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A Lady's Prerogative For Hallow's Eve: What Superstition Wields (Finished First Draft: Artwork to come)

This is my yearly Halloween story, though last year I kind of wove the Halloween and Santa Claus story into one if you remember and came up with a funny bit involving Barris and Sato early on in their friendship as they have guests for the seasonal holiday. This year I'm bringing Halloween and A Lady's Prerogative home to my country of Canada and my home province of Ontario. This story takes place in Ontario, though far north up into territory occupied by far fewer than in the Great Lakes region of Canada (and the United States). I hope that you enjoy it. As a side note, I recently did a rant post (the Rant-zilla post if you recall as it was the last one) really attacking the problem of harassment, as it has been plaguing me for years in both the online world (very covertly) and the offline world very overtly. Everything I stated in that post I meant with all of my heart and being, and I will not apologize for any of it. This has already gone way too far, and a post of that nat

The Butterfly Dragon II: What Different Eyes See - Epilogue

This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, businesses, places, events, locales, and incidents are either the products of the author’s imagination or used in a fictitious manner. Any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead or undead or mythical, or actual events is purely coincidental. This doesn't include the accreditation which often appears at or near the bottom of this text as part of the credits indicating authorship, artwork or any other contributions to its creation. 


Nothing in here or in any text on this website or any Shhhh! Digital Media websites is an attempt on my part to vampire from other people their efforts, using the symbolism of colours as some ideologies operate. In my own country and most countries throughout the world and in the United Nations, there are documents enacted in their laws and rights that deny the use of colours in such a means, whereby to express one's views or a presentation of a fictitious story or series of facts imposes a debt of blood against the expressor thereof. I oppose this view and stand by the fact that Shhhh! Digital Media or any of its properties are not in any way associated with such ideologies and never have been. Any expression here originated from my own concepts and in some cases were inspired by some of the goodness we're sometimes privy too in the world.


By the expression of these stories, I am not indebted to anyone there by and to as such. If I write something that I haven't done in my life or lived in a real experience, I am somehow not indebted to anyone that has done something the same or similar, for instance flying a jet. I am awed and inspired by the people that really do fly jets, but should I write about them or even in the context of a video game, play as a pilot, I am somehow not indebted or beholden to anyone that really has. Consider my expression as such a praise and recognition of their inspirate rather than some kind of secret debt imposed by society by those who have upon those who haven't. 


Can anyone honestly tell me that they're so shallow that they believe that we should allocate resources in the form of people who audit such things in the world? First it would start with our expression by way of  imposed debts upon us who haven't had an experience, by those auditing on behalf of those who have. From there, it would eventually be expanded to impose debts upon us for what we think, which would be determined by the monitoring of our internet habits. Before long, we would become conditioned not to say or think certain things beyond our experiences for fear of some form of imposed social debt. Then children's potential will certainly be confined similarly and our future will eventually stagnate and I am saying this as myself, Brian Joseph Johns, and not with the permission of a sponsor.


In my life, despite not having travelled far from my home in Toronto, Ontario, Canada, I've lived quite a bit for someone with somewhat limited means and most of what I express in my stories and books are things with which I have direct experience and in the cases that I don't, I most certainly have family or friends or inspirations in life that do have such experience. So any expression thereof, isn't my attempt to take away from their life but rather to imagine based upon my life experiences and potential for imagination, and then to express it as if I have. 


This is the legacy of all storytellers and that has been a part of our history since the first of us told stories around a fire. First as a historical record. Then as a form of education where one could learn about doing something without the actual risk, simply by someone else telling a story. At some point in our history, we didn't know how to make fire. Somebody figured it out and then told others how to do so. That person probably had many attempts at it, and had to predict the ways they could hurt themselves by trying and the way they did that was by having no imposed limits upon their imagination. Nobody had done it. Somebody had to have figured it out and that had to have happened with their mind, absent of having an example in nature because no other animal creates fire.


Take that and fast forward to first time we domesticated animals. Then to the first boats. Then aircraft. Besides the young of other species of animal, I've never seen other animals domesticate for the purpose of travel or work (there actually are some in the insect world but in a very limited sense). So someone figured these things out (without direct example and probably by imagination) and shared what they learned. Maybe some of those things took multiple people, multiple generations and multiple tries. If we put limits upon our imagination, especially where we tell stories of things that are not currently possible, or that the author hasn't done, we're stifling our own progress.


Doing these things, imagining and then expressing takes time and energy too, and the people that do that have to eat and survive as well. Tell me that the first human that witnessed a lightning strike create a fire, who then imagined ways to create fire and then told them as stories (without the campfire) to other members of their tribe should have had their imagination limited or confined or had to pay others a debt of blood for the right to think. If you do believe that, then I guess we're not here, because we never would have made it without imagination and story telling and that ability makes its contribution to the world and then some every single day.


So don't impose a debt upon me for what I think and express, where I haven't done it in the real world because the people who do that, would have killed off humankind from the beginning by doing so.


Please read and enjoy my stories.


Brian Joseph Johns



Epilogue


Journalists and reporters crowded themselves into several cliques outside of the Seoul City Hall, though the majority of their activity was occurring from within. Inside of the main building and just outside of the Council Chamber a group of reporters were fenced off away from the entrance as participants in the day's event arrived one at a time. They formed a fairly quickly moving line as they were queued inside for a second body search. The first having occurred as they entered the main building.


Security was at an all time high given the nature of events that had occurred within the last month. An attack was conducted upon the Forbidden City in Beijing, China resulting in a number of casualties, though no deaths fortunately. Another incident on the island of Cora Hau at a Future Tangent Industries facility had once again resulted in minor injuries and property damage, but no deaths. The last major incident however involved one of the largest mobilizations of military class equipment for use in a terrorist attack upon the Japanese Imperial Palace by renegade employees of the same Future Tangent Industries and their Private Military subsidiary. 


That incident was stopped by the team work of the Armed Forces of more than twenty countries operating in Japan. It was a convenience that so many had been in training with the Japanese Defense Force at the time of their need. Other law enforcement organizations such as the RCMP, the FBI and China's own PAP (People's Armed Police Force) had been instrumental in dismantling the attacks and conducting raids at several locations within Tokyo, assisting Tokyo's own finest. Remarkably, there were no deaths, but there were over fifty nine serious injuries as a result of the gunfire exchanged between the groups.


