B2 — 9. Rampant Thoughts

Rachel took a deep breath as she exited the room; her ears shifted a few different directions as she gathered a general understanding of the current situation.  The conversation has changed a little; now people are wondering what the Military wants with me, but that’s understandable.

She listened to a conversation between a Supervisory Special Agent and what seemed like a Senior Special Agent by how freely they talked with one another.

“Darik,” the man’s throat had a rasp to it; he likely smoked a decent amount of cigarettes in a day.

“Huh?  Oh, Jack, sup?”

“The hell’s going on with that General showing up?  I heard from Johnson that he’s here on full Presidential authority.  Is that true?”

“Yeah,” Darik muttered, breathing out a heavy sigh.  “Plus, it’s still Martial Law; he’s a four-star general, so he’s basically given full reign, and we’re just here to provide support where needed.”

“That’s such bullcrap,” Jake muttered.  “Anyways, I heard something about him meeting with that—what was it?”

“Lunar Hare,” Darik grunted.  “Yeah, I heard about that too.  I don’t know much about him, but rumor has it that he’s using any soldier that was affected in The Oscillation.”

“You’re cool with that?”

“I didn’t say that,” Darik grunted.  “It’s just not my call to make. We’ll have to see how things shake out when Martial Law drops.  It shouldn’t be too much longer.”

“I don’t know,” Jake muttered.  “It just doesn’t sit right with me…”

“What?  Him using people that changed?”

“No—no, not that … I’m talking about the four Mythickin.  I mean, the Succubus and Incubus haven’t hurt anyone, so whatever, but those four new ones…”

“No, I get you,” Darik whispered, sucking on his tongue a few times.  “We just gotta be careful; we should do a check and see what’s going on with them.”

Rachel pulled away from the conversation to focus.  I wasn’t thinking clearly before, but they’re not wrong.  It is a serious issue to consider; we’re supposed to be average citizens that were just changed into these images of monsters but still be scared defenseless citizens that need state and government protection.

If ordinary citizens can just flip a switch from this change and become ruthless killers, then it creates a whole new perspective on the situation.  It’s not like I’ll deny it; I killed those men, and I don’t feel an ounce of regret for the action itself … the consequences is another issue entirely, which is another concern.

She listened to Ruth give a few orders to break up some of the conspiracies floating around the area, but they were pretty standard tactics; more work leaves less time for speculation and interaction.

Broadening her reception range, she listened, but couldn’t find a hint about the Oscillation Dome event.  She was at least a little happier to hear people’s opinions of them weren’t getting worse.

More problems kept flooding into the office, pulling attention away from them and redirecting it to rebuilding the social order to prepare for businesses to open back up.  They were clearing streets and posting up signs about where to go to locate any missing vehicles as they towed cars off the main roads to parking locations.

She made her way toward Scarlet and Fiona’s chosen room, doing her best to avoid areas with sunlight.  She managed to make it to the back of the building, facing east and away from the rising sun in the northwest.  A few rays did manage to catch her, draining a bit of her Lunar Pool, but not significantly. Taking the stairs down to the second level, she continued toward her destination.

The Military is transporting the brainwashed and frozen people within the next few hours … they move faster than I anticipated.  I hope Maria will be ready in time; our association with Maria might be our best chance to raise our image … if she doesn’t ruin it with her attitude.

There’s so much to accomplish, but I suppose most of that is negligible at this point.  Once the story about High Rolls and the information about the crystals hit the news, we’ll be swept into yesterday’s story.  The question is, when will it be declassified? I suppose it depends on how often the crystals begin to appear and how they react.

If it becomes a massive danger to the public, then it would be a political nightmare for the government; I guess that’s why Tom wants us at the Billings crystal.  That decision could change on a moment’s notice, though. If something happens to it in the next twenty-four hours, which is more than likely, then our situation could change drastically.

She thought back on all the information, trying to piece together anything she might have missed.

