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A Whateley Academy Tale

The More, the Merrier

( Merry #5e )

By Renae & Doctor Bender
(With editorial thanks to Warren and Babs Yerunkle.)

Saturday, November 4th, 2006(GMT+1)

Deep under the Vatican, Vatican City, Rome

A Mixed Deck

“The cardinal responsibility of leadership is to identify the dominant contradiction at each point of the historical process and to work out a central line to resolve it.” Mao Tse-Tung

“Warm body / hot cross, false judgment / cold grave. On the cross I’m lying now they pound the nails into me. The fire cleanses my soul and a mouthful of ashes remains. ” Ashes to Ashes - Rammstien

“I honestly do not know what surprises me more,” Cardinal David Fitz-Hugh said with a hint of amusement as he placed the clouded glass orb gently in its place. “The fact that the Ring’s selection process is still as mysterious as ever or that it promoted such an unusual candidate into service. Untrained, so very, very young and over the others.” He closed his brown eyes briefly as he blessed the newest Orb, and after a space of time he turned to regard his companions.

The three of them were standing in a huge vault where row upon row of wooden and velvet lined racks held similar orbs. The air hung heavily with the ages and the scent of fresh incense which overlaid that of long dried roses. Though the ‘active’ rack, as it was so labeled, held only seventeen softly glowing Orbs, while other racks held other Orbs some glowing brightly, some dimly.

Arturo shook his head then flicked a bit of dust from the black clerical suit he wore, “I don’t know, Peter said she was fairly remarkable, if not a bit of a puzzle.” He chuckled, “I have no doubt she is going to make things a bit lively once we sort out her training regimen.”

“Well if you ask me it’s long over due, and about time we got another hen amongst all you roosters,” stated the lady as she fished about in her habit and then produced a lighter and a pack of cigarettes. “Daemon Mark or no.”

“Constance, you should not smoke down here,” David chided.

Constance’s green eyes blazed from under the starched white coif of the habit, her British accent clipping her words sharply; “David, you know well and damned good I don’t do mornings unless the situation is dire…”

“… Or you deign the need ‘great enough’. Yes, yes I know.” He gave Arturo a longsuffering look.

“Well the need was great,” said Arturo. “It’s not like the Enemy to poke his head in and challenge a candidate thus.”

She picked out a cigarette from the pack and lit it, sucking at the thin brown cylinder for a moment. “I would have thought that he would have gambled to draw attention away from this one. Though, it might have been an effort to skew our perception of the girl.”

David nodded as he toyed with his red cope, “The Librarian did determine that the Daemon in question was not among the Fallen.”

“The Great Old Ones don’t always hit it off with the Enemy,” stated Arturo grimly as he tapped an Orb in the same row, “Brother Bartholomew, for instance carries a Mark of Vendetta, bestowed upon him by such, against the Enemy.”

“The enemy of my enemy is not always my friend though,” said Constance as she punctuated her words with a flick of ash.

The Cardinal winced as the ash fell upon a crack in the floor and seemed to be swallowed by it. “Well, if Beth is correct, of which the Heavens only know where she gets her information; that Daemon’s Anomic Aspect has changed. Whatever that means.”

Arturo snorted, “Never did trust magicks, give me a solid sword or gun any day and I’ll get things sorted out…”

“Well the ring has accepted the girl,” Constance paused to indicate the some of the other Orbs, “they on the other hand are not likely to accept her, willingly.”

“Stuffy bastards can’t see past the surface of an issue much less the heart of a person at times,” Arturo spat out disgustedly as he motioned to the exit.

David nodded and started walking, pausing briefly as the others lingered to look at gaps within the active rack. “From what I understand the child is quite personable, though she might chafe a bit at our instruction.”

Constance smirked and the lines around her eyes reflected the humor in her pursed lips, “Good thing I am not her mentor.”

“Actually I was considering both you and Arturo for that very task,” David favored her with a bland smile as she sputtered.

“David, no,” she sighed, “not now. Haven’t I put up with enough?” asked Constance as she glared at Arturo, “You put him up to this?”

Arturo shook his head in mirth, “I am not as schooled in the women’s mysteries as you are.”

“Schooled my eye, you bastard,” she said without any real heat, and then she pointed a finger at him, “And how many women have you seduced over the years?”

“Not nearly as many as Lazarus…” he shrugged, “it’s not like we have her here for training in any case.”

“No we don’t,” said the Cardinal angrily, “we are fortunate she is even alive at this point. If ever I had a reason to remark on the lack of morals within the CIA, it is now.” He waved a hand to the guards and they fell back into position and proceeded to secure the vault.

The chamber outside of the vault seemed to carry the words in soft echoes, the air itself carrying the sounds as if to drop them into the ages. The huge vaulted ceiling was decorated with gold leaf and paintings that had slowly faded under the onslaught of years. The floor while clean had not ever truly been polished, though the years had stained it some from the odd bit of traffic it bore.

 “Well I expect it may bite them in the arse this time,” said Constance with a wave to a row of armored statues, “At least we don’t have to contend with the double stigmatism of a woman as a knight in this age.”

“Precisely, which is why I would like you both to be her mentors, if time and events should allow.” David walked past the many tapestries that hung along the corridor walls leading them towards a bank of elevators. Arturo held his hand out to keep the elevator door open as a pair of men moved a large crated box out of the elevator. He then motioned to the others to precede him. Constance nodded her thanks and continued, “I have no qualms about her nature, though if from what I read of the reports is correct, she is not entirely sane at the moment.”

“Jehanne le Pacelle may not have been entirely sane either; depending on who you asked of that era. Personally I think she was brilliant, if a bit odd.” Arturo grinned wickedly, “And she packed one hell of a punch.”

“I do find it perplexing that the ring would select that patron for her signet.” David reached out to tap a button, “I had Beth to look up the history of that; there have only been two others to carry that crest.”

As the elevator hummed and picked up its pace, Constance prodded David with a finger, “And?”

“And there isn’t much in the records. One was alive during the schism, though he was a noted scholar and evidently a swordsman. He died after grievous wounds were sustained defending the life of Gregory the Just from that rabble.”

“Ah,” Constance shook her head and glanced to Arturo who was glaring at the floor of the elevator, “And the other?”

“Is well, shall we just say Lazarus is a bit worldly and leave it at that?” asked David with a chuckle. “I don’t think the Librarian will have trouble sorting out their various missives, given that Lazarus…”

“Oh Lazarus is ok, I just think he finds the Roses a bit too stuffy and since there are more Roses than Thorns currently, he stays away.” Arturo offered with a sigh, “Can’t say I blame him sometimes, though he always turns up when he is most needed.”

“Unlike one gentleman who will not take his leave?” chided Constance with a dry expression.

“Well I am given to the fight until Himself says otherwise,” Arturo paused to glance upwards, “as it is, someone has to keep the Roses from being too complacent.”

“I do appreciate your years of service Arturo.” David paused as the doors opened onto a dimly lit corridor, and he held his peace until they were a goodly distance from the guards stationed at that set of elevator doors. “Though I often find the Roses a tad strict, if not stuffy at times, they do serve well.”

“Yeah, and they die well too. Perhaps too well, I can’t say I like how many Roses we lose, compared to the Thorns. Though it seems like their rigidity gets them killed far too often.” Arturo pointed to a wall where a hint of white decried the presence of a freshly carved name. “Take MacDougal, he was the last Thorn to die and since then there have been forty-three Roses who have fallen while in service.”

“I know though if it is any consolation, it is fairly obvious this lass will be a Thorn,” David paused to nod at the wall, “God willing we’ll see more Thorns arise now, if this girl is any indication.”

“Beth was fairly besides herself trying to mop up the glowing blue footprints from the floor of the Library before the other staff wandered in.” Arturo shook his head in bemusement, “The trial does do odd things, from time to time.”

Once the other two were ensconced in his office David closed and locked the door. He scowled briefly at the neat and organized desk, “I do wish the watch commander’s would leave my desk alone.”

Constance laughed, “Petty revenge from the Roses?”

“Oh it’s not petty, just annoying.” David sat with a sigh, “No they are entirely to pious to be petty.”

“So the girl?” prompted Arturo.

“Ah ever to the heart of the matter,” David shook his head and doffed his red zucchetto and dropped it to the desk, “to think I once nearly ordered this with clam sauce.” He tapped the skullcap twice, “Since then I wish often I had.”

Arturo glanced over to Constance, “Ok, now I know we are in for it.”

“Well we know where she is currently, thanks to her ah, support team from NEXT.”

“She has a support team?” asked Constance, “Already?”

David sighed unhappily, “It’s complicated, and she’s got a very unique talent. NEXT ‘discovered’ that, in addition to a her being a superlative hacker.”

“Talent as in Mutant?” Constant smirked at his nod, “Oh dear is that going to put a bee in few bonnets.”

“Well the Church does operate under an equal opportunity redemption program… They will just have to deal with it.” Arturo grinned widely and leaned back in his chair, “So which of the Roses is least inflexible in that department? Maybe we can get them paired up later…”

“You are a sadist Arturo,” Constance said with an amused smile. 

“It’s all natural talent, I assure you,” he countered as David shook his head grimly.


Saturday, November 4th, 2006 (ARC)


“I’m nobody! Who are you? Are you nobody, too? Then there’s a pair of us - don’t tell! They’d banish us, you know?” -Emily Dickinson

“Who wants to take time to understand? I would like someone to heal me, with some empathy. I can’t find Nobody, not really.” Nobody Not Really – Alica Keys  

This mornings breakfast had come and gone without much aplomb, though what could I say? It was hospital food, well balanced, lacking of texture and bland of taste. Supposedly it was to ensure I didn’t accidentally screw up my sugar levels. Personally I thought it was a form of torture or revenge; as Kam had said the cooks were getting ‘grumpy’ about my demands for pastries and my issues with the quality of their food. Then he gave me a look that seemed to indicate is was ‘all my fault’.

Though he didn’t seem too upset about the testing he had to endure yesterday. But then he was still a bit tired looking when he wandered in to say ‘Hi’, and inflict another round of blood sugar tests on me this morning. Though he did say something about being able to buy a new Hummer and still have enough money to lounge in style. So evidently his day yesterday was as interesting as mine.

I smiled as I thought about how discombobulated Doctor Otto was after my own ‘test’ occurred. In some ways I wish Sara could have seen that, as I doubted the Doc had very few things jar his perceptions of normal that often. I toyed with the ring for a moment, testing to see if it was as firmly attached, as it was the prior evening.  

Flexing both hands cautiously, as I remembered the sensation of my flesh charring away from the bones. I shook my head, part of me wanted to say it was all in my head but well, the evidence was firmly planted on my finger and on the inside of my left wrist; when it did not hide itself from view. For a moment my mind was filled with the name of it, and its origins.

It was a Gethsemane Rose, a stark white flower with the exception of the red traces around the edges of the petals. In the center of the rose the vague outline of a face could almost be seen. A trail of thorns circled the rose from its green stem. Idly I counted the thorns, thirteen in all; representing the thirteen disciples, the last being a sullen red that was almost bloodlike in color.

Legend has it that the discarded crown of thorns that Christ had worn had been transformed into a rose bush. Over the years the exact location of that rose bush has been in question, yet small cuttings thrived to later be planted among the Vatican grounds. Yet only a handful of the Church Knights know the exact location of the mother bush.         

I shook my head, getting used to the odd flow of information was going to take some getting used to. Not to mention that the occasional stray thought seemed to send me on a magical memory mystery tour. Though in some ways it was much better than the total boredom that had overtaken me, not even Doctor Palm’s notes brought complete relief from that.

So I was more than happy to drop the latest of his notebooks to the side when the door opened. I reveled in the energy that washed over me from equipment and power lines. Evidently my hunger for the energy had not abated, yet when the door opened I was almost prepared to beg them to leave it open for a time. I was really hungry for the something it provided and I wanted the door open even if it was so noisy. That is until Sara stepped through the doorway.

Sara grinned and announced cheerfully, “Honey, I’m home!” She waved a plastic bag, “and I brought ‘presents.’”

I smiled; then as I tried to sit up the pain made from my surgery made itself known. “If you brought a major pain killer or a gun I’d take both or either.” Though ‘all’ of me was more than happy to see her.

“I’ve got just the thing for pain,” Sara smiled, sliding close and she kissed me.

I wrapped my arms around her and kissed back as a warm fuzzy feeling rose up to drive away my loneliness. “Gods I missed you.”

Sara blinked as she looked into my face, “Woah... Yes you did, didn’t you?”

I smiled and nodded slowly as I was completely happy for the first time in a few days, “Well I think I saw you in a dream, though I am not sure… You were in a blue swim suit?”

Sara grinned, “I think I may have managed to prove once and for all that Mai isn’t as bad as everyone thinks she is. Besides, I hear that they’re getting you off the drugs to try acupuncture.”

