A Matter of Fact; Chapter 1 (Parts 1 thru 3)

A Matter of Fact: Chapter 1 (parts 1 – 3)
 By Camospam

August 12, 1998. Highway 16, Northeast British Columbia

The nondescript black sedan appeared to be nothing more than your typical passenger car; that is only if you consider the style of vehicle used by most every police department as looking like a normal vehicle. Upon a second look you might notice the 3 antennae and specialty wheels sticking out like a sore thumb, but the inside’s are where the differences really become obvious, the comprehensive communications package included eavesdropping onto local law enforcement, a satellite linked computer station, the back seat partitioned into a prisoner holding cell including restraints for the type of cargo MCO field agents often had to contend with, but the show stopper was the state of the art onboard 360 surround surveillance recording system. This car was the new MCO prototype undergoing field try-outs from Goodkind Industries Research and Development Labs.

The driver: Agent Anderson, was connected, he was the reason a backwater office like Prince George had one of the best cars in the entire fleet, he had been posted to “PG” to keep him away from the public eye - at least until the dust blew over from that debacle at Toronto which that accursed mutant Decimal had caused. When getting shipped out in a hurry he was told that he was a hot potatoe that needed some cooling off, he was being deployed to gain more field experience and “PG” was so close to no-where that he would be out of the limelight. Anderson was family to some of the top brass in the MCO, his star would shine again - he just had to wait it out.

Agent Parson rode shotgun and had dozed off five minutes ago, ‘can’t hold his liquor’ mused Anderson, they had stopped at a watering hole to celebrate capturing Polaris, she was rated as a level 3 exemplar mutant and had been evading the MCO for years after manifesting, the PG office received a hot tip from a Humanity First informant who had spotted her working at a road construction site. Anderson chuckled how they’d surprised Polaris in the porta-potty literally with her pants down and that little situation made her capture easy. Parson came up with the idea, ‘man he could be a bastard’, but as partners go he was a keeper. Anderson was learning a whole new world of bringing hurt from his sadistic mentor, they would both revel in sharing the accolades for ‘handling’ Polaris – it might even bring a promotion, to Anderson’s thinking maybe even be his ticket back to the big leagues.

Agent Anderson took a quick look behind him: Polaris was secured in the back seat, still unconscious from the 2 stunners Parson had hit her with. Her take down was easy but not without incident, level 3 exemplars don’t just rollover and she had tried to escape them, but she was now confined by wrist and ankle bracer cuffs rated for exemplar 4’s. Parson figured tying her arms and legs together with a chain then running it through the floorboard bolt would keep her placid, uncomfortable as hell because she couldn’t actually sit, but who cared about her happiness.

Besides; it wasn’t like Polaris was going to make it back to the office… no! they had a location hidden just off the highway and a special bullet that would take care of all their problems, standard MCO procedure as the manual describes it.

The day was taking a toll, a yawn escaped from Anderson as he pulled out to pass a transport truck.

~o~O~o~

It really didn’t register immediately to Grace that she had been in an accident; since she was just regaining her senses from the high voltage shocks that she had taken earlier, the violent crash only sped bringing her out of the mental fog. The MCO had snuck up on her in a most embarrassing fashion while she was working as a first aid attendant on a major bridge rehabilitation project, she didn’t have a good chance at running and was taken down with the stun shots, heck they hadn’t even needed to use a capture net.

She found herself hogtied in the backseat of a damaged car, anchored to the floor having her arms and legs bound together by chains, she tried to strip the bindings but couldn’t break free of them, however the chain which was keeping her arms held down by her legs snapped quickly enough to at least give a little movement, with a swift kick the car door burst away letting her wriggle out of the mangled vehicle.

The scene was disturbing even for Grace’s EMT training: head on accidents are the worst. The car was still mostly intact which means it must be a tank, scanning the devastation around her she assessed who would need her help most: the driver was undoubtedly dead as a decapitated body didn’t need first aid, the cars front passenger was limp but the chest was rising so he was alive. Looking over what remained of the other vehicle, its debris was scatted over a large portion of the highway, probably an RV from what little she could identify.

Grace was not able to move very well at all with her legs in restraints, at best she could waddle. Nearby someone moaned in the wreckage, Grace spotted a mass that looked like a rolled-up body sitting in the remnants of a chair and she moved towards it, a cursory inspection showed it to be a man who was not alive; the shard of metal protruding from his back was a trauma that had pierced his heart. However, held within that cocoon of flesh was a child, as a last act the parent must have tried to provide a shield.

Grace slowly unwrapped the child working clumsily with what her still bound hands could do, the child: a little girl 12 or so years old, made whimpering sounds. Polaris did a quick exam and tried to calm the young girl, comforting her by saying “You’re going to be okay”. To Grace’s surprise the question “Promise?” came from her patient, with a heart-breaking look into the girl’s soft blue eyes Grace stated “Promise!” and then continued searching for injuries finding a broken leg but no bleeding, no neck or head trauma either. Grace gently scooped up the small figure and turned to begin the shuffle to move her to a safe spot to start triage.

Grace felt the burn of a bullet tear into her shoulder and immediately dropped into a crouch making a smaller target, she heard 4 gunshots with the last shot whistling wide but striking a propane tank causing it to explode. A ball of flame shot overtop of Grace who saw a piece of shrapnel stream past her - hitting the agent that had been shooting, the gun waivered then dropped to the ground shortly followed by the MCO agent himself, a pool of red growing around his now prone body.

 Grace started to move again, the scene was even more dangerous with the spot fires around her, a few yards away she found a clear space and set the girl down, she used her cooling effect by touching her shoulder “a bullet shouldn’t hurt this much” she said mumbling aloud.

“Must’ve been one of those ‘mutant tamer’ rounds. Heard the MCO was testing them for the Goodkind’s”.

The voice startled Grace, she turned her head to see a pair of cowboy boots and jeans beside her, craning her neck up she looked at the trim figure of a man about 6’5” in a checked plaid shirt and baseball cap.

“Do you have an emergency kit?” Grace croaked out.

“Right here” he said handing over a medium sized satchel with a red cross emblem on the side “I have some blankets if you need them.”
“I can keep her warm, but my attention is divided, can you help?”

“If you’ll look after the girl, I’ll put a bandage on your shoulder”.

“I’m regen 2, so wear gloves”.

“On it, the names Marcus Johnson, or Timbre if you have that bent”.

“Grace Watson, my MID says Polaris, any possibility you could get these cuffs off?”

“I’ll have look in a minute once I get this bandage wrapped, how’s the kid? She a mutant?”

“Too young to have manifested, she came through the accident with some injuries, but it looks like she just took 2 bullets”.

“Not good, those ‘tamer’ rounds are supposed to be coated with poisons meant to drop a mutant, no clue what would happen to a baseline”.

 February 11, 2007.

Elsewhere

Cameron walked happily down the path as it followed the meandering stream, it was the focal point of the vast garden and her favorite spot. Holding the hand of her mentor and friend he motioned them over to their frequently used bench overlooking a small cascade, they stopped which lead to a serious expression spreading over her teachers face.

“Cameron, it’s time to send you back home. Your training is done and your assignment awaits. You’re going to be facing some challenges and changes, don’t let it effect your outlook!”

The world around her faded from bright to grey then darkness.

Prince George Long Term Care Centre

 The black void that enshrouded Cameron grudgingly released it’s hold and gave way to flashes of light as awareness crept slowly back into her, it felt like awaking from a really deep sleep when your body objects to being stirred before it’s ready to let go of peaceful slumber. The first sense to begin supplying information was smell which caught the heavy scent of cleaning agents reminding Cameron of the hallways before first bell at school. Not having the benefit of additional sensory input from sight and hearing it left Cameron confused ‘why would I be at school? It’s summer holiday, there’s no school!’

Lying still wishing the world would make sense Camron began a physical assessment. First up; her ears detected a rhythmic beeping and a slight hiss, she found her breathing was difficult almost as if it was being forced plus a very unpleasant feeling in her throat, that caught her attention and in a spark of panic a realization hit ‘HOSPITAL!’. The monitors beeping spiked as it followed Cameron’s heartbeat as it took off like a chased rabbit, alarms sounded in reaction to the surging vital signs - which only startled Cameron even more. Then everything went quiet again as Cameron returns to the grey she only just left.

 February 12, 2007.

The activity in the room hits pause as Doctor Amanda Carter enters with three men in tow: the first being an older man in his mid sixties holding a well-worn hat and an overcoat draped across his arm, his rumpled wool sweater giving a grandfatherly appearance but the serious expression carved onto his face speaks of a heavy heart. The second man is dressed in a casual yet professional manner with a sports coat and dress pant ensemble, his attire a contradiction between serious and fanciful as his tie is a tartan affair that does not ‘go’ with any know colour shirt - but works with the white shirt he wears, with the top button undone and the tie hanging slightly off kilter he comes away with a look of being relaxed and personable. The third man walks with measured strides, the freshly pressed black tailored suit crying out power but the way it sits on him has an unnaturalness … like a snake with shoulder pads.

Nurse Johnson scans the visitors and has an involuntary shudder before speaking, she straightens her back and holds a stiffness like a solder under inspection. “Doctor, the patients heart rate has remained steady after yesterdays event, brainwaves remain consistent with REM sleep all other vitals all holding”. Grace tried to limit showing just how scared she was: not so much for herself but for the fragile girl unconscious on the bed before her.

Dr. Carter was brought in hurriedly from Vancouver when a young coma patient had briefly awoken, Amanda was renowned for her work with patients recovering from comas and head injuries “Very good Grace. Please stay in the room and continue to monitor her, you’re also needed to act as a witness during this deposition”.

Grace Johnson nodded in understanding.

The older man brought out a small tape recorder from inside his overcoat and as he turned it on he placed it onto the wheeled table beside Cameron’s bed.

“This is the deposition of Alexis Cameron Burke, the date of February 12, 2007. I am Judge Gordon Wilkins, Court of Queens Bench, Province of British Columbia. Each person present will please identify themselves” spoke the judge in a clear and authoritative voice.

“Public Prosecutor Michael Roy Williamson “chirped the tartan clad man standing at bed side.

“Bartholomew Sigel, representing the law firm: McAvoy – Arnold - and Strong” claimed the suited man at the beds foot.

“Doctor Amanda Carter, specialist with Vancouver General Hospital” was calmly spoken from the opposite side of the bed from the Judge.

“Grace Johnson, Head Nurse, coma care ward, Prince George Long Term Care Centre” announced Grace seated behind the Doctor.

“Doctor, you mentioned that the patient has not gained consciousness, but has shown a heightened mental state resulting from an improved physical condition. Can you provide some details? “asked the Judge.

Amanda quickly weighed how much information needed to be given. She had spent the last few hours reviewing her new patients case files, scrutinizing every detail. The opinion had been that the girl would never wake up, her condition would worsen and in less than a year be taken off life support. This case was already referenced in medical journals and scientists had begun staking claims on conducting post-mortems. Buying herself time she picked up and reviewed a rather large chart before speaking towards the recorder “Alexis has been in a comatose state since August 12, 1998. She was 13 at the time, she was admitted after a motor vehicle accident suffering from 2 gunshot wounds, a broken leg, fractured pelvis and three cracked ribs, along with internal damage to: abdomen, kidneys, liver and spleen, all a result of being shot”.

“This is not relevant to these proceedings, and cannot be allowed on record” asserted Mr. Sigel.

The Judge in thinly veiled outrage spoke “Mr. Sigel, the very nature of why we are conducting these proceedings was the forceful claim made by yourself in demanding no further action in this case could happen until a statement was obtained from Miss Burke. Being the only remaining witness to the whole affair you’ve demanded that a fair outcome depends solely upon her testimony, your contention that she not be coerced or prejudiced against your client has meant that she cannot receive the medical attention she needs until we are concluded. I have only allowed this deposition to take place in the hopes it helps Miss Burke in the long term, but as this is a serious infringement of her rights which only benefits your clients - she is going to have it on record what you are forcing the court to do and what her medical condition is while it happens” barked the Judge.

The lawyer did not even flinch from the tirade, he wasn’t here to play nice, for him you didn’t win by being nice (Why didn’t the kid have the decency to die like it was supposed to. Just focus on damage control, at least there’s no photos) thought Bart, the nickname his inner sanctum called him.

“Nurse are CCTV cameras catching all this?” asked the Judge.

“Yes your Honour, three cameras capturing all angles in the room” replied Grace pointing to the little black domes inset into the ceiling.

“Judge will be fine” replied the old man with a smile.

(Just a little inconvenience, this is why you bring home the big dollars, to fix little inconveniences) inclined Bart.

“Doctor, can you explain her treatment so far, and her current condition? “asked Mike Williamson.

Amanda swallowed hard and read the file “At the scene a First Aider bandaged the bullet entry wounds, minimal blood loss occurred. The left leg was splintered and torso immobilized. EMT’s noted that the patient was unconscious upon their arrival, the patient was transported to Prince George General. Emergency stabilized the patient, scans showed the first bullet having entered and exited the abdomen, the second bullet struck the neck lodging into the spine. The left leg was aligned and put into a cast. Amanda opened another folder to describe her patients current condition: Miss Burke has healed from the abdomen wounds; Kidney, Liver, Spleen and Stomach are able to function normally, injured ribs and pelvis have healed, her left leg has healed with complications, the bullet remains lodged in the neck positioned against the spinal cord. A surgery to remove the bullet could be attempted once the patients physical and mental condition is assessed although there is a high risk of paralysis, monitoring of brain activity has been ongoing and indicates higher cognitive functions are intact.”

