Hurt & Comfort

Book 11: Creating Comfort

©2020 MultiMapper
All Rights Reserved

Chapter 19: Thistledown

"Before we get there, what is it that we're not supposed to tell Bobby?" Seth quietly asked as they followed a more or less path to the southwest of the playing field.

//Sooner or later Bobby is going to find out that the final member of our team is actually a friend of his who recently passed away. It would probably be best if we weren't the ones to reveal that to him.// Jesus said carefully.

"Peter's alive?" Steve asked with surprise.

"No. That would make everything a lot easier." Beau said regretfully.

"Just what is it that you're telling us, then?" Ms. Mordigan asked uncertainly.

"Basically, I've recruited Piotr's spiritual essence to join our team. Although we don't know exactly how everything is going to turn out, the more general plan is for Piotr to help Lisa learn how to use her abilities." Beau carefully explained.

"From what I've heard, Peter and Bobby were really close friends." Slash quietly added.

"They were. I used to see them in the morning, out running the track before classes." Steve said sadly.

"If they were so close, then why aren't you telling Bobby that his friend is back... at least in some sense of the word?" Ms. Mordigan asked cautiously.

"When I talked to Piotr about it, he asked me not to tell Bobby. If possible, he'd like to explain it himself once things have settled and he has more of a handle on his situation." Beau said anxiously as he awaited their reactions.

"I'm sorry if this is a stupid question, but are you talking about talking to ghosts?" Steve asked uncertainly.

"This situation is unusual. There aren't a lot of earthbound spirits and what few there are usually fade away without anyone ever noticing them. Because of who and what I am, I can sense spirits and communicate with them when very few others can." Beau carefully explained.

"Was that a 'yes'?" Steve cautiously asked.

Ms. Mordigan was sure to make eye contact with Steve before giving an almost imperceptible shrug.

"Listen, just like with my medical studies, necromancy has some industry specific terminology which may mean something different to me than it would to the layperson. It's for that reason that I resist using technically inaccurate wording." Beau fought to explain.

"I'm pretty sure that means 'yes'." Ms. Mordigan quietly confided.

Steve nodded his agreement to her assessment.

"So what does that have to do with what we're doing here?" Slash asked curiously.

"We're setting up the workshop so that I can install the spirit into a physical vessel. That way Lisa will have access to it when she needs it." Beau said frankly.

"You think of Fallen as an it? Not a him?" Louie asked curiously.

"I'm hoping that enough of the person that Piotr was will come through so that I can think of the final result as being a sentient being and a member of our team, but right now, to cast this spell correctly, I need to create the facade of a void of spiritual energy within a physical object so that hopefully the entire spirit will instinctively bond to it and become fully attached." Beau carefully explained.

"What are the dangers in what you're suggesting?" Ms. Mordigan asked cautiously.

"The most likely failure would be if the spirit were damaged or even destroyed. They're incredibly fragile." Beau said frankly.

"What are the dangers to us?" Lee asked firmly.

"Possession, I guess." Beau said as he matched Lee's determined gaze, then explained, "Even though it's highly unlikely, the amount of trouble that it causes makes the one in a million chance still seem a little too risky."

"That could really happen?" Ms. Mordigan asked with concern.

"I'm planning to take a disembodied spirit of a once living being and force it into an inanimate object that it was never meant to inhabit. If there's some way for the spirit to find refuge in a living body then it will naturally do that."

"But you believe that you will be able to put the spirit into something non-living?" Ms. Mordigan cautiously asked.

"Yes. I have that ability. I just can't swear that I won't damage the spirit in the process." Beau confirmed.

"Is that it?" Louie asked excitedly as he pointed at the small building ahead of them.

"Probably. I've never seen it from the outside." Beau said honestly.

"It's beautiful." Lisa said delightedly, then added, "Even though it's not made of gingerbread, it's still as close to a storybook cottage as I've ever seen in real life."

"What are we going to be doing?" Slash asked uncertainly.

"I think at first we're probably just going to explore. We might do some cleaning, if we can find the cleaning supplies that we'll need." Beau said as the group arrived at the door.

"That is, if we can get in." Slash said as he tugged on the door handle.

