Saturday, August 27, 2011

TAOM: Emily - Technical Issues

Note: It should be noted here that, at some time between Rhia's introduction to the Society and now, a second kitchen was discovered in the Library. Rhia was given sole ownership of that kitchen, both because she is a fantastic cook and because she was the only person brave enough to buckle down and clean the place after years (possibly centuries) of disuse.

This event took place inside the Society Role-Play thread (located on our FFN C2), for those interested, and is more fully explained in a flashback in a later chapter.

And now, on with the story. ^_^

Harriet tapped gently on the door, positive that the occupant of the room was still asleep, for there was no light coming from the crack between the door and floor. It was unusual though, because her charge was normally up at this point – they had a lesson in fifteen minutes.

"Emily? Are you awake?"

There was no answer, but Harriet was sure she could hear a low groan inside the room. Making up her mind, she pushed the door open and flicked on the lights. The ten year old girl's room was a mess. Books, tools, scrunched up bits of failed artwork, and clothes littered the floor, and the walls were splattered with bits of artwork, that were either finished, or in the process of being finished. Emily's pride and joy was the giant tree that she had painted onto the ceiling.

The artist herself was curled up underneath her duvet in a small ball. Picking her way carefully across the cluttered floor, Harriet sat on the edge of the bed and peeled back the covers. A pale, thin face looked back at her, a faint sweat on her forehead. At first Harriet thought she might have had a nightmare, but as soon as the light hit her face, Emily squeezed her eyes shut, and her face went paler. She also seemed to be doubling up in pain.

"What's wrong?" Harriet asked, rubbing her back soothingly. The ten year old girl took a deep breath to answer... before clapping a hand over her mouth and sprinting for the bathroom.

Harriet blinked several times, surprised at the speed with which the young girl had moved, until the sounds of Emily being sick next door snapped her out of it, and she pulled out her phone.

"Val? Could you come to Emily's room please? We have a problem."


"What's wrong, Palm Tree?"

The smallest of the sisters was holding back tears of pain.

"My tummy hurts..."

"Oh dear... must have been the oysters," Ashley's face was sympathetic. "You get into bed. Relax for the rest of the day."

"I wish Willowe were here," June muttered to herself. "She knew a great remedy for stomach-aches..."

Maybe it was irritability brought on by her illness, or annoyance that she was being treated like a baby at eight years old, but the youngest sister snapped a retort out as she clambered back into bed.
"If she's so wonderful, then why isn't she here?"

The sister's faces had turned stony, and for the first time, Palm Tree felt scared.

"Don't you dare speak about your sister that way," June said sternly. "Now go to sleep."


"Food poisoning," Valerie declared. "Must have been the pizza last night."

"That can't be," Harriet objected. "We all had Dominos last night, and no one else is ill."

"I dunno," Tash called from the bathroom, where she was on her hands and knees cleaning up the mess. "I'm still being haunted by the image of Leonard gnawing a hole through his..."

All the girls shuddered, and Emily curled up tighter under her covers.

"I think Val is right," she admitted. "And I was the only one to have ground beef on my pizza. Maybe that was it."

"Do you think you can try and keep some food down?" Valerie asked. Emily went pale and shook her head, the very thought of eating making her more nauseas than ever.

"Water?" the healer asked, knowing dehydration was the biggest problem when someone was sick. Emily shook her head again. She had tried to keep water down through the night, but it had just made her worse.

"What about flat lemonade and flat coke?" Harriet suggested. "That's what I had when I had food poisoning. Worked pretty well."

Valerie thought for a second. Flat fizzy drinks would give Emily plenty of energy in lieu of food, and keep her hydrated, while the acid neutralised her stomach. It was definitely worth trying.

"We'll give that a go. I'd rather not have to put her on a drip. In the mean time, can we move her to the medical wing? I'd like to keep an eye on her."

