|Previous||INDEX 5||Next: TBD|
CHANCED ERASURES: PART FOURTEEN
Alice considered doing something to act against Mary-Lynn, as the cat woman stood across the room. Two things made her hesitate. First, there was the fact that acting against Mary-Lynn herself wouldn’t serve to stop the dimensional shutdown device. Second, there was the issue of not being native to this world, and an “Epsilon” member being active in a key moment like this… well, it was how Alice had lost her job once already.
Fortunately, Alice didn’t have to do anything.
As the unconscious guy behind the desk let out a groan, everyone looked in that direction. That’s when Alice felt Sue grasping for the invulnerability badge she had on. She felt Sue, rather than saw her, because Sue had used her invisibility power again.
Alice let Sue take it. Moments later, Sue was standing right next to Mary-Lynn, and kicking the gun out of her hand. The cat woman snarled in response, rounding on Sue with a punch – that bounced off the invulnerability field, causing Mary-Lynn to let out a mewl of pain. Would that end up draining it for good? Well, Alice now noticed that Marlin had a hand on his wand, so could probably help out if necessary.
There was no need. In a clever move, Sue managed to twist Mary-Lynn’s arm back behind her, putting the cat woman into a hold. Fortunately, that only took one hand, leaving her other hand free to grab the tail, right before she said, “Tell us how to fix this.”
“Ow! Ow, ow! I already said there’s nothing you can do. Let go of my tail, that hurts!” Mary-Lynn hissed.
“Shay could probably help,” Usa suggested. “He’s the sort of person to have had an emergency override installed.”
“Except he’s unconscious, like Chartreuse here,” Para remarked, where she was softly stroking Chartreuse’s hair.
“Oh, my gun was set on sensory stun,” Usa said, holding it up. “Shay’s merely frozen, he’s still able to hear everything that’s going on. It’ll wear off in less than five minutes. All we need to do is use that time to somehow convince him that Mary-Lynn here is the real enemy.”
“You think we can?” Sam asked. “Shay wouldn’t listen to reason earlier.”
“Wait, um, is Chartreuse also aware of what I’m doing?” Para said, pulling her hand back. Usa simply smiled at her.
Alice turned her attention back to the dimensional device. “So, I can’t be sure, but I don’t think we’ve got much more than five minutes anyway.” Another plush cat hit her on the head. “Also, I feel like that rift is getting more aggressive, maybe due to the proximity of this thing.” In her part of the room, the small toys were stacked above her ankles.
“So how do we get Mary-Lynn to confess… wait,” Sue said. “The Hypno drug used for interrogations, is there more of it around here? We saw some in the infirmary.”
Before Usa could answer, Sam was stepping forwards. “I have some, I grabbed a vial, remember?” he said. He reached into his pocket and pulled out his handkerchief. “Would someone like to do the honours?”
Sue flashed her friend a smile. “Usa, you know how to administer that stuff, right?”
“Th-That drug won’t work. Cat genetics make me immune. Go fly a kite,” Mary-Lynn yelped.
“It’s worth a try,” Usa decided. She took the vial from Sam and advanced on Mary-Lynn.
“No, this is illegal on so many levels. If you do that, you’ll never work for the Council again. Let go of my damn taaaail!” Mary-Lynn mewled, struggling against Sue. But either Sue’s grip, or the invulnerability field, or both, kept the cat woman in place.
“If you’re one of the leaders, I don’t think I want to be working for you anyway,” Usa concluded. “Thanks for your help with restraint, Sue Morts.” She administered the drug.
Alice took the opportunity to get closer to Para. “Do you know how good the shielding down here is?” she murmured, crouching. “Because you might be out of here either way.”
After all, the Epsilon station had temporal circuits. If the dimensions were to close off, Fate could, in theory, bounce back to just before that moment and initiate a retrieval. Alice kind of hated to piggyback out that way, but there was only so much they could do to influence things before they became part of the problem. Right?
Para could only shake her head and shrug back though. So Alice resigned herself to standing back up and watching as Usa stepped back from Mary-Lynn, staring her in the eyes. Hopefully there was still more they could learn.
“Your name, for the record,” Usa stated.
“Mary-Lynn Emrys, and for the record, go take a flying leap,” the cat woman snarled.
“Who sent you to this reality?” Usa continued.
“I was born here, nitwit,” Mary-Lynn said. “You know, you’re not going to trip me up this way. You don’t know the right questions. Give up now, let the device finish, the dimensions will close, and we will be safe.”
“Safe from what, from whom?” Usa pressed.
“Anything or anyone out there who’s a threat,” Mary-Lynn answered.
“But especially from the Clover group,” Alice decided to suggest. “What is it they’re calling themselves?”
“Clover Enterprises, duh,” Mary-Lynn said. There was a brief silence. Then, “Aw, hell.”
Alice smiled quietly. At last, after all this, a solid lead.
“Is that something related to this school’s Clover Club?” Sue asked.
