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    Reviewers (The Book, Chap 8)

    1) I am not the author, that distinction and honor belongs to "Blackie", writing in the time of 1993-94.

    2) As a further note, once this novel is completely submitted, if anyone wishes a copy in MS Word format (or for that matter any other format that the MS Word 2000 or 2003 program is capable of translating it into), please PM me and I will be glad to send it to you.
    --------------------


    Reviewers

    Jorge had been a member of the Cabal for three months when he started to see changes in himself.

    At first the thought crossed his mind another Cabal member had been meddling in his mind. He dropped the idea when he realized the thought wouldn't have struck him if it was true.

    He kept asking many questions about the Cabal. Nothing about where they'd come from, but what they did. He got some pretty boring answers back from his contact.

    Mostly, the Cabal did nothing.

    One day a summons came. The Cabal invited him, perhaps ordered him, to attend a meeting. It would be in the Catskills in New York at a one time hunting lodge. He was expected to attend.

    He felt like a gangster.

    Pine trees surrounded the lodge. It was an old building from the time of Prohibition. Seeing all the limos and the uniformed drivers made him feel even more as though he was at a gangster meet. He must've been the only one to show up without limo or driver.

    There were guards too. Only those who could control minds could get in. Anyone else would be turned back.

    There were only a dozen or so people present. The man he'd met in New York was absent. A third were women. He hadn't expected any women at all. Preconceptions about the demographics of the mind control talented hadn't led him to believe there would be any women at all.

    There was one notable man, standing out from the rest.

    The man was in a gray pair of slacks and a brown sports jacket, patched at the elbows. His eyes sunken, as though he didn't sleep, hidden behind wire rimmed glasses, and his hair a tossled gray-black. Cleanshaven, the fellow carried himself as though this was simply an entertaining exercise. He spoke to no one, and there was a conspicuous area around him no one else walked into.

    Jorge got a drink, gin and tonic, and walked towards the unusual member. He didn't make it before a thin, wispish man, with an unidentifiable accent announced everyone was present. The meeting would begin immediately in the next room.

    ------------------------------------------------------------------------

    The room was a sunken amphitheater. Seating was on carpeted tiers with a space in the middle for speakers. The wispish guy was standing there, waiting for everyone to settle in. Behind him was an exit, an open door with curtains to the side.

    "It's been a year since our last meeting. While there are no real changes to announce..."

    "There never is." A woman in red, holding a tall glass of something white was the source of this interjection. The wispish fellow stared in rebuke for a moment, then continued.

    "We need to reaffirm the leadership positions. And there is one piece of new business."

    He turned towards Jorge. Everyone looked his direction. The tall Dane felt self conscious for the first time since acquiring the talent. The feeling was somewhat foreign to him now, yet he knew he was on the spot.

    "Mr. Dansen is a new member. Unlike most new Voices, he is curious about us, rather than fearful, the preferred response." A light chuckle passed through the gathered men and women.

    "The Inquisitor," with this, the man nodded at the fellow in the brown sports jacket, "requested he be invited. Any new blood we get willing to participate in our activities is worth investigating. Please step down here Mr. Dansen."

    Jorge summoned his own reserves and stepped out where everyone could see him. The looks he got were curious, but not interested in him. They seemed concerned about whether he was a threat. He could sense mind probes being aborted, it wasn't considered proper to probe another member.

    The man identified as Inquisitor also stepped down to the middle joining the master of ceremonies and Jorge.

    "Unless someone thinks we need to replace the Inquisitor...?," a paused followed. "Fine," he lowered his voice. "Jorge, please go with the Inquisitor. We're just curious because you've asked so many questions. Everything will be fine. Just get along now.

    "Okay, other business. Anyone want the job of High Senate Speaker? Speak up, I've been doing this too long already..."

    There was laughter as Jorge was drawn away by the Inquisitor. The sounds of a beginning debate were murmurs of discussion, not the heated rancor he was accustomed to from small political bodies.

    Jorge found himself led out the nearby door. The curtains were drawn behind, then the door closed. The spectacled gentleman led him to a room with a pool table, soft red velvet chairs all around.

    "Rack 'em. We may as well play as we speak. Eight ball." The man took his jacket off, setting it carefully across one of the chairs. "I'm Charles. I have the responsibility of policing for the Cabal."

    "Am I in some kind of trouble?," asked Jorge. He looked about for another exit, but ended up finding the rack and a cue stick. The balls fit neatly into the rack.

    "No, nothing like that. But we rarely get new members who are interested in what goes on in the Cabal. Our real purpose is to minimize the threat a rogue Voice may represent." He broke, balls rolling slowly to a halt around the table.

    "Rogue voice?" Jorge sank a solid, tried to line up another shot only to have the cue ball drop.

    "Some idiot who draws attention to the rest of us."

