Master PC – Mind Magi
Part Six—Tangled Web
Chapter Forty-Six—Darkness Before Dawn
New York City at night is really a nice sight. The lights, the life of the city, the hum of its people coming and going, I couldn’t think of anywhere better.
Home, of course, was better.
Getting home, having my whole family together was my next goal. It was simple, very realistic and so very needed.
However, the city that never sleeps was waking up from a nap. As it were.
People were out on the streets. They talked. They cried and questioned. The topic of conversation: What was Master PC?
Of course, with the server down, the program wouldn’t work. Attempts to log on only resulted in a message that the server was unreachable. I had tried it already to confirm what Fiona had said.
Fiona slept. She would have a nice dreamless sleep for the rest of the night. As for the soldiers she and I had hurt, I had healed their wounds and left them to wake when they were ready. I never did find Conway or Ellison. Maybe they ran when they realized what might happen. Couldn’t blame them, but they still posed a threat that I might have to face some time in the future.
At the moment, I wasn’t worried about them. I was having a nice stroll through the city streets, watching the denizens pose their questions, hearing radios blaring warnings and watching televisions flash news scenes of the phenomenon that had not only affected the city but apparently the whole of the planet.
As I passed one shop, some of the people stopped me to ask if I had passed out. I just shook my head and continued walking. I didn’t want to answer any questions just then. I just wanted to get to my girls.
Cars began buzzing the streets. Cabs passed by and I finally waved one down. After telling the driver where I wanted to go, he talked none stop about what had happened to him and everyone he had already talked to. I just sat quietly, taking in his words, but not really hearing him.
When I arrived at the motel where Charlotte and Chloe were staying, I realized that I didn’t have my wallet. I asked the cabbie to wait for payment and turned to find Chloe bounding toward me.
“Master!” she cried with glee as she jumped into my arms. I giggled with her and hugged her tight. After a quick kiss I asked her to pay the cabbie. She had to pull her credit card out of one of the cups of her dress. The cabbie didn’t mind at all.
After he left, we went inside. Charlotte was fuming at her computer. When she saw me she asked, “Ral, what the hell is going on? I can’t log back into Master PC.”
I sat down on the bed and Chloe happily sat on my lap. I held her to me as I answered Charlotte. “That’s because the server was fried. There won’t be a Master PC anymore.”
I’d like to say that Charlotte’s expression was priceless, but she was too upset by the news.
Turned out she only felt special because she had access to the program. Even though I had made her immune to its effects, she knew the power the program had possessed and felt diminished by the news.
I called her to me and consoled her. The thought crossed my mind that I might be able to endow her with the same ability as myself to modify people without the computer, but I let the idea go. One person with that power was already too much.
Sally called the room. I answered and confirmed everything was okay. She wanted details and I started to tell her, but then I realized that I would end up retelling what had happened with each group of my girls that I met. There was also the thought that I might have to answer others too.
The Mind Magi Council would want to know what had happened, especially with the death of Lord Morehouse. With the world aware that they had been under the influence of a computer program, investigations would spring up to find out how it had been possible. Inevitably, those investigations would lead to the discovery of the Mind Magi.
Sally called my name for the umpteenth time. I finally told her that we would talk later and I hung up.
Charlotte and Chloe started asking what was wrong when I turned on the television in the room and began flipping through the channels. I told them that I had to find someone. I felt their confusion but knew the answers to their questions would be met if they just paid attention. None of my girls were without intelligence.
Then I found her. Linda Penn was giving a short report on a local problem as a result of the short term control Master PC had exhibited over everyone.
I dialed information on the phone and got transferred to Linda’s news station. After a short wait, I asked to speak with Linda. Of course, I was told that she was in the field and unreachable. I told the nice lady to call Linda and have her call me at the motel. Of course, I pushed her to follow through.
Linda called about ten minutes later.
“Yes. I was told to call you. I’m kind of busy at the moment, I have another report I have to make...”
I interrupted her. “Cancel it. I have an exclusive for you that will explain everything that has happened.”
For a few heartbeats, there was silence. Then she came back softly. “Are you saying... more of your kind had something to do with this?”
“Is that for the record?”
“Holy cow. My boss won’t believe any of it. I’m still having problems getting my head wrapped around it.”
“I know. That’s why I’m going to let you interview me live.”
“Live? But, how are you... you know... gonna prove you can do what you do?”
I smiled. “I can do a lot more than just heal wounds Ms. Penn. So, I’m not going to ask anyone to get shot.”
“Okay, that’s good to know. It’s still going to take some effort to convince my boss though. He may not even allow me to do the interview. He might think it too important for someone as inexperienced as me.”
“Tell him I said you do the interview or I won’t talk.”
“Oh, that’s all?” I could hear the sarcasm. “Okay. I’ll tell him. Where do I meet you if he says okay?”
