Leah Carpenter/The Great Crey Adventure

From Unofficial Handbook of the Virtue Universe

Jump to: navigation, search

This story has a high body count and some potentially offensive (but non-explicit) content. As such, I'm going to give it a banner.



Chapter 1

This all happened starting the night of November 25th, 2007. It had been a long night, with even more Clockwork intrustions. I was getting sort of sick of working against the Clockwork, since they don't ever put up any sort of good fight or carry any useful personal items on them. They're also so ineffective at anything that nobody bothers to run news stories about them any more. It's total grunt work.

I teleported to the street corner of my old apartment in the crappy part of Galaxy City. I don't care what anyone says about teleportation, I wish I had a car. Teleportation is total motion sickness combined with dizziness and a hint of disorientation. At least with a car, you get a comfy seat, a sound system, and can appreciate the finer parts of life. I effortlessly clothesline a purse snatcher while I walk towards the front door of the complex. My key still worked, which always bothered me because they never changed any of the locks here in my six years living here. I would think that incident with the infamous burgler that is still at large would have inspired them by now.

I walk into my apartment and flip the light switch to find that it doesn't work. Lovely. I could have sworn that I had been paying the electric bill. I guess they're so used to denying me electricity that someone thought it was a glitch in their system. No matter. I just do what I had been doing for years prior and use my electric current to power my makeshift lamp. I take a long bath and go to bed. The only other thing I remember is when I woke up in the middle of the night thinking that someone had broken in, but I fell right back to sleep.

When I next woke up, I was strapped down on some sort of stretcher. I was still woozy from whatever drugs that were used on me, with my sight blurry and a dull pain all throughout my body. I couldn't make out shapes, only lights and some blobs of colors. I was traveling through some sort of grey hallway with a lot of strips of light overhead, with some white and teal figures on either side of me. I was completely unable to move or use any of my powers. Even the usual electrical buzz wasn't present. Before long, we arrived in another grey room, this time with what I vaguely made out as some machinery. Some really harsh lights turned on directly over me and a bunch of white and teal figures surrounded me.

"Okay, starting log on subject MD-73261," said one of the white and teal figures, "Today's date is November 26th, 2007. Current time is 0:33 hours. We have captured the specimen from her apartment in Galaxy City with no signs of struggle and no witnesses. A single dosage of MHSS was sufficient to disable her for two hours. The usual bribes to delay police investigation have already been made." He notices that my eyes are open and passes a flashlight over both of them. "Subject is waking up, but still under the effect of MHSS. Let's begin the clearance check." The various men in teal started doing basical medical tests on me, not even bothering with rubbing alcohol while extracting blood.

"Vitals are normal," said another figure, "Height is 5'4", weight is 137 pounds. Blood pressure is 112 over 99. Odd, but within healthy limits. Breathing is normal. Heart rate is currently 57 BPM, but that is most likely due to MHSS."

"Blood test comes up negative on all tests so far," said a figure near some machinery.

"Okay. Start the scans for spectral contaminations." A machine was rolled over me and a line of green light went over me. "We have a Mogwai here," said the technician, obviously unfamiliar with the word.

"Oh, goddamnit, I hate those things so much," said the log keeper, "Go get the spirit killing equipment. Start a level 1 spectral seal on this room."

A lot of activity broke out all around the room. A siren started wailing and some red beacons were barely visible outside. I could hear the base computer in its usual monotone female voice, flatly stating "Level 1 Merlin Alarm in Sector 8, Zone 22. All personell in adjacent zones have 90 seconds to vacate or secure their rooms before isolation begins."

Less than a minute after the alarm sounded, many of the figures came back carting in a ton of bluish grey equipment, some of which glowing a pale shade of green. They fixed a mask on me, unlatched my board from the stretcher and placed me on a machine. The machine lifted me up and held me horizontally facing down near the ceiling. My eyesight was starting to get better, allowing me to make out more details. All of them equipped themselves with one of the blue and glowing green rifles and one of them was near a control panel. It was around this time that the monotone computer said "Isolation of Sector 8, Zone 22 initiated... complete."

"Okay, gentlemen," started the log keeper, "do you know what a Mogwai is?"

"Aren't they those dolls they sell in Chinatown?" asked one of the rifle carriers, obviously sarcastic.

"Cute. Anyway, they're soul binding creatures. They sap the power and life force of their victim over a period of time. We're about to remove one from this test subject now, but once we do, it will enter stage two. At this stage, it will be no longer be bound to the subject and as such, will increase both in power and aggressiveness. It will bind itself to whoever it can reach and consume their soul over a matter of seconds. If it gets even one person, it will enter stage three and we'll have to evacuate the whole base and call in the Protectors. If this happens, nobody in this room will live and the likelyhood of anyone within a half mile radius getting out alive is slim."

"In other words, a normal experiment," said the same person as before.

"Quiet, you. Now, let me brief you on the use of these weapons..." started the leader. A familiar voice came from nearby, drowning him out.

"Well, I guess this is goodbye, Lei Lei," said my Mogwai. He poked out from under my vest like he usually did.

"What are they going to do?" I asked him.

"They're referencing an old Mogwai legend, but they make it sound like that it's not only real, but that they're also able to kill us as well."

"What's the legend?"

"If a Mogwai gets seperated from his earthly host unwillingly, he or she-"

"Unwillingly?!" I ask, outraged at the implication.

"We can leave whenever we want, but we need to spend time with mortals to insure our own lives."

"Oh, for the love of god," I say, "But anyway, wouldn't it make more sense for you to leave right now before they go Ghostbusters on you?"

"It takes about half a year to gain passage back to the Mogwai world. We have maybe half a minute."

"Okay. Sorry to interrupt, continue with what you were saying."

"If a Mogwai can be seperated unwillingly, he or she gets bound to the world and turns into a demon. He or she will then want to feed on as many souls as possible, getting more powerful until either they overload or get destroyed. From what these strange men are saying, it sounds like the legend is pretty much spot on and they have a plan for dealing with it."

"This isn't going to be a pretty sight, is it?" I ask, not doing a good job hiding the enthusiasm that I was finally about to be rid of him after 21 years of abuse.

"No, it isn't. Anyway, it's been fun having you as my soul bitch. Most of the people I end up with either go insane or manage to tune me out entirely after less than a year."

"Thanks for the compliment," I sarcastically say.

"...and remove anything that inhibits your movement or might cause personal injury. Take off your uniforms, they will not protect you against him." The men in teal all take off their lab coats and vests, keeping their masks on.

"Okay, remember the steps. Step 1, force it out. Step 2, release the gas. Step 3, shoot it to oblivion. And as I said a hundred times before, do NOT let it touch you or everyone here is screwed. Beginning the countdown at 10... 9... 8..."

"Well, I hope eternity treats you well," I say to my Mogwai.

"You, too," he replies, doing a little salute.

"...3...2...1... release!"

At that very moment, my sight became filled with a lot of bright flashes of all colors. I had this horrible pain, but it didn't feel physical at all. Instead, it felt like having my very essence torn apart. I have no clue how long this lasted because it felt like hours during what could have only been seconds. By the time I regained my vision, I noticed some freakish looking monkey thing about the size of a toddler directly below me starting to gain its senses as gas canisters spewing a blue substance came flying towards it. The light in this room was no longer the harsh white, but instead a shade of red.

"Fire at will, go, go, go!" Upon those words being shouted, the former Mogwai scrambled as bolts of green energy shot past. It ran through the lab, weaving and dodging bolts of green energy that were destroying equipment and sending objects flying. It kept jumping at people, with them only barely dodging it. It would be an insanely cool scene if it weren't for the fact that I was there and I was worried that everyone here was going to die.

Eventually, one miscalculated leap ended with the former Mogwai getting shot at point blank range, sending it flying into a corner of the lab. Upon landing, all the scientists started unloading into it, with it unable to do anything but spasm and make this high pitched, grating scream.

"Keep firing! Do not stop until I give the order!"

For about a minute, the former Mogwai was pumped with bolt after bolt of green energy, each one forcing it into a more dire scream. It was literally melting away as each bolt hit it. The scream ceased after about 30 seconds and I could no longer see any signs of movement from it after 40, but still, it got blasted. After a while, the leader then yelled "Cease fire!"

It took a few seconds for the order to register with everyone, but they all eventually stopped firing. The leader walked over to the door and pressed a few buttons on the nearby control panel. The room lit back up to its normal state and all the gas started to filter out. The wiseguy scientist from before walk over to what remained of the creature, with the rifle still leveled at it while he scanned it with a device.

"He's de-"

"No, don't even think about it," interrupted the leader, obviously knowing exactly what he was going to say.

"Overkill much?" I said, finally getting the nerve to speak to them.

The lead scientist came to my machine, pressed a few buttons on its control, and brought me back down from the ceiling. "Welcome to Crey Research and Development," he said to me, in a bit of a disinterested voice, "You're now unofficially Crey property. Officially, you have gone missing right after your last mission involving the Clockwork. Enough evidence will be found to keep the authorities busy with the Clockwork for months. Any rights you used to have are now forfeit. We will be moving you to Long Term Study Facility #02 in Dimension Tau Omega 17-7, where you will remain for the rest of your soon to be highly extended life. Whether it ends by a lab accident or by our eventual disposal of you once you no longer prove useful, it is the only thing you will have to look forward to. Escape from your destination will be futile due to security of the facility and the monthly teleportation system in place. The environment outside of the facility is devoid of oxygen and constantly patrolled by unidentified monsters. Do you understand me?" I just stare at him with utter contempt, unable to come up with a response. "Good. You'll be heading there in three hours. Don't go anywhere."

Chapter 2

After what I only guess to have been three hours but felt like significantly longer, a crew of the standard Crey security guards came to my room. Without even looking directly at me, they start wheeling me out of the room. I decide to try to strike up some conversation.

"So, how long have you guys been working with Crey?" I ask, to no avail. They don't even glance at me. I try asking other small talk questions, getting completely ignored. Eventually, I ask "How do you guys manage to cart a restrained human being without any thought about the ethics of it?"

"It helps when they don't talk," said one of them, still not looking at me.

"Oh," I respond, coming up with a haphazard plan, "Well, in case you don't recognize me from the news, I'm Leah Carpenter. I help to fight crime, protecting the innocents from all the criminals of Paragon City. I-" I get cut off when the same guy as before stuffs a rag in my mouth. The rest of the trip goes by in silence, with the rag being removed from my mouth just as we exit onto a helipad. They take me to one of their long helicopters, which I notice is sleek and unmarked. Classic.

"Subject MD-73261, secured and ready," said one of the security guards, palming me off to the helicopter crew. They load me in with the rest of their cargo and close the hatch. I feel the helicopter take off within a few minutes and after about two hours, we arrive at our destination. A couple more blue-clad goons roll me out and through even more hallways until we get to a very large room. I see something that I recognized as being similar to the Portal Corp teleporters in one corner and another partially constructed in another. There are a ton of crates all around and I see one other wheeley bed with a squirming draconic hybrid looking creature on it.

"Final specimen is ready for transport," said one of the goons to another goon.

"That's it? We were expecting quite a few more than this," said the head goon.

"Don't look at me. I wasn't part of the retrieval team," he said as he and the other goons that wheeled me in walked off.

Within a few minutes, the portal opened up. I saw a cart containing a couple crates and a laptop computer come out. The head goon take a large sheet of paper off of one of the crates and laugh. "Another request for food. Anyone feel like giving a creative reason why we can't give it to them?"

"Tell them we forgot again," said a goon out of my field of vision, "Eighteenth time is the charm."

"No, no, I have a candy bar I couldn't finish," said another good out of my vision, "Tell them we forgot, but that we had this with us."

"Now, now. We don't want to make them kill each other over your candy bar. Remember when we gave them that faulty chicken DNA?"

