Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Insert Unanswered Questions Here (part 1 of 2)

"Eurgh…" Louise groaned as she opened her eyes. The surface on which she was lying was decidedly uncomfortable. She blinked as she realised her head was a lot closer to the floor than it should have been.

Stretching her arms and legs out, she gave a small wince. Her ankle hurt for some unknown reason. Maybe she had fallen out of bed…

"Bed…" Louise murmured, reaching around for something to pull herself upright on. Her hand wrapped around something long, square and metal. Her eyes focused on the upright table leg.

#Blink Blink#

She didn't have a metal table in her room. Her other hand felt the floor. Linoleum… her bedroom floor was lush carpet. Things weren't making sense.

Hauling herself upright, Louise looked around. She had been lying on a thin length of foam – a Karimat. Louise remembered the days of sleeping under canvas with the Girl Guides. She shuddered briefly at the memory of the cold, uncomfortable environment.

Louise's eyes drifted to the room she found herself in. The walls were wooden, and had a familiar feel to them. The floor was a cream lino, stretching from wall to wall. In one corner, a wooden door was closed. The only furniture in the room was the metal table, and two metal chairs.

Resting over her was a tartan blanket. She smiled as she remembered her trip to Scotland with her friends.

Louise was just about to fold the blanket back when the door opened. She looked around. It was Tash, closely followed by the Librarian.

"Hi Tash…" Louise greeted her friend warmly. Tash hesitated on the threshold to the room. Louise noticed that Adrian had moved to a defensive position alongside his girlfriend. What was going on?

"Tash…" Louise's voice was more wary, more hesitant.

"Louise…" Tash spoke softly, "how are you feeling?"

"Sleepy… and confused." Louise's eyes were drawn to the sword that hung at Adrian's waist. "What's going on?" Her question was directed at Tash, but it was Adrian who answered.

"We have some unanswered questions, Louise," Adrian slid into the room proper. "Answer them honestly."

Louise, from her position on the floor, looked up at the towering figure of the Librarian. Adrian wasn't the tallest of individuals, but with Louise sat on the floor, he was an imposing sight.

"What is your name?" he asked.

Louise looked from Adrian to Tash and back again. Things still weren't making sense. The Librarian already knew her name.

"You already..."

"Answer it!" he demanded. Louise recoiled a little, dragging her tartan blanket with her.

"Louise," she squeaked.

Tash watched nervously as Adrian walked closer to Louise.

"What is the name of this location?"

"Um..." Louise was beginning to get scared. "The Library?"

As Adrian made a further step towards her, Louise backpedalled to the far corner.

"Love... she's scared. Let me try," Tash placed a controlling hand on her lover's arm. She walked closer to Louise, but unlike the Librarian, her movements were gentle and measured.

"Lou..." Tash crouched to a similar height as her friend.

"Tash... what's going on?"

"I was hoping you were going to be able to tell me. We," Tash indicated Adrian, who was still hovering protectively over the Society Leader, "...were hoping that you might answer some of the questions we have about the events in the basement."

"What..." Louise looked briefly at Adrian, before returning her gaze to Tash. "What events?"

Tash looked over her shoulder at her lover, who shook his head quietly. Louise watched this interaction with curiosity and bewilderment. What was going on?

"Don't you remember? You went into the basement, released the Sues and proceeded to take five people hostage." As Tash retold the story, she watched the horror on Louise's face, which was swiftly followed by disbelief.

"No... I couldn't... I wouldn't." Louise was even more confused than she had been when Adrian had been demanding answers to simple questions.

"Sorry, hon... but this is what happened."


"The people," Adrian's voice broke the silence, "included Alice... and Emily."

"No..." Louise made to push Tash from her side, but Adrian stepped forward, lifting his girlfriend from the perceived threat, and sliding her beyond Louise's reach. As Louise moved, the blanket which, until this point, she had been holding securely, slipped, revealing her clothing beneath.

"What...?" Louise noticed the bright yellow t-shirt she was now wearing. A basement yellow t-shirt. Sliding herself rapidly across the linoleum floor away from Tash and Adrian, Louise began to panic. What if what Tash had said was true? What if she had really done this? Were they going to lock her up, like the Sues? WITH the Sues?

"I won't let you lock me up..." Louise raised her hands before her. She knew she didn't really have a hope in hell if Tash and Adrian really intended to catch her, but she wasn't going down without a fight.

"Lou..." Tash had been watching the panic building in Louise's face. She knew enough of panic attacks to see one developing before her. "Lou, you got soaked when we turned the sprinklers on. We needed to change your clothes to prevent hypothermia, and the basement t-shirt was the easiest thing to grab."

"What..." Louise gabbled. "I don't remember anything like that."

A brief flash of comprehension crossed Adrian's face, and he stepped to Tash's side.

"Do you remember anything of the basement incident?" he asked, his voice a little softer than before.

Louise shook her head. She looked over at her fellow WARGS member, a questioning look on her face.

"It's okay, hon." Tash's voice was soft, and reassuring. "Just answer Adrian's questions as best you can."

"But I can't..." Louise protested. "I don't remember anything about it!"

Adrian stepped forward again. "Louise... what's the colour of Tash's hair?"

"Blonde..." Louise answered. She didn't need to look at Tash to give her response. Her eyes were on Adrian's reaction to her words. He, in turn, was watching her; watching her so intensely that she was forced to look away.

Louise tugged at the blanket on her lap. She was beginning to feel very emotional. She hid her face behind the tartan.

"Have you ever taken anything that doesn't belong to you?" Adrian continued his questioning. Louise looked up at him, confusion in her face. She didn't know how this question was going to solve anything.

"Yes," she answered without much hesitation.

Tash watched Adrian's response. Louise's reply to the question had taken her a little by surprise. Her friend was one of the most honest people she knew, and to discover that she had once stolen was quite a shock. When the Librarian did nothing but nod, Tash turned to him.

"Are you going anywhere with this, love?" she asked.

Adrian threw out a hand to indicate that Tash should remain quiet. She looked down at Louise as Adrian drew a deck of playing cards from his trench-coat pocket.