    "Is this a frequent threat?"

    "No, since the rogue is likely to be poorly practiced, and real obvious about how he makes trouble. We even know there are a lot of Voices out there we can't find, simply because they just don't have the ambition to make the kind of waves we worry about. We don't care about them." Charles stood, holding the cue ball as though it might escape too.

    "You worried about me though?"

    "Nope. You've been at it a while from what I understand. No. In your case, I'm recruiting."

    Jorge looked at Charles, seeking deceit. He dared not probe, no telling what could happen. He stepped back and lowered his head, forcing his eyes to peer at his host through the visible hairs of his eyebrows.

    "You'd be recruiting to help catch anyone breaking Cabal rules?"

    "You may have figured out by now there aren't exactly rules so much as an expected behavior. Mostly a reasonable level of caution with the mutes. There would be a very brutal war if we couldn't maintain a tight rein on a general consensus in the Cabal. I wish there was more I could do, but too many innocents would die."

    "What do you expect me to do?"

    "It depends. May I probe you?"

    "I'm not fond of the idea, I'd rather you didn't."

    "Oh, I want you to stop me. Do everything you can to stop me. In fact, if you can control me, they'll make you Inquisitor. But I'm going to have to probe you anyway, since you've met most of the leadership now."

    "Really?"

    "Not because you're dangerous, but because you're so new, yet so experienced we don't know what to make of you. You ready?"

    "Okay, but I'm not happy about this..."

    The onslaught began. The two men slashed probes out, battering each other's advances aside. The spear like thrusts of one would be met by a wall like barrier of the other. Jorge staggered under one slamming hammer blow, only to deal out a sledge hammer stroke in return. Then the attacks drew on images of animals wrestling with each other, great tigers, lions, and monstrous creatures of the imagination. The battering seemed to Jorge to last immeasurably long.

    The clatter of a dropped cue stick passed quickly, nothing changed by the event.

    Soon the two were nearly kneeling, sweating from the invisible struggle, which sapped strength with psychic blows of enormous proportions. Neither had penetrated the other's defenses when Charles held up a hand.

    "Stop."

    And with the ceased effort of their minds, Jorge collapsed in a nearby chair. Charles remained leaning, with effort, on the edge of the pool table.

    "I can see we're well matched," came panting from Charles.

    "I guess," said Jorge.

    "I can't say I've come across anyone as strong as you in my life. Even my predecessor couldn't stand toe to toe with me. God, where did you pick up your Voice?"

    "It doesn't matter, does it?" Jorge felt a certain concern, that he safeguard his source of knowledge.

    "Only a little. God gives us the Voice. We're born with it. But something awakens it. I've always thought the cause affects the strength. I really am interested in how you're talent awoke but you needn't tell me."

    Jorge shook his head. He remained quiet at the invitation to speak.

    "I'll tell you my story though. My mother was a whore. She often brought the johns home, since otherwise she'd have to pay for the room. Made more money. She always referred to the johns as 'uncles'. On occasion I wasn't quick enough to hide in my room and the johns would hit me for being too slow. My Voice came to me when one of my 'uncles' was beating me. My emotions rode the strength of the Voice to stop him. He died immediately," Charles paused. He slid into one of the chairs opposite Jorge. "Heaven forgive me. Then my mother turned me out into the night.

    "It wasn't until I found the Cabal that I found a sense of purpose. Personally, I'm disgusted we don't have a much more strict set of rules, but open warfare between Voices could kill millions of people. Afterwards we'd all be hunted like animals.

    "What I need is good help. Ideally, I'd like to find people with the Voice before they learn to use it. To help them develop in a more healthy way. Realistically, we never find them before their habits are formed, like yours.

    "At least you turn your women loose quickly and don't steal using the Voice. That crew out there," he waved a hand the direction of the amphitheater, "have some pretty incredible vices. The woman in the red dress has been getting even with men for years. Not one of her toys escapes being marked forever. Every now and then I've got to save one before she kills him. I think she's passed from sheer vengeance into the realm of vindictiveness. I can't even mention what the Speaker likes to do..."

    "Sounds bad," said Jorge. "So?"

    "Yeah," Charles nodded, "On the whole they're pretty tame compared with anyone I have to censure permanently."

    "Permanently?"

    "You can lose your Voice, if we have no other way to keep you from calling attention to us. That's my job. I'm the one, the one they call on to do it. If I can't do it, we have assassins... but we've only done that once while I've held the position. I fear I'm condemned to Hell already."

    "You've had people killed? Where does that leave me if I don't want to help? Are you going to kill me too?"

    "No. You'll just have to consider this a warning about drawing attention to the talent if you're not interested in helping. I don't want to use harsh methods, but I'm not afraid to. I can't afford to let the run of the mill megalomaniacs get all of us killed."

