Thursday, March 1, 2018

The Butterfly Dragon I: Heroes Of Our Own - Act IV: Trouble In Paradise

Act IV: Trouble In Paradise



2006 Treadwater Island: Trouble In Paradise




The ladies are now divided. With Alicia, Monique and Valerie (aka Valkyra) now under Torman's control, Heylyn finds herself alone. She's learned of Mr. Zek's plans from the children saved by Alicia's SY349 formula and the Dragon known as Weltherwithsp. She must stop Zek but she knows nothing of her friends' change in allegiance. She prepares her armour for the confrontation that will decide the outcome of this conflict.



Preparations



Heylyn sealed up the last bit of the Kevlar she'd salvaged from their last encounter into three layer packages wrapped in ballistic fabric. Each piece was like a part of a jig saw puzzle and each resembled scales like that of a large reptile. She mounted them one by one onto her suit reinforcing it without adding bulk. She took a pair of ballroom style gloves she'd made for one of her formal designs and applied the remaining scales to them. She repaired the damage her costume had sustained at Mr. Zek's Estate and the Treadwater Cove resort using her portable sewing kit. She'd taken her crest, the gift she'd received from Jin Hua and sewn it onto the chest piece. When she'd donned the outfit the chest piece glowed, its magnificent colors harmonized with her own bodily aura.



She admired the outfit and her shimmering aura in a full length mirror, moving around and making sure it didn't slow her down.



"Very stylish I'd say, but I'm hardly a fashion role model you know." Weltherwithsp spoke to her from the mirror.



"I'm glad you like it, but how does it function?" she asked Weltherwithsp though more in jest than seriousness.



"It needs an eye that is no doubt." Weltherwithsp started.



"One we all through may peer out." the little girl finished.



"I thought you might try the crest. There seems to be a spot for you already. Maybe Jin knew more than she was telling?" Heylyn suggested.



"As I can see there's a place for me. One where I've been so let's get this done." Weltherwithsp said from the rendition on the medallion.



She was ready for sure this time. She grabbed her phone and put it into her utility pouch and then leapt off the balcony soaring into the air.



"Much better." Warai, the little girl from Weltherwithsp's field said to Heylyn from the medallion as she flew to the cove that housed Mr. Zek's Estate.



"Yes. Much." Weltherwithsp agreed and so it was much better.



Reverse Engineering



The first team had already begun assembling the equipment they'd hauled up the flight of stairs from Mr. Zek's personal heliport. He'd taken the liberty to setup a chain of island refueling stations all the way to the mainland, each located on a tiny island situated along the journey. The distance wasn't far but it was much more so than the distance a helicopter could make the journey on a single tank of fuel. It had worked for him on numerous occasions when he required shipments that he did not want to pass within the eyes of the airport officials. Some of them were outside of his influence and he was wary to draw attention to his operations. To them he was an influential industrialist who'd made his way into the hospitality industry in the last two decades. He had at one time been like Norler. A strong believer in his ability to affect the world for the better and his responsibility to do so. Somewhere between his competitors using lobbyists and international regulators and his enemies using intimidation and violent tactics to reel him in, he lost his way and belief in a good world. Nothing had changed in him noticeably to the outside world. The people he would deal with had grown in circle and he no longer cared about the effects of expanding his already vast empire. That's when he'd brought Torman onto his team, to deal with and keep Norler in check.



Norler and Mr. Zek had gone toe to toe on many occasions already and to Zek, Norler had become a persistent obstruction, though not purposely. Norler did not have the individual power of empire at his disposal, but he did have a far greater influence upon wealth and the power to purchase through a global line of investors. Norler had already on a few occasions used this support network to block certain acquisitions and to make sure that some such purchases ended up in the hands of the morally responsible, who had the best interests of the places they did business and the people who worked for their commercial and industrial holdings. Zek on the other hand had given little contention to the value of the worker on the whole and saw them merely as assets upon acquisition and liabilities thereafter. Numbers on a computer screen that could be replaced by more efficient numbers thus keeping the bottom line intact. In a lost era, his business ethics would be sound but people like Norler had come into business knowing that this was not the case. These workers were the companies they had acquired and that productivity and profit were directly linked to their well being. In cases where the market had shrunk and had hindered a company's ability to maintain a fully staffed business, there were alternatives to layoffs or early retirement that kept the employees looked after and actually helped to buffer the markets themselves. Investment groups and conglomerations that took an active role in making sure that in such circumstances the employees were looked after, perhaps by cross business hiring and transfers and a healthy maintenance of training and upgrading, left most employees themselves loyal and with a responsible attitude themselves with their ability to affect the world in a positive manner as much as they could affect the that of the business itself.



“Easy to say and much harder to do.” Norler would tell his investment group at some of their meetings.



“But it's that effort that actually shortens the degree of market pressures by keeping people employed because let's face it. Consumers are the market and they need to be healthy and happy and part of this team of people making a better world and I think that most of us can handle a little bit more effort in making sure they're looked after for the lifestyle that some of us enjoy. Maybe we'd better earn it from them. For them.” Norler would stare them down with his friendly face and a stern eye.



“The same principles apply to our foreign holdings as much as they do our domestic. If we buy a plant in the third world that hires children for pennies to work in the plant, then we build an educational daycare there for the children and hire the parents for dollars. The market will accept morally responsible products because the market is made up of morally conscious consumers who love to feel good about their purchases. It's our responsibility.” with that Norler would have earned the purchase vote from them and they'd all follow through on their responsibility.



Zek had lost his zest and flair for this and had overall worried more about empire building and not having to make the sell to anyone. It was his empire after all and he ran it that way. When there were bumps in the carpet, he'd quietly stomp them out to flatten them. Norler was one bump that he had never quite managed to stomp out. He'd shaped Torman from a gangster and hood with business savvy into a formidable boardroom brawler with the intent of overtaking Norler from the inside but Torman had gone after his own empire. Hence why Zek had him removed once he'd gotten what he needed from him. This was Zek's fortune and the beginning of his world empire. This formula was meant to be his from the beginning despite the fact that none of his companies had come up with it. It was his fate to use it to clamp down on the world and to clean it up from its stray path of late. To deal with those like Norler. To deal with those making ruffles in the carpet. His carpet.



Deep in the bunker Zek watched as the last of the equipment was assembled and the machine they'd quickly conjured up on short notice was there before him in all of its promised glory.



“We're ready for the first tests sir.” Boris told Mr. Zek who sat behind a desk in the enormous marble lined vault.



“Well then? Its best that we proceed. First though I want you to signal the team one and let them know to go ahead and get the show started. We don't want any trouble from Torman's girls. Or that other one.” Mr. Zek told Boris, his bodyguard/assistant.



Boris wasted no time and made the call with her personal communicator.



“It's done.” Boris pocketed his communicator.



“Now, let's see if this one point two billion dollar contraption does what it says.” Mr. Zek stood and pointed to one of the technicians.



The technician immediately began by using a glass eyedropper to fill a cartridge with the formula. He then put the cartridge into the machine and walked over to a laptop. Mr. Zek followed closely behind him.



“Now what is it you're doing? I am so curious about these things you know.” Mr. Zek asked astutely looking over the shoulder of the technician.



“The cartridge I just loaded contains the formula sample you gave me. The laptop is connected to the machine through a fiber optics cable. The cartridge is fed through a spectroscope and analyzer and gives us this feedback here.” the technician pointed to the screen indicating a graph and some numbers followed by a list of elements.



“These are the ingredients, like a recipe as elements from the periodic table and these percentages are the total amount of that element within the formula overall accurate to six places for the sample size. You'll see that there's mostly common elements although this one here is somewhat rare, but fortunately we have some here. Now this list is a breakdown of the molecular structure of compounds within the formula, so that is like recipe itself. This part indicates how those compounds are combined and this last section tells us information about how these molecules might have been altered through magnetism or irradiation. Based upon all of that information here is the final output. I enter the how many liters of the output that I want in this box and it tells me how much of each raw material I'll need in total here. After I load the machine with enough raw materials, I can click this button to start the process of re-engineering the formula from the atomic level. From scratch. The whole process will take about an hour to produce a liter of the formula.” the technician told him.



“Only a liter? What if I want to make a hundred liters?” Mr. Zek asked.



“You'd need to continually feed the machine materials and have a technician monitor the process. After the first ten liters, the machine would need a cool-down time of about two hours before you could start again. So you're looking at a hundred and twenty hours.” the technician responded.



“Good. Then let's get underway. I will be the first test subject as well.” Mr. Zek ordered the technician.



Infernal Island



The bomb had gone off just three minutes after Mr. Zek had given the order. The airliner exploded on the runway sending a shock-wave through the terminal. Glass projectiles flew with precision embedding themselves in the surrounding walls of the terminal. The airliner was parked and completely empty for its FAIC (Fuelling And Inspection Cycle). It was close enough to the terminal for the explosion to cause damage to the main building but it was between flights so the terminal was mostly empty as well. Some of the airport employees fled the destruction and ran for cover with minor injuries. The firefighters sprang into action along with a paramedic team. As they made their way to the zone of destruction, another bomb exploded completely destroying the runways and making any airliner based travel impossible.



From a safe distance Hugh Mongus watched the catastrophe, a few scrapes and bruises from his brush with Valkyra still apparent on his face and arms. He stood beside a group of Zek's men one of being unique as he was. A child surrogate child of the SY349 formula.



“I think that did the trick. That will keep the inbound and outbound flights out of commission for a while. I'm guessing that's what Zek had in mind.” Moller said to them.



“Now we just wait for the girls. Zek said that this would definitely hit the Butterfly hard. Something about a boyfriend she lost or something...” Hugh said sounding a little bit wary.



“I think we're a little bit better prepared for them this time. That is if you remember to back me up instead of dancing with Torman's ex.” Moller uttered with a mouthful of resent for Hugh.



Back at Mr. Zek's Estate, the sound of the explosion arrived softly echoing through the hills.



“What was that? That sounded pretty big. Maybe we should go check it out.” Torman/Valkyra said immediately.



“Naww. I say we just stay here. Whatever it is will sort itself out. Besides, I want a piece of Zek right now.” Torman/Monique said.



“I think it might be better to check that out. Think about it. It's good public relations for us and bad for Zek. If we show up to rescue people and Zek has his forces attack us, that will make him look pretty bad to the local populace. So we could consider it another coffin nail for him. Even better if we can skirmish his forces without being detected. They'll attack us and look bad to the island population for doing so.” Torman/Alicia said with sound logic.



"I don't know. Sounds a bit risky to me and it takes us away from our goal here." Torman/Monique said sceptically of Torman/Alicia's proposition.



"Look, I've been doing this for a long time. I've lived through four Mayors and five Police Chiefs, all of whom wanted to stop my gang's influence in the city. Me and my gang have been playing public perception since I was in diapers. If you wanna deal with a problematic person that has a bit of a following or loyal public, then you make them look bad. Just the same way we devalued the companies we were looking to buy for cheap, except instead of targeting a business you target a person. I'd have my gang brothers just lay the pressure on them until they popped. Of course the public wouldn't see that part cause if they did the whole show would be over. They only saw my target popping and when they did, it usually made them look pretty bad. The more you keep the pressure on them the worse they'd get. Public perception did the rest because they'd begin to question everything about that person. Game over. Most of the people I took out that way were too good for revenge and if they tried to explain what happened to them, I'd just have my gang brothers make them look crazy. They lose the public support and disappear. As simple as that. If it can work with a public official or a social hero, it can work against Zek too." Torman/Alicia explained to them confident that the sale had been made.



"How do we know how the public feel about these girls whose bodies we're in?" Torman/Valkyra asked enticed by Torman/Alicia's plan.



"They seem to feel pretty good so far. They loved us at the stopover terminal to Treadwater. I don't think too many people have seen us here... If they see us getting attacked by Zek's forces or even the Butterfly while we're trying to rescue civilians, that will make them look very bad. We'll have the public support and Zek and the Butterfly will come under fire for trying to stop us." Torman/Alicia made the pitch again.



“Sounds good to me. I guess that's why they made you the boss of the gang back home. I'm outta here...” Torman/Monique disappeared in a streak of light in the direction of the blast.



Valkyra looked at Alicia with a frown on her face.



“The power to fly should be like power steering. It should come as a standard instead of an option with all super heroes.” She leapt out of the tree and began bounding the direction of the blast.



"...and villains..." Torman/Alicia said with a sinister smile on her face.



Alicia leapt out the tree moving as quickly as she could through the jungle and very much in agreement with Valkyra.



Not far away, Heylyn soared through the air nearer to the Estate her aura trailing her as she heard the shock-wave from the blast. She stretched her vision as far as she could until off in the distance she saw a plume of smoke rising from the ground in the direction of the Airport.



“The plane go boom. There's nobody hurt. But maybe soon? Hurry!” Warai, the little girl said to her from her pendant.



“I'm on my way there honey.” Heylyn replied to her gingerly.



"Be careful! They make a big trap!" the little red haired girl's voice came from her pendant.



"Thank you for the warning but we'll be alright. Won't we Weltherwithsp?" Heylyn asked with wavering certainty.



"If ask you must then perchance to dust your faith in yourself has turned?" Weltherwithsp posed the question for her.



"Don't let my doubt become an asset to those trying to bring us down. Very well said Weltherwithsp but I'm not used to being alone in this situation." Heylyn replied accelerating her flight.



