Rosetta: A MORFS Universe Story
Rose almost never heard her father swear. but his eyes were in the rearview
mirror, looking shocked.
Looking back, she
saw a large truck sitting across the traffic lanes behind them. The front end
was on the other side of the road, blocking part of that traffic as well. There
was wreckage everywhere.
happened? Are you ok?*
*I'm... fine. Just
before the crash there was something... some big psychic burst in your general
vicinity. Then the crash.* Lena's tone got more upset, *I was watching when it
happened. The cars with the men in them... both were destroyed. Like they were
the targets or something.*
Rose had never seen
Lena lose it like that. She was always the strong one, keeping everyone else
together. The kidnappings, the torture, the other horrors she had told Rose
about - the ones before they met - for everything that was bad, she was a center
of (relative) calm.
But not now.
"I need a
'com. Quickly. Please!" her mother gave her a brief look, then handed over
her eCom. She punched in a number from memory.
came the professional sounding response. The figure looked at the screen.
"Oh... Hi, Rose. What's up?"
Something bad happened here, and it got to her. Badly."
"I'm not sure.
She was mind talking to me, then something upset her, then there was a ginormous
crash behind us. Then she was even more upset. She needs her friends."
*I'm... I'm ok. It
was just a shock, that's all. Thank you. Both of you.* Rose hadn't remembered
that Lena could talk to more than one person at a time.
Rose." Angel assured her. "I'll take it from here."
The connection went
Rose wished she
hadn't thought of it in those terms. She handed the 'com back to her mother,
thanking her mechanically.
wrong?" her mother asked.
Rose paused a
moment, considering. "It's Lena. She was watching and talking to me when
the accident happened. Something about it hit her hard."
"Should we be
chose to misunderstand. "I don't think so. Her friends - her other friends
- are on the way and they should be able to take care of her."
lady!" Even without her abilities, Rose would have understood the intent
behind that one.
"I don't know.
Some of the people in the accident were following us - me - when they got hit.
They were wearing thought shields, so Lena couldn't be sure. She thinks they
have been watching us for a couple of days, but that they didn't seem inclined
to do more than follow and watch."
They were almost to
the Museum by then, so they decided to continue with their plans.
Rose had one
somewhat unnerving moment, when she was asked to help with a tour group. When
she got to the staging area, the group was oriental, and some of the men were
dressed in suits. She was a little relieved to feel her power kicking in,
indicating they spoke a language she hadn't learned.
It turned out that
they were from China, and were in town for a convention of some sort. Their tour
guide had slipped on some ice at a previous stop, and was getting medical
attention. The company that arranged the tour was sending another guide, but he
was not there yet.
Teamed with one of
the regular docents, she took the group around the Museum. At times, she
described the exhibits and answered their questions based on her own knowledge.
Other times, she relayed the questions and answers. She was really in her
element when she took them through the traveling exhibit - her exhibit - giving
them the VIP treatment.
While they were
intently examining one of the displays in that exhibit, the docent pulled her
"Why am I even
here?" The docent's question was angry and hurt. Rose knew she had to make
it up to her.
"You are the
one who knows where to go, and when. You know how to make them enjoy the tour,
and get the most out of it. Sure, I speak their language, and know a few things
about the exhibits from the years I've been here, but you are the director...
the docent. Without you, it would just be aimless wandering and random
As Rose spoke, she
watched the docent's reactions. By the time she had continued in a similar way
for a few more minutes, the docent clearly felt better. She took up the tour
with a renewed energy and enthusiasm that made the tour a lot better for the
The tour went well,
and they were thankful for her services. One of them offered her a tip, as token
of their gratitude for her stepping in at the last moment. She had to decline,
explaining that it was against Museum policy. However, they were more than
welcome to make a donation to the Museum on their way out.
As one of the women
in the group shook her hand, Rose felt a piece of paper being pressed into her
hand. Her first thought was that it was another attempt at a tip, but the paper
did not feel right. She put it in her pocket, then waited until the last of the
group was out the door.
