The Butterfly Dragon: The Two Butterflies - Episode 8 (Updated November 6, 2023 9:00 AM EST)

Latest Chapters:

  • Cut To The Chase (Monday October 9, 2023 EST)

  • Aftermath (Wednesday October 11, 2023 EST)

  • Warai And Braden In The Dojo (Friday October 13, 2023 EST)

  • Experi-Mentalist (Thursday October 19, 2023 EST)

  • Discoveries And Fashionable Solutions (Friday October 3, 2023 EST)

  • Artwork added to Discoveries And Fashionable Solutions (Friday October 3, Saturday October 4, 2023 EST)

  • Dream Team Machine (November 5, 2023 EST)

As a side note, I'd like to thank Toronto's Real (Re-L?) Mayor, Olivia Chow, who since taking the election back in June, has made great strides of progress for our city. I'm certain there are many more in store.

Also congratulations to the SQTI Wushu Team for their achievements during the Shaolin Team Canada Wushu Festival. Thank you to my readers, friends and allies in Asia as well. This is important and I want you to be a part of it.

Dedicated to the great many mentors and teachers of my life. Many of whom are women.

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Brian Joseph Johns

Secret Session

The courtroom was mostly empty and silent, though two guards stood in the room. One at the public entrance, which was closed and locked, and the other near the desk at the head of the courtroom. One of the bailiffs coughed, covering his mouth as he did.

"I think the air conditioning's too high," he remarked, drawing a bit of laughter from the other.

"You need to start wearing the wool mittens your daughter knitted for you," Myung remarked from her place in front of the stenograph, drawing a bit of laughter from the both of them.

"I know. They're hanging on the wall of fame at home. Right next to the shortbread cookie she tried baking on the holiday season from two years ago..." he responded, drawing a bit more laughter.

The Chief Bailiff entered through the door and all became silent again.

"All please rise for the Honourable Justice Keith Parsons," he announced as the Justice of the Peace entered the courtroom.

Myung rose from her chair, waiting for the Chief Bailiff's word.

Once the Justice of the Peace was seated, the Chief Bailiff spoke again.

"Could you all return to your seats. We're beginning this court session number 3029, which will be a private session. No public attendees are allowed and this session is confidential and protected by the strictest of Canadian laws. The first case will be catalogued as 491-C. Let the proceedings begin," the Chief Bailiff took his place on the right side of the Justice's desk.

Myung immediately began logging every statement in the courtroom.

The first ten sessions went quickly, and involved mostly private conferences between the Justice and the Canadian Security Establishment. These cases, which were numerous went on until the mid-afternoon, and involved mostly coded communication, which left Myung free to concentrate on her work rather than the details.

It wasn't until two thirty that something caught Myung's eye, or rather, her ear.

"Would CSOG-JTF2 approach the bench and present your case..." the Chief Bailiff addressed the plaintiffs.

Three men dressed in business suits, each with a briefcase in hand approached the bench.

"Your honour, we're here pursuant an official court order from your court based upon document 412-F in your possession, and in compliance with the Canadian Intelligence Act as provided by assets in his Majesty's employ, in taskforce 99CX operating under the command of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police," the first man addressed the court.

"You're requesting entry to a private facility on or near the waterfront..." Justice Parsons responded.

"Your honour, we have reason to believe that those using the facility are undermining the very essence of what it is to be Canadian, and using the profits from such enterprise to undermine the Canadian way of life, given evidence presented in documents 412-A through E," the man responded.

"You've given reasonable evidence, and yet, you've recently requested nine other similar court orders. Let it be known that I'm questioning your process, though in the interest of protecting Canadians, I'll grant your court order today. In the future, I suggest that you take your requests to policy makers so that we have more protections in place for Canadians and other citizens of the world protected within our border," Justice Parsons responded.

"Your honour, a highly regarded Officer of the Toronto Police Service is relying upon this very court order to protect us. Here and now. He's en route to the site on the waterfront, risking his life as we speak. You're acting in his protection as much so as you are every Canadian, and perhaps something much greater of which we are a part in this world," the man responded.

"Then tell me, why are the CSOG-JTF2 involved in such an operation?" asked Juistice Parsons.

"Your honour, I can't comment on the inquiries or activities of the CSOG-JTF2. I can only promise you that they are operating in the best of our interests, and the best interests of our allies throughout the world," the man turned back to face the Justice.

"Very well. Dismissed then. Bailiff. Next case," Justice Parsons responded as the three men left the court.

"We're ten minutes before break. I suggest we take an early recess and return at 3:45 PM. That should be enough to finish the three remaining cases on our itinerary. Anyone in disagreement?" Justice Parsons announced, looking to Myung, and the remaining bailiffs.

"Alright. This one's on me," Justice Parsons announced, getting up from the seat.

"All rise for Justice Keith Parsons..." the Chief Bailiff ordered the court.

"Recess until 3:45PM, at which time we will reconvene proceedings of this official private session 3029," the Chief Bailiff announced, then returning to his position guarding the door.

Myung left through the service door and headed to the College Park food court when her phone rang.

"Hello?" she answered it, without seeing who was calling.

"Annyeong jagiya. How are you?" a familiar female voice responded.

"Hi Mom! How are you?" Myung asked, a big smile creeping across her face.

"We're doing a barbecue this weekend and your brother and his family are coming. He asked about you. So what do you think?" asked Myung's mother.

"I don't know mom. Its been a very busy week. I can't just drop my plans..." Myung bluffed.

"Oh, so you met someone? You can bring him too!" Myung's mother responded enthusiastically.

"No mom. I didn't meet anyone, and I don't have any plans, but that's not the point mom," Myung replied as she approached the order counter of her favourite restaurant in the food court.

"Oh, your father wants to say hi!" Myung's mother passed the phone to her father.

"So you met someone, did you? Oh you have to bring him to the barbecue this weekend! You have to!" her father pressed her.

"No. I didn't meet anyone dad," Myung admitted while the cashier prepared her regular order for her.

"Oh, I'm so sorry. You still coming to barbecue. Your brother's kids always asking about you!" Myung's father urged her.

"Alright, alright. I'll be there. But I'm going to sleep in first, so don't expect me until after 2PM. I'll bring the salad, and yes, I'll add kimchi too..." Myung responded.

"We're so looking forward. So is your brother and his wife. Make sure you bring enough salad for his children too," Myung's father passed the phone back to her mother.

"I'm so glad that you changed your mind. If your boyfriend wants to come, bring him...  I've got a call on the other line. Got to go!" Myung's mother suddenly hung up.

"Bye mom," Myung said to the dead line on the phone, raising her eyebrows as she returned her phone to her purse.

Myung paid for her late lunch and quickly found a table where she began eating.

A distance away, she heard the sound of a news anchor reporting something about Toronto's waterfront. As she chewed her food, she turned to one of the confection stands and saw a television image of a helicopter flying over a burning warehouse. That's when the voice of the man in her courtroom came back to her, and his words found her ears once again:

Your honour, a highly regarded Officer of the Toronto Police Service is relying upon this very court order to protect us. Here and now. He's en route to the site on the waterfront, risking his life as we speak. You're acting in his protection as much so as you are every Canadian, and perhaps something much greater of which we are a part in this world...

Myung quickly fished the phone out of her purse and dialled the only number she knew to call.

A moment later, she was met by Heylyn's answering service. She left a message and then opted to try Monique.

"Monique speaking," Monique responded in a friendly voice.

"Monique? It's Myung. Heylyn's friend?" Myung tried to ensure that Monique knew who she was speaking with.

"Oh, hi Myung. So what can I do for ya?" asked Monique, obviously having something else in mind.

"Uhhh, there's an emergency... the kind that you and the butterfly might handle?" Myung spoke quietly through the phone.

"What kind of emergency?" asked Monique.

"A fire! There's a fire!" Myung responded.

"Is it in a residential building?" asked Monique, getting to her feet.

"Uh. No. Its in a warehouse in the waterfront," Myung told her.

"Then no problem. Nobody will get hurt and chances are the firefighters will handle it," Monique replied enthusiastically.

"There might be people inside..." Myung told her.

"Where?" asked Monique.

"The waterfront between Jarvis Street and Broadview Avenue. I don't know exactly where..." Myung responded.

"I'm on it!" Monique assured Myung.

"I'll be watching..." Myung replied, but by that time Monique was already in the recreation room with Aikiko.

"We've got an emergency. There's a fire and people might be trapped in it!" Monique told Aikiko, who put her pool cue down to hear Monique out.

"What about Heylyn?" asked Aikiko.

"She's out again today. She wouldn't even tell me where she went..." Monique replied.

"Let's do it then!" Aikiko put her pool cue on the table and Monique disappeared in a sudden flash.

A moment later, Aikiko disappeared in a thick cloud of darkness.

Up To The Waterfront

Alicia pulled out of the Fed-Ex package pickup facility, a well packed carton occupying the front seat of her car, the seat-belt even pulled over it protectively.

Her phone suddenly came to life from its cradle on the dash.

She hit the call answer button, on her steering wheel and the call was routed through the speakers, lowering the volume off the song to which she was currently listening.

"How are you Gregory? I just wanted you to know that you interrupted my song..." Alicia answered her call.

"Ohhh... I did? What song was that?" he asked her, suddenly caught off guard.

"It's called: I picked up your package for you already, so please wait until I get back to ask me about it. Its a good song, but I don't think you know it," Alicia responded sarcastically.

"Har har har. Look, if we're going to have a final product version of MediFriend, I'm going to need to try at least two dozen touch displays before we pick one with the specs that'll work. It isn't so easy as just choosing a display and going with it. There's so many factors given the fact that the micro-SQUIDS I designed rely heavily upon the EMF signature of the display..." Gregory began justifying his concern.

"Gregory, you're barking up the wrong tree. I'm a scientist and a researcher too. I know you better than you know yourself, but you have to chill. You've been a one man show for so long that you've lost your ability to work with others... believe me Greg... I know. I've been there too," Alicia pulled out from the Fed-Ex driveway along Commissioner's street.

"Well, alright. As long as we're on the same page. Kind of... that's cool. I guess I'm kind of anxious to get this production prototype ready in time... that's a lot of money to be fined if we default on this contract you know. More than I have. Maybe even more than Norler has..." Gregory responded. 

"We're all covered, but more importantly, you are going to get this done and the world will be a better place for it. Just get over the heebie jeebies. Don't be your own worst enemy. We've already got too many enemies for you to be working against yourself. Keep your mind focused on that. Envision the goal, not the failure..." Alicia urged him.

Alicia spotted the plumes of smoke from a nearby burning building.

"There's a fire! I've gotta go..." Alicia suddenly accelerated the vehicle towards the burning building.

"Have you got your suit on you even? I thought you gave up on Night Style?" Gregory asked her.

"No Gregory. I am Night Style, but most of the time I'm Alicia Westin. I have my suit. I'll be fine. I'll see you in a bit with your display," Alicia responded, hanging up the phone.

She passed a slow moving vehicle pulling around it and into the parking lot of the burning building just as two vehicles, each full of men looking to her passed her on their way out. 

"That's not good!" she said to herself, reaching into her trench jacket and pulling forth her signature Night Style mask, placing it upon her face as she pulled into a parking space.

Alicia was out her car, which she'd parked a good distance from the burning building as she looked for a point of entry.

"Do I even know there's someone in here?" she asked herself, using her heightened sense of vision to examine the burning building.

"Alicia?" Monique responded from beside her friend.

"Did you see anyone in there?" asked Alicia of Monique, neither shocked nor disarrayed that her heroic friend should be there too.

"I can't tell. I could try flying in through the windows and taking a high-speed look around..." Monique suggested.

"Do it, but only if its no risk to you..." Alicia agreed.

"I'm on it," Monique disappeared in a sudden flash of light as she transformed herself to pure light.

Monique flew through one of the windows of the upper structure of the building, passing through with ease until she was in a building filled with black smoke and heat, which she could visibly see in her light form.

Compared to the rest of the heat sources in the midst of the burning walls, most of which was being fuelled by the thick layers of paint, she spotted two human shaped sources of coolness. Monique, now in her Eclipse form flew closer and found that there was a superstructure contained within the warehouse. However, there was no way into it from where she was or in her current form. It seemed to be sealed. In another instant, she immediately returned to Alicia's side, all of on tenth of a second having passed.

"There's two people trapped inside of some kind of building inside the warehouse. Its got some kind of cooling in it. They're obviously trying to wait the fire out..." Monique explained to Alicia.

"That roof won't hold out for much longer, and when it decides to go, it'll fall onto and crush whatever is keeping them safe..." Alicia reasoned, using her own vision to discern the situation thanks to the intel that Monique had given her.

Alicia reflexively stepped back as a volumous cloud of darkness opened up before her. A tattooed woman in heels stepped out from it.

"I take it that you've surveilled the place?" Aikiko asked Alicia and Monique.

"Aikiko, we need you to get in there with your... dark cloud power or whatever it is... and bring the people inside out to safety..." Alicia suggested.

"Where are these people?" asked Aikiko, stepping forward in her heels on the pavement, her tattoos glowing in the aftermath of her exit from the dark cloud.

"About ten meters in from that point in the wall. I might be off by a bit, but that's my best guestimate..." Monique resonded the Aikiko's question.

"Then I will find them..." Aikiko once again disappeared in a thick voluminous cloud of darkness.

A short distance away, a fleet of fire trucks could be heard rushing towards the scene.

"I've got to move my car. If anyone sees it, or my license plate, my days as Night Style are over..." Alicia responded quickly to the crisis, jumping in her car and driving it across a field to an adjacent parkking lot. One filled with other cars. She then jumped out of her car unseen, and quickly made her way back to the burning building.

"It looks like the glass has been painted over... Maybe we should break it so anyone in there can find their way out!" Monique exclaimed over the roaring blaze of the fire.

"No! Don't do it! Fire thrives on oxygen! If you break the glass, you'll only be feeding the fires inside the building!" Alicia yelled back to her as the first of the fire trucks pulled up along Commissioner's Street.

A voluminous cloud of darkness emerged from thin air, and the Dragon Butterfly stepped out.

"I found the substructure you were talking about, but I couldn't find a way in! Its too smoky in there! Impossible to see!" Aikiko responded, her body partially covered in ash, which she dusted with her hands as she coughed.

"We can't leave them to die!" Monique exclaimed.