"Now..." he crouched down in front of Louise. "I am going to show you some cards. I am going to say the number on the card, and I want you to confirm that I have said the correct one, whether or not it is."

Louise nodded.

Adrian held up his first card. Three of Spades.

"Seven," he stated.

Louise looked at the three. Her honesty was warring with the instructions that the Librarian had given her.


"Um... yes?"

Quickly his hands produced a second card. Queen of Hearts.

"Ten." Yet again Adrian stated the incorrect number. His eyes were fixed on Louise's reaction.

"... Yes..."

A third card was produced, Four of Clubs.

"Four." This time Adrian gave the correct number.

"Yes." Louise didn't hesitate to give her affirmation this time.

Tash twisted one of the metal chairs around, straddling it as she faced Louise.

"Do you remember anything about the events in the basement?" she asked. "Anything at all?"

"No... Tash, I'm sorry. I can't remember."

"What is the last thing you do remember?" she asked.

"Being in Rhia's kitchen..." Louise's voice was a little distant. "Jess offered to spank Dave with a spatula."

Tash smirked at the image.

"Anything else?" Adrian asked.

"Um... I went to bed... Tash, I'm scared."

"I know, hon."

"Maybe we could get Phoenixia to have a poke around to see if she's telling us the –" Adrian's words were cut short as Louise shrieked.

"NO... NO EXPERIMENTS... I'VE ALREADY TOLD YOU I DON'T REMEMBER ANYTHING!" Louise screamed at Adrian, climbing to her feet and darting for the door. Tash and Adrian merely watched her struggle with the door handle.

"It won't open unless I let it," Adrian explained.

"NOOOOOO!" Louise screamed again, sinking to the floor, and bursting into tears.

Adrian went to speak, but Tash's hand on his shoulder caused him to turn to face her.

"Relax..." she soothed her boyfriend. "Remember, she's been through a lot." Tash walked slowly towards Louise.

"Lou..." Tash's voice was barely above a whisper. Louise looked up. Her eyes were already a brilliant red from the tears, and her entire face looked drawn. "Lou, he didn't mean that." Tash shot Adrian a glance that could have melted ice. It told him to keep quiet, and stay out of it. "Of course we wouldn't do anything to you without your permission. Maybe Nixie can come and have a chat with us... calm you down a little. Would that be better?"

Louise nodded meekly. "Tash... you believe me, don't you?" she asked.

"Of course I do, hon. We just need to get to the bottom of this, don't we?"

Louise looked up, past Tash to the figure of Adrian, now leaning against the far wall. "He doesn't," she murmured quietly.

"Because we don't have all the answers," Adrian explained.

"Then maybe you should go get some more..." Tash suggested, gesturing towards the door.


"I'll be fine," Tash reassured. "Alice is still in the hospital wing... maybe you should go and talk with her. I want to know how they could have pulled this off under our noses so easily."

Adrian nodded and headed for the door. As he approached, Louise shrunk back in fear of him. Adrian sighed as he took this in. He didn't intentionally scare people. Tash watched her boyfriend leave before approaching Louise in an attempt to calm her down.


Adrian walked slowly down the bookcase-lined corridors of his Library. Possibilities, both the considered and the discarded, were racing through his head. He passed Phoenixia, heading the way he had come. They exchanged a wry smile but it seemed that Tash had already briefed her on what was going on. He was a little miffed at being ejected from the interrogation so abruptly…well, he was loath to call it an 'interrogation', for all the lack of information that had come out of it. The sheer fact that Louise couldn't remember anything had brought the investigation to a screeching halt. Getting increasingly frustrated, he hoped Alice would be in a forthcoming mood.

The other three adult hostages had by now been debriefed, their points of view recorded and the stories found to tally, building a picture of the incident as plain as day. Young Emily had given her story to Harriet as best she could, and that had been enough. However, when he had come hours ago to claim Jess, Dave and Claire from the hospital wing, Valerie had pulled him aside and confessed her fears for the last hostage. In precaution they had kept her admitted, and posted a guard.

Adrian had heard about the new members to the Society, mostly in the form of anecdotes rather than actual information, but recent circumstances had seen relatively little non-panicked interaction with them. The possibilities raced again, but he quelled them until he had a chance to speak with Alice.

Until he approached the hospital wing, and all hopes of a polite conversation flew out the proverbial window. He could hear shouting, more than one voice, copious swearing, high pitches…

"Oh dear…" he thought, hurrying to the wing doors.

There were many people in the wing, all drawn by the clamour, remaining there to help. It wasn't the first time Alice's cries could be heard outside the doors, and many who recognised her voice feared for a moment that it was the same situation – but actually, she was fighting tooth-and-nail to get out of bed and run to Louise.

Alice was being held down on her bed by at least two others mindful of her injuries, but she was struggling harder than they anticipated and several had retreated seeing stars from being struck – but more than once they as a group had had to catch her from running for the door.

Michael, who had been on guard, spotted the distinctive hair of the Librarian and wove to meet him.

"Adrian! This is bonkers!"

"What's happened?"

"She was asleep until half an hour ago!" Michael sported a bright red patch on his cheek where he had been on the receiving end of Alice's uncharacteristic violence. "Then she wanted to see Louise, said she was going to get to her – wouldn't listen when I told her to get back to bed, she got rather pissed…"


The two senior Society members looked at each other, unease in their eyes.

"I'm thinking… her actions. Is this Stockholm Syndrome?"

"Don't be ridiculous, they're just best friends!" said Valerie over the struggle.

"It doesn't matter… Louise was the captor. The situation was intense enough for Alice to just want to live. There's a potential," murmured Adrian. "A high potential. Either that, or she's in on it."

Michael stared at him. "You really think?"

Valerie scowled. "She's still in pain, she's high on painkillers, she's not understanding what's going on and she's just sca – "

There was a yell as Alice whacked Kyle on the nose, threw herself off her bed and bolted for the door. "I'm coming, Lou – "

Unfortunately there was a Librarian in her way. He caught her, trying to hold her still. "Alice? Alice, what's wrong?"

She stared at his face, but then her struggles redoubled. "Let me go, I need to go to Louise!"


