Whateley Dojo: Wednesday, November 8th.
After last night’s poor showing against Chou’s buddy I really didn’t feel much like working out at martial arts, but it had to be done. Maybe my experience the night before inspired me a little. Just goes to show what a little inspiration can do for you.
Arianna was a senior and an accomplished fighter, a moderately strong exemplar three with a talent for influencing air currents around her to the point she could use them for movement, armor, and weapons. While I could normally expect to fare well against her in an all out fight, I wasn’t expected to do so well when I was not supposed to use my flight and energy abilities. I’d agreed to not use them and found having power suppressors put on me strangely repugnant. But I did it anyway. Fortunately, I didn’t experience anything like I had when Negator had suppressed my powers with his talent.
Ito Sensei was insisting that I not rely on my abilities in those areas and rely more on the martial arts I’d learned and was learning now. I was pretty strong myself and my reflexes were second to none according to my trainers. All of them seemed certain that I was faster than I was letting on. The more I worked the more I had to agree with them. I’d yet to find my limits in that respect and the Sensei’s weren’t going to let up until I’d satisfied them I’d reached my potential.
One of their favorite exercises involved going against some of the older students with flying and energy abilities to see if I could avoid being shoved into the cage without using my flight or energy abilities in return. This was forcing me to think and act in ways that had become alien to me in a surprisingly short time. I had to think, respond, and react in the way many of my opponents would have to when I used my powers. It was very educational, but fairly frustrating also.
Arianna was from Poe and took special pleasure in humiliating me when she could and bragging about it later. Today looked like it wouldn’t be any different. Using whips of air she had tripped me up several times and was forcing me closer to the cage with each attack. I’d developed a rhythm that was allowing me to escape the majority of the attacks, even if the pattern still forced me closer to the cage and eventual defeat.
But the rhythm also allowed me to start planning beyond just avoiding the whips. She had dropped into a pattern of her own without realizing it. A plan formed even as it seemed all would be lost. I’d been holding back in order to conserve some energy for later, but I decided to expend it now in a final attempt to avoid capture.
I’d been using a technique involving back flips to avoid her attacks. The result would send me closer to the cage so she continued using the same attack. This time I started to flip back but instead of continuing backwards I used my strength to stop my backward momentum with my arms and then push myself back at her in a propeller like spin.
She’d moved too close to me while trying to follow up with her patterned attack. I was able to catch her with three kicks before she rolled out of my kicking range. Using arm strength alone I threw myself after her. Before she could recover from my attack I managed to wrap my legs around her legs and bring her down.
Even now she was attacking me with her wind whips, but we were so close that she couldn’t use full force and knock us apart. The struggle was intense, but I finally had us where I wanted us to be. Taking a firm grip on her clothing I spun around and braced my back on the ground. Putting my foot on her hip I was able to fling her head first into the open cage. Struggling against the now desperate whips I was able to swing the gate closed and the match ended.
We spent the next few moments facing each other and catching our breaths. Then she started crying and pointing at me!
“Y... You cheated!”
“You cheated! You used your flying ability to maneuver out of my attack!”
“You’re kidding! I couldn’t have. These power inhibitors won’t let me.”
“Everyone knows that they’re being set at minimum power levels and that you can override them at any time!”
“That’s news to me. To the best of my knowledge I can’t use my powers while I’m wearing them and I haven’t even tried.”
“You’re lying! Everyone knows about them!”
“Well, everyone didn’t tell me! I didn’t use my powers at all. I just took advantage of your predictable attacks and caught you by surprise. That’s all.”
We stood there glaring at each other while Tolman Sensei approached us.
“Is there a problem here?”
“Yes! She cheated!”
“I didn’t cheat!”
“Quiet. Both of you.”
This was said quietly but with kind of calm force that silences everyone around.
“Now. Arianna. Will you please explain how Tennyo is supposed to have cheated?”
“She used her flying powers! She’s not supposed to! She cheated!”
“I see. Tennyo?”
“I didn’t cheat! I didn’t use my flying powers. I didn’t even try. She’s just a sore loser.”
“Quiet! Tennyo. Please allow me to inspect your inhibitors.”
“But I... Yes Ma’am. I mean Sensei.”
I raised my arms out to my sides and she examined the belt, neck band, wrist, and ankle cuffs.
“I’m sorry Arianna. I don’t see how she could. The power alarm feature of the bands has not been activated. They would be activated if Tennyo had used her powers. I suggest you review the tapes and see if you simply made a mistake.”
“No! You’re wrong! She cheated! I know she did. Why won’t you believe me?”
“Arianna! Get hold of yourself! You’re acting like a child. If you can’t control yourself then I suggest you leave until you can cool down.”
She glared at us both. Then she slammed the cage door open and stalked out of the room, barely remembering to bow out as she left. I saw some other students who had been watching as spectators leave after her.
“I... I’m sorry Sensei.”
“Don’t bother apologizing Tennyo. I saw what happened and I know you didn’t cheat. I would like to know where you got that propeller kick technique though.”
“Oh. That. Well, actually I did develop it for my flying technique, but then I realized that everyone was expecting me to not use those techniques while not being able to fly. I decided to see if I could figure out a way to do it even when I wasn’t. I figured it might give me an unexpected edge if I could pull something like that off by surprise.”
“You did well. I didn’t see it coming either. But her technique was sloppy too. I don’t think it would have worked if she hadn’t been careless. Work on perfecting it some.”
I spent the rest of the class working on better ways to use the new technique. I was feeling pretty good too. It’s not every day that someone like Tolman Sensei gives even a backhanded compliment. The glow lasted all the way back to Poe and almost to my dorm room. Then it was interrupted rudely.
I carefully turned around and faced the person behind the threatening voice. Hippolyte and I weren’t the best of friends, but to the best of my knowledge, we weren’t enemies either. Her voice and attitude made me think there might have been a change in that status. She got right in my face. I was tempted to levitate just to get on more even ground. But decided she might take that wrong and just waited to find out what was going on.
“What can I do for you Hip?”
“You can start by apologizing to Arianna and owing up to cheating.”
“Hey! I didn’t cheat! She just got caught off guard. I’m sorry if it made her feel bad, but it’s not like she hasn’t been tossing me in that cage for the last few weeks either. I just managed to outmaneuver her this time is all.”
Hip jabbed a very painful finger into my sternum.
“She says you cheated and now you’re lying. Lying makes me sick. I’ve half a mind to show you what I do with cheaters who can’t tell the truth when they’re caught.”
The surprise and pain of that made me a bit snappish myself.