Could the crystals be creating the domes themselves?  It was stated to be in the middle of High Rolls and appeared during The Oscillation.  The dome surrounded the entire town, and it waited fifteen minutes before taking its first action.  What’s the purpose of scattering the crowd, though? It obviously wasn’t enough time to force the people nearby to escape the dome before it solidified … if you can call it that.

Fifteen minutes to pulse, and force the townspeople away, fifteen more minutes to solidify the barrier, giving at least some the opportunity to escape.  Was it planned? Did they want witnesses to talk about the crystal? It might be just a natural phenomenon, but if that’s the case, then why was there a strike force waiting to methodically assault the town?

Of course, it could be a natural phenomenon that these creatures so happen to utilize; it could be a form of hunting and gathering.  Why technology, though? Most of it won’t work without the proper connections through satellites, radio towers, and electricity. Could it be for the components themselves?

It could be a premeditated assault with a natural phenomenon, a created event to assault key locations or a completely random event with no connecting dots … that doesn’t seem likely with the meticulous ritual and specific items taken, plus hostages.  No, definitely the first two options; this was not purely random, which is frightening.

I can’t rule out the possibility that it was an assault by people changed into other creatures too.  They’re obviously a gateway to another place; the one in High Rolls looked like a cave system, but the one in Billings showed a dense jungle.  I have to assume they’d be able to see the place they’re transporting before activating it themselves.

The crystals we know about have different shapes, show different scenery, and gave off a different light, which is something to note.  It seems that the Billings one is solid and hasn’t released a pulse that drove people away, at least it hasn’t yet, and we can go through on this side and return.  The High Rolls one was ethereal, though … that’s so confusing. Why are they so different? The one in Mutumbo might be the closest one related to the High Rollings incident, but we currently don’t have information on that yet.

Aliens … The Oscillation changed a massive chunk of the world’s population … could it have mutated or brought other creatures to our world too?  It could be anything from a dimensional gateway to an interspace teleportation device … hell, it could be a time-traveling crystal for all I know.

If the Billings one is a gateway to the shell currently in Mutumbo … I don’t even know where that is.  It sounds African, but I’d have to look it up to be sure. In any case, if it’s a gateway between those two places, then those creatures that attacked High Rolls could still be on earth in some cave system; that would also mean that they were there from the start.

No wonder Tom’s freaking out … The Oscillation may have caused a massive panic across the world, but it could be a smokescreen for a genuine threat to humanity itself.  We could be at war with creatures we have no information on, and we’re playing catch-up to a plot already set in motion. They took most the electrical based technology from High Rolls, but left no clue as to why; plus, they left a scene straight out of nightmares.

On the other hand, this could have been a person’s doing that received some crazy powers from The Oscillation.  I’ve already seen some pretty insane abilities between Relica and Scarlet. If The Reaper in Scarlet’s head isn’t just a split personality, then it could be connected to these creatures as well … crap … how the hell am I supposed to come up with a plan?

She felt a bit of agitation slip past Emotional Detachment, making her tail twitch; the more she pondered the unknowns and possibilities, the more apparent it became that she knew nothing.

FBI office workers and agents followed her with their eyes as she passed, but didn’t engage.  Talk quieted down with her passing, but most of their conversations weren’t anything new to her; nothing she heard was important enough to draw her mind away from her current problem that played on repeat in her mind.

Ruth had the right idea about how serious this is.  I could actually be forming false conclusions if I keep grasping at straws; instead of being prepared, I could draw up a bad plan and cause further harm.  Tom bringing us in on this is actually a pretty solid plan.

We’ve shown a detachment to murder, which does concern me, but it’s true nonetheless.  We have a wide variety of abilities; I’m physically strong and fast with a sharpened mental state, Scarlet’s got a ton of utility, Maria can heal injuries with the snap of her finger, and Fiona has massive elemental versatility and destructive spells at her fingertips.

