Sunshine Daydreams

I had a lot of fun with this prompt.  Just imagining the situation my character finds himself in was fun.  At the same time, I could totally see it happening.

Prompt: Sparkle

“Uncle?”

Marian looked up from his newspaper and hid a smile.  Camelia was wearing one of her party dresses.  It made sense.  After all, she was having a party.  However, it still caught him a bit off guard.  “Yes, Camelia,” he said, his voice soft.

When she hesitated, he folded the newspaper and set it aside.  “Is there something wrong?” he asked.  He glanced at the clock.  Her friends would probably be arriving in about thirty minutes.  He frowned at her.  “You’re not worried because they’re not here yet, are you?”

“No,” she said, flushing.  She gave him a weak smile.  “It’s early yet, but… I wondered if you might… like to join us.”

For a moment, Marian just stared at her.  The last couple months hadn’t been easy for either of them.  Marian knew that he wasn’t the ideal father figure.  He could be scary at times, especially to a little girl.  He also tended to be horribly overprotective.

He was trained to protect people.  That didn’t always mean that whoever he had been assigned to protect got to do what they wanted.  In fact, it was often quite the opposite.  When his niece wanted to do things, he treated her the way he did people he had protected in the past.  He assessed the situation and, too often deemed it too dangerous.

It had led to arguments.  Why couldn’t she go to the soda fountain with her friends?  Why did she need to stay close by him when they were in public?  Worse, too often, he couldn’t find a reason beyond, “because I said so”.

So, when Camelia asked him if she could have the other girls in her class over for a tea party, he couldn’t say no.  She would be in their backyard.  He could watch her from the kitchen window.  What could be safer?

This, however, was something he hadn’t anticipated.  He was torn from his reverie when Camelia flushed and shook her head.  “You don’t have to,” she said, a bit too quickly.  “I just figured that – that it…”

“I’d love to come,” he said, smiling.  Her eyes widened and, for the first time in quite a while, she smiled at him.  He gave a nervous chuckle and stood.  “Let me get changed,” he said.

By the time her friends were arriving, he was ready to join them.  He couldn’t help but chuckle at the girls – none of them older than twelve – arriving at his home dressed in their Sunday best, which hats and gloves and jewelry.  “They look so grown up,” he murmured at Gilbert.

Chuckling softly, Gilbert nodded.  He waved at Gretchen and said, “Have fun, sweetie.”  As she nodded and scampered out to the garden with Camelia, he turned to Marian.  “What are you going to do?”

“Camelia invited me to join them,” he said, shrugging.

Gilbert grinned and nodded.  “Have fun with that,” he said.  “I’m taking the boys out for ice cream, in the meantime.”

Felicja arrived at that moment with Zofia, also dressed in a lovely party dress.  “Henryk’s looking forward to that nearly as much as she’s been looking forward to their tea party,” she said.  Giving Marian a playful wink, she said, “Have fun, Marian.”

Marian nodded and offered Zofia his arm.  “The other girls are in the garden,” he said.  When she blushed, he added, “I’ll show you the way.”

“All right,” she said, taking his arm.  She waved absently at her mother as she and Gilbert left with the boys.

Outside, Marian was confronted with the reality of attending a tea party with four pre-teen girls.  They had their dolls in their laps.  Their gowns and jewelry seemed to twinkle in the sunlit garden.  There were sugar sprinkles on their cupcakes.  Even the teapot seemed to shine.  He’d never seen anything so sparkly in his life, but there was no escaping now.

He straightened and then poured tea for each of the girls.  Then, he took a seat between Camelia and Milda.  He was uncertain at first.  However, soon, he was chatting with the girls and, occasionally, their dolls as if he were at any afternoon tea.

When the time came for the girls to leave, he saw them out with Camelia by his side.  Then, he turned to her and smiled.  “Did you have a good time?” he asked, his voice soft.

Camelia nodded.  “Next weekend, can we do it again at Zofia’s house?” she asked.

“I don’t see why not,” Marian said, nodding.

Laughing, Camelia hugged him.  Then, she scampered off to change into her play clothes.  As she reached the upper landing, she said, “And, of course, you’ll come too.  It won’t be the same without you.”

“Of course?” Marian said, blinking.  He was certain, somehow, that he would be going above and beyond the call to attend another tea party.  After all, none of the other parents had stayed for this one.  He heaved a sigh and shook his head.  He knew that he’d been trapped, now.  He’d be attending tea parties with Camelia for the rest of the season.  “God, save me from little girls.”