"Oh, that was so much fun to read about. I'm surprised they managed to raise one single good chicken in spite of it having every single genetic condition ever."

"They probably had to devote two labs of equipment to make that happen and some of them still killed each other over a roast chicken that ended up poisoning the unlucky few that ate any of it."

"Come on, half eaten candy bar," said the over enthusiastic goon as he placed it on the cart with all the boxes.


The first goon started chanting "Half eaten candy bar! Half eaten candy bar!" Soon, most of them were chanting along. The head goon looked really irritated before he walked over to the cart, grabbed one of the guns from a crate, threw the candy bar in the air, and vaporized it with extreme prejudice.

"Aww, come on," said the former candy bar owner, obviously miffed that this frat party was being disbanded.

"No, we are not going to provoke them. I really don't want to have another 'major lab accident' on this month's report. Stop goofing around and get back to work."

They resume work, some looking more disappointed than others. I begin to wonder to myself... is this really Crey? A bunch of drunken frat boys with a lot of dangerous equipment to play with? I don't see how the company has so many billions of dollars and hundreds of high end patents if this is their standard of employee.

Before long, I'm being wheeled near the portal. Some hydraulic system pushes the cart through the portal at about five miles per hour. While the trip through the portal took less than a second, it was still such an ice cream headache. I come out on the other side, which is a much smaller room and has a waiting crew of people wearing lab coats.

"Okay, ready to close the portal," said a technician near the controls. The portal powers down, with the vibrations fading and the sphere dissapating. One of the goons walks over to my cart and rolls me out of the room and around a corner. My bed is unlatched from the cart and slid onto some machine. After being locked in place, it rotates me so I'm upright. I see more labcoat scientists walking around.

"Anyone here going to tell me what's going on?" I ask. They all just ignore me as though I don't exist.

"Anyone?!" I yell. I just hear a soft "shut up" come from some random person I couldn't quite place. About twenty seconds later, someone walks up to me.

"They won't respond to you," he said, "they need to disassociate themselves with all our experiments or they'll go insane. I don't mind getting to know all you little goofballs, though."

"Why am I here?" I ask him. Bit of a rhetorical question, but why not?

"Let me check your chart," he said, sliding a clipboard from the side of my bed, "ah, yes, Leah Carpenter. Last time you'll hear that name. Says here you have spectral appendages with an extremely high regeneration rate. Magic in nature. We've had two or three come through here, but they lost them the moment they went through the portal. Already, you're special by not having that happen." He puts the clipboard back in place.

"But I digress. My name is Dr. Johann Nasmin. I'm in charge of this facility. Have been for over 400 years our time and since they opened it in... January 22nd, 2006 in the real world."

"400 years?" I ask.

"This dimension is special. It exists on a completely different timeline than all the other dimensions. It also can be specially accessed so as to allow a large amount of time to occur while only a few hours go by in the real world."

"Interesting," I respond. It actually was interesting.

"Back when this facility was still untested, they had a one week = three years policy, but they changed that once we started getting results way faster than they could send us work. Now, we get monthly shipments, each spaced eight hours apart in the real world."

"Why were they joking about sending food?"

"You mean they are joking about this? Goddamn, I hate those assholes."

"That doesn't answer my question."

"Right. This dimension's natural state preserves you at your exact age indefinitely. We're not entirely sure how it works, but it doesn't seem to interfere with test results over any period of time. Let's use your appendages as an example. They'll still regenerate in the estimated 7 hours your chart said, but you still won't age. We actually have some time dilation equipment that would allow us to age you if we needed it, but we wouldn't do that on you specifically. Just the testing clones. Also, nobody needs food here. Nobody gets hungry either, but a lot of people miss eating food and those pissants sitting at their conference table refuse to send us anything because it's an 'unnecessary expense.'"

"How long am I staying here?" I ask. Why not?

"Until you die. Could be tomorrow, could be in a thousand years. Whenever that occurs, I assure you it will be the happiest moment of your life."

"That's lovely."

"I think they're about ready to implant your spine control. I'll be seeing you later."

As he walks off, I feel the back section of my bed come off, leaving my strapped to a small frame. About ten seconds later, I feel this sharp pain in the back of my neck, which suddenly goes away. Along with most of the feeling in my body. I was also unable to move at all. I hear some sound come from the bed and fall limp to the ground in front of me. I hadn't even noticed it when I was on the bed, but I seem to be naked. Humiliating.

"Make her stand up," said one of them. As though I'm just a puppet, I stand up in a rigorous and clumsy fashion. I still can't get over the fact that I'm naked, which is apparantly only of interest to me.

"Okay, all muscles are in check except her tail." Oh, yeah, my tail. I try to move it and it actually obeys. Certainly wasn't expecting that. Too bad it was pretty much useless in this situation.

"Let her keep her tail. If it gets to be a problem, we'll just strap it down."

"Noted. Okay, I'm putting her in the position."

At this point, my arms stretch out to make a completely horizontal line. I get feeling back in most of my body and regain control of my legs. Taking a chance, I decide to try talking to them.

"Are you going to just leave me naked like this?" They just ignore me. "Well?!" I shout. I hear the same soft "shut up" from a corner of the room.

"You heard her. Give her a gown," said Dr. Nasmin from the other room. The technicians all look at each other for a brief moment before grabbing a minimalist hospital gown from the closet and putting it on me. Chafing, uncomfortable, doesn't do anything to cover my back. But they gave it to me when I yelled. It was progress.

"I want something for my back," I demand. I don't wait to confirm being ignored before adding a harsh "now!"

"Spasm her," said Dr. Nasmin from the other room. I then spasm so hard that I dislocate half my bones. Unlike most of the controls thus far, I felt all of it, though. I fall to the ground, writhing in agony. I'm just left like this for about a minute before I go numb and limp again, with some technicians relocating all my bones and dragging me back to my feet. Dr. Nasmin walks in the room and up to me.

"We don't take that sort of lip from our test subjects," he starts in a high and mighty tone, "Any more disruptive activity and you'll get more spasms like that."

"Why did you give me a gown that first time, then?" I ask.

"I believe in granting one reasonable request for everyone. It's a stupid request, though. It's not like nobody here is going to find out more about you than you would want even a husband to, so I don't see why you're so concerned about being clothed."

"Because it's what a human being should have?"

"That's where we diverge. You are not a human being any more. Remember that and keep quiet." He takes out a felt pen and writes down the number 229 on the upper left corner of my gown, then turns around to the other technicians. "Take Subject 229 to its holding cell." He walks out of the room, with one of the technicians rolling his eyes as he picks up a phone. I couldn't hear what he was talking about, but within less than a minute, some more blue goons came by.

"Walk beside us and don't try anything stupid," said one of them. I just comply without saying anything. We walk over to the room that would be my home for several months. It's a rectangular room seperated in two by a plexiglass wall, with the middle of the wall holding a short corridor with two doors and a machine above it. This was obviously a containment room. I notice a long mirror, which is the usual tell tale sign of an observation room. Probably accessed by the door near it on the outside of the sealed area. All I see in the sealed room is a mattress and a puny looking pillow.

"I see Dr. Nasmin set up the Hilton for you," said one of the goons. Another goon smacks him on the back of his head and says "ixnay on the alkingtay to ubjectsay." They walk me into the airlock, step back, and the doors swap positions. I'm given back control of my body, which still has some moderate pain all over from the spasm. When I lie down, I feel something under the pillow. Turns out it's the current issue of Popular Science with a note between it that read "This magazine is useless. I'm sure it will make great company for the next couple years. Nasmin."

Chapter 3

From then on, it was a pretty constant routine. I would be left in my cell with only an old magazine to keep me company for ten hours. Sleep required a lot of effort to get, since you didn't actually get tired on this dimension. For the other fourteen hours of a day, I would be strapped to a lab table as they gradually dissected me. They cut into my wings and tail exclusively at first (not that major, since I had little feeling in them), but after they apparantly figured out all they could from it, they started taking samples from the section where skin and appendage meet. Fourteen hours a day, I was just strapped there helpless, unable to move, and if I tried talking without being prompted, they would stab me with a scalpel in my shoulder. It was brutal.

The most memorable part of this ordeal happened after what I'm guessing was about five months of our time. One night after about 14 hours of experiments, Dr. Nasmin decided to take the duty of returning me to my holding cell. Usually, it was one of the lab technicians that took me back, but Dr. Nasmin probably had something he wanted to test outside of the view of the others. It was the only reason he ever came to my cell after the first day. After being returned into my cell, he proved me right.

"Well, Miss 229," said Nasmin through the intercom in his usual disinterested voice, "you're probably wondering why I'm here. We've had some success with modifying C1 on your clones and-"

"Clones?" I interrupt. While I knew they had a whole production line of human clones they used for their experiments, I was a bit surprised (not really) to think that they might be clones of myself.

"Yes. We haven't yet figured out how to 'inflict' others with your particular 'curses', but the NHTs regenerate and maintain themselves when introduced to your particular genome. It was a major breakthrough because it means that it's linked to your genetics rather than your soul."

"Comforting," I remark, with a little more than just a hit of cynicism.

"Anyway, I developed a formula," said Nasmin, taking out a syringe full of some yellowish white fluid, "something I think could not only modify your C1 structure, but also grant you the ability to shift between forms at will."

"And you're testing this directly on me why?"

"Well, our results with the clones didn't fare too well."

"What happened to them?" I asked, not really caring to hear the answer.

"Well, it works. That much, we have ascertained. But our problem is that these clones, they don't carry all your traits. While grafting bits of your C1 onto them does work, they still don't have your powers or your upbringing. Most importantly of all, they're feral and as such, end up destroying themselves after the injection."

"Bummer," I say, almost delighted to hear about setbacks to their project. If I have to stay with them forever, I'd rather they not benefit from it.

"I told the board comittee that we need to test this directly on you, but those fools, they won't listen. They claim that it's too unstable, too untested, and they think that the same results will happen on you. That we might end up losing you in the process. But I'm willing to take that chance even if it means going behind everyone else's backs."

"I suppose you're going to inject me with that now. Could you use my left arm? My right is still sore."

"You're adapting to your situation quicker than the others, I see. I'm going to have one of the hazard area robots inject you with it."

Dr. Nasmin then took the door to the observation room. Less than a minute later, he came back out with a remote control alongside one of the robots they use for their hazardous projects. The robot is cleared through the airlock and approaches me.

"Computer, remove restraints from subject 229," said Nasmin into his control unit. Just like all the other times, the rigor mortis within my arms faded, dropping them by my sides and allowing me control of them again.

"Now, from what I've gathered from all the failed experiments, this will sting just a little. That's normal. Don't let it get to you. Try to think of something happy, such as time you spent with one of your boyfriends... oh, wait, that's right, I forgot. Well, you'll think of something, I'm sure."

Dr. Nasmin maneuvers a bit with the remote and the robot injects the formula into the vein of my right arm. Less than a second later, I felt the most horrible pain come over me as I started spasming. It felt like I was having my very being torn apart at every single nerve. I had never been able to feel my wings before, but even they were registering copious amounts of pain. It went on for what felt like an eternity but was really only about 20 seconds. When I finally regained my composure, the first thing I noticed were that my arms had scales all over and my fingernails had been replaced with talon-like claws.

"Marvelous," said Nasmin through the intercom, "are you okay? Can you still form rational thoughts?"

"Screw you," I reply, not feeling creative enough to come up with a wittier response.

"That's the spirit, 229," he responded glibly, "Go check yourself out. I think you'll like these results."

I walk to the mirror to see an almost shocking sight. My hair had changed color and grown dramatically. The scar tissue was no longer around my eyes, which had changed color as well. Instead, there were scales. Not only were there scales on my face, but they were also on my arms and chest as well. My wings and tail had transformed as well, becoming green and scaly.

