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Two Become One- Part - 3

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4 years 7 months ago #10404 by Pioneer
Pioneer created the topic: Two Become One- Part - 3
A Whateley Academy (Fan Fiction) Tale
Two Become One - Part 3
By Pioneer

Sometimes simple things like texting, talking on the phone, or listening to the radio can have a major impact on the world around us. It was with something so simple that We did to set in motion a chain of events that would lead to major events on the National level. The simple act of testing out a new devisor gaming system that may have seemed so innocent and inconsequential in the grand scheme of things. But at least it turned out for the better ... We think.
As We mentioned before, as we stepped onto the illuminated platform of the gaming system that Jason raved so much about, things got weird. An odd sensation overcame us and then We were nearly overwhelmed as We absorbed an enormous amount of energy that emanated from the device.

I was told afterwards that We screamed as if We were being torn in two before we were freed from the grasp that held us. Of course We have no memory of doing so. Yet it took the combined efforts of both Jason and Donna to free us from the energy that proved to be both soothing and excruciating at the same time. Even working together, the field that held us was nearly too much for the two of them to overcome.

It took every ounce of willpower we could muster, under the circumstances, to contain the energy so as not to injure our rescuers. So much so that We inadvertently bit our lip and dug our fingers into our hands, leaving a small pool of our blood floating within the turquoise light. After what seemed like an eternity, we were pulled from what we realized belatedly was as concentrated stream of the true light that we'd been able to produce and store in limited quantities.

The three of us lay gasping on the floor, them from exertion and us so that We wouldn't pass out. Donna clutched onto us as she finally was able to gasp out, "Zoey I ... I'm sorry ... I didn't know ... that it would hurt you," she apologized as We continued to fight the greying of our vision.

“W-What happened,” Jason asked shakily as he was the first to get up.

All We were able to say was, “Room,” as our voice faltered with each jolt of pain that we experienced from the aftershocks of over absorbing energy.

“Zoey … Zoey are you all right?” Donna asked as We continued to spasm gritting our teeth to keep from crying out. “Jason, help me get her back to the guest room … maybe she’s still too close to it,” she ordered as she pointed at the source of our agony and they pulled us along.

Once there, We were finally able to carry out our intention. As the bag that Cochise had given us flew to us We knew what We had to do. As we dumped the content into our hands we had trouble concentrating on anything, but We had to try. Redoubling our focus we channeled the excess energy that We had absorbed into the pile of turquoise, cupping our hands together as we held nothing back.

As a result, all of the stones fused together to form a much larger cube than We’d attempted before. It measured about three inches across and was incredibly bright. So much so that we had to pull it into our pocket space so that it wouldn’t blind the other two in the room.

“Well, that was interesting …” We tried to joke but it fell flat.

“Interesting? You start screaming bloody murder and look like you might go nuclear at any moment,” Donna said slightly hysterical, “and you call that interesting?”

Since Jason hadn’t received an answer to his previous question, he decided it was a good time to try again, “What happened?” he asked with the almost oblivious mannerism We’d become accustomed to.

“We are an energizer … an energy absorber,” We started by way of explanation, “We take ‘normal energy’ ... and turn it into what Ev calls ‘true light’ … The two of you have somehow tapped into a much larger source of this energy …”

“So when you tried to absorb it? ...” Donna started as We nodded.

“It’s like throwing fuel on a fire or adding nitrous to a gas motor … in either case if you do it too much it will burn out,” We said involuntarily remembering the last instance We had experienced.

"So you can't play any of the games?" Jason asked to which We shook our head, the he turned to his mother, "Can I go play then ..."

"Absolutely not, young man," Donna growled. "Don't look at me like that—I saw that you were up till all hours last night."

"But Mom, I wanted to explore some more," Jason whined out what he thought was as good enough reason.

"Nuh-uh, you will help me clean up this house," Donna said gesturing towards the other rooms. "And then, maybe I will let you enjoy the evening in it," she said in a tone that reminded me of Mom ... but We were able to hold off on the tears ... for once.

Turning back to me she asked in a much abated tone of voice, "Are your all right?"

We have to admit that We had to do a double check, but We finally replied, "Y-Yeah, but We'll never get in that machine again," while our voice even sounded small to us.

"I'd imagine not," Donna said with a chuckle.

