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Super: Discipline: Book 4 in the Super: Series

Super: Discipline: Book 4 in the Super: Series

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Super: Discipline: Book 4 in the Super: Series

Length:
475 pages
8 hours
Publisher:
Released:
Dec 15, 2017
ISBN:
9781543920918
Format:
Book

Description

Lex and her friends receive a warning of things to come when an old friend shows up on their doorstep, near death. Not long after they find themselves embroiled in fighting an extradition attempt - the US government, having taken over the human experimentation labs the friends escaped, seems to want them all back, to work as collectors for other escapees. Finally, unable to stop the extradition, Lex and her team go back to the US. Instead of taking in people for the labs, however, they choose to warn their would-be quarry instead and allow them to escape. This serves to anger the government, making Lex wonder if she and her friends will end up back in their labs instead...
Publisher:
Released:
Dec 15, 2017
ISBN:
9781543920918
Format:
Book

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Super: Story to Date

Note: It’s highly recommended to read Books 1, 2, and 3 of this series before you read this one.  For all the places the e-book can be bought, check the lists under the headings for each book here: http://superwebnovel.livejournal.com/314.html . You can also read the story online; use the link above and read all of the chapters listed under the headings for Books 1, 2, and 3.

Lex McKilliam is recruited to work for the secretive M Agency headquartered in Washington, DC.  She quickly realizes that her coworkers all have capabilities far beyond the norm, and works hard to improve her own martial arts skills in response.  Casey, who’s far larger and stronger than the average person, befriends Lex, and they train and spar together.  Lex also works on a computer-capabilities assessment with Riss, who mentally communicates with computers, and manages to strike up a friendship with Serena, who can immediately transport herself anywhere else she wants, all around the world.

Finding the amount of on-call time and copious medical testing required odd, Lex nonetheless applies herself when she and her team are finally assigned emergency calls.  On one of these, she becomes friendly with some Alpha Team members: Kate (who can partially shapeshift to use the powers of animals she’s observed) and Victor (an inventor and master repairman).

As time goes on, Lex gets involved in the chase when Kate and Victor violate their strict contracts by running away, but gets tipped off that all of them have been the subject of dangerous, unauthorized human experimentation, and vows to escape with Riss and Casey.  After they’ve faked their own deaths and managed to run, Lex becomes gravely ill.

Upon waking after spending a month sick and unconscious, she needs to rebuild herself, and finds she’s gained the power to persuade or compel people with her voice.  After Casey’s boyfriend, Lou, gets captured by the labs, they rescue him and help many other people escape.

Afterwards, they head west to try to find a good place to settle.  While in Phoenix, AZ, Lex comes up with the idea of working as a touring band as cover for scouting out a new home.  As they tour they become more popular, attracting unwanted attention and eventually having to fight people sent from the labs after a show, but manage to escape identification.

Realizing they need to leave the country, they plan a farewell concert a few weeks later, leave false clues as to their whereabouts, and successfully make it to Europe, where they receive an offer to join their Special Forces.  After accepting and integrating into the team, they discover an assassination threat directed at Lex, and manage to thwart and catch the would-be assassin, Derek, who’d been sent by MSI to silence her and others.  They heal and befriend him.

The friends determine the best way to combat MSI is to bring suit against them in the ICC, and do so, while Lex successfully leads a team to discover and apprehend a ring of bank burglars operating throughout the EU.  Following that, Rolf asks her to marry him, and Lex ends up having to elude his family’s wolf pack overnight in a wintry forest as part of meeting the parents.  After other difficulties, she and Rolf marry, along with Casey and Lou, and look forward to beginning their lives together…

Chapter 58: Schism

Lex, you’ve got to come home right away, the voice said the moment Lex answered her cell phone.  After a second Lex recognized Lily’s voice, higher pitched and speaking faster than she’d ever heard.

Lily? Lex asked, the confusion she felt showing in her voice.  What’s the problem?

She heard a fast exhalation, somewhere between a huff and a sigh.  Lex, there’s no time to explain, Lily continued, the tone and volume of her voice rising as her words came even faster.  There’s something wrong with Serena.  I don’t know what, and there’s nothing I can do to help her.  Please, just come!