"What do you think?" asked Nasmin, obviously without a care for me. I just ignore him as I continue to stare at my visage. I hadn't even noticed that the flimsy gown had been torn apart, taking me the last little bit to total nudity.

"Well, don't just stand there gawking at yourself. Try and will yourself back to your old form." Before I can even respond, he says "Focus on your old form."

I start thinking about how I used to look. Following his vague advice, I focus on it, just remembering specific details. I'm not sure what exactly triggered it, but before I knew it, all my "NHTs" as they call them melted away into nothingness, with my usual form coming back.

"Congratulaitons, Miss 229. You're going down in the Crey history books as our first successful induction of a type II shape shifter."

"Type II?" I ask.

"Type I just means that the subject has other forms, but no direct control on being able to change to them. The Council's Warwolf program would be a prime example."

"Oh. Is this all?" I ask, thinking that he'd just make things worse if I didn't.

"That's all for now. We have C1 locked down and I think we can live without touching C2 or C3. Any sufficiently strong willed person can just ignore them."

"No, they can't," I responded, with more conviction than I usually had.

"Oh, bull. Your curses are only strong enough to divert the weak minded. Anyone dead set in their conviction to work with or have sex with you only needs to ignore the nagging voices in their head."

"You think you're hot shit, don't you?" I state, unsure of where I'm going with this. Perhaps it was the utter hopelessness of my situation or the five months of constant abuse and degredation, but right now, I was dead set on at least one victory, no matter how shallow or pointless. "You're nothing. You haven't even bothered to examine any of my other curses in any scientific detail. You can't willingly choose to have sex with me. The only reason I'm not a virgin is because I used the same potions that got my dad to marry my mom. And if you know my mom, you would know how impressive that is."

"So, you're suggesting that I'm wrong?" he asks, with only the slightest hit of indignation creeping into his voice.

"I'm not suggesting it, I'm flat out saying it. You don't know shit. You walk around here like you're the next Nobel laureate, awaiting only the phone call from the committee to confirm it."

"Those old fools?" said Nasmin, going into mad scientist mode, "They're outdated. They abide by such meaningless ideals. Science cannot blossom when it's held up by such things as ethics and morality. Such useless distractions. If they got past them, they'd realize that I have contributed way more to society than Edison and Whitney combined."

"In the field of weapons, I'm sure," I remark dryly. I had no clue where I was going with this, but something compelled me to continue, "Did anyone that worked on the Manhattan project get a Noble Prize?"

"You know what?" he asked rhetorically, "I really don't need to take this shit from a lab experiment." He reached for his lab communicator, dialed in a few numbers, and started talking. "Hi... how has your day... oh, I'm definitely going into the history books with 229. I induced type II shapeshifting capabilities into her... yes, I know, the committee forbid tampering with her directly, but we need to take risks in order to progress... oh, let's just withhold this discovery until the next shipment. I should be able to duplicate this in one of the clones by then... no, I'm not sure what went wrong with them... come on, even if they figure out what we really did, the results speak for themselves. They specifically told us they will not hear of how we get them... look, it's not my fault that they refuse to send us food... yes, I know, I would so very much love to have some turkey or even just something from Wendy's, but they know it's not required for us... look, I'll ask them if they could send some salmon our way, but I don't see how this will be any different than the other 62 times we asked... okay, 59, but still... could we please continue this conversation another time? I called because I need you to come to pen 17... yes, the one with 229... no, it's not just to show off what I acheived... see, she gave me some lip and... no, I can't just spasm her. We just spent five months cutting into her without any anesthesia. You think making her dislocate her shoulders will put her in her place?... look, just come to cell 17, please... yes, I'll remember to add the salmon to the list, but I don't think it's going to make any difference... okay, love you, bye."

"Who the hell was that?" I ask.

"Oh, that was my wife," he responded, "She's going to monitor us."

"As surprised as I am that someone like you is married, I'm more surprised that she doesn't mind you cheating on her with your test subjects."

"Oh, like we haven't both raped half the clones that come through here," he says, with the same tone of voice he'd talk to his mother with.

"I'd say something, but I don't think it would mean anything to you at this point." At what had to have been a record time, Nasmin's wife came through the door.

"Did I miss anything? Have you started yet?" She said immediately upon entering the room. She was this freakish cat person, with ears protruding from her head, whiskers, claws on her hands, a tail, and fur all over, all orange. The only thing she wore was her lab coat, with it being fairly obvious that she had nothing else on.

"This is your wife?" I say, faking increduality, "She belongs in one of these pens. She's a total freak."

"Oh, I am," she said, squinting at me while smiling with her teeth. She had prominant fangs to match the rest of her body.

"She is," said Nasmin, walking up behind her.

At first, I thought my plan was backfiring. Here was his wife, someone who was obviously just as perverted as he is. Hell, even moreso, since she was also apparantly modifying her very being for the fun of it. He hadn't even yet told her his plan, but she obviously knew. She must have wanted this even more than he did. But then, I thought... this is even better. He'll be driven away like everyone else, losing face in front of his wife. He'll have to concede defeat to me and someone close to him will be here to witness it. It wouldn't do anything for me but give me some smug satisfaction and probably more abuse.

"I'll be right back," said Nasmin, going into the adjacent observation/supply room.

"So, what's your story, Mrs. Nasmin?" I ask.

"Big cats have it so much better than humans. They're agile, strong, and have heightened senses. They have exceptional stamina, especially where it matters the most. I have spent the past 400 years as lead researcher and primary test subject for the continuation of the Mynx program."

"I thought Mynx also became almost completely feral as a result of the tests. By the way, thank you for confirming it was Crey that did it."

"No problem. And yes, she did. That was the first glitch we worked out. To be honest, this project was officially abandoned after it was found that significantly better results were to be gained from the Revenant program, but I salvaged it as a black project. How else am I to become more like my favorite species?"

"Everyone needs their hobbies, I guess." With that, Mr. Nasmin walked back in with some handcuffs and a syringe.

"What took you?" asked his wife.

"I forgot what the endorphin inhibitor was. Had to look it up."

"Oh, this is going to be so fun to watch."

He swiped his card and went through the doors into my cell...

...I don't think it's in my or your best interest to mention what happened here. I'm going to skip to the next part.

[Note: anyone squick enough to want to have specific details can take the "Convince Leah to talk" test. Send a private message giving a plausible way you'd contact her and how you'd roleplay after she says "You better have a good reason to ask me about this." I won't even dignify any contrived mind reading or mind control explanations with a response.]

Chapter 4

A month goes by as slowly as all the others. The last shipment confirmed that Crey was finally going to spend the couple bucks on food for everyone as a "bonus", so people were excited. On the day of the big shipment, I was in my cell as usual. The only thing I was guaranteed was a day off to lie in bed every 30 days while they moved in all their supplies. Usually, I looked forward to it, but at this point, it made no difference to me whether I was in my bed or on the operating table. The copious amount of scar tissue around my wings and tail were more or less dead of feeling, so the main difference between here and the lab was that I would at least hear them talking about me. I learned more about myself and my biology then anyone would ever want to know just from overhearing their conversations.

While lying in my bed, something out of the ordinary happened. The monotone female computer voice came over the P.A. system, the first time I heard it here. "Intruder alert in sector 1. Evacuate to the shelters immediately."

I'm hearing this and all I am thinking is... did the system malfunction? Someone pulling a prank? They mentioned that this base is located deep within the core of the island and how there's no way for anything outside to even get in here. That there's nothing even intelligent in this dimension and how nobody outside of Crey knows the coordinates of the dimension, let alone the base. This had to be a leg pull.

But apparantly, it wasn't. Less than a minute after the alarm started, six standard security guards walk into the room. "229, we're here to escort you to the shelter. Please stand up." I stand up and as usual, my arms extend horizontally and lock in place. I walk over to the air lock, get cleared through, and walk beside the two middle security guards just as procedure demanded. We walk through the door together, with them leading me away from the labs.

"So, what's going on?" I ask. They just ignore me, as though it's irrelevant if I know. I guess it sort of is.

Without any warning, I feel this sharp pain in between my shoulder blades and behind my neck. My arms fall to my side as I feel something slide down my back. I heard something small and metallic hit the ground behind me just as I felt the same sort of buzz within me that I had almost completely forgotten. I touch the painful areas to feel a lot of blood flowing, but no more implants. It was around this time that the security guards registered what had happened.

"We have a situation in sector 22. Send backup," said one of the security into his microphone. They then all reached for their dart guns. I realized that now would be the opportunity for escape if I ever had one and quickly teleported into an adjacent room just as they started firing. A loud whump confirms that they really are crappy shots. "Search the area. Do not let her get away," barked one of them. I heard them start to open doors, getting closer to my door. I get ready to start stunning them when I then hear the sound of gunfire and what sounded like glass breaking outside. This lasted for about ten seconds before things went silent. I then heard a familiar voice say "you can come out now."

When I walk outside the room, I see something I hadn't really expected to ever see. My mother was standing there, wearing her full traditional blue robes. Beside her in full ice restraint was Dr. Nasmin. All the security guards were scattered around and partially frozen, all of them quite dead.

"I believe you have some business with this man, if you can really consider him that," said my mother, releasing his restraints and kicking his knee in to force him to the ground.

"You were right, 229. You're mother really is scary," said Nasmin, eliciting a dry ice scald on his left shoulder from my mother.

"I'll go get some handcuffs," I say, heading back to the door.

"No, no, no, no, no," said my mom just as I start walking, "take care of him."

"What?" I ask in disbelief.

"Execute him," she said, sounding impatient, "I know he did to you and the only punishment for it is death." While I knew that my mother wasn't someone to really care about collateral damage, I had never thought she would endorse killing helpless people.

"I'm sorry, but I can't do that."

"Look, I know you're trying to be a big hero to impress all the boys and get on the right side of the evening news, but that doesn't matter here. This man spent six months degrading and torturing you. He raped you sadistically just for talking back at him."

"He needs to be brought to justice," I respond, in spite of knowing that it's a futile argument.

"You think Crey is going to let that happen?"

"This whole facility is loaded with proof. There are project files, dozens of witnesses if you left any of them alive, and a whole production line of clones identical to me. The existence of the facility itself is against any number of international laws."

"Crey is a multi-billion dollar, globe spanning corporation. They have holdings everywhere. The public don't want to believe that they are this corrupt. They own most of the politicians, police, and district attornies. Even if you can find enough people that aren't corrupt to carry the case, they have more than enough deniability."

"There's too much evidence. This whole facility-"

"By the time anybody could investigate, they could have it completely dismantled," she interrupts, "you're forgetting that this dimension has its own laws of time."

"But all the other evidence-"

"They'll find a way to deny it. They employ some the best lawyers. They'll find a legal loophole. Look, even if Crey lets him burn at the stake, you're forgetting the clone program. They could just as easily clone him and set him up as having committed suicide in his cell while returning the original here."

"I'm honored you think I'm this important," said Nasmin, provoking another dry ice scald from my mother.

"You won't get any action taken against Crey or this man. Leaving him alive, no matter how much you think you can bring him to justice, is an act of cruelty against every other person they are going to capture and dissect in the future. There's no salvation for him. Right now, he's just thinking about how good it will be to have a vacation in the real world."

"Since when you you become this good at probing?" I ask, not really caring about the answer.

"Look, no daughter of mine is going to naively bring the man that spent all this time and effort on breaking her to the police so he can eventually get off and go back to the same exact work, no doubt with intent to get her back to resume this. I came here to rescue my daughter, not someone so blind to think that any sort of justice is going to take place. Which are you?"

