Amy closed her eyes and concentrated on the connection to Basil. It was like a thread, connecting them. She let her mind wander along the thread and fall into him…
She opened her eyes, taking in her surroundings. She was in the air, surrounded by a scenery out of a painting – or maybe one of Basil’s fantasy games.
It looked like giant islands, floating freely in the air, some high above her, some deep beneath her. When she looked down, she noticed that she was actually clothed – in a very flattering, but all-covering lilac dress. Leave it to Basil to dress me up ‘decently’, even with only his subconscious mind active…
Unfortunately, changing her dress would be a direct act against his mind, which would make things difficult – so she didn’t. Instead, she took a closer look at her surroundings.
Over her stretched a night sky filled with glowing stars in every colour imaginable. There was also a moon, though it looked more like a giant, half-finished machine rather than an actual moon.
Underneath was a black, apparently bottomless abyss. Just looking into it directly made her want to curl up.
Between the two floated countless islands of various sizes. No two were at exactly the same height and they were all connected by free-floating stairs made of what looked like stained glass shards.
The highest island was also the biggest and one such stairway spiraled upwards towards the moon.
Wow, I have never seen a mind this… overtly artistic. Much less one that looked so well-organized.
Looking behind herself, she found the second-largest and third-highest island. It was connected directly only to the main island.
It was covered by several lakes and rivers, with big, purple-leaved trees littered across it. She could see various pavilions and small huts, all covered in artistic drawings and carvings, though she couldn’t make out any details from her position. The most eye-catching feature was what looked like her and Basil’s home, standing at the center of the island atop a stone-pillar covered in stained-glass windows depicting… her.
Intrigued, she flew closer to the pillar in the middle of the Island. The stairway from the upper island led to the front door of the house.
There were five stained glass windows built into the pillar itself. The one in front of her depicted her as Mindstar (though with flats instead of high-heels…). Circling the tower counter clock-wise, she found a picture of her in her casual attire, in her dress suit and one in the buff. The final window was completely black and featureless.
“This pillar… is it supposed to represent me in his mind?”
With a start, she whirled around, raising her mental shields.
She was greeted by… a child? No, the silhouette of a child. It reminded her, if of anything, then of those creepy singing sprites Madame Suliman summoned when she was trying to take away Howl’s powers. He does love that movie. No wonder it influences his mind.
However, the apparition in front of her was different – instead of heaving a ‘head’ like a firework-spewing star atop a translucent blue body, it had a miniature sun atop a translucent black body.
A sun… “Are you the Blazing Sun?”
In part, it replied in a voice that seemed to reach both her ears and her mind at the same time. Not that that made any sense, seeing as how they were literally communicating mind-to-mind. What she also noticed was that the voice sounded distinctly like Basil – only far, far deeper and with a strange echo.
“What do you mean by ‘in part’?”
I do not know.
“How can you not know why you are something?”
I only have a limited amount of knowledge I can access freely. And from that, I can only talk about a limited amount, as well. I can not say any more.
“Can you tell me what is happening to Basil? What is behind those visions he’s had?”
I can not say.
“Does that mean you can not say as in you do not have access to that information or in you are not allowed to tell me?”
“Are you not allowed to tell anyone or just me in particular?”
I can not say.
“Do you know who or what determines your limits?”, she asked, growing more and more intrigued. She had never encountered a situation likes this.
I can not say.
“Dammit, we’re not getting anywhere here. What can you tell me?”
That you should not be here. That if you remain, you might be harmed. That Basil is not in danger due to his condition.
I can not say.
“I am not going to leave until I have some kind of proof that Basil will be safe!”
I can understand that. I think. I am allowed to permit you the following: You may remain within the bounds of your island. You may visit the main island and any island connected to it. You may not enter any building. You may not ascend the central staircase. You may not eat or drink anything.
“So long as I stick to those rules, will you help me find out what is happening to Basil?”
It seemed to ponder that question for a while, then it replied: Acceptable.