“You do have half a mind if you’re just going to take her whining at face value and not believe me when I tell you the truth. If you don’t believe me go ask Tolman Sensei. She saw the whole thing.”
I realized too late that I’d misjudged her temper. Hip was a bit touchy at best and something I’d just said had pushed her a bit too far. My reflexes saved me as her hand swept by over my head with enough force for me to wonder where the sonic boom had gone. I ducked away down the hall flying, then turned to face her. She almost caught me then. She could be incredibly fast for such a large person and I barely dodged her again.
“Come back here you gnat!”
The look of rage in her eyes convinced me that it wouldn’t be the smartest thing for me to do. I dived for the stairs down but she cut me off and I avoided her by slipping up to the next floor with her in hot pursuit. Cries of surprise and rage followed us as I dodged around people and Hip just knocked them aside. In a more open area I’d have avoided her easily but the combination of halls and people slowed me down.
In an effort to get a bit more room to maneuver I went up to the next floor instead of down. Again she was right behind me. The cries of outrage were growing louder and angrier as I circled back to the stairs down. I made a dive for the stairs but she managed to hit me and I missed the down stairs and literally bounced up the stairs to the top floor. I was starting to get a bit pissed off myself. I hadn’t done anything to deserve this.
“You bitch! That hurt! Stop before someone gets hurt!”
Apparently, trying to keep up with me was fairly difficult. She was gasping at the foot of the stairs and looking up at me. Then she grinned a nasty grin.
“Someone’s going to get hurt all right! You think it’s fun to play with the big girls. Let’s see how much you really like it!”
I’d had enough warning to move before she came flying up the stairs, but there wasn’t any place to go. I heard some voices through one of the doors and dived through that in hopes having an audience would cool Hip down a bit.
Steam came billowing out of the doorway as I entered and I found myself hovering over a huge hot tub with what looked like six surprised faces staring up at me.
“What the Hell are you...”
That was as far as one of the boys got when the door burst open and Hip landed right in the middle of the tub. A huge wave of hot water went flying into the air. To my surprise, the water heading towards me parted and flowed to either side. I looked down into the very surprised face of Hip and the others. There was no time like the present to make an escape.
“Sorry folks! Wrong door. Bye!”
Hip tried to grab me as I flew over her, but the combination of water and tangled bodies made that impossible and I slipped out the door and headed downstairs. I could hear Hip and others yelling behind me and I thought it would be a good idea to get out of the place for a while.
I’d have made it too if Arianne and some of the others hadn’t blocked the doors out on the ground floor. I didn’t see a way to get by them without hurting someone.
“Got you now you cheater! When Hip’s done with you you’ll wish you’d never come here!”
“I didn’t cheat Arianna. You’re just a sore loser. I don’t know what your problem is, but if you don’t stop this, someone’s going to get hurt.”
“Yeah. You! Think you’re such hot stuff all the time. You don’t look so tough around someone like Hip do you?”
“I just don’t want to hurt anyone. Least of all someone like Hip who doesn’t know what’s going on. You got a problem you come and face me. Don’t send someone in your place!”
“Don’t talk down to me you bitch! Here come’s Hip now. Not such hot shit now are you?”
I didn’t have time to argue. Maybe I could lose Hip downstairs and then find a door or window out. I ducked down the stairs just as Hip came jumping down with a squishy sound from the floor above. There was a small set of stairs up towards the end of Poe and I was hoping that Hip would think I was heading for that while I ducked into the workout room. I figured if she went far enough in I could easily make it back to my room at least. Then, If I had to, I’d go out the window. It would set off alarms, but I was sure that I could prove I had a good reason.
Unfortunately, one of the girls who must be siding with Arianne, pointed out to Hip that I’d ducked into the workout room. Next thing I knew, a dripping Hip was blocking the doorway out.
“Got you now! You’re gonna pay for this!”
“Hip! I haven’t done anything! If you don’t believe me ask Tolman Sensei.”
“I think you protest too much. Why didn’t you stick around instead of running away?”
Telling her that I wasn’t stupid enough to stick around while she was swinging at me didn’t seem like a good way to placate her. I decided to try some other reason with her. I wondered where the older students or Mrs. Horton were. Things were getting out of hand.
“I just don’t want anyone to get hurt. Let’s just wait for Mrs. Horton and then we can get hold of Tolman Sensei and she can clear this up.”
“I’m gonna clear this up now. You’re not going to make a fool of me and walk away in one piece.”
“I didn’t do anything to you except get out of your way.”
“Like you didn’t plan to drop me in that hot tub? How’d you know it was there anyway? Been sneaking around where you don’t belong?”
“That was an accident. I didn’t know it was there until I went through the door and it wouldn’t have happened if you hadn’t been in such a hurry to catch me.”
“Likely story, but I’m tired of all the hype we hear about you anyway. I think it’s time we did something about it. Apologize to Arianna and admit that you cheated and I think that will be enough to start with.”
“I didn’t lie. I didn’t cheat and I’m not about to lie just to make her and you feel better.”
“Then we’ll just have to do this the hard way.”
There was a commotion coming from the stairs, but Hip wasn’t going to give me time to get my hopes up. Arianna and some of the others moved into the doorway to keep me from getting away and Hip closed with me.
I was in a bind. I could have cleared the way in a second with a blast or even cut my way out with a sword, but I wasn’t here to butcher the students or buildings and that might only result in a massacre. I had my strength, flying, martial arts, and a lot of speed but Hip had a lot of that too, and she was a brick so my attacks in self defense did little but irritate her.
It was just a matter of time before she was able to swat me as I tried to dodge in the limited area I had to work with. It hurt! I left a cracked impression in the wall where I hit and the breath had been knocked out of me. Only my trained reflexes allowed me to avoid her follow up which left another hole where I’d been.
I’d had enough and I wasn’t going to take any more! I couldn’t blast my way out, I couldn’t cut my way out, and the more peaceful methods had just gone out the window. I had another trick up my sleeve and she was a brick after all. Ignoring the pain I dodged her again and wrapped some power around my fist. I dodged into a corner where it looked like I was trapped with no way to go. Hip took immediate advantage of that and closed in quickly. Just like I planned. She wasn’t expecting me to go for her.
Even as I’d dodged into the corner I got that odd feeling you get when you know you’re doing something that maybe you shouldn’t. Looking around as Hip closed in I became aware of Nikki, Toni, Sara,(with her new crown of red hair), and others crowding into the room, pushing Arianna and the others aside.