Lex could feel the worry settling into the pit of her stomach.  All right, I’ll be there.  Where are you?

In the living room at home, Lily replied, her volume rising again.  Please get here as soon as you can!

The line went dead and Lex looked at her phone for a moment, wondering what could be going on.  She opened her desk and pulled out her purse, slipping the phone into it, and then looked over at Rolf, sitting one desk away and working on paperwork, as she’d been until a minute previous.

I’m not going to be able to go to lunch today, she explained, referring to the celebration they’d planned for Tamara’s birthday.  Something’s going on at home.

Rolf quirked an eyebrow, as if to ask what, but Lex shook her head.  Not sure what, but I’ll call you when I find out.  Lily’s really upset about something.

He nodded, watching her put her winter coat on.  Nothing dangerous, I hope, he said a moment later, and Lex could see his drawn eyebrows as she looked into his face.

Lily would probably have mentioned if there were anything, Lex concluded, putting her hat on.  She said something about Serena, which I didn’t understand, but it didn’t sound dangerous, just urgent.

All right, I’ll see you later, then, Rolf replied, standing up to kiss her goodbye.

She smiled at him and gave a wave as she headed out the door.  Several minutes later, as she hurried down the cobblestone sidewalks towards the more residential area where they lived, Lex tried to think about what could be going on.  Despite her worries, the six months since she and Rolf had married had been relatively quiet.  They’d heard no more about what Hardy had threatened regarding MSI, although he, Iris, and Win had escaped again a couple of months ago.

The ICC suit against MSI had continued, and enough evidence had been brought forward that early the previous month, October, she’d been happy to note that some of the major players in the company, including Mr. Sauer and Clara, had been summoned to the court to testify.  Lex found it didn’t surprise her that when the time came for them to speak, none of the people who’d been called could be found.  She’d wondered at the time who’d taken the company over, since according to news reports, the corporation till seemed to be operating.

When she’d last read about it, the injunction against the company operating in the EU had still been making its way through the courts and was being debated, prior precedent, or really lack thereof, being a problem.  Lex’s mind continued to go in circles as she tried to consider what might be today’s problem, and why Lily had called from home and talked about Serena, but she couldn’t come up with any idea, and found herself sighing in relief as she saw their house come into view.

Lily? she asked the minute she opened the front door.  Where are you, and what’s wrong?

I’m in the living room, her friend’s voice came from down the hallway.  Please, hurry.

Lex glanced into the kitchen as she passed, noting a half-constructed sandwich on the counter and a head of lettuce sitting nearby.  What happened? Lex asked, still walking towards the living room.

I decided to stop here for lunch on my way from the hospital to the Special Forces building, Lily’s voice came to her, still high-pitched and fast.  I heard a cry in the living room and rushed in, and I found this.

Coming through the doorway of the living room, Lex stopped in place as if she’d hit an invisible wall.  Lily stood near the middle of the room but to one side, leaving Lex a perfect view of what looked like a poorly projected image of Serena.  What’s this? Lex asked, moving closer with slow steps, looking at the projection.

It’s Serena! Lily said, at almost a shout.  I don’t know how this happened, but there’s nothing I can do to help her.  I can’t even touch her, Lily finished, her voice dropping as she moved her hands through the space where Serena’s image had appeared.

To Lex’s horror, Lily’s movement seemed to attract Serena’s attention, and she turned in Lily and Lex’s direction.  Her image kept flickering, and if it had been a projection, Lex would have sworn the machine was on its last legs.  Lex, Serena said in a voice that sounded bone weary, then winced, but smiled before she spoke again.  You came.

What happened?  Where are you? Lex asked, trying to keep her voice under control and not show the fear and worry that had jumped up into her chest.

I was…coming to see you, Serena answered, her mouth quirking up into something halfway between a smile and a grimace as she spoke at about half her normal speed.  I got attacked, though.  Didn’t quite make it.

