Character Name: Alicia Cross
Alternate Identities: Midnight
Player Name: Kloe
|Hair Color:||Black (dyed)|
|Alicia appears to be a cross between a bag lady and goth complete with a ratty old olive green sweater, mid-calf flower print dress, long socks and clunky badly worn leather shoes. Her hair is self-cut, making it ragged, and self-dyed a jet black usually with several inches of her natural brown showing at the roots. Several piecings dot her face, lip, both eyebrows, nose and at least five on each ear. She wears black eyeliner and black lipstick plus has temporary henna tattoos on both hands and arms to the shoulders. For some reason, she always wears a pair of old fashion clear lensed tortoise shell glasses that provide no correction to her perfect 20/20 sight but still, she is rarely seen without them. All in all it would take a very descerning eye to spot the beautiful young woman hidden by all the trappings but Slater had no trouble.|
Madam Midnight laid face up, the rain pounding a tattoo on the leather of her body suit. Blood spread, diluting in the puddle forming under her body, the wound in her back unfelt even though she blinked occasionally as the raindrops hit her. Holland appeared in her line of sight, knelt beside her and spoke. The words did not penetrate her fogged mind.
The clouded sky moved until she gazed across the plain of the rooftop as Freddie rolled on her side her to inspect her wound. He worked in shocked silence, first pressing the pressure bandage to her back then rolling her to draw the gauze straps around her body. Deftly he pulled them tight as he made his knots, one at the bottom of her ribcage, the other between her breasts.
Satisfied the bleeding was at least slowed the man lifted his her in his arms and kicked open the door leading to the stairwell. Silently he moved down the twelve flights of steps and out into the alley behind the building to the waiting car. He’d left the rear door open when he’d gone up to get her so placing her on the wide leather-covered seat was only a matter of maneuvering the limp woman though the car’s door.
It was a 1938 Cadillac 7553 Town Car and so, huge. The blood seeped into the leather, ruining it but Holland would worry about that later. Closing the door quietly, he slid into the driver seat, turned the key and stepped on the starter button. The car rumbled to life and without hesitation accelerated toward the mouth of the alley. Less than ten minutes later the car lurched off the road and disappeared into a layer of thick undergrowth.
The woman laid face down on the table, her head turned to the right, eyes closed. A man hovered over her wearing a white lab coat and surgical mask. He held a needle in his gloved hand and plied as was neatly as any professional seamstress in the New York garment district. No hint of a tremor betrayed the pain he felt as every ounce of his concentration was centered of his work. Finally, the last stitch was made and tied off. He clipped the ends off with a pair of surgical scissors and dropped them with a clatter onto the stainless steel tray with the rest of his instruments. She was alive, and would stay that way. But . . . she would never again be Madam Midnight; the bullet had severed her spine.
"The girl is five years old and speaks seven languages fluently!" The man was pacing, an irritable pacing. "She should be studied!"
"Do YOU want to tell her grandmother you want to study her granddaughter?" The other man made it sound ominous.
"Last time someone did something to one of her family, it wasn't a pretty sight," the third man warned.
"Still!" the first wasn't quite ready to give up. "There has never been a manifestation like that as such an early age!"
The third man snorted “Manifestation? IS that what you think it is?"
"But both of her . . . " the first man shut up ad the elderly woman wheeled into the room pushed along by a beautiful little girl.
"But both what?" the old woman snapped.
All three men looked sheepish and muttered 'nothing'.
"Good!" The old woman gave all three an icy stare and had one almost wetting his pants. She was the scariest old broad on the planet. Turning her attention to the little girl the woman said. “Time for your lessons, Alicia.”
“Yes, grandmother,” the girl curtseyed and strode purposely toward the stairs.
When she had disappeared, the woman looked at the oldest of the trio.
“Report,” she snapped.
The man cleared his throat, a nervous habit he’d picked up while working for this woman.
“Out latest series has proved unsuccessful, madam,” he began. “Both donors have died, each after eighteen hours, plus or minus twenty minutes. It both cases the recipients appear to have remained unchanged. We are still testing them, but it has been forty-eight hours and we do not expect improvement. It should have manifested by this time.”
The old woman nodded, her back remaining ramrod stiff, no hint of the disappointment she felt showing on her lined face.
“How do you plan to modify the procedure at this point?” She eyed the youngest, newly hired from a European pharmaceutical mega corp.