“There's lots of friends there and on their way. When you get there they'll be ready to play...” Weltherwithsp said to Heylyn.



“Well I'd better not keep them waiting.” Heylyn replied to Weltherwithsp.



She adjusted her course and tried to draw as much speed as she could from her flight.



“Don't you worry sweetie. We'll get there and make sure nobody gets hurt.” Heylyn said to Warai.



“I hope so. But they might hurt you.” the little girl replied.



Battle Of The Titans



Heylyn soared through the air, her wings leaving a glowing aura behind her. As she approached the airport's terminal from above she zeroed in on what appeared to be the focal point of the explosion. She took a quick sweep of from the air looking for any casualties. She landed near the hotspot and examined it carefully with her heightened senses. When she was sure there was nobody in the wreckage she flew upwards twenty feet and into the terminal through a broken section of glass.



A team of paramedics were treating some of the minor injuries a distance away but there seemed to be no major injury or death. She flew over to the paramedics.



"Are there any other casualties?" she asked them as her wings disappeared into her back.



The paramedics stepped back, startled by her sudden presence. After a moment they responded reluctantly.



"No. No major injuries thankfully. Lots of property damage though. There'll be no flights for a week from the look of the damage on the main runway." the paramedic said to her looking a bit startled by her.



"Thank you. I'll be scouring the area for any signs of injured. If I find any I'll send them your way or come back and get you." Heylyn replied.



"Who are you?" one of the paramedics asked.



"I'm the Butterfly Dragon." she replied as she took to the air.



"Amy, Is it me or did that girl just take off into the air? Like a butterfly?" the paramedic asked his partner.



"Yeah Frank. That girl just took off into the air like a butterfly." Amy said pulling an oxygen dispenser and applying it to her face for her sanity's sake.



"Can I get one of those too?" Frank asked his partner.



Heylyn sped through the air back to the hole in the terminal and out onto the tarmac to the site of the other explosion. She landed by a team of fire fighters still putting out the blaze. She set herself down gently behind them, her wings once again disappearing as she walked towards them.



The fire fighter looked to his side to see a beautiful woman clad in some kind of sleek designer outfit. She wore a mask across her face.



"Hey Troy, check this out! Treadwater is getting a sports team! Awesome! Check out the babe cheer leader!" one of the fire fighters said eying Heylyn as she approached.



"Any body injured?" she asked over the sound of the fire hoses.



"No, there's no injuries but the runway's shot. Nice duds by the way. You should be standing back Ma’am." the fire fighter offered politely.



"That's ok. I'm pretty..." Heylyn replied as she was impacted by a force and thrown through the air tumbling and cartwheeling across the tarmac where her wings spread slowing her to a sliding stop.



The fire fighters shut the hoses down running for cover on the other side of the fire engine.



Heylyn got to her feet trying to find what had impacted her. She cringed when she spied Monique.



"Well hello. You finally made it out I see. As you can see I am just overjoyed to see you!" Torman/Monique laughed as she prepared for another charge.



Monique was suddenly thrown backwards into the air by a large hand as Hugh Mongus got hold of her from behind.



"I owe you for the last time we met." Hugh said over his shoulder to Monique as she flew through the air.



"Why don't you pick on someone..." Heylyn started towards Hugh before he interrupted her.



"...Yeah, yeah. Someone your own size. We didn't dance last time, did we butterfly?" he asked her looking rather mean and gruff.



"No better time than the present." Heylyn said as she flew at him at top speed slamming into him with both of her extended fists plunging into his abdomen.



He fell over backwards tumbling before he stopped himself digging his feet into the ground. He got up shaking his head after Heylyn's show of strength.



"Not bad. Not as much crunch as that other one. What's her name? Valley Girl or something like that. But not bad at all." he walked over to her ready for another round.



Heylyn focused herself unleashing an onslaught as she'd learned during her lessons with Jin. Her fist flew forward in a straight punch hitting him dead center of his abdomen. Before the impact of her first punch had time to move him she spun and blade handed his jaw with the same hand. He fell backward stumbling as he did. Keeping her momentum she spun sweeping his feet from underneath and landed atop his large body to deliver a punch into his solar plexus.



"Was that a little better?" she paused to ask him.



He sat unmoving for a little before regaining consciousness.



"Uhhh... Yeah. Much better." he trailed off trying to regain his senses.



Heylyn readied herself to deliver the knock out blow but was once again was impacted by a tremendous concussive force that sent her flying across the tarmac. She once again got to her feet and saw Monique.



"I wasn't finished with you before Big Bozo got in the way." Torman/Monique exclaimed.



"Look Monique, you need to fight him. Torman's got a hold of you. I know you're in there. You need to fight him. He's not you!" Heylyn said to Monique pleading with her.



"Excuse me ladies. I'm sorry to butt in here but I have to help my friend Hugh here. Nothing personal." Moller said to Monique and Heylyn as he stepped between them.



He held out each hand cupped in a fist. When he opened his fingers, a maelstrom of pressurized air flew forth and impacted each of them like a wall.



Halfway through her flight away from Moller, Monique dematerialized into a solid streak of darkness, changing direction sharply back towards her attacker. Moller watched as Heylyn tumbled and finally slowed her momentum landing back on her feet. That was when Monique rematerialized with a bright flash, impacting him with a kick. He flew backwards through the air rapidly slowing as a pocket of air caught him and righted him onto his feet.



"...That was some trick. Let me show you one of mine..." Moller said rubbing his shoulder.



He leveled his hands again and clapped them together. Simultaneously two massive pockets of accelerated around Monique and slammed together where she stood with an impact like a brick wall. Winded, she fell to the ground curling into a ball gasping for air. Heylyn flew towards Moller at high speed only to be running tackled by Hugh Mongus. She rolled to the ground with him tightly holding onto one of her legs with his enormous hands.



She kicked at his fingers until his grip loosed enough for her to counter him. He let go, getting up and striking at her several times. She easily dodged the tremendous force of his striking fists delivering a three punch combination to the center of his giant chest. Her hands fit in the center perfectly where her knuckles impacted his breast plate. He fell backwards screaming in pain hanging onto his chest.



"The bigger they are..." Heylyn started.



"...The harder they fall?.... Ugh!" Hugh Mongus gasped.



"No. The more they stink." Heylyn finished leaving him in disgust to help Monique.



"...it's a side effect of the formula..." Hugh said as she left him in shambles.



Monique had just gotten to her feet as Moller's henchmen had arrived. They took up position beside him.



"If you give up, Mr. Zek has an arrangement that you will find most beneficial. Its that or face the consequences." Moller told Monique as she brushed the dirt from her costume.



"Give up? When I'm so close to beating you?" Monique/Torman replied.



"Last chance." Moller confirmed her course of action.



"Do I get the same opportunity?" Alicia/Torman said immediately after landing beside Monique.



Valkyra landed beside Monique on the other side from Alicia.



"Well, look who dropped in. I didn't know that you could fly." Moller looked to Alicia, recognizing her from their encounter at the dance club.



"She can't. I threw her from back there say about, five hundred yards." Valkyra/Torman replied answering the mystery of Alicia's flight.



"Say, that's pretty good. Have you considered joining the football league?... I mean they have these deals where..." Monique/Torman started with Valkyra before Alicia cut her off.



"No deal. We're taking the whole pie. You want a piece? That's our offer. Then we take out the butterfly together." Alicia/Torman asked Moller knowing him to be a turncoat.



"Tempting but I have to say no. I know what you're up against and you haven't got a chance. Zek might seem a little bit lax when it comes to how he runs things, but believe me, he does not miss a thing. That's how he managed to build his empire and hire upstarts like you and me. Without him we just would have rotted away with the rest of those guys who do business the way we used to. Zek sees above all of that. He even sees above the heads of the people running the world. He's going get this done and you know it." Moller told Alicia/Torman blandly.



"He's getting older and slower. Even with the formula he's still going to be no match. Even with all of his employees and connections. They know me too. You watch how quickly they change sides when there's a new captain at the wheel." Alicia/Torman told Moller trying to twist him.



Moller stood quietly thinking about it Torman's offer just as Heylyn landed between the two groups ready for anything.



"C'mon. You know that I'm right about this. He's done. Washed up. Who has he got lined up to manage that empire when he dies? Kenton? Wells? You know they haven't got what it takes to run an operation this big. We can do this and even carry out his plans once he's out of the way." Torman/Alicia didn't give him long to think.



"Alright. We take the butterfly together and then we take Zek, just the like the old days." Moller responded to Torman's deal accepting it fully.



Alicia/Torman keyed the cellular phone in her pocket stopping the recording he had taken of their conversation. Torman had exactly what he needed in case this did not turn out. That was Torman's way of doing business which was much like Zek's. Hedging his bets on both sides of the fence and getting something about both his allies and competitors to pressure them with. To get the upper hand. Much like Zek did with his database of personal rumors, secrets and dirt videos. If they got control of the compound and eliminated Zek, once they got into that database, they'd have all the power they needed. The rumors and secrets of all who might oppose them. That Torman thought, was Zek's real power as it soon would be his.



Heylyn assessed the dynamics of the situation and the newly formed allegiance. She knew that she had to get her allies out of Torman's influence and that she'd need help. Weltherwithsp might show up or not and that was as unpredictable as the wind.



"So. Now it comes down to you, Butterfly. Are you with us against Zek or are you just going to become a casualty?" Alicia/Torman expertly manipulated the situation further and if Torman had been Zek's ally, he might have even been proud of him.



Hugh Mongus had just gotten up from the ground, fully healed to take up a place behind Heylyn. She saw him despite her eyes being firmly fixed upon Alicia's.



"I think that we need to talk about this." Heylyn delayed.



"That point in time has come and gone more than once." Alicia/Torman replied drawing more upon Alicia's savvy and intelligence with words than Torman's no nonsense brute force business sense.



That was just the sign that Heylyn needed and Weltherwithsp held no pause. They both moved as one, far too fast for the unaided eye to see and with that the Butterfly took Alicia while the Dragon took Torman.



Alicia struck out first more out of desperation for she had not seen Heylyn move at all. She threw a blind sided arm in a wide arc hoping to connect though secretly holding back hoping that Torman would not notice from inside her. Alicia's arm missed as she'd entirely miscalculated where Heylyn was. Heylyn's affront came from behind.



Torman's mania at the situation left him feeling isolated from within Alicia's head but he needed Alicia too much to fully retreat to Valkyra or Monique. That was when the Dragon came, and when Weltherwithsp arrived it was already too late for Torman. The Dragon did not attack Torman by way of his ego, from the front as he'd expected. It attacked Torman by way of his fear and from behind, out of sight instead preying upon Torman's cowardice drawing upon his own knowledge to do so.



The battle had begun.



Heylyn's hands quickly encircled Alicia and plucked her into the sky as fast as she'd moved to get behind Alicia.



"Damn, she's quick." Moller drew a breath and concentrated.



As Heylyn ascended, a barrier of solid air had formed in her path upward. She quickly changed direction to fly horizontally narrowly avoiding the barrier. She flipped onto her back midair to block one of Monique's attacks. She absorbed Monique's dark energy spike attack into her back and the energy from the attack dissipated through her home made armor and across the diamond scales that now covered her back.



"Alicia, I don't know if you can hear me but you need to fight Torman now!" Heylyn yelled into her ears as the air pressure obscured her hearing.



"I think he's occupied right now." Alicia yelled back truthfully.



"Good. That means he's got a visitor." Heylyn turned her flight path back towards Zek's Estate.



"Zekky's got help too. He's got a big machine. If you don't run really fast, he wins the big game." little Warai told Heylyn.



"Let's hope Weltherwithsp can deal with Torman before we get there." Heylyn spoke barely audibly enough for Alicia to hear.



"I think they're fighting." Alicia said wincing, grabbing her head.



"I think she's near to us now!" young Heylyn warned speaking of Monique.



Monique materialized atop Alicia in mid air grabbing onto her in attempt to pull Alicia away from Heylyn. Heylyn righted herself once again spiraling to level flight dropping Monique as she clasped at Alicia. Heylyn's wings twisted and turned as she struggled to stay aflight a trail of spiraling aura behind her. Monique fell a hundred feet before becoming immaterial and returning to her pursuit of Heylyn.



Inside of Alicia's head, Torman backed up into a corner of her psyche.



"You see Dragon. You didn't get me. Even when I died out there, you didn't get me. You can't get me. I can be in many people, too many for you to deal with all by your lonesome. That's what its like to have a gang me. You don't know what you're dealing with." Torman threw his words out sharpening them as much as he could before hand though they fell harmlessly away from Weltherwithsp.



Weltherwithsp listened from the darkness of Alicia's subconscious, the only clue of the Dragon's presence was its silence.



"Soon I'll be in Mr. Zek too. Then his kingdom will fall." Torman threw more words as his fear grew and perhaps his paranoia.



Silence once again.



"You can't beat me because I'm not just one." Torman backed up.



The silence remained though Torman could detect the tension building as a thought found escape from Weltherwithsp's vastness.



"What of those whose minds you'd replace with that of yours. You'd not well get their confidence nor their allegiance. You see, you are alone really. More so than you know. More so than the solitary individuals who create their part for the whole, maybe alone but ultimately as part of it. My counterpart, the Butterfly as you know her spends many hours of her own forging her creations ultimately to share with someone. Many of whom she will never meet. Alicia, one of the kind women whose mind you've chosen to occupy does much the same. She spends many hours by herself or with her fellow researchers creating in order to save people that she will never, ever meet. Even long after her mortal twine hath wrought its last bough. She will be affecting the lives of others she does not know." Weltherwithsp spoke abandoning its propensity for verse for this matter.