I think about it for a little. As much as I didn't like her, she was telling the 100% truth. The likelyhood of this man being brought to justice were about as high as the likelyhood of me convincing my mother to keep him alive. It was a time like this that made me wonder whether she willingly chooses not to compel me or if she is unable to do so. It always seemed like the latter was most likely, but who knows any more?

"I hold a copy of all the data on this project in my pocket. Password is leah82752," said Nasmin, barely registering with me. I don't even know why he was just flat out telling me this instead of trying to use this information as a bargaining chip. I look at him again, seeing the same wretched man that gave me six months of total hell. I knew there was no redemption for him. No reform was going to come by bringing him to justice. And I knew that Crey wasn't going to lose the man that gave them hundreds of years' worth of research. But the cardinal rule of heroes is that every human, no matter how twisted or deranged, can possibly be saved. Killing was against the rules. If word got out that I willingly killed this man, I wouldn't be looked up to any more.

"If I have to kill him for you, I will just leave you here to be found by clean up squad they're almost definitely sending. Maybe the new head scientist will be less sadistic," said my mother, obviously pressed for time. I take one last look at this man before I place my hand on his chest. At that moment, I then channel my electricity through him. I was confused as hell, unsure whether I should try to only channel just enough to disrupt his vitals and give him some sort of chance to live. I knew that my mom would check him and would just insist I finish him if he doesn't seem dead. I didn't know how much that really entailed and how much extra was needed to factor in this dimension's preservation. Or if maybe he developed a resistance to electricity over time as part of some experiment on himself. I definitely went over the safe limit of the normal world, though, and when I finished, he certainly wasn't breathing. My mother checks him after I step away.

"Good show," she says, obviously convinced enough that he was dead, "Okay, the teleporter is on the other side of the base. Let's go."

I grab the data drive out of Nasmin's pocket. We just leave the body there as we head towards the portal room. I notice all the dead bodies that my mother left behind, all in some state of freeze. Most of the scientists and lab technicians that worked on my case were there, along with plenty of people I didn't recognize. Even Nasmin's wife was frozen against a wall. None of this seems to phase me, though, considering many of the non-fictionalized bedtime stories I heard from my mother about her career. I was consumed mostly with the thought that I had most likely just killed someone. I never killed anyone before. Sure, I've killed lots of Clockwork and Vahzilok, but they hardly count.

"Good, we still have about five minutes," said my mom as we came to the portal room. I hardly even recognized the area in spite of it being barely around the corner of lab 40. "Do you want to pick up anything quickly before we go in?"

I had a bit of an inspiration. From what I gathered, at least one of the other labs had a full time test on a clone going. Electronic data can always be falsified, no matter how deeply it involves inner affairs. Witnessed can be convinced that something is true. But it would be hard to come up with a plausible explanation for a fully grown, genetically identical clone of myself with the same curses.

"In lab 40, find a syringe that is labelled with MHSS. One of these other labs has a clone."

"No, we are not wasting time like this," she said impatiently.

"Look, if I can't find the clone in two minutes, I will head straight back to the teleporter. Times a' wastin', let's go."

My mother just rolls her eyes and heads to lab 40. I know that she plans to just leave me here if she has to, but I need real proof. I try to think of which lab would have one of my clones, preferably in a state besides a stain in the carpet. I try to remember back to find some sort of detail in my memory. They have a specific sorting system for the labs. There's dissection, induction, observation, and some other type I never remember. I know that 40 is my particular lab, but how would they distribute the others?

After a few seconds, I just think "to hell with it" and burst into the closest lab to me, 35. To my surprise, there's one of my clones, already cursed, completely naked and restrained by a collar and leash that led to the center of the ceiling. There wasn't anything else in the room besides a machine emitting some sort of red light onto her and an obvious two way mirror on the wall. I had never actually seen one of the clones before. The scientists talked about them all the time, but I was always in my own lab, having pieces of me cut off for them to test on. Actually seeing one of my clones in the flesh was a bit of a shock.

I blast out the machine, the resulting explosion waking and startling my clone into a frenzy. She tries to run at me, tripping just a foot away from me when the leash holds her back. She starts randomly striking in the air towards me, snarling and growling. I walk around the room towards the remains of the machine, dodging the frenzied attacks. They always said that the clones are feral, but I didn't think they truly meant it like this. I pick up one of the shards of metal and put it in my pouch. I walk towards my clone, fending off the poorly aimed strikes. I try to stun her, but she barely even fliches at it. I was thinking... were they really now duplicating my powers as well or is it just an inherant trait? I get her in a standard arm behind the back hold, take her down to the floor to free my other hand, and use the shard of metal to cut her leash.

I bring her back up and lead her through the door, with her still trying futilely to break free. I lead her towards the portal room, calling out my mom's name. I was concerned that she had left early even though I only counted maybe 90 seconds, but she came out the door, syringe in hand. "Okay, inject her with that," I tell my mother.

"Where?" she asks, obviously having no experience with syringes.

"I don't know, anywhere," I say frantically. She stabs my clone in the shoulder with the syringe and injects, with the clone going limp immediately.

"Nothing is going to come of any of this, but if it makes you happy..." she says with some disappointment in her voice, "Come on, we're cutting it really close here."

We go into the teleporter room. Mom takes out a sheet of paper from her pocket and starts typing into a control panel, looking back and forth between them very regularly. One thing I always appreciated about her was that even at 68 years old, she wasn't too completely clueless about machines. She was obviously not familiar with them, but she wasn't unable to do anything with them the way my grandmother had been. Before long, the teleporter fires up, shaking the room and maintaining that steely blue orb just like the one I went through on the other side.

"Okay, close your eyes and keep walking. Do not stop," said my mom. We walk through the portal, which gives that same weightless feeling as we come out on the other side. When I open my eyes, we're back in the facility, only the portal on the other side of the room was still at mostly the same level of construction. I guess it's a testament of my desensatization to my mother's actions that I noticed the unfinished portal before the two dozen frozen bodies scattered around the room.

"Come on, we're not out of the woods yet. Move, move, move, up the stairs," ordered my mother as she ran towards the stairs in between the two portals.

"Why the rush? We got through the portal before it closed," I asked.

"The portal would have stayed up regardless how long we took," she replied.

"Then why-" I ask, getting interrupted by the answer to the question I hadn't finished. Both of the portals had a sudden wave of ice freeze both of them and much of the area surrounding them. The unfinished portal shattered as usual for the spell, but the active one, unable to safely close the field before being stopped, had a miniture black hole suck in most of the frozen area before collapsing upon itself.

"Oh. The usual frozen earth policy, huh?" I say, not sounding the least bit surprised. She doesn't reply to me, instead leading towards the exit. I see even more of the frozen bodies littered around. "You know, I always thought you were exaggerating your stories when I was little. So, how are we going to get out, now? You surely didn't kill the entire base, did you?"

"No, just what you'll see on our way out," she replied.

"Then how the hell did you come in here, get to the portal, and not have a full squad waiting for us after we got out an hour later?" I asked.

"You'll see in a few seconds," she says, with a bit of smug satisfaction in her voice.

As we exit through the front door, I notice that it's total war zone. I see groups of Circle of Thorns, complete with spectral demons and behemoths, doing battle with a squadron of Crey tanks and Paragon Protectors. Council troops complete with Galaxy and Vampyri squads were taking pot shots into both of the groups while fending off Longbow's Eagles and Chasers, led by Synapse and Positron.

"What in the-" I start, getting cut off.

"I started by going to a local Thorns hideout. I subjugated them and implanted false information that the Malleus Mundi could be found here and the best time to retrieve it. Then I went to a local Council base and subjugated them into believing that Crey had been stealing from their Galaxy program to supplement their own projects, implanting the same time for them as well. Then I left an anonymous tip with Longbow about the chaos that was about to ensue here, giving them the same time as the others."

I stare at her, shocked more that she went through so much effort than at the notion that she manipulated three groups into a small scale war just to extract me. She took out that familiar wand of hers, cast an incantation, and put it back. Just like clockwork, the frostwyrm swooped in and landed in front of us.

"Well, what do you say to your old mother?" she asked.

"Um... thank you?" I say, not really wanting to admit that I'm happy she instigated a war and insured a three digit minimum death toll just to rescue me.

"You're very welcome," she replied, effortless shooting down a spectral daemon that got just a little too close as we get on, "I hope you learned from something from all this."

"Yeah, I did," I reply, trying to avoid having to explain what, "Say, you don't happen to know where the Malleus Mundi actually is, do you?"

"Of course not, silly rabbit. Who do you think I am, God?"

Chapter 5

While flying away from the island where the conflict was taking place, I finally got some time to ask my mother a few questions.

"Okay, time out," I yell out to her over the sound of the wind.

+*Have you forgotten your telepathy lessons*+ I hear ring out in my mind.

+*Oh,*+ I respond telepathically.

+*This has not been a good day for me,*+ she projects, sounding a bit irritated.

+*How did you find me?*+

+*It was not easy. I'm going to transfer my memories of it all to you now, so get ready,*+ she projected, cuing me to go into trance. I always find these creepy as hell because it transfers the thoughts and emotions as well as the five senses and she's not a very friendly person. Still, there were too many questions left unanswered by all of this. So, I put myself into a trance and almost immediately feel the memories overtake me.


{b}It's Sunday and there's nothing to do. My favorite soap opera has lost all its appeal ever since they put the last major character in a near-fatal car accident to justify replacing the actor. Damn contracts. They should just be eternally indebted to appear on the show. Forever. I figure now is as good a time as any to start following up on some of my leads, what with TV being officially dead. I pick up the phone, but I hesitate as I sense some group of troubled people coming. I know they're here for me, so I head to the kitchen to start up a pot of tea for my guests. I'm just starting up the CD changer when I hear the doorbell.

"Hello," said a burly man wearing the red and white spandex uniform, "we're looking for a Dae Yeon Carpenter."

"Yes," I respond, "that would be me. Would you care to join me for some tea? I just put a pot on."

The four Longbow agents shrug their shoulders and file inside. There were four of them, all of whom brought their weapons. As rude as it is to bring an assault rifle into someone's house, I couldn't blame them. They had no proof of it, but they knew something was wrong about me. I guess everyone in my wake becoming unable to function if I'm in the same room as them made them a little suspicious.

"Come, sit down. Make yourselves comfortable," I say to them. As they sit down on my couches, I start sifting through their emotions to figure out why they're here. The befuddlement meant that they weren't here for any crime I committed. I also got a hint that they were expecting me to overreact to what they were here for. Come on, they have to give me more credit than that. One of them seemed to have a negative reaction when the lyrics "Your'e motorin'/what's your price for flight" came up. I sit down in my chair and decide I should probably start the conversation.

"So, what brings Longbow to my humble abode?" I ask in my innocent voice. It took me decades to perfect that.

"We don't mean to alarm you," started the big guy, giving off a feeling of apprehension, "but your daughter is missing." He didn't give off anything to suggest that he was lying, but I knew that if I didn't play along, they might figure something out.

"But I'm on her mailing list. She sent me a copy of her recent interview in that fanzine," I adlib. I don't know what her interests are now, but she was always into that stupid stuff. How is she supposed to find a good man amongst those unwashed losers? I start to regret this story because they don't even have to check very far to see that I don't have a computer, but that's of little importance.

"The S.E.R.A.P.H. office uncovered a plot by Crey Biotech to kidnap several beginning heroes," says the leader.

"Those kind men on TV?" I adlib, "but aren't they helping us? Changing how things work?" I'm not so naive as to actually believe what I'm saying, but I need to keep up appearences.

"We only wish that were true, ma'am," said one of them, "we've been investigating Crey since the Rikti war and while we don't have anything that could stick in court, they've been involved in many cases of blackmail, corporate espionage, and unethical experimentation."

