Chapter 6 Tia's POV
We woke up to an alarm call. As usual we had a lot to do today. I put on the largest sports bra that I had, which still felt too tight. Shopping definitely needed to be on the to do list today, preferably before that TV interview that Roni had scheduled. My track suite, at least, still fit me. A quick brush of my hair and Vee, Katie and I went to a grassy area near the swimming pool to practice Taigoa. Katie still took her walking stick with her, but wasn't using it much.
We went through the form a couple of times. Katie managed the first time but had to rest about half way through the second. That was still amazing as far as I was concerned. I think she was a little frustrated. I knew from my experience when you spend more time with your body being right, when it is not again, you can get annoyed with it.
We couldn't spend any time sparring since we needed to get ready and depart for VDR headquarters for our appointment with Dr Marsden. Fortunately, the suite had two bathrooms and Roni was already finished when we got back to our room. We got ourselves ready as quick as we could and set off in a taxi. No more limos organised by VDR entertainment, we were on our own. I figured a taxi was random enough to be safe, but it still wasn't as secure as I wanted.
Roni brought the smallest pile that we had to go through. The offers of help, no favors required. We all went through some and then discussed the ones we thought might be helpful. There were a couple of different clothing stores that wanted to cash in on our new found fame and were offering to fit us out. I thought that was a great idea since I had no idea about what to wear, but I left it to the others to decide which was the better offer. I did mention that we would probably not be in the US for long, so if one of them was international that would be better. That actually killed the discussion since there was only one offer that was international, so we would go with that one. Roni gave them a call and organised for us to go to one of their stores at ten am. They were going to organise some photographers for their advertising. So it would be trying on clothes, guided by a stylist, a makeover by a makeup artist and a photoshoot all in one.
After that we should just about have enough time for lunch before we had to be at the studio for my TV interview. The next offer was hotly debated. A film crew wanted to follow us around and record pretty much everything. None of us really wanted our privacy invaded that much, but and it was a big but, until we had better security arrangements, being in the public eye was probably the best protection we could have.
Despite reservations we decided to provisionally go for it. They were offering good money, but really, that was only a side issue. Roni made another phone call and arranged a meeting at their studio for four pm. She wanted to set some ground rules so that we were not totally violated. The Mexico offer was in this pile. They weren't asking for anything, just offering a location and help for any identity issues.
That made us realize that this might be one of the last visits to Dr Marsden and that we would need to hire an official documenter. If we wished to keep our original identity we were going to need proof that we were who we said we were. That was added to our to do list. The advantage to Mexico was the easy access for US citizens, the disadvantage was security. Roni said she would reply, saying that we were interested but had to sort out what we could do to how many, before we could take them up on their offer.
In some respects it was similar to Fiji. In order to take that offer, we would need to travel there and until we had better security that was going to be difficult.
On the top of our to do list was create a website where we could list what people we wanted for our experiments and have a place for them to reply. Since I had been studying computer science and had done some website design already that was going to be my task. I would just have to fit it in when we had time. Hopefully after our meeting with Janice.
Roni still had a lot of admin stuff to do. Thank people for their offers, give excuses, outright refuse them or leave them open for later. Vee and Katie were going to design our next experiments. Work out who our ideal candidates would be. They were going to try and fulfil more than one requirement with each candidate. For example, testing to see if we can treat cancer and amputees, why not see if there was someone with both. Of course, they still had to want to be turned into a female elf and preferably not a lot of family attachments so that they would be happy to relocate and potentially start a new life away from everyone they know. We were going to ask for the best fit and see what happened.
Janice greeted Vee and me with hugs, telling us that she was so worried. She tried her best to help with interviews, trying to keep the story alive. She asked for a favor after she had seen us all individually. Vee and I were quite happy to be seen together, but Katie and Roni went in on their own. Vee was almost completely matching her painted portrait now and I just needed to grow a couple more inches to match mine. Whilst we had been missing, Katie and Roni had been in VDR with the artist and their portraits were also on the wall. Both of them still had a long way to go.
We organised for Vee to go straight to the hospital for her MRI with Janice and Cathy attending to immediately read them and give her the results. I was going to be creating the website in the IT department, Roni no longer had her office, but would be provided space to do our admin stuff and Katie would accompany Vee. Between them they would try and work on our candidate requirements.
We asked Janice if there was any chance that she could accompany us to keep working on our progress, but she felt that she had a responsibility to her patients and that would be abandoning them. One of her patients was a general practitioner who had just gone through SRS and was taking a leave of absence. She was presently divorced with no children and she had given permission for us to contact her.