The docent was
starting to thank her as well, and she acknowledged the thanks but pleaded an
overfull bladder. Once safely in a stall and ready to take care of business, she
took out the paper and opened it up. Her first thought was that it was
gibberish. The neatly lettered message was in the usual alphabet, but the words
She tried sounding
a couple of them out, and then she understood. It was the same Chinese language
that the group spoke, but written phonetically, using American conventions.
After she puzzled out the message, she was glad she was where she was. The note
disintegrated, and the dustlike residue flew between her legs and into the
toilet. She took care of her bodily needs with unusual vigor.
It was a warning.
There were three groups interested in her father's negotiations, and her part in
them. One was a group inside the company he was negotiating with, and the other
two were outside. One of the outside groups had arranged the accident, as a
message to the other two.
indicated that she had at least one friend in the process, part of a group that
was more interested in the activities of the other three groups than in the
negotiations themselves. She was not sure how comforted she was to think that
the "friend" was watching her in there, and had the power to do that
to the note. In fact, it was kinda creepy.
She spent the rest
of the day in the exhibit, losing herself in explanations of cave paintings and
ancient lifestyles. She was extremely happy to be so busy.
assurances, Lena was anything but ok. She had a splitting headache, and had a
weird, very unpleasant feeling in her head - something she had never encountered
before. And both got worse when Robin flitted her to the one place she was most
likely to get the help - and the answers - she needed.
There, she got
checked out and herbed. But more importantly, she got comfort, information and
perspective. This situation was one which crossed many normal barriers. The
entire community of local telepaths - except for a couple of "secret"
telepaths - was involved. And even the secret telepaths were helping indirectly.
Police, government and military types, criminals, corporate workers,
freelancers, and even the youngsters - everyone. It was that much of a threat to
all of them.
and with a number of their less-local compatriots, they quickly formed a fairly
complete picture of what happened.
The mind blast was
a powerful result of a rare combination of psi abilities and raw power. There
were only three people in the world known to have the ability, and none had been
known to be in the US. None of them had more than a 50 mile range with it
because of the nature of the combination. They quickly narrowed it to one of the
He was a powerful -
and very expensive - freelancer. He was 'ported in about two hours before the
blast, and out immediately after. Unlike the other two, he had a particularly
fine degree of control - he could confine the effect so narrowly that others
would be hard pressed to detect it, or take out the better part of a city block.
The truck driver
was an innocent. He was subtly maneuvered into place, and then blasted. His mind
was destroyed, and his body crudely but effectively controlled.
The accident itself
killed 9 people (including the truck driver), and seriously injured 17 more. The
mind blast killed one nearby telepath, and sent three others to the hospital. 23
others, including Lena and (secretly) Mrs. Tabor, suffered lesser effects.
They had been
allowed to find out more. There were four groups (not counting the two
companies) that were interested in shaping the outcome of the negotiations Rose
and her father were involved in. One, an ultra nationalist group in Japan who
objected to international ownership of Japanese companies, had hired the
contractor as a way to send a message to the other interested parties. The
widespread effect was deliberate.
"businessmen" were subcontractors, hired by two other interested
parties from the Neo Yakuza to watch (and potentially take other action against)
Rose . One was hired by a group within the target company, with a hidden agenda.
The other by a rival company, with plans of its own for the target company.
The fourth group
was largely unknown, with an equally unknown interest in the matter. The
telepaths knew about Rose's note (and its disturbing exit), since she hadn't
thought to shield the information.
Conferencing with a
speed and effectiveness otherwise impossible, they made some plans. For the
public and all but the most select parts of the local governments and police,
the driver had an undiagnosed, rare condition that resulted in sudden death by
brain embolism. Nobody's fault (not even his or his doctor's), just a senseless
tragedy happening in the wrong place at the wrong time.
Select elements of
the police and governments (US and otherwise) would get a more complete
report... eyes only. Those elements, in turn, would make the decision about who
in Rose's family or her father's company would be told what. It was acknowledged
that Lena and her friends would be watching over Rose.