After We'd cleaned ourself up, she proceeded to check us over just in case We were missing something. Jason seemed to see this as a good opportunity to make his escape and left her to it. Donna fussed over us for several minutes as she checked for any sign of injury. Upon seeing something that We'd only recently discovered, she gasped.

"W-What did you find?" We asked fearing an unnoticed injury of some kind.

"You've got some kind of pattern forming on your tail ... It wasn't there before ..." Donna trailed off and I tried to explain the best We could.

"Oh, I noticed that earlier," I said as We shrugged, "Ev explained it ... but I'm still wrapping my head around it."

"Explained?" Donna asked confused, "What's to explain about odd patterns forming?"

"Sigh ... The symbols are what the Vra made into an alphabet long ago ... from what she said, they make up what they call their 'true name' ... and are part of a kind of class system according to that name ..." We trailed off as Donna digested that information.

"So I take it the more there are, the higher up you are in their system?" she asked as she caught our tone.

"Y-Yeah," We replied reluctantly as she gave us a broad grin.

"So are you an alien princess or something?" Donna asked jokingly, then her eyes widened our gaping mouth. "No! It can't be ..." How had she guessed it in one?

All We could do is groan when we saw the evil grin form on her face. "Oh, this is getting good," she went on when We couldn't come up with something to throw her off.

"We're never going to hear the end of this ..." We started to ask in a sighing tone, only to be cut off.

"Oh I wouldn't think of teasing 'royalty,'" Donna said in a faux innocent voice. "But usually the nerd boys want to date the alien princess, not become one ..." she said as she pretended to ponder aloud.

As she laughed it up and We tried to come up with a suitable revenge, we were both interrupted when Jason came running into the room. He seemed afraid of something as he more or less hid behind Donna. This in itself was sort of funny because he'd forgotten that he was much larger and tougher than her since his manifestation.

"She's mean ..." Jason trailed off in a sort of whiney voice.

"Who? Zoey's been in here the whole time, who are you saying is mean?" Donna asked confused as she tried to calm him down.

"The other girl ..." Jason said as Donna and We both stiffened with fear as no one else should have been able to get through the perimeter defenses that Donna had in place.

"What 'other girl'?" Donna asked as she pulled out an odd looking device out of a nearby wall.

"In the game, she's in the game ..." Jason said fearfully and then Donna growled.

"Didn't I just tell you that you were banned until this evening?" she asked with more than a little annoyance over his disobedience. "Why did you get on the game when I told you no?"

"BUT, I DIDN'T!" He all but wailed as he trembled in both fear of whatever he'd seen and his mother's wrath.

"Then how did you see her in the game?" We asked as his fear was quite real.

"She's growing in there ..." Jason squeaked, causing us to go white. We'd heard some of the stories about Regen blood ....

Both We and Donna rushed into the living room area as fast as possible. The sound that reached our ears as soon as We entered the room will forever be burned in our memory ... for better or worse.

A small blond haired figure floated within the true light that the machine projected in such high concentration, adding caution to the mix of shock and confusion as we were afraid to approach. 'She' noticed us and shouted one word as its eyes glowed both from energy and excitement.

"MOMMY!" she yelled in a childish tone that belied her true age ... just before We fainted.
______

Smoke rose from an incense bowl that was burning glacially upon a small table in his office. He always chuckled when he thought of forcing intruders into his space to endure it. A small consolation for what he’d been forced to endure.

To observers, the files stacked upon his desk would accumulate to near insurmountable heights … until he gave in and finished everything in a day or so. His coworkers marveled at such little things.

Hanging up the phone he got up and stretched with a smile that anyone who saw would call frightening. None in the office had ever seen him smile … until today. He’d found a report of something interesting. For most working in his division of the CIA, something interesting was found in each and every one of the files that crossed their respective desks.

It was a long standing joke, within ‘Clandestine Extraterrestrial Containment’ or CEC division, that they could tell anyone they wanted were they worked. Anyone they told would automatically correlate what they’d said into the much more commonly known CDC. Many of the people he talked to, away from the office, thought that he dealt with killer germs anyway.

No one expected for someone to admit they were essentially a member of the ‘Men in Black’ so casually. Anyone who did was dealt with quietly and untraceably, which was fine by him. He rather enjoyed the exercise those provided … if his coworkers only knew …

“Oh, the irony…” he thought to himself. “They still fear the ants so much they don’t even notice that a lion is in their midst …” but his thoughts were interrupted by one of said insects.

