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A Whateley Academy Tale

Being Merry In Spite Of It All

( Merry #6a )

By Renae, Dr. Bender & Maggie
With editorial thanks to Warren.

Sunday, November 5th, 2006 ARC

Oubliette

"You should never wear your best trousers when you go out to fight for freedom and liberty." - Henrik Ibsen

"Ladies and Gentlemen. We are the thing of shapes to come, Your freedom's not free and dumb. This Depression is Great, The Deformation Age, they know my name Waltzing to scum and base and Married to the pain.”  - mOBSCENEMarilyn Manson

When the door opened after breakfast I was surprised to see Kam escorting an older Asian man into the room. Kam was balancing a plastic wrapped metal tray in one hand, and a small stool danced into the room behind him. In Kam’s other hand was the blood sugar testing kit that I was beginning to despise with a vengeance.

“Merry, this is Doctor Tanaka your surgeon from the other day,” said Kam with a wave to the other man.

I put aside my irritation with the impending test and eased myself upright, “Ah hello Doctor, I’d offer to shake hands with you over a job well done, but…”

His eyes twinkled with amusement as he bowed slightly in my direction before sitting on the stool Kam had placed near my bunk. “I trust you will pardon my lack of formal introductions the other day? Events were a bit rushed and I normally like to make the acquaintance of my patients before I perform such an unusual operation.”

“I think I can overlook it,” I said with a wry grimace, “after all its not every day you find out you’ve been carrying a bomb in your backside.”

“Among other things,” he said and I noted a hint of steel in his voice. He paused for a moment as the table was moved with in his reach, “We share something in common you and I.”

“Oh, so you have extra voices in your head too?” I asked.

He chuckled as Kam floated the testing unit into my lap, “No Merry, something a tad more problematic.” He motioned that I should use the unit and I started what seemed to be becoming a ritual in the past few days. “I too was once used as an unwilling test subject, very much like what was done with you.”

I digested that bit of information as I went through the steps of cleaning my finger for the test. I was not exactly sure what to say to that so I simply said, “Oh?”

He paused for a moment as if gathering his thoughts, “I was one of six kids to survive that testing, out of roughly a group of five hundred…” He took a breath, “so you could say I have a rather personal interest in your case.”

I saw Kam wince sharply from behind the Doctor and he made his way to the door as it opened slowly. I fiddled with the test-strip in the period of seeming silence between us. “You don’t seem nearly as nuts as I am, so um, begging the question. What did it do?”

~’This,’~ he paused and then said, “among other things.”

I think the four of us collectively blinked, though Mai seemed cautious for some reason, “Ah, though you seem saner than me…”

“Well in some ways it could have resulted in madness,” he admitted with a sorrowful shrug. “I, we lost some siblings and cousins in the tests that failed.”     

“I can’t say I was entirely sane before the test though,” I admitted reluctantly, “I lost my brother and well…”

He nodded slowly, “And from what Sara suggests, some of your problems may be tied to other meddling as well.”

“Yeah, that too.”

“Can you tell me anything about this Doctor from Langley that might help us find him?”

I took a moment to think back, and then I related the odd semi-dream where Frank called someone here at ARC. “But I can’t be sure it is helpful, I was fairly out of it from other drugs at the time,” I admitted somewhat reluctantly.

“Doctor Otto says that you have perfect recall, is this correct?”

“Well I can remember everything I have read and some other things I would rather not remember at all.”

He nodded then smiled softly, “We can’t change the past, though sometimes it is best to remember the good parts of it.” He paused to look at the mirrored window, and then back to me, “Now if you’ll finish your test there, we can see about checking my handiwork and perhaps remove a few stitches and what not.”

I did as he directed then shook my head, “Wonderful still screwy.” I placed the meter where he could see it, “I’m either way high or way low.” I shook my head, “I had hoped that getting rid of the pump would have fixed this.”

“How are you feeling at the moment?”

“A bit shaky, sort of antsy feeling I guess.”

“Headache?”

“Not so much more than usual, but yeah.”

“Are you shielding?”

“I’ve been trying to keep it up, but my head still aches a lot.”

He nodded slowly, “It is quite possible the drug they used on you, did indeed damage your kidneys somewhat.”

“Wonderful,” I sighed.

“It may not be permanent, from what your records indicate you do have seem to have some sort of regeneration ability?” he half asked, half stated.

“Well my tonsils have regrown about three times and aside from this last operation I don’t have any scars, anywhere.”

“I was rather surprised that you managed to walk out of the hospital in Philadelphia under your own power.” He paused to address the mirror or so it seemed as he stared at it thoughtfully for a few moments.

“Where there is a will there is a way,” I shrugged as he turned back to me, “I can’t say I was without pain.”

“No doubt, though Kam will have a few tablets which should help the with your blood sugar levels, momentarily. Then we can see about my handiwork. If it is any consolation your body was working to help protect you.”

“How so?” I asked as my curiosity spiked.

“Sometimes when an object is placed with a persons body, the body forms a thick layer of scar tissue around the object or implant. The non-technical word for it is encapsulation,” He smiled thoughtfully, “I would not recommend breast implants at any time in your future.”

I spared a glance at my chest and half smiled, “I don’t think I am going to have to worry about that issue.”

“That may be the case.” He paused as the door opened and Kam reentered the room carrying a pair of cups, one of which he rattled softly before floating them to my open hands.

 I grimaced at the pills and proceeded to make them disappear, “So, care to bet my next test I will be out of norms again?”

“Lets hope not shall we?” Doctor Tanaka said with bland smile, “As it is I have a batch of tests being prepped for you once we finish here.”

“Oh joy,” I said with a complete lack of enthusiasm.

While his tone of voice was not quite deadpanned, his eyes held a hint of amusement, “Well I would hate for you to mysteriously fall over dead, after all the effort we undertook to keep you in one piece.”

“Well that would put a damper in my day too.”

“So as they say; doctor knows best,” he motioned towards me, “If you please, remove the bath robe and lay bottoms side up?”

“Everyone wants to see my butt,” I half grumbled at Kam as I did what the doctor asked.

“For purely medical reasons child,” I glanced back to see him putting on a thick pair of gloves, he continued with an evident tone of humor in his voice, “as I am afraid you are a hundred and thirty some odd years entirely too young for me.”    

“Oy Vey,” I absently quoted, “can my life get any odder?”

I heard Kam chuckle from across the room, “The answer is yes.”


Tower

We are driven by five genetic needs: survival, love and belonging, power, freedom, and fun.”- William Glasser ~

That was six, and he forgot Sarcasm.~
Dr. Bender

If you don't like a single thing that I'm saying, you're offended when I demonstrate, don't mean a damn to me and I shall continue. Hope you won't mind if I control my fate.” – Freedom – Blues Traveler

Vlad had brightened my prior hour with his grand entrance and departure. Which I suppose if you are the Vampire in Charge, around this place you either have to have a sense of humor or at least good people skills. I suppose I have a long way to go in that department, as I wasn’t exactly making many helpful allies in this place.

My blood sugar levels had flip flopped yet again and from what Kerry rattled off at me as to all the possible side effects… Well it wasn’t much wonder that I was miserable half the time, well physically that is. Kam, Chris and Kerry seem to take my bad moments in stride, though there are moments after they have gone and my system has sorted itself out once; that I feel like crap emotionally. Though supposedly one side effect of the shifts of my blood sugar is depression, in my case I didn’t need a medical reason to be depressed.

They say one of the best cures for depression is exercise. Though I don’t think that doing laps in a room that was barely twelve by fourteen paces was likely to be helpful. Not to mention the fact my butt still hurt, though Doctor Tanaka assured me that it should fade to a manageable level in a day or two. Since I didn’t have jack squat in the ways of other amusements handy; I was either stuck in debate with my four selves or crawling through Doctor Palm’s notes.

I think Doctor Palm could have been a real asset to humanity if he had not been a total nut job. Seriously some of his notes on AI were fascinating if not a trifle spooky. The truly disturbing parts of his notes were where he wandered way off topic and rambled for pages about how various other experts were dead wrong, and that he would be happy to kill them all. I suppose that it is best to understand the way he thought in order to figure out how best to stop him, but sheesh! If you thought Hannibal Lector was spooky, he ain’t got jack on Doctor Palm. But then, I suppose if you wanted to convert your soul into a binary code and live on as an AI, you would have to be a bit off.

I had a few thoughts as to why Doctor Palm wasn’t ruling the world just yet though his AI. Though I was a long ways from putting anything down as definite just yet. Mai and I were pretty much in accord that Doctor Palm had to be stopped, though for different reasons. Mai wanted him stopped because he was a threat to her existence, through her being in me and changed by it, me I just wanted some revenge… Ok a lot of revenge. Thus far I had three individuals I could wish a painful death on, well maybe four as my list was growing. My Uncle, for the death of Mark, Doctor Palm for Mom and Dad, and then there was ‘Frank’ and ‘Lenston’ for strictly selfish reasons on my own part.

Though I could probably generate a few reasons that seemed altruistic when it came to the latter two individuals. I am pretty sure that if I were in Texas and caused those two to die I could get off with merely a ticket for littering… As odd as it may seem, having a defense of ‘He needed killing…’ was a viable defense for some cases in Texas. Though as bad as those two seemed to be, I’d likely get a medal and a Papal pat on the head.

Such was my frame of mind that when the door opened I was ready to be disturbed. Even if it were for more tests or the crappy excuse for food they had here. Though I didn’t think it was time for lunch just yet, though I could hardly be one to tell anyone what time of day it was or night for that matter. My only chronological indicator was the times food arrived or when I was awaken in the middle of the night for the general purposes of, the test and what seemed like an exercise in cruelty.

Yes I know, when the nurses or whoever opens the door to check you are alive, breathing and such on their rounds; that they are doing it according to protocol and procedure. However in my case, thus far, I get jolted awake by the electronic noise of the monitors and what not in the next room. This happens a more then a few times every night, and seemed to be the reason why I feel like napping all the time.

So when the door opened I was not quite alert or even too enthralled by the ravings of my own personal boogey-man. Frankly I was inches from dropping off to sleep out fatigue, so when Sara stepped into the room, and asked "Hey, Merry, you decent?" Sleep was quickly banished, though I could have sat up slower, as my butt reminded me of the past few day’s abuses.

“Yes, and I am dressed too," I guess you could say I was a bit giddy at the time or at least whimsical.

"Good," Sara grinned as she stood half in and out of the door, her body moving slightly as if she was tugging at something impatiently, "I have someone here to meet you.” With what seemed to be a sheer moment of silliness on her part; Sara half dragged whoever it was into the room with her and then with an extravagant gesture said, “Merry, this is Fey, one of my friends from Whateley."

For a moment I was not exactly sure if she was going to bat at Sara, like a kitten would at string for pulling her abruptly into the room, but then she managed to get her footing back gracefully. “Sara!” she exclaimed slightly indignantly, and then she blinked and took what seemed to be a hard look at the room and then me. I suppose that I have become slightly inured to my environment, but she gave me wide eyed glance, and then she smiled and said, “Umm, hi Merry.”

I stood up slowly, trying to get a grasp on the two forces that tried to draw my complete attention from rational thought. I felt Sara’s mark warm as if from amusement, then her presence seemed to dim, leaving most of my attention on Fey. Had Sara not been there, I think I might have been more than a bit stunned silly by the sheer force of presence that pulled my eyes to Fey. Then warmth flooded into me from Sara’s mark and some of that intensity died down to where I could breath properly.

I gave a slightly dazed bow to the pair of them as I tried not to fall on my face from Charlie-horse in my ass cheek, and the slight head rush I earned from the bow. Once the world stopped it slow spin I took a breath and said, "I’m Merry or a few other names, most of them might or might not be me."

“So I've heard,” she said with an odd look to Sara.

Sara smirked at me as I studied Fey. For a long moment her slightly tilted violet coloured almond shaped eyes captured me, then she blinked and seemed to put up a wall between us. Soundly slightly embarrassed she said, “You can call me Nikki. That's really my name.” She paused to lift a hand to her black baseball cap and moving her purplish maroon hair back, she showed a pointed ear, “Fey is what I am.”