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Without a Dream

So, today, I’m stepping back to write a scene that is set before the first story.  Gilbert is not the kind of agent that normally goes into the field.

Prompt: Aim

“Let’s get started,” Madeline said, her tone gentle. When Gilbert nodded, she handed him a pair of goggles and earphones. “Put these on.”

“I already wear glasses,” he said, even as he set the goggles over his eyes.

Madeline smiled as she settled glasses in front of her own eyes. “It’s very important to protect your eyes,” she said, shaking her head. She paused to check the weapon. Then, she set the pistol in his hands. “Imagine that there’s a magnet downrange, constantly keeping the barrel pointing down there.”

“Right,” Gilbert said, his voice soft. He listened as she talked him through how to grip the handgun. He never realized how tightly he would have to hold it. How did she do this regularly?

She talked him through the next steps of using the sights. He was surprised to hear that she wanted him to look at the sight that was closest to him. “So, put your finger on the trigger,” she said, her voice soft. “Slowly exhale and then draw back the trigger with firm, even pressure.”

Gilbert nodded slightly. Then, keeping the handgun level, he breathed outward. Then, just before he needed to inhale, he drew back the trigger. He gasped when the gun jerked in his hand. He took several more shots and then handed the weapon back to Madeline.

She chuckled softly and checked it. Then, she set it aside. She brought the target back in and nodded slightly. “It’s not too bad, Gilbert,” she said, pointing at the numerous holes in the target. None of them were in the center area where he was meant to be shooting. However, they were all clustered near each other and not far off the mark.

“He’s nowhere near ready,” Director Williams grumbled.

Gilbert gave a wry laugh and looked over at him. Tugging the goggles up and off, he shrugged. “I can’t delay much longer, Boss,” he said, his voice soft.

The other man grimaced. “That’s what scares me,” he said.

Fleeting Dreams

This story was prompted by a picture from the NaNoWriYe DreamWidth.  It’s something that I have been thinking of regarding my little “chorus” of people that were part of Project Lullaby (which I’ll be writing about in July).

Soap Bubbles

“You want us to… what?” Taurys said.

Gilbert fought against the flush of color that he could feel rising at the question.  Thrusting the bottle of soapy water at the agent he said, “Blow bubbles.”

Ilya frowned at the loop of metal he was holding and then arched an eyebrow at Gilbert.  “I’m assuming there’s a point to this exercise,” he said, his voice soft.  Unspoken was the request to know what that reason might be.

“All three of you are having trouble with the amount of force you use for things,” Gilbert said, rolling his eyes.  He took the loop from Taurys and dipped it into the bottle of soapy water.  Then, he blew very lightly.  A flurry of bubbles drifted away from him on the wind.  He dipped it again and then blew very hard on the loop.  The soapy mixture splattered away without forming even a single bubble.

“Ah,” Valdis said, dipping his own loop into the soapy water.  “It’s to learn better control!”  He blew on the loop and blinked when the soap splattered everywhere.

Taurys took the bottle back from Gilbert and took the loop.  “It’s not that hard,” he said, shaking his head.  However, when he blew on the loop, the same thing happened.  He blinked at it for a moment and then stalked away grumbling to himself.

Heaving a sigh, Gilbert stepped back to watch as the three test subjects began trying to blow soap bubbles.  Ilya was the first one to actually get anything like positive results.  He laughed loudly when the flurry of bubbles engulfed Taurys.

“They’re so… delicate,” Valdis said, as he managed to blow a bubble.  He tried to catch one on his wand and blinked when it popped.

Gilbert nodded.  “That’s exactly the point,” he said.  He looked over at Taurys, who was finally managing to blow bubbles as well.  “Now, do you see the point?”

Taurys smirked.  “Yeah,” he said.  He blew a flurry of bubbles and then carefully caught one on his wand.  “Thanks, Gilbert.”

Heaving a sigh, Gilbert nodded.  “Eventually, you all are just going to do what I ask without looking at me as though I’ve lost my mind,” he said.

“Wouldn’t go that far, Doc,” Ilya said, as he caught a large bubble on his wand.  He blew on the loop and a double bubble floated away.  Then, he smiled.  Shrugging, he said, “But, we might actually manage to do it without giving you so much grief.”

When Dreamers Wake

This story is set not very long after “To Wake the Dreamers”.  I used a prompt from NaNoWriYe’s DreamWidth.

