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Seeing is Believing (Complete)
"Selleny, what do you have planned for the week?" Agent Banks asked distractedly, calling his partner on her private cell as he worked on the computer to book airline tickets and a rental car.
"Well, I thought I'd get a haircut, buy a new outfit or three, there's that new dance club I've been hearing great things about..."
"Pack your bags, come with me to New Hampshire," he ordered.
"I've been looking forward to the dance club..." Selleny half whined.
"It'll still be here when you get back. If it's as good as you say, I might even go with you, see those dance moves you've always teased me you'd show me."
"Is that an invitation?" Selleny asked, her voice conveying much more interest suddenly.
"Could be. Come with me to New Hampshire, I'm sure that dress you bought last fortnight as we staked out that mall, the one with all the fall colours, would look great in the mountains with their scenic forests all turning red."
"Great, I've got the tickets booked now."
“You've got the tickets? For both of us? Paid?!” Selleny demanded in disbelief.
There was silence and then, "Pick me up in thirty minutes. I'll wear that dress since I know you liked it."
Smiling Banks replied, "Great, pack enough for the rest of the week, and the weekend too." Hanging up he printed out the ticket receipts and standing knocked on his bosses door. "Sir, I've contacted Selleny and I'll pick her up on the way. I'll call from the airport when we arrive before we drive out to Whateley to see if anything has changed while were are in the air."
"You do that," his boss replied waving him back out of the office before turning back to the smiling office aid seated across the desk from him. "What?" he demanded puzzled.
"You both seem to be forgetting Selleny is on leave this week," the office aid smirked. "What on earth do you think she believes Banks just offered her with his call to spend the rest of the week and the weekend together with him in New Hampshire in the Fall?" she queried with a naughty smirk.
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"Shelly?" Solomon invited her to sit next to him on the couch once she had finished putting up the tent, blowing up the air mattresses, moving in her bags and setting up her 'room' as she wanted it. Shelly had been doing this while Solomon setup their 'Kitchen' and Selanothis took Maggie for some exercise and to setup magical wards around the retreat. Placing a cup of tea he had just made and a plate of cookies on the table, he waited for Shelly to join him.
Taking a cookie and dunking it in her tea, Shelly slurped it up looking at Solomon curiously as she sat down. "We are going to start your lessons tomorrow, today we are just going to get you used to Selanothis linking you and me and you showing me which decision points you want to take, basically letting you learn to control my gift."
"Really? I'm gonna get to see the future!” Shelly gushed.
"Eventually, but this afternoon I'm going to show you the past, more importantly the what if past. In particular what didn’t happen in Las Vegas. You need to understand your power, and fully know its dangers if we are to have any chance of doing this."
"Didn't something awful get avoided in Las Vegas?" Shelly whined.
"Yes. And you need to see it, and it will be very unpleasant. Shelly, I need to you know, no matter what you see, no matter what it feels like, you did not do it Shelly, and Selanothis and I will love you still, even after we see it with you."
"Do I have too?" Shelly asked crying silently.
Solomon just held her tight and let her cry on his shoulder until Selanothis flew back in on Maggie's back. Seeing the crying girl, Selanothis nodded to Solomon who nodded back. "Come on Shelly, time to start. You lie down on this couch here and get comfortable." Giving Shelly a squeeze he helped her lay down as she wiped her eyes with her hands.
*Shelly?* Selanothis 'pathed hovering above her chest, where it was easy for Shelly to focus on her.
"Yes Selanothis?" Shelly answered still wiping her face. Solomon handed her a hankie and she smiled gratefully to him and used it instead.
*Just think it, I'll hear it. This is for you. When you are ready close your eyes and think of nothing.*
*OK.* Shelly closed her eyes and just concentrated on the blackness, and slowly she felt wrapped in strong arms, held close. Safe and loved. Then that faded and before she could even cry out at its loss, she felt cuddled and held, rocked as though she was a baby, comfortable and warm, until that too disappeared. This time she did cry out in loss until they came back, but just there no longer overwhelming her.
*What is it?* she cried happily.
*I am linking us deeper then before,* Selanothis explained. *This will not be like reliving the memories, this will be like you yourself have telepathy, at least between you, myself and Solomon. The first you felt is Solomon's love for you. The second is my love for you. We are here for you, through all that is to come. You will feel us through it all, it will be how you know that these memories are not real.
*This will run as though you are living the events, but unlike last time where it was played back and you could only experience it, now Solomon will let you run his gift yourself, your decisions will decide what you see and it will be your alternate futures, or in this case alternate pasts, that you see.*
*This is going to be Las Vegas right?* Shelly fearfully asked.
*Yes Shelly, and for this one it will just be practice, a chance for you to learn,* Solomon thought to her as he placed a thin blanket over her. *I will still be running this one, but you can push the decision you want and if I feel them I'll follow them, by the end you should be able to push all the decisions. But for now, lie comfortably.*
Shelly nodded and closed her eyes. Nodding to Selanothis, who flew down and settled on Shelly's chest, Solomon quickly stepped over to the other lounge and lay down on it too, closing his eyes.
*OK Shelly, Solomon is starting now. Remember we love you,* Selanothis 'pathed as she gently reached out and wiped away a stray tear from Shelly's cheek.
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"Shelly! Shelly its not real, it didn't happen! Shelly."
Crying in terror Shelly became aware of Solomon holding her. Crying hard she hugged him tight. "You where dead. You where dead!" she sobbed into his shoulder.
"Shh Shelly. It wasn't real, it didn't happen."
"He shot me! He ... just shot me. I hadn't done anything! Why did he shot me?"
"Shh Shelly. It didn't happen. Remember? That's not what happened. Come on Shelly. Shh."
As her heart stopped racing, and her mind stopped playing over and over the gun coming up, pointing at her head, Shelly realised that she could still feel the love of Solomon and Selanothis. Looking up she saw Selanothis hovering anxiously just in front of her. Almost automatically she smiled and raised a hand of thanks to her. Darting in Selanothis reached out too, and carefully wiped a tear away with her tiny hand. Shelly closed her eyes and sighed, luxuriating in the felling of love and comfort Selanothis projected through her link as she did this. Relaxing she let go her tight grip on Solomon's back.
As Shelly relaxed back into the lounge, Selanothis flew down, landing on Shelly's shoulder. Selanothis reached out and touched her cheek, pouring emotion down her telepathic link to Shelly, causing Shelly to close her eyes and unconsciously half curl her head and shoulders around the little pixie on her shoulder, like a cat purring to a fire.
Seeing Shelly being well comforted by Selanothis, Solomon carefully arose and moved to the counter, preparing a mug of tea with the ingredients he had left there before they started. Returning to the couch, he passed the tea to Shelly who smiled up at him, sipped her tea and staring at nothing, jerking slightly when Solomon spoke. "It didn't happen Shelly. You must try and remember that."
"It felt so real. No matter what I tried, he just kept shooting me." Looking wide eyed to Solomon she demanded. "Did I die? Were we dead?"
"It didn't happen Shelly," Solomon repeated.
"Did we die?” Shelly almost screamed.
Solomon sighed and after looking to Selanothis and getting a nod from her answered. "Yes Shelly. He shot both of us, and we were dying from the wounds, but that was not going to be what killed us."
"We survived?!" Shelly asked disbelievingly.
"No, we died. I'm not sure if you remember, above the pool?"
"I. I released something. I. I think it scared me more then the gun," she mumbled.
"That was your danger sense trying to stop you, it knew what you where doing would kill you."
Solomon sighed. "There was a huge explosion Shelly."
Shelly blanched and started crying again. "I killed the world!? I'm a monster? That's all it takes for me to destroy the world!?” she demanded.
*No! Shelly never think that!* Solomon interrupted projecting through the link Selanothis was still holding between them. *If it was not so important I would never let you see this.* Continuing with his voice he tried to smooth her. "These possibilities are not real. They are not happening. They did not happen. They are not you. Shelly, I want you to think about this as a very realistic simulator, a computer game. One were you can save your progress and try over and over again till you get it right. You've played those games right? Ones where there is only one way forward and many, many wrong ways that kill you and you have to try over and over all the different ways till you get it right? Can you do that?"
“I. I'll try," Shelly mumbled.
Solomon smiled and reached out and rubbed her back. "Good girl, I know you will, and Selanothis and I will be here always to help you. Now finish your tea and lie back down. Selanothis is going to massage your head for you, help you relax, while I make us some dinner. After that Selanothis has promised to sit with us and watch that Buffy marathon I promised you, let's see if we can get through the movie and the first few episodes of season one tonight."
Trying to smile her thanks, Shelly finished her tea. Relinquishing her cup she lay down. As Selanothis small hands worked expertly on her temples, once again feeling the warm comforting love of Selanothis through her link. As Shelly relaxed into the massage, the tensions in her body relaxed and she faded to sleep without even realising it.
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As the food cooked Solomon came over to where Selanothis hovered over the sleeping Shelly and looked worriedly to her. "How is she?"
*Scared. Very, very scared. She is afraid of her talent.*
Selanothis looked carefully to Shelly and then puzzled turned her head. *No,* she drawled. *She is intellectually afraid of what happened, but emotionally it doesn't connect to her talent.* Selanothis looked to Solomon who just nodded relieved.
"Good. Let her sleep for now. Do you mind going upstairs and setting up those 'workings' for our friendly visitors to find tonight? I'll watch her for you, I promise." Solomon smiled at Selanothis, who flew to his shoulder and tenderly touched his face before flying off, neither of them noticing Solomon's eyes half closing at her touch.
Needlessly straightening the blanket thrown over the sleeping Shelly, Solomon returned to the counter, removing the dish from the microwave just before the counter reached zero so that the beeping would not awaken Shelly. Adding a few more ingredients to the large bowl before adding two steaming bowls stacked with vegetables on top, Solomon returned the whole lot back in to the microwave and turned it on again, checking the timer before coming back to sit with Shelly.
