“2000… you’re twelve?“, asked Melody after a few seconds of first being dumbfounded and then typing on her vocoder.
“Yes… and no.” Irene was looking younger and younger, fidgeting around, looking at her feet as she drew circles with her big toe.
“Please, just get to the point. How old are you? And what does it have to do with the scene from earlier?”
Rubbing the back of her head with one hand, still looking down, Irene opened her mouth to say something, but hesitated.
“Come on, you can tell me. I’m not going to hold it against you, you know?“
Irene’s head suddenly snapped up – her eyes turned red and her sclera pitch black – and she snarled: Don’t say that! You don’t even know the first thing about me!
Something slammed into Melody, throwing her into the wall behind her. She gasped as the air was knocked out of her and she slid down the wall. She nearly blacked out, but managed to stay conscious.
Opposite of her, Irene was making a sound like a growling animals as she wrapped her arms around herself. No. Not now. My medicine…
She reached for a pocket in her long skirt and pulled out a see-through canister of her pills, but her hand was shaking so hard that she dropped it.
Melody watched weakly as Irene dropped down on her knees, trying to pick up the canister. It took her four tries to grab it and another three to open it – only for her trembling to scatter the pills all across the floor.
I could swear they shouldn’t fly out this strongly.
No, no, no, no, no…, shouted Irene as she reached for the pills on the floor – only for them to be pushed away from her reaching hand.
She flopped down onto her belly, trying to pick up any pills and failing as the were pushed away again and again.
Melody managed to stand up, though her footing was less than stable and she took a step towards the girl on the floor. She looked around – her vocoder had been shattered by whatever had thrown her across the room, the pieces now scattered around her room.
What is that?, she thought as her ears picked up a strange sound. It was too low to really understand it, even with her hearing, but it was steadily getting louder – and it originated from Irene.
She took another step towards Irene.
Stay away!, the latter shouted and something struck out at her. She gasped from a sudden pain in her chest. Looking down, she saw that something had slashed diagonally across her chest, cutting her shirt open and giving her a long red gash across her chest.
Nevertheless, she took another step. She needs my help. How can I help her?
If only she could talk. Maybe she could calm her down if she could.
Stay back! I can’t stop it from attacking you!
Instead she ignored the second slash that cut open her left thigh. Shallow cuts. Her power’s only trying to hurt, not really wound.
A strange visual distortion, not unlike the effect created by Osore’s power, only far more concentrated, began to play over Irene’s body. The ground around her began to warp as if it was too hot and her clothes began to unravel thread for thread.
The sound had gotten louder and finally she recognized it – it was that tune Irene was humming nearly every second, only instead of a hum, it was a song. It didn’t have any words, at least none she could understand, but it was beautiful – and more complex than anything she had ever heard. In fact, she was quite sure that even with her hearing, she was only perceiving some parts of it and not all.
It’s so beautiful. Beautiful, but… creepy, as well. Like something is just off. Good God, I would love to be able to listen to it for longer…
She almost stopped just to listen, but then another slash hit her across the stomach, snapping her back to reality.
Crouching down, she grabbed a handful of the pills.
Please, go away. I don’t want to hurt you!
Not a chance, Irene. I’m not leaving you like this.
She held her hand to Irene’s mouth, but when she tried to eat the pills from her hand, the same effect pushed them away from her lips.
Another slash hit her forearm, cutting it open from wrist to elbow. Again, the wound was just deep enough to hurt, but not cause any serious damage.
Without a sound – not that she could make much of one – she gathered another handful of the pills. Reaching out with her left hand, she grabbed Irene’s fever-hot chin and forced her head up and closer to her. She almost dropped her grip, as her skin began to burn wherever she touched Irene’s head just as the same sensation of pure, unrestrained arousal she had experienced this morning hit her again.
Both pain and arousal raged through her body and it took more force of will than she knew she had to force her right hand to Irene’s mouth and clamp it around her mouth so the pills could not be pushed away.
She gasped as another gash opened on her left forearm, but she held fast and was rewarded with the sounds of Irene swallowing the handful of pills in one go.