"My words upon you are a waste as will be your last breath, fool. You seek power in this world not to help it, but to change it to your likeness because you're the only person that you have. Despite how you're so called friends and henchmen might have pledged their allegiance to you, the only time they'd ever thought of you was in fear of you, forgetting you readily when your reach upon them had been exceeded. Just as it will with the more people you infest with the waste of potential that you call a mind, but that is nothing more than the ego of one who only wants to see themselves in others. You are vile for the only way you seek to have effect upon others is by painting yourself upon them against their choice. Those that let Alicia's or the Butterfly's efforts into their life let them in willingly and hence, some will walk on their legs and some will fly upon their wings. That is their etching upon the face of this world and that of those who create and many will be better and live better as a result, ultimately by their choice of what is right for them. Even if those people rejected what Alicia and the Butterfly had to share in that way, neither Alicia nor the Butterfly would be likely to give up but they would never force their efforts upon those people. You Torman, take as it is the same for what you give and something that is not yours in either case. Confidence is given by those who choose to share it. Control is something that is taken by force without choice. One earns friendship, loyalty and allegiance despite the failings and misgivings of that with whom it is shared. The other earns the fear of those who take it and like a disease it slowly turns to scorn, devouring the taker thereof. You want to fill others with your brand of ire, so you can make yourself look that much better in measure. You want them to be as you and for others to take you as them though you never having earned it. That's why you targeted Alicia, Monique and Valkyra. You're preying upon their own self doubt and lack of confidence in themselves and that is why you cannot take the Butterfly." Weltherwithsp held to the shadows of Alicia's subconscious though very much permeating her entirety with confidence.



"Let's just skip all the fancy words and do this like they do where I'm from." Torman spoke like he had an audience to impress.



"I am not here to give you such satisfaction as that Torman though you'd fall despite. No. I am here to devour you." Weltherwithsp's aura broke the darkness of Alicia's mind filling it with light and hope.



Torman found himself backing away from the brightness as the Dragon's presence filled her and eviscerated Torman's being from her. Torman withdrew in attempt to withdraw to Monique whom he could sense was nearby. He could merge with her and they'd share the knowledge he'd accumulated while within Alicia and Monique.



"You will not be leaving here." Weltherwithsp spoke with confidence.



Torman's form slowly started to fade and he fought hanging onto outcroppings of Alicia's past grabbing at her memories. He found himself in her school, and among a group of boys who had picked on her regularly there.



"Heh, what's this. A memory? A bad one? Wow, you looked way different than you do now." Torman said commenting about her appearance and a bit about her weight and though her weight was hardly a problem, it was something she was conscious of.



Alicia sat at the table in the gymnasium eating her lunch trying to ignore the abuse as she had been used to it and had long since learned to deal with it emotionally.



"Hey. Are you hearing me? Are you working on another one of your school projects there again trying to make us all look bad?" Torman approached Alicia walking much like he had in his own school days.



She ignored him, taking another bite of her sandwich.



"Why don't you try to pick on me?" a familiar voice came from behind Torman.



"Well, well, well. If it isn't the Butterfly. I was hoping I'd see you here." Torman turned to his new quarry to see Heylyn as she was in her school years with Alicia.



"Leave her alone. You're done here." Heylyn stood confidently before Torman.



Torman's frustration with Heylyn breached him and he swung at her. Surprisingly Heylyn just stood there, taking the full force of the blow and falling to the floor, a slight bruise on her cheek.



Torman stood there unbelieving that he had actually connected with her, a martial arts expert and that he'd knocked her to the floor.



"Yeah! I did it! I took her out!" Torman jumped up excitedly looking around the gymnasium for any audience.



That was when he was thrown across the room onto a table before he rolled off it and onto the floor.



Alicia stood offering her friend a hand up.



"Thanks Alicia. I'm Ok. Really." Heylyn told Alicia.



Alicia turned around shielding her friend from Torman, who'd gotten to his feet.



"Oh! You want some too? I just took down a martial arts champ. Now you want some? Alright. Let's go." Torman danced like a boxer back over to Alicia, readying himself.



The other students watched him unable to move.



Young Alicia put up her fists though she'd never fought in her life.



Torman swung at Alicia and Alicia ducked just barely getting brushed on the top of her head by Torman's clasped fist.



"Oh, so you have more moves do ya?" Torman backed up in fear of the counter attack.



Alicia just stood with her dukes in front of her.



Torman took another swing at her opening his hand at the last minute to slap her.



"Oh! Another one. Yesss!" Torman danced in victory for a moment and then returned.



Alicia held her stance and tried not to show any fear but inside she felt like she wanted to break down and cry on the floor. Cold and alone.



"Don't worry Alicia. Believe in yourself." Heylyn said from behind her.



Torman jumped in for another strike opening his hand again and slapping her a bit harder with one hand and following it up with the other hand.



Alicia felt a tear of frustration welling up on her face. Why was this man doing this to her? She'd never done anything to him and she wondered why it was like this. Why life was like this. Why would someone see her working on her homework and come over and pick on her. Why? She was not bothering anyone. Why would people like Torman come and find her, to pick on her?



Torman bounced in again while she was thinking about it and slapped her again. This time she didn't stop to ponder but instead she sidestepped him and he fell onto the floor as a result of his own force. He landed with a thud.



"Oh, so you still have some fight left in you?" Torman stood a bit fearfully but an audience of Alicia's bullies encouraged him.



He stepped back in once again and swung and she successfully dodged it yet again and he fell, tripping over his own legs. He stood up again though this time his audience had disappeared and he was alone. Frustrated he opened his hand up for another slap and missed her once again.



"What? That was right on target?" Torman declared aloud.



Frustrated he swung again and missed again.



"C'mon, let's eat lunch Alicia." Heylyn put her hand on Alicia's shoulder.



"Your right. I don't have to be afraid of this person, or anyone. But I don't have to lower myself to his level unless I really need to defend myself." Alicia said to her.



"That's right. He's more afraid of you than you are of him. Besides, in about fifteen years from now you'll change the world. I know you will." Heylyn told her friend walking her back to the lunch room table.



Torman watched as the two girls walked back to their table and sat talking and laughing and enjoying their lunch but more importantly, their friendship.



The school faded and Torman was once again bathed in Weltherwithsp's light.



He writhed in pain as bits and pieces of him burned and flaked away into the air of Alicia's mind his screams filling the darkness only to be drowned into nothingness.



"Be at peace and free of fear my friend. Make sure that your goodness is what you in fact share and rend. With that Alicia my dear, I bid thee farewell and all well." Weltherwithsp disappeared from Alicia's subconscious only to remain there as one of Alicia's pleasant memories.



"Welcome back honey." Heylyn said to Alicia.



"It's great to be back. Anything happen while I was gone?" Alicia joked with her.



"Well, nothing really though I should warn you that Monique is having one of her tantrums again..." Heylyn got the last word out as Monique impacted the two of them sending Alicia into the air away from Heylyn's grasp and back to the island below them.



Friends Will Be Friends



Monique retained her intangency halfway between her dark energetic form as she tumbled through the air struggling with Heylyn. A distance away Alicia braced for what might be a high speed clash with the ground. Surely this would be one battle in which the ground would win.


Heylyn arced her flight path against Monique's grasp trying to get closer to Alicia. As she did time suddenly stood still and Heylyn felt the presence of Weltherwithsp once again.



"I might help if I could but in this time it is not so sublime to ask that you're the only one, t'were you as you were once young..." the air filled with its voice.



She suddenly was thrust from her crash course flight with Monique and fell to the floor in a place she did not know. She stood and took in her surroundings from her smaller height for she was once again a little girl Ai Yuanlin Ying.



She was in someone's bedroom, dark with clothing scattered over the floor and a mess of bottles and other miscellaneous paraphernalia atop a hutch and dresser. It smelled of cigarette smoke and full ashtrays. The bed was unoccupied.



"Damn you, that money was for groceries! I earned that myself you bastard! It wasn't for you and your friends and one of your binges!" Heylyn heard a familiar lady's voice.



"What the heck are you talking about? You owe me. This is my place here and you're living here. Why aren't you busy keeping the place clean like we agreed?" a man's voice spoke with a bit of a hood slur to it.



"Why? So you can have your squeeze over while I'm out working and screw your brains out! I thought we were supposed to be building a life? And you're just sleeping around and keeping me here as a live in house cleaner and spending my money on your friends and your parties! Your gangster friends." Monique came back with a ferocity.



"Look babe, it's just for a while. When Torman's contact comes through with the cash he promised, I'll be sittin' pretty. Besides, you could have been making twice what you make now if you'd done it my way." the man said to her trying to reason with Monique.



"Selling myself on the street? A hooker? Never. I'm more than that." Monique said to him.



"It wasn't on the street. You would have been working for the high class types." the man came back taking a haul from his cigarette.



"And you would have paid me an allowance from that would have been a quarter of what I make working as a model. My boss and the people where I work really care for me." Monique said to him her eyes starting to tear up.



Little girl Heylyn stepped into the room and saw the man sitting in a recliner who was of course Monique's ex-boyfriend in Torman's form, a big ashtray sat next to him beside his cellular. Monique stood facing him having just come out of the kitchen cooking dinner for them both. She was both hungry and exhausted as she'd done a fourteen hour day at the studio.


"Believe in you Monique. You don't have to be like him. He's not good for you. He forgets you at daytime but remembers you when you have money. That's what he wants from you." Heylyn said to Monique.



Monique turned to the little girl whom she could not recognize.



"How'd you get in here sweetie? You need to get home to your Mommy and Daddy." Monique said leaning over to her.



"Who the hell are you talking to Monique. Did you hear a word that I just said? That's what I mean. You never freakin' listen to me!" the man said to Monique looking at her as if she'd gone crazy.



"No. He's a bad man. He pretended to care so he could have you. Now he has someone else. He just wants your money. Don't let him win you!" Heylyn said to her.



Monique looked at the little girl whose eyes were filled with tears.



"You used to be little like me. Can't you remember? What did you want to be? You don't want to be with him. He doesn't care what you want to be. You care. The little girl who was you cares. Torman wants to use you. Take you away from studio and use you. Then throw you away. Heylyn cares. Kori and Delia really like you at the studio. They really care about you." Heylyn said to Monique.



Monique thought about her childhood and what she used to dream of being. She'd had many dreams and aspired to be every one of them. She wanted to be a dancer like a ballerina. She wanted to be a famous singer. Then when she learned about gymnastics she wanted to be a gymnastic star. She remembered all of those things and how she believed that she could do them and do them well. As she got older, she noticed that some people would try to convince her that she could not do those things. Like she wasn't capable. People whom she thought were her friends. People who didn't want her to succeed because that would mean they'd have to try harder. It made them feel uncomfortable so rather than encourage her, they discouraged her. They had never had their own dreams or ones that they spoke of. Instead it was about where the next party would be and the one after that. Fun every once in a while is alright, but her friends had made a life of it with no balance. Parties were their way of escaping their own sense of their lack of achievement and more importantly their unwillingness to try.



Monique had defined herself by how her friends thought of her, so she naturally took their rejection of her dreams seriously. She had given too much credit to those friends and their opinion and in fact, they weren't her friends at all. But she'd based her opinion of herself by what her friends thought of her and in the process she'd lost her real friends. The ones whom themselves had gone on to pursue their dreams. When they attended a party or a social event, they had something to share with each other. The fruit of their efforts and the joy of at least having tried, success or not. Monique had just realized that she'd seen friends who'd just given up and resigned to the life that she thought she'd never have. Rather than change their life to make those dreams possible they'd resign themselves to having none. Monique was a little girl once and that was who she was and who she had to answer to. She decided that she could no longer lie to that little girl any more.



"We're finished. I'm leaving. I'll just pack my things and go. Your dinner is mostly done and you should be able to finish it yourself. Goodbye." Monique smiled at the little girl.



"Thank you." she whispered to young Ai Yuanlin Ying.



"Look babe, I'm sorry. Don't go. Please. I miss you already. Honest I do." the man said standing up from the chair stopping to flatten the tip of the cigarette so as to save it for later.



"Don't listen to him. He just wants the money you earned from the studio. Call Heylyn, she'll help you. Don't give in." Heylyn said to Monique.



"No. I'm leaving now. That's final." Monique said to him not looking at him.



He reached for her grabbing her arm.



"C'mon babe. I said it was over. No more sleeping around for me. I only want you. I'll make it up to you. Honest." he said to her holding her arm a little too hard.



"Let go of me you bastard!" she yelled a little bit frightened.



"You watch the way you talk to me! I'll put you in your place if you don't!" the man who looked like Torman yelled at Monique.



Monique pulled her arm away and when he went to grab it again, she yanked it the other way opening him up. She pushed him backwards and onto the floor grabbing his phone.



"Don't you touch me or I'll call the Police and have you charged with assault." she said as she began dialing.



"Hello. Heylyn. It's me. We need to talk. I need somewhere to stay..." Monique began to cry.



"It's alright sweetie. Just come over. Take a cab if you need to and I'll cover it if you don't have the money. Is that creep hurting you? I'll come over and get you if you want? We'll talk for a bit tonight too if you need to. Do you want me to call the cab? Maybe the Police?" Heylyn spoke on the other end of the phone.