But Hip was right where I wanted her and as I stepped under her swings and started to punch the feeling I was doing something wrong got much worse. The horror in Nikki’s yell as I closed was even more convincing to me that something was wrong.
But it was too late. I was only able to pull it a bit and Hip’s training in avoidance helped a little too, but I still got a glancing blow.
There was an oddly pleasurable shock and a terrible crack and with a whumpf Hip went flying across the room into the far wall where she also left an impression.
The worst of the whole thing was her scream. Hip is a tough customer and to scream like that she must have really hurt. She fell to the ground trying to wrap herself around where she’d been hit. She was moaning in terrible pain. I stood there stupidly trying to figure out what had happened. I didn’t think I’d hit her that hard. Almost everyone else seemed as stunned as I was. The only ones who weren’t were Nikki, Toni, and Sara. They all rushed over to Hip.
There was a strange feel to the air too. It made me feel odd and I think Sara may have been aware of it too. At least she gave me an odd look. Then Nikki changed as I watched. She suddenly looked like power was gathering around her and her face took on a distant kind of expression.
Arianna woke from her surprise and tired to stop them
“What do you think you’re doing?”
Nikki stopped her with a disdainful, withering glance.
“Silence, you whining little wench. I must concentrate to save this girl.”
The way she said it sent shivers down my spine. There was so much confidence and power in her demeanor that Arianna shut up with a squeak. Now that the audience had been silenced Nikki turned back to studying Hip. Toni had an odd look on her face. She spoke as if being distracted by something of great interest.
“What is it Nikki?”
Nikki seemed to sway for a moment. Then she spoke in that odd voice again.
“A Death Blow. She will die if we cannot stop it.”
“Oh. So that’s what it is. What can we do?”
“You see it don’t you?”
“Yes. The Ki is all twisted, and leaking.”
“Can you unknot it?”
“I think so. What else needs to be done?”
“If you can unknot it I can dispel it entirely and she will recover normally.”
Sara swayed closer.
“What can I do?”
“Support her. She is in great pain now. You help calm her and we will start the healing process.”
Sara knelt and held Hip. Crooning to her in encouragement. Hip’s moans decreased a bit.
“C’mon Hip. We’re here. We’ll have you fixed in no time.”
Nikki turned to Toni.
Toni took a deep breath and began moving her hands and fingers over where Hip was clutching her left side. A look of deep concentration that shut out everything else settled on her face. Her breath came out in a steady hiss. Her muscles bunched up and sweat started to form on her brow.
Nikki had been muttering and gathering something in her hand. Now she thrust it at the area of the injury. Sweat sprang from Nikki’s forehead and a sense of energies flowing around us could be felt. Hip gasped and suddenly relaxed. Everyone could hear the rush of air into her lungs. Her head fell back as she slumped down unconscious. That odd feeling in the air faded away quickly, leaving me wondering what it had been.
I had that sinking feeling you get when you know you’ve done something stupid. Ever since the fight started I’d felt terrible about what was happening. Everyone had been telling me to be careful how I used my abilities. I hadn’t thought I could hurt her like that. I’d just wanted her to back off. And now all I could do was stand back and hope my friends would be able to correct my mistake.
“I.. Is she going to be alright?”
Nikki nodded, and then turned that strange gaze on me. I couldn’t make out what it meant, but I was sure there was a bit of censure in it.
“She is strong, fortunately for her. If she had been weaker and the injury hadn’t been treated she would have died. She will need time to recover. What possessed you to use a Death Blow on her?”
“I... I didn’t know. No one’s said anything about it before. You called it a Death Blow? I just thought it added to the force of my punches. I didn’t think it would do this.”
“Unless you wish to kill it, you must never strike a living being with that attack. It is a terrible way to die. I haven’t seen it used since...”
Nikki swayed and then a confused look came over her face. She looked around and then back to me.
“What... What happened?”
“You don’t remember?”
“I think you just saved Hips life.”
“Oh, yeah. I remember that. Sort of. But there were other memories for a moment. Bad ones...” She shuddered and gave me another of those odd looks.
We stood there facing each other for a moment. I could hear muttering coming from the crowd in the door but was afraid to look at them and see what I was sure they were thinking about me now.
Then things got quiet as Mrs. Horton showed up in the doorway.
“What is going on here?”
I spent the rest of the day answering questions for Security and the Medical staff. The good news was that Hip was going to recover completely. But she was going to be sore for a while. The bad news was that I was instructed in no uncertain terms to be more careful how I used my abilities. Only the fact that I hadn’t known what would happen kept them from expelling me right off. As it was, I was told I was to be moved to Hawthorne temporarily and to prepare for more tests until it could be proved I was safe, or at least under control.
It seemed obvious to me that someone had planned for something to happen, although I was sure what happened wasn’t what they’d expected. But even Nikki and Toni seemed to agree with everyone else that I should go to Hawthorne. I held in the feeling of dismay when they agreed. I’d hoped they’d try and fight it but in my heart I knew better. Still, it hurt a bit. Jade wasn’t around yet and I wasn’t given any more time than was necessary to gather some of my stuff and head over to Hawthorne. I managed to keep from crying, I wasn’t going to give anyone that kind of satisfaction.
Finally, I was alone in my own room with instructions to not leave without an escort. I was going to be told later when I’d receive the testing and until then I wouldn’t be allowed any visitors and I wasn’t to talk to anyone. After everyone was gone I finally let myself go and spent the next while having a good crying jag. Foob popped in on me later to make sure I was okay. It was nice of him to check when everyone had been told not to. It made me feel a little better.
Not long after Foob left one of the Security guys outside my door knocked. When I opened the door he told me that no one was allowed to see me, but that one of my friends in Poe had brought over a few of my things. He passed a bundle in to me and this time I could hear the lock click as it closed.
The bundle had obviously been searched before they sent it in to me. In the bundle were some more of my clothes, some notes of encouragement from everyone in TK and some of the others who knew me. And wrapped up in the middle of all this was my Cabbit.
I was wondering why they’d sent the Cabbit and then nearly dropped it when it stirred a little in my hands and a voice I could barely make out whispered to me.
“Is it safe to talk?”
“Ja... Uhhh... Jinn?”
“In the Cabbit! Are you being bugged?”
“I’m not sure. Unless you’re talking about an obscure and frustratingly cautious Cabbit.”
“Very funny. Very funny. I take it since you’ve still got your sense of humor you’re not too badly off now?”
“I... I’m okay. How’s Hip?”
“That muscle-head will be okay. She just needs to rest for a while. Can you tell me about what happened?”