"Because – she's – I must!" Alice knew how to throw her weight around rather well, and fought against Adrian's grip enough to almost shift free, the door in her sights – but then Michael stormed in and seized her other arm.

"You're going back to bed. Come on."

Alice swore copiously at the pair of them, using loud words that made many agents' ears tingle, but she had no chance of fighting off two highly trained men who were both stronger than she was. They frogmarched her back to the bed, many of the others standing by to pull up the bed rails after they both pushed her back down.

"Alice… listen to me," said Adrian, standing over her with a hand near her shoulder.

Alice simply glared at him for a split-second before trying to roll off in the opposite direction. Many hands forced her to fall flat on her back.

"LISTEN to me! I'm trying to help you!"

Finally, a moment of lucidity and lowered volume. "Funny way of showing it."

"I'm sorry. But I have news of Louise for you."

Alice gasped, and struggled against his hand. "Where is she?"

"She's safe. But we can't get much out of her at the moment. I was hoping you could tell me what you think happened – "

"What do you mean you can't get much out of her? What have you done?"



He decided to take that as an idea. "Could Louise be lying to us?"

"Lying? To you, maybe! You haven't given her any reason to trust you!"

"So she is lying?"

"Stop TWISTING my words!"

Adrian sighed, and changed direction. "Alice, okay, listen. Can you think of any reason why Louise would do what she did, and for what purpose?"

"It wasn't Louise!"


"No – it wasn't! I know her and she's simply not capable of doing this!"

"Alice, it was her…"

"NO IT WASN'T! Look –"

"Alice you're being childish!" Adrian missed the building rage on her face. "Denial is pointless here. All I want is your help in getting to the bottom of this!"

"Then let me see her!"

"Why are you so adamant?"

"Because she's my friend, you idiot!"

Adrian scowled. Not good enough. "How's this then: you two were working together, and you being hurt was either your betrayal or a distraction – either way, you were in on it."

"How can I be 'in on anything'? You're keeping me completely in the dark!"

"All the more reason to keep you two away from each other."

"YOU BASTARD! You can't do that!"

"You'll find that I can, and I will. You are a guest here, Alice, why don't you start acting like one?"

"Well you've been a piss-poor host, haven't you?" she snapped. "Unlike half the other morons here, I'm sure as hell not worshipping the ground you walk on!"

"Shh. Alice, you're shouting."

"DON'T SHUSH ME!" Alice tried to sit up again, but Adrian's firm hand on her shoulder pushed her back down.

"I want to help her, Alice, and I need your help to do so, but first you have to realise that I know what I'm doing, and if we're going to have a chance of helping Louise then you need to trust me, calm down, and follow what I say."

There was a moment of still silence, and many agents relaxed. At last Adrian thought he had gotten through to her.

Then her eyes narrowed. "Make me."

Alice could move quickly if she needed to, and she startled many by suddenly scooting down the bed, managing to pull her top out of many hands' grip as she near flew right off the end, nearly toppling over on the smooth floor and once again fleeing for the exit. She crashed into Tom, who up till now had been trying to stay to the sides. Slightly dazed, she shoved him off, near-crawling towards the beckoning freedom. Her nose started bleeding again, but she tried to wipe it away on her sleeve.

Then a head of white hair came into her vision, and with an angry cry she practically headbutted him – trying with rather bad technique to kick him from her low position and managed to thump poor Tom some more as he was trying to untangle himself.

One more slap on his face, and Adrian cracked. "That does it – enough is enough!"

He elbowed her onto her front and held her face-down, pinning her arms behind her back and sitting on her legs. There was silent communication above her head, but Alice missed it – she was screaming and trying to struggle, but he was making sure that movement was impossible.

"If you don't stop fighting us right now I will have you sedated."

Adrian didn't make empty threats.

"NO! NO!"

For the first time Adrian heard the same fright in Alice's voice that he'd heard permeating Louise's.

She had to stay awake; she had to be there to help her friend…

Valerie groaned, not wishing to be part of this at all. Several agents came over and together they bodily lifted her and carried her the few yards to her bed, laying her down flat on her back with the pillows removed – and only then did Alice realise what they were doing.

With Adrian's arms preventing movement of her upper body, she felt her wrists and ankles being extended and placed into wide padded straps, all four being drawn tight and secured firmly. She struggled throughout but to no avail. At last, the group stood back, allowing Valerie to check the two sets of tan leather medical restraints stretching across the bed and holding Alice's limbs straight, her arms down by her sides and her legs slightly apart, leaving her unable to move anything at all aside from her head.

Adrian remained in her view.

"I've tried to be civil, Alice, but you've left me no choice," he said. "Not only are you making a scene, you have proved yourself to be dangerous to both you and others around you. This was your decision, Alice; your refusal to calm down – "


"Your REFUSAL to CALM DOWN," he repeated, with harsh emphasis, "means that you will now remain so until I see fit! I cannot, will not have you putting the investigation in jeopardy!"

"You just mean you don't want me SAVING MY BEST FRIEND from whatever TORTURE you're putting her through!" Alice spat, still too much of a lady and with too much of a dry mouth to actually do so. There was a note of panic in her voice now, however, and she thrashed around unsuccessfully.

"That's it." Adrian stood and turned on his heel, his temper almost getting the better of him. "EVERYONE ELSE OUT!"

The agents scattered. Alice was left alone. She screamed wordlessly in frustration, and struggled in vain against the restraints before she flopped backwards and dissolved into noisy, fearful tears.

Adrian leant against the wall, trying to settle down himself. He heard Michael and Valerie conferring softly behind him, and then felt her hand on his back.

"I trust what you're doing… but I won't leave her. I can't, not when she's helpless like this."

"Stay with her then… keep me informed." Adrian nodded wearily. He hadn't liked what he had to do, and wasn't looking forwards to discovering the meanings behind why both Louise and now Alice had acted – were acting – like they did. He saw Valerie's curious tilt of the head.

"I had thought that Alice would be a willing source of information, be wanting to help me help Louise…" Adrian sighed. "Evidently not."

"No answers out of Louise, then?" Michael asked.

"She doesn't remember anything," he said, much to the looks of shock on Valerie's and Michael's faces. "She's co-operating well but seems fragile emotionally, almost too fragile. I'm not sure if she's bluffing or really does have no recollection…"

"Oh dear."