“Good”, she said, more relieved than she cared to admit. If any part of Basil’s mind – even a foreign part – that was still this conscious wanted her out, she wouldn’t be able to resist without risking damage to his mind. And that was unacceptable.
She turned away from the pillar and flew towards and then up the staircase. It was probably safer to stick to the predetermined routes.
The being calling itself a part of the Blazing Sun followed her silently, it’s radiant glow illuminating the otherwise rather gloomy island.
* * *
When she reached the main island and looked over its rim, she immediately thought: This has got to be the island that – if my ideas about the structure of his mind are correct – represents him. Seriously, this is so Basil.
The Island was shaped like a bowl larger than New Lennston and filled with water to the rim. However, it was not empty, as countless structures could be seen under the water, rising from it or floating freely above it. They were too numerous and too diverse to be taken in with one glance.
At it’s center, however, lay another pillar, this one taller than the one on her island. It, too, was ringed with the same stained-glass windows. The one facing her depicted Basil in full costume, batons drawn and ready for battle. I bet a lot of criminals are going to have nightmares once he gets around to going out on regular patrols.
She flew up above the structures – the one closest to her looked like a free-floating clockwork-cube. Its parts were moving smoothly and almost completely silent – and flew closer towards the pillar, always followed by the Blazing Sun.
Circling the pillar, she found four more windows – but only two others, one depicting Basil in casual clothes in an outside scenery and one with him working at a worktable, showed anything, with the final two being cracked and black.
“What does this mean? There was a missing window on my pillar and now two here? Why?”
I can not say.
“Don’t you know or aren’t you allowed to tell me?”
I can not say.
She snorted, then flew up towards the top of the pillar. When she reached it, she saw first that the floating stairway leading towards the moon began here. Other than that, the pillar was topped by a stained glass floor, which was blackened and cracked.
“Hmm. Blazing Sun, tell me this: Do the blackened windows represent mental damage, a lack of memories or just natural insecurity towards identity?”
I can not say.
“Can you tell me if some other telepath has entered his mind?”
I can not say.
“You know, for an entity that basically is illuminating imagery, you are quite useless in illuminating the truth.”
She waved it off. “Is there any discreet entity within his mind that can give me answers?”
It’s form bent backwards, looking up at the moon.
“So, whatever is up there can answer my questions?”
If not, then no one can.
“Let me guess: I’m still not allowed up there.”
She threw him (it?) a glare and turned towards the ‘city’ beneath her. Then she looked over the edge of the island – from here, she could see all the other islands.
The third-largest one, which was almost half as big as her own, was also the second-highest after the central island. It seemed to be a large forest covered in snow and ice. The central pillar was tall, but thinner than the other two and brittle. The one window she could see from her position depicted that half-dead scarecrow he had fallen in love with, lying in her hospital bed and hooked up to almost as much machinery as fuckin’ Memento.
“You know, I don’t get why he likes her. She’s not that smart, nor exceptionally nice and certainly not good-looking. Couldn’t he have fallen for someone who doesn’t look like they should be in a crypt?”
Maybe he sees something in her you can not. Do you want to go and take a look?
She shook her head. “No. More important things to do. Like, finding out just what is going wrong with my little brother.”
Taking a step forward, she plunged down towards the base of the pillar, landing on the water’s surface. The water felt warm under her feet and every movement she made sent out ripples in every colour of the rainbow.
The next pillar was ringed by structures underneath the water, without any rising out of or floating above it.
They were of various make, some looking like giant computers, others like motors, some clockwork, some kind of organic circuitry. No two were even remotely alike, except that they all had a raven perched somewhere on them. The ravens were all looking at her and tracking her movements as she walked among the structures.
Some seemed to have doors, but she remembered that she wasn’t allowed to enter anything. Frustrating. The answer to his problems could be somewhere in here, and I can’t enter them without risking damage to his mind!
Instead, she turned again towards the sprite walking just behind her.