"Could you? If I don't show up in an hour then call the Police. I'll be there shortly." Monique said to Heylyn.



"I'll be expecting you soon." Heylyn told her and then hung up.



Monique gestured to the little girl towards the bedroom and she smiled and complied. Monique gathered the things that she did not want to leave behind as she'd never be returning to him or this place again.



"Don't worry. I think its going to be better for you and that you're going to have lots of fun. Even when you work it will be fun!" little Ai Yuanlin Ying said to Monique.



"I know it will. I feel better already." Monique emptied the drawer into her knapsack before going to the bathroom to get her make-up and supplies.



Torman came walking down the hall to the bathroom.



"Did you think that I was going to make it that easy?" he said boldly and confidently holding a gun in front of him.



"No, I didn't to tell you the truth." Monique said.



Torman shook his head, for Monique had changed from an attractive and beautiful woman into a small child. She stood beside another child.



"Let's go." the little Monique said to Ai.



"Yes. Let's!" Ai agreed.



Torman held the gun on them unable to fire.



"No. Don't leave. I'll shoot. Really. I will. Don't do it!" Torman said to them shaking as he did.



"We're leaving. Goodbye." the little Monique struggled with the knapsack before Ai helped her with it.



Ai reached up to open the door and Torman fired at the wall just beside Ai's head.



"Mister. You shouldn't play with those guns. You could get hurt!" she said to him ignoring the gaping hole in the wall beside her.



"Don't forget to finish the dinner before it gets too cold. Goodbye. Don't ever call me." the little Monique said as she stepped out the door with the little Heylyn.



"Nooooooooooooooo!" Torman screamed as the two little girls left.



The apartment around him started to shudder as it and the entire universe folded inward onto him. He was no more in Monique.



A moment later the air was crashing around their ears and Heylyn no longer struggled against Monique.



"I'm so sorry Heylyn! Honest." Monique said to her friend.



"It's Ok. Really. Let's get Alicia!" she yelled.



Monique phased into a streaming beam of light and was instantly at Alicia's position just before she impacted. She materialized catching Alicia and redirecting their momentum harmlessly away from the ground. They swooped back up to meet Heylyn in the air.



They found a patch of brush with a clearing to gather themselves.



"And now, we are three." Alicia said to Heylyn and Monique in a grateful gesture to both of them.



"We have to get Valkyra away from that monster." Monique said to Heylyn, looking to Alicia for a supporting vote.



"There isn't time." Heylyn told the two of them.



"How do you know?" Monique came back quick for revenge still feeling very much violated.



"A little girl named Warai. The children. The classroom. They let me know... I can't explain now. We have to hurry, there isn't much time." Heylyn urged them.



"We're only three minutes away. We need to storm the place and now." Heylyn grabbed onto Alicia and set off into the air her wings opening majestically as she did.



Monique phased to an immaterial light form and accelerated quickly catching up to and over taking Heylyn as they approached Mr. Zek's estate.



Not far behind, Torman/Valkyra, Hugh Mongus and Moller made their way to the same destination flying on a moving wave of compressed air Moller had created. The only way to travel he thought.



Torman was only thinking of one thing. Getting rid of Zek and taking over his empire.



"Hostile Takeover is in the house." he mused from behind Valkyra's eyes.



Final Confrontation




The gigantic double doors to the estate flew from their frame, each door flying in a different direction. Zek's security teams evaded the flying debris where many sat prone waiting for the onslaught. The first member of the security teams never saw what hit him, both snapping his assault rifle in half and sending him flailing into a wall. The others retreated back towards the elevator tactically covering their steps as they went.



Alicia pursued them from the shadows, rounding a pillar in the foyer and taking a side hall to arrive behind them. She watched from cover as they proceeded closer to her location, holding her place quietly. They were not the thinkers that formulated his monstrous plan. They would merely carry out Zek's interests and so they were not to blame. She just wanted to scare them enough to consider a different line of work.



Their point man rounded the corner and stopped just a few feet from the elevator doors in order to prevent the attackers from making it down into Zek's bunker. The point man glimpsed a speeding shadow that flew between their numbers. He quickly turned only to see one of his men falling to the ground, his fire arm destroyed. He fired a couple of shots having no target narrowly missing one of the other men.



"Check your fire!" he yelled just as the streak of darkness flew past knocking him out cold, his firearm broken in two.



The point man fired again before feeling hands on his shoulders. He was quickly pushed to the ground despite his effort to resist. Another one of his men had gotten in behind Monique undetected. He leveled his firearm at her back just as Alicia took him from behind.



"I thought I got him. Guess not. Thanks. I guess that makes us even." Monique stood dropping the two halves of the security guard's SMG.



"Really? I was going to get something for you. I guess not." Alicia said feigning resolution.



"Well if you wanted to you could pick something up. Just something little you know..." Monique spoke trying not to be to insistent but clearly entertaining the idea.



"How about you two use your extraordinary talents of deduction and beauty and get the elevator working." Heylyn said as she constrained the last guard.



"Sure. Wait. Let me think about this. It's a tough one. Uhhhh. Got it! You press the down button." Monique said sarcastically.



"But we need to get past the key code first. I think I can get through this. In the mean time search the guards. One of them must have written it down." Alicia pulled her cellular phone out and checking for any signs of WiFi or blue tooth from the keypad.



Alicia having rooted her phone on the flight over was in the administrative console of it and connecting to the security system in an attempt to find a vulnerability.



"Got it! Oops. Only two digits. I think. The first two. Maybe." Alicia told them.



"What's this? His girlfriend's initials? SOSG. Hmmm." Monique said looking at the palm of one of the guard's hands.



"Let me see. That's it. Its 5-0-5-6." Heylyn told Alicia.



Alicia immediately punched in the code and the elevator door opened.



"Nice work Monique." Alicia told her clearly beginning to bond with her.



"Well it runs in the family." Monique said looking at Heylyn.



"Enough congratulations lets find him quickly." Heylyn rushed them into the elevator and Monique deliberately pushed the down button.



"See. I told you." Monique winked at them as the elevator door closed.



The elevator began its slow descent into the bunker just as Torman/Valkyra, Hugh Mongus and Moller burst into the estate main floor.



"Damn! I knew I shouldn't have waited and let them escape." Torman/Valkyra raged looking around the main floor.



"They're going down into the bunker. You want me to rip the door off and go down and get them?" Hugh Mongus asked.



"No. We'll wait. Its the only exit." Torman/Valkyra stated coldly.



"That's where you're wrong." Moller told him.



Mr. Zek had constructed the bunker beneath the massive estate. He used it mostly for his solitude every once and again and was where the backbone of his computer operations was held, including the blackmail database. It was connected via the main fiber optic super cable that connected the island to the rest of the world as well as two back up systems via satellite. If they failed or were deliberately severed, there was a third fiber optic cable that fed his server room only. That was also where he housed any secret projects that he wanted to keep out of prying eyes. Much like the nemesis in many spy movies from a popular movie franchise, this was his secret hideout. It contained everything he would need to keep him alive for two years if he'd needed to, including food, medical treatment and sanitation.



After a two minute descent the elevator opened revealing the concrete bunker. She observed the hall with her heightened senses and proceeded forward slowly urging the others to follow.



"I was expecting you. Please. Come in and enjoy the festivities on this joyous occasion." Mr. Zek stated as he watched them walk the length of the hall through his security cameras.



The women stepped out into the main room of the bunker. It was large and circular housing the equipment they'd seen delivered earlier. Mr. Zek was seated behind a large stainless steel desk watching as his new hardware decoded the mysteries of the SY349A formula.



"We need you to stop reverse engineering and producing any copies of the SY349 immediately according to the statutes of international law. You are messing with a potentially dangerous technology." Alicia spoke boldly to Mr. Zek.



"Ahhhh. Is that what you believe? You and your colleagues at the research center were working on something a bit more beneficial I thought?" Mr. Zek asked her keeping his piercing eyes upon her.



"Yes. The technology is beneficial. Very beneficial. But it could in the wrong hands it could be very detrimental as well." Alicia told him standing his gaze.



"Now by wrong hands do you mean mine? I could bring this amazing product to the market in no less than three months on a massive scale. No waiting time on the approval process of any country's pharmacological and drug administration. Those are unnecessary hold ups that are run and puppeteered by the multinational pharmaceutical companies themselves. They control that market you know, and very carefully. I know because I've done battle with them both in the market place and in the boardroom. This fancy bunker isn't just a quiet get away. When you make enemies as I have, you need a safe retreat and sooner or later that's all you have. Nobody gets well on any pharmaceuticals unless those multinationals make money. That's sad but its the truth. The grim reality of life, is it not? Much like us. People. Human beings. For us to live, the inevitable fact is that something else has to die. That is the case whether you like it or not. You eat, and what you eat is or was living at some point. Even if you don't eat meat, fish or poultry, something else still has to die. Plant and vegetable life is still life is it not? You eat plants and still that is murder of a different sort. Just because plants don't have a brain, nervous and limbic system much as mammals, fish, reptiles and insects do, and because they don't wish you good morning when you see them every day does not mean that they don't live. So the rule of life is that something dies so that something lives. It is simple economics at that level. Think of that next time you sit down to a meal, stuffing your face with the formerly living while spewing rhetoric of the wrongs that human kind has visited upon the world or how companies have squashed the good intent of the people. The stuff that fuels you was once a civilization of single celled organisms working together to make the microscopic marvel that we recognize as being life. If this SY349 can overcome the sometimes destructive process of RNA recombination in the process of cellular mitosis, and produce perfect copies every time with zero degradation or even reconstitute the original DNA possessed and augment it in the stem cells of any person within their marrow, spinal columns or in some organs, then how do you have the right to say who it belongs to and who can have it? Who are you to tell us who is allowed to walk and who isn't? Who can see and who cannot?" Mr. Zek looked at Alicia gazing into her soul with the very questions that had motivated her to pursue life as a researcher.



"We don't decide who is going to walk, or who is going to see. We try to make those things possible without causing damage in other unforeseen ways. We aren't just replacing parts, we're extrapolating their original design from the existing copy of their first version from the original DNA and from the heuristic process that seems to emerge after generations of reproducing that sequence with error free copies into every generation of cells produced. If we make even the slightest mistake in this process, we could produce a mutation or genetic disease far worse than the problems that we are trying to cure. These problems aren't revealed so easily by traditional experimentation and even the current technology associated with the simulation of cellular mitosis at the DNA and protein level is limited and requires computing power far greater than the sum of computing power on the planet. We're not dealing in linear problem solving but in emergent generational challenges with exponential complications. We could produce something that would reconstitute the production of muscle cells and the nerves that signal movement, only to find our solution generations down the road produces cancerous nerve cells, which cause a painful deterioration and death of the subject or worse, a pathogen excreted through the mucus membranes that when exhaled becomes an airborne genetic virus. We've made incredible advances in this area and recently our biggest break through has little to do with science at all but aesthetics and design and its part in the determination of effects of combinatorial genetic transmogrification with original stem cell DNA. This effect is amplified by both the observer and the aesthetic itself. This tells us that an artist's eye applied to this science can have profound effects upon the process of regeneration. It might be imperative to it and open an entirely new form of treatment where aesthetics play a big role in the outcome of the healing process itself. You cannot just march into our laboratory on the eve of our success and march off with the revelations about this astounding new breakthrough and capitalize on ideas that you have no comprehension of, claiming them for the power they will afford you while you prey upon the needy without them knowing they are being used by you and for the power they will afford you in long winded rhetoric about cures. You’re risking their lives and the credibility of the entire medical research profession by doing so. No to mention the risk associated with this. You just want the power it will afford you and built on the laps of those whose bodies you presume to fix using it, without them knowing the full truth and risks." Alicia stepped forward towards Zek's desk pausing to look at the array of machinery working on decoding the secrets of her life's work.



"You bring restrictions and setbacks where I bring hope. I have the formula and am ready to produce it in full and bring it to the public. We've seen what it can do for you. Are you really just trying to hang onto your first taste of power Alicia? Maybe for all the times those high school bullies picked on you about your weight? Maybe the expended social life that you gave up to pursue your first passion of research and being discarded by first a school and then a world that didn't care? Now you are super Alicia, dancing from building top to building top and able to grind your enemies into a pulp. Tell me that hasn't once sent a thrill up your spine or invigorated you. I think that you've cashed in on your own passion and ideas. Now that it has turned you into a sensational super hero, you've even gotten your friends involved to justify your night time fantasy world. Instead of this becoming a cure, it has become a circus and you're the main attraction. All this from a formula intended to cure a variety of ills related to muscular regeneration and other degenerative diseases. No more lab coats and better yet, no more weight problem. You dodged that without even having to make the effort that ninety percent of the people who have a weight problem out there have to do to deal with it. You're guilty of a conflict of interest my dear. So what is it? A healthy fit vixen rescuing others from the ills of society, or an overweight researcher seeking to cure degenerative and genetic diseases via an innovative new approach to medicine. It seems to me that you've gone overboard and are using research money to live out your girlish fantasies. The ones that you never got the chance to live out during your puberty because you didn't feel that anyone was looking at you in that way. Did you?" Mr. Zek's words broke her intellectual armor and bore their way through her emotions.



Alicia stood on the verge of tears but courageously held her ground against his ploy though she was not ready for what came next.



"Someone all that time was looking at you and you didn't even realize it. Did you? Let me refresh your memory by bringing someone to your attention. Better yet an employee of mine. You must remember your co-worker Alex don't you?" Mr. Zek gestured and Alex stepped out from a room in which he'd been waiting.



