Chin Up And Check Up

Marcus is Samuel's 'guy'. Sort of a cross of Administrative Assistant and personal bodyguard, Marcus arrives at Allys house. Samuel would have called to vet him, and he's driving Sam's car (The Eurocar, actually belongs to sam). The drive to thistlewood is a quiet one, with a child-safety seat already installed for Maya. The snow is hardly an issue and Marcus seems like a personable man and an excellent driver. Not to much conversation unless Ally seems to want or desire it.

No conversation whatsoever to speak of. Ally looks she just came from a funeral, or actually like she's still at one. And the drive to Thistlewood Canyon is spent with her either staring out of the car, or idly playing with Maya. For her part Maya's having a great time: giggling, looking around, happy as a clam so long as her mother doesn't go too long without paying attention to her.

The car turns on to the paved driveway, clear of snow and ice. The large home, seated on a small rise, with the equally large barn next to it, seems to radiate warmth in the cold winter morning. A pair of chimneys are giving off smoke and there is an impressively tall snow-man in the front yard. Marcus pulls all the way in to the garage, and there Ally will see an -impressive- array of vehicles, from motorcycles to ancient relics to sports cars and even a GMC bulldog.

Marcus then leads the woman out the side door, up and over the patio.. and in to the kitchen.

Samuel is dressed in a tee-shirt and jeans, a dishtowel over one shoulder. His hair is combed and he's shaven, and at the breakfast bar sits a young girl of maybe 6 years old. Long straight dark hair, but her fathers blue eyes. Viviana looks over when Ally enters. "She's here daddy!" She calls out, though her words have a heavy accent to them. Damn her mother for teaching her italian first. Samuel looks over at the patio door as Marcus shows her in. "Ms. Cindel. Come on in. I was just making breakfast."

And some breakfast it is. A pile of pancakes, bacon, eggs, some french toast, a small smorgasboard of cheese, olives, sausage, peppers and other omlet fixings.

"Hungry?"

Ally takes her time getting Maya out of her baby seat and easily takes the child into her arms. The two make a good pairing, because while Ally herself is a bit dead to the world, Maya's taking it all in, though really isn't comprehending much of what it is. Ally's eyes take in the garage and she makes a little sound at the range of vehicles she's seeing. Not very knowledgable about vehicles, she still can appreciate the volume and variety of them before she she is led into the house.
Led into the house, Ally's curiosity finally peeks out a bit, as she takes the time to look around the domicile of Samuel Thayer, or Clemens as he's now known. It really is a nice kitchen, and Ally doesn't get a chance to look around it more because her host, and unexpected hostess notice her presence. One look at Viviana and Ally's eyes begin to glisten and she has to blink them rapidly and do a rapid ten-second breathing exercise to keep it together, to push it back down and not start bawling.
"Hi…" she greets unsuredly, clearly not having expected to see Samuel's daughter. Approaching cautiously, she looks at Samuel, then the spread of food. Her stomach gives a small grumble, but she declines, "Not right now, thank you." Soft.

Sam's ears pick up the grumble. And even Viv seems to smell a lie. She glances at her father, knowing a child never corrects an adult… Samuel gestures to the breakfast bar. "Sit, Marcus will bring out a stand for Maya's carrier." he says, flipping a pancake by tossing it up in the air, then catching it in the same pan. This draws a giggle from Viviana.

Looking to the breakfast bar, Ally approaches it and pulls out a chair, gently sliding onto it. Until the stand comes, Maya and her carrier go on her lap and she looks down at the elven child, who's attention is torn between her mom and a pancake flying through the air, which gets a big smile. A ghost of a smile appears on Ally's face at that, as well as Viviana's giggle. Looking to the older child, Ally asks, "Whats your name?"

"Viviana Passitempo-Thayer." She says primly, smoothing out her dress. She idly plays with her fork, looking at the baby, and then to Ally. "She's got pointy ears."

