Helena entered the room, the automatic door closing behind her. Peter sat in an armchair by a warm fire, another chair tilted toward the fire opposite him. He stared into the flames, face unreadable, but his bioelectricity told her that he was nervous. Quickly scanning the room, she found it as expected, empty; there were bugs in the room, so she created static to disrupt their feedback. She walked over to the armchair and sat; crossing her legs, she waited.
Peter scratched at his nose with the back of his index finger with a short sigh. “What a ridiculous situation we’ve found ourselves in—I couldn’t have imagined myself here a few days ago.” Is his plan to be sincere? It’s a true statement. Inside that sealed box, we both couldn’t have been prepared for what would come.
His head sank back against the cushion. “It’s sad how New Genesis operates … this fire is such a luxury that we take for granted.” He paused, staring at the propane-fueled flames. “You know, I went over it a thousand times in my head after the Black Box … what would happen if I was pit up against you.”
His muscles sagged. “Every time—without fail, I’d die. There’s no way I could possibly hope to outclass you … mentally or in ability. That understanding only increased as I saw your fight.” He’s leading up to something, but what? Yes, a Telepath is at an extreme disadvantage to an Electro Master. It’s natural that he’d play out that scenario before being recruited … what’s his point though? Is this just emotional release? Confronting an enemy, he couldn’t hope to best and trying to overcome that fear? There must be more to it than that.
He glanced at her, sitting in the armchair, features neutral. “The way you handled the situation back at the Mess Hall … it was beautiful—brilliant. Others might see you as being given opportunity with a silver spoon, just another Noble handed things, but I know better—you struggled tooth and nail to get where you are. You’re actually a source of inspiration for me—believe it or not.” He scratched the back of his head, glancing away. “You’re wondering why I went through all this trouble … a lot of trouble, to just get the chance to meet with you. Yes, I’ve heard about the Vandred always paying their debts and what not, but I wanted to verify that with you personally before continuing.”
Helena kept her tone even. “Yes, I recognize that it was my voice that caused Sevilla to catch interest in you. It was a terrible situation that could have branched a multitude of ways. Given the amount of information I had at the time, I wouldn’t have done it differently. I feel I do owe you to a certain extent because of the Black Box and the role I played in Sevilla making up her mind about you. If the request is reasonable, then I will honor it as best I am able.”
Peter smiled with relief. “Everything I planned hinged on that response. I worried that you might not see your hand in my situation or consider the debt already paid … that the rumors about the Vandred paying their debts was fake. There were so many factors that could have gone wrong, but it was my best option … you were my best option.” He hasn’t told me anything yet. All he’s done is compliment me, which he knows won’t gain him any favors. If he wants to use me to get out of the Turquoise Faction … no, he’s not that stupid. Then what?
Helena tilted her head before quickly righting it. Honestly! I wouldn’t have even noticed if Kara hadn’t pointed it out, but now it just annoys me. Sparks danced across her brow as her irritation flared, strands of her blonde hair standing up. How … I need to get this under control! She neutralized the static, her hair returning to normal. It’s fine, he won’t know the reason for the sparks; he may take it as a sign of my impatience and actually get to the point.
Peter frowned, his vision darting to the sparks at her brow, but he didn’t ask about it. “Right—I assume you’re fairly busy. So, I know you have everyone’s eye, and that is an important aspect of my plan. I want to be as clear as possible with you on the subject; I assume you’ve already dealt with the bugs in the room?” He knew most of WITCH would have bugs placed around the area, it’s only natural with the power structure, but why is his request require secrecy? This is The Shimmering Fiend’s headquarters … perhaps he’s worried about his own Faction.
Her eyes narrowed. “Yes.”
He nodded, becoming a lot more comfortable. “That’s amazing. It’s tough playing the part all the time, but I had to adopt the persona of the faction, or it would set my plans back. Okay—I want to use your connections to move over a servant of the Turquoise Faction and take her under your wing.”
“A servant?” Helena repeated. That makes no sense. He’s found himself in a deadly circumstance but is concerned about someone else? No, he has an angle. This girl is important for some reason, but what can a servant girl do to improve his situation? “What’s your angle, Peter?” Helena bluntly asked. “Let’s put aside the assumption I could accomplish that and focus on the gain. You are already in a precarious situation, why would you stick your neck out when there were so many variables that could go wrong—that could still go wrong? I don’t take you for a fool; therefore, something this servant girl has is of great value because I refuse to see you as the charitable type. You’re not in a position to be charitable, especially in the Shimmering Fiend.”
Peter looked back at the fire, tucking his lip under his teeth. After a moment’s thought, he nodded. “Yes, this is not charity—I have my reasons for doing this.” He turned back to her, eyes firm. “Can you do that though?”
Helena sat back, glaring at the fire. He’s not going to tell me his reasons then, which isn’t a requirement to pay back a debt; however, this is an extremely complicated issue … does he not know the state The Purists are in? A deep undercover agent of Phantasm just attacked the faction … tensions are high with any new recruit or potential spy. I certainly have worked hard to improve my image, but if I go forward with Peter’s request, then that will be put in jeopardy. The maneuvering I’ve done to just get my new team properly situated was difficult enough.