"And you're saying that they've kidnapped my daughter?" I ask, finally getting to the point, "the company that holds so many charity functions and dedicates so many of its resources to repairing the damage done in the Rikti war has kidnapped my daughter and are dissecting her like some frog?" It's so hard to fake increduality like this.

"We didn't say that she was kidnapped yet. Just missing."

I just wait for them to say something more. Instead, I get silence for a good few seconds, hearing only the CD player and the lyrics "I hear the rain down in Africa". As if timed for just such an uncomfortable moment, I hear the teapot start to whistle.

"I'll be right back," I say, heading over to the kitchen. I take this opportunity to pay more attention to their emotions. They all seemed to be buying my innocence, which is good. It's way too messy when they don't. This development was starting to bother me, though. I don't care if she's a deadbeat, nobody kidnaps my daughter and gets away with it. I start thinking about how I could get more information out of them when I feel a sharp negative reaction come from one of them. Damn. Unless this person had a real big aversion to my music, it was pretty obvious the game was up. I come out with a tray when I notice they discovered my table.

"What is this?" asked the big one, barely masking his surprise.

"I don't know where that came from," I blatantly bullshit. I'd much rather they do the leg work of this discussion for me.

"Please don't lie to us, ma'am," said the leader, "we know you used to be a hero in Korea and we know that you're capable of this. But why is the body of a Crey representative here?"

"It was about two weeks ago. Someone else was sent here, some bimbo. She claimed that Crey was willing to pay me a lot of money for me to divulge my secrets. I told them to piss off, but she was a bit too adamant, so I drove her away. About a week ago, they sent this ape. He was way more insistant and better prepared for me. I had no choice but to deep freeze him."

"Why didn't you call the police?" asked the first one. Cute.

"The police can go to hell," I say, "they show up too late to do anything useful. Is there anything else you want to tell me about my daughter? If not, I think it's time you go."

"I'm sorry, ma'am, but you're under arrest," said the leader. Typical. I knew I shouldn't have made an example out of this Crey lackey.

"Excuse me?" I ask, starting the usual mind control, "I think you're mistaken. You're all going to go back and report that I didn't have any useful information."

It didn't take. I could tell immediately due to the lack of fear. I had to think of a new plan. They were not about ready to let me just walk. I didn't know just yet whether or not they detected my attempt to subvert them. For a few seconds, all I could hear was my CD player with the lyrics "Your guitar, it sounds so sweet and clear/But you're not really here". Then, all at once, they started drawing their weapons. Damnit all to hell.

I quickly throw up a wall of ice to protect me from their gunfire. It holds up about as long as a block of ice would, but I take that opportunity to duck into a corner and flash freeze all of them. I had to do it non-lethally, which was a bit of a departure. With all of them held, I run to the closet and don my traditional outfit. Just as I took out the wand and started the summoning chant, the big guy managed to break free from his ice. He ran straight towards me, balling up his fists. God, I hate brawler types.

I materialize my ice sword around my wand and throw some blunt ice at him, which breaks apart on his chest. I parry a few of his blows, ducking an punch that took out half the wall. Not one to miss an opportunity, I jump back through the newly made door to the kitchen, creating a wall of ice to fill it. I could sense my ride approaching and I needed to get outside ASAP. While the Longbow goon made short work of the ice, I started running towards the hallway window, flash freezing the wall around it. Just as he got through the ice and started chasing me, I threw my ice sword at the window, making it burst as it hit. I jump through, just barely escaping the Longbow agent by what was probably only a foot. I quickly dive towards my wand and grab it just in time as my frostwyrm scoops me up. God, I'm good even after all these years.{/b}


The next bits were highly condensed. Just as she said, she brought hell on the Crey facilities to get some answers. I really hate having to experience her mind rape memories because they are just full of sadism and malice. She then went to the Circle of Thorns and Council hideouts, implanting the memories to show up here at this time. She called in the tip to Longbow and waited just outside the Crey facility's detection range for the conflict to start.


{b}It was about time. As punctual as the Thorns and Council are, I really hate how Longbow shows up late to every war. Damn Americans.

I wait for about five minutes. Still no Longbow. Crey wasn't likely to divert all their resources without three factions to fight off. Just when I was considering to go in anyway, I see the familiar red and white swarm come in. A large squad of Crey came out from the building I wanted to get in, entering the fray. Now was my opportunity.

I fly in and disembark just in front of the door. It's locked, of course, but that isn't much of an issue. After I shatter it, I see the leftover security all rush me. A little ice here, a little ice there, they're all down. All the guns and flamethrowers and energy weapons of the world just can't stand up against good old fashioned magic.

I was a bit surprised going through the hallways. I saw what had to have been about a hundred troops march out of that building, yet there were still a couple dozen people here. At least none of them were too well armed. I follow this hastily drawn map that I beat out of that second facility head and make it to a portal room. After taking out all the goons loading stuff through the portal, I set up the gems at both of the portals. I then empty out one of the big boxes, set it up to be loaded, and hide inside. Those people had no clue what was coming.

After passing through the portal, I emerge and start blasting people. I saw some man in a lab coat cowering in the corner after I dispatched the four people loading all the stuff. I figure he's important, so I approach him.

"Hello, there. I'm here for my daughter."

"Who?" he asks. I hate when they make this hard.

"I'm here for Leah. Take me to her now."

"I don't know who that is," he says, not quite convincing me he's that scared of me. Screw it. I grab his face and press my thumbs into his forehead. I then proceed to "mindrape" him as I affectionately call it. I get the location of Leah's cell, but at the same time, I see the torture they put her through. Seeing how he raped her was too much, though. As I withdraw to him still screaming, I impulsively freeze his arm. I almost shatter it before regaining my senses.

"Are you going to kill me now?" he asks, soaked with fear.

"No. It's not my right to kill you after all you've done, Dr. Johann Nasmin. Come on, we're taking a walk."

I shatter the two men that ran into the room as I shove Johann in front of me. We walk out the portal room and I kill everyone that enters my sight. They were all accomplices to this horrible atrocity and I was going to make sure they pay. After about a dozen of them, I heard an alarm go off throughout the base. I keep shoving him and killing everyone until someone manages to get the drop on me. This freakish cougar person dropped on me from the ceiling screaming "get your hands off my husband" and was about to rip into me when I grabbed both her arms with my ice grasp. She was really strong and came close to hurting me before the pain finally got her to let go. I kick her away and draw my ice sword as she jumps back onto her feet and charges me. A few parries and dodges later, I get a slice through her stomach and sent her flying back into the wall. I take this opportunity to freeze her against the wall, then I impale her through her stomach with my ice sword. I go back to the doctor, who was now sobbing.

"You killed my wife!" he screams.

"Oh, she was your wife? I should have forced you to kill her. Slowly and painfully."

He just keeps spouting swears at me as I push him along. I take him into a side room and force him to release Leah's binds. He's still broken up about his wife, so I encourage him with some dry ice on his shoulder. It takes a few seconds, but he regains his composure. He finally releases her, which also gives me a location to find her. We take a walk over and I kill the people that were now frantically searching for her.{/b}


When I come out of the trance, I notice we're within sight of Independence Port. Not too far before we get home.

Chapter 6

We arrive over Steel Canyon in the dead of night. It was a bit unusual seeing normal human beings, having gotten so used to men wearing masks wielding scalpels and PDAs around me. Nobody below notices us as usual, which I was never quite sure about the reason for. I could see my mom using an enchantment to obscure us, but I guess with all the hundreds of heroes flying around, it's possible that they just don't care.

+*Mom, we need to stop by my apartment,*+ I tell her, +*I need to get my clothing.*+

+*If I were Crey, I'd send someone to your apartment first thing.*+

+*Mom, you started a small war, killed pretty much everyone that saw us, and destroyed their portals. I don't think they will realize I got away for a long time.*+

She just sighs and redirects the frostwyrm towards Galaxy City. We get there relatively fast and pulled up to the window, with my mom taking the liberty of smashing it in.

+*Okay, get what you can carry and get back out here. It's not safe here.*+

I step in, grabbing my clothes and laptop computer. As I step out, I hear some people shouting. I glance over to see Longbow running towards us. Before I can even react, the frostwyrm does a nose dive and resumes flying away. I almost dropped my stuff from the suddenness of it.

+*Mom, why was Longbow there?*+ I ask.

+*Probably hoping I'd come by for clues as to your location. I assume after that stunt I pulled a few days ago, they placed me on the wanted list.*+

+*What a surprise. Where are we going now?*+

+*I'm taking you to the hospital in Skyway City to drop off your clone, then to a hotel. I have some business to attend to in Kings Row, but I won't be long.*+

+*What do you intend to do?*+

+*None of your business. Once I finish, I'll find you a lawyer.*+

+*I thought you said justice was meaningless.*+

+*This is hardly about justice. Regardless of whether or not you win the case, you'll draw enough attention to make yourself untouchable. I doubt you'll win, but with all this evidence, you should stand a chance.*+

We arrive as the hospital, where I check my clone in. The receptionist was used to strange cases and understood completely that my clone needed to be isolated and protected. After I took care of that, we went to the hotel. She took off as I checked in.

I spent the next two days in the room going over the disc. The password that Nasmin gave me worked and this disc was really extensive. Names, shipment logs, full details on all the experiments they've ever had, hierarchies that trace all the way up to Countess Crey herself. It was enough to destroy Crey. Eventually, I got a phone call.

"Hello," I answer.

"Hello, Leah. I have a lawyer lined up for you. Charles Bronfman at 2017 10th street in Kings Row. Bring a smile."


I took my mom's advice and saw this lawyer she mentioned. He was part of a fairly fancy law firm that deals with a lot of major companies, but not Crey. I go to the office in Kings Row, which is this really nice building with a lot of security and a full time staff at the entrance. I guess they get a lot of cases that might get them powerful enemies. I walk through the door and go through the weapons check. After I pass, a person at the desk greeted me.

"Hello and welcome to the Boullion Building," said the front desk worker, "Please state your name."

"Leah Carpenter," I say in a matter of fact tone.

"Right. You're here for the 9:15 at Shefsky and Bronfman. The elevator is on the left. Thank you for coming."

I walk towards the elevator, which has two security guards armed with assault rifles at each of the far corners. I guess they really take this seriously. We go up to the 40th floor and take a right to the office, which has two security guards standing by its doors. I head inside to see another receptionist at the desk.

"Welcome to Shefsky and Bronfman. Who is your appointment with?"

"Charles Bronfman," I respond.

"Okay. Head all the way down the hall, take a left, and head all the way down that hall to the last door on your left."

I walk down this hallway, which has a lot of portraits on the left wall and doors on the right only. After about 300 feet, I turn left and head another 300 feet with portraits on the left wall and doors on the right. I eventually get to the door and walk in to find this huge two story room with a fountain, a large section of bookcases, and a lot of couches. At the far corner of the room is a man sitting at his desk.

"Hello. Are you Charles Bronfman?" I ask.

"Hello, Miss Carpenter. Pleasure to meet you."

"Nice office. Really impractical, but nice. Why the eternal walkway when you could just as easily put a door right by the front desk?"

"It's for security reasons. We deal with some of the most dangerous factions in our work. The Family, Council, Tsoo. All of them have placed hits on members of my firm, including myself. Because of this, we have taken extensive security measures. We co-own this building along with Exarch, Deimos, Cooke's Electronics, Image Inc, Orion Labs, Subgenetics, and Pandora's Box. We have a security force of 30 members on staff full time, 15 on the ground floor, 15 on this floor. Most of the other businesses here hire security staff as well and could respond to major threats if need be. That 'eternal walkway' as you called it has several turrets and defense drones in the ceiling. We have a dampening field that prevents teleportation in, out, or around this building. Heavy force fields envelope the building and there are also exterior turrets that can deploy to protect us from an aerial assault. It would take an army to break our security and even if one is present, it wouldn't take too long for the PPD and Longbow to respond. This is one of the safest places in Paragon City."