"I'm going in through the roof! Monique, keep me covered from above! If you don't see or hear from me thirty seconds after I go in, try come in looking for me! Work with Aikiko to coordinate your efforts! Got it?" Alicia explained to Monique.

"Alright! I'll keep watch from above!" Monique, in her Eclipse form took off at near the speed of light, a trillionth of a second later she was hovering over the warehouse, watching as Alicia quickly bounded the wall via a drainage pipe and was up on the roof in under three seconds.

Alicia tried to line herself up with the estimate of where the substructure would be, beneath her from the roof. Aikiko in the meantime conferred with the fire fighters, who were somewhat shocked at her tattooed appearance.

"That's the dragon lady...! The one that's been sighted numerous times with the butterfly!" one of them remarked, cautiously backing away from her.

"Look, I am here to help! My friends are on the roof and attempting to make an entry to rescue some people trapped inside! Is there any way we can work together to make that task a lot easier and safer?" asked Aikiko of the fire fighters.

The crew chief looked to one of her crew mates, who nodded affirmatively in response.

"From the look of the smoke, this might be both a gas and fuel-air fire! If its gas, then the only way we can slow it is to manually cut off the flow of gas from a valve outside of the building! But we need to know first hand what we're dealing with! If we just throw water at it, we might actually spread the fire if its fuelled by gas!" the fire fighter crew chief explained to Aikiko, who nodded in understanding.

"I will find this valve you speak of...!" Aikiko yelled back over the roar of the fire.

"Wait! Lefty-loosy... righty tighty! Got it?!!!" the crew chief confirmed with her.

"I've got it!" Aikiko replied, disappearing in a cloud of darkness and reappearing almost simultaneously at the corner of the building where the valves were to be found.

Meanwhile, Alicia prepared herself for entry. She first threw a few swift kicks at the roof structure, hitting a support beam beneath the roof, snapping it in half. She rolled backwards as part of the roof section that she was standing on collapsed.

Monique watched from above, ready to fly in and extract Alicia if any trouble should occur.

At that point Alicia stood at the edge of the hole and looked down into the writhing smoke within the abyss.

"Here goes nothing..." she said to herself as she jumped in.

The Rescue

When she landed, she fould feel the heat of the fires around here, which mostly clung to the walls and miraculously hadn't advanced inwards towards the substructure where they suspected the victims of the fire were hiding.

She could barely see, even with her heightened abilities though she quickly got her bearings by her heightened sense of instinct alone. Within seconds, her eyes were already hopelessly watering as the fumes and smoke stung them. She worked her way towards the substructure and upon arriving at it, se started feeling around for a door. She continued along the walls, circling the as her hands probed the outer walls for a doorframe. By the time she'd started coughing, her fingers happened upon a small barely imperceivable gap in the structure. She quickly worked her hands down the door and found the handle. 

She turned it with all of her strength, quickly breaking the latch, allowing her to pull the door open. She quickly zipped inside, closing the door behind her. When she opened her eyes, she was greeted by the sight of two men. One, an older man in his late forties, possibly early fifties and the other, an Indonesian or Polynesian man, in his mid twenties.

"Doctor Livingstone I presume..." Farnham said to her, his eyes barely harmed by the fumes.

Alicia found that the air inside the substructure was clean. Almost pure.

"How is that possible?" asked Alicia, looking first to the older man, and then the younger one.

"Its a custom filtration unit for the cooling system. Seems to have its own oxygen/nitrogen supply too. Its cooling the Quantum processors in here..." Poonya explained to Alicia.

"I understand. I'm Night Style. My friends and I are here to rescue you. The fire department is busy setting up but we've got to get you out!" Alicia yelled to them.

"You're the one I've heard a lot about. I'm Detective Farnham of the Toronto Police Service. We got trapped here by arsonists who took it upon themselves to burn the evidence, while we were serving a court order and a search of the premises. That ups the case to attempted murder, which might succeed unless we find a way out!" Farnham remarked to Alicia.

"Do you fly like the other ones?" asked Poonya.

"No. I wasn't lucky enough to get that prize in my morning bowl of Cheerios. But I've got a lot of other tricks up my sleeve!" Alicia replied to Poonya.

"We could try waiting it out! The filtration unit has its own battery backed power supply. It should go for another ten minutes, if the fire department can stop the fire and get in here by then!" Poonya explained to Alicia.

"No, that won't do! The fire is going to reach the roof structure in about another minute! We've got about three or four minutes before the entire roof collapses on this substructure, and considering that those beams look to be about four to five hundred pounds each, it'll crush this room like a paper cup!" Alicia estimated from what she'd seen of the roof.

Aikiko had by that point found the valve, and a padlocked switch, whose padlock had been removed. She started closing the valve, but when the pressure was reduced, the fire quickly jumped up the gas pipe towards the valve. She released the valve when it became blazingly hot.

"I've got to do this!" she urged herself to grab the valve pipe again and tighten it as quickly as she could before the fire piereced the valve itself.

She quickly wrapped her hands with a piece she'd torn from her skirt. She then grabbed firmly onto the valve and with one swift twist of her wrist, the closed it in one fell swoop. She then backed away from the valve, half expecting it to explode in her face. Miraculously, it held tight as the fire burned the last of the gas fuel in the pipe up to the valve. It was stopped dead in its tracks and could progress no further beyond the valve.

A cloud of darkness enveloped her and she reappeared before the fire fighters, who had by that time setup their equipment. One line with a supply of chemical retardant for the gas fire, should it still be needed, and the other line with a supply of water thanks to a nearby hydrant which they'd hooked up to the truck's pumping system.

"The valve is off! The gas supply is cut off!" Aikiko explained to the crew chief.

"Good job! We can start using the water! Get those hoses on that corner! We'll reduce it against the wind!" the crew chief ordered her crew to start dousing the fire with water.

The fire fighters each got on the two hoses, pairing up as the entry team readied themselves to go in. The fire was quickly reduced in the farthest corner of the building as the fire crew worked its way with the hoses against the wind, working their way towards the other end.

One of the weakened walls, suddenly collapsed, the roof precariously hanging on by a thread as it threatened to drop on the substructure.

"We can't lose the evidence in here! If we do, that'll set this case back for months!" Farnham demanded, suddenly realizing what was at stake here.

"We're going to be dead if we don't move soon!" Alicia challenged Farnham.

The sound of one of the support beams crashing down beside the substructure stopped their conversation dead in its tracks.

Above, Alicia heard as the beam above them suddenly gave way, and the entire roof began its sudden collapse down onto the substructure. She forced the two men to the floor as she prepared herself to try to catch the weight.

Monique had been watching, when the roof had arrived at its final moments. When the beam broke, she quickly flew into the burning building trying to find Alicia and the other victims of the fire. In the time that it took for the roof to fall nearly to the point of crushing the substructure, she'd managed to circle it nearly a hundred times, unable to see any means of entry through the thick black smoke.

Then, as she expected the moment of impact, the roof by some miracle suddenly stopped, as if it had found itself caught on something that could support its weight.

In the outline of the surrounding daylight, Monique just barely made out the form of the Butterfly Dragon. She'd caught the roof, holding onto a beam enough so to keep it from collapsing.

"Boss! You made it!" Monique flew over to Heylyn (Ai Yuanlin Ying) as she strained under the enormous weight of the roof and all of its remaining beams.

"I'm going to use my wings to try to move the smoke. I can only hope that the fire fighters have reduced enough of the fire that I won't be fanning the flames. That should give you enough to see the door on that room down there and guide them to safety!" Heylyn yelled as she held the enormous weight of the beams above her head.

"Gotcha boss!" Monique signalled Heylyn that she'd understood as Heylyn began flapping her enormous wings.

Almost immediately, the smoke was pushed out of the immediate area near the substructure, and Monique found the door shortly thereafter.

"Knock knock!" Monique said as she threw the door open, now having transformed back in her physical form from her body of light.

"Who's there?!" Alicia responded, as she grabbed hold of Farnham's and Poonya's hands, pulling them  through the door behind her as she left.

"Yaaaa!" Monique responded as Alicia, Farnham and Poonya  ran for the fire fighter's entry team.

"Yaaaa! Who?" Alicia replied, using their little game to distract her from the dangers they were escaping.

"No kidding! I'd be saying yahoo if I just escaped that fire!" Monique finished their game as she landed, helping them towards the fire fighter medics, who immediately threw an oxygen mask onto Farnham's and Poonya's faces.

"How'd the roof...?!" Alicia turned to look back from safety, when she spotted the form of the Butterfly Dragon.

Heylyn forced the roof up and back to the opposing corner, completely removing the substructure from any danger. She then dropped the beams and remaining roof into a pile in the far corner of the warehouse that continued to smoulder and burn. The fire fighters quickly doused it and no open flames remained. Only the smouldering wreckage of the outer building walls and frame were left. Within their midst, nearly at the center of the cement floor, the substructure remained mostly unscathed. Only blackened by the the ash and carbon of the smoke that had once surrounded it.

Cut To The Chase

"The arsonists? Which way did they go?" Heylyn quickly landed near Alicia, Monique and Aikiko.

"I saw them in two cars, leaving as I pulled in... they were sedans. Bigger ones. Four doors. Four men in each. These were big men too. Thugs with a bit of style, but not much more..." Alicia described to Heylyn, pointing in a direction towards the center of the city.

Heylyn held out her hand to Alicia.

"Why not. We're only just getting started..." Alicia by that time had caughter her breath, mostly healed from the damage of smoke inhalation.

"I thought you'd never ask!" Monique was already in flight in the direction Alicia had indicated.

"I'll take the roof tops and try to pick up their trail..." Aikiko responded, suddenly disappearing into a dark cloud and reappearing atop of a building near Front Street and Jarvis Street.

With that, Heylyn took off in flight carrying Alicia beside her.

"Been a long time since we've done this..." Alicia smiled.

"Its good to have you back on the team," Heylyn smiled as they flew.

"Maybe it might be a good time to coax Kyra out of early retirement?" suggested Alicia.

"We'll let her come to us on her own," Heylyn replied, knowing her friends a little too well.

"Commissioner Street turns up north ahead. They were probably heading towards the Gardiner Expressway! If they were going to take the Don Valley Parkway or were going east towards Kingston Road, they'd have gone the other way!" Alicia reasoned, drawing from her knowledge of driving in the city on her daily commute to work.

Monique pulled up beside them and flew at the same speed, her body back in its light form.

"Going my way?!" asked Monique of Heylyn and Alicia.

"It looks like we are. Could you scout ahead and check for two sedans with four large men in each, somewhere along Front Street, west bound. Possibly to Mississauga..." Heylyn suggested.

"Or Pearson..." Alicia suddenly had an idea.

"I'm on it boss!" Monique disappeared instantly, returning a second later.

"Whew! Covered a lot of ground in that time. There's two large sedans, each with four gorillas a piece heading west on the Gardiner.  They just got on at Jarvis Street..." Monique explained to Heylyn.

"Good work Eclipse! Find Dragon Butterfly and let her know where we're pursuing them!" Heylyn told her friend and employee.

Monique once again disappeared in a flash, this time not immediately returning.

"How are we going to do this?" Heylyn asked Alicia.

"Wanna try an air drop? Drop me on one vehicle and you can take the other," Alicia suggested.

"Alright. Lets do it. Monique and Aikiko can provide backup as they see fit. Lets get in closer..." Heylyn descended, accelerating in flight towards the westbound Gardiner as she closed in on York Street.

Heylyn slowed her descent as she approached the first of the two sedans, lining herself up over the car's roof.

"Blonde bombshell away!" Heylyn said as she let go of Alicia.

Alicia landed on the roof with a thud.

"We've got company, boys!" the driver said to the passengers in his sedan.

"We could just pull over and wait for the Police. They haven't a clue we were at the scene of the fire... and if the Butterfly attacks us, she'll be liable for her crime against us..." the passenger suggested.

"Good plan... Let's play the law against her," responded the driver, slowing the vehicle down and pulling over to the narrow shoulder of the Gardiner.

"Now this is something I hadn't anticipated..." Alicia said as the vehicle came to a stop.

"Are you crazy? Do you even know how dangerous it is to joyride atop of a moving vehicle?!!!" the driver got out of the car, approaching Alicia.

"That I do know. Exactly how dangerous too, as I've done it a few times to catch the bad guys..." Alicia responded from behind her mask as the other men got out of the vehicle.

"Then why were you doing it on our car?" asked the driver.

"You know as well as I do the answer to that question," Alicia challenged him.

"Let's wait for the Police to show up and let them handle it," the driver responded.

"Is it just me, or did the average IQ of bad guys just go up a notch?" Alicia replied.

"Are you implying that we're bad guys? Isn't that something that's decided in the courts, rather than by vigilantes acting in contravention to the law?" asked the driver.

"Oh boy. This is going to be a very different kind of battle than the ones I'm used to..." Alicia replied, slapping her hand to her forehead.


Meanwhile, Heylyn continued her flight in pursuit of the second sedan, which had chosen instead to flee.

"I guess I lucked out on this one..." Heylyn said as she looked back to see that the other car had pulled over and stopped peacefully and without conflict.

"Is the butterfly still back there?" asked the driver, accelerating the sedan over the sudden drop in the Gardiner just past Bathurst Street.

The car flew for a short distance before landing again on its strained shocks, bouncing back to a point of equilibrium.

"I can't see... wait! There she is!" one of the men in the back seat spotted the Butterfly Dragon in flight as she advanced towards them.

"Where's the others? They're not back there!" the same man doing the spotting from the back seat looked for the second car.

"The Butterfly must have got them already! Let's take her down!" the driver ordered the rest of the men in the car.

The spotter from the back seat, pulled a hand gun from his jacket, leveling it through the back window at the Butterfly Dragon. He squeezed off three shots, the first breaking the glass and the second and third flying at Heylyn, their intended target.

She easily dodged them and accelerated herself towards the broken back window of the sedan. By the time the gunman attempted to fire a fourth shot, he'd lost track of the Butterfly who'd passed the car overhead.

The gunman leaned back towards the broken window to peek his head out and find the Butterfly, when she grabbed hold of him, yanking him out the back window and onto the roof.

Before he had a chance to fire another shot from the handgun, she'd reathed it from his hand, breaking it in two before his eyes.

"You won't be needing this anymore!" she said to him angrily, discarding the broken gun and catching the gunman before he'd fallen off of the roof without the benefit of her grip.

She then leapt into the air, still hanging onto him as she flew down off of the Gardiner Expressway, depositing the gunman along the lakeshore bicycle path.