“No, idiot, the similar name just makes for a good smoke screen,” Mary-Lynn said. “I’m not saying anything more.”
Usa had glanced over towards Alice; now she turned back to the cat woman. “I think you will say more. Because you’ve had dealings with Clover Enterprises. Right?”
“I have not, not personally.”
“But for some reason, they’re after us,” Usa insisted.
“Sure, in a sense.”
“Can you explain why in five words or less?”
“We owe them money.”
“Why’s that?” Usa challenged.
Mary-Lynn attempted to shrug. “How the hell would I know? Do I look like the top brass?”
“If it’s only a money issue, why not pay off this Clover Enterprises?” Sam spoke up, from where he’d returned to check on Thred’s unconscious body. “Is it too expensive?”
“Not really, it’s more that the CEOs want their pay raises,” Mary-Lynn stated.
Sue leaned in closer to Mary-Lynn’s ear. “Wait. Wait, let me see if I’ve got this straight,” she said. “The Council has had extra-dimensional dealings with Clover Enterprises. Some pretty long-standing dealings, as you’ve had years to use school Clover Clubs as a smokescreen. And now, instead of paying a debt, our Council is funding a dimensional closure device, which will isolate our world and hurt our economy. All this, merely so CEOs can keep their pay raises? And you’re okay with this?”
“I might be getting a cut,” Mary-Lynn said sullenly. “Besides, no worries, there’s this trickle-down effect for the cash, whereby–”
“Oh, shut it,” Usa snapped. “I cannot believe that our organization has become so corrupt.”
“But this doesn’t make sense,” Sam protested. “Why take the drastic step of shutting down all dimensions, rather than just the one where this Clover Enterprises exists?”
“Because we can,” Mary-Lynn snarked.
Sue looked towards Alice. “You mentioned the group in the first place, do you know?”
“Well, there’s a shadowy Clover group that’s been behind at least one other dimensional incursion,” Alice admitted, exchanging a glance with Para. “Meaning I doubt your Council knows which other dimensions do or don’t have ties, hence the decision to go totally dark.”
“Actually, here’s a thought,” Para piped up. “Could this Clover Enterprises have been involved in the magic wars on this very site? Maybe the company even suggested to ‘Fenduro’ that a school be put here, along with that puzzle to solve for access to the base. Could things go that deep?”
Usa frowned, and looked back at Mary-Lynn. “Well, could they?”
“I can’t say ‘no’,” Mary-Lynn said, mouth twitching. “Which actually bothers me, why am I getting creeped out?”
“Attack of conscience?” Sam suggested.
“Hi, so, the dimensions are about to get shut down,” Marlin said, speaking up again. He’d spent the last few minutes alternately looking inside the device, glancing up at the rift, and eyeing the dimensional control item that Sue had clipped to her belt.
It occurred to Alice then that Marlin could probably have rushed Sue and grabbed it by now, if he’d wanted to. It was nice that he wasn’t interrupting the interrogation with magic either. Then again, maybe the issue was Marlin had no clear idea what was going on.
That’s when Shay mumbled something.
Sam moved closer to him. “What was that?”
Usa placed her hands on her hips. “Given what we just learned, along with Shay’s brother being off-world, hopefully it was an override code.”
Sam leaned in closer. “He said… ‘Video Err’.”
“Another anagram,” Marlin muttered. “Not helpful in actually giving us an override.”
Alice snapped her fingers. “Except where it just might be.” She peered at the inside of the device again. “Heck yeah, just need to uncouple the video. Fun failsafe. Seems you can’t shut down what you can’t see. Jolly good.”
The rectangular box showing the pulses went dark. At which point the dimensional rift opened wider, and even more cat plush started pouring out.
“Aaaand pretty sure that’s coincidence,” Alice remarked.
“Okay, so, any way we can still shut THAT dimensional connection down?” Sue asked.
Mary-Lynn rolled her eyes. “You people. A regular dimensional device can patch that, at least temporarily. Release me, and I’ll show you how.”
Sam blinked over at the cat woman. “Huh. While I realize that has to be the truth, why are you offering up the information…?”
“Leniency? Also, I’m starting to question my own place in reality, given how I seriously didn’t think there was a way for you to screw with our plans. But here we are. Will you let go of my tail already?!”
“Fine. Help,” Sue said, finally releasing Mary-Lynn, “And if it’s any consolation, I don’t see any reason that the results of this interrogation should get out.”
“Otherwise the CEOs will see you coming for their blood money?” Para wondered.
“That, and the fact that we’d prefer to deal with this little problem in-house,” Usa remarked. She looked at Sam. “So this better not end up in your newsletter.”
“Don’t look at me,” Sam said, raising his hands. “I’m not sure anyone would believe me. Also, I’d prefer to stick around at least until that device is disassembled. It’ll help me sleep nights.”
“S’fine,” came Shay’s slurred voice from the floor. “Saw rye for every ting. ‘N yer in, Sham.”
