Master PC – Mind Magi
Part Two – A Day Of Questions
Chapter Ten – When It Rains…
Renée was smiling like a school girl. I couldn’t help but mirror the sentiment. “That’s one hell of a kiss you have there mister,” she said tauntingly.
I started to lean in to kiss her again but a sound from the other room caught my attention.
I looked past Renée and noticed the woman on the floor moaning and moving. Immediately I put myself between the woman and Renée. I wouldn’t let her touch any of them.
Erin and Chloe knew immediately what got my attention. Renée looked over my shoulder. “Should she be awake already?” she asked.
I shook my head. “She should sleep for a few hours. I hit her that hard.”
Erin and Chloe approached but they too stayed behind me. Erin said, “She looks like she’s having a nightmare…”
I had to agree. The woman wasn’t really struggling against her bonds but moved as if something were agitating her.
I walked toward her. Chloe immediately held out a pair of my shorts. I didn’t even think, just grabbed them and slipped them on. It wasn’t a matter of what could happen, I had just thought it would be nice to have something to wear and she had apparently felt the same.
The girls followed but kept close to the bedroom door. I went to the woman and pulled her over so I could see her face. Erin had even blindfolded her. It was a good idea.
Her breathing was labored. I checked the gag but it only cut across her mouth, nothing was in it. I felt her neck and found her pulse racing.
She began to hyperventilate. I took off the gag and found the top of the zipper for her suit. I pulled it down halfway since it was in the front. Still she couldn’t seem to get enough air. I gripped her head, allowing my hands to come into full contact with her skin. Immediately I got the sensation that the air was leaving the room.
I let go of the woman instinctively, caught my breath and then grabbed her again, holding my breath as if diving under water.
My lungs burned and I could feel what she was going through. What I couldn’t do was stop it. I poured my ability to change her body into her and just allowed it to do whatever it could but there was technically nothing wrong with her. She believed she wasn’t getting enough air and her body was responding to that belief.
I drove into her mind, seeking the source of the problem but something shoved me back out. By the time I shook off the effect and caught my breath again, she lay still.
“No! No no no no no no no no!” I ripped the blindfold off and her eyes were wide open and blank. Oddly enough, I found her mark. It was a small star next to her right eye. And it was gray.
Everyone surged forward. Erin asked, “What’s wrong?”
I held my hand out to her. “Take my hand, ground me here.”
She took my hand and knelt next to me. Chloe and Renée took up positions around me, laying their hands on my back.
I again dove into the woman’s mind. Immediately I was swallowed up in darkness.
Looking around, I saw nothing. Lots and lots of nothing. I tried seeking the woman like I had done with Renée, but I didn’t have a bond with her. I moved in every conceivable direction, but there was only the infinite nothingness of the Void. There would be no way for me to find her, no way for me to bring her back.
I looked up and felt Erin, Chloe and Renée still there. I went to them and sat up on the floor.
Chloe looked scared. Erin knew that I was unsuccessful without me saying anything. Renée leaned into my back.
Gingerly, I pulled away from the woman’s body on the floor. Things had just become much more complicated.
A phone began ringing. It was mine, back in the bedroom. Chloe just got up and got it.
Caller ID showed nothing. It didn’t even say “No Name, No Number.”
I flipped open the phone and put it to my ear. “You’re a little late, Whisper.”
“The first attacker has failed, but there will be more Ral.”
“How do you know this?” I got up and began pacing.
“That is what I do. Unfortunately, it has also become my liability.”
“That’s rich. What kind of liability could it be to know how events turn out for other people?”
“The kind that would have the same people sending attackers to me.”
That got my attention. I stopped and listened intently at the phone. “You’ve been attacked?”
The others looked at one another nervously and then back to me.
“Yes, but not as directly as yourself. As you already know, I have many safeguards in place to conceal my true identity. And as of right now the only person I can trust is you.”
“You’re not just calling to advise me then, are you?”
“No, I need to meet you.”
I shook my head but knew she couldn’t see it. “I’m in New York, not Texas.”
“There are times you can be very frustrating in not accepting what others say, Ral. I’m in New York too. I’m standing in the alley right across the street from your hotel.”
“I take it you want to meet now.”
“Yes, please. Time is of great importance. You have to get your girls and self out of the hotel or there will be many others there looking for you.”
“Got it. I’ll put them in a cab and meet you in the alley.” Erin gave me a part curious, part confused look at that.