I felt my nose wrinkle as a frown formed, “More needles, well if it works.” I sighed, “Now if I could get the lock on the door to stop screaming...” ‘Or better yet stuck open…’ I added silently under my breath.

“Actually, I was just about to bring that up, Otto thinks I might be able to help you learn to ‘shield’ or block that out.”

I nodded slowly as the faint pounding at my temples was making itself known, “Well at this point I am ready to try anything, between the surgery and my headaches I’m more than willing to be knocked out for a few days.

She hugged me tightly, “How would you like to do something about it? Otto asked me to give you some lessons in shielding, and I really do think I should. If only to stop you from being ready to kill people all day long.”

“Well, um, I haven’t had much luck with the shielding stuff. It makes my head hurt,” I said as I eased the sheet down to my lap.

“That does happen with beginners,” Sara chuckled, hopping up to perch on the back of one of the chairs dropping and her sack into its seat, “And I think I can help you with the headaches too.”

I sat up slowly watching as she took her perch, “Careful or folks will think you are Gabriel, you know? From the Prophecy movies.”

Sara shrugged, “That’s ok, though I haven’t seen those movies. Ok, shielding. Well, as you know, I’m psychic. What you may have guessed is that I’m also broadcasting a fairly specific emotion constantly... a booby prize will be awarded if you can guess what that is.”

I closed my eyes for a moment and then smiled wickedly, “Um Sex?”

“Ooh, so very close. Specifically though, Lust.”

I scratched at an itchy spot on my head for a moment. “OK, so um I get um, distracted when you are not here, just by thinking about you. So if you are here, it’s stronger?”

Sara smiled warmly, “That’s nice to know, but the answer is: A little bit. Believe it or not, I am currently shielding most of my projected lust, so only a trickle is getting through.”

I smiled as my face grew warm, “Ok, so it’s a –little- bit, what happens when you let it go wild?”

She seemed to hesitate briefly then a wicked gleam sparked in her eyes, “Oh, something like this...”

 For a moment she seemed to really relax, then my world collapsed to contain only her. In the space of heartbeats I was in her arms and trying to get closer yet. For what seemed like a time less moment the only emotion I could clearly define was that of a pure need to be in her. As I breathed out, one word escaped to fill the room as if defying anyone to say otherwise. “Mine!”

She pulled me gently to the floor, her lips devouring mine, wrapping her legs around my waist. Then slowly almost reluctantly something arose to push my need for her down to a much lower level. “Feel that?” she asked.

As her words slowly worked into my head, the heat I was feeling for her gave way to another form of heat, that of embarrassment. “Oh yeah,” I said as I realized that I had come very close to shredding her clothes and my own. As that thought sunk in the room grew even warmer. “Did I just about, um…” If anything I think my embarrassment was going for record levels, “and on camera to boot.”

She brushed some of my hair out of my face, “When I let go, nothing else matters except me. In that state, I could ask someone to kill their own mother for me and they’d probably do it. Of course I don’t want everyone and their sister humping my leg all the time.” She rolled her eyes and continued,” So I’ve learned to damp down the effect... I’m curious about something, though. When you jumped at me, did you want to put your seed in my belly or mine in yours?”

As the room turned into a complete oven, my voice dropped to where it felt very small, “um... both. It was like I was sorta you.” I covered my eyes for a moment hiding behind them as I confessed what it felt like, “Being with you was the only thing that was important.”

“If it’s any consolation, Merry, that’s what I feel all the time,” she shrugged with a smile that warmed me to my toes. “Like other Empaths, my feelings leak out to others, but I am in control of it.” She paused with a shrug of one shoulder, “you just have to learn to do the same trick with electricity and your powers.”

With a sigh I felt the edges of my world crumble slightly, “But I’m not like an Esper, as I don’t read minds.  I’m, I don’t know; just linked to the web.”

“Merry,” she whispered softly, “I know things about the Universe that you can only dream about at the moment. Just let me say for now that there isn’t that much difference between a computer and a human brain, they just use a different operating system.”

I nodded slowly, “So if the computer and the brain are alike why isn’t everyone doing what I do?”

“Why doesn’t everyone access the Net just by thinking about it, like you do? I don’t know, though I am betting Otto is very happy your are the ‘first’ that he ‘knows of.’ Maybe the only for a while or not, powers are funny that way.” She wiggled a finger at me motioning that I should sit up. “For a time there were so many psychics that all had the same tricks they started calling them PDP’s: Package Deal Psychics.”

She shrugged, “For me, Empathy is just a another trick. What I think you are doing is trying to pick up a signal, any signal and make it connect to the Net. Needless to say the wiring is not quite the same and because it isn’t the same, it hurts.”

I sighed I looked down to my hands. “So if I had access to the Net, I would not be having this problem. Or is it because of this and the computer stuff my problems are worse?”

“What the hell is that?” I looked up to see Sara’s glaring frown upon me as she pointed at my gown.

Feeling confused I looked closely at the gown, “Huh? It’s a hospital gown, like the rest of the lousy gowns I get stuck wearing.”

I blinked in surprise as she bopped me on the nose, “Psyche!” she said as she winked at me, “Don’t get so serious on me. This is a good thing, Merry. Whether it’s because of the deprivation of computers or just a weird wiring problem, its something you can get past.”

I blinked not quite remembering an episode from the night prior. I smiled at the image of Doctor Otto in cartoon land, then in Bugs Bunny’s voice added, “Eh, what’s up Doc?”

“That’s better. Ok, as much as I like holding you, I think we need some space for this. Otto said you’d learned some rudimentary shielding techniques; I’d like to have a look at them. Why don’t you sit in one of the chairs? Are you warm enough? Need a blanket? It’s easier to do this being as comfortable as possible. It helps the concentration too.”

Reluctantly I unwrapped myself from around Sara, then got up to fetch a light blanket from the bunk. Then I slowly limped over to one of the over stuffed chairs, “It’s not as cuddly as you, but if you think it’s the best way to start.”

Sara smiled ruefully as she sank into the chair opposite of mine and crossed her legs, “I hate to say it, but I’d be more of a hindrance than a help, sitting in the same chair as you. Just steel yourself and think about that booby prize I promised earlier.”

I grinned wickedly, “I don’t think that will help my concentration, anticipation yes, concentration. “ I licked my lips, “I doubt it will help that.”

“Did I ever tell you how sweet you were?” After a small shake of her head as if redirecting her own thoughts, she pointed a finger at me and said, “Ok, no more stalling. Show me this shield of yours.”

I closed my eyes and tried to resurrect my bubble, separating myself from the ambient electricity in the room. I ignored the faint rustling of her plastic and bag and a slightly audible click and focused. To some extent I was almost successful. Almost in that I could feel the energy of the room trying to get in as something else tried to get out.

“Yikes! Ok, stop, stop, stop!” she fairly shouted at me.

In my surprise I let it go with an audible pop. “Um?”

Sara rubbed her temples while looking at a small box with a hoop on the end, “You nearly fried it, and supposedly –that- is not easy.”

I sighed in resignation, “That bad, maybe they should just...” for a moment the image of the frozen sleepers filled my mind.

Sara leaned back and uncrossed her legs, stretching meaningfully, “They should just what, Merry? Let you die? Do you want to die, Merry?”

I shook my head, “Sorry, no I don’t want to die, it’s just. I have seen what they do to people here. They put them on ice if they can’t fix them.”

“That’s not what those people are there for, Merry,” Sara shook her head, “some of them did very hideous things. What’s left of Dr. Palm is down there, the rest are very much like him.”

For a moment, she tapped one of her fangs in thought, her claw clicking against ivory, “Ever see a movie called Red Beard, Merry?”

I shook my head again, “I don’t think so, there was a crazy Mouseworld pirate movie with fuses in his beard?” Part of me was unsure where she was going with this, but that was the only pirate I could think of aside from Johhny Depp in ‘Pirates of the Caribbean’.

Sara grinned, “That’s Yellow Beard, a great movie in its own right. Remind me to show you Red Beard sometime; it might help give you some perspective on Otto and this place. Ok, from the look of your shield,” She waved the box in my direction showing a odd image on its screen, “you’re simply erecting a wall between you and the energy. There is no real flow going from you to the shield. It’s a very neat trick and maybe once you get everything sorted out, useful. But for right now, I don’t think it’s working for you. What you think about when you put it up?”

“Keeping a bubble up and inflated so the energy stays out. More or less I just want it there.” Then I added, “The book I had wasn’t very helpful, so just I guessed at it.”

“Ok, so you haven’t done any energy work at all?”

I giggled at that. “Aside from blowing up a few transformers, various electronics and light bulbs?” I asked, and then I sighed. “I don’t think that counts, though the book mentioned a lot of stuff but none of it seemed to apply to me. I thought I was just a flaky Energizer of some sort.”

Sara nodded then cast an odd look at the camera, “Very well then, I want you to sit back and close your eyes. Breathe steadily in and out and relax. Start by letting go of the muscles in your scalp, then work your way down, unclenching with each and every muscle you encounter, right down to the tips of your toes.”

I took deep breath, and then closed my eyes. After a few false starts it seemed like I was slowly relaxing. In some ways I could not think of when the last time was that I had actually relaxed.

“Remember, I am here, I am watching everything around you. Nothing can harm you while I am here, can it, Merry?”

I smiled and said, “Nope, you’re a goddess, nothing can stop you.” Then I took another breath working at letting my guard down further.

“That’s right, if at any time you feel nervous, remember to think of me and let go of your muscles. Now, I want you to reach out and feel your surroundings and tell me what it’s like. Don’t look, just feel.”

For a moment I struggled with the various images that floated though my head, some of which have absolutely nothing to do with a room. Then a picture started to form, made of thin glowing lines in rectangular patterns. Among that pattern there were dimly glowing blobs that moved. Though one was stationary and fairly close to me, it had a deep blue glow that felt like sunshine to me.

“Remember, I said don’t look, feel. If you can’t stop looking, concentrate on me... feel the energy around you, the stuff that hangs in the air and blows across your skin like the wind.” Her voice sounded slightly amused as she walked me through it.

I felt the muscles in my eyebrows wrinkle up, then I took another breath, banishing that image. I took another breath, and then another, feeling my muscles unclench further. For a moment I felt like drifting off to sleep and then I forced myself to take another controlled breath. I reached out with something to the door trying to tastes the energies that leaked in from around it. Then as I relaxed what ever it was that I was using to ‘taste’ the door, a wash of something flooded back across me and filled the room.

Silently I felt her mark warm, then her voice was inside my head, ~^That’s right, between everything in this room and beyond it is energy, maybe not a lot, but it is there. All atoms spin with electrons, remember your high school science classes? The shield in the walls, well they shield you from the grosser forms, but the finer waves still get through and out. Though to really understand those, you will need a serious physics course or three. You can’t feel those yet, though maybe you will in time.^~ I felt a hint of warmth in the mark that felt like irritation at something or someone.

“Problem?” I asked.

~^Not with you love, just dealing with my own baggage, and getting a few things out of the bag I brought with me. Anyways, between you and the door is a sea of energy that acts as the conduit for the power. I want you to feel that energy, but only what is between you and the door. Feel it wash, back and fourth like the tide...^~

For a time I wallowed in the flood then as I tried to move in it, a wave echoed out from me as if I had dropped a stone into a pool of water. For a moment the wave seems to try and push past the room, then it rippled backwards. I could feel the wave stir the other ripples as it crested higher for a moment then it dropped back down.  

~^That’s what you are feeling, Merry, that’s what your ‘bubble’ stopped. The pressure inside would build and build with each wave, the resonance nipping at your heels, for want of a better expression.^~ She paused and sent a wave of warmth through me, ~^It’s like my lust, locking it in just won’t do, and if I try and stop it, like I think you were, it’d build up until I popped or something else did.^~

“Joy, so what do you do when that happens?” I asked hesitantly.

~^I try not to let it happen, but sometimes even the best of us ‘lose it’ though.^~ For a brief instant I was looking down at different lady with red hair in what was obliviously a bathroom stall, I had the vague sense of intense embarrassment at the ladies disheveled clothing, then that scene winked out as if it had not been there. ~^Now, I want you to thing about computer graphics, Merry. I want you to think about those old 3-D wire frame spheres and build one around your body, visualize it, feeling surrounding you.^~

For a moment I had to fight for a few seconds of peace, as everyone had a suggestion on how to do it. Once ‘I’ could think again I bit my lip, and worked at calming back down and then I focused on the wire frame ball’s formation. For a moment I had it formed in what seemed to be mathematically perfect ball, then as everyone –else- butted in. It shifted into something that looked like a child would draw, before I could get the others to go with what I wanted, it melded into a cross between the two.

I could hear a few things going click from where I thought she was sitting, though I managed to keep my eyes closed.

