Eluria sat on the couch with Corporal David Krans, making idle conversation the only other “real” person she’d been able to interact with since her interment in Facility 4, while she waited for Doctor Stein to come back from the meeting she’d set aflame.

“What do you think is taking so long? Do you think something went wrong after we left?”

“To be fair, you did threaten to cripple half the room and from what I heard you were working on an at home vasectomy when you were done with the General. You might have stirred things up just a little bit in there. I wouldn’t be surprised to see some big changes coming around here.”

“Changes?! Like what?”

“Well, for starters – as of tomorrow there should be a new security contractor. If Director Phleer sticks to her word, then I’m the only man on the security team who didn’t lose his job there in that meeting. I imagine they’re going to want to implement some stricter containment protocol for you after you just casually strolled out of your restraints and threatened to potentially kill some pretty high up people.”

“I should have thought of that. I’m so stupid. I can’t believe I did that!”

“It wasn’t that bad, and you’re not stupid – just out of your depth. You’re playing six games of chess at once for fun against grandmasters who play everyday as part of their jobs, you can’t win ‘em all.

“I guess. I just wish he’d get back here already, I’m scared.”

“I’m sure it’ll be okay. Let’s watch this movie, hopefully he’ll be back by the time it’s over. If not, he’s definitely going to be coming back in the morning.”

Ordinarily, Eluria wouldn’t have slept – it was so boring, such a waste of time when she could be spending her time learning more about her powers worked at somewhere like NASA or Cern, or taking a moonlit down the streets of Paris, but tonight she just wanted to escape from it all. Eluria forced her body to drift off into unconsciousness shortly after she’d left Corporal Krans sitting on the couch. Eluria told herself she’d wake up around 8 AM – Doctor Stein should be bringing breakfast around that time.

Corporal Krans awoke to a sharp kick in the ribs and the muzzle of a shorty M4 in his face.

“Hands up! This is a secure area and you’re unauthorized personnel! I’m authorized for the use of lethal force, hands up!”

Even in his post sleep haze, David Krans registered “lethal force” and quickly, but not too quickly, sat up with his hands above his head.

“Slowly turn and face the wall, keep your hands above your head!”

“Hey, I work here, man. Calm down. I’m out of regs right now, but if you just talk to MSG Firth, he can explain the whole thing – “

“Shut up. MSG Firth no longer works here, I’m in control of the guard force now and you’ll be dealt with accordingly.” A handcuff snapped too tightly around David’s left wrist and his arm was jerked roughly down behind his back where it was promptly joined by his right, too tightly cuffed wrist. Before he could even begin to protest, David Krans received a sharp kick to the back of the knee and a great weight pushing down on his shoulders, forcing him to kneel. He was quickly masked with the same sort of homemade blindfolds he had used in pre deployment training before he was assigned to Facility 4.

The radio static crackled, “Gardener 1, this is Raid 1 – I’ve got a weed in Sector 7, bringing him to you shortly.”

“Roger Raid, Gardener- out.”

So, whoever this asshole was really did seem to be the head of the new guard force, and Krans had to assume that Director Phleer would be Gardener 1 – she was in charge of the facility, as far as he knew.

In the darkness, he was jerked to his feet and walked through the maze of corridors until they reached what he assume was Director Phleer’s office where he was roughly dropped into a chair and heard the door close behind him.

Soft hands removed the handcuffs on his wrists and lifted the blindfold over his face until he saw he was nearly nose to nose with Director Eleanor Phleer.

“Thank you, Director. I apologize, you shouldn’t even have to deal with this sort of situation.”

“Yes, I really shouldn’t. Growing pains, though. I think you’ll find the regime has changed significantly under First Sergeant (1SG) Thompson – I’ve got to tell you CPL Krans, and I doubt you’ll remain a CPL for long after this morning, that was not the best way to be introduced to your new Company 1SG.”

“Yes, Ms. Phleer, I’m sure it wasn’t, but as you said, growing pains. Hopefully, I can make myself an asset to the new leadership, as the only reaming member of the “old guard”.”

“Ah, see, that’s the kind of thinking we like to reward around here. From the sounds of your morning, you’ve begun to earn Eluria’s trust and when you have her trust, you’ll soon have her handler, Doctor Stein’s, trust as well. Now I’d like to offer you an opportunity to make use of that trust. Know that it comes with deeds you might find, unsavory, but a significant pay raise as well as an upgraded security clearance and more freedom of access within the facility which will make life easier for your here and after in your next assignment. What do you think?”

“Ma’am, I can’t thank you enough for thinking me capable of an assignment coming from your directly, it’s just – I don’t know how I would keep something like that secret from her? Yesterday, when you sent me to apprehend her, she knew my name, my rank, the sex of my unborn child and the names my wife and I had been talking about if the child was a boy like we hoped he would be. She can clearly look into my head anytime she pleases, she’ll make me the first time she sees me after this?!”

“Oh my CPL, if you keep that kind of sharp thinking up you might be pinning Sergeant (SGT) before you leave my office. I didn’t think you’d be such a dagger – allow me to allay those concerns meet Datura.”

CPL Krans turned slightly in his chair to look a girl about Eluria’s age full in the face, except that he couldn’t quite picture her. He thought her hair was black, maybe, or possibly a dark, dark brown. Her eyes seemed to float in a spectrum of color, shifting shades and hues from light to dark and back across the rainbow the longer he stared. Her clothes were normal, not he uniform of patients in the Facility, but plain and forgettable.

“This is Datura. She’s a very special girl and technically a Loaton Scale Zero as well. She’s not nearly as utilitarian as Eluria is, however. Datura inhibits the powers of others. She can nullify powers, reverse them, weaken them. And she’s my little secret, on loan from Facility 7. So, are you ready to sign up now, Sergeant?”

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