Master PC – Mind Magi
I didn’t know how long I had been out. Waking on the street was enough to realize that I had let things go too far. Too many had suffered at the hands of others. If Maelstrom was any indication, there was no reason I could fathom to allow anyone to control the Master PC server. It was time to shut it down permanently.
Picking myself up off the street, I looked around. Much of the debris was now littered with hail. The scene stirred different memories in me. The strongest was from my grandfather. He had been there to see the arching, branching lightning bolt he had amplified and attempted to direct at Maelstrom. However, it struck my parents. In that instant, that moment of horrific tragedy, their bodies stood rigid, burned with the intensity of the electrical discharge, and then fell like puppets whose strings were cut.
The memory didn’t overwhelm me, taking me to another time, like those Theodore had given me, but it did feed me with anger and the desire for revenge, just as it had with my Grandfather. Though Maelstrom would, undoubtedly, be frustrated with my lack of being dead, and I wanted to go to him and teach him the mistake of not insuring his job was done right the first time, I had to remain true to the duty that I had been given genetically.
I had never held a grudge, never truly hated anyone. No one deserved that, most especially those who had done wrong by me. The conflict of wanting to find and hurt Maelstrom and to let go of the anger and pain he had inflicted was vital. There was nothing wrong with merely putting him to sleep and letting the proper authorities deal with him. However, I was no longer just the average citizen. I was that authority. My title was not only a name of recognition, but a responsibility to uphold the rights of those who had come to me for protection and any collateral targets of those such as Maelstrom.
This was no longer just a matter of resolving an issue. It was not just a matter of putting the wrong things right. It was a matter of justice and I was the only one left in a position and with the tools needed to make sure justice was enforced. Dragon, Phoenix, House Lord, Mind Magi; I was all those things.
Those lingering thoughts of justice and my responsibilities resolved the conflict. I would both allow the pain to pass as well as punish Maelstrom. Even though there was an unspoken rule that the Dragons were not allowed to attack House Leaders, I was thinking more simply: Assault with intent to kill. It was a very real law that applied to him. First Degree Murder was as well. Proving these in a court would only be as difficult as proving my own abilities.
With the Law of Secrecy in jeopardy already, especially because of what I had done to stop the problems that had occurred so very publicly, not to mention that Master PC would change the minds of everyone about the Mind Magi if it was Fiona who controlled the server, bringing Maelstrom in for his crimes would be an absolute necessity.
Turning in a slow circle, I thought about Maelstrom. Finding him was easy, thanks to Michael’s ability. Using Sarah Johnson’s ability, I moved through the shadows. Just as quickly as I felt the sensation of moving through water, it was gone and I was inside an office suite.
Maelstrom stood nearby, talking to someone. “...down where the hostages were.”
Michael’s secondary ability to hide when tracking his target allowed my sudden appearance to go unnoticed.
“And did you make sure he was dead?” asked a female voice.
“No one could have taken that beating and lived. Not even a Mind Magi,” said Maelstrom. I could hear the arrogance in his voice.
I stepped out of the shadows. “You shouldn’t be so over confident about your abilities Maelstrom.”
He turned to face me. He was a couple of inches taller than me with blond, windswept hair, cornflower blue eyes and an expression of confusion.
The female looked at me as well. Her hair was dirty blonde. Her brown eyes took me in. She looked familiar but I couldn’t place her.
Taking advantage of their surprise, I put Maelstrom to sleep and forced the female to her knees. “Tell me your name,” I commanded her.
Her eyes glazed over. “Julie Straub.”
“Are you a Dragon?” I asked.
“Who else is involved in this?”
“Fiona Bennet, Devon Gladstone... Maelstrom... and... and...”
Julie started to shake and froth at the mouth. She was going into some form of convulsions. I laid her back on the floor and started pouring my ability to heal into her. Whatever was happening wasn’t natural. Though I didn’t feel toxins, nerve degradation or organ failure, I did feel the presence of another Mind Magi.
I threw up shields to protect Julie from the attacker, but either I was too late or the other Mind Magi knew enough to bypass my efforts, because within seconds she lay dead before me.
Looking down at her sleep-like form, another memory triggered.
I was walking through the hall of a house. My adopted daughter lived there. She had recently been promoted to Dragon status and would soon leave for training. I had arrived to see her off.