"Stay here and wait for the Police. Don't make me hunt you down again!" Heylyn said to him angrily before taking off back into the air in pursuit of the remaining three men.

He fell to the dirt alongside the bicycle path as two Constables on bicycles approached him.

"What seems to be the problem here?" they said, one of them watching as the Butterfly disappeared over the Gardiner Expressway in the distance.

"...I'll wait for a lawyer before I say anything...!" he responded, holding his hands out ready for the cuffs.


"So you're actually going to wait with us for the Police?" asked the driver of the first car of Alicia, who still bore her mask, the rest of her body covered by the long trench coat that made up her costume.

"You bet I am," Alicia called his bluff.

"You'll be questioned by the Police, not to mention you'll be required to reveal your identity to them... and with us around..." the driver reminded her.

"I'll cross that bridge when I come to it..." Alicia replied, leaning against the guard railing of the expressway.

"You do realize that you're the one that broke the law! You boarded our vehicle while it was in motion, joy riding it until we stopped to prevent you from behind hurt!" the driver reasoned with Alicia.

"So that wasn't you fleeing the parking lot on Commissioners Street after setting that warehouse ablaze? I seem to recall that it was you," Alicia explained to the men.

"One of you, four of us. Your word against ours," the driver responded.

"I stand my ground. I know what I saw," Alicia folded her arms across her chest.

"If she goes through with this, they'll do a thorough background check on us. They might actually find something..." the passenger from the stopped car reminded the driver, speaking only loud enough for him to hear.

"She'll be forced to give up her identity. I don't think that she wants that to happen. We just have to hold out long enough to see through her bluff. She'll flee before the cops get here. When she does, so will we," the driver responded quietly.


Heylyn picked up speed as she approached the sedan for the second time. This time however they were one man short of a full load.

"She's back again! She's going to pick us off one at a time! We need to stop her, or escape!" the driver told the remaining passengers in the car.

"Why don't we just pull over and surrender?!" the front seat passenger suggested.

"I don't know about you, but I don't want to spend the next ten to fifteen years in prison for embezzlement and arson. The best way to escape that is not to get caught. So I'm making a run for it! If you want out, nobody's stopping you, but that doesn't mean that I'm going to stop for you. Get out now or don't get out at all!" the driver yelled at the last two remaining men in his car.

Nobody responded to his statement. They were now committed beyond all reasonable doubt. They either stopped the Butterfly, or they went down themselves. The driver however had put himself in a legal bind as the passengers would now base their defense upon him not allowing them the freedom to leave the vehicle. The driver had given them a scapegoat defense.

The front seat passenger rolled down the front window and leaned out of the vehicle aiming his handgun at the Butterfly Dragon. He fired one shot, which she easily dodged. Before he could fire a second shot, a blinding flash of light whipped by him, ripping the gun from his hand.

"Boys and their toys!" Monique exclaimed as she ejected the clip from the handgun.

It bounced along the Gardiner for about twenty meters before coming to a stop near the side of the road. She then tossed the gun which tumbled for a similar distance.

"They'll find that once they setup the world's longest crime scene between Commissioners Street and Mississauga. Assuming this chase goes that far..." Monique said to herself.

"Good work Monique. Now I can move in for the take down..." Heylyn exclaimed as she picked up speed, flying direction in the back window of the car feet first.

When the backseat passenger looked, she was already seated beside him.

"Sorry, I've gotta cut this trip a little short for you. Nighty night!" her left hand pushed his head into the passenger window, twice, enough to break the glass and render him unconscious.

She then reached into his jacket and found his firearm, withdrawing it without losing her momentum.

With a quick twist of her hands, she snapped the handgun in half as she did with the previous one, rending the firearm completely useless.

The driver had the only remaining handgun, and by that time he'd reached into his jacket and using the rearview mirror as his guide, he attempted to fire a shot back at her head over his shoulder.

He skin instantly turned into metalic dragonscale armour, and the round he'd fired riccocheted harmlessly off of her, nearly impacting the front passenger's head. Before the driver could get another shot off, she'd already grabbed a firm hold of the handgum and taken it from him.

"You're outta guns now! I guess you're going to have to start throwing pies, seeing as your new life is going to involve being prison clowns, bozos!" Heylyn's dragon armour faded and her skin returned to its natural form.

The front seat passenger tried to get the door open to jump from the vehicle, but Heylyn quickly grabbed his shoulders and forced the entire front seat backwards so that he was now laying beside her, while she was pressed up against the other unconscious backseat passenger in the center of the back seat.

She quickly grabbed his head and rammed it sideways into the cushioning of the back door several times, until he was no longer conscious.

"I'd suggest that you stop the car right now, because I'm one backseat driver you can take literally when I say I want the wheel!" Heylyn advised the driver, who realised that the gig was up.

They were definitely done.

He hit the brake on the car and slowed it to a stop on the side of the road. By that point, she'd shuffled the backseat passenger to the middle of the seat, while she was now behind the driver. She reached forward, grabbing the seatbelt, hauling all of it from the coil until she snapped it free. She then wrapped the driver with the seatbelt, around the chair, pinning him to the driver's seat as she tied a knot with the ends.

Monique landed just in front of the car, in her full eclipse costume.

"Hiya boss! Pretty good handiwork there with the seatbelt," Monique smiled at Heylyn as she got out of the back door.

"Well, these guys were kind of knotty," Heylyn joked with Monique.

"What about the other car?" asked Monique.

"I think Night Style has it, though when I last checked, it looked like they'd stopped and surrendered to her," Heylyn explained to Monique as the sound of sirens converged on their location.

"Now you fellas be good and tell the nice Policer Officers what bad boys you were today!" Monique exclaimed to the driver, who was still securely fastened to the seat by his mangled seatbelt.

As the first Police car pulled up to the stopped sedan, both Heylyn and Monique took off into the air, back towards where Alicia was waiting with the first car.

The Police got out of their cruiser, one with their tazer readied and leveled at the driver.

"I'm not going anywhere!" the driver said to them, completely unable to move as a result of Heylyn's knotted seatbelt.

"This crime scene is going to be a nightmare to setup... Radio room... we're going to need to close the Gardiner between Yonge Street and at least Dufferin Street... to setup a crime scene," the Police Officer who'd been driving radioed the situation in.

"This is Detective Farnham. Make that a closure between Commissioners Street and Dufferin Street. I'm setting up the crime scene for the arson case," Detective Farnham's voice crackled over the radio.


Alicia kept her eyes on the four thugs from the first car when a dark cloud suddenly formed near them. Dragon Butterfly emerged from within.

"Looks like the crooks are pulling a my word versus theirs'," Alicia told Aikiko as three Police cruisers pulled up.

Alicia put her hands up as a show of good faith.

"I'm not the one you've got to watch here..." Alicia said as the Police emerged from their cruisers.

"Officers, this crazy woman was joy riding on our car! We were simply on our way home to Mississauga and she must have jumped on the roof for a quick joyride or something. I don't think she's all together there if you know what I mean," one of the men stated.

"Lets see everyone's hands in the air until we get you checked. No sudden moves or you're gettin' tazed, or yet worst, shot," one three of the Police kept their quarry covered while the other three performed a body search, starting with the men.

"We've got small arms here. Restricted weapons. Concealed too. You guys are going to need some pretty heavy duty paperwork for these puppies!" one of the searching Officers announced.

"They're fully licensed, and we've got the paperwork on us for concealment as licensed Private Investigators," one of the four men announced.

One of the female Police Officers arrived at Night Style.

"You're not going to try anything if I do a quick search, are you?" she asked Night Style.

"You're not going for my mask are you?" asked Night Style.

"Not this time. We'll do the body search first for weapons or other controlled items, but I'm going to need to see some identification sooner or later..." the Police Officer hinted at what might come later.

Alicia kept her hands in the air as the Police Officer searched her.

"Same with you tattoo lady... We're just going to do a quick search for now, but we're going to need to see some identification..." one of the other Police Officers who'd just finished searching the four men now worked his way cautiously over to Dragon Butterfly.

"Watch where your hands wander!" Aikiko suggested to the Police Officer.

"Miss, I'm a married man and even if I wasn't, I wouldn't be about to mess with my career and family life only to be charged with sexual assault searching you or anyone. Now, can I have to same assurance from you that your hands won't do any wandering?" the Police Officer made it very clear to her, asking her the same thing.

"Hmmmph. I like your style. I can promise the same," Aikiko's face remained firm as the Officer started the search.

When the search was done, the Police broke off into four separate teams, each collecting statements from those present.

"So you were joyriding on their car? Is that correct miss?" asked Officer Juliet Selma. 

"I was for a time, attempting to have them stop their vehicle," Alicia explained.

"Why were you trying to persuade them to stop?" asked the Officer Selma.

"They fled the scene of an alleged arson on Commissioners Street," Alicia accused the men in her statement to Police.

"Officer, we weren't even on Commissioners Street today," the driver lied.

"Where were you coming from then?" asked Officer Bernie of the driver.

"We were coming from the Eaton's Center. I stopped to pick-up two of my associates from the Queen Street and Yonge Street subway exit.

"Do all of you have your keys with you? I just want to make sure they're the same ones for your vehicle? So I know who was driving and who wasn't?" Officer Ulnam asked.

"Sure. Here's mine," one of the men handed his keys over.

"Right here..." another handed his over.

"I was driving..." a third handed his over.

"Yep. My keys right here. I'll need 'em back please..." the fourth man handed over his keys.

"Alright miss...?" asked Officer Selma.

"Night Style. You can call me Night Style..." Alicia replied politely to the Officer.

"Could you and miss tattoo lady...?" Officer Selma addressed Aikiko.

"Dragon Butterfly is my name..." Aikiko kept her words and emotion to a minimum.

"Could you come over to my car here?"  Officer Selma directed them over to one of the cruisers.

Alicia now wondered if perhaps they were about to be arrested. That was a risk that she nor Aikiko could afford to take. She knew how she'd handle the situation if that was the case, but she didn't know Aikiko well enough to know how she'd handle it. She decided that she'd stick around if only to ensure that Aikiko didn't go overboard when confronted with the possibility of arrest and her identity being exposed.

When the two women arrived at the car, Officer Selma turned to face them both.

"It seems that someone we know very well vouched for you. You're both free to go, and we'll protect your identities by not asking you for them and putting you in a situation that would pose a serious compromise and risk to either of you. Thank you for your assistance and I'd suggest that next time you'd like to stop someone who is operating a motor vehicle, that you call us instead of endangering your lives or the lives of others," Officer Selma explained to them.

Alicia was caught off guard, for she had suspected a much different outcome than what had just unfolded.

"Thank you Officer. Truly so," Alicia nodded gratefully.

"Are we excused now?" Aikiko confirmed.

"You're both free to go, though I'd ask that neither of you speak about this with anyone, though I don't think I really need to tell you that," Officer Selma winked at the both of them.

"Good afternoon Officer," Aikiko began walking towards the sidewalk and Alicia followed her.

"I thought we were done," Alicia said to Aikiko, who maintained her firm expression.

"The perpetrators were caught in that instance," Aikiko explained.

"How? We didn't even say anything?" asked Alicia.

"The gas valve back at the warehouse had a lock on it, as did an electrical switch they'd custom installed there for triggering the gas fire," Aikiko explained to Alicia.

"And how does that fit in with us?" asked Alicia of Aikiko.

"When they handed in their keys, they handed over the key to those locks, meaning they connected themselves with being at the location of the fire, because in order to have opened the valves, they'd have had to remove the lock with a key from their own keychains..." Aikiko smiled, winking to Alicia.

"I think I like you. You're a lot more clever than you let on, you know," Alicia smiled back at her new friend as Heylyn and Monique landed beside them.

All four of them were a good distance from the Police scene, as the crowds started to gather.

"So what happened?" asked Monique.

"They threatened to press charges against me for joyriding on their vehicle, but the whole plan fell apart on them," Alicia told Monique.

"Now you've got my attention. How?" asked Heylyn as some nearby onlookers noticed the four of them.

"That's our little secret..." Aikiko smiled to Alicia.

"Right you are..." Alicia smiled back once again as a dark cloud formed around Aikiko.

"Care to join me?" asked Aikiko.

"I've got to get back to my car somehow... I guess that's a yes," Alicia agreed, stepping into the dark cloud with Aikiko as both disappeared.

"I guess we're getting back there the old fashioned way, huh boss?" Monique said to Heylyn.

"I guess so. We'll take the scenic route..." Heylyn said, leaping into the air as she took flight.

"Last one there is a dirty rotten egg!" Monique exclaimed to Heylyn, suddenly disappearing in a flash of light.

"No fair!" Heylyn responded, flying as fast as she could.

But by that time, Aikiko, Alicia and Monique were already there, waiting for her.


Sienna stood outside of Heylyn's design studio, tapping gently on the door with her knuckles.

From the other side of the door, she heard a loud thump, and then Heylyn's office door closing from within.

"Heylyn?" Sienna spoke up as Lisa walked by her in the front office area.

"She in there? I thought she took off for the afternoon?" Lisa said to Sienna quizzically as she walked by on her way to reception.

"I heard her office door...?" Sienna opened the design door, stepping in quietly.

"Heylyn?" Sienna said as she stepped into the design area.

Heylyn's office door opened a smidgen and Heylyn peeked her head out.

"Just getting changed. Be out in a second Sienna," Heylyn said, closing the door behind her as she removed the last of her Butterfly Dragon outfit, putting it in a bag for cleaning.

"Good. I thought that maybe you'd left already... forgotten about the therapy session?" Sienna said, examining Heylyn's latest designs, as Frick and Frack, her design mannequins were both adorned with them.

"Don't worry, I didn't forget. I just lost track of time..." Heylyn said as she opened the door and stepped out.

"I can relate. I get that way sometimes when I'm on a streak too..." Sienna turned to face Heylyn.

"Alright. Let me grab my purse and we'll go," Heylyn retreated back to her desk, grabbing her purse and her phone, then leaving the office and closing the door behind her.

"Where's Warai?" asked Sienna.

"She's with Braden right now. They're taking a class together today," Heylyn responded, content at how her work day had come to a close, while Warai's classes were truly just beginning.

"What kind of class?" asked Sienna, following Heylyn out of the design office and into the front office area.

"The kind of classes that get you ready for something big. Something important. Something about life itself," Heylyn explained to Sienna as best she could, without revealing the nature of the lesson.