I spent the next several minutes filling her in on the details as I knew them. The Cabbit hummed for a bit after I was done and then spoke again.
“I think we need to have a talk with this Arianna.”
“Don’t get me into any more trouble than I am now!”
“Don’t worry. We won’t leave any traces of evidence behind. Give us the word and she’s history!”
A shudder went through me as she said this. I thought it would be a good idea to not show it though.
“I wish I could be certain you’re joking.”
“Awww. Give us some credit, okay? No one will ever catch us.”
That gave me another shudder. I better cut this off at the pass.
“That’s what they all say, just before they get caught. Go easy on this. I’ll handle it myself.”
Somehow the Cabbit radiated disappointment.
“Ahhhh... Okay. If you say so. But you’re taking all the fun out of it.”
“I’ve more than enough fun right now thank you. Please don’t send me any more.”
We talked a bit more until Jinn faded out.
Not long after that I was escorted to the labs where the Doctors gave me some more of the same tests I’d had before and then some new ones. Dr. Bellows spent what felt like hours talking to me. I admit I wasn’t in a good mood and I’m sure it didn’t do either of us a lot of good. He seemed very worried when he finally let them escort me back to my room. I was told to stay there for now. They brought in a totally inadequate meal and I went to bed hungry.
I didn’t sleep well. I even exploded my bed, something I hadn’t done since before I came here. Foob managed to get some new covers snuck in so at least the powers that be couldn’t use that against me. I didn’t feel completely alone after that either and actually got some sleep.
DARK AND DREARY, TIRED AND WEARY:
Only a select few were allowed to be in this meeting. Chief Delarose represented Security and Mrs. Carson represented Administration. Mr. Ito had been called to attend also on behalf of the teachers. Delivering the test reports were Dr. Polland and Dr. Bellows. At this time, no one was particularly happy. Holding it late at night didn’t help the mood much. Mrs. Carson started the meeting.
“Well Gentlemen? What do you have for us?”
Dr. Polland cleared his throat. “The uh, tests aren’t completely conclusive at this time Ma’am.”
“I understand that. I want to know what you do have. There’s been an uncomfortable amount of pressure from parents advocates suggesting that we aren’t doing our jobs and protecting the students properly. I need something to work with if I’m going to be able to reassure them and get them off our backs.”
“Ah, yes, I understand. I’d like to mention that there are some things we just aren’t ready to make positive statements about yet. The new evidence indicates that there are changes we didn’t anticipate still occurring in Miss Wilson.”
“Your last report mentioned that you thought the changes were mostly finished?”
He shrugged. “We were mistaken it would seem. Another proof of the saying about making assumptions.”
“Very well. I’ll keep that in mind. I still want everything you have. Just let me know what you think is certain and warn me if it’s just speculation.”
“I’m afraid that there is little we consider certain at this time. There’s just too much that we haven’t seen before. I’d like to make a plea for some of that funding I recommended earlier. I know some of those tests are expensive, but I’m starting to think they are the only way we’ll ever get some definitive answers. I understand that at least one of the other Poe students did get some of that testing before and the results were very helpful.”
“You know how unreliable those tests are Doctor. But considering the situation, I might be able to arrange something through outside donors.”
“Allowing anyone outside of us to have that information makes me nervous Ma’am.”
“It’s the only way I can see to fund something like that at this time. You have to admit that there is a lot of interest in this student. I’m certain that the funds would become available quickly if we allowed some sharing of what we find out.”
Dr. Polland looked unhappy at the suggestion.
“Enough of this for now. What do you have for me?”
He took a deep breath. “Well, The new tests have given us some new parameters to work with, but as I said before, we can’t be certain they will stay that way. I can say that with the new changes and possibly the training she’s received she wouldn’t find the Laser Range as challenging as she did before.”
“She’s grown more powerful?”
“That, and the fact that she’s gotten better at using what she has. Her ability to take and repair damage has increased a great deal since the last time we tested her also.”
“Your not reassuring me Doctor. Your saying that she’s even more dangerous than before.”
“Yes Ma’am. I am. I don’t think we’ve really found her limits yet. But that could be said of most of our students.”
“Point taken. Tell me what you can about her abilities.”
“Yes Ma’am. You already know that she’s an incredible Warper and it’s one of the things we’re certain of. Most of her abilities seem to revolve around that ability. We also think this latest ability is related to that also.”
“How so? And why wasn’t it obvious how dangerous it was before?”
He looked embarrassed. “Uh, well, you see, we assumed that the times she used it before were simply a display of her uncommon strength under stress.”
“Can you elaborate Doctor?”
“Yes, As you may know, Miss Wilson demonstrates fairly normal strength for an Exemplar two or three at most times, but occasionally she goes well beyond that, into the range of many of our toughest bricks. It is not consistent and she has to be under stress to display such abilities, but we assumed that the times she displayed the ability were just such circumstances, and not related to some of her other abilities. Dr. Shandy followed up on this after the most recent findings and I must say what we found has disturbed us a bit.”
“I don’t like the sound of that Doctor.”
“We don’t like it either Ma’am. I’m certain that some people will simply use these findings to cause more trouble for the girl.”
“You like her don’t you Doctor?”
“Yes Ma’am. And it’s not just that she’s such a fascinating subject. She’s a very nice young woman if she’s given a chance. Unfortunately, she’s also very powerful and I think some people forget that and push her too much.”
“I find myself agreeing with you, but we still have to look after our other charges. Is she a risk to the other students?”
“I believe she’s a risk only if seriously provoked.”
“That’s not what I asked Doctor. How dangerous is she, if provoked?”
“She... she’s very dangerous Ma’am. But I think that as long as she’s given a chance to back down she will.”
“Thank you Doctor. I’ll keep that in mind and I may have you make a statement to that effect if you’re willing?”
“Yes Ma’am. Just let me know when you need it.”
“Okay, can you tell me why she’s so very dangerous now?”
“You already know about her plasma abilities and how she powers them?”
“Yes. Any significant changes there?”
“Not really. She’s coming along very well with her control of them, but she’s still using the same abilities, just more efficiently and I believe she’s getting stronger there also. But we just don’t seem to have the ability to test her to her limits so it’s hard to say for certain. Some of the tests I’m proposing would help us with that.”
“I’ll keep that in mind. Now what about this new ability and are there others?”
“We can’t be certain at this time, but we think this isn’t a new ability. Just one we hadn’t observed yet. As for others, I couldn’t really say for certain. I wouldn’t be surprised to find she has others that she hasn’t had to use yet. It might be dangerous to find those without better and more extensive tests I’m afraid.”