“Are you prepared to wake Miss Burke?” asked the Judge.

“I must protest, we know nothing about what her mental capacities will be. If she has even the slightest sense of awareness the emotional damage this girl could potentially be facing warrants a psychologist to be present, and family services should also be in attendance since she has no family present” interjected the good Doctor.

“I have been assigned to act as guardian by the Province, until Miss Burke has been assessed” supplied Mike “And she will be provided the best professional help possible once we learn what head trauma was sustained”.

“Please Doctor, administer the stimulant. The sooner this is done, the quicker we can get her help” the Judge added with a tremble in his voice.

Amanda nodded and slowly - methodically attached the biofeedback wires to Cameron’s recently shaved head, picking up a small hypodermic needle she preparing a spot on the girl’s stomach, the Doctor gently inserted the needle. Within moments the heart monitor picked up an increased pulse and a shallow moan escaped Cameron’s mouth.

Amanda took the chair and moved closer the girls face, and ever so gently asked the questions she was scripted to:

 “Alexis can you hear me?”

“mmmmm huu”.

“Can you feel me squeezing your right hand?”

“huu ha”.

“Can you open your eyes?

“Ughmmm”.

“Are you trying to open you eyes?”

“nnnngh”.

“Try opening your eyes?” a slight flutter of the eyelids ensued.

“Doan wanna”. Those simple words sent a shock wave across the room. That the girl would have any mental capacity left was contrary to every other instance that had been recorded.

“Why not? “Amanda asked, trying to hold her focus to the moment.

“They hurt”. Affirmed by the effort to force her eyelids closed.

“Can we turn the lights down in here?” questioned the Doctor, the overhead lights shut off darkening the room with just a bank of side lighting remaining.

“Alexis, could you try opening your eyes for me again?

The right eyelid lifted revealing a glazed over blank white eye, a few blinks later and with effort the left eyelid opened halfway and seemed to stick overtop another blank eye. A glow of near golden light started from a dim ember in her eye sockets until it brightly shining from both of Cameron’s eyes, the room was bathed in light cast from twin spotlights originating from her eyes.

(MUTANT!) Bart just about yelled aloud.

“Hospital?” Cameron managed to squeak out.

“Yes dear, I’m your Doctor; Amanda. There is a man here named Mike that needs to ask you some questions”.

“eugh” was an honest but involuntary response from Cameron.

“Sweetie, you were in an accident, I need to ask you some questions. Can you tell us the last thing you remember” Mike asked in a hushed tone.

“Beeping… lots of beeping”.

“Before that maybe?”

“Driving with family”.

“Driving with your family in your car?”

“nnh, no… in a motorhome” Cameron was having difficulty forming words, her mouth felt stiff and her tongue was sluggish.

“Who was driving?

“Mugh…mom”.

“What do you remember about the drive?”

“Lots of trees, pretty valley.  James got to sit up front with Mom”.

“So where did you sit?”

“Me an Opus sat with Dad in the back, think I feel asleep”.

“Who is Opus?”

“My pet penguin”.

“Did your parents have anything to drink that morning?”

“Coffee”.

“How do you know?”

“Made it for them, it was my turn to make breakfast …. Dad has it black with two sugar… Mom likes milk no sugar”.

(There goes the impaired angle) mused Bart becoming visibly agitated.

“Were you with them all morning?”

“Uagg, Dad had a shower in the camper, he sings badly”.

“And your Mom?”

“She got to sleep in until Dad started to sing”.

“When did you leave the campground?”

“Dunno, maybe 9 or 10, trying to make it to Jasper Park in good time”.

“Who was driving?”

“Mom, she always drives, Dad has bad eyesight”.

(Another dead duck angle) Bart was starting to put mental x’s beside all the failed strategized arguments the Firm had so far used to stall the case.

“The camper was a rental right?”

“Yeah, Dad got a deal through work, he said it was brand new, looked like it had never been used.”

“Was it running alright?”

“Mom said it was fun to drive and ran like a top, better than her school bus”.

(The bad driver argument was lame anyway since she had a professional licence, but faulty mechanical had been promising) as Bart added another 2 x’s to the list.

“Doc, is it right that I can’t turn my head?”

“Try not to move just now dear, I can help you in a minute once Mike is finished” replied Amanda.

“Alexis, do you remember the accident?” queried Mike.

“Only people that don’t know me call me Alexis, where’s Mom?”

“Honey, please tell us about the accident, then we can explain”.

“I don’t know much, just some screams, I was in a lot of pain, a pretty blonde lady picked me up, more pain, and then… then I’m here!”

“Thank you, sweetie. We are going to leave you with Doctor Amanda, I will come back and visit you soon” choked out Mike as the realization hit him full force of the anguish and suffering that this girl was now going to face, and he was angry couldn’t prevent her being treated like a piece of meat instead of a fragile little girl.

The judge picked up the recorder and lead the group out of the room, only the doctor remaining inside. Once down the hallway in a quiet alcove the Judge stopped and addressed the two lawyers.

“I am going to drop my schedule, we will meet in my chambers Wednesday February 15 and schedule the trial date, I will entertain no more delays Mr. Sigel your firm has had over 5 years to prepare”.

As the three men headed toward the exit, Mike Williamson’s attention was caught by a discrete gesture from Nurse Johnson. Mike excused himself from the group pointing towards a washroom and held back as the others left the building.

~o~O~o~

Amanda Carter was not prepared for answering all the questions the girl was undoubtedly going to ask, with waking her up the Doctor had at best hoped for a patient that had minor cognitive ability like reacting to light and sound, other incidents with those bullets had left severe mental impairment, being comatose was the most humane outcome. But now this girl coming out of an almost 8-year coma due to those banned chemicals: with full alertness, sharp if not vivid recall, clarity of reasoning … stunned was putting Amanda’s feelings mildly. This was one for the books - but first a whole lot of tests are going to need to be done including looking for the meta-gene to explain those eyes, she began mentally constructing a team of additional doctors to bring in to help with recovery.

~o~O~o~

Cameron sat quietly in her bed trying to soak in all that the Doctor had told her; it was beyond comprehension and she sat in disbelief - dispondant, a little girl left alone in a great big world. Tears were rolling freely down her face, hearing that her family was dead - wasn’t it just an hour ago that they had all been laughing and singing? Sure Dad couldn’t carry a tune but he liked good music, he would laugh and smile and gave the best hugs, James her brother was a brat at times but he was funny and an easy tease, when her thoughts turned to her Mom she started to sob uncontrollably, her heart – her world - her life had been shattered.

A gentle knock at the door brought Cameron back to the now. Standing in the rooms doorway was an attractive woman, looking to be in her late 20’s with long blonde hair, she had a weak smile reflecting the nervousness she felt. Not that Cameron could actually see all that, her vision was more like a cross between an x-ray picture and an MRI image in real time, the skeleton was overlaid with muscles and tendons, she could see blood coursing through veins and arteries and the lungs expanded as they filled, this was hard to take since Cameron had always been squeamish around TV shows that showed anything medical. Now this was her view of the world? Looking again she could see the hot and cool zones on the body, next the scene was overlaid with geometric shapes with distance, height, and assumed weight. Cameron shook that aside for the moment and welcomed the visitor into the room.

“Thank you. For saving my life, and being my protector” said Cameron with her head bowed as far as its limited range of motion would allow.

Nurse Grace Johnson stood in silence propped up by the door frame for a moment, she entered the room closing the door then sitting in the bedside chair, slipped her hand into Cameron’s, Grace gently responded to the bedridden girl “Your welcome … how did you know?

“When you picked me up you spoke to me telling me I was going to be alright, I recognized your voice”.

“My name is Grace Johnson, I’m a mutant so some people call me Polaris, what shall I call you”.

“Friends call me Cameron; I guess I need to come up with a cool mutant name”.

“No hurry for it Cameron, you don’t even know what your powers might be, but did you know the light from your eyes flickered just now?”

“I was trying to focus on you, and it was like my vision shifted, kinda like putting on a pair of glasses.”

“Describe what you saw?”

“At first you looked like a skeleton but with muscles on it. Then you were just an outline: your middle was red then it went to oranges and yellows, but your hands were blue. Next it was all lines and figures... tell me; are you 5’9’ tall and weigh a hundred and …”

Grace cut in “You won’t be finishing that question if you know what’s good for you!”

Cameron smiled and nodded her head stiffly.

“Are you in pain?”

“I seem to have a pain in my neck” Cameron tentatively reached up with her free hand and clasped it feebly around the side of her neck “that’s better” she said as she brought her hand down revealing the bullet in her palm.

Grace stared for a moment, calmly rose collecting a plastic bag and placed the bullet into the bag sealing it up “I had one of those in my shoulder that I had to dig out, it still hurts”.

Cameron motioned for Grace to lower her shoulder into reach and she then placed her palm over the wound, as soon as she had touched Grace she pulled her hand away with a small bullet fragment in it, presenting it to Grace.

“How did you know where it was?”

“I saw it” pointing towards her glowing eyes “did it hurt much?”

“Everyday” muttered the nurse.

The two talked for a long time, Grace asked Cameron about her family and home – then told Cameron her own life story, describing how her hot and cold mutant powers worked, that she too was also in the accident, how that was where she and Marcus met while taking care of Cameron and them eventually getting married. That both of them had escaped years of MCO pursuit but managed to finish school to become a Nurse, then arranging to work where Cameron was placed. Before leaving Grace promised to introduce Marcus and left for the night saying she would be back tomorrow.

~o~O~o~

Bart Sigel sat in his luxury rental car, he had driven a short distance from the Care Centre before stopping to ponder what options he had available. His instructions had been to ‘control and contain’. Till now his plan of ‘stall, deflect and hamper’ had been ideal but the lawsuit was taking some unfortunate turns: that damnable bullet should have ended the kid’s life - or made her braindead, it was workable if she was a vegetable, now she was awake and talking!  The media could make hay on this if the story got out. This case was the one that had made his career; it’s why they nicknamed him ‘Black Bart, legal gunslinger’, the annual retainers coming in from the MCO and Goodkind Int. alone made the company a fortune, this whole mess had nicely been buried deep for almost 8 years but now everything was starting to unravel, he needed to make a fix - fast.

He speed dialed the number loaded onto his cell phone, it was his offices backdoor access into the MCO, no names were spoken and no questions asked, Bart simply said “Send in the Clowns” the phone connection ending, Bart queued up his cd of Mozart’s Requiem Mass in D minor and drove away.

~o~O~o~

February 13, 2007, 2:00 am

Ryan Coddet (aka Codfish) allowed his vehicle to drift silently to the side of the road, he was 2 blocks away from his target but needed to limit attention, he had been assigned to tail and support a lawyer which meant rushing to catch the same flight from Vancouver to PG and then keeping tabs on him. Now word came from that lawyer how he needed a hard target to be disposed of. Ryan was a killer; a trained assassin turned mercenary and now member of an elite team under MCO control.

His sensei said that sometimes a single death at the right time could save a hundred lives later, if you happened to make a few bucks doing it … he had no complaints, but since this was a mutant he’d be willing to do it without pay – not that his boss needed to know that.

Ryan cautiously walked the short distance to the building, he easily evaded the security system after tricking the staff doors electric lock. A slow creep down the hallway hearing a few snores from the sick and elderly residents silently brought him to the room and his assignment. The door eased open, the room was dimly lit as he entered and moved over to the stand holding an IV drip, he drew a syringe from a pocket - inserting the tip into the tubing and froze.

If he had a choice Ryan would have preferred a kill like twisting a neck or driving a knife into juicy flesh, even a sniper shot has a degree of satisfaction, subterfuge just didn’t give that thrill of seeing the life fade from someone’s eyes and that shock of realization that they are dying.  No, poison was a distance kill - giving separation and anonymity, it just didn’t feed his thirst for a good kill, oh well … maybe next time! All he had to do was depress the plunger and leave, its just that he couldn’t seem to move, not just his finger either, his whole body would just not move - not even a little.

Suddenly the room was lit with a golden light that tracked everywhere the girl looked, Ryan fell into the beams of light resulting in the girl reaching over and touching the “Call Nurse” button, seconds later a nurse entered the room.

“Please call the police” asked the girl of the nurse.

Ryan was like a statue, unflinching, shallow breathes with eyes darting about frantically.

In just a few minutes an RCMP officer arrived and began snapping photos with a camera. The officer stepped up to Ryan grabbing his arms which surprisingly lowered behind his back despite Ryan’s desire to fight, the officer placed handcuffs over his wrists, a second officer entered the room with a gurney onto which his frozen frame was unceremoniously dumped. Ryan was then wheeled away to have his rights read and begin what was sure to be a long interrogation.

~o~O~o~

When Grace arrived into Cameron’s room, she immediately came over and hugged Cameron tight, then with concern written over her face asked the girl “Are you okay?”

