Chapter six has our curious Bacht couple finding things curiouser, as our Trevel girls get into a spot of trouble!! Then there’s that meeting we’ve all been waiting for…
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The Game Is On
“So? Did anything happen last night?”
That same romantic friend who had suggested the possibility of a proposal interrupted a perfectly calm planning session between Mitch and Vanga.
Vanga dismissed Mitch’s awkward questioning eyes as she coldly responded,
“Yes. We were treated like royalty and danced, but nothing else too exciting.”
Mitch, a little perturbed, replied,
“If last night wasn’t exciting for you, then you’re impossible to please.”
Is it possible for a romantic seventeen-year-old girl to notice anything and keep her mouth shut? Vanga wished it were so, but she was not that lucky.
“I don’t see a ring. Did you chicken out at the last minute, Mitch?”
Such a comment could not possibly register in Mitch’s indifferent brain waves, but he questioned the furious look that Vanga bored into her friend’s head.
“My dear friend.” There was nothing dear about Vanga’s tone. “We enjoyed a beautiful car ride, a delicious meal, pleasant conversation, and romantic dancing. That is all.”
Mitch picked up on the last sentence.
“Now, we are busy working on an outsource project for a top computer securities company in town, and I insist that you go away and don’t distract us.”
The hurt and downhearted romantic slumped out of the room. The couple studied their work until Mitch asked with a teasing grin,
“How do you suggest we get into the basement, my dear fiancé?”
Vanga calmly swiped a book across Mitch’s head and answered,
“Why don’t we just walk in?”
And that was the end of the awkwardness.
On the afternoon of the infiltration, Mitch met Vanga in their usual spot by the misty waterfall. The lobby of the Trey, Vale, & Bacht Corporate Complex was just as busy as always, and the two joined the crowd walking to the elevators.
Instead of stopping in the public waiting room, however, they casually walked through the steel doors with another couple, about the age of Vanga’s parents.
Although the temptation was strong, they did not stop and stare at the lavish design and luxurious setting of the Hotel’s private guest waiting room but, instead, followed the couple to the private elevator shafts.
They could not help over hearing the conversation of the obviously worried parents.
“Hal, I just don’t trust Andros. He drove off with such carelessness. I think we should go and find the girls.”
“Salla, let them go. They have to learn their lessons on their own.”
The husband hugged his wife and she whispered,
“But what lesson will they have to learn?”
“They will come home tonight, very late. They’ll be sick and weak and know, first hand, that Bacht society is really dangerous if you aren’t careful.”
“I don’t want them to be sick. Do you think they will go shopping?”
Hal turned to Mitch, casually nodding at the elevator door.
“Can you get that?”
Turning back to his wife, he said,
“That is the direction they drove off in, and with all the magnetic security doors in each of the shops, Tanya will not be able to help being drawn to it.”
Mitch stepped up to the elevator door and looked for a button to push, but there was none. Vanga moved in and pointed slightly to a long panel of glass down the side of the door. It looked like an aquarium, but there was nothing inside. Mitch touched it gingerly with his fingers. The glass undulated and rolled as if it were thin plastic.
“Will they know what to do?” Salla continued as the worried mema she was. “Oh, I know, they’re fine, I just want to run and rescue them. Can I do that?”
Salla noticed the two and stopped suspiciously.
“Are you okay?”
Vanga smiled and coolly responded,
“No, actually, I was just at the Mall myself and I feel quite woozy.”
Mitch casually wound his arm around her waist and touched his head as if he had a bad headache.
“I’m sorry.” Mitch turned slightly, squinting, with his eyes to the ground. “One of the security magnets activated right when I was walking through it. Could you get the door?”
Salla swiftly moved to Vanga’s side and helped hold her, as she was swaying quite a bit.
“Of course, honey, get that? Oh, you look awful.”
Mitch watched as Hal placed his palm over the plastic and it began to glow and the door dinged open.
The four walked, or staggered, into the glass elevator. It was completely surrounded by a bubbling aquarium, this time with fish and plant life swimming around them.
“Where are you headed?”
Mitch breathed deep and smiled at Hal.
“The basement, please.”
“Yes, you’ll get good attention down there.”
When the elevator stopped, Hal shook hands with Mitch and looked him square in the eye.