I gave her the address of the motel. “I’ll be out front.”
After I hung up Charlotte asked, “What are you going to tell her?”
I reached up and stroked her cheek. “Everything.”
Charlotte and Chloe just looked at one another in response. While they puzzled over the truth of that, I went to the bathroom for a quick shower.
When the news van arrived, I realized that other news networks must have gotten wind of what was going on. Linda and her cameraman led what looked like half a dozen different reporters.
Linda wasn’t sure what to ask. For that matter, I’m not sure I would have known what to say, but the first words out of my mouth were, “What you’re about to see are not tricks of photography or special effects. These are not prepared stunts or any kind of hoax.”
With that I turned and went to a nearby parking pole. You’ve seen them. Short steel poles buried several feet into the ground to keep drivers from running through the buildings with their vehicles.
The cameras followed me as I grabbed one of the parking poles and simply pulled it up out of the ground. Concrete was still attached as was a good amount of earth.
Settling the pole on my shoulder, like a sack of potatoes, I walked back to the cameras. “Linda, could you confirm for me that this is not some trick. Tell them what this is.”
I set the pole on the ground and it cracked the pavement of the parking area.
Linda walked up to me and ran her hand over the metal. To the camera she said, “It feels like solid steel.” She even attempted to rap on it with her knuckles but there wasn’t a loud enough sound for the cameras to pick up.
I laid the pole over on the ground and said, “Try to just roll it.”
Linda handed me her microphone and bent to the task. She could barely get it to roll back and forth much less get anywhere.
I handed back the microphone and picked up the pole.
All of the lights and vans had drawn the attention of some of the other people in the motel. Several were standing outside their rooms watching. I held my hand out to them. “Does anyone want a new car?”
Several of them laughed but one guy raised his hand. I waved him over.
“For the record, what’s your name?”
“Steven Foster,” he said.
“Steven, are one of these cars yours?”
He nodded. “That one,” he said, pointing at an old Buick.
“Okay Steven, I’ll tell you what. I’ll buy that car off of you with another car of your choice.”
He laughed and looked at the cameras. “Are you serious?”
I nodded. “Absolutely.” I twisted around and called, “Chloe!”
She ran out to me, the cameras turning to follow her. I hoped her appearance wouldn’t cause too much of a problem, but I had little time. She was dressed decently enough.
“Do you have your cell phone?” I asked and she nodded. Take Steven over there and call the bank. Have the system play our current balance so he understands that my offer is real.
She let Steven away and I turned back to the cameras. “I would appreciate it if everyone stepped back a bit.”
While they backed up, I went and got the car. I didn’t care who saw. I pulled at the bumper and dragged the car away from the others. Once it was clear, I proceeded to pummel the car with the parking pole.
It didn’t take long.
After I finished, I called Steven and Chloe over. “I hope you’ve given this some thought.” Steven nodded. He wanted a Dodge Charger, the latest model. I got his information and let him go.
Then I turned to Chloe. “Thank you, my servant.”
Chloe blushed all the way down to the tops of her upper globes. “Does that mean I can...” she looked back at the cameras and finished, “call you Master, publicly?”
She yipped and jumped into my arms. After several kisses all about my face, she slid from me and went back to the room.
I turned back to the cameras. “What you’ve just seen,” and I turned to indicate the car, “is only a small portion of the powers I possess.” Then I held my hand out to Linda. She was wide eyed but took my hand and allowed me to pull her out in front of the cameras with me. “Earlier today, there was an attack at my store. Gunmen had opened fire on a group of reporters there to cover that opening and Linda Penn was hit.”
I looked at Linda and she just looked back at me. “I did the only thing I knew to do.” Looking back at the cameras I continued, “I healed her. Instead of hiding what I could do and allowing her to die, I saved her. I didn’t do it for glory or for prestige. I did it because it was the right thing to do.”
I got closer to the cameras. “Late last night, New York City, The State of New York, the New England area, The United States, the entire planet fell under the influence of a program called Master PC.”
Linda took her queue. “But how can a computer program do that?”
I looked at her. “The software itself was merely a means by which to access powers that had been embedded in the circuitry of a server by others like me.”
“You’re saying others with powers had endowed a computer server with the ability to take over everyone’s minds?”
I nodded. “Yes, exactly.”
She looked at the camera and then back at me. “But how are we awake now? What happened?”
I couldn’t take credit for what had happened. “I had confronted the person responsible for the server. She had powers all her own and when A special forces grouped stormed the room, she attempted to retaliate using her powers. She could through electrical arcs and that power fried the server, making it useless.”
“Oh my! Were there any casualties?”
I shook my head. “No. Several of the soldiers were hurt but I healed their wounds before I left.”
“But what about the person who had attacked the soldiers? If she attacked them, they would have responded with force, correct?”
