B1 — 23. One Day; Life Lesson

Sniffing the air as she walked into an alley, Sora let go of a sad sigh, trying to release the tension that gripped her chest.  No one in the area, and they have a terrible rat problem … I should call Nilly!

She forced herself to giggle while jumping on top of the building and racing across rooftops; wrapping herself in illusions to be invisible, Sora made her way to the police station.  Why was Nilly at the penthouse, though … Could she know my dad or mom?  She did say she had a fox friend…

Arriving at her destination, she frowned as she studied the video cameras.  Do my illusions work on cameras?  I mean, why wouldn’t they … I’m using light for these illusions, not a trick of the mind.

Unraveling her invisibility apart from her ears and tail, Sora walked in through the front doors to find a very flustered woman sitting at the desk.  She caught her name on a plate atop the desk—Becky.  Most of the building was empty, but there were a few very disgruntled and depressed-looking police officers in the background by the sounds in their voices.  

Walking up to the front station, Sora tapped on the wood to get her attention.  “Hello, Becky.”

Becky jumped and looked up.  “Oh—I’ve seen your picture—you’re Sora Moore?”

Sora nodded.  “Yup.”  Looking into Becky’s brown eyes, she asked, “Can you guide me to where my belongings are?”

Becky’s gaze glossed over.  “Yeah—one moment.”  She lifted from her seat, and Sora followed her to the holdings area.  On her way over, she passed a room with a substantial body of people inside.  There was a big man with a mustache, yelling vehemently.

Did I really cause all of this?  Some of them will probably be fired over this kind of incident.

“I really caused a catastrophe,” Sora whispered as she caught sight of a man crying in the room.

“What was that?”  Becky asked in the same trance-like state.

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“Nothing,” Sora softly replied.  “Continue to the item holding area, please.”

Arriving, Sora mesmerized the guard to give her purse back, and a thought occurred to her.  “I want you to forget that I’ve been here.”

The guard nodded, and Sora guided Becky back to the room with all the officers and office workers.

Turning to Becky, Sora said, “I want you to ask the Chief to come out.  Tell him there’s an urgent matter.”

Nodding, Becky went into the room and called the Chief out.  Both Becky and the Chief exited soon after, and he looked down at her with a lifted eyebrow.  “This is the urgent matter?  I thought the incident got leaked, Becky!”

Waiting for the door to shut, Sora moved closer to focus on the man’s irises.  “I want you to listen to me carefully and answer all my questions.”

The Chief’s hard eyes pacified, and he nodded.

A hard lump dropped down her throat at the thought of what she was about to do.  “Who would be dispatched to deal with an incident like this?”

He answered in a monotone voice and expression.  “IID.”

“That doesn’t help me,” she grumbled.  “What’s that?”

“Internal Investigations Division, they’re…”

Sora cut him off.  “Alright, whatever—did you already report this incident to the IID?”

The Chief shook his head, and Sora sighed with relief.

“Good!  Okay, go in and tell them I’m from the IID.  Tell them that I’ll be performing separate interviews with everyone involved in the incident today.  Is there a room I can use?”

He nodded and pointed at the door across the hall.  “You can use this room here.”  

“Great…”  Sora took a deep breath and wrapped herself in illusions to make herself seem in her mid-twenties.  “Very well—you can introduce me as Vivian Reign,” Sora said, using the last name of her fifth-grade teacher.

Hesitating, she turned to Becky.  “Oh—Becky, go back to your desk and continue about your day.  I’ll be with you later.”

Walking into the room with the Chief, Sora shifted nervously beside him as she waited for him to introduce her, hiding her nervousness with illusions.

In a rough and commanding voice, the Chief said, “This is Vivian Reign.”  He let the statement hang ominously for several seconds as he glared around the room, sniffing sharply. “Ms. Reign is from Internal Affairs.”

The response was gut-wrenching.

Sora stiffened as every eye locked onto her, raw emotional terror hitting her like a tidal wave; the fear was palpable to Sora’s senses.  Dread crossed every pale face, and the room went deathly silent.  Sora could feel the space enclosing around her as their feelings radiated.

Is Internal Affairs really this scary?  It’s like their lives are literally over!

The Chief cleared his voice.  “Now—Ms. Reign will be questioning each and every person that was involved in this department today.”