    "Okay, I understand." He rose, and walked a few steps, "I'd being willing to help, I'm bored lately."

    "I thought as much when you kept asking questions. I've an assignment for you, in Chicago."

    "Chicago?"

    "Chicago. I'll have a packet for you before you leave today."

    When he left, he was bound for the airport. Charles had even booked a first class seat for him to the Windy City.

    Chicago was a simple exercise. The ill mannered Voice was trying to control the city council. In many other cities there would be little doubt it was unusual. In Chicago, just about everyone assumed the fix was happening behind closed doors. Jorge easily affected a change in the rogue, leaving behind a quiet unassuming individual without any unusual talents.

    He was proud of himself. He had averted a power hungry idiot whose actions could eventually lead to armed intervention. He probably saved an untold number of lives.

    Yes, the pride he'd felt as a child returned. He felt a return of accomplishment, lost when he believed his talent was unique and completely unrestricted. Apathy had been driven out in favor of action.

    There were obstacles he would overcome ahead. No longer a sure thing this talent, there would be challenges for his skill to tackle. His head rose a few inches higher was he left Chicago.

    ------------------------------------------------------------------------

    New Mexico was hot but dry.

    Las Cruces lies at the southern tip of the San Andres Mountains, along that part of the Rio Grande north of the Mexican border. To the northwest Jorge had seen Elephant Butte and Caballo Reservoirs as his plane came in. The expanses of water seemed out of place in the arid climate.

    The Voice he was to visit was reputedly involved in local politics. The bent to control the world was the worst problem he dealt with on a regular basis. Charles seemed genuinely pleased with his work though.

    He settled into a hotel, rented a car and started off to the local address he'd been given. The address wasn't hard to get to, just a little north, out of town. It was a ranch, very western in appearance, as though someone was living partly in the past.

    The ranch was large. Guards at the gate tried stopping him at first, but they agreed quickly he should go on by. They soon forgot him completely.

    The porch out front was gray brown. He climbed the steps and looked around. The wood clumped at him as he walked about looking in the windows. The door in the middle of the porch had a button at the side for the bell. He ignored the bell.

    Entering the wooden ranch house, he noted its appearance. Rustic style was the main decor. Bull's horns, old saddles, retired pistols, wagon wheels, spurs, and occasionally an antique picture of a cowboy adorned the walls. The only carpet was a narrow and worn red strip of clothe up the stairs.

    He was met by a surprised servant in the dining room. The servant forgot him quickly, returning to dusting the furniture. The table was large enough for twenty or more. The dusting would keep this person busy for some time.

    Jorge went up the stairs and found the place empty. He settled into a bedroom, sitting in a large chair by the front window. He waited. The sun watched him through the window. He imagined the dim light in the long winters in Denmark.

    A short time later a pink convertible pulled up. A woman in stylized western clothing, right down to the boots, stepped out. She looked over at his car and almost danced as she hopped up to the house.

    Sounds of human voices rose from downstairs. He smiled. He knew the cleaning would still be occupying the poor servant. No, she hadn't seen anybody. Was there really a car out front, she hadn't noticed. He imagined the conversation ending with, what was obviously justified concern on the modern cowgirl's face.

    Resounding clopping came from the stairs. The boots thudded along in the hallway as she walked through rooms on the second floor. She stepped through the door, seeing Jorge for the first time. His slacks, t-shirt and loafers must have seemed out of place, she was staring.

    "Just how did you get in here?"

    "I'm waiting for someone. You wouldn't know Pat Morick, would you?"

    "I'm Pat Morick, but you better have one hell of a good reason for being here buster, or you're in a lot of trouble."

    "Oh my," he hadn't expected the Voice to be a woman. On reflection she could prove very entertaining. Her figure more visible here than through the window.

    She wore heavy jeans, a western yoke shirt with a string tie serving to accent her chest's curves. The boots were up her calves three quarters of the way to her knees. The hips a bit wide, but seemed to match the bone structure she carried. The shoulders were wide too, holding the shirt out almost square without padding.

    Her face was pink, with dimpled cheeks, a pug nose, wide lips and alert angry eyes. Sun bleached hair trimmed to the shoulders, she wore it held back by a pair of clips on either side. Her hands were clenched into little fists, braced atop her hips.

    "You've been naughty, Pat. The Cabal doesn't like political entanglements. It gets the wrong kind of attention."

    He smiled at her and lashed a mind probe forward, symbols of control to implant in her brain.

    She gasped. Her body flung back against the wall as though he'd struck her, hands to the side to support her stance. It was only a snap muscle reaction causing her backwards motion, physical force from him causing none of her movement.

    She lowered her head and concentrated a stare on him. His initial probe failed to gain entry. Now he slapped aside a counter thrust. She needled with jabs at his barriers.