“Can you answer me the following question: Why does Basil’s mind appear to be so extremely well-organized? I’ve entered a lot of minds, both forcibly and subtly, and they have always been far more illogical and surreal.”
I have a theory regarding that.
“Oh? Let me hear it. Please.”
Have you ever entered the mind of a person you really knew before? One you really cared about?
“There isn’t anyone else I really care about and I would never enter his mind without permission, so no.”
Remember that your perception of another person’s mind is just as much determined by your own mind as by theirs. I believe that, since you know Basil so well and you respect and acknowledge him as an individual, and he reciprocates in kind, your mind and his can communicate far more efficiently and with less ‘friction’, for the lack of a better word, giving you an impression of his mind that is far more easily navigated and understandable.
“That… makes an incredible amount of sense. Wow, I think this is the first time you have actually been able to properly answer my question! Congratulations!”
I am going to treasure this moment forever…
“And sarcasm, too! Be careful, you might actually act human if you’re not careful!”
Oh, the horror…
With a smirk, she turned away. Apparently, your limits do not prevent you from unconsciously giving up information…
The smirk vanished when she rounded a corner and saw a half-sunk structure – only she could not see the structure itself, because it was coated in an inky black substance.
Moving closer she asked the sprite: “You told me no one else had entered his mind!”
No one has.
“And what about this?!”, she asked exasperated, pointing with one hand towards it.
I do not know what you are talking about.
She prepared a retort, when it hit her – the Darkwraith was probably hiding its presence from all parts of Basil’s mind.
“Forget it. I’ll take care of this!”
Moving closer to the wraith, she saw movement in the blackness, and six red eyes appeared in front of her.
She nodded towards them and said: “Greetings, Sir.”
Ahh, Mindstar. I was wondering when I was going to see you here.
“Excuse the abruptness, but what the fuck are you doing in my brother’s head!?“
Her outrage was answered by an amused chuckle.
Heh. I guess it’s your right to talk like that to me in here. Oh well. Why don’t you see for yourself? It’s kind of self-explanatory.
The part of the wraith in front of her opened up a bit, revealing a metallic door.
“I do not have permission to enter any building in Basil’s mind”, she replied.
Always so thoughtful of him. Don’t worry, his mind cannot focus upon this particular part. You can safely enter, I promise.
With a deep breath, she did.
* * *
“Is this what I think it is?”, she asked after a minute of taking in the interior of the structure, which looked far more smooth and uniform than any other she had seen so far.
The wraith, or at least a part of it, had followed her inside, floating right behind her left shoulder.
Quite so. I believe you understand why I felt the need to suppress his memory of this?
“Yes… but couldn’t we just explain to him why it would be a bad idea to create this?”
You know him better than I do. Do you think that would work?
She hung her head – it was hopeless. Basil would never accept a restriction on his work, no matter the reason.
I didn’t think so.
Shaking her head, she gathered her thoughts again. “Alright… alright. Let’s get back to the immediate concern. Did you notice the lapses he’s had?”
The wraith looked her in the eyes – they didn’t have quite the impact they normally would, but it was still enough to make her dizzy.
I was here. I noticed something, though I can’t say what it was. Follow me.
It led her back out of the structure, the main wraith closing its grip on it behind them.
* * *
Outside, the sprite had been waiting for her. It stood there, apparently unconcerned that she had vanished inside a building she had been forbidden from entering. At least, it felt unconcerned. The lack of a face or a real body made it impossible to read it visually.
Behind her, the smaller wraith spoke: Don’t worry. It can neither see nor hear me. Nor did it notice that you were gone. But you shouldn’t talk to me while we are out here. I can not prevent it, or the rest of his mind, from picking up on me if you talk to me while away from the main body.
Instead of answering him, she turned towards the Blazing Sun: “Let’s go. I want to look through this city some more.”
She followed the Darkwraith as the sprite followed her. It lead them through the city, and slowly she was noticing changes to the scenery – namely, there were scratch marks from giant claws, as if a wild beast the size of a two-story house had raged through the city.