**

Prompt: Celebration

Ilya felt strange – heavier, somehow, and cold.  He shivered and then forced his eyes opened.  Soft brown eyes met his and he blinked.  “Felicja?” he breathed.

She smiled and then nodded.  “Gilbert said… Are you cold?” she said.  She was flushing and awkward.  That was completely not like the Felicja he remembered.

Nodding, Ilya said up and looked around.  He was in a hospital room, sitting on a bed.  He glanced around then, finally, spotted a mirror.  It was in the bathroom.  He pushed back the covers and stepped off the bed.

Rather than standing, he crumpled.  He gave a shaky laugh as Felicja helped him sit up.  “I… I feel heavy.  Does that make sense?”

“Taurys said he did a little too,” Felicja said, nodding.  “You were… well, it was longer for you.  Yeah?”  She helped him to his feet and then stepped back slowly, ready to catch him again, if she needed to do so.

Ilya was relieved when he didn’t need her help.  His steps were unsteady, but he made it to the bathroom.  He pushed lightly on the door and it flew back with a bang.  He startled, blinking as the door swung back.  Catching it, he looked to Felicja for an explanation.  He found Gilbert standing in the doorway of the room, just behind her.

“You’re new body is pretty strong, Agent Putin,” he said.  His tone was calm and confident.  That alone was enough to make it reassuring as well.

Ilya nodded and pushed the door back a bit more carefully.  Then, he stepped into the bathroom and looked into the mirror.  He wasn’t sure what he expected to see.  However, he sighed in relief as his own face stared back at him.

“I look like me,” he breathed.  He turned back to Felicja and then sighed.  “Can you… I never wanted to leave you, Felicja.  I was recalled and…”

She hushed him and then closed the gap between them with three steps.  She leaned up to kiss his cheek and said, “You’re back now and… there are people you need to meet.  They’ve waited far too long to meet their father.”

“They?” Ilya repeated.  “We have…” he trailed off.  Setting a hand to his brow, he shook his head, his eyes still locked on his wife.  “How can we have more than one?”

“It’s called twins,” Gilbert said, his tone lightly teasing now.  “You’ve got a son and a daughter, Agent Putin.  They’re just down the hall.  Are you ready to meet them?”

Breathing a chuckle, Ilya nodded.  “Felicja,” he whispered as he took her hand.  He was careful to hold it lightly.  He looked into her eyes and he knew that he was all right.  He wasn’t hurting her.  “Do you… we married under an assumed name.”

Felicja stifled a laugh and kissed his cheek.  “Yeah, well, unless you want to paint a target on your back, you’re going to have to go back to that assumed name Eliasz.”

Ilya nodded.  “So… at least on paper, I’m Eliasz Braginski,” he said.  At her nodded, he hugged her and swung her around.  “Well, then, Mrs. Braginski, I think it’s past time that I met my children.”

“I could not agree more, Mr. Braginski,” Felicja said.  Then, she chuckled and, holding his hand, drew him towards the door.  “Then,” she said, “I think a little party is in order.”

“A birthday celebration,” Ilya murmured.

Dreamers – part 12

This is, I think, the last section of this story.  The next part is going to be a sort of prologue, but given the time-jump necessary, it won’t be part of “To Wake the Dreamers”.  I hope you’ve enjoyed reading the story as much as I enjoyed writing it.  This section used a picture prompt from the NaNoWriYe DreamWidth.

inspiration typography

Valdis didn’t like the way things were now.  No one seemed to hear him or see him.  Worse, he couldn’t touch anything.  That was incredibly frustrating, since he very much wanted to slap Ivan.  At the moment, he was sitting on the edge of his old desk, glaring at his former boss.  He might have remained there, except that he heard someone calling him.

“We call upon the spirits of Valdis Kaslauskas and Ilya Putin,” the voice said.  “If you can hear me, speak now, through the spirit board.”

“Spirit board?” Valdis said, blinking.

He startled when someone spoke up from behind him.  “It beats hanging around here.”  He turned to find Ilya standing behind him.  Giving him a weak smile, the agent said, “Come on, kid.  This is no way to live… or… whatever.  Why are we still here?”

“Right,” Valdis said.  He blinked and, suddenly, they weren’t there anymore.  They were in a small, dimly lit room.  Four people – two men and two women – were sitting around a table.  A fifth was standing back with a notebook and pen.

Valdis blinked at the man with the pen.  “Taurys?” he breathed.  Then, one of the women spoke up.