Stepping through an open doorway, I watched her packing her suit case. When she closed it, she turned around and spotted me. It was Julie.
Pulling back to the office suite, I looked down at the older version of her. Part of me felt bad for Theodore. Someone had killed the only child he had raised. Having the full range of emotions to match the memories of raising her, a tear escaped me and fell on her face.
Part of me, the part that felt responsible for what was going on and not having done something sooner, wanted to pull her back from death. The emotions of Theodore’s memories agreed with the impulse. Something else, something dark and otherworldly suggested that doing so would be bad.
Calming myself, I sat back from her and reasoned that she had put herself in the position she now was. She may have not wished to be killed while being involved in the plot affecting so many, but she had to of known the implications of working with others with such ambition to not let anyone stand in their way.
After a moment of silence, I turned to Maelstrom. He was still peacefully sleeping. Leaning over him, I dove into his mind. His defenses were up and as good as the other Dragons I had encountered in the same way, and like with them, I was able to sweep his defenses aside and seek the information I wanted.
I saw the faces of those involved. Julie, Fiona, another Dragon named Devon Gladstone, and House Lord Blake Morehouse.
His face affected me the most, but on reflection, it made sense. He fit the suspicion I had had about one of the House Leaders being involved in the kidnappings. He hadn’t been present at the cinema when the hostages had been released, there was also no one left who might have been related to him.
Just how involved was Lord Morehouse? Was he another pawn, working under the influence of the program or a willing participate? Part of me hoped he was the one pulling all the strings.
I still wanted to give Fiona the benefit of a doubt, but knowing that Sandra was involved in the creation of the program and wanted to use it to help give the Mind Magi freedom made that difficult. I had to find her. I had to know what she really wanted with the program.
Morehouse or Fiona? Who to look for first?
Fiona wasn’t an immediate threat. At least I hoped not.
Thinking about Lord Morehouse, I knew where to find him.
I started to get up, but looking at Maelstrom, I realized there was one very important thing I had to do before I left. With a growing understanding of how different Mind Magi worked, I knew our minds were the key to our abilities. Physiologically, our brains controlled all aspects of our bodies, and that would include accessing our special abilities.
After removing Maelstrom’s access to his abilities, I stood and focused on Lord Morehouse again. Prepared for a fight that would rival anything the Dragons had offered, I traveled through the shadows to his location.
I had no more than arrived and heard Lord Morehouse say, “Welcome Lord Setton. I have been waiting for you.”
He sat at a desk in a plush office. The desk looked antique, as did several other pieces of furniture. The hard wood floor had two large oriental rugs to break up the space. Soft tans and leathers helped ease the sense of authority, but didn’t hide it. However, my anxiety put me on guard.
“You look upset. Is something troubling you?” Lord Morehouse asked.
I looked at him, making eye contact. “Many things are troubling me.”
He sat back in his chair and held out a hand to another chair beside me. “Sit. We can talk about them. See what we can do.”
I didn’t want to sit. “I’d be more comfortable standing.”
He was giving me the impression that he had done nothing wrong. As if the memories I had gained from Maelstrom were wrong.
“Talk. Tell me what’s on your mind,” he said.
“Several things,” I started. “The kidnappings... The Dragons... Master PC...”
“You mentioned that before,” he said. “I didn’t think a computer program could do what you suggested.”
This was confusing. The emotions I felt coming from Morehouse suggested that he really did not know anything about what I had seen.
“I found out that the Dragons were being manipulated by Master PC. However, I still don’t know who was pulling their strings.”
He nodded and said, “I can understand your frustration about that, but I understood you had already freed the Dragons of the program and freed the hostages.”
I nodded. Doing so brought a buzzing sensation in the back of my head to my attention. “Yes... but that still doesn’t explain why the hostages were taken in the first place.”
Lord Morehouse leaned forward. “Why do you have to know?”
I looked at him. “Because... They could do it again. They could do worse.” The buzzing was turning into a low hum.
“I think you should have a seat. You don’t look well.”
Something told me sitting would be a bad idea, though I really wanted to sit down.
“Sit down Lord Setton.”
The urge to sit was stronger. The hum and pressure in my head increased. “No,” I said.
“You are strong. Stronger than she suggested,” said Lord Morehouse.
I looked at Lord Morehouse again. “Stop this.”
He just watched me for a moment. “I can’t.”
“Then you are involved.”