The further they walked, the worse the signs of destruction became – however, soon they were treated to the sight of more and more sprites, all looking quite like the one that had been accompanying her all the time, floating and running around fixing the damage.
These little buggers have been fixing this island ever since the last outbreak, said the Darkwraith.
“What happened here?”, she asked the sprite accompanying her.
The Raging Heart.
“What is the Raging Heart? What does it do?”
It is a heart. It rages.
The wraith chuckled while she rolled her eyes.
“Is it responsible for Basil’s problems?”
I can not say.
The wraith spoke up: Far as I perceived it, this ‘Raging Heart’ appeared after the boy’s mind was attacked – it was a result of the damage, I think, rather than the cause.
“Can you show it to me?”
I can not.
I, however, can show you to it. I can follow its trail.
“Well, let’s go on then”, she said to both.
The wraith flew ahead, leading her further along the signs of destruction.
It slowed down as they passed a tower made of interlocking cubes glowing in various colours. Behind it, they found a flat, stone-carved building – only that was merely the part of it that was above the water. Beneath, it extended into an entire tower, reaching down into the dark depths of the water.
Whatever this ‘Raging Heart’ may be, it is sealed and chained within that building, said the wraith.
“Can I enter there?”, she asked the sprite.
I can not say.
She looked at it, intrigued. “Interesting. Up to now, you expressively forbid me from entering any structure, but now you ‘can not say’?”
I do not know why. It appears that this structure is beyond my management.
So, you have some kind of administrative purpose here – seeing how the other sprites are working to repair the damage, I guess that you are responsible for keeping his mind intact. But your influence is limited.
“So, you will not attempt to stop me if I attempt to enter?”
Affirmative. However, I advise against it. My limited knowledge tells me that it is extremely dangerous.
“Dangerous to Basil?”
No. Dangerous to you.
“That is not the issue here. If me entering there does not pose a danger to Basil, then I shall.”
Alright. But please be prepared to flee at a moment’s notice.
“I shall”, she replied as she walked towards the door-less entrance. When she stepped from the water onto the stone, she actually felt like her feet were standing on cold, bare stone. She also felt a cold draft on her body – looking down, she realized that her dress had vanished the moment she had crossed the entrance.
This is… interesting, she thought as she turned around. The sprite and the wraith both stood back. “Are you not coming along?”, she asked both.
I cannot enter, replied the sprite’s deep, familiar voice.
I think that me entering might actually pose a threat to Basil. I shall wait here for you.
“Alright. Just don’t go anywhere while I’m inside”, she said, then she walked into the building.
* * *
What followed next really came out of a fantasy novel. There was no other explanation.
The corridor she entered was illuminated by torches, but otherwise really chilly, making her shiver and actually miss the dress.
She walked on her tippy-toes, avoiding contact with the cold stone floor.
After a few meters, the corridor led to a staircase that spiraled down into the dark. Strange. Whatever caused the damage outside must have been way too large to fit through this corridor, much less this staircase.
Entering the staircase caused her to shiver again and she suddenly realized that she shouldn’t be feeling cold. Even if I was naked on the scarecrow’s winter-island, I shouldn’t have any trouble with the temperature. This is Basil’s mind, not the real world, so feeling cold has to mean something other than lack of heat. Just like my dress suddenly disappearing. If only I could figure out what…
Following the stairs down, she grew colder and colder, until ice crystals were forming on her eyelashes and her breath becoming visible to her. She started to rub herself with her hands, but to her misfortune, the lack of physical laws meant that it did exactly nothing to alleviate her suffering.
Further down… Answers…
The torches now burned blue, spreading only light and not warmth. She was so cold she could barely walk forward, but she forced herself to take step after step.
Suddenly, she walked into a wall of scalding hot air. The difference was so startling that she screamed.
What the hell?
She staggered as the heat coursed through her (mind-)body, but after a few seconds she found that it became, not less painful, but at least less distracting.