Adrian glanced back to his most recent dead-end, wondering which step to take now; whether it was an idea to force answers from Alice or to go back and try Louise's again.

"Adrian," said Valerie, watching his expression darken with the implications. "There is someone else who is close to Louise. Someone who knew her very well, and long before any of us did."

Adrian whirled around, eyes wide. "Who?"



The basement was unusually quiet. The Sues and Stus had been forcibly moved back into their correct cells sometime after the rescue, and they were now all reeling from the event. They were all hyper-aware that the Society in the Library above them was not going to let their escapade go unpunished.

Tabitha had spent a good hour sobbing into her pillow. Robert had tried to comfort her through the bars of his cell, but their beds were too far apart for him to reach her. Eventually, she quietened into a dull moan, and then into silence as she fell asleep.

Reena and Kerrie were unfortunate enough to be sandwiched between Ash and Roxelana, who were still discussing potential escape strategies. Neither of the minor Sues was really paying the others that much attention. After a couple of hours sleep, they were contentedly playing noughts and crosses in the dust.

McLaren had returned to his usual grouchy self, and was sullenly slunk in the corner of his cell. He wasn't paying anyone any attention, but since the majority of the Sues in the basement thought him an arse, his inattention to them was a blessing in disguise.

Robert lay on his bed, staring at the concrete ceiling of the basement. He had taken to staring at the ceiling when he had something on his mind. The faint swirling patterns of the ceiling were semi-hypnotic and Robert felt his mind clear. Ever since the hostages had been rescued, he had been worrying about Mirani. She certainly hadn't been acting like the honourable Mirani he remembered. What was bothering him the most was the child that had been involved in the incident. He was haunted by the image of her eyes looking at him, fear filled and terrified. The only change he noticed to the basement was the silence that fell as Ash and Roxelana stopped talking. Robert could only guess that they had finally stopped plotting and had fallen asleep.

So Robert was left alone, and was the only one to hear the grumble that echoed around the basement from his stomach. The agents had grudgingly provided them with food when they had moved them into the correct cells, but their meal had been frugal and now, potentially many hours later, Robert was beginning to feel hungry.

He lay still on his bed as he heard the others around him wake. He heard a thump, and then McLaren's voice cursed loudly. Robert guessed he had fallen off his thin bed. He repressed a snigger.

There was a sound at the basement door, but Robert paid it little attention. There were always noises coming from the corridor outside, usually just the change of the agents on duty. He silently wondered whether this one would provide them with food.

Footsteps sounded from the other end of the room. Robert didn't bother looking up. For all he cared, it was the agent on duty coming to shout at them some more. It was only when Ash's voice called across the basement that Robert realised that the visitor was not the usual run-of-the-mill agent.

"Oh, look who it is!" Ash had gotten to his feet, and was now clutching the bars. His eyes were fixed on the new arrival.

McLaren looked up from his corner. "The high-and-mighty deems us worthy of his illuminating presence! God, I think I'm going to puke!"

Robert wondered which poor soul was being tormented, and raised his head to look towards the top end of the basement.

Adrian stood, arms folded, by the door of the basement. His trenchcoat was a stormy grey colour, but this was nothing compared to the expression on his face.

Robert sat up and pulled his knees up to his chin. He wrapped his arms around them as he took in the figure of the Librarian. He knew that Adrian was a very powerful individual, and he certainly cut an intimidating profile as he stalked down the side of the basement.

The heckling didn't die down as the Librarian approached. Robert winced a little at the words some of his fellow basement inhabitants were using. He knew that they were likely to be in real trouble for what they had done, and now he feared that Adrian had come to deliver the punishment personally. He couldn't take his eyes from the striding figure of the Librarian. It was only the second time he had seen the famed man, and even as he loomed towards the cells where the Sues and Stus were held, Robert could not help but be in awe of the presence and aura he emitted.

"BE SILENT!" Adrian's voice thundered around the basement.

Robert looked around as the basement fell silent around him. Tabitha woke with a start, and seeing the Librarian standing outside her cell gave a small shriek. She pulled her thin blanket up around herself and shrank to the back of her cell. Her eyes were focused on the bed; unable to bring herself to look at the Librarian. Robert tried to reach her through the bars, but his arms just weren't long enough.

"I'm..." Tabitha stammered, but she was cut off as Adrian's shadow loomed over the C Block cells.

With his arm at full stretch through the bars, Robert looked up at the Librarian, fear in his eyes.

Adrian's eyes narrowed as he took in the scene. "On your feet, boy!" he barked his order.

Robert could barely believe that the Librarian was addressing him. "Me?" he asked quietly.

"Now." Adrian's voice was like barely contained thunder; thunder emitting from the cloudlike shadow of his presence.

Robert slowly pulled his arm back into his own cell; not taking his eyes off Adrian's. "Um..." He gave Tabitha a swift glance as Adrian turned outside Robert's cell door to face him. Robert slid from his bed, and got to his feet. He backed to the far end of his tiny cell, as far from the threatening presence of the Librarian as he could.

"We can do this either the easy way, or the hard way." Adrian retrieved a pair of handcuffs from his pocket. Robert's eyes noticed the space behind where Adrian stood. Maybe, once the door was open, he could squeeze through, and run for it... but Adrian seemed to read his mind.

"There's nowhere to run to. Try and you'll be very sorry." He unlocked the door, but held it firmly shut. Robert sighed. He was not a stupid man, and knew that life would likely be ten times worse for him if he tried to outrun the Librarian, and who knew how many more agents he had waiting upstairs. Slowly, and very carefully, Robert took one measured step forwards. As he did so, he heard the cell door open. Adrian placed himself in the middle of the door, ensuring that there was nowhere for the Stu to run.

"Are you going to come quietly?"

Robert was suddenly hyper-aware of the entire basement staring at the scene being played out between him and the Librarian. Tabitha had slunk under her bed, dragging her blanket with her. In the cells behind him, he could sense Roxelana, Ash, Reena and Kerrie watching him; likewise with his neighbours, and the Sues in the block before him. His heart pounded against his chest as he watched the figure of the Librarian in the doorway take a single pace forward.