I nodded. “Yes, that is correct. However, she is not dead. She had an ability to borrow powers from others around her. She borrowed my ability to heal and survived.”
Linda glanced at the cameras and other reporters. “But if she can heal wounds that fast, how can anyone stop her?”
I looked at her. “I said she had that power. She no longer does. I took it away. I took away all of her powers and put her to sleep so the authorities could take her into custody.”
“Was she the only one involved?”
“No, but like her, the others are no longer any more of a danger than any normal person. Their powers have all been removed.”
One of the other reporters stepped forward, a question burning in her mind. “If there are others out there like you, what should we do? What can we do if something like this happens again?”
“That’s what I’m here for, that’s why I’m taking the time to inform you and everyone else of this. Should this or something similar happen, first and foremost, keep a level head. Panic never helps. Second, ask. Just simply ask. Most of us are just trying to get by like everyone else. Most of us don’t have the extraordinary abilities I’ve exhibited here. A vast majority have very simple, very passive abilities that only give them a slight edge in rare situations. As for the rest, well, they’ll have to answer to me regarding the use of their powers and then to the courts for any crimes they commit.”
Another reporter asked, “How do we know who have powers like that and who doesn’t?”
“That’s not for me to say. There are no identifying marks that you could distinguish,” which was true. Only Mind Magi and their Schiavi could see the marks we possessed. “If someone wishes to share that with everyone else that is for them to decide. It’s no different than divulging your sexual preferences or anything else of such a personal nature.”
Someone else asked, “How long have people like you been around?”
“All through human history,” I said.
“Why haven’t we ever known about you before?” someone shouted.
“Because as our own society, we have had a law regarding secrecy. It was our own law and has been upheld for centuries.”
“Then why are you breaking your own law now?” asked Linda.
“Because sooner or later, after what has happened tonight, someone would have found out about us. Better to step into the light and present ourselves than continue to hide and hope to go unnoticed.”
Then I felt it. There was fear. One of those who were scared asked. “How can we trust you or anyone else like you?”
I let out a long sigh. “We are everywhere. We are your neighbors, your relatives and your friends. We are your countrymen, your religious brothers and sisters and your strangers. We are your enemies foreign and domestic. We are you. If you don’t trust someone, you don’t trust them. There’s nothing I or anyone else can do to change that. I can only hope that my openness and honesty leads to peaceful relations.”
With that, I turned and went back to the Motel.
The reporters turned to their cameras and made final comments regarding what I had to say.
It only took a minute for someone to come to my door and knock.
Linda Penn was standing there when I answered. “I did have one more question,” she said.
I nodded and noticed that she didn’t have a mike or a cameraman following her.
“How can I get in touch with you... should something come up?”
I smiled. Chloe brought me one of my business cards. I handed it to Linda. “This is a number to an answering service. Leave a message and I’ll get it soon after. You can reach me from anywhere in the world.”
She smiled and took the card. “Thank you.”
As she walked back to her news van, Chloe asked, “Do you think things will be okay?”
“Nope,” I said instantly. “There’ll be an investigation. I could be brought up on criminal charges for attacking the unit that shot at me and Fiona. Then there will be attempts to find out more about me and the other Mind Magi by various agencies and even corporations.”
I turned to look at her and Charlotte. “Not to mention another meeting of the Mind Magi Council to determine what should be done about my disregard of our only law.”
“Do you think they’ll try to banish you for that?” Charlotte asked.
I shrugged. “I don’t know, but we’ll find out.”
Master PC—The Mind Magi
Sally and I were sitting in the back yard of our new house. A table just big enough for two was laden with a very delectable meal. The sun was just grazing the western skyline of the city as we began our meal. Music drifted to us through a small stereo I had setup on the back porch. A warm breeze swept only a minute portion of the Texas heat away from us. We both sat there eating and sweating.
It had been months since my trip to New York. My interview in the early morning hours on the outskirts of the city had been played time and again. I had become a household name. Certainly not my intention at the time, but like anyone who does their duty, others seemed only to want to show their appreciation.
Proving Master PC was capable of what I had said had something of a dilemma. With the help of the best programmer I knew, Charlotte, and my own abilities, I demonstrated what could have happened. Of course it was simply on a small scale. Like proving one can hypnotize someone into forgetting a number, or barking when they hear a bell.
The time spent in court had been short though. Fiona freely admitted to her attempts to “help the world.” That was all it took for a conviction. I wasn’t present for the sentencing hearing. It had been closed court after the original case. Several people had made it known that if they could get at her, she would never have to worry about prison.
Thoughts of Fiona still crept up on me. Theodore’s memories weren’t going to go away any more than my powers would. And there were still nights when I would wake up thinking Fiona was laying next to me. I would have to clear my eyes and take a good look at the woman lying next to me to realize that she was not Fiona.