Raising her head, she saw a cavern the size of a football stadium cut in two by a river. The half she stood on was illuminated by glowing crystal-growths on the ceiling and walls. On the other side of the river, there was only darkness, though she could have sworn that she had seen a pair of eyes flash in the dark.
The heat still hit her and she realized that it was coming from across the river. Step by step, she managed to get closer, until she stood at the edge of the river.
Crouching down, she touched the water – and flinched back as it was so cold it hurt.
At the same time, she heard a sound like a low growl, only it was deeper and longer than she had ever heard – she seemed to hear it through her very bones, not just her ears.
Looking up, she saw several, irregularly arranged glowing white eyes just across the river.
Jumping back, she said: “Who is there? Show yourself!”
She was answered by another wordless growl and the eyes moved higher to be on a level with her.
“Are you a part of Basil’s mind? Or an invader?”
Another growl, then a voice: mine. The voice did not fit the growl, nor the many eyes – it was soft, infinitely soft and dripping with a kind of serene desire that made her knees weak.
And it was definitely Basil’s voice, only softer than she had ever heard him.
She also noticed that while the voice came from the direction of the glowing eyes, as did the growl, the growl did not lessen while it spoke. In fact, it started to build up and she began to feel like her whole body was vibrating as it reached down to her very bones.
“What are you? What do you represent?”
“Do you know what has happend to Basil? Were you the one controlling his body?”
Its answer was repeated, always in the exact same tone of voice.
I don’t think I am going to get anything else out of it. But maybe if I could see it, I might get some answers.
She raised her hands and concentrated – being a telepath did allow her to manifest her own thoughts within his mind. And if she did it carefully enough, she would not even cause any damage to him.
So she took her time, concentrating on a memory she shared with Basil – all the less likely to harm him – of him showing her one of his glowing cubes.
It took almost a minute to properly prepare – not that time mattered much within a human mind – and then she let the cube floating between her hands light up the cavern.
She screamed as the light winked out.
* * *
She flew out of the entrance to the stone building, rolling in midair to fly up and put some distance between herself and the building.
Flying up towards a floating structure formed like a raven made of countless, irregular struts, she landed on its beak, trying to get herself back under control. She also noticed that her dress had reappeared.
What happened?, asked the Darkwraith as it floated up, closely followed by the sprite.
“I- what was that thing?”, she asked the sprite.
The Raging Heart.
“YOU’RE JUST REPEATING YOURSELF! HOW THE FUCK DOES SOMETHING LIKE THAT BELONG IN BASIL’S MIND!?”
I cannot say.
Mindstar, calm down. You’re not helping anyone if you lose it, especially in here.
“I have to know! Something is wrong with my little brother and I may be the only one who can help him! I have to understand what is happening!”
Maybe, if you calm down and look around a bit more-
“No. No more running around. I’m going to take a risk”, she replied hotly, looking up at the mechanical moon floating above the island.
I can not advise that, said the Blazing Sun.
Amy, you’re agitated. Remember, whatever you saw down there was called the ‘raging’ heart. It probably rubbed off on you, making you this angry.
“It doesn’t take a freaking outside influence for me to be angry right now! I’m going!”
And she shot up towards the pillar, leaving the stunned sprite behind – though maybe it simply couldn’t follow her up. The Darkwraith, however, kept pace.
This might get interesting, it commented as they reached the top of the pillar.
Amy flew into the middle of the spiraling staircase and then shot straight up.
As she came closer, she could make out details – the moon was formed like a crescent made of various metallic parts. Its inner edges were open, showing the innards of the machine – it wasn’t meant to be a crescent, it simply wasn’t finished yet.
Coming ever closer, she thought she saw something lying on the crescent like in one of those pictures were a person uses the crescent of the moon like a seat.
It was humanoid and, judging by its size despite the still considerable distance, quite large, though she couldn’t make out any more details – it was shrouded in a milky gray mist, hiding all features.
