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A monotone computer voice wakes me from a great sleep. "GOOD MORNING. IT IS CURRENTLY 7AM ORBITAL STATION TIME. YOUR FIRST APPOINTMENT IS AT 9AM WITH DOCTOR'S ASSISTANT GALE ON THE INFIRMARY LEVEL. SHOULD ADDITIONAL INFORMATION BE REQUIRED, MAKE YOUR REQUEST AT ANY BADGE INTERFACE TERMINAL. BREAKFAST IS CURRENTLY BEING SERVED ON THE LEO DECK."
Why is it that the alarm always goes off the instant after you finally manage to get to sleep? I'd tossed and turned on my bed for hours after returning from the 4th of July festivities. I was exhausted from the day's events, but my excitement over exploring my powers with BADGE scientists overwhelmed my desire for rest. "Five more minutes, please."
"ALARM MODE RESETING. NEW TIME REQUESTED. 7:05AM."
I plant my face into my pillow, groggily ignoring any motivation to get out of bed. As I lay there, I eventually fell my body drifting off...
"GOOD MORNING. IT IS CURRENTLY 7:05AM ORBITAL STATION TIME. YOUR FIRST APPOINTMENT IS AT 9AM WITH DOCTOR'S ASSISTANT GALE ON THE INFIRMARY LEVEL. SHOULD ADDITIONAL INFORMATION BE REQUIRED, MAKE YOUR REQUEST AT ANY BADGE INTERFACE TERMINAL. BREAKFAST IS CURRENTLY BEING SERVED ON THE LEO DECK."
"Come on. That wasn't five more minutes," I shout at the computer.
"RUNNING DIAGNOSTIC... DIAGNOSTIC COMPLETED. THE TIME IS 7:05 AND 34 SECONDS. 35 SECONDS. 36 SECONDS--"
I pull my pillow over my head, dulling but not defeating the obnoxious computer voice. "OK. Fine. I'm getting up. Just shut up, please."
The room becomes silent. As tempted as I am to return to dreamland, I fight the urge and roll over and dangle my legs over the edge of the mattress. A blinking light at the door to my quarters catches my attention.
"PERMISSION TO SPEAK ONCE AGAIN RECOGNIZED. YOU RECEIVED A DELIVERY FROM BADGE MEDICAL EARLIER THIS MORNING."
"Why didn't you tell me?" I ask as I hop out of bed and to the doorway. An opaque plastic bin rests just inside my doorway. I remove the lid and find a strange looking device with instructions on how to put it on.
"What's this?" I gently lift it out of its container.
"THIS IS THE PLUGGED IN CORE DEVICE. IT HAS BEEN ASSIGNED TO YOU TO HELP STUDY YOUR MORPHONIC ALTERATIONS FOR EVALUATION OF YOUR POWERS. PLEASE HANDLE WITH CAUTION. IF ASSISTANCE IS NEEDED TO EQUIP THE ITEM, PLEASE USE ANY BADGE INTERFACE TERMINAL TO CONTACT ASSISTANCE."
"Groovy," I say as I stare at the odd piece of gear. Hopefully, I won't have to wear it for long.
Madam Marvelous ID#26130
"What's in there?" I ask the person behind the glass partition as I point at a large black kettle with a metal ladle nestled in a cut out in the kettle's lid.
"Grits." He lifted the silver lid and scooped up a ladleful, letting the contents dribble out for me to see.
"Grits?" His answer left me none the wiser. It looked like yellow baby vomit as the clunky slop dripped with large splats off the ladle back into the pot. "Do you like them?"
He smiled as he nodded. "It's a porridge made with cornmeal. Would you rather have oatmeal? We've got that too."
I liked cornbread. What could it hurt to try something new? "No. I'll try the grits. Do I put sugar and milk on them."
"You can put whatever you like on them. People do all sorts of things with grits. Cheese. Shrimp. I like them with honey and butter." He put a dollop onto my tray through the opening at the bottom of the plexiglass partition.
"Call me Goldilocks. I'm trying some porridge for breakfast." I already looked like a pale, blond young woman, but as I spoke, I let my hair grow and curl into precious, long locks, golden in hue.