    To prevent outside interference, he got up, walked to the door and closed it. It came as no surprise to him he could do this while they dueled. Yet she seemed unable to deal with physical movement while engaged in the mind battle. He sought about for any distraction to cause her attack to slow down. He needed to resume his own.

    She furiously surged energy waves of thought at him. He could make out crude control symbols in her attack, but couldn't do much more than stop them. Her brain was well protected by her own frantic efforts.

    Charles was the only Voice he'd met so far with this kind of strength.

    An idea crept up as his attacks against her mind failed again. Time stretched out. She managed to stand again, trying to strike him with her fists.

    While the main bout was thrashing in their minds, he grabbed hold of her slender wrists. They were strong, but her skin soft to the touch. He dragged her bodily to the bed. She barely had enough control over her actions to put up a resistance. It was weak resistance, but resistance none the less.

    "Get off me asshole!" she screamed. "Keep your filthy hands off me!"

    "You can submit and make this unnecessary," he snarled back. "I don't need you for sex, but I'll use any weapon to control you right now."

    Clawing his face kept him away from her shirt for a moment. He was able with one hand to pin her arms above her head. With the other he drew her face to him as he forcefully kissed her mouth. She bit him, drawing a little blood.

    "Bitch!" he snapped.

    His anger rose within. But also some compassion. He didn't like doing it this way, but to control her mind he needed somehow to distract her. He wouldn't fail, causing Charles to use an assassin, he simply would not.

    Symbols for sexual pleasure were a simple matter. Remembering he didn't plant them in the brain most of the time, he began adding surging heat to her loins. He forced the tickling sensation of lust through her chest, and successfully drove visual desire into her eyes symbols.

    She felt the betrayal of her body. The pleasure overcoming her painful physical resistance. Separation of mind and body, a step aside, as though a broken network was trying to reconnect itself. She still controlled her actions, but no longer was her sense of feel her own.

    "Okay motherfucker, you want to screw? We'll screw. But you won't like it much once I've got you!" a wildcat snarl verbally snapped at him.

    She began to trying to bite him, the battle of mental energies continuing. The rape of her body was only a secondary front to the rape of her will he was trying to commit.

    Kissing her became a battle itself. Her tongue tried to bruise his, teeth gnashing at any penetration he made to her mouth. She'd converted her own desires to acts of violent arousal, a severe counter rape of him. Although giving in to the sexual aspect of the combat, she was determined to fight for dominance in the act of sex as well.

    He pulled away her shirt, tearing it into long strips of clothe as he attacked her. Her breasts, still strapped into the bra she wore, stretched the fabric remaining, nipples aroused to hard nodules. Her hands, now free, began to tear away his t-shirt.

    Boots clattered to the floor behind him. Her humping body lunged against his groin, whether to injure or excite he couldn't tell. He fumbled with her snaps and zipper at her waist. She tried to twist their bodies to attain superior position on top. He used the strength in his upper torso throwing her back again.

    He stripped away the pants she wore, exposing slender curves, muscled from exercise. He now had a view of pale, formerly concealed skin. Her panties had come off with the pants, exposing a polygon shape of curly hair at her pubic region. Her hips still seeming wide, were rolling lightly with excitement.
    The final removal of her bra revealed a pair of firm white knockers, tipped with small, sharp nipples. The nipples were erect from the exertion of wrestling against him.

    She clawed at his back to pull him against her. Her teeth plunged into his shoulder as her excitement grew more evident. He slapped her face for the brutal biting. But the bright red palm mark seemed only to excite her more. Jorge was puzzled by this, but the psychic battle was still lashing away and he couldn't afford to wonder much.

    She believed he'd lose control using physical force. She was accustomed to being vicious and brutal. He, she believed, was not. This could give her the edge she needed, if she could draw the violence out of him.

    She whimpered with the next blow he delivered. Finding her hands pinned again, she tried squirming around to get out from underneath, only to find his free fingers were twisting her nipples. The heat this sent through her body elicited a deep moan of pleasure.

    Her body yielded in pleasure to him. He struggled to avoid the temptation to give in to the brutality she encouraged. She continued to claw him, whenever she could get a hand free.

    "yesss!" she whispered, arousal reaching her voice. The violence was remarkably bringing her lust to a boil. She seemed to enjoy being combative, thriving on the thrill, the power, the struggle.

    The mental violation was moving slowly as well. His successful probes were surface in nature, only now gaining control over the helpless body beneath him. She remained in control over her mind behind the body, but physical resistance was ebbing completely.

    Her movements became more supple. The eyes she focused on him hazed with lust. He could feel heat rising within her. A hint of humiliation rose inside her, losing her control of her now helpless body.

    She was panting and gasping for breath, both excited and frantic. The adrenaline rush, coming from both fear and lust, gave her a boost.