"Well?" he asked, lifting the cuffs into Robert's line of vision.

He had no other option: nowhere to run; nowhere to hide. Robert took a deep breath, as one did before plunging into danger, and raised his wrists before him.

"Wise decision."



Robert heard and felt the cuffs close around his wrists. He was now at whatever mercy the Librarian felt like showing, and as Robert looked into the cold eyes he wondered what he had let himself in for.

Tabitha, from beneath her bed gave the smallest of squeaks. "Robert! No!" Robert hung his head as Adrian led him from the cell.

"Fight him Robert!" Ash's voice called in encouragement. "Don't give in to him!"

"No..." Robert murmured, barely loud enough for Adrian to hear it, and certainly beyond the hearing of those in the cells.

Adrian didn't pay the Sues and Stus in the cells any further notice as he drew a leading chain from his pocket and abruptly attached it to the cuffs around Robert's wrists.

"Where are you taking me?" Robert dared to ask.

Adrian didn't answer. He merely pulled roughly on the lead chain, now linked to Robert's cuffs. "Move!" he ordered. Robert stumbled out of his cell. As Adrian led his prisoner from the basement, the voices of the other inhabitants rose in protest, many of them shouting encouragement to Robert; others yelling insults at the Librarian. Although not all of them would admit it, they were all rather frightened for Robert's safety in the hands of the Librarian.

Adrian ignored all the clamour from the basement, leading the unprotesting Robert into the Library proper. The prisoner tried to memorise where he was being led, but after what felt like hours of bookcase lined corridors, and then plain, unadorned ones, he was thoroughly lost.

"Where are you taking me?" Robert asked again. He wasn't breathless from the wandering, just a little disorientated. As Adrian had been utterly silent during the time in the Library, Robert didn't really expect a response. All the Librarian did was to pull his prisoner harder.

The pair eventually slowed outside a heavy looking door. Robert's eyes focused on another agent standing by the door. He appeared to be waiting for the Librarian, for as Adrian and his prisoner turned the final corner, he approached.

Michael's eyes fixed on Robert, who stopped at the force of the glare that the Chief Agent was giving him. He could not forget the threat laid upon him for daring to include his wife in the hostage incident. Michael scowled as Adrian finally turned and spoke to Robert.

"Now you listen to me. I'm not in the mood for any more fun and games, boy. If you show any trace of disobedience then I will make things VERY unpleasant for you. Understood?"

Robert swallowed hard, his eyes forever drifting back to the looming figure of Michael standing by the door. Adrian yanked on the lead chain to get Robert's attention.

"UNDERSTOOD?" he shouted at his prisoner.

"Yes... sir..." Robert murmured.

"Good!" Adrian turned to Michael. "Michael, stand guard."

Michael nodded and assumed his position as the Librarian opened the door, and pulled Robert roughly inside. All that furnished the small room was a table and two chairs.

Robert paled at the sight of the chain that ran across the table. What was the Librarian going to do to him? As the thought came to him, Adrian turned to face Robert, who recoiled a little in fear.

"Sit!" he ordered. Robert decided that it was safer not to question anything, and did as he was told. As Robert was looking at the door, Adrian pulled on the chain, forcing the Stu's hands forward. He fastened the cuffs to the chain running across the table. Robert tried to pull his hands onto his lap, but they were stuck fast to the central chain. A brief attempt to free himself told him that there was no point.

Adrian paced around to the other end of the table. Robert's eyes followed his every movement with fear.


Adrian slapped a pile of manila folders onto the table, and took in Robert's startled expression. He pulled the other chair out from behind the table, and sat down. After what, to Robert, felt like a long time, the Librarian spoke.

"Okay. You have been brought here for the purposes of interrogation relating to the incident in the basement. This is going to be recorded."

Robert nodded mutely.

Adrian opened the top folder. Robert could see his name in bold writing at the top of the inside cover, along with his T-shirt colour and cell number. "Here's what I'm thinking. I think you have been planted here. I think Louise is a traitor to the Society, and you and her have been planning what happened in the basement for a long time."

Robert took a couple of seconds to take in what Adrian had said, but eventually he found his voice.


"It's quite clear to me. The hostages have all reported you acting as second-in-command."

"That's... that's not true." Robert didn't know what trouble he would be in for protesting his innocence, but he sure as hell was going to defend the fact that he hadn't been Mirani's co-conspirator.

Adrian raised his eyebrows, appraising Robert as he spoke. "Is it not? You especially seemed quite complicit in the happenings."

Robert's head dropped. He had been complicit. "I..." his voice dropped to barely a whisper. "I just wanted out."

The snort from the other end of the table caused Robert to look up. "And you thought that taking five innocents hostage - including an eleven-year-old girl - would go anywhere to seeing your freedom?"

"I... I didn't know it would include the girl." Robert's voice was almost hysterical. "And I STOPPED when I realised what Mirani was prepared to do." He watched Adrian's reaction to his words. It was clear that the Librarian didn't believe a word that he was saying.

"You do realise that after this instance all of you down there are undergoing a reassessment of your risk level as we speak? What you have done – I don't think you don't deserve to wear yellow anymore," Adrian threatened. He watched Robert's face turned a slight green tone as he absorbed his words.

"Please... no..." Robert was clearly terrified. The dreaded blue shirt was the worst thing to happen to someone like Robert. It meant that, should there ever be another basement escape attempt as happened with Willowe, all those wearing blue t-shirts would be shot on sight. It also highlighted them as being of greatest threat to the agents, and thus would likely receive worse treatment in their cells. The only Sue in a blue T-shirt at present was Roxelana, and all in the basement were made well aware of the reason for it.

"You know what happens to blues, don't you?" Adrian was already aware that Robert knew, but was explaining for dramatic effect. "All that added security...and next time, if you ever are involved in an escape..." He mimicked holding a gun. "...bang. You may think you have nothing to lose, Robert...but trust me, you do. Much more than you might think."

Robert sagged in his seat; his chain pulling taut as he attempted to rest his hands on his lap. He wasn't usually one to give up, but even he had to admit that the Librarian really did have him in a corner now.

