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In Which a Mysterious Force is Given a Character, but Not Yet a Face

In Which a Mysterious Force is Given a Character, But not yet a Face The Director was angry. Well, maybe angry wasn’t the right word, per say. When you had seen as much as she had, when you had been as patient as she had, it was hard to get truly angry. Bitter, frustrated maybe, but not angry. How had she gotten to this point so quickly when the day had started out so well? She had risen from slumber with a large smile on her face; the new semester had started as St. Adelaide’s, many new students had arrived, and the next phase of her project was about to begin. The morning announcements had gone well as always. The bit of intrigue she held over the students’ heads always made her slightly giddy. But then there had been the meeting with the School Board. When she had first founded St. Adelaide’s, more than forty years ago, now, she and she alone had controlled the school and everything that went on inside it. Unfortunately, the money had begun to dry up rather quickly and the Director had been forced to acquire investors. She had tried to maintain control for as long as she could, but in this world, money oftentimes carried more weight than deeds, and so, the School Board had been formed. But the suits—as she called them—didn’t understand her, or her obsessive drive for science. All they saw were tables and focus groups and dollar signs. Frankly, it was beginning to make her rather grumpy. “My father didn’t give his life for this project j-just to see it get thrown by the wayside!” She banged her fists on the long, skinny table, standing from her chair. “We do not mean to offend your father’s memory,” the Head Suit replied patiently, using that calm, condescending voice one often employed when talking to young children. People tended to treat her that way a lot when they first met her face to face, underestimating her age and intelligence based on appearance alone. “But Project Paragon has yet to yield any profitable results.” “No results?” The Director’s eyes flared. “No results? I’m living proof of what the Project is capable of.” “And yet, you refuse access to these ‘results’ to anyone!” The Head Suit shook his head, exasperated. One of the Lesser Suits leaned forward now as well. He was a young man, a go-getter, someone people claimed was going to “run the world someday”. The thought of this child in charge of anything scared the Director more than she could say. “Think of the advances for technology, for society we can create with your research,” he ventured, hoping to appeal to her sense of humanity. The Director just laughed. It was a frightening thing, that laugh, one that could not belong to any wholly sane person. It sent shivers down the Suits’ spines. “Are you kidding me?” She gasped after a solid minute. ‘Advances for society? Nonsense! You just want to steal what’s rightfully mine and sell it. You don’t care about advances or consequences.” Several Suits made to protest, but the Director had spent far too much time dealing with their kind to fall for any of their honeyed words. “My research is not yet complete. Who knows what could happen if presented to the masses. And besides, there’s so much more to discover than your tiny minds are capable of comprehending. I will not allow the future to be ‘commercialized’.” She shuddered. “Unfortunately,” the Head Suit attempted to regain control, “you are no longer solely in charge of the affairs of this academy. Now while I cannot legally demand you hand over all of your research, I can drain all the funds which you’ve been putting towards Project Paragon until which point the academy possesses the means to fund such an extensive study. I can guarantee you that that will not be for a very long time.” “You wouldn’t.” “We would.” The other suits nodded in agreement. The Director had to clench her fists to keep herself from strangling his smug, pretentious face with his stupid tie. She fumed as her face grew red. But anger wouldn’t solve anything, she knew that. She ought to, after all these years. Anger led to a loss of control, and that was the last thing she needed right now. “Then there’s nothing more to say.” Without waiting for a response, the Director strode from the room. She wouldn’t give them the satisfaction of seeing her frustration. As she fled to her sanctuary, the Director struggled to conceal her rage from the students and faculty that roamed the halls of St. Adelaide’s. None of them knew who she really was, at least, and she wanted to keep it that way. It was imperative to Project Paragon’s success that she blend in; it was the only true way to scope out potential candidates, and to get accurate test results. Finally, she slammed the large doors of her sanctuary behind her and breathed deeply. This was the only place she felt truly relaxed. It was dark and quiet, and heavy, like a warm blanket. The Director weaved her way through the general clutter and dropped heavily behind her desk. She sighed, drumming her long, spider-like fingers along the wood grain. Why now of all times had the Suits decided to pull the plug? Just when she was so close to the final stage, just as the perfect candidate for Project Paragon had come to St. Adelaide’s. But she steeled herself. There was no sense in wallowing in misery. There was a way out of this, there had to be. And if there was any place she would think of it, it was here. Patience, spoke the Truth in her mind. Remember that even one tiny push can bring a whole system to its knees. Of course, yes. The Director let out the air she was holding as the inkling of a plan began to form in the folds of her mind. A butterfly’s wings could cause a storm on the other side of the world, and so too could she rid herself of the Suits and the dollar signs they’d tattooed onto the insides of their eyelids. But could she really pull it off? If she herself made a singular move, the Suits would pounce on her in an instant. What she needed was a distraction, something to draw their attention while she completed the final phase of the project. After that, the whole charade of a school wouldn’t be necessary anymore. What could she use? No, better yet, who could she use? The distraction would have to be something big, something no sane person would attempt. She could always use Bailey, she supposed, she had broken him a long time ago. But no, after all of the time she had spent on him, it seemed such a waste to throw him away like this, not when there was still so much she could do to him. He was broken, but not completely twisted apart. Not yet. She thought for a moment, rummaging around her brain for all of her subjects, and potential subjects, and then stopped. A grin spread across her face, as she wiggled her fingers in excitement. Yes, that was perfect, someone who she’d been saving for a rainy day. That girl’s frustration had been pickling nicely from being locked up in this school for so long, and now it was time to take her demons for a spin. Yes, the Director laughed to herself. It was all coming together. Her life’s work was nearly complete. Finally, Project Paragon would succeed for real. She would create... perfection.

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