Turning to a woman with rips in her clothing and alcohol stains on her shirt front, the Chief yelled, “Tamie!”  The woman jumped, trembling as she stared into the Chief’s stern face.  “Get Ms. Reign a list of every person on and off staff that was involved in this incident.”

Nervously, Sora cleared her throat but made her mental impression strict and demanding in their minds to keep up the illusion.  “I want this kept quiet right now; no leaks.  I don’t just want those involved in the incident brought to me; I want everyone involved—citizens, officers, and those being detained.  I want to talk with everyone that knows anything about this incident.”

The Chief firmly nodded.  “Right—Tamie, you heard the woman—what are you waiting for—get on it!”

Jumping out of her seat, Tamie ran out of the room, tripping on the way out.

Sora took a deep breath, wincing at her emotional spike.  “I’d like everyone to go about their normal routine, but be ready at any time for questioning.  Again, not a word of this incident—we don’t need rumors.”

The Chief nodded approvingly.  “Right; crime never sleeps.”  He eyed the room with disdain.  “Not even in a place of law.”

Clearing her throat, she held her hands in front of her to keep them from trembling.  “I’d like everyone to go about their business now—one of you, make sure Tamie knows I’ll be setting up the investigation in the room across the hall.”

She was shocked by how quickly the room emptied after dismissing them.

Turning to the Chief’s disgusted face, Sora looked into his eyes again.  “I’d like to talk with you first if that’s alright?”

He nodded and moved to the door; opening it, he gestured for her to follow.  They both moved to her temporary headquarters; the Chief closed the curtains and offered her the chair behind the desk.  She took the seat, and he sat across from her, silently waiting for further orders.

Licking her lips, Sora examined his blue irises.  “I want you to listen very carefully.”

The chief compliantly nodded.

“I want you to stay in the office; you’ll be the last person I talk to after I finish with everyone else.  I want you to go into the Captain’s office and put his mind at ease.  Tell him that you have inside information that this may all blow over, that he still has his job.  Just stay in the office and have an enjoyable time with him ‘till I call you.”

He nodded without question and left.

Sitting back in her chair, Sora puffed out a long, tired stream of air.  “I can’t believe I’m doing this … Do I have enough energy to mind control this whole thing under the rug?”

Taking a deep breath, she loosened up.  I have to … It’s my mess, and these people don’t deserve to be hurt by my mindless actions.

Sora had to wait several minutes before Tamie came panting in with a stack of papers.  She took one look at the list before whimpering, and her head sank to the desk’s cool surface.  “I’ll be here for hours…”

Tamie stood ready for instructions, watching Sora with trepidation.

Groaning again, Sora straightened and added a forced smile.  “Tamie.”

She felt sorry for the woman as she flinched, and quakes started running down her frame, and suddenly, she burst into a confession, tears rolling down her cheeks.  “I-I don’t know what came over me!  I just, I-I couldn’t—not drink and dance, I-I don’t have any excuses—but this is the only source of-of income in my house!  Please!  I-I have no excuse—but I need this job!”

Sora defensively held up her hands.  “Whoa!  Calm down, Tamie; you’re not in trouble.”  

Tamie swallowed her tears and sniffed back snot, clearly confounded.  “I-I’m not?”

Sora shook her head.  “No!  Not at all.  Now, sit down.”

Tamie hesitantly complied, and Sora looked her in the eyes.  “I want you to forget about the party—forget that it ever happened.  I want you to blackout that area and replace it with a normal night’s work.  I want you to erase any evidence that’s linked with the incident.  If someone asks you what you were doing, direct them to me—immediately.”

Tamie nodded at every command, and Sora set her off, asking for the first person on the list.  Going down the document, she watched the hours of the day slide by as she cleaned up her devastation.  She used police resources to track down the citizens involved in the incident and compelled several criminals to give an honest testimony or explain their innocence to help speed up the process, giving her more manpower.

After several hours, she finally finished talking with the Chief to cover everything up and erase all evidence.

Slumping into her chair as he exited the office, she groaned with exhaustion; her entire body felt drained.  Mentally, spiritually, physically, she felt utterly spent.  “I never realized how weak a body could feel … And I’m not even human…”

She didn’t expect using her abilities so often could sap her to this extent.  I guess continual illusions and hypnotism can really work me, but I haven’t been outside for hours … Maybe when I get under the sky, I’ll feel better.