My newly gifted device began to click and whirr to life, a faint electronic hum becoming audible. A station alarm chimed from a nearby computer monitor, but ceased after a few bleats. A metal portcullis or folding shield began to descend from above as the siren went off, but quickly reversed and disappeared back into the ceiling.
I froze. What do I do? Should I be doing something?
The man behind the glass, as well as all the other workers with him, searched around them, seeking out danger. They calmed down quickly as the siren stopped.
"Does that happen much?" I asked as everyone began to move and speak again.
"Weird stuff? Yeah," He said. "It used to happened more when the station first went operational around a year ago. The sensors went all kabloey every so often. I thought they had them all fixed. I'd be checking the warranty out if I were them."
"So, everything's OK now?" I asked. "Should I be ducking and covering?"
"No," he said as he smiled. "The alarm stopped. Think of it like when you cook bacon at home and the fire alarm goes off when you burn it a bit. If we needed to be worried, the alarm wouldn't stop." He motioned for the next person in the food line to move up. "Next."
I took my tray and headed to an food station between the buffet line and the tables where BADGE staff and other heroes ate. Everyone seemed to be acting as if everything were normal.There were also dozens of robots working all over the place, doing a variety of tasks. I found honey packets and butter. I put two big pats of butter on my grits, same as I would with cornbread, and headed to an empty table.
I can't say exactly when my nerves kicked in, but it was long before the alarm sounded. Sometime after my shower but before reaching the cafeteria. I never felt so out of place. I've heard people call it being a fish out of water, but they are so wrong. I turned into a fish once in my parent's living room to prove I could do it and it doesn't feel anything like what I felt like right now. Not being able to breathe is much much worse, but I found myself wishing I had a friend or something familiar with me today. I'd never admit it to anyone, but I wanted my mommy. (IF ANY OF YOU TELL HER THIS, I WILL HUNT YOU DOWN!!!)
I sat down on a stainless steel bench at a stainless steel table as I placed my tray down, almost knocking over my glass of apple juice. I looked around, certain I would see the entire room watching my clumsy ass.
Nobody stared. Situation Normal. Calm down, girl. You've got this. You're Madam Marvelous. Suck it up!
I poured honey on my grits, noticing the butter had all melted and seeped into the mush. It smelled nice. Taking my spoon in hand, I took a scoop, 90% honey and 10% grits, and put it into my mouth. Not only did I not die, but it tasted mostly OK. Mostly honey, but the grits were a good different. I went back for more, half honey and half grits. It still tasted good, but again, I mostly tasted the honey. A final scoop, mostly grits with a nice glob of honey mixed in. Ahhh. Just right.
I liked grits. Hopefully I'd like everything else that happened to me today.
/\/\ /\/\ /\/\ /\/\ /\/\ /\/\
The medical department was easy to find. Assistant Gale met me at the door as I walked down the short hallway to the room I was to meet her in. "Ah, Madam Marvelous, I presume."
"Um, yeah," I said. "Here."
"Come on in. You're a few minutes early, but the tracking device in your monitor let me know you were on the way. Let's get r' done." She opened the testing lab door for me. "The sooner we get this done, the sooner you can be doing something fun."
I nodded as I walked past her into the room.
Madam Marvelous ID#26130
After being scanned for what seemed quite a while, Gale said, "Initial analysis is more or less as expected."
Gale put away the instrumentation... "As was suspected, your main abilities seem to be self-transformative... you 'become' other... other people or other lifeforms mainly.", she said.
"Dr. Henderson, initial evaluation results should arrive momentarily..." Gale stood silently for a moment, then pressed a series of buttons.
Turning to the neophyte agent, she said, "Wait here... she'll be here in a moment.", then Gale exited the testing lab.
Blossom sighed and settled in to wait. She was starting to wonder who the 'she' was that was supposed to be coming. As she checked the chronometer function of her newly issued comm device, Blossom noticed that she was no longer alone.
"Good morning...", said Krystal Fae.
Krystal was interrupted by a man sticking his head in the door behind her.
"Well, this is not the outhouse" he drawled with a western accent. He smiled at the women and tipped his cowboy hat. "Ladies..."
He backed out of the room and head down the hall, his spurs clinking away into the distance.
I watched as the man departed, mouth hanging open from the second unexpected visitor in under 30 seconds. The clicks of his spurs faded quickly as the door closed. I looked back to Ms. Fae and tried to regain some of my composure. "Uhhh, hi. Did that just happen?"