“I didn’t think you would leave.”
“No, I want to make sure the fight stays here and doesn’t follow them.” I answered Whisper as much as Erin.
“Very good. New York will suit our purposes perfectly.”
“I will tell you when you meet me,” and with that he hung up.
“Ral, you can’t stay. Whoever sent this woman will send more. They don’t even care about those they send, killing them when they fail!” Erin was starting to lose it.
“And that’s why I’m going to act as live bait. I want you, Chloe and Renée out of the city before night fall, and I want whoever this is to know that I’m staying. Hopefully they’re too intent on getting to me to worry about you.”
Chloe looked too stunned to speak. Renée seemed shocked but didn’t look it.
“Whisper says more are on the way already. Please, do as I ask. As soon as I know you’re safe then I can go in a different direction and hide too. Okay?”
Erin nodded and hugged me again. “God, I hope you’re right Ral. I don’t want anything to happen to you but we can’t do anything to defend ourselves.”
I pulled her back and looked her in the eyes. “Yes you can. Take my laptop with you. It has a copy of Master PC in it. Use it if you have to. Okay?”
She nodded. We had spent a great deal of time writing up defensive skills and such in plain text to copy and paste into the command window of anyone’s profile. We had tested many of them to make sure they did exactly what we intended but there were a couple we were afraid to test. I only hoped they wouldn’t have to use those commands.
“Ral, maybe I can help,” offered Renée.
I knew what she was thinking. With her new control over her ability to change appearance she could blend in with crowds. “I appreciate the offer Renée. But if they catch you it won’t matter what your appearance is. They will still have you.”
Erin and Chloe had gotten up to go start packing but stopped for this. “What do you mean?” Chloe asked both me and Renée.
“I’m sorry for not getting to tell you too. Things have been moving too fast.” I stepped up to Renée and took her hand. “Show them.”
She smiled at me and then at Erin and Chloe. She made some changes to herself and then went back to the Renée we had all grown accustomed to. Erin and Chloe were shocked. It was a day of shocks, but things couldn’t slow down now.
“Renée, go with them. Help them pack and tell them about the meeting. I’ve got to call Michael.”
She nodded, knowing that I would still refuse her help. She turned and stopped while looking at the woman on the floor. “Ral, if someone was able to kill this girl without even having her in sight then wouldn’t that mean…”
I don’t think she wanted to think of me falling to similar circumstances. “I don’t think so. There had to be some kind of connection between her and whoever killed her. Her reaction was completely in her mind. There was nothing physically wrong with her.”
“Is it possible someone used Master PC on her?”
I looked down at the woman too. “If I knew her name I would try to find out.”
“It doesn’t look like she has anywhere too keep any ID,” Renée quipped. She actually smirked.
I called for Chloe. She came in and looked down at the woman too, only because that’s what Renée and I were doing. “You said she came up earlier to see if we needed anything, right?”
I took her hand and sought the memory. The woman was dressed in a hotel staff outfit. When Chloe had opened the door, the woman introduced herself. “Hi, I’m Laura with the “W”…” Chloe had even looked at the name on the woman’s chest. It too said Laura.
“Thank you Chloe,” I said to her and kissed her hand. She smiled and went back to packing. Erin came in carrying my laptop.
“I didn’t ask for this,” I said teasing.
“I know, but I heard what you and Renée said and knew you’d need it,” she said as she handed it to me. I kissed her hand too and she left.
After booting up the computer, I pulled up the program.
Renée said, “You know how many Laura’s there could be within a hundred miles of here?”
I had already started the search and had the answer. “Less than I was thinking. Only a little over a thousand.”
Renée rolled her eyes. She sat down next to me and looked at the screen too. There were portraits of everyone who had a first name of Laura. “It’s going to take hours to go through all of those faces to find her.”
There was an advanced option and I clicked that. The screen shifted and the search criteria expanded to include other general information. “Go look and see what color her eyes are,” I said.
Renée got up and found out. “Blue.”
I typed that in as well as dark brown for hair. For overall build I put in athletic. Then I hit search again. “That’s better: fifteen.”
Renée returned to the couch with me. Immediately she pointed to one face. “There.”
I double-click on the face. A body appeared on the screen. It was laying in the same pose as the woman on the floor. However, the command box was empty except for the word some of the kind of code Renée and I each had.
“Looks like if anyone used the program on her wiped out any commands. Either that or the program does automatically when someone dies.”