Lex now felt panic creeping up her throat as she listened to her friend and heard her slowing down, watched the pain that seemed to be running through Serena.  In the first beats of silence following Serena’s words, however, Lex almost thought she heard someone else talking who sounded far away, and then something flickered around Serena, as the scene behind her friend began to fill in.  Gasping as it resolved, Lex’s eyes flew wide as she thought she saw the hallway of the MSI building that she and her friends used to inhabit in DC before it faded behind Serena again.

Lily, Lex said, her voice quick and harsh, her gaze still on Serena, as if afraid her friend’s image would vanish as well.  Go upstairs and get Riss.  Wake her up and tell her it’s an emergency and get back down here as soon as you can.

Right, Lily replied, seeming to be glad for a task she could accomplish, and hurried out of the room.

Serena, Lex continued, crossing in front of the woman until her friend met her eyes.  Can you make it through to here?

Serena sighed with infinite sadness.  No, I’ve tried everything I usually do and nothing seems to work.

How about if you go back to where you came from? Lex asked, biting her lip.

I tried that, too, Serena answered.  I’m stuck.  I’m scared, Lex.  This has never happened before.

Lex swallowed past the lump in her throat as she saw a tear run down Serena’s cheek.  All right, none of that, Lex said, trying to sound stern.  Who attacked you?  Is that what caused this?  Maybe we can solve it that way.

One of the people here shot at me, Serena said, her voice still slow and tired.  Nothing seemed to happen, but it scared me, so I decided that maybe I should get out of here and then come back later to get my things.  Everything has gotten so weird around here lately…

Serena trailed off, her head drooping, appearing to be somewhere between thought and weariness.  And this is what happened when you tried to come here, then? Lex asked.

Yes, Serena agreed, lifting her head and nodding.  And I don’t know what to do now.

Lily came back into the room then, breathing as if she’d run up and down the stairs.  Riss will join us in a few minutes, she said.  I explained as much as I could.

Good, Lex replied, drawing back to speak to Lily by the door, in a whisper.  How do you think Serena looks compared to when you first spotted her?

I can’t examine her beyond a visual, of course, Lily said in a quiet voice.  It seems like she’s in pain, however, and she continues to look more and more pale and tired.

Clenching her fists for a moment, Lex asked Lily, What should we do?

Lily looked down at the floor, offering no answers.  Lex paced for a moment, watching Serena with a careful eye.  Her friend appeared to be almost asleep on her feet, swaying in place with closed eyes and a drooping head.  Riss appeared in the doorway a minute or two later, looked in Serena’s direction for a moment, then took a seat on the couch with her laptop.  After a few more moments of pacing, Lex spoke, her words harsh.

I can only think of one thing, she said, and it may do more harm than good.  Lily, do you think this is a life or death situation for Serena?  I don’t want to do this if there’s any other way to help.

I don’t know, but it looks like she’s fading away before our eyes, Lily replied.  I don’t know all of the ins and outs of what she can do, but I know that for travelers like Serena, being stuck in an in-between state like this isn’t normal.  Maintaining it may injure or kill her.

Lex felt her fingernails pierce her palms as her fists tightened.  All right, Lex said, her voice sounding calm again.  Riss, I think Serena is coming here from the MSI building we used to live in in DC.  If she can get through to us, can you deactivate all of the electronic devices on her, anything that reports back home?

Riss nodded, looked up at Serena’s swaying form, then back down at her laptop.  No problem, but I can only read them intermittently right now.  I’ll have to wait until she gets here to fry them, and they may have the opportunity to report back one last time.

She frowned then, as if she’d never had that experience before.  Lex nodded in reply.  All right, good enough.  Turning back to Serena, Lex called to her, having to increase her volume a couple of times before Serena raised her head.

Serena, I have an idea, but I don’t know if it will work.  Since I don’t know exactly what happened to you, I don’t even know if it will hurt, or maybe even kill you.  Lex paused then, trying to gauge Serena’s reaction.

Serena tilted her head to one side.  Whatever you’ve thought of, Lex, just try it, she said, grimacing and flickering again.  I don’t think I’m going to make it too much longer like this.  At least if I die, I might be in one piece if your plan works.

She tried for a smile, but it looked hollow to Lex.  All right, Lex said, casting a quick glance at Riss and Lily, hold your ears.