"It seems it did," Ms. Fae said. She brought her hand up, extending the common curtesy of a polite handshake. "It's nice to meet you, Madam Marvelous. I'm Krystal Fae."
"I...I...I...I know who you are. We've met before," I replied. I wasn't prepared to run into her today. How do you prepare to be in the same room with one of you idols?
"We have?" Ms. Fae tilted her head.
Ooops. My first day and I was already near to breaking Rule One.
"I mean I've seen you before. At the festivities yesterday," I stammered. I slowed my rapidly beating pulse and gathered my wits. I started reciting 'Goldilocks and the Three Bears" in my mind, trying to focus my errant thoughts. "I saw you at the beach with all the other heroes."
Krystal seemed to squint at me with a narrowing eye. Could she sense my attempt to--- NO. STOP THINKING ABOUT IT. THINK ABOUT TASTING THE GRITS. THE HONEY. THE BUTTER. Goldilocks fell asleep. Three bears came home...
"I'm sorry I didn't take time to introduce myself yesterday, then." Ms. Fae said. "I didn't mean to startle you so much this morning."
"It's OK. I'm really excited to be here and learn more about helping BADGE and my powers." I felt like I was that girl in the chocolate factory, turning blue and about ready to burst. "You're my hero! I want to be a hero just like you."
As a shapeshifter, I am particularly skilled at understanding my what my body was doing. My face wasn't turning the color of a blueberry. I was becoming the shade of a beet, bright and red. I couldn't believe I just admitted that to her like a dim-witted groupie or something.
Madam Marvelous ID#26130
"Dr. Henderson informed me that your specialty is self-transformation, and requested that I complete your evaluation... I believe the best method for this would be to see if you can reach my lab without being recognized. Follow me..."
Krystal turned towards the door, but a tortoise-shell cat completed the turn and darted through the opening door into the hallway.
As Blossom assumed a feline form and entered the hallway, the tortoise-shell cat was sitting there, absently washing an ear with her paw. It stood, stretched, and moved off down the hall.
Blossom then heard a voice in her head.
"Don't dawdle, please... You'll need to keep up so you'll know what form you'll need. The lab is on Level 4, but we'll go by way of the arboretum..."
The feline darted in the direction of the elevator.
Next to birds, cats are my second favorite critter to morph into. I do it all the time. Mom grumbles, but I don't think she understands why I prefer her petting me while I'm a cat over getting a hug as a person. My purrs should explain everything.
I chose the shape of a black and white Maine Coon. Some people prefer short-haired cats, but on cats I prefer long. Actually, I like hair in general. When shapeshifting, there is so much you can do with hair. Most everything else has to be done perfectly. You can't become a living creature without organs and skin in the right places, but hair. Hair is at your own discretion. And, I want to impress Ms. Fae with my level of skill, so I pick a specific cat to emulate.
I follow behind her, my large paws silently striking the floor as I pursue my instructor. I barely acknowledge the stares of BADGE employees as she and I move to the elevator door. (Yes, I know. How "cat" of me! I told you I did this often. I've got cat personality down.)
When we get there, the strange cowboy is waiting for the metal doors to open. He glances down as I rub against his boots. He's been in a field of catnip recently, my nose informs me. I approve.
He looks down at me, smiles, and tips his hat. "Well, whose this sweet girl?"
This is a training exercise, young lady. Ms. Fae thinks to me. And there is something wrong with your head. Perhaps you aren't ready for this exercise yet.
I don't know how to talk back to her. I morph back to my previous form. My legs and his intertwine and we both end up in a pile on the floor. "I'm sorry, Ms. Fae. That's how his face looks. I copied my favorite internet kitty, Chase no Face."
"What in tarnation's is going on here. I've been toppled like I was bucked off a five-hundred pound steer." The man said as he separates his intertwined legs from my own.
[Chase No Face was an actual living cat who was disfigured in an accident, but his saviors/owners managed to get him to a vet. He lived a normal, happy life afterward. They did need to apply eyedrops daily, as the accident left him with no eyelids.]
Madam Marvelous ID#26130
This post was updated on .
"I, of course, am a telepath... most Fae are...", Krys-cat sent to her mind, "...you merely needed to focus on your reply..."
