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There has been much stress around this house this month. I'm glad it didn't (so far) derail me on writing.

Locked Room of One's Own Mystery

"Corporal," Lady Justice snapped in a deep, commanding voice that Angelica had not heard from her before, "do you know what rank I hold in the Gold Star Brigade Reserves?'

The babyfaced young man, muscularly at ease in his Army fatigues, looked surprised, but tried not to. "No, ma'am," he drawled.

Lady Justice produced a card from her pocket and displayed it at his eye level. The blue eyes widened abruptly, and he popped to attention, cracking off a salute and lifting his eyes to gaze into the distance. "Ma'am," he said.

Angelica glanced at her friend Kendis, who raised her eyebrows, then gave Madeline an interrogative look. Madeline, with a small smile, leaned over, under the cover of Lady Justice dressing down the corporal, and whispered, "She's a major."

"Ah," Kendis said, and shifted on her crutches.

"... and according to Paranormal Order 5117J, the Gold Star Brigade can, in fact, take possession at any time, and as you can see from that authorization there, I am currently in charge of the Brigade," Lady J concluded, then stopped looming over the sweating corporal. "So if you will clear myself and my duly deputized assistants, Corporal, we can get on with this."

"Yes, ma'am," he said, gratefully stepping to his desk and doing something at the computer. His printer whirred to life and shot out a half dozen printed sheets of some sort of glossy plastic. He picked them up, popped out cards for each of them and handed them over to Lady J. He also handed her a last whole sheet and gestured to the elevator door.

"Thank you, Corporal," Lady J said, giving him a smart salute, which he returned, and led her three satellites onto the elevator.

The door shut and the elevator began to descend.

"So that's what you meant," Kendis said, passing a hand over her forehead and back over her shaved pate, "when you said that you had legal rights, but wasn't sure they'd be enough?"

Lady Justice nodded and sighed. "Currently, I am the Gold Stars, because they're missing and only their reservists remain. As such, I walked into headquarters and got all the permissions put through for my activation. And now I'm activating another reservist. All legal and proper, but I wasn't sure it would all go all right, given everything that's going on."

"Who are you activating?" Angelica said.

"You'll see in a moment," Lady J said. She exchanged an unreadable look with Madeline.

The elevator stopped and the doors parted. The guards on duty had apparently been apprised of Lady Justice's status, because they all came to attention when she stepped into the room. One of them stepped forward and saluted. She returned the salute and handed him the printed sheet of plastic.

"How has she been, Sergeant?" Lady Justice said casually.

"About the usual, ma'am," he said, using a digital scanner on the sheet and returned it to her. "Calm enough during the day. You've come at a good time. Do you require a power damper, ma'am?"

"No, Sergeant, we'll be fine, thank you," Lady Justice said.

"Yes, ma'am." There was a dubious tone in his voice, but he pressed a button on his keyboard and nodded to one of his underlings. There was a loud clunk. The private went to the other side of the room and opened a door there that was at least a foot thick.

Lady Justice strode confidently across the room, almost without her usual limp, Angelica noticed. The rest of them trailed her through the door.

It was a small studio apartment with fake digital windows, pastel walls, and an array of aged and comfortable furniture. In the midst of it all, on a rocking chair, sat a tiny wizened woman with short white hair, wearing a blue sweatsuit. She looked up slowly.

"Janey," Lady Justice said. "It's Dottie."

"Oh, my god," Angelica said under her breath, suddenly recognizing in the lines of the old woman's face her childhood idol, Jane Liberty.

Jane Liberty's dark eyes focused on Lady Justice, and she got up from her chair carefully. "Oh, Dottie, you brought Janna?" She gestured at Kendis, who frowned and seemed to be concentrating.

"No, Jane," Lady J said. "She's not Janna. This is Kendis, and this is Angelica. And do you know who that is?"