Emily stumbled as she got up, and eventually, Harriet decided to carry her. Her legs were too shaky to support her weight, and so, wrapped in her duvet, blanket, and with her arms tightly around her pillow, the ten year old was carried to the wing. By the time they made it, she had fallen asleep again.


And over there is kitchen one..." Harriet trailed off as screaming, human shaped blur shot past them. Emily couldn't see who it was, but at this point, another figure rounded the corner, and she had to blink several times – it looked like a three foot high stick of wood with claws and teeth. Without a word, the wood raced past the two and after the feeing male agent.

"And that was Ben, and his muse Shirley..." Harriet added. "Don't piss Shirley off..."


Harriet paled and steered her charge into the kitchen without another word.


Emily was woken by a clatter somewhere next to her head.

"Here..." Rhia had placed a tray on the table, and was explaining to a surprised looking Valerie. "I heated them to get them flat faster, so they may still be a little warm."

"Good idea," Valerie nodded, and took the glass of coke. "Thanks Rhia."

"One more thing," Harriet said, before Rhia could vanish again. "I know your kitchen is clean Rhia, but would you mind just disinfecting the surfaces again? We're pretty sure she's got food poisoning from the pizza, but on the off chance it is something more sinister, we don't want to take any risks."

Rhia nodded. "What about kitchen one?"

"Tash is doing that now," Harriet assured her. "Something about people being ill turns her into an obsessive cleaner."

Emily wished they'd all be quiet and let her sleep, but Valerie was shaking her shoulder gently to get her to pay attention.

"Emily, can you have a few sips of this please?"

The ten year old stubbornly buried her face into the duvet.

"Don't wanna..." she whined. She knew she was being petulant, but she really didn't want to be sick again, and she was worried that drinking would do just that.

"You don't need to drink much," Valerie soothed. "Just a little bit. It should help."

"Its flat coke..." Emily stated. "It'll be icky..."

"She must be sick," Harriet muttered. "She's never said icky in her life."

"...there's a colourful straw in it," Valerie said, brightly. Emily cracked an eye open and winced – the world seemed a bit too bright for her liking.

"What colour?"

"Green," Harriet said. "Rhia thought you'd find it amusing. The one in the lemonade is yellow."

Sighing, Emily raised her head enough to take a few small sips. She didn't like the taste at all, but it wasn't as bad as she had expected.

"Thank you," Valerie smiled. Emily's only response was to stick her tongue out and close her eyes again.

"We'll wake you up in a bit so you can have more," Harriet was saying, but Emily wasn't listening. Another wave of tiredness was overcoming her, and she quickly nodded off again.


"Umm... hi Natasha," Emily was caught off guard seeing the Society leader here – especially since she seemed to be sneaking out of the Vault of Abandoned Ideas. Emily knew what the room was of course, it was just she had been under the impression that no one but Adrian was allowed in there... certainly the Librarian was the only one with keys.

Tash paled and hastily hid something behind her back, though not fast enough for Emily caught a glimpse of it. It looked like a small silver keyring with a large blue button on it.

"Hi Emily... what brings you down here?"

Emily hefted the books in her bag. "Just had a lesson with Harriet... what were you doing in the Vault?"

"Nothing," Tash answered too quickly, and she began shifting nervously. "I'd better be going now..."

She raced off down the corridor, leaving a confused, and insatiably curious ten year old girl.


Emily wasn't sure what time it was when she woke up, but she got the feeling that she hadn't been sleeping for long. Tash was sitting next to her bed, fiddling with what looked like a large twisted piece of metal, but which Emily immediately recognised as a flight stabiliser. Her stomach was still cramping, but she knew she should probably drink a little more. A quick glance around told her that Valerie had gone somewhere, which was good, because she was dying to talk to Tash.

"Hey hon," the second in command smiled. "How do you feel?"

"Tired," Emily said truthfully, sitting up slowly. At least, she realised, she didn't feel dizzy and weak any longer. "Any of Rhia's magic lemonade around?"