Both the burning pain and the raging arousal vanished, immediately, and their sudden absence was more stunning then their presence had been. Melody fell back onto her butt as she took a deep breath and looked at her hands – they were not burned, only a bit red. Though that could simply be due to how her heart was pounding like crazy.
And the song she had been hearing became more indistinct, its volume dropping by half in a heartbeat. A shame…
Melody… More… Please…
But she would have time to deal with that later. Now, she gathered another handful of pills and fed them to Irene, who, by this point, was lying shivering in the middle of the mass of threads that had once been her clothes, the black distortion playing around her skin.
The girl swallowed them eagerly and the distortion faded away.
“More…” Her voice had returned to true sound, instead of the unnatural mental impression it had been moments before, but it was raspy, weak, subdued.
The last handful of pills finally turned her eyes back to normal and stopped both the song and the shivering.
Irene all but collapsed, as if all strength had left her body, and just lay there, breathing heavily.
Melody did not feel much better, her wounds bleeding, if only a bit, and the aftereffects from Irene’s glamour still wracking her concentration.
She finally gave in, collapsing next to Irene as her vision turned black.
She should be safe now…
* * *
She was lying on something soft and fluffy, her body bathed in warmth. Her head lay on something not quite as soft as the rest of her body, but it was comfortable none the less.
Something wet and warm fell onto her lower lip, immediately followed by another two, one on her upper lip and one on her nose.
Salty… I like salty foods…
She felt great. All the lingering pain, the cuts all over her body – she couldn’t feel even one of them. Instead she felt as if she was taking a bath in water just hot enough to still be comfortable, only without the water…
Again, the salty drops, and she realized that they had to be tears.
That reminded her of what had been going on before she passed out and she opened her eyes to see what was going on now.
The first thing she saw was Irene’s tear-stained face. Her eyes were closed and tears streamed down her cheeks and dropped onto Melody’s face as she was bent over her a bit.
She realized that they were lying on her bed, with her head on Irene’s thighs. She also noticed that, thankfully, Irene had repaired her clothes – either that, or she had run over to her room and put on an identical set of clothing.
Unable to speak, Melody reached up and patted one of the hands Irene held to each side of her face.
Irene flinched and opened her eyes. She tried to say something, but cut herself off and looked to the side.
“I’m so, SO sorry”, she finally said, wiping at her tears with one hand.
Melody looked around – the damage to her room had been fixed, her wounds were gone and even her clothes were whole again.
She sat up, slowly, then she turned around on the bed, kneeling on it to face Irene.
What happened?, she asked in her thoughts, hoping that Irene would have some kind of telepathy active.
Her hope turned out to be true. “I… I guess I should start at the beginning, shouldn’t I?”
“My conception, really. You see, my parents really wanted to have a child with each other – one that wouldn’t turn into a mass-murdering psychopath.”
I can see that. I’d want my children not to go around wiping out entire cities at a time as well.
“Yeah, well, the only problem was that they didn’t have the first clue what had gone wrong with my sister in the first place – there is literally no other case that is even remotely similiar. Both of them had various theories, but no proof at all – after all, they never had a chance to study my sister closely.”
And so they just pumped you up with that power control medicine?
“No, not really. Having control over your power doesn’t mean much when you are to young to have any kind of sense of control. No, once I reached my seventh month – the point where my sister had manifested – they put my mother and me under surveillance 24/7 – father was basically rooted next to her bed, with a special syringe he had commissioned from Sovereign.”
You don’t happen to have it lying around, don’t you?
“Wha- the syringe? No! Please stay on track!”
Sorry, it’s just, well, Sovereign-tech…
“Wow, you’re literally drooling right now. I guess the cliches are true after all. But back on track, dammit!”
Alright, I’ll be good…
“Where was I? Ah, yes. So, the moment I manifested, father immediately shot me up with a power suppressant they had developed just for this occasion.”
You got a syringe jammed into you when you were still in the womb? Good God…
“Ah well, it’s not like I felt anything. So, once they were sure I was stable, they put a tube into me that gave me smaller, continuous doses of the same, until I was born about two months later.”
And if it wasn’t for that, you would have turned into another Desolation-in-Light?