Scarlet and I have a fantastic surveillance range that can give us the advantage to creep around enemy forces to gain intel.  Fiona can scout out things from the air to see beyond Scarlet’s mile limit, but at the same time that comes with the drawback of her glow, so that wouldn’t be preferred.

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However, if she’s high enough in the sky, then even if she’s glowing she’d be a speck in the heavens, like a star … if you put a glowstick two miles up, it’d be basically invisible.  It is a viable option depending on the opposition.

Maria, Fiona, and I glow, but with our surveillance abilities, it shouldn’t be a problem.  Lunar Pride could get in the way, though … it might prevent me from hiding and push me to a frontal assault, just like with Conner.  It’s such a terrible trait…

Her attention shifted as she caught David moving the opposite direction; he’d asked the security office about her whereabouts and was walking right towards her.

Great, he’s been hearing gossip about Tom and I being seen together.  He hasn’t listened to any of Tom’s requests yet; Tom’s talking to Ruth about holding off on the psych evaluation at this moment.  So, what’s his angle going to be?

Her mind blanked for a moment; nothing, in particular, came to mind.

He’s mostly been focused on directing investigations into different crimes in conjunction with CID to relieve some of their workloads.  He’s barely even mentioned us; however, he has had to restrict some personnel access to Maëlle’s room, and there are some concerns he’s dealing with in regards to the ventilation system and the hormones she and Kyle release, but that’s mostly it for Mythickin topics on his lips.  Maëlle and Kyle are sleeping in any case; they’re just concerns about their passive hormone release, but it’s only been proven to work in short ranges.

Rachel’s fingers tightened around the folders tucked under her left arm as David turned a corner; he scanned the hall as he slowly advanced, eyes centering on her after a second’s study.  “Rachel,” he said in a purely neutral tone. “I suppose you heard me asking about your whereabouts.”

She reflected his tone as people slowed to catch a bit of their conversation.  “I did.”

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His eyes darted down to the folders in her hand before glancing over her appearance; he stopped a few feet away from her.

I see!  He’s here to confirm some suspicions he has; the folders really caught his eye.

She moved toward the edge of the wall to not impede traffic as he spoke.  “I see that Special Agents Hughes and Bailey managed to find you some suitable clothes.”

Rachel looked down at her apparel, clasping the hem of her shirt with her right hand, she lightly pulled on it before letting it fall back.  “It’s a little tight, but it will do.” Her vision rose, settling on his brown eyes. “Is there something you need? Fiona and Scarlet are already sleeping, and I’d like to get a little rest myself.”

His neutral expression cracked a little, lips becoming a line.  “I heard you met with General Dallas.”

Her response was crisp.  “Is that what you’ve heard?”

“So—that’s how it is?”  He muttered. “Very well, have a good rest.”  He broke away, walking in the direction of Ruth’s office.

She followed his exit.  He was quick on the uptake; he knew I wouldn’t divulge any information to Tom.  He knows I met with Tom and he finds me with random folders in my hand, then it’s evident that there’s information I need to bring back to the others; it’s not a far stretch to assume I’ve made some kind of deal with Tom.

Continuing on her original route, she ignored the disgruntled expressions of the men and women that passed her; even an office worker and agent that were Beastkin gave her cautious looks, and by their scent, it was clear that they were afraid.

It should be at least a day or two before he’s appointed the Assistant Director over this new Oscillation branch and given the parameters he can function within the FBI.  Tom really has played his hand well; there shouldn’t be anything he can do in the short run, but it wouldn’t be a good strategy for me to get on his bad side since he’ll be over a lot of Mythickin matters soon enough, and I don’t know how the public or government will react.

As Tom said, segregation is a talking point at the White House, and it would likely be the FBI that spears that once this new branch is made and Martial Law ends.  I wouldn’t be surprised if a few states moved to segregate sooner than Congress puts forward a law for the Senate to pass and the president to sign.

I could see some states become changed people safe havens, while others bar entry and force residents out.  Of course, the government would probably step in and negotiate with the governors. There’s bound to be a ton of issues, especially with elections around the corner.  I can’t imagine it being too bad, though; there are enough people that likely know someone that changed, and that will quell some of the fear as time moves on.