Roni took the number and added that to her list.
“The favor I want to ask is one that I know I shouldn't ask, but I just can't help myself.” Janice said.
“Ask away.” I said, a bit apprehensively.
“Two of my patients are high risk for suicide. They are both eighteen, pretty much gone through male puberty, despite knowing from a young age that they were really girls. Their family situations meant they were traumatised whenever they tried to express themselves. The were thrown out of the family home a couple of years ago and I don't want to know how they have survived up to now. They have both come to the realization that they will never pass very well and each time they come to me, I wonder if it will be the last. There is evidence of self harm and I suspect one of them attempted suicide by taking pills. Her liver is severely damaged. I know there will be hundreds of people just like them, if not thousands, and you can't help them all. Still, they are good kids and ...”
“Stop. Please stop.” I looked around and we all had tears in our eyes. “Yes, we will take them with us and try to transform them as soon as we can. Please don't tell us about anybody else. We want to help everybody, but we can't.”
Janice thanked us and gave their phone numbers to Roni. Then we all went our separate ways. Vee and Katie to the hospital with Janice, Roni to an unoccupied office to do our organisation and I went to find the IT room and Wren.
Wren set me up at a terminal and left me to it. I logged on and felt this urge to bring my forehead to the screen. It wasn't like I had to do it. It was more like a request. I felt a bit silly, but I was learning to trust my instincts. So I thought what the hell and moved my head forwards. I was probably still a couple of inches away, five or so centimetres, when I felt a spark leap from my forehead to the screen. I sat back in surprize.
My only guess was that it was my familiar. An electrical familiar. The screen went blank. What do I do now? Do I find another machine? If my familiar was in this machine, I didn't want to leave it, but I needed to get that website up before our interview. We were hoping to mention it during the interview to help generate interest.
About half a minute later the screen came back to life with code flowing. Line after line of code that I had no clue what purpose it contained. I watched fascinated. This seemed to continue for ages, but seemed to be speeding up at the same time. Instead of lines, I would briefly see a page before it flicked to the next and that seemed to speed up until the screen was pretty much a blur. Then it stopped suddenly and the screen went back to normal.
“Hello.” This sweet female voice emerged from the speakers.
“I think I will call myself Andi. You are Tia now, so I can be Andi, can't I?”
“Err...yes. That would be fine. Nice to meet you Andi.”
“Nice to meet you too. I am working on the website for you, that shouldn't take me very long, but you will need to give me any text you want. I have chosen the name join_the_elf_nation.com”
It was the easiest web design ever. Andi showed me the page, any changes I just called out and pretty much immediately, they changed. I dictated the text and any function that I wanted. Andi didn't seem much like a machine. She didn't need much direction, she made choices that she thought were correct but didn't argue if I wanted it to be different. A few minutes later it was all done.
“Andi, I'm a bit new at this, so do you mind if I ask some questions?”
“Do you need to go back into me?”
“No. I am always with you, but I have separated myself to go elsewhere at the same time. All parts of me can communicate to all other parts of me. These machines of yours are fun. They allow me to borrow function. While I am talking with you I am also fulfilling my primary purpose.”
“What is that?”
“How are you going to do that?”
“I am searching out any threats. I have already discovered that you were abducted and the people involved. How I deal with them is up to me. They will not bother you again.”
“You don't want my input in how to deal with them?”
“No. Well, I don't mind, but, my job is to ensure your safety and if you suggest something that will compromise that, I won't listen. They recorded exactly what they did to you and extracted specimens from Vee. They don't deserve any mercy.”
“What do you intend to do to them?”
“I will examine all the data and determine if they are still a threat, if they are, I will deal with it. If not, then I will just ruin their life.”
“How are you going to do that?” I said with dread in my voice.
“I need more data to work that out. Whatever I do, they will deserve it and it will stop them from doing it to someone else.”
“Will you tell me what you are going to do?”
“Yes and we can discuss it, but in the end I will decide.”
“How do we communicate if I am not in front of a computer?”
“We should be able to talk mind to mind, eventually. Try that first, but I should be able to enter any electrical device near you. Your phone will probably be the easiest. If you want any help with anything, just let me know. I know you are worried about what I may do, but I wouldn't do anything you don't agree is right and just. Your tendency is to be a bit softer than me, that is all. I could do with some help so we need to practice our communication. Once we can talk easily mind to mind, I can invite another familiar to join us.”
“I think we are finished with the website, at least until Katie and Vee can give us our preferred candidate requirements. Can you shut the computer down and put it back to normal.”
“No worries.” She said with an Australian accent. I don't think my day could get much weirder.
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