When the timer on the microwave finished and it started beeping, Shelly stirred and sat up. Looking to Solomon she asked, "How long?"
"Just a quick nap, only half an hour. Feel like helping me finish getting dinner ready?"
Pushing herself up, Shelly nodded, accepting a hand from Solomon to stand. "What's dinner?" she asked curiously.
"Beef stew for you and me."
"What about Selanothis?" Shelly asked as Solomon smiled.
"I wondered how long it would take you to ask. She can eat the same as us, but her stomach is tiny, she basically needs to eat nearly all the time to get the energy she needs during the day to fly and do the magic she does. She eats as much sugar as she can get."
"Lots of energy in a small size."
"How did she get that living in a forest?"
"Bees honey, nectar, fruits, that sort of stuff. Here she just drowns her coffee in as much honey as it will take, she's basically drinking coffee flavoured Fanta there is so much sugar in it," he smirked at her. "She likes the taste of other stuff too, especially home cooked meals that remind her of before she mutated to a pixie, and she can't live only on sugar, she needs other things in her diet too."
"If she eats all the time, how come I've never seen her do it?"
"You have, you just haven't noticed. She munches on something each time she goes to the kitchen to get a coffee refill, but it'll be something like a single cornflake, or a similar sized piece of bread, mostly she's been nibbling the fruit in the muesli."
Shelly stared at him. "But she does that all the time! She's never without a thimble of coffee!"
"As I said, tiny stomach. It only takes a few minutes for things to go through, then she can eat again."
Shelly blushed red. "What about, you know, the other end?"
Solomon laughed. "Don't worry. She eats very little fibre, she needs to eat as close to pure sugar as she can get, and she sweats nearly all her liquids back out, just the mechanics of small bodies. She doesn't go to the toilet any more the you or I would."
Taking the stack of microwave dishes out of the microwave, Solomon poured all the contents into the bottom dish and stirred it all together before adding some seasonings and putting it back in the microwave. "Want to toast enough bread for you and I?" he suggested pointing to the toaster and waiting for Shelly's nod, keeping an eye on her thoughtful expression and waiting for the question.
"Solomon?" Shelly finally asked. "You can see time right?"
"Not really Shelly. I can see cleft points, important decisions and events in the future."
"In the future? But ... you just showed me the past!”
"That wasn't my talent, that was Selanothis. She let you experience my memory of examining a potential future while I worked to prevent it." Shelly just stood there looking confused. Putting down the plates he had just retrieved from a cupboard, Solomon tried to explain. "Selanothis is a telepath, you know what that means?"
"She reads minds?"
"Yes, and she's a very good one, not just able to read, but also project into minds."
"So she's reading your feelings of love for me and projecting them into my mind?" Shelly asked slowly.
"Is she still doing that?" Solomon smiled. "Actually there's a bit more to that, she's kind of clamping onto our love for her and projecting back her love unintentionally, because she's been lonely for so long. I think projecting my love to you is kind of a bonus there, it's her love she is projecting, she wants to do more, but her size stops her." Solomon looked to Shelly and saw the understanding there. "Now when she shares she goes even deeper, not just reading the mind like words in a book, but actually reliving the events as though she was the person doing them."
"OK. So that was just me reliving your reading a potential future?" Shelly tried to understand.
"It was my memory, and Selanothis let you live it like you were there, correct."
"But it didn’t happen?" Shelly confirmed.
"Would it have happen if you were not there?" Shelly almost whispered the question.
Solomon looked at her silently for a bit and then sighed. "You saw me get shot right?" Shelly nodded. "Could that have happened if I was not there?" Shelly shook her head. Solomon stood and stared at the cupboard for a while before turning back to Shelly. "I don't want to lie to you, something equally as bad would have happened had I not been there. The MCO agent had no intention of letting you go and had steeled himself to kill 'a helpless girl' for the good of mankind before he arrived. He was so ruthless in hunting you down, not because he hated you, but because he hated himself for hunting an innocent girl like that."
"What?" Shelly asked startled.
"You are everything he swore to protect," Solomon explained. "But to protect everyone else, he had psyched himself to the point where he could kill you. He just wanted the dirty work over as fast as possible. He wanted it over as fast as possible because he knew what he was doing was monstrous and he was worried he was to weak to carry out the task."
Shelly stared at him before once again starting to shake and cry. "So not only am I a monster that destroys the world, I make others monsters too?" she wailed.
Kneeling down Solomon held the crying girl close. "It's not like that Shelly, it really isn't. You remember the first time we shared? The future you saw there?" Shelly nodded. "Now that Selanothis and I am with you it's almost certain you will not have problems with your talent."
"Certain?" Shelly begged tearfully.
"Certain," Solomon assured her. "If you dedicate yourself to learning what Selanothis is going to teach you, once you learn her teachings you will not unleash such destruction in future accidentally. It will all be under your control," Solomon stared Shelly in the eye. "Is ending the world something you want to do?" Shelly quickly shook her head no, eyes wide horrified. "It's just knowledge you need Shelly. You are not dangerous, you have full control of your talent and what it can do, if people left you alone there would be no problems."
"How are you going to stop people chasing me? How am I going to stop doing things that hurt people?" she wept into his chest.
"We are going to teach you and protect you Shelly. Then you and Selanothis are going to change the three of us so much that no matter how hard they look, they will never find us again."
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With Shelly peacefully sleeping curled up against his shoulder, Solomon reached over and using the remote turned off the TV and the sound system, and just sat there in the almost darkness, just the light from the microwave clock and standby lights on the TV and Stereo to see by.
Listening to the steady breathing of Shelly, he became aware of the sudden stillness of Selanothis and closing his eyes tried to hear. Loud in his ears sounded his heart and so soft that he couldn't tell if it was imagination or not, half heard noises from above. Almost imagining it he tried to trace the sounds of quiet footsteps above, when suddenly there was nothing quiet about it and the sounds of running was heard, followed by the front door opening and then slamming above. With the silent giggling in his mind from Selanothis he asked. "What happened?"
*I borrowed from you. Right across the main room from the entrance door appears to be a portal sucking in all not tied down. Our visitors from Whateley Security ran out so as not to become 'accidents' sucked into a portal to who knows where,* she replied still giggling.
Solomon blinked and smiled. "Illusion?"
*The Fae are good at them. Light sound and a little bit of projected fear,* she smiled before looking down. *Will you move her now?* she asked indicating Shelly sleeping against Solomon's shoulder.
"Give me a little light Tinkerbell and I'll pick her up and move her now."
Solomon stood as with bad grace Selanothis started glowing slightly, illuminating herself and quite a bit of the room because of how dark it was. Without comment Solomon just smiled and picking up Shelly moved to the tent and crouching down manoeuvred Shelly inside, removing her dressing gown and slipping her into her sleeping bag and zipping her up, waiting for Selanothis to drop her glove in and crawl into it herself before closing up Selanothis inside Shelly's sleeping bag too.
"Night you two," he murmured, placing a night light on in the tent in case Shelly woke. He zipped up the tent and made his way over to his own sleeping bag and air mattress, before stripping down to t-shirt and boxers and crawling into his sleeping bag himself.
*Goodnight David* he heard a sleepy Selanothis say, not even twitching at her use of a name he forgot he had never told her was his own, as he too slipped off to sleep.
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As Shelly happily buttered toast for her breakfast, spreading honey on some and Vegemite on others, Selanothis flew down and settled on Solomon shoulder. *Now that Shelly has the memories of the fight, should we worry about errant reality warping?* she asked concerned.
*Nope,* Solomon said swiping a piece of Vegemite toast from Shelly as she went to pile them all on her plate, putting it in his mouth and crunching on it before she could demand it back. Protecting the plate with her body to prevent any more thefts, Shelly huffily scurried away to the couches and the table of the conversation nook to eat in peace. *She didn't just manifest, she's been reality warping for months, it's just that it's almost unconscious, like wishing. Later we'll need to make her aware of it and get her to control that too, but currently it's not an issue.*
*What do you mean 'unconscious'?* demanded Selanothis.
*Well like the Vegemite,* he said picking up the jar and screwing the lid back on. *Shelly's Australian and breakfast was toast. When she went to the pantry she expected honey and Vegemite, so that's what she found. Now this being America it's not actually true that this is the case anymore, Americans don't stock Vegemite in their pantries...*
*I don't know how you can eat that stuff!* Selanothis shuddered.
*I don't think it's possible to get a small enough amount of Vegemite for a pixie to enjoy it, you saw how little we put on the toast right? Merest scrape? It's a very powerful taste, you just need a hint of it. Anyway, not the point. Shelly expected Vegemite to be in the pantry and as it wasn't there her desire for Vegemite pushed her talent into producing it. Same with this," he pulled a hair elastic from his pocket, a red one.
*What about that?* Selanothis asked confused.
Solomon pointed to the pony tail Shelly was sporting this morning, complete with its red hair elastic. *We only bought a single one of each colour, I happened to remember where she left this last night and had put it in my pocket to return it to her this morning. Shelly expected it to be where she left her other things last night and her gift produced. Now there is two red hair elastics.*
*So one of the reasons you're so sure we can do this is because Shelly didn’t just manifest, she's already got pretty good control over her abilities, we just need to teach her how to direct them?* Selanothis asked impressed.