"So now answer me this... Why does Louise not remember anything of the incident at all?"

Realising that it was probably best for him to answer the Librarian's questions, Robert sighed.

"I don't know," he began. "Mirani doesn't have the best of memories..."

Adrian cut him off. "Why do you keep calling her 'Mirani'?"

"It's her name... isn't it?" Robert's face was troubled.

"And where did you find this out? Because the last time I checked, her birth name is Louise."

"Mirani was the name I knew her as for the eighteen months when she..." Robert drifted off, deciding that it was best to get to the point with Adrian. "I only discovered her real name on the day she left."

"Mmm..." Adrian pondered, glancing at the files before him. "So you're saying you knew her by another name for a year and a half... a name which no one else in the Library calls her... and you're trying to tell me you two are NOT conspiring together?"

"I hadn't seen Mirani for over seven years until we ran into each other in Rome. How on Earth could we have planned something?"

"You've been here seven months," Adrian pointed out.

Robert sighed as he conceded that Adrian's point had some merit. "But I haven't been conspiring with anybody..." his voice held a hint of hopelessness in it.

"And speaking of Rome," Adrian pressed his point him, "that is why you are here in the first place. Pretty convenient, if you ask me, for your brother and your mistress to escape so effortlessly. I go back to my first point," Adrian stood up and leaned towards Robert across the table, "...I still think you've been planted here, if not to conspire then to take advantage of it."

Robert gritted his teeth together, and hissed at Adrian. "She's not my mistress."

"But you took orders from her. She's triple the level you are, and Richard's not a pushover either, by the looks of him... so you are guilty via association. All things considered – they could have easily rescued you. They left you in Rome for us to capture."

As Adrian spoke, Robert's mind was whirring, dredging up memories of his life before his imprisonment; his life with Merle and Richard. Words came back into his mind; words spoken in a different place, a different time.

"When the time comes..." he murmured.

"Don't murmur at me, boy... Out with it!"

Robert looked up at Adrian; a small tear trickled out of his eye and down his cheek. "I... I can't."

"You CAN'T or you WON'T? Must I remind you of what's at stake, Robert?"

"I can't... she'll kill me."

Adrian frowned as he sat back down. The boy wasn't making much sense, but it was more than he had gotten from Alice. "Who, Louise? As I said, she can't remember anything of the incident. We have her safe and secure anyhow."

Robert placed his head in his hands and leant on the table. When he spoke, it was muffled. "No, not Mirani... Merle."

Adrian glanced at Merle's rather incomplete file, thinking over what Robert had said. "Is your life at stake?"


"We can keep you safe here. Tell me Robert, what did Merle say to you before Rome?"

"She..." Robert looked up from his hands. "She gave me orders... that I would know who to obey when the time came."

"Why would she know this would happen? It's been over three months since we last came across her."

Robert was about to replace his head on his hands, but at Adrian's words, his eyes shot up to meet the Librarian's. "Three months?" he spluttered. "What happened three months ago?"

"Will you tell me if it is relevant?"

"I've been in your basement for seven months. The world could have ended for all I knew... but yes, I will tell you."

Adrian weighed up the options. He needed information, and for the moment Robert appeared in a forthcoming position. "Louise ventured into a fandom and was caught by Merle. She was there a week before we rescued her."

"What fandom?" Robert's voice was almost frantic for information.

"Warhammer Fantasy."

Robert clapped his hand over his mouth to stifle his gasp, but a small hiss escaped. He buried his face in his hands once more.

"I take it that is relevant?" Adrian asked, but did not demand an immediate response from his prisoner.

From within his hands, Robert mumbled. "If I say anymore, I will be committing the grossest act of treason imaginable."

Unseen by Robert, Adrian went to stand again... and again... and again. He hadn't been expecting anything like this. Robert had not fought or shouted at all, in fact he had been quite well-behaved; far removed from his brother Richard, whose file Adrian had used to base his questioning tone on. Evidently this was wrong. Eventually, he changed tack, and merely said, "Robert... if you help us... we could help you."

"I can't..." Robert was adamant. "She'll kill me. I would be a traitor to her... the worst kind of traitor."

Adrian studied to young man before him, wondering what kind of skeletons he had in his closet. He sighed, and decided to take a different route into information.

"Mirani is your friend, is she not?" Adrian asked, using the name for Louise that Robert knew. "Would you like to help her?"

Robert nodded from within his hands.

"We found Louise in the White Tower of Hoeth," Adrian explained, and Robert's head whipped out of his hands, and he stared at Adrian.


Adrian knew too well than to hope that Robert would be totally forthcoming, but this name was a start.

"Will you tell me about him?" he asked, and then after a moment's silence, added, "Robert, we can keep you safe from Merle."

Robert, finally convinced that there was going to be no other option that to provide the Librarian with the information he sought, looked up properly, and began to explain.

"Teclis is a powerful mage. If you are right in saying that Mirani remembers nothing about the events in the basement... he could have done something to her." After his explanation, Robert buried his face into his hands again, and quietly bemoaned, "I'm a traitor... forever a traitor. To be shot on sight."

Robert twitched a little as Adrian reached across the table and placed a comforting hand on his shoulder. "Listen to me, Robert. You are not a traitor. Such cryptic orders, and no-one should order another to cause harm. We can help you, and we will defend you. You don't have to live under her boot any longer..." Adrian paused. "What kind of something could have been done to Louise?"

"I... don't know..." Robert was almost in tears now at the thought of what he had done.

"Could Teclis have made Louise do something outside of her own control?"

"Maybe..." Robert murmured, "maybe, he is very powerful…I've heard he can take control of a man's mind…"

Adrian stood up at the other end of the table, removing his hand from Robert's shoulder. He walked over to the main door, and opened it. Michael was waiting outside. He was looking more than a little shocked.

"You got that?" Adrian asked him.

"Sleeper agent..." Michael appeared to take in the phrase. "Holy crap!"

"Go and inform Tash and Phoenixia of the developments. I will finish up here."

Michael nodded and vanished from sight.

Adrian closed the door and turned back to Robert who was whispering to himself.

"I'm a dead man... I'm a dead man."