    Her legs opened to him now. The pink wet opening exposed for his use. His own cock was still somewhat limp, but he could feel it hardening as he felt her gyrations beneath him. He no longer needed to hold her arms pinned. And her thin, almost bony, fingers began massaging the trunk of his prick.

    He could still hear her mind voice ordering him off her body, but her mouth, swollen from passionate and lust driven kisses, widened into a smile.

    "Yes," he made her say, "Yes I want you. I want to be your sex toy."

    He could feel a deepening sense of humiliation seep through her inner mind, overcoming barriers remaining. He plunged into her, feeling the moist tissue engulf his prick as her eyes rolled closed and he forced moans from her throat. As he reached the depths of her vagina, another phallic thought probe breached her mind. She was now his, only the tiniest vestige of resistance remaining.

    The power he had over her was strong, an aphrodesiac of great proportion. He pummeled against her groin, watching her face contort with unexpected pleasure.

    "Yes! Yes! YES!" her mouth cried.

    He no longer had to actively control her body to elicit response. She joined willingly in the act now. Knowing only slightly it was his will she served.

    She screamed, physical orgasm penetrating to where he'd planted his controls. Her body was completely clenched, red tipped fingers tightly fisted against her eyes and mouth. She was almost totally overcome inside.

    With his cock still wet from her, he rolled her over, making her kneel. Determined to overcome that last holdout at the back of her now little mind, he forced his entry into her ass. She squealed in pain. His dominance needed a further step to strip her of her last hold on herself.

    "NO! You'll hurt me!," she cried out. Her last little iota of control rose up, trying once more to batter back his ownership of her body.

    "You deserve to be hurt, remember? You wanted me to hurt you just a minute ago. It's what you want."

    "Yes. Yes I want it," he forced her to say. "Please, use me again!"

    Again the humiliation rose within and he fostered it with reinforcing symbols inside her. The deeply hidden nugget of self she'd withheld cracked. She cried on the bed underneath him, the last holdout allowed a moment to show defeat. He pressed his prick deeper into her nether hole.

    He owned her soul now too. He held her mind cradled in the bindings his manipulation had created within her.

    He began to move in and out, forcing her body to feel pleasure from being used. He let her come again, screaming with joy, before he allowed his own heat to rise. He owned her completely now. There was no last reserve.

    With a sudden plunge, his seed entered her ass. She seemed lost in exhaustion when he finally grunted out his orgasm. It was a good release. A great way to end the brutal battle.

    He started to change her, engineering a new personality.

    ------------------------------------------------------------------------

    Jorge found a phone and made a call.

    "You got the one in New Mexico?" came the familiar voice.

    "Yes Charles. I wish you'd tell me in the future what gender the Voice is."

    "Come now Jorge, where's the fun in that?"

    "She's controlled by me now. She's almost as strong as you or I. We can probably use her in our duties."

    "Really?"

    "Really. I had to take her. She wouldn't submit willingly, and now she's totally available for our purposes."

    "I've seen her picture. Have you...?"

    "Yes, and I will again, but you won't."

    "Now Jorge, you know I don't force my partners. God forbid. Not even using the Voice. I even find it a little disturbing when you do." There was a pause. "Your next assignment is in Texas. Pretty close to where you are now, a little south."

    "Oh yeah?"

    "El Paso..."

    ------------------------------------------------------------------------

    A foul taste in his mouth woke him up.

    Bob looked around the room he'd confiscated for concealment. The room was a partial shambles. It appeared a construction crew at work wasn't finished and left furniture in place as they fumbled about.

    Among a handful of other objects there was the bed he was sharing with the naked girl at his side. She was smiling with the innocence of one whose problems would be solved for her.

    He traced a finger along her pert breast, allowing himself to rub the nipple with the palm of his hand. She started to smile, stretching and exposing her other breast to his perusal. She blinked open her eyes, inviting him to use her again by spreading her arms wide.

    He was slightly disgusted. Partly with himself, for allowing himself to take her, mostly because of the situation. It would have been great fun if he were less harried by fear. But then, maybe he'd take her again now.

    Miki seemed to be thriving on the threat of capture. She writhed beneath the hands as they milked her nipples. Her head was moving in rhythm, chin jutting out, as he worked a pattern of manipulation into the action.

    He moved so his hips were above her head. Tilting her face all the way back, he could enter her mouth. With her neck stretched out, he had an easy entry deep inside past her tongue. The twitching tongue in her mouth was caressing the top of his prick as he worked in and out of her.

    With his balls bouncing against her nose and eyes, the sense of being deep in her throat was impressive. He could see her hips bucking as he pushed in past her lips. Her hand worked into the folds of her soaking wet flesh.

    As she sucked at him, he could feel familiar heat growing in him. The surge was coming, moving beyond stopping now. She swallowed, and swallowed again as a second, lighter surge pulsed through his cock.