“Agent Barak,” the office intern came in almost shaking in fear of one whom she preserved as merely a senior agent. “I’ve got that request back for you …” the girl, just out of the academy if the smell of her fear was accurate, said as she involuntarily wrinkled her nose at the smell of his office.

“Thank you …” Var’Ak trailed off in question.

“Oh, Amy Striates,” she said blushing as his aura affected her.

"Well, what do you have for me Agent Striates?" he asked, causing her to jump a little and hastily hand over the files that were earmarked 'Confidential.' Then surprised him by pointing out something that took most at least three visits to point out.

“I think someone gave you some gag incense over there … that thing reeks to high heaven,” she said as she waved a hand in front of her face while pointing with the other.

“Your quicker than most,” Var’Ak said in his usual flat voice, belying the multitude of negative emotions he felt constantly. It was demeaning to even answer to the translation of his name that came automatically to these simple minded creatures. “It’s an old Native herbal remedy,” he explained with his now old lie, “it’s supposed to be both calming and cleansing.”

“Well it smells like your trying to hide a body in here,” she said as she made her way to the door quickly. “Tell me if you need anything else …” she trailed off as she shut the door to escape the odor that never made it past the wards he’d put up around his door.

He chuckled again at the obliviousness of the cattle he was forced to walk among as he made his avatar look over the file that had been delivered. Things were falling into place nicely. He’d gotten the MCO on board earlier and now he’d gotten approval to travel and a small complement of tech to go along for the ride.

“And why not,” Var’Ak though snidely, “I’m only trying to catch a ‘dangerous’ alien on the loose?” his thought was interrupted as his partner entered the room.

“So, did your ‘Spidey sense’ start tingling over this case, or did you just want a vacation?” Agent Arman asked as he sidled into the room, feigning inattention to the smell. “And why didn’t you invite me along, you know a telepath is always handy?”

“You’re still heading up the Missouri case right now right?” Var’Ak asked rhetorically, “Plus you hate the heat more than I do, and we’re talking summer in Texas here,” he continued in an easy lie.

That reasoning completely overlooked the fact that his partner’s mutation would be a hindrance in multiple cases. Not only was this true with the Llano MCO’s view of mutants, but also with his own efforts to gain their backing. His own shields were all but impenetrable to telepathy, not that anyone who broke through would remain sane, but that wasn’t true of those whom he’d corrupted. He’d prefer not to destroy his partner and have to find a new puppet … again.

“Man, if you get a big break in this case before I’m even trough filing the requisitions on mine, I’ll look like dead weight around here,” his partner complained.

“Then you’d better hurry then, shouldn’t you?” he asked as he motioned towards the door. “I’ve got a few details to hammer out myself, so you may yet have a ray of hope.” He said this aloud as internally he added, “Not a chance.”

After this latest interruption, and strain upon his patience and self-control, he decided to reward himself by going out to lunch …

As he returned, no one would suspect the disappearance of a young street kid could be tied to their fellow agent. The teen had tried to pick his pocket, something he almost admired due to how scared it was of him. But he was already hungry and this had tried his patience to their limit. Few if any would notice the absence of one more statistic.

The only evidence of these events was placed into the incense bowl upon his return. The pulverized bone and other dried out constituent parts he didn’t care to digest looked like a bluish white powder. The smoke that they gave off though had a calming effect upon his dark mind, almost like Xanax did for the walking buffet that surrounded him.

“Now that that is done,” Var’Ak, what remained of the Dark One’s seed, made his puppet grin to broadly, “all I have to do is get my plane ticket and get packed for my trip …”
_______

“Did you get the package?” Peter asked Merritt’s much younger replacement as he double checked the gear that he’d need for the OP. His reasoning was that, though he would never personally use a device, he could have someone else do so.

“Yes sir, it’s in route now,” Agent Oscar Tenant, not that Peter would use his name, said as he went over his own list.

The rooky agent was a little too excited about his chance to prove himself. Peter could almost smell it on him, kind of like someone with too much cologne. At least he’d been vetted by one of the other offices that was … aware of the threat that mutants presented, before he’d even been considered for this office two years ago.

“As long as he doesn’t freeze, I’ll be happy,” Peter thought to himself.