I digested that as Sara gave Nikki’s hand a slight squeeze before releasing it. Sara walked over to give me a kiss on the cheek, and a not so subtle tug on my arm back towards my bunk as she sat down on it. I let Sara pull me down next to her and I motioned to the other chairs.

~^I told you she was stunning.^~ Sara sent through the mark with a hint of amusement. I nodded taking in Nikki’s clothing as she gracefully sat in the one of the overstuffed chairs. She was wearing what seemed to be new or at least freshly pressed black jeans that could have been painted on. Though she moved comfortably in them. A thick black long sleeve sweater framed her neck and hands making them seem even more delicate if not dainty. Her bright purplish hair was neatly held back by the dark crown of the baseball cap, over the lighter gray bill of the cap was the letter’s KC, which I vaguely connected to being tied to the Kansas City Royals baseball team.

Nikki sat silently for a moment, studying me as intently as I studied her, “How many of you are there in there?  If my asking isn't being too intrusive?” She leaned forwards a bit as if peering though me, “I can feel at least four of you.  Are there others besides those?”

"Intrusive is what Thursday was.” I said with a shrug an smiled, “Well there are three of which you could say are me, and the fourth one is well, not exactly me."

“That's the one with the really cold, alien emotions?" she asked.

"That’s Mai," Sara said with a nod.

“The scary one?” Nikki squinted at me then said, “I can feel the conflict in it.”

I protested mildly, "Mai isn't so much scary as umm, different."

“All right. I'll take your word for that now.” Nikki looked slightly skeptical as she said that, “It's just that I've never felt anything like Mai before.

"Are the cameras on?" Sara whispered into my ear.

Nikki rolled her eyes at Sara, “I'm an empath, by the way, not a telepath.” She then grinned and announced, “They aren't now.”

I smiled and pointed to the door and the camera, "I suppose I'll get the blame for it, and bless you ever so much for that. Between the lock on the door and the camera, I still get killer migraines."

Chad quietly stressed his relief that was partially tinged with annoyance, ~:’Even with the shield bit from Saturday.’:~

Sara chuckled then eased one arm around to hold me; "I've been playing games with them for a week now."

Nikki nodded then waved her hands slightly, “I just kind of 'accidentally' diverted the current that runs them... Electricity is a natural phenomena, after all.”

“Cool.” Sara said with a nod then sobered up somewhat, “Nikki, Merry and I need your help.”

“I thought so,” Nikki nodded as if to herself, “with what, exactly?”

I cuddled up to Sara and reached an arm around to hold her, "Well I have this real problem with authority figures or so I am told and the CIA."

Sara hugged me for a moment and there was an odd but warming sensation floating into me from the mark, “Merry here faces a lifetime trapped in cells like this...”

“They're keeping you here against your will, Merry?” Nikki asked then her posture changed abruptly and an angry sounding set of syllables drifted across the room causing Sara to flinch in my arms. Sounding much older Nikki continued, “Part of me abhors imprisonment of any kind.”

“Ouch... please,” Sara giggled and gave me a squeeze, “there are young people present in the room.”

I nodded to Nikki who was now sitting almost formally in the chair, “Well at least until they either put me on ice or cure me. Then it's off to a different sort of cage." I shivered at that idea and hugged Sara tightly.

“Cure?  How do they intend to do that?” Nikki asked imperiously, “When it's clear to me that they have no clue about what it is they're dealing with?"

Sara nodded slowly in agreement, “They even went so far as to surgically implant a bomb inside her...”

“Bomb?” asked Nikki looking both perplexed and worried. “Mind if I take a look?”

“It's gone now...” Sara cut the air with her free hand and made a plucking motion, “but the scars are still there though.” There was a brief pause after Sara said that, and then Nikki fairly blistered the air with what I guessed were curses of some type, though they sounded fairly emphatic if not melodic.

“Well it's out now, but the scar will be a doozy until I can amp up," I shrugged uneasily, not too sure if Nikki had an odd form of Tourettes Syndrome or was as strange as I was.

“Gods,” Nikki didn’t quite slouch in the chair after her prior outburst, “what else have they done to you?”

"Well if you count being used as a lab rat for an experimental drug that seriously sends folks on a trip to the far side of their powers... and then some.” I motioned to my head and then to the ceiling of the room, before letting my hand drop to the bunk with a thump. “And then there were a few so-called therapy sessions that didn’t go so well.”

~^Aung is really out in high dudgeon today, something has sure got her tail in a twist,^~ Sara sent through the mark to me, making me wonder who this Aung was.

Nikki sat up seeming even more formal than she was just moments before, “Child, please let me look inside of you. I can not promise to be of help, but I might be able to.”

“None of that's so important right now. Nikki,” Sara made a calming motion with her free hand, “I need your help to get past the magical security in this place... we might have an ally on the inside, but you saw what it took to get down here”

“Yes, I saw that.” Nikki’s eyes held a strange cast to them as she all but spat out, “This place is an abomination against all that lives.

 "If you want to look go ahead,” I said with some resignation, “everyone else has.”

“It won't hurt, I promise child,” then with a faraway look in her eyes she did something, that sent an odd tickling sensation into me.

~/’What’s dat?’/~ asked Chaddy with a odd quiver to the rest of us. I didn’t reply to him, but clenched at Sara as the odd feeling swept through out me.

Sara held me still as she spoke to Nikki defensively, “Woah there, hang on. I will admit that ARC handles some pretty bad cases, but the people here are good people, even if they have to do some things they wish they didn't have to...”

“If you say so,” Nikki answered her without sounding convinced in the slightest. Then she seemed to mutter half aloud, “What have they done?  What in the name of anything holy have they done to you?” She seemed to pull herself back into focus to look at us, “What is that... thing inside of you?  It destroys the balance of your body and mind.”

I felt a frown form but I tried to answer her, "Well aside from the ring or do you mean the what the drug did?"

"Or is it Mai?" Sara asked sounding slightly spooked.

“No, some other thing. One that pumps the sugar reducing substances into your body,” she answered and pointed down to my lap though it felt like she was singling something else out.

I sighed, "Well, part of the pump was used to keep me from needing shots every few hours, as the bad drug that was also in it, made me diabetic.” I paused, ”Along with the other fun bits."

“The bomb you said,” she said with a look to Sara, “this is something else.”

“Now they just come in and check to see if it's too high or too low,” I held up my free hand that held more than a few Band-Aids on the fingers and wiggled them at her.

“Diabetic...” Nikki said as her eyes regained that hard focus on the pair of us. “I think not. No more than I am human any longer.”

I sounded puzzled, even to my ears, as I asked Sara, "I thought they got it out?"

Sara cleared her throat, and then asked me, "Have they still been giving you Insulin?"

"Off and on,” I had to think hard about how many shots and glucose pills I have had had to take since the pump came out. “I've not really been awake much," I finally admitted.

“There is reason for that. Something foreign is still nesting within you, and I am not speaking of Mai.” Nikki pointedly poked at her stomach, “Even the child I am, knows about insulin shock. That thing must come out or it will cause her serious damage.”

In a softer tone of voice Nikki addressed me directly, “You have no need for artificial aids in that area. This much I know, though modern medicine is not my forte.”

Sara used her free hand to touch the mark on her head and then rested her hand protectively over the mark she gave me, “Um... you're not talking about me, are you?”

“No, Sara.” I watched as her eyes dipped down to Sarah’s hand, “This is truly something that has no business being in anyone's body.”

 Her eyes seemed to warm as they lifted to look into mine, “I can remove it if you like. Or at least stop it from functioning as intended.”

"Uh where is it, the bandaged side or?" I asked feeling a bit uncertain.

“It is on the other side child, this one gives you those 'trips' into the edges of your power.” She paused and gravely added, ”Too many more times and it will burn you out completely. For your own good, allow me to remove it.”

"They put two pumps in me?” I shuddered as Sara held me, “I thought, it was just the one."

~:’Wonderful and ARC completely missed it,’:~ Chad added sarcastically.

"Let her do it, Merry. I trust Nikki with my life," said Sara though her arms that were holding me were tense.

I blinked at the seemly mixed vibes I was getting through the mark from Sara, I glanced to Sara then Nikki, "Um, ok. Do I have to do anything special or?"

“No.”  Nikki closed her eyes and her brow furrowed and her body went tense as if she was doing something difficult. There was a odd tugging in my butt that felt almost like a Charlie horse, then she smiled and held up her closed fist.  Nikki then smiled and opened her clenched fist to show a small, but intricate construct covered with my blood. “And here it is child.”

Sara whistled sharply as I rubbed my non-bandaged butt cheek trying to shake off the odd sensations it was giving me, “Matter displacement. Must be nice to have that much raw power.”

Nikki took a deep breath and for a moment seemed to be slightly tired, “Only in dire circumstances, Sara.  It is very taxing. This thing endangered Merry's very life.”

Sara was absently staring at Nikki’s hand half murmuring her thoughts aloud, “Hmmm... maybe I could... something to look into anyway...”

Nikki gave Sara a bland smile then she turned her attention back to me, “Who did this thing to you, Merry? I gather it isn't those who hold you here.”

I was dealing with three angry selves so it took a moment to snap back to what she was saying, "I suppose this means I’ll have matching divots in my backside," I sighed trying to push down Chad’s anger, "If I find 'Frank' and Lenston I am gonna do something rude to them."

Sara, seemed slightly amused and yet angry as she said, “Too late.”

Nikki, well I was not sure what to make of her expression,  “Frank? Lenston?” she asked.

Sara’s voice was a bit feral and I could feel some anger through the mark, “Lenston was an infiltrator, one who had snuck his way into ARC.”

I then added "’Frank’ was at the CIA headquarters; at least that is what he called himself, but it's not his real name. That name only exists for about three years. Then it drops completely out of the computers."

“Okay.” She nodded to Sara, making me wonder just how much she told Nikki of what I could do. “I see. And what is happening with this 'Frank' now?”

“He disappeared,” said Sara with a hint of irritation.

“Permanently?” asked Nikki.

Sara shook her head, “I asked my Dad to have a look around, though ARC and NEXT are looking too. Without much luck, these two seem very adept at hiding.”

“That one deserves far worse than an easy death,” Nikki’s eyes blazed and her tone of voice promised certain doom if she found them.

I looked from her to Sara, "Yeah, lots of folks want him or them badly."

Sara smiled wickedly, “Heck, you should have seen what I did to the other guy.” There was as slight sharp cold heat from the mark, ~^Once I find him again, they will need more than a mop…^~

“I will take your word for it.” Nikki said and distantly then her voice was filled with outrage, “Someone who would do this to a child!”

Sara freed her hands to make a calming gesture towards Nikki, “The drug he was giving Merry even has Tanaka spooked.”

Nikki blinked as if becoming aware of the object in her hand again, “Oh, will anyone want to have a look at this thing?” Her intonation shifted slightly and for a moment it seemed as if someone else was speaking, “I am not good with tech stuff at all.”

Sara held out her hand, “Let me clean it first...”

Nikki didn’t quite drop it into Sara’s hand so much as push it into it, “Take it. Its touch makes me ill and angry.”

Sara’s hand blurred for a moment as what seemed to be a cloud of strands arose up to caress the object making the blood vanish from it. She stared intently at it as several tentacles manipulated it on her palm, “Hmmm, small reservoir and this black coating is strange...”

I felt my eyes roll, "Good thing you are cute Sara..." then I gave her a poke in the ribs with a smile.

Sara used a spare something to tickle me briefly in retaliation while she focused on the object, “Oh, you love the tentacles.” She shook her head, “Stealth camouflage on cybernetics. I hate the world some days.”

Nikki slouched back into the chair with a thump and I could see her muscles loosen. “Wow! Is Aunghadhail pissed off! She is furious,” Nikki exclaimed,

Sara cocked her head to the side then smiled cheerfully, “Hey, you're back.”