“What can you tell me about this power? And I said I’d keep in mind how important those tests will be.”
“Yes Ma’am. We believe that it revolves around her ability to warp things. In this case, she’s creating a small but intense rift in the fabric of reality and wrapping it around her fist. When she hits something with it she then releases her hold on it and the Universe snaps shut in an instant. This creates an tangle of chaotic energies that literally rip what they’ve come in contact with to shreds. Solid objects become so twisted in a moment that even those parts not in the direct influence of the strike are warped and pulled also. Shattering the object if it’s rigid enough or pulling and warping it out of true if it’s more flexible. Either way it does a lot of damage very quickly.”
“Yes, I can see that and how dangerous it would be, but there’s more isn’t there?”
“If we are correct, the damage to the universe doesn’t just fade away. At least not immediately. There is a residual effect that attaches to the target and continues to break down whatever was hit. Solid objects get weaker and start to break down even more. Living objects.. Well, lets just say that if it isn’t corrected in time the object will die in a period determined by it’s toughness and ability to repair damage. Some of the higher regenerative types would probably be able to survive if they cut out the affected areas. Or, if the damage was to an area that could be amputated, there is a good chance of halting any further damage to more normal types if it’s done in time.”
“That sounds very... unpleasant.”
“We believe, from the evidence we have, that it is terribly excruciating. Not a pleasant way to die at all.”
“It can be stopped?”
“If the correct things are done in time, yes. It requires exceptional ability and or training to do however. This Hippolyte was very lucky indeed. The blow was only glancing and there were some students there who were able to reverse the damages close by and willing to help her.”
“Fortunate for her and us. But I still get the feeling you haven’t told me everything.”
“It is pure speculation. We can’t be sure how it affects everything yet.”
“Her... When she uses her abilities at higher energy levels there is a disturbing increase in background radiations.”
“We feel that if she is pushed to higher levels of effort, it is highly likely that others in the area may suffer from radiation poisoning and the like.”
“Our postulation is that the warping she is doing is actually creating a small event horizon at times depending on the amount of power and how it is being used. Her punches fit the bill for forming just such an effect. As you may know, it is believed that the immediate area around an event horizon may be extremely radioactive. In fact, she may just prove to be the proof we need to make that a certainty.”
“I think you’ve made it abundantly clear that she represents a golden opportunity to study some of the more esoteric branches of physics Doctor. How dangerous is this effect?”
“At the lower levels, very little danger to people outside the immediate vicinity, and by that I mean very close. Within inches at most. At the higher levels we experimented with a little...”
“Ahh... Well, we postulated a bit and came to the conclusion that if she really let go all out with this ability you could expect something like a small neutron bomb effect.”
“How small a bomb are we talking about here Doctor?”
“Oh, nothing much. Maybe a quarter to half kiloton effect at most.”
“Effect on the immediate vicinity and people in it?”
“Well, as you know. Neutron bomb effects tend to affect the organic tissues and the like more than the non biological. There probably wouldn’t be much material damage.”
“And living tissue?”
“That’s another thing entirely. Those in the immediate vicinity who don’t have a way of shielding or resisting the damage would most likely be killed.”
“What about Miss Wilson?”
“She is actually amazing in her ability to ignore or repair such damage. We’re not sure if it’s one or the other or both, but she wouldn’t be affected like others.”
“You’re telling me she would be difficult to kill?”
“If you remember some of the tapes from that Boston incident?”
“Yes. I saw those.”
“It’s one of the reasons we know here regenerative abilities are greater than before. When she was fighting that Arch Whatever It Was..”
“The Arch Fiend. I know of it and how dangerous it is.”
“Well, then you saw that it got in a few good licks as it were before the building fell on them.”
“Yes. They didn’t seem to slow her all that much.”
“Closer examination of the tapes showed her taking what would normally be fatal or incapacitating wounds in the fight, but they healed almost immediately. When we asked Miss Wilson about it she said that the wounds hurt, but healed so quickly that she was able to continue fighting. She hadn’t considered them so serious. We have some theories about how she does that now, but I don’t think we want people knowing about them at this time.”
“Why Doctor? And I think I should determine what we keep secret at this time.”
“Yes Ma’am. It’s just that the only theory that makes sense is that she exists on more than one plane and when ever her template is disrupted on one plane it draws on the others and heals itself immediately. Just kind of snapping back together.”
“You find it disturbing?”
“It... it’s not something we can really grasp all that well. It would also make her very difficult to kill. Taken with some of the other evidence we found, well, let’s just say I’m a little worried about it.”
“What other evidence?”
“Dr. Shandy figured this one out. He went looking for the doors that were destroyed in the Laser Room incident a while back. When he examined them he realized that there were some similarities to another event some time back. The one involving a Mr. Pasternack I believe. Actually, the new evidence lent some credence to some of the theories that were brought up at that time and helped us get a better idea of what happened then and now.”
“Pasternack!? How could this relate to that?”
“If you know about the event, you may know that some of Mr. Pasternack’s equipment was recovered?”
“Yes. I’d heard that.”
“Dr. Shandy went and pulled some of those samples and compared them to what he found where the doors had been taken. We hadn’t thought much of it at the time, but Miss Wilson did mention having hit the main doors to the Control Room at one time. She must have been very tired. It has taken this long for some of the effects of that hit to show up.”
“Doctor, please get to the point.”
“Here. I brought these with me. I figured it would save some explaining if you could see it.”
He held out two small bottles. One had an old, brownish sticker on it with a faded date and the words Rifle and Pasternack on it. It was filled with a yellowish and unhealthy looking dust. Passing that to Mrs. Carson, he pulled out another identical bottle, except this one had a new sticker on it with a current date and the words Door and Tennyo on it. The contents looked similar.
“What... what does this mean?”
“The effects of Tennyo’s punches on those doors, which didn’t look at all like doors when we found them, was the same as the effect of whatever Mr. Pasternack ran into these many years ago. Don’t worry, the proper way to decontaminate the area where they were dumped was already recorded in the files that came with Mr. Pasternack’s samples. We had that done immediately. I’d have thought you’d have received notice of it by this time. We assumed you wouldn’t want us to hesitate and went ahead and authorized it. If we were wrong I apologize.”
“You did the right thing Doctor. I’m just a bit upset that you had to tell me about this yourself. I’ll want to find out why I wasn’t informed immediately about this. Chief. Did you know about this?”
Delarose shook his head. “This is the first I’ve heard of it.”