Tash picked up the glass and helped her drink. "This reminds me of when Hati had food poisoning," she admitted. "She spent the whole weekend in bed, and she barely ate a thing. There was just me running to the corner store to get Coke and Schweppes."

"Where was Lauren?" Emily asked curiously, finishing another sip, and resting the glass on her lap.

"Gone home for the weekend," Tash shrugged. "Though we think she must have a stomach of steel, because she ate exactly the same as Hati and she didn't get ill."

Emily shrugged, before focusing on the flight stabiliser in Tash's lap. "Won't you blow your little secret if everyone sees you with that thing? What will they think?"

Tash gave a mischievous grin. "They'll think I'm bringing you something to mess with while you're ill. Relax, I doubt they'll guess the truth. I was actually wondering if you knew what I was doing wrong. I was trying to wedge it back into the wing, and it wouldn't go."

Emily gave the stabiliser a look, took another gulp of lemonade, before examining it.

"...which way were you putting it in?" she asked, handing it back to her friend. Tash held it out stretched in demonstration.

"Like this..." she said. Emily rolled her eyes and turned Tash's hand upside down so that the stabiliser was the right way up.

"Ooooh... right," Tash said slowly, her cheeks turning pink with embarrassment. "Sorry..."

Emily's sigh turned into a groan of pain, as her stomach reminded her it was there, and her throat began to burn.

"You alright?" Tash said, dropping the stabiliser and reaching for the bowl on the bed side table.

"Too much lemonade," Emily managed to say, before grabbing the bowl and vomiting once more.


"I'm sorry..."

"Stop saying that Emily," Harriet said patiently.

"But I am," the ten year old said. "I'm really sorry... I singed all your eyebrows off!"

Harriet patted her on the head. "They'll grow back. Trust me, my eyebrows and my hair could set a world record for the speed they grow."

Looking for comfort, Emily petted a dozing Meg on the head. The collie, freshly washed to get all the brownie mix off her fur, had parked herself on her lap, and didn't seem to want to get off. Beth had warned Emily that Meg could make herself incredibly heavy when she didn't want to move from someone, and so it looked as though she was stuck in this sofa for a while.

"Don't worry," Tash smiled. "Rhia is letting Emma use her kitchen, and they're making another batch – Emma's brownies are the best. Trust me, they're worth waiting for."

Emily shot a look in the direction of the Library's main kitchen, from which the smell of burned plastic, cake and hair could still be detected. "Still... I feel bad. I'm supposed to be good with machines and I blow up the bloody oven!"

"Language young lady," Harriet warned sharply, and Emily buttoned her lip.

"Emily, blowing up kitchen stuff is half the fun of baking," Beth told her, sitting down beside her. Meg immediately changed laps, causing Beth to groan in exasperation, and Emily looked curious.

"It... is?"

"Yeah," Tash nodded. "We've all done it."
Harriet smirked. "Yup. We've added the wrong amount of ingredients to our food... broken plates... some of us even set oven gloves on fire..."

Tash gasped. "Harriet! You swore you would never tell!"

Beth burst out laughing, and Emily felt herself giggle. Meg, overexcited by the sudden noise, leaped off Beth's lap and began bouncing around on the floor.

"See," Harriet grinned. "Cooking is meant to be fun."

Emily paused and thought a little. "Well... my sisters never ate cake and stuff. They complained it ruined their figures. So I'd never really got to cook before."

"Don't worry," Beth told her. "Once your two week ban from the kitchen is over, Emma and Rhia can teach you. They're really good at it."

"And just remember, that making mistakes is part of the fun," Harriet said. Now it was Tash who was smirking.

"And remember, setting oven gloves on fire, isn't half as bad as "bleach doesn't stain"."

This time it was Harriet who gave an outraged gasp, as everyone laughed once more. Emily however was thinking.

Mistakes aren't bad? she thought in wonder. My sisters never told me that...