“I have been running test and there is a new series of antibiotics just out that are designed to combat drug resistant strains.” The young man said. “We will incorporate their use in out next series. I have high expectations.”
“As do I,” the old woman snapped. “We do not have all the time in the world, gentlemen. I suggest you get to it.”
The girl pushed her grandmother’s wheelchair through the entry hatch of the bio-lab clean room. Both were garbed in sterile white, the wheel chair one kept in the antechamber just for this purpose. Without comment, the girl wheeled the old woman to a bed where two doctors lifted her and arranged her legs under the single sheet. Alicia found her grandmother’s grip to be surprisingly tight as she walked beside the bed, the doctors pushing it into the operating room. They stopped it beside an empty, but identical, bed.
One of the doctors secured the old woman’s arms with soft leather straps then pulled a helmet-like device down from the ceiling and fitted it over her head. The second doctor led a young woman dressed only in an open-backed hospital gown into the room and to the second bed. The old woman’s eye followed the gowned figure then locked on her granddaughter.
“Alicia,” she began. “If this does not work, you are my sole heir.”
The girl’s eyes began to tear. She was just fifteen and this woman was the only family she had ever known. To think of life without her was unimaginable.
The young woman in the hospital gown stood passively beside the empty bed. Alicia had been told that this woman’s mind had been destroyed by her long addiction to drugs. Now cleaned of the residual toxins her body had been found to be remarkably healthy if now little more than an empty shell. It was there she hoped to find her grandmother after this procedure. Though Alicia did not understand the science, her grandmother seemed confident enough at last to give the procedure a chance.
The blast was deafening. The doctor on the opposite side of the bed staggered, a crimson rose blossoming over his heart. With an exhalation of breath, he crumpled to the floor. Alicia whirled to face a pair of pistols pointing as her grandmother.
The woman in the hospital gown stood clear-eyed, pistol steady in her hand while the doctor beside her stepped to Alicia and jammed the muzzle of his own pistol into her ribs. Gripping her by the arm, he dragged her to the bed and forced her up onto it. The young woman stood over the elder with the gun pressed to her forehead.
“First sign of your power,” the woman began then altered her aim to the girl being strapped to the bed by her confederate. “This girl dies.”
“Who are you,” the old woman hissed, her strength seeming to have drained from her.
“Me?” the younger woman shrugged. “A granddaughter, like yours.”
“Granddaughter to whom?” the old woman asked.
“Madam Midnight, who do you think?” the girl sneered.
The woman once called Madam Midnight paled. She whispered “Kurtz.”
A smile grew on the face of the young woman.
“So, you remember my grandfather,” she said.
Madam Midnight nodded slowly. “I remember how he died,”
“YOU MEAN HOW YOU KILLED HIM!”
The woman pressed the muzzle against Alicia’s temple.
“NO!” Madam Midnight struggled to sit up but her body was too frail and the straps too strong. She could barely move.
The ‘doctor’ pulled the helmet down over Alicia’s head and twisted several thumbscrews to hold it against her skull.
“So, you want to live forever, Madam Midnight?” the woman sneered. She gave one the thumbscrews holding the helmet in place on the old woman’s skull, causing her to wince but not cry out.
The man began flipping switches and the equipment filling the room began to hum.
“I WANT you to live forever,” the woman said, taking a seat at the computer and tapping the keyboard with flying fingers. “I just think it will be fair if you do so as your granddaughter!”
Pausing dramatically with her finger hovering over the keyboard she waited until realization of the situation dawn in both of her captives.
The girl awoke naked and shivering, curled up in a fetal position on damp concrete. It was pitch black. Slowly she pushed herself up into a sitting position then stretched out a hand blindly searching for a wall or some feature of the room. Her hand met the steel frame of an old military style bed and she came to her hands and knees. The rough, irregularly finished cement floor gouged her skin as she crawled to the bed eliciting a fervent wish that someone had taken the few minutes required to smooth out the concrete before it had set. Finding a mattress on the bed, no matter how soiled and smelly, brought tears of relief as she sink into the musty cloud ejected by her uncontrolled fall onto its comparative warmth. As she drifted off to sleep she could almost feel the weight of a blanket covering her.
She awoke the second time to the comfortable warmth of a quilt and for a few moments thought the nightmare had been a dream. When she opened her eyes to the same absolute darkness, she knew it wasn’t. Pulling the quilt tightly around her body she tried to piece it all together.