"...since you are human for the moment, make your explanations to the man, and press the button for the arboretum level, please... once he has left you may assume your next form to match the one I will take...", Krystal sent, as she primly sat once more washing behind her right ear, for all the world acting truly feline.
"You may not have noticed... your comm unit transformed with you... it's my own nano-technology... we had an issue of a 'forced' transformation leaving an Agent without her comm a few months ago.", Krys sent.
"I'm really, really sorry sir," I said to the man I knocked down as I scrambled to my feet. I pointed at Ms. Fae. "She and I are doing some training, I mean, she is training me to help me control my powers."
The man glided up from the floor like only a cowboy could. "Darlin', seems like you're good at what you do already. Might need to work a bit on yer' timin', but I never imagined you were that there barn cat until you went and made like a skinwalker."
"Skinwalker?" I said.
"A name people some people used to describe what you done did there," he said. Her removed his hat and nodded deeply to me. "Angelus MacGregor, if you please lil' miss.
"Ah...uhm... Madam Marvelous," I replied.
The elevator door swept open with a barely audible hiss.
"I suppose I'll be seeing you around then, Madame," he said as he backed into the elevator cab. "I wish I had time to chew the fat more with y'all, but I've got places to be and can't be burnin' daylight. Good day," he said. And then as if an afterthought, he turned and looked down at Ms. Fae. "And good day to you as well, ma'am, if'n yer the red-haired beauty I spied in the room with this lil' lady."
Ms. Fae brought her head up and blinked at him, but I don't know what she thought to him. His face did appear as if she said something quite clever as he broke into a half-grin and erupted in a sort of half-snort/half laugh.
The door closed and left only me and Ms. Fae in the corridor intersection. I pressed the button for the arboretum and waited to see what my next form should be.
Madam Marvelous ID#26130
Krystal sat patiently as the elevator transported them.
As the bell dinged, the cat leaped upwards and disappeared.
A vibrantly colored avian form hovered at chest height.
"Come... let's go...", came Krystal's next thought wave.
Blossom grinned. Krystal certainly picked beautiful forms.
She transformed and followed as the door parted and Krystal darted through the opening.
I wanted to change into a hummingbird, but the smaller the creature is, the more difficult they are for me to become. Insects are nearly impossible. With practice I've been able to become a large tarantula twice.
I opt for my old stand-by, a snow owl. On silent wings I follow after Ms. Fae down the corridor and into the large arboretum. There is a crew of technicians about the room, inspecting some of the space station's computer terminals and repairing damage in the walls about the room. I look for Ms. Fae, but cannot see her.
She couldn't have made it to one of the rooms other exits. Maybe she is testing my ability to use my animal senses to find her? I rise high up in the room and find the highest perch I can. Landing on it softly, I morph into the body of an eagle, a predatory bird with the sharpest eyesight that I know of.
The technicians begin to scurry around a computer terminal as it begins to beep loudly. A colony of butterflies hovers around a bush with several flowering blossoms in a cascading spray. A metal box, polished to a mirrorlike glaze, rests crammed into a branch/trunk junction on a tree a few yards away. Finally, I spot Ms. Fae, her colorful plumage mostly hidden beneath the canopy of a flowering dogwood tree not far from a small pond.
Ms. Fae, can you hear me, can you hear me, Ms. Fae I think out to the tune of "Smooth Criminal" in the direction I noticed her.
My attention is drawn back to the strange box. Not to long ago, the space station was targeted by the mercenaries that worked with Arx. Did they hide the device up here, hoping nobody would notice it? Was it a bomb?
Ms. Fae. Do you know what this is?
Madam Marvelous ID#26130
Krystal assumes her human form and moves over to the location indicated.
Examining the small metallic item, Krystal determined that it had been attached to the main transmission cable for the communications array via a short thread-like cable.
As Blossom swooped down from her perch, she flared her wings to kill her momentum, and assumed her human form, landing with an almost inaudible 'thud' on her feet beside Krystal.
"Hmmm... interesting... I do believe that we've been 'bugged'...", murmured Krystal.
"Should we remove it?", asked Blossom.
"Not yet... I need to discuss this with..."
"I hope you don't have a nervous stomach...", Krystal said, laying her hand on Blossom's arm.
