Author's Note: The Institute stories are paired... How To Tell Her: Michael's Story should be read before Case File #36.
Stares and silence confronted me as I stepped out of the gravcar. The Director said Operatives got used to it; I disliked raising my voice so the silence was useful.
"Sir," a young police officer said, coming to attention what he must have thought was a safe distance from me.
"I'm not in your chain of command," I told him. "Relax."
"Yes, sir," he replied, ignoring what I said. I shook my head and studied the expensive hotel behind him.
"Is she up there?" I asked quietly.
"Room 313, sir."
"Why not the penthouse, sir?" he blurted. "I thought Positives always took the best."
"She didn't know to ask," I said. Walking past him, I counted far too many of his fellow officers. One to keep an eye on a late blooming Positive (the testing exemption had been repealed too long before for it to be anything else) until the assigned Institute Operative arrived was the standard procedure handed down by the Director to local authorities.
"Sir!" the cop exclaimed. "The Captain ordered you to come see him."
I froze and turned back to him.
"That's what the Captain said!" he rushed out.
"In that case, the girl can wait," I said. "Where is the Captain?"
He nodded towards an ambulance. I gestured for him to walk ahead and wondered how many people would witness the heavy-handed treatment the Director expected when someone gave orders to an Operative. It was necessary, but I wished people who did not understand the limits of their power would make it unnecessary more often.
"Captain," the young officer said approaching a man wearing a uniform more appropriate to the Policeman's Ball than the street.
"Are you the EM-Cop?" the Captain asked, giving me an unfriendly glance. There was no point in answering the question; the gray uniform was intended to be a sign of danger. Most of us considered the uniform silly, and the others had to endure the jokes from non-Operative Positives. It did make us recognizable enough to avoid problems, though this particular person was ignoring the warning.
"Erotic Mind Control Operative," I said. "EMC-Op if you must shorten it. I prefer Institute Operative or just Operative, which is how the Director addresses us."
He shrugged my point aside.
"I understand you ordered me to attend you," I said.
Everyone near us took a couple of steps back. They made sure to stay close enough to hear how the exchange ended, while making it a point to look elsewhere. The Captain gave the young officer an angry look but refused to back down.
"That's one of mine in the ambulance," he spat.
"I'm not fond of emotional outbursts, especially angry ones," I said. "Moderate your tone, or you will scream in pain for the next year or so."
"You can't do that!"
"Institute Operatives are always Telepathics," I said; no one could be that ignorant, but I decided to give him the benefit of the doubt.
"Even Telepathics have limits," he insisted bravely.
"It isn't one of mine," I said.
"Only the Director's Bas..." he stopped as his eyes flared in recognition.
"Finish the word," I said.
"Bastard!" he said. I had to give him credit-- his voice barely wavered.
"Were I any other Operative, you would be screaming at my feet for having thought of giving that order," I said. "Because I am the EMC-Op who people so lovingly refer to as the 'Director's Bastard', I have the luxury of letting it slide."
He looked ready to continue speaking, but fear held his tongue. It was better for him to be afraid; even a non-Operative Positive would have handled the situation more roughly than I chose to.
"She's one of mine," he said finally, looking at the ambulance.
"What's your point, Captain?"
"She's..." the young officer said stepping forward. He seemed lost for a second, "Horny, sir."
"Why didn't someone say that to begin with?" I asked. "I wasn't aware the girl had gotten to one of you."
I stepped around the Captain and opened the ambulance doors. A female officer was strapped to a gurney, struggling to get free.
"I've never seen anyone like that," the young officer said peeking around a door. The curiosity was common; few people had witnessed someone that horny. For the most part, Institute Positives kept the extreme forms of their fun behind closed doors.
"FUCK ME!" the female officer yelled.
"What's her name?" I asked.
"Shannon," the Captain answered. I nodded and stepped into the ambulance. I sat beside the gurney to study her; she was pretty with long brown hair and vibrant blue eyes.
"Hello, Shannon," I said.
"Help me!" she begged. Her eyes bored into me as she strained against the straps. "Please, fuck me!"
"I've got an appointment with the young lady who did this to you, so I can't take the time right now," I told her. "But I can be of some help."
She gritted her teeth. I jacked into her mind with enough force for her to be aware of the invasion.
"I'm going to function as a wall between you and most of the horniness, Shannon," I said, erecting the barrier in her mind. "It's going to allow you to make some decisions without interference."
She relaxed and closed her eyes as the mental wall took the brunt of what had been done to her body.
"The girl is a Pheromonic," I said.
"How can you tell?" the young officer asked from the ambulance door.
"The four Positive powers require different approaches to abate their effect," I told him. "With a Pheromonic, the signals being sent from the body need to be blocked or functionally siphoned off. Basically, I've increased her pleasure tolerance."