"Hello Alicia." he spoke solemnly.



"Alex? What are you doing? Are you?..." Alicia asked him.



"Its not what you think." he paused.



"That must have sounded so cliché, but believe me its not what it appears." he told her pleadingly.



"How long have you been working with..." Alicia asked him unable to believe what was transpiring.



"A long time, but not as long as you think." Alex looked her the corner of his mouth smug and tucked up and into a smile.



"What about the agents. Gavin. The school." Alicia asked him.



"There were no agents. The school is part of a test group for approval so the results are real. They were Norler's connection. The rest of us all work for..." Alex was cut off.



"You mean you lied to me. To us? To all of us at the lab?" Alicia peered at him through a growing disbelief.



"Zek came to us early and told us that Norler would try to buy us out. What Norler paid for the operation and funding the research was great but Zek's offer was better. Much better. We had to lure you on-board somehow and this was the best way to do it given Torman and Zek's reputation compared with a left leaner like Norler. Zek's first meeting with us resulted in more research funding than Norler's." Alex explained to the betrayed Alicia.



"What money. What research?" Alicia asked him more and more losing her trust and patience with the man she'd thought she'd known.



"We set up a mirror lab down here in the bunker. At first we were able to keep up with you, but as time went on, your ideas and directions just lost us. We changed staff several times trying to find a group that could keep pace with you, but to no effect. In the end they assigned me to work closely with you and to get to know you. I really did feel something for you though Alicia but I couldn't express it. There was too much at stake. I kept an eye on you and fed your research effort to the mirror lab here but it still wasn't enough. By the time Norler had bought in, we could no longer keep this under wraps so we packed up and moved down here ourselves and turned it into a reverse engineering operation." Alex finished as her eyes glared.



"You stole research while we were doing it, and sent it here? That research was meant to help others the right way and was paid for by someone else and you stole it? Not to mention that you were working with someone who clearly has no respect for the mechanisms in place to make sure that we don't screw up and create a deadly mutation or pathogen. Now you're trying to tell me you're attracted to me thinking that just because I'm socially inept and because I had a weight problem that I'd just jump into your bed out of naivety and desperation?" Alicia laid her accusation out in a sharp tone.



"No Alicia. I was hoping that you'd come on board with us and get the process running smoothly. Get the bumps out that we encountered and that Mr. Zek is willing to fund your personal research entirely and handsomely for the rest of your life." Alex explained the deal to her plainly and it still sounded cold despite Alex's delivery.



"As long as he receives the full rights to what I, we discover." Alicia finished.



"Exactly." Alex nodded folding his arms.



"Of course we'd be willing to pay for the services of your friends Heylyn and Monique as well. Heylyn could help with the design aspect you explained and well, Monique could work in the bar by my pool or for any of the resort facilities I have at my disposal. You all would live a life lived by few on this island." Mr. Zek added.



"What happened with you and Torman? Why did you have him assassinated?" Heylyn asked him.



"I originally brought him in to deal with the growing problem that Norler has become. Torman has a way of dealing with things that is attributable to his remarkable upbringing and connections. He allowed me to get acquainted with doing business in ways that I was not accustomed to. When my tendrils had extended to the level of reach that he'd had, and when he was no longer producing the kind of results that I wanted, he became a problem. He also wanted to run this empire never understanding that he is a third rate goon. He is merely the arm of my arm getting his hands dirty so that I need not. I can see through the eyes of men and his eyes said greed and power lust. There's no mistaking it. When that kind of hunger gets into a man, he becomes dangerous and must be put down like a rabid animal, for once they've had a taste of this power, they never lose the appetite for it. He'd dined on it once too often to be corrected, and so I had you take him out. When you did not complete the task, I had someone else make sure of it." Mr. Zek sat back in his chair clasping his hands together.



"You leave us little choice then don't you. We're in your bunker under three hundred feet of earth and rock. The Government of our country doesn't know we're here as does anyone else. You're telling us that we may live here for the rest of our lives and not leave here I take it. Judging by your past alliances, I'd say that you aren't one to be trusted as much as Torman might not be. We are certainly outnumbered here. What choice do we have?" Alicia asked him.



"Yes. You could say that Torman and myself are somewhat predatory as are many in our business. Sometimes the little ones eat the big ones, but most of the time the bigger ones eat the smaller ones. You are not on the menu right now and will not be for any foreseeable time in the future so long as you accept my offer." Mr. Zek told them.



"And if we don't?" Heylyn asked him.



"Then you will inevitably meet the results of my counter operations program geared to handle you and your friends, and you will be taken out just like the other rabid animal I so recently had removed. The world will think it happened during a boating accident during your vacation or some other such concoction. Heylyn will be missed but ultimately gone and a problem for myself no more. Norler will never get approval for the formula for I have connections inside of these medical approval and licensing agencies all over. They're on my ever famous mailing list. The blackmailing list you know and I'm sure you've heard hushed tell of. They'll prevent the approval of the SY349 despite its success in the closed study and its curing a classroom full of children of the ills of degenerative diseases you've set out to cure. Your life's work will be no more. I'll have lobbyists pressure the Government to stop the research altogether. Without you alive to prevent this, Norler and the rest of his supposedly responsible and idealistic approach to business movement will be no more." Mr. Zek laid it all out for them while the three women looked on.



"Norler will stop you!" Alicia yelled at Mr. Zek.



Mr. Zek clicked his remote control and a video screen flickered on. The scene it depicted was Norler in his hotel room working on a laptop while his security team watched televison.



"I'm afraid not. You see right at this very moment there is a team of gun men waiting to receive my orders before eleven o'clock tonight. That's half an hour from now. If they do not receive word from me, they will proceed into Mr. Norler's room and kill everyone present. The bombing that you saw earlier in the airport was targeted at the very flight on which he arrived to Treadwater Island. As far as the Flight Commission is concerned the flight exploded upon landing killing all of the passengers aboard." Mr. Zek laid out his grim plan for them.



"But those passengers aren't dead! The plane didn't explode on landing. It was an empty plane bombed while on the tarmac." Heylyn shouted at Mr. Zek.



"By the end of this weekend the remaining passengers will be dead. A minor detail. There will be no more Norler to interfere in my plans and I'll acquire Tynan And Associates myself. It will be one of my many toys." Mr. Zek smiled grimly for the ladies.



"You bastard! You'd kill all of those innocent people to achieve your plan!" Alicia yelled at Mr. Zek.



"We call that a necessary expenditure in business my dear." Mr. Zek answered coldly.



Alicia stared at him intensely unable to break herself from him as she filled with anger.



"We need to discuss this before we let you know our decision." Heylyn told Mr. Zek reaching for the hands of her friends.



"Of course. I wouldn't have it any other way." Mr. Zek agreed.



Heylyn stepped away from the center of the room and Alicia and Monique followed her until they were a bit of a distance from Zek and Alex.



"We have to stop the reverse engineering and production machines and we have to stop him and this operation." Alicia told them.



"I agree, but we're definitely in over our heads. We can destroy those machines but we need to ensure that the operation is taken out as well." Heylyn looked to Alicia and then to Monique making sure they were in understanding.



"We need to destroy it all. The computers. His research records. Everything that he has pertaining to the research program. He stole this research. We need to get back to Norler about this and make sure that the SY349 program gets through the approval process, positive or negative. Norler is set to doing this the right way and responsibly. We need to stop what is going on here." Alicia nodded.



"What about the people he has ready to take us out if we don't go along with this?" Monique asked them ensuring they'd thought this all out.



"I don't think he has a way to do so. Besides, he probably has Valkyra, Hugh and Moller trying to dig their way into the bunker. Even if he takes us out, he'll be fighting them too." Alicia offered.



"He doesn't know about their allegiances..." Heylyn said thinking aloud.



"We can do this by taking him out first and then dealing with them later after we've healed. Presuming they don't make it down here before then." Monique said thinking tactically for a change.



"Alright. I think we're decided then. Let Alicia go after the machines and computers. She'd know best when they've been effectively taken out. Monique, you can move faster than us, so you search and destroy any guards you find in the bunker. I'll take care of any threats in here including Zek. We'll leave Alex uninjured and Alicia can deal with him." Heylyn summed up their stance and the battle plan.



"I just wanted you two to know what great friends you've been. Even though I never hung out with nerds in school, you've been the greatest friends. Really. Heylyn. Thanks for the chance at a second life and a new beginning. Alicia, thanks for this third life and adventure and the chance to do some real good." Monique told her friends honestly.



"Well we can talk about this when we're back home, and hopefully joke about it." Heylyn told them despite her feeling that something was wrong.



"Agreed. I am truly a fortunate person to have friends like you. Heylyn, I'll never forget what you did for me in school and then what you did for me to help me away from Torman's influence. Monique, thanks for saving my life." Alicia told her friends.



"Here's to the Butterfly Dragon." Alicia said holding out her hand.



"Here's to Night Style." Monique said adding her hand to the center.



"Here's to the Eclipse to finish it off." Heylyn put her hand on the top of theirs.



"What about the strawberry part?" Alicia asked Monique in shock that she'd removed it from her superhero name.



"It's still there, but its silent. So its the Eclipse for now."  Monique replied shrugging her shoulders.


They nodded at each other and headed back to the center of the room.



Alicia stepped forward to speak for the three of them. It was her formula and her life's work.



"We have made our decision and it is final." Alicia said addressing Mr. Zek.



Maelstrom




Monique moved first. She transformed into a streak of light and quickly traversed the bunker room by room. By the time she had made it through the bunker walls and into the first room, Alicia and Heylyn had made their move. Alicia went for the machinery and computer systems, destroying them one at a time by any means possible. She knew that she'd have to be more thorough afterwards presuming they made it out of here alive.



Heylyn flew across the stainless steel desk at Mr. Zek whose chair slid him out of harm's way at remarkable speed. Heylyn landed tumbling into a roll in the space behind the desk, standing up behind him.



"This is your last chance. I anticipated this course of action and made suitable arrangements to deal with it." Zek yelled at Heylyn over the destruction of the formula reproduction machinery.



Heylyn sized up the situation once more looking for something that she'd missed but saw nothing bar the control pad on Mr. Zek's chair. At the end of the hall, the elevator opened and Valkyra stepped out followed by Hugh Mongus and Moller.



Valkyra saw Alicia destroying the machinery and immediately charged at her flinging her into a concrete wall.



"Leave my equipment alone!" Torman in Valkyra's skin shouted as she flung Alicia.



Hugh Mongus ran the length of the hall bounding to where Alicia had fallen. He picked her up from the marble floor and held her tight in his muscled arms, restraining her.



Moller floated down the hall towards the mess and landed in the center of the room.



"Hope we weren't too late Mr. Zek." Moller asked him with a helping of false concern.



"No. I have things well under control." Mr. Zek replied.



"He double crossed you. They double crossed you." Heylyn told Mr. Zek pointing at Moller while pressing play on the audio recording she'd made earlier on her cellular phone.



"...C'mon. You know that I'm right about this. He's done. Washed up. Who has he got lined up to manage that empire when he dies? Kenton? Wells? You know they haven't got what it takes to run an operation this big. We can do this and even carry out his plans once he's out of the way..." the recording blared through the tiny speaker on the phone as Mr. Zek listened.



"...Alright. We take the butterfly together and then we take Zek, just the like the old days..." Moller's voice echoed throughout the bunker from the tiny phone.



"It seems that I must terminate our contract Mr. Moller due to these unfortunate circumstances." Mr. Zek eyed Moller who looked away.



"He works for me now." Valkyra/Torman responded to Mr. Zek.



"Oh is that so. And whom might you be?" Mr. Zek asked Valkyra.



"How are things with you and that hot tamalé who runs the bar at your pool? It seems you were overestimating a bit about the time it would take to get things going with my sample of the formula. Where I come from, we have a way of dealing with people like you." Valkyra as Torman spoke boldly.



Mr. Zek looked carefully and in disbelief of what his eyes and ears were telling him despite the fact that he'd seen things that few would believe.



"Torman. Why you crafty little vermin, you. I underestimated your resourcefulness." Mr. Zek began to chuckle aloud.



"You're outnumbered and outgunned. I'm taking over and you're going for a swim. A permanent one." Valkyra as Torman told him confidently and unperturbed by Zek's laughter.



"No. I am afraid not. I might go for a swim later with my hot tamalé after I've disposed of you and your co-conspirators here." Mr. Zek paused his laughter long enough to express his lack of alarm over Torman's attempted coup.



"I must thank you for your help against this threat Heylyn, but you and your friends are done as well. You did break the deal I offered you. The most I can give you for exposing this is a painless exit from this life for you and your friends. I promise you that. Now if you'll allow me to level the playing field..." Mr. Zek smiled at Heylyn as he pressed a three button combination on the control pad on his chair.



The air filled with sparks which danced from each of the women and then to Moller and Hugh. Something about the air or the light changed, though Heylyn could not put her finger on it. They all felt it. Like something was tugging at the core of their bones. Tingling only slightly painful and uncomfortable a bit like an electric shock. They looked around at each other unsure of what was happening before Moller spoke.



"I think your equipment is broken Zek. That was barely a shock. Maybe you should invest in a few tasers." he said arrogantly.



Valkyra fell to the floor hanging onto her head and screaming.



"No! No! Not this way! I won't go! Not this way!" she yelled flailing on the floor.