“Ilya,” she said, her voice soft.  “Valdis, speak now.  Please.”

Ilya stepped over to the spirit board and frowned.  He set his hand on the planchette that the four people were holding and guided it towards the word “hello”.  “It’s working,” he said, his voice softly.

“I haven’t been able to touch anything,” Valdis said, his voice soft.

“Who is this?” the woman said.

Chuckling softly, Ilya said, “We can touch this, it seems.”  He guided the planchette through the letters of his name.  Then, he continued to spell out words.  After a moment, he stopped.

Taurys read out the message that he’d written into the notebook.  “Ilya,” he said.  “Valdis is here too.  Felicja… I’ve missed you.”  He looked over at the table and gave a flashed smile at one of the women.

“Eliasz,” she breathed.  “You… are such an idiot!”  Tears welled in her eyes and she gasped when Ilya tried to brush them away.  Looking at the other woman, she said, “I felt… he touched me.”

She nodded.  “I’m Madeline Schneider,” she said.  Nodding at the man across from her, she said, “You might remember my husband.”

“Doctor Schneider,” Valdis breathed.  He frowned and stepped over to the spirit board.  He chewed at his lip as he spelled out a message of his own.

Taurys nodded as he read the words.  “He wants to know why we called them,” he said.  He looked at Dr. Schneider and added, “He called you Dr. Schneider.”

“That’s Valdis, then,” Dr. Schneider said, smirking.  “Ilya was never so formal.”  He heaved a sigh and glanced around the room.  “I’ve perfect the body that I was trying to make while I was in Veligrad.”

Taurys nodded.  “I’m… using one,” he added, his voice soft.

“We called you here to… give you a chance to do the same,” Dr. Schneider said.  He grimaced.  “If you’re willing, I’ll get started right away.”

“Anything is better than the way we’ve been living,” Valdis breathed.

Ilya nodded and moved the planchette to the word “yes”.  Then, he spelled out the word “please”.

Dr. Schneider nodded slowly.  “Right,” he said, a faint smile touching his lips.  “I’ve got them started already, at Arthur’s insistence.  It won’t take long to finish with the programming and then we’ll discuss… you moving into them.”

“It’s not going to be easy,” Taurys said, smiling.  “You’ll get used to it, though.  I promise.”

 

 

Dreamers – part 9

Today, I had a bit of a challenge in using the prompt from NaNoWriYe’s DreamWidth in the story.  However, I remembered a throwaway line in an earlier section and that cleared things up nicely.

Prompt: Ballgown

By the time Gilbert and Madeline were able to come together once again, it was the day of the annual awards ceremony for the IIA.  Gilbert fussed with the collar of his dress shirt.  He knew how Erik felt about having to dress up for these things.  He felt the same way, in fact.  However, it was part of the job.  He heaved a sigh as his fingers tangled in the bow tie once again.  “Maddie?” he called.

There was a rustle of fabric and then she was at his side.  After she got his fingers untangled from the fabric, it was a simple matter for her to tie it herself.  Then, she kissed his cheek.  “Charmingly awkward,” she said.

As she stepped back, Gilbert got a good look at her gown.  The soft peach color accented her fair complexion perfectly.  It was sleeveless, but she had long gloves that covered most of her arms.  “Well,” he said, blinking.

Madeline stifled a laugh and said, “I’ve got to finish helping Gretchen get ready.  Can you handle Erik’s tie?”

“I can help him with his,” Gilbert said, grinning.  “It’s my own that I have trouble with.”  He heaved a sigh as she headed for the door once again.  “We need to talk about that thing still.”

“Felicja and Taurys will be at the ceremony,” Madeline said, heading out the door.  “We’ll talk there.”

“Yes, dear,” Gilbert replied.  She was avoiding the subject.  He shook his head and headed off to help his son get finished dressing for the ceremony.  Normally, they wouldn’t bring the children to events like this.  However, Director Williams had insisted that they be there.  After all, their parents were among those being honored.

He tapped on the door of Erik’s room and then peered inside. Erik was already dressed and, to Gilbert’s surprise, he’d managed to tie the formal bowtie without any help.  “Good job,” he said, smiling.

Erik shrugged.  “It’s not hard,” he said.  Then, he stepped up to Gilbert and tilted his head.  “Why are you getting an award, Papa?”

“Well,” Gilbert said, as he struggled for a moment to find the words.  Finally, he sighed and shrugged.  “My boss feels like what we did was special enough that we need to be congratulated in a special way.”