Blossom was about to say, "Not really... why?", when the scene changed around her.
One moment, she had been standing beside Krystal in the Arboretum, the next she was in the infirmary wing, Krystal letting go of her arm. She felt a moment of disorientation, then looked up.
Agent Justin was standing beside a doctor in a white coat, near a bed with an obviously grumpy occupant.
Krystal stepped in their direction, and finally, Blossom could see who occupied the bed.
"D-D-Director... Nova...", she whispered to herself.
My stomach churned, but I kept my grits down despite a sudden wave of nausea washed over me.
I wasn't where I was a second ago. My eyes darted around the room, trying to identify it. Beds with all sorts of medical instruments nearby let me know my location in the space station.
If I was still on the space station? I looked for a window or some object that identified where I might be.
Krystal stepped over to Agent Justin and a doctor I recognized from my physical. I was on the space station still.
Then I saw who was on the closest hospital bed. "D-D-Director... Nova..."
He hadn't been present for the 4th's festivities. I figured he was busy with work after everything that happened with Arx. To see him bedridden made me more nauseous than the teleport Ms. Fae must have used on us.
I hurried closer to Ms. Fae, not wanting to disturb Director Nova. He looked so strange. I'd never even imagined him sleeping before today. He was always a figurehead, a symbol of BADGE and what it stood for. Now he looked like any other person. A person who had been hurt.
As Ms. Fae talked, I crept up beside Director Nova's bed and slid my hand into his. "It will be OK, sir. You rest up. We've got this."
Madam Marvelous ID#26130
Nova raised his gaze to meet Blossoms.
His face wore its typical scowl, but there was a bit of softening around the eye.
"Ha-rummmp... Of that, young lady, I have no doubts...", Nova grumped, "...Now if all these 'nervous Nellys' would let me get back to work."
"With your permission, Director, there has been a development... I need to tell you something, but there may be security issues involved.", cautioned Krystal.
"Very well... do what is necessary...", Nova said, with a nod to Justin.
Krystal concentrated a moment, and the scene changed once more.
Blossom noted that she did not feel as if teleportation were involved, as she felt no additional nausea.
She appeared to be in a quite massive space, along with Justin, Krystal, and, of course, Nova. The expanse seemed brightly lit, though filled for the most part with a white mist.
"Where are we?", Justin queried. Blossom was wondering the same thing.
"Blossom here detected a device... it is tied into the communications array... there is no way to determine how long it has been in place and given the apparent foreknowledge of our most recent 'visitors', I thought some 'special precautions' were in order. If the organization funding the mercenaries is involved, they have access to the abilities of the Morphonic Avatars. I have placed us where I believe even the Mental Avatar would not think to look, though I can't be certain of that.", said Krystal.
"We are within your mind?", inquired Nova.
"Not exactly... someone using 'Mental's' power might search there... we are currently mental constructs within the mind of my unborn child...", Krystal responded.
When BADGE first approached me about joining, they said being one of their agents would take me places. I never imagined it would take me inside of the mind of a prenatal being. What would be the right term for Ms. Fae's unborn child? A Fae-by?
I tried to remain as immobile as possible, not wanting to disturb anything in her child's mind. I didn't want to be the unwitting cause of the Butterfly Effect inside the mind of someone younger than myself.
"You're caution is appreciated, Krystal," Nova said. Not bed-ridden Nova, but standing and as impressive as always Nova. He wore his typical black battlesuit and had his cane in hand. "Get some of your best tech experts in to study the box you found. The enemy has already breached our defenses and slipped into our home. Let's not give them the opportunity to repeat the offense."
"Of course, sir," Ms. Fae said. "I know of a few talented technocrats who would relish the opportunity to examine their devices." Her stance shifted slightly and she tilted her head slightly to one side. "Time to get back to the real world I suppose."
Like a lightswitch suddenly flipped, I blinked and found myself back in the infirmary with my hand holding Director Nova's.
"I've sent the others back as you requested," Krystal said to Nova. The two of them were alone in the mental realm of her child's mind. "What is it you wanted to discuss?"
"I see you've met our Madam Marvelous," Director Nova said. "I would appreciate it if you made sure that special care is taken with her tutelage."
"Of course," Krystal said. "If you don't mind, may I ask why?"