*Yep,* Solomon replied taking another bite out of his toast and chewing thoughtfully. *Nearly all the time is going to be like yesterday, with interruptions. But we got a break.*
*Yep, a break. Agent Banks will be arriving, but he bought his own distraction. She'll keep him a little off balanced and distracted, which will prevent him noticing anything unusual we do. Also our MCO friend is on his way to Montreal, he thinks we went to ground and are hiding in Canada.*
*Why would he think that?*
*I may have bought Shelly's and my winter gear from a survival store in Montreal that the MCO monitors, as its used a lot by groups that are mutant friendly to supply mutants they intend to hide from the MCO in wilderness locations across Canada that they built. Last night the local MCO agent retrieved this weeks footage from their hidden cameras and found both myself and Shelly on it, being a conscientious and thorough operative, he went looking through the MCO alerts and found our descriptions and correctly put one and one together and called it in. Our friend from Las Vegas rerouted a flight booking, and is now flying from Boston to Montreal and will be tied up with false leads and red tape for a bit and won't be here in our hair. So in one day we got Whateley's corrupt Security convinced Mrs. Carson is just doing dangerous Magical workings here, our main antagonist in the MCO diverting himself to the wrong country, and our DPA operative more then a bit distracted.*
Solomon smirked. *Here they come now,* he said to the sounds of multiple people entering the retreat upstairs. Shooing Selanothis to go hide in Shelly's hair, he finished cleaning off the breakfast ingredients from the bench and walked to the bottom of the stairs to great their guests.
"Agent Banks." Solomon smiled. "Couldn't keep away?" he greeted the man Mrs. Carson had escorted to the retreat that morning as he came down the stairs into the basement. Mrs. Carson followed with a second woman, closing the door behind her as they trooped down the stairs into the basement area where Shelly, with Selanothis hidden in her hair, also waited to greet them.
"My boss was less then happy reading my report and he wants me to learn more about something that can end the world and see that it is being properly contained.”
"Shelly's not going to be contained, she's going to be trained as I keep trying to explain to everyone," Solomon declared. "Containment is just another way of saying under pressure till she explodes like a pressure cooker. I'm stopping the explosions by training her."
"So while you're training her, I'll look at the containment protocols and make sure they are something my boss can live with," Agent Banks continued as though Solomon's interruption hadn't contradicted him, ignoring the presence of Shelly scowling at him from behind Solomon's back.
After giving him a sigh, Solomon turned and smiled to the new woman Mrs. Carson had been escorting. "Agent Selleny I presume?" he greeted the striking graceful woman with a dancers gait who was wearing a stunning flowing long sleeved dress in autumnal colours, startling yellow and white patterns at the top, that flowed in to reds and oranges around her waist and down to browns and reds in her long skirt. All this was in a light cloth that moved freely over her tight trousers, knee high brown leather boots and a tight woollen top.
"I heard you believed I'd have let you go if I'd been the one that met you in Vegas?" she demanded forthright of Solomon.
"Come to make sure your partner does not make the same mistake twice?" he replied back with a smirk.
"I'm here on holidays!" she replied dramatically. "I was promised a trip through the mountains, quaint forgotten towns, picturesque covered bridges, scenic mountains full of forests in fall colours." She turned to Agent Banks and grinned possessively. "Cold nights, warm open fires and hot blooded men keeping me warm all night long." She licked her lips suggestively. "There was to be dancing, close and tight."
"I apologised already," Agent Banks said bright red. "I didn't remember you were on leave when I called and invited you to come with me to New Hampshire. I'll clear it when we get back to the office and get you your leave returned."
"We'll see." Agent Selleny smiled languidly reaching up to stroke his biceps lightly. "If you apologise to me the right way I may not mind the lost leave," she said huskily, causing Agent Banks to try and discreetly rearrange his trousers as Agent Selleny laughed throatily.
*That is some distraction!* Selanothis 'pathed delightedly to Solomon. *And do I detect some denial in our reluctant paramour's reactions?"
Turning back towards Solomon and Mrs. Carson, Agent Banks blushed brightest red at Solomon's raised eye. "She's a tease," he mumbled. "DPA guidelines are that close colleagues aren't to work in the same teams, so she does everything she can to get a raise out of me every time she partners me," he explained squirming, while Agent Selleny gave him a daggered look from behind, then smiling beatifically walked up to him, grabbed his arm and cuddled up to it.
"He was my first love, straight out of the Academy together, he looked me up and proposed out of the blue, I knew he'd be my only partner for life," she turned and looking up into his eyes with a love struck gaze.
*You know, I do believe she's serious,* Selanothis 'pathed delightedly.
Wide eyed and panicked, Agent Banks gave an embarrassed laugh at his partner's antics before turning to Solomon. "Perhaps we can sit and discuss your plans? See what we need to do?" he suggested, his voice slightly strained.
*I do believe you are right,* Solomon replied to Selanothis with a concealed smirk. *And boy-o-boy do I think Agent Banks might just have received the blunt end of a clue stick finally.*
"Certainly," Solomon replied addressing the DPA agents. "Agent Selleny, this is Shelly," Solomon introduced them. "She's both the problem and our solution. Now as I have explained to Mrs. Carson, Shelly isn't dangerous unless cornered and threatened, and only for a limited time period while she is inexpert in controlling her powers. She's not inherently dangerous to the planet, she's just potentially problematic and our plan to prevent accidents is two fold. The first is to change our identity and hide so well that we can't be found easily, if at all. If we cannot be found, the short term problems of a confrontation getting out of hand are negated. The second part is a mid-term plan to teach Shelly how to control her powers herself, so that in any future confrontations she can limit herself and prevent accidents."
"What about long term? Are we to expect Shelly to be fighting villains?" Selleny asked looking to Shelly with a raised eyebrow.
"Shelly's abilities are spectacular, but not very heroic. I'm sure Shelly's experiences so far have already taught her the dangers of confrontations. She is not going to go deliberately seeking them out in the future, are you Shelly?"
"Na uh!" Shelly replied wide-eyed. "My talents too destructive for that! Everyone would be after me even if I survived doing it!"
Mrs. Carson blinked, and then looked speculatively at Solomon. Turning to the DPA agents she enquired. "Agent Banks, you said you wished to check the containment?" Confused at the unexpected question Agent Banks nodded cautiously. "Well then, I believe I can kill two birds with one stone. As you know, part of our agreement with the United States Government is to allow the DPA to 'inspect' our school yearly. Since you and your partner are here and wish to 'check the containment' I will allow you and your partner to carry out our yearly inspection for this year, at the standard rules."
"Standard rules?" Agent Banks enquired confused.
"You may inspect any buildings, bar the student cottages, but only when they are not in use by the student body.
"There is to be no attempting to sight or meet or track or in any way whatsoever to interact with the students, the students are to be totally oblivious to your presence, but any of my staff may be interviewed away from the student body by request.
"You are not to attempt penetration of Whateley files of any sort by any means. Be those financial, medical, surveillance, disciplinary, or even just a list of students attending the school or any classes in it.
"Basically Agent Banks, you may inspect the school but its student population is totally off limits at all times and in all ways, am I understood?"
Agent Banks blinked. "I can have full access to the security cameras for this retreat, since it is away from the student population?" Mrs. Carson nodded. "I can liaise with the Whateley security about perimeter patrols, surveillance of this cottage and the wider grounds away for the students?" Another nod. "I can access information they have about any undesirables and their movements outside the school grounds?" A nod. "I can access the records of the staff, especially the security staff?"
"You may interview my staff, but I will not provide their records," Mrs. Carson countered. "Too much of it pertains to information about their interactions with the student body, information I will not be providing. How co-operative my staff are to your enquiries is your problem and not mine."
Agent Banks looked solemnly at Mrs. Carson and finally nodded. "Agreed. I will call my office and have them send the paperwork for this inspection, I will also wish to spend some time discussing it with the last Agents to inspect you."
Mrs. Carson smirked. "Well one of them is currently attempting to get your attention right now," she said pointing to Agent Selleny sitting next to him who had been attempting to subtly gain his attention and get him to look her way ever since Mrs. Carson first started making the offer.
Smiling sweetly Agent Selleny stood. "If you'd excuse us, I think there are some things I need to talk to my partner about upstairs." Without looking back she strode to the stairs and exited the room.
As Agent Banks stood to follow, Mrs. Carson gently restrained him. "I'll have security send over some escorts. Whatever you want to inspect, let them know, they'll organise for it to be free of students when you arrive. If you can give them a list they'll be able to organise things so that while the students are in one area you can be in another." She gave him a hard stare to let him know that access to the students was never going to happen. Nodding Agent Banks left the room too by the stairs.
As Agent Banks left, Mrs. Carson looked firmly at Solomon and Shelly. "I believe you have some information for me? In particular I'd like to know by what means Shelly became so aware of her power's destructive potential?"
Not waiting for Solomon to answer, Selanothis removed herself from Shelly's hair and flew down to sit on the table before Mrs. Carson. *By combining mine and Solomon's talents,* she explained. *A 'first run' for the teaching method we'll be using with Shelly from now on.*
"Can I ask what happened?"
"I showed Shelly what my powers showed me would have happened if you had not subdued our friendly MCO operative," Solomon explained.
"He shot Father Solomon, and he shot me and he just kept shooting me no matter what I did and then, and then ..." Shelly just got wide eyed and whimpered, causing Solomon to wrap her up in a hug.
Once Shelly stopped shivering, Solomon released her and suggested. "Shelly, we are going to get very busy over the next few days, and unfortunately after today we're going to need to stay in this basement practically all the time. Why don't you get dressed in your snow clothes and exercise Maggie?" Thinking hard Solomon projected *And Selanothis, you can listen into Mrs. Carson through me while we discuss things that are just going to make Shelly upset while keeping an eye on her.*
*Solomon! I hate private conversations and secrets!*
*I know, but this isn't secrets, this is Mrs. Carson getting very detailed knowledge about exactly what nearly happened in Las Vegas, do you think Shelly could sit here while we did that? Do you want her to?*
Selanothis signed. *No, you're right.* Smiling at Mrs. Carson she jumped up and whistling took off flying for Shelly's tent as Maggie woke up from where she was snoozing and flew to follow her.