Future Tangent Industries being at the center of the whole investigation had cooperated with investigators and yielded information regarding the building of an organized crime empire, using the same blackmail techniques employed by Alomera Zek only years earlier on the Island of Treadwater located west of the Gulf Of Mexico. Though Future Tangent's reputation would be tarnished by these activities, it would be allowed to continue to operate as a business after an internal audit and investigation by the financial securities department of the World Bank, though at a limited capacity. This would continue for a probationary period of three years, with a review and audit occurring every year.


Tynan And Associates would also be investigated and audited, though mostly as a precaution and to appease Future Tangent's lawyers who'd negotiated this when they agreed to a deal. Tynan And Associates agreed to the conditions, reasoning that it could only benefit from such an effort as Helmut Werner had put it. This in turn became free marketing via the news when it was reported throughout the world, with many news affiliates even directly quoting Mr. Werner's statement. Tynan's stock value even jumped perceivably as a result.


Nearly a month had passed as the delegates recuperated from their voyage and the action that had caught them off guard. On this day they arrived together in several vehicles and made their way from the drop off point through the first security check and into the Seoul City Hall main building. They headed directly for the Council Chamber where the meeting would be taking place. As they approached the line, Valerie made her way over to the press area for an official statement.


Valerie Aspen
"Ladies and gentlemen of the press, as many of you already know, I'm Valerie Aspen, acting Manager and Consultant for the Western Delegation. I'm here to answer a few questions and to give you a few announcements as well. So if you'd like to start asking, now's the time," Valerie smiled as she too center stage in the press area.


Alicia, Heylyn, Monique, Zheng, Katya, Victor, Briggs and Bryce followed suit, standing near to Valerie in case they were needed.


"Jeong Chunmin, TV Chosun. Ms. Aspen, how has the recovery of your delegation gone?" asked one of the reporters.


"Thank you for asking Mr. Chunmin. We're all doing very well and have each managed to recuperate, though I'm sure that most of our delegates would tell you that they were ready for action again a few days in. I'm also glad to report that the members of the Eastern Delegation are all healthy and fully recovered as well. This includes the Professor Kong, who was shot by the same round that nearly took the life of our own Walton Norler," Valerie answered the question sincerely.


"Seyo Anyay, TVN Seoul. Ms Aspen, can you explain Mr. Walton Norler's fast recovery given that the nature of his injuries were nearly fatal. Is it true that the SY-349 may have been used for his treatment?" Ms. Anyay asked Valerie.


"Thank you for the question Ms. Anyay. Mr. Norler's recovery was thanks in large part to the state of the art treatment he received in Beijing from a Chinese medical team. Had he not found his way into their care as soon as he did, he wouldn't be with us today. As far as whether the SY-349 was part of his treatment is beyond my knowledge as I'm not a Doctor. I'm a Business Specialist and Analyst so it wouldn't make sense for me to comment on the specific details of his recovery. I think that we can all agree that we're very happy that he's still with us today," the press began clapping in response to Valerie's answer.


"Ms Aspen? Gyong Buo, SBS TV. What can you tell us about George Steadman and has he been apprehended yet?" asked the reporter.


"Thank you for the question, though I can't really answer that. You likely have more information about that subject than I do. We worked closely with the investigators for the first week after our recovery, about twenty days ago. We gave them everything we had that was pertinent to the case and even some stuff that likely wasn't, just to be safe. As far as I know, his whereabouts are still unknown. Next question?" Valerie answered and immediately looked for another one.


"Jackie Osoto, Arirang TV. What are these reports we've heard from witnesses making references to a Butterfly Dragon-lady or other large winged creature? We've had corresponding descriptions from several witnesses. Can you tell us anything?" asked Ms. Osoto.


"You must be from the tabloids..." Valerie said, drawing a round of laughter from the rest of the press.


"No Ms. Aspen, I'm very sincere and I take journalism very seriously," Ms Osoto responded.


"I'm sorry Ms. Osoto, but these reports may have been of a large camera drone, I know there were a few operating in the area, especially for security purposes and likely some by the press. The delegations were a considerable news story, so maybe that's the case? A large bird? I know there are several large sea avians native to this region. It would be neat if the stories are true and in such a case I'd certainly love to see an investigation into this. A flying butterfly woman dragon that solves crimes? What a good role model for women, with the exception of the violence. How about we instead focus on some of the real world role model women in the sciences, medicine, business, leadership and certainly the single mothers at home all over the world struggling to make a living in order to ensure that their children have a chance in this sometimes cruel world? Better yet, why don't each of us focus on making this world a little bit less cruel and a bit easier for those single moms?" Valerie smiled having sincerely pulled a rabbit out of a hat, while distracting from the topic of the question.


"I'll second that..." Alicia stepped in beside Valerie.


Monique Defleur

"Me too!" Monique on her other side.


Valerie waited for the applause to die down before speaking again.


"Look, I'd love to stay and answer all your questions but we're time limited here. I will however give you over to Doctor Alicia Westin, who is ready to make a related announcement. Alicia?" Valerie stepped aside and gave center stage to Alicia.


Alicia Westin
"Hi! Glad to see you all here today and very glad to be here. I know Walton is too. I have an announcement related to this meeting and that is dependent upon the outcome of the vote. Actually these are plans that were in the works and projected to come to fruition in about ten to fifteen years from now. Norler has given me permission to make the announcement and that is if the vote succeeds. Tynan And Associates will be expanding its operations globally. This translates into two new facilities in North and Latin America. A new facility in the European/Mediterranean region and one in Asia. I can't give you the exact locations yet, but I can tell you that we'll be hiring ninety five percent of the workforce for those facilities in the region of their operation. We'll also be hiring entry level right through to professional level positions in the pharmaceutical production and medical research fields. This includes operations that will focus on naturopathy and traditional medicines as well as modern pharmacology. If you live in these regions and are looking for a job, we're looking forward to hearing from you. We'll announce the locations one month after the vote, should it succeed for Tynan And Associates," Alicia smiled for the reporters, their cameras, microphones and flashes as the applause rose and then died down.


"Thank you. I'm going to give you over to Ai Yuanlin Ying, my best friend forever whom you know as Heylyn Yates," Alicia stepped aside as Heylyn stepped up front and center.


"How are you!?" Heylyn asked, bowing for the press who returned her sentiment.