“Fine, and you?”

“That’s all you’ve got for me? after I watch over you like a hawk for years, you catch an assassin red handed, and all you have for me is ‘Fine!’” the sarcasm dripping from her voice.

A giggle fest followed along with a full accounting of details: how a man snuck in in the dead of night and tried to add poison to her medicine, that she managed to interfere with his motor functions which froze him in place so the police could arrest him in the act. They both had a full out laugh over the photo the police left with Cameron sticking her tongue out at the guy. Grace mentioned how the entire Centre was talking about last nights’ commotion with rumours ranging from a drug bust to a murder, it seems a police take down with lights and sirens at a retirement home doesn’t happen often… at least not at two in the morning.

~o~O~o~

Cameron’s day was spent talking with every type of Doctor they had a title for; exams, tests, being poked and prodded, scanned and photographed, lots of questions but no answers. However, the day had been informative for Cameron as each test helped her gain more control and movement into her fragile body.

That evening Marcus stopped by; a great guy in Cameron’s estimation, he and Grace made a perfect couple. Marcus or Timbre was a siren which was rare in guys, plus he could do sound effects and ventriloquism, as well as having a minor rating as a gadgeteer - which went nicely with the electronics business he owns. Marcus left Cameron with a ‘loaner laptop’ which confounded Cameron for a long time until she was able to layer her sight thereby manipulating it in a way to read the screen, eventually she found text was do-able – and with further adjustments could kinda ‘see’ pictures, but video was too much to ask. However, since she had found a combination which let her read; it was a marathon of soaking up information to make up for lost time, it was into the small morning hours before Cameron slept.

~o~O~o~

February 14, 2007

The day started online with Cameron signing up to take remote schooling from BC’s Ministry of Education, they said it might not take long; maybe only a day or two, in order to verify her identification and get her school records and curriculum in place.

More Doctors appointments and beginning physio therapy to get her seriously atrophied body moving again had priorities on the days’ schedule.

By the time Cameron was returned to her room she was tired but overjoyed to find out that she was now a student enrolled in grade 8, just where she was going to be before ‘certain stuff’ had delayed her, she dug into her dinner with vigor – asking if she could have seconds, worked the books for 2 hours before allowing sleep to call an end to the day.

~o~O~o~

February 15, 2007 

Judge Wilkins sat behind his desk baffled by what he just heard, The Prosecutor: Mike Williamson, had just asked the court to allow a postponement, a first for this case that has dragged on for nearly 8 years, citing that the Defendant needed time to review new evidence that had become available after years of dead ends. It seems that eyewitnesses stepped forward and had given testimony including audio and video evidence from the scene which had come to light, 2 bullets recovered, and a hired assassin captured. Adding this to the girl’s deposition no wonder Mr. Sigel looked a touch green today.

“I am granting one week, be in my courtroom February 22.” The obvious objection coming from Mr. Sigel was cut off by a sharp glance from the stern Judge.

The Judge was watching out his window as Sigel was arrested on the courthouse steps, his curiosity was piqued but decided to keep distance to let the system do its job, he would get answers in a week and if anything - he was patient.

~o~O~o~

Amanda Carter steeled herself before entering the room but gave a cheery wave to Cameron as she walked into the room “How are we feeling today?”

“Can`t speak for you, but I`m alright” chirped Cameron.

“Interested in hearing your test results?”

“You bet. Do I get the good or bad news first?”

“How do you want it?”

“Mary Poppins says a spoon full of sugar helps?”

“I’ll go easy on you then” Amanda confided as she commenced with her report.

“You my dear, are the proverbial 98-pound weaklings best target to steal lunch money from. Your body growth stopped when you went into the coma, you are 4’8” tall and weigh 53 pounds, we will have to see if you stay this size or start growing again, physically you are 13 – legally you’d be 21. The bullet you removed from your neck did not do permanent damage to your spinal cord and you now have full motion. The light your eyes emit is within the spectrum of daylight but shifts intensity according to the field of view you have chosen, you only seem to be able to add three layers at a time which adds to the brightness your eyes shine. Your body is responding well to physio letting you gain strength and range of movement.”

After a brief pause the Doctor continued “How you removed that bullet is still a mystery: the testing we could conduct came up negative, we have asked for some help from a specialist on teleportation as well as a scientist studying density manipulation.”

Amanda took a breath and looked Cameron in the eyes “Your blood work shows no trace of the meta-gene complex; which means you are definitely not a mutant, and another thing discovered in your blood is an odd hormonal imbalance, you are actually male.”

If Cameron hadn’t already been in bed - she would have fallen over.

The human body is a truly remarkable devise, if too much pain is felt or senses are overwhelmed: shock kicks in and masks the overload. Cameron was not able to cope with the news she had just received, and at that moment Cameron was oblivious to the world around her, her mind was stuck in continuous playback: flipping the words “he/she” around like a shiny coin. Emotional upset fueled her turmoil which in turn gave the coin yet another toss: ‘I don’t want to be a guy. I like being a girl. Don’t know how to be a guy. Girls are friendly, they talk and smile. Guys are mean, hit each other, and grunt. I don’t want to hit anybody – I can’t be a boy.’ Cameron watched the coins’ flash for a long time: ‘After everything that’s been taken from me: must I lose myself as well?’

Eventually she came to a realization: The coin had two faces but it was the same coin! It didn’t matter being male or female, she would be the same person - just showing a different face and would have the same value… her biggest worry had been how she would be failing her parents, however in recalling memories of her family she knew they loved her little brother almost as much as they did her, she would always be their child. The hurt from missing her family caused tears to roll down Cameron’s face as the shock ebbed.

Looking up Cameron discovered that Doc Carter was gone. However, sitting across the room in a wheelchair was an older lady, she had peeked in the door a time or two before but this was the first time she had entered Cameron’s room. She was clad in a frumpy housecoat and knitted shawl, plus Cameron was sure she saw slippers with bunny ears which brought on a smile.

“Hmmpff, what have they got you in here for?”

“Sleep disorder and binge dieting. You?” Was Cameron’s playful reply.

“Terminal flatulence” shot back the smirking woman – Cameron’s Mom wouldn’t resort to saying fart either.

“Must’ve had the cabbage last night” mused Cameron.

That warranted a chuckle from the senior, “You’ll fit in fine around here, this the room they pulled the body from?”

“Yeah, but to be fair it was self defense … and he wasn’t dead”.

“Thief?”

“Assassin”.

“And your eyes?”

“Would you believe I lost an argument with the Energizer Bunny?”

“I’m figuring mutation”.

“So had I… but the Doc says ‘no!’”

“You dangerous?”

“I can’t even get out of bed!”

“Neither can ‘Old George’ down the East wing, but I wouldn’t turn my back to him”.

“No, not dangerous, unless a good taunting counts?”

“Honey, around here your facing pro’s that would make Don Rickles blush”.

“Huh?”

“Whoops, dating myself. No kablooie?”

“All good”.

“Names Annie”.

“Cameron”.

“You a boy or girl?”

“Yes”.

“Come again”.

“Another one of those things I thought I had figured out but the Doc says ‘No’”.

“Well Hon, my Fred always said ‘tomorrows another day that the cows need to be cut and the grass milked’”.

“So; he was a poet?”

“No dear, a mechanic. But I think he meant: the worlds just slightly mixed up. We need to make the most out of each day, at least that’s what I get out of it.”

“So I shouldn’t get too down on myself cause life is going to continue anyway?”

“You’re a sharp one, I can see I’ll need to keep an eye on you.”

“You the hall monitor or something?”

“Yeah, that and Welcome Wagon, Peacekeeper, Ombudsman, Town Gossip… I might be retired but I’m not dead.”

“So, you have todays scoop to feed the rumour mill?”

“That, and a new friend. Sorry dear I gotta run, I’m late for a game of cribbage, catch you later?”

“Anytime Annie, and thank you”.

Amanda was smiling as she held the door for Annie to wheel through. Cameron hadn’t seen when the Doc had showed up – or how much of the conversation she had caught, but when she asked “You okay?” Cameron responded while opening her laptop “I’ve got some grass to milk”, which was acknowledged with a thumbs up and a smile.

~o~O~o~

Cameron had put a couple hours into her schoolwork, it was surprising how much easier it seemed to be from when she was last at school. Information she read just seemed to make sense and it would just pop back into her head doing review. Before in school math might as well have been a foreign language, now it all just meshed… no doubt something else to get the Doc’s excited about.

Leaning back into the beds stacked pillows she closed her eyes to give them a rest, Cameron felt a switch get thrown, her vision went blurry until it adjusted onto a panorama akin to a solar system with planets rotating around the sun. This was something completely new which left Cameron surmising she now had a new pair of glasses that needed getting used to. Examining the vista that her eyes beheld it seemed familiar somehow ‘it’s an atom!’ recalled Cameron from a science textbook showing how the electrons circled around the nucleus. She continued watching the microcosmic dance until a realization came: ‘Iron’. She moved her focus to the left resulting in the atom following her movement ‘oh! that’s freaky’, she backed away from the single atom to a view that now encompassed hundreds of various atoms, a bit further out thousands appeared, next – millions of them. At this point she opened her eyes and the wonder before her caused her to gasp.

In her sight items now had shape and form instead of seeing just outlines of everything and skeletal frames of people which she had so far learned cope with. However, now she could see defined three dimensional representations but colour was based upon the majority of the element or elements present. Cameron remembered how her Mother had books of famous artists and their masterpieces, on rainy days they would huddle together under a blanket and marvel at the pictures, impressionists being her favourite.

The tears that escaped from the corners of Cameron’s eyes contained not sadness or pain – just pure joy. “If I get to see this everyday, life is good, very good indeed” Cameron said to nobody, to everybody.

Cameron’s attempts at describing what she could now see was to have you picture a Picasso painting in a kaleidoscope and times that effect by a thousand.

The entire world Cameron knew had just changed again and she needed to explore all that now unfolded around her, this newfound sight was overwhelming due to the complexity it revealed since it ranged from the microscopic to the telescopic. From across the room she watched a fly eating a crumb it had scavenged, her sight granting access to every tiny detail of the small insect’s anatomy.

Her attention turned to the book that sat on the wheeled table in front of her, she hadn’t yet started to read it but could see that the novel was two hundred and sixty-seven pages long, but the printing jumbled together with the pages being laid on-top of each other the printers ink blending into a single blob. Deepening her vision to isolate a singe page and separate out everything else she could narrow the field of scope so she could read it.

Doing intense scrutiny with her vision highlighted a problem: she had no focus on what was happening around her, to use her sight like this would leave her completely exposed and vulnerable. To a scared lonely kid who had just lost family and friends and all things familiar this ability was a curse - it afforded no protection whatsoever. Cameron couldn’t control the shivers of fright that took over and pulled the blankets tight as she laid back, hoping… praying that this might yet only be just a bad dream.

Cameron slept for a while since it let her dream about her mother and the comfort she always gave in those little things like a touch or a smile, waking was the nightmare as reality stole her family anew. Laying quietly in bed Cameron meditated on her family, tracing their faces not wanting to let any detail slip from memory. It was while she was deep in her thoughts that something nagged at her awareness, there was something different about her ‘home’, turning her attention from the family portraits she discovered the addition of a new staircase that lead up to landings and doors - Cameron mentally climbed the short set of stairs to the first landing which had a little door: it opened into a small void no bigger that a closet.

Looking up the stairs she discovering there was at least a dozen similar landings and doors each holding different points of outlook. She attempted to investigate each, seeking to determine what the new vista behind a door might contain, it took some guess work to finally arrive at the conclusion these doors opened into other dimensions. How could anyone be prepared to look out to other worlds, she could barely comprehend the one she lived in. But curiosity being what it is she explored each from the safety of the doorframe and looked into the unknown beyond. The third doorway stymied her until she put a glass of water into this pocket and was shocked to see the splash from moving the glass stopped … as if frozen, when she retrieved the glass the splash finished its motion. Cameron puzzled over this for awhile until deducing the dimension had height, width, and breadth but didn’t have time, looking deeply she noticed that the molecules did not move – held motionless in stasis.

After her explorations, she mentally labeled some of the discovered dimensions: the easiest one to reach had been the smallest so was just called the Cupboard, Storage was the space without time, the Warehouse was an immense void that defied measurement, the Reservoir was a series of hallows that would work nicely to hold liquids, yet another was fairly small but was so brightly lit she called it the Sunroom. Inwardly Cameron rationalized ‘I better not tell people about this, at least until I figure it out more.’ Cameron was becoming adept at keeping secrets, she didn’t want to be exploited, underplaying what was possible and minimizing potential would hopefully keep her safe.

Cameron continued practising with her sight and looked outwardly around the Care Centre; it was disconcerting to be able to look through walls and see people walking around quite a distance away, but when she added her depth indicating layer it began to make more sense and be less disorienting. That layer also showed a graph which had meant nothing at first until she’d been looking at Grace with it, the graph climbed showing the amount of energy within Grace and tested it further on Marcus which had the same result. With resolve, she returned to that one doorway that was dimly lit, it looked like a forty-watt bulb trying to illuminate the Grand Canyon, staring at the small glowing ball of light and using the energy graph: it registered being just slightly above the bottom markings. This had to be her own energy supply – her battery, she just knew it needed to get brighter, how to do that was a mystery: one that she would have to solve another day.