Mrs. Carson watch the two fly to the tent and follow Shelly inside, then turned back to Solomon who casually put his finger to his lips and started talking. "As promised yesterday, I can give you more information." He smiled at her calm expression, only revealing her unhappiness at his behaviour by slight tightening around the eyes and mouth.
"As you saw, Agent Banks is here, and he managed to bring his own distraction with him. Agent Selleny will keep him mostly off balance enough for us to work around the two of them comfortably. Also Agent Selleny is already pre-disposed towards allowing our plan to continue, she has a slight pre-cognitive ability of her own, little more then trained intuition, but she 'feels' no danger from Shelly. No matter what people are saying, she has a lifetime's experience to follow her own 'hunches' over other people's 'logic'.
"Next our gun happy MCO Agent is currently lost in the wilderness around Montreal, looking for mutant 'safe houses' in an attempt to find Shelly. As the only MCO Agent on the case who has seen her and believes I exist, that means the MCO is not a problem at the moment.
"Finally 'payola platoon' of your own Whateley security paid the retreat a visit last night and found your magical working in progress and reported back such to all their masters. They will be concentrating their endeavours for the next few nights in other likely places in their attempts to find Shelly and me and prove that we are here. Until they find such proof, the ones they report to will be content merely to gather and preposition their forces, but will hold off attempts on me and Shelly until such time as they have the proof, and the knowledge to make those attempts successfully."
"So you will now restrict yourself to the retreat so that they do not get that proof?" Mrs. Carson suggested.
Solomon held up a hand in the 'wait' sign and stood, turning to the tent as Shelly rushed out with Selanothis back in her hair and Maggie flying above her head, waving happily to Solomon she ran up the stairs. Standing with his head twisted slightly to the side Solomon waited till he heard the cottage door slam shut, then a moment later much quieter it closed again. Turning back to Mrs. Carson he smiled and sat.
"Now unless our DPA Agents where smart enough to leave bugs, we are alone." Mrs. Carson frowned and pointed to the seat Agent Sellany had been sitting at and Solomon again with a wicked gleam in his eye put his finger to his mouth, grinning at her.
*There is a bug!* Selanothis almost screamed in his mind.
*Just the one, planted by Agent Selleny almost automatically. Its battery will run out before you get back. Nothing has been said about or from you.*
*So? They can tell your whistle from a Shelly whistle how? Relax Selanothis, you can do a full sweep when you get back.* Smiling at Mrs. Carson Solomon explained. "Now that payola platoon has done their expected snooping we can put in place full wards, barriers as well as warnings, and not let people back in without your presence to walk them through the wards. With that up they'll concentrate on plain old observation, and they can't see into the basement, so as long as you seem to be doing your workings in the main room above and don't disappear from view for unexpectedly long periods of time, the cover of the retreat being reserved for you will hold."
Solomon sighed. "Days, not weeks like I had hoped. We should have enough time to train Shelly, but it's going to be close. Very close."
"What are you training Shelly to do?"
"Change us. Right down to the DNA. We won't look like we do now, nor have the same DNA. Then a simple teleport spell and we'll 'disappear', and it will be impossible for the MCO to find us. We can live normal lives, Shelly can learn without even the possibility of being tracked."
Mrs. Carson looked sceptical and Solomon laughed. "All right, would you accept the statement practically impossible? I know technically there would be people with the skills to track us anyway, but they would have no reason to try. The MCO is global, but without DNA, descriptions of us, clues to where we would go and who would help us, the resources they'd actually assign to looking for us don't have a hope of finding us. Next the DPA only have jurisdiction in the United States, if we are not in the United States their abilities are crippled below a level effective enough to find us. Finally there is you, as either Headmaster of Whateley Academy or Lady Astarte, do you really have any reason to want to track us down?"
Mrs. Carson sighed and shook her head. "You're right, I shouldn't be surprised, with your abilities, obviously you have advantages in planning things like this."
Solomon smiled. "Yes I do, and it's not really your fault. Everyone else who has abilities similar to mine likes to play 'spider in the web' and sit there pulling the threads to make people follow the paths they decide. I either have the choice of acting the same way so you'll remember my skills, or acting the way I do and you forgetting I have them. Let us just say people forgetting me is how I prefer things."
Mrs. Carson frowned. "So what did you show Shelly that has her so aware of her potential?"
"An alternate past, one that very nearly came to pass, just a few seconds hesitation on your part would have been enough for our MCO agent to have got his gun pulled and the world to end."
"Would it really have ended?" she asked curiously?
"Oh yes, extinction level event," Solomon assured her. "Shelly would have set off an explosion easily as strong as a super volcano or massive comet hitting the earth."
"How dangerous is she?" Mrs. Carson gasped.
"I can't really say the someone who could set of an extinction level event isn't a danger, but at the basics her talent doesn't even sound dangerous," Solomon sighed. "At its simplest, Shelly can reality warp about one hundred kilograms of matter from one form to any other form she wants, with some limitations."
"It has to be real, it can't be impossible," Solomon explained with a shrug. "Also raw materials are easier for her, as are living things for some reason. Things she is intimately familiar with. Lumps of raw elements or compounds, living things she can do easily. Mechanical or technological 'things' require her to know what it is and how it's made. So she could easily get a lump of iron, with practice should could get an iron bar, but she'll need lots and lots of skill before she could get even a bare metal iron sword, let alone one with a wrapped leather grip or made of steel.
"That covers her limitations, then we get to the powerful part of her talent. It just has to be real matter. Shelly doesn't have to know its real nor understand it to make it. In fact she can think any unreal thing she likes and her talent will produce the closest real analog to it."
"And in Las Vegas? What would have happened if I hadn't rendered that MCO Agent unconscious?"
Solomon sighed. "Anti-matter not properly contained interacts with a similar amount of matter to convert to pure energy. The largest nuclear bomb ever detonated converted about two kilograms of matter to energy and produced an explosion so large that the designer of it on seeing the explosion became a lifelong proponent of limiting nuclear weapons, eventually culminating with the Nuclear non-proliferation treaty. Shelly could conceivably produce one hundred kilograms of anti-matter which would interact with a like amount of real matter making a two hundred kilogram matter to energy event. With an event that large we've left the realms of nuclear war and moved into the realms of super volcanoes, things like the Yellowstone Caldera exploding or a substantial comet impacting the earth. An event similar to that which ended the age of dinosaurs."
"So she could make an event so bad it causes the extinction of the human race!?” Mrs. Carson gasped.
Solomon nodded. "When scared, cornered and pushed in fear of her life, she can strike out. When doing so, pushing her gift to its limits, wishing so hard for an explosion then yes, conceivably it's possible. But she knows about it now, it's almost certain she'll not wish for an antimatter or nuclear explosion no matter what. She understands what will happen, no just intellectually, emotionally. She has seen the results."
"But her skill can do it?" Mrs. Carson pushed.
"You know it can, otherwise why were you there? Mrs. Potter wouldn't have pointed you in the right direction and warned you again of the reactions of scared committed men if she'd known Shelly couldn’t do that!"
"Mrs. Potter," Mrs Carson stated with a grim expression. "You are probably aware that she gave me two instructions for that day?" Solomon carefully nodded. "Believe you and 'prepare for the worst.’ Do you want to explain to me how I am to reconcile those instructions?"
"All I can say Mrs. Carson, is that I can see the future, but I cannot control it. I have made my choice. I will stand beside Shelly come what may, because I believe in her, and I believe in her ability to learn what we have to teach her in the time we need."
"In that case all wise and powerful Solomon, I wish you all speed and success with your endeavour, but I must warn you that I will be, as instructed, preparing for the worst."
Solomon sighed and then nodded. "Mrs. Carson may I request a favour then, well two?"
"If the worst is needed, please intern both myself as well as Shelly in ARC Black section. Combine our stays, make it so that neither can be revived without the other."
"Something you have foreseen?"
"Nothing world ending, just personal. Shelly is a child and would be an easy target for those we know exist, to control and manipulate if she was locked in ARC Black. I merely wish to make sure that in that circumstance, I will still be there too to continue helping her."
Mrs. Carson examined his face carefully before nodding. "Alright," she agreed "And the second favour?"
"When you talk to Mrs. Potter, ask that she contacts me."
Mrs. Carson blinked. “You wish to contact a pre-cog?" she asked in disbelief.
Solomon laughed. "No. I merely wish to ask that she stops interfering."
Mrs. Carson stared at Solomon. "Interfering?" she enquired in a deadly cold tone.
Unfazed Solomon stared back. "You've heard the saying 'too many cooks spoil the broth'?" he asked, waiting for her cautious nod. "Well we have too many clairvoyants stirring the possibilities. Mrs. Potter has her own skills, her own contacts and a set of cleft points she can manoeuvre. I have my skills, my contacts and my cleft points. It should be obvious that we are not necessarily talking about the same cleft points, nor possibly the same wanted outcomes from even the subset of cleft points we both can manoeuvre. With more then one clairvoyant, the complexities spiral exponentially and neither can achieve the outcomes they wish. I merely ask that you pass on my invitation to talk so I can persuade her to let us be."
Mrs. Carson favoured him with a long stare before giving him a short nod. Turning towards the stairs she made her way up them and away.
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At the first ring Solomon picked up the phone. "Mrs. Potter, so good of you to call," he greeted her.
"Spare me your drama David, you know that being with Ragnarök enables the chance for the very worst of outcomes to occur."
Solomon smiled. "Only if I die, and I have no intentions of doing that. Even then, it is only the remotest possibility that Shelly'll embrace her power and become a Super Villain Vigilante bent of punishing the MCO for my death by raining down antimatter explosions on all the MCO bases she can find."