"Dr. Henderson is still trying to make sense of the preliminary data collected on her Morphogenic Matrix. When you have some free time, discuss the results with her. I think a fresh take on the data might be warranted." Nova replied. "Under no circumstances are you to discuss this with Madam Marvelous yet. Understood?" His last sentence carried a undertone of seriousness.
"As you wish, sir," Krystal said. Her curiosity was piqued, for certain. What mystery did the young hero contain beyond her shapeshifting gifts?
Madam Marvelous ID#26130
Angelus clinked into the cafeteria and stood in line. The lunch menu was burgers for the meat-eaters and a lovely cobb salad for the vegimites. Angelus deftly grabbed for the burgers - three of them.
While placing a heathy dose of ketchup on his burgers he spied Madam Marvelous sitting by herself, clearly deep in thought. Well, if there was one thing he was good at, it was breaking up a chain of concentration.
"Howdy, Kitt'n", he drawled. He placed his tray across from her salad and plopped into the seat facing her. She glanced up with a hint of a smile and only slight embarrassment.
"I am so sorry about getting all tangled up earlier", She said. "I was running, and nervous, and just... got all confused". Her embarrassment deepened as he grinned.
"Nothing to go all red over or be sorry about, miss. I normally 'rastle cattle, so it was fun to get swiped by a woman for once.", he replied with a smirk. "So you are one of the newbies they are running through training and testing? I arrived with the group before yours, so it is nice to have someone else be their guinea pig for a change. What's your power anyway, if'n you don't mind me askin'"
"Shapeshifting, mostly", she said as a pair of cat ears sprouted from the top of her head, wiggled at him, and then disappeared. "What's yours? Time travel? You look a bit out of whack with the times, my friend".
Angelus guffawed and almost choked on his burger.
"Would you believe I am a scientist of a well-respected university? A leader in my field?", he grinned.
"No" she laughed.
"The would you believe I am the fastest gun in the west, or any other direction? Able to shoot a target from the back of a horse, at full gallop, blind-folded, and still hit a moving target?"
"Now THAT, I believe" she replied, grinning from ear to ear.
"Well, one of those things is a lie. You decide." he replied as he stood. His now empty tray holding only crumbs. "It has been good talking to you Kitt'n. See you around the corral."
Madam Marvelous waved and watched him saunter off, dipping his hat a female agent that came in the door that he held it for her.
"I don't think I will ever get used to this place", she mumbled. "And maybe that is a good thing."
Krystal entered the seating area for the food court, behind her levitating a large bowl.
She spied Madam Marvelous sitting near one of the planters that served as area dividers.
Walking away from the table was the 'cowboy' from the elevator. Krystal had found it somewhat amusing that his internal 'mental' voice was at total odds from what came out when he verbalized.
Krystal approached and asked if she minded company. The young woman shrugged, then gestured to acquiesce.
Krystal sat, her bowl floating into place.
"By Oberon's horns... I forgot the milk.", Krystal muttered to herself. With a gesture, she conjured a quart of premium-grade chocolate milk.
"Interesting choices...", thought Blossom," ... that has to be the largest chef salad I've ever seen... and chocolate milk? I mean both are healthy choices, especially knowing she's pregnant, but together? Must be a craving..."
Krystal forked up a large bite, stuffed it in like she was nearly starving, and grinned around her bulging jaws at the young heroine, a dab of dressing below her lip.
Before Blossom could make excuses to leave, Krystal spoke to her mentally, only to avoid speaking with her mouth full.
"I 'heard' your concern earlier for her mind, but you needn't have worried... Fae children are, of course, telepaths, even pre-natally. She has already been exposed to what some would consider an alarming number of rather 'adult' thoughts, long before now... she has even encountered 'alien' minds. You are merely another interesting 'voice' to her...", Krystal sent.
I shuddered. How many of my thoughts could Ms. Fae hear? Agent Leslie taught me some techniques to protect my mind, like reciting a song or poem to make reading my deeper thoughts more secure. Ms. Fae's almost casual projection made me fear that Rule #1 had been broken. Protect myself and my family first. Did she know where they lived? She'd used my given name while speaking to Director Nova, not by Madam Marvelous. Ms. Fae is a hero, she wouldn't do anything to hurt my parents.
Oh. Darn it. She probably heard me think that now.