"I didn't think about that. Does someone need to go back and get the key from the professor?" Lee asked curiously.

//The professor says that our team has multiple methods at our disposal for getting past a locked door, any of which would be faster than dispatching someone with a key.// Jesus said seriously.

"I can do it!" Seth automatically volunteered.

"No. Let me!" Quaid immediately called as a transparent cube formed in the air, right in front of him.

"Hold on. Why don't we let Mad decide?" Lee suggested.

Ms. Mordigan was caught off-guard by the suggestion, but soon enough gathered herself and responded, "Let me know how each of you would get us past the locked door and I'll decide which way is best."

"I can just phase us through the door. It'll only take a second." Seth stated simply.

"I can move the door out of the way." Quaid said matter-of-factly.

"You just got your power, like, a minute ago. How can you know how to use it already?" Louie asked curiously.

"Because I had psionic powers before. I didn't have a lot of reason to use them, but I always knew how to if I wanted to." Quaid said reasonably.

"Can you really move the door?" Louie asked curiously.

"Yes and no. I can move my cube. So all I've got to do is create my cube with the door inside, then just move the cube out of the way and the door will go with it." Quaid said simply.

"Would that damage the door?" Ms. Mordigan asked cautiously.

"Not as long as I move the door frame too. If I tried to move only part of the door, I'd be more likely to break it." Quaid quietly admitted.

"If you're not worried about damage, I could kick the door in. It might not be pretty, but it'd be fast and easy." Lisa said frankly.

"What about you, Beau? Do you have any spells that could get us in?" Seth asked curiously.

"None that I could do in a reasonable amount of time. Most of my stuff takes a lot of preparation and supplies." Beau said honestly, then thought to add, "Besides, the only spell that I can think of to use to pop the door open could just as easily disintegrate the entire building."

"Yeah... um, no. Let's not do that." Seth said slowly.

"What about you, Brian? Do you have some special power that could get you past a locked door?" Slash asked curiously.

"Not really. But I could wait for someone else to open it, then follow them in without them noticing." Brian said honestly.

"I guess that's almost as good as doing it yourself." Seth said with a grin at him.

"I don't know. That attic window looks like it's cracked open a little bit. I might be able to climb up there and get in that way." Steve said speculatively as he stared upward.

"You can climb?" Seth asked with surprise evident in his voice.

"What? Do you think that just because I don't have legs that I'm not able to climb?" Steve asked in offense.

"Well... yeah." Seth reluctantly admitted.

"Watch this." Steve snarled defiantly, then proceeded to scale the vertical wall with little more effort than slithering across the open lawn.

"It might not be safe for him in there." Seth said suddenly, then seemed to vanish in a blur of darkness.

"Is this more what you had in mind when you thought about being around a group of mutants?" Lisa asked with a teasing grin.

"We're certainly getting closer." Ms. Mordigan admitted, then cautiously asked, "Did Seth just teleport himself inside?"

"It depends on what you mean when you say teleport. I think he probably slipped out of this dimension, then took a couple steps to get past the door, then slipped back in." Lisa cautiously explained.

"It looks like Steve was able to get in without a problem." Lee said as he remained focused on the window in the eves of the little house.

Before anyone could comment, a blur of darkness flared and revealed Seth standing before them.

"The deadbolt lock on the door needs a key no matter which side you're on." Seth quickly announced.

"If you can go back in and open a window, we could probably all get in that way, as long as we help each other." Beau said as he looked at the ground level windows consideringly.

"Or I could phase us through the door." Seth said frankly.

"Okay. But we still need to at least think about how we'd each try to get past the locked doors using our own abilities." Lisa said seriously.

"Yeah. We might have to split into teams sometime or Seth could get knocked out or killed or something." Louie said honestly.

"Please don't say that." Lisa quietly asked.

"Okay." Louie easily agreed.

"Not talking about it won't make it not happen. Preparing for it might." Quaid told the group deadly seriously.

"Let's talk about it inside." Seth suggested.

"Meerkat one." Beau said firmly.

Lee was surprised when Louie took hold of his arm and started guiding him to the center of their group.

Ms. Mordigan was equally surprised when Lisa took firm hold of her shoulders and nearly carried her toward Seth.