Not you, she said, turning back towards Serena.  Lex met Serena’s gaze with her own, holding the other woman’s eyes.  Stay with me, now.

Lex took a deep breath and tried to gather her power into her voice.  She felt the familiar sensation as she spoke, and her words rang out through the room.  Serena, she said, her voice sounding booming and commanding, come here!

Serena’s eyes went from tired and hazy to engaged in a second, seeming to become more solid as she appeared to fight with what surrounded her.  The very air in the room seemed to vibrate as Lex watched the contest and Serena shuddering with effort.  Then a scream tore through all of them as Serena’s body twitched once, and then Lex reached out to catch her friend and stop her from falling to the floor.  Happily, this time, she caught Serena’s arm instead of having her hand breeze through nothing.

After she caught her friend, however, Lex’s stomach sank as her Serena’s body went limp, and she sighed as she saw Serena’s closed eyes.  A moment later, Lex drew back in horror from where she’d eased the woman to the carpet.  She’s not breathing, a voice sounded out, and although she didn’t recognize it, Lex realized as she looked at Riss and Lily that neither of them could have said it.

She drew back as Lily, now as calm as Lex had ever seen her, stepped forward to begin checking on Serena.  Lex staggered the few steps to the couch and sat down, jarring Riss who’d closed her eyes.

Did you get…  Lex trailed off, her gaze traveling back to Serena’s limp form as Lily started CPR on her.

Yes, but it’s possible that they got a final burst of information from the tracking devices on her, Riss replied, then shrugged.  I don’t know that it’s a big issue, though; I don’t think it would be that hard for them to find out where we live, after all.

Yes, I suppose, Lex said after a moment, turning to Riss and trying to think of anything else she could say, but instead her hollow gaze brought itself back to Serena again, the feeling that she’d killed a friend sinking into her bones like lead.

She felt a reassuring hand on her arm then and after a moment turned to look at Riss, once she could rip her eyes from their other friend.  Do you want me to call for an ambulance? Riss asked.

Lily shook her head.  Check on me in ten minutes and I’ll make a decision then.  I have every reason to hope she may start breathing on her own by then.  She looked over at Lex as she gave Serena chest compressions.  Don’t look like that, Lex.  You came back when you were a lot farther gone than she is.

Since I can’t help with this at all, ladies, Riss replied, I’m going back to bed.  If there’s anything else I can do, you know where I’ll be.

Don’t worry about it, Riss, we’ll call someone in from work if we need any more help.  Thanks, Lily said with a brief smile before giving Serena another breath.

Lex missed the steadying hand on her arm the moment Riss left the couch.  She just watched then, her hands clenched into fists as she alternated between watching Lily and the clock on the wall, trying to identify when ten minutes would be up and cursing her stupid idea the whole while.  As it turned out, however, she didn’t have to wait that long.  Sometime just after seven minutes, Lily listened to Serena’s breathing and heart and then backed off, stopping the CPR altogether.

Realizing her cheeks had somehow gotten wet, Lex wiped at them with the back of her hands.  Is she…is she-

Her heart’s beating again and she’s breathing on her own, Lily interrupted, not looking up.  I guess she wasn’t ready to go yet.

Feeling an overwhelming spike of gratitude shoot through her, Lex found a tissue in one of her pockets and cleaned herself up as best she could, trying not to snuffle.  After a minute or so Lily stood, then looked over at Lex.  Could you come over here?  I need you to watch her for a few minutes while I get my phone and try to figure out what to do.  Put your fingers just under her chin, here.

She paused and crouched as Lex sat down beside Serena’s still unmoving form, showing her the right spot to monitor.  Lex sighed with relief as she felt the evidence of her friend’s heart beating again.  Keep an eye on her breathing, too, Lily added, gesturing to her chest.  Look for the rise and fall, and if you can’t see it, get your ear close to her mouth to hear it.  If she gets into trouble again, call me and start breaths and compressions like I did.