Turning her attention to the loaner laptop Marcus had left for her, the deep scratch in the aluminum cover elicited an idea. She keyed in on the metal and “asked” the atoms to move in and fill the gap. When she ran her fingers over the cover it was perfectly smooth - she no longer saw any difference, ‘This is too cool!’ she checked her battery which had decreased in intensity only minutely so she commenced to experiment with other items in the room, within minutes everything looked shiny and new, even the depression in her mattress was gone which brought a smile to her lips. Cameron had discovered she didn’t actually need to have an item directly in view ahead of her to be able to see it, since her peripheral vision allowed her to “see” all around; but the dizzy feeling she got meant she wasn’t able to truly focus unless it was in front of her, plus the lack of security being “focused” created.

~o~O~o~

As Grace entered the room something was different, everything was the same - just… not. She brought with her a monitor on a wheeled stand, of course it had the obligatory wonky wheel like every shopping cart at the grocery store. As she took in the room trying to pin point what was off, Cameron’s mischievous grin was telling that she was right to be suspicious.

“Whatca doin?” asked Grace.

“Fixing the world … one wobbly wheel at a time” just then the stand stopped vibrating and tracked smoothly beside Grace.

Grace pointed down to the stands base “Did you just?”

“Yep”.

The next half hour was spent with Grace chasing around the Centre searching for broken items. Cameron took up the challenge: fixing things almost the instant it came into the room. However, when Grace brought in a large television set on a rolling tray Cameron stared at the box for a prolonged period. Cameron compared the working laptop against the broken TV, and “saw” the electricity moving along inside the machine. She could trace how the electricity flowed thru the switches, circuits, and drives to energize the computer. Turning her attention back to the TV she likewise tried to follow the path of the electrical current as it moved along the grid of wires until finding a section in the circuitry that was damaged and stopped the flow. Changing perspective, she found the fault was some components that had burnt out and melted the solder, Cameron “asked” the molecules to align themselves, shortly the TV screen lit with an infomercial selling kitchenware.

“It’s alive” claimed Cameron.

Grace didn’t say anything, just stood twirling the wall plug end of the TV’s power cord.

Cameron was distracted and the TV turned off “that’s kinda weird”.

Grace nodded her head in agreement and added “I’ll see if Marcus can stop by tonight, he might have some ideas”.

Grace returned the TV and minutes later a cheer was heard coming from down the hall.

~o~O~o~

Cameron was told about some appointments arranged for the next day, Grace saying that one was with Doctor Amanda who needed to monitor her brain, which meant Cameron’s head needed to be shaved – it wasn’t as if she had much up top – only some stubble had grown in since awakening from the coma. Grace applied the shaving cream and while doing so poured in some warmth and gently massaged her scalp. When the razor came out Cameron started to loudly hum the Barber of Seville recalling the Bug’s Bunny scene.

Grace bent down beside Cameron’s ear “I liked you better when you were unconscious” eliciting a burst of giggles from Cameron to match Graces smile.

By the time Grace had finished they both were humming the tune, Grace ended up saying “I’m not going to be able to get that out of my head for a week!”

Lacking a witty comeback Cameron used the essential fallback of sticking her tongue out.

Grace next started to massage Cameron’s legs, using a little heat and cold to work the muscles deeply.

“Oh! that feels wonderful”.

“Marcus says I missed my true calling becoming a Nurse”.

Watching Grace rubbing, seeing the changes from orange to blue with her vision, Cameron asked “Do your hands become hot when you use your ability?”

Grace paused for a moment “Good question, my hands feel the temperature of what I’m touching, but they don’t become hot. What are you seeing?”

“Energy is passing through your hands and causing the molecules to get excited and move faster when you heat, or slow down and get sluggish as you cool”.

Grace commented “Makes sense, I have a low Energizer rating from the hot and cold ability”. Cameron nodded since she noted the light bulb in
Graces chest dimmed slightly when she heated and brightened when cooling.

“How hot can you make something?”

“I can boil water in a pot, I tried having my hand in water to boil it but burnt my skin, the same for cold: I can make ice but only until it begins to hurt”.

Turning Cameron over, Grace massaged her back.

“Are you a Hero?”

“Do I wear a uniform and go around helping people… Yes, people call me Nurse Johnson”.

“But you’re also Polaris?”

“As a mutant, a codename helps protect who you are, someone could use your identity to hurt you and the ones close to you, keeping your identity secret lets you live a normal life”.

“So, having powers doesn’t mean I have to become a Hero?”

“No Hon, you get to choose what you’re going to do with your life, what do you suppose makes a person a hero or villain?”

“Well, a hero helps people, and a villain takes from people”.

“Have you met many hero’s?”

“Only you and Marcus, and I suppose my Dad was always my hero”.

“And what did he do?”

“He was an engineer and built stuff, but what made him special was he would hold me tight during lightning storms, read bedtime stories to me and my brother, taught me how to ride a bike, and he could make Mom laugh whenever she was sad, so mostly he was my Dad.”

“So his power was?”

“He … he loved us, loved me”.

“That might be something for you to consider if you need to decide if someone is good or bad.” Patting the bald head and left the room.

~o~O~o~

Marcus arrived at the Centre after closing up shop and stopping by the house to collect some items which he thought might help figure out Cameron’s ability. Grace’s call had piqued his curiosity, and all day he had been reviewing his time at Whateley Academy: all the testing he had undergone, he was certainly not a scientist like those folks had been, but was excited to help Cameron explore this new development. He brought into the Centre a cart loaded with his treasures, a few broken electronics from the store, some cast-offs and derelict pieces and bits from his hobby.

“Hey Kiddo, I heard tell you found an ability today, are you up to showing off?”

“What have you got in mind?”

“Grace explained some of what you already did, maybe we could expand on that”.

Marcus’s hobby was collecting and selling antique toys, He showed Cameron an old Raggedy Ann doll - to say it was fascinating to watch is an understatement: without needing to touch the toy she gathered the stuffing that had escaped back into the long tear and bound the material back together renewing the weave, all the dirt disappeared out of the fabric so it lost the dingy look and the dyes brightened so the doll looked as if new before she handed it back to him. He next brought out 3 tin cars: a sports car, a police cruiser, and a pick-up. Each showed years of use and abuse but Cameron in moments had the cars looking pristine without a dent or scratch as if they just came off the stores shelf.

Marcus pointed out that Cameron could affect natural materials such as fabrics and metals, so next would be plastics and placed before her a 10-inch-tall Robbie the Robot toy with an arm broken off - along with other dents and scars from an active life. Cameron was able to do a beautiful restoration to the little robot but couldn’t do anything about the missing arm. From off the cart she was handed a box filled with small broken items and it was suggested she try using these to make a new arm out of. Cameron reached into the box, a bright light flashed and the contents vanished. She held the robot intently looking at the good arm, a dimly lit blue swirl appeared beside the robot and then there it was: a new arm, identical to the other, ready for the next imagined threat so it could wave about saying “danger, danger”.

Sorting through the collection of broken items Marcus settled upon a small radio, which Cameron scanned and said it had parts missing, to which another box was brought forward but this time containing electronics, these too vanished in the brilliant flash. Cameron appeared stymied until she was shown a set of prints with a radios schematic, after that she was able in moments to reconstruct the missing parts and handed over a working radio. When Marcus opening it up, he couldn’t tell any difference between the original and fabricated parts.

Cameron did likewise to the other electronics off the cart, rejuvenating everything Marcus had brought in. In the excitement Cameron had forgotten to track her battery, so when she did eventually look at it – it was no wonder that she had become tired, the graph was dipping into the danger zone.

Seeing that Cameron was fading, Grace ended the evenings activities, not wanting the day to end just yet Cameron asked if they could talk for awhile about what had been accomplished. It turned out that Cameron could work any of the materials available, and applied what she’d learnt to the next problem, there was however a question left hanging: where did the rest of the stuff out of the boxes go? Cameron feigned ignorance but found it sitting in the Warehouse dimension neatly sorted and stored.

As Marcus was preparing to leave, Cameron asked if he would show her his abilities, Grace’s comment was “fairs fair”. The look on the fragile girl’s face was precious when Mickey Mouse’s voice came from the washroom complaining about not being able to open the door with his big cartoon hands on little pipe cleaner arms which couldn’t grasp the doorknob, then from under her bed Popeye told him he should eat more spinach, and an argument ensued. She was full out laughing at the exchange, taking pity on the girl Grace suggested a good night song, so moving up close to his darling wife – Marcus held her hands and started into one of her personal favourites: It’s Now or Never. Grace loved Elvis’ version but this was an electrifying performance, and the applause from Cameron and the two other nurses that crowded by the door let Marcus know he had aced it.

His reward was a long kiss which required Cameron to “ahem” a couple times - along with a side comment about exemplar lungs before they parted.

A promise of returning soon was made as they bade each other goodnight, but it was Mickey who had the last word…asking if someone could please open the door and let him out.

~o~O~o~

Cameron had a great night’s sleep but was perplexed from her dream about being in a waiting room talking to a young boy, it was odd that she could remember it so vividly after waking.

Grace was her nurse escort today and when prepping Cameron to leave, handed her a pair of safety glasses with a reflective silver coating, Cameron took the glasses reshaping them for a better fit so now the glasses completely hide the light her eyes cast.

Todays destination was a large medical centre which Doctor Amanda Carter was working out of, they arrived early for the appointment with the receptionist directing them into the waiting room. Grace got herself a coffee and sat beside Cameron’s wheelchair, it’s what happened next that made Cameron’s blood run cold: a young boy of maybe 9 entered the room, the very boy she saw in her dream last night. He was wheeled into the room by his mom and they settled in near to where Grace and Cameron sat, the boy noticed Cameron and moved his chair closer to her.

“Did you have chemo treatments too” removing his ball cap to show his hairless head in sympathy.

“No, my barber has a bowling fixation” a comment which caused Grace to do a spit take and cough.

“The Doc needs to check on my cancer, see if it’s gone into remission.”

Cameron looked into the boy and her heart sank, there were dark blotches throughout his small body. “I’m getting my brain scanned because I was in a coma” was the choked response.

They continued in small talk, with little Eric excitedly showing off his dinosaur book and pointing out his favourites, his mom watching the two in amusement. Cameron was looking at the cancer, wanting so much to do something to help the boy. She could see a healthy cell and a sick one but just didn’t know how to correct it.

Eric and his mom got called into their appointment first, before parting Cameron gave Eric an awkward hug since neither could leave their wheelchairs and in desperation poured energy into the boy asking his body to fight the cancer. After goodbye waves Grace leaned over and asked the visibly shaken Cameron if she was alright, her heavy-hearted response was that he was very sick.

Cameron was brought into an examination room to have sensors placed all over her head, Doc Amanda explained that she needed to check Cameron’s brain activity, Cameron had to keep her brain “working” for an hour to collect the data needed to make an accurate diagnosis.

Cameron was handed a workbook and pen and once the equipment was checked, Cameron was asked to open the booklet and begin. The workbook turned out to be a general knowledge questionnaire reminding her of taking a school exam, however it took just a short while for that book to be finished so another was provided - at the end of the hour Cameron had two questions left to complete in the fifth workbook. Dr. Amanda had had to run off and collect it from her office, Cameron finished it and then closed up the folder while the sensors were being removed.

Cameron was wheeled down some corridors to another examination room and greeted by a friendly woman Doctor named Kathy who conducted an extensive physical exam. She switched between referencing x-rays, the computer, and a thick folder into which she adding notes as she hymned and hawed while poking and prodding a girl that was starting to feel a kinship with lab-rats. Then it was off to the next stop; a conference room in the same building.

As Grace and Cameron settled into the room that held a large central table and a TV monitor on one wall. Doctor’s Amanda and Kathy entered along with three others introduced as Doctors: Samuels and Russell. As well as Karen from Michael Williamson`s office: acting as her guardian’s representative. Karen had each new Doctor present sign privacy and non-disclosure documents which was a formality Mike had sought as a means to protect Cameron.

Kathy lead off the briefing by describing Cameron’s physical condition, the TV came to life and displayed ER photos of her injuries from when she first arrived in hospital, then more current pictures. The broken left leg had healed with some muscle damage, there would be a limp if and when she could ever walk. The gunshot wound to the abdomen had taken three surgeries in-order to repair the damage from the bullet having passed through, there was still scar tissue along it’s path. The bullet in her neck was shown sitting against the spines nerve bundle, it had not been able to be removed because of the high likelihood of either Cameron being paralyzed or having brain damage, another picture showed her neck without the bullet.

Cameron was asked how she had managed to extract the bullet and for lack of a fitting description available it was decided a demonstration would be best. A gel mold was placed in front of Cameron which looked much like the jello at picnics that has pineapple bits in it - this stuff however had bullets, coins, and other oddly shaped pieces of metal. Putting her hand beside the gel she would take an item or two out at a time as it was being filmed.