Adrian put his hand back on Robert's shoulder. "You've been the biggest help to our investigation today. You may have just saved Louise. Let's see if I can't return the favor."

Robert looked up, hardly willing to believe what he was hearing. The Librarian... the famed Librarian... was going to do something for him. Adrian leaned over, and released Robert's cuffed hands from the chain on the table. He offered the Stu a hand to get to his feet. Robert stood, a little unsteadily.

"What is going to happen to me now?" he asked with trepidation.

"To you? Well..." Adrian appraised Robert carefully. "I'll take you back to the basement."

Robert sighed. He knew it was too good to be true.

"As for Louise," Adrian continued, "we'll find out what's been done, and we'll sort it out. On that you have my word."

Oh... Robert thought bitterly. Well, I have his word for that.

Adrian did not reattach the leading chain, but merely took hold of Robert's arm and led him out of the room. There was no one else in sight as Adrian guided Robert a different route back towards the basement. As they passed the hospital wing doors, the sound of sobbing could be heard coming from within.

Robert stopped briefly, but Adrian didn't urge him forwards.

"Who's that?" Robert asked. "Is that Mirani?"

"No..." Adrian sighed, and suddenly the Librarian looked tired and drawn to Robert's eyes. "That's Alice."

"Alice..." the name rang a bell inside Robert's head. "The girl from the basement?"

"She's Louise's best friend..." Alice's sobs could be heard in Adrian's pauses. "We've had to strap her to her bed."


"Violence towards other agents... and a single-minded determination to ruin the investigation," Adrian explained, his eyes on the hospital wing door. "I didn't want to do it... but I did what I had to do."

"She seems very vocal about something..." Robert wondered aloud as Adrian urged Robert to move again.

"Me, probably," Adrian said with a sigh, "or not being able to see her friend."

As Robert caught sight of the basement door, he froze.

"Come on..." Adrian pulled him forward gently. Robert followed; his fight or flight mode triggering at the thought of going back to the basement. The Librarian led him down the steps and to the basement office.

A knock on the door brought Agent Rhia to the door.

"Hi Adrian..." she greeted the Librarian warmly. "Returning him to his cell?" she glared a little at Robert.

"In a fashion..." Adrian said, a small smirk crossing his face. "Rhia, would you print up a new green t-shirt for him? Cell... A3, I think."

Neither the agent nor the Stu could believe what they were hearing. Robert gawped in Adrian's direction. The coveted green T-shirt meant only one thing…a second chance. It meant that he would be going up for parole. On the other side, Rhia looked a little more appraisingly at him.

"Okay..." she murmured, "situation changed?"

"For the better," Adrian explained with a slight smile. He led Robert into the basement proper. The heckling that both parties were expecting the moment they entered, didn't happen. The majority of them were so shocked to see Robert back among them in one piece that they had forgotten to hurl abuse at Adrian.

"Why are you doing this?" Robert asked as Adrian opened Cell A3, located much closer to the door and in the only block that was currently empty.

"As I said: you help us, we help you." Adrian reached forward and removed Robert's cuffs.

"I don't deserve this..." Robert sighed, as Rhia arrive with his newly printed green t-shirt.

"Here's the shirt."

"... I'm a traitor." Robert concluded.

"Too bloody right you're a traitor!" Ash's voice called from the back of the basement.

Ignoring the loud shouts from Roxelana and Ash, Adrian turned to Robert. "You don't need to listen to Merle or Richard any more. You're free from them! Now..." Adrian took the t-shirt from Rhia, and handed it to Robert. It was still warm, the ink on the front, back and sleeves new and shiny. "This is yours now."


Adrian nodded. "Yes..." he turned, for the first time acknowledging the hecklers. "He co-operated with us! And look what he got out of it! If you boneheads would only do the same, maybe you might get this treatment too. NOW CUT IT OUT!"

Ash clearly didn't intend to pay any heed to the Librarian. "YOU BLOODY TRAITOR ROBERT!"

"Since WHEN does he pay allegiance to you, Harth?" Adrian called across the basement.

"HE OWES US MORE ALLEGIANCE THAN YOU, LIBRARIAN. HE'S ONE OF US!" Roxelana's voice joined Ash's berating of Robert.

Rhia slipped from Adrian's side and headed down one side of the basement. The Librarian meanwhile turned back to Robert.

"Do you… this is really for me?" Robert could barely string his sentences together.

Adrian smiled. "Yes silly... now put it on."

Robert didn't need telling twice.

Meanwhile, at the back of the basement, Rhia was confronting Roxelana.

"You really think I was scared of you when I knew that in less than a minute you would be begging for mercy? The squeak was a signal, you stupid bitch; a signal for the others to come down the stairs."

"You will always be afraid of me, girl..." Roxelana strayed a little too close to the front of the cell with her taunts of Rhia. Before the Sue knew what was happening, Rhia had planted her fist in the Sue's face. There was a satisfying crunch; maybe she had actually broken bone. Roxelana stumbled backwards, crashing onto the edge of her bed and landing with an almighty thump.

From his cell at the front of the basement, dressed in his new green t-shirt, Robert looked over.

"How does it feel?" Adrian asked him.

"Like a…a second chance."

Adrian chuckled, "I was referring to the t-shirt."

"Warm..." Robert semi-crooned as the heat of the newly printed t-shirt permeated his body. Adrian nodded with satisfaction as a contented Rhia rejoined them.

"Make sure there's no trouble," Adrian instructed Rhia, leading her a little way from Robert to explain what he had gleaned from his interrogation of Robert. As they returned to within Robert's hearing, Adrian bid his farewell to Rhia. "I'm going to see how things are progressing."

Adrian closed the door on Robert's cell as Rhia disappeared with assurances of collecting his few meagre belongings from his old cell. "We'll try and keep you informed, Robert."

"Thank you."

At the back of the basement, Roxelana was cursing Rhia's name; Adrian's name, and the name of any other agent she could think of. Robert lay on his new bed, waiting for Rhia to bring him his book. Whilst it was nice to be granted the desirable green t-shirt, something he never expected, he was now lonely. He missed Tabitha, Reena and Kerrie. He looked over, and through the bars of the central Block B, he could just about make out Tabitha on her bed. He wondered, if the proffered parole hearing came to fruition, what would become of him. He closed his eyes, and thought of home.