~^Excellent. Now, I want you to put more lines in. More and more and more, until the wire frame looks like a tight screen door all around you, then build more wires. Build them and build them until the holes in the frame are microscopic, so tiny only atoms could leak through...^~

I started slowly then everyone seemed to want to help get it sorted out, with an alarming rapidity more lines and circles start to fill the shell of the globe. For a moment the shell almost felt real, in that moment I could taste ozone as I took a breath. There was a faint vibration in the air as static seemed to crackle near my ears.

~^Very good, but you’re pumping way, way too much power into it, Merry, you don’t need that much for this. Relax and feel the globe cool slightly, let it solidify like an adamantite net.^~

I took a breath and told everyone to relax, for a moment I felt like the elephant in that old joke about a mouse designed by committee. Once we more or less sorted out what the game plan was, I was able to relax. For a moment the ozone scent spiked then it started to fade, several deep breaths and I could feel the globe becomes a very cold, though occasionally a bright spark flared out of it at randomly.

Sara slipped into Merry’s mind, forming a schoolroom complete with wooden tables and chairs just like in Whateley. Standing up the front, she addressed the four students in front of her from the top of her desk, crossing the shapely legs of a twenty-year-old over the edge, “Ok, now comes the fun part. I need the four of you to build a button. There needs to be a stand with a big red button on the top and a symbol on the button that means something to all of you. Can you all do that for little old me?”

Chaddy held up his hand, “Um, Teacher, what’s the button for?”

Sara smiled, “Excellent question, Chaddy, you get a gold star. When completed, the button will act like a post-hypnotic suggestion. Any time you want to turn the shield on or off, all you have to do is flip the big red switch.”

Merry looked at the others, “Umm, ok. Ideas?”

Mai offered, “How about a lightning bolt, you know from Arc?”

Merry looked at Chaddy, “You?”

Chaddy grinned, “It needs to say ‘don’t push me’.”

Merry rolled her eyes, “How about ‘Don’t Panic?’”

Chad looked like he wanted to beat his head on the desk, “How about just ‘Power On’?”  

“Try to keep it simple, guys, as simple as possible. Your first time isn’t the time to get creative... besides, you can always go back and change things.”

Merry nodded, “Not like we prolly will get it right the first time, but ok. Big red button with ‘On’.”

Sara shook her head, “I don’t advise that. If all goes well, you’ll be installing other buttons later. ‘On’ doesn’t exactly tell you what it does. How about a circle? It’s nice, simple, and represents a shield.”

Merry tilted her head and the others echoed her movement, “OK, just as long as we don’t stick a button in there that says, ‘act like a chicken.’“

“Darn... that was lesson two...”

Chaddy giggled, “Well you turn her on all the time,” he points to Merry, “I just hope she can keep up with you... Girls!”

Looking the other way, Sara wriggled her fingers at Chaddy and his boy’s uniform turned into a catholic schoolgirl’s uniform. Then with a snicker she looked to Chad, “You can talk about things like that when you’re Chad’s age... can’t he Chad?”

Chad looked back at Chaddy then blinked rapidly, “Um, yeah... What ever the teacher says, goes...”  He was obviously biting his tongue, trying not to laugh. “So, that’s a new look for him.”

With a hint of impatience Sara swiped at the air with her pointer stick and it slackened into a whip, of which she immediately cracked, “No more stalling. Button. Now!”

Merry’s eyes widened at the ‘snap’, “Right, button.” She reached towards the others and they reached back to her hand. Slowly a squat tower grew up from the floor and a red button slowly formed on top of it. On the button a shiny silver circle appeared.

Sara threw her whip away and clapped girlishly, “Excellent! Ok, Merry, from now on, this button turns the shield on and off. Try it.”

Merry got up from her seat, wincing as it screeched loudly on the floor, with a half turn she placed her hand on the button with a look that clearly said she expected implode or something. “Ok, boom!” Then she pressed it down.

Sara tapped her foot after a few idle moments when nothing seemed to occur, “Well?”

Merry, evidently confused looked around at the room, “Um, how am I supposed to know if it’s doing anything?”

“Feel the Force, dummy!” Sara quipped with a slight hint of exasperation in her voice.  

Merry blinked and then closed her eyes as if trying to feel for something, after a moment, she opened her eyes, “I think it’s up, I can feel stuff trying to poke its way out of something, anyways.”

“Ok, that’s a good sign. Press again, and feel it turn off like a light, then turn it back on again. Do it a few times.”

With a dubious glance at the button she flicked it on and off several times, in one instance she winced as if something jarred her, then she slammed the button back down. “Ow, who’s playing games?”

With a devilish grin, Sara whistled innocently.

Briefly it seemed like Merry looked around the room for something, anything she could throw, “That wasn’t funny!” she protested.

Sara hopped off the desk and hugged her, “I wasn’t being funny. I was testing to see if you felt the difference. You looked like you were just going through the motions and not actually doing anything. Now we know it’s working, right?”

Merry hugged her back, “Yeah, I guess I wasn’t expecting it to work, I kept screwing it up before.”

“One of Murphy’s Combat Laws: If it’s stupid, but it works, it ain’t stupid. Ok, lets see how this works in the real world...” Sara pulled out of Merry’s mind and looked at the peaceful, relaxed, Merry before her, “Ok, Merry, open your eyes. I want you to open your eyes and turn the shield on and off for me.”

I blinked a few times, “Ohhh Kay. That was a new trick.” I wiggled my nose trying to head off a sneeze, then I focused inward for a second bringing the shield down, “Ok, down. Yes?”

 “Oh, yes,” Sara answered with a wide-eyed glance to the box, in her other hand in another was a walkie-talkie. I blinked as she shook her head in bemusement. “Maybe I should call you Sparky…” she commented as the box gave off a small puff of smoke. “And so much for that toy.”

Sorry.” Then I focused on pushing the button, “Up?” I asked hopefully.

I saw her relax, dropping the boxy object to the chair with shrug, and then she chuckled. “Yep, it’s up. You really are quite strong, you know? Ok, this sort of shield that I’ve just helped you create is a permeable shield. It dampens your power output, cutting back on the energies, both coming in and going out of you.”

She dug into her bag, “Close your eyes for a moment and try not to breath too heavily, I want you to be able ‘see’ something in a bit.

I did so and then I could hear a hiss like a can of spray paint or hairspray for a long moment or four.

“Kill the lights, Kam?” I heard her ask the room. “Ok Merry open your eyes and hold your breath for a moment this should be neat.”

I opened my eyes to see her pointing at a blue haze that surrounded me, “Just watch for a moment, see the flow of cloud in the light? If not give it a moment to become evident to you.”

For a moment it just seemed like the ‘cloud’ was random then it seemed to have a rolling motion in and out to me. “I see it I think, big rolling loops?”

“Yes, in some ways it’s like the pattern that iron fillings and a magnet make on paper. The pattern you see is the static charge that revolves around you. If you look at your hands or rest or your body; you are ‘brighter’ there.”

“Weird but ok.”

“Not really, even you have to obey some natural laws, it’s complex; but essentially your body is similar to a huge coil, the glow, is the electron flux that surrounds you.”

“Fun, but if you say so,” I wasn’t exactly sure if I was a coil, but the odd loops in cloud said something was happening.

She smiled, “I’ll see if I can get a book on electronics and maybe a decent physics book or two for you. In some ways it will help you to understand what it is you do. Now watch what happens when I click a radio on and off near you.”

She held the radio out and pushed the button. In an instant I saw a ball form around the antenna then the ball sprung out to hit my bubble, it hit, then deformed as part of it leaked in. I watched the radio for a moment for a moment seeing the light from it fill the room and wash around me, “Did you feel that?” she asked.

“No, not really.” I sagged in relief somewhat when I realized what I had just said, “Though I could see it fill the room.”

“That’s what I did to you when your shield was down. “ She let off the switch, “They say this is a fairly low powered radio, and that it will only reach half a mile…”

“Oh gods, lovely, a Cell Phone reaches way further,” I closed my eyes and tried to remember how bright Philly was to me.

“Makes you wonder doesn’t it?” she asked.

“No kidding,” I opened my eyes with a sigh, “so now what?”  

“You should be able to keep that shield up, with practice for hours on end. Without the incapacitating headache from the build-up of energy.” She poked a finger in my direction then poked randomly about the air, “That what those little holes are for, so the pressure doesn’t build up so much. You’ll feel a little more tense when the shield’s up, but if you focus, you should learn to relax your muscles while it is up.”

I sighed in relief, “So I won’t get blasted half silly when they open the door.  All that junk in there is so -noisy-.” I glanced around, “What happens when I wanna go, you know? Do I take it down or is it going to screw with that?”

“When you want to go?”

I grumbled slightly, “I guess I don’t have many secrets in -this- place,” I stopped long enough to flip off the cameras, “Into the net.” I shrugged, “If they’ll even let me have a computer.”

“Ah, that. If I what I read your of your powers is right, it shouldn’t interfere with the connection, however you won’t be at full power with that particular shield up. In the future, I can teach you how to form and control more advanced shields. For example: My lust aura. To shield it, I envisioned a control that was both a button and a dial, so I can flick it on and off, as well as fine tune the intensity when it is on.”

“However, shields can also be reflective, absorptive, or even act like a two-way mirror, allowing you to control the input and output like a router or a firewall.”  

“Sounds like Gibson’s books.” Noted Chad aloud, and forcing a giggle out of me, ~:Talk about ‘Mona Lisa Overdrive’.:~ he added silently.

“But um, can’t folks knock it down too? I mean I blow through firewalls with almost no effort. All of this is what, a random offshoot of my tricks?”

“Random or not, if you or your shield can give off ozone like a arc-welder, trust me, you can pump enough power into a shield to ward off an attack. And yes, people can break down a shield Electrical or Mental, and very likely you will be able to batter through other people’s shields, the electrical ones that is, eventually; if you had too. It’s like a game of Poker, you watch the other person for signs of what hand they’re playing and you formulate an attack that will penetrate the defenses. Guess right, and you’re in. Guess wrong...”

I winced, “Bug splat. I am not sure I want to play ‘Veteran’s of the Psychic Wars’ with folks. I have got enough loose marbles in my head as it is.” I looked at the bland gown with disgust, “I mean, can you imagine what a few solid lumps into my head would do to add extra voices?”  

Sara nodded slowly, “It’s very dangerous. Self-defense psychic and other wise, is taught all over the place, but they often ignore the ingenuity of attackers. Those who go in for that sort of thing are generally mad or obsessed, both the good guys and the bad guys. Or, they have an ace up their sleeve.”

I blinked remembering Doctor Lenston’s tricks, “Oh great, now I have more things to add to my list of new tricks to learn?” I motioned to the area in general, shrugging as the lights came back up. “I bet he’d be just thrilled if I experimented here, too?”

Sara hopped up on the arm of my chair briefly then slid into my lap forcing me to bite my lip for a moment, as I wanted her close, even if it hurt. “Actually, it’s Doctor’s orders. Empaths like me and ‘Flaky Energizers’ like you.” She poked me with a finger, “Though you may be more a hybrid of Energiser and Psi, they just don’t have a handle on what to call you yet.”  She paused, “However, we don’t have the luxury of not practicing. If you want to get out into the world and not become a target for angry mobs…”

I watched her frown in thought as she continued, “You may have to learn how to mirror first. As you are rather unique you know, and some sensors might be able to find you by your flavor.” She closed her eyes as in thought for a few minutes, “Chris says your ambient energy level changes rapidly but has a ‘pattern’ to it.”

I sighed, “Peachy, so now my body is my betrayer as well.”

“Well you are rather unique looking too, you know? Not all of that glow was from the stuff I sprayed in the air.”

I looked down at my fingers as they glowed bluely, what could I say? She was right.

“Anyways you’re probably going to have to rebuild your shield, time and time again as they tend to deteriorate frequently, particularly with beginners, like yourself.” She grinned and tapped me on the nose. “Once you get used to it, your subconscious will rebuild the shield as a matter of course, and, as well you have ME. I’m good at this sort of thing, and it’s not like you could hurt me if I don’t let you.”

I hugged her tightly, “Always nice to be indestructible, I don’t know why things are taking so long to heal, they broke my pelvis and I was walking, not very well, but walking in three days. It’s like I’m not getting enough of something.”

“You’re likely not sucking in enough electricity. The cage they put up to shield you from computers is limiting your intake. Heck, the body needs fuel to work, hence all the huge meals you eat. Like other Energizers, flaky or not,” she poked me gently, “some of my friends make your meals seem absolutely light in comparison.”

I closed my eyes for a moment, “Figures, its bad enough I can’t get out, but they want to starve me as well. If that is the right term for it.” I opened my eyes sorting out what she had said about eating, “How do you keep from starving to death if you miss um, a meal?”

“I don’t die if I stop eating and missing one meal won’t hurt me that much. My body will go into ‘Torpor’ I guess you could call it, an enforced state of sleep. Of course, I’d go psychotic with hunger and eat the first thing that came along a for awhile before that...”