"But it's not even a possibility if you leave her,” Mrs. Potter reminded him.
"And all the life ending possibilities disappear from the table if Shelly is left in my care," he reminded her. "In fact no possibilities of life ending events would have ever been possible at all if all clairvoyants had left her to her fate unhindered!"
"Now David, that was always a low probability," Mrs. Potter chided him.
"Two of the agents there were yours, are you telling me your reputation alone would not have forestalled the last one too?" he asked dryly.
"I only sent mine when it was certain you would be there."
"And I only went as it was certain you would send trouble." Solomon sighed. "That is the past, I have not asked to speak to you for a she said, he said, who shot first debate, I was always in the camp that Han Solo was perfectly justified in shooting first," he defended with a laugh. "I asked to speak to discuss what will we do next? You have moved your chips, I have placed mine. I will pledge no more manipulation, if you do the same. I have faith in Shelly and I believe the course that is going to happen will have a happy ending. Will you allow it to run its course?"
Sweating slightly Solomon awaited her reply.
"You know the most likely outcome?" she finally asked. "It is next to impossible that you will succeed, I have already advised Mrs. Carson to be prepared for your failure."
"I believe in Shelly," Solomon replied simply. "Miracles do happen. I have seen them myself this very week."
Stunned silence greeted that claim, before it was broken with rueful laughter. "Solomon. I see now why that title commands such respect. The knowledge to change the world and the faith to let it be so changed! That is a terrifying combination."
A thoughtful pause followed that exclamation, with both Solomon and Mrs. Potter seemingly awaiting the others reply. "So be it," Mrs. Potter finally sighed. "I have my contingencies in place already, and the sure knowledge Ragnarök will not leave the school except in your care or mine. We will allow you your chance to perform a miracle."
"Thank you," Solomon replied simply, ended the call. Putting down the phone he breathed deeply, as a weight had been removed from his chest. He had been bluffing, and he knew not still if Mrs. Potter had know or not. Giving up pushing the cleft points from here on out would be no hardship for him, that call had been the last cleft point he could manipulate before all would be decided anyway. Now it was all in the hands of God, and in those hands Solomon long ago had placed his trust. Standing up, Solomon went to prepare lunch.
With warm bowls of soup for lunch Solomon greeted the happy flushed faces of Stacy and Selanothis as they ran and flew back into the basement room. As Stacy slurped her soup, and Selanothis sipped her's from her thimble, Solomon explained what they where going to do that afternoon.
"Today is going to be about control," he explained. "About getting used to Stacy guiding me in the use of my gift through the telepathic linking Selanothis can provide us."
"Will it be like yesterday's sharing?" Stacy asked excitedly, pausing in her eating to look up at Solomon.
"Not quite," Solomon smiled back. "It's going to be less deep then that, and much more two way. Selanothis is going to try and link us just that little bit below conscious thought, at the level of intentions. Not just when we speak aloud, but at the level where we decide to speak."
"So, this will let me control your gift?" Stacy drawled skeptically.
"No," Solomon confirmed with smile. "But it will allow me to know how you want to move the cleft points. Hopefully, as we get better and better with practice, I can learn to respond to your desires fast enough so that it seems to you like you are experiencing a reality of your own making, and we can use that illusion to help you learn the consequences of your actions, basically use my gift like a huge Virtual Reality simulation of real life." Stacy stared up at Solomon, eyes wide in amazement, causing him to chuckle.
*Then little bird,* Selanothis continued. *I will start revising with you the choices you make, and what the results were. Together we'll decide on improvements and then we'll all try again, slowly working our way through the future like a video game, till we achieve the results we want.* Selanothis then flew up in front of Stacy with a huge grin. *And then my dear, it all gets a little bit difficult,* she intoned with dark humour.
"Difficult!" Stacy squeaked.
*Difficult!* Selanothis agreed. *Once we know the path to the right future, then we start drilling you over and over and over again until you can make those choices, fulfil those tasks perfectly, at exactly the right time, always!. No matter how tired you are, no matter what else is happening around you.*
"What? Why?" Stacy asked confused.
*Because you'll only get one chance to do this, and most likely people are going to be very serious about stopping you doing it,* Selanothis explained solemnly, reaching out a hand to gently touch Stacy's cheek.
Silently Stacy contemplated this, before Solomon offered her the plate of toast and silently encouraged her to finish her soup. Absently taking some toast, Stacy dipped it in her soup and chewed on it as she stared blankly down, obviously thinking deeply on what Solomono and Selanothis had revealed to her.
Sighing, Solomon opened his eyes, rubbing the palms of his hands against his forehead before sitting up and smiling at the patient face of Mrs. Carson, sitting primly on a chair pulled close so she could study Stacy's face.
"We'll let her sleep until dinner," Selanothis projected her voice audibly as she massaged Stacy's temples, slowly relaxing her into a deep sleep.
"How does the training progress?" Mrs. Carson asked standing to settle a blanket over Stacy, before taking her chair back to the secluded nook at the back of the basement room and resettling herself there.
Moving to the nook himself, Solomon sat and addressed her. "Well. Already in a single afternoon we have progressed to Stacy controlling the Seeing. It's still something she must concentrate on to do successfully, but with practice, it will become automatic, and then the real training can begin."
"What were you scrying?" Mrs. Carson asked curiously.
Solomon winced. "All too many Princesses, celebrities and boy bands," he grimaced. "Understandable, with the death of her parents she's automatically shying away from looking at those she knows, her unconscious is protecting her from seeing anymore of them dead. Selanothis is also subtly influencing her so that we keep her away from emotional areas. We unfortunately just don't have time at the moment to deal with any unwanted emotional outpourings, the foreseen ones are going to cause us enough difficulties as it is. Dealing with her grief is something we hope to delay a little bit till we have the time we need to help Stacy work through it properly."
"So it's all still on schedule?" Mrs. Carson tried to confirm.
"It's all proceeding according to plan," Solomon promised.
Mrs. Carson nodded and moved onto her other issue. "Our DPA Agent has asked for testing of Stacy, to confirm what exact powers she has. Failing that he wants to conduct a series of interviews with her."
Solomon grimaced. "We don't have time for testing, nor for him to do interviews with Stacy. Stacy doesn't know what her powers are, and I doubt Agent Banks will have the time he needs to tease it out of her." Solomon sat thoughtfully for a bit before suddenly he smiled at Mrs. Carson. "Counter with an offer instead to interview me. He can have as many interviews as he likes with me in the evenings after Stacy goes to sleep. I do know Stacy's powers, and it will give me time to work on putting him at ease with our plan."
"Your plan Solomon," Mrs. Carson reminded him. "I still haven't decided if I fully support it."
"Our plan Mrs. Carson," Solomon repeated firmly. "Selanothis, Stacy and myself have all agreed to it."
After regarding him silently for a few moments, Mrs. Carson stood without further comment. "I'll tell Agent Banks to come here this evening," she said as she took her leave and left the basement room.
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Solomon sat down with a cup of hot chocolate and took a sip, sighing internally as he considered the angry glare of Agent Banks seated before him.
"What seems to be the problem Agent Banks?" he finally inquired politely.
"You know!" Agent Banks growled.
Solomon allowed himself an audible sigh. "Yes Agent Banks, I do know, but it helps things if I don't address people's 'private' thoughts out loud. I can't read minds, and I may be misreading the cause of your distress. Despite what you think, I don't spend all my time trying to read the future so that I can know everything of every interaction that will happen to me in a day, I have more important things to do!"
"More import things then the future?" Agent Banks demanded incredulously.
Solomon laughed. "I find the present infinitely more important then the future. After all, if you get the present right, the future more or less takes care of itself."
"So you expect me to believe that you didn't spend the day making sure I did all the things you wanted me to do?" Agent Banks demanded.
"I could do things like that, but I don't want to," Solomon assured him.
"Why not?" Anger Banks demanded disbelievingly.
"If I sit here all day looking for all the cleft points of your day and then manipulating them so that they go the way I want them to go, how does that not make you just my puppet? My plaything? I've basically taken all free choice away from you!"
"You feel you would be usurping God?"
"Hell no! I've still got my self-determination, I've not usurped God! Only a delusional would think that, but I have taken your identity away from you. The very things that make you you are no longer being controlled by you, they are controlled by me."
"Taking what makes me me? What? How?"
"You think controlling all someone else's decisions is good?"
"You're right it's not, it's evil."
"Well, that seems a little strong..."
"No Agent Banks, removing the free will from someone is just about the most evil thing you can do to them," Solomon assured him. "Agent Banks, remembering I am a priest, a Christian. What is the purpose of life?"
"The purpose of life?" Agent Banks blinked, caught of guard by the change is subject. "I don't know I vaguely remember a saying that ..."
"The purpose of life," Solomon stated forcefully, interrupting Agent Banks. "Is to discover God. The purpose of life is to become closer to God and show God that you wish to be together with God for all eternity. The purpose of life it to do acts that get you to heaven. Taking away free will is evil because it denies someone the chance to fulfil their purpose in life."
Agent Banks blinked and stared at Solomon in disbelief. "What about Shelly? Are you making an exception for her?"
"Why would you say that?" Solomon asked puzzled.
"Well, obviously Shelly is doing everything you want her to."
"Shelly is doing what Shelly wants to do, Shelly's free choice is unhindered. I am not making Shelly do anything, merely showing her the consequences of her choices and allowing her the chance to make other ones. Shelly is deciding which choice she wants to make each time."
"But you know what choices she is going to make! That's why you are showing her the consequences!" Agent Banks argued fiercely.
"I know, and I'm very proud of the decisions she is making," Solomon said with a fatherly smile.
"But you are manipulating her to make them!" Agent Banks snapped.