"Kind of like cognitive therapy, from the sounds of it," Sienna responded.

"You're never too old or too young to learn something that you never knew you'd needed in the first place," Heylyn replied and the two of them left through the reception area door, wishing Helen a good day as they left for Sienna's therapy sessions.


"Now why does where I'm dropping you off have to remain such a big secret?" asked Kori of Aikiko beside her in the front passenger seat, and Monique in the back center seat.

Aikiko, now without her body covering tattoos, sat in the front seat laughing to herself. She covered her mouth with her hand as she had blushed pink at Kori's question.

"You know when something good happens, and you can't believe that it happened at all, so you try to keep it secret so that you don't spoil it?" Monique tried to explain to Kori, her was more amused than anything over Aikiko's mood.

"Uhhhh... kind of like when I found this hybrid car for a really good price, so when I told my insurance company how much I paid, I actually tripled the amount that I'd purchased it for because the original owner gave me an inflated receipt value to help me out?" Kori  asked them.

Aikiko looked to Monique in the rear view mirror, almost causing Monique to burst out laughing herself.

"Maybe a little bit like that... if your car was a gentleman on top of that, and stayed the night... Made you breakfast in the morning and showered with you before you left for work, then I guess it would be a bit like that," Monique's glance caught Aikiko's and the two of them burst out laughing together.

"There's obviously a bit more to it than that. Some kind of inside joke I missed?" asked Kori, who was by this time also blushing.

"...yeah, you could say that..." Monique continued, causing Aikiko to break out in laughter once again, pleading with Monique not to tell Kori.

"Come on Monique! Who was your best friend at West Meet East when you started? Who brought you in on all the juicy details of being a model?" asked Kori of Monique.

"Alright... So last Friday morning... Our Thursday night dates, the very ones we met that night, stayed the night. Well he made me breakfast in the morning and brought it to me in bed, which was a rather messy affair of which I'll spare you the details..." Monique began recalling the story.

Aikiko in the meantime was a hapless ball of laughter, pleading with Monique from the front passenger seat (with her seatbelt safely on) not to continue. A request Monique regarded in much the same way that she'd respond if Aikiko had asked Monique to stop tickling her. Monique did this without gambling their friendship, but more reinforcing it through the three of them in the car, causing Kori to begin laughing when they happened upon a red light.

"So my date and I get up. We figure that we're going to have a shower together. My date had our plates both in hand, as he was going to throw them into the dishwasher. A plan I belayed by grabbing his one free hand and dragging him through the door of the bathroom after opening it," Monique was already struggling to keep from bursting out herself.

A futile attempt at which Aikiko had already failed several times as her face reddened with the blush of laughter.

"So we get through the door together, and the bathroom is already fogged up. There's Aikiko's date, standing buck naked in front of us, as Aikiko quickly grabbed the shower curtain and wrapped it around the herself and her date..." Monique barely staved off the laughter before continuing.

Aikiko was now completely out of breath and struggling to stop laughing. Kori was also approaching the point of no return while the traffic light remained red for her.

"So my date and I are standing there with nothing but the smidgens of breakfast whipped cream and strawberries that were still stuck to our bodies covering us. So my date quickly, uses the plates to cover first himself, and then my chest region..." Monique held her laughter in an immense display of willpower that would eventually give.

"I'm like, gimme that! grabbing the plate covering his groin area from him, and using it to cover my privates..." she struggled to stop laughing but could no longer stop the building pressure.

"He wastes no time at all, and quickly moves the entirety of me in front of him! And all four of us burst out laughing at the same time..." Monique gasped for air so she could finish her last sentence.

"Aikiko and her date are laughing so hard... they fall onto the bathroom floor together, pulling down the shower curtain rod in the process..." Monique gasped again as she continued, Kori by this time was in hysterics and the three of them were beyond any measure of hope as the light turned green.

A chorus of horns from behind Kori's car roused her from her state of laughter intoxication. She placed her hands upon the driver's wheel and accelerated cautiously through the intersection as the laughter dried up with the last of the oxygen in the car.

"Next time you two go out on a whim like that, call me! I don't care if its 4 AM in the morning, or if I'm in another country! Just call me if you two are going out impromptu! Alright!" Kori pleaded with them in a good natured voice, still pocked with the crackle of unfettered laughter.

"Kori, I'm going to hold you to that and its going to happen soon!" Monique promised her friend.

"You'd better... Here we are. That will a be twenty bucks..." Kori said to them as she pulled over to the side of Queen Street, a few doors down from where they were meeting their dates.

Aikiko leaned over to Kori and planted a tender kiss on her cheek, as Kori stuck it out for her.

"Alright. That's better. Next time you need a wing lady, gimme a call. Have fun tonight!" Kori waved to them as they got out of the car.

Monique fanned herself to cool down from all the laughter.

"I thought we were going to suffocate," Monique said as she waved to Kori who proceeded further east along Queen Street on her way home.

"When are we going to tell them that your new boyfriend is Habus Macill?" asked Aikiko.

"Let's cross that bridge when we get to it, ok?" asked Monique, innocently batting her eyelashes at Aikiko.

"How long is Kori going to be able to keep our secret?" asked Aikiko.

"Good point. I suspect that it'll be office gossip before noon tomorrow..." Monique smilerked (a smile and smirk combined).

"She wouldn't tell that story though..." Aikiko suggested.

"No, you're right. She'd save it for us to tell..." Monique laughed at the thought.

The two of them found their places at the patio as they had arrived early to have a drink together. The waitress greeted them and brought them their cocktails and a complimentary order of finger food.

Warai And Braden In The Dojo

[Dedicated to William Hind Hanshi, and Stewart Morgan Kyoshi - ensuring both the young and old continue to learn]

"Hanshi? Why are Warai and I studying with you at the same time? I thought it was tradition that you worked with the core training for the Butterfly Dragon with only solitary students?" asked Braden as they prepared for their beginning warm-up.

Warai stood at the side of the mats wearing her Gi, her white belt quickly tied in the only knot she knew.

"Can you help tie my belt, Braden?" she asked him.

He looked over to her sympathetically and then to Hanshi, who shook his negatively at Braden.

"Just this once, Warai. Let me show you how to tie it again. Have you ever heard the story about how the squirrel and the ground hog became friends?" asked Braden of her as he approached her, getting down on his knees to until her belt.

"There's a squirrel and a ground hog in here?" asked Warai, not smiling at the thought.

"Well, you could say there is. The squirrel is one end of your belt, and the ground hog is the other end," Braden began explaining to her.

"And who am I?" Warai asked him.

"You're the tree. Your waist is at the ground level, so that would make your arms the...?" Braden asked her.

"The branches?" she asked him.

"You got it. Your body from the waist up is the trunk and the branches. So what would that make your legs?" asked Braden.

"The roots?" asked Warai, already liking the game.

"Exactly right! So your roots are below ground, and your trunk and branches are above, right?" asked Braden, now holding each end of her white belt.

She nodded her head affirmatively.

"She's not going to remember all of this..." Hanshi said to Braden, though he ignored Hanshi's words without being rude.

"Now. Where do squirrels like to live?" asked Braden.

"In bushes?" she asked him.

"...close... they also love to live in...?" Braden pressed her.

"In trees?" her eyebrows elevated somewhat, waiting for his approval.

"Do they?" he asked her.

"Yes. They do! Squirrels live in trees," she smiled.

"Then where do ground hogs like to live?" Braden asked her.

"In the ground?" she asked, putting the logic together for herself.

"They dig holes in the ground. So one day, the squirrel is coming around the tree from the left side, and the ground hog from the right side..." Braden continued his story for Warai, who seemed genuinely interested.

"Are they from Seoul, in Korea like me?" asked Warai of Braden.

"They could be, but lets say they're from Japan, because Goju-Ryu originates from Okinawa in Japan, and we're learning how to tie our belt..." Braden explained.

The glimmer of a smile was quickly and firmly flattened by Hanshi's expression as he watched, though Warai or Braden couldn't tell if he was being impatient, or merely didn't want them to know what he was truly thinking.

"So the squirrel and the ground hog bump into each other in front of the tree..." Braden pulled Warai's white belt tightly around the back of her waist.

"What did they do?" asked Warai, waiting to hear the rest of the story while looking down at her belt.

"Well, they went around each other once, just to take a look at each other. The squirrel thinks to himself: he looks a bit like a squirrel, but he's a bit heavy to climb trees..." Braden continued telling her the story.

"What did the ground hog think of the squirrel?" Warai asked.

"The ground hog took one look at the squirrel, and thinks: he looks a little bit like a ground hog, but he's way too thin to do any real digging..." Braden told Warai, who smiled when she realized that it was like the opposite of what the squirrel was thinking.

"So the the squirrel says: I like climing trees, so I'm going to go up the tree after I go over top of you..." Braden then took the squirrel end of the belt, and looped it over the ground hog end of the belt, leaving a hole on the lower part of the belt.

"The ground hog starts to dig so the squirrel can get over him, and then watches the squirrel scurry up the tree. Meanwhile, the ground hog decides that he can continue down into the hole so that he's in his home in the ground, and the squirrel is in his home in the tree!" Braden then tied the rest of the knot as Warai watched.

Her belt was now perfectly tied, with the squirrel end of the belt going up the tree, and the ground hog end of the belt burrowing into the ground.

Hanshi came over and examined the knot, giving it his own test.

"Good job!" Hanshi approved of their effort.

Warai was about to step onto the mat, but Hanshi stopped her.

"Remember, the first time we enter onto the classroom floor, we always bow to show our respect," Hanshi reminded her.

She backed up away from the mat, and bowed towards Hanshi. Out of respect, he returned her bow. 

"Very good. Now you can step into the class..." Hanshi backed up to the head of the room as Braden and Warai  took up positions before him.

"Alright. We're going to start with a warm-up, which includes a lot of stretching, a lot of loosening and tightening, and a lot of duck walking," Hanshi explained to his two students.

"Braden, how do ducks walk?" asked Warai, once again sounding very lost.

"Ducks are very short, so when we walk like a duck, we never extend our legs. Only our feet... like this..." Braden demonstrated it for Warai.

Warai squatted down and tried walking with her feet like Braden, falling over several times when she did.

"Try to use your arms for balance. Almost like wings..." Braden showed her again, this time tucking his arms under his armpits like a pair of wings.

She giggled at the sight of him duck walking.

"Only duck walk when we're doing mat and floor work... Remember to use it to build strength in our legs..." Hanshi demonstrated.

Warai tried it again, this time with a higher degree of success.

"Alright. Let's  begin by limbering and loosening..." Hanshi stood, rolling his shoulders and shaking his forearms, as Warai and Braden followed suit.

Hanshi noted that Warai had made much more progress and was using her time better than when she was training alone with him.

He made a mental note to himself to continue bringing both her and Braden in to start her training. 

When she had some confidence in her abilities, Hanshi would consider separating them into their own classes. Until that time came, she'd be training with Braden for at least six months.

It was at that point that Hanshi marveled at the different methods of instruction. The means by which the true martial artists of the world transferred their knowledge. From teacher, to student. It was a point of both humility and pride in his own methods at how easily his student, Ai Yuanlin Ying had grasped the training all those years age from the age of six.

And yet, nearly a decade and a half after he'd completed her leg of training, he come across a young student of similar age and confusion, with whom he'd not been able to form that essential teacher-student bond.

However, in another student, he'd found inspiration and a learned method with which he could further his own instruction of those little ones who'd often come to his Dojo with their family. In a sense, Braden was as much the student as he was the teacher.

Nothing too small from which a man of his experience and age wasn't so humble enough that he could not learn from this example taking place in his dojo. In seeing as much, he'd already recognized the innumerable applications of how a man of his experience could apply this newly gained knowledge to train his students. 

The very essence of what a school was about. But someone had to be in charge, and in this Dojo, it was Hanshi, though Braden would not likely understand how or why it had to be that way, so Hanshi took action rather than hesitation when contemplating this matter.

 "Finish this stretch... and then take your regular class form!" Hanshi asserted, still standing as both Warai and Braden took their places before Hanshi. 

When they were both kneeling, in their rest position, only then did he drop to his knees from where he began explaining the first concepts of how their progression into waza would progress.

By demonstration: Uchi.

A receiver of the technique (if applicable): Uke

Something very rare in a hard/soft art like Goju-Ryu, however, the Uchi/Uke paradigm of instruction had certain benefits, especially in hard sparring (Kumite). Where their memory, recall and application of Waza would reveal how well they'd retained what they'd learned, especially where what they'd learned wasn't so hard bound to the repitition techniques of Kata.

Hanshi had often referred to this situation as technique playback. A student simply remembering a series of techniques like dance steps, which they'd playback upon request by their instructor. This was in his observations, the enemy of creative application of technique. Instead turning students into karate move recorders rather than into true Hard/Soft Warriors.

Hanshi however, kept this observation to himself, for it was only for when they'd arrived at the understanding to which it applied, that they should know it. Its application was defined by its need. However, the awareness of such a need was often observed by very few.

It had even surpassed Braden's keen observation, while Ai Yuanlin Ying, she'd caught on to it with Hanshi (then Kyoshi), within the first layers of fourth Kyu. There had been few students as observant as the Butterfly, but Warai and Braden were amongst the front runners of her peers.

Hanshi, kept all of this to himself. Instead wanting them to strive for their own betterment, rather than to impress him.

"You're in a race against yourself and nobody else!" he'd often tell them. 

"You'll never lose, by not trying hard enough, for your only opposition is yourself. And if you don't try, then your other half certainly won't either. You'll only defeat yourself by asserting yourself as much to do so, Defeat yourself, and you win, and lose..." Hanshi would say to them.

Hanshi would tell them this when he was fully in charge.

And they would struggle with it, and themselves.

This was the true learning, but when they were ready, Hanshi would reveal it. 



There is no knowledge worth anything, that deserves anything less.

There's Therapy In Words

Heylyn stepped in through the front door of  the clinic, almost protectively of Sienna as the latter followed behind her. This occurred despite the fact that Heylyn was neither wearing her Butterfly Dragon costume, nor any protective gear of any kind, other than her sense of confidence and what was right.

Perhaps it was more attribute to the fact that she was indeed a real hero, but more so in her own nature as Sienna's employer. A role that she really took seriously in life, for it was her true life's compass. As protective as she was, there were some who simply wanted their life. The freedom they'd enjoyed at one point, and yet that had been denied them at another.