She and the wraith were halfway up when she heard something – a song.
Twinkle, twinkle, little star,
How I wonder what you are.
The giant in the moon turned towards them – and the Darkwraith was obliterated. No battle of wills, no struggle, it didn’t even disintegrate – one moment it was there, the next it entered the sight of the giant and simply vanished.
Even within his own mind, Basil should not have been strong enough to simply obliterate a Darkwraith like that.
“What.. are… you?”, she asked, belatedly realizing that she was growing incredibly tired.
Up above the world so high,
like a diamond in the sky.
Her vision went black and she dropped down.
* * *
Amy woke up to the sensation of heavy sheets being pulled up to cover her. Opening her eyes, she saw a startled Basil, who had apparently put her to bed.
“Basil? What… what happened?”, she asked, sitting up on the bed. She was dressed in a pair of pyjamas she definitely hadn’t bought herself – they didn’t show anything – but which fit her perfectly. So, his crusade to get me to dress ‘better’ has reached the next stage…
He looked at her relieved for a moment, then he caught her in a hug. Uph. Little brother is getting strong.
“I was so worried when you would not wake up!”, he whispered as she hugged him back, more by reflex than anything else.
“How long was I out?”
“About fifteen minutes. It is half past one now. I woke up – we were both lying in your meditation room – and I could not get you to wake up, so I got you out and put some clothes on you and thought I would put you to bed and wait for you to wake up by yourself.”
She groaned as a headache she hadn’t noticed hit her.
“Amy?! Are you hurt? How can I help!?”
“You could stop screaming like an air raid siren. My head hurts…”
“Oh, sorry”, he replied, whispering.
“Did… did you notice anything different after you woke up?”, she asked.
“Yeah, I suddenly remembered something this Blazing Sun told me – there is some kind of old house up on the mountainside where someone hid something I am supposed to get. I was thinking of going over there to take a look. What did you find out? Do you know what happened to me?”, he replied, curious.
“I would rather not talk about it. I’m not quite sure what I experienced. And this is the inside of your head we are talking about – I am not going to tell you about it before I haven’t sorted it out myself, or I might cause damage. Suffice it to say, your brain is weird.”
“Thank you, I try”, he said, grinning. Damn, he looks five years younger when he does that…
“But, Amy? I thought about something”, he continued, now serious again.
“Well, it regards the capabilities of telepathy. I figured you are the best source I can get for that”, he said.
“Of course I am, little brother”, she said, turning her nose up. The headache had faded already.
He smiled at her, making her think of him from years ago again. “So, I was wondering, erasing memories is impossible, right?”
“Absolutely. Nearly a century’s worth of telepaths have tried and failed. Even Mindfuck from the Six could not do it”, she answered with absolute certainty.
“Right. But you once said something about preventing memories from forming in the first place?”
“Yes, that is possible and it is a technique nearly every universal telepath – and quite a few specialized ones – can use. The person forms short-term memories, but you prevent them from passing into long-term memory. I can do it easily enough. And it is even possible to prevent even the formation of short-term memories, effectively shutting down a person’s ability to interact with the world, though even I need to concentrate a lot to do that.”
“But you could not erase a memory once it has passed into long-term memory?”
“No. Believe me, I’ve tried. Didn’t work, even if my test subject was completely open to my telepathy.”
She could see him fight with himself over whether or not to ask about her ‘test subjects’, but thankfully, he decided not to. She wouldn’t want to have to tell him about those.
“But you could suppress a long-term memory?”
“Yes, of course. Why do you ask?”
“Well, I have had some strange visions while lapsing, remember? They did not fit anywhere into my memories, so I thought they were maybe random hallucinations or the memories of someone else. But what if someone simply suppressed my memories and then put fake ones into place? That would work, right? Or maybe the visions themselves were fake or implanted memories?”
She gave him an amused look. “Ah, Basil, if only it was this easy. But, you see, there are two problems with that. Because both suppressing long-term memories and creating fake ones share the same weakness.”