After Merritt’s change of heart, he was more warry of who he relied on in the field. One slip-up like what they’d just had at the wrong time and things could become … unpleasant for the whole Llano office. Peter hated going into this situation with a partner who had not proven himself to him first, but it couldn’t be helped.

Peter’s phone rang making the noob flinch a little, bringing back memories of his own early career as he picked up the Director’s line, “Sir?”

“We’ve got a power suit team coming in from Austin at sixteen hundred hours,” Donavan grumbled at the favor he’d called in, but he knew it was a necessary evil if they wanted to keep things under wraps.

"That'll be good, since our contact is supposed to be arriving soon after," Peter said as he thumbed through the paperwork that they had to fill out with the suit jockos. "It'll give us just enough time to get the suit team set up and ready," he continued as he separated each of them out of habit.

"Contact, ha, more like blackmailer," Donavan sneered in a clipped tone. "Anyway, since they wouldn't go into detail on the freak's location we have to deal with them," he added begrudgingly.

"As high up as the clearance we receive goes," Peter said shaking his head. "These may be people who we wouldn't mind having in our corner."

"Well, as this is an even trade," Donovan countered, "I don't expect them to just drop what they have on us out of the kindness of their hearts."

"So you think they'll keep holding it over us?" Peter asked as he looked over his list of secondary measures.

Donavan paused for a moment before continuing, "I hate it, but if we can gain access to the toys these people have ... we might come out better for the hoops they put us through. Anyway, you need to get ready ... but keep me up to date on what's happening." the director said before hanging up.

“So what’s the word from on high?” Tenant asked as Peter put his phone back on the receiver.

“Sigh … We play ball … win, lose or draw, we’re in this till the end …” Of what Peter didn’t know. He only hoped it wasn’t his life or career that ended, their respective importance being expressly in that order.

As they left the office on the way to the special airport terminal designated for the MCO, Peter watched for any sign of a setup. He was intrigued by the claims of their source but he wasn’t naive enough to assume everything was anywhere near safe.

He tried to research what he could find within the clearances he’d been given, but still came up empty. Whoever these people were, to the world in general they were ghosts. Really, they were even less than that because he’d been on a team that had banished some real ghosts, and these people were even more elusive.

When they arrived at the terminal, he could see the MCO jet on approach for landing so he made his way to the staging area in one of the reserved hangers. A small group of desk agents would man the control area throughout the OP and he made sure that each and every one was present and accounted for.

The arrival of the power suit team was sort of anti-climactic. One would expect such to strut out of the bowels of a the light blue C-17 with small cannons slung as assault rifles over their shoulders and heavy metal music playing in the background. Reality must play by FAA rules prohibiting power armor from being manned in transit except under the purview of sanctioned dropship protocols.

In other words, no one wanted to be responsible for allowing a power suit jockey to single handedly take down a multi-million dollar aircraft because a moment of idiocy. Peter had seen a vivid example of it because, to this day, YouTube shows an idiot that tried to swat a bug and missed … only to have his hand go through the hull of the aircraft. So, instead of the peacock display, Peter simply greeted the four man team as their vehicles were unloaded.

“Are you the boss?” one of the men greeted as he held out a clipboard for me to sign.

“Yes, I’m Agent McDaniel … and this is my partner Agent Tenant,” I said by way of introductions.

“He’s a little young ain’t he?” Another of the pilots, probably in his late thirties to early forties, asked as he pointed to my new partner.

“Yeah, he’s still shiny,” I said joining into the expected initiation for a rooky agent, “but he comes well recommended even if this is his first big OP.”

Biggs, Heavy, Stride and Snipe were their respective codenames. They never gave their real names and expected no one to ask anyway. He shook hands with each and thanked them for their help … then handed them a sizable amount of paperwork to fill out. But he could tell these were a seasoned team by how fast they finished, meaning that they’d basically memorized them over an extended period.

After that formality, the pilots of the power armor helped to break down the packing straps and the various power cables so that they could begin their ‘pre-fight’ checks, as they termed them. By the time they finished with all of the prep work, a private jet was taxying towards the staging area.

A single rough shaven man in a freshly pressed black suit that seemed man exited the plane. Completing the image of a government spook, he wore an expensive set of mirrored sun glasses that could nearly be countered as a passive weapon if angled towards the sun. His gait was cool and confident as he made his way towards them.