Samuel doesn't interupt, but slides a plate of warm pancakes in front of Ally's face, along with some melting butter and hot maple syrup. The smells will confirm, Sam does not cook with -fake- ingreediants. Everything is real.

A hypenated last name with that of a man who no longer exists. And a little Benedicte in the making. Ally smiles a little bit more at the girl, "Thats a very pretty name, Viviana." She pretty much doesn't see the plate of pancakes placed beneath her nose. But she does smell them, oh yes she does, and her eyes drift down and she tries very hard not to be tempted. But it is a losing battle.
When the stand for Maya's carrier arrives, Ally carefully places the baby within and nudges at it gently to verify its sturdiness. Only then will be consider eating, but first, Viviana's observation gets a little nod of agreement. "She does," the woman agrees. "Maya's an elf, so she's supposed to."

The girl leans a little closer, ooohing quietly. Samuel proceeds to sizzle some bacon. Now its time to make -his- breakfast. He lets Viviana and Ally chat, letting them get a feel for each other as he works.

"But… you're not an elf. Is her daddy an Elf? The elfs in my school have elf parents. Daddy says humans don't have elfs anymore, an no one turns in to nothing."

"Whats daddy say about double negatives, Viv?"

Viv glares at her fathers back, but sighs. "Yes daddy."

"That's very smart of you to remember all of that," Ally tells the child, her smile faltering a little bit but then recovers. "And your daddy's right. Its very rare now for humans to have elfs. Maya's daddy *is* an elf, that swhy she's one," she explains, glancing down at Maya, who for her part is quite transfixed with Viviana, peering back at the girl as if deciding on whether or not she should smile at her. Still-blue eyes look at Aladriel as if asking permission, and just as quickly they go back to Viviana and the big smile wins out. Ally watches this with amusement as she finally picks up her silverware and begins to methodically cut her pancakes into manageable bites. Then smaller ones. And then smaller ones still.

She leans in again, getting up on her knees in her breakfast-stool, elbows on the counter, apparently done with food herself while her father cooks. "Do you work with my daddy? He plays with money. I keep asking to see his money, but he tells me its all pretend money, like the -idea- of money, but that doesn't make sense. I can't give him the idea of my room being clean…"

A couple of pancakes have been cut into pieces so small that…, well, Maya even would want bigger bites. And Ally realizes she should stop cutting, so she moves on to the next one, and this time manages to just do bite-size pieces and not go overboard. Carefully laying the knife down, Ally looks up at Viviana, casts a glance towards Samuel, and then back to the girl. She starts to answer, but she just realizes what the girl finished with, and a big smile spreads across her face. Oh dear. "Well, it might be clean to you, but not to him, maybe?" she asks. "Should probably stick to his idea of clean for now. I do kindof work with him. He's pretty good, so he doesn't need my help too much. Only with special things."

"Viv." Says Samuel. "Why don't you go do your reading. Daddy wants to talk to Ms. Cindel alone." he says, returning now with a plate of food of his own, piled -high- with everything you can imagine. A high calorie diet.

Viv looks dissapointed, but slides off her stool, offering Ally a wave before she runs down the hall, them by the sound of it, upstairs.

"It was nice to meet you," Ally tells Viviana as she gets dismissed by her father, and she seems a little sad to see the girl go. But then, she's already looking very morose all together so it is not much of a transition. With Viviana gone, Aladriel gets very interested in her food, to the point of actually eating some.

Samuel looks to Ally then, then to Maya. "You had a hard day yesterday." He states simply, reaching for his fork. "I'd like you to tell me about it, if you don't mind."

She knew it would happen. Cause really how could it not? But still Ally isn't really prepared for it, even though it was inevitable that she'd be asked just that, even though she didn't want to be. Without raising her eyes she says, "I know you already know what happened."

