Home > Witch Of The Federation VI

Witch Of The Federation VI
Author: Michael Anderle

Chapter One

 

 

Marcus, Gemma, and Trey were still blowing themselves up when Professor Nathan Fellon rejoined them. It had been two very long weeks since he’d been able to participate, and they still struggled to find solutions.

It had been as entertaining as hell, though, from the snippets he’d been able to see while away resolving things so he could join the project full-time.

He’d arrived with a smile of anticipation, but it faded quickly when Professor Rimmer’s voice rang through the White Room.

“Oh, for fu—” the professor began and Cynthia cleared her throat warningly.

“Pity’s sake!” he finished at a roar.

His assistant was implacable. “It’s time to take a break, Doc. Don’t make me come in there.”

Marcus scowled but he capitulated. “You heard the lady, people. It’s break time.”

“Well, thank fuck for that,” Gemma told him, “or we’da been here all night and I desperately need a pee.”

“So it’s your fault then?” Nathan asked. “Your bladder got the better of your concentration and you blew us all to hell?”

She snorted and exited with more haste than grace. “Nate, if I’d blown us all to hell, we wouldn’t have made it to the White Room.”

“I hate you all,” said the biggest man in the room. “That last one hurt like a motherfucker.”

Cynthia cleared her throat again and leaned on the doorframe to the lab, drumming her fingertips against her biceps while she tapped her foot.

Even Marcus got the message. “It’s time to head out, guys. We’ll sleep on this and get back to it in the morning. Bring me your best ideas—hell! Bring me any ideas, even if your two-year-old thought it up with a fistful of crayons and some cardboard. I’ll consider everything.”

Gemma snorted and slapped his shoulder as she passed. “Will do, but I have to warn you, my two-year-old gave up on crayons when she discovered fingerpaint and sparkles.”

“Sparkles?”

She laughed at the look of bewilderment on his face. “Glitter, Rimmer. Sparkles is glitter. Man, where have you been living? In a lab or something?”

“I… Well, yes, but that sounds promising. I mean, magic sparkles, right? I’m thinking any idea coming from a glitter-fueled two-year-old has potential.”

Her jaw dropped. “Was that… Did you… Did you make a joke, Marcus?”

The comment made him blush, and he raised a hand to rub the back of his head. “I do have a sense of humor, you know…”

That made them all chuckle. They were still smiling when they passed him to reach the door. Phillip hesitated briefly and for a minute, the boy looked like he had something more he wanted to say, but then he turned and left.

Marcus frowned and looked at Cynthia. “What was that all about?”

“He merely wanted to say goodbye,” she explained, “but he’s as bad as you used to be and couldn’t find the words.”

“As bad as…I wasn’t that bad, was I?”

She smiled and pointed to the door. “You’re the last one, Doc, and Catering will be truly upset if you ruin another meal.”

“I…” He looked at his terminal and she scowled.

“I mean it, Doc. You put me in charge of looking after the team’s health and well-being and you are the worst one I have to ride herd on. I will pull the plug.”

He glared at her, but after one more glance at the screens, he sighed. “Fine, but I’ll have an early start in the morning. Don’t make me late.”

Cynthia was unperturbed. “You do know that if you get a good night’s sleep, you’ll blow yourself up a whole lot less in the morning, don’t you?” she reminded him acerbically.

“Thank. You. Cynthia,” he ground out and stalked out of the room.

He didn’t see the tiny smile that curved her lips as he left but he didn’t need to. He knew she was smiling, dammit!

His assistant followed him out, shaking her head. “I’ll see you tomorrow, Professor.”

She used his title, again—something she did when he’d done the right thing as if her recognition of it was a reward.

And it worked, dammit! He knew he was on the right track when she called him Professor or even Doc, and he liked it when she approved, even if he wasn’t interested romantically. If she’d been single, maybe, but she wasn’t.

Marcus pushed that thought aside, managed a smile, and raised his hand in farewell. “Thanks, Cynthia.”

She was picking her keys and handbag up when he surfaced and she gave him a happy smile as he emerged. “Your meal’s waiting, Doc. See you tomorrow.”

He watched her go before he made his way to the tiny staff kitchenette to find he didn’t need to heat his supper. It was still covered and hot. With a sigh, he sat and reflected on the past two weeks and their various attempts, none of which had succeeded.

It had been one hell of a ride, though.

As he mulled over the day’s work, he ate what Catering had provided and then headed to the car park. If the truth be told, he didn’t want to go home but he had to. The university had refused to provide him with a room.

Marcus sighed. Maybe he could speak to One R&D about that.

It was no secret that he hated leaving the lab—even if it was still there when he returned in the morning.

 

 

Sleep was hard to come by that night and when it did, it was plagued by dreams. He returned the next morning but felt worse than when he’d left. Cynthia took one look at him and frowned.

“Did you get any sleep last night?” she demanded.

He managed a bleary-eyed glare and took the coffee she handed him.

“I tried but I didn’t sleep very well,” he replied. “I dreamed.”

“And did your dreams come up with a solution?” she pressed.

After a gulp of coffee, he shook his head. “Not unless you count being blown up another half a dozen different ways as a solution.”

“So, you know what not to try?” she asked, and the slight smile was back.

Despite his mood, he couldn’t help but return it. “I know what not to try,” he agreed and sighed. “But I’ll have to try it anyway if only to confirm it officially.”

She grimaced. “That sucks,” she agreed and took his cup as he drained it. She put it on a lab counter and gestured toward their pods. “Shall we?”

He grimaced but nodded. “We shall.”

“Cheer up, Professor. It’ll be fun.”

“You’re not the one in charge of finding the solution. Worse, I’m fairly sure Nathan and Trey plan to ambush me on the way out of the lab so they can get payback,” he grumbled and closed the lid of the Virtual Reality pod over him.

“You know they’re far too nice to do anything of the sort,” Cynthia told him shortly.

Marcus didn’t acknowledge that with a reply, partly because he was in a hurry to get to his terminal and partly because Nate, Trey, and Gemma were waiting for him when he arrived.

“So,” the woman demanded, “did you come up with anything?

“Only about six ways I’m reasonably sure will cause us to explode in spectacular fashion,” he replied and they groaned.

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