“You look after that lovely lady of yours.”
“I will definitely look after my lovely.” Mitch tenderly squeezed Vanga’s hand and pulled her to go.
Salla pulled back and hugged the girl then held her shoulders and smiled right into her eyes.
“You’ll feel better in a little while, just rest now.”
“I will thank you. You’re so kind.” Vanga responded, backing away as quickly and as casually as she could.
The doors of the elevator closed and the young couple sighed together and walked to the door they believed was the securities antechamber.
The couple in the elevator raised their eyebrows to each other. Hal reached for the hydrophone and Salla acknowledged,
“They’re quick and very clever, I’ll give them that. Poor Bacht who stray too far in. I wonder how far they’ll get.”
Hal spoke to the circling waterfall that had activated at eye level by the door. “There are two Bacht teenagers in the basement. They just left the elevator now.”
Through the spinning water, a voice spoke back,
“We can see them. Thank you for reporting. I’ll take care they don’t do anything stupid.”
Trips and Tickles
“What a farce he is.” Holly lost all respect for Andros and his pretend sophistication. “I thought he was too perfect. Tanya?”
But Tanya was already walking in through the front entrance of the shopping center.
The two walked through the brilliant entrance one behind the other.
“Sorry, I just couldn’t help it. I had this urge to get in here.”
The first few clothing stores they saw sold clothes something like their mother would take them to.
“I have to go in there.”
“We’ll go to plenty of stores like that down in Janeiro. Let’s go somewhere else.” Holly dragged Tanya over to the map.
“Look.” She coughed. “There’s a specialty place a couple of stores down.”
Holly didn’t pay too much attention to her sister’s inability to walk past any of the stores’ entrances. She just dragged her along focused on her own mission.
“Please, I’ve got to get inside somewhere.” Tanya wandered from side to side of the walkway, trying to enter any of the doorways she saw.
“Tanya, stop it! Here, this is not what Mema would want us to wear to school. Isn’t it perfect?” Holly pointed out the massive wall pictures beneath the swirly sign.
Girls in beachwear, many-layered and scanty, laughed, silent and frozen, in the perfect joy of the perfect fun offered inside; all because they wore the right clothes.
They continued their giggly their way to the door and paused briefly, knowing that neither Salla nor Hal would want them to buy from here, but still, it was culture to be explored. So, explore they did.
Tanya tripped over something in the doorway and fell loudly, grabbing a table of neatly folded T-shirts. Every one of them tumbled to the floor, burying the disoriented girl.
“They are on sale, but we usually limit them to a hundred per customer.” Said a strong voice with a dark hand.
He reached around Tanya’s shoulders to lift and steady her. If she hadn’t been so dizzy, she would have been dead of embarrassment.
Holly didn’t move to help her sister, as she was frozen to the rack of leather jackets, coughing.
“I’m so sorry, I… ah…” Tanya blinked at her feet.
“Are you okay? Grab a chair, Nina.” The seeming, native, sun-god who stood over the young teen called to another associate and lifted the fallen girl’s chin to check her pupils.
Tanya registered her rescuer. She became frozen like her sister.
“I reckon you’ll live.” The gorgeous boy assured her, “but you should buy something. It’ll make you feel better.”
Tanya held up the t-shirt she still unwittingly clutched. Without even glancing at it, she said,
“I’ll take this one.”
“Darling, I was joking, but ok.” The boy scoffed at her.
“Thank you, Reynaldo. I will take it from here.”
The massive form of rippling delectation moved off to help someone else.
Nina took charge,
“Drink this, darling. What is your name?”
“Tanya.” She tasted the cool water.
“I’m Holly, her sister,” Holly interjected with another small but persistent cough. “Sorry about the disturbance.”
“Yeah, we’ll go now,” muttered Tanya, duly embarrassed.
“There is no need, wait till you are steady again.” The saleswoman led the two girls to a couple of cushy armchairs by the dressing rooms. “I’ll be back in just a moment.”
Nina nodded the delectable hunk toward the back room.
“What just happened?” Holly, truly worried, coughed and held her sister’s hand tenderly.
“I think I’ve been struck by lighting and woken by a god.” Her gaze was fixed on the curtains behind which Reynaldo had just disappeared in search of espressos.