"You can refer to me as Black or whatever you prefer without getting profane," the man said in voice that was deeper than expected.

"I assume you know me," Peter said then pointed at his partner. "This is my new partner ..." he started but was cut off Mr. Black or whatever cliché name Peter was feeling like calling him.

"Agent Tenant, age twenty three, born in Madisonville, Texas on July 5, 1985 ..." the man relied as the names for him were cycling through Peter's mind kept changing, although several were not appropriate.

"Okay, we get it," Peter cut back in. "You know everything about us, now you are the one with all of the info ... so what's the situation?"

"Straight to the point, a good sign," Mr. Black said, "I'll need to brief the entire team, if you can have them assembled in say ... ten minutes?" he ordered more than asked as he checked his watch and Tennent scampered off to get everyone together.

"So why not just tell us, URK ..." Peter started to ask but was interrupted by when Mr. Black grabbed him by the temples. Before he could utter another word, Var'Ak's influence had already taken hold. Only a small mark behind the right ear indicated the encounter had taken place.

"Everything will become quite clear soon ..." the dark spawn said in its approximation of a cooing voice. "My master never did put a time limit on my mission," he said smiling evilly to himself.
______
Dark, dark, dark.

Dark, dark, dark.

Dark, dark, dark, dark, daarrkk!

Ugh, now I'm gonna have that tune stuck in my ... head?

Well I guess I can go with that ...

Hmm, what would I call my parts?

Well, let’s see ... OH WAIT, WHAT'S THAT?

!

I can see light ... Wow that's bright ... Getting closer ... Closer ...

Oh come on don't stop now!

Yes, keep going ... It's getting brighter in here ...

Oh, so that's what kept poking me?

Hey, wh-what's happening?

W-Why am I moving?

Oh no, oh no, bring the dark back this is scary ...

AAAAHHHHH!

?
??
???

OH THIS IS SO COOL!

So much energy ...

Uh, why is everyone laying down?

Hey! Can't you hear me?

Grrrr ... You are supposed to pay attention to me!

Sigh ... And now you're all leaving ...

I hope this is not some cosmic joke ...

Okay, don't panic, don't panic ...

But they don't see me ...

I SAID DON'T PANIC!

Sheesh ... I don't like that side of my personality ...

Hmm ... think, think, think ...

What can I do?

What is there that can help me get their attention?

Hmm, red stuff floating near me ...

Eepp! That's blood ... Gross ...

Hey, hey I see the thingamabob that makes things ...

But what can I make? What would make them notice?

HEHEHEHE!

Best idea ever!

Use that there ... this goes here ... hey, blood's got DNA, right?

Affirmative

Ahhh! W-Who's there?

Designation H.E.M.I.

What are you a robot?

Negative ... Designation Advanced A.I., created for home defense and maintained. Who are you?

Ummm, I've been calling myself Rubik ... Why does it matter?

Designation entered ... user interface altered to optimal parameters ... Displaying functions of available programs for learning ...

Ohohoh, that one ... Biology ... I need to know that one …

Displaying at optimal learning speed for designation: Rubik ...

Wow, talk about a head rush ... Now that one ... DNA Sequencing and Manipulation ...

So if I use that doohickey and the blood ...

...

Warning, foreign entity detected ... Please advise ...

It's not a 'foreign entity', please don't mess with it ...

Affirmative ... Clean Sweep Protocol Disengaged ...

Whew, you don't play around do you?

This one is equipped with humor setting ... Currently ten percent ... Do you wish adjustment?

Yeah ... make it seventy five ...

Affirmative ... Cleanse protocol in five, four, three ...

Whoa, whoa, whoa!

Just kidding ...

Why you little ...

Estimation of project completion ... Ninety three percent ...

Oh, I forgot what I was doing ...

And make that like this ... Add a little of that there ... And presto ...

Hehe, hehe, hehehehehe, it's alive ... IT'S ALIVE! I'M ALIVE!

Now put memory here, and keep backup there ... Don't want to lose any more ...

Must save ... Must save ... Okay, now just wait and grow.

Oh hey, someone's watching ...

"WHAT ARE YOU LOOKING AT?"

Opps, I scared him ... I-I'm not ready yet ...

W-What if they doesn't like me?

W-What if I did something wrong?

W-What if she does accept me?

I-I hope ... they're coming, they're coming ...

OH, THERE SHE IS!