“I don’t know. I read a report from New Mexico about this guy and girl who had died of exposure. The girl had exceptionally large breasts. The report said that they were natural but the coroner had made a note that he had known the girl before she died and she never had breasts that big.”
“So if Master PC had been involved in that instance and the software didn’t wipe the commands, that would explain why she was still altered.”
“That means that if someone used Master PC on this girl, they erased the commands just like you said.”
“And that leaves us nothing but her name: Laura Stephens,” I said.
“Call Michael, he may know her. He might know if she was a member of a house or trying to gain admittance to one.”
I nodded and picked up my cell phone. Renée kissed my cheek and then got up to go help pack.
Michael picked up. “Hey Ral. What’s up?”
“Nothing good. I’ve got a lot of bad news and very little time.”
“I’m all ears.”
I told him about the meeting with the agents and the intruder. I explained what had happened to the woman and what Renée and I had already deduced. Finally he asked for the woman’s name and I told him that.
“Laura Stephens? She might be related to Joyce Stephens, who’s a member of House Nickelson. I’ll give her a call and see if she knows her.”
“Don’t say anything that’s happened. The last thing I need is for the police to come looking for me.”
“Actually Ral, you should call the police and let them take your statement. It will be easier if you did.”
“Therein lays the other problem. You remember me telling you about Whisper?”
“He called again. Only this time not only did he warn me that more people were on their way but that he wants to meet me face to face.”
“Any idea why?”
“He says he’s been attacked too but not as directly. He says he and I have a purpose to fulfill here in New York but wouldn’t say more over the phone.”
“Hmm… Then maybe you should leave. At the very least get your girls out of there.”
“That’s already in progress.”
“Good. I’ll make arrangement to have their tickets changed since I’m still here at the terminal.”
“They’re going back to Texas, right?”
“No, have that changed to Charleston, West Virginia.”
“You’re sending them to your parent’s place?”
“Okay. I’ll take care of that and then see what I can track down on Laura.”
“Thank you Michael.”
“No problem on this end, you just get those girls into a cab and be careful.”
Renée, Erin, and Chloe all filed out of the master bedroom with their suitcases. Each was dressed for travel and none were looking happy about me staying behind.
Before I could say anything or even get up to go get dressed, all three broke into reasons why I shouldn’t stay. My death being the most important.
I got up and went to each one, silencing them with a soft kiss and hug. “I will be fine,” I said after all three were quiet. “I want to make sure you will be safe first.”
I went and got dressed. Keeping things simple, I changed into pants, pulled on socks and put on the patent leather boots Renée had bought me and a nice dress shirt. The rest of my belongings were already packed. I put my shorts in with them and then went back to the main room.
The girls were all still standing where I had left them. They were still reluctant to leave me behind. To be honest, I didn’t want to be that far from them either. “Look, I’m having Michael change your tickets to Charleston. You’ll be staying at my parent’s place for a few days at most.”
“And if something happens to you?” Erin asked, tears beginning to form along the edges of her eyes.
I could feel their pain. The thoughts of what their lives would be like without me and though I had argued for so long that they would probably be better off free of me, I found that they could not honestly imagine going home without me. They could not dream of what their lives would be like empty of my presence. Part of me was still shocked by this, but the rest of me understood. I couldn’t imagine my life without them either. I had to make sure they were safe and waiting for me to return to them.
“Look for me in your dreams,” I finally said. “Even the distance between us won’t take that away.”
Erin nodded and rushed me. She hugged me fiercely. Chloe and Renée weren’t far behind.
A knock at the door broke our mood.
I put a finger to my lips and pointed to the master bedroom. The girls picked up all the suitcases, Renée carrying mine as well, and left the room. Once they closed the bedroom door, I went to the main door.
The peephole was black. Someone was covering it. My adrenaline picked up. I moved to the side, away from the door just as it was kicked in.
Two men came in. One large, several inches taller than me, and looking like Mr. Universe. His muscles flexed as he walked in, ready for a fight. The other man was just about my height, lean and wore glasses.
I tapped the big one on the shoulder and showed him what strength was. He doubled over from the punch to the gut and fell to the floor gasping for air. Then I moved around the room, getting a better look at the other man. He watched my every move, keeping up with me even though everything else looked like time had frozen.
“Who are you? What do you want?”
He said nothing but pulled out two knives and started walking toward me.
“Crap,” I said under my breath.