Prompt: How Rachelle started working for/with Ilsa. by pygmymuse. Meming It Out for a Ficlet O'Clock

So I went ahead and wrote this in the hopes it would help me out with “Dowse and Bleed.” It did a bit. :grins:

Liana Mir

Liana Mir reads, writes, and wrangles the muses from her mundane home in the Colorado Rockies and, occasionally, from the other side of the Barrier.

Series Listing

16 — 02. Summer

When the Clock Strikes Midnight

16 — 02. Summer through 03. Autumn

Wake and Thrive

16 — 03. Autumn through 17 — 01. Spring

Its Own Absolution

16 — 03. Late Autumn

After the Grief

16 — 03. Late Autumn

Battery Acid

17 — 02. Summer

Accounting for Redemption

17 — 02. Summer

Counting Heartbeats

18 — 01. Spring

Song Between the Waking and the Dreaming

20 — 04. Winter

Echoes of Anchor Lost

21 — 01. Spring

Don’t Remind Me That It’s Over

21 — 02. Summer


21— 02 Summer through 22 — 01 Spring

Name Me Another (or Glass Angel, Redux)

22 — 01. Spring

Glass Angel

22 — 01. Spring

Pause the Sonata

22 — 02. Summer

Without a Reason

22 — 03. Autumn

Learning Legato

23 — 02. Summer

Acceptable Cost

23 — 02. Summer

History Lesson on the Night Train

23 — 03. Autumn

Abyss Looking Back

23 — 03. Autumn

Collateral Damage

23 — 03. Autumn

Five Reasons I Love You

23 — 03. Autumn

Little Things

23 — 03. Autumn

Owning Beauty

23 — 04. Winter

Dream the Dance

23 — 04. Winter

Snow Day

24 — 02. Summer

As the River Breathes

AU 21 — 04. Winter

Normal written in coffee grounds


Cate shouldn't have asked, but she did.

Rachelle would rather be anywhere else than the newly formed Special Unit, doing the work she used to be enslaved to. But she will. For Cate.

21 — 02. Summer
Kingdoms and Thorn Science Fiction
Short Story

Ilsa Killinger wasn’t what Rachelle had expected.

Cate looked up from bending heads with the other members of the Special Unit over a conference table that had seen better days. Rachelle’s gaze skittered along them, matching looks to the wash of their genetic drift in the chilled office air: a tall, too-skinny blonde cyberpath; a scowling, dark-haired regular human with law enforcement type physique; and a stocky, copper-skinned situational empath with black hair rippling over her shoulders that could only be Killinger.

Cate’s telepathy reached out ahead of her, brushing unwanted into Rachelle’s mind. What shall I call you?

If it fits, I’ll answer, Rachelle shot back, a favorite line of Cate’s when asked her own name.

She glared disgust at the continued telepathic intrusion, but Cate just shot her a brilliant smile and introduced her, “And this is Rachelle.”

Killinger studied her with stoic brown eyes. The regular sized her up, appeared to find her intimidation factor wanting, and went back to scowling at the paperwork on the table. The cyberpath kept looking, with interest.

Rachelle barely fit inside the office. It had clearly been designed for one executive desk and a file cabinet. Instead, two tiny desks were crammed in between built-in cabinets and overflowing countertops, the table swamped the room, and walking space was limited. She shifted over a teetering stack of inbox trays and sat up on the counter.

That got the regular human to do another take. Rachelle was different. She breathed the air of chip on her shoulder, clearly hated being here, and was dressed in casual denim and colored layers with her waist-length hair pulled back in impractical lovelocks and ponytail. “Got something to say?” she demanded.

Cate laughed and came over, waving a sheaf of papers. “The basic report. I told Killinger you could make sense of the data.”

Which was all genetic samples back from the forensics department and no analysis or interpretative report. “And they get paid?”

Killinger straightened, stiffened almost.

Rachelle glanced up with interest.

“Special type humans have not been on the radar long,” she said quietly. “They don’t know how to interpret the data.”

An understatement. Specials were the Thorn Republic’s best kept secret until they got tired of being exploited and walked a trail of blood to put Thorn in its place. When panicked city governments, newly bereft of a national entity demanded the reason, special type humans came out, admitted to what they were, and worked out a treaty behind closed doors to grant the western cities their independence and specials, human rights. That also meant anyone that knew how to read, analyze, and control said specials were mostly kicked out and back to Thorn, with few exceptions.

“How are you familiar with them?” the regular demanded.

“Am one.” Rachelle bent her head over the reports and started reading off the patterns. She wasn’t like some processors; she couldn’t actually shift her DNA into those patterns and figure out what they meant. She’d have to have the real stuff to do that.

She felt the cyberpath before he came close enough to get in her peripheral vision. Mostly duplicate entries from his genetic material, but not all. He must have been ‘pathing something.

After an awkwardly long pause, which she put down to him thinking she would actually initiate conversation, he asked, “So how did Cate know about you?”

Cate’s telepathic attention turned their way. Rachelle tried to ignore that.

“Ask Cate.” She flipped over a page and skimmed through a batch of regular genetic patterns. “These ones should’ve been interpreted,” she muttered. An oversight like that would’ve gotten her killed.

The second time.

Stay out of my head, Cate. Rachelle was too much the professional to actually let on that anything telepathic was going on, but she thought her irritation in the telepath’s direction.

Who laughed.

The cyberpath breathed slightly harder than necessary. Frustration.

Rachelle made a note of the tell and flipped again. Regular, regular, ah! Special.

“She just said she knew a forensics expert that knew specials,” he tried again, as if that was sufficient to get more information out of her.

Rachelle turned the last page and handed him the report. “Two specials. The first is female, red hair, brown eyes, five foot, three inches, congenital birthmark on the back of her right hand, naturally light brown skin from mixed ethnicity but may be tanned, light bones, snub nose, fifty-eight percent leg and otherwise standard proportions.”

He stared at her.

“She’s a touch telepath. Pretty simple stuff. Can’t tell you any irregularities of the gift without tasting it myself.” Rachelle went on. “The second is male with blue-black skin, black kinky hair, blue eyes, six foot, one inch, strong jawbone, flat nose, and genetically inclined to be built like a tank. He’s essentially a gas-telekinetic, though that can mean almost anything based on how he trained it. I’m betting he thinks he’s a wind elemental, but no telling from DNA.”

Killinger studied her with an impassive, unreadable expression, head tilted slightly to the right.

Rachelle looked back, equally impassive but still erring on the don’t-want-to-be-here side of things. She was competent. She was professional. She was one of the best, or she wouldn’t have been a floater. But Cate should’ve known she wasn’t willing to stay in the business after they bought their freedom in blood and sacrifice. She was only here because Cate had called and asked and desperately needed help. No details, no particulars, and that pretty, smiling face Cate could fool a mindreader with.

“Thank you,” Killinger said, then turned her back and turned off the recording unit on the table. She held it out to the cyberpath. “Jarod, transcribe this.”

A cyberpath could grab the recording with a thought, turn it into a file with another, and have it printing with a third. Jarod, then. The annoying one was Jarod.

Rachelle slid off the counter, telling herself she wouldn’t need that information in the future, walking out for good this time. No coming back.

Behind her, a telepathic thought settled into her mind, facade stripped down to naked gratitude. Thank you.

Rachelle stepped into a crowded elevator and muttered beneath her breath. “Not welcome.”

But, of course, she was.


Kingdoms and Thorn Science Fiction

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