Merope A key turns, and Merope moves into her room and slumps on the bed, unsure what to do next. In her hand, her cellphone, havng just terminated another frenzied conversation in a week that was becoming full of them. Where had Maia got to?
Merope sits on her bed, staring into a large full-length mirror at the girl - or was it woman, now? neither title felt comfortable - staring back at her.
Maia There is a rustle, then a ragged cough, and then, slowly, Merope's image in the mirror wavers and vanishes, to be replaced by a familiar, staggering, bandaged figure, eyeing her intensely.
Maia "What year is this?"
Merope "What... what?"
Merope "How are you even.... you have a head wound, Maia, you got shot, you should be..."
Maia "What YEAR is this?"
Merope "It's 2008...." Merope finally grasps where this is going. "Maia, you... you've been unconcious for a day, no more."
Maia pauses for a second.
Maia "Anybody else get taken?"
Merope "Taken? No..."
Maia breathes, and slumps a bit, then straightens up.
Maia "Where's Cassiopoeia?"
Merope "Maia, you were in hospital, you need to..." Merope is stopped in mid-sentence. "Cassie? Ras... uh, she's safe I think..."
Maia "Safe from WHAT?"
Merope "I don't know, she's alive and she's with Ras and she hasn't just shot herself in the head and then vanished from her hospital room!"
Maia "Didn't you hear Johnstone? Christ, Merope, don't you ever pay attention? Cassiopeia was keeping us safe! What the fuck are we going to do now?"
Merope "How did YOU hear that? You were meant to be in a fucking COMA, Maia! How are you even here?"
Maia "Do I look like a fucking doctor to you?"
Maia "I woke up. Don't ask me how. It's not like I was fucking planning to."
Merope "But.... did you teleport or something?"
Maia "No. I broke in. Get a grip."
Merope "You just appeared in front of me!"
Maia "That's not really important."
Maia "We need to do something about this, Merope. People are in danger."
Merope "You can appear out of thin air and that's not important?"
Maia "You can fly!"
Maia "This shit is old news, baby!"
Merope "Not to me!"
Merope "And who the hell told you...." Merope realises the volume of her voice, and moderates down slightly. "Who told I could fly?"
Maia "Polaris told me on SAT day. Of course, I probably could have just checked Johnstone's files, which is what I did when she told me. But all that is besides the point, really, because you're FLYING RIGHT NOW."
Merope stares at Maia blankly for a second, as if ready to unleash a fresh volley of shouting, and then looks down. "Shit!"
Maia "You need to work on controlling that shit. Do you just burst into the air whenever anything unexpected happens?"
Maia "You must be a lot of fun in bed."
Merope falls back down onto the bed, heavily.
Merope spends a few moments staring at the floor, breathing steadily in and out.
Merope Then, quietly: "I've been working on it, with Furud...."
Maia takes a breath, then says, also quieter, "Well. Good. Keep working on it."
Maia "Right now I need your help. People could get kidnapped again. Do you want that to happen?"
Merope looks up. "Of course not."
Merope "Cassie is at Ras' house. If you need I can take you. But..."
Merope "There was.... you shot yourself in the head, Maia. Should you even be walking around? You don't look too good..."
Maia "I don't...I dunno."
Maia "What's the choice?"
Maia "Wait around in a hospital bed while people die?"
Maia "Somebody has to do something, Merope."
Merope looks at Maia skeptically, chewing her bottom lip. "...okay. But we should let Furud know, at least. He has no idea where you are..."
Merope waves the phone she was holding, vaguely.
Maia "No! No. Not...not yet."
Merope frowns. "He's worried, Maia. Antares too, probably. I mean... we all are."
Maia "They just...I mean...they're better off without me."
Maia "They'll be safer."
Merope stares at Maia, a little confidence returning. "Maia, the hospital are going to get the police involved, looking for you... and the school, Johnstone... it'll end up in the news before long. I mean, are you going to talk to anyone?"
Merope "You can't hide forever."
Maia "The fuck I can't," she says almost automatically, before really considering Merope's statement...then she looks a little more uncomfortable, but doesn't expand on it.
Merope runs a hand through her hair, brushing it away from her face. She exhales, heavily, looking away from Maia. "Shall I call Ras, then, let him know we're coming?"
Maia "How do you think he'll take it?"
Merope "Take what? The stuff about Cassie keeping us hidden?" She frowns again. "Wait... Maia, what do you want to do after you meet Cassie?"
Maia breathes heavily.
Maia "Johnstone wants to put her back."
Merope "But surely you wouldn't..."
Merope "...would you?"
Merope looks at Maia, her eyes wider now.
Merope "Maia, you can't. She's just a girl, she's blind, I think they were starving her, operating on her... god, her hair alone... you can't send her back to that!"
Maia falls heavily into a chair.
Maia "Well, what do you suggest?"
Merope "Well, maybe if we could talk to her... work out how it was done?"
Maia "Is she...coherent?"
Merope "She's... sometimes. What they did to her... it changed her, I think. It's almost like there's two people."
Merope "Or one person and one.... thing. Computer, almost..."
Merope "...I should call Ras. He can help us get through to her...."
Maia opens her mouth, then shakes her head. "Fine. Call him. Whatever."
Merope considers for another moment, and then hits a few buttons, standing up as she brings the phone to her ear. She paces.
Merope "No response from his cell... it's switched off, or no signal, I don't know."
Merope tries again. "No, nothing..."
Merope After a third attempt, she throws the phone down. "Maybe if we called Yed's house.... I don't think I have that number."
Merope Then, Merope's phone rings.
Merope picks it up and snaps it open immediately without looking at it. "Ras?"
Merope listens for a little, and then the colour drains out of her face. She drops the phone to the floor.
Merope "They took Ras."