Dr. Samuel spoke next; he was brought in as a specialist on the effects of the chemicals used in the “Mutant Tamer” bullets. He described how the bullets had been banned, explaining what had happened to people who had been shot with them. A baseline person exposed to the bullets didn’t fair well – most died within days, but a few survived up to a year suffering from severe mental and physical conditions. Dr. Samuel described the three cases of mutants having been shot and survived: one was a powerful magic wielder that cast a healing spell, another a mutant with level 4 regeneration that simply ejected the bullet. He then spoke about a mutant named Polaris rated as an exemplar 3 and regen 2 who had performed surgery upon herself (Grace remained poised, and the Doctor gave no indication that he knew her). It was hypothesized that she had survived due to the combination of regen and exemplar traits.

Then it came to Cameron: that she was alive was the big mystery which left a question mark her Doctors didn’t have an answer for. Her coma was the result of the bullets toxins as well as the stunted growth and development, scientific evidence supported that conclusion. But that Cameron had lived for 7 plus years, then awakening with the bullet still in her body! All Doctor Samuels could say was it required further study.

As Dr. Samuel’s display continued, it illustrated the chemical formula used in the bullets. Cameron at that point focused within her body looking for it - and gathered up the deposits found, reaching over and taking Graces hand – she commenced doing the same for her friend. She put the two tiny pellets she had collected together into pill cups, curious; Grace asked what Cameron was up to, only being told which cup held hers then pointed up to the screen.

Amanda asked Doctor Russell to speak next, he brought up three slides, the first showed the female reproductive system, the second male, pointing to the third said “This is an MRI image of Cameron’s lower torso”, it was nothing like either of the others. Cameron looked down with her sight confirming the picture, that`s when the queasy feeling hit and she vomited. It took a while for the room to settle down, however, when the discussion resumed the question asked was if the deformity resulted from the bullet? Dr. Russell spoke about a laboratory test being arranged using fruit flies to determine if the toxin effected one’s sex.

Cameron was then asked if she had any surgeries as a child – replying that x-rays had been taken after a fall off her bike so a records search was arranged to find a comparative starting point. The next issue brought up dealt with there being more male than female present and how the hormones in the blood indicated the dominant sex as male. Doctor Russell said that if or when Cameron’s body matured, a problem could develop and seriously affect her health. The Doctor presented surgical options saying to let him know the decision in a couple years – the time frame he felt certain it would take before Cameron would have need of the surgery.

Amanda took the floor and made her presentation about Cameron’s recovery, how physiotherapy was helping build muscle and stamina. The Doc’s assessment of mental functions showed no sign of damage from the coma or bullets poison. The latest testing just conducted would provide more details but hinted towards having higher brain activity than normal. She next said that personality testing needed further examination to determine if a disorder is present.

Cameron leaned over and whispered to Grace “Okay, so call me crazy, they must think I’m nuts!” Graces snort drew everyone’s attention.

After lunch, everyone returned to the conference room to participate in a video connection with a scientist named Dr. Nelson at the Arkham Research Center. Arkham had been contacted to assist with making a diagnosis. Tanya Nelson was a pleasant young woman who had recently finished obtaining her last degree: specializing in mutation effects and classifications. It turns out Cameron’s classified file had caused a stir at Arkham with the people there intrigued since she didn’t have the expected mutation markers. The Arkham folks had created a list of possibilities which Tanya had compiled into questions to gauge the potential category Cameron might belong too. Grace described the 4-inch-thick pile of papers sitting on Tanya’s desk, to which Cameron paled. When Tanya mentioned it would be sent to PG in sections to get completed, that was a welcome bit of news for which Cameron was mildly relieved.

Tanya kindly took some time to describe the different types of power sets found in baseline people: Mages or Wizards, Avatars, Imbued, and Origins being the most common. Before the session ended, Tanya asked if she could see Cameron’s eyes? Cameron was shy about removing the visor that had allowed her to blend in by keeping her eyes hidden. Cameron was noticing how the ‘glowing eyes’ caused people to act nervous around her, but decided that these people could be trusted and removed the visor.

The room was darkened to allow the video conference, so when the emitted light shone out filling the area Cameron faced, those present who had not seen this before gawked. Nervous; Cameron joked that if it got brighter she could get a job as a lighthouse.

~o~O~o~

The last stop of the day was to Mike Williamson’s office, Karen brought Cameron and Grace in to see him, he sat behind an old wooden desk from a bygone age, heaped high with files and folders, he motioned them over to a little table and joined everyone there.

Mike was again wearing a tartan tie and to break the ice Grace asked what was the story behind it, he told them about how in university he was the best man at his brothers wedding, and instead of suits they wore kilts. His roommates pranked him one day by only leaving the kilt for him to wear, his classmates teased him but the professor commended him for having style. His classmates and friends now send him tartan ties as gifts, it had become his signature to wear tartan and if you believed such stuff; brought him luck.

Mike motioned to Karan and she left for a minute to return with a package; a present for Cameron, who gleefully opened it - holding up an Opus the penguin plushie sporting a tartan bowtie; and she cried.

Cameron explained between choked breaths that when her Mom and Dad dated, they shared a common love of comics, Mom really enjoyed Calvin and Hobbes, Dad was a fan of Bloom County. Mom gave Dad an Opus plushie and years later he became Cameron’s when she found him and they couldn’t be separated. Seeing him again; memories of her life washed over Cameron in waves as she cried over the found friend, and the love lost a result from her families’ deaths. She was awash recalling precious moments with her family, and cried for what had been taken from her, cried for being alone in the world, and then cried over these people who now cared about her.

Eventually the tears ran out and she fought to regain composure, it took a number of hugs and thanks to both Mike and Karen before they could continue talking. Karen wore her heart on her sleeve and had been crying along with Cameron, her profession might demand a steel vice composure but she cared deeply and as Mike described it - made her a better lawyer. She and Mike made up a team that rarely lost a case as the two worked so well together, at work they meshed together great but lead separate lives with both being married and Mike having two little children at home.

Mike had at first been assigned to be the comatose Cameron’s guardian by the Province, but now that she was awake he asked Cameron if she would like for him to continue in that role? It was a thoughtful gesture and Cameron agreed without hesitation as she liked the man, he had been a good friend.

Next, Mike needed to know if there was anyone that handled the families legal and financial matters. Cameron recalled Dad saying his friend Albert Miller looked after that for him – he was like a brother to her father. Mike checked his records and nodded that Albert had been involved with matters after the accident, he would get in touch and include him into the situation.

The conversation with Mike and Karen had convinced Cameron that she could trust them completely, so when Mike casually asked if any other abilities had been found, she sought to be wheeled over to his old desk and touched it briefly, then with a flourish said “Ta da”. Mike’s expression was priceless, it turns out the desk had been his grandfathers and had seen better days, but was kept for sentimental value. Now the desk
looked and felt new: not a nick, scratch, or stain to be found. Mike was speechless which only seemed fair to Cameron considering her little emotional episode.

~o~O~o~

Once Grace and Cameron had returned to the Centre, Cameron needed to close her eyes for a time to meditate since she was still shaken over her encounter with Eric. That dream had shaken her soundly and she worried what it meant. A knock at the door brought her thoughts back to the now to see Annie sitting in her doorway.

“Hello Cameron, heard it was a busy day”.

“Hi Annie, yeah, I was told about what’s wrong with me today”.

“And did anyone take time to explain what’s right with you?”

“Can’t say that topic was brought up”.

“Hon, my Fred always said that ‘people can’t see the forest for the trees’”.

“Ah... Fred, the renaissance mechanic”.

“No dear, he worked mostly on Chev’s. But you know – he would talk about folks bringing in cars that needed repairs which would cost a lot more than the car was worth, and despite his recommendation they would get the work done anyway.”

“So these Doc’s are wasting their time on me?”

“Of course not! Those people fixed their cars because they meant more to them than simple transportation. They held memories, friendship, had become family. It wasn’t a question of cost it was loyalty. And Fred: bless him, would help them out best he could, I don’t think he ever smiled bigger then when doing those jobs.”

“Sorry Annie, you’ll need to walk me through this one”.

“All right dear, sometimes to help the forest you have to take care of a single tree, or maybe it was that every tree is the beginning of a huge forest”.

“I’m going to need some time on this one… And you were married to him?

“46 years”.

“A happy marriage?

“He vexed me so!”

“Know the feeling, I never met the man - but he sure has me confused”.

“By the way, I understand you are to thank for getting the Rec Room TV working, the gang is watching Jeopardy tonight – your welcome to join us.”

“I just might.” mused Cameron.

~o~O~o~

That night was a learning experience:

  • Jeopardy is a contact sport.
  • US civil war trivia was not one of Cameron’s strong suits.
  • Alex Trebec should be the next UN Secretary General.
  • Wheel of Fortune incites riots.

Really just a quiet night at home.

~o~O~o~

Cameron’s dream that night took her to a school with stately brick buildings, a large glass dome was in the background. Students milling about at the end of classes: some walking others flying, everyone wore a school uniform blazer with the girls wearing skirts and boys’ pants. A bronze statue’s plaque read Noah Whateley, then she noticed two other things: she was walking? …and wearing pants!

February 22, 2007. Prince George Provincial Courthouse

Judge Wilkins sat at his desk strumming his fingers; for some reason he always seemed to play the tune Danny Boy! He mused that perhaps everybody has an internal tempo which drew individuals to certain kinds of music, like two metronomes synchronizing rhythms. Maybe it’s why todays music grated his sensibilities? Maybe he just wasn’t in sync?

The day’s proceedings had perplexed him, feeling himself to be more a tennis judge than sitting in a court of law, with the tension in his neck attested to just that. It had taken such a very long time to bring this wrongful death and injury case forward, he’d held off his retirement in order to get this matter settled - he just couldn’t conscionably end his career and leave it unresolved.

The Judge mentally attempted to summarize todays revelations, and the surprises wrought in pre-trial discussions.

Foremost was introducing the actual accident footage; the MCO vehicle’s onboard recording system was incredibly detailed with interior and exterior views which time stamping every angle. An objection was raised regarding permissibility given that the recording was MCO property. Mike was prepared for just such an objection; a clip from the recording was played, the truck that the MCO was passing had stopped once the accident occurred. The digitally altered driver is seen walking toward the scene, taking cover when gunshots are heard, he then approached Polaris, rendering aid. He checked Agent Parson and returning to unlock Polaris. He then approached the sedan and entered the passenger side, a comment of “Great Scott!” and him working on the console, a moment later the recording went black.

Mike explained that the crown had not used any illegal actions to obtain the evidence, it was turned over to him along with two eyewitness statements. Never in the almost eight years since the incident had the MCO ever even mentioned that there might be a recording - they also had never reported that such a recording was stolen. It could be argued that the MCO was purposely attempting to hide evidence and objecting to the use of the recording would support that claim. Their objection was begrudgingly dropped.

The case until today had been stymied over two main issues:

  1. 1: Who caused the accident.
  2. 2: Who shot Miss Burke.

Summary of Issue 1:

McAvoy – Arnold - and Strong; the MCO’s previous counsel, had contested that the mutant Polaris had overwhelmed the Agents - holding them at gunpoint thereby forcing Anderson to drive and this being the ultimate cause of the accident. Actual events played out much differently. Yes: Agent Anderson was driving; however, Polaris was sedated and securely restrained in the cars rear. Anderson was traveling in an erratic manner (which was reinforced by footage of them exiting a drinking establishment 20 minutes earlier), he had been traveling at an excessive speed averaging 50 km/h (30 mph) over the speed limit (as captured by the recording), coming up behind a delivery truck he blindly entered the oncoming lane.

The head-on collision was disturbing in the graphic detail provided by the recording, a supporting report was submitted from the RCMP Accident Investigators which illustrated the debris and told a story of how the Recreational Vehicle virtually exploded upon impact against the unforgiving MCO sedan. A finesse move on Mike Williamson’s part was to play Goodkind Industries own promotional video for that model vehicle which actually demonstrated the sedan going toe to toe with a tank. The vehicle was only produced briefly as an enforcement prototype and underwent limited field testing; one being issued to PG. That prototype failed testing miserably so all units had been recalled and the project dismantled.

The cause of the accident was indisputable given the evidence now available, but a lawyers’ existence is to argue and dissect the smallest detail. The parties jockeyed for position to minimizing responsibility and deflecting accountability, truly masterful lawyers wield words like swords and the interchange becomes a dance of perverse beauty, simultaneously highlighting the ugliest and noblest traits in humanity.

The Judge mused about how law at its heart is society’s foundation and without it our society would crumble, associated with it - is the risk that that same law can also be the wrecking ball. Judging opposing arguments must allow thought freedom so it can arrive at a conclusion.

The conclusion regarding the accident was straight forward enough; an exceptionally strong case was evident against the MCO and Goodkind Industries. Severity of the accident resulted from using of an unsafe military grade vehicle on a public road; where it broke multiple safety codes and a breach of ethics.

Summary of Issue 2:

The MCO recording was again center stage used as evidence to detail the second action of “who shot who”.

The playback commenced with Polaris extracting herself from the driver’s side rear door, her face digitally altered to protect her identity: a condition for her testimony. The recording was paused to make note that Polaris had stopped to check on the MCO agents condition; doubts had been raised regarding if she was looking to render aid then why she did not go around the vehicle and assist Agent Parson first, the answer became obvious as Polaris’s movement was impeded by the still intact leg and arm restraints. Behind and to the side of the sedan was a seated man which Polaris awkwardly moved toward and briefly examined, she unwrapped the man to reveal a child to which she did a cursory examination, she slowly lifted the child in a cradling hold, stood, turned, making a couple steps back towards the sedan.