I had to think about that considering my appetite, “An if I blank out from a lack of energy would the same thing happen with me? I mean people have some electrical power in them as well?”

“I don’t think you’re like me, Merry. You still eat regular food, right? I don’t. I think the electrical energy you suck in just powers your other abilities.”

I groaned, “Yeah, I eat and eat and eat.” I felt an odd smile form; “I used to think sports power bars would be the bane of my existence, now it’s bad hospital food.” I traced a small circle on Sara’s knee, “so do we start importing elephants to keep you going or buy up a huge cattle farm?”  I grinned and gave into my urge to nibble on her ear. “If you could have anything for X-Mass or your birthday. What would it be?”  

I felt her sigh as she rested her head on my shoulder, “What do I want?”  

“Yes, you. I mean if you don’t need money or power, what does one get you for a present?”

I toyed with the hem of her dress, “I, mean, you know. It’s kinda hard to shop for a girl who has everything.” I traced the lace that followed the edges of her skirt, delighting in the different textures then I purred into her ear, “I’d give you me, but you sort of have me already.”

“I, I don’t know myself. Books are good, but I have so many. And yes I have you any time I want you.” She smiled and kissed my cheek, “But what do I want? Once I would have said Power.”

I smiled and tweaked the underside of her knee, “I used to think the ultimate thing to have was a head start on the bullies.”

“No, the ultimate thing is having someone to love.” Sara stated with absolute certainty in her voice. 

I hugged her tightly then kissed her softly on the cheek, “I think you qualify then. I feel better when you are here or,” I tapped the mark on her head, “when I feel you. You are the only good thing that’s -really- happened to me since this whole mess started.”

She looked sad for a moment, “Good, but with a price, Merry. I wish I was like Nikki sometimes, she would have done all this and more and wouldn’t have charged you a thing.”

I raised her chin up slightly and kissed her firmly, “Every thing has a price, Nikki, whoever she is, just hasn’t dropped the bill on anyone yet. Or has she?”

Sara smiled, “I love you, Merry, I really do. I’m glad I gave you my mark, but... I can’t help but feel like I took advantage of you.”

With a small shrug I held up my left wrist watching the Rose flare into view, “You were what I needed when I needed it, sort of like Father Pete’s trick on me. If I were into Zen I’d say it was fate or someone’s plan. If so they are playing with fire. I -do- have this problem with authority figures.” I smiled wickedly, “Or so I am told.”

“Do you see me as an authority figure?”

I claimed her lips for a kiss then looked into her eyes, “Not like that. It’s, I dunno, it’s like we are partners in crime and I am the crazy sidekick or something. But that isn’t quite right, I never really had a real friend or friends for that matter, much less a peer or whatever fancy word they use now-a-days.” I traced the pattern of my ‘other’ mark touching each of the thorns, feeling each bump of raised flesh as it circled around the rose, “I am not a exactly a leader, but I’m not an ant. Does that make sense?”

“You’re an individual. You don’t want followers but you can’t exactly take orders like an ant.” She snuggled closer and kissed me.

I nodded slowly, “In some ways all this craziness was good for something: Chad always had to take it.” I paused to kiss her back, “its not orders that I can’t take, it’s the blind obedience my -family- wanted. Do this, don’t do that, suck up the pain and never show it. That kind of orders can take a merry jump to hell or wherever. I want to be free of that sort of thing. A new life, right?”

She seemed to soften somewhat, at times I wished that she never had to be wound so tightly, then she said. “I’ll never ask you to do something you don’t want to, ever. I promise.”

I held her tightly, “I know, it’s not you I worry about. Everyone else wants a part of me, so I just hope the right person has the controlling interest.” I giggled and I tickled her for a moment, “Thus far the chairwoman of the board has not failed me.”

Sara smiled weakly, “I’m sorry that I can’t be yours alone.”

I placed a finger on her lips then kissed her on the nose, “You said you had another wife, of which means sharing.” I shrugged slightly, “not to mention some furry fellow.”  I laughed as my eyebrows arched upwards, “is there a time share on your love or do I have to steal the moments when I can?”

Sara shook her head, “My love never abates, for any of my wives. As for my time, I regret that I have but one body to serve you.” Sara grinned for a moment, then she sobered, “they’ll love you as well, you know. Donna will like your fire and she’s as easy going as it gets. Hippie will take a little working on, but she’ll come to respect you. Gypsy can tell your fortune, she’s nice, but a little freaked out by the whole ‘loving another girl’ thing.”

As she named names I held up a finger for each one and wiggled them experimentally, “I am not sure I need my fortune told, there are moments I can pretty much guess which direction things will roll.” I cocked my head to look at the cameras, “So aside from these three, now four, or is it seven loves of yours if you count my merry menagerie? How do we pick days?”

“Well, it’s not like I have a formal schedule. Besides, we can double up occasionally,” She winked and batted at my fingers.

I giggled softly, “As long as I can touch them, perhaps.” Then I put a mock pout on my face, “To think, I’m not even a Mormon and I have extra wives or is it wives and a husband; what ever shall I do to keep you all in your places?”

“I can think of a few things. Give me a few weeks to perfect your technique and I’m sure you’ll be the next big thing at Poe.” Sara chuckled, though her eyes seemed slightly distant.

I snuggled against her, “As long as there is time enough for us, we can make it work. Though we seem to have our work cut out for us.”  I rubbed my nose for a moment, “Aside from a trip to Rome, a visit to a sneaky Pete. Not to mention the not as deceased as I would like him to be; Doctor Palm.” I glared at the assortment of boxes. “Magick, and I am not a mage.”

“Are you sure? Even if you aren’t genetically talented, anyone can learn magick. I can teach you.”

I chewed on my bottom lip for a moment, “Well maybe, if only to understand how he did his unsouling and to stop the reversal of it...” I felt myself grow still at an ugly thought, “Ug, if some one can unsoul themselves into something, can it be reversed?”

“If that’s all you want to know, then the answer is yes. Dr. Palm seems to have used a form of magicks based upon Numerology to manipulate his programs into artificial intelligences comparable to humans. My guess is that he broke his own soul down into an equation.”

~#Observation approaches one hundred percent in probability.#~ Added Mai with an odd tone in her voice, maybe it was hope.

For a moment I digested both comments and blinked trying to sort out why Mai might be hopeful, “Well I prolly should know more about it than ‘yes or no’, but that would take a true mage, rather than just a dabbler to bring him back?”

“Maybe, maybe not. Both Devisors and Gadgeteers have created machines capable of interacting with magickal laws. If he is a ghost in the machine, he could possess a psychometron with effort... though it’d have to be a BIG computer in a very small envelope. A mage would be useful, however, but he’d have to find someone crazy enough to help him.”

I though about the HAIT stuff that the PALM AI’s were ‘experimenting’ on. “Um, what if he made a mage or programmed one rather?”

“Then he’d have rather a weak Mage. Despite his genius, I doubt he’s up to such a stunt. His mind is still human, after all.”

I gave into the idle fear that was trying to make itself known with a shiver, “He might be closer than we’d like, I wish you could have seen the files we took out of that sewer.”

“Don’t worry. I promise you, he’s not ready to fight me.”

I hugged her fiercely, burying my face in her dress, “Good, I have enough monsters in my life as it is. I am not sure I am up to all of them.”

I sighed as her hand stroked though my hair, “Shhhh... Don’t be so hard on yourself, Circuit Breaker. My brave soldier, superb warrior, my champion. I know you weren’t made for war, but I know I can rely on you when the need calls. Such trust I offer to a mere handful of people, you know.”  

I felt her love for me rise up though the mark helping me to relax and eased from my tight hug slightly, then I rested my cheek on the silky fabric of Sara’s dress. “I have a lot to learn,” I closed my eyes and inhaled softly letting her perfume fill me for a moment. “I’ll never fail you, if there is will in my mind, love in my heart and someplace to call ‘home’.”

As Sara kissed me, I felt my neck grow warm and then I could feel her inside me for a moment letting her love flood through me. I felt my cheek rubbing against the silky fabric of her dress, my voice in a faint purr, “Are you leaking?”

Sara chuckled, “Am I? Even our most powerful shields are no barrier to the Mark. We are one in some ways, you know. Pain and Pleasure shared.”

I frowned suddenly worried I hurt her the other day, “I hope the ring’s Mark didn’t burn you too, it freaked out a lot of people in this place, if Chris is right.” I thought about a long list of things to talk about with the ‘Good Father’ and sighed, “I am gonna have a -long- talk with a certain Father Pete one of these days.”

“No pain that I’m not already used to,” Sara smiled, sliding her hand down to feel the curve of my thigh, then she maneuvered them us around so that I was sitting in her lap.

“Hopefully that is the worst surprise the ring gives me.” I studied the ‘tattoo’ dubiously, “Knightly Bequest indeed, more like a nightly rude surprise.”

“Did it tell you anything about me?” she asked.

I looked down into the mark then recited, “Kellith, daughter of Gothmog, while the head of a cult focused primarily on sex. The subject has displayed some dangerous abilities largely relating to her own self-defense. Not under observation at this time, threat to church, negligible.” I blinked at the oddness that the Rose’s Information then added in a bit that the Rose surrendered as if as in an after thought, “at this time.” Then I shook my head to clear the ‘weirdness’ out of it, “Um, yeah.”

Sara smiled wickedly then imitated Bugs Bunny, “They don’ know me wery well do they?” She took what seemed to be a forced breath, “As to Kellith, well, that possible me does not exist anymore.” She shook her head at my odd look, “She was my ‘potential’ dark side, they don’t have to worry about her any more, though I am stuck with that name in a very small regard.”

I felt an odd surge from the mark on my wrist and nodded to her, “Well I ‘think’ they are more worried that you would molest the Pope; than say rising out of some sealed place around Dunwich and eating people on some campus...” I blinked at that odd tid-bit of information the shook my head again, “this is going to take some getting used to.”

“You mean I can’t do that? Awww, nuts.” Sara asked with a wild smirk on her face. “Well there goes Tuesday...”

“I am fairly sure the Pope is a hands off issue, though if it was Pope Pious the First...” I rolled my eyes, “so many things about the church you never wanted to know.”

“Just as long as they know I don’t do horses... Not yet, anyway.” Sara winked.

I snorted with odd laugh, “So are you ranging into animals now or do Werewolves count as animals?”

“Noooo, -pish- Weres are my limit in this reality. Hmmm, I’ll have to find a were-kitty…”

With a sly smile I nudged her gently, “Did you call him to you saying ‘Here doggie doggie’?”

“Ooooh, yesss...” She smiled playfully, slipping her hand up the on my thigh and traced slow sensual circles there.

I shivered as she found ticklish spot then I snickered, “You may want to find a female Were-Kitty to play with, If I remember correctly, there is a bad joke about a male cat’s penis having spiky hairs on it...”

“This is why I generally have a try before you buy policy,” Sara laughed, “You were special, though.”

I wiggled involuntarily as she teased me, “I um, yeah,” I smiled wickedly, “I was hoping pretty hard for friends about the time you showed up.” I had to bite my lip hard for a moment, perhaps a bit to hard at a certain moment and I could taste copper, “If I was hoping ‘really’ hard would that have effected you, you know Empathy wise?”

“I don’t care. I fell for you the moment I saw you,” Sara bent over to suck at my lips, letting some of what she was tasting echo back through the link.

I wrapped my hands in her dress, holding tightly to her as she drank from my lips. Some where the memory of an old poem or some play drifted through me, “Drink of me, drown in my love, live forever queen of my heart.”

She held me in that kiss for a time, letting the feelings that emanated from within her echo through the mark, “Have I told you I love you today?”

We both startled slightly when the door opened to reveal a slightly dazed looking Kam, “Um, is this a bad time? Anyways Chris says her shield is ‘wobbling’ oddly.”

Sara laughed and tapped me on the nose, “Ok you, once more from the top.”

I sighed and reworked the sphere, when I opened my eyes again Kam was giving me a cat who ate the canary’s grin.

“So I see the rumors are true,” he said.

“Which rumors?” I asked.

“Oh that a certain young lady has being turning the place on it’s collective ear.”

I groaned as Sara poked at me, “Mea Culpa.”

“Oh she isn’t that bad Kam. At least she is a fast learner, a few years of practice and she’ll likely be able to dial up a phone without ‘having’ one in her hands. Or other fun tricks.”

‘Couple of years, wonderful.’ I shook my head at her pronouncement.

“Speaking of eating, the Doc wants to borrow you Miss. An’ I have several plates of haut’ cuisine fresh from out from our five star hospital kitchen.”

“Who was doing the ratings? The cockroaches?” I asked and made a gagging sound.

Sara smiled and pinched me on the uninjured side of my butt, “Off you. I need to find out what the Good Doctor needs.”

I reluctantly stood though Sara gave me a quick kiss on the cheek. I noticed that Kam was distinctly on the amused side of the world today, as he half danced around Sara to drop into one of the overstuffed chairs.