“We don’t know. As you noticed earlier, I have slightly different symptoms when I loose control. But anyway, it was immediately clear that despite the power suppressants, my powers could not be controlled properly. I aged, physically and mentally, far faster than I should – by the time I was nine, I already looked nearly like I do now, though thankfully, the aging process has apparently slowed down to a normal one in the last year. I was also able to speak by the time I was barely eleven months old.”
So your power gave you the ability to speak and understand English when you weren’t even one year old? What if it had to refocus, did you loose the ability to speak again?
“At first, it happened sometimes, but then I started getting an enhanced learning speed instead and I learned to talk and write, not to speak of learning to walk.”
Was being toilet trained included in that?, she asked with a smirk.
Irene just rolled her eyes. “I don’t need to use the bathroom. Never have. I only need to eat once a week or so, because my power can convert pretty much anything, even waste, into nourishment for me.”
Cool. Does it clean your teeth and shave you, as well?, Melody asked, a bit surly.
“I don’t need to brush my teeth, I don’t need to cut my nails and I don’t have any hair on my body other than my eyebrows and my scalp hair. Not that you have any room to complain – I’ve seen you in the buff, remember? You’re just like every other adonis-type. Not a hair on your body that does not agree with your understanding of beauty.”
Yeah, well, but I had to do the shaving before. And I still need to brush my teeth and cut my nails.
“Wow, what a hardship. Now could we please get back on track?”
Sure. Not my fault that you are so easy to distract…
“Easy to distract? Me?! You’re the one- Augh! You’re making my head hurt!”, she complained.
Sweet, sweet vengeance.
Irene took a deep breath, let herself fall back onto her butt and then continued: “Anyway, I’ve always had a few problems. One, I couldn’t play with other children, because I had no control over my power – it was too dangerous. Same reason why I couldn’t go to school or even have normal teachers. Instead, my parents and some friends of theirs who were very durable schooled me at home.”
That must have been lonely…
“Yes, well, there wasn’t much choice. The biggest problem is also the reason for that… scene earlier and my freakout before.”
What is it? You’ve been dancing around it for a while now.
Irene rubbed the back of her head, then said: “Well, the problem is mainly that I like you.”
Melody felt her face flush. So, you’ve got a crush on me? That’s awkward, but I don’t see the problem…
Now Irene went beet-red and waved her hands in front of her. “No, no, I didn’t mean it that way! For God’s sake, I’ve known you for less than a day! I mean, I like you in the ‘I’d really like to be friends with you’-way.”
And why is that problematic?
“Because my power doesn’t just influence other people. It influences me as well. And it doesn’t get the difference between simply liking someone and being in love with them – or the difference between being annoyed and hating someone’s guts. That was the reason why I needed teachers who could take anti-tank-level shots, because just being slightly annoyed with them could lead me to attack them!”
So when you started to like me…
“It was yesterday, in the showers, when it all went wrong with my plans. I had planned to stay aloof among the team, distant. Indifference is the only safe way for me to interact with other people, so long as I am not sure that I really love or hate them – like with my parents. I already love them, so my power can’t influence me any further.”
Why the showers?
“Because I’d hit you with a glamour right after demonstrating that I was powerful enough to kill you with a twitch of my finger. Because you were really uncomfortable with it, but you didn’t let it keep you from offering me a handshake, even though you knew that that might make you vulnerable to my power. Because it has been so long since someone who wasn’t my parents was nice to me just for the sake of being nice…” She was getting teary-eyed again.
Melody, in contrast, felt relieved. She didn’t know how she could have dealt with her having a crush on her – but if it was just her power being uncontrollable, she could deal. And she could certainly offer her support.
So, with the restraint of possibly fueling a one-sided crush gone, she edged closer to Irene and pulled her into a full-body hug, resting her chin on her shoulder. Irene stiffened at first, but then she relaxed and hugged her back.
I guess you’re afraid I won’t want to be friends with you – or even close to you – because of that. Honestly, do you take me to be so shallow? I’m not going to let something stupid like an out-of-control power get between me and a friend. So, don’t worry. I’m there for you.
Irene’s grip tightened and she sobbed into her shoulder. “Thank you…”, she whispered, barely audible even to her hearing.