Lex nodded in reply and hardly noticed as Lily left the room, her attention riveted on Serena’s pulse jumping under her fingers and the regular rise and fall of her chest.  Thinking about it later, Lex had no idea how long she knelt on the floor there, watching and listening.  She wouldn’t have been surprised to find that hours had passed, or just a few minutes.  As she watched, however, Lex could feel the tears start to rise again, this time because she felt so grateful for every beat she felt under her fingers and every movement of Serena’s chest.

She looked up in surprise as Lily sank down beside her some hard-to-determine amount of time later.  All right, Lex, I’ll take over now, she said, replacing Lex’s hand on Serena’s neck with her own.  Lex noted that the doctor had gotten the small bag of medical supplies that she kept at home, and Lex sat back down on the couch, still worried and hanging near the edge as she watched Lily do a short medical exam on Serena.

It looks like she’s stable now, but I don’t know how long she’ll be unconscious.  Lily frowned down at Serena’s prone form for a moment, her brow furrowed.  I don’t know, we could keep her here, but there’s not always someone at home, plus we’d need to get lots of supplies.  I could probably find somewhere for her at the hospital I’m working at, but there’d be questions that I don’t know how to answer…

Lily trailed off then and Lex realized for the first time what she meant as she looked at what Serena wore, surprised to find her friend in a long t-shirt, underwear, and comfortable looking socks, as if she’d been tumbled out of bed, a fact that brought a lump to Lex’s throat.  She must have been in a hurry when she left, Lex thought, and so had no purse, much less a passport.  She shook her head, wondering what had happened to her friend, but stopped as she had an idea.

Do you think we could take her to the Special Forces building? Lex asked, turning to Lily.  Didn’t you take care of Derek there for a while?

Sighing, Lily replied, I thought of that, but that means that it’s still got to become official, somehow.  Are you up to trying to convince the captain that he should take Serena in?

Lex thought about it for a moment, then nodded.  I’d be glad to.  Do you have your phone?

Lily pulled it out of her bag, pressed a few buttons and then handed it to Lex.  As Lex put it to her ear, she took a big breath as she listened to it ring.

Shapiro here, the captain’s voice answered a moment later, and as Lex heard his voice, she gave a brief sigh of relief.

Captain, it’s Lex, she said, trying to keep the waver of emotion from her voice.  There’s been a problem at our house, and we need to ask for help.

Did they come back? the captain’s response sounded immediate and fierce and Lex winced, realizing his first thought had probably been that Hardy had attempted a replay of the scene that happened just before her and Rolf’s wedding.

No, nothing like that, she replied fast, trying for a soothing tone.  It’s something else.  Lily came by for lunch and found…well, someone apparently attacked Serena and did something to her, and when she tried to come to see us, she only partially arrived.

What?  His terse response only seemed to highlight his concern.

I know, it isn’t anything I’ve ever heard of before, either, Lex said.  I was able to help her the rest of the way through, but she’s collapsed.  Her heart stopped for a while, actually, and though Lily got her back up and running, Serena’s still unconscious.  Lily wants to find somewhere we can put her where she can take care of her, but it seems like someone attacked her at home and she came here in a hurry.  She doesn’t even have shoes, much less a purse or passport, so we can’t just take her to the hospital.  We don’t have any medical equipment here at our house, but then we remembered that we do have some over there.  Is there any possibility that we could bring Serena there so that we could monitor her properly until she wakes up?

A long silence reigned on the opposite end of the line as Lex fidgeted.  After a few long moments, Captain Shapiro responded.  What if she doesn’t wake up?

She will; I believe that, Lex said, looking over at Lily.  Lily shrugged before nodding her head, Lex taking that to mean that no one could know for sure what would happen, but that she expected Serena to recover.  If not, we’ll figure out some way to take care of it.

A sigh on the other end of the phone seemed to be her only response for a minute.  You say someone attacked her, the captain asked once he spoke again.  Do you know what happened?

Lex filled him in on the little they knew, adding, I don’t know if this has anything to do with all of the former main MSI players disappearing just as they were supposed to testify at the ICC.  There may have been some official turnover in the corporation and so different people dealing with Serena and others like her.  Different people who didn’t have trouble experimenting with new equipment, for example.