She remembered her grandmother and the lab. There was a young woman only a few years her senior there and her eyes had held madness. She remembered the metal cap that had been screwed to her skull after she’d been strapped to that second bed. Touching her temple she could still feel the indentation of the screw there. Her hair was matted with blood but nothing hurt.
That woman had programmed the computer to run her grandmother’s machine she recalled. There had been a flash of light and unimaginable pain then she woke up on that floor. What had happened to her grandmother? With a faint sob she pulled the blanket up under her chin then paused.
Touching the cloth to her nose she drew in the scent of new cotton. Where had it come from? Squinting she tried to detect some tiny flickering of light then nearly dropped the blanket when the corner she was struggling to see began to glow very faintly. As she watched the glow spread along the surface of the cloth and grew in intensity until she could see her hands and the immediate area of the bed. Like a drowning swimmer she clutched the quilt, willing the glow brighter but fearing it would disappear.
The room was larger than she had expected, with thick rough wooden pillars attached to the floor on flat-topped pyramids of cement. Over head, thick beams supported what could only be the floor of the building above. She was in a basement.
Tightening the quilt around her, she stood and made a circuit of the room noting a drain in the floor and a water spigot over it before she found a set of steps leading up to a thick wooden door. There was a light switch on the wall and she flipped it up hopefully. Nothing. She tried the knob. Locked.
She stopped just as she was about to pound on the door. Who had put her down here? Where they still up there? What were they going to do with her? Then she remembered the woman with the crazed look. That was a woman that could kill without a thought. Slowly she backed down the stairs, praying the wooden steps wouldn’t squeak. Once back on the concrete floor she held the corner of the blanket to her lips, mind frantically searching for an idea.
Returning to the spigot she carefully turned the handle and heard the hiss of air followed by a spit of water that made her jump. Hastily she closed it. She tried again, just barely cracking the tap. Air hissed again followed by a series of bursts of water before a steady trickle began to flow. The water almost reached the quilt before she drew it up.
Licking her lips she realized how thirsty she was but she couldn’t bring herself to taste the brownish stream that dropped through the floor drain. It would clear. She had pressure and old, unused pipes had sediment that could be washed out. Carefully she opened the tap a bit more until little splashes of water tickled her bare feet. The water cleared as she had expected.
Cupping her hands she sucked up the water and thought nothing had ever tasted so wonderful in her life. Not soda or tea or her first single Malt Scotch. She froze, the water pooling in her palms and overflowing. She was only 15. She’d never tried single Malt Scotch but closing her eyes she could taste it. The hint of peat, the smooth feel of it as is warmed her throat and then stomach. Jerking back she almost dropped the quilt. Lifting her hand to her nose she inhaled the tentatively touched her tongue to the palm of her hand. Scotch and very good Scotch.
What was going on? She moved back to the flow of water and cupped her hand. It was water, just water. She had to be hallucinating. That was it. But … she had never tried Scotch. A new image flashed through her mind. A picnic, she could smell the flowers and hear the bird. She was with … She struggled to pull the memory up but it disappeared. Now she could taste caviar, salty, the little pearls of flavor bursting in her mouth.
With a jerky twist she shut the tap and hurried back to the bed. Practically jumping onto it she huddled under the quilt, her mind suddenly flooded with strange memories. With a gasp she clutched the mattress as the floor seemed to drop out from under her. Shaking her head she could feel the old Jenny bouncing as she took the stick for the first time.
Wait. What was a Jenny? A single engine biplane she knew suddenly. It had been silver with red accents and the most exciting thing she’d ever seen. Well, until she’d caught Mark naked. Who was MARK? And why could she see him standing there under a water tower in Texas letting washing off the dust? Her hands formed tight fists and she pounded them against her temples.
She stopped, her arms dropping into her lap. Hanging her head she felt a calmness sweep over her. She was not going to panic. She did not panic. She refused to panic. Taking a deep breath she settled, the quilt sliding down her back to her waist. It was still glowing. She concentrated on that. Why was it glowing?
Curious she pulled a corner up and looked closely at the material. Cotton, white with a flower pattern she recognized as the one on her own bed. It glowed like it had been painted with grow in the dark paint but she could detect by feel or scent any hint of paint. Shrugging the blanket back up onto her shoulders she huddled in its warmth.