I gave him a crooked look, “And what has got you in such a fun mood?”

He just smiled like a fat happy cat, “Oh this and that.”

I shook my head and relocated my robe, “Either someone has been giving you my drugs or you are up to something.” 

Sara winked as she walked to the door, “Remember Merry, I’ll be around for a while today, and once I get a few gizmos that can bop you a good one if your shield drops…” She swept the box from the floor, “May be even a strong one that goes off randomly to ‘beat’ on your shield” She smiled, “To keep you on your toes and not ‘slacking’ on me.”

I stuck my tongue out at her, “Yes teacher.”

~^Promises, promises, now put that away before I really embarrass you,^~ she sent though the mark with a hint of primal heat.           

For a moment I stood there flat-footed then I ducked my head as I felt my face heat up.

Kam pointed a finger and me and smiled, “There are times I wish I was an telepath, I would have loved to know what made you turn that shade of blue.”

Sara looked at Kam like she was considering something wicked, and then Kam sat up abruptly and turned a very interesting shade of red.

“So Kam, I don’t think I have seen that colour of red since the first day you walked into my world…” I gave him a smirk then traced a hash mark in the air. “Point for me.”

Sara carefully stepped aside as a well-dressed man as he stepped out from Otto’s office, “Pardon me.” He offered in a soft baritone and an easy smile as he continued past. For a timeless moment he glanced at her, then he winked as if sharing a private joke, then his face blanked to a carefully neutral expression. Opening her senses slightly she noted that he was as nearly the black void as was Otto when he was shielding tightly.

“Ah Sara, do come in, and close the door.” Otto was watching the other man depart, and for a moment Sara could read his amusement though his normally closed shield.     

“Should I be worried?” she asked as she did so.

“Not as such, though I may offer a heartfelt ‘thank you’ from the rest of the staff.  Merry gets cranky when she has a headache and if she can keep her shield up…” He motioned to a chair as he walked to his office refrigerator. “Care for something?”

“I am doing ok. Merry’s, well,” she paused, “not happy here. Shield or not I don’t think she’s just going to settle for sitting idle too much longer.”

“That may be putting it mildly.” Otto observed as he set a fresh pot of water to boil for his tea. “Willard and I were having an interesting discussion about Merry and the Church.”

“Was that him?” she asked motioning to the door.

“Yes, a pleasant person, if a bit cavalier at times.” Otto chuckled as he sat. “If we worked together for an extended period of time I might develop some irritation at that trait.” He shook his head, “I think his entire company is a bit too wild for my tastes.”

“You are far too comfortable at times Otto.” She considered the image of Otto aside a horse with both barrels blazing from a shotgun with a grin.   

“You are chipper today.”

“Well aside from the odd memory drift at times, now that Merry is mostly safer, I suppose I am.”

“How did things go for you yesterday?”


“Oh, I don’t know pick an event.”

She frowned for a moment, “Is this a session?”

“Perhaps,” he said with a smile.

“Well the academic side is more or less situated, if not a bit oddly set.”


“The surprise from Merry and the Ring was interesting.”

“How so?”

“Well I was amazed at the level of pain Merry could tolerate.”

“The human body is amazing in what it can endure or do if motivated.” He glanced over to the pot that was wasn’t boiling yet. “Eighty year old grandmothers moving cars off of kids for instance.”

She nodded teasing the red lock of her hair for a moment. “I am not sure the Church is ready for her though. ‘Trouble with authority figures,’ now that may be an understatement.” She glanced at the shock of red hair in her fingers. “In some ways I was hoping the ring would have rejected her.”

“And yourself by proxy?” he asked neutrally.

She considered that for a silent moment, “I am not sure I count. If you were to ask the ‘Right Reverend Englund’ I am sure there is a handy stake ready for my burning someplace. Followed by the pits of hell.” She glanced down at the slight crackling of wood as she unconsciously had nearly splintered the arm of the chair, “Sorry.”

“You don’t like him?”

“No, but then he wants me dead or worse. It makes it difficult to like anyone under those circumstance.”

“True.” He arose to walk to the pot, turning it off, as he went about making a fresh cup of tea, “if it is any consolation, I do not think all of the Church is like that.”

“As long as I don’t ‘molest’ the Pope?”  

Otto chuckled. “There is that,” he conceded. “Truthfully do you see yourself at odds with the Church or God as a whole?

“It depends on what your concept of ‘God’ is.” She examined a splinter of wood, counting the individual cells that made it up, then dropped it to the floor. “If you consider a creative force in the universe as god, then no. But then I might be considered a creative force in the universe.”

“Difficult to worship yourself?” he asked as he continued in making his cup.

“Some people don’t have that problem,” she observed with a grimace of distaste.

“True, true,” he acknowledged after testing his tea. “Would you say Merry worships you?” he asked returning with the cup to his chair.

Before she could speak he held up his hand, “Think. Do not react, please.”

She frowned at him then sat back in the chair, “She seems to love me.”

“Seems, you have your doubts?”

“Not from the kiss she gave me today.”

“So the doubts are in yourself?”

She reached up to touch the red lock of hair then dropped her hands to her lap. “I do not know.”

“I’ll take that as a yes?”

With some reluctance she nodded, “I find myself worrying that it isn’t real, that it is my will influencing hers.”

Otto nodded and relaxed into his chair. “Is it?”

“I wish I could say for sure that it was not.”

“Well, if it is any consolation, I have been considering that question myself.”


“Yes,” he sipped at his cup of tea then tapped a folder, “Chad’s mental profile if you will. In some ways he had almost been programmed to love or care for anyone who expressed real affection or concern for his well being.”

She frowned, “As if I don’t have enough reason to be suspicious of myself.”

“No, actually I think it’s a reason to not be suspicious of yourself, in this case. The things parents do to their kids in the act of raising them, if Merry’s wasn’t such a sensitive case, it’d be an interesting case study for publication.”  He turned the cup idly in his hands, “As it is, I may be at fault for pushing you both together.”

“So who is doubting now?” she asked wryly.

“Oh what is done is done,” he smiled. “Though I might lay that at another’s feet.”

“Otto there are times you are more of a fortune cookie than psychiatrist,” she shook her head with an exasperated sigh.  

“I know.” He shook his head, “Sorry, this week has been a trial hasn’t it?”

“In so many ways,” she sighed with some exasperation.

He watched her for a moment and then said, “I have an odd bit of news for you.” He took a sip from his cup and placed it on the desk carefully.

She regarded him for a moment, “I am not sure I want to know. But lay it on me.”

“You know those thugs you ‘roughed’ up?”


“They are suing you.”


“There is a sacredness in tears. They are not the mark of weakness, but of power. They speak more eloquently than ten thousand tongues. They are messengers of overwhelming grief...and unspeakable love.” - Washington Irving

“Please forgive me I don’t think I’m the same, reconnect me and program back the haze. No way I could ever be the same, if I could have one day to sweep this all away. I’d find a million ways to feel nothing, I’d find a million ways to be free, and everything I’ve lost would mean nothing. And everything I am would be me.”1 Day - Lo Pro

My meal had come and gone without much in the way of comments from Kerry, so I suppose she was happy that I ate well. Part of me was still ‘hungry’ and it gnawed at me somewhat. I really wish they’d let me top up on electricity. I so wanted to have that hunger ‘gone’, not to mention that if Sara was correct, I’d heal up faster too.

I was happy that Sara was going to spend some more time with me today, though I had a hunch I’d have to share her more often with the Doc. In some ways that ‘sharing’ didn’t seem fair, but considering the Doc held the keys to my freedom… Something of which I was beginning to wonder about, as he seemed to like rules entirely too much for my taste.

~:Can’t have absolute anarchy, though we did wish ‘something’ had happened on New Years Eve between Nineteen-Ninety-nine  and Two Thousand. Talk about a non-event, though I thought the fireworks were cool,:~ said Chad.

~/’Way cool,’/~ commented Chaddy.

I wasn’t sure when I fell asleep, though I did dream about fireworks and a slightly happy Fourth of July, though something was missing then. When I awoke to find Sara snuggled up against me I felt much better about the day. “Hey cute one.”

“Hey yourself, ‘Sparky’,” she kissed me deeply. “Now shield up, and get used to the idea for a time. Every time you wake up, expect to and get in the habit of shielding.”

I kissed her again and closed my eyes to ‘press’ the button again. “Slave driver.”

“Oh just wait it will get worse, besides think of all the booby prizes you’ll rack up over time.”

I opened my eyes to see her smiling down on me. “And when can I expect to collect?”

“Oh, sooner or later.” She teased my hair lightly with her fingers, “We will have to find a way to color this, maybe all red or all black, the ‘Blue’ in it sort of screams that it is you.”  

I sighed and snuggled up against her feeling her legs against mine, enjoying the feel of her fingers in my hair and elsewhere.

At least I was until Chad decided he had to ask awkward questions and ruin it for me. “Oh, gods Chad, not now.”

“Oh, let the boy speak for a bit. I’ve got to live with all of you after all.”

For a moment I felt our face wander through a variety of expressions before wandering right into pained embarrassment. “I think Merry’s been paying too close to my ‘attitude’ lessons.”  For a moment he toyed with the gown, “I am not sure how to ask this.”

Sara smirked, “Shoot from the hip, Chad.”

He blinked once then colored deeply, “Um, are you on the um,... umm.” He reached up and ram his hand through his hair nervously. “Onthepillortheshot?” he fairly rushed out with one rapid breath.

Sara looked at him a moment before breaking out into a complete fit of giggles.

He blinked once then his head dropped down in shame, “I am so screwed aren’t I?”

“No! No, Chad, not at all,” Sara continued as she chuckled, “but I’m afraid what I have to tell you about that is going to freak you out a little.”

He frowned and seemed to sink into himself somewhat, “Oh, you’re pregnant? Right?”

Sara shook her head, “No I’m not. But I’m not on the pill either.”  

His frown twisted oddly, for an instant he seemed greatly relieved then he shook his head to clear it. “Um, I guess I might be shooting blanks, I mean they did screw everything up.”

Sara shook her head again, “You aren’t. I can choose whether or not I get pregnant or impregnate someone. See, Chad, Merry, all of you. I can implant eggs into girls as well though, and no birth control can ever stop me.”

I felt Chad duck back as he reeled with that bit of information; I felt my face frown as I ‘surfaced’, “So um, you can choose when and if, I or you would get pregnant?”

Sara nodded, and then she smirked, “By each other, yes. Don’t go blaming me if you get Kam pregnant, ok?”

I snorted then blew a loud raspberry, “He’s um, a bit old for me I think. Not to mention can you imagine how much pain he’d be in if he survived my um.” I felt my face supernova and my fingers even glowed brighter as the lights flickered; even with my shield being up. Somehow I managed to not quite squeak out the word: “Orgasm.”

“Would you like another?” Sara asked with a chuckle, “Orgasm is just a word, Merry. No need to fear it any more, I won’t punish you for taking pleasure from a ‘sin’ or any of that rot people have filled your head with over the years. Besides,” Sara smiled mysteriously, “there is a fringe benefit that men like about me in particular.”

I took a deep breath and relaxed completely, “Fringe benefit?” I asked taking a hold of her hand. “You have another trick?”

She poked me, “Shielding?” she asked, then I head a click and I about jumped out of my skin as a wave of energy was sucked into me.

“Evidently not,” I sighed and reworked the shield.

Sara leaned closer, “There is a fringe benefit of being a regenerator, my virginity grows back. Every time with me is like the first time.” She kissed me on the nose, then she leaned around to lick the Mark, sending an overwhelming wave of pleasure through the link.

I shivered under the intense rush of pleasure and I sighed with delight.

There was a click and I was jolted again, she smirked down at me, “Shield sort of goes away quickly does it not, when you’re distracted?”

“You can distract me all you want,” I countered with a smile.

“You’re sweet, but the shield has to stay up, though I admit I did cheat just then. The Mark we share is invasive, a part of you and me, so much so that I could make you only aware of me and nothing else. Though only when you want me too.” She smiled with a hint of worry, “Though I do slip sometimes, too.”

“You said you were a guy until only a few months ago?” As she nodded I smiled, “Well you’ve only been a Goddess for a few months, I suppose I can let it slide, this time…”  

I watched her face contort briefly, “Oh you!” She then kissed me with crooked smile on her face. “I think ‘Sparky’ suits you, if only in the way you can zing people.”

“Yep, just ask Kam. Though I think he is a few points ahead still.”

“So,” she tapped me on the nose, “from what I dug out of your medical records, you probably will regenerate your ‘virginity’ as well.”

“I’m not sure if I can do that or not, I think the nurse said it was possible. But if it’s like anything else it’d take power.” I started to giggle madly for a few moments, “I guess that makes us possible for Immaculate Conception, though I am not sure if it’s physical virginity or mental that makes you a Saint these days.”