"You know, any time someone says that in a movie, you know what always happens?"

"I assure you, it won't happen." What can I say? The man's deluded.

"Anyway, the case."

"Ah, right, the case. What about it?"

"First, I really don't have that much money. Are you sure I can afford this firm?"

"Oh, someone claiming to be a friend of your's stopped by two days ago. She was quite convincing... really convincing... hope I don't have to see her again..." Thanks a lot, mom, for yet another dirty string pull.


"We'd usually request a lot of money up front when dealing with a case like this. Especially against Crey. They're mean sons of bitches. This is far from the first case brought against them, but even the government has been unable to make much of anything stick. However, if you have a lot of evidence, we're willing to go all-risk in exchange for 75% the settlement."

"I have a data disc that contains tons of information about this project. It refers to a lot of names that can be traced within the Crey hierarchy, leading all the way up to the countess herself. I have one of my clones currently staying at-"

"Clone?" he interrupts.

"I got her from the lab as I escaped. I-"

"You know, if your evidence holds up, this will be a lot larger than your kidnapping and torture lawsuit. Hell, Manticore placed a 30 million dollar reward for anyone that can prove the clone program."

"That's lovely."

"No, seriously. I insist that we make this just as big a focus of the case as your story."

"Fine, but it will not replace my personal injury lawsuit in any way, shape, or form."

"I'll start writing up the complaint. A case of this nature will most likely be greatly expedited. We should be able to have the preliminary hearings within three days at the most, so don't get too involved in anything."

Chapter 7

I found out that he wasn't joking about the expedition of this case. Within less than an hour of the complaint being sent, they had scheduled a preliminary hearing for the next morning. Some people really want this case to happen. I realized that I really need to get more than just my two outfits. As much as I want it, though, Icon can't seem to ever get the measurements right while keeping things comfortable and presentable. It was mostly luck that they were able to even get these two outfits modified correctly. I guess my usual teal coat and plaid skirt would have to do.

I teleport within a short distance of the court house and walk inside. After getting checked for weapons, I am greeted by Mr. Bronfman in the main lobby.

"Hello, Miss Carpenter. Are you ready?"

"About as ready as I'll ever be. How do I look?"

"Like you always do."

"It will have to do. So, what are we doing today?"

"Today, we're going to select the jury and give opening statements. Now, someone from Crey is going to offer to settle this out of court. Do not accept no matter how much money they offer."

"This is not about the money for me," I respond with a hint of irritation.

"You might want to call the hospital and ask them to clear your clone for tomorrow. I can already tell this case is going to be moved through as quickly as possible."

I call the hospital and explain the situation to them. Lucky me, the same person is at the front desk, so this isn't too hard to explain. I hang up as we arrive by courtroom 37.

"Okay, stay calm and let me do all the talking. They really do use anything you say against you here."

I just nod as I walk in. There's quite a few more people that I really expected for a preliminary hearing. While I know that they have a decent sized pool they pick the jury from, there were a lot of people that were obviously not there for that. There's a couple people with notepads and laptops in the back row. The press, I assume. Quite a few people in bad suits are in the front row and I see about half a dozen people wearing Armani suits with Samsonite briefcases at the defendant's corner.

"I heard a rumor that this judge is pretty hard on Crey," starts my lawyer, "He's supposedly the one that limited them to six lawyers on a particular case." I hold back a chuckle at what it must have looked like before they were limited to "only" six lawyers. Within a few minutes, court was in session.

"All rise for the honorable Judge Quincy Jackson." A mid-50s dark skinned man with greying hair takes the position in the judge's chair.

"Due to the nature of this case, we will be condensing the- oh, hello, 'Countess' Crey." I crane my neck to the door to see that Crey was there, in the flesh, accompanied by some 400 pound gorilla in a monkey suit. I could tell from Judge Jackson's tone that he was just a little irritated and didn't care much for her.

"Oh, don't mind me," she says.

"What are you doing here? You have dozens of lawsuits pending that need your attention more than a personal injury claim."

"I'm just in the building for the 12:45 EPA hearing. Came here a little early, so I decided to spectate one of the other suits for a little."

"Okay. I don't want the theatrics of last time." Crey and her bodyguard sit in the two (well, closer to three) spots that the faceless bad suits left open.

"Don't mind her," whispered my lawyer, "she does this pretty often. It's for intimidation."

"Okay, let's start this again. We will be condensing this trial due to the nature of the allegations. We will start selecting the jury now and have a one hour recess before we do opening statements. Any questions?" Crey raises her right index and middle fingers. The judge sees it, but just ignores her as he starts the procedings. Crey just smiles to herself, obviously smug about having a bit of a rapport with this judge. I just tune out for most of this, since it didn't really involve me. I still couldn't help but just keep drinking the water. Whenever I get nervous and have access to any food or drinks, I just tend to just keep consuming it. I couldn't help but look over at Crey a bit more often that I should have. She never looked at me, although it still felt like she knew I was obsessing a little. After what felt like way too long, we had a full jury and the court was in recess.


I really needed to go to the bathroom after drinking so much water. I'm not even quite sure why I drink so much when I get nervous. I hope it didn't look too bad. I do a skip walk over to the bathroom to find that all the stalls are taken. Awesome. It takes about a minute before a stall opens up and, to my surprise, out walks Countess Crey. She just nods at me as she walks over to the sink. Not really a coincidence I like, but meh. Whatever. I do my business and start preening myself in front of the mirror afterwards when I see the same burly guy that had been sitting next to the countess walk in.

"Men's bathrooms are the next door over," I say.

"I think I have the right bathroom," he says without skipping a beat. The other three stalls open up, with women wearing bad suits and sunglasses coming out. They surround me.

"The Countess isn't happy with what you're doing here," he says, sounding just a bit too much like some Family goon, "You're accusing us of some very harsh things and frankly, that isn't kosher."

"Well, I'm sorry to offend you, Oddjob, but after you get kidnapped and tortured for six months, I think you'd want justice."

"I'm here to make an offer," he says as he pulls a checkbook from his pocket, "the Countess refuses to officially settle out of court, but I'm going to offer you 50,000 dollars if you drop your case."

"You think this is about the money? Ha. I want to see you corrupt assholes brought to justice. Not that pidly sum."

"I really don't want to go with plan B, so how about 100,000? I'll throw in some stock in Crey, too."

"Keep your dirty money. Why did you bring all these people here just to offer to buy me out, anyway?"

"In case you refuse," he says, putting his checkbook back in his pocket and putting his shades on. It didn't take a genius to figure out what he intended to do, so I took the first action. I do a taser grasp on the goon to my left as I push her out of the way. I quickly hop away from the rest of them so they all have to charge me. The two women do, but the guy just stands there. I throw a bolt at one of the women, bringing her down. The other one throws two punches that I dodge, then tries to do a spinning roundhouse kick on me. I shove her against the wall shortly after she leaps and stun her.

With those three thugs out of the way, the burly guy strides over to me. I throw a bolt at him that doesn't even make him flinch. I barely dodge the right hook he throws, which smashes the stall wall off its hinges. Before I even have time to react, he hits me with a left jab, sending me into the wall with such force as to create a crater. He then starts laying into me, punch after punch into my torso. After about a dozen of them, he grabs me by my shoulder and thigh to throw me right into a mirror. I bounce off of it and land on the ground, facing the door. I try to make a run for it, but he grabs my tail. He drags me back, uses his other hand to grab one of my thighs, and swings me overhead right down through a sink and into the ground.

"You can't mess with Crey," he said as he stuffed a check into my pocket, "Think about my offer." He then walked out of the bathroom. Through the blurry mix of water and blood, I vaguely saw one of the thugs getting another one up before I went unconcious.


I wake up to a harsh smelling salt in the bathroom. I see some bailiffs and the police around.

"Are you okay?" asks the bailiff.

"Do I look okay?" I ask, a bit indignant, "what time is it?"

"It's almost noon," he responded.

"Oh, shit, I need to get back to the court," I say hastily.

"You should really go to a hospital. I'm sure they'll delay your case until tomorrow."

"No, the man that did this might still be there. We need to move."

"You don't look okay."

"I'm fine," I say, trying to stand up. I slip a little when I find that two of the fingers in my left hand are broken, then almost slip again when I get this horrible pain in my right leg. I tear the shard of tile out of it and to walk and lose my balance pretty quickly.

"Need a hand?" he asks.

"Yeah. Take me to room 112." Within a few minutes, I limp over to the court room with the bailiff propping me up.

"Glad you could- holy hell, you look like shit," said the judge, surprised by my haggard appearence. I guess I would be too if the plaintiff comes in with a large amount of blood all over all her clothing and still pouring out of her nose. "Who did this to you?" he asks as I sit down.

"That man sitting next to Countess Crey. The bald guy with the suit and shades."

The press starts murmering as some of the bailiffs approach him. "I object," he says, without seeming partial to any feeling about this development, "There is no evidence to support this ridiculous claim."

"She still somehow got severely injured and cited you as the reason," said the judge, "If you're innocent, I'm sure the surveillance tapes will clear that."

"Let's save some court time and watch that tape now," he says, playing it cool.

"Sure, why not? Bailiff, go get the tapes."

Within a couple minutes, the bailiff returns with a tape. I glance over at Crey and her thug, both of whom look just a bit too comfortable. The tape starts and I see the bathroom in question. Doesn't give me much confidence that they have a hidden camera right in the bathroom, but that was a moot concern. I see myself walk in and go into a stall... wait, that isn't right. I had to wait for a minute for a stall to open up. I then see my video version walk out, stare in the mirror for a little, then start pulverizing herself. She's really laying into herself, causing a lot of destruction.

"Objection, you're honor. This video is completely falsified," I shout out.

"Miss Carpenter, this is an affront to the legal system. I should just throw your case out right now."

"Bullshit. I'm not nearly strong enough to force myself into the wall like that or completely smash out that mirror." In the corner of my eye, Countess Crey is chuckling to herself and giving some subtle gesture to her bodyguard that was obscured by the border.

"This video is conclusive proof. You're liable to stand for perjury, vandalism, and- what was that?" I notice it as well. My video self suddenly moved ten feet away, the mirrors changed, and the sink was suddenly in pieces on the ground. I notice a very dour expression on Crey's face for the briefest of seconds before she put her poker face back on.

"You're right, this is tampered evidence, but that still doesn't show this gentleman here to be guilty of anything. We'll have a team investigate this video."

"You've got to be joking," I respond.

"We can't arrest him without a proper warrant, which requires evidence. All we know is that you two were in the same building at the same time when this happened. Not enough. Now, if we're done with the interruptions, I'd like to resume this case."


"Please, just let your lawyer do all the talking. It's why you hired him."

I just mope as my lawyer gives his long winded speech. How the hell are they able to get away with attacking me in this very courthouse? You'd think they'd have better security than this. Crey and her bodyguard shuffle out not long after my lawyer finishes his opening statement. The judge looks just a bit impatient as the head Crey lawyer gives a mechanical defense statement and dismisses the court afterwards, setting the same time for court to resume tomorrow. I call the hospital to tell them that I'd be right over to pick up my clone as I head outside the courthouse.

Chapter 8

I teleport outside the hospital in Skyway City and walk inside. Still the same receptionist, which I can't appreciate enough. I'd hate to explain the whole clone issue to a new person. I walk up to her desk and wait for her to finish on the phone.

"Hello. May I help you?" she asks. Hmm.

"Hi. I called about my clone. I'm here to pick her up."

"I don't know what you're talking about," she says, making these sort of weird twitching motions.

"I talked with you less than ten minutes ago."