It had NOT been there when she’s found the bed. She looked down at the mattress then ran a hand across it. Clean, no hint of the mold and mildew she’d found when she’d flopped onto it. She shifted and ran a bare foot across the cement floor. Smooth as glass but still porous like concrete. Flipping the quilt back she inspected her knees. Scrapped, still bleeding slightly. She HAD crawled across a rough floor. Was she even in the same place she had originally awakened to find? Shaking her head she knew that she hadn’t been moved.
Her stomach grumbled. So, she was hungry. And she had to pee. At least the drain would take care of that, she thought. And the water would act as a flush. Throwing off the quilt she utilized the drain leaving the water flowing until she was sure the urine had all be washed away. Returning to the bed she pulled the quilt up around her. If she had to do more than pee, it might be a little harder cleaning up. Her stomach growled again.
What would she eat if she got out? Somehow a pizza or hamburger made her stomach revolt.
“Oh, God,” she whispered as the room filled with slaughtered corpses.
Covering her face with her hands she fought to dispel the visions of dismembered corpses of children and women. Tears leaks out from under her palms as she recalled the brutality of a day in August when she and Mark had finally cornered their quarry. She’d killed two and Mark had taken out the other five but it hadn’t mattered, the people they were trying to save had been slaughtered, slaughtered in a slaughter house in Texas, the corpse of people mingling with the bodies of cattle. She’d never again killed and she’d never again eaten meat.
Wait. She shook her head. That was wrong. She’d never been to Texas but still she knew she could ever again look at a piece of raw meat.
“Grandmother, what did that woman do,” she whispered.
She practically jumped to her feet. She couldn’t stay here. She had to get out. Heedless of the possibilities of someone with bad intent being up in the building, she began to pound on the door. After nearly an hour she stopped, forehead pressed against the wood. There was nobody up there, not with all the racketed she’d been causing. Almost savagely she jerked the door knob.
“Why can’t you be as old as everything else here and just break?”
There was a snap inside the door and the handle turned. Fearlessly she threw the door opened and stepped up into a kitchen. An abandoned kitchen, in an abandon house. Pulling the blanket tighter she moved toward the front of the house, through the dining room and into the living room. A huge window in one wall had been broken out and through it she could see a neighborhood that looked as abandoned as the house. Nothing moved. It was like a ghost town.
Glass was everywhere and she had to be careful as she picked her way to the front door and out onto the porch. Clear skies, just after sunrise, she thought. Cold. Thank god for the quilt. Flat. Nothing remotely resembling a hill in sight. She looked up at the lightening sky. Contrails, up high, so there were planes. The world hadn’t ended while she’d been in that basement.
The place looked like a bomb had gone off. A long time ago. None of the buildings in sight had an intact pane of glass. Then she noticed the bodies. Her stomach lurched and she along threw up at the idea of dead people but she had to go look.
Taking a deep breath she picked her way through the gravel and debris of the yard up to the first body. She almost laughed. It was a manikin. Wait. She closed her eyes.
Alamogordo. That first failed attempt a nuclear bomb. It had exploded but the thing had never gone critical so it had been like a giant block buster bomb the allies had been using in Europe. If that bomb had worked, it would have ended the war in 1945 instead of that disastrous invasion of the Japanese mainland. Two million people had died before Hirohito committed suicide. Two more years of fighting that might have ended in ’45. What was she doing in the middle of the New Mexico desert? How did she know about the failed Trinity test?
She eyed one of the bodies. A female manikin. Clothes. Squatting she fingered the cloth. Sun dried, brittle. Maybe there was a manikin inside one of the houses. She found one in the second house she checked. The manikin had been set up in a kitchen that was on the back side of the house. It had been knocked over but the clothes had been out of the direct sun. She carefully stripped the manikin finding it not only wearing a dress but panties and a bra. Very thorough bomb testers. Make it as real as possible.
Nothing came apart as she pulled the under garments on but when she’d gotten into the dress she felt almost naked. It was thin and light, like a sundress and a good breeze would have it over her head, just like Marilyn Monroe. Who was Marilyn Monroe? The shoes were another problem. Cracked leather sandals. About as useful in a desert as a sunlamp.
Three houses down she found a male manikin with thick heavy work boots that fit like there were made for her. The socks, wool, itched like the dickens … Dickens? What was that? Searching kitchens and garages she found a steel gas can … a jerry can. What was a jerry can? Okay, this is a jerry can. It was a little rusty on the outside but the top had been screwed on tightly and after a struggle, she found it clean, if stale, inside. Returning to her basement she filled it with water.