* * *
It took nearly ten minutes for Irene to stop sobbing.
When she was spent, they both leaned back and Irene wiped at her tear-stained face. “Thank you so much. I really needed that.”
You’re welcome, replied Melody as she turned around to sit on the edge of the bed. Is it okay if I ask you some more questions? You know, being now officially BFFs, there are just some things I think I should know.
Irene turned and sat next to her. “We are? I’ve never had a BFF. How do you know when you have one?”
It’s a safe bet to assume that anyone you’re willing to talk to about your issues and who is okay with crying on your shoulder for ten minutes is at least close to being one.
“Heh. And I guess someone willing to walk through being cut open, burned alive and all but raped through emotion projection to give you your medicine is also a safe bet. Alright, ask away.”
What’s up with your body temperature? You feel like you should burst into flames!
“No idea, I’ve always had a high temperature. We haven’t been able to determine the cause of it. Upside being, I never really get cold.”
Alright, next one – just how much does your power influence you?
“Well, there is the obvious exaggeration of my emotions. Plus, more subtle things – for example, when I decided to come over and wake you up, instead of knocking on your door, I just walked in to wake you from up close. Stuff like that. All so it could push me towards what it thinks is what I want – namely, sex, because I’m pretty sure my power cannot differentiate between the desire for physical closeness and lust.”
Wow, that’s awkward. And from what I understand, it does that to others as well?
“Yeah. For example, I take it that you don’t usually walk to a debriefing without any underwear on, right?”
Melody looked down – the points of her breasts were very visible under the thin shirt she had been wearing since this morning.
She went beet-red and covered her chest with her hands as her mind started screaming in horror. Oh God, oh God, what will everyone think of me now?!
“Don’t worry! I noticed before we even entered and threw up a glamour that hid it.”
She calmed down and jumped up immediately to walk to her closet.
Thanks for that…, she said/thought as she pulled out a bra. Then she pulled off her shirt and slipped into the bra.
Irene walked up behind her and helped clip the bra closed. “Don’t mention it. Wow, f-size? I’m impressed.”
Yeah, well, you try and have a proper work-out – or even a good dance – with jugs like those. At least I’ll never have to worry about sagging.
“Yeah, another upside to the whole adonis-deal. I won’t have that problem either. But back to your question. The whole thing is another example of my power influencing me – when I noticed that you weren’t wearing a bra, I didn’t tell you so you could run back to your room and change. Instead I hid it from the others, so only I could see it – and I was barely able to tear my eyes from them.”
That’s just amazingly embarassing. And you’ve had this kind of problem since you were old enough to be aroused, I guess?, she continued as she pulled her shirt back on.
“Pretty much, yeah.”
Since we’re on the subject of sexuality right now, I have to ask: are you even interested in women? Or is it just your power?
“Oh, I like both, really. My first time was with a girl, actually. She was fourteen, I was ten.”
Wait, you’ve had sex already?
“Huh? Yeah. With both guys and girls, actually. It has only been about a year since I’ve been safe to go out by myself, actually – before that, I used to jump pretty much anyone I found even remotely attractive. Thankfully, my power always allowed me to prevent them from remembering.”
Melody had to let that sink in for a moment. Then she noticed something strange. Wait, I thought erasing memories was impossible!
“It is. However, it IS possible to prevent a person from forming memories in the first place – or, at the very least, prevent them from passing from short-term memory to long-term memory. And it really only works on people who are vulnerable to that kind of thing – like if they’ve just had incredibly, inexplicably orgasmic sex.”
Talk about mind-blowing sex.
“Ha! You’ve got it. Though, honestly, with my power mucking around with my emotions all the time, I’m not even sure if I’m really bisexual or whatever. Any more questions?”
Yeah… What was it with that freak-out earlier? Somehow I doubt it was just because I said something wrong.
Irene’s face fell immediately. “Please, don’t think it was in any way your fault. Actually, it wasn’t even really my power’s fault, at least not directly.”
“Well, you have to understand, I was pretty wound up. That whole scene earlier had me pretty wound up. Then, I was afraid you wouldn’t want to be near me anymore if I told you what was going on – but not telling you was a sure way of making sure that you would keep me at a distance. Normally, I can deal with that. But, you know, everyone has their weaknesses. Even I have my own kryptonite.”