“Don’t you want to get an award?” a new voice said.

Gilbert turned around to find Madeline and Gretchen coming down the corridor.  He smiled at the gown that Madeline had found for their daughter.  It was blue and white with just enough frills to show that she was still quite young, but there was enough formality to it that Gretchen wouldn’t feel like “a baby”.

Shrugging again, Gilbert said, “I just did my job.”

“Arthur feels we went above and beyond the expectations of our jobs,” Madeline added, her voice soft.  She waved at Erik and said, “Get your sister’s shawl, Erik.”

“Yes, Mama,” Erik said, as he hurried off.

Gretchen looked at each of her parents and frowned.  “Are you two fighting?” she asked, her voice faint.

“No,” Gilbert said.  He gave her a weak smile and then shrugged.  “I need to ask your mama to do something that she doesn’t really want to do.”  He turned to Madeline and, still talking to Gretchen, added, “I know that and I understand why, but I have to ask anyway.”

“If she doesn’t want to do it, then she shouldn’t have to,” Gretchen said, sounding a bit annoyed.

Madeline chuckled.  “We all have to do things that we don’t want to do, sometimes, Greta,” she said.  “Papa didn’t want to be in Veligrad for seven years.  You didn’t want to go to summer camp.”

For a moment, Gretchen frowned.  Finally, she nodded and said, “Papa doesn’t want to get an award.”  Then, she headed down the corridor and took her shawl from Erik.  “Let’s go outside, Erik.”

“All right, Sister,” Erik said, as he followed her through the door.

Gilbert offered Madeline his arm.  As she looped her arm in his, he said, “I wouldn’t be asking this of you if it weren’t important, Maddie.  You know that, right?”

“I do,” Madeline murmured.  She kissed his cheek and then nodded.  “I’ll do what I can, but I can’t make any promises.  Their spirits might have moved on or they simply might not want to talk.”

“I just want you to try,” Gilbert murmured.  He sighed as he looked down at their formal attire.  “After the awards ceremony.”

“After the awards ceremony,” Madeline repeated.

Dreamers – part eight

I ended up writing quite a bit more this morning, since I wanted to get the picture incorporated into the story.  I also wanted to finish the scene, which I’m rather pleased with.  I find that I really like the relationship that’s developing between Taurys and Felicja.  They have a fun interplay going on.

**

As Gilbert tucked the communicator away, he gave Taurys a weak smile.  The agent was looking at him with a strange expression.  “What?” he said, as his cheeks warmed.  He turned away to hide the flush of color.

“I didn’t say anything,” Taurys said.  Then, he looked up towards the strange formation in front of them.  He could understand why it was called “The Mushroom” now that he saw it face to face.  It was at least as tall as the cliffs that surrounded them.  However, it looked as though someone had built a town on top of a hill and then carved out the surrounding earth until they’d left a narrow pillar to support the town.

There was a small group of buildings at the base of the pillar and a few more partway up.  However, most of the activity seemed to be at the very top.  “Are all the IIA bases strange?” he asked, giving Felicja a sidelong glance.

“Pretty much,” she said, nodding.  She shrugged and then headed towards the base of the pillar.  Waving at the group of buildings that was nestled at the base, she said, “The bottom is where we keep the prison.  The stuff on the top is devoted to different research and development.”

“That’s where the RX-8 prototype is being stored,” Gilbert said, his voice faint.

Taurys nodded slightly and then focused his attention on the torrent of water that was streaming down from the top of the mushroom formation, into a lake below.  There was another stream that came from partway up the pillar and tumbled down the side, like a more traditional waterfall.  “What’s the water?”

“Runoff,” Gilbert said, shrugging.  He pointed towards the top and said, “It rains and most of that lands up there.  This area is… well, the top acts sort of like a giant umbrella.”

Taurys nodded again and then fell silent as he thought about the situation.  As they approached the prison complex, he glanced over at Gilbert.  “You didn’t tell Madeline who we were going to see,” he said, his voice faint.

“She’d worry,” he said, his voice faint.  They both knew, only too well, what had happened the last time he’d come face to face with Elena Alexandrova.

“Something I need to know?” Felicja said, glancing at the two men.  Taurys arched an eyebrow at Gilbert, who shifted uncomfortably in his seat.  When neither of them spoke up, she heaved a sigh.  Locking her gaze on Gilbert, she said, “Spill.”

“It’s… nothing,” Gilbert said.