Putting aside The Purist’s internal issues; I don’t even know the rules about swapping factions and which channels I’d have to go through … this is entirely outside my expertise, which is not a place I like to be. Did he let Olivia know about this request or did he bluff his way with another explanation? I could ask him, but would he give me an honest answer? He’d have to; it would be easy enough for me to verify it with her.
She kept her active reception always alert with her recent massive increase in Focus, which let her know he was nervous about her response. “Did you tell Olivia why you wanted to meet with me?”
Peter swallowed. “Yes, everything that I’ve told you, she knows. She seemed interested in how you’d respond; I assumed it’s likely a test of your own ethical standing with the current situation.” Not even a flutter in his heart. Brilliant … how many trials must I overcome before they’re satisfied? I left the Wolf Pack to step into a Snake Pit. Olivia knows the situation in The Purists all too well, which means she’s testing my resolve and how I handle the situation. I could refuse or accept, but how I respond and work around the issues will determine her rating on my performance.
What are the pros and cons of each side? If I refuse the request, then I’m saying his request is impossible and not within my capacity, which could lower Olivia’s image of me, but it could bolster it with Esther. Esther could become angry if I ask to take on a servant form another faction, but she could also be intrigued … it would really be touchy though. Her choosing my team members from non-esper population could say that she’s scared about recruiting spies, but that doesn’t have the greatest evidence behind it. She was confident and intelligent from what I could gather … Gengler on the other hand.
She shifted her legs to cross the opposite way, causing Peter’s muscles to twitch slightly. If I can accomplish it then I believe Olivia and Esther would be interested; it would be another test, can I turn a servant into a soldier. It shouldn’t be any different than training the members of my team, but I’d have to meet her to really determine that. She could be tough and cold if she’s been in the Turquoise Faction for an extended period of time, which would cause problems with The Purists if they know her.
Helena’s vision shifted to Peter. “How long has she been in your faction?”
Peter licked his lips before puffing out a sigh. “You’ve already met her; her name’s Rean, the Pyrokinetic from the Black Box incident.” Her eyes narrowed at his confession. Rean … she was under Tom’s influence during the Black Box; I wasn’t able to get an accurate read on her character. Of course, you could say I had a glimpse of her true nature if her hormones were indeed overpowering thought; her true emotional state, at least. She seemed to be—passionate; at the very least, she wasn’t opposed to violent action in support of something she believed in. That could be cultivated.
If everything worked out and she was in my team, then what would be the change? I’d have a Pyrokinetic added to my party. It could be a beneficial ability if it developed into Thermokinesis. Most untrained espers haven’t learned the proper way to utilize their talents, which means they have the potential to discover their true ability origins. It’s possible she’s just a Pyrokinetic, but it could also be something much more; it would also fill the empty seat in my squad.
How would I accomplish a faction transfer though? There would obviously need to be something given in return, but what could that be? What would The Shimmering Fiend want in order for them to relinquish a servant … of course, perhaps Peter can just throw her away since he’s an Officer now. “Do you know how a transfer works in the factions?”
Peter took a deep breath before responding. “As far as I’m aware … it’s never happened. So, no, I don’t, but I assume Kara would.”
Helena’s features darkened. “You want me to bother a Prime about this kind of issue? A ranked Branch Member in the Great Houses would never dream of approaching me to ask for such a thing, much less a ranked servant; why would I bother the highest ranking individual in my faction about this issue? What purpose warrants her attention?”
Peter’s nervousness increased as he glanced around the room. “Okay, there is a reason to draw her attention, but I need to send her that information myself…” I see … so, the favor wasn’t actually meant for me to get the girl into the faction, but use my connection to Kara to deliver this sensitive information he has. His comment about bugs in the room is becoming clearer. Everything he’s done to get a meeting with me was, in turn, to get a single message out to Kara.
It must be of great importance for him to risk this; you could even consider this treason against his own faction … they must know about him being here. That meant that he would need to gain something of importance for his own faction in return. Kara could certainly accomplish that, but what about Rean is so important that he’d risk everything on? Could it be about her abilities or who she was before captured? I’d believe that WITCH would have done their homework on her beforehand. He is a Telepath though … he went through everyone’s mind in the Black Box. There must be some significant bit of information in her head.
Helena forced her body to remain calm with deep, even breaths, actively trying to keep her head from tilting. Okay, he wants to send out an important message to Kara that seems time sensitive and of great worth for him to risk his own life over. It’s bound to have some kind of reward for him, but this could also be a ploy to gain higher favor in his faction by using me.
Her lime green eyes locked onto Peter’s blue irises. “Are you using me to further your own agenda?”
“Yes,” Peter stated without flinching. “It is for my agenda, but my intent is not malicious in any way.”