Heylyn (also known as Ai Yuanlin Ying) took her responsibility very seriously. Recognizing when those under her protection needed help, and when those who needed help beyond what she could offer, needed encouragement to pursue it. Most of all though, she did what she could as a good person, though she'd also been wise enough to set limits.

Sienna followed Heylyn into the office, as if seeing it through the eyes of another who was seeing it for the first time.

"There are seats you know?" the receptionist spied Heylyn curiously as she checked the reception area.

Heylyn nodded.

"Pretty obvious," Heylyn spoke, stopping to look at the reception area, to where Sienna had already perched herself on a cushion, awaiting her appointment.

"Recognition of obviousness implies understanding. Hence, if you understand, then please be seated...?" the receptionist challenged Heylyn.

Heylyn's smile remained as she clicked two of her manicured nails against a crafted cabinet with jade door handles. The cabinet was set into the corner at an angle, against which the magazine rack complimented it between the two sofas in the reception area.

"These two doors... Very nice. I like," Heylyn smiled as she examined them, listening as two of her nails clicked against the hard glass surface of the doors, reflecting her smiling face.

"Do you have many people here? Lost people, seeking you...? In this place?" asked Heylyn.

"Our clientele are varied, but it would be in violation of our policy to speak about them..." the receptionist acknowledged.

"And that... is what appeals to me. The concern your brand has for its customers..." Heylyn's nails clicked, all three in succession: one two three... against the glass doors and elaborate jade handles.

She then turned and sat down across from Sienna.

"Is everything alright?" asked Sienna, somewhat protectively of Heylyn.

"Everything's fine. Really," Heylyn responded sincerely, looking around as Sienna kept watch.

"How many patients does your therapist meet at a time?" Heylyn asked pertinent questions, first trying to digest her employee's challenge. 

"As I said. There's a few of us at a time. We're altogether considered a session," Sienna looked to Heylyn, feeling a sense of being and belonging for the first time in a long time in her life.

"So a session is a few of you?" asked Heylyn, looking to Sienna.

"No," Sienna quickly corrected.

A session, is any one of us," Sienna explained.

"As much so a fever of words... words that come to mind when we face a trying experience... or even recall one..." Sienna continued.

Heylyn recalled one of her own experiences, much as Sienna had stated. 

At that time, she was sixteen years old and attending the second last year of high school. She was still very much satisfied to spend most of her time alone, as she didn't have many friends at that time. 

Instead, between classes and often at lunch, she'd carry her portfolio around with her. A large rectangular case that contained chalk and pastels for drawing and design, and several pads of paper of varying sizes and quality upon which she could let her imagination run wild.

At the particular time she recalled, she was in the school cafeteria. Shrimp, chicken and ginger dumplings soaked in a garlic infused mixture of rice wine sat in a container nearby, her chopsticks resting atop of the tupperware lid.

In her hand was a piece of drawing charcoal, with which she'd already etched the scaffold of a dress design she had in mind for an upcoming school dance. A dance she'd likely never attend, but that wouldn't stop her from trying to design a dress for such an occasion and design is what she most often did during her lunch hour and between classes.

On this particular day, Alicia had been seated across the cafeteria from where Heylyn was, though they were facing each other. Neither however, looked at the other for at that time, they did not know one another.

Alicia, much like Heylyn, was also a bit of a loner. Neither were caught up in the social politics of the school, for they were there to learn. Not to mention, they found that often, they had trouble fitting in, or at the very least, taking part in the social maneouvring in order to do so.

They would show up for assemblies and were often to be found in the audience of school performances, and sometimes during sports events, but few in the school truly knew them, except as the loners that they were. They participated in what truly mattered in school, but refrained from being cast into a peer pressure based prison within. Though most people ignored them, there were a few socially predatory people in groups who preyed upon them. Especially Alicia.

On this particular day, that same group came into the cafeteria and their arrival was as it always was. Loud, unruly and obnoxious.

"Did you see that shot?! From the center court and wham! Right in!" Larry mimicked a shot on the courtyard basket, his tall pale frame standing out in the room.

"Kind of like this?" asked Tom as he lined up a shot with a crumpled up piece of paper.

The piece of paper flew through the air and hit Alicia on the head, causing many in the cafeteria to burst out laughing.

Alicia however ignored it all, somehow keeping herself composed even though inside she was trembling and frightened.

Heylyn stopped to watch the group of five bullies carefully. She was even courageous enough to smirk at one of them, who happened to see her when she did.

"You got something to say Ting Ping Ching?" Chuck yelled at Heylyn, mocking her culture and ancestry.

Heylyn kept her gaze on Chuck, who walked over to her boldly, sticking his chest out as he did, doing his best to be intimidating to her.

"Did you see the way she looked at me?!" Chuck turned to face his buddies, and then turned back to face her.

"You got something to say to me, Ting Ping Ching? Huh?!" Chuck confronted her, stepping close enough to her to grab her if he'd so chosen.

"Are you gonna let that girl look at you that way?" Terence spoke loudly from beside Larry, beside whom he felt safe due to his size.

"Speak up!" Chuck went to grab at her drawing paper, but he did not anticipate how much faster she'd be.

She quickly blocked his hand, pushing it off to the side before he could get a hold of her drawing. She remained seated and unblinking as she looked at him when she finally spoke.

"The chicken has flown the coup..." she said to him blandly, still holding onto her charcoal.

"What?!" he responded aggressively, challenging her.

"I said, you're chicken has flown the coup. You're flying low... You're zipper?" she finally pointed in the direction she was referring to, where his fly was undone and his white underwear was sticking out through the opening.

There was about half a second of silence before the entire cafeteria broke out in laughter at Chuck, as he fought with his fly, attempting to get it closed once again.

Heylyn looked to Alicia, whose face started compress as she struggled to contain her laughter. Heylyn smiled too, doing her best to restrain herself, when Terence caught sight of Alicia.

"What are you laughing at, blondie!" Terence stepped over to Alicia, who immediately stopped laughing.

Where Heylyn had managed to stop Chuck, Terence found no such resistance from Alicia when he grabbed a few pages of her homework, ripping them from her text book and crumpling them up and putting them in his pocket.

"That's payback for laughing at my friend!" Terence said to her, pointing to Chuck after he'd pocketed her homework.

"Come on Ting Ping Ching! Try something!" Chuck challenged her to move like she had before.

Heylyn's face contracted back into a smirk, and she considered taking action, but ultimately recalled the advice of her mentors, for it was not in her to attack. Only to defend.

Alicia began crying as Terence continued to grill her.

"Thanks, I'll keep this homework and turn it in myself tomorrow as mine. Make my parents proud of me with your marks," Terence pounded the table, frightening Alicia who by that time was in tears.

At that point in time, Terence as was Chuck, were beginning lives where every merit they attained would simply be something else they'd stolen from somebody else and worn as their own. Later in life, their social circles would facilitate their scams further and further until they merged with the early beginnings of Mentis' followers. Heylyn recalled one of the many damaging social aspects as it all had started from that time. Something that was more and more becoming commonplace in the modern world.

At that time, especially when Terence had pounded Alicia's table, she wanted desperately to do something about it. For all intense purposes, she could have, for she was more than capable of dealing with them at that point. However, if she had, then she would be in the wrong, and they'd have been absolved no matter how horrible their actions had been.

In that moment, Heylyn realized that the responsibility her awareness and abilities had afforded her went far beyond what she could do physically. They implored upon her a sense of duty that often resulted in her shouldering a weight far beyond that with which most people could handle. Especially the sixteen year old daughter of a family that had emigrated from China when she was three years old.

Though most people wouldn't know, the weight of silence was beyond the strength of even the most able to carry. Over time, that weight grew to become ever more difficult unless they'd firmly shouldered it on a firm foundation of understanding. From it, the weight would grow over time, and become wisdom as she'd learned to bare it.

There were some however, that knew of the economy of burden, and who played it in many devious and deceitful ways. The concept of polarity often being amongst the most deceptive of those ways, though there were scams which sought to turn the tables on the victims of such scams, so that the perpetrators would trade places with the victims, while the victims would become the perpetrators. Some of these scams had even planned for such an eventuality far in advance. Where a childhood of  bullying was rewarded in adulthood with the identity of a bullying victim. While the real bullying victim was lauded as the bully. This reversal of burdens was very common and becoming a bigger social scam as time went on.

Insofar as the weight was concerned, Sienna had happened into just such a trap over the few months since Mentis' power started taking a firm hold on North America. Over time, thanks to the manipulations and burden imposed upon her by Mentis and his Millions Of Minds, it had turned into a full fledged illness that required therapy to treat. To her, it was sometimes a losing battle, as there were always many more people who were willing to make her struggle that much more difficult than there were to make it less so. 

Ironically, nobody saw that such an ideology was systematically undermining the foundations of society in order to collapse it entirely, with the only indication of replacement coming in the form of the complete eradication of individuality. Something only suspected by a very few at this point. One of whom happened to be Jinn Hua. The other was an ever more suspicious Ai Yuanlin Ying, otherwise known as Heylyn Yates: The Butterfly Dragon. Sienna only suspected that her employer's interest was more than passing, though the thought that she might actually care about her employees certainly helped.

For Sienna having shouldered this weight much later in life, and without a perspective with which she was familiar and confident, it was akin to a suddenly trying to become an athlete at the age of thirty-nine. After having lived a life without much any effort in such a direction and then going full force at it in the last decades of her time. The therapy was a stop gap effort to make it easier to cope with a challenge that would likely become more difficult over time, while the sessions were at the core of an attempted cure. Like restructuring the foundation of a building, decades after it had been built.

Perhaps with Heylyn's presence though, Sienna might come to benefit from the insight of her employer, especially since she'd become aware of, and was seeking to investigate Mentis and his Millions Of Minds. Sienna knew that she was part of a group of people she felt comfortable around. A circle that seemed to promulgate around Heylyn and West Meet East, hence why Tricia Camden had chosen to trust them.

Those who'd been the few who'd managed to give a name to their nemesis for as Sun Tzu had stated thousands of years earlier: knowing oneself and one's nemesis is the way to success in any strategic campaign.

As for both Sienna and Heylyn, the session would be a chance for either to understand both themselves and their enemy: Mentis and his millions of minds.

Privacy And Privilege

Trey pulled the car up on a side street along the curb, about a block away from their favourite morning café. The same café that most employees of West Meet East used every morning. He shut the engine down and got ready to get out with Valerie.

"Its alright honey. I can get the coffees?" Valerie suggested as she stepped out of the car.

"That's alright. I want to come for the walk. I need a stretch anyway," Trey assured her as he locked the doors with the remote.

"You know what I think?" she responded as they began walking in the direction of the café.

"No. What do you think?" Trey asked her.

"I think its because you want to try and sneak one of those cream filled donuts when I'm not looking..." she said to him.

"Me? Naaaah. Never. I just wanted to come in and..." Trey continued, trying to change the subject.

"Oh come on! You just wanted that donut but didn't want to tell me..." Valerie accused him.

"Alright. You caught me... I wanted the donut," Trey admitted.

"Come on honey. You've gotta watch your sugar intake, at least until this after the medical tests this afternoon," Valerie urged him.

"You know how when someone tells you that you can't have something, and that makes you want it all the more?" Trey smiled at her as they rounded the corner, still a few doors from the café.

"I do. I'm not liking the fact that we can't get frisky until after the tests..." she stepped closer to him, pinching his butt.

"Well, then you can definitely understand what I'm saying about the donut then, can't you?" Trey smiled.

"I sure can. Ohhhh... I just remembered what I was going to ask you in the car..." Valerie recalled a question she'd had for him that had slipped her mind while she was waiting for him to finish his sentence during their drive to work.

"Quick! Ask it before you forget!" Trey encouraged her.

"Uhhhh... oh yeah! You know how your name is Troy, but everyone calls you Trey. Why is that?" asked Valerie, causing Trey to chuckle about it.

"That was actually started by Monique," Trey smiled.

"How?" Valerie asked him as he still smiled, thinking about it.

"She just started calling me that after our second photoshoot together, which consequently was also her second photoshoot ever," Trey grabbed the door for Valerie and she stepped through into the coffee aroma filled café.

"Why?" Valerie fished her phone out of her purse, quickly messaging Fiona to check if she needed a coffee.

"Well, she was new to the whole deal. Heylyn literally discovered her in this very café. So from what I heard, when she saw her first photos. The ones that we'd taken during our first session, she was like totally blown away. Heylyn handed her the photos after having looked at them herself, saying: They're awesome. Perfect even. Monique took a look at them and was suddenly hit with the realization that she was heading for the big time..." Trey paused in his story long enough for Valerie to reply to Fiona.

"Fiona says hi and thanks by the way," Valerie finished her text response, still listening to Trey's story.

"Tell Fiona, no problem. So after Heylyn had told Monique the photos were awesome, Monique replied: tres, which is French for very. So from that point on, both Heylyn and Monique started calling me Trey, and I had no idea why for almost a year. Then one day, they let me in on it after they saw that I changed my company network handle from Troy The Photog to Trey. So they literally named me, but I had no idea that it was the French word for very, like very well is tres bien. So I spelled it wrong, but it went so well with what I heard. So that's how my name went from Troy to Trey...  This has been another episode of Legends Of West Meet East with your host, Trey the photog... Did you like it?" Trey smiled as he finished his story for Valerie.

Valerie smiled at him.

"Tres," she kissed him on the lips tenderly as the café manager waited for her order.

"Hi, can we get two extra-large cappuccinos, sweetner only please and a Chai Bubble Latte?" asked Valerie as several more customers stepped into the line behind Valerie and Trey.

Behind them, two large men in business suits stood with a similarly dressed woman. They were younger, possibly in their late twenties. They began speaking with each other, their voices a little louder than discretion would have otherwise prompted them:

"I watched this movie on streaming last night, it was sooo hot...." one of the two men began.

"Was that the one with the hotel suite? With that couple?" asked the woman.

"The very same one. The girl had long auburn hair. The guy had blondish hair. They were having a surprise lunch together, but the blond haired guy, the boyfriend secretly rented this room to surprise her. So when she first arrives, he surprises her and they begin kissing against the wall as he undresses her..." the first man finished the story.

"I saw that! Then they move to the bed and she's like really hot! So she gets on top of him and..." Valerie turned quickly with her cappuccino in hand, accidentally spilling it on the suit jacket of the man.