“I’ll expect us to be kept informed better in the future. I’ll trust you to see to it that your lines of communication are cleared up and I’ll do the same with mine.”
“Yes Ma’am. Can you give us any idea what you are going to do with Miss Wilson?”
“I haven’t decided yet. I take it you care about her also?”
“I’ve had a chance to talk to her before. I agree with Dr. Polland here about her willingness to avoid conflicts.”
“Frank. Doesn’t she remind you of someone?”
Delarose looked uncomfortable.
“It’s okay. I understand. Just don’t let it cloud your judgement, okay?”
“Yes Ma’am. I won’t.”
“I still need some more information.” She turned to one of the others. “Dr. Bellows.”
“I understand that you interviewed Miss Wilson shortly after this event?”
“What can you add to this conversation?”
“I tend to agree with both Dr. Polland and Chief Delarose. Miss Wilson isn’t trying to incite these actions, but her inexperience in handling her powers posses a definite threat to those who don’t understand just how dangerous she can be if provoked to go beyond what she is aware she can do.”
“Do you have any suggestions?”
“I do. But it may seem a bit extreme.”
“You have my attention. Are you suggesting we expel her?”
“No Ma’am. That is probably the worst thing we could do at this time.”
“As dangerous as she is, we still represent the best chance she has of learning how to control and use her abilities wisely. I for one would have nightmares if I knew she was out on her own learning how to do this.”
“My feelings tend to move along the same lines, but I still need to justify it better than that and I also need advice as to the best way to train her so as to avoid similar situations in the future. How is she taking this? Does she feel guilty at all?”
“She does feel guilty. Maybe too guilty for her own good. I admit I don’t like how this is being handled right now and I’d like to personally protest some of the actions taken so far.”
Mrs. Carson looked surprised at this.
“Would you care to tell me what we are doing wrong Doctor?”
“I think moving her out of Poe and into seclusion in Hawthorne is a mistake.”
Mrs. Carson looked even more surprised.
“When did this happen?”
Everyone exchanged confused glances for a moment. Then Mrs. Carson turned to Chief Delarose.
“Please tell me what has been done with Miss Wilson. My understanding was that she was being tested to determine how dangerous she might be and what course of action we should take. I’ve authorised no other actions at this time.”
“I.. I have to agree with Dr. Bellows. But we received written orders from your office to move Miss Wilson into seclusion at Hawthorne and see to it that she was kept that way until a further course of action was determined.”
“I authorized no such action. I’ll want an investigation into what happened as soon as possible. Okay, what are we going to do about this now that it’s been done, and I’d like you to be a bit more specific about why you feel this was a bad action to take Doctor.”
Dr. Bellows nodded. “As you wish. We have just spent some time acknowledging how powerful she is. But I feel certain the best way to help her control her emotions and the actions that will result from those stressful situations she seems unable to avoid is to see to it that she is advised as quickly as possible how dangerous her powers are and surround her with friends who can help her when she needs guidance.”
“You feel that this Team Kimba can supply that kind of support? They seem like a fine bunch of troublemakers from all reports.”
“I’m familiar with most of them and I can say with some certainty that they’ve had a calming influence on Miss Wilson. She needs peers who are similar to her in situation and possibly powers in order to be able to communicate with them. I feel Team Kimba is a good start in that direction. When you get so many talented young people together you must expect some fireworks. In my opinion they have showed remarkable restraint to date and I’m hoping this will continue. Breaking them up at this time doesn’t make sense and could possibly have consequences I don’t care to consider too closely at this time.”
“I want to agree with you Doctor, at least about putting her with friends who can help calm her down. I’m still not certain about the Team Kimba solution yet though. Chief?”
“How soon can we get Miss Wilson back with her friends?”
“We could do it immediately, but...”
Chief Delarose gave his own opinion first. “We can’t be seen as being too wishy washy at this time. Besides, it would tip whoever sent that authorization off about our being aware of it. I want at least a day or two to see if we can catch who did it before we change things again.”
“I think the damage has already been done. A few days won’t make much difference, but I really must insist that I have a chance to talk to Miss Wilson and the others as soon as possible. If she gets too alienated at this time I’m sure the results won’t be pleasant. For anyone. We can justify it to the girls and everyone else as a simple precaution that wasn’t meant to be a personal slight. We’ll have to be consistent about this in the future though. These kids are smart and will pick up on anything like favoritism very quickly.”
“Okay. You have authority to follow through on this. But before I give a final okay on it I want a report from Mr. Ito as to how this started.”
Mr. Ito gave a bow from his sitting position. “What do you wish to know Mrs. Carson?”
“What can you tell us about what led to this fight?”
“Yes. I have talked with Sensei Tolman who observed what happened. It seems that one student, who goes by Arianna, and Tennyo were faced off for a match with the Cage. Tennyo was not supposed to use her powers of flight and energy skills. Power suppressers were placed on her to make sure she didn’t.”
Mrs. Carson raised an eyebrow. “Power suppressers? I wasn’t aware that was possible?”
Mr. Ito shrugged. “These young people are so suggestible. All they really do is monitor if she is actually using her powers or not, but we haven’t told her that. I must say she’s good at suppressing her powers on her own. Sensei Tolman assures me she didn’t use her powers at all in the match.”
“What happened then?”
“Tennyo used a clever ploy and maneuver and managed to capture Arianna who till this point had been easily beating Tennyo. That is whenever Tennyo couldn’t use her powers in previous matches. I’d like to add my recommendation that Tennyo learns fast from her mistakes. Don’t underestimate her. But I get off the subject. Further research has shown that Arianna may have had some bets with some of the other students and she lost badly when Tennyo won unexpectedly. She apparently felt that Tennyo had cheated to win and spread that story to the girls in Poe. Hippolyte hates cheaters and taking the word of the older student she confronted Tennyo and demanded that Tennyo declare herself a cheater. Tennyo refused. This led to the altercation that resulted in Hippolyte’s injury. Of course, this is only rumor and I can’t imagine using it to help the current situation. I will add that trying to force Tennyo to do something she doesn’t want to can be like trying to force a wall to change color by yelling at it.”
“Thank you for your advice and that picture Mr. Ito. It seems that while Miss Wilson is very dangerous, she hasn’t acted in a way contrary to our rules and was only defending herself. We can’t hold her responsible for that. We will hold her at Hawthorne for a few days while we try some other tests and see if there are any ways to reduce the threats to the other students.”
Dr. Bellows raised his hand.
“I’d like to make the suggestion I mentioned before. I admit it seems a little extreme, but it may help us prevent similar happenings again in the future.”