“She tried to kill him,” Taurys said, his voice soft.  He looked at Felicja and nodded.  “The last time that he was in the same room as Dr. Alexandrova, she did something and… it was as if Gilbert couldn’t breathe.”

“It was some… hypnosis or something,” Gilbert said, keeping his gaze locked out the window at the passing scenery.

Felicja nodded and straightened in her seat.  “You aren’t going to be speaking to her directly,” she said.  “You can go in another room and tell Taurys what to ask her.”  Gilbert looked at her sharply, but she frowned at him and he sighed.

“Yeah, fine,” he said, crossing his arms over his chest.  Slumping down in his seat, he said, “Whatever.”

More

Dreamers – Part 7

Here we are with another section of this story.  I used a word prompt from the NaNoWriYe DreamWidth for this one.  It’s been a fun challenge to get these to fit with where the story needs to go.

**

Prompt: Downtown

Madeline was watching Gretchen as she scanned the racks of clothing. She knew her daughter wanted to look at the short skater skirts and tank tops with their plunging necklines that were on the racks not far away. However, she couldn’t help but smile as the girl ground her teeth and perused the floral a-lines and smock blouses that were closer at hand.

Erik was keeping himself amused by playing with a puzzle he’d found in the toy section. If he managed to solve it before they were done, Madeline knew they wouldn’t be buying it. However, she also wasn’t about to make him wait for them to finish shopping without doing anything.

“Mama,” Gretchen said, holding up a pretty skirt that had flowers embroidered at the hem. “Is this one all right?” From her tone, Madeline knew her daughter was frustrated by her limitations, both due to the selection and her parents’ rules.

“You really don’t care much for flowers, do you?” Madeline said. When Gretchen shrugged, Madeline stepped closer to her. Taking the skirt, she looked it over for a moment before holding it up against her daughter’s slender frame. It fell to just above Gretchen’s knee. Her friends wore their skirts much shorter, but Madeline knew Gilbert would prefer something longer. This seemed like a fair compromise.

“No shorter,” she said, as she set the garment in her shopping basket. When Gretchen sighed, she smiled. “You’re twelve, Gretchen. Enjoy being young while you can. Worry about dressing like a grown woman when you are one.”

“Yes, Mama,” Gretchen said, rolling her eyes and turning back to the rack where she’d found the only acceptable skirt so far.

“Mama,” Erik called, holding up the communication device she’d given him to keep an eye on. “It’s vibrating.”

Madeline stepped over to her son and took the device. Keying a button, she said, “Go for Dreamer.”

Gilbert’s voice came through the speaker in response. “Hey, Dreamer,” he said. “Sleeper, here. We’re heading for the Mushroom, but… Can you meet us at the Mall later? We have something we need your help with.”

“I’ll be there around fourteen hundred,” she said, glancing at her watch. “I’m shopping with the kids at the moment.”

“Hey, cool,” Gilbert replied. “The boy needs a suit for that thing at the end of the month – at least a new waistcoat and matching tie, maybe a shirt.”

“Got it,” Madeline said. As she ended the conversation, she smiled at Erik. His expression was like a prisoner who’d just learned it was time for his execution. “It’s not that bad,” she said, shaking her head.

“It’s torture,” he said, looking back down at his puzzle. He sighed as he popped a piece off and the rest of the pieces came apart. “Solved it,” he said, as he put it back together.

“How do you do that?” Gretchen said, as she added two more skirts and three blouses to Madeline’s shopping basket. “You picked that up… like, twenty minutes ago and it has a tag on it that says, ‘hours of play’.”

“It wasn’t that hard,” Erik said, shrugging.

Shaking her head, Gretchen tapped the skirts. “Same design, different embroidery,” she said. “The blouses have… like sweetheart necklines that go to here.” She set her hand at her chest, just below her neck.

“That should be fine,” Madeline said, smiling. She took the puzzle toy from Erik and set it down on a shelf. One of the workers would put it back where it belonged later. “Time for more shopping, Erik.”

“Why doesn’t Papa use our names?” Gretchen said, shaking her head. “I’m always the girl and Erik is the boy.”

“Protocol,” Madeline said, shrugging. “You don’t have codenames, so he uses something else that works to identify you without speaking your name.”

“A codename would be cool,” Erik said. He looked thoughtful and said, “I could be… like, solver or something.”

“I’ll give the suggestion to the Boss,” she said, smiling. Then, she ushered the children towards the shopkeeper, so they could make their purchases. This shop had some boys’ clothing, but there was a better selection of formal wear in the shops downtown.