Sam blinked down at Shay. “In? You mean, you won’t wipe my memory? That’d be nice, because I actually have some suggestions. Chief among them, writing instruction manuals.”
“You see?” Sue said brightly, looking over at her friend. “This has all turned out for the best.”
“Spike for yersluf,” mumbled Sir Thred, still face down on the floor.
“Great, keen, lovely, can I please get out of here before we all drown in plush cats?” Marlin pleaded. “I’ve been nothing but helpful, seriously.”
Alice flashed him a smile. “In fact, it’s high time Para, Chartreuse and I were clicking our heels together three times. We can bring Marlin along, if that’s okay.”
“Maybe you could even make it such that we were never here?” Para suggested. “I suspect the school records will automatically wipe anyway.”
Usa nodded. “This is plausible. Paperwork can get misfiled, and we’re rather busy right now dealing with this plush cat infestation.” She gestured at where Mary-Lynn was reconfiguring Sue’s gadget. “So if you have your own means of departure…”
“Say no more, say no more, say no more, squire,” Alice burbled, grasping Marlin by the sleeve and pulling him towards what she hoped was the nearest exit. Marlin didn’t resist. Para lifted Chartreuse, who now seemed to be slowly regaining the use of her limbs, and followed after. Once they reached the music room, they were able to contact the Epsilon station almost immediately.
“And you never looked back?” Fate asked, scribbling on her pad.
“Nope, we’d already overstayed our welcome,” Alice reported. She clasped her hands behind her back, wondering if they’d be able to sit down any time soon.
“Also I wasn’t, you know, able to turn my head at that point,” Chartreuse added.
“Right.” Fate made another notation, then looked up. “Well, that takes care of the report then. Good work out there.”
“I’m just soooo glad you’re all back safely,” Beam said, bouncing into the room after having gone to return Marlin to his proper world. “The fact that you got Clover information is a bonus. Ooooh, I want to kiss you all!”
“Down, girl,” Fate said, shaking her head. “Lesbian hijinks later, for now, we should get Chartreuse and Para back home too.”
“Then you’ll be continuing your Clover investigation alone?” Para mused.
Alice nodded. “For now. I mean, on the one hand, the fact that Clover Enterprises never showed up on our radar at all is significant. On the other hand, we still don’t have a specific way of finding them. But that’s for us to mess with, you all have your own dimensions to handle. Don’t worry, we’ll let you know if we need your help again.”
“Don’t forget, there’s still regular dimensional issues to monitor as well,” Fate reminded them.
“Well I’m always willing to, you know, do what I can for friends,” Chartreuse said, smiling. She looked at Para. “Speaking of that, it was nice to meet you. Thanks for, like, all the help.”
Para found herself smiling back. “Thanks for accepting me on your team, and taking that hit for me at the end.”
Chartreuse dropped a quick curtsey. “I do what I can.”
“Group hug with everyone before you go!” Beam squealed, throwing her arms open wide. “Please?”
Alice rolled her eyes, but followed the other women into the embrace. Personally, she hoped that the next stage of their investigation would involve bringing in Alijda, their super hacker. Or at least, she hoped to connect up with her roommate again soon. Might she even get a few days of relatively normal every day life then? Only time would tell.
END OF STORY 5: CHANCED ERASURES
Preferred POV character from Story5? OPTIONS:
VOTING WILL LIKELY REMAIN OPEN AGAIN
|Previous||INDEX 5||Next: TBD|
PATHS NOT TAKEN:
If it had been Sam, he would have dimensionally jumped away using Sue’s device, then come back in a position to use the serum on Mary-Lynn. If it had been Marlin, who’d thought Alice’s “Mr. Wizard” remark had been a reference to him, magic would have been used as the restraint. We got Sue, which also included keeping everything quiet – so perhaps that’s a bad end? I should have seen it coming though, since Marlin doesn’t have much personality yet, and no one wanted Sam to figure out the room code a few votes back either. I’m still learning here. Feel free to elaborate about your prior votes.
THE ORACLE PROPHESIED:
Usa’s vote from a couple parts back had a secondary consequence about Sam’s Hypno drug. I didn’t want to bring up then, lest readers had forgotten about it. If Usa had helped them find Shay, they’d have used the drug on him, to learn more on using the device (recall they could have found files for what Mary-Lynn had said here). If Usa knew how the device worked, the drug for sure would have been used on Mary-Lynn, similar to what we saw. Since they improvised using the device, I was still improvising on who would get the drug… and it turned out to be the cat woman.
As a coins follow-up, in the first couple days of 2019, I got one of the new 2018 $10 bills with Viola Desmond on it, so that was kind of cool. Going forwards, I plan to edit the old Melissa Virga archive – any preference between longer parts every two weeks, or shorter parts weekly? Looking back, would people prefer if I stopped changing the point of view each part? Let me know. There’s a final Behind the Scenes here, looking at anagrams and stats. Thanks for reading!