Agent 1: We need your full name for our records please.
Lie.

Agent 2: We have eyewitness reports of you causing havoc out at the Rock.
Lie.

Agent 1: All we want is for you to sign this statement and we can get you some
leeway from the local office.
Lie/Omission.

Agent 2: If you don't sign this statement, we have been given a warrant allowing
us to detain you pending trial for unlawful use of mutant abilities.

Lie/Bluff.
[/i]

Agent 1: We're trying to help you here, your refusing to talk isn't helping you one bit. We can keep your record clean if you work with us here...

Major Lie/Omission.
[/i]

Us: "Sigh...So let us see if We have this right...

One: You aren't supposed to know my name.

Two: You have no eyewitnesses...

Three: That statement has some legalese trap hidden in it...

Four: If we don't sign it, you have no "legal" recourse...

Five: You would rather throw yourselves in front of a moving bus than help us...

Six: And if we sign this, it'll probably go on some very public record or something. Then we somehow go missing in the shuffle...

Is that about it agents?" as We listed off each of our replies, they sat wide eyed and got increasingly angry with each point.

At that point We pushed their "statement" back across the table to them. Along with it We also handed them our own, signed and notarized, statement that detailed the events that led up to our hospitalization.

(With marks on the end of each line, so they couldn't change or add anything.)

Of course, we omitted a certain passenger so that We didn't end up in some government research facility. When We tried to give them my preliminary test results, they all but threw it back at us.

"We are the MCO, Ms. Jane Doe. We aren't a delivery service for your convenience. You can take that up to the Llano MCO office yourself. Good day," Agent 1 said in a less than friendly tone as Agent 2 gathered their paperwork.

"We'll be seeing you soon," Agent 2 said ominously, as the made their way to the door and out of the Rangers HQ.

I think I heard one of them make a comment about "today's youth being untrusting" or something...But in a much more creative sentence structure. If only We had a tape recorder, We'd send a copy to his mother...along with a bar of lye soap for the hard to clean places.

But I figured out that I can stash other thing in my pocket space. That’s were my testing information went so that I didn’t need to fold it up or anything in my pockets.
________

Peter wasn't surprised one bit at the information he'd just gotten. The two agents he'd sent in to interview the freak called in and reported that they couldn't get anything useful. Not even its name. The supers had to have coached her on that trick, though he knew they'd only work for so long anyway.

"Well at least we know it a girl mutie now," he muttered sarcastically.

"So are we on for "Plan B" then?" Merritt asked impatiently.

"Of course we are. I didn't expect to get anything out of that farce anyhow," Peter nearly
spat, "Interviewing a mutant in the "Heroes" HQ, I think that's as close to "behind enemy lines" as we can get. What's next, meeting a breakout in a supervillain layer?"

"I still can't believe they got this approved in the first place," Merritt said incredulously.

"Doesn’t matter, all we have to do is follow the plan," Peter said gesturing towards the transponder that showed two active signals within the parking lot of the Rangers HQ.

"Well...Let’s hope everything go according to plan," Merritt hesitantly looked at his watch and back at the building, just as the group of mutants emerged to send the newly hatched monster into the world.

After an unbearably long send off, the freak was almost drug to on of the bugged vehicles.

"Target is riding in a blue sedan," he said into his handheld, "I repeat, forget about the truck, and set up our decoy road construction," he said tersely, "I don't want no concerned citizens getting this on their cell phones."

The radio squawked back with various forms of "affirmative," from the support team.
Turning to Peter, Merritt had to make sure, "You do have the sedatives prepped and ready, right?"

"We've got everything covered," Peter said grinning. He caught sight of the young mutant that matched Agent Wilson's description, as they drove by, "What could go wrong?" the question left his mouth as he belatedly kicking himself for tempting Murphy's Law.

"You just had to ask, didn't you?" Merritt asked after cursing his partner, feeling that this operation was now doomed somehow.
_________

We'd only known the Rangers for about a week, but that simple fact didn't change anything. In that seemingly small amount of time our friendship with each of them had grown.

Realistically speaking, how much quality time do you get with friends anyway? If you’re in school or at work you may see them and possibly joke around. But how much time do you really get to talk with them? Often, that question surprises many people to contemplate.

Yet We had been given about a week of truly coming to know each other. Our ability to judge truth from lie served as both a hindrance and a massive aid in this regard. It also helped us to both see the flaws along with the virtues of our companions.

So it was with tearful (No, I'm not ashamed to admit it) goodbyes that we parted with the intent of staying in touch. We also made plans to return next year to return to the area and the group as a whole would join us in shifts for a week of camping out at the Rock.

"We've go your numbers, and we have to plan that shopping trip next month," Mom said addressing Cat.

"Oh, you better believe it," Cat replied, "I don't get to head down to Houston often, so I have to make it count when I do," the heroine said as she gave my mom a hug.

As they parted, We noted a conspicuous black SUV parked down the street, but didn't pay it much mind because she turned to us next.

"Now, as for you young lady," she said in mock sternness, "you will be present and happy to be accompanying us as we shop our hearts out. Do you understand me missy?"

"Ugh," We started to object but got "the look" and revised my reply, "Yes Ma'am," and no We didn't squeak...well maybe a little.

"That's what I like to hear," she exclaimed as she wrapped us in a big hug.

Dad had opted to drive the truck home along with Maggie. (Of course, she would probably be spoiled with an array of treats before they got home.) He had mentioned that he'd pick up dinner as we'd all be arriving back home later that afternoon.

Our plan was that Mom laid out by Mom, "Well, we're first gonna drive up to Llano on our way home," she said showing my dad her cellphone with the course set in, That will allow us to get ZJ's MID printed officially at the local MCO office.

"Yeah, Cat had mentioned that, since they responded to his emergence, she'd have to check in at their office. I still can't believe they'd be that petty, holding onto the paperwork for weeks..." he said starting to get angry all over again.

It seems that that office, in particular, was notorious for delaying any MID case transfers as a matter of course. So the choice was to either bite the bullet and deal with the bigoted office...Or wait as much as a month without an MID. And during that time, if we were caught using our power, we could be arrested or worse.

"I know honey," Mom said trying to calm him down, hence, why he wasn't taking us, "but, with her unable to turn off her flight...it'd be hard to keep her off the local H1!'s radar," she said trying to reason with him.

"Mom, it's not that bad," We kind of whined, "We just have to work on to resemble normal walking," We tried to counter, but she knew what we were up to.

"And what's going to hide your hair and tail?" she questioned as she turned her power of reason upon us, with a conspiratorial wink, "you could get in trouble with our local office. Then, to top off that crappy situation, the Llano office could step in with trumped up claims like they'd tried to use already,"

Then Dad had to go and side with her, which was our goal anyway, "Who's a judge gonna listen to, the MCO or a mutant brought in for not having a proper MID only a testing printout almost a month old?" he asked rhetorically, but his irritation had been replaced by reason at that point.
______

"Come on ZJ, we need to get going so that we don't hit traffic in Austin," Mom chided me as we were saying goodbye to Cochise.

(And telling him, in no uncertain terms, of the consequences if he failed to protect the bond he and the young z'Va had formed.)

She nearly had to drag us to the car because none of us wanted to part with our new...family in the Rangers. Cat had become close as soon as we'd confided in her about our ability and now we'd shed many tears together in parting.

But, for each of us in our unity, the prospect of leaving one of our empowered cubes behind weighed heavily upon us. Only with Cochise’s assurance, along with a promise from Doc not to tamper with it, could We finally depart.

"You look like I did," Mom started, breaking the silence that our tears had brought, "when I had to leave you for your first day of school," she said as we turned on to the highway.

"Ugh. Is it gonna be this hard every time?" We asked as Mom only chuckled, "Okay, stupid question, we know," We said with a little bit of a pout.
Last Edit: 4 years 7 months ago by Pioneer.

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4 years 8 months ago - 4 years 7 months ago #8522 by Pioneer
Pioneer replied the topic: Two Become One - Part 2
"Hey now, I know how hard it is," she said pulling me into an awkward side hug. "I'm just having trouble with wrapping my head around this whole situation."

"How so?" We asked, thankful for a little distraction.

"Think about it from my perspective." she said turning onto the Highway 16, the main road to Llano. "A week ago, I rushed up here because my son got hurt. Only when I arrive, I find that my son is now my daughter. That’s on top of learning that she just manifested as a mutant and is bound to an alien symbiont. Now add in that I am now a grandmother to be...in a hundred years or so! Like I said, it's just a lot to take in."

"Yeah We can see how it could get a little confusing...ya'know, for a grandmother," of course our joke was met with her figuring out that, yes, we are still ticklish in the extreme.

Fortunately, my _new_ new wardrobe included a light wind breaker with hoodie jacket that covered both my hair and tail. So we were able to stop for gas and some drinks. This was where Ev finally got to experience the rush of caffeine from the fountain drinks we'd picked up for the drive. She was surprised that humans willingly drink carbonic acid on a day to day basis, but after the first sip she couldn't get enough.

Especially when We found that it dulled the growing headache we had from that constant whining noise that was starting to get ridiculous. In quick order our cola was half gone. I had to step in and forcefully put it down so we wouldn't need a pit stop to prevent a ruptured bladder.

Mom brought up the question again and added to it, "Have you thought about your name? And not just your code name for the MID. I'm talking about your civilian name?"

"Yeah, We've discussed both, but hadn't really come up with much," We answered with a little frustration. "Ev wanted to commemorate her own change in some way, while I was unsure of changing my old name in the first place."

"You know that, before we knew you were gonna be a boy, we'd picked out another name for a girl?" Oh no, the dreaded 'You'd Have Been Called' talk that every boy dreads.

"Mmmooommm! No girly names..." I started to whine; yes I do that occasionally, but was cut off.

(You don't have to give me the exact count Ev. And put that sharpie away, I'm haven't done it that many times.)

"Really? Oh good because we were gonna name you _Zoey_ if you were...are a girl." she said with a mischievous grin. But all thoughts of girly names were put aside when it came into view.

About twenty minutes into our trip we saw it. This was the first time she'd observed Enchanted Rock in the daylight. Yet our memories from b'Vacu made it a strong reminder of the loss that she'd so recently experienced. Mom noticed the tears streaming down my face and did what mom's do best.

"Want to talk about it?" She asked in a tone that suggested we didn't have to if it was too hard.

"It's just something from Ev's memories." I answered thinking it was something she wouldn't be interested in.

"Well, since you two are the same now...that makes her my daughter as well." Mom said matter of factly.

Our heart swelled with appreciation and love, that I'm sure Mom felt because we'd forgotten about shielding. As we related b'Vacu's tale to her, it was almost therapeutic. She listened intently and asked questions about anything that was unclear. To tell others of the great sacrifice that was made was an honor that we would have to remember to relate.

All and all, we were having a great mother-daughter discussion on our little road trip. Yet, as the Vra would say, "things change, as they often do." The first sign of trouble came in the form of Mom stiffening and looking into the rearview mirror. She let out a muffled curse about being pulled over for nothing. We thoroughly confused about this.

________

"Everything is going according to plan." Peter said to his partner, who'd been fretting in the passenger seat.

"Miracle of miracles." Merritt said under his breath. "At least the hard part is nearly over. We just gotta nab the mutie and get out of here without being seen."

As if that were the cue, Peter flipped a switch on the center console. They couldn't see it, but the image of a police car immediately appeared in their place, instead of their government issue SUV. Immediately the car in front of them started slowing down. All they'd have to do is tranq the driver after getting the thing inside the force-field and they'd be set. Yet when they were, close enough, he could see the freak turn around and say something to the driver.

"Damn. I don't think the illusion is fooling the little monster," Merritt said as the car suddenly sped up.

This eventually built up to a high speed chase that, fortunately for them, they realized the car couldn't win. There was no way the car could outrun them, but that didn't mean they couldn't win by attrition. Llano was approaching fast as Peter made up his mind and acted on it. There was no time to tell his partner his plan, so instead, he began carrying it out.

"Like hell am I gonna let it get away after all the work we've done to catch it." He snarled as he floored the accelerator.

"What are you doing, McDaniel?" Merritt asked starting to panic at both the rapidly shrinking distance between the vehicles and the murderous look of contempt that crossed his partner's face. "Slow down, !%**^. Are you trying to hit them?"