“Mmm, exceptionally delicious,” agreed Holly with a glance. “But you fell before you saw him.”
“Did I? What was in the doorway that I tripped on?”
“Here we are, ladies.” Reynaldo came up with a handful of light, lovely outfits. “While you were resting, I took the liberty of finding something luscious just for you.”
On cue, they both stood and reached out to the offerings.
“I thought dresses would work best.” He helped each girl hold one up against her body as they studied their reflections.
“They bring out the womanly innocence you hold in your eyes.”
“Oh?” they smiled.
It was like a bad soap opera with a happy ending for commission-bound Reynaldo. On the way out, with two purchases each, Tanya tripped again, but without falling this time.
Reynaldo snorted a contemptuous “Ha” behind the cashiers’ counter.
“I need something to wet my throat.” Holly cleared her throat with a little coughing fit.
“What’s with all the hacking?” Her sister snarled in buyer’s remorse.
“I don’t know. Something’s tickling my throat. Where can I get some mineral water?”
“I could use something to eat, too.” Tanya pointed out the map. “Let’s find the food hall.”
The securities antechamber was just what they expected. It was cool and quiet, calm and efficient. A couple of couches surrounded a coffee table that caught Vanga’s attention.
The table had a glass top and one thick, glass tube for a leg support. Inside the tube, visible from all angles but best viewed from the top, was a swirling mass of cloud. It was like a Tesla ball that you touch and lightning from the center reaches out to your finger, only it was the clouds that swirled in stormy tornadoes. There was lightning, too, but it flashed on its own without any tactile assistance.
The rest of the room was open but for a couple of work booths with outlets for all types of facilities, even some Mitch didn’t recognize.
“Look at this, Vanga. It’s the same as the elevator.” He touched the glowing circle in the wall right next to the cable outlet. It undulated but didn’t glow.
“There’s another one here by the inner door.” Vanga laid her hand against the glass panel by a great strong door, obviously for Personnel Only, but nothing happened.
“What did that guy do to make it glow?”
Mitch sat in a booth next to a large aquarium set into the wall.
“I have no idea. Keep trying.” He opened his computer and began connecting himself to the Complex’s main operating system. Feeling a little as if someone was watching him, he glanced at the fish swimming next to him.
“What’s with the fish fetish?”
“Let’s just locate the cameras and be professional.” Vanga gave up on the open panel to join Mitch in the nearest booth and pulled out her own laptop.
The fish continued to swim indifferently, but through the water, others watched in rapt attention.
The Defense Strategists, hidden on the other side of the fish tank, observed the young Bacht in readiness.
Primer Stacey Tanner flipped her hair behind her shoulders with one hand and flicked a fire ball, the size of a pea, at the glass screen in front of her and growled,
“Imbecile, I’d like to fire a shot or two at them.”
“Stand tall.” A secondary officer by the back door announced the arrival of Champion Tambeaux.
“Take allay, strategists.”
The militia in the room relaxed a little.
“What is all the excitement about, Primer Tanner?”
“Two Bacht teenagers were reported in the basement ten minutes ago, sir. They made their way into the entry room and are attempting to log into our system.”
Primer Tanner, equal to one of the Bacht military lower-level soldiers, stood at ease, or at allay in Trevel terms, and relayed her observations, anticipating an exciting encounter. This was why she had signed up for service and dedicated her life to Defense. Living among the filthy, powerless Bacht was not her idea of a productive existence.
Everyone waited on Champion Tambeaux, a leader of excellence with family connections all the way to the Prince-in-One to be, himself. The air was taut with readiness.
“Who is it? Someone we know?” he leaned in to look, himself.
Secondary Officer Martin stepped forward.
“It’s the Bacht Mitchell, sir.”
“Indeed, I see it is.” Ch. Tambeaux tapped the screen and enlarged the image of the two deep in conversation. He changed the angle of view and spied on Mitch’s progress online.
“Persistence: a worthy trait. How many times has he been here, spying?”
S.O. Martin searched a hand held screen using a water-type keyboard.
“In the last two years, sir, he has visited the Complex 416 times. That’s approximately four times a week.”
“I’d say that’s quite an obsession. Let’s give him some headway and see what he does with it. Primer?”