“Yes,” he said simply. He was at perfect ease. What he had done, what he had participated in, and what he intended to do had no adverse affect on his emotional state. It didn’t bother him.
The noise in my ears and the pressure in my head suddenly grew exponentially. It felt like my head was going to explode.
“Simply do what you’re told and the pain will ease,” Lord Morehouse said softly.
I didn’t know what he was doing to me. If he were causing physical damage I would simply heal, but this was as if he were simply making me believe I was in pain.
Inspiration struck. I plugged my ears and started humming loudly. The pain and inner noise ceased.
Lord Morehouse looked disappointed. I watched him stand up and straighten his suit. He was looking me over like he might a child who had done wrong and how best to punish him.
I stopped humming and unplugged my ears. The buzz started again, but there was no pain.
Speeding up, I moved around his desk.
To my surprise, Lord Morehouse watched my movement perfectly, as if I were not moving any faster than normal. While that was expected, I wasn’t simply trying to move faster than him, but faster than his buzzing power.
When I reached him, I didn’t bother to simply touch and command him to sleep, I knew he would be able to resist me, instead I used the Tae Kwon Do I had learned the previous summer and used a diagonal snap kick to his thigh in an attempt to put him on his knees.
He took the shot and stumbled back to remain standing.
I was still moving very fast and the kick had caused him to slow down. Using the advantage, I moved in with a combination of punches.
Morehouse dodged both attacks and seemed to jump across the room.
Worried that he was running and could get away, I looked around. The instant I found him, I rushed him, attempting to simply body-check him into the cabinet behind him.
Again, he dodged me. And I ended up crashing head-long into the cabinet.
I heard him laugh and ask, “What is this? What are you doing Ral?”
After extracting myself from the furniture, I faced him again. “I’m going to stop you.”
Morehouse shook his head. “No you’re not. Certainly not like this.”
Part of me knew he was right. He had more Mind Magi to pull powers from, he had years of experience with his abilities, and obviously he could move as fast, if not faster, than me. Still, his condescending manner was making me mad. I knew I couldn’t let my emotions get the better of me, but what else did I have?
“What’s the matter, Lord Setton?” He said “Lord” as if it were a perversion, or more that I was a perversion to the title. “Can’t you come up with anything clever? Why not just command me to sleep? Or show me your true strength the way you did with Russ and Roy?”
“You’re the one who’s been controlling the Dragons.” It wasn’t a question.
Lord Morehouse nodded. “I have.”
“Did you also program them to go the extra effort when dealing with me?”
A wide grin spread across his face as he nodded, but that grin faded and shifted, changing to a grimace. “But they failed, just as our previous Dragons failed to find you as an infant.”
I watched him, and felt anger build within him. Something else was there too, but it was smothered by his rage.
“You... an infant, and full grown, fully trained Dragons could not find you.”
“My parents hid me well.”
He nodded. “Yes, but in the end, they are dead and you will be too.” The additional emotion finally peaked through. He was afraid.
“Why is my death so important?” I asked. “Why are you so afraid of me?”
His eyes widened and he instantly relaxed. “I am not...”
“You hide your emotions well, Lord Morehouse,” I interrupted, “but I am more than the sum of my parts. I can feel anyone’s emotions. I can even tell when they lie. And right now, you’re not only lying to me, but to yourself as well.”
His anger flared again. “If anyone lies, it is you!”
I didn’t understand his fear, but his anger was obvious. He was angry at me for being outside of his control, and he was angry at himself for being afraid. “What makes you think that I’m lying? You have an entire House of Mind Magi you can pull abilities from. Don’t any of them have the ability to discern the truth?”
He stared at me for a second. Though I knew what he was feeling, I had no idea what he was thinking. “You self-righteous punk. You think that just because you’re out there trying to rescue hostages and save others from being controlled by Master PC that you’re the only one who is helping?”
“If you’re talking about Sandra McMillan’s dream of allowing the Mind Magi to be free of the Law of Secrecy, you didn’t have to go to so much trouble. It would have been easy to simply abolish the law and allow everyone to mingle at their leisure.”
He shook his head. “No. It would not be that simple.”
“And why not?” I asked. “This country, the world, is not a dark medieval realm anymore.”
“Oh yes it is,” he said with a somewhat manic grin to go with it. “Do you really think even the United States government would allow us to walk the streets without some strategy to find all of us and haul us away should the need arise?”