Slowly getting to her feet, Sora groaned; suddenly feeling dizzy, she stumbled into the desk.  Her back was stiff and tight; she didn’t even have the energy to prevent her tail from dragging across the smooth tile floor.

Hoisting her purse over her shoulder, she slowly made her way to the exit, leaning against the wall for support.  She had to stop a few times as spots danced before her eyes, but eventually, she made it outside.

Sora chuckled with relief; it was twilight as she exited, and energy poured into her.  She was still spent, but the spots left her vision, and she felt good enough to stretch out.

It’ll take some time to start feeling good again, but I’m feeling a little better every second.

“A few hours of blacked-out memories gave me this much work … I never want to party again,” she irritably mumbled before making her way through the city.  

She took her time walking to the refitting shop, letting the sky recharge her, and thinking about her dad.

I should apologize … I was being a bit unfair.  I was able to feel the love he has for Mom … still.  Experiencing a bit of their relationship as it built … it’s all so confusing … I could feel the fear he had of me leaving him, of me hating him.  Why does it have to be so complicated?  Why can’t Mom just be with us, and we can be a family … Why does Kari have to harass me to feel in control or something … Why am I in the middle of all this craziness?

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Resting against a building, she groaned, stretching again to ease her tight muscles.  I’m a Vulpes … What does that really mean for my future?  I don’t know how I can plan for anything anymore.  I guess that’s why Dad wanted me to tell him what’s been happening, so he could come up with a plan.  We’re both shooting in the dark.

She grunted.  “Humph, I need to get him up to speed.  Maybe he knows how we can get in touch with Mom?”

Looking back at her burnt shirt with an annoyed flick of her tail, she grimaced.  “I could barely keep the illusion from coming undone back there … First things first, I need a new shirt.”

She made her way to the refitting store and had Gina give her a dark blue shirt dress and denim shorts, going into the changing room to put it on.  Thanking her, Sora threw the destroyed shirt into the recycling bin before leaving.

Taking her time on the way home, she looked up at the sky with a weak smile.  Life isn’t that bad for me right now; Dad’s back, and he’ll probably be around for a while.

Arriving at her hotel, she gazed up at the massive structure with a heavy puff of air.  Time to own up…

Walking into the building, she cheerfully waved at the attendants; word seemed to have spread about her father pulling her upstairs because the staff looked worried.  Calling the elevator, Sora waited for the doors to open, leaning against the steel panels.

Hoisting herself away as they opened, Sora greeted Ron.  “Ron … what’s up?”

She hesitated at the door, eyes glossing over as she realized it was Ron and not Howie.  Wait … Why is he on duty right now?  He should be with Stephanie at this hour.  It should be another hour before he’s scheduled.

Ron gave her a questioning look.  “How the—how did you get down here?”  Ron mumbled, absently looking up as he searched for an answer.  “…I don’t recall you coming down?”

Sora bit her lip.  Crap.

“Emergency stairs … Has my dad left?”

Ron shook his head with worry now crossing his brow.  “What’s going on?  I’ve never seen your dad like that, and why would you go down the emergency stairs?  They’re only used for—well, emergencies.”

Breathing deeply through her nose, Sora said, “It was my fault—I’ve done some pretty bad things lately.”

She hesitated, her tail fur standing on end as an odd scent carried through the air from Ron’s skin.  It didn’t smell human, but it wasn’t Ron.

Did a monster rub up against him?

Still looking concerned, Ron hummed as they rose.  “Hmm, you’re not wearing your ears and tail anymore.”  He hesitated for a second.  “I think I’m beginning to get what’s going on … Do you want to talk about it?”

Smiling up at him, Sora shook her head.  “Thanks for your concern, Ron.  I know you have been really worried about me.  I just need to make up with my dad right now.”

How do I even approach the topic of monsters … Maybe if I can get him to invite me over to eat dinner with Stephanie … No, get your mind right!  Talk to Dad first!

Nodding with understanding, Ron didn’t press the topic as they finished their ascent.

The doors slid open, and the calm, warm thoughts that she’d felt washed away, fear gripping Sora’s chest.  A sharp crash sounded from inside the apartment, shards of glass striking the granite floor flashed across her mind from the sounds inside.  Her dad’s surprised shout followed.

Legs tensing, she launched toward the front room.

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