Nikki nodded to the two of us, I frankly wasn’t sure what Sara meant by back as Nikki seemed to be as flaky as I was. “I know how she feels. Any ideas on this?” Sara asked pointing to the object.

I figured what the hell since no one was exactly telling me what was up I would ask it myself, "You have a extra passenger too?"

Nikki’s eyes flitted to me then Sara, “On the thing you're looking at?  Or on getting Merry out of this place?” Nikki then looked to me with a roll of her own eyes, “Yes, I'm part of the soul of a very ancient Sidhe Queen.”

Sara gave me a poke as if I was being rude, “Either, both, sorta, Nikki's amalgamating with a Sidhe Queen... let me tell you about it later ok?”

My curiosity factory leaped up to about maximum, but I only sighed, “Fine, later.”

Nikki nodded to me, “It is a long story.” Then she rubbed her brow as if fighting a slight headache, “What is that thing, Sara?  Any ideas? “All I know about is that Aung just about had a shit fit when she found it.”

I turned my left wrist up to look at the rose as it flared into view, "I can handle long stories, so later works." I thought to myself ‘At least I'm not getting a nose bleed,’ then Chaddy bubbled out “So you are part Elf?"

Nikki blinked at me then she smiled crookedly, “Not part, not any longer.” She sighed with a slight grimace, “I AM what you would call an elf. The doctors tell me that my DNA isn't even human any longer.”

~:’Welcome to the club,’:~ was Chad’s silent interjection, Mai seemed uncertain for some reason and I had to deal with a small flood of information on Elves from the ring for a moment.

Nikki smiled thoughtfully, “Good, well I hope I'll be able to tell you about Aunghadhail and things later.”

~^Lighten up Chad.^~ Sara sent to us silently then she spoke to Nikki, “If this is what I think it is, Nikki, I think we just got a sample of the wonder drug that's got Tanaka so spooked. Plus...” she paused reluctantly, “this thing is like me.

Nikki frowned as if trying to puzzle out two flows of thought, “Like you? How?”

Sara rested her hand on my leg then I felt something vibrate within me oddly, “Someone's playing with the Mythos again. It's an amalgamation of cybernetic parts and parasitic organisms. See these roots? They were connected to Merry's nervous system.”

Nikki cursed in English for a moment and then said, “Jeeze, no wonder Aung was so sickened by the thing.” Then she held her hand up over her mouth and blushed darkly, “Sorry, Sara, I didn't mean it quite that way.”

Sara shrugged and tossed the implant up and down a few times silently, “That's all right, I scare myself sometimes.”

Nikki nodded to me the to Sara and asked, “Okay, so what's next here?”

“Ok, we can't be caught with this thing... sorry, guys, this is going to be gross.” She gave an odd look to Nikki and Nikki quickly looked down to the floor, I watched her hand reform into a toothed maw, and then python-like it swallowed the pump. That wasn’t so bad, but I had to look away when it seemed to travel down her arm and out of view. 

Nikki visibly swallowed hard, “Can your system handle that thing?  Even with what you are. I do know it's very dangerous.”

Sara chuckled, “Not to worry, it's weaker than I am.”

“I can handle the magical defenses and wards easily enough,” She seemed to look beyond the room, “I think.”

Sara nodded “The big question is where do we stash Merry when she's out?”

Nikki smirked, “The best answer to that is 'Right under their noses'.”

Sara smiled slowly, “I thought so too. That means Whateley.”

“Yup, that it does.” Nikki adjusted her baseball cap and continued in a conspiring tone of voice, “It won't be easy, and I think we'll need to change her appearance; but why try getting her away if she's just going to be tracked down again?  If not, then this whole mess will start all over again, and we won't have access to Merry at all afterwards.”

I flopped backwards against the padded wall, "Yeah, I'd be safer in the sewers chasing those 'things' again.”

 “We need a blind, we need her to really disappear for a while.” Sara gave me a worried look,  “Otherwise, the psychics will be on her scent like white on rice”

Hesitantly, Nikki looked at the two of us, “I know a place where she would be safe, if both of you agree.” Nikki squirmed slightly in the chair, “It will take a little time to arrange, though.”

Sara blinked, “You mean Under the Hill?”

“Yes.” Nikki shook herself, “I haven't even been there myself yet, so I'll need to approach this carefully. As I'm just an infant in Sidhe terms, you know.”

Sara tapped her fingers on my thigh absently, "I'm not sure I like that completely, its dangerous territory."

“Is it any more dangerous than here?” Nikki asked holding up her hand that was slightly caked with my dried blood.

I pushed myself up on my elbows, "Are we talking Tolkein or more like Merry Gentry?" 

Sara gave me a wan look, “I was thinking about sending her to stay with Dad.”

Nikki sat up more formally, if not a bit stiffly,  “The child will have my personal protection, and I assure you, I am no child to be beguiled by my kinsmen’s wiles”

Sara looked at Nikki and seemed tense again, “Nikki I trust like my own sister. You still want to bury me, Aung.”

“You know?” Nikki muttered for a few moments as if arguing with other self, “I really wish she'd stop doing that!”

Sara nodded slowly, “I got much better at listening in, just recently... besides, all it took was simple deduction.”

Nikki returned to sitting in that overly formal manner again, “There are reasons within reasons here Sara. I can see that I may have been wrong about you.”

"Try it with four voices in your head," I offered with a sigh to Nikki

“I have, Merry, I have,” Sara said with a wink.

Nikki or was it Aung nodded to me,  “I can feel it in you, Merry,” she said before turning her attention back to Sara. “Our kind have been at each other's throats since the beginnings of this world. Possibly it is time for a rapprochement of sorts.”

Sara nodded and held me tightly for a moment, “I want to make amends. I am not my cousins.”

“I know that, now.” Nikki paused then seemed even more formal, “Would you accept my word on that?  And my good behavior?”

Sara shook her head, “I was thinking of something stronger.”

With a very formal slow nod Nikki spoke, “I would seal it in blood for this mistreated child's sake. Is that enough for you?”

I wasn’t paying too much attention to things and Chaddy surfaced forcefully, "Ya’ll need a UN building or a peace treaty, though if I ‘member my history, don't get Uncle Sam to write if for ya."

I would seal it in blood, just to be your sister.” Sara said and then lightly bonked me on the head, ~^You are too silly at times, but very correct.^~

“We promise to be more careful than that, Merry,” Nikki seemed to have thawed slightly at Sara’s antics towards me

I smiled, "Good, cuz the next thing you know you'll you know you would have had have a fancy bit of paper that’s worth a bunch of Smallpox befouled blankets and a full set of beads."

“This is much, much more than old enmities between two separate peoples,” Nikki said drolly. “You realize, Sara, that one wrong step in something like that would very likely mean the end for both of us?”

 “I'm willing.” Sara gave me a tight hug, “I have a lot to lose either way.”

“Faugh! As I seem to now.” Nikki was eyeing the pair of us with some amusement, “But this is neither the time nor place for such a thing.”

I hugged Sara with both arms, "Not loosing you."

“No. I'm not going anywhere, Merry.” As Sara as she kissed me on the forehead softly she added, ~^And I can find you no matter what.^~

I kissed her back, "Kay, we just found you and we'd be lost even more without you now."

“I don't think you will, Merry.” Nikki smiled at the pair of us, “And we sure aren't going to lose you. Not now. Aung is determined, and if you thought you knew the definition of pure stubborn before meeting her, think again.”

Nikki stood and walked over and held her hands out to us, “You'll have to trust us with this one.  To be honest, it scares the boojums out of me, too.” 

Sara stood pulling me up with her, with her free hand she grasped Nikki’s and she nudged me with her hip. I started to reach for Nikki’s hand myself, and then I froze, "Um."

“But I have faith in Aunghadhail.” Nikki lifted her and Sara’s joined hands, “If she says it can be done, it can be done.

Sara “None of us will be the same, Merry. Not me, not you, not Nikki.” She lifted my hand and pulled us into a small circle.

Nikki looked expectantly at my free hand and motioned with hers to it, “Simple as that.

I shook my head, "I was more worried about shocking her…"

Sara “Don't worry, Nikki can handle it...” Sara shoved me slightly off balance and Nikki reached out to help me regain my to balance, Nikki gave Sara a odd smile, “See?” Sara asked.

Nikki grinned, “Shocking? Oh you mean that tingle I just felt? I umm, just fed it to the cameras...  Someone isn't going to be real happy about that.”

Sara laughed at my shocked expression and with a gentle poke said, “Not human, remember?”

Nikki winced at Sara’s words then nodded to her, “That sums it up. Aung is really committed on this one.

I smiled and then enwrapped Nikki in a real hug, "Oh good," I hugged her tightly for a moment, "I don't get to hug folks much."

Nikki smiled and returned my hug, “I think that's something we can fix for you.”

Sara nodded with a smile, “Among other things.”

Nikki looked over my shoulder at Sara, “Yeah.”

I sighed, "It's kinda handy at times and when I am away, but other times..."

Nikki released us abruptly and glanced around the room warily, “Right now I don't think we have much time left on this trip. Someone twigged to my tampering with the cameras.”

"I can blow the breakers if we need more time, though they kinda get um, feisty about things." I motioned to the mirrored window that connected to the room with the other cameras.

Nikki looked up and then over to the door, “Uh oh. Party time’s over. Someone's coming and they're kind of mad just now.”

I frowned in dismay, "Better go then."

Sara gave me a quick kiss,  “We'll be back for you somehow... It may not be soon, but the time will come, I promise you.”

“Yes, we will. Aung won't give me any rest if we don’t.” Nikki then surprised me by kissing me on the forehead, “Indeed child, you will not be forgotten.”

I sagged back down to my bunk and pointed to the room in general, "Well you know where to find me, unless I can get a computer." I sighed and added silently, ‘An even then my body will be just laying about.’

Sara came back and gave me a quick tight hug, "Don't worry," Sara whispered, giving me another quick kiss, "We will get you out."

"Love you, stay safe,” I whispered back to her.

Sara smiled and I felt her mark warm ~^"I love you too.^~

“You won't be here much longer. I promise.” Nikki pointed to me, “You be careful. This place is full of telepaths and some empaths.”

I sighed, "An most of them don't like me one bit."

Sara winked at me, “Have Mai throw the book at them.”

“That won't be problem in a while. Just trust us,” Nikki paused and added, “and don't get too impatient.”

“Yeah, though Mai is getting antsy," I said.

“What am I saying?” Nikki sighed then grinned sheepishly, ”I'm impatient already!”

“I've got some more reading to do anyways. I would have loved to see where Doctor Palm’s body was laying, and what was around him." I tapped a notebook with a toe, “At least I am learning something.”

Sara opened the door and motioned at Nikki, “Come on, Nikki. Merry needs some time to heal and we have some talking to do...”

“Yes, indeed we do.” Nikki gave me a quick wave and let Sara pull her to the door, “Okay, Sara, you and I need to have a real long talk.”

At the door Nikki stopped and looked back to me, “Don't lose hope, Merry. We'll get you out and keep you out.”

I quickly called out to Sara, "See if you can get pictures of where and how Doctor Palm’s body was found, if you can?”

"I will try," Sara said and all but tugged Nikki out of the room.

I watched the door close and then looked at the cartons of notes dubiously, "Soooo, in a circle or out of one?" I asked the empty room.

=======================

It wasn’t too much later that I found myself looking up at Otto from one of the overstuffed chairs. He was looking rather agitated about something, of which the three of us in an amused state and well, Mai was noncommittal.

He paced around the room fuming for a moment before he spoke, “What exactly just happened here?”

I wasn’t much in the mood to answer the Doc so I let Chad take the reins for a bit. “Would you believe me if I said a blue police call box materialized and some gentlemen with an oddly colored scarf stepped out and exclaimed ‘Wrong place and time?’ And who then discussed time and space with me for a time before haring off?’” 