Solomon glared at Agent Banks, then took a deep calming breath. "Agent Banks, what would happen if your boss told your partner to put a bullet in the brain of a mutant under her care?" he asked calmly.
"She'd give him the finger," Agent Banks replied immediately with a shrug. "No way is she going to be overruled in the field by a pencil pushing xenophobe."
"And knowing that, if you left a, let us say 'controversial', mutant in her care, like you did in Colorado, would you be guilty of manipulating Agent Sellany when she ignored an order to do something like that?"
"What? Of course not! Like I could manipulate Sellany. She'd as happily tell me to fuck off as she would our boss!"
"So why do you keep insisting I'm manipulating Stacy just because I can foresee how she's going to react? I'm not changing her reactions, just foreseeing them! Accuse me of manipulation when I get someone to do something they'd normally never do!" Solomon snapped as Agent Banks sat there blinking at him.
Calmly Solomon read through the report Whateley security had prepared and Carson had delivered to them as soon as breakfast had finished. Passing the final piece of paper from the file to Agent Selleny, Solomon sat back and looked to Agent Banks. "So, now we know," he commented.
Frowning down at the papers spread on the table before him, Agent Banks accepted the portfolio of the last of the operatives from Agent Selleny when she finished reading it and added it to the papers spread on the table of the nook in the Summer Retreat basement. "It's an extraction team," he stated bluntly. "You don't gather this many skilled ex-special forces personnel together without a target in mind."
Agent Selleny reached out and pointed to a particular portfolio, calling attention to a particular skill of the operative. "Not just extraction. While a sniper is a good backup, a kill rate like this, with the non-war history of this operative, screams 'Assassin'. I'd say it's a 'capture or kill' mission."
Agent Banks grimaced, then nodded. "Agreed, but what is the target, and who is their employers?"
"The target is me," Solomon stated bluntly. "And their employers are The Syndicate."
"How can you know?" Agent Banks growled, glaring up at him. "All these are just hired guns, they work for anyone if the pay is right, it's impossible to guess who they are working for at the moment!"
Solomon just smiled and tapped his head, giving Agent Banks a sly wink. As Agent Banks glared at him, Solomon turned back to Carson. "They are assembling, but are not yet ready to attack. Their handler is not convinced I am here, and his masters would prefer to avoid an incident with you if at all possible. We still have time, this hasn't changed the time table at all."
"You still believe you can succeed?" she pressed him.
"The odds have not altered," he assured her.
Nodding Mrs. Carson turned to Agent Banks. "I assume you will want to observe them?" she asked, pointing at the portfolios on the table.
"If possible," Agent Banks agreed.
Nodding Mrs. Carson stood. "I'll take you to security, they can take you to the team keeping them under surveillance." As Agent Banks gathered the papers back into the file, she turned to Solomon. "I assume you will continue Shelly's instructions?"
"I will," he agreed. "As I said, the timetable is unaltered by these arrivals, it was always expected that my enemies would gather," he reminded her.
Grimacing, Mrs. Carson nodded, then turned and led Agents Banks and Selleny from the basement.
Once they had left, Selanothis calmly strode from her concealment in Shelly's hair and onto Shelly's shoulder, fixing Solomon with wry grin. *'The odds are unchanged'* she smirked at him. *I supposed once the chance of something occurring has already fallen into the drain and started circling it, additional complications aren't really able to change the odds,* she commented dryly.
"It was always known that Shelly and I would be pursued by The Syndicate," Solomon reminded her. "Their arrival is confirmation of this."
Selanothis laughed. *I have access to your memories Solomon, I know exactly what this means and what you haven't told Carson* she reminded him.
Seeing the concerned look on Shelly's face, Solomon quickly assured her. "It truly hasn't changed the timetable Shelly. You will still have time to learn all you need to learn."
Shelly stared at him for a few seconds before unexpectedly she broke out into a huge grin. "I have access to your memories too Solomon, and a priest should be ashamed of what you did! Lying by omitting is still lying, and that was a huge big whopper of a lie you just told Mrs. Carson there, she's not gonna forget in a hurry you did that when she finds out!"
Blushing brightly, Solomon quickly stood and started gathering the left over mugs from the meeting, scrambling off to clean and dry them as the laughter of Selanothis and Shelly followed him.
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Sitting up on her mattress, Shelly looked desperately around as the mental sirens of Selanothis' wards sounded in her head. Silent to the ear, Selanothis had set her magic wards to shriek mentally to Shelly, Solomon and herself whenever they were disturbed, and now they were sounding. Desperately scrambling from her sleeping bag, Shelly grabbed the nightlight beside her, and diving out of the tent she ran for the stairs.
Running up the stairs, Shelly cried out in horror as the door above opened, and when she saw the holster on the side of the figure, hand already reaching for the gun, she screamed in fear and raised her own hand in terror.
"Shelly no!" Solomon called in terror himself, when a bolt of light left him zinging straight for Shelly, who collapsed bonelessly, thumping painfully down onto the stairs.
"What happened? Is everyone all right?" Agent Banks demanded, gun drawn as he cautiously came down the stairs to where Solomon was carefully gathering Shelly in his arms.
"Just a sleep spell," Solomon assured him, standing up with Shelly in his arms and giving Mrs. Carson, who had defended the stairs behind Agent Banks, a hurt look. "We'd gone to bed and set the wards, Shelly woke to them screeching and thought we were under attack," he accused her.
"I'm sorry for the late arrival," Mrs. Carson apologised contritely. "Agent Banks stayed observing our unwelcome guests until late in the evening."
"I wanted to see what their night protocols were," Agent Banks defended himself when Solomon's accusing glare swung his way. "How well the team was interacting, if there were frictions."
"And?" Solomon asked curiosity as he carried Shelly back into the basement.
Agent Banks shook his head. "No issues. It's very professional, no egos at all. It's not a tight knit team, too many spoken instructions and meetings to organise things. They've not worked together frequently and already sorted all these things before. But there is no egos, no disagreements, just instructions and acknowledgements."
Solomon nodded his understanding as he lay Shelly on a lounge and covered her in a blanket, before pulling up a chair to sit beside her.
"So, how is the training of Shelly progressing?" Mrs. Carson enquired softly as she and the two DPA Agents also pulled up chairs close to the lounge Solomon had laid Shelly out on and sat.
"Excellently," Solomon replied stroking Shelly's head comfortingly. "Tomorrow we are going to do a test of her control, prove to Shelly that she does not need to fear her gift."
"Control?!" Agent Banks bleated disbelievingly. "Does she have any?" he demanded pointing to the sleeping Shelly, deliberately slept in order to prevent her lashing out with her gift.
"She has enough for the test," Solomon replied unconcerned.
"Enough for the test?" Agent Selleny jumped on the qualification. "That sounds ... ominous?" she queried.
Solomon shrugged. "Shelly has fears about the test. Concerns, emotional issues that if not dealt with will hinder her abilities, abilities we need her to use."
"You need her to destroy the world?" Agent Banks demanded horrified.
Solomon looked at him with disappointment. "Agent Banks, as I keep trying to tell you, 'destroying the world' is not Shelly's power. That is an out-of-control manifestation of them caused by emotional distress and extreme situations. Much like a telepath can cause headaches screaming for help, or a TK superman can accidentally punch through walls. Shelly's gift is wondrous, and used correctly it is the answer to our current dilemma."
"OK, what is Shelly's gift?" he growled.
Solomon sighed and pointed to the magpie, perched asleep on the back of a chair. "As I have told you, she is a reality warper. She has the ability to transform up to one hundred kilograms of mass into all that she imagines."
"And this will help you how?" Agent banks demanded.
Solomon smiled. "I weigh less then one hundred kilograms, as does Shelly herself."
"You!" agent Banks exclaimed in disbelief. "You're going to have Shelly change the two of you?!" he demanded. "Into what?"
"Into not us," Solomon replied calmly. "The plan is to be so different, nobody will ever be able to identify Shelly or myself ever again."
In stunned silence Agent Banks stared at Solomon in horror.
*What If I fail? What if I can’t stop her and she makes a black hole?* Selanothis worried privately to Solomon the next morning as Shelly happily busied herself making toast for breakfast. Smiling slightly Soloman again snagged a piece of Vegemite toast from her plate as Shelly shrieked and stamped her foot at him, glaring before gathering the rest and scurrying off to the nook to eat in peace.
Solomon laughed, then quickly covered his mouth and manfully swallowed the laughter so as not to offend Selanothis.
*I fail to see what is so funny about that!* Selanothis decried.
Solomon took a bite of his toast to hide his grin. *It's just that I made the point of a black hole to Shelly because its big and scary and ‘end of the world’ sounding, but at the same time, not actually a problem with her.*
*She can’t make black holes?* Selanothis exclaimed in relief.
*Oh no, she can,* Solomon said with a smirk. *They are just not so very dangerous,* he explained.
Selanothis stared at him in disbelief. *A black hole isn't dangerous!* she mentally screeched.
*Not the ones Shelly can make,* Solomon assured her, smiling down at the upset pixie. *It would take better equipment then the very best physics labs in the world have to even detect any black hole Shelly could make.*
*What?* Selanothis asked stunned.
*Black holes have mass right? It is their extreme mass that makes them so dangerous, able to hold in light. Well, Shelly can only manipulate around 100 kilograms of mass. She could turn it into a black hole but it would still only be 100 kilograms of mass. To turn that into a black hole you'd need to compress it to a really, really, infinitesimally small volume. 3 times 10 to the minus 25 meters in radius. Zero point 22 zeros and then a lonely trailing 3 meters in size. The smallest things even the machines at CERN can detect are about ten to the minus 20 meters in size, and this would be a thousand times smaller.*
*What about the black hole’s gravity?* Selanothis asked confused.