“Actually, I believe that the prerequisite for Immaculate Conception is pregnancy without sex. Talk about dull.”

For a moment I blinked, then snickered, “Only if you don’t count masturbation. Seriously, Chaddy needs to wander back though Sex Ed. I have to have a shot so I don’t -accidentally- make myself preggers.” Sara nudged me with a finger then drew a line down my leg, and then I asked “So do you have to worry about that too, or is it just us poor hermaphrodites?”

Sara shrugged appearing semi-lost in thought, “I doubt it. Technically, I guess you could call me Omni-sexual. Ergh, I’m dreading Spring.”

I pondered that for a minute, “Oh gods Spring, allergies, pollens... um… So should I start calling you Zhan, like from Farscape?”

“Still,” Sara laid her hand on my stomach and smiled, squeezing my hand in her other one, “I glad you’re more in danger from me than yourself.”

I sighed, “I don’t think you’d hurt me, Otto’s got his head on backwards. I don’t know why, but every time he looks at me, I swear he’s looking to see if I am getting fat.” I paused, “ I am not even an empath, but talk about a getting rude vibe.

“Well, it’s one of the things I do, Merry. Grandmother was the principle of Fecundity itself; Dad’s rather a horn-dog himself, though I am an only child. One day, when you’re ready, you can bear my children. Heh, we could even make an event of it and both get knocked up by each other at the same time. I wonder if the kids would be twins? Hmmm...”

I lay pondering the concept for a long moment, “Well when I am ready for it, hopefully I won’t have people out to kill me or hurt you by taking the kids. It’d be bad enough if they found Joni...”

“Don’t worry about her. Remember my promise? I’ve got Dad’s people looking out for my Sister-in-law as we speak.”  

I tilted her head to look at her neck then tasted it briefly, “Sister in Law? Oh, right, we’re ‘Married’ kinda.  Though I am kinda young, unless of course this was Georgia. “ I giggled once, then frowned as Chad asked what our new birthday was. “Oh jeeze, I don’t even know if they ‘kept’ my birthday close to my real one.” I felt like an idiot for not making sure to read the ID’s better.

“Does it matter?” Sara leaned over to lick at the Mark again, then she sang softly, “Let’s all congratulate us with another cup of tea, a very merry unbirthday to you. Now statistics prove that you’ve one birthday. Imagine just one birthday every year, ah, but there are three hundred and sixty-four unbirthdays every year. Precisely why we’re gathered here to cheer.” *(From: Alice In Wonderland, Music: Sammy Fain, Lyrics: Bob Hilliard)

I had to giggle at that, “Seems my life is very much like Alice’s. So three hundred and sixty-four unbirthdays and one real one… I suppose every day is a party for some folks. Still it leaves me with the age problem, for records and what not.”

“So pick one and make it your own. Be who you want to be... look how you want to look. You’ll need a different appearance, you know?”

“I guess this me will have to die too, like they killed Chad so that Merry could be alive. I suppose I will have to figure out a whole new life and death and write it into the net as well. At this rate I could make a fortune by simply giving people new identities.”

“It’s a hobby,” Sara smiled ruefully, “I don’t have much choice of professions. Goddess seems to be a full-time job.”

I lifted our joined hands to my lips and kissed hers, “I could die hundreds of times if you were there for me. So my love, what does a Goddess do when she wants a day off?”  

Sara sighed, “I don’t seem to get days off or time in lieu. Mostly I spend the moments I get to myself snuggling with those I love.” She kissed me again, gripping her tightly, seemingly on the verge of tears, “I... I don’t know what to make of myself, Merry. What do I do now?”

I slid an arm her neck puling her closer to kiss her, “Well, I expect that with all things we’ll have to figure that out as we go along.  You are not alone, you have all of us, and your other wives, I am sure we could find a way to drive you to distraction.” I motioned to the room, “I’d steal you away from all of this and show you my world in depth. We just have to work with what we have.”

Sara smiled as she relaxed into the crook of my arm, “I’m sorry, Merry, I always did get a bit beat up over the meaning of my existence. Overactive brain, you know?”

I paused breathing in her scent for a moment, “Carpe’ Juglarium. Take life by the neck and nibble or something like that.” I flipped the camera off with a lazy sweep of my free arm. “Tell the universe to go screw itself. If I spent every second reliving all the fuck ups and miss-steps,” I used my free hand to make a ‘screws loose’ motion near my ear. “I’d be really bug fuck, rather than just crazy.”

Sara raised one eyebrow, and then flicked me sharply on the nose with her finger, “Almost funny. You said that if I don’t get to talk down about myself, the same goes for you. If we both keep that up, the two of us might just get sane within the millennium.”

I rubbed my nose for a moment, “Kay, deal. So what did you do for your evening yesterday? I had Kam to talk to, but Kam was sorta wound out from his tests yesterday.” I snorted, “He was no fun at all, but those sort of tests messed with me too.”

“Homework,” Sara rolled her eyes, “I’m trying to get a new trick down pat.”

I erupted in giggles, “Goddesses do home work?”

“Being psychic is a lot of hard work, and shielding and things takes practice,” she prodded my stomach playfully, “as you just found out, little miss Sparky.”

I batted playfully at her hand, “Is your teacher as cute as mine?”

“Judge for yourself,” Sara grinned. Her body warped and shifted momentarily, then a tallish, young, blonde girl of about twenty years sat up in Sara’s place. The young woman spread her arms and stretched provocatively, “Well?”

I smiled then paused to admire her ‘handiwork’, “Hmm, A bit old for me, but Chad thinks if this is one of our wives, well.” I felt myself blush again, “I, sheesh, insulated condoms... good grief.” I shook my head, “You as, you; suits me so much better.” As she lay back against me I snuggled closer, “I know it’s you in there, so the outside doesn’t matter, but I think I like you as ‘you’, much better.”

Sara fell back into her true form, “I’m sort of glad, really. Doing that takes a little bit of concentration still. I haven’t managed to do clothes yet, but that’s for the future. Actually, the trick I’ve been working on is changing other people... slightly.”

I felt my eyebrows try to reach my hairline, “Changing people slightly. How slightly?” I asked.

“Well, remember that trick I did when we first met? I joined with your nervous system so that I could live in your memories. Now imagine that people are bits of code or programs and reality is a network...”

 That pronouncement made me blink, “People as Code. Well that would account for Mai and Clu.”

“It’s a very complex language, it’s taking everything I have to work it out. Healing your bloody nose is the best I can do for the moment. Later, I might be able to seal wounds over, stop bleeding... or anything at the higher levels.”

I thought about how I worked now, with computers. “I guess I have the advantage on you there, all I have to know is what machine something is on, and the rules it has to follow and then presto-chango.”  I felt myself frown, “It’s almost instinctive, some things have a pattern and then you lay your pattern over it and stuff changes.”

“When you think about it, Merry, computers are much more simple than people. I envy my mage friends, as they do exactly that. I have to know what and why I’m doing something before I can tweak it.”

I nodded slowly, ‘Yeah ‘puters are pretty much all-alike, humans and folks like us are really complex. Too bad I can’t write you a simulation and drag you into the net to practice it until you felt good with it. As it is I have to write one for speaking Chinese, one day. I would think that if magick follows rules, it could be programmed with a ‘puter, but that’d be a fancy trick.”

“Better yet... I have an idea.” Sara closed her eyes as I watched and an odd sensation rose up from the Mark and our joined hands.

In the semi-haze of the moment I heard an odd click and I let my eyes droop as a familiar electronic rush rose up to seize me, “Sooo...”  

I felt her move in the digital rush with me, “I am sure that I am going to catch hell for this if they found out,” she whispered.

“Found out what?” I asked in the same hushed tone, though to my ears it felt like the room had quadrupled in size.

“I had a devisor friend build a toy for us, a really small computer. It doesn’t do much. But from what Mai said to me Thursday, it doesn’t have to be really powerful, just fast.” 

Opening my eyes I found us in cyberspace, it took me a minute to fully realize this was a Net. And to squelch the urge to shout in pure joy. I pirouetted slowly and came to a stop facing her. Convinced it was real, I nodded to her beaming smile and floated in the air above the electronic sea, “Not exactly the Net I am used to, but so-o-o nice.” I let myself flow with it for a moment breathing it in and out for a time.

Sara smiled, “Welcome to Sara’s Micro Net.” She gave me a critical once over, her eyes gleamed with warmth then she licked her lips, “Do you normally run around naked in the Net?” 

I looked down at myself and chuckled, “So very few people see me here.” I smiled and clothed myself, the lines in my clothing coming alive and they briefly highlighted the lightning bolt that rests above my left breast, “It’s me.”  I dropped down to stand on the sea.

“I like, how did you do this?” she asked

“It’s a computer, I think and it is so.” I smiled, “Admittedly I don’t have how I do it figured out. I just ‘do it’.”

Sara grinned, “Care to try to write some code, my High Priestess?”

I smiled, “High Priestess, well then as your Priestess: The first thing my Goddess needs for the net is her own set of ‘real’ weapons. I can’t get you from here into the net, by myself; yet.  But you don’t need the Net to ‘Hack’, I was pretty damned good before all this.” I motioned with my hands to indicate the ‘Net’.

“More than pretty damned good, from what NEXT thought of you ‘before’ your change.” She shook her head, “Now I on the other hand am getting to be ‘good’.” She smirked, “I fried a server in class one day, catastrophic meltdown.”

 “Sounds like fun,” I laughed, “must be nice to have a ‘class’ for that.” I shrugged, “I don’t know, maybe it’s a good thing I am self taught, think what sort of mayhem I could instill with a structured class in Hacking? No on second thought I am sure they would not like to know.” Then I smirked.

“Would it really help you?” she asked looking at thoughtfully. “The classes, I mean?”

I shrugged, “Possibly, you can never know too much about system architecture. Though given the fact that NEXT, and others likely watch those classes. It may be best if I just stole your notes.”

She frowned at that pronouncement, “So what are you going to write for me?”

I lifted my legs to sit in a lotus a good foot above the water. Before my hands a blue screen formed for me, the water reflecting a second larger screen behind me. “All my code is yours, I give you the keys to my digital world.”

With that I closed my eyes and ‘dumped’ everything to the computer that had been working out in my head to kill time. The hard drive wasn’t that big so I had to spend some time making a compressed storage module for it. I looked up to watch the code flow out and to it. As everything seemed to work, I sped it up until everything was in place then I put the commands on the screen. “This is what I have been toying with, in my head, while trying to fill my spare time. It may be a bit slower for you than me, but once the code is uploaded to ram; the execution speed is the same as your processors speed.”

Sara blinked, then looked away, holding her temples.

I floated over to her slowly, “I’m sorry, I didn’t mean to hurt you, I guess I got carried away.”

When I was close Sara lashed out, grabbing my arms, “More. I need more...”

I was startled at the suddenness Sara’s movement, “More code? Tell me what you need and I can write it the only limit is my imagination, and time.”

Sara leaned forward and planted a kiss firmly on my lips, her tongue snaking inside, then down, deep inside me. Bits of code started flashing though my brain, information in its purest form, as if Sara was cycling through my brain’s hard drive at the speed of light.

I froze motionless for moment then I slowly lifted my hands to rest them on Sara’s hips then slid them around to cling tightly in a hug, in that frozen moment of time I held her tightly, “E-a-s-y, s-l-o-w-e-r.”

The flood slowed slightly, but another, desperate, message seeped though, “M-u-s-t F-e-e-d.”

Mai shifted into the digital existence to stand next to us, pressing her hands between us trying to ease us apart, “Data transfer protocol is harmful with primary construct Merry, construct Mai has no such limitation and is stored in parity, no loss of data. Reproductive transference?”

Sara tore herself away from me, though half closed eyes I watched and felt her fighting every instinct and reflex of her body. In the microseconds of the moment of pulling herself from my mind and my lips; Mai slipped in between us, her touch a distracting sensation that helped Sara switch targets.

Mai allowed Sara’s tentacle-like tongue into her mouth easily, unresisting as Sara pressed their bodies together, grasping her tightly. Once again, images flittered washed through the Mark of myself as Mai and into the Demon Princess, the haze of the transference tugged at me through the Mark and I felt a deep exhaustion start to flow into me, then it abruptly stopped.

As they moved to the surface of the ocean, Sara’s hold on Mai slackened off and after a moment the ‘kiss’ stopped and the two eased back, both of them breathing deeply. Mai reached over to pull me into the embrace of the semi-entwined pair. She then whispered into Sara’s ear, “Share, she needs to see what is hidden.”

Wincing as if a particularly cantankerous boil had just been lanced, I felt Sara let down a particular barrier in her head.

 I watched Mai wince, then she hugged us both to her, “You both have hidden spots you need to remember.”

Around us pair of images formed, one seeming to spur on the other. I turned to look at one scene as Mai turned us to where they rested on the electronic sea. I felt my chest tighten sharply and I glanced to see what was unfolding before us.