Ai Yuanlin Ying aka Heylyn Yates
"Many of you know that I run my own fashion company, West Meet East International and that we've been operating in Toronto, Ontario, Canada for the last nine years. Actually our birthday celebration is upcoming, a month and a half from now. To celebrate I've decided to announce to you that we're also expanding, once again depending upon the outcome of the vote. We'll be opening a facility in the United States. We'll also be opening one in Latin America, following Tynan's example, and finally one in Asia, and that one is the culmination of my life's dream. To give opportunity to aspiring artists and designers who've got a flair for innovative design and a demonstrated appreciation of the presentation of the human body, in a healthy manner. We'll also be hiring entry level through to artistic professionals with a background in fashion and clothing design. We're definitely looking forward to hearing from you. So all of you students, keep your eyes and ears open. Thank you so much Seoul," Heylyn stepped aside and Valerie took her place.


"We've got to get in there and get this done. Thank you again. Hopefully we'll see you again with some good news," Valerie stepped away from the front and headed to the line with the rest of the delegation.


"Ms Aspen, are these announcements part of a Tynan strategy to ensure the outcome of the vote?" asked one of the reporters.


"We think we've got a pretty good shot at this, but we'd like to have the deck stacked in our favour. Wouldn't you?" Valerie answered, very much the business strategist.


The delegation continued on their way into line and quickly filtered into the chamber.


The council chamber itself appeared as just about any other council chamber might appear the world over, though it had touches of South Korean design that made it stand out. The walls were lined with images, paintings and photography of South Korean history and pertinent moments in its development. One of the most overlooked aspects was the fact that if you looked at the chamber from overhead, you'd see that its circular design had eight tiers in all with three rows. The four corners of the council held tiers that matched the corners of the South Korean flag, though few were aware of this fact.


Seoul had not been the first choice for the vote, and other cities were evaluated long before they settled upon their final decision. The Asian Alliance wanted a city that was distinctly Asian, yet with a modern image and strong economy. Tokyo had initially been one of the front runners, and certainly was prepared to host the meeting. Bangkok and Hanoi too were evaluated for this purpose. When Seoul was suggested, the Alliance vote was unanimous. It seemed to represent a middle ground between the west and the east, yet it retained its heritage as a distinct East Asian city with prominent sites representing its history and tradition. Regardless, the vote would ultimately benefit all the member states of the Asian Alliance, and one way or another, reflect the direction their collective compass pointed them towards.


As the delegates finished with the second security check, they sought the tier in which they'd be seated.


"There we are, over there. Werner and Norler are keeping the seats warm for us," Bryce pointed out to Valerie and the rest of the delegates.


Helmut Werner
Walton Norler
Walton Norler sat beside Helmet Werner, who in turn sat beside several consultants and lawyers, whom for the most part were in a heated discussion regarding the hearing. Behind them sat another row of consultants and lawyers, while behind them sat several of the Tynan And Associates board members who too were in their own discussion. To anyone looking on from a distance, they may have mistaken the scene for the bullpen of a hockey game or the dugout of a sports event, perhaps a baseball game or maybe even football. The tension in the air certainly indicated as much.


Professor Iseul
Nurse Sung Ki
In another tier to their left, in several rows sat the South Korean delegation amidst their political representatives and policy makers. Amongst them, those who authorized their grants, especially those who signed off on their funding. In their midst there was obvious segregation whereas the Doctors, Scientists and Researchers found themselves grouped while the bureaucrats took up their point. Occasionally, Professor Iseul would confer with the bureaucrats, shortly thereafter returning to his seat beside Nurse Sung Ki. They'd joke in the nervous tension between them, but it was Nurse Sung Ki who'd relieve the tension. Norler observed this from a distance away, recognizing her naturally compassionate personage. He winked at her, throwing her a friendly smile and she smiled and blushed back. Professor Iseul observed the interplay and held his thumbs up to Norler. Norler nodded in sincere appreciation.


Advisor Gun Kwan Suk 
On their other side sat the North Korean delegation, including Advisor Gun Kwan Suk amongst advisors, a security detachment both protecting and observing him. The Advisor was used to working under such pressures and often thrived in such situations. He very much intended to look after the needs of his fellow citizens in North Korea, while ensuring that their world position was neither confounded nor compromised by his willingness to accept this Western health solution. He was already under immense pressure given the fact that he'd pushed for the Western delegation's agenda. In fact, he'd spent most of his sway convincing the party reps, those the North Korean leader ultimately had to report to that this was in the best interest of all Eastern people, and that North Korea was an integral part of that population. To avert this acceptance of Western medical assistance was akin to betraying the entire Eastern population just to satiate the anti-Western medicine movement. To satiate any anti-Western political stance that could destroy both their diplomatic and trade interests. After all, North Korean solutions were definitely superior, but they ultimately worked better for all peoples with the cooperation from the world. In the world, for them to be a fountain thereupon, they must open the floodgates to the globe. Their floodgates. Their globe.


Advisor Gun Kwan Suk eyed Norler, perhaps in admiration of his freedom just to be. Norler didn't have to dance between what his company wanted it to be and what the world expected it to be. In fact, Advisor Suk estimated that Norler's intimacy was followed out of his own relaxed virtue. That their flawed system somehow gravitated to charismatic leaders, picked for their muse rather than their astuteness.


Norler eyed Advisor Suk, perhaps feeling empathy for the tense position that life had thrust upon the Advisor. Born into a regime the world despised and forced represent it like it was the best the best that the world had to offer, his only audience the extreme of either side. Advisor Suk lived a polar life from the start and that with which few could relate. Yet seeing Norler's eyes in the distance, he suddenly realized that he was not so alone as he'd imagined. Norler was nearly as lonely as he, though for reasons far less dissimilar than he'd pretended. They both loved women they secretly feared they'd truly never know and given their dissimilar circumstances, matters of which they could not speak for very different reasons.


Doctor Chandra Bohdi looked on from her vantage point, eyeing the two men, Advisor Suk and Walton Norler and weighing them carefully. Doctor Dharmaprana nudged her out of her thoughts and spoke.


"Have you decided yet?" she asked her peer.


"Yes. A long time ago. You?" Doctor Bohdi asked.


"I'm still not sure this would be the right thing, yet it would seem that they've come to us with a much different attitude than they have historically. They're not here as part of their colonial expansion, seeing us as nothing more than savages living in mud brick huts. They're here as our scientific equals, and they're offering as much as they're asking of us," Doctor Dharmaprana offered.


"That sounds like a firm decision to me, yet a moment ago you were undecided," Professor Mattu turned in his chair to face Doctor Dharmaprana.