"I like the pleasure," Shannon said pushing her chest toward me.
"What?" the young officer gasped. The Captain stomped away.
"We had a Symbolic Positive in my freshman dorm," she said staring hungrily at me. "I was her favorite."
"So you know about the decisions you need to make in this circumstance, Shannon?" I asked. She answered with a firm nod. It made things easier; no one could deny or hide from what had happened to the human race like in the first twenty or so years after the Event, but it did not stop people from being willfully ignorant to the consequences.
"Why does she have to make any decisions?" the young officer asked. "You fixed her."
"Where did you go to school?" I asked him.
"Red Falls is a little strange, sir," Shannon told me. "They don't... have a lot of respect for Positives."
"I don't understand," I said.
"The Captain sent four of us after the girl, sir," she explained, refusing to meet my eyes. I sat quietly for a few minutes. A quick scan proved the veracity of her statement meaning the Captain had tied my hands. As lenient as I chose to be in some areas, I had been not been baptized the Director's Bastard for the open questions about my lineage.
"Officer," I said looking at the young man at the ambulance doors. He straightened into attention at the tone of my voice.
"Tell your Mayor and the Captain, I will be questioning them as soon as I've made arrangements for Shannon," I told him.
"I don't know where the Mayor is, sir."
"Find him," I said and turned to study Shannon again.
"If you have previous experience with a Positive, I don't have to explain much to you," I said to her. She gave me a big smile and another nod.
"The Pheromonic in the hotel is good," I told her. "Not powerful, but she's got a naturally subtle touch. It's going to take a week for what she's done to flush out of your system."
"I missed it," she said with her eyes beaming.
"What do you want to do?"
"I have a fiancée, James. Our Institute Application is pending," she whispered hopefully.
I activated my earcell.
"Yes, Jason," a warm female voice answered on the other side. I reached out to straighten Shannon's shirt so I could read her nameplate. She pushed up and rubbed her breast against my hand. I let her enjoy the contact for a few seconds.
"I need an Application pushed through processing," I said leaning away from Shannon, who pouted.
"Shannon Davidson from Red Falls; Application Partner, James Hutchinson," the voice said. "The Application is pending the required blood re-test. I'll get a bio-tech on it, sir."
"How long will it take?"
"I've got the on-duty tech inline, and she's pulled the blood samples. A few minutes, sir."
"I'll wait then," I said.
"Yes!" Shannon hissed when I reached over to unbutton her shirt. I pulled the knife off her belt and cut her t-shirt and bra open so I could have access to her breasts. The position was not flattering, but I could tell Shannon's breasts were exceptional.
"No wonder you were that Symbolic's favorite," I said circling a hard nipple with a finger.
"The wall... please, the wall!"
"I'm glad to see your experiences with us have been positive," I said. I shortened the barrier so her body could send sexual signals over it.
"Oh My God!" she cried. "It's been so long!"
I leaned down and took her right nipple in my mouth. I sucked hard on it. Shannon had not complained about being strapped down so her Symbolic must have enjoyed her in that fashion.
"Sir," the voice in my ear said a few minutes later.
"NO!" Shannon screamed as I pulled away from her. I heard a snicker from the doors and looked. I would not have been surprised if everyone on the street was peeking into the ambulance to see what I was doing to Shannon.
"Shannon and James's Application has been approved," the voice said happily. "Please congratulate the happy couple for me, Jason."
"Thank you, I will," I replied. Shannon perked up at my words.
"Susan and the Institute would like to extend our congratulations," I told her. "Now, where can we find James Hutchinson?"
"Here!" an officer said from outside the ambulance. I turned to watch him step up to the doors.
"Well, I seem to have all the requirements for wedding," I said. "Are you two ready to get married?"
"We're New Christians," James replied.
"I thought it would help our Application," Shannon informed me.
"I'll call our priest," James said. "He could get here in fifteen minutes."
"Why bother?" I asked. "I can marry you."
They looked at each other in surprise. I undid Shannon's straps while they communicated silently. It took a minute for James to untangle himself from Shannon's enthusiasm when she was finally free. I helped him by raising the barrier in her mind to its original level.
"Is it true?" James asked holding Shannon at arm's length. The question made her focus on me.
"Is what true?" I asked.
"That we'll have a normal life if we're married by an Institute Operative," Shannon asked eagerly.
"No, Shannon," I replied. "You'll have a very abnormal life. The only limitation on children will be the Institute approved number for your combined physical, psychological, and social profile. You'll also receive a Conjugal Visitation Ration Card."
They hugged tightly for a long time. The people around us whispered loudly about the couple's good luck.
"Does that mean you don't wish to wait for the NC priest?" I asked after they stepped apart.