There was a sudden explosion of darkness which an instant later was shredded by blue-gray light emanating from Seth's horns.

* * * * *

"This way." Seth said authoritatively as he stepped forward.

"Why have you shifted us to the nygo-husk?" Ms. Mordigan slowly asked while travelling with the herd through the fleshy membrane.

"It's just the best way I know to get all of us past the locked door." Seth reluctantly admitted.

"What do you know about the nygo-husk?" Lee asked curiously.

"Nothing. I must have heard about it somewhere." Ms. Mordigan quickly explained.

"As Steve would say, 'Don't be pulling my tail'." Beau said in a voice devoid of humor.

"Who's to say where you learn certain things. It must be something that I picked up in my travels." Ms. Mordigan said nervously.

"We can wait here for as long as it takes. We need to know who you really are and what you know about the husk dimension." Lee said seriously.

"What if I don't have anything to tell you?" Ms. Mordigan asked challengingly.

"If waiting here isn't a problem for you, then I suppose that we could wait it out in hell, at least until the demons notice our presence." Lee said as a portal suddenly enveloped the group, revealing them to be in a nightmarish wasteland of heat and noxious vapor.

"The sky's on fire." Louie whispered.

"You get used to it." Lee said as he casually put a comforting arm around Louie's shoulders.

"Your people aren't meant to have this power; not for at least a few hundred more generations." Ms. Mordigan warned as she looked around nervously.

"Who are your people?" Lee asked simply as Quaid approached from Lee's other side and was promptly pulled into a hug.

After a moment to consider her situation, Ms. Mordigan finally opened her mouth to answer.

Before she could utter a word, Brian firmly said, "We don't need to know that."

Lee looked at Brian with surprise at the interruption.

"Her people have enemies. Leave it at that." Brian said seriously.

"You're using your prognostication to help me?" Ms. Mordigan asked with surprise.

"I'm using it to help us. It just happens to be helping you, too." Brian stated simply.

//Steve is beginning to worry about where we went.// Jesus announced into all their minds.

"I'll go tell him what's going on." Lee quickly volunteered.

"Don't bother. We're done here." Brian said seriously, daring anyone to contradict him.

After a tense moment, Lee quietly said, "Go ahead Seth. Take us back."

"I don't know how to get us back from here." Seth reluctantly admitted.

"Sure you do. Just change the frequency, either to that of the husk or to our real world." Lee carefully explained.

"Right. The frequency's different. I should have noticed that." Seth said intensely.

"Whenever you're ready. We don't have to rush this part." Lee said gently, so as not to jar Seth out of his concentration.

"I sure do hope this works!" Seth said nervously.

"We'd be perfectly fine with waiting while you get all the bugs worked out." Beau said frankly.

Lisa and Ms. Mordigan immediately nodded their agreement.

"You go on ahead, Seth. We're right here with you." Slash calmly assured him.

"Thanks." Seth said gratefully as a burst of blue-black light erupted from his horns.

* * * * *

When the blinding blackness faded, the group found themselves inside the small cottage.

"I was beginning to worry. Where were you guys?" Steve asked, sounding to be more than a little unnerved.

"Through the looking glass." Slash said without humor as he looked askance at Seth.

At Steve's confused look, Ms. Mordigan told him, "It could take a minute to explain. I'll tell you later."

Steve cautiously nodded his agreement to the plan.

"How did you get all the way over there?" Lee asked Quaid, who had been at his side before they appeared in the cabin.

"I guess when we came back, the table was in the way, so I materialized beside the table instead of inside it." Quaid said speculatively.

"I should have thought of that. I'm sorry Quaid. I never even thought that I might phase you into the middle of something." Seth said repentantly.

"It's okay, but less solid things might not move me out of their way. You should probably look before you leap." Quaid said seriously.

"So, is everyone okay?" Steve asked uncertainly as he looked around.

"Yeah. I think so." Lee said as he moved around the table to Quaid's side.

"Now that we're in here, what are we supposed to do?" Louie asked curiously.

"I was planning on us cleaning this place up, but I don't know how much we're going to be able to accomplish with all of us in here." Beau said frankly.