On that note, the
After they got home
from the museum, Rose pulled her father aside for a private talk. She told him
the rest of what she'd learned about the groups interested in his negotiation.
He nodded and said that it explained a couple of things. When he didn't
elaborate, she got a little impatient.
"So what do we
do about it?"
He replied, then relented. "Well, you don't need to do anything. When we go
in tomorrow, I'll warn a couple of the more trustworthy people at the company,
and they will take it from there. You and I will just go on as planned. I
suspect it will take a while for the groups to get more people into place."
He didn't entirely
believe it, according to Rose's gift. But he firmly intended to do as he said.
Her next step was
to call Angel, and ask about Lena. Before she could finish dialing, she had her
*I'm fine.* came
the familiar mental voice. "Just a little shaken. Thank you for helping,
though. Robin got me to somewhere I could get the help I needed.*
*The Spa?* Rose
asked, remembering the aftermath of the horrors in the basement, and suppressing
*I forgot you knew
about that. Yes, the Spa. They got me fixed up and helped me get more
information about the "accident", with Lena leaving out the body count
and the specifics of the attack. She did tell her about the nature of the group
that hired the killer, though.
It made sense. And
it scared Rose spitless.
Still, she was
reassured to know that Lena was ok, and that the whole thing was over for the
moment. She also felt safe, knowing that her friends were looking out for her.
After spending some
more quality time with her homework, and making sure it was safely sent to the
Dean's email address, she joined the family in front of the tube for some good
old fashioned mind rot. Somehow, they all seemed to feel that was the right
entertainment for the evening.
During the breaks,
there was a discussion of what she should wear the next day. While it was mostly
between her parents, with a few suggestions from Tara, she did get a word or two
in. Eventually, an outfit was decided on. It fell somewhere between her
"good" school clothes and her Formal Occasion outfits. The partial
emphasis on the schoolgirl look was intended to help make the other negotiators
underestimate her, while the more formal parts would help avoid any excuse to
After a quick good
night to her family, and another to Lena (quickly returned), she was off to
sleep in no time.
And all too early,
she was (more or less) awake again.
technicalities, this was effectively her first day at work. She was nervous and
a little excited. She dragged herself into the bathroom to take care of the
immediate necessities, then took her shower. She washed more thoroughly than
usual, for fear of making a bad impression.
She dressed just as
carefully, and was ready to go. She and her father would be stopping for
breakfast on the way, and he would be briefing her about the negotiations. With
quick goodbyes to her mother and sister, they were on their way.
The condemned girl
ate a hearty breakfast. The restaurant they had eaten at before still didn't
seem very kid friendly, but at least the food was good.
The office was the
same as before. But this time, knowing that it would be for real made it even
more daunting. And the looks and body language of her father's co workers hadn't
The conference room
doors were closed, but the window shades were open. Inside, there were people
sweeping the room with a variety of instruments (none of which she recognized).
Standing outside the room and watching, were three oriental men in business
suits. When she got close enough, she noticed that she didn't get a new language
from either of the closest two. The third, however, gave her a sensation she
recognized. It was the same feeling she had from her Gram - someone who speaks
one language she knew and a second language she didn't. She absorbed the new
language, then turned her attention back to the other two. There was a ghost of
the feeling, as though they also spoke two languages - two languages she already
The third man was a
little different, now that she knew his other "unknown" language. He
seemed to know three languages, two of which she had already known. And those
two were the two the other men knew. She guessed that the two common languages
were English and Japanese, but she had no idea what the third language was.
A small light by
the door went out, and the technicians came out. They gave a gesture partway
between a nod and a small bow, and indicated that the suppression field was
While that was
going on, two other people from her father's company joined them. She recognized
them from the practice session. She acknowledged them, and they her. Once the
techs were done with their report, the two groups of businessmen came together.
Her father introduced the other men on his team - and her - to the oriental
In turn, the older
of the two-language men introduced himself and his team. He asked why she was
being included in the negotiations, and her father answered that she was there
as an interpreter, in case language problems came up. The man's body language
and tone of voice expressed his reservations, even as he formally indicated
acceptance of the explanation.