“You do not wish my faction harm?”
“You do not wish my family harm?”
“Are you hiding anything from me?”
“Yes, I am only hiding the sensitive information that I will fully disclose to Kara.”
“You aren’t misleading me?”
Helena frowned. Everything checks out; he wants to discuss this topic with Kara.
“You believe this information is worth her time and risking my position?”
She sat back, closing her eyes, trying to envision any other possible danger or trick. He could be manipulated by someone, using me to get to Kara. It would be a really roundabout method and quite tricky with the number of people he’s already had to go through to get to me. However, it seems legitimate. In the end, it’ll only increase the expectations upon me and could draw some negative emotions from other faction members, but if Kara’s the one doing the bartering, then it will be out of my hands. I’m only the contact. Kara would also have a lot more information to sniff out any trap; she’s likely very alert after Booker’s betrayal. As of now … it doesn’t seem like a bad idea. I’m debt free and potentially gain a new member to my team.
She opened her eyes. “Very well, I will send a message to Kara, but that is all I can do. How would you have me phrase it?”
Peter chuckled tiredly as he shifted in his chair, rubbing between his eyes. “You have no idea how relieved I am to hear you say those words. I’ve been pouring over possibilities and what you might ask to accept my request … to have all of that over. I feel … so much lighter.”
Helena waited patiently. This seems appropriate for a debt paid. If it comes at no risk to me, then it was not a sacrifice or worth much, but this is a rather odd request.
“I want you to message Kara my WITCH handle, Meleco. Doubtless, she’ll want to know how you know me and what you’ve gathered from this meeting. Tell her that I have important time-sensitive information regarding a sensitive topic that she wants knowledge on. That is it.”
She resisted licking her lips. “Okay, to do that I’ll need to stop interfering with the bugs. Are you alright with that?”
Peter nodded. “That’s everything I wanted to ask from you. I’m sure you’ll discover the results when Kara makes a decision. I’ll be heading back to The Tower.” He scooted off the chair, muscles much more relaxed as he worked them out. “It’s always a pleasure, Helena.”
She watched him leave with a slight frown touching her lips. What an odd request. She retracted her static field and brought the cores of her HCID out of sleep. She composed the message, going over it a few times to confirm she had documented all the information before sending it. Scooting off the armchair, she stretched out her stiff muscles with a low sigh. This has been quite an experience. How will Esther take it? From everything I’ve gathered, it is an essential bit of information; it seemed like the logical decision to make.
She left the room while pulling up the Purist base map and memorized the section of the base the library was located. Making her way there, she received a return message from Kara. She swallowed reflexively. What’s the verdict?
Vixxy! The sky is raining lighting! Literally >.> anyways, just destroying a bunch of things while reading over this message your little friend sent; make sure the info is encrypted … I can’t believe this! *AND wipe all that info off the web … gone!* Grr … this couldn’t have come at a more inconvenient time! You did wonderfully … this is quite important information. However, it’s going to be tricky with Sevilla. I’m shocked your little friend was able to get this to us without her knowing … I should have recruited him too … wasted opportunity. Anyways—I’m going to have to ask you to take the lead on this one.
Helena stopped in her tracks as she read that line. What?
You see, Vixxy … Sevilla and I don’t have the best track record … I might have cut her once … she got a good cut in too … what?! She messes with my plans ALL THE TIME! She’s such an irritating woman! But anyways, that’s in the past (three months ago)! <3 those dimples … I’m not looking at a picture of you >.> never! That would be creepy (hides picture in secret folder)! So, yeah … you’ll need to go over to the base and negotiate for Rean to come over and join your squad. BTW! I heard about your first encounter from Esther! Hehe, put those kids through hell! I know you’ll get them whipped into shape! Olivia’s super impressed by you so far (she lectured ME about being more like YOU! … THE NERVE! I’M HER BOSS! *huff huff*).
Okay, anyways, getting back on topic … go over and see Olivia after reporting to Esther. You can ONLY talk to Esther and Olivia about this, okay! Strictly need to know! *Gasp!* Is this your first official assignment! This is more of a Lieutenant Colonel's level of operation, but I know you can handle it! It requires a level of tact and finesse that most SOP don’t learn, but you’ve mastered the art, my little lady! Olivia will let you in on what you have to work with! *Cracks the whip!* Now get on with it! This is important, and if I get involved, then Sevilla will KNOW something’s up. She’ll be suspicious with you, but I think you can work it out! I believe in my little kitten! As the thunder rolls, I’m out! <3 Kisses!
Helena took a deep breath before letting it out slowly. Great … a Lieutenant Colonel level assignment … I’ll likely be dealing with Sevilla herself or some high level representative. From the Snake Pit to the Lion’s Den...
A Tail's Misfortune: I'll work on it later this week. The next Chapter will be between 5.5k to 6k words to finish up the dialog and get to the next stage!
The Oscillation: I'll finish Fiona Chapter Three tomorrow, I sware! I'll then start working on Chapter Seventeen!