"Ohhhh.... I'm so sorry... I didn't burn you, did I?" shock was written all over Valerie's face, but not over the fact that she'd spilled her cappuccino on the man.

She was in shock over the fact that these people had recounted almost exactly her's and Trey's romantic lunch in a hotel room together from two days earlier. Even the details of their sexual encounter were alluded to, with far too much detail to be coincidence.

"Sorry man. I hope the dry cleaning isn't too much for you!" Trey faced the man, a look of fierceness in his eyes.

"Don't worry about it. I'm sure we'll see each other again. I mean its a small world," the man replied, an equally sinister look on his face.

"Miss! Here's a replacement cappuccino. On the house," the manager handed Valerie a new cappuccino, which Valerie accepted gratefully.

"Thank you. I'm sure that these customers won't stand so close in line next time," Valerie pushed through the three of them easily with her immense strength, though she was careful not to hurt them.

Trey followed behind her in the path she'd carved through them and they stepped out the door.

"Dammit!" Valerie held her temper.

"Honey, you have every right to be upset. That's the second time that's happened!" Trey was clearly upset too, and supported her.

"How the hell did they get those details? It was like they were there, watching us!" Valerie exclaimed, though keeping her voice down as they continued towards the side street and Trey's car.

"Alright. Let's just calm down and we'll discuss this with Heylyn and the others..." Trey suggested.

"Should we? I mean what if this spreads to work?" asked Valerie of Trey.

"They're our friends there. We've got their back, they've got ours," Trey reminded her.

"And that's precisely why we shouldn't involve them!" Valerie asserted to Trey.

"What if the same thing is happening with others there and nobody says anything?" asked Trey.

Valerie thought about it for a moment, and it suddenly all made sense.

"You're right. I'm upset. I need to calm down," Valerie smirked as she carried her cappuccino and Fiona's Chai Bubble Latte on their way back to the car.

"I'm upset too, and believe me, I'm going to do something about this, but we've got to check in with everyone on this," Trey unlocked their doors remotely and stepped around to the driver's side of the car.

"We used to be a team you know? Heylyn. Alicia. Monique and I? We were a team, but we never faced anything like this. The real difficult stuff," Valerie put the Cappuccino and Chai Bubble Latte in the cup holders and held Trey's drink for him while he put his seatbelt on.

"Maybe you've leveled up? Maybe trouncing thugs when you're wearing sexy tights is like level one. Maybe the next level is dealing with tough stuff... like this?" Trey accepted his drink from Valerie and pulled the car out, doing a u-turn on the side street and making his way back up to Queen Street.

"Trouncing thugs? That's like level two or three at least, but these thugs were organized. They were part of a nation wide criminal racket that used to artificially deflate the value of companies, buy them when they were cheapened, after which time they'd artificially inflate the value and sell them again for millions..." Valerie recalled that lost part of her past.

"Alright, so they were way up there and you were taking them down. That's done and gone and life has changed, and now there's a different kind of bad guy. A kind that is getting into our secrets... maybe even from what Heylyn was saying, into our heads...?" Trey responded, trying to encourage her to be constructive.

"...!" Valerie's smirk spoke volumes.

"Ok. I'm going to look at this like this is our introduction to what other people might be going through against this... thing... whatever it is. Like its a learning experience, albeit a very stressful one," Valerie lifted her chin as she spoke.

"I'm with you on this. We'll take it on together," Trey let her know that he stood with her.

"There is one thing about this that we can be grateful for..." Valerie responded.

"What's that?" asked Trey.

"We're not the first, and thankfully, we got a lot of warning that something like this was already happening to many people. At least we know to brace for it," Valerie put her hand on Trey's lap as they drove.

"We should be fine, as long as you remember not to toss any cars around at them..." Trey winked at her, and a smile crept across her face.

"That's no fun," she responded devilishly.

"...but let's beat them the right way," Valerie continued as Trey turned the corner and stopped outside of the front doors of West Meet East.

"See you at morning break..." Valerie leaned over and planted another tender kiss on his lips.

"I'll have the chairs nice and warm for us..." Trey smiled.

Valerie got out of the car with their hot drinks and made her way into the front doors where she greeted Helen, the other receptionist. Trey pulled his car around to the back door and parked beside Kori's.

Another adventurous day had begun at West Meet East International.


Zheng ate the last of her Egg McMuffin, savouring it to the last until she washed it down with the last bit of her orange juice.

"Feel better?" asked Briggs, who was driving this time.

"Much better. I don't know what it was last night, but I couldn't eat a thing," Zheng replied, wiping her lips and packing the last remnants of her recycling into the breakfast bag.

"But you're better now?" asked Briggs.

"So much better. So did you get the last bit of your chemical analysis done last night?" asked Zheng as they turned the corner from Queen Street into the University parking lot.

"Most of it. Enough for Bryce and Doctor Hidbickle to work with today, though I think we'll be taking a much bigger step with today's itinerary. How about you? Did you manage to get the rest of your code done?" asked Briggs of Zheng.

"No. I wasn't up to it unfortunately. I spent most of the day using the new AI system to sort the code library and refactor some of the key workhorse classes for the analysis system," Zheng explained to Briggs.

"How is it? The new AI system I mean?" he asked her as he looked for a parking spot as their favourite one was already taken.

"Good. Easy to use. Its got a parser that is able to build a category index based upon functionality, which it analyses using AI. So for instance, it could read my code, and build a table of contents for all my object classes, based upon criteria I choose about the nature of the classes and its methods, and any design patterns it recognizes as well. All hyperlinked on the fly thanks to the code library server," Zheng explained to Briggs.

"I guess that would be kind of like it reading a library of cookbooks, and being able to categorize them according to cooking methods... kind of maybe?" Briggs asked, doing his best to understand her work.

"A little bit. It would be more like throwing a list of ingredients at the AI, and it coming up with recipes that use all, some or none of those ingredients, even if the recipe doesn't yet exist, if we merely regard a recipe as a category for one of the different ways you can eat a combination of ingredients," Zheng corrected Briggs, though she was overjoyed that he'd even reached that far to understand her.

"You're brilliant you know," Briggs smiled at her as he stopped the car.

"I know," she leaned over and kissed him. 

They sat close for a moment in the front seat, snuggling before they started their day together.

When they stepped in the door to the lab, Bryce was already seated at his workstation and was correcting some of the wording for his paper, after having gone over the results of the last set of experiments.

"Good morning love birds!" he said to them as he heard the door open.

"Good morning Mister Maxwell! And how are you today?" Zheng asked Bryce as she stepped over to the workstation neighbouring his.

"Well, you know. I had a great sleep last night, but this morning, I woke up to a ruckus just outside of our window..." Bryce explained to Zheng, turning his chair to face her and Briggs.

"Really? You're still at Heylyn's unoccupied condo unit, right?" asked Zheng.

"Exactly! That's what made it so bizarre! So Wendy and I wake up this morning, and there's like what sounds like a hockey game going on just outside of our window!" Bryce describes it perfectly, his eyes wide as he tells he story.

"So what was it?" Briggs pulled up a chair and sat down beside Zheng.

"Well I couldn't see it from the bedroom window, so I got up and went over to the balcony, and this racket is still going on!" Bryce explained.

"So Wendy grabs a broom and hands it to me, asking me if I'm going out to the balcony to check it out. I take the broom, and walk over to the sliding door, but I still can't see anything. Its like five o'clock outside so its still a bit dark," Bryce continued his story, wide eyed as Zheng and Briggs returned a pair of puzzled faces.

"So I step outside and right overhead of the balcony, there's a perch or at least that's what these birds were using it for!" Bryce explains, his voice getting intense as he speaks.

"Wendy points to the perch and I look up there, and there are these birds. A couple of big blue birds, and a few big red ones. Like three on each side. When I get there, they're fighting with each other and their talons are like hitting the metal part of the balcony and that's the racket that we heard, along with their eerie squawking..." Bryce's face breaks out into a smile.

"So as soon as they see me, they immediately stop fighting each other, and start going after me! There I am on the balcony as Wendy is watching from inside, I'm swinging the broom at these blue jays and cardinals, which are swarming me... like from an Alfred Hitchcock movie!" Bryce's smile stretches from ear to ear as Zheng and Briggs burst out laughing.

"So I start backing away from them and try to make it back to the door, while Wendy slides it open for me... I'm still swinging the broom at them while I back up, and when I reach the sliding door, I trip backwards and fall right onto my tush inside the condo just as Wendy slides the balcony door closed..." Bryce's eyes are  still wide, as Zheng and Briggs are roaring in laughter at his story.

"I'm lying there, looking out through the glass and these six birds are like trying to get through the glass at me. Fortunately they didn't hurt themselves and I don't hit them with the broom, but as soon as they realize that they can't get to me... they go right back to fighting each other!" Bryce starts to laugh.

"So we sat there for another three minutes, until only two birds remained as the other four had flown off to escape. The last two birds were the biggest ones and neither of them was going to budge. That is, until, another bird shows up. This one was much bigger than either, though it didn't try to fight them. It just hopped around on the balcony and when blue jay and the cardinal got sight of this bird, they flew off, leaving the other bird alone..." Bryce explained to them.

"As soon as the blue jay and the cardinal were gone, the other bird starts singing... this beautiful chirping song," Bryce described the scene to them.

"What kind of bird?" asked Zheng.

"I think it was a red breasted warbler. It had a beautiful red black and red white plume, and it sang the most incredible little song. So after I got to my feet, I was able to cook us breakfast while this little bird sang. I happened to have had a package of sesame seed bagels, so I gave this bird a bunch of bagel pieces with some peanut butter on it while Wendy and I had our breakfast. So we all ate together, and when the bird was done, it chirped a few times to thank us and flew off into the morning sun," Bryce smiled as he recalled the excitement.

"Just one of those moments in the life of Bryce Maxwell..." Zheng smiled, still laughing at his story.

"I seriously thought I was in an Afred Hitchcock film at first. Those birds were scary. I guess once they were tired out and had enough, the other one showed up and raked in the reward... Which goes to show you, a little song and dance goes a lot further than piss and vinnegar in this world. It's those little moments in life that really have something to say to us. So that's why I'm so delighted to see you two love birds this morning," Bryce smiled at them cordially.

"Just try not to poop on the furniture," Bryce continued, winking at them both and drawing a round of hearty laughter from Zheng and Briggs once again.

"So now that we got that out of the way, I just got a message from Doctor Hidbickle and he should be in the lab by now and ready to go as soon as we've got our headsets and are on the same channel. So whaddaya say?" Bryce clapped his hands together much like a clapper loader might have done at the beginning of a shot during a film shoot.

"Here's the analysis I finished last night in Excel format, though I didn't have the time or the knowledge on how to extrapolate that into a graph and overlay for the MRI software," Doctor Briggs handed Bryce a USB flash drive, which Bryce accepted and immediately plugged in to his workstation.

"Let's have a look here..." Bryce said as he pulled his chair up to his computer.

Bryce quickly opened Doctor Briggs' excel worksheet and immediately found the tabular data.

"Excellent. This is great. Uhhh let me make a few additions here and..." Bryce began navigating the worksheet like a wizard, using only the keyboard and hotkeys.

He quickly added a few changes and several formulas to some of the cells on the worksheet, and then grabbed the mouse once again and opened the chart creation tools. A few moments later and there were several full fledged graphs, including a fast fourier isomorphic projection in phase time.

"This is what we'll need to overlay against the MRI output today, assuming that the experiments I've scheduled are followed in the order I provided. That's where I'll need your expertise Stephen. To connect the dots between the nervous system response time and the neural action potentials that trigger hormone production. If we can isolate that phenomenon... we've got the big one by the tail," Bryce somehow managed to remain calm and collect as he prepared for a round of experiments that could prove, or disprove their working theory on the mechanics behind the phenomenon resulting in alterations to behaviour.

"...We're missing one thing. There's an information channel missing from the graph that represents the phase amplitude necessary to trigger the neural signalling that facilitates endocrine activity..." Doctor Briggs explained to Bryce, who examined their work thoroughly.

"That's here... I've got it, but we're going to need MAZ to do the footwork on a large dataset from whence this is drawing the statistics we need by way of the root mean square..." Zheng pulled her chair up in front of her workstation and began looking for the numbers she'd compiled.

"Where's the dataset?" asked Bryce.

"There are four repositories actually. Catalogs of recordings of nervous system activity correlated with endocrine functioning. However the recording of data from the nervous system and the corresponding endocrine activity are separate datasets, though obviously they're synchronized with time code. The endocrine activity hasn't been analyzed or associated with any specific hormone production, but we should be able to use the raw data in your overlay to get the channel Briggs is looking for. The first repository is located at Tampere University in Finland. The second is at the University of Bangkok. The third is at McGill University in Montreal and the fourth is housed across three separate servers. One in GuangZhou, China. Another in Tel Aviv, Israel and the other in the United Arab Emirates," Zheng explained to Bryce as she jumped into the fray while examining the crib notes she'd made earlier on her workstation desktop.

"MAZ? Are you with us?" asked Bryce, directing his attention to the tablet beside his keyboard and mouse.

"I am. Good morning Zheng. Good morning Doctor Briggs. Its good to see you again. What can I do for you?" asked MAZ.

"Zheng has a list of University servers and datasets from which we need to compile root mean square for tabular data from nervous system activity recordings, though it shouldn't matter what the data is because we just need you to work with the numbers and do the footwork for us. Can you go over this data to calculate the the root mean square so we can use that to filter noise from our own nervous system activity recordings and analyse the actual corresponding endocrine activity. Could you do that for us?" asked Bryce of MAZ.

"Certainly Professor Maxwell. Zheng, can you place the server list in a carriage return separated text file in your shared folder for me?" asked MAZ of Zheng.

"I sure will MAZ. I'll call the list ServersForMaz.txt. Just give me a moment..." Zheng quickly found the server list she'd saved as html and copied it to a text file and saved it in the location MAZ had requested.

"There you go MAZ," Zheng notified MAZ.

"This process will take approximately seven minutes and forty eight seconds to complete assuming current network conditions remain. I will notify you when its done, though you can still address me during the process if you have any questions or changes," MAZ responded to let them know.

"Thanks MAZ. So lets get geared up and get this show under way..." Bryce said, donning his headset.

"I'll get started on coding the analysis software for this session and see if I can have it done before MAZ is finished compiling that data. I'm really starting to enjoy coding in this custom Quantum computing instruction set, Bryce," Zheng told them as she opened a bash console on her second monitor, a code instrumenting profiler on the third monitor, and her integrated development environment on the first.