Something was changing in Jane's face, Angelica noticed, as Lady J was talking. The blank geniality shifted to something more like concentration and attention. When Jane looked at Madeline, her face lit up with recognition. Then frustration.

"I can't remember her name," she said plaintively.

"Madeline," that woman said, stepping forward and extending her hands to Jane. "It's been a long time, Jane."

Jane automatically took the proffered hands, and a glow that Angelica hadn't noticed around Madeline suddenly spread to Jane.

Angelica glanced at Kendis. The other woman had her gaze locked on Jane Liberty and her jaw was set, but sweat gleamed on her dark brown skin. As subtly as possible, Angelica pulled a handkerchief from her purse and mopped Kendis' brow. Kendis gave her a quirk of a smile, but kept her eyes on Jane.

"Janey, we need your help, and we'd like to take you out of here," Lady Justice said. "Are you okay with that?"

Jane blinked several times and took a long, deep breath. Finally, she looked at Lady J and said, "You must be desperate if you're here for me, Dottie. If you're sure, then I'm ready."

"Excellent," Lady Justice said. "Back to the van then."

Jane tottered a little as Madeline backed away from her, and Angelica stepped forward to take her elbow. Jane looked up at her, then over at Kendis, with a crooked smile. "Dottie's got herself a new brigade, does she?"

Kendis gave Jane a wry grin, mopping her chin with Angelica's handkerchief, then pivoting on her crutches and leg braces. "If the Army takes handicapped lesbians, that's the first I've heard of it."

Jane waved her free hand dismissively. "She's just got a... a... thing, you know. People like her. Damn this brain of mine." She clutched at the side of her head.

Once they were past the soldiers and on the elevator, Kendis said to Jane, "I have to hang around you for a few more hours, but you should start feeling more focused soon. Losing words and stuff is the slowest to come back."

Jane looked at her sharply. "You can fix old people's brains?"

"Not permanently," Kendis said with a shrug. "But if I hang around, things improve. If I work at it, I can make a dramatic change for a while."

They went out past the saluting corporal and climbed into Lady Justice's battered old grey van. Madeline gave up the passenger seat to Jane and sat on the bed in the back with Angelica and Kendis.

"Where are we headed?" Jane said, squinting against the bright April sunshine.

"Right now, my house," Lady J said. "The kids settled me in a little mobile home at the edge of town."

Jane looked back toward the low-slung bunker as Lady J drove out the gates of Fort Wilson. "You'll bring me back when I've done whatever it is you need, right, Dottie?"

Lady J nodded slowly. "Yes, just like you made me promise, Jane. All those years ago."

Jane put her head back against the headrest and closed her eyes wearily. "Good."

Date: 2013-02-27 01:43 am (UTC)
kore: (Default)
From: [personal profile] kore

Date: 2013-02-27 03:15 pm (UTC)
heavenscalyx: (Default)
From: [personal profile] heavenscalyx

Date: 2013-02-27 03:20 pm (UTC)
akycha: (Default)
From: [personal profile] akycha
Reading this still makes me tear up.

Date: 2013-02-27 04:29 pm (UTC)
heavenscalyx: (Default)
From: [personal profile] heavenscalyx
Then I did it right. :)

Date: 2014-02-03 05:19 am (UTC)
From: (Anonymous)
You cruel beast. Ira going blind, all the other old superheroes feeling old sure, but making Jane aware enough to know that she's going to deteriorate all over again? Mean.

Date: 2013-02-27 03:29 pm (UTC)
the_rck: (Default)
From: [personal profile] the_rck
I'm behind on reading these. That's why I haven't commented on the last few posts. Sorry about that. I've got tabs open for the entries.

I'm fascinated to see who's pulling together and what they're doing.

Thanks for writing!

Date: 2013-02-27 04:30 pm (UTC)
heavenscalyx: (Default)
From: [personal profile] heavenscalyx
No prob! Everyone gets behind sometimes. Glad to have you when you can read. :)


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