After another long pause Captain Shapiro spoke again, his voice back to normal.  All right, then, bring her here.  If anyone asks, we will tell them that a colleague got injured during a battle and came to us for help.  Hopefully she’ll be up and about before anyone can ask.

With a big sigh of relief, Lex felt her shoulders sag.  Thank you, Captain.

So how are you planning to get here? he asked then, and Lex found herself staring at the opposite wall, sure that a stunned look graced her face.

I didn’t think about it until now.  We could take a cab, she started, before seeing Lily’s frown.  OK, probably not.  I guess we could take the van over, she concluded.

Is that the one you use to carry your musical equipment around in? Captain Shapiro asked.  I doubt that’s going to be comfortable.  How about if I send someone over in our van?  We have one that’s been rigged up to carry injured people.  It’s not an ambulance or anything, but it should be more comfortable than laying her down in your van.

Thanks, Captain, that would be great, Lex replied, blinking against the sudden rush of moisture in her eyes.

I’ll see if I can send Rolf, he added.  I think he skipped going out to lunch because he was worried about you.

Lex heard him hang up and then handed the phone back to Lily.  The captain agreed, and he’s sending someone from work with a van for carrying the injured.

That’s great news, Lily said.  Do you want to wait at the front door while I keep an eye on Serena?

Nodding in reply, Lex headed for the front door, stopping in the kitchen long enough to finish Lily’s sandwich and make one for herself and Rolf, in case he hadn’t eaten yet, all of which she put into a bag to take with them.  She heard the door open as she finished, and turned to see Rolf in the kitchen doorway.

Where is she? he asked, and Lex could hear the concern in his voice.

She gestured towards the living room and followed him there.  They both watched Lily tend to Serena for a minute before Rolf said, There are some stretchers in the van.  Do you want to get one?

Lex nodded and followed him outside to where he’d parked in front of the house, the spots plentiful in the middle of the day.  She stood and waited while Rolf unlocked the back, unable to think of a thing to say, then caught it as he fed one end of a stretcher out to her.

Are you all right? he asked as they made their way back to the front door.

Yes, just feeling shaken up, Lex replied with a sigh.  I know Serena looks pale and probably not too well to you, but she’s much better than before.  Her heart had stopped.

Lex bit her lip then, trying to focus on the pain rather than her eyes trying to tear up.  What happened? Rolf asked, giving her a steady, serious look.

We’re still not sure, Lex explained as they paused to maneuver their way through the front door.  She told us someone attacked her, and when Lily found her, she was like a ghost.  I called to her to bring her here, but then-

She broke off then, raising her shoulder to swipe at the tears now running down her cheek.  I could have killed her, Lex finished, almost whispering, thinking Rolf may not have heard.

As they approached the living room, Rolf replied, But you didn’t.  He gave her another serious look, then continued.  I think she came here expecting that you’d be one of the few people who could figure out how to help her.

Biting her lip again as they both crouched to put the stretcher on the floor, Lex thought about that and tried to focus on the fact that Serena was here now, all in one piece and even breathing by herself.  She wiped the rest of her tears away and couldn’t help giving a small smile.

Once they’d moved Serena to the stretcher and Lily had their friend arranged to her satisfaction, Rolf and Lex lifted it again and began moving back towards the front door.  Lex let Lily know to pick up the sandwiches she’d made and watched from the back of the van as Lily locked the front door a minute later and joined them in the van.  Lex watched as Lily checked that the stretcher had been slotted into place, then nodded for Lex to close the back doors, after which she joined Rolf in the front of the van.  After belting herself into the passengers’ seat, Lex craned her neck to see into the back, but the only thing she saw was Lily checking Serena’s vital signs.  Rolf’s hand on her own for a moment got her attention instead, and he smiled at her before pulling out onto the quiet street.

They brought Serena in the back way, but somehow they’d attracted a crowd by the time they’d settled her into the small room where Derek had stayed when he’d first arrived at the Special Forces building.  Lex bit her lip as she looked at Serena enveloped in the clean white sheets, small and quiet.  She looked so pale and vulnerable that Lex felt her stomach clench.