Emily felt as though someone was banging very hard on her skull with a hammer when she woke up. She knew it was probably because she was dehydrated, and she really should try and drink a little bit of coke. Strangely, dreaming about 'the brownie incident' hadn't made her feel any sicker, and the cramps in her stomach had lessened slightly. She hoped that meant her stomach was empty of things to throw up.

As soon as she moved however, her throat and jaw began to burn again, and she seized the bowl. Someone was pulling her short hair back and rubbing soothing circles on her back, which made it slightly more bearable.

"That's better," Valerie said, when she was finished. "You're just bringing up fluid now, so hopefully that'll be the last of it."

"My head hurts," Emily complained, as she settled back down and the healer handed her some mouthwash.

"I'm not surprised," Valerie stated, before handing her the glass of coke. "You need to drink more of this."

Emily sighed and took a tiny sip, before feeling that was enough, and replacing the glass on the table.

"Oh Tash left this earlier," Valerie said, holding up, what looked like a small computer panel, with wires trailing from it. "She thought when you're feeling better you might like to fiddle with it."

Emily smiled. She knew exactly where that piece of machinery was from.

"Can I ask what this is?" Valerie asked. Emily shook her head with a grin.

"Sorry. Tash made me promise."

Valerie's eyebrows arched. "Big secret?"

Emily pressed her finger to her lips. "Secret secret."

The healer chuckled. "Alright. You'll probably feel more up to it after tomorrow. Hopefully your body will start trying to recover."

The girl nodded and curled up. "I hope so...I had a dream about food, which probably didn't help..."

"Really?" Valerie asked. Emily nodded.

"Yeah, the brownie incident."

Valerie chuckled again. "Oh yeah... the week you got banned from the kitchen and the tech labs... you were so bored..."

"That wasn't my fault..." Emily complained weakly. It was true. She blamed that entire incident on Miriku. It had been the red haired agent's idea to have a Transformers Animated marathon, and consequently Emily had spent the next three days driving Camille up the wall, insisting that Doyle was a Decepticon. She had been banned from the lab for two weeks to allow the stressed technician to work in peace.

Valerie patted her head. "Rest Emily. I'll be round in a little while to make sure you drink more."

Groaning at the thought, Emily drifted off again.


Had she not heard the singing, Emily might never have known that there was someone else coming down the corridor. She looked up from the Prohibitor that she had been unscrewing (she had wanted to see how it worked inside) to see a young woman approaching with a stack of paperwork in her arms. She had long brown hair and by her shoulder flew what looked like a small dragon. On closer inspection, Emily realised it was a fire lizard, and she recognised the woman from the few times she had seen her – it was Valerie, the Society healer.

Emily had heard that Valerie had a tendency to wander around singing to herself, but she had never actually heard it before now. She had never particularly liked music – her sisters all had lovely voices, which had sent men and women of all ages falling over themselves when they heard it. This had just added to the number of talents that they possessed that they used to make everyone love them. Emily couldn't understand how someone could fall in love with a voice. But now she did – Valerie's singing was beautiful.

So distracted was she, that her screwdriver slipped from her grasp, clattering against the floor and rolling through a doorway that had been left ajar. Uttering a few of Tash's choices swearwords (that she really wasn't supposed to use, according to Harriet), she bolted after it.

The screwdriver had bounced down the staircase, and Emily scrambled down them in its wake. The room had lights glowing from the walls, but like many of the rooms in the Library, the lack of windows made shadows jump from everywhere.

As her hand clasped over the screwdriver, she realised where she was.

The cell bars were chilling, but more so were the faces behind them. Though the Sues and Stus looked to be in good condition, the very fact that they were behind bars seemed to give them a more helpless and defeated look, which was only enhanced by the Prohibitors keeping their powers in check.

Emily swallowed thickly, and stumbled towards the staircase, praying that none of them would recognise her.


Too late, Juniper's face was framed in her cell door, most of her beauty gone, replaced with fury at the sister who had betrayed them all.

