Miho Sakura had brought in Officer Kelsey Vance as Crusader suggested to help with the investigation of Lake’s mysterious sleepwalk of the night of the 9th. Miho had completed her research and was ready to present it to Lake first. She brought Kelsey, just in case Lake would allow her to help.
“Lake, I have the results of all of the testing and checking of the electronics, etc. Are you ready to hear the report? Do you have any questions?”, the scientist asked.
Lake nodded. “Although your findings may be just as important as your conclusion, I would like to know if you found evidence that I’m guilty of betraying the team or otherwise endangering the people I work with. Then I’d like to hear your findings after that.”
The truth was that the anticipation was killer. If they didn’t tell her what they discovered up front, she didn’t think she could listen as well to what they may have found because she’d be so worried about what they’d found.
Miho looked serious, “No Lake, you are not guilty of doing something. But I suspect someone is guilty of using you against your will. I have several theories that match the evidence and not one of them include you as the instigator; but only Ms. Vance here can prove that conclusively. Do you want to know the raw data?”
Lake looked at Ms. Vance curiously for a moment, but then nodded to Miho again, folding her arms under her breasts in a subconsciously protective gesture.
Miho spoke up, “A message was sent. If Mr. Sato hadn’t tracked energy usage to such a minute detail, we wouldn’t have even known that. Whomever it was that manipulated you Lake, they did it on an unconscious level and couldn’t force your shapeshifting into doing anything but echoing their persona. In other words, they spoke through you with a masculine voice as heard by myself and by Proximus. This person was an expert computer scientist, potentially at my level. They did everything right to hide the signal. We don’t know the contents of it, but we have tracked the destination to a communications satellite used by several corporations from Zentech to Vance, including Lansing. The message had a subchannel scrambler that deleted the logs of the satellite as well. As I said, this guy was good.”
Kelsey spoke up, “Since Psyon used mechanical telepathy, it is possible that he triggered the electrical surge to knock you out, allowing the possessor to do what he needed to do. Now, how or when you first came in contact with this person is the question. It is even possible that the entitiy transmitted itself and not a message.”
Miho nodded, “There are many open questions, but the most important thing is to determine if the programming or possession or remote control is still active, sleeping, or run its course.”
Crusader will look to Lake with an emotionless gaze. Emotionless for all except Lake who knew Sam well enough to know he had the look of “I told you so.”
“How do we proceed with finding out the status of this programming?”
Kelsey spoke up, “My guild training is as a forensic telepath, you know for police cases wherein victims are willing to be scanned for evidence, and SP officers need to know where a perp is located in a building for instance and for coordination for the same officers. If Lake is willing…”
Lake felt anxiety grip her stomach. “I… had a dream,” she said, interrupting the answer Crusader might have had from Kelsey. “When the… event happened. I was having a dream about Alpha, about the beach and the sea there. Someone was calling me, someone in the sea. I had it again the other day when Crusader returned and had me get some rest. Does that mean something? And… in the fight with Bion at the sky hook. I blacked out. I think Bion hit me with something, but I’m not sure what it was. I don’t think it hit me that hard, though, not enough to black out like that. But I did. Hedge reported that I disappeared. Also, someone else arrived at the same time, the mysterious being of red crystal. I don’t remember anything at that time. No dream. No memory of being somewhere else. Just… nothing.”
Kelsey replied, “It could be a manifestation of the possessor, which means the possessor might just be the red guy or the red guy works for him, and he could be Psyon. Would you be willing to relive the dream?”
Lake looked at Crusader. Her expression calmed. She looked back at Kelsey. “Yes. Do whatever you think you need to. Scan me, relive the dream, whatever is necessary. If I’m being controlled by someone, I want to know who and why.”
Kelsey looked at Crusader for his permission.
Crusader looked to Lake and nodded. “Do it.”
Kelsey took Lake’s hand and looked at Crusader, “You can join us should you wish. It might be useful should something happen. I wouldn’t be reading your mind, just creating a gestalt wherein you would see what we see. Your will may add to mine and hers.”
He replied, “If my presence can help in any way, you bet! Let’s proceed.”
Kelsey took his hand as well. Consciousness slipped away from them, revealing the beach on Alpha that Lake knew so well. But here she was not Lake, but Tia in her beachwear; a person Sam didn’t recognize. Kelsey wasn’t the SP officer, but a young woman with fiery red hair and a beach swimsuit and shift. Sam was Sam, but as Lake remembered him from school, her ideal image of him.