Taking a deep breath, Lex tried to force herself to calm down, looking around in surprise to find Casey nearby and Lou leaning against the wall with a hand on her shoulder.  Derek and Mr. Chen hung back near the doorway, along with Meg, who looked as if she’d stopped by on a short break from monitoring the communications room.  Lex guessed Kate and Tamara might still be at lunch and that the captain was probably downstairs.

All right, everybody out, Lily said after a few seconds, giving a hard look around the room.

The people in the hallway disappeared and then everyone in Serena’s room cleared out.  Before she left, Lex asked Lily, I’m assuming that everyone will want a briefing.  Is there anything you want to make sure I cover, or that I leave out?

Lily put an IV bag down on Serena’s bedside table in order to finish setting up the pole to hang it on.  Yes.  If you could not mention how I lost my cool, I’d appreciate it.

Done, Lex said, smiling despite her remaining anxiety.  As long as you extend the same courtesy to me.

Shaking her head, Lily replied, Your reaction was understandable.  I just…  After long moment where she looked out a nearby window, Lily continued.  Even though I’ve seen more strange things than most people will in their entire lives, it was the first time that I felt completely powerless to help someone.  I couldn’t even touch her.  It doesn’t explain things, I know, but…

Lex smiled but it felt painful, since she understood all too well.  It does, and I think you did great under the circumstances.  Thank you for calling me.

She put a hand on Lily’s arm for a moment before turning to leave the room and closing the door behind her.  Catching up with Rolf in the hallway on the main floor of the building, the two of them headed to see Captain Shapiro.  About to knock once they reached his door, Lex stayed her hand as the captain looked over to see them.  She saw him talking to someone on the phone, but he motioned the two of them closer.  After writing something on a piece of paper, he handed it to them.

Briefing room at 2PM, it said.  You’re presenting.  Give a summary to the group, and full details to me.

Looking up at him once she’d finished reading, Lex watched him tilt his head in her direction.  She nodded to let him know that she understood, then closed the door most of the way as she and Rolf left.

I’ll be glad to add whatever I can, Rolf said, glancing over at Lex.  How about we get you something to eat before then?

She smiled over in his direction.  Sounds like a good idea.  Thanks.

By the time two o’clock rolled around, Lex and Rolf had picked seats near the front of the briefing room.  Captain Shapiro had sat in the front row on the right side.  Lou and Casey had chosen a spot a row back from him, and Kate, Tamara, and Meg had formed a small group on the left side.  When they’d checked with Lily earlier, they’d found that she still wanted to observe Serena for a while, so Lex knew she and Rolf would be it for the briefing.

All right, everyone, Lex said as she stood.  I’ll try to keep this as quick as possible, since I know everyone has a lot of other things to do.  Please let me know if you have questions as I go through what happened.

She briefly explained how Serena had appeared and had been intangible when she’d done so, and what she’d said.  When she saw Tamara’s hand go up, Lex nodded and waited to hear what she had to say.

You told us Serena said someone attacked her.  Did she say who did it?

Lex shook her head.  No, unfortunately.  She looked like she was in pain by then, and having trouble talking, so we didn’t get a lot of details.

When you say she appeared, you also said it looked like a projection.  Was she actually there? To Lex’s mind, Casey looked nervous and curious as she asked.

As far as I could tell, she seemed only partway there, and oddly, partway somewhere else.  I’d see occasional flashes of the scenery behind her, as if looking through a window into somewhere else.  Lex frowned as she recounted that in particular, still wondering about it.

She continued her recounting, discussing how Serena had come through all the way while trying not to talk too much about how, and her necessary resuscitation once she’d arrived.  Everyone remained silent for a few moments once she’d finished and Lex bit her lip, hoping she wouldn’t have to go into detail about how she’d called to Serena.

Meg broke the silence a few minutes later, saying in measured words in a speculative voice, So, your voice is that powerful?

Lex blushed as Tamara broke in, shaking her head.  "I’m actually a lot more interested in what happened to Serena.  She said someone shot at her, but do you think someone attacked her with some sort of weapon or was it something they could do personally?’

Raising an eyebrow, Lex considered.  She looked over at Rolf after a moment with a raised eyebrow.  I don’t know, she responded after a moment.  It’s a good point, but I’m not sure what the answer is.