Samuel nods slowly. "I do. But I want to hear what happened -to you-." His voice is gentle, almost understanding in its tone. IT's not about the situation, he's not asking for more facts or details; he wants to talk about ally and how ally is doing.

Ally laughs, and its a terrible thing, because its not happy, there's no joy, just bitterness. It is short, just a second, but so very reflective of her right now. She looks up with dry eyes shakes her head. "To me? Nothing. -I'm- fine. Not a scratch on me. Perfect."

He's been there. He knows that laugh intimately. "I know. But if it was your body I was worried about, Ally… I'd send a doctor. But its you, who you are, I'm worried about. You encountered something yesterday I had not had time to prepare you for. And something happened yesterday, I could -never- prepare you for…"

There's a rattle in the kitchen as Ally's hands start to shake and her silverware bounces against the plate. Its not loud, buts its steady and she's at a loss to control it, yet. "A Horror?" Ally asks, her voice nearly a squeak. "A sensory vision of….decades…centuries of pain and suffering?" Her hands shake harder until she forces herself to drop the silverware and put her hands on the table. "A…Horror…and I kept them all save.. as best I could…and told them what to do…and then I killed her. All….of that…everything…and I killed her. I did it. *I* killed her!" A little bit of hysterics towards the end

Samuel reaches out, one hand, his real right hand, touching her own. "No. You didn't. I need you to understand something, Ally. You didn't kill her. You didn't hurt her. You cannot kill what is already dead." he says, looking to her, trying to draw her eyes up to his. "That girl was dead inside, and it was Suukethet that killed her. Not you. All you did was -release- her. Ally… even if you had brought her out alive… I would have had to kill her. The stakes in the game we are playing, are higher than you think, even with what you saw last night."

Ally's hand is cool and it is shaking violently as she is touched, and the tears that she'd been holding back start. Not nearly as heavy as the night before, but still hard, long. Full of the emotion of that comes with feeling very much like she killed a child who she'd been sent to save. "How do you know that? How!" she demands, voice raw and in a way, desperate. "You don't! She could've been okay! We could've fixed her, you don't know, she could have been okay, she…" she breaks down into sobs, her free hand cradling her face. Perhaps surprisingly, they actually won't last that long. You can only cry so much… and her night took care of most of that time.

Samuel doesn't stop her, he lets the crying jag work its way out.. "Because she was horror touched, Ally. The horrors are an infection, Ally… they get in to people, touch them.. and then release them back in to the world. At any time in the future, they can then use those people, effect them, no matter where they are… No matter how much later. They are an infection… and we are the antibodies."

Medical terminology, and information about a magical occurence… good things for Ally to hear. Things to distract herself with, things to get her thinking, even as her sobbing subsides. When the tears have finally stopped she takes a deep, ragged breath and rubs at her eyes, trying to clear them. Poor Maya, who'd been so happy, now seems very worried at the sounds she's just been hearing from her mother.
"Do you….do you swear we couldn't have saved her? That we couldn't have done *anything* else other than kill her?" she asks, forcing the words out as she gets her body back under control.

He exhales. "Ally.. I swear to you that my goal is to save the most of humanity I can. It's possible, with the expenditure of research, development, millions of nuyen and so forth that we could discover a path to 'remove' the touch of a horror that Dunklezhan and Ehran didn't already know. Thats the blessing of humanity; always evolving. But as of now, right now, right here… I can tell you there was no hope of that girl ever leading a normal life, untouched by a horror and perfectly safe to be around."

Ally shakes her head a little bit and rubs roughly at her face as she thinks about what she's just hearing. "So she didn't have to die… but she would not have had any quality of life. She'd have to be…locked up somewhere? Not..normal," she repeats, taking another deep breath, this one much more calming. The tears are done, now, and she looks at Samuel more closely. "And you knew of this thing… this Suukehet, but you didn't, you didn't think that was what was happening at the house? You didn't know, right?"