Once they were
settled into their seats, Rose felt the oppressive indication that the
suppression field was in place. From that point on, it went from bad to worse.
The practice session had been mild compared to this one, and she didn't have the
way out she had used then. They had scheduled breaks, but until then, she was
The others seemed
to know something about her. They started saying things - false things -
quietly, in the hope that she would pass them on. As they had practiced, she
passed them on quietly with a subtle indication of their validity. More
annoyingly, they quietly made some very personal, very embarrassing comments
about her (and her father). Those, she didn't translate - especially the ones
that they somehow seemed to believe. With the help of some of the exercises and
perspective Lena had taught her, she managed to avoid reacting to them.
By the time of the
first scheduled break, she had learned another valuable lesson: it was far
better to be thirsty than to have to sit there with an overfull bladder. She
would try to balance the two, but just to be sure she added an extreme absorb
pad where it would do the most good.
In the longer than
usual session after lunch, where they seemed to be trying to take advantage of
the usual after lunch lethargy, she came to appreciate her precautions. She was
also glad that she had eaten somewhat cautiously - a chicken salad without
dressing - when the field clamped back down on her. All in all, it was a tense,
miserable experience for her.
She was not having
It was a relief to
get home, even though that meant working on her homework. Somehow, her usual
stress over the homework just didn't seem all that important. She was later than
usual, so dinner came before homework this time. She barely noticed what she
ate, or what was said around the table.
She was barely back
into her room, when she "heard" a familiar "voice".
*Tough day, huh?*
Lena "sounded" sympathetic.
*You don't know the
half of it!* Rose grumped. *I don't know how those people do it!*
*For one thing,
they don't have the suppression field affecting them. It makes a difference.*
*Oh, yeah.* Rose
responded emphatically. *I noticed.*
*Also, they were
taught and trained for it, and grew into the role. Did you notice how old they
*They all looked
ancient to me. But so did my father.*
"laughed". *Yeah, I know how that is. I'll let you get back to your
homework. Call if you need anything.*
*Ok. I don't
suppose you have a good excuse for skipping the homework entirely?*
*No such luck. If I
did, I'd use it myself. Bye.*
Rose was relieved
that Lena seemed to have recovered from the events of the previous day. She had
been so busy that day that she had not really thought about it until then. She
shuddered at the memory of the accident and the note, then determinedly got back
What Rose didn't
know was that her father was on the phone, talking with Angel.
"I have a
favor to ask, for Rose." He told her, leading with his strongest argument.
"It's somewhat confidential. Is there somewhere we can meet?"
Like Lena, Angel
was not entirely comfortable with Rose's parents. Something about them just set
her teeth on edge. But Rose herself was a friend, and Angel would do anything
she could for her. She needed help walking this tightrope.
"I can't get
away, right now. If we can't discuss it on the 'com, maybe I can get Radar to
help." She wasn't sure why she chose to use Lena's nickname - it just
seemed the right thing to do.
While he had been
hoping to avoid the telepath in this matter, it did make sense. And he really
did not want to discuss it over the 'com. "Maybe that would be for the
Lena, who had just
finished "talking" with Rose, contacted him almost immediately. *What
can we do for you?*
*I have a problem.*
Lena wisely kept from commenting, and let him continue. *I was arranging a trip
to Japan for Rose next week, but suddenly something or someone is blocking the
*And you think our
"friends in high places" might be able to unblock it?* Lena could not
keep a hint of acid from her mental voice.
To his credit, he
picked up on it. *Yes, part of it - a big part - is wanting to have her there in
case we need her for the business part. But I really do want to give her the
experience of traveling there and getting to see the sights.*
Lena could tell, as
she relayed the conversation to Angel, that he was being fairly honest about
that part. She didn't have Rose's ability with it, but her "read" of
his emotions and supporting thoughts seemed to support the conclusion.
*Who is blocking
it?* Angel asked through Lena.
*We don't know. We
strongly suspect that it's one of the groups from the accident.*
All three of them
shuddered at the thought. Of the three, only Lena knew about the hired assassin
and the actions of the area telepaths. But all three knew about the watchers and
their sudden death.