“Yes, sir.” Pr. Tanner tapped her own water keyboard.
Watching the enlarged image of Mitch’s own screen, she took him through corridor access just far enough to frustrate him, then changed direction.
“Keep that up for thirty minutes. Call me if something changes.”
Ch. Tambeaux left the room, and Pr. Tanner watched through the water maliciously. She was going to have fun with this Bacht boy.
The girls made their way up to the food court. Tanya was still unsteady on her feet and began going down the stairs.
“Tanya, the food court is up over there.”
“It is?” She slowly moved her head from side to side as if listening closely for some quiet sound. She almost tipped over.
An elderly couple scowled at them and whispered to themselves,
“Stragglers, drunken children, where are their parents?”
“I’m not drunk,” Tanya defended herself, but in turning quickly, she nearly hit the ground again. Holly caught her and spied a security guard looking at them.
“Come on, let’s just find a seat and eat,” she wheezed, and Tanya swayed all the way up the stairs.
The burger and fries revived them, and they glowed as they inspected their whimsical dresses. Holly leaned back, nearly disappearing into a fern in the planter behind her. She came out coughing.
Tanya beat her on the back and noticed the plastic veins of the fern.
“It’s weird.” Holly cleared her throat yet again. “It’s as if I can’t breathe the air in here. It smells bad. I think it’s the Bacht air circulation. It’s recycled so many times the freshness is flat.”
“Maybe we should find a flower shop and stick a rose up your nose.”
“Ha. Ha. Maybe you should stop tripping over your own feet.”
“You clam up. I know there was some kind of blockage in the doorway. You would have fallen too if you’d gone before me.”
“Well, next time, I will. Let’s go. That guard keeps looking at me strangely.”
Tanya gave the young man a what are you staring at? glare, and he adjusted his eyes with all the authority of a siren-defeated sailor, turning his attentions to a party of Bacht mall rats.
Feeling a little creeped out, Tanya took the lead.
“No. You tripped last time. My turn,” said Holly, pushing forward.
“So go already.” Tanya’s impatience rang.
Noses in the air at each other, they silently stalked through the field of tables and chairs to re-entered the busy walkway and maneuver through the crowd. Holly coughed again, and Tanya accidentally bumped into a passing group of shoppers.
She steadied herself and walked to the nearest trashcan. Her face was a pale shade of green.
Holly’s eyes widened.
“You look awful…” a suffocating cough exploded from within and would not cease.
Tanya heaved her barely digested lunch into the trash, loudly and continuously.
Both girls continued for half a minute till they passed out.
The pure oxygen and electromagnetic shock treatments they both received right where they landed, brought life back into their squeezed lungs. Then the paramedics whisked them into the ambulance and an elderly doctor, in the emergency room, stabilized their systems enough so they could talk.
“That’s quite a trip you two took. Has this ever happened before?”
The two shook their heads “no” in unison.
Dr. Chapman studied their eyes with his flashlight and asked,
“Illumination, Electricity, Air, Water, Fire, Fauna, Flora, Earth, or Metal?”
Tanya hiccupped in disbelief,
“Earth… and Metal, sir, thank you.”
Holly dropped her head in shame.
Dr. Chapman pulled a hidden medical briefcase from under the counter and prepared a syringe of green fluid; his nurse pulled a large magnetic-weighted blanket from the heating station and draped it over Tanya.
“Why do I get the needle?” Holly winced.
“You’re just lucky, I suppose.” Tanya sighed, quietly lying in the comfort of the heaviness around her.
“I’ll arrange for the ambulance to return you to the hotel basement. There you will receive extended care,” Informed their Doctor.
Rubbing the back of her neck where the needle had entered, Holly asked,
“Does this happen a lot?”
The doctor grinned,
“Only this time every year, when the new seventh-graders are in town.”
The girl blushed and looked at her sister in disgust.
Tanya lay catlike, curled up under the comforting magnetic rocks sewn into the blanket.
Mitch swore loudly and threw himself out of the booth, stalking around the antechamber.
“It’s as if someone is playing with me. Every time I get close enough, the walls close up and I end up behind myself again.”
“Just cool it, Mitch. This place gives me the creeps.” Vanga walked along the length of the aquarium and turned to watch the table swirl.