Five gallons, 8 pounds per gallon, 40 pounds. She hefted it. Really, is didn’t seem that heavy. Shrugging she toted it along as she did a quick search of the little town then finding nothing else useful she scanned the horizon for some idea of which way to go. There had to be a road, she reasoned so she walked the perimeter of the town and found a sand covered swath of concrete. Vaguely she could make out the path, straight as an arrow, heading what she now knew from the sun’s travel was south. Picking up her can of water, she began to follow it.
The humvee appeared in a cloud of dust and found her just before sunset. Two soldiers came out of the vehicle, M-16s at the ready and confronted her.
“What are you doing out here?” one demanded.
She almost laughed.
“Hitching a ride,” she replied just barely managing to bite back ‘I’m a streetwalker looking for business’.
“Who are you?” the man snapped.
“Alicia Cross,” she replied.
“Got any ID?” he eyed the jerry can. “What’s that?”
“Water,” she replied, setting the can down. “And no, I have no ID.”
“We better search her, Sarge,” the other suggested.
The sarge gave him a glare. The other leered at Alicia.
“Get in the hummer, miss, we’ll take you to security,” the sergeant said. “You can just leave the can there.”
He pulled open the front passenger door for her and she had to practically climb the side of the tall vehicle. Of course, as she’d feared, the wind kicded up at just the right moment and blew the dress over her head.
“She ain’t got no weapons, sarge,” the second man grinned.
Alicia flushed and sank down as much as she could in the hard seat.
She heard them stop at the rare of the vehicle.
“I oughta write your ass up, Pepper,” the sergeant growled in a low voice. “That’s a KID, damnit, she can’t be older then my sister and if you say another word to her, I’m gonna punch out your lights.”
“But sarge, did you see that ass?”
There was a smacking sound, a punch, followed by the sound of a body hitting the sand. Alicia glanced over at the driver who stared straight ahead.
“Sorry, miss,” the driver said in a whisper. “Pepper’s an ass and I didn’t see or hear nothing.”
“Thank you,” she replied.
Pepper climbed into the seat behind the driver and pointedly looked out the side window. The sergeant climbed in behind Alicia.
“Let’s go,” he said to the driver.
They took her to an air conditioned building set just inside a security fence. She was met there by a captain.
“Would you like something to drink?” the captain offered.
“Tea,” she said without thinking.
His eyebrows went up.
“I am afraid all we have is coffee and sodas,” he said. “Or water.”
“Water is fine,” she assured him.
He swiveled his chair and pulled open a mini-fridge.
“How’d you end up out in the desert carrying a can of water,” he asked nonchalantly as he picked up a bottle.
“I have no idea,” she replied.
He set the bottle before her, eyebrows up again.
“You don’t know how you got into the desert? Where you kidnapped?” he asked.
She twisted the cap off the bottle.
“That is the only explanation I can think of,” she replied.
“And you have no ID.”
“I woke up in a basement, naked, captain, I didn’t have any place to keep an ID.”
“Naked? Were you raped?” he was suddenly dead serious.
She shook her head. “I don’t believe so.”
“Sergeant! Get a FEMALE doctor over here, now!”
From the outer office came a “Yes, sir!”
“I don’t need a doctor,” Alicia said. “Other than a few scrapes I am find.”
“Procedure, miss,” he said. “If there is ANY hint of sexual assault we have to get a doctor immediately.”
“Find, captain, but I assure you, I have not been raped.”
“If you were naked, where did you find clothes?” he asked.
“Alamogordo,” she replied. “I was locked in a basement there.”
“Sergeant!” the captain snapped.
“Sir!” The man appeared at the door.
“Get a CST out to the Ghost Town,” he said. “This young woman was locked in a basement there and I want you to find it and secure it.”
“Yes, sir,” the man replied with a salute.
“Since this is still an active military base, you will probably be answering questions for the FBI as well as our team,” he said. “I am sorry I have to put you through all this but this is pretty odd.”
Alicia’s stomach growled.
“Sorry,” she said. “I haven’t eaten in I don’t know how long.”
“Well I can let you lose but how about a hamburger, I can send someone out for one.”
Alicia’s stomach revolted. She closed her eyes and shook her head.
“I am a vegetarian,” she said. “Just the thought of a hamburger makes me ill.”
“I’ll send a man over to the chow hall and have them make you a salad or something,” he offered.