*We'll do what we
can.* He couldn't tell whether that assurance came more from one of the girls or
from both, but he knew he had done the best that he could.
*Thank you. I'll
make sure that Rose has a good time there.* Neither of the girls missed the
"unspoken" part - "after the work is done."
Lena wasted no
time, and went directly to her onetime mentor and longtime friend and advisor.
If anyone could find out what was happening and what it would take to unstick
Rose's papers, it was Mrs. Tabor.
Besides, Lena had a
deep suspicion that the Grand Lady enjoyed unraveling that sort of thing.
Worn out from a
full day at the office and then her homework, Rose had no trouble getting to
sleep that night. The only scrap of a dream she would remember somehow involved
grainy, black and white images of ancient airplanes dropping bombs.
For a change, she
woke up knowing the significance of an image from her dreams. Her review of her
history notes had reminded her of what day it now was.
Pearl Harbor Day.
whether it was coincidence that she (through her father) was involved in serious
- almost warlike - negotiations with Japanese businessmen on a day like that. A
small, superstitious part of her did not exactly regard the timing as
auspicious. More like suspicious.
She snorted quietly
at the thought that she wanted - badly wanted - to go to school instead of to
another day at the office. Who'da thunk it?
At breakfast (in
the same restaurant), she snuck an innocent question about celebrating the day
into the conversation (or was it a briefing?). Her father briefly choked,
muttered about the need for a "Pearl Harbor File" (whatever that was),
and assured her that it was probably a bad idea to discuss the matter within
earshot of the negotiators.
By lunch, she was beginning to
feel like one of the people from the naval base. It was clear to her - and
apparently even clearer to her father - that negotiations would not finish that
day. And the other team was leaving that night. And it was clear that the delay
was a deliberate maneuver. She just didn't understand why. Presumably, they
expected to have some advantage when they met again - in Japan.
On the way back from lunch, her
father was given some news that made him almost smile. Rose didn't know what it
was - she couldn't get the right angle to read it - but it apparently made his
He didn't have time to tell her
until they were on their way home.
"Your travel paperwork has
cleared." he told her with a smile. "We leave for Tokyo day after
He looked at her expectantly.
She was tired, and wrung out from the negotiations, but she managed to express
some enthusiasm for the trip. She had been promised time to play tourist, and to
generally have fun while they were there. Unfortunately, there was a price.
"How long will we be
"Probably half a day.
Maybe a little more." He was telling the truth as he knew it.
Still... Japan! She had not
been outside the USA more than a few times, and that was either to Canada or
Mexico - within an hour or so of the border. This trip was a Big Deal.
But first things first. Home,
getting washed up, and dinner. At dinner, her dad told the rest of the family
the news. Tara got briefly excited, thinking that she might be going along. And
then she was pissy, when she found out it wasn't so.
Her mother (whose body language
expressed her own disappointment) promised Tara some shopping - very expensive
shopping she said with some emphasis, while looking pointedly at her husband -
and other mother/daughter activities. Tara got an evil gleam in her eyes, as she
returned her gaze to her father.
But exciting news or not, she
had homework to do. Far too much homework to do. She went upstairs and got to
At least she would have one day
back in school before she left.
Her mother interrupted her in
the middle of her revision of the Changes essay to get her laundry. While Rose
worked the night away, her mother would be doing laundry so that she would have
clothes to take on the trip. Rose quickly changed into sweat pants and a
t-shirt, and gave her mother her more formal clothes to go in the load.
Before she got back to work,
Lena "called" to congratulate her on her upcoming trip.
*I'm not sure congratulations
are right.* Rose admitted wryly. *I gotta work for it.*
*Oooh, pooor baby.* Lena
replied insincerely. *A free trip to Japan and she has to sing for her supper.*
*Thank you for your support.*
Rose grumped back. Then laughed.
Lena reminded her that she
would be out of range of everyone but David. And then she promised that he would
look in on her from time to time, if she wanted.