The purple seas and twin moons were as before. the sea was as before, and Tia felt the drawing to the sea as before. In the distance, on the beach was a male figure, indistinct and out of focus. On the horizon, a storm was brewing.
Kelsey asked, “Is this your dream?”
“Yes,” she said. She turned to the captivating sea. “This is who I am, the woman you never met but who I was born as. This me is dead.” She took a step toward the sea, and then another. She pointed down the beach without looking, indicating the man in the distance. “I never looked to see who that was, but I think he knows me.
“So does the the one in the sea. I could hear him calling. He’s … so cold.” She began walking to the water. “I think he may be out there. He needs my help.”
Looking to Sam, he felt Kelsey’s say something to her that Lake/Tia couldn’t hear she is being called by the sea. I sense a presense, but it feels like part of her persona, not an intruder or another telepath. A strong memory perhaps? Nothing else seems visible to me. Just Tia.”
“Should we continue to see who the figure on the beach is?” asked Sam.
Kelsey nodded. Turning back to Lake/Tia, “Please, come with us. He’ll be okay but we need to know who that is on the beach. Will you come with us?”
Tia pried her attention from the water and looked back at Kelsey. “He is one with the water. Like me. Maybe he will be okay for now.” She looked around for the man on the beach. Once she spotted him, she began to lead them in that direction.
The three of them walked down the beach toward the indistinct, possibly male form. It receded from them almost imperceptibly as if it stood at a distance from Tia’s mind. Kelsey, noticing this, asked, “This may be a traumatic memory of something or someone lost. So traumatic she cannot resolve it. I don’t sense anything from it at all. Lake, have you lost someone dear to you?”
She stopped and turned to her friends. “Someone? Yes.” It wasn’t something she’d spent a lot of time thinking about in recent years. What had happened was over ten years ago now, and she’d tried to move on, to live her own life. Though she’d never again managed any sort of real personal life or did more than a few dates with any single man, she’d thought that she had been happy enough.
“I can’t show you those memories,” she said. “Please don’t ask. Tia died back then and I’ve had to become Lake Rain. To get through it and to move on, you know? There is no one left from that time in my life.”
The image of the man started to fade and the draw of the sea began anew.
“Kelsey, Should we move to the sea? Or, do you think this is not a program we should be worried about?” said Sam.
“I think we can risk the sea. It seems important to Lake.” She turned to Lake, “Can we go with you to the sea?”
She looked back at them. “I go deep. I breathe in the water. Can you be harmed here? Breathing water is natural to me.”
“We have breathing equipment, we’ll be okay,” replied Kelsey, noting to Sam only that, “She sees us wearing breathers. It natural to her because to her it IS a dream. It will be safe to follow.”
Lake/Tia dove in as before and as before she felt drawn to the water. But, upon reaching the place she saw the man before, there was nothing. Emptiness. Silence but for the rushing sea. The feeling was gone.
Upon surfacing, the storm was still in the distance, it’s lightening growing bolder, reflecting red against the clouds. Kelsey asked, “Was there someone out here, someone you were searching for? Someone you needed to help?”
Tia had been turning in the water, casting about for something that was no longer there. “He’s not here. He was here before. Where would he have gone?”
“Who is he?” Kelsey asked, looking at Sam to chime in a reassuring word.
“Do you feel his presence still? Or, is there nothing now? I’m sure if he were still here you would hear or sense him?” asked Sam.
“I don’t know who he was,” Tia said. “He called me then, but I don’t hear him now. He was there, in the depths, but not anymore. There was something cold there, and I wanted to bring warmth.”
She looked at the sky. “I don’t remember that.”
The storm cascaded in the distance. The great thunderhead masking the horizon beyond, looked as if it had drifted farther away. The lightning, while lighting up the distance seemed not to be directly reacting to Tia/Lake’s words but were nonetheless growing less violent as time went on.
Kelsey said to her, “I feel no presence other than Sam and yourself here. We are alone.”
“It’s a dream,” Tia noted. “And you mean there’s no trace of other influence, don’t you.”
Kelsey answered, “I’ll tell you in a moment.” And with that the dream state ended and the three of them rejoined the very awake and conscious Miho who was observing the whole affair.