"Plus, if you start kicking up the dust, it's going to get really miserable, really fast." Lisa interjected.

//The professor just told me that he gave Matt a key to the door. Maybe we can just plan things until he gets here.// Jesus suggested.

"Honestly, if we can find a way to manage it, we could just take the furniture out, clean the room, then clean the furniture before we put it back." Beau said seriously as he looked around consideringly.

"With what?" Quaid asked simply.

Beau looked at Quaid to expound on his question.

"Unless you've got some cleaning supplies in your back pocket, I don't think we have anything to clean with here." Quaid said frankly.

"I'm not seeing any cleaning supplies on the shelves, either." Lisa cautiously added.

"Maybe we could get the professor to send some cleaning supplies with Matt and the guys." Louie suggested.

//They've already left the mansion. It'd be a lot of trouble for them to double back.// Jesus said frankly.

"Vile Kricket could probably go there and back before they get here." Louie suggested.

"Sounds good. Why don't you take them out, Seth?" Lee asked pleasantly.

"Yeah. Sure." Seth said easily as he stepped forward and placed a hand gently on Louie's shoulder.

Louie, Jesus and Seth all disappeared in a smudge of darkness.

"Come on, Quaid. Let's see if we can't give them a run for their money." Lee said as he opened a portal in the air before them.

"But I can't move fast like Vile Kricket." Quaid warned him.

"Maybe not. But maybe your cube can." Lee said frankly.

"I didn't think of that." Quaid said with a smile of surprise.

"Come on. Let's find out." Lee said as he offered his hand.

When Quaid took hold, Lee pulled him through the cloudy portal and it closed behind them.

"Does anyone else want to race up the hill to Xavier's?" Beau asked into the silence that followed.

"You've never seen me run. I probably couldn't beat Vile Kricket in a sprint, but I might be able to take him in a marathon." Lisa said frankly.

"You've never seen me slither at full speed either. I don't know if I'll win against you, but you'll know you were in a race." Steve countered.

"So super speed is another thing that neither of us has to offer." Brian said regretfully.

"It looks that way." Beau quietly responded.

"What was your name again?" Ms. Mordigan asked as she looked at Brian uncertainly.

"Isn't there something you can do about that?" Beau asked Brian uneasily.

"Usually people adapt to my passive field after being exposed to it a few times." Brian said as he looked at Ms. Mordigan curiously.

"Excuse me, but have we met before? I could have sworn..." Ms. Mordigan cautiously trailed off, obviously unnerved by the experience.

"Yeah. Um, give me a second. I need to talk to the guys about something real quick." Brian said distractedly, then turned to Steve and asked, "Steve, will you stay with Mad for a minute while we try to figure something out?"

"Sure." Steve immediately agreed, then thought to ask, "But where are you going? Aren't we locked in?"

"We're going to be right over there by the wall, but I think that between Slash and me it'll be like we aren't even here." Brian said frankly.

As Brian led Beau, Slash and Lisa to the far side of the room, he quietly asked, "Would you give us some cover?"

Steve watched as a dark cloud formed, completely obscuring the group from sight.

A moment later he was wondering to himself what had caught his attention in the shadowy corner of the room.

* * * * *

"So I'm hiding us while you're making them forget us?" Slash cautiously asked as he worked to make a sheet of darkness to conceal them.

"Not exactly. I'm just inspiring them not to think about us. They still remember who we are... except for Mad, maybe. My ability seems to work differently on her." Brian finished thoughtfully.

"So, do you think you can do something so that she'll remember you?" Beau asked seriously.

"Probably, yeah. I'll do that when we go back. But before I do, I just wanted to talk to you guys to make sure that I should." Brian said anxiously.

"Why wouldn't you?" Beau asked curiously.

"Mostly because she's not who she says she is. She's not what she says she is. She's not human. She's not even from Earth." Brian said nervously.

"So? What's the big deal about that? Quaid's not from Earth and you don't seem to have a problem with him." Beau observed.

"Yeah, well, from what I've been able to see, Quaid is more of an exception than a rule." Brian said frankly.

"Okay, but I know of some other 'non-humans' hanging around here. With your ability, you've got to already know about them." Slash cautiously added.