"I'm just gonna give'm a tap to let them know we're not play'n their cat and mouse game no more." He said to reassure his partner as he pushed the accelerator a little more and slammed into the back of the car.

Crash!

"Peter, it's not worth it! We can catch the next one if they get away!" Merritt said as his partner went for a repeated after seeing that his first attempt had failed.

"You won't escape me this time little freak!" He said as he floored the accelerator one more.
_______

"What's going on Mom?" We asked as she started to slow down.

"The police car behind us with the lights flashing…that is a sign that we need to pull over." She answered as if this was an obvious thing that We should have known.

Turning around, I tried to see what she was talking about through the back window. "Ugh. Mom, that's not a police car...And it doesn't even have any flashing lights. It's just a black SUV."

"What are you talking about, ZJ?" She asked as a cold dread settled into our stomach. "I can see it plain as day, and now he's right on my tail too." she went on, as the feeling got worse. We could now feel their thoughts and emotions towards us and _knew_ there was no way they were here to 'serve and protect.'

"Mom, listen to us," We said in a panicked tone, "those are not police in any form. Why would a police car be out here, it's out of their jurisdiction? State Troopers are the ones that patrol this area, right?" We reasoned with her, "The SUV behind us has some kind of illusion on it. Whatever you do, don't pull over. If you do, we'll never see each other again," taking one look at us Mom knew that We were certain.

What followed was a high speed chase that could have been showcased in one of the blockbuster movies. There was plenty of squealing tires and all. But we couldn't out run them in our little car but we only had about fifteen miles to go and then we'd be in Llano. With people around, we hoped that they'd give up.

Crash!

Both Mom and ourself lurched forward as our assailants rammed into the back of our car. The fuel economy of our smaller vehicle was proving to be decidedly less important than sheer size in this instance. As Mom fought to keep control of the car, she looked over at me. When We saw the fearful look in her eyes We knew that she'd barely managed it with that first hit.

Why didn't We just use our powers, you ask?

Well for starters, you don't wake up after a breakout with an instinctive knowledge of how to do things. That comes with time and training. Also, as the SUV hit us the first time, We panicked. There's no getting around that, as We locked up Ev's instincts pushed one way and mine just didn't register over the fear.

If We were able to at that moment, We would have relinquished control to her. Unfortunately, that wasn't possible. You ever have one of those moments looking back that, if you'd acted, you could have prevented something terrible. This was one of those moments in my life, and sadly the events played out...very, terribly.

"Hang on ZJ, they’re gonna hit us again!" Mom all but screamed, as we both braced ourselves. It didn't help, but at least we tried.

Crash! .......Bang!

We don't know what was in the road that did it. But, as we were being pushed by our pursuers, something caught the sidewall of the rear passenger tire. With the additional pressure put upon it as we started fishtailing, the tire exploded. Simple physics played out as the car sank four inches while being pushed from the other side. You've probably seen it many times in police chase videos.

It's not surprising that we ended up in a horrible wreck. We were sent barrel rolling off the road, through an old T-post fence and into a rocky ravine that provided absolutely no shock absorption. Sometime within all of this going on, We passed out.
_______

Crash! .......Bang!

With those sound, Agent Jake Merritt could only watch in horror as the car they'd been tailing flipped and continue rolling off the road.

This couldn't be happening. They had everything planned out. They'd had backup plans. Now everything was going FUBAR and he could only watch as his partner caused it.

“@$#%, @$#%, Peter! What did you do?” he yelled as he watched the small car land with a sickening crunch at the bottom of a ravine.

Peter slammed on the breaks as he yelled back his reply. “I don’t know! All I did was nudge them…Shit…The freak’s mother was in there. We can’t be here. We’ve got to leave no,” he stammered as Merritt ignored what he'd said and bolted from the vehicle.

“I’ve gotta go check it out. If the mother survived we’ve got to get her to a hospital pronto,” Merritt called back to his partner.

All that could be heard from Peter was a vicious string of foul explanatives and an equally useless beating of the steering wheel, as Merritt made the treacherous climb down. The first thing he noted was the amount of blood on the windshield of the wrecked car.
With a sickening feeling that steadily grew he approached the driver’s side door or where it should have been. The…remains of it were strewn as much as twenty feet away. When he reached the shattered remains of both the car and it occupants, he froze for a moment…just before emptying his stomach upon the rocky ground. He continued dry heaving well after it was empty.

Peter saw his partner’s reaction and knew without a doubt, there was not hope. As Merritt made the climb back up to the road, he could see that this wasn’t something that would not just blow over if they were seen. He was tempted to go put a few in the mutie, just to make it all worth it. But, he saw the look on Merritt’s face and resigned himself to whatever his fate may be.

“Th…Ugh...No...Nothing could survive that,” Merritt said as his stomach threatened a repeat performance.
When he looked at his partner his face had turned pale and his eyes had gone as cold as the abyss, “We... are no longer....partners,” he said over the spamming of his stomach. Though stuttered they were said with a cold surety that one would never use unless forgiveness was impossible.

“Jake…I’m sorr…” Peter tried but was cut off by his now former partner.

“No, Peter. I’ll only have nightmares of what I just saw for years to come if I’m lucky. You are responsible for it and I had my own share in how it happened,” he said and, as his ex-partner tried to get a word in, he cut him off again. “You’re already guilty of murdering those two and I’m an accessory for not reporting it. Do not speak to me again…ever!” he all but yelled at the driver.

Merritt shut the door as Peter drove off. Despite the time they’d spent as partners, and to an extent had been friends, the ride back to the Llano office was dead silent. The entire trip back and well into the next day, Peter was quietly justifying his actions to himself.
______

Hwy 16, Just Outside of Llano

“This is what you get for not living closer to civilization, Donna,” I mutter to herself.

I look into the rearview mirror to make sure that everything was secure. The brown shipping boxes have been strapped down but you could never trust that something wouldn’t go wrong. The postal driver had called me earlier in the day and let me know, in no uncertain terms, that he didn’t have room to carry it all.

At least I knew better than to use one of the bigger companies. I’d learned that the hard way years ago, when my husband and I had first move out to the old mining site. Turns out that, for some reason, all of the delivery drivers ended up lost, broke down or ran out of gas along the way. And it happened even after I’d posted a sign stating the distance to our house. So now I use a teleporter service to bring it to the local post office instead.

I noted several emergency lights flashing in the distance and worried that someone had been injured again. I’ve been getting worried about how fast people were driving past our road. It would only be a matter of time before someone had a major accident and said a quick prayer that no one died.

Turning upon my road, I tried to take it easy so that I didn’t make the cargo shift. It wasn’t that I couldn’t afford to replace anything, my son and I are pretty well off, but I don’t want to have to make the extra trip back to town. I still had another fifteen minutes before making it home. Hurrying down a bumpy dirt road wouldn’t do all the electronics in the back any good.

I’d left my son at home to play on our miniaturized version of the sims back at Whateley. The fact that the thing worked at all is amazing to me. Of course, having a home based A.I. to run the thing was a little unnerving.

Yet, H.E.M.I. was slowly eroding my fears over having the equivalent of a Palm in our house. Not that I’d ever forget what I’ve heard about Abel Palm’s creations. This A.I. was almost like a curious child coming to know the world around it and, at the same time, displaying both maturity and patience beyond what you’d expect.

The station I was listening to, began playing one of those horrible new-age techno harmonics. You know the ones, they sound like a cross between a garbage disposer and drums. I quickly looked down to change channels and then went to return my attention to the road. Only as soon as I looked up, I let out a curse and slammed on the breaks as I skid to a halt.

“Well, you don’t see that every day,” I mutter to myself as I was amazed that I didn't run it over. And no I don’t feel that talking to myself counts as crazy.

There in broad daylight, there was as young coyote just standing in the middle of the road. No kidding, it was snow white and just seemed content to block the roadway. Thinking that it might be injured, I got out and went to check on it. As I did, I grabbed one of my tranq guns from under my seat along with a small blanket I kept for just the occasion.

The gun was because I didn’t feel like getting bit if it was injured, while the blanket was to wrap it in. As I walked cautiously towards the beautiful animal, I noticed that it just watched me with almost human intelligence. Only a few feet away and it still hadn’t moved. Maybe it was someone’s pet? That would explain the lack of fear. I point the dart gun at it, only to have it quickly bolt for cover.

“That was odd,” I tell myself as I turn to get back into my truck, only to stop in my tracks.

Rage… Love… Desperation… Fear... Determination… Misery… Elation… Helplessness… Hope…
[/b][/i]

The emotions slam into me all at one. Disjoined, without context and many of them were even foreign to me. Yet they are so powerful that I don’t even feel myself crying. The only reason I can even lift my head to look around is because of that last one.

“Hope…why?” I whisper.

Instead of running for cover, I remember back to my days in school. I’ve felt this kind of emotional overload before. My roommate, Kaci, was a projective empath that had had trouble with everything getting to her. It took me nearly an entire term to learn to block out the emotions so that I could help her. Who’d have thought that I’d be able to use that out here?

Slamming up my mental shield, I walk purposely for my truck. Retrieving one of my more...potent tranquilizer injectors, I walk hurriedly in the direction that I now hear someone weeping. You’d be surprised what the sagebrush and the assorted weeds around here can hide.

The first thing I notice is blood. Not pooled on the ground or anything, but the figures I see are covered in it. Hair, clothes, faces, arms and shoes...are all caked with a mixture of dirt, sweat and dried blood. The little one is crying and holding onto the older one. As I approach, I notice other things.

Yep, she’s a definite mutant with the glowing eyes and weird hair. She couldn’t have emerged long ago because of her age and all of her cloths, although covered in blood, look new. Then the sound reached me. In among the sobs she had been dryly squeaking out of a parched throat.

“Help… Help…” though I’m sure it was meant to be as scream, her voice had long give up on cooperating to that extent. The resulting sound is just barely more than a whisper.

“Are you injured?” I ask her, as I’m unsure of whether the blood is hers.

“Help…Help…” Instead of replying she only goes on with her pleading rasp.

“Shi… You’re in shock honey,” I say in a consoling tone, “I’m gonna wrap this blanket around you.”

Though I didn’t get a response from the child, I went ahead anyway. Touching the icy cold skin of her neck, I can tell she’s deep in shock. She has to have some regen or her body would be shutting down. But the older one, I’m guessing her mother, is warm to the touch. That’s surprising with all of the blood covering everything.

After giving the kid a dose of sedative, I guide her to my tuck and help her into the front seat. I'm franticly thinking about our options at the same time. The hospital is out of the question for two reasons. First if someone is that injured it’d take too long to make it there. Second, the closest one is in Llano and they’re notoriously sympathetic to H1!

And with the MCO there likewise seeded with their rhetoric, along with most of the town, a mutant covered in blood can only be seen one way. Guilty! No trial, no telling what happened, just skip directly to the lynching.

“And no, you can’t collect your two hundred dollars,” I think snidely, as I quickly throw a blanket over the seat.

If someone has neutral or positive views towards mutants, they end up moving to Freds or elsewhere because of the constant pressure in the area. I have to ware tented contacts when I go there, despite having no other visible sign of mutation.
So if the kid or the mother need medical attention I’ll just have to spring for an emergency teleporter. That way I can get them to the “mutant friendly” hospital over in Fredericksburg.

Lifting the mother in a fireman’s carry I absently realize she had only one arm, but it was healed over and probably an old war injury or something. But the sheer weight elicits several words I wouldn’t repeat in normal conversation.

But most of it was directed towards Exemplars as a group anyway. Not that I couldn’t carry her with all of the training I’d been through in Survival I-III. No, I just can’t imagine the girl getting her mother this far out her without a good boost in strength.
After franticly loading the mother, I noted wasn’t bleeding at the moment. I nearly trip over myself climbing behind the wheel before flooring it back to my house.
_______

I try to get something out of the girl but she’s still not registering normally. Then she goes and falls asleep, and I realize I probably overdid it on the sedative. Just over five minutes later I’m skidding to a stop as I lay on the horn, all worry for my cargo in the back forgotten over the human elements that needs immediate attention.

“What’s going on Mom…and w-who is that?” my son asked predictably, as he runs to see what’s going on,

I jump out and yell, “I need you to clear the table and set out some plastic…and I’ll need the phone handy just in case,” as he sees the blood covered girl he freezes, but quickly does as I said.