I never told any of my girls about that particular problem.
Speaking of my girls, the weddings we had discussed worked out mostly without problems. We would invite in each of the girls families for the week leading up to the day of the wedding. The following week would be just me and whichever of my girls I had just married. Everyone agreed to the arrangements. It wasn’t just a matter of spending special time with each of them but also making them all feel special. Not a single one of them had a complaint.
Of course there were minor problems. Occasionally I would have to help out one of my House Members, but it was never anything that would take more than an hour or two.
To say I had been busy during those months was an understatement, but I wouldn’t have changed any of it for anything else.
The meal Sally and I were sharing was on the last night of our week together after our wedding. An attempt at recreating the night we had broken up, but with a different ending in mind.
Of course, there were also children to enjoy as well. Jeri had hers first, a boy. We named him Nathanial. Personally, I thought of the name as a play on my birth name, Nautikuus. Jeri had always liked the name.
The visions I had had back during winter break were coming true as well. Mandy, Tabitha, and Alexandria were all pregnant. They were each still in their first trimesters but time would progress and more and more doctor’s visits would occur. Anna was a big help with that. Being a nurse at Children’s Hospital in Dallas gave her access and kept the doctor’s from figuring out that I was a polygamist. Yeah, I know, a dirty word, but it’s the truth of the matter.
Even with those girls pregnant, none of us use protection.
Sally has been understanding of everything going on. Unlike the rest of the girls however, she’s never developed a taste for female flesh. She simply waits for our time together and makes the most of it when it comes around. Just like this dinner.
I had called it, our last date, two-point-oh. Sally had smiled when I had brought her out to the setting. I had plans for dancing and even sleeping bags rolled up next to the porch for some post-dinner entertainment.
Since we were in a city rather than back in the countryside, the stars were not as bright. That didn’t stop us from lying back on the grass and looking up at them.
“Ral, do you think anything will ever be normal again?” she asked suddenly.
I chuckled. “What do you mean by normal?”
She clutched my hand and pulled it over onto her belly. “Well, like the night we broke up. I know we’re re-living it and all, but what about the others? Don’t you think they think about nights like this? About wanting to get to do something special with you. Just the two of you?”
“I know they do,” I said. “But you’re saying this as if it happens everyday.” I looked over at her. “How many guys do you know that have a dozen women sharing them?”
She shrugged. “I know that’s not normal. Unless you live in Utah. But even with your abilities, nothing is normal any more.”
I looked back up at the stars and pointed. “You see that? That’s normal. No matter what happens to me or you or anyone else. That will always be normal.”
Sally looked over at me and I met her gaze. “Yes it is.” Then she scooted closer and kissed me.
She rolled over on top of me, our kissing getting heavier. Then she sat up from me as I squeezed her butt. “What do you think you’re doing?”
I stopped for a moment, searching my mind for possibilities. “Well, I’m groping your very sexy butt for one thing.”
“Oh, really? And what makes you think that’s okay?”
The look on her face had been very serious. I was suddenly worried that she might have been under the influence of my Charm for the months we had been together and for whatever reason she was suddenly free of it. “Are you okay?” I asked.
She smiled at me, kissed my nose and said, “Just playing hard-to-get.” With that, she jumped up and took off for the house giggling.
I flipped over and took off after her. By the time I caught up with her in the living room, the phone rang.
I had tackled Sally into her couch, and was laying kisses all across her upper chest when she said, “Oh, poo!”
I looked up. “We don’t have to answer it.”
She said, “I know, but what if it’s one of your House members with an emergency?”
It had been weeks since the last incident, but I had made the promise to all of my House members that I would be available should something come up.
“I can only hope you’re wrong,” I said as I got up.
Picking up the phone I said, “Hello?”
“Ral, good.” It was Renee.
I looked at Sally. “Renee? What’s up?”
“Look, I know I’m interrupting and you said to only call if it’s an emergency...”
“It’s okay, what happened? Is everyone okay?”
“Everyone is fine, but I’m not. Ral, I’m spooked.”
“Spooked? About what?”
“Do you have a computer?”
I shot Sally another look. “A computer? Why?”
“Just get to it. I’ll send you what I have.”
I shrugged and followed Sally to her computer. Once it was booted up Renee sent the email. It had a subject of “Master PC Reborn.”
“This has got to be a joke,” I told Renee.
“Just open it and see for yourself,” she said.
Sally left me at the computer as I downloaded the file and ran it. The installation was quick and clean and when I ran the icon on the desktop, the familiar opening appeared: “Welcome to the Master Command Center, where the Master allows you to become a virtual god to the people around you. Now, you possess the power to bend their reality to your specifications. You are the Master’s representative.”
“Ral!” Sally called. I spun around to see what she was looking at. The television was on. The news had a breaking story about the release of a program calling itself Master PC.