*Not too often. He still has
school, and... ahem... other activities* Lena left no doubt that those
activities involved her, and some degree of intimacy.
*oh, no... my poor virgin
ears!* Rose quipped.
*Yecch! Who'd want to do it
there? You'd never get the gunk out.*
*Ugh... Way too much
information!* Rose complained, trying for her best little girl mental voice.
They exchanged goodbyes, and
Rose got back to work. She was determined to turn in her homework through the
newly established channel, rather than just take it all to school with her.
Somehow, she just couldn't bring herself to trust The Nameless Teacher that far.
After she got to bed, it took
her next to no time to get to sleep. And before she knew it, she was dreaming.
And all too soon, it was
It seemed a little strange that
she would be going to school rather than to work. And that was funny, too - she
just thought about it as "work" now, rather than going into her
father's office. She wasn't an employee, and she didn't get paid, but as far as
she could see she worked every bit as hard as any of the other people she saw
At least she could dress more
comfortably. Somehow, that made her feel younger than she had for the last two
days. Or maybe it was just that her clothes and activities those days made her
feel older. She shrugged off the question, and got ready for school.
Breakfast was almost
disappointing, after the restaurant. And it was her favorite cereal, too. She
hated to think what that would mean about lunch. Maybe her friends could
disappear her to another off campus feast?
Walking into the school was
even stranger. It was like she was in the student body, but not of the student
*I went through that, too.*
came the welcome mental tones. *It comes from being more aware of what you are
and what you have been doing than of what you used to be. It will wear off,
shortly after you find a new balance.*
Maybe it was her gift, maybe
not. But Rose understood what Lena was saying. And it made a certain amount of
She still felt the way she
Even the dreaded English
teacher had no real impact. She seemed like nothing more than a minor
irritation, a transient part of Rose's day.
Unfortunately, her middle
school friends made no impact either. Neither her old friends nor her more
recent friends there seemed entirely real. They were more like children she
encountered while babysitting. Her high school friends were real, and important,
She was a little startled to
notice that it was time to go home. All told, she remembered almost nothing of
the day. Luckily, she had written down her assignments, or she would have
forgotten about them as well.
Home was more real. So was the
packing she had to do. The Laundry Fairy (as her mother sometimes called
herself, with heavy irony) had cleaned her "work clothes", so it was
just a matter of choosing her tourist clothes and getting it all packed.
tomorrow?* a familiar mental voice chuckled.
*Lena!* Rose was
happy to hear from her friend. *Yes. I've never been anywhere like that.*
*Neither have I. Bring me back
a soo vee neer.* Rose laughed at Lena's playful tone.
*I'll do my best.* she laughed.
*I just wanted to remind you
that we'll be out of range. Have fun, but be careful.*
*Yes, Mom.* Rose expertly
blended the humor and sarcasm in that rejoinder. *But I would be happier to know
that you guys were watching out for the rest of the family.*
*Don't worry. They'll be safe.*
Lena assured her. *Gotta go. SOME of us have school tomorrow.*
*Ugh. Don't remind me. I have
to keep up my homework while I'm there.*
After a quick goodbye, Lena
left Rose to her efforts.
She had her packing done before
dinner. The meal itself was not the usual dinnertime discussion, either. Tara
was alternating between envy, excitement, and worry. Except for the envy, their
mother was going through much of the same. Rose's father was going over
preparations in his head, and completely missed the byplay between the female
members of the household.
When she got back to her room,
Rose noticed the pin David had given her for her birthday. She had not planned
on bringing any jewelry on the trip, but the pin seemed to call to her. It would
remind her of her friends, and give her strength to face whatever those
negotiators might throw at her.
And when she was playing
tourist, it would remind her to bring things back for them.
She got to work on her
homework, sending it to the Dean's email as soon as she could. She knew she
would effectively lose Thursday, due to the time difference, so she wouldn't
have time to make up any skipped work. Luckily, the load was light. Even in
English. All the teachers were concentrating on preparations for the upcoming
So light, that she was able to
spend some time with the tube (and oh, yeah... her family) before going to bed.