The big problem will likely be linked to the people that changed into large and odd creatures; there could be a backlash with Beastkin, but I expect there will be enough love for them to counter it.  Mythickin have a big uphill battle to fight with Jael’s massacre at Seattle, but it’s not as bad as it could be.

The laws regarding the use of abilities will be a hard one to control, and there are a lot of skills I’ve seen that can’t really be regulated; how will Congress deal with that?  My hearing for one, how could someone stop me from using it functionally? There are just too many variables to consider; the complicated mess of it all, the versatility of abilities, and many unknown factors about The System are just too great.

There could be mass cataloging; those changed could be required to go to their local FBI or Police Department and register as someone that has changed, but that’s almost guaranteed.  The Police need the means to identify crimes and develop new detective means; it would be stupid not to allow those with exceptional sensory abilities inside the Police. New units of ability users could take up positions like SWAT and detectives or first responders.

She scratched behind her left ear and flexed her back as a sharp burn flashed down her bruised areas.  I need to stop thinking about future speculations and work through my immediate problems … it’s so hard not to think about, though.

Scarlet and Fiona’s room came into sight; one of the Special Agents she’d seen with David when they got off the helicopter was standing guard outside the door.

He glanced her way as she neared.  “Meeting the others?”

Rachel shook her head, stopping a few feet away from him.  “No, heading to bed; Scarlet and Fiona are already sleeping.”

His brow furrowed.  “I see … alright, then.”  He opened the door, allowing her by.

The room was pitch dark when the door closed, but her eyes adjusted instantly.  It seemed like they were using an office that had all the furniture pushed to the back wall.  There were blankets laid out on the floor for them to sleep on.

Fiona was lying atop a pillow beside Scarlet; they were both sleeping soundly on their sides, facing each other.  It looked like Scarlet had tucked a tissue around Fiona’s body so it wouldn’t fly off from the changed air pressure when the door opened.  However, it seemed Scarlet had brushed off part of her own blanket, showing a bit of skin and her black undergarments. Both their clothes were laid out neatly atop a desk for them to dress into when they woke up.

Rachel stood still for a moment, vision moving to the empty spot beside Fiona; she debated her options.

Should I deactivate Emotional Detachment?  It helps me deal with my Lunar Pride, but what’s the trade-off?  Does Lunar Pride affect me more often than Emotional Detachment would?  Not truly experiencing emotion could have long term adverse effects on my psyche.

I have the emotional responses; even though I know the emotions, that’s different than actually enjoying it.  It’s like I’m looking at a steaming hot tub; I know its hot, I know I’d love it, but I’m not inside it. That doesn’t change the fact that the hot tub is there; my emotions are present, but I’m not in them.

Deactivating it would likely be the best course of action; I should only use Emotional Detachment when I can feel Lunar Pride creeping into my decision making.  I’ll need to thoroughly examine it once my mind is rested to understand all its aspects … there’s also the possibility of it getting a Proficiency Skill soon, as well.

Looking down at the folder in her left hand, she hummed lightly.  Should I discuss this or our abilities first?  Probably our abilities, and then we can plan on how to utilize our strengths and cover our weaknesses with the crystal incident.

She deactivated the skill and felt the pain hit her psyche first as her bruises shouted at her.  Dang it … it’s not nearly as great as Lunar Deadening, but at least Emotional Detachment helps a little.  I really hope Maria comes in and heals me while I’m sleeping … I don’t want to wake up in pain.

The second thing that struck her was the exhaustion; her body sagged as she trudged over to the blankets and dropped into them, head resting against the pillow.  She winced as the hard floor made her bruises burn, but the pain slowly faded.

Sighing with a low moan, she tucked the folders under the top of her blanket, below her head.  Her ears drooped down the pillow as she relaxed her muscles, and her mind slowly drifted off to sleep.  What a day…

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