He actually blinked at Chad’s pronouncement, of which I silently high-fived Chad in our collective head. Out of the corner of my eye I saw Chris actually try to suppress a smirk so I guess he figured out the punch line. Otto however did not sound very amused, “Merry,“ he stopped and shook his head, “Chad, do you have any idea how much…”

“Oh I can guess, the real question is do I care? And why the hell are you so sure I am at fault for what ever happened?” Chad interrupted him and I could feel some steam starting to boil out from him as our arms crossed defiantly. “And before you go on by saying that I don’t take any of this as being for my own good, you’re right, I don’t buy that load of crap either.”

“I wasn’t going to say that,” he looked at Chris who silently shook his head.

“Can you tell us why you are so angry?” asked Chris as he moved to sit on my bunk.

“Do you have any idea what it is like to be stuck in here?” Chad paused, “And no I don’t mean inside our head.”

“I have this feeling you are going to tell us,” said Chris with a chuckle.

Chad turned to glare at Otto, “How long to you plan on keeping us here?”

“Until you are better,” he replied after a long moment.

“And how exactly do you plan on doing that?” Chad asked scornfully, “Try random drugs until I end up really fucked up? If you have not noticed drugs don’t do shit for us.”

“I had noticed your biology is rather problematic yes,” Otto sighed, “not to mention you have more than one set of mental problems to deal with.”

“Such as?” Chad asked as he stalked across the room angrily.

“Well aside from the multiple personality disorder. The doctors at Langley were under the impression that you were expressing the symptoms of Deidricks, and then there is your sudden phobia of snakes.”  He glanced thoughtfully at Chris, “Not to mention other childhood traumas that did nothing to help your current mental state.”

“They were half the problem if not more,” Chad shook his head angrily.

“In that, I think we can safely agree,” said Chris with some amusement. “Bombs not with standing, the toxicologists in Vlad’s section were rather surprised your liver was not throwing fits trying to process out the various and sundry drugs they had you on.”

“Let’s hear it for not being human,” Chad muttered half aloud.

“And what is Merry’s take on this?” asked Otto.

Chad smirked, “You could say we are all of one mind when it comes to this place. It blows. We can’t do what we need to, much less anything else productive.”

Chaddy broke through for a moment, “And it’s boring!”

“Yeah, that too,” Chad shook his head and pointed to the room, “All this fucking white makes me want to puke.”

"What do you need to make this place more bearable?" asked Chris.

“A fucking computer for one thing,” Chad stated.

“That is not going to happen,” Otto said, “not with out Sara here to monitor you. Unless you were willing to let one of us…”

Chad snorted, “Ha, that would be amusing for me, but not so healthy for you I think.”

“Possibly. In any case a computer is out,” Otto said firmly.

“Fine let me put it another way.” Chad paused then motioned to the boxes and note pads strewn around the room, “If I don’t get a computer, I can’t write code to slow his attacks much less write the algorithms that might let someone else write the code.”

“Can’t you do that on paper?” asked Chris.

“Chris, it’d take weeks to write six thousand or so lines of text by hand,” I paused as he took that in, then I looked at Otto, “Not to mention we have that thing running around in Philly yet.”

“You are exaggerating,” said Otto hesitantly.

“If I have to annotate every section, it won’t be an exaggeration.” Chad paused, “Especially since your IT department is pathetically lame.”

Otto made a dismissing gesture, “They normally don’t have to compete with a gifted programmer who uses a mutant power to do things.”

I surfaced as Chad shrugged internally to us, “There are maybe three people I know of who could likely understand what needs to be written from the instructions contained in the algorithm. Without extra coaching.”

Otto blinked slightly “Ah Merry, and who would these three people be?”

I held up three fingers, “Alex, who was my support when I cracked the Palm AI in the sewers. Then there is Amelia Hartford who was one of the original people who stopped Doctor Palm the first time, and the other can only be contacted via the net.”

“Do you have a name for this person in the net?” asked Chris.

I shook my head angrily, “Sorry but the last thing I need is for him to get tied up with the Government, like I am currently. Essentially he’s your only hope if shit hits the fan while I trapped here.” I paused then glared at the pair of them, “And no I am not making his existence up.”

“Why am I suddenly disquieted?” Otto asked dryly.

“Oh don’t be such a pansy,” I said with some exasperation, “his hobby is tracking down and eliminating child pornography sites.” 

“You’re telling the truth aren’t you?” Chris asked slowly.

“Have you ever known me to lie outright?” I asked, “I may shade the truth at times but I don’t lie,” I looked at Otto, “Not like you could handle the truth or would recognize it if it bit you in the ass.”

“Now that is hardly fair Merry,” Otto said defensively.

“Oh really? I told you the pump wasn’t entirely kosher but rather than believing me from the start; you treated it as a ‘symptom’ of my insanity.” I paused, “Well here’s a truth you can’t escape, Doctor Palm is not dead nor is he truly alive, yet.”

“And where is your proof?” he asked.

I walked over to the cartons and picked out the three pertinent notebooks, I then walked over to him and dropped them in his lap, “It’s all here but he used a bible code, the key for it is in the movie ‘Hackers,’” I paused, “I’ll give you a hint, it’s the Ugly Red Book that won't fit on a shelf.”

Chris blinked, “Is there one here?”

I tapped my head, “Sort of, I read it some time ago… as research.” I then shrugged, “In some ways being able to recall everything is handy, in other cases…”

“I don’t suppose you’ll tell us the name of the book?” Otto asked.

“No, because if you don’t actually take time to watch the film you won’t stand a snails chance of understanding even a tenth of what I do. Hell you might as well get a lot of DVD’s of that type and spend time actually learning something for a change.” I paused, “From what I gather you don’t have a social life as it is; so it’s not like I am cutting into your time that ways.”

“I’ll take it under advisement,” Otto said dryly as he stood up, and then he tapped the three notebooks, “Do you need these… for bit?”

“No, I have read them, and I am not likely to forget what is in them.” I rubbed the spot between my eyes that was starting to ache, “Seriously Doc, unless you come up with a wonder drug or something that works; you are going to be stuck with me having to have a computer and network connection, whether it makes you nervous or not.”

“Lovely, anything else?” he asked cautiously.

I blinked at a recommendation from Mai, “Yeah, you might find a very good bodyguard for Ms. Hartford. I would expect Doctor Palm to go after her in a big way, now that he seems to be proactive.”

“Wonderful, though I expect you are right,” he nodded to Chris as they stood up.

“Have fun with your research,” I said to him sarcastically as the door opened for them.

Otto favored me with a mildly irritated look, “Thanks, I think.”

=============

Otto paused once the door closed separating the to from the cell Merry was in. For a long time he studied the girl silently through the glass then he spoke, “So Chris, was that a classic case of evasion or not?”

Chris chuckled, “Yes and no.” He glanced down at the non-working recorders, “She isn’t exactly easy to read, but something occurred, though I think Chad while angry, may have been telling the truth.”

“About which?” asked Otto thoughtfully.

“Well, while he may not have done all this.” Chris tapped the recorder that was moving sluggishly at best, “he likely knows something about what happened. Then there is Dr. Palm and such. That, I do not think he was making up, he was fairly broadcasting that in his body language.”

“This child seems to attract the odd occurrence or opportunity to sow confusion.” Otto shook his head, “We have not exactly established a working relationship.”

"Well, when she wants to be; she can be quite personable," Chris looked at Otto’s refection from the darkened glass. “Unfortunately she seems to have targeted you for most of her, um, aggression.”

“I had noticed that,” Otto stated flatly then shook his head, “Chad’s profile, from before his change, likely would have placed us at opposite poles, as it were. Merry seems to have taken that aspect and acerbated it.”

“Well this is certainly one for the textbooks or at least interdepartmental ones.” Chris shrugged, “It is a pretty sterile existence we have forced upon them.”

“I know, I am not happy about that entirely either. Her request for music is tricky on it’s own right, have you tried to find a CD player now days without some sort of micro-chip in it?” Otto asked with some irritation.

“We do live in the digital age,” Chris shook his head, “and she would likely fry anything using old technology if it was too noisy.” Chris sighed, “Maintenance says the camera and the locks do put out a small electronic signal, a very small one.”

“Of which she says are loud,” Otto rubbed his back for a moment. “We need to get her more information and such on shielding among other things, how she was able to endure the mass of signals on the outside…”

“I remember how hard it was to deal with my own telepathy waking up, every thought and swerve of emotion.” Chris winced in evident pain, “I mean seriously, I could have been in a room like hers if I had not had help.”

“Exactly, and we took down what extra walls she had up with NEXT’s own hypnotherapy.” Otto sighed “For better or worse she would have to have established some sort of shielding once those walls failed or been driven to something by it.”

“Rather than just insane?” asked Chris with a chuckle.

“Well she did say that she would go into the Net to escape the drugs effects, so it is very likely she would have gone there until her body expired.” Otto motioned to the other door, “Come, we have another fun filled day ahead of us and we may as well get to work.”

===================

Morning, Monday, Nov 6th, 2006 GMT -1 

Vatican City

The Iron Mask

It may be true that the law cannot make a man love me, but it can keep him from lynching me, and I think that's pretty important.” – Martin Luther King Jr.

From the cradle to the grave, Lord, how much longer till I'm saved. Eyes once opened, never closed, that's the gateway to your soul. There's no honor ever shown in every world. We can't hold the secret any longer. But I know he'll never tell, I swear he'll never tell.” –The Secret- Lynch Mob

“Well Laz, anything new from the West?” asked Cardinal David Fitz-hue as he sipped at his cup of coffee.

“Nothing out of the usual, we still have not ascertained what escaped from the vicinity of Whateley, at Halloween. Though Father Benford has managed to ‘capture the scent’ of it or so he says.” The darkly robed man sat loosely in the chair, “Care to lay money on the odds of it biting him on the arse?”

“No thanks, I would prefer that he survive the encounter,” David said with a sigh and then he studied the man before him a moment before speaking, “Any word from Arturo?”

“Just the usual, ‘I’ll get there when I get there.’” He laughed, “I think jet lag is one thing he never figured out how to defeat… Sober that is.”

David chuckled, “If man were meant to fly and all of that?”

“Hey, at least he accepts the world is round, I remember Antonio when he found out that Columbus had survived his trip and was ordered to ‘Go west.’”

“Well Laz, what drags you back into the light this go round?”

“Well rumour has it you have a new Knight who is likely to annoy the Roses. I thought perhaps I would stop in and visit them, but I find they are not here.”

David shook his head, “No, regrettably she is not here, much less not exactly sane.”

Laz snickered loudly in the relative calm of the office, “Is any of us truly sane?”

“You know what I mean,” David sighed, “In any case if you really wanted to meet her you would have to go out towards Dunwhich, and I know how you love that place.”

“Bunch of rednecks with too many secrets and a very muddled genealogy,” he shook his dark haired head and smiled tightly. “Isn’t Williams due for a rotation to that region?”  

“Yes, unless you were willing to take his slot?” David asked cautiously.

“Well I might be will’n to take a walk among the masses, but not so much the parish… I think Mrs. Maguli is still kickin, and we never did see eye to eye when I was there fifty years ago.”

David chuckled, “Well she would be in her nineties now, though I expect she’ll be there for her centennial.”

“Mean bitch will likely live to one hundred and ten,” Lazarus chuckled darkly, ”and rise up to harass which ever poor soul gets the parish there.”

“Considering it is Dunwhich… you could be right. So Laz, feeling the urge to do some good?”

“Well as much as wine, woman and song is often a worthy goal, I suppose I should do some sort of penance, if only to balance the tables some.” The youthful man smiled, “Besides I make the Roses nervous, something about how I am in the Book and they are not…”


 Tuesday November 7, 2006 ARC

(Morning)

“I’m ‘NORMAL!’” I pronounced with a more than a bit of annoyance, “Damn it and I want a fucking cookie!” I said and then I tossed the meter to the end of the bunk.

Kam rolled his eyes at me, then shrugged at the mirror, “We need a few more tests and days to make sure your body is back to normal.”

“Normal! What the flying fuck is normal?” I pointed at my eyes, “I have not had a normal fucking day since these changed!”


“Well I can see Chad’s in a fine fettle today,” said Otto with a grimace.