"Your own sisters Palm, and you leave us to rot down here? How could you?"

Other Sues began shouting and screaming, and now they knew who she was Emily knew she would not be spared the insults. She covered her ears and gave into her instinct – to curl up on the floor and make herself as small a target as possible. Through the din, the voices of Holly, Juniper, Ashley and Aspen were clearest, yelling, cursing at her and swearing their revenge against the one who had put them in prison.

A loud screech cut through the shouting and the Sues fell silent, but fear kept the ten year old in her place, until a gentle hand set itself on her shoulder and strong arms pulled her upright. Emily couldn't see through tears, but she knew from the soothing voice that it was Valerie who was now urging her out of the basement, and from the soft wing beats, it had been Ari's cry that had silenced the Sues.

After that a new rule was introduced in the Society that exempted Emily from any duties that required her to go near the basement.


For the rest of the night, Emily drifted in and out of something resembling consciousness. She didn't remember waking up, only the vague sensation that someone had held her and given her more to drink before letting her fall immediately back to unconsciousness. Her stomach had felt like someone was trying to tie it in knots, and her headache had swung between a pounding hammer and a falling blacksmiths anvil on her skull. She had no idea how long she had been like this, nor did she really care. She just wanted to not be sick anymore.

When she next woke up, Harriet was sitting at the foot of her bed. The clocks above Valerie's vacated desk, at the end of the wing, said seven thirty two GM time (which was what Emily ran on). The girl yawned, and realised that her stomach had stopped cramping finally, but she had never felt so exhausted.

"Morning..." she told Harriet. The leader raised an eyebrow.

"Evening sweetheart," she said, and Emily blinked in confused. "It's Friday evening. You were completely out of it today."

Surprise worked its way onto Emily's face. It had been Thursday morning when she had woken up feeling so ill. Sure enough, the glasses of lemonade and coke were different – or at least they had different straws – and to her surprise, the beds opposite her were occupied. Drake was lying back with a bag of blood being fed through a tube into his arm, and Tyler was next to him with an ice pack over his forehead.

"What happened to you?" Emily asked the boys. Tyler gave her a look.

"Adrian's booby traps happened," he informed her, before looking at Harriet. "Can I go yet? I've been here six hours already..."

"No," Harriet said firmly. "Not until Valerie is awake and she's seen you."

"Where is Val?" Emily asked, looking around for the healer.

"Sleeping," Harriet said. "She was up most of the night with you. I told her I'd watch the ward while she got some rest."

"Are you sure you're inserted this needle correctly?" Drake asked, checking how much more blood he had to go through. "This seems to be taking a long time..."

Harriet looked at him in wonder. "You got a huge gash ripped in your side by a swinging knife, and you're worried about my ability with a needle? For crying out loud, I used to be an auxiliary nurse. I know what I'm doing!"

She sat back on the bed with a loud huff, and Emily gave a giggle, which turned into a yawn. She couldn't believe she was still tired after doing nothing but sleeping for the past day.

"Get some more rest," Harriet told her. "Your body is still trying to recover all the energy it's used up."

"Mmm... yes mother," Emily sighed, leaning back and counting the ceiling tiles in an effort to relax herself.

The last thing she heard was Tyler leaning over to Drake and whispering.

"Dude... what was in that pizza?"


"Take it!"

"No way June!"

"Palm Tree you have to learn this! Take the sword!"

"Why? Because Willowe knows it? Who cares about her? She's not even around anymore!"


She couldn't believe what had just happened, but the stinging in her cheek held the proof. Juniper looked just as surprised at her own reaction, but her face turned stern quickly again.

"Never speak ill of our sister. I've embraced my powers, and soon Ashley and Aspen will too. You must start training."

"Training..." the girl was holding back tears, but she had one last thing she wanted to say. "Training to be perfect?" She raised her head and glared at her sister. "That's how killers are made, Juniper."
And she turned on her heel and stormed out of the room.