*It’s 100 kilograms. It would be as dangerous as standing next to a 100 kilogram motorcycle. Does that rip you apart? Do you even feel any gravitational pull from it? Basically while she could create a black hole, you'd be hard pressed to even be able to detect it before the galactically larger earth’s gravity field ripped it apart. Hence why I used it, ‘big and scary’ sounding to make Shelly sit up and take notice, not actually that bad if she really did it.*
Sighing Selanothis smiled up Solomon just before he finished. *No, it is the release of all that matter as energy as the blackhole disintegrates that would be the problem, not any issues from its gravity. It wouldn't be quite as bad as an anti-matter explosion, but only because it would only be the mass of the black hole converting to energy, not like for anti-matter, where you'd also have an equal amount to normal matter converting to energy as well. So if Shelly created the biggest black-hole she could, it'd only destroy any nearby cities, not rip the earth apart or anything like that.*
Selanothis stared at Solomon in horror, the smile freezing on her face like rigor mortis.
*Once I explain to her that she can only manipulate one hundred kilos, and that the gravity from that is pitiful, she'll understand instinctively how useless black holes are, and her talents should stop her building them,* Solomon assured Selanothis, turning to look across at the girl eating at the nook, who on spotting him looking her way stuck out her tongue before pointedly crunching down on a piece of toast.
Smiling, Solomon returned his regard to Selanothis and frowned at her grey, sickly expression. *You all right there Selanothis? You're looking awfully nervous,* he asked worriedly.
Without answering, Selanothis just took off flying for the basement's bathroom.
"What's with the side of beef?" Selanothis asked as they stepped out onto the deck and saw the beef caracas that had been left on the deck's patio table. The test with Shelly had been all that they could have hoped for, and Solomon and Selanothis where taking the time for a bit of air while Shelly slept off her exhaustion.
"Well, Shelly is going to need some mass, and a pig is about the right size and similar to a human in important ways. We'll get her to change this side of beef into a full pig carcass instead. If she can do that successfully, we'll then test some live warping."
"Live warping?" Selanothis looked scared.
Solomon sighed. "I ordered a couple of pigs, they'll be delivered here day after tomorrow if all goes well with the side of beef test tomorrow." At Selanothis glare he shrugged his shoulders. "You ate bacon this morning. These pigs were bought from the abattoir, don't pretend like you've never killed an animal before! I'm sorry, yes it's animal experimentation, but we have to know she can do exactly what we need."
Sighing Selanothis nodded her understanding, as carefully Solomon wrapped up the side off beef in a cloth. "I'd better take this in," he explained. "If we leave it out here it'll freeze and be useless for tomorrow's test with Shelly."
Solomon grunted as he lifted the side of beef, and breathing heavily got it up on his shoulder, started manoeuvring it inside. Grunting Solomon quick-timed it through the cottage, before finally putting it down. Breathing heavily Solomon leaned against the bathroom wall, smiling happily to where he had the side of beef propped up in the shower stall.
"I wondered why you cleaned that so carefully last night, bleach and all," Selanothis commented having followed him.
"Well, I don't want it going to waste," Solomon smiled at her. "Once Shelly turns it into a pig's carcass we can put it on the spit out on the deck and cook up dinner for everyone. We've only got a few more days to go now. The pig's carcass tomorrow, the two live pigs the day after, and then we'll need to go straight into the main event the next day," he explained. "The Syndicate team minder has made up his mind. He's sure I'm here and he's given them the go-ahead for an extraction. They'll wait a couple of days to see if they'll have an off-campus opportunity, then he'll ask for permission to enter the campus to get me.
Selanothis gave Solomon a worried look. "You know how tricky this is. Aren't you going too fast?"
Solomon shrugged. "I believe in Shelly," he stated simply. "Maggie alone proves that she can do it. The test are more for Shelly's benefit."
"Shelly's benefit!?" Selanothis demanded stunned.
Solomon grinned at her. "Well, it would be better for her in her own mind after seeing all the ways it could go wrong, for her to see it in real life working perfectly before she tries it for real," he assured her. "And really, a dinner the night before, gathering together all those who are helping us?" he patted the side of beef happily. "Always good for morale, and Shelly likes roast pork better then she does roast beef." Turning to Selanothis he smiled at her happily.
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Having been sitting beside the phone, Solomon answered it after a single ring. "Father Timothy?" he greeted the caller.
"How did you know it was me?" Father Timothy asked stunned.
"This time of night? This number?" Solomon countered logically.
"Yeah, I suppose so," Father Timothy sighed. "I have news, they positively identified the remains of the man and woman from your small town today, they will be releasing their bodies tomorrow. I just finished saying the rites over them and watching them being placed into coffins for the trip."
Solomon closed his eyes and slumped down. "I don't know how to thank you enough for doing this for us," Solomon apologised softly.
"Actually, it's not as bad as I thought, well it is as bad, but I'm handling it better." Father Timothy sighed. "There is a lot of need for my skills out here, both legal and spiritual. These people are getting circled by the absolute worst of ambulance chasers, getting caught up in all sorts of dubious things when their grief is such they have no idea what to do. Whenever the situation gets too much for me, and I feel too angry or upset, I can vent by tearing through the crap documents some of the scum are getting these poor people to sign. Filling out the paperwork to get them invalidated and the scum sanctioned for their actions is very cathartic, helps me calm down again and get back to the right state of mind for helping these people."
"What about the locals?" Solomon asked in concern.
"Desperately in need of the help too," Father Timothy confirmed. "Luckily once here, I could use my contacts to get other sympathetic and willing helpers out here too and reduce the load on the locals, let them take some breaks from it all. Get some clear thinking, help them start planing, not just trying to react."
"Once again Tim, thank you, if there is anything you need..."
"No need, I have the contacts and we are getting offers of help from all over, we have the numbers we need on the ground now. Oh, I almost forgot, the other detail you asked me to look into? Apparently it was open and shut. The assets where just money and investments, and a check has already been made out. It is on the way to the address you gave me now."
"I will keep an eye out and pass that on too."
"Listen, sorry I'm being called, they have identified some more remains and I'm on call for the Catholics tonight, and I'm being waved through, they are ready for me again. I just wanted you to know first so you can inform those that need to know and prepare them."
"I will. Thank you Father Timothy."
Putting down the receiver Solomon sighed and turned *Will you tell her now?* Selanothis asked. *She has a busy day tomorrow and could use the sleep.*
Solomon sat there and thought, looking towards the tent Shelly withdrew into to when she wanted privacy, the tent Shelly had entered hours ago and could be heard peacefully sleeping in. Finally he looked to Selanothis. "All I can go by is what I would want, and I would want to know. What about you?"
*The same, I would want to know too. I know she can't do anything, but still letting her know matters. It's her choice, not ours, however she handles the news, we shouldn't deny her the choice.*
"Please wake her up then, I'll put the kettle on for her and dig out the chocolate biscuits I've been saving."
Holding the crying girl, Solomon just concentrated on hugging her, letting her cry it out. Shelly had taken far to little time thinking about her parents deaths, and she needed this time to once again process that they were truly gone and to move a little further down the bumpy road of grieving.
When Shelly started wiping her eyes on the back of her hand, Solomon handed her a hankie and sat back a bit. "I assume you'll be wanting to go to the funeral?" Shelly just nodded. "With a case like this, there being well international interest in the funerals, there are a few things that need to be done. Do you want to plan the funerals yourself or are there people you feel will handle it well?"
Shelly thought for a minute. "Mum once said she had a will, and it's all written in there. She also said that when she and Dad divorced both of them wrote wills so that I'm taken care off, and they setup funeral thingies so that their needs would be taken care off and not impact me."
"So it all should be in their wills? And they wrote them together?" Shelly nodded. "OK then, I'll make sure that's passed on to those planning things. Next, you personally. Do you want to be involved?"
"I I couldn't talk, but I want to be there. Am am I able to be there?" Shelly asked looking at Solomon fearfully, like she dreaded the answer he would give her.
Solomon smiled. "That's why we have never told anyone any name but 'Shelly' for you. It may take some trickery, and the larger the funeral the better for hiding in, but if what we hope happens as we plan then yes, you will be at your parents funeral."
"Thank you," Shelly whispered, before once more she dived into his arms and started weeping.
"Well, you have your proof," Solomon proclaimed gesturing to the two bodies on the floor. Perfectly formed copies of himself and Shelly created by Shelly earlier. Mrs. Carson grimaced as she looked down on them. "You are able to handle them?" Solomon enquired.
Mrs. Carson sighed and nodded. "I'm still not convinced you must do it tomorrow," she grouched.
Solomon sighed. "Our time has run out," he reluctantly admitted. "The Syndicate is at this very moment giving permission to their catspaw to release his team, and authorise them to enter Whateley's grounds to come for me."
"And you were planing to inform me of such when?" she asked icily.
"This afternoon," Solomon promised. "As soon as your security chief and Agent Banks returned."
Mrs. Carson sighed and nodded. "Alright, I'll get rid of the bodies then," she agreed, bending down to pick up Shelly's, which she cradled tenderly in her arms. "What are you going to be doing? More training?"
"No," Solomon smiled. "Shelly's too emotionally exhausted for that. Shelly and I have the pig's carcass she did yesterday to spit and roast. This afternoon we'll be holding a barbecue in thanks for all those that helped us."
"Well, we're leaving tomorrow," Solomon replied. "When else are we going to thank everyone?"
Momentarily speechless, Mrs. Carson opened and closed her mouth a few times, before ruefully she chuckled. "All right Solomon, I'll make sure to gather up everyone for dinner tonight and bring them over," she promised, before she disappeared up the stairs cradling the duplicate of Shelly.
"What is with the tent?" Agent Banks asked as Father Solomon gave it to him.