“Lake,” Kelsey said, “There is no evidence of someone in your mind other than yourself and your memories now. But, there is some tangental evidence that someone used you, but left no signature, just side effects manifested as elements in that dream. I think perhaps whomever did this used your pain to mask their actions; which perhaps was to follow your team. Have you been seperated from the group for a long time or encountered a telepath or other mind-powered mutant in the last weeks before that day at Dr. Sato’s lab?”
Lake shook her head. “Not that I recall.” She was definitely starting to get freaked out. “I’ve never experienced this kind of thing. You have to believe me! Not before I teamed up with Genesis and not after. The only things I can place as unusual are the blackouts and the dreams. What’s happening to me? How can we make it stop?”
Kelsey said in calm voice from may years dealing with people of all kinds, “Right now, you are Lake Rain and I for one believe you. It may have run it’s course with the appearence of the Red Man. Have you had any blackouts or unusual lack of sleep in the last two weeks?”
She shook her head. “No. Nothing beyond what I told you as far as I can remember.” Lake looked from one to the other. “Are you going to run a background check on me? Not that I’d expect you to tell me if you were. I probably would run one if the situation was reversed.” She had told them in the dream that she was really Tia and that was what she looked like. Or at least used to before she got her powers — after that, physical signs of of any aging didn’t appear at all, thanks to her shapeshifting. Since she’d never seen what she, as Tia, might look like as an older woman, she’d never be able to portray it. Therefore, what they saw in her dream was what she looked like at the time of the disaster — when she gained her powers.
Kelsey said, “That’s up to Crusader. Again, like I said from the beginning, I’m a good telepath, but there are much better than I with more experience in unusual situations such as this. That being said, in my opinion I don’t think anyone is telepathically possessing you or influencing you. If there was a block, I’d sense it and there isn’t one. If there is something still there, I cannot detect it. I do have some options, but I’d have to tell Crusader first.”
Crusader looked to Lake and gave a reassuring smile.
“Lake, could you give Kelsey and I some time to discuss this. As soon as I can I’ll come find you with our next step in solving this.”
She nodded without comment, looked once at Kelsey, but then turned and left the room so they’d have privacy.
“I’ll come with you.” said Miho.
As Lake and Miho left the room, Kelsey turned to Crusader, “Crusader, I’m sure no one is ‘telepathically’ possessing her or controlling her, though we could have a Guild expert double check. I do believe someone who knew her pain, suspected it, or sensed it, rode that emotion into her mind either telepathically or through some kind of mutant ability we don’t know about. She has no memory of the black outs, they are missing time. That isn’t generally natural. There should be some memory, but I can’t find it. It is as if that time never happened. The problem is, her physical mind is amorphous. It could have some way to storing data due to her mutation that I have no experience with. As I see it, we can do any or all of the following:
1) Conduct a deep scan using an expert Guild specialist. This will not be a pleasent experience for her; assuming she is conscious for it. And, if she was conscious it would tip off the person using her for certain.
2) Try to solve the emotional gateway by having her confront her pain. She really wants to save someone. It may be why she IS a hero. She failed to save someone in the past and is subconsciouly making up for it.
3) Plant a contact sequence in her mind. We could set up an unconscious command to do a certain action should she black out. The assailent may not even notice. I could monitor her as well, but constant scanning would get exhauting quickly. That being said, if she performed that physical action; perhaps tapping a ring, removing it, or some such; it would alert me and I could do a scan for her. Assuming we could rig a device to send a signal.
4) We could look into her background. Her real name is Tia and we know what she really looks like. Using the Guild’s psi-interface it wouldn’t take long to run the physical characteristics and name to get a match. But, legally Genesis can’t do that without both SP and Guild permission, and if we do it without Lake’s permission, we’d need a court order. We could of course, just ask her.
“I believe the red lightning, masculine voices and the Red Man are linked to the same assailent. Whomever he or it is, I’d call him our lead suspect.” she added. “As an aside, my grandfather knows certain techniques to shield normal minds a bit from scanning. You might not be able to stop the telepath, but you could detect it. It isn’t much, but it could help everyone. I know them, and I believe I can teach you.”
“I trust your abilities in this matter Kelsey. I’m not concerned with a background check. However, I do think it wise for you to set something up so if she goes through this again you will be notified. I think this wise and I think Lake would feel better knowing we are doing something proactive about this. Let’s go find her and see if this would be acceptable to her.”
