Betsy Visits River City.
The preparations for the subconscious interrogation were undramatic. Betsy was amazed. She had seen it before and was impressed by the chanting and incense and all the paraphernalia that went on around the event. It also took hours then but this time all it took was Faeryfaye rubbing her fingers under Pearl’s nose and talking to her while they stared into each others’ eyes. Betsy’s memory told her it took three of them hours to gain access to a person’s subconscious. Well, it did when she had it done. This time Betsy was amazed at the speed of connection. It was nearly as fast as she could do it herself. Betsy automatically discounted all the paraphernalia that surrounded the traditional method. It just took too long and required a lot of memorisation and doing silly and embarrassing dances and role play.
Now her thoughts wandered along more suspicious channels, the main one being—were her memories of the event correct? Or were the three of them revelling in their power and love of ritual? Betsy didn’t know and resolved to find out. And, while her mind was here, why was she not worried about what her subconscious had said? She suddenly realised that and wondered now. She didn’t like being manipulated and they had manipulated her without her consent. Well, OK, she did consent to have it done, that was a condition of employment, but she didn’t consent to have her memories manipulated. That was a no-no. She wondered about those forms she had signed and tried to remember what was on them. There were a lot of words and she had to sign each sheet in front of witnesses. It was the witnesses that impressed her. She had placed a lot of value in that and, well, hadn’t actually read all those Ts and Cs. It was such small writing and she did remember wondering about that. After all, these things were hand written and it must have taken serious effort to write them out just for her, even if they were just form conditions. She had thought small print was a product of computers and modern legalities and they were definitely nothing to do with that.
Betsy mentally shook her head and returned her thoughts to the present while mentally making a list of questions to ask as and when the opportunity arose. The main one being what the fuck had her subconscious said?
Pearl was obviously deep into it when Betsy’s mind came back. It was only a few short seconds. There were no indications she was gone, or asleep. Her body was still awake and reacting normally and her eyes were not dilated or strange in any way. Betsy analysed her whole body and couldn’t discover anything that would tell her this person was asleep in there, but it was still obvious she was. This aspect of her employment was relatively strange to Betsy and she worried about not being able to tell if someone was mind controlled. But she knew?
Faeryfaye had introduced herself to Pearl’s subconscious and asked permission to ask her, (it?) questions.
Pearl answered in her normal voice.
(OK, I’m going to refer to Pearl’s subconscious as Pearl for this bit. It gets too laborious to type out otherwise and I’ll just get confused).
“Thank you,” said Faeryfaye, still using her caring voice. “Do you know why I want to ask you questions?”
“Yes,” was the answer.
‘Not very chatty,’ thought Betsy. Betsy was still watching Vicky, who was strangely quiet during this procedure. Betsy worried about her as well as Pearl. Sonia had moved back, out of the way, but still focused on what was happening and especially on protecting Vicky.
“Are you willing to let us know?”
Betsy thought Faeryfaye showed admirable restraint at these answers. She wouldn’t have. She’d be shouting at Pearl now.
“You know where you got your powers from?” asked Faeryfaye. Unnecessarily, thought Betsy. After all, Pearl had already told them she was willing to let them know.
“And you know the power source is tainted.”
“And you know you have absorbed the essences of some of the people you have killed in the line of duty.”
“Have you killed anyone not in the line of duty?”
“Thank you for answering that, Pearl. Now, do you know of any way to rid yourself of these essences that are inhabiting you?”
Betsy winced at that and saw Vicky wince as well. Obviously a last minute reprieve was not going to happen.
“I don’t know what to say next, Pearl,” continued Faeryfaye. “Can you suggest anything?”
Betsy became very interested. Vicky straightened and concentrated more.
“What is it Pearl?”
“Make me like Robot Man.”
There was a silence as everyone there absorbed this.
“You do understand Robot Man is just an organic machine, Pearl? If we make you into a Robot Woman you will die. The new Robot Woman will just be a new machine. Please answer this carefully Pearl.