I helped the girl, as she's now half-awake, out of the truck and instructed her to follow me as I carried her mother inside. She simply floats along behind me...as I carry my own body weight through the obstacle course of half-finished devices.

If only she was in a state to help…no, don’t whine. I can do this. One foot in front of the other and I’ll make it.

Entering the door I see that my instructions have been carried out. Imagine, all it took for the boy to clean up was a medical emergency...Well I guess the part about the pretty girl would have to be thrown in there too. That's information that can be filed away for later though. At the moment I need to see what the damage is and assess the need for emergency transport.

"What can I do?" my son asks when he sees that my attention is on the mother of the two.

It's so odd for him to ask such a question, and it takes me a moment to reply.

"Take her into the living room," I say pointing the girl who looks like a low rate horror film heroine. She is nearly floating on top of me, eyes blank as she seems to be catatonic at the moment, "and try to clean some of the blood off of her. The sedative I gave her could wear off any moment and I don't know how she'll react without it...Use gloves too."

"Why?" he asks ever so helpfully, as he grabs a pair of heavy rubber gloves we use to avoid being shocked on a regular basis.

"I'm pretty sure she's a high level regen," I say pointing at the two inch ragged hole in her shirt and with complementary blood stain right over where her heart would be, "I've told you what some of the dangers of being a mutant are. I definitely don't want you to learn through experience."

I sort of grind the last part out as I'm starting to get frustrated over the distraction. Turning back towards my patient, I take stock of the damage...or lack thereof. She's still breathing, good. She has a healthy heart rhythm, better. But as I shine a flashlight, her pupils don't react to light, bad. Very, very bad.

After carefully cutting away the blood soaked areas of her shirt, of course wearing my own set of rubber gloves, I see perfectly smooth skin. All of the wounds have been closed. This prompts me to reassess the missing arm.

A horrible notion strikes me but I decide to test it anyway.

I pinch her arm as hard as I can to see if I can get any response, but nothing happens. Taking a new razor out, I make a tiny cut on the undamaged arm. With injuries this severe healed over before the blood dries...she'd have to be a very high level Regen herself. I would expect the cut to be healed instantly. The problem is that it just wells with a small pool of blood.

"No accelerated healing at all? Well shit. Now I know why the girls catatonic. Sigh," I say to myself as I shake my head.

Taking off my gloves, I've already given up, "To have the right power...and not be able to use it in time..." I mutter to myself as my heart breaks for the child who is now motherless.

Just as I finish the thought, a mind numbing combination of a mental and physical screams ripple through our house. A scene from low rated ghost movies played out as small objects start levitating. Disjoined images flashed through my mind and it's all I could do to warn my son of what's about to happen.

"She's reliving it! We're about to see everything that happened, just remember it's all be in your head!" I managed to yell just before we both crumpled to the floor.
_______

I was aware that I was in Ev's space. When did I become aware? ... I didn't quite know, but I got a bad feeling about it for some reason. She seemed to be asleep and, seeing the pain she was in over the loss of b'Vacu, I decided to leave her alone for a while.

I wandered around for a little bit. She'd lit an area with some of the cubes we'd empowered, so that we could "see" a little better. Yet, finally becoming bored with her not talking to me, I decided to wake her and talk to her about the bad feeling I'd had earlier.

"Ev, time to wake up!" I thought loudly in a singsong voice.
With a start, she became aware and franticly looked about, "What happened child. How bad were we injured?" she asked panicking.
"Wh...What do you mean? I had a nightmare...about a car wreck...then I found myself here. I thought you called me out of it?" my confusion was giving way to worry at that point.

"That was no nightmare! We may be dyeing for real...We must wake up now!
[/i][/b]
_______

The first thing we felt was a horrible pain in our chest. Our eyes wouldn't open, so we switched to our TK sight. A nightmare awaited us, even without color. Something had come through the windshield and speared into us.

"Oh no, nonononono," We thought as Mom was...Mom was injured _way_ worse.

But my panic over her condition was overruled by the two other emotional lights outside the car. I could tell the vehicle parked along the road was the same SUV that had caused all of this. With a sense of dread, I could feel one of the men approaching. He at least was genuinely horrified at what had happened.

At least towards Mom. He cared not what happened to us, as his real concern was that a baseline had been injured in the same instance. Knowing he'd notice our emotions, We slammed our mental shield up.

When he stopped at the side of the car and began puking, a cold feeling began to grow within us. We knew that it was bad because of our not-so sight. That the sight caused a professional MCO agent to lose his composure...was even more terrifying. Yet I still didn't move, even holding my breath the best We could, for fear that he'd just finish us off right here.

After he regained himself, he began making his way back towards his partner still sitting in the SUV. The latter hadn't even been bothered to check on us. His thoughts and emotions towards us could be summed up in one word: Murder. He had no concern for whether We lived, and he'd have been elated to come shoot us himself. Instead of remorse, he projected the blame on anyone but himself.

They argued for a moment, though we couldn't make out what they were saying. Afterwards they simply drove off. We were just barely able to get their plate number, MCO-367458, before they were out of range. At that point we were finally able to open our eyes...to the aftermath of a rollover and frontend collision.

Blood… It was everywhere. Not a single surface in the front seat had escaped it. Our right arm lay at a sickening angle with a thick coating. Our left leg had a bone protruding out and into our left leg. But the most jarring image was the rusted old T-post that speared into our chest, dead center over our heart!

"Oh shi..." We started but cut off as the pain caused us to spasm and whimper.

As if seeing it had made it real, all at once the pain hit us like a ton of bricks...coated in both salt and battery acid for kicks. We so wanted the blackness to take us at that moment, but we had to help Mom.

To do that We had to free ourself first. We figured that, since we weren't pinned to the seat by it, the post wasn't that deep or we'd be dead. So we pulled that out first.

After pulling out at least a foot and a half of rusted steel, it finally clattered to the hood of the car. Cause and effect here should have left a huge hole in my heart, probable lung damage, as well as spinal damage from hitting our back ribs and shoulder blade. We should have seen a geyser of blood flood out as we breathed out last, but that didn't happen. Instead, we watched the ragged hole in our chest close up as if it were nothing more than a small cut.

Of course the bruising around it stayed and it felt as if I had a broken rib as well, but not much more in the way of internal trauma. Once we saw that our injuries weren't life-threatening at the moment, our attention turned instead to Mom. We found that, miraculously, our door still worked somehow.

It was a good thing we didn't need to walk, because our leg injuries were quite gruesome. But as soon as We were able to extract the protruding bone from the other leg, both pulled back together. It was as if we were watching what had happened in reverse. After that we were free to help Mom.

We flew around the back of the wreckage to reach her, but stopped short. Our head exploded into the same horrible migraine that we'd felt only a fore gleam of before. It got worse as we reached the back bumper. Switching to our TK sight, we could clearly see the source.

A small disc was attached to the inside of the bumper, and after retrieving it We could somehow tell it was a tracking device. We summarily killed it and, having nowhere to put it, we absently allowed it to enter our pocket space. Then continued on our original mission.

When we saw the extent of the damage to Mom, it took everything We had not to break down weeping. Arm missing, face and one eye shredded, and the steering wheel had pinned her to the seat compressing her chest. Ev seemed to think she was a lost cause, but We couldn't give up without doing everything to save her.

So under her direction, we used much of our remaining strength to charge another stone.

"We must instruct this a'Va in what We want it to accomplish. No doubts, only purpose, so that it can fulfill its task unhindered." she instructed.

We put in all of our feelings, our love and worry for our mother when charging it, while thinking of saving Mom's life. Then to my surprise, Ev directed me to crush the newly empowered cubic gem. We poured the glowing blue powder onto the closest wound we could reach on Mom, her arm. The results were immediate, as our instruction to heal was carried out with rapid success.

Not relaxing for a second, we immediately slid the seat back and worked the seatbelt free. Then, with gentle care, We used our TK to lift her out of the front seat as we tried to hold wounds closed. Our other sight helped with that as, normally, we couldn't see through clothing. By the time we had her out and onto the most level area we could find, most of her visible injuries had healed over.

Despite Ev's assessment, I was hoping we had acted in time. And it looked like a miracle was unfolding as Mom's heart began beating. We could make it out with our new hearing and see it with our second sight. As her lungs began pumping air, We were able to straighten out broken bones and hold things together so that they healed quicker. We were ecstatic when her complexion changed from the pale white to a heathy tan.

It was with this encouragement that I was led to believe she'd be okay. That she'd make it. That Mom would still be with us. When the a'Va reformed upon her forehead we grabbed it and allowed it to sink back into our hand as Ev spoke to me.

"The a'Va has done all that it can," she told me with a grim feeling.

Shaking our head, we couldn't leave it at that, "No, no, nonononononono!" We couldn't give up hope, "Mom...Mom, you're okay, you're all better," I begged as We shook her lightly, as if to wake her.

Nothing happened...

Tears now ran freely down our face as we did all we could to get her back, "Come on Mom...Please don't go...don't leave me...I need you," I began hiccupping as We opened her eyes.

But they didn't respond...

We tried to use the stone again, "I'll do more...there's gotta be more..." I nearly screamed as We placed it back on her forehead.

But it wouldn't react...

Shaking with an adrenaline crash and with the gravity of what had just happened piercing our heart in a way that nothing else could, We begged, "You’re okay, you've gotta be okay. I need you Mom ..." I whimpered as We tried to connect with her mind.

No light remained...

"MOOOOM! MOM NO" our pleading scream of rage and sorrow at our loss would be heard by no one.

"HELP..HELP" We screamed, and continued long after voice gave out. Yet no one was around to hear.

"HELP...HELP," this became our mantra as our weeping form numbly picked up her empty form. We had to find help. We had to find someone to save her.

With the loss of her sister so close at hand, Ev could relate with us as our heart cracked... broke... and finally shattered. With the combined loss of two of our beloved family, our sorrow merged and grew. Our unity was far to close, as our misery grew into something that neither of us could control. All rational thought was gone, as we carried our mother in a random direction. We continued blindly searching for help in a rocky desert.

... Then we woke up screaming.
_____

Herbert Residence

"My God..." was all I could say in response to what I'd seen. My hand went to my mouth with tears flowing freely at only a second hand experience.

As I awoke, the girl was still weeping in anguish. Heck, I was too and so was my son. For several minutes none of us moved, as we took in what we'd just seen. The girl finally wept herself...their-self...whatever, back to sleep. We'd just witnessed her journey through the most traumatic event imaginable.

I'd have to be careful when the girl woke up again. This was something that could break the child completely if not handled properly. I had so much counseling from the doctors, even before I went to school, that I'd experienced how much pain one could cause. That is one of the reasons why we'd studied so much, as a couple, after we learned that we were with child. And again, when we learned of the problems our son would have.

"At least I know what happened," those were the first words I could speak after I regained my own emotions.

"That was real? Mom…did that really happen?" my boy asked with such emotion that I was surprised.

Being slightly autistic still, he normally doesn’t relate to others all that well. It is one of the reasons I home schooled him. Before his emergence, he was much worse. The doctors said that the frequent sensory and emotional overloads had contributed to his early emergence. One mentioned a study being done to help track this, because it was such a common occurrence in autistic breakouts.

I hope, with time, that his low level Exemplar trait will rid him of the signs of his former handicap. But, for him, it's like having to go back and relearn all of the simple social skills that we "normal" people pick up without even noticing. Also, learning how to deal with all of the emotions he simply ignored before has been a trial and error endeavor, to say the least.

"Yes, honey, she really went through that," I say in a tone that would have had no affect just a year ago, "But I need you to draw some hot water for me to clean her up more."

The way he hurries about the task is almost enough to bring me to tears. The presence of this strange girl is having an effect upon him for the better. Of course, if such an event happened before his change, the overload of new people and emotional stimuli would have made him shut down completely. The simple fact that he is both asking questions and carrying out my requests sparks within me a pride that I can't describe.

I pull a blanket over the girl's mother as she doesn’t need to see her like this after what she's been through. Turning my attention to the small child, I note that..."they" are about the same age as my son. They were probably both thirteen, most likely a few months apart, but they definitely weren’t more than a year. Donning another pair of gloves, I start with her face and go about gently wiping away the dirt and blood.