Samuel exhales, reaching for a cup of coffee. "Not him specifically, but his.. breed. Let me explain." he says, gesturing vaugely. "I was tellingyou about how the mana levels rise, and mana spikes, remember?"

"Yes," Ally says softly, and she starts rubbing at the backs of her hands suddenly, a little shiver going through her. "I think I saw a time when that happened. I had a vision..I know you know. But it was magic like I've never seen."

Samuel nods slowly. "Thats… I don't know what happened, in specific, but yes… It happens every cycle of magic. The worlds get close enough together… and the Enemy, we call them the horrors for a lack of better term… come across. That horror, was a very weak one. Further… he wasn't even materialized in our world. If he had been, you'd be dead. Now, imagine them like a plague of locusts. Sliding in to our reality and eating -everything-. SOme of them eat thoughts. Some of them consume fear. Some of them consume flesh and trees and animals."

You say "Something so powerful, that every great dragon, every adult dragon, every free spirit and every mortal power, cannot stand, only hide. So numerous, so powerful, they could not be fought.""

"The mindeaters, skin-flayers?" Ally asks softly, remembering all to well the thoughts that she experienced while part of the vision of times long past. "It seemed like they were everywhere. I didn't see them, but the thoughts…, it was like there was no escape," she murmurs, listening, frowning, thoroughly distracted from her sadness for the time being. "Why can't they be fought? I don't understand…is it just numbers? Even dragons can be fought, hurt and killed. Why not the Horrors?"

Samuel exhales. "It's why KOrea turned in to a mess for us a hundred years ago. 10,000 brave American soldiers, well equipped, with air support, still cannot stand against two million screaming china-men with sticks."

Ally nods her head very slowly and she looks down at her plate, and then over at Maya. "Are we going to be able to make a difference?" she asks quietly. "Will this mean anything, what we do? Do we even know, or are we just hoping? Or is it just going to happen and…it just will."

Samuel nods slowly. "Dunklezahn thinks we can. Never before, has mankind had such -technology- and the ability to coordinate. Our weapons are better. Our understandings stronger. We are farther along in magical research, 60 years after the awakeneing, than anyone else has been a -thousand- years after the awakening…"

Ally listens and she gives a little nod of understanding, because in the end all she needs to have is hope. And thats what she's searching for. "It couldn't manifest here. It tried…but it wasn't all the way here. You said it was a human agent… that all of these things are being aided by people like us. What do we do when we find the people who do this?" she asks. And there's no doubt as to why she's asking this.

Samuel smiles slightly. "We kill them. Exterminate them. Trace back their funding, their allies, and we exterminate them as well. Thats more my side of this business, Ally… I handle those dark things some of the others may not appreciate."

Every word is listened to intently, but at the very last Aladriel gives a small shake of her head. Her eyes darken a little bit and she lets her breath out slowly. "I'm sure it is. I…I don't know if I care about allies or that. But some one or someones did that to that girl..and to others, too..who knows how many. I want, no, I *need* to take part of that, when we find them."

Samuel shrugs. "I cannot and will not promise you that. When you make this personal… it stops having even the margin of safety that being detatched and rational gives it. This horror probably has more than one servant. He's probably touched other girls like Meg… and very possibly, the one doing the direct work for him now, is one of his girls. Can you blame her for being so broken…?"

"You don't have to be detached to kill someone, you..you just have to know why it has to be done" Ally says, her right hand balling tightly into a fist. "You think it could be a girl doing this?" she asks, startled by that possibility. And just like that her face shuts down and her hand relaxes. Control. Control. Control. "If it is, then she doesn't need to be blamed. She just needs to be released from having to do it anymore. And I can do that. If it's a child's body, its not really a child. If its not, all the better." She looks down then, looking to Maya. There's a thing about Ally. She could be a light version of Samuel one day, able to make the hard decisions and do the horrible things. She just doens't want to, and she hides from that part of her. Except for tht moment, like now, when she really, really wants to.