The recording switched to the view of Agent Parson exiting the sedan through the passenger side window, drawing his weapon as he rounded the front of the vehicle, the audio caught “No mutant b***h is escaping from me” while discharging 4 shots. The rotated and slow-motioned view captured Polaris’s body jerking from a bullets impact into her shoulder, then dropped into a crouching position trying to use her body as a shield for the child. Blood was distinctly visible from two areas on the child: the abdomen and neck. A propane tank (part of the RV debris) was seen in the background cartwheeling and bursting into an explosion. As an epilogue, the picture returned to Agent Parson; his body being struck by a piece of shrapnel with him then sinking out of frame.

A supporting ballistics report was provided: The first shot struck Polaris and remained in her body, it was recovered as part of Polaris’ testimony and testing matched Agent Parson’s weapon. The second shot entered Miss Burke’s abdomen: a trajectory line was added to a freeze-frame picture, the bullet narrowly missed Polaris when it exited Cameron, this second shot was not recovered. The third bullet struck and lodged into Miss Burke’s neck, it had been recovered and testing matched it to Agent Parson’s weapon. The fourth shot was traced on screen, it only missed Cameron’s head due to a slight movement by Polaris, the line tracked to the propane cylinder, the cylinder could be seen flipping and exploding, it was surmised that a spark from the cylinder hitting the ground ignited the escaping gas.

A report from Doctors Kathy Houston and Benjamin Samuels was provided: it detailed the injuries to Miss Burke and her seven-and-a-half-year coma. Contained within the report was a history of a normal bodies reaction to the chemicals used in the Goodkind ‘mutant tamer’ bullets, highlighted was a paragraph stating how in two other instances a comatose state resulted. The discussion turned to the manner in which the bullets had been recovered, a recorded deposition from Polaris described how she had performed crude surgery upon herself, next a video was played showing an emaciated girl demonstrating how she could remove items set into gel molds by touching them, a series of before and after pictures depicting coins and bullets was enough to illustrate no tampering with integrity had occurred, although it was anyone’s guess as to how she did it.

A heated exchange regarding permissible evidence was followed by accusatory remarks that testimony from a hunted mutant criminal should not be used and would have to thereby be stricken from use. Mike Williamson asked what charges had been placed against Polaris for the MCO to have been seeking her arrest? That objection was dropped when neither warrant or evidence of criminal activity was presented and no proof substantiating the MCO’s claim to uphold their reasoning.

It was clear that a solid case was present to proceed upon: the evidence available was sufficient to move forward into a trial over the shooting of Miss Burke. A subsequent case regarding Polaris’ arrest and injury also held merit.

After prolonged discussion between the Goodkind and MCO parties, the lawyer representing the Goodkind’s interests acquiesced and sought mediation rather than proceeding into litigation regarding their involvement. This action thereby forced the MCO’s hand with Regional Director Andre Gatineau authorizing the MCO lawyer to likewise seek a mediated resolution.

All parties agreed to a break so the session was called for 2 hours, time to allow the Prosecuting Attorney to contact Miss Burke and determine if mediation was acceptable for them to proceed.

~o~O~o~

Cameron was rousted out of the Centre for yet another busy day with Nurse Wendy wheeling her to the shuttle. She was off to a psychiatric assessment and then physio, she chuckled recalling her Dad’s joke about ‘how to answer if your asked if you hear voices: “they said to say No”’. It is rather scary to have your sanity challenged, but Cameron was resolved to answer as honestly as possible, and if she was nuts? She’d get along fine with the squirrels – at least they were funny.

The Psychiatrist was a nice lady named Joan; who endeavoured to put Cameron at ease, letting her have orange juice as they talked. She asked questions about how Cameron was coping with the loss of her family, Cameron talked about her crying session at Mike Williamson’s office, how her heart hurt when she thought about her family, that she was lonely and scared.

The question if Cameron had considered suicide took her aback, she told the story of how her Dad had tried to protect her in the accident – giving his life to protect hers, she was resolute in wanting to live and honour her Dads last gift which meant she wasn’t going to give up; ever.

The time with Joan passed quickly, but Cameron ached to know if she was ‘alright’. Joan said she was doing fine; yes - she had mental and emotional scars just like physical ones, but she was on a good road to recovery. Joan asked if Cameron would like to return for counselling and arrangements were made to include visits to Joan in her recovery regime. That visit had been emotional, so Cameron needed to remove her visor to dab a couple errant tears while they rode the elevator down. A lady started giving her the stink eye so Cameron turned away so as not to be seen crying. Once the elevator stopped the lady exited hurriedly while making a phone call.

Nurse Wendy was moving them past a little café situated at the buildings entrance and suggested grabbing a snack, so they stopped to take a break.

The next appointment was just down a block which had Wendy pushing Cameron’s wheelchair on the sidewalk since the physio office was so close by.

A black sedan screeched to stopped on the road beside them, two suit clad people: a man and a woman, jumped out of the car. Forcibly grabbing Cameron while securing a bag over her head, they then dragged Cameron out of the wheelchair throwing her into the back seat of the car. Wendy tried to protest but the gun being waved in her face necessitated her keeping a safe distance. The car sped away leaving Wendy badly shaken; she managed to place two phone calls, the first to 911, the next to Cameron’s guardian.

~o~O~o~

Karen was engrossed in the task of preparing files for transfer to RCMP Special Investigations headquarters, it had been arranged to give them a copy of everything they had regarding Cameron’s case, the lady at the offices switchboard used the phones PA system to page her about an urgent call. Picking up the nearest handset it was surprise to hear Wendy; one of Cameron’s nurses, on the line in a panic.

Cameron had been kidnapped from right off the street by two people in a black sedan! That piece of news hit hard and Karen reeled from it.
Wendy; who was fit to be tied, was trying to talk through her panic. Karen helped her calm down enough to gather a little bit of coherent information as to where and when it happened. Between Wendy’s deep breaths then spurts of rapid fire talking, Karen was able to discern that the RCMP had already been contacted and they were starting a city-wide search.

Wendy confirmed that an officer had just arrived onsite and he was getting statements from nearby witnesses. Karen continued her efforts to calm the poor girl down, even though she herself was beginning to feel a surge of panic. Asking Wendy to hand the phone over to the officer: she introduced her self and her tie to Cameron, and made certain that the RCMP had her contact numbers before hanging up.

Karen needed a moment to assess the situation and settle her own nerves before running off like the proverbial ‘chicken with it’s head cut off’. She needed a plan – and she needed to get Mike into the loop, unfortunately Mike was in an important meeting just now and couldn’t be interrupted. Office protocol was for her to leave text messages, and handle the situation until Mike was free to respond. Karen sent the first of her many messages on the day to Mike.

Karen’s phone rang with an update from the RCMP, they had gotten the black sedans plates and running a search it identifying the vehicle as belonging to the MCO. Backing that information up was a statement taken from a woman known to be a vehement Humanity First supporter, she had honestly bragged to the officer about having gotten a dangerous mutant off the street. Further news, a police cruiser on patrol had called in having spotted a car that matched the description, it was currently sitting in the MCO’s parking lot, no visible passengers in the vehicle.

The RCMP didn’t have the authority to enter the MCO offices with-out a warrant, Karen sent another text to Mike asking if Judge Wilkins would issue a search warrant. Karen’s emotions were a jumble, leaving her questioning what to do next, in a move based solely upon worry she grabbed Cameron’s file then headed out the door in a run.

Karen entered the MCO office in the most professional manner she could currently muster, she hoped no-one saw the utter distress she felt as she checked her poise and demeanour. She took a brief moment to start a tiny recorder in her purse before ringing the buzzer on the reception desk, the desk consisted of an impenetrable floor to ceiling wall which held only a single small glass window. The reception area gave the impression of being imposing and impersonal, furthering that theme situated behind the obvious safety glass sat an MCO agent, with only a small speaker disc for communication.

Karen gave Cameron’s description and showed a photograph stating she was a guardian and asked to be taken to see her. The agent manning the desk denied any knowledge of Cameron and the speaker clicked off into annoying silence. Flustered after a half hour of being refused any information or assistance, Karen sat down in one of the foyer chairs and sent Mike another text, over the next hour the person manning the reception desk changed twice and each time Karen made the same request but only got the same response.

~o~O~o~

The MCO and Goodkind parties had fought to distance themselves from any accountability; but eventually realized how weak their positions would be in a trial. Mediating a settlement would allow them to save face and prevent a public trial from becoming a humiliation.

It was mid-afternoon before the intense negotiation session was agreeable to taking a break, finally freeing Mike to leave the table. Turning his phone on Mike found a series of messages from Karen, he rushed to a quiet location to read them and he blanched as each piece of information bespoke of a deepening nightmare scenario, dialing Karen she answered in a cool manner; her professional persona. Mike took the cue and only asked questions that required yes or no answers:

  • Karen was still at the MCO.
  • She had been unable to see Cameron.
  • The MCO denied detaining Cameron.
  • The RCMP had positively identified the vehicle to be the one in the MCO parking lot.
  • Karen was being stonewalled.

Mike asked Karen to stay there - he would arrive soon after he’d gotten a warrant.

Mike grabbed a taxi, and in no time pulled up in front of the low-rise office building used by the MCO as their Prince George office. Mike stepped out of the cab and was met by an RCMP officer, Mike waved the warrant in triumph and they briskly walked into the building. Karen was still seated near the single secure reception window, as Mike and the officer approached the desk, Karen stepped in beside them.

Mike wrung the buzzer, then placed his identification and the search warrant against the window. Mike clearly stated his name, position, and being Cameron Burke’s legal guardian, supported by Karen holding Cameron’s picture up to the window as well. Mike emphasizing that the girl was not a mutant and requested to be taken to her, a snide comment of “Like I told the lady: the kid ain’t here” was all Mike got from the MCO agent manning the desk as the speaker disc clicked off yet again into dead silence.

Flummoxed the trio moved toward the exit, Mike asked Karen to keep vigil in the foyer while he began placing calls once he’d stepped outside the office. Mike ran down his list of enforcement agency contacts, his call to the local RCMP detachments chief initiated deployment of SWAT who could be there in seconds … since the MCO had fortuitously located themselves across the street from the RCMP station.

Before Mike was even able to finish saying ‘thank you’ he saw officers running out the neighbouring building and crossing the street to take up tactical positions. Mikes’ next called was to what had become a frequent number on his phone: RCMP Special Investigations, before the exchanging of any niceties he simple stated “Ray, we have a situation” Mike then described what was happening – he was told a man named John would be there within the next couple minutes and to trust him without reserve.

Mike stepped up to the SWAT commander and greeted him, they then began discussing the situation, as if by magic a uniformed man was standing beside Mike arriving completely unnoticed, shaking his hand and introducing himself as John – he mentioned having been sent by Ray.

The two RCMP officers then began formulating a plan to storm the MCO stronghold. Stepping back; Mike let those with the needed experience do their jobs, looking down the street near the soon to be sieged office he noticed a black sedan pull up and park. Andre Gatineau the MCO Director he’d been in meetings with stepped out, Mike walked over in a friendly manner once he’d clothed himself in his legal persona.

“Andre, great to see you again”.

“Yes Mike, you too. Do you know what is happening?” replied Andre gesturing to the RCMP swarm.

“I’m afraid there is a bit of a situation, it seems Miss Burke is being interviewed by the MCO today but I’m not being allowed to speak with her. I fear my contacting the RCMP might have caused an over-reaction”.

“Well! let’s go clear this little misunderstand up, shall we?” offered Andre.

Mike matched Andre’s stride as he entered the MCO building and John silently fell into step behind Mike, Mike made a gesture for Karen to join them as Andre approached the reception and knocked on the window. Director Gatineau produced his badge resulting in the reception agent turning white, Mike asked politely to be taken to see this girl pointing to the picture Karen held up the window. Seconds later the multi-bolted door into the office was unlocked and it opened allowing the entourage to enter, a sheepish agent lead them down a corridor to a room labeled Interview Room 2.

Andre Gatineau was the first to enter the room which indeed looked to be a small meeting space, the table had been pushed into a corner where a suited woman in her mid twenties sat smoking a cigarette - minding an electric branding iron as it warmed up on the table. A middle-aged man wielding a baton was standing over a wisp of a girl who had been stripped naked, blindfolded, and was hung by handcuffs off the ceiling looking much like a side of beef. The smell of burnt flesh was overwhelmingly revolting a result of the 4 prominent M brands on the girl’s bare back, along with an etched happy face on her right thigh from extinguished cigarette butts. Karen spoke for the group when she puked. The baton wielding MCO agent angrily shouted they had interrupted an official interrogation and demanded they leave immediately.

Giving Andre Gatineau credit – he decked the man so hard he was out cold with a single blow.

The RCMP arrived enforce within minutes: arresting the two agents that had been conducting the ‘interview’, as well, they seized the recordings that had been made of the interview. Officers collected statements from all MCO personnel present, arresting the agent that ignored the search warrant plus the two agents that had lied about Cameron not being there, all of them being taken into custody charged with obstruction.

