B2 — 4. Emotional Wedge Pt. 2

She listened to a few military doctors and reports for a moment.  “There are a lot of people that are hurt, and some healers have already confirmed that Relica’s mind control is still in effect on a few people; they’re on suicide watch.  I don’t know when she might use them.”

Maria popped her tongue.  “You didn’t hear me, I guess.  She can’t control them; well, at least the kids I was with.”  She pushed a breath of air through her perfect teeth in a long sigh.  “It’s a pretty messed-up Charm, but it only makes them easily compelled; they’re like slaves, they’ll do whatever someone tells them, but she shouldn’t be able to control them remotely.”

“How do you know that?”  Bree asked.

“Because of that dang feeling I get.”

“Feeling?”

“Yeah, some knowledge-thing that bugs the heck out of me; like right now, it’s telling me Rachel’s bruised and cut all over, suffering from the Physical Fatigue Debuff that reduces her skill efficiency.”

Crap … I guess it’s good to know, but letting them know it’s an actual debuff; I would have preferred to keep that between ourselves.  So, if I continue to use my skills and stress my body, then I’ll get a negative effect that dampens my overall abilities. Crap…

“That’s still insane,” Bree mumbled.  “It’s good news though; at least the kids aren’t complete puppets to her.”

This could be another perfect opportunity to increase Bree and Serah’s standing to David and the team.  I really need to sit down and get all the details from them.  

Rachel sucked in her lips as she glanced at Bree.  “That information wasn’t given in our report; crap … no, Maria, I didn’t hear it.  It must have slipped your mind when we were reporting it.”

“Yeah, crap,” Maria muttered, biting her thumbnail.  “I was too busy talking with Scarlet … I must have missed that part when you were telling Jerry about Relica’s fight.”

“They are still concerned about them being controlled by Relica; although, to be safe, some people might be influenced by a different spell too.  Relica did threaten Scarlet with it, saying she could control the people she charmed to attack people.”

“That’s true,” Bree nodded.  “We can’t take the possibility off the table. This Relica sounds like a freaking monster.”

“Don’t worry about it, Maria.”  Rachel puffed a breath through her lips.  “I’m glad we caught it in time, and she really was a monster.”

Fiona nodded gloomily as Rachel continued.  “It was pure luck that we were able to push her back, and I have no clue where she is.  I haven’t heard her voice anywhere since vanishing up north. However, we need to be quick on this information; we don’t want those women to die.  Bree, could you communicate all of this to David?”

“I can; what else can you tell me?”  She asked, taking out her phone to make notes.

Fiona seemed to be getting over her guilt; she looked up at Rachel with concern, but a glimmer of hope was in her eyes.  Maria was listening carefully, lightly grinding her teeth.

Mind accelerating, Rachel thought on the best order to address the information; only a few seconds passed as she leaned back against the table, tail resting atop the tabletop.  Her fingers played with a few locks of hair, vision low.

“Okay, first, tell David the circumstances surrounding the four girls that were frozen, and request for them to be transported here.  Let him know that we think Maria can heal them when she recovers.

“Second, after informing him on the frozen globe incident, tell him that one of the major concerns the military is currently dealing with is figuring out what to do with the brainwashed people.  Maria could possibly cure that too.”

She looked at Maria, and she nodded, pulling back her long hair to stretch her neck, a short yawn leaving her pink lips.  “Eh, yeah, I can do that; I could even tell you what the spells do.”

“Really?”  Bree said; her tone was filled with interest as her fingers dashed across her phone’s surface.  “That would be helpful.”

“Yeah, that would help a lot,” Rachel smiled at Maria.  “See, healing isn’t that bad. You can help in major ways.”

Maria blushed, turning away.  “I guess…”

Facing Bree again, Rachel continued.  “Have David request the critically injured to be brought here, and we’ll see what we can do.

“Third, fill him in on the negativity that is spreading throughout the building and let him know our concerns; tell him about the conversation we had.  Our image, for the most part, is popular around the area, but if any information was leaked from this building because of the unrest and agitation, then it could severely damage our future; it could also reflect poorly on the FBI.

“Lastly, this isn’t super important,” she said, rubbing between her eyes with a short yawn.  “We could use a break. Maria needs some time to get her strength back.”

“We all do,” Fiona whispered.  “It’s been … difficult.”

Maria nodded, stifling another yawn.

“Right,” Rachel nodded.  “So, some pillows and blankets would be nice; some food wouldn’t hurt either.  Maria eats fruit and vegetables, Fiona sugar, and I could go for anything you have … Scarlet needs blood.”

Bree’s fingers paused as she looked up at her.  “Blood…”

“Not like that,” Maria rolled her eyes.  “She’s not going to go around biting every person she sees.”