“Fruit would be very nice,” she replied.
“Got to the chow hall and have them make up a VEGETARIAN dinner and if they give you any shit, tell them I sent you and I can have their cars towed.”
“Now,” the captain said. “What is your full name?”
“Alicia Emma Cross,” she replied. The captain frowned.
“Wait a minute,” he said. “The missing heiress from San Diego?”
“I guess so,” she replied.
Without another word he picked up the phone.
“Get me the FBI,” he said.
The grey suits showed up a few hours later after Alicia had been examine and eaten what passed in the Army for fruit and vegetables. Three, two obviously muscle, though the third looked even more fit than his two companions. He was the one to flip open the wallet to display his badge and credentials.
“Special Agent in Charge Miller, Miss Cross,” he said. “The doctor reports you have only minor injuries and that you have no idea how you came to be in Alamogordo.”
She nodded. “That is correct.”
“You were reported missing after an accident in a Cross Research facility outside Los Angeles,” he said. “As no body was found in the rubble, the assumption was made that you had been kidnapped or had escaped whatever caused this explosion.”
“My grandmother?” She held her breath.
“Her body was recovered,” he replied.
She expected tears but none came. Strangely she felt very calm about losing the only family she had.
“I see,” she said. “And was there anyone else?”
“Eight others, all identified as researchers employed by the company.”
“Do you have their names?” she asked.
Miller extracted a sheet of paper and passed it across to her. She scanned it briefly finding exactly who she had expected, her grandmother’s people including the traitor but no woman.
“Miss Cross,” Miller began. “I am not here because of your kidnapping.”
She shot him a look.
“I am the government liaison for the Minuteman Program recently authorized by the President,” he continued. “Your grandmother was a consultant.”
“What is this Minuteman Program?” But she already knew.
“The President has authorized the formation of a team of Metas that will be sanctioned by the US Government,” he explained.
“And this has what to do with me?” Again, she already knew somehow.
“Your grandmother believed you to be a Meta, like her.”
Closing her eyes, she nodded.
“While I have not seen any evidence of it, I believe she is correct,” Alicia said. “I have been experiencing a few odd happenings over the last day or so.”
“We have the facilities and expertise to test you,” Miller said. “It will …”
Alicia held up a hand.
“I agree to your testing and I agree to joining your program,” she said. “There is one proviso. You help me find my grandmother’s killer.”
Miller nodded. “That, Miss Cross, is a given.”
When she returned home she offered no explanations to the staff either, on where she had been or what had happened, nor did she make mention of her sudden changes in taste. Not only in food but in attire. She had always tried to respect her grandmother’s sense of what was proper but it had never been her choices. She started with the piercing, then cropped her hair and dyed it. Her ‘style’ of dress disappeared into more comfortable and less revealing clothes and she found she liked almost looking like a bag lady. She was comfortable that way since no one pestered her when she went out. Nobody tried to sell her this or borrow money for that project. Hell, she even had people giving HER change on the street.
As for her supposed powers, her grandmother had been right, she had them but they scared her. In the beginning she found that she could create things out of thin air, like a quilt, or even the light on the quilt and that had been a lot of fun but later … she turned a dog into a statue. It was an accident … or so Miller had said but she would not put it beyond him to sic that trained guard dog on her. It had scared her, lunging out of the dark, but the results terrified her. The dog froze solid, a statue. Alicia began to weep uncontrollably. She’s killed. She had fled to her room and refused all entry, taken no food. She had killed an innocent dog.
“Miss Cross,” Miller rapped on the door. “You need to see this.”
“Go away!” She shouted at the intruder.
The lock turned and the door swung open. Miller was standing just outside the room with a dog sitting calmly at his side.
“You didn’t kill the dog,” he said, indicating the canine.
“That’s not the same dog,” she said miserably.
“Actually, it is,” he assured her. “We placed it in a cage and set up a video recorder. I took him five days to return to normal.”
“It’s been six!” she snapped.
“We wanted to make sure there had been no ill effect,” he explained. “Other than the hair we ‘chipped’ off of his tail initially, he has suffered no lasting effects.”
“You’re lying,” she said through gritted teeth.
“Miss Cross, I assure you, lying would not be in the program’s best interest,” he said. “To have you able to SAFELY turn a target to stone and have that target recover is worth far more then you just turning them to stone forever. This is a very good thing.”
Alicia sat up on the bed and stared at the dog.