Heylyn tried to fly to her aid but found that she could not. Her enhanced senses too had abandoned her and she felt the familiar feeling of being herself. Her skin was no longer flecked with the tiny diamond like scales that protected her.



"Alicia? What's going on?" Heylyn asked her keeping her panic contained.



"He must have devised a neutralizer of some kind. How, I have no idea." Alicia replied as her body slowly lost the additional muscle she'd gained and her original form returned.



Valkyra rolled around on the floor crying before letting forth one last effort.



"I'll get you one way or another Zek! This is not over..." then Valkyra fell to the floor unconscious.



Hugh Mongus had returned to his original form as well losing his layers of muscle returning him to a short middle aged man with thinning hair. He let go of Alicia and they looked at each other in disbelief. Alicia slapped him across the face and he backed away embarrassed.



"Now let's get reacquainted with one another." Mr. Zek said clearly having the upper hand.



"What did you do to us?" Heylyn asked him.



"I returned you to your natural form. Now we can finish with this charade and deal with each other at eye level." Mr. Zek said looking to Hugh Mongus as he did.



"You were working on a neutralizer for our cure?" Alicia asked him.



"And that is why you are so much more astute than your friends here Alicia and why it is such a loss to have to dispose of you. Yes we developed a neutralizer for your cure. There can be no cure if there's no illness now, can there? To maintain the market for this wonder cure you've created, we need to be able to control it. While you researched the cure, we researched the neutralizer as part of our insurance program. What you can do, I can undo." Mr. Zek spoke with confidence leveling a gun at Heylyn.



A moment later and a group of eight guards armed with machine guns marched out of one of the rooms in the bunker. Monique marched ahead of them, her hands in the air.



"Sorry. I lost my powers." she said with tears in her eyes.



"Time for a little payback." one of the guards said to them scornfully.



"Make the girls' deaths quick and painless. You can end their lives here in front of me. As for Moller and Hugh. Drag it out for as long as you can. Take them to the drainage room and do it there. Have one of them clean up the mess of the other's demise, then do him and clean it up." Mr. Zek open the top drawer of his desk pulling a handful of syringes and placing them on the desk.



Each was filled with a deadly toxin that would deal death quickly and painlessly. One of the guards grabbed them up and proceeded first to Monique.



"Yes. Her first. I am sorry my young dear but you will be remembered and missed. You were quite entertaining to me and my pursuit of your group." Mr. Zek nodded.



"We'll get out of this Monique, Alicia. I promise you." Heylyn reassured them though barely confident that she was not in delusion.



"Making promises you know you cannot keep. Hope until the last moment. That is very touching but lost in a world that will forget about you five minutes after you've disappeared. Heylyn you should know that your friend, Brad Leeman was a hero until the end. He fought the kidnappers when the task force stormed his grounded flight. Unfortunately he died trying to save others. I should know because we arranged the taking of that plane. We had intended to blow it up to deal with an official who'd been on the flight. Take that to your grave with you as a price for interfering in my plans here." Mr. Zek told Heylyn.



She charged at his desk trying to jump over it only to be overwhelmed by the guards. She struggled against them hitting one breaking the protective goggles on his face. Another she flipped to the floor dislocating his shoulder with a swift kick. One of the guards hit her hard in the back with the stalk of his SMG and she fell near unconsciousness. She struggled against the onset of darkness with every ounce of might she could muster.



That was when its voice returned to her.



"The things that are you cannot be freely taken from you as they appear to. Those that do are unfound and within a world bound by what they can take making their efforts fake and foolish folly. You are not alone but with your friends and by those whose lives you've touched and though it may here seem dismal, by that right it is much more than you or they know. More than those who deem to take what they have not given and those who've taken without bursary stealing hope from the nursery now that is not rhyme but crime!" Weltherwithsp spoke boldly.



"Where are we?" Monique asked from within Heylyn's dream.



"Is this...?" Alicia asked Heylyn.



"Yes. It is." Heylyn answered.



"What happened?" Valkyra asked them.



"You lost a great weight to your mind and soul and a bit of creep at that." Monique answered Valkyra.



"Some ties cannot be severed by word or deed, malice or greed for they transcend those whose attempt it is to break the hope of those they rope into their destructive twine and much more than that which they try to confine." Weltherwithsp continued.



"We lost our abilities and powers." Heylyn told Weltherwithsp who had come to a coiled rest before them in a field of tall grass and flowers.



"You've not lost but gained what you underestimate. One of you has yet to give up but the others think that what makes you comes from without but really that which breaks you comes from without and that which makes you comes from within. Ask them whose lives you've affected by choice, word and deed but never by greed." Weltherwithsp addressed the four girls who were in their youth once again.



Warai and the children of the classroom appeared beside Weltherwithsp as did the lady who Heylyn gave the treated scarf. All were walking and appeared healthy and very happy. The field filled more with those whose lives would be affected by Alicia's work and those whose fashions Heylyn had given confidence. Many of Monique's friends were there. Those whose lives she'd affected positively and who'd taken her advice and encouragement to proceed in life and pursue their dreams and goals. Those who had followed their example were there too. Many people from Valkyra's life were there. Those whose confidence she'd sparked and those whose businesses she'd advised helping them to prosper were there too. Some were people they'd wronged but those were people who'd benefited from them being alive. Before long the field was filled with people for as far as the eye could see and beyond the horizon. Each thread leading to another spool of inspiration begotten by those women and they soon became aware of their effect upon it all. They each found their peace within themselves and simultaneously grateful for those that had afforded them the same sense of inspiration and perseverance. It was the wings of those that inspired them upon which they flew, Alicia, Monique, Valkyra and Heylyn.



"Now can you see? There is still so much to do and though some of you might doubt, you are far from through. It cannot be taken from you. Don't let the voices of those who sever what is not theirs or soil you with their dirt. Many quiet voices spewing nothing but that which poisons you or tries to take from you what is not theirs to take. Listen not and most of all, believe. Believe in you. Help others to believe in themselves. Women and men. Child and adult." Weltherwithsp told the women.



"How can we get away from the bunker and Zek and destroy his efforts?" Heylyn asked.



"It cannot be taken that which was not given for it is within." the children spoke in unison.



"You are no longer just Alicia but that which you call Night Style. Monique, you are no longer just Monique but that which you call Strawberry Eclipse. Valerie, you are no longer just Valerie but Valkyra." Weltherwithsp addressed Heylyn's friends.



"You Heylyn are no longer just Heylyn. You are the Butterfly Dragon and we are as one." Weltherwithsp's voice echoed through the field and they all felt energized and something that had not been taken had not returned.



It was always there from the beginning.



The bunker returned and the change had been instantaneous.



Alicia broke away from the guards who fired upon her as she cartwheeled landing behind the safety of the machines as cover.



Valkyra got up from the floor and looked around the room.



"Alright then. Let's get down to business." she said leaping at a group of Zek's guards before they could fire upon her.



Monique disappeared reappearing behind the guard ready to deliver the toxin into her arm. She kicked his leg dropping him to the floor and broke his firearm in half disappearing just as one of the other guards opened fire.



Mr. Zek pressed the three button code feverishly as Heylyn approached. Heylyn grabbed him by his collar picking him up from his chair. He fired his gun into her chest several times which impacted with her Kevlar Armour. She barely noticed impact and when he held the gun to her head, she broke his arm before he had the chance to fire.



"That's as bad as its going to get for you though if you pose more of a problem there's still your legs. That should keep you until we can get you back to mainland to answer for your use of blackmail and your theft of research, development and creative and intellectual property in a court of law. I'm sure some of your blackmail victims will be chomping at the bit for that opportunity." Heylyn told him throwing him back into the chair as he dropped the gun wincing in pain.



Alex backed up to the wall and did nothing to interfere with what was taking place. He knew it was over and just waited for the inevitable end.



Alicia dove at a pair of guards kicking one with an inverted scissor kick back flipping onto her feet again to deliver and punch to the second guard rending them both unconscious.



Valkyra pushed the heads of two of the remaining guards together knocking them out cold and once again, they were together as a team.



"Please, just let us go. Don't hurt us." Hugh and Moller dropped to their knees begging for mercy.



"Your going with Zek." said Valkyra who slapped a pair of handcuffs on each of them that she'd taken from the guards.



"Mission accomplished?" Heylyn asked Alicia.



"Mission accomplished." Alicia smiled at Heylyn giving her a hug.



"You kept your promise." Monique said to Heylyn getting in on the hug.



"We all did." Heylyn told her friends.



"Hey. Let me get in on this too. Please?" Valkyra said opening her arms up.



"Who pinched my bum?" Alicia asked.



"It's me. Torman." Valkyra answered.



The ladies stepped away from Valkyra looking at her defensively.



"...you didn't believe me did you?" Valkyra burst out laughing.



"Norler!" Alicia yelled in shock.



"I'll stay here and mop up any stragglers." Valkyra volunteered herself.



"We can try to hunt all of Zek's assassin squads one room at a time or..." Heylyn suggested.



"Or we can find one of them and get the code from him." Alicia offered her idea.



"With all three of us that should be no problem." Monique volunteered.



"That's a great plan. With the code we can stop them for the time being but we still need to get Zek's targets to safety." Heylyn wrapped up their plan.



"Not to mention how long before the real authorities show up? Has anyone called them since we found out we were double crossed by Alex? Who do we call in this situation?" Alicia asked the girls.



"We need to get in contact with Norler. He might know what to do." Heylyn suggested to them.



"But he might be under surveillance by Zek's remaining security forces. They'd know right away as soon as we contacted him." Alicia advised Heylyn as she thought hard about what to do.



"Alright. So rule that idea out. We need to get him away from his room without stirring up any suspicion from the gun men assigned to target him. Meanwhile we still need that code to save everyone else." Heylyn rationalized trying to help them formulate a solid plan before time ran out.



"We need to move. Now! We should go to the hotel where Norler is staying. We know where he's staying from Zek's surveillance video. The gun men assigned to him must be close to his room. Maybe the neighboring room or one very close to him. We get them and get the code from one of them and signal the rest to stand down. Then we talk directly to Norler." Monique said spurring them into action.



"Monique? We'll meet there outside of the hotel. Don't draw any unnecessary attention. I'll fly Alicia there but make sure you meet me out front. And no displays of your powers until we storm the room of the gun men. Understand?" Heylyn ordered her.



"Alright. It's getting dark so I'll light the way for a bit. When we get close to the civilized part I'll go stealth just before we meet on the grounds out front of the hotel. Follow me." Monique said clarifying their plan.



"Valkyra, we'll be back for you in a bit. Call us if anything comes up. Here's my line." Heylyn said handing her a business card.



"Wait! I need Zek's phone. Valkyra make sure he does nothing while we're gone. He could ruin this whole plan with just one phone call or text message." Alicia told Valkyra.



"Don't worry. If he so much as moves I'll break both of his arms and legs and use him as my personal office paper weight." Valkyra said looking to Zek with a sinister look in her eye.



"...he'd make a pretty good bobble head too..." Monique said as she ran for the elevator shaft.



Alicia ran over to Mr. Zek searching him. When she found his phone she pocketed it and returned to her friends. They all ran for the elevator shaft, Monique flying ahead illuminating the way for Heylyn and Alicia as a streak of light.



"Don't forget to come back for me!" Valkyra yelled as they left.



There was a moment of silence before Valkyra yelled again.



"And bring me back some pizza or takeout!" she yelled in after thought.



Search




Monique and Heylyn flew through the evening air side by side each leaving an illuminated trail of dust and light in their wake. Heylyn's wings glowed combining with her already brilliant aura beside Monique's bright illumination. The trees passed quickly beneath them as they held an altitude of one hundred feet above the jungle canopy. They cleared most of the jungle and brush on the way to the hotel in just under ten minutes as Alicia hung on to Heylyn for dear life. 



"We're nearing the board walk. I'll need to take a detour to avoid being spotted by anyone. Monique, you go stealth from here. I'll meet you out front of the hotel!" Heylyn yelled to Monique.



"Alright boss! This is so cool! How many girls can say they had a vacation like this! This is awesome!" Monique said as she transformed mid-flight to her darkened shadowy form.



"Monique! You're your own boss! This is your life! Do the best you can with it! And yeah... You're right! This is pretty cool but we've got lives to save!" Heylyn smiled to Monique as they parted ways Heylyn taking the detour and Monique flying directly to the hotel grounds.



"Then let's get saving them!" Monique said as she veered off on a direct line towards the hotel.



Monique landed quietly in the gardens surrounding the hotel behind a bush where she transformed back to her natural form in her black and white costume. She stepped out from behind the bush and out onto the hotel property which was alive with activity. Someone spotted her as she emerged from the bush. Monique blushed profusely trying to come up with an excuse.



"Uhhhh. Sorry. I couldn't hold it you know. A little too much to drink..." she stumbled feigning intoxication.



The person who'd spotted her stumbled closer to her the scent of liquor strong on her breath.



"Did you just see a big flying... thing around here?..." the lady said struggling with her words.



"A pink elephant? Yeah I've seen a few of those in my time." Monique replied throwing off the question.



Monique proceeded towards the hotel where a festive ballroom dance was being held on the outside patio. The exterior of the hotel was packed with costumed patrons enjoying the tropical atmosphere while many danced to live entertainment.



"Why is it that megalomaniacs always attack during the coolest parties?" Monique asked herself.



"Because they don't know how to make cool costumes like we do." Heylyn said grabbing Monique's shoulder making her jump a little.