"I can see what you're saying, and you're right. They're not a big deal... but somehow she's different." Brian said darkly.

"In what way?" Slash cautiously asked.

"When I look at Mad all I can see is little bits and pieces that don't really connect with what's going on around her. All I know is that it's said, 'where her kind go, trouble follows'." Brian said with frustration.

"Did you ever figure out what caused the change in fate?" Beau asked curiously.

"No. With Quaid around it's really easy to blame everything on him, but what he said was right. I was right there with him taking a test. If he did something that changed fate that drastically, I would have noticed it when he did it." Brian said seriously.

"What if Mad has the ability to alter fate, like Quaid does?" Beau asked cautiously.

"No... not like Quaid. The most I can do is see the results of his actions after he's done something. I can't see his potential actions at all. He's outside fate, she's definitely inside." Brian tried to explain.

"So, you can see her potential actions?" Slash cautiously asked.

"Yes... sometimes... splinters and shards... not everything and not for sure." Brian said with difficulty.

"What if she can alter fate AND can control how much you can see?" Beau slowly asked.

"That would fit the facts. But I don't get the sense that she's doing any of this consciously. I guess it could be something that her species can do instinctively." Brian said thoughtfully.

"How would that work?" Lisa asked curiously.

"I guess that she could show up somewhere and alter fate just enough to make it seem like she just naturally 'belonged' there, almost like she'd been there all along. That's kind of what she did with Andrew and it's probably what she did when she arrived on this planet." Brian said thoughtfully.

"So what do you want to do about her?" Beau asked seriously.

"Should we do anything? I mean, none of this sounds like she's doing anything to hurt us." Lisa carefully added.

"I guess that's true, but everything might not be what it looks like on the surface." Slash interjected.

"I think that if I can have a few minutes to look deeper, I should be able to see if there are any cracks in what's being revealed to us. I can go pretty deep when I really try." Brian said as he took his cards and dice out of his pockets.

"I can stay here with you and keep the shadow up so you won't be interrupted." Slash said seriously.

"Yeah. That sounds good. I don't know if I'll be able to come up with any answers, but I'll probably have a better idea of what questions to ask. This shouldn't take me too long and I should have a lot better idea of what's going on with her when I'm finished." Brian agreed.

"We'll go and keep Steve and Mad company while we wait for everyone else to return." Lisa said thoughtfully.

"And we can keep our eyes and ears open for any clue as to what Mad is and what she wants with us." Beau added.

"Yeah. What could a person in authority want with a group of super-powered teenagers willing to believe her and do anything that she says?" Slash asked sarcastically.

"When you consider that the 'person in authority' isn't who or what she claims to be... what's not to trust?" Brian finished with a smile in response.

"C'mon Beau. Let's leave the trouble twins to sort this out." Lisa said with a grin before walking away, passing through the veil of darkness surrounding them.

Beau glanced at Brian and Slash then gave a slight shrug before following obediently.

* * * * *

As Beau stepped to Lisa's side, his boot scuffed just enough to cause Ms. Mordigan and Steve to turn suddenly.

"You scared me half to death! Where have you two been?" Steve asked as he looked around to verify that no one else had been able to sneak in undetected.

"We just needed to talk for a minute. Is Seth back yet?" Lisa asked curiously.

As Steve was about to answer, a dark blur appeared just long enough to leave Seth standing in its wake.

"It appears that he is." Ms. Mordigan said uncertainly as she looked at Seth warily.

"What's going on?" Seth asked as he looked around, trying to gauge the strange mood of the people surrounding him.

"Lisa was just asking if you were back yet." Beau said frankly.

"I've been looking around for some of that cobwebby stuff because you were saying that you're going to need it." Seth said seriously.

"Let me guess, you couldn't bring it into this reality, could you?" Beau quietly asked.

"I didn't get that far." Seth said simply, then explained, "Before, that stuff was everywhere, draped over everything. Here, there's very little of it and what there is turns to dust before I can do much of anything with it."

"That might mean that the presence of people, living their lives, coming and going, could have something to do with the formation and continued existence of the strands." Beau said speculatively.

"If that's how it works, do you think it's going to hurt anything if we use some of the strands for your cloak thing?" Seth asked cautiously.