Are you sure you want to tell me what it is?
Irene raised an eyebrow at her. “I thought we were BFFs?”
Right, of course. Sorry.
“No reason to be sorry. Anyway, my weakness is telepathy. Or rather, telepathic combat.”
You mean, your fight with the root?
But, I thought your power kept you always safe!
“It does – unless I open myself up so I can attack someone telepathically. It’s just not possible to use telepathy offensively without lowering your own defenses. Even Mindfuck could never do that, and he was the most powerful telepath ever.”
But why are you especially vulnerable to telepathy?
“Because, at the end of the day, what you use to defend yourself against telepathic attacks is your own self-image. It is what any telepath actually attacks and the stronger it is, the more resistant you are to telepathy. But I’ve always had my power, mucking around in my own brain, apart from other people, never really able to push myself to the edge and growing up faster than I should…”
…so you’ve never been able to develop a self-image as solid as any normal person would have just by growing up…, she continued in dawning horror.
“… which leads to the fact that if I lower my mental defenses, even a telepath weaker than I am at that moment can cause a lot of damage. Of course, my power can also fix that damage, but it takes time and this morning I was just so wound up from everything else that, together with the damage I had sustained fighting the root…”
…it led to you losing control over a single comment on my side, she finished, finally understanding what had gone wrong.
“Pretty much, yes. I think in a few years I’ll be able to withstand a mental attack as good if not better than a normal person, but until then, scenes like the one this morning might repeat themselves whenever I run into another telepath. Again, I’m so…”
Melody put a finger on her mouth. Stop! Don’t you dare to apologize anymore! You only took that damage because you had to defend me and the others from the root, enabling us to take down an entire acre. It would have been nice if I had known beforehand, but then again, you are right – we’ve known each other for less than a day. No one, and I mean no one could expect you to spill your secrets to them after so little time. By the way, I’m honored that you decided to tell me.
Irene took her hand from her mouth and moved it to cup her cheek, leaning a bit into it. “Thank you. Really. I’m so glad you still want to be friends with me.”
Don’t mention it, Melody replied, just as a yawn forced itself out of her. I’m sorry to cut this short, but I think I need to lie down and sleep. I’m so tired…
“Oh, of course. I’ll go”, said Irene with a disappointed look on her face.
She turned to go, but Melody relented at the sight of the expression on her new best friend’s face.
Oh, you don’t need to go! I bet you could use some sleep as well. How about you just sleep here?
Irene turned around and raised her eyebrow again – she seemed to like doing that. “How does that fit into not wanting sex with me?”
Melody didn’t even turn red. Oh, for the love of Tesla, you’ve really never had a BFF, haven’t you? Girl friends can sleep in the same bed without any kind of sexual intent, you know! So just get your pyjama or your nightie and we’ll have an impromptu sleepover here!
Irene grinned at her. “I’d like that. Only one problem, I don’t have any pyjamas.”
“Well, I only need to sleep about an hour a week, so I usually just sit down somewhere and take a nap. And since I have no problem with feeling cold, I rarely wear anything if I’m not in public. I don’t even have a bed in my room here. And I don’t own any underwear, either.”
You what!? That’s… that’s just…
“Don’t get worked up, it’s just one of my peculiarities.”
Well, we can’t have that. Here, I can give you one of my nighties.
“Thanks!”, she replied when Melody gave her a deep blue nightshirt that reached to her knees. She quickly slipped out of her clothes and into the nightshirt. When she was done, Melody had a matching one on, except hers was pink.
So, if you never wear underwear, what do you do when you have your period?
“Oh, I don’t have a period. Never will have, in fact.”
Now she felt more pity than outrage. You can’t have children? Ever? That’s…
“No, I mean that I don’t have a period. I can be fertile or infertile whenever I want, so I don’t have to deal with menstruati-“
With a mute scream containing the outrage of every woman who ever had to deal with PMS or other related problems, Melody threw herself at Irene and tackled her onto the bed.
It turned out that her power couldn’t make her immune to being tickled breathless.