"And because they can't dance. Now let's get this done." Alicia added for good measure.



"At least we don't look suspicious in our costumes." Monique replied.



"You have a point. We need to find Norler's room without alerting him. Then we need to investigate the rooms surrounding his until we find the gun men. They'll be on the same floor for sure and that really minimizes the possibilities." Heylyn said addressing each of the Women.



"Alright. I know him the best. I'll go to the front desk and find out where he is. You wait in the lobby and we'll go up there together and hunt for them." Alicia said as she strode towards the lobby and front desk of the hotel.



"How do I look?" Alicia asked adjusting her hair.



"Just let me adjust this..." Monique pulled a lipstick capsule from her pocket lining Alicia's lips.



She brushed away some of the scuffs and dirt from Alicia's face freshening her and revealing her natural beauty. Monique examined her for any exposed injuries quickly giving her the once over.



"You look great honey." Monique said.



"I'll second that." Heylyn assured her as Alicia smiled and strode off for the front desk of the hotel.



"Ahhh yes. What may I do for you Madame?" the desk clerk asked Alicia as she approached.



"Hi. I'm a personal friend of Walton Norler. I need his room number if I could?" Alicia asked throwing on the charm never realizing her charm was all in her sincere and unpretentious being.



"Madame. You and about twenty other Women tonight who've asked for the same thing. You're asking me to give up the room number to one of the richest and most eligible bachelors around. Maybe you'd like to join the party and look for someone in your... league... perhaps?" the clerk said to her defending his client's anonymity as another clerk over heard.



"Oh.... Ms...? Ms..?" a second clerk came over to Alicia's rescue.



"Westin! Alicia Westin." Alicia said improvising.



"Mr. Norler mentioned you to me. He said to tell you he's in room nineteen oh eight. He's expecting you." the second clerk said to Alicia as Alicia leaned in close.



"Why are you doing this?" Alicia asked her quietly.



"I don't know girl. There's something about you that I like and trust. Just go with it. Don't let me down." the clerk said leaning close to her ear.



"Thank you. I'm quite happy with your service here and your treatment of me. I'll forget what this one said to me for his sake." Alicia said raising her nose slightly.



"My coworker was just doing his job, though with a little bit too much arrogance." the clerk spoke savoring the moment.



"We'll see that it doesn't happen again with myself or other Women. Good day." Alicia said thanking the clerk as she left the desk.



The clerk who'd first rejected her request looked to the second clerk.



"Who was that?" the first clerk asked.



"That?" You don't know who that is?" the second clerk asked feigning disbelief.



"No. Who is it?" the first clerk pressed her.



"Why that's the Alicia Westin. You know? Alicia Westin?" the second clerk said.



"The Alicia Westin? Really. I had no idea..." the first clerk shrunk as he pondered his mistake.



The second clerk winked to Alicia. The first clerk thought about if for a moment then turned to the second clerk.



"Who the heck is Alicia Westin?" the clerk asked as Alicia ran over to Heylyn and Monique.



"Alright. I've got the room number. It's nineteen oh eight. We all have pretty good eye sight. I figure we should get up there and take one side or the other until we find the room." Alicia told Monique and Heylyn.



"There's the elevator. Let's go!" Heylyn said spotting the elevator which had just arrived.



The three of them ran for the elevator just getting in as it closed. They were relieved to find it empty.



"How's our time?" Heylyn asked Alicia.



Alicia felt around in the utility pouch Heylyn had made for her costume pulling Mr. Zek's phone.



"We've got eight minutes. No wait. Seven." Alicia looked to them a look of panick on her face.



"We'll get this done. You take left, we'll take the right. Whoever finds the room first whistle three times to let the rest of us know before you storm it." Heylyn said standing ready waiting for the door to open.



The elevator stopped at the eighteenth floor as someone got on the elevator.



"Am I holding you up?" asked the man who adorned a tuxedo, a monocled eye and a top hat for the costume ball.



"Well, we're late. We're late. For a very important date..." Monique said as the three of them poised themselves at the elevator door as it closed making its way to the nineteenth floor.



There was a moment of silence leaving Monique feeling a little awkward.



"Anybody? He kind of looks like the Mad Hatter from Alice in..." Monique explained as Heylyn interrupted.



"We got it. Har har. Our minds are on other things right now." Heylyn said rolling her eyes.



"The costume ball is on the first floor by the way..." the monocled patron spoke.



"Costumes? What costumes?" Alicia said as the door opened.



Alicia ran left down the hall scanning the door numbers as she did while Heylyn and Monique ran towards the right doing the same. The first numbers on Alicia's path started at nineteen oh five and ascended as she proceeded.



"His place is down here!" Alicia yelled to Monique and Heylyn.



Derek had left Norler's room to get a bucket of ice. Being observant he noticed Alicia as she ran by recognizing her from somewhere.



"Jun, we've got a situation here. I've got a female. Blond. In her mid to late twenties heading in your direction. She's very athletic... That's... Notify Norler that it's Alicia! She's in the hall right now!" Derek notified his security partner Jun in Norler's hotel room.



"Sir. My partner claims to have zeroed the girl you're looking for. Alicia Westin. She's outside in the hall." Jun told Norler as he jumped to his feet.



"What? Right now? Here?" Norler confirmed with Jun.



"Echo One. Say again. Over." Jun asked for verification over his headset.



"A blond girl. In her mid to late twenties. It's definitely the girl Norler's after. Alicia Westin. She's on her way in your direction and should be there ETA... oh heck she's there right now!" Derek exclaimed over the headset looking to the ice box and back towards Alicia.



"Sir, we've got a confirmation on the girl. It's Alicia Westin and she's on her way down the hall right now." Jun advised Norler on the situation.



"It's her?" he asked again as Jun nodded in confirmation.



Norler got up from his chair running for the door and throwing it open. He stuck his head out into the hallway as Alicia ran by. Six doors down from her in nineteen fourteen a group of armed men discussed the situation amongst themselves.



"Norler's up. He's running out the door. We still have four minutes until the kill order is lifted. What should we do?" asked Hal, one of Zek's assassins.



"It's the girl. The one who messed up Torman's operations. I say we do them both. With or without orders." Izner replied to Hal.



"Secure them in the hall." said Oscar, the lead assassin ordered his team.



"What about Norler's guards? They're trained. Dangerous." asked Hal.



"Take a hostage. One of the other guests. There's a few in the hall. They won't risk a hostage's life. Then we'll disarm them all and do 'em unless Zek sends the code. Go. Do it now!" Oscar ordered Hal and Izner.



Conflict




Hal and Izner ran out into the hallway their submachine guns concealed beneath the back of their jackets. Further down the hall Alicia stopped as Norler appeared from behind his room door as she passed his hotel room. She saw his face as it lit up in joy upon seeing her. She stopped at once looking to him returning his smile. She mouthed the words you're in danger to which he responded beckoning her into the room.



Down the hall Hal walked past a young lady whom he quickly grabbed pulling the pistol from his back fitted holster and putting it to her head.



"Alicia!" Hal yelled down the hall in her direction.



"Move and she's dead!" Hal said as he drew his hostage towards both Alicia and Norler.



Alicia let out three loud whistles simultaneously looking to Hal and his hostage and then back to Norler.



"Alicia's found the gun men!" Monique alerted Heylyn who had already taken to the air her wings unfurling leaving a trail before Monique's amazed face.



"Damn! That's so cool!" Monique said as she phased into light form taking off after Heylyn.



Alicia ran for Norler jumping in front of him protectively keeping herself between Hal and Izner who kept their young hostage between them. The young girl screamed as Hal dragged her into the open holding her as a barrier between Alicia and himself.



Oscar stepped into view just behind the cover of Hal and Izner's hostage.



"If they so much as flinch. Do her." Oscar ordered Hal and Izner in regard to their hostage.



Alicia looked to her watch seeing that they only had two minutes remaining to send the code. Then she saw two bright spots behind the hostage takers approaching from down the hall. She recognized them as Heylyn and Monique in flight just below the hallway ceiling.



"You can't stop me! I'm that crazy girl who stopped Torman!" Alicia said advancing on Hal and Izner in attempt to distract them.



"Stay where you are or she gets it!" the poor girl struggled against Hal's grip feeling the pressure of his nine millimeter hand gun against her temple.



Alicia instead charged at them causing them to flinch. Hal removed the gun from the head of his hostage in fear, instead firing on Alicia as she advanced. Three rounds ploughed into Alicia's side as she dropped grasping her side in pain.



"Ha! See! I told you that she wasn't such a badass!" Hal said in victory as Heylyn slammed into him from behind.



Heylyn struggled with Hal trying to free his hostage without harming her. Monique stopped behind Izner delivering a front kick to his back as Oscar leveled his submachine gun at her. Monique instantaneously popped from existence into a shadowy form as the rounds from Oscar's gun passed harmlessly through her narrowly missing Hal and Heylyn.



"Hey! Watch it!" Heylyn yelled as she struggled to free Hal's hostage.



"Sorry! The thick skulled dude fired at me! He doesn't have too much upstairs and I'm not talking about hair either!" Monique yelled back hoping Heylyn caught her remark.



Heylyn hung onto Hal's shoulder until he let go of his hostage. Hal fell to the floor of the hallway rolling back up onto his feet his nine millimeter leveled at Heylyn's head. She quickly side stepped his shot grabbing at his wrist smashing it with her other free hand. He released the handgun reaching for his back slung submachine gun instead.



Monique turned instantaneously to her natural form delivering a blow to Izner's collar bone sending him to the ground.



"You don't want to get a Ukrainian French girl mad. Believe me. Ask my Mother." Monique yelled at Izner as she phased back to a light form to deal with Oscar.



Heylyn kicked Hal's submachine gun from his hands. The strap broke as the gun went flying through the air spinning to the floor.



"Oh! A martial artist? I've been looking for a worthy opponent for some time. I'm fifth dan." he invited Heylyn taking a ready stance.



"Good. I'll try not to hurt you too much." Heylyn responded as Hal delivered his first assault upon her Heian low defensive stance.



She caught his punch launching him upwards as she rolled over onto her back to kick him in the abdomen launching him into the ceiling. He impacted the ceiling falling back to the hallway floor groaning.



Heylyn grabbed him immediately clasping his thumb in her hand twisting his arm. He rolled over onto his front to relieve the stress finding himself in an arm lock.



"Alicia! How much time do we have?" Heylyn yelled at Alicia who winced in pain as her body's accelerated healing slowly fixed the wounds she'd sustained.



"About a minute. I think." Alicia said deliriously as Norler tended to her.



"Give me the code!" Heylyn yelled at Hal twisting his arm as she asked.



"What code? What the hell are you talking about!" Hal yelled to her feigning ignorance.



"You know what I'm talking about! Zek's code!" Heylyn twisted his whole arm driving his arm socket into his nerve.



Hal screamed in pain as she did.



"Oh!!! That code! It's Calm The Waters Of Night." Hal yelled as the pain hit every point of his body.



"That's the code?! Really? No punctuation? Nothing else?" Heylyn demanded of Hal twisting his arm ferociously.



"Arrrrrggh! I swear! That's the code! I swear! I swear! A text message! We're supposed to receive it soon... He's going to kill me..." Hal screamed in defeat.



"Alicia! Send it! Quickly!" Heylyn yelled to Alicia.



"I'm already on it!" Alicia yelled still in pain as fumbled with Zek's phone trying to find the text message group Zek had assigned.



Monique appeared before Oscar first blinding him like the flash from a camera.



"Now you see me." Monique said disappearing behind Oscar transforming to a shadow.



"Now you don't!" she continued kicking him from behind.



Just as Oscar found his balance he spun leveling his gun at Monique who'd returned to normal form to deliver her kick. Just as he fired Derek dove in between them shielding her from the gun fire. The round plunged into his chest as he fell lifeless to the hallway floor. Jun ran out from his point of cover towards Oscar who fired several shots at him. He rolled to the side clipped by one of them protecting Heylyn, Alicia and Norler from damage. The distraction bought Monique enough time to deliver a blow to Oscar's abdomen winding him. Several shots burst from his submachine gun as he fell, clipping Jun in the chest as he struggled to protect Heylyn and Alicia from the errant gun fire. Monique stood over Oscar raising her fist.



"You're busted!" she said as she delivered the final blow rending him unconscious.



"Alicia!?" Heylyn panicked making sure Alicia had sent the message.



Alicia's tension eased as she dropped the phone.



"Alicia?" Heylyn asked her friend desperately.



"Fifteen seconds to spare. It's done. They're safe." Alicia replied rolling over onto her back exhausted.



Monique rushed over to Derek examining him for wounds. He sat up groaning in pain clasping at his chest.



"Damned flack vests! That really hurt! They don't tell you that on the instructions..." he said as she jumped onto him.



"Can I keep him?" Monique asked Norler looking into Derek's eyes.



"You broke him. You bought him." Norler replied smiling at them.



"Good. I've been looking for a hunk like you for a long time." Monique said to him her eyes flaring as she straddled him.



Jun upon seeing the situation quickly looked to Heylyn then laying back down.



"Uhhhh. I don't know if I'm going to live. Cough. Cough. I'm so glad I was able to save them..." Jun said looking to Heylyn with one eye open.



Heylyn frowned to him smiling to Jun.



"My hero." she responded flatly to his performance blowing him a kiss though admiring him for his bravery.



Derek smiled looking up at Monqiue.