I wish she couldn't hear my thoughts.
Being a fae, telepathy was as natural as breathing. Krystal overheard Blossom's concerns and contemplated the right words to ease the girl's troubled mind.
Then something strange happened, something rare. Blossom's mind disappeared from the background noise of voices Krystal was typically aware of. She became non-existent to her telepathic senses.
Blossom, can you hear me? Krystal projected a thought at the girl. Blossom's body language changed, indicating that she had, but Krystal couldn't hear a response. "What did you say?"
"I heard you," Blossom said. "But instead of calling me that, can you call me Kitt'n instead? I have to protect my parents. I trust you, of course, but we just found that weird box and, well, you know, I don't want anything bad to happen to them because I'm with BADGE. Please don't be mad."
Krystal finished chewing and wiped her mouth with a napkin before speaking again. "Of course I'm not mad. Family is very important to me too. I just essentially introduced you to my daughter and it made me very proud that you worried about her safety. I am curious how you did that though?"
"Did what?" Madam Marvelous, or Kitt'n said.
Skilled in reading body language, Krystal noted that Madam Marvelous's micro-expressions were of true confusion. She had no idea what it was that Krystal had meant.
Madam Marvelous ID#26130
(sometime around midnight, station time)
Blossom, or Kitt'n, as she now called herself had been studying for hours. She might be a hero (or at least a hero-in-training), but she still intended to graduate with her class.
As she closed her math book finally, her stomach grumbled.
"Maybe a snack, then bed...", she mused.
She slipped on her pink sneakers, pulled on her favorite hoodie (Julie and the Phantoms) over her Gem and the Holograms T-shirt, leaving it unzipped.
"I know they don't serve this late, but there were some machines... I bet there's something good down there.", she thought.
The station, slightly less well lit at this hour, seemed to be inhabited mostly by maintenance robots.
As Kitt'n slipped thru the food court and studied the machines, she found her favorite late-night snack.
"Mom would have a fit, but what she doesn't know won't hurt me...", she chuckled.
She sat to consume her snack but realized suddenly that she was no longer alone.
A little girl, looking to be about 5 or 6, was approaching her table.
"What is an unaccompanied child her age doing here?", Kitt'n wondered.
The child approached, not hesitantly, but like someone who not only knew precisely where she was but was precisely where she meant to be.
"Hello...", the little girl said as she fiddled with the button on her pink jumper, brushing her striking red bangs out of her eyes.
"Hello... are you lost, honey?", asked Kitt'n.
"No, not lost... I like your shirt... my name is Gwen, but mama calls me Gem."
"And who is your mom?", asked Kitt'n. "Do you need help finding her?"
"She's just mom... she doesn't know I'm here, but ... ohhh... gotta go... bye."
The child ran about a dozen steps in the direction of the elevator and vanished without a trace.
Kitt'n followed in the direction she had last seen her, but though there hadn't been enough time to reach the first door, there was nothing visible but a 'Roomba-type' sweeper-bot in the corridor.
"Huh?", thought Kitt'n.
I didn't think that the space station had been around long enough to be haunted, but the appearance of the little girl surprised me. Her disappearance surprised me too. All things considered, the whole encounter with her freaked me out a bit.
Not that she wasn't nice. She seemed perfectly pleasant. Perhaps a touch lonely, but I imagined life aboard a space station could often be so. There were no alarms going off. Nobody seemed to be missing a cute little girl. And I was a kid with superpowers, she probably had some cool abilities as well.
I picked up the empty bag from the Famous Amos Chocolate Chip cookies I bought and threw it away in the trash container as I nibbled on the last treat. Should I tell someone?
I made my way to one of the station control monitors. "Hello? Computer?"
"how may I be of assistance?" the monitor asked as it flashed to life.
"Do you take pictures of what happens in the cafeteria late at night?"
"security cameras are in constant use at all times," it replied.
"Can I see the footage of me in the room a few minutes ago?" If a little girl was missing, a picture of what she looked like would be useful. I could shapeshift into her, but having proof of her being in the room with me would let BADGE know I wasn't just trying to play some prank on them. Shapeshifters are known to enjoy being pranksters.
Ask anyone. You never know, THEY COULD BE ONE OF US. mUHAHAHAHAHA!!
Madam Marvelous ID#26130
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