In the control room Tanaka gave Otto an amused look, “Does she flip flop between personalities on a regular basis or is this out of character for her?” 

“Character may be the right word,” offered Chris with a chuckle, “or acting.”

“So this is a performance on her part?” asked Otto.

“Well I’d say the irritation is real, but there is no real heat behind the swearing, now when Chad is pissed, well… there is a heat ‘behind it’.”

Kerry laughed softly, “I’d call it cabin fever.”

Otto pivoted to see Kerry watching a few images of where Merry was pacing the room with her eyes shut. “Memorized her cell has she?”

Kerry pointed to a separate monitor that was showed a cube that dimpled in upon itself apparently in time with her pacing, “Yes and no, I think she is looking at ways to take down the shielding around her.” She activated a separate set of monitors; “Here Merry is pushing and or pulling at the shield, and another instance where she was doing both at the same time.”

“So is the Rosenberg Field still stable?” Otto waved to where a bank of meters sat gyrating wildly.

“At the moment, though it loses some stability and power when Merry pokes at it, and she seems to pick up some of that charge.” Kerry gave him a direct look, “I do not think it’s going to be enough to keep her blocked from the external signals and energy sources for very much longer if she goes at it with a will.”

Otto nodded, “I’ll authorize another barrier and see if we can get it set up quickly.”  

Tanaka looked thoughtfully at the monitors; “I was expecting a rise in her ambient energy field once her body was no longer fighting the pump.” He paused, “Then you had some sort of ‘visitation’ Sunday?”

“Yes, though the energies of that were mixed, not to mention vexing,” Otto pointed his hand to the monitor, “then she takes an radical upswing in her health and mood.”

“Have you attempted probing her for an answer?” Tanaka asked cautiously.

“Ethically, randomly and with little success,” said Chris with a sigh, “She’s been deliberately keeping her ‘selves’ occupied with something.”

“What about when she sleeps?” asked Tanaka.

“Mai doesn’t seem to sleep and it is about as reticent to talk as a stone is,” Chris paused then added, “of late.” 

“So they are deliberately doing their best to distract us from what occurred,” Otto pronounced thoughtfully.

“What of her current sleeping habits?” asked Tanaka.

“Well aside from the odd catnap, she appears to have an extended REM cycle, about double that of a normal child,” Kerry said thoughtfully, “Though normal is relative…” she motioned to the air in general.

“Indeed,” Otto glanced at Chris and Tanaka, “Well I broached the idea of the three of use looking to the ‘snake issue’, and she said ‘fine, as long as Sara was there as well.’”

“Who watches the watchers?” asked Tanaka.

“There is that,” Otto conceded. “Given the child’s um, adventures at Langley, I could see how she’d want someone she trusts implicitly, involved in the processes.”

The control room doors opened and Kam was bemusedly floating the diabetes-testing unit in front of him. He greeted the four with a roll of his eyes, “The kid is perturbed.”

Kerry laughed aloud at his staid pronouncement, “I had noticed that.”

He floated the unit to its charging cradle, after which floated a clipboard and pen to himself, and then with a glance to the clock he penned in the results. “I think the battery in that unit is toast.”

“Deliberately?” asked Tanaka.

“No, deliberately would leave us with a unit that smoked at the seams,” he gave Otto what could only be a pained expression. “Doc you have to find something for the kid to do that isn’t digging through a dead mans belongings.”

“Something challenging,” Kerry tapped a pile of reports, “NEXT puts her IQ as formidable, lets give her something to work those mental muscles of hers. Before she decides to take out the Rosenberg Field and a good third of the Tri-states power grid or the Eastern Seaboard’s for that matter, in the process.”

Otto blinked, “You think that is what she is gearing up for?”

“Doctor, she is bored, I don’t need any powers to see that. And given that she has no qualms about creating mayhem when the mood hits her…” Kerry grimaced, “She’d likely do something just to see us scurry around trying to set it too rights.”

“That would fit her profile and earlier antics.” Otto sighed, “Sara did suggest giving Merry some physics texts along with some advanced books on shielding. Not to mention some tools to get her shielding techniques up to par.”

“Well now that her immediate medical problems seem to be resolved,” Tanaka chuckled softly, “you have a green light to try to sort out the mental problems.” Tanaka shook his head with apparent amusement, and then he handed a clipboard of notes to Otto. “I suggest running this list of medications past Vlad and see if there are any odd contradictions in her biology.”

Otto scanned down the list, “That is not a very large selection to work from.”

Tanaka nodded, “I know, I compared the cocktail they attempted at Langley to the toxicology reports from Vlad’s section. Often, as you know, medicines geared to adults will have the inverse of their effects on children.”

“Yes, though I tend to leave the pharmaceutical side of the coin to those best suited for it,” Otto admitted.

“In any case try those medications at their smallest dosage, as they should be safe to try, though I recommend at least a day or two of no medications before switching her to something else on the list.” Tanaka smiled, “I think Langley’s efforts proved that trying too much, too soon with this child is a sure recipe for disaster.”
       


My world was all blue and white, everything was furry and I could feel the glowing box I was in throb in time with my tempo. I could feel the words wanting to be sung so I let them out. “She's got eyes like Zap-rud-er, and a mouth like her-oh-in!”


Kam was looking at Kerry while her fingers danced across several consoles; Kerry’s eyes were wide as she frantically punched a few commands into the keyboard. “She canna take it any more Keptin…”she said in a rough approximation of a Scottish brogue.

“Well she isn’t grumpy,” Kam offered with a grin as he rested in a chair and tabbed a few notes into his pocket pc.

“So what are you so frantically scribing?” asked Chris.

“Her play list or rather the songs she seems to know. So far her music tastes run the gamut of Poe to Marilynn Manson and beyond.” Kam winced and turned the volume down slightly, “She has yet to repeat a song, though her um, tonality is lacking.”

“She supposedly has perfect pitch, though I think Langley got that wrong,” added Kerry with the air of one trying to do many things at once.

“I don’t, I think she is deliberately off key, call it Anti-Psychologist Warfare,” said Chris with a chuckle, “If you listen carefully she hits the notes dead on, just at the wrong intensity. Crescendo when there should be diminuendo, and so on.”  

“Not to mention the acoustics in a padded cell tend to dampen anything that might help her to know what pitch she is at,” Kam wiggled a finger at the audio controls and dialed the volume just a bit lower 

“Well help is on the way,” announced Otto with a pained look as he entered the control room.

“What’s wrong Doc?” asked Kam cautiously.

“Oh I am getting an ‘earful’ from Janice about the experimental process of trying to find medications to help Merry be stable… Not that it is experimental so much as well, her unique physiology is reacting to the medications.”  Otto walked over to the audio controls and turned them down further, “Vlad is besides himself with joy at having such an unusual challenge.”

“I suppose pulling him out of his lab for dinner tonight may be out?” Kerry said dejectedly.

 “I think Janice will have a solution to Merry’s current state,” Otto pronounced with a bland smile. “So your dinner date may yet be salvaged.”

“I should be so lucky,” Kam tapped at his Pocket PC and put the stylus away.

“Romantic problems?” asked Chris,

“Not really, just my time of late seems to revolve around our princess,” Kam shrugged. “I don’t mind, though a few of my lady friends do not understand that work is work and fun is fun and seldom do two the mix.”  

“Well with luck Kam things should even out once we figure out exactly what triggers her body to react so oddly to the medications,” Otto said thoughtfully. “It’s a handy defense mechanism, of a sort, though it seems to be overactive.”

“Much like her electric personality?” quipped Kam as Kerry played her console like a frantic musician.

“Hmm, there is that, and so much for Rosenberg Field numero uno,” Kerry paused to watch the ambient energy monitor take a radical upswing, “Initiating secondary field now.”

“And she didn’t seem to skip a beat in her singing either…” Chris rolled his eyes, “So I think we can rule out that failure as intentional.”

Otto tuned the volume up briefly then eased it back down slightly as Merry sang on, “She wants me to be Perrrrr-fect, like Ken-ned-dy. This isn't God, this isn't god. God is just a stat-tist-is-tic, show me the dead stars, and all of them sing.”

Otto glanced over to where Kerry was talking softly into a phone, she looked back to him with an amused glance, “The techs say it’ll be an half an hour to replace the primary field generator, and are building a few more just in case. Also you have a visitor upstairs, some gentleman called Aladdin?”

“Ah,” Otto nodded to a monitor as it showed Sara opening the door to Merry’s cell, “I think it is safe for me to depart now, and I am glad the gentleman in question is so prompt. If you will excuse me…”

Kam blinked to the closing door with a distracted gaze, “I think our boss is retreating post haste, among other things.”


“This is a riot Religious and clean. God is a number you cannot count to!  You are Posthuman and Hardwired.  She's pilgrim and Pa-gan, softworn and so-ci-al. In all of her dreams she's a saint like Jackie-O,” sang Merry loudly. (–Posthuman-Marilyn Manson)

Sara eased quietly into the room and blinked as the line from song resounded, “Is someone having a shower while strangling a cat?”

“This is a riot rel-lig-gi-ous and clean!" I whirled around at Sara's voice and grinned manically, "Follow the White Rabbit!"

With a distinct and poignant look at the camera Sara asked the room in general, “When are you people going to learn?”

"But..." I stalled out, "it was such a teensy tiny little pill..."

Sighing with what seemed like a hint of resignation and humor, Sara slinked towards me, "I guess I'll just have to suck the poison out..." and then she kissed me firmly, holding me in place so that I could not escape.

There was a faint dim stinging at the start of the kiss that soon turned into a warmth that flooded through me and I became more aware of Sara and her presence. As if waking from a dream I fell into her kiss and returned it fervently, “Mmmm, and how was your day dear?"

"Wonderful," Sara said and stood with her head on my shoulder, sending shivers down my back as she breathed in and out, while occasionally nibbling at my neck, "you would not believe the things I've seen..."

I hugged her tightly and enjoyed the play of her teeth on my neck, "My day has been... odd." I let my eyes close and just enjoyed her presence and scent, "This place is empty without you."

"Come on," Sara said as she led me to the bunk, it took me a moment to register something was different about her. I think she was a bit taller, thought I was slightly dazed from the kiss. Sara lounged across the bed, and patted the space next to her, "Sit and tell me about it. I brought my computer too."

It finally registered what was really different with her,  "Did you miss part of the drug? Or is your hair purple?” I gave the mirrored glass a slow smile, then stalked over to her, "Though I think it'd work if you were into Anime."

"It's red, dear," she smiled wistfully, "you're just seeing it as purple. I guess I have a lot to tell you as well."

I sat on the bunk then snuggled closer to her, "I've been practicing with the shield a bit, but I think Otto's not very happy about it."

Sara leaned on me, pulling me under as she rolled with me, ending on top of me, "He said you've been testing your room."

I looked up at her face with a grin, "Well I was bored with just making shield balls, an I was hungry for the 'juice', and it’s not like I can tank up around here easily."

Sara pouted slightly, "My kisses aren't electrifying enough?" she asked as one of her hands slid up my thigh and under the hem of the robe.

I smiled and wiggled with delight under her caress, "Oh you can light up my world any time.” I speared the corner camera with a quick glance, “Though I missed having you here Sunday, I thought you were going to show up in the morning?"

"Sorry dear, growing pains," Sara grinned as her hands meandering down the valley of my waist...

I fairly purred, "Oh, and which part of you were you growing? " I grinned wickedly, "Did you have to go shopping?"

Smiling, Sara flicked back her hair, to reveal a pointed ear, "Not yet, but soon."

"Oh I see how it is, you just had to go to a Trekie convention and leave me here." I pouted at her, rolling my eyes slightly, "Did you get any good autographs?" I asked her, which earned me a laugh and a few slow kisses. I giggled and returned the kisses fervently, "I'm better it seems, at least in one way."

"So I’ve heard," Sara said with a smile, her hand tracing slow arcs at the bottom of my breast.

"Mmm, yes." I sighed in delight, "Though they have issues with me just being me." I retaliated with my hand that was hidden from the camera, tracing slow paths along Sara’s body, "Almost orbital on Sunday," I whispered softly, layering my words with two meanings.