"You don't have to be detached to kill someone, you..you just have to know why it has to be done" Ally says, her right hand balling tightly into a fist. "You think it could be a girl doing this?" she asks, startled by that possibility. And just like that her face shuts down and her hand relaxes. Control. Control. Control. "If it is, then she doesn't need to be blamed. She just needs to be released from having to do it anymore. And I can do that. If it's a child's body, its not really a child. If its not, all the better." She looks down then, looking to Maya. There's a thing about Ally. She could be a light version of Samuel one day, able to make the hard decisions and do the horrible things. She just doens't want to, and she hides from that part of her. Except for tht moment, like now, when she really, really wants to.

Samuel watches Maya for a moment. "What if Maya… was Meg, 10 years later. Warped, broken, but in her way, innocent and without fault. Taken at a young age and twisted. Doing whatever she could to end her own pain. Would you be able to kill her, Ally? To take a life is something… it kills something inside you when you take a life with premeditation."

Ally's eyes soften for a moment and then she looks at Samuel, and there is such anger in her eyes, and it can only be because her child was brought into this. And it takes every iota of self control to not lash out, "Don't.. don't bring her into this. I couldn't..no, I'm not even going to answer that," she says very slowly, so angry that her voice is just flat. "It is not Maya doing this. It is a person… was a person, its now a thing. I saw -in my head- a mother so desperate to stop her pain that she sacrificed her child. It was not her fault. But whatever is doing this…for whatever reason. I could kill it, I -would- kill it, to end one life before it ruined any more. I would do it."

Samuel eyes Ally. "You need to bring her in to this, Ally. Because she's a part of this. As much as Viv is. As much as Benedicte is. YOur family is in as much danger as you are. You need to keep your goal in mind. ANd your goal, cannot be revenge. It must be preservation." He exhales, looking away for a moment. "Conservitive estimates of the last Scourging… say that only zero-point-eight percent of worldwide populations survived."

"Not even one in a hundred, Ally."

"What do you want from me? What!" Ally demands, but controlled. Not screaming, voice just firm and intense. "I want to kill whatever did that to that child. Because of what it did to her, AND so that it can't do it again. It… its not revenge, its doing what has to be done. I want this -one- so I know that I didn't just…just do nothing for that child. I'm not forgetting what we are trying to do… I just want to know I did something for her, when right now I feel like I didn't do what I was supposed to."

Samuel nods slowly… "You probably saved Kassandra's life when Meg was killed." He says, not directly saying 'when you shot her'. "You did what you were supposed to. By killing his direct material link to this plane, you cut him off from being able to affect her. I've read the after-action reports… You did what you were supposed to. You just didn't mean to." He says, not taking his hand off hers, but giving it a squeeze. "What I want from you, is for you to not dwell on this matter. Don't think about revenge, don't think about tracking whomever down and making sure they know whats coming to them. When you make this personal… you become a liability, not only to yourself, but to your team."

Ally thinks about that. Because she hadn't even thought about it, and it sort of shows in her eyes. "I didn't even think about that," she says quietly, voicing her thoughts aloud. "I just did it. I didn't want them to get hurt." She is, after all, a protector, first and foremost. "Fine, I'll try not to think about it, but I don't think it is going to be easy," she murmurs. "And if it works out that I'm there when it gets caught,… then it does, I guess."

Samuel nods slowly, offering the woman a smile. "I know it hurts right now, but you did well. You kept your head. Your defense of Kass and Lil saved their lives. We've got a team of magi disassembling the spell work that happened there… and its grisly. I'm -proud- of the way you handled yourself, Ally."

Ally can't muster a smile herself, she can only nod, but its enough. And it helps. There was a girl alive when they got there, and now she's dead. It doesn't feel, yet, like anything was accomplished, or that there was anything to be proud of with what happened. But of all the people who were there and knew what happened, Samuel would be the only one who could make her even entertain the thought that something good came from what happened.

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