"No!" Shannon replied smiling. I activated the earcell.
"Please witness the Institute marriage of Shannon Davidson and James Hutchinson."
People crowded around, as Shannon and James stood hand-in-hand before me. I took their joined hands in mine and jacked into them with enough force to make them aware of my mental presence.
"Will you love this child?" I asked.
"I will," James said. His voice cracked the tiniest bit.
"I will," Shannon said with tears pouring out of her eyes.
Their overwhelming sincerity came through the link.
"Will you love every child the Institute gives you?" I asked.
"We will," they replied together.
I nodded with the solemnity the ceremony deserved. They hugged and kissed as people applauded loudly. I waited until the congratulations were over before approaching them again.
"You can still have a public New Christian ceremony if you wish," I told them.
"It's not necessary," Shannon replied. "A pregnancy announcement is the important ceremony; our parents will understand."
"Fine," I said. "Are you ready, James?"
I had not released the jack into either of them so it was only a matter of pushing against James's mind. He sighed and dropped to his knees; Shannon tried to hold him up but could not.
"He's a virgin," she explained unnecessarily. She helped him back to his feet when he managed a grip on the sensations coursing through him for the first time.
"Get them a room in the hotel," I told a couple of nearby officers. "Shannon, I'll hold the wall up until you get inside."
"Sir, the girl is still in there," one of the officers protested.
"It didn't stop anyone when your Captain ordered it," I said.
They decided retreat was the better part of valor and led the newlyweds towards the hotel. I waited until I could release the barrier before looking for the young officer I had sent on my errand. He was standing a few feet behind me.
"Sir," he said in a significantly more respectful voice. "I found the Mayor. The entire city assembly came with him."
I followed him to the small crowd of people surrounding the Captain and a man I assumed was the Mayor.
"Gentlemen," I said, coming to a halt in front of the two men. "I'm going to jack into this officer because he asked a very stupid question about Miss Shannon's encounter with the Pheromonic. Am I going to be disappointed by what I find?"
"I don't know what you expect to find," the Mayor said angrily.
One of the women gasped. I jacked both men: painfully... for them. They fell on their stomachs and screamed hard enough for everyone to jump. The Captain puked on my shoes, while the Mayor puked and pissed himself. I wiped my shoes off on the Captain's pants when he was done screaming.
"Clean them up," I told the crowd.
"Let's try again," I said when the two men were brought back.
"You already know, don't you?" an assemblywoman asked. "You did something to their minds."
"If I take what I need, I can't give you the opportunity to hang with them," I said.
"The Institute classified them as genetically anomalous," she offered. "The Mayor's been in power for longer than the young officer you sent has been alive."
"He threw his support behind the Captain when the position became available," someone else spoke up with. "They've been messing with what's taught about the Institute and Positives for years."
"The Institute had no right to deny me a child!" the Mayor screamed at me.
"We know the Institute prevents research into other solutions," the Captain said, made brave by the Mayor's foolish act. "The Institute is only interested in protecting their power."
"I see," I said.
The entire assembly set themselves. No Positives, no sex -- no sex, no children. The men's actions should not have been tolerated; non-Positives had lynched people for less.
"Since Red Falls is obviously populated entirely by Geddonists, let me provide your heart's desire," I said. "The city is now under Institute Quarantine."
They roared accusations at each other. They had reason to be scared; the last Quarantine leveled at an entire community had been to destroy a company caught manufacturing Positive inhibiting drugs over thirty years before. The city had imploded into violence with the city leaders and company executives quartered.
I silenced them by raising my hand a minute later.
"But since your Captain has so much confidence in other solutions," I said. "I will allow the bio-techs to experiment with in-vitro fertilizations here. They'll be pleased to hear so many have volunteered; women who want to try the method have been few and far between in recent decades."
"Please!" the woman who had spoken before said. "Don't do this to us!"
"We can do it if they give us the scientists, Marcia," the Captain said. "This is what we wanted."
"Shut up, Marcus!" she screamed in fury. "They tried! They tried and failed so many times with so many women that WE voted to give the Director everything he asked for. He convinced women first that Positives were our only hope, you fucking idiot!"
"It worked once," the Mayor protested.
She gave him a look so full of venom I was surprised he did not collapse in immediate cardiac arrest.
"One successful in-vitro pregnancy since the Event," she said sadly. "And in the twenty-two years since his birth, those records have been sealed by a unanimous vote of the House and Senate with every President since confirming it. The Supreme Court has accepted every case challenging the seal and unanimously voted against unsealing the records EVERY time."
Everyone was looking at me.
"I don't know what the records say," I told them. "The Director hasn't let me read them either."
"You're lying," the Mayor accused. "You are that baby; the Director would tell you. He's very fond of the truth, isn't he?"