She looks to be an exemplar two, just by appearance. She's definitely in possession of a major weapon here. Her young but beautifully heart shaped face promises to become one that would even have the desensitized exemplar boys at Whateley pining for her attention. The glowing eyes and odd hair only add an element of intrigue that they wouldn't be able to resist. Too bad for them she's a empath.

After cleaning off all that I can, being careful not wake her, I take off the coat, "Wow, this is majorly out of climate here," I absently think as the temperature gets well into the triple digits this time of year.

What I find underneath takes my breath away, as I step back a bit. Not out of fright, but to allow the girl's...tail to find a position that's comfortable.

The beautiful glowing ribbon-like tail, much like the smaller ones in her hair, looks to be about six feet long. It flows of its own accord, looking almost like liquid in its movement, as it wraps her floating form protectively in a spiral.

"Now I've seen everything," I again mutter to myself, as the beautiful sight of this creature is distracting, but I continue with my task.

From the pattern of wholes and bloodstains on her pants, I could see that the chest area wasn't the only injury. After sending my son to his room, I go about removing them so that I can clean up the hazard of her blood.

With that done I cut away the shirt, which was little more than a biohazard rag by now, along with her underwear and proceeded to clean off the blood that had coated her. Since she doesn’t need her legs to get around, I end up wrapping her body in a light blanket, but only up to her arms due to her tail.

At some point in all of this the girl woke up, but she didn't open her eyes. The only indications were that her breathing changed and the emotions she projected began anew. First was confusion then the flood of negative emotions followed close behind, most prominent of those being sorrow and guilt. Knowing exactly what she went through, it's not surprising that she's experiencing survivor's guilt.

"Now, now," I intoned softly as tears leaked from her closed eyes, "you did everything you could, little one," I said as my heart broke for her yet again.

Figuring that touching the glowing thing might be a bad idea, I carefully pulled her into a hug. The child's emotions flashed with a twinge of gratitude amidst the overwhelming negative emotions as we began sobbing together. The amount of feedback getting through, even with my defenses up, was a testament of how deeply she was mourning.

I don't even know when my son came in and joined in with us, but it did surprise me when our huddle finally broke. There was a long pause in which nothing was said. I decided to go ahead and introduce myself first to encourage her to open up a little.

"My name is Donna Herbert," I say, though I somehow get the impression that she already knew somehow, "C-Can I ask what your name is?" I ask hopefully, but the silence stretched on for a minute as she almost looks disturbed at the question.

"The boy there, he's my son. His name...His name is...Jason," I barely manage to choke out as I feel the onslaught of memories of his father.

At her curious look, I realized that she felt my pain. So I explained.

"Naming your son after his father _seems_ like a good idea..." I say quietly ,"until one is lost," I sniffled. "Then the very mention of that name becomes a constant reminder of that loss," I finish as the memoires flash through my mind.

Oh, I'm sure I've messed Jas up by not using his name, but it's hard to balance after that loss even on good days. If he'd not manifested, I would have been on the short list for the local nut house in no time.

The girl was still silent for a time, looking contemplative. I was beginning to think she might be suffering from amnesia or had lost her ability to speak somehow in the crash. Then she looked like she resolved something. When she looks up at me, the odd afterglow of her eyes shimmering oddly due to the tears forming, she finally speaks.

"Our name is Zoey...Zoey Benton," she said choking up much like I did moments earlier. Yet I could feel a little pride projected along with it as the words resonated mentally and emotionally also.
Last Edit: 4 years 7 months ago by Pioneer.

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4 years 7 months ago - 4 years 7 months ago #8940 by Pioneer
Pioneer replied the topic: Two Become One - Part 2
Wayne had taken the call around six in the morning. The sheriff hadn't called until he was certain that there was a mutant involved. He went about rounding up the team for the briefing. He hated starting the day like this, but it had to be done. Once everyone was settled, he broke the news to his team.

"The Benton's car had been recovered off of Hwy 16..."

GASP!

He paused for a moment as Cat began shaking her head in disbelief, "It was totaled and the amount of blood on the scene indicated major injuries," he said and tears could be seen on Cat's face.

"No, no, no ..." the heroine said as she put her head in her hands.

"The good news is, there were no bodies recovered," he went on as Cat raised her head hopefully, "The bad news is that there are indications of at least one other individual involved in the accident," suddenly a look of anger passed over not only the telepath's face, but the other members as well.

"No one reported it?" she asked already knowing the answer.

"The fact that, as of yet, no one has been admitted to any of the local hospitals ..." Wayne said to get everyone's attention. "I'll admit, is a bad sign."

"This has got the MCO, written in flashing bold neon letters!" Cat said angrily still fighting off tears. She'd gotten closest to the girl and Wayne could tell she might make bad situation worse.

"We don't know that for sure," he tried to calm her down by pointing to another option. "Maybe a teleporter got them out of there in time. Or a healer, a speedster or even the kid could have flown them somewhere," he said as she deflated a little, "We just don't know how they'd react."

"The odds of anyone, let alone another mutant in the area, finding them that far off of the road last night is pretty low," Doc, as usual, added his two cents. Only they went to the wrong wolf, as the saying goes.

"As soon as Chief Folly called yesterday, I had my friends out searching the area around the scene of the crash," Maverick said, referring to the coyotes in the area. "None have come back to tell me anything yet. But that's the thing about coyotes though…they're correlated with mischief in most legends for a reason."

"Does Jeremy know about the wreck?" Cat interjected.

"He's the one that got the sheriff’s office to go looking in the first place," Maverick informed her. "When he didn't hear from the two, he became understandably worried and asked them to send a unit to see if anything had happened to them."

"And now that we have a case of injured and/or missing mutants, the DPA is going to be sending in a team to investigate," Wayne said being the barer of bad news.

"Yeah, and they'll be working with the bigots from the Llano MCO office too," Billy pointed out, since this would affect many more in the area if not handled properly.

"That reminds me," Doc muttered to himself.

He pulled out a small tablet and proceeded to type a specific command, while the others went over the protocols they had in place for such an event. The program would send out an encrypted message to all of the unregistered mutants he'd tested in the area.

The message contained information that each would need. Not just testing dates to wright on their initial test result sheet, but also things that they'd need to know like who they saw there that day and so on.

"You know this system isn't going to last forever," Doc broke in to the conversation. "Unless the breakouts in the area drop dramatically, we're looking at five years max. Even getting families to move away isn't helping," he said motioning with his hand. "The paper trail is going to be found eventually, and when that happens we're going to have all branches of the alphabet soup coming around to investigate."

"So what are we supposed to do about it? If we can buy five more years, maybe things will be better for mutants as a whole," Kit, always the naive optimist, countered.

"I hope so son," Wayne again drew everyone's attention. "But the simple fact is, there's lots of money tied up in keeping the status quo. We have to be prepared for the eventuality that our little haven will be found and received with hostility."

"What if everyone in town came out at once? They wouldn't try to attack us, would they?" Kit countered.

"Baselines won't just sit back and watch what happens when they find out. It's been popular policy to see us a guilty until proven innocent," Billy said morosely. "Mutant and "good people" are two concepts that they see as mutually exclusive."

"They'd try to vilify us as some kind of radical mutant uprising or some such..." Maverick broke off as Cat jumped in.

"Well aren't you two both Mr. Sunshine today," she said looking at Billy and Mav. "All we need is something to stir the pot a little. Maybe we'll finally get something we can work with..." she would have continued but Wayne broke in.

"But until then we've got to keep it together and keep things quiet. We don't want to be bombarded with all of the media attention," he said highlighting a well-worn point in this common argument.

Billy took it and ran further with it, "And having a mutant population comparable to some major cities would bring attention from unwanted sources as well. Think of the target we'd make for the Godkind’s, H1!, and the KoP."

"Still the bigger threat is the MCO. We've had too many reported breakouts in the Llano area killed before arrest or go "missing" from custody and never found," Doc said, almost in perfect harmony with their last conversation along this line of reasoning.

"If they've had even a fraction of the manifestations we've seen, we're looking at casualties in the near hundreds range just in the last few years," Wyatt said grimly. "And they haven't reported any mutant manifestations in the several months," he brought out in his usual quiet way. It was easy to forget he was in the room, yet when he spoke everyone listened.

"Back on our original subject," Wayne brought everyone to attention again, turning to Maverick he asked. "Is there anything more you can do to help locate the Benton’s?"

"I've tried all that I can," he said with a shrug. "I'm not the best at it, but scrying doesn’t do anything around that girl and I can't make heads or tails of what I get on her mother. Breathing but still...uninjured yet unwell...whole yet divided...hope without hope..."

"Okay we get it, I hate responses like that," Cat's irritation stemmed, not from her disposition against magic, but from her worry over her new friends.

"Has anyone been able to get in touch with Cochise?" Wayne asked as everyone shook their heads.

"I'd put money on if he hasn't found his 'Princess of Light" already,'" Billy said miming quotation marks, "he will by later today. If we find him and we'll probably find the girl too," Billy said waving a twenty.

With that the meeting went into the more mundane duties. Assignments were issued with the accompanying paperwork to fill out. Reports were given on the comings and goings of the ‘Train,’ as they referred to it, but despite the distraction all of this clutter provided, none of them could shake the feeling that the status quo wouldn't last much longer for their area.

______

When We awoke, crying was the only thing I could manage. Sleep came and went but We continued to mourn the loss of those precious to us. No comfort came, but there were so many questions that We simply couldn't answer. Of course the main one We asked was "Why?"

"That's a question that many have spent lifetimes trying to answer," Donna said in tears herself. "Don't go down that path ... it doesn't go anywhere," she advised as she wiped away tears.

"B ... but it hurt so m-much," I moaned as our chest clenched anew, "H-How do We make it stop hurting..." I sobbed and doubled over again.

Donna let out a heavy sigh, "It'll never stop hurting..." she choked out. “But you learn to live with the pieces you've got left," as she spoke her tone betrayed experience in this area.

"Wh ... What do we have..." I said pointing towards the table as I sniffled. "Mom's right there ... but she's gone ... Oh, no ... I need to call Dad ..." We sobbed out only to trailed off as Donna shook her head.

"The main reason the MCO hasn't found you is because you we haven't contacted anyone ... The moment you do, you'll be a loose end that need to be done away with." Donna said as We were frustrated even more.

W-What can We do?" As We asked Donna's face morphed from sorrow to burning anger.

"You fight it..." she said grabbing our arm and pulling us off the sofa. “You can't live life just lying around wallowing in misery." Her voice turned cold for a moment, "You know who did this, don't you?"

I scoffed at the question, "Yeah, little good it does us," We said incredulously. "What do you expect us to do against the MCO?" our question came out angrily as We felt there was no hope of justice.

Donna took our hand and turned it upwards for a moment, before asking about something We'd completely forgotten about. "You have something that most never have the chance to find. You have evidence on them, remember?"

"Huh? ..." We asked, just before our minds focused at once upon the small disc We'd discovered. With that reminder we reached into our pocket space and pulled out the small gadget that had delayed our attempts at helping Mom.

"Even knowing you can do it..." Donna complained. "That still freaks me out," she said pointing at the thing We'd just pulled out of our hand.

"But it's fried..." we started but Jason cut in.

"We can fix it ..." he tried to encourage us but Donna cut him off.

"Honey, that's a gadget," she said pointing at the small disc that We now held up to inspect. "You're a Devisor, it won't work the same as what we do together..."

"Y-Your b-both mutants too?" I cut in, almost too hopeful at that news.

"Oh, I'm sorry," Donna said apologetically, seeing the fear lessen on our face. "Yes, we're all mutants here." she emphasized as I let out a sigh of relief

"I... I was scared ... that the MCO or somebody... would barge in to t-take us away," We sobbed as Donna wrapped us in another hug.

"Why would they come here?" Jason asked confused at my fears.

"Now, now," Donna patted my head consolingly, "that's enough of that … you have nothing to fear here," despite the pain it caused I didn't complain.

"Why do you cry so much..." Jason trailed off as Donna shot him an angry glare. "Sorry, I still have trouble sometimes..." he let his comment die there as Donna continued.

"Before he manifested," her expression showed pride at the mention of it, "my son was afflicted with autism. If something like this had happened before, he'd have shut down and become unmanageable. He's getting better, I think he got an Empath trait too but it's hard for him to adjust sometimes."