"Perhaps I needed to hear myself think in order to know for sure. Yet the decision will only be final when the ballot is cast," Doctor Dharmaprana replied.


"Then let us discuss the other issues involved with bridging this gap between the West," Doctor Singh Gyan suggested.


"I completely agree. This is an opportunity to create the necessary infrastructure to facilitate future medical challenges where working together, efficiently and effectively will save lives..." Doctor Choudhuri began.


They debated the topic while a tier and a table away the Chinese and Taiwanese Delegation prepared for the vote. Doctor Lin Soo had been in a heated discussion with Professor Sangsorn of the Thailand delegation, while Professor Huang He and Professor Ling Jie compared notes on the data related to the SY349 and how it would have application in South East Asia.


Doctor Waitak Te Hong had gotten up from the table and walked a distance a third of the way around the room to take a seat beside Walton Norler.


Walton stood and offered his hand which Doctor Hong accepted.


"Still a little sore on that side..." Doctor Hong informed Norler.


"Same here. I guess we've got the injuries that made us brothers..." Norler suggested.


"Sure. That sounds about right, though next time you want a little brother, try not to get shot," Doctor Hong quipped.


"Do you golf?" Norler asked Doctor Hong.


"Not with this arm, but when its better, on a clear day I can drive a 240," Doctor Hong responded with a challenge.


"Sounds like we've got ourself a game. About a month? Two?" Norler confirmed.


"To get the chance to whoop you for this sorry injury, I'll be better in three weeks. I'll see on the green, at the Beijing Longxi Hotspring," Doctor Hong offered his hand again.


"Deal. You take care of that arm and those ribs," Norler shook his hand.


"And don't go and get your lung punctured again before I have a chance for some payback," Doctor Hong joked and then made his way back the Chinese and Taiwanese delegation.


"Miss us?" Valerie approached first finding her place at the Tynan table.


"Its a full house today, I've got lots of company," Norler responded.


"But not the company you need," Monique made her way over to a seat beside Valerie on her left, keeping the one on her right for Heylyn.


"I'm after the company I want," Norler replied.


"Well that would be me," Alicia arrived leaning in and planting a kiss on his cheek which he returned.


"Looks like things are about ready to get under way," Heylyn said as she found her way to the seat Monique had saved for her.


"Looks like we make it just in time..." Zheng eagerly pulled Doctor Briggs over to one of the empty pair of seats, followed by Katya and Victor and finally Bryce who sat between Heylyn and Zheng.


"I hope you're all ready. From what I understand Norler brought you up to speed last night on how this is going work. If we need to address the Asian Alliance, they will ask us for a representative who will take the stand and speak for us. Translators have been provided as needed, and all translations will occur simultaneously for anyone requiring them through their earpiece. In the case that we need expertise from one of you, the representative will address you directly. There's a lapel microphone for each one of you on the table and a corresponding ear piece. Attach the mic to your collar, no lower than a front breast pocket and make sure that you have the earpiece. I've requested English translation for us where needed. Any questions?" Helmet Werner stood and addressed the Tynan table.


When the table remained silent, Alicia spoke:


"It sounds like everyone is alright and understands the proceedings. I'm going to operate as the Scientific representative whereas Norler will represent the business and policy aspects, with the rest of you operating as consultants as need be," Alicia stood looking to them each in turn before returning her view to Werner.


The lights in the chamber dimmed slightly as Zhōudào Shēng approached the podium at the center of the stage. Two of his assistants followed, laying out a tablet and a small laptop on the podium, then leaving him to the introduction.


"Ladies and Gentlemen of the Asian Alliance and to our dear guests of the Western Delegation, we are here, gathered for an historic meeting of significant development for the region of East Asia and Oceania. Over the last two months representatives of our Alliance, in the interests of the people, the preservation of local culture and medicinal traditions and the advancement of our scientific endeavors, several representatives have met with and discussed the future of cooperation between the Western civilizations of the world, and the Eastern civilizations of our Alliance. These meetings were to held in order to discuss the possibility of us creating and establishing a cooperative union based around principles of modern medical philosophy that every citizen is entitled to, despite their social status or income level, the benefit of any advancement their nation can afford them. Recent developments at a Western company that you all know through the media as Tynan And Associates have developed a miraculous treatment for a variety of genetic and developmental disorders including many varieties of Cancer but not there limited to. This treatment is based upon RNA technology that combines advances in the field of Quantum Mechanics otherwise known as Quantum Biomechanics, whereby the treatment is able to produce via cellular mitosis the most effective strain of DNA of the host, resistant to degenerative disorders, hence stopping Cancer in its tracks within two generations of a natural program of mitosis. This treatment was developed by Doctor Alicia Westin, PHD of the University Of Waterloo in Waterloo, Ontario in Canada," Mr. Shēng paused for a drink of the water on his podium.


"Doctor Westin has spoken in the public and given many lectures about the nature of this miracle formula which she called the SY349, that she has since stated is nothing more than a serial number used by their lab. In these lectures Doctor Westin has alluded to some remarkable qualities that the SY349 possesses, making it a nearly unique treatment and I say nearly because it would seem that there are aspects of the SY349 that are related to aspects of Traditional Eastern Medicine originating from China I'm proud to say, India, the region of Siam to Vietnam, Thailand, Korea and of course Japan. It would seem that we were all on the right track at least in some respects in our early discoveries of some of the hidden aspects of nature in our forms of traditional medicine," Mr. Shēng continued.


"Doctor Westin in her wisdom, referred to the research notes of another Doctor and former researcher in this field, Doctor Sylvia Uphadhaya whose discovery of what she termed the quantifiable placebo effect was similar to something at play in the SY349 treatment. Doctor Westin compares this discovery to the discovery of Quantum particle/wave duality as illustrated via the two slit experiment with which many of you are likely familiar. I'd like to ask Doctor Westin to approach the podium as she can better explain this phenomenon than can I.


Alicia stood and gathered herself then walking up the stairs of the stage and over to the podium where she took her place beside Mr. Shēng. He slightly bowed to her and presented her the podium as he stepped back.


"Thank you Mr. Shēng. Ladies and Gentlemen of the Asian Alliance and the Western delegation, I'm going to do my best to describe the effect to which Mr. Shēng has referred. First of all, I met Doctor Uphadhaya while volunteering at a seniors home, where she'd been placed for lack of family, at that time discarded as a result of some of the aggressive policies taken towards some cutting edge researchers like Doctor Uphadhaya. While working as a volunteer, I got to know her very well and spent much of my spare time speaking with her about her research as she had nobody with whom to speak on the subject. Most of the other residents thought her mad, while others simply did not have the education to understand her. She'd spent an extensive amount of time researching the placebo effect, separating it into several categories eventually making a breakthrough that actually correlated certain substances and their effective placebo factor," Doctor Westin explained to her audience.