"...ugh, Kyon you're stupid!" came an agitated voice.

"Oh she still here?" Emily asked herself, uncharacteristically annoyed at being awoken. "I thought even fae needed a break from reading..."

Aster had shown up first thing in the morning with a stack of manga volumes to 'cheer Emily up'. Emily had thanked her, but stated that she was too tired to start reading them now. Aster had looked extremely put out, especially as Emily had started fiddling with the computer panel that Tash had left behind, and she had produced a volume of Haruhi from nowhere and started reading. Emily had fallen asleep just after lunchtime, and apparently Aster had not moved from her spot.

"I wonder if she'd notice if I got up and stretched my legs..." the ten year old thought, before deciding she had been in the bed too long, and pushing the covers back. She got slowly to her feet, shaking a little as she passed between the beds. She really wanted a shower, and for the first time in two days, she felt a little hungry.

"Emily," Valerie appeared through the doors, supporting Ben, who looked to have been jumped by his aggressive muse again – his shirt was ripped, and blood was streaming from teeth marks in his side. Emily pulled a face.

"You need a leash for that cliché stick," she told Ben firmly. The boy gave a pained wince.

"Are you alright?" Valerie asked. "Don't feel dizzy or anything?"

Emily shook her head. "If I do, I'll come back. I just want a little walk and maybe something light to eat."

Valerie nodded slowly. "Okay. Don't be too long."

The girl nodded and left the wing slowly as Valerie steered Ben toward a bed. There was a moment of silence, as Aster paused in her complaint against the defenceless book character, and glanced at the now empty bed upon which she was perched. She frowned in confusion.

"Emily-chan? Where did you go?"


"Emily, have you seen my good baking tray?" Rhia asked, sticking her head into one of the Renaissance reading rooms, in which Emily was surveying her latest masterpiece – her take on Michelangelo's 'Creation of Adam'. Naturally, it was painted straight on the ceiling. Rhia didn't really want to ask how she had managed to set up scaffolding without anyone knowing.

"Oooh..." Emily bit her lip. "I may have used it as a paint tray for the base coat of my fresco..."

Rhia closed her eyes slowly, and sighed. "Catalogue is on my kitchen table. Page 24. Item G."

"Expected in five working days," Emily finished, as Rhia exited the room.


"Emily... what are you doing out of bed?"

Emily, who had just left her room, showered and in a fresh pair of pyjamas, saw Adrian giving her a surprised look at the end of the corridor. She tilted her head, for the Librarian was carrying a toolkit in his hands, and he was sans his trench coat.

"Getting some food," the girl said, eyeing the toolkit. "What are you doing with that?" Her eyes went wide. "Oh! Did Tash tell you about her secret project? Is that why you have it?"

The Librarian looked more confused than ever. "Umm... no. What secret is this?"

Emily chewed her lip. "Ooops... I'm not supposed to say..."

"What secret?" Adrian asked, taking a step closer, his ears and tail perking up in readiness for a chase. Emily squeaked and started running in the opposite direction. From the hasty footsteps, the Librarian was not far behind.

"I'm not saying!"


Harriet's scream was enough to half them both in their tracks. The leader looked furious.

"She's ill for Gods sake! And you're chasing her around? Have you no sense?"

"But... I wasn't..." the Librarian cringed under Harriet's furious gaze. The leader took her charges hand, and led her away.

"Come on Em. Let's get you something light to eat..."

As she was led away, Emily couldn't resist turning around and sticking her tongue out at Adrian. The Librarian sighed.

"Insolent girl..." he muttered, before his ears perked up with realisation and he chuckled. "Guess she's feeling better..." Smirking to himself, he pulled out a folded up sheet of paper and flipped it up in the air before catching it. "And it's nice to see she's able to keep a secret… cause my dear lover can't keep our little artisan to herself… not when I've got a project of my own in the works..."

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