Dreamers – Part 6

So, today’s section was written using a picture prompt from NaNoWriYe’s DreamWidth.  When I first saw this image, I wasn’t sure what I’d do with it.  It seemed to work pretty well for Dr. Beaumont, however.

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The next morning, Gilbert headed down to the laboratory to speak with Dr. Beaumont.  He frowned when he saw that she had two fishbowls in front of her.  One bowl had two fish swimming around in it, while the other only had water in it.  He watched as she turned a dial and, to his surprise, one of the fish leapt into the other bowl.  A moment later, the second fish jumped over.

“All right,” he said, blinking.

Dr. Beaumont turned the dial back the other direction and then glanced over her shoulder at him.  “Good morning, Dr. Schneider,” she said.  “I trust you slept well?”

“For the most part,” he said, nodding.

“And did Taurys also sleep well?” she asked.  When Gilbert’s brows furrowed, she said, “I ask because he told Marian that he sometimes has difficulties sleeping.  He said it was something you had been helping him with, no?”

“No,” Gilbert said, shaking his head.  Then, he blinked and said, “I mean… he doesn’t have much trouble sleeping anymore, although he did at first.”

“He… lied, then?”

When Gilbert nodded, she hopped to her feet and went over to a file that was resting on her desk.  “This I find to be interesting, Dr. Schneider,” she said.

“People lie every day,” Gilbert said, shrugging.  “He probably wanted an excuse to ask where I was, so that he could eavesdrop on our conversation.”

“People lie, yes,” Dr. Beaumont said, as she wrote on a page in her file.  “Computer, even ones as complex as the RX program crafted, however… These do not lie, Dr. Schneider.”

“Oh, right,” Gilbert said, blinking.  He watched as she closed the file and moved to return to her fish.  Whatever she was doing, she probably couldn’t tell him about, so he decided not to even ask.  “Anyway, I needed to contact headquarters.  We need to speak with Dr. Alexandrova and… yeah, she’s in the Mushroom, so…” he trailed off, shrugging.

Dr. Beaumont frowned and nodded.  “Do you think that Director Williams will allow such a thing?” she asked.

“I have to ask,” Gilbert said, shrugging.

Nodding again, Dr. Beaumont pointed to a computer on her desk.  “You can call him through that,” she said.

“Thanks,” Gilbert said.  He stepped over to the computer and then pressed a few keys.  After a moment, a small video window appeared on the screen.  The seal of the International Intelligence Agency, with its shining lighthouse appeared on the screen briefly before Dr. Williams appeared.  Grinning, Gilbert said, “Hey, Boss.”

“Dr. Schneider,” Arthur said, his brows furrowing.  “What can I do for you this lovely day?”

“Tinker had one of her dreams again,” Gilbert said.  He shrugged.  “We need a word with Dr. Alexandrova.  Can you okay a visit to the Mushroom for us?”

“That depends on what Dr. Beaumont has to say about Singer,” he said.  He glanced beyond Gilbert and said, “Your report, Doctor?”

Gilbert slid to one side and gave Dr. Beaumont a faint smile.  She nodded once.  “I will have the formal report sent out by the end of the day,” she said.  “However, even now I can tell you that Singer is conscious – as much as you are.  He is completely trusting toward Dr. Schneider and, very likely, loyal to him as well.  I see no reason to believe that the consciousness of Agent Liutauras Kaslauskas is not inside PL-1.  For all intents and purposes, Singer is Agent Kaslauskas.”

“Thank you, Doctor,” Arthur said, nodding.  He looked over at Gilbert.  “Your papers will be there by noon, Dreamer.”

“Thanks, Boss,” Gilbert said, smiling.  As soon as the screen went dark, he nodded at Dr. Beaumont.  “Thank you very much.”

“I only spoke to what I know as truth,” she said.  Nodding, she added, “I wish you well, Dr. Schneider.  Have care with Dr. Alexandrova.  She is a completely deceitful person.  You cannot believe everything that she says.”

“I know,” he said, grimacing.  “It’s a chance we’ll have to take.”

Dreamers – Part 5

This story is starting to really come together.  I really like how it’s going too.  Ilya was a fun character and I liked his interactions with Taurys, so it’ll be fun to be able to bring him back.

(Which makes me realize that I may have to post the other stories in this universe someplace.)