"After explaining this to me, and only a few weeks later, she died in her sleep at the senior's home and along with some of the staff and one or two of the residents of the home, I was the only other person at her funeral, this remarkable pioneer researcher who'd had such a profound effect upon my choice of career. As it turns out, she'd actually worked in the field on two projects alongside one of my heroes, Professor Bryce Maxwell who is part of the Western Delegation today and for the past two months. Ten years later and I developed the SY349A at Tynan And Associates Medical Research Labs in Toronto, Ontario, Canada. It was during the testing phase of the formula that I discovered some of its unique properties," Alicia paused a moment to look around the room before continuing.


"The most important quality that I noticed was that the formula itself had some remarkable properties that would allow it to interact with the magnetic field of other substances which would alter its chemical properties in mysterious ways. These substances we called the paired catalysts. Further, the paired catalysts effect would be altered by the perception of the experimenter in much the same way that Schrodinger equation dictates that it is the collapse of the wave function that progresses causality, with this collapse happening as the result of a discrete measurement made by an observer. In other words, the paired catalysts' effect upon the formula was dependent upon the experimenter, which we later narrowed down to the receiver of the formula. In other words, the treatment could be altered by the perceptions of the treated. We found that these perceptions were most significant with regard to artistic qualities that had some form of aestheticly pleasing nature to those receiving the treatment and that this effect could be streamlined according to shape and colour. This was the most profound discovery since Sylvia unearthed the quantified placebo effect and Schrodinger's formulation of his equation," Alicia explained to the audience who held their silence, perhaps in awe.


"Given the fact that some of the most significant aspects of Eastern Traditional Medicine also involve counterintuitive aspects that sometimes make skeptics of Western science, we discussed these qualities with several experts in the field of Eastern Medicine, who suggested we open the doors to study by sharing this information and the formula with Eastern countries who originated Eastern Medicine. Of course, the Tynan shareholders quickly voted against any such action and instead focused on making the SY349 ready for market in Western medicine. Five years later and we achieved this, after receiving approval from Canadian Standards and the American FDA, releasing the SY349 which we marketed as the Tynan Formula to a near 95% success rate in curing twenty six varieties of Cancer, Hodgkins Lymphoma and ten other degenerative diseases all of which are based upon deterioration of the accuracy of the RNA messengers and the source DNA during cellular mitosis. This breakthrough was astounding yet, it cost money to produce and more so, it cost money to research the complex nature of how the paired catalysts interact with the perceptions of the patient to produce an effect. Hence, Walton Norler and I discussed the idea of creating a sizable self sustaining monetary fund that could effectively ensure that everyone in the world in every country had access to the Tynan Formula regardless of income, and the Tynan Fund was born," Alicia smiled as the audience continued listening.


"Fortunately Norler was able to convince the shareholders that this move would be worth the investment not to mention really underlining Norler's responsible business mandate, his own brand of socially responsible revitalization of confidence in the businesses that makes the world go around. With that in hand we were able to get approval in North America, with Europe quickly following suit. South America via PAHO, otherwise known as the Pan American Health Organization, jumped on board as well as did many of the African countries and some of the Middle East. There were a few who tried to use it as a bargaining chip in diplomacy as we'd been advised would happen, and we left such matters to the professional diplomatic representatives of our country. Eventually we had most of the entirety of the West on board for this fund, with full backing and many aspects of management volunteered by the United Nations, with Tynan having most of the say on how it was managed and the United Nations having the say on how the funds were allocated when it came to the dispersal of the treatments, especially to impoverished nations. Now we get to the part of the story with which most of you here in the Asian Alliance are familiar. I mean, we wouldn't be having this discussion here and today if it wasn't for that outcome. To put it mildly, it is so unfortunate that our initial histories of contact and communication have been riddled with so much misunderstanding of one another, or cheating each other out of an important aspect of our unique cultures. No wonder the Asian Alliance voted against the allowance of the Tynan Formula or the fund, when in every instance, the evidence suggests that when we arrive at your doorstep with smiles and a bankroll, we're here to Westernize the East and turn you into mirrors of ourselves and our ways, while we make off with the best of your culture to exploit for profit. When it comes to understanding the how and why of trust, history pretty much says it all, as Doctor Stephen Briggs has reminded us on the Western Delegation," Alicia's smile became sorrowful and perhaps sympathetic as she looked around at the faces in the room.


"It was a phone call with my best friend, whom most of you know as Ai Yuanlin Ying or whom we in the West call Heylyn Yates, fashion mogul and certainly a woman who has spent most of her life studying some of the most enigmatic and recognizable aspects of Asian culture. Well, she convinced me that I couldn't just give up and that I had to convince you that this was worth it. Not just for us in the West or our bankroll, but for all of us in the world. To create a bridge between the West and the East, through which medical cooperation and infrastructure could work to avert the challenges to health and our growing population and to circumvent and overcome the ever growing potential for disaster that may come in the form of disease or pandemic in the coming future. Consider the Tynan Formula as the foundation for an infrastructure that will allow us to work together in the future, opening doors for more companies to take a similar approach for treatment with the same or different funds where we're all, regardless of income and social status able to receive fair medical treatment and the right to health. One of the key things that citizens in my home country of Canada rely upon. We'd like to see that kind of support throughout the world. Also, with this vote, we'll be opening the door to a joint research effort to uncover the greater mystery of the paired catalyst and the perception effect of the Tynan Formula. Something that is strongly tied to many aspects of Eastern Philosophy that we are certain that your innate understanding and familiarity with these concepts will lead to an important breakthrough that will benefit us all, especially when working with some of the best minds in Quantum Biology that the west has to offer, myself humbly included," Alicia stepped aside and Mr. Shēng applauded her.


A moment later and the entire room applauded as well, many getting to their feet.


Moments passed and the applause dwindled and eventually ceased with Mr. Shēng taking the podium.