There was also a constant fire burning in a large lantern and a rock garden in sand. In the far corner was a small jungle of potent-smelling plants inside a fence of weird flashing lights.
“Have you even noticed how weird the decorations are?” Vanga pointed out the various objects.
“Water, fire…” He suspiciously noted the elements. “…earth, air?”
“Those rocks aren’t simple, either, look.” Vanga picked one up and turned it over. It was full of golden veins.
Mitch looked at the jungle corner.
“There’s vegetation, too.” He walked over and brushed his hand against the leaves.
Suddenly there was a rush and a vicious barking sound. They both jumped, and in the split second of terror, Mitch thought he heard laughter.
In the security booth, S.O. Marten commented,
“There you have it folks, the boy has discovered Dawn. Careful, little girl, you almost wet yourself.” The Strategists cackled together, spinning in their chairs.
A large prairie dog growled at the visitors from beneath the foliage.
Vanga whimpered from on top of the desk. Mitch took a deep breath.
“That would be animal. Anything else?”
“L… Light and electricity…wind” the poor girl stuttered, pointing to the lamps that illuminated the jungle, an alternating choice of pulsing solar lamps and sizzling Tesla balls between small fans.
“Animal, vegetable, metal, light, electricity, earth, wind, fire, and water: think about it, these elements are all over this building.”
Mitch looked at Vanga, and they played through their minds all the images they remembered from their visits over the past two years. Yes, this theme touched everything, everywhere in the Complex.
Further contemplation on the subject was impossible, however, as the door opened and two lovely, native Brazilian girls walked in.
Everyone in the Securities room sat up.
“We have a situation. Primer Tanner, go fetch Champion Tambeaux.” S.O. Marten ordered as he amplified the view and audio in the room behind the aquarium.
“Nobody else goes anywhere or touches anything.”
On the screen, Tanya sauntered into the antechamber with her blanket robed beautifully around her lithe body. Holly entered with the grace of a fairy queen.
“Oh!” Holly stopped, suddenly ashamed of her situation, and addressed Vanga. “I didn’t think anyone would be in here.”
“Neither did I… ah… I’m Vanga.”
“I’m Holly, and this is my sister, Tanya.”
Tanya noticed Mitch and addressed him.
“Hello.” There was much pleasure in her voice. “What’s your name?”
Tanya flirted as usual,
“I’ve never seen such blond curls before. I know I’m just a backward jungle girl, but you are beautiful.”
Mitch picked up easily,
“I’ve never met a backward jungle girl. Are they all as gorgeous as you two?”
Vanga snorted, but no one paid attention to her.
“No, they aren’t. I stand out above all the others. It’s a known fact. Ask my sister.”
Holly nodded and rolled her eyes in teasing agreement,
“Men and boys come to see her from miles around.”
Mitch casually, and with great charm, leaned up against the great security door.
“Don’t underestimate yourself, Holly, is it? Together, the two of you bring out the man in any boy.”
Tanya promenaded through the room with a sly smile.
“Well, if you’re such a man, why don’t you get the door for us?”
There was the catch.
During the conversation, Champion Tambeaux returned.
“I see the situation has heated somewhat. What shall we do with you, Mr. Mitchell?”
Mitch, too, was trying to figure out what he would do with himself. A moment of hesitation melted away in oozing charm.
“I don’t know what to do. I am paralyzed by your presence.”
Tanya giggled, but Holly glided over to the handsome young man.
She lifted her face as if to kiss him but tilted her head down and pouted at him from under her eyelashes. She smiled knowingly at him,
“You don’t know how to open the door do you?”
“Holly?” Tanya scolded, but then stared at Vanga and at Mitch. She noticed their lack of Trevel energy marking.
“How did you get in here?” she asked.
It was Vanga’s turn to be haughty.
“We walked right in. Why don’t you open the door?”
Holly grinned and placed her hand on the glass panel over Mitch’s shoulder. It glowed and the door slowly swung open.
“How did you do that?” Mitch was exasperated. He grabbed Holly’s hand and placed it back on the panel.
“Make it glow.”
A figure came through the black rubber curtain that covered the inside of the door.
“Lady Tanya, Lady Holly, welcome. Dr. Chapman called and the healers are waiting for you.”