"I'm hungry for you too," Sara whispered, "let me make it up to you." Pulling herself upright, Sara slid her dress off and over her head.

I smiled, enjoying the show, "I hope the voyeurs are off duty, but being near you is worth it." I smiled wickedly up at her, and relaxed "I so want out of this place."

Sara chuckled, "I have some advantages in that I'm not supposed to exist here at ARC. Haven't you wondered why I'm so cavalier with the cameras?"

I blinked, "Um well I had noticed that you act as if they exist when you want them too. So if you are not supposed to exist here... Um, where are you really?"

~^I'm here, my love^~ Sara's voice resounded inside my head, ~^I'm always here.^~

Smiling I said, "Good, for a moment I was beginning to wonder if the wonder drug of choice was still playing Fubar with my mind."

She giggled, "I don't think you're the only one of us who's a little out of it at the moment..."

“Oh, well the decor' is a bit staid, but you can be my roommate if things get too silly," I offered with a grin.

Sara's giggles turned into all out laughing fit, where she about fell off of me, then she gave full vent to her laughter and she slid off of me. Calming a bit, she stretched almost catlike, before wrapping her arms and legs back around me, "You're so warm and cuddly!"

With a smile I tried to cuddle up closer, "So do you like being a red head?"  I asked at I mischievously toyed with a strand of purple looking hair, "It’s softer too, you really must introduce me to your beautician."

Taking my wrist gently in her hand, she guided it down lower along her body, "That's not the only part of me that's softer..."

I closed my eyes and tested that statement, "Hmmmm, I can get used to this I think," I half purred, "I think I can forgive your absence Sunday if this is the result." I giggled softly, “Oh I've missed you and they made it harder to -feel- for you too.”

"I missed you too," Sara whispered, her hand wandering back down and into my underwear.

I shivered as Sara's hand crossed sensitive places and then I groaned with the sensations she produced in me, "If I could be near you every day, would you grow tired of me?"

"Never. I want you inside me, and I want to be inside you, forever."

"Good, cuz I plan to hold you to that, and other things," I laughed softly, "Though something has conspired to come between us."

"Not for long," Sara replied, "and with that in mind, I think there's someone else you need to meet."

I chuckled, "I suppose -that- will have to wait until I meet this person?” I shifted slightly trying to relax certain parts of my anatomy. "So is it a him or a her?"

She wrapped her legs around my waist, "Oh, no, you don't get away from me that easily. I want you to meet my Daddy."

"Oh and I had thought you had grown bored... " I laughed a bit wickedly and gave a slight bounce with my hips, "Is your Daddy likely to wander in at any moment or is there time for distractions?"

"Actually, I thought it was about time I showed you my world," Sara grinned at me, "since you've shown me the net, of course the downside is that we have to be... connected. What a shame," she winked salaciously at me.

"Oh Darn, for shame, we have to -connect-, tis such a pity that." I giggled and quoted, "Alas poor Yorick! I knew him, Horatio… Oh dear. If I'm not cleared of the drugs then one of us is really, really on the silly side of things still."

Slowly, Sara did something similar to the first time she unloosed her Lust upon me. My world collapsed slowly to encompass only her and the heat that she radiated through her mark. I could feel my eyes widen at the rush of entangling emotions, "It's hot in here," I said as my fingers fought to loosen the medical gown, "Not that I mind..."

Sliding her hands down her own body, I watched Sara slowly ease her black panties down her legs. Entranced, I gave up on the strings that held my gown together and with a frustrated groan I pulled a bit too hard, causing the strings to rip free from the gown, carelessly I let it fall from around my body, "Ooopsie."

Reaching back, Sara unclasped her bra, sliding it around her body before revealing her perfectly balanced breasts to me. I sighed and licked my lips, "Happy unbirthday to me," I giggled softly and rearranged myself before sliding my panties down, "At times I don't mind being part guy."

"But there are so many advantages to being part girl." Sara cooed, reaching up to caress my breasts.

Unconsciously I shivered under her caress, "Yesss, I can see that," then I traced Sara's arms back to her chest with both hands and then echoed that caress.

"Oh, yesss," Sara sighed, a small tremor arching her back.

Easing forwards slightly I reached both hands around Sara to pull her closer, and then breast to breast I kissed her lips hungrily.

For a moment, everything went white, and then something faded back into existence. Sara was suddenly just snuggling calmly with me, under a bright blue sky. It took me a moment to realize we were at the top of a gigantic tower overlooking rolling green hills. A green forest surrounded the tower and something seemed to be moving inside the forest, but I could not see what it was. As the mish-mash of conflicting confusion and emotions swirled within me, Sara giggled and pronounced; "Welcome to Rivendell, Mr. Anderson."

Completely nonplussed I blinked in surprise, then exclaimed loudly in protest, "Tease!" After a moment of mental unease wafted through me, I snuggled up to Sara again. "You are such a Tease! And I love you for it."

"Excuse me, but do either of you have some virgin olive oil? I've run out it seems," a deep bass voice asked sending shivers down my spine and down into my groin.

I looked up from Sara’s body to see the epiphany of all things male and part of me hungered briefly for it. Then Sara’s mark rose up with it’s own heat drawing my mind from sex and I was suddenly conscious I was extremely naked. I blinked under the warring emotions then I looked for something, anything to cover myself with. Finding nothing handy I tried to use a very naked Sara to hide behind, "Um…"

~:’Nope no virgins here… Sheesh! Talk about delay of game!’:~ added Chad with a nervous sigh.

"Merry, this is my Daddy, Gothmog. Daddy, this is the person I was telling you about, Merry," Sara announced as if our nudity and his presence was not an uncommon occurrence.

"Ah, well this is certainly -one- way to meet your in-laws." I shook myself and waved one hand not quite nonchalantly, "Hi."

"Pleased to meet you, Merry. Don't mind me, you can both continue if you like."

"Daddy," Sara rolled her eyes at him.

I looked down behind Sara for a moment, "I think the mood has slightly passed,” I felt an odd inflow of something from my finger and wrist forcing me to close my eyes against the rush of information, "Well that seems to have followed us."

"What's this?" Gothmog asked.

I held up my left hand so the ring and ‘tattoo’ were visible, "Oh, nothing much, just an involuntary memory dump from the Vatican. I am not exactly used to it." I shrugged and glanced down into Sara’s eyes, “Is this going to happen every time I meet some of your family?”

“Very probably,” she replied with a laugh.

“In that case I will need a drink,” I looked around, “though this looks nothing like the Starship Heart of Gold…”


<Arc, Otto’s Office>

“So essentially you want me to construct a set of high powered transmitters of varying frequencies and strengths, with shielding strong enough to withstand the EMP pulse of a small nuke?” Aladdin adjusted his ‘John Lennon’ glasses and smiled oddly.

Otto sighed, “Essentially yes, the student in question has the ability to project a very strong EM pulse. Not always at will, but she is capable of doing so with conscious effort.”

“You do present me with some fun challenges from time to time, do I know the subject?”

“I think you may have, her handle is ‘Circuit Breaker’, though she prefers the shorter form of ‘Breaker’.” Otto tapped a file then slid it over towards the other man.

“Oh,” he paused for a moment, “I thought she had better control than what you suggest.”

“She encountered some trouble while the folks at Langley attempted a powers testing and evaluation, some equipment overloaded.” Otto paused, “From what little we can decipher from the incident reports, her body ‘adapted’ to the overcharged environment.”

“Overcharged environment?”

“One of her abilities is electrical energy absorption. The test was to see how much voltage she could absorb, indirectly. The three Tesla generators, of which theoretically had a maximum capacity of seven mega-volts each. I think the third photo in the folder is the more telling one in this case.”

Aladdin whistled softly, “They are melted slag… She survived that?”

“Not entirely unscathed but yes,” Otto sighed, “Radical Adaptive Defensive Mutation, her physiology and such are unique, though engineered.”

“Genetic tampering?” Aladdin scowled, “I thought that was illegal, surely the CIA didn’t?”

“No, they didn’t but their hands are not exactly clean,” Otto shook his head, “In any case how long would it take you to make up a few training units?” 

“Oh a few hours if you have all the materials on hand. They have to be self powered and self contained, if I read your intent correctly.” Aladdin paused, “Is there something you are not telling me?”

“Well technically she isn’t exactly sane at the moment. Also I would prefer not to give her access to anything that might have a microprocessor in it. Much less might give her the ability to fry the complex she is contained in.” Otto chuckled, “She already has taken down a fully charged Rosenberg Field and is ‘denting’ a second.”

Aladdin blinked then started to laugh, “Oh ho! She’s living up to her nickname is she?”

“To the tune of over half a million dollars, if don’t I count what happened at Langley into the equation,” with a frown Otto tapped his desk. “Fortunately that is coming out of their pockets along with some other bits.”

Aladdin nodded, “Well she’s a good kid if I remember correctly, and too smart by half. I don’t envy you your job, as she was fairly feisty when I first met her.

“That might be an understatement.”

“You may have some secondary problems if she can hold even a third of what those Tesla towers put out,” Aladdin said thoughtfully.

“Such as?”

“Her being able to induce very high voltages in wire or any metallic object, merely by her walking in proximity of them. Then you can add in ionization effects and thermal events due to the arcing of her potential energy going to ground.” He paused for a moment.

“For example: One poor soul inadvertently built up a static charge of nearly forty thousand volts, and then proceed to leave a trail of smoldering foot prints on a carpet in a bank. In fact he was quite fortunate not to suffer any severe burns, they say a few more thousand volts and his clothing likely would have self-combusted.” 

“Surely that isn’t a normal occurrence?” asked Otto carefully.

“Thankfully no, but considering that I once measured her at holding a charge around three thousand volts back when I first met her…” Aladdin put his hands together then made the motions of things going boom with them. “There are a lot of strange things that happen at the upper end of high energy physics. So she is going to need some way to monitor her energy field and then have a way to safely shunt that voltage safely to ground.”

Otto sat back in his chair with a frown, “I was predominantly concerned for her mental stability, now I have to factor in that as well.” He sighed, “Do you have any thoughts on the matter?”

“Well getting her to gain control of her ‘intake’ will help limit her output,” Aladdin smiled, “I have a few friends with similar problems. So with some careful exchange of notes and favors I think we can help her. Besides Doctor, if you saw half of what we took out of the sewers…” He trailed off at Otto’s tight nod.

“NEXT made sure I had full documentation of that event.”

“That’s good, NEXT are pretty good at taking care of their own, even if it is after the fact.”

“So why aren’t you a regular employee if I might ask?”

Aladdin chuckled, “They want me, but the missus insists I avoid jobs where shooting might be involved. Unless of course there is a ‘very damned good reason for it.’ You know, fate of the planet, country, our bit of real-estate and etcetera-etcetera.”

“Ah, I see.” said Otto with a smile.


Wednesday, November 8, 2006

Arc (Afternoon)

The Pit

“Freedom is for honest people. No man who is not himself honest can be free – he is his own trap.” – L. Ron Hubbard

“ Being with you, longing for something to happen biding my time. Hoping to get a reaction, atmospheres tense heavy with anticipation. Don’t leave me here with only my imagination. Free Me.”  Free me - Emma Bunton   

Otto looked up from the various reports of the day at the knock on his door, “Yes? Ah come in, you said you had some news for me Vlad?”

“Ah yes sir,” he paused and the door, then turned to close it after a moments hesitation.

“It’s that bad?” Otto asked hesitantly, trying to sort out the odd confliction of emotions that Vlad was projecting.

With a nod he walked over to front of the desk and laid the disk carrier he was holding on it carefully. “The autopsy results, for one.”

“Please sit,” Otto reached across the desk to the carrier, “the other?”

“Well sir, I had thought things could not get more complex,” Vlad then sat almost stiffly in the chair.

Otto frowned, “Vlad, is something wrong?”

“I am a bit angry sir,” he said with a small tight movement of his shoulders.

“Pertaining to?” Otto asked cautiously.