"What do you think, Mad? Would it cause a problem if Seth brought some webbing back from the nygo-husk and used it in this realm?" Beau asked seriously.

"I'm hardly an authority on the subject..." Ms. Mordigan trailed off, obviously reluctant to discuss it.

"You're as close as we've got. We're not going to hold you responsible or anything. We just need to know if you know of any reason that Seth shouldn't at least try to bring the nygo-husk webbing here." Beau said frankly.

"There's no reason I can think of except to point out that the nygo-filaments evaporate when you touch them." Ms. Mordigan said simply.

"Seth may have a work-around for that. And if he can keep the webbing stable in this dimension, even if it's just for a few minutes, I should be able to cement its state of being. I bought everything that I'll need for that when I went shopping with Andrew." Beau said happily.

"You really love it when you get to do your magic, don't you?" Lisa asked with a tranquil smile.

"I have to be really careful all the time to keep people from noticing that I'm different from them. Because of that, I only use my magic when there's no other way to solve whatever the problem is." Beau quietly explained.

"So it's like a treat for you." Lisa summarized.

"It's like after being kept in a box day after day, week after week, finally being allowed to fly." Beau countered.

* * * * *

"Did they come back yet?" Brian asked as he and Slash approached the group by the door.

"Where did you come from? Is there another door over there?" Steve asked as he looked in the direction they had approached from.

"No. We were just kinda hiding in the shadows." Brian said playfully, then turned his attention to Ms. Mordigan and firmly asked, "Are you here because you want to be or because you have to be?"

"What kind of a question is that?" Ms. Mordigan asked in surprise.

"After looking into things, I'm just trying to figure out if having you with us would be a good or a bad thing. I don't want to play word games or try to 'trick' you into revealing your true intentions. That's why I'm asking, here in front of everyone, if you're here of your own free will, or if you're somehow being compelled or manipulated into being a part of our team." Brian asked seriously.

"The main reason I'm here is because Julia and I are old friends. I'm an education expert, so when she committed to opening a school for mutants of all ages and grade levels it was only natural that she would ask for my help." Ms. Mordigan said frankly.

"That's true when you're our teacher or administrator, but what about your part in the Meerkats? How did you wedge your way into our group? Better yet, why did you wedge your way into our group?" Brian asked firmly.

"Do you want me to go? Is that what you're saying?" Ms. Mordigan asked defiantly.

"Even though I don't know everything that's going on, I think I know enough. The rest of it doesn't really matter to me, the only thing I do care about is your motivation. Why are you here?" Brian demanded.

A knock on the door preempted any answer.

"I'll keep them outside." Seth said before disappearing in darkness.

"Well?" Brian asked seriously.

"What is it that you were wanting to know?" Ms. Mordigan asked slowly.

"Why are you here, with us... with the Meerkats?" Brian asked in an unsteady tone.

"You won't like my answer."

"Try me." Brian said simply.

"Don't say I didn't warn you."

"There are plenty of witnesses that you told us so. Now, what's the big secret?" Beau asked curiously.

"I'm drawn to pivotal events."

"What does that even mean?" Brian asked slowly.

"We, my people, I mean, we tend to show up in places where noteworthy things happen. We usually don't participate, we simply document, record or sometimes just stand back and observe some of the most significant events in the history of the universe." Ms. Mordigan said with a sad, distant smile.

"What's so wrong with that?" Lisa asked curiously.

After a moment, Brian speculatively asked, "Not all of those events are good things, are they?"

"No. Many times not." Ms. Mordigan easily agreed.

"So, if someone were to notice your presence at several of these 'pivotal events', they might assume that you were somehow the cause of them." Brian continued.

"Yes. That has been suggested."

"Where her kind goes, trouble follows." Lisa said quietly.

"Where did you hear that?" Ms. Mordigan asked anxiously.

"It's something that Brian picked up when he was trying to figure out if you were a threat to us or not." Lisa said honestly.

"From what I was able to pick up, it seems that your people have something of a reputation." Brian added.

"Just because we were present doesn't mean that we caused anything to happen." Ms. Mordigan said defensively.

"That doesn't sound so bad." Slash said uncertainly.