    He pulled out of her mouth. She fingered herself, unaware she used to hate the idea of masturbating. A moan came from the puffy red lips, and her tongue licked, putting pressure against herself. He blocked her from coming though, so she became more frantic in her attempts at self fulfillment.

    Using his talent on himself, he sent arousal signals through his own prick. A second hard on came very quickly. She seemed genuinely surprised, perhaps not knowing how much control was possible.

    Lifting her tight legs over his shoulders he teased at making entry to her hungry pussy.

    "Oh please, I want you in me. I need it now."

    "You say the nicest things. How about telling me how good I am?"

    "You're the best. No one's ever been better. I love your prick inside my cunt. Can't you tell?"

    He chortled. It was unnecessary to force her to praise him, but power was so satisfying. And underneath the layer of controls he'd placed she felt a thrill submitting herself to him.

    The enlarged prick slipped smoothly into her soaking wet cunt. The fit wasn't tight, but the velvet smoothness invigorated him. He worked his way in and out. While he did, she thrashed about, struggling for release. He pulled the nervous system stops out of the way, allowing her to pump the sexual energy throughout her body.

    Her orgasm was strong, but she muffled the screech trying to come out. Energy sapped from her body, she began to go limp. He pumped in a last time, using the symbols to draw forth a spurt of his semen within her. It wasn't the best, but still, it was a good release, a jump start orgasm for the morning.

    Pulling out, he sat up at the edge of the bed. He stared off into space for a few minutes. The woman behind him began to snore again. He grinned thinking how exhausted he left her.

    He stank.

    There was a bathroom. Trying the door, it opened. The plumbing appeared to be complete, so he tried the water. It was working well enough so he started the shower.

    Clearing away some of the junk by the bathroom door kept him busy while the water warmed up. Rummaging about turned up a few clean towels. A well used hunk of soap shortly drew attention to itself as well.

    The warm water brought feeling back to his skin, muscles relaxed from the cramps developed in the uncomfortable strange bed. Rivulets of water tickled his senses, the dream quality of flowing water allowed him escape for the moment.

    He imagined escaping with the water through the drain.

    ------------------------------------------------------------------------

    The helicopter rose in the bright morning light. The four story building below shrank rapidly.

    He couldn't take any chances. The spark remained on the loose. It wasn't clear how the spark had gotten loose, but the assumption had to be made; there was a flaw in the mind shields. A new development, and a fearful one.

    The new wild spark was more dangerous than the visitors with their guns yesterday. This threat allowed no counter action if he remained here. Thadeous felt forced to flee.

    He left Jones to fend for himself. The man knew an awful lot about the operation. Yet someone with both authority and initiative had to be left in control until the spark was found.

    Having a spark break in was frightening too. Something was wrong, but the records here were limited to discovering, catching and studying the sparks. None of the Institute's other activities would be unveiled.

    He spent the night worrying. The helicopter too late, the spark might slip into his room at any moment. Yet nothing had happened, and the flight was underway.

    He would move the operation to the Colorado facility. If the spark were caught, operations could resume as before. He wasn't counting on this possibility.

    How would he tell Jezabel?

    -----------------------------------------------------------------------

    "Mr. Jorge Dansen."

    Cobwebs parted from his eyes to display a man in an immaculately pressed suit. The sounds hadn't yet sunk in, his ears uncertain he'd actually heard his surname. He couldn't turn his head for some reason.

    "Jorge? Ah, we are awake now aren't we."

    "wherindafugami?"

    "Hm, Oh, where are you? At the Institute of course. You present us with a most unusual problem. We've never had a spark break in before. They all seem to want to break out. Can you imagine their gall, trying to leave us?"

    "waddafugyawant?"

    "Oh my. Hopefully your eloquence will pick up once the gas wears off a bit more. Your woman, the reporter, " Jones paused a moment, "she's become amorously attached to one of our inmates. An unexpected pleasure for us. The red head she likes is one of my boss's current favorites, so maybe she'll get an interview after all. Shame it'll never make the evening news though."

    "'leven 'clock, different from ev'ning news."

    "No matter, she won't be leaving us any time soon. All she wants to do is screw Heather. I watched them for a while myself. She's fun to watch by the way."

    "allyoudo?, watch? cantchagetitup?"

    The angry glare was piercing. Jones walked out of view. Jorge now realized he was tied down tightly. Very tightly. Trying his talent resulted in serious pounding pains at the back of his skull. Not that it mattered, the man from the Institute wore a device behind his ear, easily identified in this place as a mind shield.

    Jones came back after a mumble voiced discussion.

    "Where is Bob?"

    "whawho?"

    "Come now, you can't convince me your break in wasn't associated with his attempted break out. You two must be working together somehow. Where is Robert Lawrence?"

    "whoinhellis Robert Lawrence?"