All right, Captain Shapiro interjected, holding up a hand.  I know there are a number of you who have other things to do, so unless you’re interested in a technical discussion about what could have happened, feel free to get back to your work.

Meg rose then with a nod, touching the listening monitor on her ear and obviously wanting to get back to the communications room.

Lou rose, putting a hand on Casey’s shoulder.  I should get back to training, he murmured.  Mr. Chen said he wanted to go through a number of things this afternoon.  Casey looked up at him and smiled, squeezing the hand on her shoulder before she let it go.

Kate had risen as well, shaking her head.  Technical discussions aren’t really my area, she said with a grin.  I’ll leave all of you to it.

Casey and Tamara moved closer to the front once the others had gone, Tamara sitting at the front of the left side of the room and Casey moving to sit a couple of chairs away from the captain.  Lex had opened her mouth to begin speaking again but closed it as she saw Lily come into the room following the small exodus of people who left.

Lily sat next to Tamara and exhaled as she did, a small tired sound.  A moment later she glared at all of the eyes on her.  Since you all appear to be so interested, she said, Serena is resting.  Her vital signs are all normal, although I have her on a monitor so in case they change too much I’ll be notified.  From the examinations I’ve been able to do, she seems uninjured, but I’d really like to do some tests I can’t do here.  She paused, giving a considering look, then continued.  I’ll see if I can get some courtesy time on some of the machines that I need at the hospital over the next few days, but we should probably try to get in touch with her next of kin so that we can sort out her status here.

Lex jumped in, saying, We can talk about that afterwards.  I may have some idea about who to contact.

Good, Lily replied with a firm nod.

So, Lily, Captain Shapiro began, we wanted to talk about what might have happened to Serena from a technical standpoint.

I’ve worked with people who’ve had many strange abilities for years and I’ve never seen anything quite like that, Lily said, her face taking on a disturbed expression again.  If they worked on any type of research at MSI to do something like we saw today, they kept it far from me.

After a short space of quiet, Lex spoke up in a small voice.  I did talk to Serena about what she can do, around the time we first met.  I don’t know if this will help at all, but she did mention that MSI had sent someone around to study her.  She said the scientist had said something about the movement of electrons when he tried to summarize what he’d found afterwards.

She noticed the interest in Captain Shapiro’s expression when he heard that.  Hmmm…if that’s the case, it means that there is no ‘in between’ for her, that she’s either in one place, or that she instantly appears in the next place she wants to go.  Which means that what you saw in your living room should never have happened.

Lily nodded slowly as she listened to the captain.  When we saw her, it didn’t seem as if what was going on was at all normal for her.  She seemed to be in pain, and the longer it went on, well, if she’d been a television picture, I’d have said it had less picture and more ‘snow,’ almost as if she were dissolving as we watched.

She stopped speaking then, staring at the floor.  Lex swallowed as she considered what might have happened if no one had been home to help, and how they might never have known what happened to their friend.  Glancing over at Lily, she watched the stricken look on her friend’s face for a moment, wondering if Lily had the same sickening thought.

All right, Captain Shapiro said, breaking into the silence that had fallen.  I think that’s probably as far as we’re going to get with this right now.  As soon as Victor arrives today, I’ll get him thinking about this and ask him to figure out what happened.  If we can figure out enough of what happened so that we can issue a warning to anyone who can travel the way Serena can, that would be good.  If anyone has any ideas about what might have happened this afternoon, come and see me.  Lily and Lex, please have your talk about the next of kin and see who you can contact as soon as we’re finished here.  The sooner we have some way to make Serena’s stay in the country official, the better.

Everyone got up and made for the door, knowing that they’d been dismissed back to their normal duties, but Lily and Lex hung back.  I guess it’s too much to hope for that Serena had anything in her pockets? Lex asked, moving to a chair next to Lily.

Lily sighed.  Unfortunately, yes.  I have to agree with what you said earlier, from the way she was dressed it really looks like she’d just woken up or something.  She didn’t have anything with her at all.

All right, Lex replied.  I’ve got some ideas, if you want me to try to contact someone.

That would be great, Lily

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