"As I explained earlier," Solomon sighed, "though admittedly after your eyes started glazing over, once we put the wards up for the night you're not getting back in. Now if you insist on staying outside the wards, the tent is so you can setup a warm place to rest and store some food and the like. We are being careful and trying to pretend this Guest Cottage isn't in use at the moment, so parking a car out front for you to use would be counterproductive. Hence a tent hidden in the bushes.”
“I’m not here to play hiding in the bushes …”
“Not even with a pretty lady?” Agent Selleny asked huskily licking her lips and leaning forward in her chair so that Agant Banks could see … Christ! Did she forget to put a bra on today? He could see all the way down and usually …
With his eyes closed so he could turn his head, Agent Banks wrenched it around and opened them to look at Solomon. “I don’t see…”
“Agent Banks, its quite literally freezing around here. We asked to be isolated from the rest of the school, especially the students and they obliged, giving us the summer retreat lodge. It’s not usually used in winter as it has no garage, it has no underground links to the school and it’s a long walk from everything else. Now since we are warding the one building around here protected from the weather, your choices are stark. Stay inside the wards and warm in the cottage, stay a long way from the house in the next closest building, freeze to death, or build a shelter. Hence the tent!” Thrusting two sleeping bags at them he turned around and placed a gym bag on the floor as well. “Camp stove, a pot, some water, coffee, whatever 'creamer' is, it ain't like any bovine product I've ever seen before, and some two minute noodles, because they are made with boiling water and quite warming in their own right. Now, go make camp. You’ll need to be bedded down in it before everyone leaves and we set the wards for the night. And once again, I know they are not going to do anything tonight, you don't need to do this.”
Quickly standing and grabbing the tent and sleeping bags, Agent Selleny almost ran from the room, calling back over her shoulder. “No, but Agent Banks wants to do it.”
Looking towards Agent Banks, Solomon again warned him. “As soon as you’ve cleared the perimeter, and we’ve confirm the boundaries again, we’ll raise the wards. Remember, no getting back in once you leave, so you might want to catch Agent Selleny and suggest she makes a detour past the ladies room?” he suggested with a smirk.
Agent Banks just glared at him, and once again Solomon sighed. "Agent Banks? Really, I know that the Syndicate team have authorised their catspaw to break their agreement with Whateley and try and snatch me on school grounds, but they are not coming tonight! There is no need for you to patrol the perimeter."
"I'm here to protect the public, and allowing the Syndicate to get their hands on you or Shelly is not fulfilling that oath. I've [/i]seen them[/i] Solomon. The Syndicate snatch squad are ready to go at a moment's notice. I'll use my skills to the utmost to protect the public, and that means tonight I patrol the perimeter."
Sighing, Solomon nodded. Watching Agent Banks quickstep off to catch his partner, Solomon rolled his eyes and shook his head, before with a wry smile he turned and made his way back to clearing up after the dinner.
With cleaning up finished, and Agents Selleny and Banks outside the perimeter, Selanothis took off flying on Maggie to strengthen the outside wards while Shelly went to take a shower. Seeing the stiff way Mrs. Carson was standing examining him, Solomon made a cup of hot chocolate and a mug of coffee and gestured her into the nook in the corner of the basement.
“Why are you doing this?” Mrs. Carson demanded as soon as they were seated.
Solomon blinked. “Why am I doing this, or why is Solomon, the Catholic Church’s great Foreseer, doing this?” Solomon sought to clarify.
“Yes! Why!” Carson demanded.
“Has asking me why ever made things better or easier?" Solomon cautioned. "Are you sure you want to know? It's a little late for cold feet.”
“I still control your destiny," Mrs. Carson reminded him. "This still fails if I so will it.”
Solomon sighed and nodded, conceding her point. “First then, me the man. Why am I doing it?" He cocked an eyebrow at her, nodding at her demanding expression. "At least that is simple. For the same reason Selanothis’ is doing it." Solomon looked her directly in the eye. "Love," he replied simply. "Shelly needs it, and we can give it too her. Our hearts strive to give it to her. Be crystal clear about that, it will clear your sight as far as Selanothis and I are concerned.
“Second, why is the Catholic Church's ‘Solomon’ doing it?" Solomon smiled. "Because even with great wisdom, Solomon was still a man, and all men are bought low by love, as the poets like to write. Personally I see little low in love, and consequences are usually not from love, but other darker stains interacting with it. Love is the final command of Jesus to the Apostles and I feel a worthy guiding light for my actions." Looking up Solomon smirked at Mrs. Carson's thunderous expression.
“Putting words in your mouth for your real question," he continued. "Why would a priceless unique asset to the Catholic Church, the holder of a legacy as powerful as mine, leave the Church to flounder as I dedicate myself to guiding a single girl?" he wiggled his eyebrows and smirked as Mrs. Carson nodded sharply.
“I’ll let you in to a truth the Church tells over and over again, but nobody seems to hear. Mayhap you will." Solomon lent forward, the playful smirking expression replaced with one that was deadly serious. "There is no Solomon Legacy. There is no line of Imbued from the time of Solomon to the present working within the Catholic Church to continue the work of Solomon. There are no Immortals. There is no secret rights. There is no vessel of power. There is not. There has never been. I am not. Solomon," he stated firmly.
“And yet you called yourself such,” Carson pressed.
Solomon smiled. “And I did it for exactly the same reason all have done so before. Legends have power. Names have a mystic appeal all of their own. By saying 'I am Solomon’ I got us here, exactly where I promised I would, and everyone believed and pulled to make it happen. No other name I could have used would have done so, so I used the name I needed.”
Mrs. Carson lent forward. “If you are not the line of ‘Solomon’ what then are you? A mutant?”
“Oh no, I am Imbued," he promised, then leaned forward with a playful smile, gesturing her closer. "But I’m not uniquely Imbued,” he whispered into her ear, before leaning back with a great laugh at her shocked expression.
“What do you mean?” she demanded crossly.
“Have you heard of the ‘Gifts of the Holy Spirit’?" Solomon inquired. "No? They are Wisdom, Understanding, Knowledge, Counsel, Fortitude, Piety and Wonder. These gifts are but some of the Gifts given to the Apostles and the first Christians at Pentecost, and God never stopped giving them in greater, or lesser, degrees to those who dedicate their life to his work.”
Carson's eyes widened in shock. “The Catholic Church has more!” she demanded.
Solomon smiled. “To greater, or lesser, degrees,” he repeated sitting back. "Basically there is no conflict for me. I was always my own man, working as I see fit, and I know that this is where I need to be, what I need to be doing. There are plenty more in the Church who can step up to cover my duties."
Carson sat there blankly staring in shock. Finally Solomon prompted, "Is this what you wanted to hear?"
Shaking herself Carson returned her gaze to Solomon. "No, but it is what I needed to hear," she admitted. While she sat in thought, Selanothis flew back in, and seeing the posture of Mrs. Carson, winged over to see what was happening. Shelly, coming back from her shower followed her, glancing fearfully at Mrs. Carson before jumping up and cuddling close to Solomon.
"Are you with our plan?"Solomon asked finally. "Tomorrow, will you do what we need you to do?"
Mrs. Carson looked steadily at him and sighed. "I don't know," she replied eventually. "You said it yourself, tomorrow may not work. You cannot guarantee the outcome. Already the vultures circle and ready their attacks. Timing for tomorrow is not in your hands, and it is not in mine."
Looking between the three of them she sighed. Solomon who waited patiently for her answer. Shelly who stared up at her, still awed to be in the presence of an idol of hers. Finally Selanothis, who had flown to Shelly and was scowling at her, unconsciously stanced protectively between her and Shelly, even though she stood on the later's shoulder.
"I have put in place what is needed for my, and Whateley's, parts in your plan," finally she conceded. "But it will happen only if I so will it. I will make the call according to what I see happening." She looked to Selanothis who reluctantly nodded, then to Solomon.
"I trust your wisdom," was all he said, standing and gesturing her towards the exit.
"Oh, by the way, this arrived on my desk today," Mrs. Carson announced as she stood. "With a letter asking that I forward the contents to the heirs of a ‘Dolores Kelly’, I assumed it was for you?”
Solomon took the letter from Mrs. Carson and thanked her. “It's part of our funding for disappearing, I’ll make sure it gets where it needs to go. I didn’t want to send it here under my name, and assumed one more letter from a bunch of lawyers would raise no eyebrows if sent to you, even if someone opened it.”
Mrs. Carson nodded. “Certainly there is more then few ‘secret identities’ I’ve performed the same service for.” Turning she walked to the door and left while Solomon removed the check from the envelope and placed it in a waiting addressed envelope and sealed it. Placing the envelope on the table as Selanothis flew down and landed next to the envelope.
Selanothis stared at the envelope and then looked up at Solomon, concern in her eyes.
"I know Selanothis, it's everything you've ever had, sent as a check being through the post. Decades of clandestine work building up the resources to have anything to put in a bank account, and all the difficulties of holding on, even partially, to the last vestiges of your former self. I'm sorry, but we need to sever everything, and posting it is the most mundane and hardest to intercept way to do this."
*It will arrive?* she asked vibrating her distress.
"Yes, and even better, will be meet by a lawyer who will get it into a new account ready for your new identity, all nice and legal and traceable and everything above board and legal, just tracing back to the wrong thing so nobody will connect it to us."
Solomon looked at her conflicted body language and merely place the stamp on the table next to the sealed letter. "I think it's time for Shelly and I to do another Buffy marathon," he commented waving Shelly to follow him. "We have a few hours this evening, I'm sure we can get through another DVD together." Smiling briefly he reached out and just let the back of his finger brush gently against her cheek, as Selanothis once again sighed and leant into it for the briefest of instances before Solomon stepped away, calling out to Shelly to make some popcorn, leaving Selanothis alone with her letter.
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