"Thank you Doctor Alicia Westin for sharing your explanation and education. I know that we are all emotionally moved by her speech, but I remind you that there are many important factors at play here and not just our emotions. There is for instance the matter of Future Tangent Industries and the evidence pointing towards their wrong doing, not to mention the great dishonour they showed by bringing violence to our most cherished and valued relic in China, the Forbidden City. Is this an example of how we are to be treated by our Western allies should we agree and vote in favour of Tynan's Formula and their fund? These are important aspects that we must consider for the region's safety and future," Mr. Shēng asserted.


"Mr. Zhōudào Shēng, Itikara Takahashi, a Political reprentive of Japan, would like to address the Asian Alliance," a man stood at the Japanese table and spoke to Mr. Shēng.


"Would Mr. Takahashi approach the podium," Mr. Shēng requested.


A thin man in his late forties, early fifties approached the podium, climbing the stairs onto the stage first. He bowed for Mr. Shēng who returned the gesture. Mr. Shēng then stepped aside and allowed Mr. Takahashi to take the podium.


"Dearest Ladies and Gentlemen, I wish to address the Asian Alliance on the issues presented regarding Future Tangent Industries and the charges leveled against them and how they might affect your regard for our Western Allies. First of all, I was drawn into this early on through the mastermind of this fiasco who is currently wearing the name Garrett Warley, after the real George Steadman was found dead in Tokyo harbour approximately two and a half weeks ago. Garrett Warley had arranged for the murder of George Steadman and taken over his identity, though much before that, he'd engaged in building his own blackmail empire much like the currently incarcerated Alomera Zek. We are all familiar with the fact that Alomera Zek had puppet strings throughout the entire industrialized world, with his holdings estimated to be in excess of half a trillion US dollars before he was taken down in a joint investigation by an international task force. Garrett Warley was doing the same in East Asia, building his own blackmail empire and it was through my Office in the Japanese Government that he gained approval for the construction of the Cora Hau facility," Mr. Takahashi paused as he explained.


"He had several other officials in his pocket as we were able to ascertain through deep cover investigations," Mr. Shēng interjected.


"Yes. This seemed to be part of his plan. To lure investors in the Cora Hau facility, gaining several billion in investor money. During that time he'd been setting up the means to evict Tynan And Associates and their formula from Asia and had even hired saboteurs to wreak havoc on the Western delegation, with the goal of setting up a situation that would result in turning the Asian Alliance against them, and with the assistance of his puppet officials, Garrett Warley would gain Asian approval to be the sole provider of Western pharmacology in the region. You see, they had their own reverse engineered version of the original SY349 which they were planning to produce at the Cora Hau facility. With Tynan out of the way, Garrett Warley then would have used investor money, tripling it through financial schemes, then using it to buy the entire Cora Hau facility himself. With Tynan And Associates out of the way, he'd have become the only provider of the SY349 to the entire population of the East, which as most of you know is more than two thirds of the world population, making him the most powerful medical business and blackmail empire in the world," Itikara Takahashi explained the plan in ful detail.


"And yet he escaped from international investigators at Tokyo International Airport, jumping aboard a helicopter which had been chartered to pick him up!" Mr. Shēng confronted Mr. Takahashi.


"Something with which I or Japan had nothing to do!" Mr. Takahashi responded in defense of himself and his country.


"It would seem Mr. Warley's actions have had lasting implications on this situation and our ability to trust," Mr. Shēng responded.


"And that it was Tynan And Associates that stepped forward to help us overcome the challenges created by the situation. The investigation of the Cora Hau facility was carried out by security forces under the employ of Tynan And Associates," Professor Dara Sangsorn of the Thailand delegation reminded the audience.


"Keeping in mind that all of this occurred under the immense pressure of the bad publicity surrounding many elements of their public and private lives. There was evidence in the documents examined by our Government that implied that Mr. Warley had hired security specialists to dig up any dirt they could on the Western delegation, and that included attempts to plant situations and stories in the press that were completely fabricated or based upon misconstrued facts," Doctor Pravat Leekpai of Laos added.


"Mr. Shēng, I'm Alex Durn, here to speak on behalf of Future Tangent Industries. First I'd like to remind the Asian Alliance that Garrett Warley and the forces under his command were a distinctly clandestine operation within our company, operating autonomously from it and in contravention to our direction and mandate in Asia. They were as much a threat to you as they have been to the operations and reputation of our company throughout the world. The damage they've done is almost irreparable. The investigative team supplied by Tynan And Associates to the Cora Hau facility were recorded as being protective of the health and safety of Future Tangent employees, even at risk to their own safety..." Mr. Durn began as he was interrupted.


"...the very same security force that was reported as having large butterfly wings and capable of super sonic flight according to our ground intelligence at the facility? It would seem that your employees are prone to hallucinations and possibly even delusion. I have another solution to this dilemma and that was that the intelligence forces of one of our nations was involved in the investigation and retrieval of the server data and that the accounts provided by your employees at the Cora Hau facility are fabricated in order to distract the Asian public from the matter at hand! That Western interference in the region has had catastrophic consequences!" Advisor Suk charged Mr. Durn.


"...and yet Tynan security forces and an international task force of law enforcement professionals including those from the United States, Canada, Mexico, Britain, France, Germany, Belgium, Australia, Japan and China was able to cease the operation of the blackmail servers, freeing over seventy officials under the control of Garrett Warley by such methods," Mr. Shēng reminded Advisor Suk.


"It would seem that we've come to an obstruction in this matter and one that will only be overcome when you make the vote. It is clear that many local officials were in the grips of Garrett Warley's blackmail ring and that the entirety of those employed at Future Tangent Industries were as much the same, Garrett Warley's puppets in this scheme. Of the employees that were not working directly for Mr. Warley, I'd be willing to bet that left to their own devices they'd have pursued honourable and even favourable goals here in Asia. The truth is that the problem isn't the West. Its the distrust created between us by a few individuals who'd take corrupt action in order to quickly acquire wealth and power in the region. I don't think that you can accurately put a label or brand on that because its something that can originate from either side of the fence lest we stand against it, united," Walton Norler was standing addressing those bickering at the podium.


"I agree with Mr. Norler. We should stop wasting the time of the members of this Alliance and proceed with the vote, after all the day is moving forward with or without us and we've got several items on the ballot. The question of whether to pursue full charges against Future Tangent Industries and to evict them from the region. Whether to pursue charges against Tynan And Associates for their participation in violence at several key locations and cultural treasures within our nations including the Forbidden City in Beijing and the Imperial Palace, Castle Edo in Tokyo, Japan. The final item is whether to overturn the results of the previous vote and to allow Tynan And Associates to distribute the Tynan Formula in the region and to include Asia in the United Nation's Tynan Formula Medical Fund management strategy," Mr. Shēng addressed the chamber.