**

Prompt: Mute

Felicja felt as though she was watching everything from outside of her body.  It was a strange sensation – as if she were floating, weightless, just above the ground.  What was even stranger was that she didn’t recognize the place.

She frowned trying to make sense of what she was seeing.  There were computer monitors and high tables with test tubes and beakers and… “It’s a lab,” she murmured.  She floated over to a tube.  It looked almost like a decompression chamber, but she knew that wasn’t what it was.  It was something else – something worse.

A terrified scream split the air and Felicja gasped whirling around towards the doors as they opened.  Her eyes widened in shock as she saw a woman she didn’t know pushing a gurney into the room.  The man strapped to that gurney was the one who had screamed.  He was sobbing, now and struggling helplessly against the straps that held him in place.

“Eliasz?” she breathed.  She hadn’t seen him in over ten years, but there was no doubt in her mind that this was the father of her children.  She glared at the woman.  “What are you doing to him?” she said, trembling with anger.

The woman didn’t seem to hear or see her.  Instead, she shook her head at Eliasz.  “It didn’t have to come to this, Putin,” she said.  “If you’d just been able to capture Dr. Schneider…”

“I tried, Elena,” he said, his voice cracking.  “That’s got to count for something!”  He whimpered as she wheeled the gurney towards the chamber.  “Please, please, please!  Give me another chance!  Director Petrov, please!”

Felicja followed his gaze and saw another man.  He was tall and pale and she knew him in a heartbeat.  He was Ivan Petrov, the director of Veligradian Intelligence.

“You will serve us well, Ilya,” he said.  Then he smiled as he added, “As you served us well in life.”

Felicja blinked as she realized what they’d called him: Ilya Putin.  She frowned at the struggling man on the bed as the pieces fell into place.  That was why he’d left her: because he was a Veligradian agent.

“The cryochamber isn’t painful,” the woman said, as she closed the door.  She hit several buttons and frost covered the inside of the chamber.

Felicja woke with a shrill scream, reaching for Eliasz and knowing that he was gone.  She blinked as she realized that someone was sitting beside her bed.  She blinked again as she realized who it was.  “Taurys?”

“That’s the first time you’ve actually called me by name,” he said, his voice soft.  He shrugged.  “You were crying out in your sleep.  I thought… you might not like to wake alone.”

“Thanks,” she said, her voice soft.  She shivered and rubbed the tears from her eyes.  “Do you… did you know someone named Ilya Putin?”

Blinking in confusion, Taurys nodded.  “He was… he was a dear friend,” he said, his voice faint.  “He was killed as… punishment for allowing Gilbert to escape, as I was.”

“They called it a cryochamber,” she said, nodding.  Frowning at Taurys, she said, “That woman… Elena, he called her, she said it wasn’t painful.”

“She’s wrong,” Taurys whispered.  He settled on the edge of the bed.  “How – how do you know all of this, Felicja?  How do you know Ilya?”

“I dreamed it,” Felicja said.  She shrugged.  “Happens from time to time… I have dreams of things that happened in the past.  Anyway, you knew him as Ilya Putin.  When I knew him, he was calling himself Eliasz Braginski.”

Taurys gasped.  “I – I should have known, when I heard your name,” he rasped.  He shook his head and set a hand on her shoulder.  “I don’t know if this will make you feel better or worse, Felicja but… he left you because he was recalled and – and he couldn’t think of a way to bring you with him.  He never stopped thinking about you or – or the child he knew you had.”

“Children,” Felicja said, her voice soft.  She held up two fingers and added, “We had twins.”

“If they used the cryochamber on him,” Gilbert said, startling them both.  As they turned to him, he shrugged.  “If they used the cryochamber on him, they used him for one of the RX prototypes.  Alexandrova must have stored them someplace other than the lab.”

“How many others were there?” Taurys breathed.

Gilbert chuckled wryly.  “I stole the eighth prototype, without knowing there was a ninth,” he said.  He shook his head.  “There were five that we used with bodies like yours, but I sabotaged them, so they didn’t function properly.”

“Two more, then,” Taurys said, nodding.  “Ilya and… I can’t imagine who else they might have used.”

“I think we need to have a little chat with Elena Alexandrova,” Gilbert said, nodding.  He looked at Felicja and added, “We may just have other people to test Project Lullaby on.”

“Other dreamers to wake,” Felicja said, nodding.  She grimaced.  “We’re going to need your wife to contact them.  Think she’ll be willing?”

“If I do the asking,” Gilbert said, nodding.

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