~o~O~o~

Mike and Andre’s return to the courthouse was a somber and awkward affair, neither of the men actually talked as they shared a ride together. Their thoughts embroiled by the absolute horror that they had had a hand in stopping, both shaken from what had been witnessed too much so to engage in small talk. It was obvious that Andre was overwhelmed, while Mike for his part was striving to contain his outrage.

~o~O~o~

The men assembled again in chambers at the scheduled time, the legal beagles impatient to find out if Miss Burke had agreed to enter mediation.

Mike explained that it was not possible to ask Miss Burke anything due to her current physical condition: she was completely incoherent after getting rescued. For the benefit of all present Mike described what had occurred, which included passing around the table a series of photographs that made every face pale.

Mike went on to describe the reality of the situation Cameron faced - due to the accident and injury this now 21-year-old woman was challenged with serious health problems. This weak and fragile girl was also potentially needing a sex re-assignment surgery; most likely a result of the chemical toxins used in the tainted bullets. Worse still she was also easily mistaken as a mutant, the consequences of carrying that label had just been witnessed by himself and Andre. Andre corroborated all that Mike said.

Mike cautioned all parties present to consider how a jury might react to Miss Burke in a courtroom, should she choose to litigate. They should now use the short reprieve (until she recovered enough) to come up with offers that would resoundingly convince her to settle out of court.

Deliberations were halted pending Miss Burke’s recovery.

Prince George General Hospital

Cameron was admitted into PG’s hospital unconscious and in critical condition, she was rushed into Emergency where ER staff stabilized the beaten girls condition. Her frail physique had taken such punishment that the doctors classified her situation as ‘life threatening’, the medical record entry reflected an assessment of ‘attempted murder’.

The Doctors reset both dislocated shoulders, her arms having ben pulled out of the sockets, then placed her broken left hand into a cast. Cameron’s jaw had sustained multiple fractures which necessitated wiring it closed, along with having sustained 4 broken teeth. She had damage to the kidneys, liver, and pancreas all hemorrhaging and complicating her condition. It didn’t help having 4 broken ribs, and both eyes swollen shut, the doctors and nurses had a hard time choosing what problem to address first. The examination identified 34 strike marks as each welt was now turning into large bruises, 8 burn marks from cigarettes having been extinguished into the skin on the right thigh - including one burn on the crown of her head, plus the four brands on her back each measuring 5 inches across.

When Cameron regained consciousness five days later, her handwritten note simply asked “How long this time?”

It took two days of recovery before Cameron was able to concentrate well enough to resume school work, Grace and Marcus brought her laptop into her during one visit – she appreciated the distraction it afforded, but was cautioned not to overdo it. She received visitors with the best smile she could muster – even if it only meant putting forward a cheery disposition.

Mike visited her almost every day each time bringing another classic book to read, he sat and read to her Treasure Island – a book he himself loved when growing up. Karen too came as often as able and the two would play games and talk.

It wasn’t until Cameron had demonstrated enough of a recovery before Mike eventually broached the subject: asking if she wanted to go to trial over the accident, he explained the pro’s and cons going into detail explaining the situation the Goodkind’s and MCO faced. However, because a public trial could mean exposing Grace and Marcus’ identities she chose to pursue mediation, Mike agreed it would be best and they sorted out which points could be negotiated upon.

~o~O~o~

Every time Grace and Marcus would stop by, Cameron delighted to hear the man make sound effects and voices. An audience of patients and health care workers would always form whenever he sang, and though he claimed shyness it really wasn’t hard to convince him.

Cameron spent most of her time in hospital doing her school work, studying, reading the novels Mike provided, or sleeping. Cameron decided to make the best of a bad situation and used the opportunity to research the human body; she would write out questions for the Doctors and Nurses, they took to her curiosity kindly, assisting her by providing her reference material and websites to visit for her research.

The medical staff found out about her enhanced vision and would accidentally bring patients by ‘for a look’, or she would suspiciously get brought into the children’s ward to ‘visit’ and get asked what she could see. Cameron was able to help a few people by giving descriptions of ailments that aided the Doctors in making a diagnosis.

Cameron now had a much better appreciation for Grace’s love of being a nurse.

March 06, 2007

The attending Doctor informed Cameron that she was no longer in need of critical care and could be returned to the Centre in a few days, after that assessment Cameron began to look at her injuries and a question started to brew: ‘Can I heal myself?’

When Grace and Marcus visited her that afternoon she was acting a little reserved, prompting Grace to ask what was troubling her, Cameron broke the news that she wanted to try ‘repairing’ herself but was scared.

Grace was dead-set against anything of that sort; describing scientists who had conducted experiments on themselves causing disfigurement and deformities. Marcus however reasoned - since Cameron could manipulate metals and any other elements maybe she could repair a broken bone, they could a least investigate the possibility by practicing - just to see if it could even be done.

Marcus left in a hurry saying he had an idea, he returned shortly thereafter with some cuts of meat he had picked up from the butcher.

Cameron was instructed to try rejoining the meat into a single piece. Focusing on her target she chose to fuse the bone together first, taking matter from her meager store to build up the gaps and solidify the bone. Now that the individual pieces of bone were held together she tried to weave flesh joining the severed ends, it took a long time to isolate a single sinew and match it to its counterpart on the next cut, it was too time consuming – there had to be a better way!

Cameron remembered how the family would work on puzzles together: first finding the edges, then easily identifiable points in the picture. Once a pattern was established it was simple to build out from there, ‘maybe it would be easier having a reference point to work from?’ Cameron used that same technique when combining the cuts of meat and meshing them together rapidly since once the ends aligned reconnecting them went quick.

After Marcus inspected her handiwork he said “Well Hon, looks like were having roast instead of steaks for dinner” for which he received a punch in the arm.

Cameron decided she was confident enough now to try something upon herself, Grace was hard pressed to stop her – especially since her own curiosity had gotten the better of her, but she did ask if what Cameron attempted could be kept small and not dangerous. Cameron pointed at her left leg questioning if it would be okay since it was an old injury? Grace agreed, but first massaged the area that had been broken in the accident feeling the tissue damage.

Focusing - Cameron located the break in the bone which hadn’t healed properly, the bone had rejoined but had left jagged edges and wasn’t aligned correctly, Cameron was able to rework either end of the break, correcting the bones positioning so that it could be mended completely smooth and solid without blemish. Next the surrounding muscle that had been torn and damaged in the car crash was straightened, she rejuvenated the injured tendons and reworked the muscle tissue.

When Grace massaged the leg again she couldn’t find any hint of the old injury. Cameron pointed to her mouth with a pleading look - with a nod Grace agreed and the device which held Cameron’s mouth closed vanished. A great big smile spread across her face, she moved her jaw around then flashed a full set of teeth which told the story that she had been successful.

Grace arranged for the doctor to stop in, during which he was informed of the self-healing that Cameron had undertaken. Doubt was written across his face but nonetheless made an examination to verify the condition of her injuries, once finished he ordered up x-rays since he couldn’t believe what he’d found.

The man impatiently paced the hall outside the room waiting for the pictures, it was only then – when no breaks could be found did he begin to ask how Cameron did it. He suggested that Cameron continue with making repairs – under supervision and by evening the majority of her breaks and damaged organs where corrected. The formerly burnt flesh of the branding’s had a rosy pink hue remaining being the only hint that any damage had been there at all.

The Doctor knew about regeneration and had been present to observe magical healing, but had not heard of anything of this nature before.

The Doc put forward a request to document Cameron healing her hand while an MRI capturing it, he near pleaded on bended knee – so Cameron agreed.

The MRI unit was prepared for Cameron and once the cast was removed, and the technician had a stable image obtained of her hand, a quorum of doctors and techs gathered around the monitor to watch. Cameron again used the jigsaw approach by first healing the bones then the soft tissue, slowly moving forward at the MRI’s pace. A tech spoke up saying the MRI was using twice the usual electricity but nonetheless was working fine.

It was slow going to wait for the MRI to capture what Cameron could have done in mere minutes. Another full MRI scan was done of her healed hand to ensure the results and check the machine.

The attending Physician placed a call to Dr. Nelson at Arkham to keep her appraised of Cameron’s condition and newly discovered ability - she was insistent that a copy of the MRI results be sent to her.

March 08, 2007

Cameron was deeply immersed in her laptop school work when a knock at the door broke her attention, Dr. Amanda was in the doorway with a gentleman standing behind her.

“Hello Cameron, are you up to visitors?” asked her neurologist.

Closing down her laptop, Cameron replied “Sure… glasses on or off?”

“On today please” responded the doctor “I have been asked to make an introduction. Cameron: this is Dr. Atwell from the University of British Columbia” the man moved forward to shake Cameron’s hand. He was in his mid fifties and had experienced the middle age spread, his beard was speckled with grey and he wore a corduroy sport jacket with arm patches.

“Are you another specialist brought in to give me an exam?” asked Cameron, not wanting to have them discover yet another reason to be kept in hospital.

“Oh! no, I’m not that kind of Doctor, I’m a Nuclear Physicist” spoke up the man “I wanted to talk to you about the UBC Nuclear Sciences entrance exam you wrote”.

“Ummm” was the only thing the bewildered girl could muster to say in response.

“I think I need to do some explaining” interjected Dr. Amanda “Cameron: when you came to get that brain scan, I was running out of workbooks since you sped through the usual tests so quickly. I asked around and an intern said she had something I could use: she provided me the entrance exam - as it was a course she had been considering taking … it was the last one you did for me!”

“Okayyy” puzzled Cameron.

“I needed to get an estimation on your cognisant ability, so asked UBC to give me an assessment of your answers” continued the neurologist “Dr. Atwell came to meet you because of that”.

“So just what were the other tests?” wondered Cameron.

“Algebra, Physics, and the Mensa IQ test. Remind me to bring you the invitation to join they sent back” quipped Amanda.

“You should join up; I’ve been a member for years” added Dr. Atwell.

An entertaining conversation ensued, the UBC instructor was shocked to discover that Cameron was only a junior high student, and had no sciences background - considering that her answers had caused endless debate within the departments faculty. Cameron explained that she answered based mostly upon observation. The physicist was dumbfounded when he found out that Cameron could actually see molecules and atoms.

Cameron noticed the mans weather beaten running shoes upon which she did a quick repair and rejuvenation to, the professor was awestruck when he inspected her work. Dr. Atwell mentioned that Cameron’s paper had intellectual property protection and had come to ask if the University could obtain the rights to use it in their research. Also, he had three students who sought permission to write their doctoral thesis based upon her comments.

Mike Williamson was contacted and sent pre-drawn documents of understanding for UBC’s signature to keep it legal, after which Cameron could give consent.

Before leaving Dr. Atwell strongly urged Cameron to consider attending UBC once she finished high school.

March 09, 2007

Cameron was released from hospital two weeks after being brutalized by the MCO. Cameron was certain she could have been set free earlier, but the doctors wanted to keep her for observation – she wasn’t sure it that meant of herself or of other patients.

Grace and Marcus brought her back to the Care Centre to be the guest of honour at a surprise “Welcome Home” party, it had been arranged and set up in the Rec Room with a banner and cake – well: rhubarb crumble and ice cream which was Cameron’s favourite. Mike and Karen came as well to help make it feel like a family affair.

Annie had been so worried about the ‘little dear’ that she’d knitted Cameron a toque which she proudly wore. When Cameron was finally able to wheel into her room later that night once everyone headed home, she found Opus sitting atop her pillow with his tartan tie and a nifty wool toque identical to her own.

March 15, 2007

The stay in hospital had allowed Cameron time to finish up some of her school courses, her Distance Learning Teacher doubted that she had honestly done all the assignments herself in so little time. So, Mike arranged for a teacher from one of the local schools to administer mid-term exams, she passed with flying colours.

The day held special significance for another milestone: in Physio, it was the first time she stood in almost 8 years.

Cameron’s Physiotherapy and exercise regime had stepped up: she was in a pool almost daily as a means to stretch and build up long forgotten muscles, her first tentative step came while standing between two parallel bars that helped give her support. Still; Graces hot and cold massages were the most comforting and relaxing part of Cameron’s day; her body would become like jello and she often fell asleep in bliss laying on the table.

March 19, 2007. MCO Regional Office, Vancouver

MCO Deputy Director for Western Canada: Andre Gatineau, hit send on his email. He only sent one or two of these clandestine messages a day to minimize suspicion. Since returning to his Vancouver office after the shocking events in Prince George he had begun to question his career choices.

Having worked his way up from being a patrolman with the Ontario Provincial Police, to becoming a Captain in Toronto, then the MCO made him an offer and he took a posting as a Manager; quickly holding the role of Director. Andre always thought of himself as upholding the law and working for the benefit of society; now? He had doubts. Breaking up that ‘interview’ on the young girl! It had shaken his belief and sense of right about the MCO; and his place with it.

He had started checking old case files in the archives and found too many that had a simple red ‘CLOSED’ stamp, no explanation provided. He had copied those files and a few manuals and had been sending them to a special investigations unit with the Royal Canadian Mounted Police. Mike Williamson had put him in touch with a detective there; in a private meeting, he had been shown more of the recovered footage from the MCO’s car, it showed two murders of young mutants in a gravel pit that the Agents euphemistically called ‘The Back Forty’.