    "You aren't helping yourself any," Jones waved to someone out of sight, "Take him to debriefing."

    The sound of hard leather on tiled floor, clack, clack, clack...

    "Oh Jorge," Jones paused.

    "whaddafugyawantnow?"

    "My. I arranged to sample your woman later, of course, I'll probably be far less subtle than you and cause her some injuries. You sure you don't want to tell me something before then?"

    "gofugyermudder, icangetanudderone."

    "If that's how you feel about it," he waved again.

    Jorge felt a motion and realized for the first time, he was on some kind of hospital gurney. He tried to move, but was frustrated by strong straps. There was one across his forehead. No wonder his head couldn't move.

    The wheels clicked as they moved across tiles on the floor beneath. The rhythmic sound felt like being beaten.

    What was debriefing?

    ------------------------------------------------------------------------

    Bob reached out.

    A barrier at the exterior of the building blocked him. He had to poke and prod around shields for a bit to find a hole. Somehow they seemed to be unable to perceive where overlapping shields didn't actually meet. Better yet, someone forgot to protect the floors below.

    An exit turned up for the mind probe. It amused him the plumbing probably took a similar route after all.

    He stood in the running water, and reached a long thin needle of thought towards Bambi. It was a difficult strain. Finding her mind engaged in leisure, he ignored what she was doing and planted a suggestion. No, a series of suggestions.

    He wasn't sure he could do it, but casting about from her mind he found a dozen mind shields around the house. Carefully he insinuated controls around the odd shapes of the shields, compelling the owners to new tasks.

    While he could still manage it, he found Mary and issued some instructions to her as well. The Institute had only one man watching her.

    With strain, he pushed the needle of thought to Fran, giving her duty at the bank. The Institute, probably acting on profile information, left her unwatched. If he was free, they probably reasoned he would return home or to Mary. Not the dozen or so housewives he might have used.

    He sucked in air. The water had gotten cold.

    He shivered as he dried himself.

    ------------------------------------------------------------------------

    Jones walked into Diane's new room, adjacent to Heather's.

    It was the usual Institute arrangement, a queen sized bed, a dresser, a lounge chair, some bookshelves with an assorted reading collection. There was a tightly closed window, but no bars.

    Jones smiled, subjects in these rooms never needed bars. Conditioned to remain, exceptions whose unnatural lust for the coven leader kept them passive, awaiting commands.

    He was disgusted. What gave these animals the right to have this power? He should be the one, not them. He would find a way in time. Even Thadeous would bow before him, worship at his feet! For now though, he could bide his time.

    As long as he found Bob, the little creep. Thadeous might separate him from his hide if the spark escaped. He would not tolerate Bob's continued freedom. Anyone failing in the duty to find Bob would suffer the most sever sanctions.

    He'd been an Institute man for almost fifteen years now. He knew the woman who sat before him was a threat only until Heather had had her. She was harmless now. Diane was compliant to his every wish now, Heather saw to that.

    Her poise was stoic. Not defiant, but stern, committed to servitude, yet remaining aloof. The lounge chair held her well, looking deep and comfortable.

    "Bob, Robert Lawrence," he said.

    "Pleased to meet you Bob." His eyes lit at this response.

    "You mean you never heard of Bob?"

    "Should I know you?"

    "Not me, you twit, Robert Lawrence."

    "Oh, I thought you meant you were Mr. Lawrence."

    He groaned. Damn it, the spark may have told the truth.

    "Why did you come to the Institute, Miss Towers?"

    "I got a hot tip, said you were performing brain experiments. I guess the guy on the phone was right. He works here somewhere."

    This little revelation frightened him. Then he remembered the lab techs had been isolated. Probably the one that freed Bob called her. Thadeous was right, isolating all the potentially tainted techs was necessary.

    "Yes, well you'll never leave here again, I assure you."

    "I wouldn't leave Heather. She needs me."

    He grinned. Heather had turned her out, like many of her coven members before, to work the streets for Heather's comfort. Only Heather had no idea the harlots couldn't get paid for their service here.

    "She'll be here as for as long as you will."

    "Good, I don't want to be without her."

    "Well, right now you'll take care of me. And we're going to have some fun, aren't we?" He unstrapped his belt.

    "You paid for it, er, if you're not Bob, who are you?"

    "Just call me 'Master'."

    "Yes Master."

    There was no pleasure in it for her, but Jones didn't care. She was doing this for Heather anyway. She'd be pleased when Heather told her how good she'd been.

    Heather wouldn't do that, he decided. He'd find a way to convince Heather she hadn't been paid.

    ------------------------------------------------------------------------

    Bambi was in the midst of playful activities. She vaguely knew in the back of her mind Bob modified the women to entertain each other in his absence. She couldn't change the controls he'd placed. It seemed right somehow to perform the duties he'd laid out for them.