I sighed and shook my head.
"What do we have to do to avoid a Quarantine?" Marcia asked.
I put a bullet in the Mayor's head, and one in the Captain's.
"A good place to start is everyone stop trying to annoy me," I said after the bodies stopped twitching.
"PUT THEM DOWN!" Marcia yelled at the cops pointing guns at me. I holstered my weapon and looked around to see how many more were going to have to die over the men's stupidity. The assembly members dispersed and talked to the officers making sure the guns were put away before I took any more action.
I stood between the bodies to keep the results of challenging the Institute's authority fresh in the gathered assembly members' minds.
"Do you want to avoid a Quarantine?" I asked.
They nodded in unison.
"I have just finished mentoring a new Institute Operative," I told them. "I will have her based out of Red Falls and task her with ensuring the damage is undone."
They nodded eagerly; I did not need to use my power to know what they were thinking.
"While normally getting a Positive to live in Red Falls would be a boon, believe me, not if they're an Operative," I said. "New Operatives are prone to enthusiasm. I'm sure the Director will have some strict instructions for Sheila after he reads my report. Considering the Director's orders are zealously administered by the most experienced Operative, I can't imagine the lengths Sheila will go to put a smile back on his face when he hears the name Red Falls."
They winced and with good reason; I was the least destructive of five active Operatives.
I turned to walk towards the hotel, only to be stopped by Marcia's hand on my arm.
"Lucinda, the Positive, has my daughter," she told me.
"My daughter has given Lucinda reason to be angry with her," she said carefully.
"How much reason?" I asked.
"A lot," the young officer answered when the assemblywoman would not. I turned to stare at him.
"Jennifer has a reputation," the officer told me. "Lucinda was her favorite victim in high school."
I turned back to the assemblywoman.
"Jennifer is the daughter of a Positive," she said as if it explained her failure as a parent.
"Do you understand what 'stop trying to annoy me' means?" I asked.
"We always thought that she would..."
"I'm going to let you in on a little secret," I said. "If the Director believed the statistic the bio-techs throw around about the children of Positives being more likely to be born Positive, he would have every single one of us on a breeding schedule."
"But the studies?"
"The studies are interpreted by bio-techs too eager to please a man they've canonized," I said. "There are enough statistics to say that only one out of five hundred thousand children are born Positive. There are not enough children of Positives to say with any surety that it improves those odds. We could have gotten lucky. Even if the bio-techs are right, twice as likely leaves two hundred forty-nine thousand nine hundred ninety-nine chances that your daughter was not born Positive."
I turned away and gave some thought to how the information altered the dynamics of the situation.
"How long have they been up there?" I asked.
"A couple of hours, sir," the officer replied.
"Okay," I said nodding. "I'm hungry so I can give Lucinda another hour with Jennifer before I pay her a visit."
"But my daughter!" the woman protested.
"My case loss ratio being half of everyone else's makes me the best Institute Operative ever, as if being only 2 million children behind were an achievement to be proud of," I told her. "Lucinda has to enable five hundred thousand babies that grow up to have babies of their own for us to stay at population G-Zero."
She took a step back as I put a hand on my holster.
"We haven't achieved G-Zero since the Event," I said. "I'm not here to fix the problem you created; I'm here to fix the one your daughter might have."
"I want everyone off the street," I told the officer. "Have a cop watch every exit from a distance in case Lucinda gets bored before I get back. If any of you gets within fifty feet of her, you'll be burying another body"
I walked back to the gravcar.
The door to Room 313 was unlocked so I let myself in. A tall brunette with body proportions falling on the thick side was standing at the head of the bed with a blonde between her legs. Both were intensely focused: the blonde on her duty, and the brunette on the effects of the blonde's diligent attention to that duty.
I closed the door loudly to get their attention. The blonde jumped, but the brunette cut off any further movement by grabbing a fistful of a blonde hair.
"Lucinda?" I asked the brunette.
"They sent another cop?" the brunette asked sneering.
"You don't recognize the uniform?" I asked. She looked me up and down, but shook her head.
"I'll have to give Sheila instructions of my own about Red Falls," I said.
"Who's Sheila?" Lucinda asked. "You know what, never mind! I want to see Jennifer stuffed with cock. Come here!"
An Institute Positive would have known better than to try their talent on an Operative, and the thought of using it on me terrified most of them.
"That smells good," I told her. Lucinda had a delicate touch with her pheromones; they did not assault, instead tried to undermine. I closed my eyes and took a deep breath. Every Pheromonic had a signature, regardless of the effect they were trying to engineer. Lucinda's signature was written in tropical citrus.
"Come here!" she ordered as the pleasant scent overcame any other smell in the room. I tilted my head and stared at her.