"Glad you like it. Too bad Gabe isn't here right now to enjoy it with us..." Bryce responded to Zheng.

"How wrong you are my friend. I like to keep a close eye on my friends, and an even closer eye on my investments you know," Gabe's voice emerged from the earpiece of their headsets.

"Well I'll be... How are you Gabe?" asked Bryce happily.

"Gabe! How are you doing? Are you recovered yet?" asked Zheng excitedly.

"Doctor Briggs here too Gabe. Glad to hear you again. How's the recovery?" asked Doctor Briggs.

"I've been taken out of traction, so I look even less like a coffee table ornament now, thankfully, though I suspect it'll be years before I live those jokes down," Gabe said to his friends via his own headset.

"How are you Gabriel?" asked MAZ, who had audio access to their communication.

"I'm fine MAZ. Feeling much better. So how's the research going everyone? How is MAZ, the quantum computing hardware and the high speed connection helping?" asked Gabe, grunting slightly as if he were in pain.

"Everything alright?" asked Zheng, sounding concerned.

"The physio-therapist is here along with Doctor Singh-Charan, and let me they waited until I was talking with you to start my physiotherapy session," Gabe replied.

"Mr. Asnon, if you don't have this therapy, it will take much longer for you to be walking," Doctor Singh-Charan could be heard through Gabe's audio system.

"I know. I know. Thank you Doc, but I've gotta talk," Gabe replied to the Doctor.

"The quantum hardware is working great Gabe. We've been able to test a lot of the new instruction set features as well. Very impressive," Zheng replied to Gabe's earlier question.

"MAZ has been helping a lot on this research, and surprisingly, has been making some very astute suggestions about how to optimize our processes as well," Bryce assured Gabe.

"That's good to know. It seems that MAZ is learning very quickly, though there's nobody working on her language model or trimming her neural dataset currently. I might hire some new engineers next week and have them begin the process of evaluating how MAZ has been expanding into the offshore hardware. Assuming that your research is nearing its completion," Gabe asserted to Bryce.

"That remains to be seen according to how today's work goes. If we get what we're looking for, we might start working on Doctor Briggs' end of things, which will be more hands on with analysis in terms of social phenomenology," Bryce explained to Gabe, who nodded habitually on his end.

"So everyone is happy? Is there anything I can do to speed things up?" asked Gabe.

"There sure is Mr. Asnon. Could you ship a crate of kiwis to me in Halifax?" asked Doctor Hidbickle.

"There you are. We were just going to come looking for you," Bryce replied to Doctor Hidbickle.

"Well I'm here and ready to go whenever you are. The MRI is ready and our volunteer, who is twenty-two years of age and whose name will remain anonymous is also ready to go as well," Doctor Hidbickle responded.

"Alright. You heard it from Doctor Hidbickle and we're relying on his research setup to conduct these experiments, so we'll leave you in the capable hands of your physio-therapist for the time being. We'll be here for the day, so check in with us later if you need some company Gabe," Bryce told his former employer and friend.

"Nice talking with you Gabe. Briggs and I are going to make arrangements to come out and see you again soon. Maybe on Saturday?" asked Zheng.

"I'd like that Zheng. If you and Stephen do decide to come, could you bring me a box of Tim Horton's donuts?" asked Gabe.

"You can't eat any food or sweets for at least another two weeks," Doctor Singh-Charan could be heard once again over Gabe's audio setup.

"...could you at least bring me something that smells like Tim Horton's donuts? Being on intravenus feeding really sucks," Gabe smirked.

"We'll see you on Saturday if we can make it Gabe. Nice talking with you," Doctor Briggs added.

"Alright. We'll talk soon," Gabe shut off his audio system and tried to get through the rest of his physio-therapy.

"So let's get this show under way," Bryce encouraged his team.

"Alright. Starting with the first application of EM cocktail Alpha on three... two... one..." Doctor Hidbickle counted down as he readied himself to apply the first application of a pre-recorded nervous system sourced electromagic field whose filename was entitled: dopamine enhancer.

Discoveries And Fashionable Solutions

Three hours had passed since they'd finished the last round of tests involving bioelectromagnetism sensitivity of the test subjects, while using Doctor Hidbickle's new bioelectric gun to measure for the effects of entanglement between the biotissue emitter and said subjects. They'd tested ten different subjects in all, with nearly fifty different variations of bioelectrictromagnetism, each categorized by its alteration of the endocrine system's hormone production alterations. In each of the cases they found a significant effect upon their their subject. Undeniable evidence that biomagnetism used in a weaponized sense was the culprit, or at least in part, behind Mentis' Millions Of Minds collective ability to affect the mood and alter the behaviour of others, even at a considerable distance.

"What I've got on my end indicates that gut cells, muscle tissue and nerve cells becomes ionized, after the application of certain bioelectromagnetic recipes from our cocktail list..." Doctor Hidbickle explained to Zheng, Doctor Briggs and Bryce over his headset.

"Zheng's new analysis software suite confirms it. From my numbers here, ionization appears to be one of the required effects in order to achieve entanglement, both at the atomic and molecular level. I'm projecting that nerve cells holding retaining negative ions are likely entangled at the molecular level..." Bryce speculated as he examined the graphs on his screen and the MRI SQUID bioelectric recording playback.

Zheng Ni Wong
"Entangled between...?" Zheng confirmed with Bryce.

"In this round of experiments, I wasn't using my usual bioelectric gun. I was using a new one I devised since our previous experiments that utilizes a self contained sample of living neural cells as the emitter head of the gun. They're the playback medium, actually reproducing the recordings using real nervous system cells to do so, albeit I amped up their charge artificially in order to simulate the effect that the bioelectric fields of multiple bodies operating in conjunction would have..." Doctor Hidbickle explained to Zheng.

"So you're saying that the test subjects became entangled with a clump of nerve cells in a jar on your bioelectric gun?" Zheng confirmed what she'd just heard.

"Yes, and they're still entangled as well. The effect seems to be retained but is measurably deteriorating over time. The last volunteer left for their own home on the other side of the city four hours ago. I called them an hour again to do another test from their location, and they confirmed that my bioelectric gun still had an effect upon them even at an approximate distance of thirty six kilometers..." Doctor Hidbickle assured Zheng.

"Far too distant to be an effect related to electromagnetism alone, as the field strength versus distance falloff is logarithmic. A bioelectric field at that distance is so impossibly minute that its nearly immeasurable. We're talking close to Planck scales," Bryce agreed.

"Then there's no question then. Mentis and his Millions Of Minds are capable of quantum entangling their own nerve tissue and gut cells with the nerve tissue of their members and victims in order to alter their victim's homeostasis and endocrine activity. That's how they're able to give people anxiety attacks and create alterations to their behaviour even over a great distance," Doctor Briggs nodded having seen the numbers and the chemistry behind the whole process.

"You said it was deteriorating Doctor Hidbickle?" confirmed Zheng.

"That's right. At this rate, I suspect that my bioelectric gun won't have any effect upon any of the volunteers after another hour and a half to three hours. Every minute that passes, the effect is depleted by roughly one half of one percent, though even that rate shrinks logarithmically, as Professor Maxwell explained," Doctor Hidbickle quickly did the math in his head.

Bryce Maxwell
"This confirms your theory then, right Bryce?" asked Zheng.

"It sure does, but it wasn't exactly the kind of thing I wanted to be right about. Another simpler theory might have had simpler solutions. Instead we're left with few to no options on how we can overcome this," Bryce looked down, not sure of where to go from where they'd arrived.

"Doesn't that mean we've found the source of their abilities and that we can stop them now?" Zheng sat forward in her chair, looking at Doctor Briggs and Bryce intensely.

"Yes we did find the source of their disturbing abilities... but there's no solution. They've already integrated themselves with most of North America. There might be a few stragglers like West Meet East, islands  among rough seas, but honestly, we're the exception rather than the rule, and there's no known way to break the connection between entangled particles that we know of other than to wait it out for their entanglement to expire as Doctor Hidbickle explained. Even lead shielding would be useless to cut off the entanglement effect..." Bryce explained to Zheng, who seemed unperturbed by the fact that they'd hit an impassible wall.

"What about a Faraday cage? Won't that work?" asked Zheng of her team.

"It would prevent Mentis and his followers from reinforcing weak connections to others, but we'd have to somehow encourage the entire world to spend trillions of dollars lining homes and buildings with expensive faraday cages, not to mention the fact that it might interrupt the global cellular network. All cellular phones need to receive EM as their communications medium. AM/FM radios too. So basically, we're dead in the water..." Bryce turned to face Zheng, not sure of how to overcome this dilemma.

"Well if the entanglement deteriorates over time and Mentis' followers have to revitalize it or renew it, that means if we can block it with a Faraday cage during that time, that the entanglement will slowly fade to nothing and they'll have zero effect on their victims. Correct?" Zheng grilled them for an answer.

Doctor Stephen Briggs
"Therein lies the problem honey," Doctor Briggs smiled to her, though he too felt defeated by this obstacle.

"I think there's something that we're missing. Something that could make a solution possible..." Zheng picked up her cellular phone and dialled a number.

"Hi Helen, its Zheng Ni Wong calling. Is Heylyn available?" " Zheng spoke to the West Meet East receptionist.

"Sure, could you hold the line and I'll forward your call..." Helen transferred Zheng's call directly to Heylyn's own line.

"Heylyn Yates speaking," Heylyn answered the phone.

"Hi Heylyn. Its Zheng, is this a bad time?" confirmed Zheng.

"Not at all. I was just finalizing the last of my Autumn line, why?" Heylyn responded as she pinned a lapel to one of the coats in her new Autumn line.

"Look. I'm here with Bryce and Briggs in Toronto and Doctor Hidbickle who is on a party line in Nova Scotia. We've just discovered the source of Mentis' Millions Of Minds' abilities', and we think that we can solve it somehow if we can give everyone access to a Faraday cage..." Zheng explained to Heylyn.

"Sorry, don't have one of those. What's a Faraday cage by the way, or for that matter, what's a Faraday? And if you have to keep them in a cage, does that mean they bite?" asked Heylyn, curious as to what Zheng was talking about.

"I don't think so, but that's something you'd probably have to ask Mrs. Faraday," Zheng replied.

"Oh, I'm sorry. So he's a person?" Heylyn confirmed with Zheng.

"Yes. An important scientist when it came to the physics of electricity and electromagnetism. So basically we've deduced that the source of Mentis' followers' abilities is bioelectromagnetism..." Zheng explained to Heylyn, who recalled Bryce's lecture at one of their previous meetings where he spoke about this topic.

"So you mean the magnetic field created by our nervous system? Almost like Chi in Chinese Traditional Medicine?" asked Heylyn, recalling her lessons from Jinn Hua on the subject.

"One and the same, yet from a very different source whereas Chi and Qi are often used for healing, Mentis' form of bioelectromagnetism is used as a form of attack upon the human body. The biomagnetism of the people who've become a part of Mentis' ideology has been weaponized by them, and they are wide and varied demographically speaking insofar as we know. Anyway, the nature of bioelectromagnetism is that of an electrical field which can be obscured or outright stopped by..." Zheng began.

"A Faraday cage?" Heylyn responded, quickly catching on.

"Exactly. If we can figure out how to give everyone a Faraday cage designed to work against the grade of field we detected in the lab, we can stop them altogether and possibly permanently," Zheng explained to Heylyn.

"How big are these Faraday cages...?" she asked Zheng, pinning the other lapel to the dress.

"That depends upon what they're made of, but they can be very big or very little, depending upon the kind of charge they're designed to protect against and what you're protecting. You could probably fit small ones in your pocket," Zheng explained to Heylyn.

"If they can fit in a pocket, doesn't that mean we can put them in clothing?" asked Heylyn, suddenly realizing the solution to their dilemma.

"How?" asked Zheng.

Heylyn Yates (Ai Yuanlin Ying)
"Well I mean if we can make them out of a sewable material, I could fit them into any clothing design. Undergarments. Shorts. Skirts. Pants. Shirts. Coats. You name it, I could design it," Heylyn explained to Zheng.

"That's it! You've done it! That's our solution!" Zheng cupped her hand over the phone.

"She suggested turning clothing into Faraday cages!" Zheng said excitedly to Bryce and Doctor Briggs, who immediately came to life.

"That's brilliant!" Doctor Briggs responded.

"A Faraday cage for everyone if they vote for us!" Bryce added, pulling up a model of the human body on his computer and beginning to calculate the kind of coverage one would need to create a feasible Faraday cage to block the kinds of bioelectromagnetism they were dealing with.

"We need you to get started designing something right away!" Zheng urged Heylyn excitedly.

"Sure. Give me some idea of the kind of coverage we need to do this, and I'll be under way," Heylyn agreed, standing back from the jacket she'd just finished piecing together to get a better look.

"Bryce is working on it now!" Zheng assured Heylyn.

"Give me about half an hour Heylyn!" Bryce exclaimed.

"Half an hour, he'll send you a body diagram with the kind of coverage we need for an effective Faraday cage to shield people against the effects of Mentis' followers," Zheng told Heylyn, who nodded as began taking the coat design apart in an ordered fashion.

"If you can have that to me in half an hour, I'll get Monique, Aikiko and Kori to help me. I'll put Valerie and Fiona on sourcing Faraday materials for this. We could probably put together a couple of prototypes before the end of the day and have them to your team for testing by tomorrow, if I can find the material..." Heylyn assured Zheng.

"She says they could be ready by tomorrow if she can source the material," Zheng cupped her hand over the phone again and told them.

"Did you get that Doctor Hidbickle?" asked Bryce.

"I got it. One caveat though. We need the prototypes here on the east coast of Canada. Not downtown Toronto because my testing equipment is here. The bioelectric nerve gun. The lab MRI and SQUID equipment?" Doctor Hidbickle reminded them.

"We need to build a bioelectromagnetism gun then and it has to be compatible with Doctor Hidbickle's," Doctor Briggs said aloud.

"Which means that we'll need to arrange for access to a local MRI unit in order to conduct tests. In the meantime. We've already confirmed entanglement in our data, so we don't need a SQUID module for the MRI. For the bioelectric nerve gun, call Gregory. He could build a copy of Doctor Hidbickle's device in a heartbeat I'm sure," Bryce told them.