"If you give me a name, I'll look her up." I tell her all the details and she starts entering it into her computer. I noticed that her twitching was only on the left side of her body. This was getting weird. "Sorry, but there's nobody on record with any of those details." Her eyes keep darting over to her left. I finally glance over there and just see some medical staff walking this way casually. Didn't seem too important.

"Oh, come on. You were here."

"There's nothing on record. I can't help you." I then notice her mouth the words 'get out of here'. This was not a nervous twitch at work here at all.

The medical staff had taken out a syringe and a strait jacket while running right at me. I throw a ball of electricity at them, which did the trick without too much resistance. Just as I did that, I heard panic coming from the main doors. About eight bad suit wearing thugs carrying these tech rifles had just finished taking out the security guards and were pushing and shoving their way towards a clear shot at me. I dodge to the left while five of them took a potshot at me, all missing. One bolt hit the receptionist and sent her flying back into the wall before collapsing on the ground. I throw a lightning bolt at one of the goons, dropping him, and immediately jump behind the receptionist desk to avoid a hail of energy bolts. I notice the receptionist clutching her stomach and vomitting heavily, but otherwise didn't seem to have taken permanent damage.

With those goons closing in on me, I was a bit thin on ideas. I quickly glance around at what fell to the floor with me. Some papers, a keyboard, a snow globe... that was it. I then had a plan that I realistically thought only had maybe a 9% chance of working, but those nines always seem to double when a hero does it. I grab the snow globe and pitch it as hard as I can at the aquarium. It shatters and spills a huge amount of water all around. When I heard a couple sets of wet footprints, I jumped over the desk and just starting pouring out electricity into my hands. As I landed on the water, all the goons spasmed and fell to the ground. Victory.

Or so I thought. A bolt catches me by surprise as I get up. Seemed the guy I dropped earlier was just faking it. As the bolt hit me, I just felt this sudden wave of nausea overcome me. I vomited up what remained of my breakfast as this guy grabbed my arm and pulled out a large pair of technological handcuffs. With less than a second to spare, I heard a ricochet nearby and saw the pair of cuffs slide across the floor. I then heard someone shout "Paragon Police, freeze!" He just laughs to himself and fires at a machine in the ceiling. Just as the police started reacting with carefully aimed shots, he and his crew all teleported out. The wave of sickness starts to fade around when the police get to me.

"Are you okay?" asked a policeman by me.

"Yeah. I could use a glass of water and a lot of paper towels right now, though."


I arrive back at my hotel room to find that it's... completely the way I left it with nobody that looked suspicious on the way and nobody inside. I was starting to get paranoid. I start up my laptop and start browsing files when I found something that advanced that previous sentance. Some sort of mysterious computer virus replaced all the sensative data with junk. Not just any junk, though, but non-deciferable junk. All the names were gibberish, all the schematics and pictures had turned into promotional material from a local kid's show, and trying to access other folders gave me an annoying animation of a screaming demonic creature. It affected all the files I moved off of the data disc as well, limiting itself only to Crey materials. After messing with it a little, I call my lawyer.

"We have a situation," I start.

"The evidence has all gone missing, hasn't it?" he responds.

"Well, yes. My clone got kidnapped from the hospital and all the data I got from this disc has become worthless."

"I thought something like this might happen. Bring the laptop and disc with you anyway. We might be able to salvage it."

"It doesn't look like that's going to happen, but sure. Why not?"

"Also, I lined up use of the memory scanner for tonight. You can find it at the Kings Row police station. Don't worry, we can still win this."


The court time came relatively fast. I did my scans the night before and brought all the evidence with me. I didn't have much confidence in the case any more, but I thought maybe I had enough. It was all I could do to comfort myself. Crey and her thugs didn't show up today, but there were a lot more press today. I guess the beating brought attention to this case. The usual ritualistic crap is done and we start presenting the evidence.

"We have exhibit A, which is the memory scan that my client had done last night," said my lawyer while holding a remote, "They document nearly six months worth of abuse."

"Six months? According to our records, Miss Carpenter was missing for at most two days."

"I already explained this, your honor."

"I looked into it and Portal Corp claims that what you're saying isn't physically possible yet."

"Well, we have the scan here. We'll watch the highlights, but the full 44 hour document will be made available for everyone's perusal."

We watch the video. It's a full hour of my most miserable moments in their custody. It even included the rape. I was careful to leave off the important parts of the escape, though.

"I think I'm going to be sick," commented the judge, "okay. The evidence shall now be investigated by our professional. Dr. Iommi, when you're ready."

"Thank you, your honor. This technology is very new and as such, not completely perfected. We have developed a system based on the colors to determine the authenticity of these recordings, though. While this is a very convincing scan, the subtle shades of pink, mauve, and teal in the background are usually a sign of an artificially created memory, but these shades of blue are an anomaly."

"Sorry to interrupt, your honor," butts in a Crey lawyer, "but we would like to point out the case of Robert Valence v. Dae Carpenter back in 1988."

"I remember that one," said the judge, "Valence told the newspapers that his family was brainwashed against him after he tried to evict Mrs. Carpenter from her store. Didn't they settle out of court?"

"Yes, they did," resumed Dr. Iommi, "We had Mr. Valence do a scan recently and it came up with all these same markings. Combined with a report we obtained from Longbow that documents Dae Yeon Carpenter as being a high level psychic practitioner, we're convinced that she implanted her daugher's memories the same way she did Valence's."

This was making me angry. My own memories were being dismissed as evidence. It was practically my last resort. I then had an idea. I got my lawyer to get the court's attention to me.

"Would it be possible for us to get a scan of some of Valence's other memories? Childhood, college, unrelated work?" I ask, "I think maybe the colors are a lingering effect."

"We'll ask Mr. Valence to come in, but this still doesn't prove that your memories aren't implanted," responds Dr. Iommi.

"I'll get a scan of today's court procedings from my memory and you can cross reference it with the logs."

"We will allow these further scans, but counsel is advised not to delay the hearings any longer."

After the computer professional was unable to make much of anything from my laptop and disc, the Crey side then had about a dozen people all testify against my character, with them calling me such words as "hystrionic" and "dramatic." I never met any of these people except for Athena Currie, who, I will admit, had a bit of a spat with me after I called her out on giving me only Clockwork jobs. After a while, I'm brought up as a witness. That was brutal as hell. Overall, things weren't looking good. Court was dismissed with a set time of 9:00 the next morning.

Chapter 9

I head home, disappointed that Crey had apparantly beat me before I even had a chance. I guess mom was right after all. I can just imagine Dr. Nasmin laughing in hell as I have my orgy of evidence just vanish around me. As I walk in my apartment, I start up some games. I didn't want to have anything to do with the rest of the world for a long time. Around 20:30, I got an unexpected call from my lawyer.

"Hello, Mr. Bronfman," I open.

"Hello, Miss Carpenter," said my lawyer, sounding a bit stressed.

"I signed the contract stating that this was all-risk," I say, thinking that he's trying to bilk me out of some money due to this humiliating debacle.

"No, it's not about that. I think we might still be able to continue the case."

"I'm listening," I say, not expecting a whole lot.

"I just got a phone call from a Mr. Archibald Wislan. He was one of the technicians that was working at the time of your kidnapping. He's willing to give full testimony and evidence."

"That's lovely. What's his condition?"

"He wants to meet in person tonight. Bring your laptop with the data disc and five thousand in cash."

"Tonight?" I ask. This was starting to seem a bit suspicious.

"Crey doesn't know that he intends to sell them out just yet. Before he's willing to risk himself, he wants to make sure we have a solid case."

"The data disc is useless. You saw that."

"He thinks he can salvage it. Crey uses multiple levels of security in all their files."

"Okay. How did you want to arrange this?"

"Come to my office in three hours. I'll set a temporary password at the doors. It will be the same as I wrote on my business card. I'll see you then."


I arrive at the office building in Skyway City ten minutes before the scheduled meeting time. That's the great thing about teleportation: it's fast. I check my bag to make sure I have everything. Laptop, disc, envelope with 5000 dollars. Everything in hand, I head inside. After a few passwords and an elevator ride, I walk into the office.

"Hello, Miss Carpenter," said Mr. Bronfman. I did a quick gaze around the room to notice that there wasn't anybody else present.

"Where's the witness?" I asked, already having an idea what the answer was.

"He's around. Please, sit down. Have some coffee."

"No, thanks," I say. Coffee near midnight wasn't something I'd consider.

"You brought the stuff I asked?"

"Yes," I say, taking out the requested items, "it's all here."

"Good. Before we start," he begins, dropping his voice and moving a bit closer to me, "I have a bit of a confession to make..."

"There's no Archibald Wislan, is there?"

"There is, actually. He came to me in the parking lot after the hearing today."

"And..." I say, knowing where he is going.

"He told me that my family had been taken hostage. That they would be killed if I didn't get you to come here tonight."

"Oh, come on. You're telling me that they managed to get past your constant security force you have watching over them?"

"They didn't, actually. They faked it. He brought me a camera phone that showed what I thought was my family tied to chairs. They even duplicated their voices perfectly. I had no choice but to believe it. But even though they faked it, they still killed them. I got a call from the police not even a minute before you walked through that door telling me that my family died in a 'drunk driving accident.' They told me that the drunk driver got away, though."

"That's terrible," I say. I genuinely meant it.

"I'm sorry. I wanted to help you so much. I turned down two Crey bribes. I risked my reputation for what everyone else thought was an outlandish story."

I hear some elevator dings in the distance. It's show time and I'm the main attraction.

"I didn't want it to turn out this way, but I thought they were going to kill my family. I couldn't disobey. I had to set all this up."

"Why didn't you call the police?" I ask. It takes a whole lot of effort to make it sound sincere.

"Crey owns the police. They own everything. We can't take any legal action against them."

"I suppose they're going to capture me and send me back to that horrible base for some more torture in the name of science."

"I don't think they care about capturing you any more. Just removing you from the equation."

"I doubt they're going to let you live after this. They seem to have a no witnesses policy and you're not someone they can get any useful research out of. I hope you get reunited with your family in the afterlife."

Rough sketch of the 40th floor.

I then noticed that there was a helicopter outside the window. No markings, of course. Just as I noticed it, a hail of gunfire burst through the windows. A line of debris from all the hits went straight towards Mr. Bronfman. Within less than a second, several bullets reduced him to a bloody mess. I jump over the couch as the stream heads towards me. I manage to dodge it as I dive behind one of the bookcases, which topples over as a hundred bullets are unloaded into it. The bookcase props up against the wall, dumping several dozen tax law books on top of me. The rest of the room gets shot to hell as I hide. After about 30 seconds and 10,000 bullets, the gunfire stops. I then hear a voice coming from the other side of the wall. Guess all those bullets aerated the room quite a bit.

"Helicopter team reports they have the target pinned down in a corner. We might be able to get her alive. Hold off on lethal fire until I give the order."

I could tell from all the foot steps that there were dozens of them and many of them were wearing the heavy suits. There was no way I was going to be able to fight all of them off. I only had maybe 30 seconds before they got around to the door. I had to think fast.

I came up with a plan that I guessed only had the slimmest chance of working. It seemed the helicopter wasn't going to try to kill me just yet, so my best shot was to use the EMP I recently developed. I dash towards the window and just as the minigun turns towards me, I let off the EMP. All the lights in the office go out and the helicopter starts spinning out of control. I realize that the helicopter might crash into the building and start running away from the window. The tail end of the helicopter ends up swiping inside, with its rotor blade chopping most of my wings and tail off. As artificial as they are, the pain is still great. The helicopter then ends up tilting over, plummeting down to the street and bursting into flames on impact.

With no time to lose, I rip off my jacket as I run towards the window. I tie one end to part of the window frame and using it as a makeshift rope, I hang over the side just before the Crey goons burst through the door. Just my luck, the helicopter did destroy the windows of the floor below as well. I do a tricky swing and drop that only just barely gets me inside. Somehow, I'm able to hear the conversation of the floor above me.