 It was nighttime in a small clearing where a group of children are standing, mixed amongst a taller group of men. The voices are angry, and filled with a dogma of mixed scriptures and hate filled ideologies. A flag is illuminative briefly by lightning, one side a bible on the other a sword.  Men were leading small units of boys in neat formations to muster around the flag.

This continued for a few moments and the circle opens where a youth is drug in by a roped that is tied around his neck. The boy has obviously been beaten...

The landscape of the net shifted to show this scene in all its horrific detail. Sara, Mai and I were hidden slightly at the edge of the forest.  For a moment the boy looks ready to bolt and run, then the groups closes encircle the boy and the sounds of flesh striking flesh was be heard amongst exhortations of the man leading the group for the others to join in.

  For a moment the space between us opens to where we could see the boy looking directly at us, then off to one side lay Chaddy watching from under a bush. In that moment something pushes into Chaddy, though we could hear it too, dimly.

 ~’I love you, now forget me and run, hide!’~  Chaddy sits dazed as they lift the boy up and slip a noose around his neck.

~’Go, run, you have to protect Joni now.’~ Then there was a sharp jerking sensation that is felt by Chaddy and us; then darkness dropped on the scene.

For a moment we were huddled together then Sara was there hanging limply from the noose.

I saw her open her eyes, and dimly I felt the noose slowly choking the life from her. Ignoring the pain, I could feel her concentrating all her might on the rope overhead, the molecules in the hemp, and then there was a flame burning the rope from the inside out.

The noose dealt with, her mind took the slack of gravity from their small body, letting her drift to the ground. The men gasped, taking a step back, the children hiding behind them.

At the edge of the woods I saw a Chaddy crying softly trying to erase what has happened from his eyes. I stood numbly as he stood up and started to run, occasionally hitting a tree in haste to be far from the scene. In a soft voice that carries over every thing is the word “No,” which he repeated over and over as he tried to find his way to safety.

One of the men tried to step forward, then stopped in his tracks, Sara’s red glare meeting his. With a shriek, he clutched his head in pain for no apparent reason, blood leaking from every orifice before he died. For some reason, none of the children ran as Sara decimated the men, one by one or in groups, it didn’t matter. Running or not, none of it mattered.  

Stepping up to the huddled, crying, children, Sara smiled. Not saying a word, one by one each child crawled to her to kiss her hands and feet, seemingly to beg forgiveness.

I stood up and walked to where one of the men lay dead, “So how long before he hangs Joni?” I kicked the familiar body one, then twice, “So much for protecting your family. I guess that only counts if you are pure.” With a shiver I turned to look up at the tree where the wisp of rope hung smoking slightly yet. I tried to feel, to make sense of it, to make sense of it all. But I felt nothing.

“We’ve gotten a bit tangled up...” I looked over to Sara hearing some confusion in her voice, “Memories wise, me and you.”

I looked to where Mai was resting, then to Sara who was surrounded by frightened children.  “I lost all of this, I didn’t want to remember loosing him.”

Sara was standing in a small huddle with the children, some dressed in bed sheets, some not, all of them looking lost and confused. I felt her need to speak so I waited.

“It started simply enough. A game Michael played with his friends. They’d dress up in bed sheets and Michael would ‘bless them’ and ‘initiate’ them in the ways of Kellith. It all seemed so innocent until the spells started working.” She motioned to the body I had kicked, “Did he hang your brother?”

“Yes, my oh so beloved Uncle, he killed Mark. And I ran away, in more than one way it seems.” I closed my eyes and held myself tightly with both arms, my spine half bowed in forgotten pain and memories; “Mark used to tell me stories at night, so that I could sleep.”

I felt Sara’s love for me then her touch and the children swamped me in a great hug, as if it were the only thing they could do. Dimly I heard her speaking as I tried to hide all of this again, and failing.

“When I was conceived, there were two of us, Michael and I. As twin eggs are sometimes wont to do, we merged into one being, but with two BITs. I watched over him. I was the strong one, you see. We were one person, yet Michael wanted to be me.”

I wrapped one of my arms around Sara as the other arm was grasped by the children. I looked to her face and then her eyes, “Mark’s eyes changed while at camp, though they were all green. He told me he was going away, but they caught him.” I watched as the bodies turn to dust and a wave took them to be swallowed up by the blue.

 “Then the lies started.” I pointed to a camp shelter that looked like it was made to educate, “They would stand there at the pulpit…” I closed my eyes for a moment then swallowed, “and say that if you were afraid to not run away like Mark did. To not run off to the big cities and get swallowed up by the Satanists.” I looked back to Sara, “They would stand upon his body and lie.”   

She was shaking in anger and sorrow, behind us was a beach house that burned fiercely, great gouts of flame among the black nights sky. “I killed them all... I would kill them all... I’d hunt them all down and... and...”

I freed my other arm from the children and wrapped it around Sara, “Hunt who down, those men or others?”

I was not sure if she heard me or was lost in her own hell of memories, then she spoke. “Kill them all, if they want a hell, I can give it to them a special hell just for them. But I don’t want... I would take their souls, and they can rot in the dead Citadel of Kellith. But I hate killing.”

I nodded pressing my face against her back, “They taught me how to kill, to be like them, to parrot their sayings.” I motioned to the woods and they fade out to be replaced by a shooting range, “Year after year, I learned how to shoot, to pretend to see things their way.” For a blurred moment Chad was shown, shooting, climbing, running ahead of a small army of boys a Guidon streaming above him, the flagged staff in his hands.  

That image faded out to be replaced by a doctors office where the doctor is talking softly “... tonsils can regrow.” Said the man in medical whites to Merry’s father.  

“But I expected it, the change that is, especially when my scars faded out abruptly one day.”  I looked at her arm then my legs, “I had to hide that from them. Then the headaches and my own lies started.”

Sara clenched tightly at my arm, for moment I could see Michael in a mirror, in the side of car windows a tiny smile on his face. “Michael and I integrated. But my BIT was the stronger, so it slowly strangled his over course of twenty-five years. Our minds were shared for so long, we came to think of each other as different people. But we weren’t, not really, sort of like you and Mai.”

For a time she was silent then the surrounding changed to show a man looking up from a bed at the ceiling, seemingly lost in thought. “We’d play games in our head, creating a picture of who we wanted to be. The person you see now. But, new information changed the picture. We don’t just want to be that person any more. I’d like to be a part of you as well, you and the others.”

I smiled and nodded rubbing my head and face against her shoulder, “I would give you any part of me you wanted, even the part that lets me kill when I need to. But that part of me worries people, Mai isn’t the sociopath: I am or was. The only thing that makes us different from them,” I waved my hand to where a self-righteous group of men stood shouting mutely. “Is that we want to be good. Not evil. We want to stop them, to punish them, so they can’t do it any more.”

I let her pull to the front and she kissed me, “Together, always together. Together we can be stronger.”

I nodded and rested a hand on her chest over her heart, “My heart is your heart, your heart is mine, let no one stand against us.” For a long time we stood silently letting our tears fall amongst our kiss.

For a time we just drifted from one happy memory to the next, walking in the woods, dancing among the ocean waves. Both of us was trying to banish the dark shadows in our life. It slowly became a game, she give me a memory and I’d create it, then giving her one of mine in trade. No set order or rhythm just the bright spots. In a spate of mischief I dressed her as a twin to me, though in red. 

I smiled wickedly, just enjoying at how she filled out a red version of my outfit. “Red suits you.” I told her then smiled as a mirror rose up to show the two of us, “If Blue sees you like this he’s definitely going to be in lust.”

Sara blinked at her reflection. Her outfit looked much like Merry’s, only criss-crossed red lines over black. The lines traced across her skin, radiating from her eyes, the lock of red hair on her forehead glowing the same color. “Er, wow.”

I smiled, “Yeah, wow.” Then I rose up on my toes to tease a strand of her hair over slightly, “All you need is a flashy code name.” I had a bad case of the giggles and I jumped high up into the air, doing a slow motion summersault before touching back down lightly, “Neo is taken, I think. But then, that’s a Guy’s name, you need one suitable for a goddess.” I grinned impishly, “Arc, however, is taken too.”

Sara sighed, “I seem to be collecting names. Honeytrap is my alias from Hacking Theory. Though it doesn’t really fit this image. Caramilla’s my code name at school.”

I nodded lifting my arm and dropping majestically, “I gain names and I loose them. Though Arc is one I chose, more for conformity, than necessity. Everyone like us needs to be distinct.”  As Sara stood looking in the mirror lost in her own thoughts, I grinned and folded my legs up into a lotus, “And some how I expect you will choose wisely.” I glanced over to see her looking at me. “What’s on your mind?” I asked.

“Code names, I was trying to remember what I saw in the Federal Code Name Registry. You did say everyone needs a name.”

I watched my suit flare with an angry blue light and I shined brightly for a moment, “So very true, though there is no registration for people like us, in the Net. I mean would you really want the Feds to have -that- bit of information.”

“Not for THIS identity, no. But superhero names are ex-pen-sive to register, I think Caramilla might just be a nice, viable, public face for us to work with.”

I made a face, “I think I would prefer to remain anonymous, being known isn’t healthy for me.”

Sara skipped over to hug me, “Not yet. On the other hand, if I can bury myself in false identities and names, finding me will be that much harder... I can work all sides off against the middle. Ever play Dis-chess?”

I shook my head then shrugged, “I saw it played once, someone demo’ed it at school. They were trying to get the school to spring for it so that we’d compete.”

“Well, I’ll have to teach you how to play sometime. I have a feeling you’d be a challenging opponent, my love,” Sara snuggles up to me, a vicious gleam in her eye, “how about Virus?”

I grinned at her, “The guys at my school would not let me play after a while, as I owned them every game that I played. But then, I did it for real, they just -played-.

“Hmmm...” Sara looked distracted a moment, “it’s so easy... so malleable...” Then she looked at me, “I wonder if I could learn to do this?”

I rolled my eyes, “I bet you say that to all the girls.” I turned to float upside down relative to her, “And maybe, considering that Blue does it somehow. So maybe once you figure out its rules.” I shrugged “In the mean time you can hitchhike with me when you need to, but then, the only thing you have to remember is whose projection you need to follow, in any one instance. “ I looked down then up, “For instance, the floor is that way.” I laughed and pointed to the direction my legs are hanging.

Sara fell then she caught herself on her hands before the ‘floor’ could hit her head, then arced her back over gracefully to place her feet on the floor, “Neat. Very much like astral space.”

“Hours of endless fun and amusement. Still, if it’s like this ‘Astral Stuff’,” I rolled my eyes. “It’s all perception and will.  Though sometimes you have to use code to achieve the effect you want.”

“Hmmm, targeting, assimilation and procreation of viruses in networks,” she seemed to muse half aloud.

“Sounds fun, but that sounds like you are quoting from a text book. If you want to get ahead of the game, think biology, not code. You do have a ‘tool kit’ to work from you know.”

“Merry, you know me,” Sara tapped her head and snickered, “biology’s always on my mind.”

I stood up and hugged her, “I know, and your biology is wonderful.” I motioned to the screen that I had pulled up a few minutes ago. “Doctor Palm, was able to become so dangerous in that his ‘Palms’ were more a living thing than raw code.  If I read his notes right, partially in order to write them, he used a rite.”

After a moments pause she frowned and said, “Wonderful.”

“That’s what I thought too,” I offered with grimace.

One moment we were in the Net, then suddenly I found myself looking up at a very -angry- looking Doctor Otto, then his gaze turned to focus on Sara. “Do I want to know why that is in here?” He was pointing down to Sara’s hand where a small rectangle was resting.

I felt Sara sigh in annoyance then she disconnected us, but not before I felt a hint of anger and amusement spring forth. “Gee Pee-Tee, I haven’t seen you this pissed since the day after I got you very drunk and laid that time in New England.” She commented to him with a very wicked smirk on her face.

I saw him take an abrupt u-turn in his attitude though his facial expressions were very interesting. “We need to talk,” he said after a long moment.

“Oh goody,” I commented sarcastically.

“Not you,” he gave me a pained expression then pointed his finger at Sara, “her.”

“No good deed ever goes unpunished, so Pee-Tee. What do I have to do to get you to lighten up? Get you good and drunk once more?” she asked him while slowly standing up.

He looked at me, then Sara, “I am not having that conversation here.” 

“Darn.” I stood and walked to the open door, “Feel free to use the room though,” I took a few more steps.

“Mer-ry…” he half growled at me.

“What?” I asked, innocently taking another step to the door.

I heard him sigh, “Child, today is not a good day for ‘antics’.”

I could feel Sara’s amusement through the Mark, and then she spoke. “Ok Merry fun’s fun, but the Doc and I really need to not have to argue that issue, too.”