Vlad’s voice was clipped and tight, “The recovery site. Sir.”

“Something tells me its more than just that.”

“They recovered her brothers body.”

Otto nodded slowly, “There are more?”

“Yes,” Vlad swallowed visibly, “though that is not the reason I am so angry.”

“Is it more genetic tampering?”

“That and,” Vlad’s expression darkened, “the subject recovered was a moderate level regenerator. The autopsy indicated cause of death to be total cellular starvation.”

Otto closed his eyes, “Dear gods, was there any sign of the, um, lynching?”

“Sir, the coroner found traces of an spinal injury, though insignificant.”

“So the child…” Otto sat back slowly, his expression slowly matching Vlad’s.

“The boy essentially starved to death. If he was aware; he likely went mad due to sensory depravation and pain,” Vlad quietly said into the still air of the office.

Otto sat quietly for a long moment, “Is that data in the computers?”

“Just on mine, Charles’s computer down in Black Section and Doctor Beckett, who was the duty Coroner. Why?” he asked hesitantly.

“Implications and repercussions,” Otto shook his head, “We need to take those computers off the networks.” Otto held up a hand as Vlad nearly stood up in protest, “Hear me out.”

“Yes sir.”

“Merry has already accepted the fact her brother is dead, she has some sense of closure there,” Otto said motioning slowly for the other man to sit again. “She has a tenuous grasp or semi-semblance of stability, among her selves. I do not think it would be healthy for her to discover the final cause of her brothers death.”

“You… are probably right, sir,” Vlad said slowly.

“Then we have an additional concern, have you completed the analysis of the blood sample that NEXT sent our way?”

“Yes sir, there is no mistaking the alteration of the genetic material and of mutation,” Vlad said with a frown, “Is there a problem?”

“Well from what my assistant Janice, has recorded in the case notes, the person responsible for this child’s death; is currently the guardian of that child.” Otto reached over to pick up his phone, “So you see we have a bit of a problem.”

“So he gets away with it?” Vlad asked angrily.

“Oh no, I can pretty much assure you something will be done. But first we have to get an extraction under way.” Otto paused to look up at Vlad, “I need you to keep working on the medicine angle for Merry, one problem at a time Vlad. One problem at a time…”


Thursday, 9 November, 2006

ARC (Morning)

“So Breaker, how do you like your new toys?” asked Aladdin with a chuckle.

“Well if they did something other than knock me half senseless on occasion, I would like them better,” I griped half-heartedly at him. “I know, I know, if I can’t keep it out, I can’t keep it in, and I could easily kill someone who had a pacemaker.”

“Yep or fry some poor kid with braces and so on,” he shook his head, “can’t have that can we?”

I let out a sigh, “No, I guess not. You could have given me a way to shut them off so I could get a break…”

“Well kiddo, the real world isn’t going to shut off on your command.” He paused, “I deliberately made them more ‘intense’ than a satellite transmission station.”

I blew an exasperated raspberry at him, “Gee thanks.”

“You’re welcome,” he dropped into one of the oversized chairs, “I have a friend Nacita, who generates an electrical field pretty much like you have going on. Rather than just absorbing energy and discharging it, though she doesn’t hear electronics.”

“Lucky her,” I muttered as I shook off another hit to my shield. 

“Yes and no, she very nearly killed her family when her gift manifested. She was outside and it was a muggy summer day. You know the sort that just begs for a thunderstorm, clouds and everything?”

I nodded and rebuilt my shield, again.

“Well anyway her gift manifested while she and her family were out for a picnic. Remember what I told you about ionization and ozone?” he asked.

I nodded, “If I smell ozone I need to dump a charge in a hurry.”

“Well she didn’t know what was happening so she kept generating her electrical power uncontrollably, so the ionization of the air around her continued to build up as well. Up to the point where she achieved what is loosely called a ‘ladder effect.’” He paused to see look at me thoughtfully, “And once that occurred, guess what happened next.”  

I pointed to the physics textbooks they dumped on me a few days prior, “Boom, lightning strike.”

“Well yes and no. Yes a lightning strike occurred, but given the weather conditions at the time, it was just the start.” He paused then squinted at me through his glasses, “Ever hear of the term ‘Super Cell’?”

I pointed to my padded, all white room and sarcastically said, “Yeah, I am living in one.”

He shook his head with a cockeyed smile, “No, I am referring to a metrological event. It’s the sort of storm where tornados and other nasty stuff occur. You see, once a certain set of conditions are met; you can get a chain of lightning strikes. Which results in more ionization, greater build ups in the differences in potential energy…”

“Which means instead of the electrical storm just going away it got what, worse?” I asked.

“Much worse, I think if had Nacita had not passed out from the stress it placed on her body; it could have generated hurricane level damage. As it was they had baseball sized hail and a category two tornado. Though the tornado I suspect was likely to have happened in any case.”

I sat there slightly dazed by his calm explanation of events, and then I saw stars for a moment as I took another hit to my shields. I rubbed my head trying to ease the headache that was forming. “So this is what, the crash course on establishing control?”

“Essentially, and unfortunately it is necessary, you don’t have the luxury of not controlling your powers.” He paused and pointed a finger at me, “Unless you like to live in a room like this for the rest of your life.”  

“Just peachy.”

“You have got the basics of shielding, and a good coach in that department from what I hear. This is just putting that training to work.”  Aladdin chuckled and reached into a large pocket on his tool belt, “Besides I have a few tricks to pull out of my magic bag. Since you can’t tell ‘intuitively’ how much of a charge you have, I have this for you.” He gently tossed a thick but small box to me, “Happy Halloween or whatever.”

“I thought trick or treat time had passed already?” I asked and opened the box eagerly. Inside I found a bit of brightly coloured packaging paper, and what appeared to be a metallic iPod. For a moment my brain clicked solidly on the concept of MUSIC! Then I noticed a few extra buttons, “Somehow I don’t think this just an iPod or is it?”

“Oh it’ll play songs like an iPod and some videos, though that is just a secondary feature.” He smiled smugly; “It’s your very own, on the go, James Bond watch from hell.”

“What, does it shoot laser beams?” I asked with a grin.

“Ah no, but it will tell you how much of a charge you are carrying, act as a GPS and tell time in over forty-two major cities.” He grinned like a maniac as he continued, “It’s completely water proof down to five hundred meters, and it can act as an am/fm plus short-wave radio. It also picks up all the police bands, on all the various nets. Just in case you ever felt the need to play super-hero.”

I looked at it for a few moments thoughtfully, “Is that all it does?”

“It’ll never need batteries… and well there is an expansion slot for a wireless card and a few other toys that would upset Doctor Otto if I gave them to you just now,” he rolled his eyes at me.

“Such as?” I asked curiously.

“A very small super PDA that uses a holographic keyboard, a cell phone package and some other toys that are well, proscribed in your current environment.”

“Doc takes all the fun of being an inmate,” I groused.

“Evidently he thinks you would take over the world or something if you had a computer at your beck and call.” He paused and motioned to the ‘pod, “Well you have more than a few giga-bytes of music, a few films, some anime and a set of ear-buds,” he smiled wickedly, “evidently you need some way to stay on tune…”

I flipped the camera off on general purposes, “What my adoring fans don’t like my singing?”

“Well from what I understand the acoustics had something to do with that, but not everything.”

“Yeah the medicines so far are a bad joke, though amusing to some people,” I said with a shake of my head.

“They’ll figure something out, they usually do,” said Aladdin as he motioned for me to strap on my new toy.


“Call me funny, but you don’t quite strike me as a priest,” commented Otto after a quiet moment.

Arturo laughed easily, “You will have to pardon me, I am not exactly a typical priest.”

“I had gathered that, do I call you Father or?”

“Well if you wanted to insist on formality, I technically hold several ranks within the church.” Arturo reached into his dark clerical jacked and produced a small stack of cards, “Which best suits this occasion?”

“Surprise me,” Otto said blandly.

Arturo raised a brow then chuckled, “One of those, oh ye of little faith.” He grinned impishly then selected an embossed card then slid it face down across the table.

Otto cautiously picked up the card noting the odd hint of magick it resonated; he then slowly flipped it up to look at the text.


Arturo Mucro Cursor
The Eldest

AKA: The Guy Who Nailed Christ to the Tree

Rank: I don’t need no stinkin’ rank… I was there.

After a moment the text faded away to be replaced by a full color picture of the Gethsemane Rose, surrounded by a wreath of thorns. After a moment Otto shook his head and slid the card back across the desk with a chuckle, “I bet that card raises a few hackles.”

“Oh a few, mostly among my fellow knights,” Arturo acknowledged with a smile, “the stuffy ones.”

“Ah, why do I have this hunch you and my youngest charge will get along like long lost friends?”

“Possibly because she likely breaks the mold when it comes to peoples conceptions of what she should be?”

“Quite possibly,” Otto shook his head, “in all seriousness I rather expected to see someone else.”

“Well Father Peter Darcy would have come, if he could have gotten away from the political BS that is going on.” Arturo shook his head with a sigh, “Pete’s a bit disgruntled by events, and he sort of blames himself for not being around when she needed him.” 

“I had wondered if events would have taken a turn for the better had circumstances been different,” Otto waved a hand towards his guest. “Hard to judge unseen paths.”

“Or events for that matter,” Arturo shrugged, “you would not care for some of my ruminations on events. I can get, as my friends put it, moribund at times.”

“Ah, so what you is your take on her events?” Otto asked then stood up, “I was about to make tea, would you care for a cup?”

“Well it is a bit early for whiskey, so I suppose my answer should be; yes please.” Arturo smiled, “As for our youngest of knights, and she is the youngest recorded Accepted Knight of the Order. I have seen stranger things and events that shape our brotherhood if you will.”

“Hmm, and her um relationship?”

“With the Daemon of Lust, Kellith. Or if you prefer Sara Waite, once Michael Waite?” Arturo asked with a slight shrug of his shoulder.

“I should have known the Church would be aware of his change,” Otto frowned then poured the steaming water into a pair of cups, “Is Earl Gray acceptable?”

“With a few cubes of sugar if you can spare them?” Arturo asked then chuckled, “Well we did note her arrival at Whateley and several long and mostly annoying missives from one Darren Englund.”

“Oh, him,” Otto said with some distaste.

“The Church has not authorized any actions against Ms. Waite, nor are they likely to.” Arturo sighed and folded his legs comfortably, “Even in the Age of the Inquisition we were not that stupid, mostly.”

“Hmm?”

“Well, while the supposed witch hunters of the era and that blasted book, certainly did enough damage…” he sighed, “we had enough fun times without stirring up any of the Great Old Ones, as it were. Some, a damned few mind you, burnings were warranted and needed, as the magi in question truly were consumed by what they bestirred.”

“Destroying the vessel to pressure the possessive to move on and or be bound?”

“Yes, not one of the more joyous of tasks,” he took the proffered cup and saucer and rested it lightly on his knee. “Ms. Waite, by her nature is dangerous. However her humanity, if you will, makes her… um tolerable. Now her Uncle on the other hand…”

“You know of her um family? Sorry that was an ignorant question on my part, you of course know of her lineage,” Otto returned to his seat with a tired sigh.

“Well I am not specifically aware of all the details, but yes. We have our eyes and hands in Dunwhich and other places of risk.” Arturo sipped at his cup, “It would be blind of us to do otherwise.”

“I see… So what will become of the child, once she is well?”

“Good question, we do have a Salle’, for our chosen candidates, and a school for the gifted as well.” Arturo shrugged, “The current thought in Rome is that the child should remain near Ms. Waite. It is the opinion of the Hats, is that the um, union of the two is a stabilizing influence.”   

“Stabilizing on whom?” Otto asked after a moment.

Arturo smiled, “A very good question, and from what I gather of the situation; I could hazard a guess that it balances them both. Otherwise ring or no, what occurred, would not have.”

“That isn’t a comforting answer,” Otto said then sighed, “though I should be expecting that about this child.”

“You look tired,” Arturo said then grunted, “something is troubling you?”

“Is this the point where you ask when my last confession was?” Otto asked then sat back in his chair.