There was a moment of silence before a show of hands indicated unanimously in agreement to proceed with the vote.


The ballots were distributed via electronic tablets and protected by quantum level encryption to ensure there was no tampering. After all, this decision would affect the lives and well being of literally billions of people around the world, not to mention facilitating speedy response and hasty recovery in the event of a global medical emergency. The decision would usher in an era of growth and cooperation on many fronts essential to the future of the world and its continued prosperity.


The entire voting process took little more than half an hour and most of the entire ballot had been cast in the first fifteen minutes by the more than three hundred representatives present in the Asian Alliance Council Chamber. After the vote there was a short recess and break after which the representatives returned to their places in the chamber to hear the results.


Once again, Mr. Shēng took the podium as the chatter in the chamber died down.


"I'd like to proceed and share with you the results of this landmark vote. I'll remind you that by treaty, the outcome of this vote can only be overturned by unanimous agreement by all nations signed to the Asian Alliance Treaty and will remain in place for a period no less than nine years from the point of their revealing here. On the issue of whether or not to pursue charges against Future Tangent Industries and to cease the operation of all of their business interests in the region: overturned. Future Tangent Industries will be allowed to conduct business as usual in Asia unobstructed except where court restrictions have already been enacted," Mr. Shēng announced the first item on the ballot.


There was a short applause at the Future Tangent Industries table where Alex Durn shook hands and shared hugs with some of his associates.


"This is it honey, this is destination for which we've been aiming for a long time..." Alicia's hand found Norler's under the table and they pulled closer together as did the entire delegation at the Tynan table.


After all, they'd become friends as strong as good family.


"The second item on the ballot which pertains to Tynan And Associates and whether or not proceed with charges against them and for them to cease all business operations in the region: overturned, unanimously I might add," Mr. Shēng smiled as he read the result.


There was no applause at the Tynan table for they'd truly known their innocence in these matters and were waiting for the final ballot. The one true purpose of their delegation.


"The final item on the ballot is in relation to the Tynan Formula and whether to allow its distribution in Asia and whether Asia will be included in the United Nations fund management strategy making the Tynan Formula available to all at no cost. The ballot results are: unanimously yes!" Mr. Shēng smiled as the entire Tynan table got to its feet.


Heylyn, Monique, Alicia, Zheng, Valeria, Katya, Briggs, Victor, Bryce, Werner and Norler all exchanged hugs and handshakes, some of them in tears. When Alicia found Norler, their lips locked for a passionate kiss and warm hug.


"We've rented one of the banquet rooms at the hotel where we'll be having champagne and cocktails to celebrate. You're all invited and we've extended invitations to all the members of the other delegations as well in order to celebrate this monumental occasion," Werner announced.


"Well I'll be sure to be there 'cuz I could sure use drink..." Max Danford announced from wheelchair as he was wheeled in by Lana Tibees.


"Good to see that you're moving and that they let you leave the hospital," Bryce waved to him.


"He's still the hospital's property. I have to return him to Beijing General tonight. He'll be flown back to Sydney tomorrow in the evening some time," Lana told them.


"Yep, I wouldn't miss the vote for anything and I still wanted to vote against you," Max told them bitterly.


"Mr. Shēng said all the results were unanimous. What happened?" asked Zheng.


"I had a change of heart. That and the treatment I'm receiving was produced by Tynan Medical. If I was just a little bit less fortunate, I'd have not been able to afford the treatment. So I guess you could say that I found a flaw or two in my philosophy and that during my time in bed over the last few weeks I've had a chance to re-examine my priorities. I think welcoming the West to cooperate for the purposes of medical advances is a good cause and that the Tynan Fund will really help matters in the end," Max said somewhat less abrasively.


"And what about you Professor? What's on your plate?" Bryce asked Lana.


"I'll be returning to Sydney as well where I've got an offer from a research firm doing early work for an engineering project. I can't say much, but what I can tell you is that it involves nano-technology. It really fits with my work on complexity," Lana smiled.


"Good to see you again Lana. Great to see that you're doing so well Max. Thanks for coming," Alicia smiled and shook hands with the pair.


"A pleasure to be here. Lana, could you be a sweatheart and get me over to that banquet hall early so I can get my fill of the catering early," Max nudged Lana.


"Alright, but this time I'm in the chair and you're wheeling me..." Lana demanded assertively drawing a round of laughter from the delegates.


"What are you laughin' at. That might just be the case after she has a few," Max said sarcastically.


Mr. Shēng arrived at the Tynan table, shaking hands with several of the delegates. When he reached Norler they spoke.


"So it would seem that we've come to that place safely. The one that I told you about during your recovery, that would require you to delve into yourself and to find strength and determination in order to succeed," Mr. Shēng told Norler.


"I can't remember at that time what it was like to know that this moment might come," Norler responded.


"And yet it did, like so many things in life. We persevere through the worst of our tribulations in the hopes that we bring something with us from the challenge that we can use to progress. I remember the look in your eyes the day I entered the room. You were lost and confused. Like an injured animal hiding within a bush and yet, there was that spark. That fire in us that drives us forward and pushes us to overcome. To succeed. Mr. Norler, I have to admit from that moment, and from having dealt with Alicia, that the two of you would arrive at this moment. Together," Mr. Shēng concealed his contentment.


"And how does that make you feel?" Norler asked.


Mr. Shēng thought carefully for a moment.


"The same way that I feel about working with the West. Cautiously optimistic. I bid you good day and safe journies always," Mr. Shēng shook hands with Norler and departed.


They (the Western delegation) remained at the Asian Alliance Council Chamber for some time. 


Trading stories. 


Jokes. 


Smiles. 


Tears. 


Laughs.


But mostly they delayed the inevitable. That the moment would end and that life would return to the way it was before the delegation, their newfound friendships once again filed neatly into a closet. Retrieved on occasion and dusted off from neglect, only to find their way back again until they seemed entirely forgotten.


We struggle through years of effort to enjoy that one moment of success and meaning. Hanging on to the memories we created along the way and that keep us fresh and young at heart. Yet as we move through this mortal coil and those we know, fade away or disappear entirely. That window of time closes in on us until we're alone.


Alicia and Norler hung onto to each other. Alicia suddenly found herself thinking about children. Two of them, running around with her in the backyard while Norler sat on the deck, watching them. Laughing.


