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[Fiction] Dirty Secrets, Part 1


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"C'mon, pick up the phone...."

Talking to Neil was usually a joy. But today, Ptesan-Wi was dreading it.

She didn't want to be making this call. All things considered, she would be happier to just have Neil stop by on one of his normal visits, or to chat with him merrily on the OpNet. But ominous clouds were looming, and if she was to head off the coming storm, it would have to start with Neil.

The line clicked, and a friendly voice said, "Hey Sis." Ptesan-Wi smiled, despite the situation; Wakinyan's blood-brother had treated her like family from the start, and it never failed to warm her heart.

Then she remembered why she was calling, and that warmth bled away into some dark hole.

"Neil, I need to talk with you. It's about Flicker."

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"I've been reading," Neil replied with an under-current of dread.

"I don't like talking over the phone if I can help it. Is it possible for me to come over?"

"Okay." She knew what it would take to allow Neil to come half way across the Mother to see her. Ptesan-Wi reached out with her mind, found the doe and brought the creature to her. She touched the deer's spirit, soothing it and making her peace with the greater cycle. Ptesan-Wi had the deer lie down and close its ease in sleep. The knife slashed expertly across the doe's throat and it passed on even as its body twitched with the last tinglings of life.

Neil reached out with his heart - Ptesan-Wi would have said with his soul - a felt the vibrant, living pulse of all living things of the planet. It was overwhelming, yet familiar and Neil plunged in, reaching through the blazing heart of the Amazon as he reached north. Life barely diminished as he crossed the Caribbean. It lost some of its vibrancy when he came to land again, but the cord of all life remained unbroken.

Neil felt the deer's pulse and its fading heat so close to Ptesan-Wi's unique signature. All he had to do was step through.

Neil clawed up through the deer’s open chest cavity and tumbled into his Brother's Country. Reaching up and hugging Ptesan-Wi gently, so as not to cover her with blood and gore, he asked her,

"What's wrong?"

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A sacrifice for her brother's timely arrival... but a sacrifice that would not be wasted. As she started to speak, she pulled out a knife and went to work on the lifeless deer; it would feed her and her mate for several days to come.

"I don't know how much you've told Flicker about me, Neil. About all of me." The knife slid through the warm skin like a scalpel, as Ptesan-Wi skinned the animal with practiced precision. "But I think she has an inkling that not everything is as it appears. Her request for photos from my childhood was pointed, and I don't think it was completely a joke."

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"It wasn't. Nova has seen me work and seen what I can do, but I have never ... never talked about anyone who has been under my care, to her. That is my Oath."

"She does know that I did something for the member of the XWF, Brawlzilla, before her eruption. I think she has put together some of psychology with her increasing elevated understandings of medicine to make an educated assumption that you were not always the nova you appear to be."

Neil looks distressed.

"Sister, I am torn about what to do. Nova holds my heart and there is nothing I wouldn't risk for her. I know I wouldn't be the kind of man she could love if I betrayed my Oath, but nor can I see myself honestly deceiving her. What am I to do to help you, yet remain true to her as well."

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Neil runs his hands through his hair in frustration. Already the detritus of the dead deer are beginning to evaporate from him, but he doesn't seem to notice. His pain is palatable as he looks into Ptesan-Wi's eyes.

"I don't know. I trust her with my life, but it is my life to risk. If I could, I would have you two be like sisters. I really would."

Neil shakes his head in frustration then he looks back up.

"It is not my call to make, but my advice is this. Tell her. She is a good person and she wants to help others. Head to toe, she is a healer and a physician. She can hold your confidence, though I image she will have some tough questions for you."

With a look of greater confidence, he adds,

"Tell her."

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"That's easier said than done. Right now, she's convinced that I'm a racist - an insane racist, I might add - and I don't think that I can just call her up and chat."

She sighed, and set the bloody work of cleaning the deer aside to look at Neil. "I'm not a racist, Neil. And I'm not insane."

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Neil nods his head in agreement and bites his lower lip.

"Ptesan-Wi, my father said there are two worlds we all live in. The world around us, and the world we see."

He looks into his sister-in-law's eyes.

"You are insane," he grins. "You see the world around you and tell everyone what you see. That makes you crazy."

Placing a hand on her shoulder,

"Not everyone wants to see the world as you do. Not everyone wants to think about a world outside our flesh and bones ... or genetics, bio-systems, and rational science."

There is an inhuman depth of compassion and love in his eyes as he speaks.

"I don't know if you are right, My Sister. You may see things I don't, and I accept that. I know that there is much more for me to learn about ... well about everything. Life and how we live and why we live ... so much. I think if you try to communicate your feelings and your passion to Nova she will try and understand. I do."

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He understands. Somehow, I knew he'd understand.

She reached out to the deer with her mind; it rose from the ground as if it was to ascend into the heavens... even though it was actually destined only for the cold room to be butchered at a later date. Ptesan-Wi rose as well, standing before the remarkable nova who had helped her with so much in the past year and a half.

"If you think that she can be trusted, Neil, if you think that she can understand, then I will talk with her. But I think it will be best if you are there."

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"Thank you, Sister. Why don't you send her a private missive and ask if you can meet her at our home in Rio? I think she will feel better meeting you on her own soil. I know that puts you at a disadvantage, but since these are ghosts of the past we are dealing with, it is probably better not to distrupt your tranquility here."

Neil follows Ptesan-Wi along, but looks to the deer.

"I'll need the deer to find my way home and I must hurry before the strength of its life is becomes too weak to carry me."

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Before stepping back into the deer, Neil pivots and gives Ptesan-Wi a kiss on her forehead.

"Take care and I will see you again soon."

With that, he tensed in concentration and fell back into the Web of Life. The deer's life was faint now, but still effective. Back homeward he went, back to the teaming life that was Rio. Still, he had to find something, or someone, that was crossing over. A distant flickering drew his attention and he reached forward to it like a drowning man reaches for a lifeline.

Neil came through into one of Rio's multiple slums. He was brought back to the functioning world in a cow's carcass, very recently hit by a passing bus. Neil crawled through the gut and the crowd backed away in fear. That lasted right until someone recognized him and the woman stepped forward and offered him a hand up. Sensing that he was a nova, and not a monster, the crowd stepped toward him.

Right then Neil so envied his beloved and her pinpoint accuracy.

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