“That’s right. You did say something about that. What do you suggest?”
“I suggest that it be an expulsion offense to attack Tennyo in any but a supervised training or duel event.”
“What!? How can we do that? And what about Tennyo? What happens to her if she starts a fight?”
“If Tennyo starts a fight then I’m afraid we wouldn’t have a choice anyway. But if we can make it clear that fighting with her will have serious consequences beyond the risk of simply getting hurt or killed I think we can at least reduce the number of threats. It won’t be easy to enforce, but I think it might at least show we’re actually trying to be proactive. And I trust her to control herself in most situations. She really was shaken up by the idea she almost killed Hippolyte.”
“I’ll have to take that under advisement. You’re right. It seems very extreme.”
“We’re dealing with an extreme situation right now. Please let me know as soon as possible what your decision in that regard is. Do you want me or someone else to inform her about the risks of using her powers?”
“I thought it might be a better idea if Dr. Polland do so. He may be better able to answer any of her questions if they get technical.”
“Do we tell her anything about the long term effects of her new attack?”
“I don’t think it’s necessary, unless you feel differently?”
Mr. Ito raised a hand.
“Use complete truth with this one. Do not hide anything. Trust her and she will learn to trust you. Do not trust her and she won’t trust in return. It is as simple as that. You will need to tell her eventually or she will find out on her own. At that time you must have her trust or you will lose it. I do not think she will learn what we want her to learn if she doesn’t trust you.”
“Thank you. We’ll follow your advice in this I think. Any more questions?”
Mrs. Carson looked around. When no one said anything she nodded.
“Very well then. I’ll let you know my decisions as soon as possible. Dr. Bellows?”
“Please do what you can to reduce the damage that has been done. We’ll be guided by you in this.”
“I’ll do that. And I’ll keep you informed of my progress.”
“Thank you. Let’s get some sleep. I think we’re going to need it.”
With that, the meeting broke up.
TIME IN EXILE: Thusday and Friday, November 9th and 10th.
Early the next morning I was visited by Doctor Bellows. He had Doctor Polland with him. They seemed apologetic but insistent that I talk with them. I was getting hungrier by the minute and hoping someone would get around to getting me a breakfast. Still, I figured I’d better talk to them and hope that whatever they wanted to talk about wouldn’t interrupt my intended meal. Doctor Bellows started first.
“Okay Billie. The good news is that you’re not being expelled.”
“That is good news. What’s the bad news?”
“The bad news is that you’ll have to stay here a day or two under quarantine until the tests are all done and evaluated. Sorry, but this is standard procedure. We have to be sure you have control of yourself before we put you back with the others. It won’t take more than a day or two I’m sure.”
“What about my classes?”
“That’s one of the reasons you have to stay here. These rooms are fitted out so that you can attend classes remotely. As soon as we can convince the right people that you’re under control you’ll be free to go back to your old room and schedule. I expect that to be fairly soon. So don’t get too comfortable in here.”
At that moment my stomach let out a loud growl. They both stared at me and I felt myself blush.
“No chance of that Doctor. But if you don’t feed me a lot of food soon I may have to break out of here and forage for myself.”
They seemed worried by that. Dr. Bellows spoke up quickly. “Don’t worry Billie. We’ll see to it you get more than enough to eat.”
“Well hurry it up then. I think you’re actually trying to starve me.”
“I’ll have a talk with whoever’s in charge of your food. I may not be able to insure the highest quality, but I’m sure we can insure you get enough.”
“That’s all I ask.”
“I’d like you to know that your friends all want to visit you, but we can’t let them as long as you’re in quarantine. As soon as we can drop that you’ll be free to go back to Poe. But not before. It’s standard procedure, so please don’t hold it against us or your friends.”
“Thank you. I won’t.”
I was surprisingly relieved when he said that. I had a hard time not showing it, but I really wanted to laugh and grin then. I’d really felt much better knowing my friends were concerned and trying to help and talk to me. Apparently they’d managed to fool the people watching me better than I thought.
We chatted a bit more and then Doctor Polland gave me a chewing out disguised as a lecture about how dangerous my powers were. He did at least explain what they knew and suspected about my new attack but I still had the impression he was holding something back. When I pressed for more details I got another lecture on loose lips sinking ships and realized that he didn’t think this room was completely safe. I had to swallow my impatience and hope I’d have a chance to discuss it with him at a more secure area and time.
Besides, the idea that if I tried too hard I might end up irradiating everyone in my immediate vicinity gave me more than enough to worry about for now. He promised to run some more tests and see about finding some ways to lessen the dangers in the future.
For the rest of this day and the morning of the next I spent a lot of time working at my classes by camera and being put through a series of tests to see if I was stable enough to return to Poe.
Everyone on the team kept sending notes of encouragement and Jade kept coming up with clever ways to get Jinn in to see me too. Foob made it a point to check in on me and ask if there was anything anyone in Hawthorne could do for me. I have to admit that the attention was nice, but I was very relieved when I finally got to go back to my own room and start my normal, or as normal as it got, routine again.
I made a point to be there when Hip came back from the hospital. No one had been willing to let me go and see her there. I waited in the downstairs common area as the group with her came in. Arianna saw me and rushed up.
“How dare you show yourself here! Don’t you have any shame? Haven’t you caused enough trouble?”
I almost hit her. As I struggled to contain my anger Arianna was shoved aside. I found myself face to face with Hip. Her ribs were strapped up and it was obvious that she was in some pain and tired. Still, she stood straight and proud in front of me. I looked her in the eyes, but I didn’t know what to say. She spoke first.
“I understand that you pulled your punch when you hit me.”
It wasn’t the question I’d been expecting. “Uh, yeah. When Nikki yelled I got the idea I shouldn’t hit you, but I was already committed and couldn’t stop.”
She bent over me and growled. “If you ever insult me that way again I’ll kill you. If I’m not worth your best shot them I’m not worth fighting at all. Do you understand?”
I blinked at her a few times and then nodded. “Okay. Next time we fight, I kill you. Will that make you happy?”
She straightened up with a wince and nodded. “Better. I’m a fighter. If I’m not good enough for your best then I might as well not bother. Am I not worth your best?”
I thought about it for a moment and returned her nod. “Of course you are. I was just confused by the situation. I’m sorry if you felt insulted. I was going to give you a full shot when I was distracted by Nikki.”
She considered my reply and then sighed. “Okay. As long as it was her who distracted you. She can distract anyone can’t she?” She gave a poke and a wink.
“Uh, yes. She sure can.”