“Oh? What weakness?”
“Concentration. The human mind is far stronger and far more consistent than most people think. To suppress a memory, much less to create a fake one, requires constant concentration – even more than outright control of a person’s mind. To do that to you, someone would need to be constantly within range and constantly concentrating on you, because lapsing even for a second would break their hold on you and they would have to start all over again. Plus, initiating telepathic contact always requires line of sight.” For example, dear brother, the Dark has to put a Darkwraith into you that uses telepathy 24/7 just to keep one idea suppressed.
“Alright, so that does not work. But say, how did you keep Amazon under your thumb if you have that kind of limitation?”
She smiled at him. “Oh, that was easy. Every time I decided I needed to go to sleep, I simply drugged her up and put her into a box. The next morning, I took her over again and gave her the antidote.”
“Wow, that is just creepy”, he replied, shaking his head. “But wait, I have seen you on TV using your powers even indirectly – both your telekinesis and your telepathy!”
This time, she gave him a white-toothed grin. “Well, that’s called synergy, little brother. I’ve got a combination of powers that allows me to circumvent some of the inherent limitations of my telekinesis and telepathy – namely, the ability to project my senses over a range, giving me line of sight even if I cannot physically get it.”
“Guess you won the superpower lottery, huh?”
“Oh, yes, I’d definitely say that. It’s one of the main reasons why I was able to take my place among the Dark Five. My predecessor was also a telepath and a telekinetic, but she lacked my ESP, giving me an edge when I fought her.”
“Huh. So the Five work on the basis of Klingon Promotion?”, he asked.
“No, silly, that would be stupid. You have to be scouted out first and invited. They test you – each of the Five, as well as the Dark give you a test – and then the Dark decides which one you have to fight to prove your worth and take their place.”
“Oh. Sounds gruelling.”
“Some day I’m going to tell you what I had to do to get the job. Hint: enslaving Amazon was only enough to get me scouted.”
“Yeah, I already know I am not going to like that good-night story…”
* * *
After that talk, Basil had walked down to make dinner.
While he was working on some simple chicken-breast and potatoes from the oven, he let his mind wander. Ever since waking up from that trance, he had felt like Amy had not only jarred that particular memory loose, but also several ideas for some inventions he had been unable to work out before.
Oh, they were still quite a bit away from being usable, but at least that flight-system looked workable. And he would so love to be able to fly without needing a vehicle other than his armor…
He sat onto the kitchen counter and worked on the designs in his mind while the chicken and potatoes backed in the oven. He’d already done the tzatziki and a light salad, so there was not much else to do. And his ideas and daydreams had been so interesting ever since he got his power.
Amy’s arrival jarred him from his daydreams and he belatedly noticed that the chicken was done and would soon be spoiled.
Quickly pulling it out, he turned towards Amy, who had changed into a chemise and a thong. She’s just doing that to annoy me, I know it. Maybe I should get her some My little Pony pyjamas, she might actually keep those on.
Grinning at his annoyance, she sat down at the kitchen table. “So, oh wizard of the kitchen, what do we have for lunch today?”
“Oven-chicken and potatoes with salad and tzatziki”, he replied as the put the dishes on the table and served the food.
“Mmh, yummy”, she said before digging in to her portion (eight chicken breasts and enough potatoes to feed a football-team).
They both ate in silence. When they were done, Amy actually did the dishes herself (well, with telekinesis) and stretched in her chair.
“So, when are you going to go?”, she asked.
“Where to?”, he asked back.
“To that house. I know you are going to look for whatever is hidden up there.”
“I was thinking of waiting ten minutes or so and then dress and go”, he replied.
“Alright, I’m coming with you. And we are going in costume and full equipment”, she told him with a voice that allowed no discussion.
Not that that had ever worked on him.
“Sister, do you not think it risky? If I was seen with you in costume…”
“Oh, don’t worry. I can keep myself hidden. But I am not letting you walk into a possible trap without taking every precaution that you will be safe!”