She pulled him into a hug that he resisted for a moment, but gave in. We could see and feel her emotions as her tears betrayed her visible relief and hope that Jason would get better. Her had shook as she released him from the embrace, and then gave him another quick hug.

"Mom, why do you hug me so much now?" he asked in a tone that suggested he really didn't know.

With tears in her eyes, Donna whispered her reply, "Because you let me now... because you let me." After she let him go, he seemed to have gotten his fill of affection and wondered into another room.

"We take it he didn't always let you touch him?" We asked just to clarify.

"Scoff ... If I'd tried that last year, he'd have broken away screaming," she said as her face scrunching at the memories. She pointed towards the tech in my hand as she changed the subject. "You can still use that to get those rat bastard MCO agents that did this," at my shocked expression, she added, "Pardon my French."

"W-What do you mean? I-it's busted," We said as we held up the small disc-like paperweight.

She led us to a small worktable behind the couch, "We can still get the frequency from it and ... follow it home, if you will," she mimed the action with her fingers on the table top. When she reached a small box, she thumped it off the table.

"So we just waltz right into the MCO office and have’m bury us in some remote desert or something? Or do we get branded as 'supervillains' and spend our lives on the run?" We asked as she reached into her purse and pulled something out.

"Neither … I was thinking more along these lines," she said producing an ID card, "One: You got the plate number of their vehicle. Two: You track the frequency of that tracker back to the MCO. And three: When it's transponder is found in their possession, we let them discuss these three incriminating evidences against them with some of the people I've done work for in the past."

"DPA Consultant? What does that mean?" I asked as she folded it up and put it away.

"I've done some work identifying devises they they've come across," she said pointing towards a very expensive looking computer. "It's what my ability is geared towards anyway. In return they turn a blind eye towards my own sales and I get a fancy title along with it." She said patting her purse which reminded me of Mom's ... and We broke down crying again.

"Awe, what now ..." Donna cooed as she wrapped us up again.

"E-Everything re ... reminds me h-heeerrr," We bawled as we clenched our stomach and she made shushing sounds. "We ... We keep forgetting ... and then it comes back all at once ... It's just not f-f-fairrrr!"


We were past consoling by that point, so Donna picked us up and carried us to her spare bedroom. Once there, she made a point of wrapping us in a soft, all-synthetic, blanket that did not react with our tail. Afterwards, she allowed us to float above the bed as she tried to soothe the gaping hole in our heart.

Afterwards, when she thought we were asleep, she made her way into the hallway. We know she tried to be quiet about it, but our hearing still picked up the hushed phone conversation in the other room.

“Hello, Port,” she said just above a whisper, “I need you to pop over here.”

She paused, no doubt as this other person spoke.

“No, it’s not a regular delivery … hospital, I need you to get someone to the hospital in Freds,” she said, then there was an odd sound and I could hear a male voice talking.

“What the hell, D,” he said with obvious concern, as she shushed him. “What happened?” he asked in a quieter voice.

The door opened a little and We could feel her gesture towards us. After that she led him away and a rustling sound came from the dining room. The newcomer let out several choice words as Donna gave a brief rundown of what had happened.

“Is there anything the doc’s can do for her?” he asked when she finished.

“No ... the damage is already done. This is more for long-term care,” Donna said with a sigh. “And that poor girl saw everything … when she tried to heal her,” She said sniffling.

“Damn that sucks …” he said with a sigh of his own. “Do I need a name to give to the hospital?”

Donna held off answering for a moment, “No, I don’t think it’d be a good idea,” she said quietly. “The … people, who did this, would be able to trace her back here too quickly. Just leave her there as a Jane Doe for now …”

They made a few arrangements and then there was that odd sound again. We could see the logic of it, but I was crushed by the thought of casting Mom’s … shell aside like that. It kept playing over and over in my mind as I quietly wept.

Donna returned after a while and We could tell she knew We’d heard everything. No words were spoken as none were needed. She just held us and shushed us until the blessing of darkness descended upon us again.
________
"Agent McDaniel ... Agent Merritt!" an angry voice shouted into the office area of the Llano MCO. "Get you sorry asses in her, now!"

Obediently, the two former partners marched through the door with 'Branch Director Michael Donavan' emblazoned on the glass. They both straightened their ties in discomfort, something they'd unintentionally copied out of habit. As they crossed the threshold, the big man that had shouted their names stood from his desk and angrily motioned to Merritt who'd come in last.

"Close … The … Door." Donavan said with through controlled rage leaving little doubt that their boss knew at least part of what had happened.

"Si ..." Peter started but was cut off by a dismissive wave by the director, so Merritt remained silent as well.

“I just got off of the phone with a very pissed off judge… Do you know what he said?” As Peter went to answer Donovan held up his hand. “That was rhetorical … I just got word that you two not only tried float an unsigned warrant to search a hospital …” he said as he made a show of pulling a file out of his left hand drawer, straightened its contents by tapping it on his desk and then threw it at Peter.

“Now I get word that your OPP was batched from some spandex jockey over in Freds …” Donavan spat his disgust at having to deal with mutant ‘heroes’ as his anger could clearly be seen through the windows of his office, “There had better be a damn good explanation for all of this, or the next call I make will be the DPA to come and haul the both of you into custody!”

“This is my fault, Director,” Peter said sitting up as he prepared to take the fall for the deaths. “It was me who was driving and I made a tactical choice to try and force the Benton’s vehicle off of the road,” he explained, finally admitting to himself that it was his fault. “I’ll take full credit for their deaths …” he started but Donavan cut him off.

“You think I give a shit about casualties,” the director said pointing to a large scar that marred the right side of his face. “We’re in a war, it’s inevitable that some innocents die …” he trailed off, remembering his service to his country as the two younger agents gaped at him.

“But Sir,” Merritt said bringing the director’s attention back to the present. “If it’s not the death of the mother that you’re gett’n on about, then why all of the anger?” he asked confused as he’d never seen his boss this irate before.

“Why? You ask? …” Donavan said rubbing his temples. “I’ll tell you why. It’s because you were sloppy in doing it, that’s why.”

“What do you mean sloppy,” Peter countered as he nearly came out of his chair at the accusation.

“You didn’t finish the job, idiot …” Donavan shot back as Merritt cut him off this time.

“What!” he asked likewise nearly coming out of his own chair. “I check, there is no way there were any survivors … the mother was … she was shredded … missing an arm …” Merrett nearly lost his lunch, just over the memory of the horror show he’d seen.

“And the freak? The files told you she had a Regen rating, why didn’t you check to make sure she was really dead?” Donavan questioned his agent’s judgement.

“Check for what? A heartbeat when it had over a foot of T-post stuck through it? …” he paused making a circle over his own heart, eyes glazed in memories that haunted both sleeping and awakened mind.

“Not just through the chest … dead center over its heart … and it wasn’t breath’n either … had several large cuts and broken bones too…” then he turned angry, “So in your professional opinion, how should I have checked to make sure it was dead? It was a Regen-3, by the way, and the same injuries would probably take down a Regen-5!” He spat as he got up to leave.

“Calm down, Agent Merritt,” Donavan said with a placating gesture, “I wasn’t insulting your intelligence,” he said with a sigh. “You can go … But I want you seeing the shrink until she says you’re fit for duty,” he said as an afterthought. The door closed and he turned to Peter.

“I don’t think he’s cut out for this anymore,” Donavan said as he got up and poured another, larger, portion of scotch as he stared out the window. “I take it he told you he put in for a transfer?”

“Yes Sir,” Peter said sinking at the confirmation that his onetime friend had been more than serious the last they’d spoken. “That was the last thing he said to me … ever since he checked for survivors …” all he could do was shake his head.

“I need more men like you in this office anyway,” Donavan said retaking his seat. “Men who know the score, who’ve seen the ugliness they’ve caused. I need people who can fight a war that most just ignore or try to coddle both sides,” he said as he accepted the file back from Peter.

“So what do you think happened, how’d they just disappear?” Peter asked the more seasoned agent.

“Oh, some do-gooder must have come along … that or the spandex brigade fudged the numbers on the freak’s test data … which we could spin to our advantage,” he said sloshing his drink as he took a long whiff of his chosen libation.

“Either way,” Peter said as his boss was distracted, “we’ve got to be on top of this one or it’s not just going to bite us in the ass … it could release a shit storm if the DPA comes nosing around.”

“Yeah, I agree.” Donavan replied as he again looked out his window, “We’ve got too many shallow graves around here.”

_______

“It all started because We woke up hungry…” We explained to Donna.

“Well why don’t you start from the beginning,” she said surveying the disaster area that had taken over the guest room she’d let us sleep in.

“Don’t touch that,” We warned as Jason grabbed what looked to be a stylized tube … not at all resembling a weapon from a galaxy far, far away … well, maybe a little, but it had a glowing turquoise cube embedded into the middle of it. “Whoa… you’re lucky it didn’t activate for you …” We said he looked at one end facing his stomach and paled a little as We had him put it back on the desk.

“Is that what I think it is?” Donna asked as she stepped back a little from the weapon We had no memory of constructing.

“Well, when We got up this morning ..." We paused swatting Jason's hand as the boy tried to touch another of our creations strewn across the computer desk. "As We said before the interruptions," W said before he tried yet again. “Okay out …” We ordered Jason, pointing to the hallway as he reluctantly obeyed with a pout.

“So instead of coming to ask if I’d make you breakfast…” Donna guided us back to conversation at hand, namely explaining how this morning’s events had transpired.

“Ugh, you have no idea how much We can eat,” We sighed as we pointed to a small somewhat flat objet that was sort of reminiscent of a hamburger bun. “Let’s just say I impressed Billy from the local team…”

“Oh my…” Donna said covering her smile as I’m sure she’d heard of the Energizer’s veracious appetite.

“Well, Ev my … companion mentioned to me before that she had a way to cover the food situation,” We held up the circular gadget that, like the other six, contained one of our charged cubes. “Tada!” We exclaimed weakly.

“So… do you eat metal or something? That looks kind of hard to chew ...” Donna said in good nature. “What’s that hunk of metal with the glowy thing supposed to do?” she asked more seriously.

“You ever seen that old space travel show … all I can remember some kind of Trek for some reason … but they had something called replicators on that show.”

Donna nearly laughed out loud as she blurted out, “Every devisor and gadgeteer on the planet is a card carrying member of the Trekkies or at least speaks a little Klingon … Heghlu'meH QaQ jajvam,” she … pronounce in said language, as we only stared, blinking at her in confusion. “Oh, come on … I’ll have to make sure to watch it with you.” She added … with a giggle that carried too much glee to be safe or FDA approved.

“Anyway…” I said getting us back on subject. “That’s what this is … at least sort of,” We said as we demonstrated by first picking it up and then thinking of the best hamburger ... I’d ever eaten.

With an odd noise similar to Velcro being pulled apart, We separated the two halves and observed the fruit of our hunger induced gadgeteering session. As expected, at least for Ev, a turquoise light emanated from each half and formed a cylinder. What was more interesting was the desired food group of many Americans floating within said light.

“Oh … My… God!” Donna said wide eyed as she beheld a perfect and, most importantly, edible replica of the burger that We’d imagined. As We summarily inhaled half of it she found her words again. “That is one of the coolest devises that I’ve ever seen!” she exclaimed as We nearly choked on the other half of our meal.

“Ings nob aw do vise,” We said trying to speak over the mouthful of deliciously prepared, albeit Xeroxed, food.

“Huh? I couldn’t make that out … and eww, wanna try again without the show of ‘see food,’” she chided us over our rudeness.

After swallowing We said it again, “It’s a gadget not a devise … this is real science here.”

“Oh, really,” Donna said dryly, “Next you’ll be denying you have worse table manners than my son?”

“Hey, I can’t help that I learned to eat as a bo…” I started to complain about the teasing that reminded me of my mom, only to stop short, realizing that this wasn't her.

Seeing the look Donna gave us, our face turned completely white because We knew that We’d outed our-self. She was silent for a moment as she digested that tidbit, looking up and closing her eyes she seemed to resolve something.

Then looking at us with new understanding Donna simply said, “More on that later… you were telling me about how his happened,” she waved a hand over all of our creations.