She clapped me on the shoulder. “I’ve got to rest now. We’ll finish the fight later, okay?”
“Sure. Get some rest.”
She started up the stairs and then looked out over the silent room.
“What’s wrong with all of you? Ain’t never seen two girls fight before? Get a life!”
Shaking her head she went up the stairs. Arianna turned to me and snarled.
“Don’t think you’re home free yet. You still have me to deal with.”
I blinked at her for a moment and considered what Hip had said. Then I shook my head.
“Go away Arianna. I don’t feel like killing you today.”
I brushed past her and headed up to my room to do some homework. Somehow I felt a lot better about the whole thing now.
ANNOUNCEMANTS, ANNOUNCEMENTS, ANNOOO..UNCE...MENTS!
Friday, November 10th.
Chief Delarose pulled me aside before supper so it wasn’t a big surprise to me when huge 3D screens appeared all over Crystal Hall during the meal. I’d agreed not to tell anyone else though so I was the only one not surprised to find Mrs. Carson’s face looking down on us all. A quiet settled over the Hall as everyone looked up. Then Mrs. Carson spoke.
“Your attention please! Due to a recent altercation a student was nearly killed on Wednesday. Thanks to the quick intervention of some talented students this situation ended on a better note than we’d normally expect and the student in question has recovered from their injuries. It was ONLY the fast actions of the students there that saved the injured students life. Our investigations have shown it was due to a misunderstanding and a regrettable accident. In order to prevent any further accidents and the likely fatalities and serious injuries that would follow we are activating Section 33 of the Whateley Charter and declaring that ANY student or member of the Faculty attacking or engaging the student known as Tennyo in any but a properly supervised combat event or in provable self defense will be expelled and or prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law permissible. This applies to everyone!”
A picture of me appeared on the screens. After a few moments Mrs. Carson’s face reappeared.
“This action is not taken lightly. I have only done so after careful consultation with the other teachers and Supervisors. This is a serious situation and you will be expected to abide by this ruling. I repeat. If you attack or threaten this student you can and will be expelled from this school along with anyone else associated with the conflict. That means anyone encouraging someone who is ignorant or suggestible enough to be encouraged to do so. We are serious. This is no joke. Now go back to your dinner and good luck with your classes.”
The screens disappeared and I was left at the center of attention. I did the only thing I could, which was ignore the stares and eat as much of my dinner as fast as I could and get out of there. Somehow I didn’t think my life had gotten any easier.
LATER THAT EVENING:
The Don was unaccustomed to being summoned so abruptly, but that only made the summons more interesting. Ms. Hartford had made it clear there was to be no delay and while he wasn’t above goading the people who seemed to think themselves his superior, something about it made him sure this was not the time to push his limits. As it was, he made sure he arrived at the exact time specified and no sooner.
Ms. Hartford had arranged the use of a room designed to guarantee the privacy of students and their councilors. Of course everyone knew interesting things were discussed here and he was sure some very elaborate means were being used to penetrate the security. Considering the situation though, he was sure only the very best were going to get anything from this. Ms. Hartford would never trust true information to be squandered. Not when the value was so high.
Entering with his usual aplomb he was surprised to see the powerful and stern Ms. Hartford pacing. He’s expected her to be sitting and impatiently waiting. A disapproving frown on her face. Instead she looked up with a smile and a sigh of relief. An edge of worry began to shadow his thoughts, but he’d never admit or show this to anyone he considered his inferior. Ms. Hartford didn’t even wait for the usual amenities.
“Good! You came!”
“You command and I come. What is it now oh font of all wisdom?”
A brief look of distaste crossed her face but it faded almost as fast as it formed. Much to the Don’s disappointment she let it slide and got down to business.
“You saw the announcement at supper?”
“Who could’ve missed it? What kind of joke was that?”
“No joke. Mrs. Carson is deadly serious and you and the others need to be aware of it and not do anything that will get you into trouble we can’t get you out of.”
“She can’t be serious can she? How will they enforce it? Unless they make it okay for her to attack someone and not let them defend themselves we could have her out of here in less than a week.”
She shook her head.
“No. We won’t. You don’t know Section 33 very well. It’s an extreme solution and authorizes mind probes to verify all aspects of any investigation. You heard what she said about making sure no one tries to get someone to do their dirty work. Believe me. I can’t imagine anyone winning if it goes that far and I’m certain there are certain parties who’d just love a chance to look around in our minds.”
The Don managed to look shocked for a moment.
“They can’t do that! The privacy rules and laws...”
“Won’t mean a thing under Section 33. I’m sure the lawyers would have a field day if it ever went that far, but it would be AFTER the fact. I’m sure you know what that would mean.”
“But... Carson can’t do that! The Board, the Supervisors,...”
“This is coming from more than Carson.”
“Many of our Sponsors have given me these orders to send on to you and the others.”
“Yes. You know who I mean. The orders are very clear. No one connected to us is to even fart in her direction. She’s totally hands off. Anyone failing to hear this message will be disciplined.”
“But what about our plans? She and her friends can’t be allowed to get off scot free. We’d lose any respect we have.”
“None of the others are protected. You’ll just have to be inventive and clever. Keep this Tennyo out of the picture. I’m sure you can do it. We have a great deal of respect for your abilities. Use them. Just don’t get the spiky haired bitch involved. Simple.”
“Easy for you to say.”
“Yes. It is isn’t it? Just see that it gets done. I’m not joking about the Sponsors orders. Anyone crossing them will find more trouble than I think they care to imagine. Again, it’s no joke. Don’t make that mistake. I’ll trust you to get that message across to everyone. Don’t waste any time and get right on it. I’m sure your performance will be graded.”
He hesitated for a moment, but nothing about her and her demeanor indicated she was anything but totally serious. He gave a casual salute and turned to leave.
“I’ll get right on it. You’ll be sure to let our Sponsors know how I’m cooperating?”
“Yes. I’ll be sure to let them know. Now get out of here.”
“As you command. I hurry to carry out your orders.”
“Just be sure to do it. They don’t sound very happy with the situation and I’m certain they won’t be patient with anyone who doesn’t get in line with the program.”
“I understand. You don’t have to worry about us. We’ll get it done. Just be sure we get some recognition. It’s not like we’re making any money on this.”
“You’ll get your recognition. Just be sure it’s the right type.”
He nodded and left. He had a lot to do and not a lot of time to make good. He couldn’t help wondering what was so important about this girl to cause such a fuss, but you didn’t argue with some people if you knew what was good for you. One day that kind of power would be his, but he had to get there first.