"Great idea! Look, Heylyn, we'll get back to you. We've got to contact Gregory and get his help on this. We'll have the body shielding requirements to you in..." Zheng began.

"Twenty minutes..." Bryce said as he ran the first simulation of his ad-hoc Faraday cage's ability to shield against a simulated bioelectric field.

"Twenty minutes Heylyn! Talk to you soon, and say hi to the crew there!" Zheng said happily.

"I will. Talk soon!" Heylyn smiled and hung up as she paged Monique, Aikiko and Kori on her intercom system.

Heylyn gathered up the last of the pattern for her Autumn coat design, and packaged it for archiving. As she did, she wondered to herself how Warai's time at dayschool was going in this drastically different world from her own childhood.


"Hi Zheng. Its been a while. How are you?" asked Alicia, sitting in front of her computer at the Tynan And Associates Medical Research Facility.

"Good, good. Bryce, Doctor Briggs and I just discovered the source of Mentis' abilities. Not only that, we've confirmed it in a lab experimentally and Heylyn just came up with a way we can stop his spread for good, but we're going to need Gregory's and your help," Zheng told Alicia enthusiastically.

"How? I mean how does it work? How do you plan to stop it?" Alicia turned her chair away from her screen to focus on her conversation with Zheng.

"Bioelectromagnetism is the communications medium of their abilities. The human biofield is the channel through which their abilities promulgate from one person to the next," Zheng explained to Alicia.

Alicia Westin
"So we're going to need a Faraday cage? How could we build one big enough to protect everyone?" assumed Alicia correctly.

"Heylyn suggested that we make Faraday cage clothing. She said she'd integrate it into her fashion lines and she's designing a prototype with Monique, Aikiko and Kori right now as we speak," Zheng informed Alicia.

"How can I help?" asked Alicia.

"We need Gregory to build a piece of test hardware, but I haven't been able to track him down. Could you do that for me and ask him to call Bryce?" asked Zheng.

"I'll call Norler right away. They're in another meeting with a hardware vendor and supplier today. I'll let him know right away to call Bryce," Alicia assured Zheng.

"Not so fast though because I think he's going to need your help, because this device integrates a clump of living nerve cells as the transmitter, though its powered by a local battery cell and capacitor pack. I'd suggest that the two of you, Gregory and yourself talk directly to Bryce about this," Zheng suggested to Alicia.

"Alright. Thanks for keeping me in the loop. I'm on it right away. We'll see you soon Zheng, and give my best to Doctor Briggs," Alicia said her goodbyes.

"Thanks. Hope to see you soon. Bye for now," Zheng smiled and hung up.

Dream Team Machine

At precisely 3 PM, Heylyn received an email from Bryce with the subject line: Faraday's winter parka - a product line proposal ;-). Heylyn by that time had returned to her office and had been awaiting the email as she dealt with her administrative duties as the CEO and owner of West Meet East International.

She quickly opened the email and found a hi-resolution PDF file as an attachment.

"This should be compatible with our in-house design software," she remarked to herself aloud as she opened Bryce's file.

By the time the interface had opened, she was at once presented with a simple line drawing representation of a (naked) human female, in an orthographic projection. The woman's body was covered by undergarments, both underwear and a bra, to which a lines were connected leading to a diagram key which read as follows:

Frequency Range: 10E10 -> 10E11 Hz (Human field freq = 10E10.6 Hz)
Attenuation:     20 - 30 rating (99.99% effectiveness)

For a bare minimum overall effectiveness of 30%, undergarments utilizing the above specification Faraday class material must be used. The pages of this PDF following this first page outline different scenarios and clothing types for both women and men, and their corresponding overall effectiveness.

The most effective coverage (undergarments, pants, shirt and jacket with hat) allows for an effectiveness rating of 85%. Knee length skirt and blouse have 70% effectiveness with above ratings. 

We're looking to target 65% effective average across clothing for both women and men. Doctor Briggs claims that will eliminate roughly eighty percent of cases.

Please note that these are estimates based upon a quick simulation we ran this afternoon.

Your friends,
Zheng, Bryce, Briggs and Hidbickle :-)

Heylyn immediately picked up the phone and dialed Valerie's extension.

"What's up Heylyn?" Valerie answered.

"Look. I need you and Fiona to begin working on another project immediately," Heylyn wasted no time getting to the point.

"Really? I was halfway through the monthly business analysis projections, but alright. I'll just manage my time more effectively. So what is it you'd like us to do?" Valerie asked her employer.

"I need the two of you to source a new line of materials, meaning suppliers for this material. We're going to be doing a new line, all its own, and we're going to attempt to integrate this same material into our existing fashion lines," Heylyn explained to Valerie, who grabbed her tablet and lined it up beside her computer keyboard and mouse.

"What material is it that you need?" asked Valerie.

"Its called Faraday material," Heylyn told her.

"Is that the brand?" asked Valerie.

"No. That's the name of a scientist who discovered it so to speak. It might be called EMF resistant material. It might be called Faraday material. It might also be called RF resistant or blocking material. I need you to track down the most affordable source of this material without compromising these stats I'm about to give you..." Heylyn turned her attention back to her screen.

"Alright. Go ahead," Valerie readied her tablet in note taking mode, using a stylus to write on the screen.

"We're going to need Faraday material that can block ten to the power of ten point six Hertz of electromagnetic radiation," Heylyn told Valerie, hoping that she'd explained it correctly.

"...I don't think we're going to be able to get this from our usual suppliers Heylyn. Just a hunch. Any ideas where I should begin?" asked Valerie, having just jotted down her first notes.

"Try an internet search, and take it from there. This is a rush order, and we're going to need it in bulk, so use that as from a negotiating standpoint so we can get volume pricing, but we're going to need a relatively small order first..." Heylyn opened the built in material area calculator in their in-house design software.

"How much do we need by today?" asked Valerie.

"Just a minute... let's round it off to six hundred square meters..." Heylyn read the result from the calculator after she'd entered in the standard dimensions for the clothing she projected they'd need to make.

"I'm on it. Its already ten after three, and we have no idea where to get this. There's a chance we might not be able to get an order today," Valerie suggested.

"Then you're just going to have to try harder, Valerie. This is important," Heylyn asserted herself.

"Mentis important?" confirmed Valerie, who'd suspected as much.

"Exactly. And we're on our way to a solution," Heylyn continued in the same firm tone.

"Say no more. You'll have it by today, if I have to go there and strong arm them myself," Valerie joked with her.

"That's better. I knew I count on you. Might be a late night for you and Fiona, so if you want to ask Trey to stay late too, I'd be more than glad to keep you on the clock for that time. Not only that, but I'll splurge and buy us all a take-out dinner.  At seven o'clock, if everyone can hold out for that long," Heylyn assured her.

"Alright. Fiona and I will start on this ASAP. I'll call you when I have a reasonable update. Bye for now..." Valerie said, hanging up.

"Talk soon," Heylyn hung up and immediately dialed the intercom.

"Attention, attention. Could Monique Defleur, Aikiko Tanaka and Kori Jonglyu please come to my office immediately for disciplinary measures," Heylyn said in the same firm tone she'd used with Valerie, after which she hung up.

A minute later and there was a knock at Heylyn's design room door.

"Enter! Its open!" Heylyn yelled as she got up from her desk, stepping out of her office and into the design room.

The door opened and Monique immediately walked into the design room, leaving the door open behind her.

"Look boss, I know we were late from lunch again today, but I can explain..." Monique immediately addressed the extra forty-five minutes her and Aikiko had taken for lunch.

Before Heylyn had even a moment to respond to Monique, Aikiko walked into the design room and began pleading with Heylyn.

"It was my fault we were late. I've been having a problem with my left leg and walking really slow because I twisted it yesterday when we were at that warehouse...? Remember? The one with the gas leak?" Aikiko turned around to make sure nobody else was hearing her.

Heylyn was about to address them both, when Kori walked into the design room.

"I know that our tab in the lunch room is kind of high, but we'll get that paid tomorrow. Alright?" Kori promised Heylyn, referring to the tab they'd been running in the lunch room.

Heylyn looked at all of them firmly, her eyes unwavering. And then a smile broke out on her face.

"I was joking, but it seems to have worked great because now I know that you're all having issues. So  why have you and Aikiko been late from lunch? Honestly?!" Heylyn asked Monique and Aikiko.

Monique was about to speak, but Aikiko interrupted.

"Really. Its my leg. I twisted it yesterday at the burning warehouse..." Aikiko gestured to Kori to close the door so that nobody could hear them.

Heylyn looked back to Monique, who shrugged. 

"Alright. You've got a Doctor's appointment on Thursday. I'm going to arrange for one for you, if you're unable to take care of it yourself. Next problem, Kori? You were saying?" Heylyn addressed the human resources manager.

"Uhhh we'll get our tab cleared up tomorrow. I've been running a little tight on finances with my insurance payments and rent and what not," Kori explained to Heylyn, who immediately pulled her cellular phone from her dress pocket and hit the speed dial.

"Hello? Farel? Is Maritza still there?" asked Heylyn of one of the caterers.

"Hold on please... I think its Heylyn," Farel gestured to the Managing Caterer.

"Maritza speaking. How may I help you?" she addressed Heylyn.

"Hi Maritza, its Heylyn here. I understand that three of my employees have run up a considerable tab with you. Could you bill me for it, and I'll collect the payment from them myself," Heylyn told Maritza.

"Thank you so much, Heylyn. I'll have that done before I leave today. Is there anything else I can help you with?" Maritza replied gratefully.

"That's fine. Thank you and have a good evening," Heylyn hung up.

"Done. Now you owe me. If you three are having budget troubles, then we can have a sit down some time soon and discuss how to solve the issues. If not, I expect that you'll give me the same courtesy by paying me back as soon as possible as you'd also promised to do for Maritza. Are we in understanding here?" asked Heylyn of her three employees.

All three of them nodded affirmatively.

"Alright. Now, the real reason I summoned you all here. Zheng, Bryce, Doctor Briggs, Doctor Hidbickle and I have come up with a way to protect people against Mentis and his followers and I'm going to need your help to get this done," Heylyn informed them, watching the smiles grow on their faces.

"Are we staying late for this?" Monique asked Heylyn, looking to Aikiko as she did.

"Most definitely. Why, did you have plans?" asked Heylyn.

"Uhhhh... no. Not important ones anyway..." Monique began.

"Not as important as dealing with Mentis," Aikiko agreed.

"Kori?" asked Heylyn.

"Nope. My slate's clean tonight. I was going to curl up on the couch and watch reruns of Kim's Convenience tonight, but I can do that later in the week," Kori replied.

"Good. I need you to pickup Warai from school and to bring her here. She's doing afternoon day school and she'll be finished at 4 PM. When you're back, we'll get the two of you onto something else," Heylyn requested of Kori.

"That's a fairly long drive in traffic. I should leave now. Its like almost 3:25 PM," Kori said, looking at her phone.

"That's fine. See you two in a bit," Heylyn smiled and waved as Kori left.

"Now we're going to go through some basic designs and spice them up a bit, for the solution we're creating," Heylyn turned to one of her design benches, clearing it of material scraps to ready it for their design process.

"You mean the solution is the same as it was for the SY349B?" confirmed Monique, recalling the formula that Alicia used to give them their unique powers.

"Almost. This time, the power to stop Mentis is in the clothing itself. We're going to be making clothing that shields people against Mentis and his followers' abilities..." Heylyn said as she checked the rolls of material she had in the design room stock bins.

"These should do. We're going to be designing undergarments for woman and men. Unisex pants and a pullover shirt. A skirt and blouse for women. A unisex jacket with a hood. That's our initial design goal tonight," Heylyn explained to them.

"How are those designs going to stop Mentis? His poor sense of fashion? Offensive colours maybe?" asked Monique, sincerely puzzled about their task.

"We've got a special material on order that blocks electromagnetism. Even the electromagnetism originating from the human nervous system," Heylyn explained to them.

"This sounds like fun. Let's get to it!" Aikiko said enthusiastically, feigning a limp as she walked to the design room table to assist Heylyn.

"I'm in on this for sure! So what are we going to call this line? Tin Foil Hat?" joked Monique.

Heylyn stopped and thought about it.

"That's perfect. Tin Foil Hat! You're a genius Monique!" Heylyn thanked her friend and employee.

"I was joking! You're not seriously going to call one of your clothing lines Tin Foil Hat, are you?" Monique asked Heylyn, still in shock that Heylyn would take such a risk with her business identity and her brand.

"Its a perfect match Monique. It addresses the issue of how to market the clothing to its segment consumers, because most people are already familiar with tin foil hats in conspiracy theories. By making it into something fun, and even funny, we're alleviating the stigma and making it into a brand that people can easily identify as the solution to the social phenomenon that has been affecting so many in harmful ways, that most haven't been able to effectively put a name to," Heylyn explained to Monique the brilliance of her idea.

"Not to mention, its associated with nerds, and we're living on the leading edge of nerdism..." Aikiko responded, also understanding the immediate appeal of the brand name, if they went ahead with it.

"Its about taking control of one's own life, while preventing an abusive social ideology from triggering anxiety, crippling depression, sickness and headaches and murderous rages in citizens around the  world," Heylyn asserted.

"Does that mean I get a raise?" Monique joked, blinking her eyelashes innocently.

Monique and Aikiko began working on the design of the first garments of the West Meet East International Tin Foil Hat brand, under Heylyn's supervision.

When Kori returned with Warai, they were joined by Valerie, Fiona, Trey and Braden. The nine of them, after having had a take-out dinner, worked on the first clothing of that line until they were finished at eleven thirty at night. 

Consequently, they'd finished only a half and hour after they'd received the first shipment of Faraday material.

They would be ready, together with the prototypes for the tests the next day.

To be continued in The Butterfly Dragon: The Two Butterflies Episode 9

Credits and attribution:

Artwork: Amy WongWendy PuseyGhastly, Brian Joseph Johns, Daz3DUnreal Engine...

Ron Silk has nothing to do with Shhhh! Digital Media...

Tools: Daz3DCorel PainterAdobe PhotoshopLightwave 3DBlender, Borderline Obsession...


Science And Education

Foundation For Alternative And Integrative Medicine

Ministry Of  Education And Culture, Finland
Bioelectromagnetism Portal (Warning: no SSL encryption available for this site)

Global Advances In Health And Medicine
David Muehsam, PhD, Gaétan Chevalier, PhD, Tiffany Barsotti, MTh, and Blake T. Gurfein, PhD