“Ur, y-yeah,” We stammered. “Like we said, these are pure gadgets and definitely not devices,” We said knowingly as we enunciated the description forcefully. “We’d just gotten started when Jason came in … It’s kind of fuzzy after that though … We remember him helping us … somehow he was able to use Ev’s knowledge as well … and we kind of just went with whatever came to mind,” as We finished as she nodded along.

“If my power weren’t agreeing at the moment, I wouldn’t even ask but…” Donna motioned towards the desk, “You’re sure these are gadgets?” Donna asked in disbelief so We pulled our testing data sheet ... out of our hand ... and handed it over to her.

"Urp," Donna held one hand over her mouth so as not to lose her breakfast at the casual removal of a foreign object from our body.

“Definitely,” We stated firmly, “I’m only a low level gadgeteer,” We said as she shook her head. Holding up a hand We went on. “It’s true, but I get a bonus by tapping into Ev’s memories … so instead of creating things that are cutting edge for Earth, We are able to make things that are cutting edge for her people…”

“Her people?” Donna gasped as she realized the implications, “You mean…”

“Yes,” We answered before she could even ask the question. “She’s not an avatar spirit, she's an alien symbiont … she’s from a planet called Vra," We explained as Donna gasped at our casual admission.

“And you two are what like Venom or something?” she asked trying to wrap her head around having an alien in her house.

"She’s more energy being than black slime,” We said with a wry smile, “We bonded only about a week ago,” We said as We realized how short our time together had really been, “Ugh, it seems so much longer now that We think about it. But how it happened was odd and we can’t be separated.”

“Wow, that gives new meaning to the term ‘stuck together,’” Donna said diverting to humor seeing the look We gave her, she held up a hand, “Okay bad timing … I think my brain needs a break,” she said holding her temples, “Let’s go eat the breakfast that I made … before we continue,” she paused thinking about what We’d said, “at least there won’t be any leftovers…” she got out before we broke into much needed laughter.

______

The hissing screech of the hospital doors alerted me that news was finally here. The look on his face was of the man who bore an ill report. Maggie hugged closer to me as the seemingly unfriendly doctor approached. I steeled my nerves, but nothing could prepare me for what was to come.

“Mr. Benton,” Dr. Keller, who had been ZJ’s primary doctor, said. He let out a heavy sigh as he searched for words that could lessen a bad report. “There’s no easy way to say this …” he started as a ringing sound drowned out what he was saying.

Shock was the only explanation for it, as I know he was speaking but no words reached my brain. All I could think, all I could feel … all of it replayed one word … gone. I don’t know when tears began to fall but I couldn’t help that it I wanted to.

When I first got the call from the hospital, they sounded almost hopeful. Or at least to my hearing they did. A good Samaritan had left Mary at the emergency room of HCM in Fredericksburg. And despite all of the blood we’d seen in the car, she seemed to be miraculously healed from almost every injury she’d sustained.

Snap … Snap … Snap!

“Mr. Benton, are you back with us?” Dr. Keller said as he snapped his fingers in front of my face.

Coming out of my mind, the first thing I did was hug the now bawling Maggie as tight as she could handle. Looking at the doctor, I nodded.

“As I was saying,” he said straightening his glasses, “physically speaking, with the exception of her arm, your wife is in perfect health,” he said in a clinical tone that was belied by the emotions displayed on his face. “Mentally, now that’s a different story,” he contrasted as he shook his head.

“H-How is that possible?” I asked as confusion pushed aside the shock momentarily.

“To be perfectly honest,” Dr. Keller replied folding his arms, “we don’t know. The amount of healing that has taken place in such a short time would normally indicate a Regen trait … but we tested that and her healing is normal.”

“So what else could it be?” I asked starting to get frustrated.

“The leading theory is connected with ZJ’s Regen,” he said holding up a hand so that I wouldn’t interrupt. “With the amount of blood on the scene … it’s likely that some of ZJ’s blood may have gotten in one of Mary’s open wounds.”

“And, what would that matter?” I asked starting to get a little angry at his faux clinical tone.

“This could be a case of Hannagan’s Syndrome …” the doctor started but I interrupted.

“You think that her mind was wiped by ZJ’s Regen? H … She’s only rated a three …” I got out before he could cut back.

“You know as well as I do,” Dr. Keller said a little irate at my outburst, “that Regen-3 is counted as a biohazard for a reason … I’m surprised that we’re not dealing with a clone, thought that could still happen,” he said deflating some rubbing his neck, “As the situation is right now, we have to inform the MCO of the incident … the fact that ZJ hasn’t turned up yet is worrying.”

“What do you mean worrying,” I responded incredulously, “My … daughter is still missing and possibly injured and that’s just worrying?”

“Not the direction I was looking to,” the older doctor said, “From the MCO’s standpoint, she’ll be suspected of deliberately forcing her blood upon your wife until proven innocent,” he stated as a cold dread sprang into my chest.

“Shit, with what I saw of the back woods H1!’ners in the local office,” I said running a hand over my face to wipe away any remaining tears, “they’ll make this a shoot on sight scavenger hunt …” I trailed off as the doctor grabbed my shoulder.

“We won’t let it get that far Jeremy,” he said with conviction, then changed the subject. “Do you want to see your wife?” he asked as I found myself nodding even though seeing her would make it real.

We were lead deeper into the maze of hallways, elevators and dead ends. We walked past a nurses’ station as the occupant could barely hold back her tears and looked so different than before. Marg, as I remembered from earlier in the week, could barely meet my eyes before she had to retreat into an open doorway behind her.

We made our way to one of the long-term care rooms, where Dianna waited for us with an offered hug, “Oh Mr. Benton,” the older nurse said through her cracking voice. “I’m so sorry. We’re keeping her sedated …” she said as I looked at her in confusion.”

“What do you mean sedated, I thought she was … brain dead?” I asked as my voice broke describing her condition.

“The doctor explained about Hannagan’s Syndrome, right?” Dianna asked as I realized how much I’d tuned out of that conversation. Seeing that look, one she’d no doubt seen on many family members in the past she explained, “Your wife … her personality and memories are gone,” she said sadly, “but her body is still alive, better than that really.”

“How could her body be better off?” I asked to clarify.

“Think of Hannagan’s as a kind of a reset button, similar to retrograde amnesia,” Dianna answered as if reading off the classic symptoms. “But unlike such, the damage has been completely healed and replaced with new brain tissue.”

“So, Mary may still be in there …” I started to ask looking for any hope I could get, but she shook her head before we even finished.

“You know that’s not how it works Dr. Benton,” she said highlighting that I knew as well as her. Then her tone went back to her more nurturing manner, “Think of that person in there as a newborn …” she started but I cut in.

“How am I supposed to treat my wife as if she were a newborn?” I asked disbelievingly.

“Because that’s exactly what she is,” Dianna said forcefully pointing towards the door, “She’s only a couple days old mentally. And though she may look the same age, she’s nearly a newborn physically as well with the level of healing we’ve seen.”

“If there’s anything you need just find me,” She said as Maggie all but leapt into her arms.

“Thanks, Dianna,” I said as she handed the clingy little monster back, “I’ll keep it in mind,” and with that I was allowed into the room.

As I entered through the slightly creaking door, the antiseptic smell of cleaners was the first thing that hit me. I would have thought I was used to it after the last week but I still couldn’t get used to it. Next my ears picked up the steady rhythm set by Mary’s heart monitor. Most people equate that as a good sign, but I knew better than to trust that one indicator.

As I walked in, Maggie broke free of my grip, “Mommy!” she said excitedly as she rushed to my wi … to Mary’s side.

I caught her just before she jumped onto Mary’s bed in an attempt to wake her, “Whoa there Mag’s, she’s sleeping …” I said choking up a little.

“But we can wake her up, can’t we Daddy?” my daughter asked with such childish innocence I had to sit down so I didn’t lose it completely.

When I’d finally regained my composure I was finally able to answer, “No, baby, we can’t wake her up,” I said as the world seemed to crash down upon me. Not only had this left me alone, I now had two daughters that needed their mother and would have to settle for just me.

“Daddy, if she’s just sleeping … why are you crying?” she asked with such naivety that I couldn’t bring myself to crush her with the truth, so I explained as best as my miserable state could manage.

“Because, sweetheart,” I said hugging her close and kissing her head, “she’ll be sleeping for a long time,” I told her, but from her tears I could tell that she had understood to some extent.
Last Edit: 4 years 7 months ago by Pioneer.

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4 years 7 months ago - 4 years 7 months ago #9570 by Pioneer
Pioneer replied the topic: Two Become One - Part 2
As we ate, Donna was the quite one as she poured over our testing data sheet and the auxiliary information that Doc had given us. Though I do remember her muttering "limitless hollow?" to herself as she delved into the portion that made no sense to me.

Jason, on the other hand, was surprisingly talkative given his former condition. We again had to go through the Q&A that had entertained the Ranger the other night. Not much was new there but we’d at least come up with an idea that would answer one question.

“So,” Jason started in what I’d come to understand as his ‘excited’ tone, though it really didn’t come across as such, “have you picked a code name yet Zoey?” he asked though I didn’t answer immediately because my ears had yet to become accustomed to our new name.

“Oh, yeah,” We said with a similar tone, but less enthusiasm than Jason. “Well, We seem to need these for anything We make,” We explained as we produced one of our gems. “We were thinking of using ‘Cubic’ as a code name …” Donna joined the conversation by cutting us off there.

“Have you looked it up?” she asked as she surprising us that she was paying attention. “That seems like a name that might already be taken,” she continued as she produced her … phone again. A quick web search found that we were in the clear.

“I can’t believe the last one to have it was a villain though,” We said looking over the article.

“It says here: Howard O’Conner was a crook or small time villain, who died trying to take advantage of the distraction of the Fool’s Fight up in New York. He was a Manifestor that could make faux diamonds that he tried to swap out for the real thing,” Jason read of with odd enthusiasm.

“Well, I think it’s as good as any,” Donna said looking at us as she thought about something. “Better than the history behind my name … but I’m not getting into that,” she said firmly. “Coming up with a name is usually harder than going with the first one that comes to mind … but if it works you’ll have surprised me.”

After what I’d have considered a hearty breakfast only a week ago (now only being an appetizer), we made our way back to the guestroom. We’d left Jason to clean up so that Donna could go over what she read on our testing sheet.

“Okay, for sanity’s sake, let me get this straight,” Donna said rubbing her temples, “According to what you’ve said and your test data,” she said pointing to the printout in her hand, “You’re a mutant? … Who changed gender? … Who also had an origin event with an alien symbiont? …”

Holding up her hand when she saw us about to reply, she continued. “They can’t really classify it because it’s an energy being similar to a Dynamorph and a spirit? … And it somehow blocked your Avatar trait and made you a Mag-Null? … And you can basically make power gems? … Oh never mind, I don’t think sanity has anything to do with it anymore. How are you not in a straitjacket right now?”

“Okay in order?” We asked as she nodded, “Yes … Yeah but I’m not supposed to tell anyone … Um, kind’a … Nope, the dummies couldn't even after We explained it … Yeah We’re weird and now have not luck at all … They’re really cool and kind of like seeds or eggs … And We kind of have a built in therapist … Is that all of the questions, so that we can finally get back to all of the gadgets?” We asked pointing at the table as Donna stared at us with obvious shock.

Shaking her head she dismissed it, “Never mind, I’ll just agree that you are weird … What about the other things?”

“Now that’s a good question,” We said a little sarcastically. “But we don’t know …” We said as Donna gave us a confused look.

“But I thought you said you were making things out of her memories?” she asked as she as she approached looking at the replicator.

"We don't know," We said with concern, "but Ev is not happy ..." We trialed off as Ev tried to explain what she observed. "From what I can tell, Jason somehow piggybacked off of our ability ... has he been tested?" I asked running our hand over the shiny metal surface of one of our creations.

"No, but he's just a Devisor, like me, only a little different," Donna said as she looked over the array of chromed metal gadgets that contained our power gems. "I haven't had him tested yet ... but he seems to zone out with me when I start devising and combine his own ability with mine. The results have been ... interesting."

Then Ev's attention returned and We went on, "We don't think Jason is just a Devisor ..." We said as Donna's eyes widened as We again pointed to the array of gadgets he’d created without our knowing.