"Isn't this a bloody mess," one of them remarks, "lucky our suits are insulated. Well, here's the data disc... or what's left of it. Bloody helicopter cowboys."

"I found something. Pieces of her wings and tail. Maybe the helicopter killed her as it crashed?"

"Can't be. There would be other pieces even if she got caught on it. She must have gotten away."

"How? She's not listed on our files as being able to fly or survive long falls. The dampener is in effect and surveillance shows that she only brought this very bag with her."

"Lock down the building. Do a sweep of all the floors starting with the one immediately below this one." Crap. My game is up.

The 39th floor.

I run through the hallways and manage to get within view of the elevators before I hear them ding. I quickly duck into the nearest office as they open and what I only guessed were about a dozen power suits came out. I could hear one of them barking orders.

"Shoot to stun only if you can get the drop on her. Again, we don't need her alive but do try your best. Pair up, start checking every office."

I hear the sound of doors being forced open and flash grenades coming closer to my door. This was it. Do or die time, where I either figured out a way out of this or I'll end up dead. I sure as hell wasn't going to let them take me back to the facility. The only idea I could think of was to try to time their grabbing of the door knob with as strong an electric current as I could manage. Just as they get to my door, I wait to hear the rhythmic grab of the door knob before I put everything I had into it. I pushed myself to the limit, which was almost more than I could even physically handle. I hear a loud scream from the other side of the door before an explosion sends me flying back along with the door. I quickly get up and see two bodies, one of which was missing its torso from the suit exploding.

"Found her!" shouted someone from an adjacent hallway. I guess an explosion is not the subtle way to get out. I quickly dash out and round a corner as blue bolts of energy shoot past. I run through the hallway to see one of the other tanks come into view. I throw a normal bolt at it, which barely even distracts the man as he starts firing his energy cannon at me. Taking a large risk without much of any other options, I do a slide as he tries to clothesline me. I see blue bolts come streaming by from the previous power tank, one of which hitting the closeby man in the leg and sending him down for the count. Guess it was my lucky day.

I round the corner to see a duo of power tanks start aiming their cannons at me. I send a ball of lightning at them and reverse direction. I wasn't able to see what it did, but it obviously didn't disable them because blue bolts shot past me. I then recognize the office door that I came in through the window of. I was hoping I'd be lucky enough that they were all following me and none of them were by the elevator. A few twists and turns later, I found out it wasn't my day when I found the elevators opening with about a dozen more power tanks just as I was within about twenty feet of them. I quickly dive into the hallway leading to the stairs, with yelps and swearing proving that friendly fire is one of their big concerns. I duck into the stairwell just as another torrent of blue energy shot past.

As I enter the stairwell, I notice it's one of those dual designs and it didn't have a wide enough center for me to leap down. So much for my gymnastics classes. I jump onto the other set of stairs and start working my way down as the power tanks burst in. I hear one of them say "you two, go up. The rest of you, follow me." I continue going down the stairs as fast as I could run. I was practically jumping down each flight. After about ten floors, I'm passing by a door as it bursts open, sending me flying into the middle part. I slam against a rail, hit my face on the opposite rail below, hit my left shoulder on the rail opposite of that below, and just barely manage to grab the next rail with my right arm. I was in a huge amount of pain from my broken nose and dislocated shoulder, plus I could hear some power tanks coming my way. I limp through the closest door and shove a chair into the door. Not like it will do much good, but those extra few seconds might save my life.

Remembering what I saw in an action movie, I take out my wallet and chomp down on it. Then I walk up to the wall and slammed my shoulder against it, relocating it back and sending a huge surge of pain through me. It took an almost godly effort to not scream. I then start running to the other side of this section as I tend to my nose. I had never felt pain quite so bad in my life. I went past the elevators, noting that I'm on floor 29, and go into the nearest bathroom. I knew that while they probably weren't going to check this section immediately, they almost definitely had the first few floors locked down and would start a sweep upwards once they figure out that I ducked out early.

I then had an idea as I noticed the fire escape directions on the wall next to the window. While I'm sure they thought of the fire exit, I don't think they really are counting on the fire department. I run around to find a fire alarm switch and activated it. Within less than a second, the beacons all started flashing, the monotone directions of how to exit the building accompanied the sirens, and the sprinkler system activated. While I knew that it would take a few minutes for the fire department to arrive, I also knew with a near 100% certainty that Crey didn't have enough influence with the fire department to prevent them from sending units here right away.

I then had to think of a way out. I wasn't able to rely on anything happening with the fire department fast enough to get me out. I was almost certain that they had over a hundred men and provided they started searching upwards now, would only take maybe ten minutes to get to this floor. They were almost certain to monitor the stairwells now. I then had a plan. Big buildings like this usually have a whole tunnel system in the elevator framework. I just had to force the elevator open and crawl through this system to freedom.

I force the elevator door open and start climbing on the emergency ladder down. I get down to about the fourth floor before I come to a nasty surprise. A Paragon Protector was flying around, scanning for me. Holy shit, these guys are thorough. Even before I can try to get over to the side, he notices me and throws a fireball. Without much choice, I jump backwards off the ladder as the fireball left a small crater where I once was. I grab wildly, managing to get ahold of some elevator cables. Not a whole lot of good it was going to do me, with the Protector flying in for the kill.

He sends a smaller fireball at me, which I barely manage to swing myself over. It cuts the cable, which causes my cable to shoot upwards. I hold on and when I look upwards, I see the elevator coming towards me pretty rapidly. I throw myself towards the other elevator cable, just barely missing the falling elevator unit. I grab the cable much too early and end up with the ultimate rope burn destroying most of the flesh on my palms. Even still, I keep my grip as a large amount of blood starts pouring out. I hear a loud whump followed by what sounded like plastic bursting as the elevator crashed into the ground. Poor him.

Knowing that there were probably more Protectors in the shaft, I swing towards the doors and force them open. Floor 16 this time. I didn't see anybody around, but I knew that they couldn't be too far away. I start searching my mind for some sort of escape route when the sprinkler system turns off and the main lights go out. The sirens on the PA system subsides and gets replaced with something that was practically the voice of God at this point.

"This is the Paragon Police Department in conjunction with Freedom Corps. Throw down your arms and surrender now. You have five minutes before we send in the teams."

Five minutes. There's a burning helicopter on the ground and enough damage in the building to suggest a small war, yet they give five whole minutes. I then had an idea. While it was a long shot, I hoped they brought someone capable of flight. If I could just get to a window office and get their attention, they could get me out. I find a large window office relatively quickly and found a small desk in the corner. Using a chair, I break through the window before then pushing the desk outside of it. Within seconds, several spotlights trained in on my location. I walk up to the window and immediately notice a dozen laser sights dotting my body.

"Drop all your weapons and put your arms behind your head." I gladly oblige, just smiling as they get ready to "arrest" me. As I do that, I notice one of their Awakened heading towards me. Never did I think I would be so greatful to see the police. All of the sudden, I feel a sharp burning pain in my back as I get propelled through the window. I black out just as I see downwards to the ground.

Chapter 10

I wake up in a hospital room with a lot of machines by me and a ton of wires. Disoriented, I wasn't able to quite remember what had happened before I blacked out. All I could remember at first was a lot of pain. A nurse nearby noticed me and came over.

"Where am I?" I ask groggily.

"You're on a docked Freedom Corps aircraft carrier," he responds.

"How did I get here?" I ask.

"You died during that Sky Raider attack. We were so lucky to bring you back."

"Sky Raiders?" I ask, starting to get my memory back. For some reason, the fact that I apparantly died was of a lesser concern to me. "There weren't any Sky Raiders."

"Yes, there were. They staged an assault on that building to get revenge on you after the Terra Volta incident."

"It wasn't the Sky Raiders. It was Crey. I remember now."

"They staged a raid on a Crey facility just before they assaulted the building. We're lucky that Crey reported the theft or we might have been overwhelmed."

"Bullshit. It was Crey." I was starting to see that there was a plan to all that madness.

"We have them in custody. This raid was led by Officer Chalmers."

"Bullshit, bullshit, bullshit," I cry out, "they are not getting away with something that major. They just trashed a skyscraper and killed who the hell knows how many people."

"Please calm down. You're not in any condition to be stressed out."

"I feel fine. I need to get out of here before Crey comes," I say, trying to get up. I didn't realize how stupid this was at the time since I was blinded by indignant rage. I feel something prick my shoulder and all of the sudden, I'm too tired to move.

"I'm going to get the commander. You can talk with him."

I lie there for a few minutes, helpless. I couldn't believe what I just heard. They were going to believe that the Sky Raiders orchestrated all this. They can't organize shit. They think the best way to get nuclear materials is to use guns on a reactor core. They were oblivious to Portal Corp having dangerous machines that might cause a dimensional rupture. In fact, they cause tons of wanton destruction without intending it. Now that I think of it, this was up their alley, but it still wasn't them.

Within a few minutes, the commander came by. I was a bit shocked to see that it was Manticore of the Freedom Phalanx. Doesn't he have more important things to do?

"Hello, Miss Carpenter. I heard you had quite an adventure?"

"I guess if dying is considered an adventure, sure."

"A little death never hurt anyone. You wanted to talk to me?"

"It wasn't the Sky Raiders that attacked me. It was Crey. This is all a set up."

"Now, we have nothing but proof supporting that it was a Sky Raider assault. We have eye witnesses that say they saw a lot of them setting up in the parking lot outside the building and..." he starts to trail off as he looks around the room to make sure it's empty. He leans in close to me. "As fustrating as it is for you, we as an organization can't touch Crey without an overwhelming amount of evidence. We're required to work with the PPD and their beaurocratic system in order to retain our legal status. You don't need to tell me about them. The whole Freedom Phalanx knows how corrupt they are, especially Synapse."

"But there's so much evidence. Can't you investigate the nature of these 'thefts'?"

"They have faking that down to an art form. All we have is circumstantial evidence. It doesn't take a genius to recognize the pattern. They report a theft of their equipment with tracking codes just in time for the PPD to arrive too late. Everyone we arrest is either much too quiet or claims they were kidnapped and planted there. Doesn't help that the former always gets lost in transit. Even when they leave a big piece of evidence, they still have deniability. That Paragon Protector in the elevator shaft, for example. We know they're an intricate part of Crey, but we don't have the proof to link them together."

"I always thought conspiracies on this sort of level were near impossible to maintain," I say, with a tad of mocking disbelief in my voice.

"There is something we can do, though. I have a couple leads that might expose Crey for what they are. Phillipa Meraux in Founders' Falls has a job you might want to consider. I also have something, but I wouldn't feel safe sending you unless you brought a whole bunch of heroes along. I'll leave cards for you. Anyway, you'll want to just drop the lawsuit. It's not going to go anywhere and it can only lead to damaging your reputation." He raised his voice to a normal level. "Any other questions?"

"Why am I on an aircraft carrier?"

"Numina was on board already and you were quite dead after hitting the pavement. We have some business in the Rogue Isles, but we've already arranged to transfer you to the Peregrine hospital en route. Anything else?"

"Thank you for saving my life."

"No problem. Keep up the good fight."


That was pretty much the end of it. I dropped the lawsuit the next opportunity I was able to get to a phone. All my "proof" was gone and I knew that the longer I dragged this through court, the worse I was going to look. As much as it hurt to concede defeat, there wasn't anything I could do within the legal system. Manticore certainly knew exactly what I was hoping for when he gave me those tips, though. I framed the check (which I knew better than to cash) as a reminder of the events. If I can't defeat them in court, then I guess I'll have to go above the law and hit them where it counts.

Personal tools

Interested in advertising?