Her dreams were unusual. Every
time she started to get into trouble, she would rub her pin and find the inner
(and occasionally, physical) resources to get herself out of it. Almost like a
The morning was hectic. She
dressed in reasonable school clothes, since she would be going to her father's
office before they left. She made it a point to add the pin before going down to
Her mother had gotten up a
little earlier than usual, to fix her a good breakfast before the trip. She
joked about not knowing what Rose would be eating over there - "Probably
raw octopus or something" (which Rose automatically translated as
"Taco" in her head) - and wanting to sustain her poor daughter through
such trying culinary times.
Tara enjoyed her servings, then
hugged Rose goodbye and dashed off for school. Her mother's goodbye was a little
less hurried, and more intense. All too soon, Rose and her father were on their
way to the office.
After some last minute
paperwork, they would take a teletaxi from the office to the Tokyo (Tele)port of
entry. Her father gave her a last minute briefing about what to expect, gave her
her paperwork, and sent her on her way to the departure room.
Her first thought was that the
'porter was nothing like Robin. Close on the heels of that thought was the
observation that he was a hunk - maybe even better looking than David. After he
gave her a thousand watt smile, he asked if she was ready. A brief, somewhat
stunned nod, and they were gone.
And they were in another room.
The room looked much the same, except for the paintings on the wall. He gestured
her through the door, then vanished.
She was met on the other side
of the door by a man and a woman in police style uniforms. "Miss Reid?
Please come with us." Even knowing what to expect, it was a little
Once she handed over her
papers, they ran her through a scan and compared her biometrics with those in
the documents. After taking much longer than Rose thought was absolutely
necessary, they gave her back her papers and escorted her to Customs. They left
her with a polite, pro forma "Enjoy your stay," and went back to their
Her father was waiting at
Customs, and they went through the usual bothers together. Just having him there
made it a lot less uncomfortable than the whole biometric thing.
Even though it was about 9:00
in the morning for them, it was midnight in the city. They made their way to the
hotel, and to their room. In the way of fathers since the dawn of time, her
father went over the issue of changing their "internal clocks" to
match local time yet again.
"We have two basic
choices," he lectured. "Pay up front, or pay later. For what we are
doing here, the first option will work the best." Basically, they would
drink the contents of a little bottle, go to sleep, and a few hours later they
would wake up with their bodies on local time.
They would have time to get
ready for work, eat another meal, and get to the office. Before the negotiations
proper, there would be meetings with various executive types. Rose would be
expected to act as interpreter and advisor as needed during the discussions,
speak if directly addressed, but otherwise play the silent, obedient underling.
English class was looking more
and more inviting.
The meetings were polite and
technical, and bored Rose stiff. The only part that directly involved her was
when one of the female executives complimented her on her pin. But even with the
boredom, it seemed all too soon when it was time to start the meeting.
The negotiators were the same
three as before, plus one additional man. Rose did not feel herself get any new
language pieces from the new man, so he didn't make much of an impression on
her. On the other hand, she noticed that the bilingual man (trilingual, if you
counted his limited but serviceable English) had a briefcase with him, much like
her father's. She also noticed that his nostrils were flared somewhat more than
After some ritualized
greetings, they went into the conference room. Even though the size, shape, and
decoration were a different, there could be no mistaking the fact that it was
the same kind of room as the one that hosted the negotiations back in Denver.
With a cup of ice in hand, Rose
followed her father inside and took her place beside him. They were barely
settled when she felt the suppression field settle over her, as uncomfortable as
ever. Her only solace was that the new man seemed uncomfortable as well.
Her father and the other man
opened their briefcases, and the others prepared for the talks. Something
bothered Rose about the body language of the other man as he opened his
briefcase, but she wasn't sure what. What bothered her even more was the quiet
hiss that her sensitive hearing picked up.
Before she could mention it to
her father, she started to feel... off. Blackness closed in on her, and she
didn't even feel her head hit the table as she slumped in her chair,
End part 7
The entire MORFS Universe can be found at http://morfs.nowhere2go.org/