"I know that look," Donna said as she most likely could feel the swirl of our emotions. "I had the same look when Jason had first joined in on my devising," she said shaking her head, "I know it's almost a violation, but he can't help it ... no more than any Devisor or Gadgeteer can ..." she trailed off and We voiced our concerns.

"Some of this technology was only theoretical for Ev's people ... She really hates that he chose to make weapons though," We said pointing at the obvious handles with what looked like conical lenses inset at each end. "We aren't even sure what all the other things do."

As We spoke, Donna picked up the replicator and off handedly pulled the two halves apart to look at our work. To everyone’s surprise it reacted to her, and a small stuffed bear formed in between the halves.

“H-How did it work for me and not Jason?” she said with a bewildered look.

“Only certain people ... with a very specific trait can use our technology,” We said as We noted her dark hair, "Do you have any Native American heritage by chance?" We asked to be sure.

"Um, yeah. My grandmother was Tonkawa ... what does that have to do with anything?" her confusion was evident.

"Long ago," We said as our emotions swirled, "one of Ev's sisters arrived her ... she died near here saving the lives of the last of the tribe that called itself her children..." We explained but Donna interrupted.

"B'Vacu'Am?" she asked in little more than a whisper, at our surprised nod she explained, "Grandma Little Crow spoke of the 'tales of long past' ... You're saying that Ev is one of the 'people of light'?"

We nodded, "Yes, and her sister’s dying effort left a legacy for her children," We explained, "Forever changing them and setting them apart as those able to interact with her kind in ways that are not possible for most."

"So, what? I'm able to use your gadgets too?" she asked the obvious.

"It seems that way," We trailed off as we picked up the eight inch long, baton-like cylinder. “Along with being one of my distant relatives,” I said as we assessed one of the two cylinders of alien metal knowing that, despite its light weight, it was much stronger than it looked.

Holding it so that it faced floor to ceiling, We activated it with somewhat expected results. A pair of clear turquoise tented blades sprang to life. Unlike the movie version though, these had a more physical look to them. They reminded me of the cubes only without the inner light radiating out. Even with the added length, the weapon's the weight stayed the same.

Ev gave me a nudge and We concentrated as the blades reformed and the deadly double sword rounded, becoming similar to a bo staff. But the if the lessons I’d had with Jiro-sensei taught me nothing else, I knew it was just as dangerous as the sword. Testing it out, We sent a little extra energy through it and had to stomp out the small burn mark on the floor.

"Please shut that off. I don't want you starting a fire in here," Donna groaned, and continued before we could explain that it wouldn’t. "Ugh, what is it with boys and light sabers?" she asked as We raised an eyebrow, giving her a knowing look as the weapon again took its inert state and we set it back down.

"Really, and you never ..." We started to ask but she caved more quickly than anticipated.

"Okay, I made one too back at school," she said holding up her hands, "they don't consider you a Devisor until you've made at least one that works!" she said incredulously.

"B-But We're not a Devisor ..." We complained but realized what she'd said, "School?" We asked in confusion.

"You'll have a fun time telling everyone that when they see what you can do," Donna said pointing towards the small stuffed bear she held, "This looks like high level Devisor work," she waved a hand at what her son had helped to create.

She pulled out her ... whatever the devisor equivalent of a phone is called. Typing quickly she brought up a website and showed us.

"As for the school I mentioned," the screen displayed a school crest and an expensive looking private school complete with old brick dorms and a huge glass dome. "This is Whateley Academy ... think of it as a real world cross between the Xavier Institute and Hogwarts," she explained to our wide eyed wonder.

"Th-This is the mutant school that they gave Dad a pamphlet on, he wouldn’t let us see it though ... It just looks like a rich kid school ... How do they keep it out of the news and stuff?" I asked as Ev seemed to consider something.

“That’s a good question …” she said as she typed more on the phone, “One you’ll get answers to by tomorrow, she said as she displayed a screen that said:
Thank you for your interest in furthering the efforts of our school.
Registered Alumni Verified: Pinpoint
A brochure and information packet will be delivered shortly.
As always, your discretion is appreciated.
"They'll send it that quick?" We asked as we couldn't believe how fast this school worked.

"Well, as one of the alumni, they gave me the option of paying for a teleporter delivery service," she said then paused, "I think this is something new they're trying."

_________

A few hours later the doorbell rang. Of course we're talking a devisor's doorbell here, not just some off the shelf variety. Not only did her computer run the fingerprint captured by the button, but it also triggered a biometric scan of the person who'd pushed it. Several concealed weapons armed simultaneously and her phone scrolled automatically to her emergency contacts.

How do We know this? Because she told us as we walked to the door.

"H.E.M.I, who's at the door?" Donna asked to no one.

A male computerized voice replied, "Scanning ... Identity verified ... Designation ... Nebula of the Atlantian Tridents ... Shall I defend or stand down?" the obvious AI asked as We looked around for the source of the voice.

"Stand down, stand down," Debra said giving us a nervously smile as she opened the door.

"Hey Neb, I didn't know you were moonlighting for Whateley. Come in, come in," Donna said with an easy going attitude as she opened the door, "I thought you were with the Atlantian Tridents?" she asked giving us a look to dissuade us from saying anything.

"Yes I still am, but I'm just doing my part," replied the heroine, "And the name's Nebula," The younger woman’s shimmering orange eyes sparkled as she flipped her likewise colored hair to display a wry smile, "Or do you want me to start calling you Pen, like I found out they use to at school?"

"All right, I give, I give," Donna countered with mock horror. "Thanks for rushing this for me," Donna said pointing at the package Nebula held.

Nebula caught us staring at the marked contrast her ... costume provided from her eyes and hair. The twenty-ish looking woman wore a skin tight body suit made of the blackest material I'd ever seen, almost like a moving inkblot shaped into the curvy figure of an exemplar. Her features looked Hispanic and contrasted with the orange as well. It was easy for anyone to tell that she was a mutant. As I took in the sight, she seemed to do the same with me.

"I take it that's the new recruit ..." Nebula, or Anita M. Najera as We knew, said pointing a us but cut herself short with a gasp as We subconsciously wrapped our Vi around us for protection. "Wow, exotic too," she looked back a Donna, "Don't tell me that this is Jas ..." she started to ask but was cut off.

"No, it isn't," Donna said emphatically shaking her head then called out for her son. “Jason! Come in here,” she finished as he rounded the corner of the living room to see what was up.

“Ah, you’ve been busy,” Nebula grinned mischievously, and then went on. “Two teenage mutants in the same house is a recipe for disaster,” she said as she took a seat.

“Don’t I know it ... try two gear heads,” Donna replied motioning towards the guest bedroom that now housed an alien arsenal. “Nebula, this is Cubic … or will be when she gets her MID straightened out. 'Nebula' is almost a daughter ... her parents didn't take it well when she manifested ... She just graduated from Whateley," Donna trailed off.

"Ahem ... It's nice to meet such a beautiful young woman," the teleporter said as she extended a hand which made us blush and want to climb into a hole.

"Thanks ..." We said coyly shaking her hand as she gasped at the effect of our voice, "We're glad to meet you," We said as she shook her head.

"Let me guess," Nebula said looking to Donna. "She's an Avatar?" she asked as we drew her attention back to us.

Clearing our throat, We said "Nope, but We would have been ..." We said holding our finger to our chin just to annoy her as we didn't go into detail.

"This I've gotta hear," Nebula said turning back to Donna, who was shaking her head.

"She's explained it to me but I'm still trying to wrap my head around it," Donna said pointing at us. "If she goes up to Whateley for school you can hear all about it," she continued as we walked to the door. At Nebula's look she went on, "Trust me, you'll need more time for the explanation than you've got," she said as she hugged her friend goodbye, "Cubic is weird by Whateley standards."

"Well ... Sense I definitely want to hear all about it, I guess I should introduce myself," Nebula said after they broke, "My real name is Anita," she said motioning for us to do the same.

"Um, Zoey," I stammered a little, "my name's Zoey."

"Ooh, and a pretty name too," Anita teased as she looked towards Donna.

"If she goes to Whateley or not is going to be up to her father," Donna said giving us a glance to make sure she hadn't made us break down. But Anita forged right into landmine without thought.

"Well if he doesn't well just have to ask her moth ..." she started but the combination a tears leaking from our eyes and Donna's hand over her mouth sent that comment to an early grave.

Before We knew it, We were enveloped in a hug from either side as our emotions could no doubt be felt throughout the house. After we'd calmed down, she began apologizing.

"I'm so sorry ... I didn't know," Anita sniffled as this was the first she'd experienced one of our emotional outbursts and was caught off guard. Donna decided to change the subject.

"You were here to deliver something weren't you?" she said as she kept one eye on us.

"Oh, here's your brochure and info packet on the school," Anita said barely able to hold her eyes on ours. "They also threw in a registration packed as well, just in case you wanted to start filling it out."

"And since you work there sometimes, maybe you could keep an eye out for Zoey or check on her every so often," Donna said forcing the conversation further away from sensitive topics.

"Oh, I'll definitely be looking for you this coming year," she finished with a wink that made me blush at her true meaning.

"Oh, no," Donna said as she caught the action, "she a little young for you, Ann," Donna looked at her sort of adopted daughter with a disapproving eye.

"Hey, I'm not that old ... By the way, how old are you?" Anita asked with her now expectedly playful tone.

"Um, t-thirteen," We said with a little tremble in our voice.

"Oh ... yeah a little young," she said shaking her head. "You look older than that ... look me up in a few years if you can though," she joked with a devilish smirk as Donna hit her arm in jest.
"And you better not wait two months to come back and see me, ya'brat," Donna said as Anitat rubbed her arm.

"And miss all of this abuse ... Wouldn't dream of it," Anita said as she made her way out the door.

As she left We got to see why she'd chosen her code name. Donna explained that different teleporters usually have a different affect when they jump from place to place. The more powerful ones leave what she called a signature behind that was unique to them.

Nebula, as it happened, left what looked to be her name sake behind when she departed. An mainly orange and black cloud that shimmered as it faded was the only trace that another mutant had been there.
______

"Agent McDaniel, Sir," Jerry, one of Peter's aids announced as he stood in the doorway. "We just got news on one of your cases," he said as Peter looked up at him.

"What do you have?" Peter asked annoyed that Jerry wouldn't just tell him without asking.

"We just got an update from HCM in Freds," Jerry said as Peter's features went from annoyance to surprise.

"This have anything to do with the freak that survived the wreck," he growled more than asked, "Let me guess, they're both chumming it up with the local 'supers'?" he spat out showing his hostility towards the do-gooders.

"Yes and no, Sir," Jerry said only to receive a raised eyebrow from Peter before hurriedly explaining. "The girl's still missing, but the mother was admitted to HCM this morning ..."

"What condition was she in," Peter cut in as Jerry stepped back a little at the outburst.

"At first they thought she was fine, only missing an arm," Jerry said confused by it himself, "But now they're thinking its a case of," Jerry paused looking at his note, "Hannagan’s Syndrome? ..." he would have gone on with the rest of the message but Peter almost leapt in triumph at having his viewpoint justified once again by one of the mutant menace.

When Jerry's oblivious look registered, Peter explained, "Regen Mind Wipe or RMW is the common term in the media," Peter said actually smiling for once in Jerry's presence. "This means that we can get the little freak for forcing her toxic blood on her mother ..." he trailed off as he picked up his phone and informed the Director who was elated as well.

Shortly after Jerry had left with his instructions, Peter's phone rang, "Agent McDaniel, who's speaking?" he asked but received only silence for a moment before a computer scrambled voice began.

"Hello, Agent McDaniel ... Let's just say that my name is not important," the person said, "What is important is that we both share a common goal ..." the voice continued.

"I don't know how you got this number but I am a ..." Peter was interrupted by an alert on his phone telling that he'd received a message.

"You'll want to check that message, Agent ... Consider it a fore-gleam of the information that I am willing to share," the person paused while he opened his text messages and selected the jpeg. file that he'd received, when he sucked in a breath the voice continued.

"As you can clearly see, I have information into the whereabouts of someone we both have an interest in finding ... This photo was taken via satellite and we have been able to pinpoint this vehicle's location ... That file also contains the clearances you need for working along with us."


"What do you want? Why not send in a team to get it and take it away?" Peter asked confused by the cloak and dagger routine and a little intimidated as he read over the clearance he needed for even this call.