“What’s his name?”
“Bruno,” Miller said.
The dog looked up at the mention of his name.
“Bruno,” Alicia said. “Come.” She patted the bed.
The dog looked up at Miller.
“Release,” Miller told him.
Tail low, the dog slowly approached the girl.
“How do you get him to get up here,” she asked Miller.
“Just tell him ‘up’.”
“Up, Bruno,” the girl said.
Miller never did get the dog back.
Alicia was the first of the class to arrive and took her seat in the back of the classroom. She removed the round lens glasses and gave one side a wipe with the hem of the crop topped tee-shirt she wore. As she settled them back on her nose, the first of her new classmates arrived. The door opened and a huge boy with sun beached hair and deep tan held it open for a tall, slender and very elegant girl. Both made their way to the back of the room and took seats side by side. Alicia stifled a laugh as the surfer guy tried to fold his large frame into a desk obviously mean for someone considerably smaller than his seven foot plus height. The girl gave her a long, cold stare.
Alicia’s heart skipped a beat as a boy sauntered in, gorgeous beyond belief, dressed in expensive though casual clothes that had to be tailored. The thunder in her chest increased as he moved to the rear of the room and took a seat beside Alicia.
When their eyes met, she dropped hers but could feel his gaze taking in her bizarre appearance, the rows of studs through her eyebrows, the tattoos on her hands and shoulders, and her bag lady style of dress. Inwardly she cringed, for the first time in her life truly concerned with the impression she made on someone else. When she looked up with defiance in her eyes her mouth dropped open as the boy held out a hand to her with a huge and genuine smile.
“I’m Slater,” he said. “And you are the most beautiful girl I’ve ever seen.
Through the chaos of the filling room she registered his words as she took his hand. It was soft, and the pressure, gentle, the entire time his eyes were locked on hers. When she finally found her voice she stammered.
“A a Alicia.”
She waited for him to release her hand but he continued to hold it, that smile blinding her. Behind her the big surfer boy cleared his throat.
“I’m Nat, this is Wren,” he indicated the girl he come in with.
Slater glanced over at the two across Alicia’s desk and though he still smiled, it did not seem to Alicia to be anywhere near as bright as before. He released her hand and she drew it back, the feeling of his touch lingering.
“I’m Slater and this is Alicia,” his words hit her like little jabs. He’d introduced HER and they’d just met. She felt a warm flush suffuse her face.
“Shall we banter pleasantries at lunch,” the girl called Wren suggested, her gaze scanning them both like RADAR.
“Yeah, how ‘bout we meet on that little grassy hill with the single scrub pine?” the tall surfer suggested.
“How about . . . “ Wren said, puzzling Alicia by her repeated and corrected words.
Nat smiled “How about?” he repeated.
|The powers that awakened in Alicia in the lab that day are still something of a mystery to her. She has discovered or figured out a number and all are based on altering the very molecular structure of just about anything. At first it was a neat trick, being able to create simple things in the palm of her hand from thin air but when she had turned Bruno to stone that terrified her. She is extremely reluctant to experiment further but has been doing so, not at Miller's insistance, but with gentle pursuasion from Nat. It is that non-demanding attitude and her trust in him that is awakening new possiblities for her.|
Alicia was/is a quiet girl with no friends and no experience with boys. She has always seen herself as something less than the stunning beauty her grandmother had been long ago and has taking to dressing as she does so as to distract from her true appearance. It didn't wokr for a second on Slater.
Alicia is driven by her grandmother's memories and desire to battle evil even if the 'evil' disappeared about half a century ago. Alicia feels she must take up where Madam Midnight left off and fight the good fight. Sometimes it will scare the piss out of her when she finds herself diving into a fight without making a conscious decision to do so. She has weird flashbacks of times she now recognizes as events in her grandmother's life and has begun to look forward to them. Her grandmother was cold and silent as Alicia was growing up and she looks at these insights into her grandmother as a blessing, getting to know her in ways she never imagined could be possible.
As part of the Minutemen/Legacy, she will rarely speak up unless the chance of bloody mayhem could be in the offing. She has become the team's moral compass with respect to bloodshed and Nat accepts her call if she feels there might be a possiblity of blood being spilled. This 'carnophobia', surprisingly, has not come between Slater and a nice thick steak, Alicia just has to eat in another state ... and she certainly does NOT push her opinion on eating meat, for which her teammates are greatful.
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