    The sense of belonging grew, each day the fellowship she had with the other women was stronger. She was reflecting on this sense, and the sense of being at home. A good inner feeling of security. They were a family now.

    Abruptly her eyes opened, {I'm here} she projected.

    {Have fun, see you later, don't hurt them!}

    {Hurt them!? They're going to hurt me! Bob?} but he was gone again.

    Bob left a message, somewhere beneath her thoughts, she knew. She calmed herself, if he wanted her to know now, she'd know now. The message could wait.

    Just as the controls were keeping the women together for Bob, the controls would bring the message to the surface when it was time. She wouldn't find it if she tried.

    Bob's instructions found her later.

    ------------------------------------------------------------------------

    Bob came out of the bathroom, both exhausted and refreshed. At least the stink was gone, down the drain with the water.

    Miki had a grey cat on her lap and was stroking the fur to the sound of deep throated purring. He wondered only briefly where the feline critter had come from.

    "Get that thing out of here," he said.

    "Aw it's just a little kitty."

    "The damn things give me the creeps. Stupid animals anyway. How'd it get in here anyway?"

    The cat scooted away on it's own as he approached anyway. No telling where it went, much less where it came from.

    "You might want a shower."

    "I can try, how long do you think we're safe here?"

    "I'll worry about that, you've decided to let me, remember?"

    "Okay, back in a few."

    And she bounced off to the shower. A moment later a shriek came back. The water probably hadn't warmed up yet. He grinned. She should've tested the temperature before getting in, he thought.

    Gathering himself in, he began to seek out the guards, the lab people, anyone with a mind shield on. Soon, he'd find someone to suit his purposes.

    ------------------------------------------------------------------------

    Peters was walking down the hall.

    It had been another satisfying morning, observing a spark beat the pleasure out of one of his coven. Peters knew if he could find a method for anyone to do the same, he'd be given any woman he wanted. He'd be able to do the beating himself. He wouldn't have to just sit and watch.

    Somewhere in this place was a clue to how to tap the energy these sparks used. Somehow he would find it. Soon. Soon he would be in control of the women he wanted, and they would be happy to serve him.

    He was walking towards Heather's room, the path an accident, but the clue he sought wouldn't be there either...

    ------------------------------------------------------------------------

    Jorge felt the needle stab his arm. The point was hollow, he knew.
    Oddly enough, he knew these men were bored. He was another spark to examine and question.

    "It's okay, just a little thiopental. Can you count backwards from one hundred?"

    He just stared at the man in the white lab coat. Then he laughed at him. The guy shrugged and started talking about the drug and how it would affect him and the interesting time they would have together and there was a clock on the wall and he realized he'd begun to talk too and he couldn't stop and the ceiling was very odd...

    ------------------------------------------------------------------------

    The first couple guards weren't much trouble. They tipped him off to the monitoring center. The monitoring center took him a short time since they were relying on the wall shields to protect them.

    They'd made the same mistake there as with the exterior walls. Any bank officer could tell them what they'd forgotten. The number of bank robberies from tunneling under the walls led to well reinforced foundations. After all, the defense was only as strong as its weakest link.

    He was fascinated for a few minutes by the number of inmates they monitored. Most of them weren't 'sparks' though. Most inmates kept being referred to as coven members. He wondered about that.

    He began snatching up every guard he could find. Just in case his take over was interrupted he had them take off their mind shields, remove the battery, replace the little devices behind the ear and forget them.

    Then he found a most interesting development. There was a man in the interrogation room. He began to take over the techs, but the discussion was most fascinating. He had to meet this man. The idea there might be help available appealed to him.

    He continued to concentrate on taking over the entire Institute.

    ------------------------------------------------------------------------

    Men on duty as guards come in many varieties. The Institute had ensured loyalty by some reprogramming. A mild brainwashing technique since completely replaced by the use of an examination in the interesting room Bob visited early on.

    It had a certain effect on the initiative of the subjects however.

    -----------------------------------------------------------------------

    Jenkins had been walking the halls much of the morning when he stepped into the Mens room. He somehow failed to notice the device that dropped from behind his ear.

    He had been programmed to forget about it after all.

    ------------------------------------------------------------------------

    Dobson had been drinking his coffee when his keys fell to the floor. When he rose, the itch behind his ear was gone. It felt much better not to worry about whatever had been bothering his ear.

    ------------------------------------------------------------------------

    Post turned suddenly when he heard a sound on the grounds. It was another guard, but a crow would later collect a new shiny thing for its nest. The errant mind shield wasn't even noticed by Post at all.

    -----------------------------------------------------------------------

    The only reason the other guards didn't notice; they were all slipping under the control of the escaped spark.

    Bob was pleased at the speed with which the Institute was falling.

  2. #2
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