He saw that there was no arguing with her right now.
“Alright, alright. Oh, and speaking of costumed identities – I heard earlier from the radio that there is going to be a big special on last night on HeroView. It’s supposed to air at five o’clock”, he told her.
“Oh? And you want to watch it with me?”
“Umm, no, actually. I was going to watch it together with the girls, I thought. I mean, we were in there as a team and all…”
“Well, I could come along. As your sister, of course, not as Mindstar.”
The thought of her and Dalia in the same room made his knees tremble. “Uh, no Amy, I would prefer it to keep you all separate. Just to be sure, you know – Dalia’s power might accidentally reveal your identity”, he told her, half-lying.
She gave him a pout. “Well alright, it’s your call. I guess I’m going to watch it with my team. They’ll probably want to, anyway, since they know about you.”
“Wait, the Five know about me as well?!”, he asked, unpleasantly surprised.
“It was the only way to make sure they would keep their hands off you, you know. The Dark wasn’t going to put his foot down just to protect your secret identity from his most trusted lieutenants, so I had to tell them. It’s one of the cardinal rules of the Five, that the families and other dependants of their members are taboo, unless said member or the Dark says otherwise.”
He covered his face with his hands. “Great, even more people know about me…”
“If it makes it any better, they all find the situation gut-wrenchingly hilarious.”
“That does not make it better!”
* * *
They had spent a few minutes on the couch surfing through TV-channels – though Amy was still trying to sort out what she had learned from his mind and he was more preoccupied with his own thoughts.
He was about to shut off the TV and get ready to go off when he landed on a news broadcast that flashed ‘Breaking News’ accross the screen.
The woman in the screen, a pretty blonde in her late twenties, read the news just as there appeared a picture of the Protectorate’s wall behind her.
“Breaking news, as witnesses who were visiting the shrines along the outer wall of the Protectorate witnessed an attempt by a militant part of the so called ‘True Believers’ to cross the walls and make contact.”
“What the fuck? Who’s stupid enough to try and break into the Protectorate?!”, asked Amy, torn from her contemplation.
“The ‘True Believers’ again. Man, I thought they would have learned better after the last time”, replied Basil.
“The militant cult members, who included at least one B-class metahuman, were thrown back by the the Protectorate’s military and metahuman force, including a Darkwraith and several heroes and villains that are currently serving voluntary terms on the Protectorate’s wall. In part due to the effort of these volunteers, all cult members could be stopped before they managed to even reach the second wall. There were no casualties, but several basehuman soldiers and cult members were wounded, though they have been reported as stable.”
“Ah well, the Boss has five Darkwraiths on those walls, not to talk of everyone else up there”, said Amy.
“Are you ever going to take a voluntary term on the walls?”, asked Basil.
“I had heard that Amazon was going to volunteer this month. I wanted to volunteer once she was already on the wall, so she wouldn’t be able to get away from me. But then DiL attacked Moscow and now there is no way she is going to do it. Oh, how I could have pissed her off”, she replied mournfully.
The newslady continued: “The British Prime Minister has commented that the ‘terrorists’ are going to be delivered to the International Court in the Hague, since he feels that a verdict just by the British Court System would be inappropriate. He expresses his sorrow that people still feel the need to attempt and enter the Protectorate, stating that ‘We have caused enough pain already. Just let him rest.’
At the same time, several protest groups were demanding the opening of the gates, to attempt ‘peaceful, controlled contact’ in the hopes of-“
Basil shut the TV off. “Ah well. Guess they are going to throw the book at them. And then some”, he commented.
“Sure thing. Did you know that they had actually considered to allow for the Death pentalty to be given to people who tried to enter the Protectorate?”
“I had not. That would have been a bit extreme, considering that only a few of the people who try are actually doing so out of malicious intent. No wonder they repealed that.”
“Yeah, but it speaks volumes about how much people are still wound up over the whole matter. Anyway, let’s get going.”