"You didn't cause anything, but you didn't try to stop anything either, did you?" Brian cautiously asked.

"It's not in our nature to intervene." Ms. Mordigan patiently explained.

"I'm guessing that when others noticed that your people happened to be present when something catastrophic happened, they jumped to the conclusion that you were the cause of it." Brian said carefully.

"Some primitives believed so, yes. Later I was relegated to the status of 'harbinger'." Ms. Mordigan added as confirmation of his assertion.

"Harbinger?" Beau slowly asked, then suddenly said, "If I'm remembering correctly, The Morrigan is the celtic goddess known for being the harbinger of war and death. That's not just a coincidence, is it?"

"Those were different times and the dynamics of that culture were a bit more... fluid than I am accustomed to." Ms. Mordigan said cautiously.

"You were The Morrigan? I mean, you personally?" Beau asked dubiously.

"Just a piece of advice, Beauregard. If you ever find yourself trying to hide out in a primitive culture, remember that even the most seemingly innocuous technology can appear to be magical."

"The guys are waiting outside." Lisa quietly reminded those present.

"Mad? Why are you here?" Brian asked quietly.

"I suppose that, not unlike a moth drawn to a flame, I'm here because I have to be."

"Does you being here mean that we're going to do something important?" Beau asked cautiously.

"Not necessarily. I could have been drawn here by any number of things that have little or nothing to do with your team."

"Who are you really?" Brian demanded to know.

"We have many names. Quaid's people tend to refer to me and mine as imps and tricksters, although we're no such thing." Ms. Mordigan said wearily.

"What do you know about Quaid's people?" Slash asked curiously.

"We've had dealings with the Q throughout the millennia, although I've never met Quaid or Matt's doppelganger before, they appear to be more reasonable than most of the Q that I've heard about." Ms. Mordigan admitted.

"So, if you're not an imp, what are you?" Brian asked firmly, dragging them back to the point.

"Your friends Trey and Robert could probably tell you quite a bit more about my people than I ever could. I'm sure they have access to the digital remains of my culture. The Borg encountered us a relatively long time ago. Many of my people were assimilated. Those few of us able to escape the Borg onslaught were scattered to the solar winds and were mostly lost to each other. Eventually, we settled on various worlds, far and wide, and blended in as much as we could." Ms. Mordigan said distantly.

"Should we go and ask Trey and Robert about you?" Beau slowly asked, carefully watching for her reaction.

"I don't see that it matters. But you might consider that anyone who'd care about my people would probably be more interested in theirs. They're Wysanti and Norcadian, unless I'm mistaken. Beyond that, I wouldn't be surprised to find that their Borg implants and nano-tech would be of great interest to a fair many people." Ms. Mordigan said with a fairly convincing facade of unconcern.

"So keeping your secrets helps us to keep ours?" Slash cautiously asked.

"If you like." Ms. Mordigan said easily, then continued more seriously, "As you've deduced, I have my own motivations, none of which involve causing you harm or exposing your secrets. If you feel that you can do me the courtesy of extending the same discretion to me, we might be able to enjoy a mutually productive working arrangement going forward." Ms. Mordigan said seriously.

"Guys. She hasn't really told us anything." Brian cautioned his comrades.

"Despite having witnessed numerous pivotal moments in your world's history, I don't really have a lot of stories to tell. I'm more of a listener." Ms. Mordigan finished with a serene smile.

To Be Continued...

Editor's Notes:

I have had a difficult time trusting her from when we first noticed her.

I am not sure that it matters, now that we know some of her secrets. If we can actually believe her I believe her kind are quite possibly as strange as are the Q I certainly had trouble trusting the Q beings I know about from the Next Gen people.

Of course, I know that the Borg can be a bit of a problem when it suits them.

Those of us who have read some of MM's other stories already know a harbinger.

We also know some Darksiders and even some daywalkers, witches, warlocks, demons, etc.

I think it can be safely said that there are good and bad traits of almost any race or species you can think of. I kind of think good and evil or anywhere in between can be present in any and all dimensions or whatever you want to use to distinguish between realities.

I think we can at least try to take her at her word, until we find out differently.

Darryl AKA The Radio Rancher