"Hi, I'm Derek. Do you come here often?" he asked Monique.



"It's my first time. I'm a little shy." she said to him winking.



Jun got to his feet brushing himself off offering a hand to Alicia and Norler who accepted gracefully.



"Thank you Jun. Once again you've proven yourself." Norler commented patting him on the back.



"Good. I want a raise." Jun replied sarcastically.



"I guess that leaves the authorities. Who do we call?" Alicia asked the group surrounding them.



"Alicia. I've been helping Interpol investigate Mr. Zek for the last three years. There's over two hundred International Police representatives and agents on the island right now rounding this up." Norler assured Alicia who lay still on her back.



"Good. Then shut up and kiss me." Alicia demanded of Norler.



As if on cue a group of armed special operations agents broke the door to the stairwell open their guns leveled. 



"Freeze! Interpol Combined Operations! Do not make any sudden movements or you will be neutralized!" the lead agent yelled down the hall towards them.



"It's me. Norler? Walton Norler. Remember? These are my friends and business associates. There are Zek's men." Norler responded sorting out the situation for the agents.



Upon seeing Norler they quickly approached apprehending Zek's assassins and tending to the wounded. Heylyn released Hal into the agents' custody as the remaining agents rounded up Izner and Oscar.



"Uhhh. I guess that leaves Val. Who's going to get her pizza?" Monique asked them from atop Derek as they all broke out laughing.



From inside of her pendant Heylyn heard the voices of the children and a poetic Dragon.



"Vanity though nought true confidence from the heart they are legs upon which we all start. An expression of our unique form each one of us an artist's canvas upon which we're etched. Our independence. Our uniqueness. Our being and right to be and ably so to walk free amongst one another. Like the butterflies of the field who so valiantly saved us all from that which we so often put so little value. Independence, self expression, uniqueness and the beauty arising there from. Let their voices be heard so loud as their colors are seen." their voices echoed through Heylyn's head in lyric.



Then she heard Weltherwithsp's voice resounding through the night air.



"Butterfly. Butterfly. In the night. In the sky?" the little girl Warai asked through Heylyn's pendant the first question any little girl might ask.



Heylyn remembered herself as a little girl much like Warai.



"Butterfly. Butterfly. In the night. In your mind?" Weltherwithsp answered with a question as any great philosopher might.



"Do we dream because we perceive?" Weltherwithsp's voice asked.



"...or do we perceive because we dream." Weltherwithsp's words echoed through her mind's eye.



Resolution



Heylyn sat in the sun going over the final details of her future plans for West Meet East International and some of her upcoming shows. Her cellular phone rang from a table beside her. She retrieved the phone as it rang, answering it.



"Hello? Heylyn speaking." Heylyn answered the call.


"Hello Heylyn speaking. It's Alicia speaking. How are you?" Alicia's friendly voice beamed through her phone.



"Alicia! I was just going to call you. Monique and I are enjoying the holiday I promised her. Did you see the her cover work on Her Magazine?" Heylyn asked Alicia.



"Yes I did. Tell her congratulations for me and give her a hug. I called to let you know about the hearings. It went through. It has been approved. They've even set up a research committee to explore this newly founded branch of medicine. It looks like a lot more artists are going to be working with medical professionals in the near future. As well, the first official release and treatments using the formula will begin in about two months. Norler fought for this himself. He's been spearheading this from the time we got back. It really hasn't left us much time together with our busy schedule. I'm flying out to meet him next week to spend some time together. Our relationship is going great. I've never been so happy in all of my life!" Alicia told Heylyn excitedly.



"Sounds pretty steamy to me. I'm happy for you honey. Give Norler a hug and a kiss for me." Heylyn knew Alicia was blushing on the other end.



"What about the neutralizer technology?" Heylyn asked.



"That's going to be worked on as a means of reversing any damage incurred during similar treatment methods should they arise. It will also prevent the creation of more super people. That's been swept under the carpet as you know." Alicia answered Heylyn.



"I won't tell. I read about Zek's trial. They're not taking too kindly to him especially with that blackmail storage drive of evidence we gave them. People have been coming out of the woodwork suing for damages ever since. His empire and fortune has been doled out in payments for his victims. It's about time!" Heylyn told Alicia.



"I have to agree with you on that. Oh, I just saw Valerie the other day. She dropped in to say hello and left a card for you here. Wanna see it?" Alicia showed the card to her through her camera phone.



Heylyn checked the received image of Valerie's business card:



Corporate Analysis Service Experts

Let us get on your CASE about your business

Valerie Aspen



Heylyn laughed aloud upon recognizing the pun.



"She hasn't lost her sense of humor has she?" Heylyn said.



"No. But her business is taking off. She just closed a pretty serious deal last week and so she was ecstatic about that. All's well that ends well." Alicia replied.



"Hugs and kisses to you sweetheart. Who said anything about an ending? I'm just beginning..." Heylyn said to her friend with a smile.



"How is the book coming along?" Alicia asked.



"Its out. Has been for weeks. Its doing Ok I guess." Heylyn replied modestly.



"Its a niche market I guess but I'm going to buy a copy for each of the kids at the research facility. I expect that you'll personally autograph each one too! I have to go now. I'll be seeing you in about a month?" Alicia asked her best friend.



"Yes. I'm going to make sure of that. A girl's night out. Wouldn't miss it for the world." Heylyn assured her.


"I miss you buddy." Alicia said, her eyes welling with tears.



"Thank you friend. See you soon." Heylyn hung up, wiping a tear from her eye.


"That must have been Alicia." Monique said from the other deck chair.



"She sends her hugs and kisses to you." Heylyn told Monique blowing her a kiss.



Monique took little notice for she'd been playing eye tag with a guy who'd been on the beach patio for about an hour. 



"You know. Some opportunities in life are not meant to be missed. Like Derek for instance?" Heylyn said looking at the magazine whose cover boldly displayed Monique scantily clad in a seductive garment.



"You can say that again." Monique stood up and walked over to the guy she'd been eying.



"You're it." she said tagging him, drawing laughter from him.



"I'm it? No. I'm Derek. Your hunk and hero. Remember?" Derek replied clearly enticed as Monique tagged his abdomen and then ran for the crashing waves amongst the other swimmers.



He got up from his stool and ran through the patio and onto the beach finally catching Monique in the waves. She turned to him and their lips met in the tropical sun.



Many miles away on the other side of the planet, where it was just approaching the early evening a little girl named Warai slipped into her bed as her Mother, Lee Jeong-Min Tokama came into the room.



"Are you going to read me the new story Mom?" Warai asked.



Lee sat down in her favorite chair, opening the book to the first page.



"Why yes we are. All just for you." Lee replied to Warai.



"What is it called?" Warai asked.



"It is called: The Field, The Butterflies And The Dragon by Heylyn Yates." Lee told Warai before she started reading.



Warai pondered the title as she remembered her dreams of the field and the Butterfly...



"Are there going to be butterflies in it?" Warai asked her Mother.



"Yes. There will be butterflies..." Lee answered her.



"...a dragon too?" Warai continued her curiosity peaked.



"Yes, and a dragon too." Lee replied to her daughter.



Warai lay in her bed and listened as her Mother began the story, her Father Akito standing in the doorway. Their little garden of laughter dreamt as she heard the words.



When her Mother had finished the story it was Weltherwithsp's words that cast Warai into her dream world:



Butterfly. Butterfly. In the night. In the sky?



Butterfly. Butterfly. In the night. In your mind?



Do we dream because we perceive?



Or do we perceive because we dream?



Epilogue: The Gem




*{We have to leave. Now!}*

"我々は残しています。今すぐ!" Akito told his wife urgently as he walked in the door.



Lee Jeong-Min Tokama, Akito's wife immediately knew that this was serious. Akito rarely spoke to her in Japanese knowing that her Japanese was not as good as her native tongue of Korean. He was stressed given the situation.



*{It found us? Again?}*

"그것은 우리를 발견? 다시?" Lee confirmed with her husband.



*{What's the matter Daddy?}*

"문제 아빠는 무엇입니까?" Warai, their little daughter asked perched in a chair with a coloring book before her.



Akito grabbed their jackets from the rack and picked up Warai's shoes from the floor and handed them to Lee. Lee took her shoes and began lacing them for the little girl.



*{We're going on a trip together. It will be lots of fun.}*

"우리는 함께 여행을 것입니다. 그것은 재미를 많이 될 것입니다." Akito told Warai masking his concern and sense of urgency for the benefit of their daughter.



*{Goody! Fun!}*

"케이크! 재미!" Warai exclaimed as Lee finished lacing her shoes.



Akito went over to the cabinet pulling a key chain from his pocket. He fanned through the keys finding a particular one which he used to unlock the cabinet. From inside of the cabinet he withdrew a small revolver carefully keeping it hidden from Warai.



*{Do we need that?}*

"우리는 필요합니까?" Lee asked him grabbing his shoulder.



*{I'm thinking of her.}*

"나는 그녀의 생각 해요." Akito turned and gestured towards Warai who was putting her coat on.



*{I'll get the food and clothes. Start the car. There's some kimchee in the fridge. It might still be warm if you're hungry.}*

"나는 음식과 옷을 얻을 것이다. 차를 시작합니다. 냉장고에 약간의 김치가있다. 당신이 배고픈 있다면 그것은 아직도 따뜻한 될 수 있습니다." Lee told her husband.



He carefully pocketed the revolver and wrapped his arms around her kissing her forehead. She turned her head raising her lips to his and they kissed affectionately.



*{Come on! Let's go! I can't wait to get there!}*

"어서! 가자! 나는 거기까지 기다릴 수 없어!" Warai said happily oblivious to the sense of terror that Lee and Akito felt.



*{Go. Take her and get her buckled up. I'll be another moment.}*

"이동합니다. 그녀를 가지고 그녀의 벨트를 얻을. 나는 또 다른 순간을 알 수있을 것입니다." Lee told Akito slapping his behind playfully with her hand.



Akito grabbed the kimchee from the fridge and some chopsticks from a container on the counter.



*{Alright my little garden of laughter. Let's get out there and eat this together. Then we'll go.}*

"웃음의 내 작은 정원을 좋아. 의이 나가서 함께이 먹고 보자. 그럼 우리가 갈거야." Akito said opening the door and handing her the container of kimchee as he picked her up.



They got outside together and Akito opened the door to his compact car and put her in the back seat securing her safely. He then went around and got in the driver's seat and they shared the kimchee. By the time they were finished Lee arrived with the remainder of the food and a pack of clothing that they'd prepared for emergencies such as this one. She put it down beside Warai in the back seat and took the passenger chair beside her husband.



*{Let's hope we're back soon.}*

"의 우리가 곧 으면 좋겠 보자." Lee said to Akito caressing his hand lovingly.



{We'll be back home. Soon.}

"우리는 집에있을거야. 곧." Akito said to her confidently reassuring her concerns.



They pulled their car out of the driveway and out onto the street in the direction of their escape route towards Mount Fuji. As they pulled out onto the main street they failed to notice a car with two occupants who'd observed them leaving. One of them pulled out a cellular phone and began using the touchscreen to dial a number.



"They're leaving now." he said into the phone.



"Good. This is our opportunity then and I've never been the kind of person who loses them. Take them alive if you can. If you can't then so be it. The most important thing is to search them for the gem. That will be all." the voice on the other end spoke.



"We're on it." the man with the cellular phone acknowledged and then hung up pocketing the phone.



The car pulled out, the driver in pursuit of his prey.



Credits


Artwork


Amy (Ai Mei) Wong

Wendy Pusey

Ghastly (not to be confused with DJ of the same name)

Brian Joseph Johns

Web Design


Google Blogger

Brian Joseph Johns

Special Thanks (in no particular order)

Miranda Kwok

Kelly Hu

Michelle Yeoh

Zhang Ziyi

Helen Yi Chen

Princess Margaret University Health Network

Johns Hopkins Medicine

MaRS Innovation

Sick Kids Hospital

World Health Organization

Nellie's (Women's Shelter, Education And Advocacy)

Shaolin Temple Quanfa Institute

Canadian Goju Karate Association (Toronto)

Aikido Tendokai

Aikido Siauliai
Eagle Tae Kwon Do

Brad Thornton

YMCA (for their first Tae Kwon Do program in the 1970s)

Google

Microsoft

Wikipedia

D-Wave

Richard Feynman

Chris Hadfield

Doctor Roberta Bondar

Gary Zukav

Anne Druyan

Joe Shuster

Stan Lee (who it unfortunately seems is being picked clean by vultures)

Bob Kane

Jack Kirby

Marvel Entertainment

DC Comics

Disney

Daz3D

Lightwave3D

Adobe

Sigil

Canada

The Province Of Ontario

The City Of Toronto

My parents Rita Johns and David Schindler. My brother Darryl, his wife and my sister (in-law) Kerri, their martial artist sons Jake and Carter. My brother Andy and his Mother Pat. My other brother Darrell (Haines). My brother Steve Sampson. My sistern Marina Av. My brother Brian Kwok. My brother Joel Farinha. My brother Sean Hopton. My brother Pete Borov. My brother Miles Hutcherson. My brother Aaron Wallace and his wife Karen. My brother Bruce Richardson. My brother Phil Thomson. My brother Dielon McIsaac. Lillian Fries. Lianne Margaret. Louise Lillyfeld. Jasmine Lee. Dawn and Tracey. Katrina ?. Jackie and Penny. Nicole. The rest of my family.