“No but if you need one…” Arturo trailed off with a grin, “Sorry sometimes my sense of humor is a bit off at times.”

“Just a troubling aspect or three in her case,” Otto shrugged, “We recovered her lost sibling’s body a day back, and we don’t wish to upset her current equilibrium with some aspects of the autopsy. Yet, we think she should have a say where the body should finally rest.”

“What part of the autopsy?”

“The real cause of death,” Otto said slowly.

“Which was?”

After a brief moment Otto answered, “Total cellular starvation.”

“Vampiric or?”

“Regenerative,” Otto took a moment to drink from his cup,  “it seems to have been a trait in her mother as well, but not active.”

The other man bowed his head silently for a moment then he crossed himself, “No, you shouldn’t tell her that. I’ve encountered a few souls that dug themselves up, heck even I’ve had to do that myself on one or so occasions. The mind isn’t always intact, which is where some of the Zombie legends arise from.”

“You are a regenerator?”

“Not exactly, lets just say I and another are fairly unique,” Arturo smiled softly, ”The line in the bible where some will be around when Christ returns is quite literal.”

“Oh…”

“I did get a chuckle out of one of the film Dogma though,” Arturo grinned wickedly for a moment, “but then I do have a strange sense of humor.”

“I don’t think I have seen that one,” Otto admitted, ‘or many others it seems.’

“Let’s just say the Truth is as strange as fiction.”

“Ah.”


“Ni juede wo hen ben ma?” I asked Kam while pointing to the sugar free cookie.

“Huh?” he asked looking a bit perplexed.

“It’s Chinese for: Do I look like an idiot to you?” I took a second bite from the cookie, “I want sugar, Coke-a-cola™, chocolate! Not this artificial shit. I have tested normal for how many days now?”

“Hey it’s not my fault,” he sighed, “Merry, Doc and the rest of the medical staff are just being cautious, the last thing we want is for you to have a ‘crash’.”

I shrugged off yet another hit to my shields from the ‘training units’ then I growled at them. “Kam it’s bad enough I’m in a padded fucking cell, I have those toys pounding randomly at me, and I have absolutely nothing to do but sit here and ‘take it.’” I sighed, “Yes I have a fucking scary ability with computers, sorry, not my fucking fault.”

He shook his head and grinned, “Anyone who can crack NORAD, and shut down the CIA is scary in my book.”

I gave him the pinky and slumped over sideways in my chair, “Gah, I am so fucking bored.”


“You see what we have to contend with?” asked Otto blandly while looking into the cell from the window.

“Too smart by half and bored unto death,” Arturo chuckled deviously, “oh I cannot wait for her to meet some people.”

"You sound like you're planning to plant the seeds of chaos or at least a rude joke," commented Otto.

“Well there are times when an organization grows a trifle complacent,” Arturo smirked, “then new blood comes along and jars the works loose.”

Otto rolled his eyes, “Well I can testify that having her here has certainly bestirred my quiet repose.”

“Doctor, one thing I have learned over the years of my very, very long life, is that things change.”  Arturo smiled thoughtfully, “If you get stuck in one pattern of thinking or living for too long, you end up in what is called a rut. After too long that rut becomes a canyon, then it caves in and eventually kills you. Consider yourself blessed that something jarred you out of that rut.”

“I’ll give it some consideration,” Otto said with a slow smile, “and thank you.”

“All part of the job,” Arturo chuckled, “it beats getting thrown in a vat of ice cold water, trust me.”

Otto laughed, “Is that what they do when you get a bit ‘maudlin’?”

“On occasion, on occasion,” Arturo chuckled, “I don’t suppose my talk with the child could remain un-monitored? My ancient Greek is a bit rusty…”

“As in you would prefer Church Business to remain Church Business?” asked Otto with a frown.

“Something like that,” Arturo said with a shrug.

“The most I think I can promise you is that her files here will never see the light of day,” Otto sighed, “and as much as she seems stable, she really is not sane by medical standards.”

“Some people could say that about Joan of Arc, but I would argue otherwise.” Arturo shook his head, “The true test of anything is time Doctor, and given how mysterious as time and events can be; well, it’s a mystery.”

“Isn’t that a circular argument?”

Arturo waggled his eyebrows briefly, “I am a priest, I can get away with it.”


“Espiritos Dominus, Domino’s, Domino’s Pizza delivers!” called a vaguely familiar voice from the direction of my cell door.

Kam blinked and laughed slightly, “Not down here they don’t, as much as I could wish.”

I hitched my thumb in Kam’s direction, “I have to agree.”

“Sorry if I had known, I would have brought some.” Arturo gave Kam a smile, then he turned to look at me, “So how is the Youngest of Knights these days?”

“Bored off my ass,” I said and rebuilt my shield yet again.

Otto motioned at Kam, “Come on Kam, I think a semblance of privacy is desired.”

“Don’t let them fool you,” I said with some annoyance, “privacy is possible, though they have gotten faster at changing the locks out… I think they are down to about ten minutes now.”

“I don’t think we’ll need any thing quite that drastic.” Arturo smiled, “Not yet in any case.”


“… an so I says to Don Juan , ‘If you’re going to piss off swordsmen, by stealing their wives, you had best be able to fence.’”

“So did he learn?” I asked after a bit.

“Aye that he did, dang near cost me my nobly bits once or twice while teaching him though,” Arturo shook his head, “Bastard still owes me a few gold coins.”

“An Don Juan was actually one of Gothmog’s um avatars?”

“Near as I could puzzle out, you’ll meet all sorts if you are in this business after a time or so.” He shook his finger at me, “Now what’s this I hear you’re consorting with his daughter.”

I rolled my eyes at him, “It’s a bit more than consorting,” I pulled the collar of my gown over so the mark was visible.

“So after a famine, what? A feast?” he asked then winked at me.

“Oh please, you can’t say you are celibate by any stretch of the imagination after what? Two thousand some odd years?”

“Aye you have got me there lass,” he shook his head, “still it’s going to ruffle a few feathers if you bandy that bit about around the overly stuffy sorts.”   

“Hey I didn’t exactly ask for the ring you know.”

“There is that, I never thought Pete was that sneaky. Though if you must know Peter’s got a bit of ‘the sight.’ If’n he says it’s going to piss blood, bring your galoshes because sure as shitting you will be wanting them later if you forget them.”

 “So he tapped me out because of something he saw or?”

“Well you may have to ask him directly some day, but I expect he’ll just look at you and say, ‘Wait and see, wait and see.’”

“Oh goody,” I said sarcastically.

“If it’s any consolation he did mention something about you being a round for a goodly long time.” Arturo shrugged then chuckled, “Though from what I have learned from Lazarus, some times you have to get away from it all, even if it’s a night or three of hard drinking.”

I wrinkled my nose at that, “No thanks my dad did enough for a generation.”

He shrugged, “It happens, so my young apprentice, what to you make of this mess.” He pointed to the boxes and various notebooks I left strewn around the room.

“What, are you going to teach me the ways of the force too?”

“Hardly lass, I expect you’ve got enough ‘force’ if you figure out how to use it.” He eyed a box, “Doctor Able Palm, the not quite deceased.” He chuckled and reached down and tapped the box I had relabeled out of spite.

“Yeah, they got his body on ice supposedly around here,” I shuddered. “From what I am told it is ‘possible’ that he managed to move his soul into numeric spell and well, out onto the net.”

“What do you think?”

“I think the fucker succeeded, but very few people seem to take my word for it.” I motioned to the room, “Pisses me off to no end too.”

Arturo chuckled, “Well having more than one voice in your head, even if it is ‘you’ tends to make people think that way, Chad.”

I rolled my eyes, “Sorted us out?”

“Not so much as your body’s cues shift when you change from one ‘voice’ to another.” He motioned to my lap were my foot was resting squarely on my knee, “A very male way of sitting, you tend to be very good at reading people after a time.”

“Joy,” I sighed and looked down at my chest in annoyance, “I would have thought the ring would have done ‘something’, considering as it evidently has got some magick in it.”

“Oh it likely did some things for you, but the ring isn’t exactly geared for changing the body.” He paused then shrugged at the camera, “It’ll heal some pretty grievous wounds, and stop some diseases cold, but…”

“But?”

It took me a moment to translate what he said next, “It’s not always an active healing, and sometimes you have to ask to be healed or to heal others.”

Then he paused and switched back to English, “An there are other bits you’ll pick up in due time, though to get you started…” he rummaged in his black jacket for a minute and pulled out a small but thick book. Then after a moments hesitation he placed it on the arm of my chair.

“Dare I ask what that is?”

“Catechisms, rites and other sundry things you will eventually need to know about for later.” He grimaced, “Or sooner, hard to say at times.”

I thumbed through a few pages, “It’s a bit archaic,” I said as my eyes uncrossed from the odd influx of translated words.

“Well, you know the movie Constantine?”

“Yeah, what of it?”

“Well if you are going to keep a diary, use that script, it’s a bugger to translate.” He paused, “And if your lover runs off with your diary or journal you won’t end up with a book or movie made about it…” 

“So Constantine?”

“Parts of it are real, but only parts…” he snickered, “Jonathan is so very irked about it. He was, was mind you, one of those overly pious types… Who has a penchant for blonds…”

“Boys or girls?” I had to ask.

“Um both, fortunately he’s not one to run around heading up a parish, and no they were all of age.” He pointed a finger at my face, “Just so you know, Rome is very Down on Child Molesters.”

“I’ll keep that in mind, though I doubt I have to worry much about that,” I chuckled, “Technically I am of legal age in this state, sort of… then well, I can’t touch most folks.”

He grunted, “Well you can’t undo what was likely destined to happen, though you may have to suffer some teasing about it.” He gave me a pained look, “Just try to avoid looking like a Yakuza gangster girl.”

“Huh?”

“Collecting more marks or such…” he said with an odd tone in his voice.

“Oh you mean like the arm bit with Constantine?” I paused then intoned moving my forearms together, “Into the light I command thee…”

He batted at my hands with some agitation, “Don’t joke like that, seriously don’t joke like that.”

“You mean?”

“Let’s just say weird shit happens and leave it at that,” he said with a wink to the camera.

“So the Spear of Destiny?”

“Complete Hollywood rubbish, though I was a bit pissed when some bloke stole it from my villa in Spain during World War Two,” he made a smacking sound with his fist. “Getting it back was a right bitch too. Not to mention having to keep it in the Vatican Vaults after all that. Pisses me off too, my –own- property and the Church thinks it is theirs.”

“And Hellboy?” I asked out of curiosity.

“Nice chap, no red skin, but he is huge, among other things,” Arturo grinned. “When he is not stuck in the deep dark nasty areas in Paris, he’s quite the party animal.”

“And the bit with the Nazi’s, Elder Gods and keys?”

“I missed that party,” he replied with a shrug.

“Oh-kay, so how many Popes?”

“Huh?”

“Sister Act number one, one of the Nun’s in it said she was around for four Popes.”

“Oh, Whoopie’s film, well all of them naturally. Though it got sort of muddled Pope wise, when Scotland and England could not figure it out for themselves,” he explained with a chuckle.

“And Dogma?”

“The film? I laughed my ass off through most of it,” he chuckled. “I especially liked Rufus and the Buddy Christ. Though the Pope wasn’t as amused, but even he grinned at the blessed putter. Some of the Pope’s played golf, I think one of them said something about it being ‘Like playing pool, just outside.’”

“So the Popes are not all boring stuffy old men?”

“Heavens no, they have a life too.” He paused and adopted a different accent, “‘You can’t spend all your life on your knees, you’d never get any work done.’ That was Pope John the first for you,” he said with a smile.

I had to grin at that, “Ah, so what part of this should I start with?” I asked tapping the thick green book.

“Well I would start with the first four chapters, skip the next three and pick up at Rites of Protection, Purification and so on. He shrugged, “All the liturgy is boring as hell, and you likely will only need that if you get called in to bodyguard the Pope.”

“And the Rites?”

“Better safe than sorry,” he said with a knowing look.


And on to Merry 6b…