Fiona’s features seemed a bit uncertain, so Rachel answered before she could put any questions into Bree’s mind.  “Scarlet drank blood packs back at the hospital; I doubt she’ll be hungry right now, but given some time, she will need to have another few blood packs.”

“Okay,” Bree muttered, writing it down.  “Anything else?”

She shook her head but paused as Fiona spoke up.

“Could you—is there a way to get in touch with my family?  I’m really worried about them.”

Bree tucked her lips under her front teeth, sucking for a moment as she thought.  “Eh—I’ll ask, but that’s all I can promise.”

“Thanks,” Fiona whispered, looking down at her feet.

“Well—okay, then,” Bree said, repeating back the information.  “I’ll get all of this over to David; just wait here for Serah, and she’ll help you get the clothes checked out.”

They nodded, and Bree quickly walked back toward the entrance.

“Finally,” Maria groaned, using the table to crack her back.  “We’re alone for once.”

“At least until Scarlet and Serah get back,” Fiona mumbled, rubbing the fabric of the dress on her lap.

Rachel chuckled, drawing their attention.  “What a day…” The three of them looked down reflectively.  After a moment, Rachel cracked her fingers. “So, I say that we shower and rest; if we can, then I’d like to sit down together and discuss this system, really get into it.  We can get a piece of paper and write everything down to get everything sorted out.”

“Aren’t you worried about giving them too much information though?”  Fiona questioned.

“Yes, which is why you’ll burn it once we’re finished; we just need it to organize our thoughts.”

“Sounds good to me,” Maria groaned, rotating her head.  “Have you noticed that you stretch a lot when tired, Rachel?”

“You’re doing the same thing; I mean, I did that when I was tired before The Oscillation too.”

“Yeah,” Maria mumbled.  “I get it; you’re tired, your muscles get tight and all after a workout—just thought I’d mention it.”

Rachel picked out black low riding denim shorts, making sure they fit just under her tail.  This is going to be so annoying in the future … having a tail messes up my whole wardrobe.  She picked out a black sports bra and underwear with a white button-up shirt that seemed to just barely fit her, but she didn’t have many options with her height.

Scarlet returned with a bag of pads and blue heels.  “Look what Serah found!”

Serah’s brow furrowed as she looked around the space.  “Where’s Bree?”

They explained the situation before following them back to the footwear area they’d been, and Rachel picked out some decent sports shoes with Maria.  After checking out the items, they stopped off to grab some shampoo and conditioner from another agent Serah knew before they were led to a bathroom with a shower inside.

She kept track of Bree as she met with David, and she felt like the conversation went well.  David questioned her about what abilities they’d found out but sighed and cut the discussion short when she told him about her hearing.

Naturally, he’d feel frustrated; knowing someone could be listening in on you at any time is a hard thing to swallow, and in a building holding a lot of secrets, that can be scary, but what can he do?

“This is the best we have in the building,” Serah apologized.

Rachel examined the shower with a small smile before everyone dropped off their items along the wall.  “It’s fine; we used something similar at the hospital.” She looked down at the sink, catching Fiona studying it.  “What do you think, Fiona? Can you use the shower?”

Fiona shook her head, hair flinging around before she floated to the sink.  “Absolutely not.” She stated, pulling her white hair back behind her ears. “I changed into a Fairy when I was in the shower … it wasn’t pleasant.  I think I can use the sink like a tub, though. Could you cut off a piece of soap, and add some of the conditioner and shampoo on the side that I can use?”

Scarlet moved to comply.  “Yeah; I can help you while I showerif you like.”

Nodding, Fiona sat at the sink’s edge, wings vanishing as she glared down at the drain.  “It really sucks being so weak and small,” she whispered.

Rachel tilted her head to Maria and Serah; they left the bathroom to Scarlet and Fiona, shutting the door behind them.  Moving across the hall to a small lounging area, Rachel and Maria sat; they looked up at Serah as she hesitated, standing a few feet to their left.

“How’s Bree doing?  You can hear her, right?”

Rachel smiled.  “Yes, she’s on her way back with some pillows and blankets.  The talk went well, David’s a little annoyed that I can hear so far, but he seemed pleased with Bree’s report.  He’s talking to the Colonel that’s in charge of that area; from how it sounds, it looks like they’re discussing the details.  There’s some question to Maria’s healing ability, but the SEALs report and information they have from the hospital is hard to refute.”

“Straight-up,” Maria yawned, eyes drooping.  “I worked my butt off for those people.”

Serah was silent a moment.  “Your healing’s really that good?”

“Apparently,” Maria shrugged, rubbing between her eyes.  “I mean, if you want me to heal your cramps laterif you want.”