“I understand. I’ve always had a fetish for being controlled and when I was revived and started living here I learnt about robots and realised I wanted to be one.”
“I need to be absolutely certain of this Pearl. Once we start doing this, there will be no turning back. Will you let Pearl know?”
“That is what I want. And Pearl knows.”
“OK Pearl. That is what we will do. Thank you for your answers.” With that, Faeryfaye wafted her fingers under Pearl’s nose and told her to wake up and Pearl was back. Betsy could see that but couldn’t work out how she knew. Pearl started crying. Vicky held her and comforted her.
Sonia relaxed a bit when it became obvious Vicky wasn’t in any danger.
Betsy wondered what was going to happen next. It was obvious this was what Loki wanted. At last this was going to happen and she could get back home. But she liked Pearl. She didn’t want Pearl to die, but she was dying now. Nothing would alter that piece of unwelcome knowledge. From the look of things, Pearl wanted Vicky and Betsy wasn’t going to butt in there. She would be glad to discombobulate Vicky, but not Pearl. Betsy turned and started to the door to give them some privacy, which was all she could think of to do.
But as soon as she turned, Faeryfaye said, “And what about you Betsy?”
‘What?’ Betsy thought as she turned to face Faeryfaye. Her gaze passed Ffanci lying in her bed watching all this in silence as it swept on to stare Faeryfaye straight in her eyes.
“What about me?”
“You have that controller implanted in your head. It needs to come out,” was the answer.
“Oh, don’t worry about that. It’s OK. I can bypass it easily enough.”
“Obviously, but for how long? It’s…”
Betsy quickly interrupted.
“I can maintain this balance indefinitely. I’ll get it removed when we’re back and there’s proper time. As it is there’s too much to do right now.”
“Why don’t you start to remove it yourself?”
Betsy looked embarrassed. “Because it’s sort of linked in to me brain somehow. If I move it now, it’ll just take parts of me brain with it. I can’t work out how to circumvent that right now.”
Faeryfaye waited Betsy out before replying by putting her first finger and thumb under Betsy’s nose and rubbing them together.
Betsy smelt the smell wafting directly up her nose straight to her brain.
‘What the fuck’s that smell?’ she thought to herself just before her mind went and she just stared at Faeryfaye, who said, “Loki’s child must answer.”
There was a click and Betsy’s awareness returned with another sharp uptake of smell. Betsy looked at them wild eyed before she calmed down. She thought for a while before saying venomously, “What did you do?” Sonia moved to be between them and Vicky.
“I just asked your subconscious what was really happening, Betsy. It’s not as if you communicate with it regularly is it? In fact you don’t do that at all, do you? You know the rules and you still do this?”
Betsy was angry and replied forcefully, “That’s nothing. It’s just a minor infringement. What about you dropping me like that. That’s a major privacy issue right there. What’s ‘She’ going to say to that?”
“And what will happen then? Don’t bother even thinking, I’ll tell you. There will be repercussions and ‘She’ will punish me. Then ‘She’ will check everybody just to make sure this was an isolated incident. And when she checks everybody, ‘She’ will check me as well.” Faeryfaye spoke softly, but no less forcefully. Vicky was now multitasking by comforting Pearl and listening in hard on Betsy and Faeryfaye.
Betsy’s anger dissipated as she thought that one through. She paused for a while. “OK, I withdraw that. ‘She’ won’t find this out from me. But that still leaves the privacy issue. You’ve broken every rule in the book here.”
“But no one will ever know about it.”
“You can’t do that. What about records? Paperwork? Things have to be recorded. That’s how we learn. Apart from the privacy, it’s incredibly selfish.” Betsy just knew she would lose this argument, but she wasn’t going down without a fight.
Faeryfaye shrugged her shoulders. “Oh poo,” she said in answer.
Betsy couldn’t argue against that. Her shoulders slumped. Her tiredness was making itself felt with a vengeance. Then a horrible thought made itself known inside her head.