Kelsey said, “Wait, please. Crusader…Sam; she CAN’T know we are doing anything else. You have to make her believe we think the situation is under control and we are doing some follow-ups. Put her at ease. Nothing more. If she is still in contact with Red Man unconsciously – which I still doubt – then everything she knows, he will know. I can set up a device, perhaps working with Ms. Sakura to create a ringcom, a comlink, that everybody would have, but hers would have a special extra system just in case she blanked out again. Then we’d be alerted. There may be other tracking and/or shielding options but that would require the Guild’s involvement.”
Crusader replied, “I see. For the record, I don’t feel comfortable doing this. But I guess this would be the easiest and least evasive. As soon as you can have new team comm links made and make sure Lake has this special set up with hers. I’ll go talk with her and expalin that we will be keeping a watch out but that under my recommendation, she is fit for duty.”
“I’ll work with Ms. Sakura on the comm links.” she replied.
Soon after, Crusader asked Lake enter the room.
Lake found Miho’s presence reassuring but assured the scientist she’d be fine. Since she’d had just a few minutes, she had decided to work on some responses regarding questions the public had regarding her as well as general questions about Genesis. Finding a few minutes here and there to squeeze in answers for curious and concerned public wasn’t hard and she felt she was doing people a lot of good, as well as the team. She closed the console and went immediately to see Crusader when she got the call.
The shapeshifter presented herself before Crusader. She didn’t say anything; instead she looked at him, trying to read his face, his body language. If he was upset, she wanted to know. If he had a solution and was happy about it, she wanted to know that, too.
Crusader waited and lifted an eyebrow to acknowledge Lakes entrance into the room. Standing to meet her he asked her to take a seat. Sitting at his make shift desk, Crusader looked a little concerned. Lake could always tell when Sam was troubled by something. He had this little wrinkle that would appear between his eyebrows… If Sam knew that was why he lost so many poker games with her and there friends he would probably ask for his money back.
“Well, it looks like there’s nothing at the moment to worry about Lake. I trust Kelsey’s judgment on this. Unless you feel you need some time off, I want you to continue to be this team’s second. You did a great job in my absence and you’ve shown that you can think and act to random situations that presented them selves to you and the team. Nice Work. However, I don’t want you to think that this is something I’m going to ignore and pretend did not happen. I need you to report immediately if anything like this happens again. No matter what you end up doing, I need to know. Can I count on you Lake?”
“Of course, Sam,” Lake responded without hesitation. She noted his concealed worry, however.
“You’re still worried, aren’t you. What’s next? Background check? Talking to a psychologist?”
Sam was about to interrupt Lake but let her finish. Taking a deep breath to clear any worry in his voice he continued,
“My worry isn’t what you think. As far as I’m concerned there’s no need for a background check or a psychologist. Besides, Those would not be my decision to make for you. We are dealing with some stored away feelings that are stored away for a reason. Seeing a psychologist would be your decision. I don’t think it necessary, but I’ not you Lake. As far as a background check, I’m not interested in finding out about this Tia persona. You are Lake and I’ll judge your capabilities on the time I’ve know you as such.
My worry comes from you. This situation is obviously making you second guess yourself. I want to make sure that when we’re out in the field you will have the ability t leave those feelings behind and do your job to the best of your abilities.”
Crusader leaned forward a bit to continue his thoughts, “Whoever did this to you will found and made to answer for their actions, I promise. But don’t let his actions rule the way you live your life Lake. If you do then he still has control. And I know you’re stronger than that.”
That made sense to her. She nodded. “Okay. You’re right. And maybe I’ve let myself be distracted by all this too much. For all we know, none of this will ever happen again, right? Maybe I just need to slow down a moment and put my mind on something I can accomplish.”
She smiled suddenly thinking of old times in college. “Or maybe I could just use a drink, a little Friday After Class. If we have time to slow down from all the work here at Genesis,” she added.
Crusader seemed to relax a bit. That would be a great idea. I wonder if the old stomping grounds are still around. When we have a break we’ll have to check it out. In the mean time could you get together with Erebos and find out all you can on this artifact he mentioned. From what you two discuss you can brief me and we can then get an idea of what we need to do. I’m going to be setting up meetings and getting a start on the diplomatic aspect of my job.
Lake nodded. “I will. See you later.”