Her face reddened, and she cleared her throat.  “So—you can tell all sorts of medical problems with people … no medical privacy.”

“Whatever,” Maria muttered, lying across a couch; her silver eyes followed two male agents that walked around the nearby corner, glancing their way.

Rachel smiled, trying to ease Serah’s discomfort.  “Thanks for your help, Serah. From what I’ve heard, the psychologist won’t be here for several hours; they’re flying her in from Virginia.”

“That right,” she mumbled.  “I understand you’ve been through a lot recently; I’m sure it will be nice.  Is there anything else?”

“Yeah,” Maria sighed as she stretched.  “Pillows … pillows would be nice.” She yawned.  “I feel so tired…”

Rachel’s lips fell.  “She’s already bringing pillows … Maria, until the sun rises, you shouldn’t fall asleep.  You’re really low on energy…”

Rubbing the top of her left eyelid, Maria groaned.  “Yeah, yeah, I get it … what if I fall asleep and don’t wake up, but,” another yawn left her mouth.  “I don’t think it’s that bad—I’m just jodidamente cansado…”  She mumbled, eyes drooping.

“You haven’t even taken a shower yet,” Rachel pushed.  If Maria dies … it’s bad.

She masked her displeasure with concern.  This skill that separates my emotions makes me feel like a serial killer; I’m just thinking about how she won’t be able to return me to my fighting strength and how it would mess up my plan for increasing our image.  It’s not like I want her to die, but it would be inconvenient to me as well … that’s not right.

Taking a deep breath, she actively turned off the skill, wincing as she became more aware of the pain; the separation of her emotions had helped mitigate her body’s reactions to her sore muscles.

“Is something wrong?”  Serah asked.

“No…”  She grimaced as Maria grumbled next to her, eyes closed.

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“Maldito mentiroso … eres un desastre.”

Serah’s lips pursed.  “I don’t understand; what does she mean, you’re lying and that you’re a mess?  Is it worse than you told us before?”

Of course, she speaks Spanish.

“I just stressed my body a little; I’m more concerned about Maria though,” Rachel said, brow creased with concern as her emotions surfaced.  “As far as we know, she could die if she doesn’t get sunlight. Maria, do you know how low your energy is?”

She poked her back when she didn’t answer.  “Huh? ¿Qué carajo quieres?” She mumbled.

“How much energy do you have?”

Maria swallowed, shifting to her back; she groaned, using her elbows to lift herself and pull her hair over her front.  “It’s like, point eight or some crap.” She moaned a little as she shifted, head drooping to the side, she seemed to fall asleep.

“Point eight,” Rachel clicked her tongue.  She’s probably falling asleep to conserve energy, like Scarlet when she fainted.

Serah shifted nervously.  “Is the only way to keep her alive sunlight?”

Bree turned the corner, following some directions she’d received from a few other agents that saw them.

“As far as we’re aware,” Rachel muttered.  “How soon until sunrise?”

“The sun should be rising within the hour,” Serah said, looking toward the massive windows, showing the tinted glass of the opposite side of the FBI building and a center walkway below, running between the structures.

Rising to her feet, Rachel picked Maria up as Bree joined them; Maria muttered something unintelligible, but only wiggled a little in her arms before going limp.

“Hey, what’s going on?”  Bree asked with concern.

“Bree, can you take me to the east windows, and Serah, can you stay here to tell Scarlet what we’re doing if we don’t come back?”

They both nodded, and Bree set down the blankets and pillows in her arms to lead the way; they passed many agents that gave them questioning looks but continued along with their duties.  She glanced down at Maria’s limp form in her arms. If she dies after everything we’ve been through to get her brother back … she can’t die.  Why didn’t she tell us she was this low on energy? What were the signs?

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She told us she was getting low before healing the SEALs, but I was too focused on … on what?  Saving the kids was an objective, but … it wasn’t the goal or reason why I did it. Why did I want to fight Terrell and his group?  Why am I even asking that question … the answer’s pretty clear; I wanted to impress my parents, I was pissed they got away, to throw it in Nam’s face or Alexa’s.  That’s petty, so petty…

Her chest burned with her muscles, causing her arms to twitch; Maria wasn’t that heavy with her current enhanced strength and full Lunar Pool, but she could feel the effects of the Debuff, and flexing did increase the pain.  Even if it is petty … it’s not like I don’t want it.  Why is it so important to me?

“Should we hurry?”  Bree asked, brow creased with concern as she looked back at them.  “You seem really worried about something.”

I’m letting my emotions show … why is my tail wagging too and my ears are twitching?  Stop! She took a deep breath as she slowed a little, looking out of the window, the hint of light beginning to brighten the sky.