The duality of his question and what was really happening couldn’t have escaped him, but I pointed it out nonetheless. “So that’s your justification for what you’re doing now? Making sure everyone will be perfectly happy to accept us as if we were simply long, lost family members?”
“It is the best solution.”
“And you expect that no one will ever suspect or investigate where we came from, why we were never noticed before, or any other trivial pursuit that may lead to more dangerous questions?”
“The few that attempt such pursuits can be dealt with.”
“With the power of Master PC to back you, that is true. Otherwise, it’s back to depending on the few Mind Magi who possess the power to alter memories or simply control others to do your dirty work for you,” I said. “Unfortunately, there’s not enough of those to go around and handle all the cases you would deem necessary.”
Morehouse grinned. “You’re correct.”
“Then wouldn’t it be an awful thing if the government or some other cooperation found out about Master PC and attempted to wrest it from your control?”
“They couldn’t. Even if it were possible for them to find the server, we would retain control of it.”
“You’re living in a fantasy world if you think no mundane organization knows about it.”
Morehouse looked me over. “You don’t have any proof.”
“I don’t need it. It’s as simple as anything else the government might investigate. They look into businesses that deal badly, they’ll look into the Mind Magi as well.”
Again, Morehouse smiled. “As long as we have control of the right people and simply direct them to ignore us as any kind of threat, no investigation would be initiated.”
I nodded. It was that simple for him. Any conceivable threat to his control over what was going to happen would simply be stopped by using Master PC. The question was: did he have anyone in his House who already had similar abilities? “If you had to recruit my parents for the creation of Master PC, and then abandon the project after they died, then I’m guessing they were special in how their powers worked.”
“There are hundreds of thousands of Mind Magi all around the world,” he said. “Any number of them could have the potential to reproduce what your parents had accomplished.”
“Yes, but how many are in your house?” I asked.
As Lord Morehouse stared at me, trying to rationalize a question, I sped up and threw myself at him again.
Hitting him in the mid-section with my shoulder, I drove him back. We slammed into his desk. His body took the brunt of the blow and buckled over the top of the desk, but my continued momentum forced us through the desk and into the wall behind it.
Without waiting for Morehouse to recover, I pressed my hands to his head. He was too shaken and hurt to respond in any way. I used that to my advantage and physically removed his access to his abilities.
When Morehouse finally tried to respond, using his abilities, his shock to find he couldn’t was intense. “Wha... What have you done to me?”
I ignored his question, still pinning him to the jagged hole we had made in the wall. “I’ve banished you, Blake Morehouse. You will no longer have access to your abilities or those you gain from your House Followers.”
“You can’t do that. I am a House Lord! I am the head of the Mind Magi Council!”
“Those are merely titles to which you no longer have rights to hold. And now,” I said, still intent on find out what Fiona’s play was in the hostages and Dragons, “I will find out what you don’t want me to know. I will have the information on the full plans you’ve put together and who all is involved.”
Surprisingly, Morehouse was very calm outwardly. Inside, there was no more anger, but he was still afraid of me. Now that I had taken away his powers, his fear was growing rapidly.
“You can’t do this,” he said more softly. “You can’t destroy our world.”
“I’m not the one who did this Morehouse. I’m not the one bent on any kind of destruction. You and your partners-in-crime are to blame. I’m simply trying to clean it up and help everyone recover.”
“But you are the child in the prophecy. You’re the first sign of destruction.”
“If I’m going to destroy anything, it will be the Master PC server.”
Morehouse relaxed under my grip. “Then I was right and Fiona’s hope that you would understand her dream is worthless.”
“Fiona hoped I would understand her dream?” I asked. “What dream? Because I don’t think she was planning on you kidnapping and sending Dragons to kill me.”
“I may have been the one to coordinate it all, but she was the one who came up with it.”
I let Morehouse go and stepped back. He hadn’t lied. His emotions were relieved, but a different fear crept into him. “You’ve told me and now you’re afraid of her retribution.”
Morehouse shook his head. “No, I am only afraid of how long she will keep me on the edge before she... kills... me...”
He started to gag and then dropped to his knees. Froth formed and dripped from his mouth. His eyes rolled back into his head and he started turning blue. Within a few seconds, Lord Morehouse had fallen to the floor, dead.
Morehouse had not killed Julie Straub. It had been Fiona.