A search warrant had been executed on a Humanity First supporters’ property on the outskirts of PG, which lead to the discovery of eight bodies. Forensic scientists estimating the oldest body to have been there for ten years. Two of the files that Andre had uncovered matched found remains, this was the destination Polaris was likely being taken to - before the accident. With a shudder, the MCO Director wondered if maybe the plan had been to hide Miss Burke’s body there also, you don’t torture a person like that to just let them go.

Andre didn’t know how much longer he could stay with the MCO, his conscience was yelling at him about how terrible the MCO was. His resignation letter was drafted and sitting in his desk, he had provided a sworn statement to the RCMP that he did not know about the agencies actions. He felt better by providing whatever records he could, he simply didn’t know what all the field agents had been up to.

Leaving the office for the night, he slid into his car to make the commute home, he had driven no more than a block when his car exploded into a fireball. The evening news attributed it to a mutant attack.

March 21, Prince George Extended Care Centre

Cameron was tired as she returned to the Centre from physio and another psychiatric session with Joan, both of the appointment hurt but for different reasons. She didn’t have much stamina built up yet so the emotional release wore her out nearly as much as the physical exertion. Grace was about to wheel her into the little room that was home when Cameron yelled “STOP”.

Startled - the vigilant nurse asked “What’s wrong?”

Cameron scanned the room carefully, at first it had been the odd ‘oil slick’ on the floor that caught Cameron’s attention, checking the room she noticed a small package hung on the backside of the washroom door. The package lacked moving parts so Cameron was mystified by it, but once Cameron identified the chemicals as explosives she knew they had a bomb on their hands.

“There is a device hanging inside the washroom with wires leading to the floor into what looks like an oil-slick, I see what I think is a detonator” informed Cameron

“Is it triggered?”

“It is armed. I’d say if something disturbed the liquid it would set it off, but I also see a radio so I think it can be remotely detonated”.

Grace considered a few options “I going to pull you back and get as much distance away from it as possible”.

Cameron mulled an idea around “How about I disable it; no damage, and the police have a bomb to inspect”.

Grace had not considered Cameron’s little ability “Do it”.

Cameron did a deep scan of the bomb and saw it had 3 individual triggers; the current in the liquid, vibration if the washroom door opened, and a tamper if anyone tried opening the package, as well as the remote detonator. Cameron decided the best solution was to drain the battery – leaving the wiring alone and completely disabling the bomb.

Grace brought Cameron up beside the Centre’s reception desk while she called 911.

~o~O~o~

Remi Desjardin (aka Bits) was enraged, “There was no Boom!”.

Some of his best work had failed: his design was to have the target in-front of the bomb as it exploded, ensuring a kill. But other triggers were in place to account for Murphy’s Law, thereby keeping his prized handiwork out of the police’s hands. A bomb of elegance such as his designs were like fingerprints. The remote monitor he had built-in showed the bomb to have been armed and waiting for the target to hit a trigger: then it went blank? “Impossible” he muttered.

“Well Rem, looks like I’m up” was JD’s comment to the embittered explosives master, glad his partner hadn’t resorted to saying ‘Inconceivable’, the last time he’d dropped that one JD nearly pee’d his pants. JD opened the hatch and climbed into his little dynamo of destruction: Remi and JD had formed an unlike alliance early into their escapades as members of the elite MCO hit squad.

JD’s real name was Jack Dempster, he had wanted to use the code name Junkyard Dog but wouldn’t you know it: some x-army guy had already claimed it. So, their compatriots jokingly started calling them “Bits and Bites” when he and Remi joined forces. “Bites” as in bites like a Junkyard Dog, “stupid code names!” was all JD would say about it.

Remi and JD had recently been in Vancouver fulfilling a contract when this assignment came across the wire, being close-by they jumped at the cash cow this particular hit represented.

Remi drove their highly modified panel van into the Care Centre’s parking lot and swung the back around so it faced the buildings entrance. The back door opened while a hydraulic ramp lowered out from the back half of the van, a large generator inside the van roared to life and out shot JD in his assault vehicle.

The tracked vehicle was roughly the size of a ‘skid steer’ which was the platform JD used to build his little armoured terror onto. It was tough, nimble, and heavily armed sporting multiple weapons systems with the coup-de-gras being an energy beam cannon.

JD steered his machine towards the buildings entrance and raced it across the short distance to the doors - trailing behind the umbilical tether.

The shortcoming of any power frame was battery life, JD’s solution was a direct connection to a generator, an idea he got from watching a bathysphere being lowered into the ocean. He also hadn’t bothered with arms or legs: just a bullet proof shell with a plethora of guns, guns, and for good measure more guns which resulted in a kill zone facing nearly every direction. Everything was tied together into a central processor, so that all of it’s weapons could be sighted by an array of flat panel monitors. However, he couldn’t resist installing a leather seat and air conditioning: he was a professional after all.

JD crashed through the double doors sending shattered glass everywhere. He spotted their prize sitting in a wheelchair beside the front desk, he quickly lined up the cannon and fired; it was a direct hit, the girl went sprawling onto the floor as the smoking remains of the wheelchair careened away from the impact. His unit lurched as he ran over the girl and moved behind her position to block a potential escape route, she was pinched between him and Remi who would be taking up position beside the van. Once he was a few yards past the target, he dropped the vehicles hydraulic foot which would let him rapidly pivot 360 degrees like a turret, he cracked the controls in order to spin around, thereby getting sights on
the girl through his window - placing her directly in-line with the bulk of the weaponry.

His prey was dead already they just didn’t know it yet.

~o~O~o~

The sound of breaking glass and an engines roar brought Cameron’s attention to the Centres entrance. The doors burst and spat glass fragments towards her, before the situation even registered she was struck with an impact that threw her out of the wheelchair forcibly ejecting her and she landed spread eagle onto the floor.

A vehicle sped in through the wide-open doorway and aimed directly towards her, she scrambled in an attempt to get out of the way but a set of heavy tracks ran over her legs; crushing them.

Cameron heard the bones snap as her nervous system screamed at the pain, vowing that unconsciousness was not going to claim her again - she steeled herself and so as to hold tight to her senses, she blocked the neural impulses that threatened to shut her down.

She saw a heavy armoured cable being dragged across her which had a strong electrical current running through it, she grabbed onto the cable, stopping the electricity’s flow and drew in everything she could - directing it into her battery. She felt energy pour into her, and that surge of electricity helped ebb the shock which had already starting to dull her. Cameron’s draw upon every drop of energy she could pull from out of the cable resulted in her hearing an engine rev louder the more she took.

~o~O~o~

Grace had been focused on the phone call to 911; providing details to the operator when suddenly the doors burst. Grace reflexively dropped down behind the counter for safety, but now she was taking peeks to gather what had happened and see if Cameron was all-right.

When Grace spotted a man armed to the teeth and wearing body armour stepping around the truck parked in front of the doors, she took stock of what was available to her. Sitting atop the reception desk sat the snow globes that staff had brought back from their holidays, they had been arrayed as trophies. Grabbed a snow globe Grace readied herself, she was glad Marcus had taken her to practice baseball, teaching her to throw a fastball; her pitching was clocked at 130 mph.

Grace stood and rifled the globe at the man, it was an intentional beanball and he dropped without knowing what had hit him.

~o~O~o~

JD was stymied, his unit had completely powered down, even without the tethered power supply he should have had enough back-up batteries for a half hour firefight. But he had nothing! nary a light or spark to indicate life, even the mechanical gun triggers did nothing.

He set and re-set every switch and breaker, not a single blip, worse still all view screens had gone completely blank leaving just the small bulletproof window to see out. His radio link to Remi was down and he was positioned so’s that he couldn’t see either Remi or his target, just a wall and part of the reception desk filled the view out his window.

He saw a woman look over the counter at which he depressed the machine guns’ trigger, but no luck.

~o~O~o~

Grace call out to Cameron but had to yell due to the engines roar “Cameron! are you alright?”

“I’m on the floor in front of the desk”.

“Hurt?”

“Again!”

“Hurt?” this time called louder.

“Heard you the first time, yes I’m hurt”.

“Bad?”

“I’m not walking away from this one”.

‘Darn wisenheimer kid’ winced Grace, ‘she can’t walk regardless’: guess she’s saying her legs have been hurt.

“Safe to move?”

“Tank is pinned, and you tagged the guy outside” replied Cameron after a quick scan of the area “all clear otherwise”.

Grace cautiously left from behind the desk and moved towards Cameron, Cameron signaled for Grace to look after the man in the parking lot, to which Grace nodded in understanding.

Cameron looked into the little tank: single driver, armed and highly agitated from his pulse rate. She found the access door and sealed it shut so he wasn’t going anywhere.

Cameron then focused upon her legs, the tracks had crushed her fragile bones and tore the muscles to shreds, her injuries had now started to swell badly. If she hadn’t block the receptors the pain would have incapacitated her.

Once again she began to repair herself: rebuilding the bones, then the arteries and veins, next the muscles and finished with her skin. She scanned her full body, she didn’t feel any other pain but was certain she had been shot - but found nothing.

Concerned what the power feeding into her was doing she checked her battery, the gauge had actually climbed and was making moves out of the ‘Low’ zone.

Cameron crawled over to the mini-tank and positioned herself near a small vent, speaking into it she shouted “Hello!”

A stream of choice expletives came as a reply.

“I realize you’re not one of Jehovah’s Witnesses; their usually much politer when they call, but if you wouldn’t mind: what’s your name?”

JD was in a bind: no mobility, no weapons, no communication with Remi. He was safe inside his baby for now – he would have to think and talk his way out of this. “I’m Bites”, he called out, really hating to use that name, a long silence followed, “you still there?”

Cameron had been perplexed by his response, but after his question she called out “Sorry, did you say ‘Bites’ or ‘bite me’?”

“Just Bites”, he called back, drawing a hand down his face - he absolutely hated his code name now.

“All right Mr. Bites, who sent you?”

“Where’s my partner?”

“You mean the guy doing a fantastic impression of a speed bump in the parking lot?”

“Is he alive?”

“A nurse has gone to check on him” Cameron rationalized ‘He asked that for a reason, that’s his back-up! I need to keep him isolated’. “He was knocked unconscious and looked to have been doing okay until Mrs. McKinley ran him over, seems someone took her parking spot”.

JD tried to bolt – the back-up plan was shot to heck. His only choice was to run for the van and the weapons cache. Checking his sidearm he unlocked the door but it wouldn’t budge, after ramming it with his shoulder a couple times he slumped back into his seat.

Cameron snickered, she didn’t think the situation would turn around that well, and having to bend the truth about his partner had been a gamble - but provided the needed spark, he might just spill some useful info now “You had just started to tell me who sent you?”.

“I’m saying nothing!” JD barked, keyed up from frustration.

The wail of approaching sirens made talking further pointless so Cameron pondered what to do next, she remembered her Dad having had a problem with a hornets nest under the deck, he resorted to smoking them out. Cameron guessed she could try and mimic Grace’s ability - so she put her hand against the mini-tanks wall and pulled even harder onto the cable, directing a small portion of that energy being supplied towards the vehicle and its occupant. The molecules reacted and speed up quickly making the metal hot to the touch. The temperature climbed and she could tell he was noticing the discomfort and continued to monitor him in what was now an oven.

Grace and an RCMP officer entered the building with Cameron putting a finger to her lips in an effort to shush them. Outside the generator made a loud clank then wheezed as it grinded noisily to a stop.

Taking the opportunity presented, Cameron called out “Hey Mr. Bites, did you know there are flames underneath your tank? I’m sorry but it’s getting kinda hot - so I’ll be leaving now”. Going quiet momentarily Cameron then added “I gotta say though: being cooked alive is one lousy way of dying. Did you want to give a message to next of kin?”

It was silent, the tanks occupant not responding, so Cameron upped the temperature again, he would probably pass out soon.

“Kid! you still there?” he called out, his slurred speech giving evidence to his condition.

Cameron gave it a dramatic pause, then answered “Whatever you’ve got to say, make it short” Cameron waved Grace and the officer over to listen.

JD had been worried that talking would be a death sentence; but considering that he and Remi might as well be dead anyways, it didn’t matter anymore: “We are members of a mercenary hit squad working for the MCO, the contract for you is worth $250,000. Dead!”

“Thanks” was Cameron’s befuddled reply, as she drew energy back from out of the man and the mini-tank, it resulted in the temperature dropping back down.“Officer. The man inside has 2 pistols and a knife in his boot” informed Cameron as she unsealed the hatch and knocked Bites out cold.

Grace carried Cameron outside to the waiting ambulance and set her onto a gurney; the EMT conducted an examination and had to question the burnt clothing that no longer covered much of Cameron’s torso, plus the obvious track marks across her pyjama legs - but no sign of injury anywhere. Cameron was about to answer when a wave of nausea hit, she curled into a ball as the pain emanating outward from her groin overtook her senses, grabbing Grace’s hand Cameron managed to whisper “Call Doc Russell - the gender specialist. I’m in trouble!”.

End Chapter 1.
 
 



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