Should I use Emotional Detachment again?  No … if I rely on it too much, then I’ll become dependent upon it.  How long have I been using it to begin with?

Groaning, Rachel forced a smile that she knew Bree could tell was fake.  “No, I’m just being … a little overwhelmed. I have a lot on my mind. It’s not like hurrying will make the sun rise faster, and I’m pretty sure Maria sleeping is a good thing.  It will at least slow her energy use.”

“Huh,” Bree slowed to match her pace, agents moving around them.  “This is you overwhelmed? I mean, your ears are twitching a little, and you look a bit concerned, but you’re calm.  Is that a part of your change?”

“I suspect it is,” Rachel said, repositioning Maria in her arms to better support her head.  If only you understood how I felt inside … Scarlet would know.  “Could you pull her hair up?  It’s almost dragging along the floor.”

“Oh, yeah.”  She complied, studying Maria’s white hair a moment.  “This is all so surreal. Yesterday … nevermind.” She pulled Maria’s hair between her legs to keep it in place and started walking back down the hall.

Rachel’s smile turning soft.  “No, I completely understand. This has been a massive change for everyone.”  Her wide field of vision took in every face that passed them. “Do you see their glances?”

Bree slowed a little to look at several agents that looked their way before quickly turning to go about their own business.  “What about them?”

“I can see—a lot slower than I used to, like in slow motion; I can see a lot more too, like a wide-angle camera, and all of it is in focus.  Smells, it’s different than Scarlet’s senses; she can sense actual emotion, but I can smell the fear released from the skin, hear the locking of joints and constriction of muscles that tells me someone’s on guard.  Yesterday, I never thought someone would fear me on sight … to feel less than human.” She whispered.

Why do I suddenly feel this way?  It has to be because I deactivated Emotional Detachment.  This will be rougher than I thought, but I can understand why they fear me, the knowledge, but … it still doesn’t make me feel better.  I can still think calmly though; has my mind gotten used to being more detached or has it been like this since my change? There’s so many things to figure out.

Bree was silent for several seconds; she seemed lost in thought but continued at the same pace.  After turning down another hallway, she took a deep breath, running a hand through her hair. “I can’t imagine how the world’s going to turn out in a week … how many relationships will be broken or changed forever from this.”

“Yeah—families changed forever,” she mumbled.  “I didn’t—going up against Terrell and his gang.  It helped me not think about any of that … I was able to just focus on one thing.”

They stopped at the east side of the building, facing Southwest 145th Avenue; they were on the second floor.  There were cushioned benches to sit on against the glass; Rachel set Maria down on one, part of her legs hanging off the end.

She took the seat next to Maria, moaning as the pain returned; she pulled her hair over her left shoulder and leaned up against the glass, closing her eyes, Bree stood in front of them, arms crossed.

I’m scared still … what will my parents think about this?  What if they disown me? Can you even do that in the U.S.? It doesn’t matter; they could just refuse to see me anymore, and then what?  What would I do? They … no, that can’t happen, not after I freed South Beach; I took care of terrorists. Although, Alexa…

Bree spoke up, sitting down on the opposite side of the bench.  “Is that one of the reasons why you did it?”

Shifting her head against the glass, she shook it.  “Who knows,” she yawned. “Maybe I’ll learn more about the reasons when the psychologist gets here.  Everything just happened so fast, but … how did the report go?”

What if another Carter sympathist decides to pull off the covers while we’re sleeping?  Yeah, screw that. If he has friends in the National Guard and even one of them has a friend in the FBI … I’d rather not take that risk.  If we do sleep somewhere, then Scarlet and I should probably sleep somewhere closed off.

She smelled Bree’s nervousness increase as her scent became more musk.  “It seemed fine; you heard, didn’t you?”

“Honestly—yeah, I was listening.  It seems like David reached an agreement; they’ll be sending them here.”

“That’s good,” Bree whispered.  “I hope you can help them.”

Rachel pursed her lips, opening her eyes to study Bree; her muscles were loose, but she was shifting her feet and staring at her lap.  “Something wrong?”

“Just worried about my boyfriend; listening to your feelings … it makes me wonder how he feels about all of this.  Will people hate him?”

She closed her eyes again, lips lifting slightly.  “Possibly, but it could go either way on the drop of a dime.  Most citizens I hear think it’s scary or cool, but most don’t hate people that are changed.  Military and Police forces though … they’re split, and it’s understandable; they’ve seen the ugly side of those that were changed.”

“That’s true,” Bree sighed, rubbing the side of her head.  “I’ve got a headache.” She took something from her pocket and swallowed them.  “They’ve been handing out aspirin like candy…”

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