Louise had sunk to the floor by the door of the room upon Adrian's leaving. She was terrified of the man. She shuffled herself against the wall, and sat there, knees pulled up under her chin. Nothing Tash said was getting her to move. She had called for Phoenixia not long after the Adrian's departure, and now all they could do was wait.

"Why don't you sit at the table?" Tash asked for not the first time, but the response she got from Louise was unchanging.

"Oh, com'on hon," the Assistant Librarian dragged one of the chairs over, and perched on it at Louise's side.

"Before you ask, Tash..." Louise spoke between her tears, "I don't remember anything about what you said. Adrian's scaring me."

Tash sighed. She wasn't entirely sure what to say to her friend. Louise was usually a very bubbly, cheerful, sensible person. "We'll get to the bottom of this," she reassured.

"And then what?" Louise demanded. "Lock me in the basement with the Sues; or just kick me out on my butt?"

Tash's face was shocked that Louise had even considered the possibility that her friends would even do such a thing. "No..." she protested, but cut herself off. If Louise was guilty, what were they going to do with her?

"I knew it..." Louise's voice was thick, not only from the crying but also with the accusations she was levelling at her friend.

"We would never lock you up, Lou," Tash explained. "Let's give Adrian a chance to get all the information first, shall we?"

"You said Alice was in the hospital wing... why?"

"She suffered a broken nose from the events in the basement."

"I didn't..." Louise for a second thought that she might have been the one responsible.

"You... no. From what the others have told us, it was Ash."

"Bastard!" Louise cursed.

A gentle knock on the door caused both women to look around. Tash climbed off the chair, and approached the door. Opening it, she saw Phoenixia standing outside.


"You asked me to come?"

"Yes... Louise," Tash gestured over her shoulder to the huddled agent against the wall, "is very scared at the moment. I don't think Adrian helped matters."

"I passed him on my way here. He looked very determined about something."

"He's going to talk to Alice. See if he can get any more information from her."

"Well, good luck to him," Phoenixia murmured, pulling Tash closer so that Louise couldn't hear the words exchanged. Louise looked away from the discussion in the doorway, wrapping herself once more in the tartan blanket she had been provided with.

Once Phoenixia had reported her information to Tash, she was permitted access to the room.

"Hey Lou..." Phoenixia was wary, just like Tash had been upon her arrival. The Assistant Librarian took up her former seat on the metal chair, and Phoenixia perched precariously on the table. Louise made no comment to the former hologram's greetings.

"Oh come on Lou. Nixie is here to help you," Tash leaned over and reached for Louise's hands. "We want to help you, but you have to be willing to give something in return."

"How can I give you anything when I remember nothing?" Louise queried.

Phoenixia pushed herself from the table and crouched at Louise's side. "Lou... why don't we just chat? See if we can calm you down a bit?"

"Will you answer my questions?" Louise asked.

Tash and Phoenixia exchanged a concerned look that didn't go unmissed by Louise. "What?"

"We will try," Tash explained, "but you need to understand that we don't have all the answers yet."

Louise sighed. "Do you believe me, Tash?" she asked

Tash glanced at Phoenixia and said softly, "Yes, I believe you. I've known you longer than the majority of others here. This is completely against your character."

"Thank you..." Louise leaned back against the wall.

"Louise," Phoenixia began, but the junior agent noticed the hesitation in her voice.

"What now?"

"Lou, why don't you tell me what you do remember? Might calm you down a bit," Phoenixia suggested.

"I've already told Adri –"

"But I'm not him," her voice softened, "and besides, from the look of you, you could use a shoulder to cry on at the moment." Phoenixia moved to Louise's side, and slid onto the floor. Tash made an unconscious movement to prevent her, but Louise's eyes were on the ex-hologram, and didn't spot it. The moment Phoenixia was sat beside her, Louise seized her and buried her head into her shoulder, letting out a wail of despair.

"Looks like you definitely needed a shoulder to cry on," Phoenixia stated, looking up at Tash.

"Why doesn't he believe me?" Louise sobbed.

"Adrian..?" Phoenixia queried, and Louise nodded. "He's..." Phoenixia searched for the most appropriate word.

"He's trying to take control of the situation," Tash piped in. "He doesn't have all the answers yet, so he is attempting to find them. It didn't help that you can't remember anything."

Louise looked up from her sobbing session on Phoenixia's shoulder. "It's not my fault I can't remember," she snapped. The words came out harder than she intended, and her face fell the moment the words were spoken. "Sorry..." she murmured.

Phoenixia gently rubbed her hand across Louise's back to soothe her. "There, there..." she muttered. "Nobody thinks it is your fault."

Louise broke into a fresh wave of sobs; Phoenixia's top getting slowly wetter and wetter.

"There may be a way to get answers..." Phoenixia looked up at Tash as she spoke.

"How?" Tash asked.

"No... experiments..." Louise protested; though it fell a little flat through the outpouring of tears.

"No, no... not experiments," Phoenixia rubbed Louise's back again. "Louise," Phoenixia placed her hands on the young agent's shoulders, pushing her away from her for a second, "if you are willing to consent, we could always hook you up to..."

"NO!" Louise recoiled from Phoenixia's hands, forcing herself deep into the corner of the room.

"Just hear me out, darling," her hands were still outstretched, but Phoenixia made no move towards Louise. "We hook you up to a computer, and I can then have a small look around and work things out."

Tash looked between the pair of them. "Lou, don't worry hon. Nixie's done this stuff before."

In the corner, Louise relaxed a little. "Will it hurt?" She had a terribly low pain threshold, and Louise was always nervous of anything that would bring her pain.

"No..." Phoenixia soothed from her distance. "You may be aware of me in your mind a little, but no, it won't hurt."

"And you'll get the answers you need?"

"Most likely. I won't lie to you, Louise. I need your permission to do this, because your mind will put up barriers to me if I go in uninvited. It would help us all if you allowed us to do this."

Louise sighed.

"Very well, but I have one condition..."

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