I turned to look that the both of them. “Ok fine,” I paused to give him a look, “You owe me music yet.”

“There is never an inch with you, is there?” he asked with an annoyed sounding sigh.

“If I gave you an inch, you’d want the mile.” I pointed to the room in general, “I don’t have that luxury.”

He shook his head and motioned me to a chair, “I suppose not.”

“Perspective is everything at times Pee-Tee.” Sara rolled her eyes unseen by the Doctor.

He shook his head, “Ok I can see this discussion is far from over, but in the mean time, Sara and I really have to talk, Merry.”

“You’re not the prisoner here.” I smiled to lighten the sting slightly. “Though if you ask me Doc, it looks like you are not exactly in a ‘hurry’ to talk or you’d be gone already,” I looked at Sara, “me-thinks the good doctor is in avoidance mode.”

She nudged Otto, “Come on Pee-Tee, we should talk, if any thing you might escape with a graceful surrender this time.”

“Of all things to remember, you had to remember that bit.” He said shaking his head as he walked to the door.

“It could be worse Otto,” she said.


“You could be getting a phone call from a long dead relative…” she said in a deadpan.

I can only describe the look he gave Sara as ‘wild’, “Quite.” Then almost in a daze he added again. “Quite.”

The door closed separating them from me and then I was alone with the white room. Again.


Memory feeds imagination.” - Amy Tan

“Midnight, not a sound from the pavement has the moon lost her memory? She is smiling alone in the lamplight, the withered leaves collect at my feet. And the wind begins to moan.” – Sarah Brightman

I wasn’t sure what argument Sara had used on the Doc, but it was nice to have some privacy. We were back in the Micro Net, though I was only allowed that under her supervision. Of which I didn’t mind, after so many days of not having a private moment. It was nice, though evidently it bothered the Doc as no one could monitor me once I was in.

“Evidently they have to be in some sort of rapport with you, before you ‘go’.” Sara was not exactly talking to herself.  

“Hmm, what sort of bemusement are you enduring Love?” I asked.

For a time she was silent, “I don’t want to be a whimsical deity.” She finally announced, “Or capricious for that matter, like the classical Greek Gods.”

I nodded, “Well the trick in doing anything is deciding what needs done and doing it.” I reached around to give her a hug. “Being whimsical and godlike is only handy if you want to sow chaos.”  I giggled aloud, “Though sometimes you have to whap people.”

Evidently she reveled in the hug, pressing back to rub herself against me, “I think a little bit of chaos is good for people. Break them out of their routine; stop them from becoming mindless zombies. There is, of course, a limit to how much Chaos is good, but there is also a limit to how much Order. But I am sorely tempted at times, Merry, to just pick someone at random and DO something to them...”

I smiled, “Does it have to be a bad thing? I can think of thousands of folks who need to catch a break, about like the guy who helped me get food after the sewer trip.”

Sara smiled, “No, it doesn’t... he got you food?”

I nodded then drew up the scene from memory, the Net turning into a dank wet ally way lined with dumpsters. A grizzled old man with only one arm was talking with a very wet and miserable looking ‘me’.  “He helped me get to the soup kitchen, and Father Pete.”

“Hmmm... what station was that?”

“I’m not sure? Station?”

Sara blinked, “You know, for a second there, I thought I saw a man at a hamburger stand in a train station.”

I thought for a moment and nodded, “Oh that guy, Security guard, a real asshole. He thought I was a whore and junkie. But then I was pretty messed up, headache from hell and no food for a few long hours.”

Sara sighed, “Ergh. Flashes. It keeps happening for some reason, I get these flashes of memories... at least most of the time they’re related.”

“I hope you didn’t get my nightmares too, it’s bad enough that ‘I’ have them. You don’t need them too.”

Sara kissed me on the cheek, “You’re sweet, but your nightmares I can handle. I love everything about you, Merry, your strengths and weaknesses combined. I just hope I’m keeping some of my darker thoughts locked away from you.”

I glanced down to my hand and blinked as the ring was here too, “I am not sure your darkest thought is as bad as what they did to Mark.” I chased the ally away for a moment and looked at the ‘Camp’ from one of the hills that were in that area. “I wish I could blow that place to hell, but then no one would know, would they?”

“Merry, there are things in this universe much worse than death and murder. Believe me, I’ve seen a few,” Sara waved her hand again, a new video feed popped into being of a single man, alone in a well appointed room with a bed, “this man, for example, is in Black Complex below us.” I was getting better at reading the memories she sent me to create, but admittedly it was eerie at times.

“OK, I’ll bite,” I grinned for a moment and nibbled lightly at the side of Sara’s neck, “So what makes that person, unique?”

Sara sighed, evidently enjoying the sensations, “He eats willpower.”

I tilted my head to one side, “And I thought I was the death of a party. So does that make him what, a candidate for President or a vampire of sorts?”

“Neither. Would I surprise you if I told you that his exile in ARC’s Black Complex is self-appointed?”

I blinked a few times a that pronouncement, “And people think ‘I’ am nuts. Why would anyone what to live like this?”

Sara motioned again giving more depth to her memory, the camera panned across to a dining table. A woman sat at the head of the table, spooning mush into her mouth listlessly. A young child sat next to her, following the motions, yet his bowl appeared to have been emptied long before. “That’s his family. They’ve lost the power to make decisions for themselves; he spends his days going through the motions, making sure they take care of themselves.”

I shook my head, “Talk about a man need a miracle, can’t he put back what he takes? Or is he screwier than that?”

“No, he eats it. What we like to call a ‘Passive Curse’, it’s always active. If he were out roaming the streets, anyone he came in constant contact with would suffer the same fate as his family. Only very powerful psychics can block the emanations.”

I closed my eyes, then opened them slowly, “Gods, why didn’t he, I mean. I don’t think I could live like that. I think even God would forgive him for checking out early, as much as suicide is considered a sin by some.” Bewildered I shook my head, “How could he not want to end it?”

Sara tapped the screen, pointing to his family, “They’re why. He’s responsible for them, so he takes care of them as best he can. He makes sure they eat and rest and he’s constantly searching for a cure for them with the help of ARC staff. Hope, Merry, is a powerful thing.”

I nodded slowly, “Yeah,” I shook off the weight of the past week, “Hope,” I hugged her tightly, “I think I understand that part.  In some ways at Langley I was drowning in a lack of it.”

Sara nods, dismissing the picture and wrapping her arms around me, “You’re not alone, my love. Never again.”

I held her for a quiet moment, “Good, I think losing you might kill a part of me that was almost dead.” I gave her a soft kiss, “I have not felt safe in so long. Funny isn’t it.” I kissed her again, “In order to be safe I had to give my soul to a daemon, though if you ask me it’s the wrong word for what you are. Angel or Goddess suits you so much better.”

“I’m no angel,” Sara smiled sadly, shaking her head, shuddering with each kiss, “I’m not a nice person, Merry.”

I kissed again and then held her tightly, “You are nice enough for me.” Then I nibbled at the side of her neck, “Good and evil, naughty or nice, as long as you love, can you really be bad? I don’t think so, it’s the lack of love that would make a person bad. You have to have love in order to live, without it there is only death.”

Sara sighed, enjoying the attentions, whispering, “Mmmm... I’m going to enjoy impregnating you one day.”

I chuckled softly, “Mai keeps commenting about the mating habits of Humans, you would think she was jealous or something.” For a moment I just held her thinking over the implications, “I think the idea is sweet, if worded oddly.” Then I giggled, “Mai comments ‘That it its literarily correct, if lacking an emotional syntax.” At Chaddy’s input I sighed, “And well, Chaddy thinks its well, he’s a kid.”

She reached up to grasp my breasts, grinning wickedly at me, “It’s what I feel, love. Whenever I see you, I feel the itch, the need to plant my egg inside you. It’s what I am, my love. I do so enjoy making love with you...”

I sighed happily at the sensations she provoked and smiled, “But, you want to complete the act? To make it whole?”

“Not yet. There are just things my body craves, but I’m not an animal, I control my urges. They are just... strong and I enjoy them immensely.” Sara showed her fangs in illustration then nipped lightly at my neck.

At that I mock shivered in fright, then bared my neck to her for a moment, feeling slightly wicked for doing so. “I can relate, I have my own craving or desire if you will.” I waved a hand to show an image of the Net as I would like it to be, “It’s like a drug, I have this need to create and dance among ebb and flow of the web.”

Sara let a few tentacles out and I shivered as she caressed me with them, “I know. That’s why I had this toy made for you...A place for us that won’t freak out people... where we can be alone...”

I smiled but it was chased away a bad thought, “Folks raising issues about us?” I smiled oddly, at least that is how it felt. “Chad was under the impression that Doctor Otto -wanted- us together.”

“He does, he’s just afraid of the complications that would arise if I did give into my instincts on the physical plane. Pregnancy has strange effects on body chemistry. Did you know that pregnant females are more psychically sensitive? Considering you already have a fun time with electricity…”

I hugged her tightly, “No, but considering he’s wanting me to work on shielding without a coach handy.” I traced a tentacle as it enwrapped my waist part of me was oddly detached as a flow of odd information from the Ring sorted itself out, Daemonic Etymology indeed.  “I ever so glad that you don’t have scales. Though for the life of me I can not figure out where my fear of snakes comes from.”

She reached up to caress my temple, “Something hidden, perhaps?”

I blinked at someone’s urging, and shared what Mai told me, “Mai thinks that it may have been planted, though it’s hard for her to determine.” I shivered, “There was something from when Chaddy ran away from where they hung Mark, but that was just a king snake.”

“Implanted... Merry, who could have implanted a fear of snakes into you?”

I frowned, trying to concentrate, to pry at the feelings about snakes. “I seriously doubt NEXT would have or Father Pete for that matter, so that leaves us with anyone from Langley or that Bastard of a Doctor.”

“Hmmm, I could fix it if you like?”

“Could you see for sure if it was implanted?” I sighed aloud,  “If it is implanted, would it point to who did it, and would some one else need to see it too?”

She sighed and hugged me, “It might and, yes, three other people would have to be present... when I think about it, it’s probably best I didn’t do it. My involvement would be a weakness to the case.”

I held her tightly, warmed by the concern in her voice. “Then we wait, I am sure The Doc can come up with three trust worthy people, though I might insist you be there, just because.” I gave a heartfelt sigh, “I like Chris, but the only person so far I know that I can trust is you. Everyone one else is a question mark.”

For a long time it seemed I was I was awash with warmth, as she seemed to melt in my arms. For a time she just rested against me, “Do you know, so very few people really trust me?”

“Then they are idiots, but then I am severely biased.” I kissed her deeply as the digital world shifted back into the cell.

There was a soft beeping and she glanced down at the small computer in her hands. “So much for those batteries. Your shield love?”

I sighed and snuggled against her, “Ok, ok,” I said then I spent a few moments with my eyes closed re-envisioning the shield and making it work.  

“You’ll get it down to a science, it just takes practice.” She gave me a kiss then sat up. “Any how, I need to visit the store. Not to mention I should drop the bomb on Pee-Tee about the snake bit. 

“So what’s with this ‘Pee-Tee’ bit and the Doc?”

“I’ll tell you some year, when you are older and not likely to use it against the Doc.”

“Aw come on, I can use any leverage on him that I can get.”

“No, besides the walls have ears and there are some things that well,” she smirked wickedly. “That are only helpful if you are very good friends with your victim.”

I grumped at the room in general, “Well that leaves me out.”

She gave me a quick kiss on the lips, “Otto isn’t that bad, but well, you and him have not exactly hit it off either.”

“That’s not likely to change while I am trapped here either.” I said acidly.

She shook her head, stepping a few paces away from me, “I won’t force you, but could you cut him a little more slack? I’ve been friends with him for a long time, if what I remember is right, and I think you both could be friends, in time.”

  I got up to look around the room, “Sara, I love you, but don’t ask an inmate to love the jailor. As comfy as all this might seem, it’s still a cell. Especially, if you can’t come and go where you will.” I motioned to the door, “When you want to.”

She was frowning slightly, “At least think about it?”

I nodded at her slowly, “I’ll think about, but I can’t promise it.”

“I know, at least you are honest when it comes to stating what you will and will not do.” She walked over and kissed me, “But enough of that, where would you go, if you could go?”

I glanced down at my arm at the Rose, “Looking for answers for one. Then anyplace that isn’t all white, besides someone owes me a romantic honeymoon.”

“What, you don’t consider a padded room romantic?” she asked in a mischievous tone of voice

“Only if you are in it and the lights are out.”

“I’ll keep that in mind.” I heard her chuckling as she walked to the door, “A straight jacket is sort of limiting, but they do have a good collection of restraints… Should I barrow a few?” she asked in a tone of voice that was anything but innocent.


“I’ll take that as a maybe,” she said and then she was out the door laughing deviously.

Then the room was dark, ok not quite dark, I was blushing bad enough to make the room seem alight to my eyes.