Norler saw the look in her eyes and immediately knew what she was thinking. They kissed tenderly, keeping the moment to themselves.


Valerie felt a slight emptiness and a renewed sense of purpose in her career. She didn't give time to loneliness nor a place for it to find purchase in her life.


Monique in her moments alone felt nothing but emptiness. She thought about calling the Korean tech whose number she'd taken, not wanting to be alone. She called him, letting it ring five times before his answering service picked up the call. She didn't leave a message.



Katya and Victor found moments between the suddenly hectic pace to appreciate each other as much so as they loved their work together. If science was their family then research was their children. A love they pursued together.




Zheng and Doctor Briggs kept close and drew closer as time went on, eventually moving in together in the first big step of their relationship. 


Doctor Briggs even accepted a research position at the University Of Toronto in order to be closer to Zheng. 


Zheng had taken a consultancy contract with MindSpice after being recruited directly by the legendary CEO Gabriel (Gabe) Asnon. 


Zheng and Doctor Briggs tread carefully through the challenges of their relationship never finding a moment of loneliness to reflect upon.


Heylyn. 


Ai Yuanlin Ying.


She felt an internal loneliness from which her work distracted her, but that never left her.


As if something was missing amidst the joy of success in her life and the decrescendo in the post mortem of the successes of the Western delegation.


Something that her work and employees could not replace.


Something missing. 


Something taken from her a long time ago and something that she would never find. 


A longing in her soul for a meaning she'd lost once upon a time.


Then she thought about a gem. A tiny gem.


And a dragon.


Then a pair of them.


Their long sinewy bodies intertwined as they battled one another for all of eternity.


From amidst this chaos shone a hidden light. 


As she struggled to see and understand it, the light receded from her the closer she got to knowing.


Before her departure from China, she paid a visit to the Temple Of The Butterfly Dragon in Guangzhou. 


To an old friend. 


Her Sifu, Jinn Hua.


She told Ai that to find her wings, she must first find her form starting from the beginning, as she'd come to the end of another path.


She must find her first instructor.


Kyoshi of her first Dojo.


And then the Tiger of the Dojang.


From that point and only then, the Dragon Butterfly would find her.


Helicopter


"Fly the damn thing out of here! Fly it for cryin' out loud!" yelled George Steadman as the helicopter fled into the air from the tarmac, the RCMP agents still firing as it hefted into the air. A combined force of Japanese and Chinese security officials pulled up and quickly leveled their rifles at the fleeing helicopter but by that time it was too late.


Steadman looked out of the helicopter over the edge of the entry port down onto the tarmac below where his men were apprehended and arrested one by one. There out on the tarmac he saw Walton Norler staring up as the helicopter sped towards the Pacific Ocean.


"How much fuel do we have?" asked Steadman.


"Not enough to take us all the way to Cora Hau," the pilot responded.


"Then what do we do?" Steadman asked barely able to keep himself contained.


"Mr. Zek has a boat with a landing pad. We're going to rendezvous with it and attempt a very difficult landing at sea," the pilot yelled back.


"How many crew on this boat?" asked Steadman.


"Ten, including the Captain. They'll take us to the coast of Java assuming that we can avoid any Chinese or Korean naval patrols along the way from where we'll be able to procure air transport," the pilot reported.


"How many people needed to fly this chopper?" asked Steadman.


"Myself. My copilot here," the pilot responded.


"Alright. Let me know when we get to the boat," Steadman requested as he ducked into the back of the helicopter.


He rummaged around through various compartments looking for the kind of equipment he'd need. When he found a 9mm handgun, a 9mm SMG and an assault rifle, he stashed them under his chair and sat back silently for the ride.


If Mr. Zek had sent transport for him chances are that he knew of his betrayal, meaning that he didn't have long to live. Possibly as far as the boat and certainly not beyond that. Despite the recent setbacks Steadman had experienced, he'd decided that this wasn't going to be the end. There was still so much left undone and this was not going to be his final curtain.


After all, he could use a boat and a helicopter.


As it would turn out, he was able to bribe the copilot and together they killed the pilot after the dangerous landing on the boat. The pilot's murder went undetected on the boat from where Steadman was able to quickly bribe four more of the crew, one of whom revealed the plan to kill him.


Together, he and his five men turned the tables on his would be assailants, killing three of them and taking command of the boat where they proceeded to a destination of Steadman's choosing. A secret destination he'd selected where he could heal his financial wounds and begin the effort of rebuilding his empire with two enemies at his back.


The first, the authorities who would be on the hunt for him.


The second, Alomera Zek, who would be looking for his head.


Little did Alomera Zek know but Steadman had the same plans for him.


Tiny Gem


Warai Jeong-Min Tokama was only six years old. With her pony tails sticking up, they added two or possibly three inches to her height of two and a half feet. He big eyes and tiny red lips were as two rubies stacked atop one another, earning her the nickname Tiny Gem.


She lay quietly in bed, the sheets pulled over her head, for there was a monster in her room on this night and her parents had told her that when monsters bothered her, that she could hide behind the covers and they'd go away. 


However this monster stayed.


"Little girl, little girl, with two eyes like little pearls..." the dragon spoke to her.


"My mother says I'm not supposed to talk to strangers," Tiny Gem responded.


"Good advice as any, especially on a night when so few are left for her..." the dragon added.


"Are you going to eat my mommy?" asked Tiny Gem.


"No. But another one is coming for her and your father..." dragon spoke to her confidently.


"My mommy says there's no such thing as monsters..." Tiny Gem responded defensively.


"Oh but my little girl. I can assure you that there are monsters. Reeeeal monsters. Scary monsters..." the dragon spoke in a voice that terrified her and she found herself paralysed with fear.


Through her intense terror she mumbled a verse she'd learned from her mother. A verse handed down through the generations to protect children from their nightmares.


"Butterfly, butterfly. In the night, in the sky. Spread your wings and see you fly. Butterfly, Butterfly," she spoke softly between sniffles and tears.


The voice of the dragon returned. Sinister and forboding as if in mockery of her verse.


"Butterfly, butterfly. In the night, in the sky. I'll clip your wings and watch you die. Butterfly, Butterfly," its voice rumbled shaking her bed.


The voice of another dragon interrupted the first. Its voice firm but much more benevolent.


"When unable to run. When unable to scream. Try to wake up and find it was a dream," it spoke to her assuringly.


She awoke in the darkness of midnight and lay in bed unable to return to sleep.


To be continued in Book III