“I don’t care what you say or do. YOU ARE NOT cutting into me head to get that thing out. You’re not qualified. I’ll still wait ’till we get home.”
“I’m not going to do it, Betsy. Ffanci is.”
Betsy’s eyes went wide.
“You have to be joking. No. I’m not having that.”
Ffanci interjected. “I can appreciate your worries Betsy. I know now Dr. Orlof had been drugging me ever since Harley Died. I’ve no doubt he thought it was in my best interests, but it wasn’t. I’m back to my old self now, thanks to Faeryfaye.
“I won’t do anything but my best to remove the controller. As the owner of their merchandise, Stewart and Tilly taught me all about it. It’s a complicated piece of equipment, and it learns. If you’ve bypassed it somehow, it is, even now, trying to bypass your bypass. It may work, or it may not. I can’t tell. I can say your operation was done hurriedly, so that’s in your favour, but I can tell you that there is nothing else like it in the world. Your surgeons would need to be very lucky to remove it without causing you permanent damage. Even if they’re the best surgeons in the world. I’m one of the best surgeons in the world and I know how it works and how to remove it. But, I don’t know how to convince you of that. I’m sorry.”
Betsy stared at Ffanci, seeing her as if for the first time. She was different. She was more radiant. Her eyes seemed to glow. Her pupils were normal.
“There is a way Betsy can be certain of that.” Faeryfaye was talking to the two of them. They both looked at her.
“Have Betsy interrogate you.”
They continued looking. Faeryfaye continued.
“It’s Betsy that needs to be convinced so it’s Betsy that must talk to your subconscious Ffanci.”
Betsy looked at Ffanci.
“It’s OK Betsy. If you can talk to my subconscious then do it.” Said Ffanci.
Betsy nodded and approached Ffanci in her bed. Faeryfaye took careful note of Betsy’s technique. Betsy simply stared into Ffanci’s eyes and placed her hands on her temples.
”That looks like the Vulcan mind meld,” said Vicky, intrigued even as she was comforting Pearl.
Betsy ignored her.
“My mind to your mind,” she said, confirming Vicky’s hypothesis. Some films had impressed Betsy.
Faeryfaye was impressed by the speed Betsy could access a subconscious. It was nearly as fast as she could do it herself.
“Do you understand what is happening here?” asked Betsy.
“Do you agree with what Faeryfaye said?”
“Was Ffanci acting under Dr. Orlof’s control?”
Will Ffanci do her best for Pearl and me?”
Betsy couldn’t think of anything else to ask.
“Thank you. Do you have any questions?”
Ffanci was back, looking at them questioningly.
Betsy had been persuaded.
“OK, you can do both operations. Obviously it has to be you who decides on what happens next,” said Betsy while releasing Ffanci.
“Ffanci looked warily at them. The events and decisions had happened too fast for her to process.
“I’ll treat Betsy first. Just an initial non invasive electro-magnetic probe to slow down that controller’s activities. Then I’ll need some rest and we’ll deal with Pearl tomorrow morning. The day after, I’ll deal with Betsy. Anyone object?”
No one said anything.
“OK. Betsy and Pearl are now on a pre-operation fast. No food at all until their operations are over.”
“What?” said Betsy, who was opening one of her famous energy bars. “I’m hungry. Do you realise how much energy it takes to access a subconscious like that?”
“Yes,” answered Faeryfaye while biting into one of her own nutrition bars. “But you’re going to have an operation, so you can’t eat. Even you know that, Betsy.”
Betsy looked at her bar with a sadness that passeth all understanding and wrapped it up again. She looked around at them all.
“I don’t think I can help with the clean up now,” she said.
“Of course you can’t, Betsy” said Faeryfaye. “That is obvious. Get into bed.”
Betsy stripped, dropping her blood soaked rags that passed as clothes on the floor where she removed them, and got into a spare bed, as far away from the others as she could.
She wanted to sulk and the best sulks demanded aloneness.