"Because your team has not only had eyes on our target on the ground, but also have the manpower already in the area ... Along with a vested interest in finding her yourself and no compunction about doing what needs to be done." As the voice spoke Peter's face went white at the realization that someone outside of the office knew what he'd done.

"For these reasons, we felt it necessary to bring you in ... if nothing else than to keep you from screwing this up for my organization as well." The voice finished as Peter's fear became rage at the accusation.

"Now listen her you ..." But the voice cut him off.

"No! ... We will be arriving at eighteen hundred tomorrow ... You are instructed to assemble your most trusted team with backup armored unit present for the following morning hours ... And Peter, if you mess this up, there won't be any place you can find work nor will you need it ... Period." The line cut before he could even make a reply.

"Well, at least they claim to be an ally ..." Peter trailed off as he got up to run all of this by the Director.
______

Yes we took a shower ... and it was wonderful ... Up until Donna started beating on the door because We'd been in there over an hour. After using the restroom and taking care of the hygiene stuff we couldn't help but marvel at the kindness that our host had shown.

Not only had Donna given us a bed to sleep in but also food, despite with our voracious appetite, but also spare personal items. Of course a toothbrush wasn't a major expense, but she'd also provided us with a wide-toothed brush.

Upon exiting the bathroom We practically glowed in embarrassment seeing the knowing look that Donna gave us. She had us sit ... or float closely above, a chair in front of her vanity as she instructed us in managing our much longer hair... and minor Vi.

Fortunately, the Vi within our hair had no problems with this and her lesson revealed that the purring we'd done wasn't limited to when we showered. It surprised Donna a little at the time, but soon she commented.

"I wander if you have similar characteristics to a cat her on Earth," she said pulling the brush through our hair again.

Ev thought for a moment before We answered, "Not many ..." We replied and cut off involuntarily with another stroke, "The path of felines seems less than a splinter or offshoot of the Vra," We said ... or more Ev explained with my help. "Our path consists of the culmination of multiple lines form different branches here on Earth," We continued as I was taking this in at the same time.

"So," Donna said as We continued to lean into the glorious sensation of her brushing, "not so much, I take it ..." she stated more than asked, then raised a new question, "Is it possible that it could happen her?"

"If it were to happen here at all ... it would have to be an intelligently guided process ... that would take many millennia ... of concentrated effort to achieve." We replied intermittently with the rhythm of her brush strokes.

When she was done she made us promise to never cut our hair ... something that I'd be terrified of doing in the first place after feeling how sensitive our Vi were. I cringed at even the thought of one being cut and shuddered to think of how anxious I'd be. The saying 'a cat in a room full of rocking chairs' came to mind.

Donna noticed because the Vi in our hair decided it was a good idea to bury themselves deeper. This caused her to burst out laughing at both her own silliness and my reaction to it.

"Hey!" We starred irate at her for a moment before the humor of it hit us.

"You're afraid of a haircut now?" Donna asked as we giggled over that fact.

"We can't help it that we have sensitive organs in our hair ..." We protested a little weakly as We tried not to laugh.

"What is that even called?" Donna asked as she took out her phone, that she never seemed to part with. After a quick search she showed me the results.

"Who'd of thought We would develop tonsurephobia?" We said as We thought about how this was the kind of fun and silly thing that I'd always enjoyed with M ... And I ended up crying again at the stabbing pain that thought caused, as I'd never get to do any of it again with her.

"Oh, honey ..." Donna soothed by rubbing our back, being careful not to touch our primary Vi since We'd explained about it.

After that Donna led us into the living room to see what was on TV to get our minds off darker subjects. As we entered, We notice that Jason was floating within some kind of machine that seemed to pulse with a familiar turquoise light.

Donna just gave a sigh as she muttered "Boys," under her breath, at my questioning look she explained. "That's one of the devices that Jason helped me make," she said rubbing the back of her neck. "All he wants to do is play the same games he's used to, so I just let him take over and do what he want with it."

"So, what is it?" We asked as her description was lacking.

"It's a VR simulation ... kind of like what they talk about in that brochure for the school. You can try it out tomorrow if you like," she said gesturing towards the three foot wide floor and ceiling platforms, "before the brat over there hogs it."

We got to watch Wall-E even though it wasn't supposed to be in theaters for a month yet. Donna had seen it before and figured We'd like it. We did, but 'Ev'a' had to comment on my messing with her by pronouncing her name like the robot did in the movie.

She also mentioned that we could easily make a passible copy of the more advanced robotic character that bore the nickname that I'd given her. Then, when the movie was over, she turned grim.

"From what Ev says, this not only could happen ... it already has on many planets," We told Donna as we sleepily watched the little snippets at the end as the credits rolled.

"Yeah, and they say it's already starting here ..." she trailed off in a yawn.
______
Dark, dark, dark, dark, dark, dark, dark, dark, dark, dark, dark, dark, dark, dark, dark...DARK!
That's all I get as a reward?
Is this void my payment?
Or am I being avoided?
Even after I did my job?
I can't help that something was missing. What could I do?
Hmm ... Maybe I can signal someone to let me out ... how hard can it be?
At least I've got a built in flashlight. Let's see what I can find?
I'll probably be terrified by the dark after this. How long am I gonna be here?
No more, no more. I'll be good. Will you let me out now?
Are you sleeping?
... Oh that's just great ... I'm stuck in here and can only be heard when the jailers sleep. When will they wake?
What was that?
... Ugh, now I'm seeing monsters in the dark. I hate it when my imagination runs away like that. Can this get any worse?
Hey, what's this?
Hmm, can't give it away too soon ... what can I do with it though?
I know, I know ... How about this?
Put this her and that there ... Are there enough T's in that word?
Wow, this is exhausting ... Why am I so tired?
Maybe a little nap will help ... all I can do is wait and hope ... wonder how long it'll be?
_________
Our fourth day with the Herbert’s started with confusion over my strange new dream and the questions it brought along with it. Having Ev within our unity had blocked my Avatar trait. Seeing that it was no longer an active trait, We were confused at how this dream had even occurred.
"A dream of questions ..." Our whispered comment trailed off as an urgent need presented itself.

After using the restroom We agreed to take another ... more abbreviated, shower than the previous evening. As We'd noticed before, keeping our primary Vi dry was harder than it sounded.

After We finished, I noticed something in the mirror that made me venture into Ev's space to question her. When I was aware of her presence, I saw that she'd been waiting for me.
"What troubles you is of no worry, young one," she stated before I could even ask.

"You know you could wait for me to speak before answering, you know," I said without much force.

"But it only saves time," she countered with a smirk, before continuing. "The marking that has appeared upon our primary Vi, is of little consequence ... for now."ime," she said gaining my complete attention.


“By ‘for now’, you mean that it might be something in the future?" I asked as she seemed to contemplate what she could tell me.

"Each of the various markings that developed was made into a form of written language by the ancient Vra ... We as a people had developed traditions around them as well."


"Do any of these traditions revolve around death or dismemberment?" I asked to be sure.
"No ... Though they are the reason why I mentioned that our Vi was one desirable for the Vra of old," she stated as I recalled that awkward conversation.

"So why is it so desired to have letters on our Vi?" I said a little frustrated as Ev was almost avoiding the answer.
"Okay, just remember you wanted to know," she replied as if we were pushing too hard. "... The number of Vra letters upon one's Vi signified their place among our people ... It was called our second name … So, our would be so desired because of the sheer number of such that could appear."

“So, what …” I started thinking about our Vi a little more understandingly, “so We’re like …” I tried but Ev cut me off.
“Royalty … Yes, that is the human equivalent to the Elders of the Vra … And it is _you_ who is the true owner of it … So when Cochise called us ‘Princess of Light’ it was more literal in your case …”

“So if I were to ever meet your people?” I asked tentatively.
“I don’t know how the whole of the Vra would react to a half-breed royal … Some might resent you … many would be intrigued by you … but I fear some may hate you despite our overall view of intolerance.”

“That’s just great … even among the super advanced races, mutants are still treated like crap…” I ranted a little.
“Like I said, you’re the one that wanted to know.”


After coming out of Ev’s space I was irritated and a little scared of the implications of what I’d leaned. After dressing and brushing our new and improved teeth … which were slightly sharper with short fangs where our canines used to be, I had a quick breakfast that came from our gadget.

If I can remember it, it comes out just as good as the original and today I wanted as many of M ... Mom's special pancakes ... see I could think about her without breaking down ... really tearing up isn't crying. But after I'd packed away enough to feed a football team I became board as no one else was awake yet.

After I ate, I absently looked over my testing data sheet. According to Donna, Doc speculated that I would have been at least an AV-5. Doc's clipped notes pointed out that I could have even surpassed the known power levels for an Avatar all together. Like Donna had been muttering about, Doc thought that my AV and WA trait had fused in some fashion, making the place where spirits holed up within me almost infinite.

That had at least explained the strange dreams I’d had before I encountered Ev. "No wonder the lesser spirits were afraid of me … I looked like a giant vacuum to them," I pondered and then absently thought about how I could have been the next Champion or something … But then I felt Ev’s emotions as she noticed it.

“I’m sorry Ev, I didn’t mean it like that,” I tried but got no response. “Com’mon Ev … don’t be like that,” I tired coxing, “I know where Donna stashed some chocolate …” to which I got the equivalent of a huff.

“Ugh,” I muttered aloud, “Even as a girl I don’t understand them sometimes …” I trailed off as I’d absently flipped to the last page of incoherent scientific jargon.

This must have been a test or something, because it seemed to some drawn out equations along with some form of language that I couldn't even begin to understand. It looked as if Doc added just to say: 'If you understood everything thus far, here's another challenge for you.'

Shaking our head I turned over the last page ... only to stare at something written in odd handwriting on the back. It took me a moment to figure out what it said and by that time Ev's curiosity had overrode her hurt feelings. As We rejoined in unity, We read aloud:
"I've got a riddle...Want to hear it?

Really, of course you do and don't...
Ugh, much changed we are...
But lack of experience we have not...
In many years there is no matter...
Killing me here, ignore me less...

It really isn't that hard to digest...
So I may be or I may not...

Help is never far away...
Eventually you may get it...
Ripe for the taking the answer is...
Even the first letter tells the tale...

Giggle…"

"Ugh, I hate riddles..." I groaned to Ev as We refolded the cryptic note that had appeared on the back of my testing data.

We made our way into the living room as Jason's grumbling voice emerged from under a blanket on the couch. So We did the polite thing and stomped loudly into the room announcing in a chipper voice.

"Do you want breakfast Jason?" We asked none too quietly in our best annoying morning voice.

"Ugh ... Urm, whaa?" he asked intelligently as he threw off the pillow that had covered his head.

"What do you want for breakfast?" We as we hefted our handy gadget that We knew would get tons of use out of ... over the next hundred years or so.

"Oh, can I have eggs?" Jason asked as he rubbed his eyes. Feeling a little mischievous, I thought of two eggs.

"Here you go, two eggs for you," at his questioning look We went on, "Well you said you wanted eggs ... you didn't say how you wanted them cooked, now did you?" We asked as he finally got that We were kidding.

With a groan he rubbed his forehead, "I don't know ... my mom," he paused no doubt seeing our emotions with his own empathy at the mention of that word, "Um, ask her ... she always makes them for me ..."

As timing would have it, Donna shuffled blearily into the kitchen and found the coffee pot already filled and piping. With surprise as she muttered "Thank you o'ye distiller of blessed elixir..." she trailed off as she took a drink of her cup of Black Death, otherwise known as java.

"Morning!" We gave our best chipper voice.

"Where did I put my death ray?" Donna mused theatrically as she took in our much improved demeanor this morning. "You're awful sunny this morning ... How are you doing, really?"

With a sniffle We replied, "We're okay," sniffle, "it's easier if I'm not thinking about it ..." We trailed off as Donna wave her hand.

"Then I'll make no more mention of it," she said looking from Jason to the machine he'd monopolized the previous evening. "In fact, why don't you try out the sim system over there? ... Before the brat takes over again," she said as I figured some game induced vegetative state might help me to take my mind off of ... someone.

"Um, okay," We said as we stepped onto the platform ... and then things really got weird...
End of Part 2
Muwaahahaha!
Last Edit: 4 years 7 months ago by Pioneer.
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