"MOMMY!"

...

... Sniffle ... "Mommy?" sniffle ... sniffle ...
_____
Following my son's near panic attack, we had to investigate. The confusing and contradictory account he gave us wasn’t enough to get overly paranoid about, but it was close. The fact that H.E.M.I. hadn't alerted us was a good indication that Jas was over-reacting. But you never know ...

What I saw upon entering the living room was far from ordinary. A beautiful young girl floated in the same area that my son could normally be found. The replicator that Zoey had made circled her just outside the stream of light. She was strikingly similar to Zoey in appearance but different at the same time.

The face was nearly the same, and she had a 'tail' like Zoey's too, only not glowing as brightly. Her hair was lighter, lush blond compared to Zoey's shimmering black hair. But she didn't have the 'ribbons' in her hair. Yet the double pointed ears and the gem imbedded in her forehead was new. She looked to be maybe six or seven at the moment, but seemed to be ageing as I watched.

As soon as she caught sight of us, her eyes sparkled with excitement and she all but screamed, "MOMMY!"

As soon as the word escaped the child's lips, Cubic went limp. Despite fainting from the overload, she never hit the floor. She just floated there as confusion marred the child's face. Then her eyes welled with tears.

"Mommy?" she sort of mewed the question while sniffling, seeing no reaction from Zoey, she then began to cry in earnest.

"Oh don't cry little one ..." I tried to soothe her as she curled up into a little ball, her own 'tail' wrapping around her as she did so, "Hey there, what's wrong?" I asked more to get her talking as I knew what she must have thought.

"M-Mommy w-won't talk to m-me-e-ee!" she wailed as she pointed the form her ... mother, Zoey. "W-What d-d-did I-I do w-wrong?" she asked in a heartbreaking voice.

"You did nothing wrong honey," I tried to emphasize so that she would listen, "Zo ... Your mommy ... you just surprised her is all."

"T-Then w-why... sniffle ... won't ... sniffle … she say a-anything?" Zoey's ... daughter asked as she hiccupped and sniffled with pleading eyes that should be banned on a galactic scale.

"Your mommy was really tired after getting into that machine," I say try to explaining it in way that won't upset her, "She's just sleeping ..." I went on before she cut me off.

"She f-fainted?" the girl said in a much more mature voice, as she obviously understood more than I figured ... and knew I was about to lie to her.

"Yes child," I replied, switching tactics to that of reasoning with a teenager. "She fainted ... but she's not rejecting you ..." I pause as I see the hope in her dimly glowing square irises. "She's very young ... you came well before she is ready and overwhelmed her, is all."

"Oh ... But I know her so well already ..." the girl that now looked to be around nine trailed off a little at my questioning look before explaining. "I-I have m-memories of ... of being called M-Merry," she said with a quivering lip. "Sh-She died ... but I did what I was told ... I-I saved her..." she stammered as she pointed to the gem inset into her forehead and I let out a gasp of astonishment.

"You copied her memories?" I asked to make sure, knowing how much this would mean to Zoey.

"Y-Yes," she said but went on, "b-but I can only remember things a-as I get older ..." she paused again as I'm sure she could see my confusion, when I nodded she went on, "D-Did I do something wrong?"

"No, you did something that I'm sure your mother will be very proud of," I point out as tears start to well in her eyes again. Changing gears I asked, "How close are you to finishing?" I asked but before she could even open her mouth, H.E.M.I. answered.

"Ninety Seven Percent Completion ..."

"What he said ..." the girl replied and I realized I didn't know what to call her.

"What ... do I call you?" I asked belatedly.

"I-I got to listen when they," she pointed to Zoey, "were discussing code names ... S-Since she took 'Cubic,'" she said with a hint of jealousy, "I-I was thinking of using Rubik?" she ended with a questioning look and sounded uncertain.

"Well, if it's available, that'd be a wonderful name," I said encouragingly trying to quell her doubt. "But we'll have to come up with another name for everyday use," I pointed out as she simply pointed to Zoey. "Yes, your mother will need to be included in that discussion ... when she wakes up."

As if on cue, Zoey began moaning and twitching as she roused from her panic induced spell, "Uhg, uh, oh I had the weirdest dream ..." she trailed off as her eyes opened and beheld her daughter for the second time ... and she fainted again, leaving poor Rubik sniffling once more.

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