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But I know what seek, Lost Boy! And then that voice gone again, seeming to slip away down the corridors as the lights kept flickering... 

 

"But they told us-" 

 

"Never mind!" said the leader of the small detachment, struggling to his feet. "Sgt. Axel Larsen, Royal Danish Army," he said by way of introduction. "You are Angelik," he said, looking at Eira, "and you others...come with me," he said. "We'll take the stairs," he told his men and the young heroes, "the elevators have been on the fritz for hours, so has everything electrical. It nearly killed that poor girl down in the infirmary, but if you are real supers, you can get her back to the mainland and away from all this." 

 

They were all pressed together in the firestairs but the soldiers knew their movements, and soon they were on the second floor - only to find a growing scene of chaos as all the lights in the building flickered on and off, twice, thrice, and a child's laughter rang out again. 

 

Eira didn't seem to hear any of it, but stuck close to Pan, seemingly grateful for his presence along with her other friends. 

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Normally Lulu at least tried to respect others' mental privacy, but at times like this, she'd just have to apologize later. After scanning the soldier's mind to bypass the language barrier, she reflexively sent a translation to her non-robotic teammates.

 

-They seem to believe we're heroes, so that's good. All the electrical systems are acting bizarre, and the girl nearly died. They want to us to follow them and evacuate the girl.-

 

Once they were on the second floor, the telepath had to hold up an arm to shield her face.

 

"Oh my Lord, we've gone wandered into The Exorcist!"

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Micah followed along with the group, clearly rattled by everything. 

 

"I can't be the only one finding this a bit freaky."

 

When the soldiers mentioned a person who'd been injured and needed medical attention, he shifted to concern.

 

"How badly is she hurt? Several of us can fly, but is she in a condition where we'd need to try and get a stretcher or-"

 

He stopped, sighed, and face-palmed in slow motion.

"Or I guess Mia could teleport us close to a hospital."

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The group of heroes and their escort arrived at the medbay to find it a wild scene; lights flickering here (though only the lights, not any of medical equipment), efforts being made to pack up a sick, frightened little girl as her father hung close by her side - and then when the heroes arrived, said father turned and pointed at them, a look of sudden, desperate accusation on his face. 

 

"You! Damn you, how could you do this?! Some heroes you are to frighten an innocent girl!" 

 

Eira had held tight to Pan's hand on the way in, looking more and more nervous at the flickering lights and equipment malfunctions as they went - but at the accusation, she "We have nothing to do with this!" declared Eira, pointing at the labcoated scientist, whose military escort seemed as surprised as he was. "Someone here stole from-" 

 

"It was me! As if you didn't know! Just please, stop," he said, arms around his daughter, who looked pale and wan and certainly afraid. "All I wanted to find a way to save her life! Were those ashes so precious to you?" Eira flinched backward at that, shooting the child a horrified look, and seemed thoroughly at a loss for words. 

 

"My name is Dr. Simon Hvarlik," said the bearded man in charge. "I am the director of this project - I...I hired the thief who came to your house. I wanted to use...to use our resources to save my little girl's life. Please, Magda is sick; and her time is limited, I thought...I thought if I could reconstruct her DNA, I could use it to figure out the secret of neural uploading, and save her life! Please, I just wanted to save her - call off your monster!" 

 

"...your story is very sad...but you are the one who stole..." The ghost was coming into view now, for everyone but Eira, anyway - a vaguely feminine sprite with ethereal blonde hair of perhaps eight or nine, striding up beside Eira in a circle of swirling discarded paper to glare at Dr. Hvarlik and declare in a loud child's voice that was suddenly all-too-familiar to all the Claremonters. "...from my grave!" Eyes went wide among soldiers and civilians alike, Dr. Hvarlik protectively throwing himself in front of his daughter, shielding her from the ghost as it stood and pointed at him with a single spectral finger. 

 

"What?" Eira asked."What are they looking at?

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"What."

 

Micah's facial expression hovered somewhere between 'complete shock' and 'completely done with this'. This was absolutely not what he'd expected, in any scenario. He took the scene in for a moment, then stepped between the ghost and the frightened father.

 

"Okay, whoa, hold on, um..."

 

His eyes flicked between the two iterations of Eira.

 

"Hold your horses, Little Eira. Look. This man's a real piece of work, but I think we can sort that out with the help of the cops and whatnot. He's probably gonna feel real stupid when, uh, you confirm he could have just asked for help."

 

At those last few words his head turned and he fixed the man with an unamused glare.

 

"So let's all settle down before we start makin' decisions I reckon we'll regret later."

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"Well, ah don't think you're gonna want to hear this, hon, but ah think we're dealin' with your angry ghost,"  Lulu said with an exaggerated shrug. "She look and sounds like you as a lil' kid, and she's really pissed off!"

 

She pointed at her temple. "You can't see or hear her because she's a psychic phenomena; nothin' to register on your sensors, but ah bet your sweet robotic ass she can hit you!"

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"Oh." 

 

Pan looked at the frightened child, then at the ghostly Eira. Like a switch had been flicked, he had calmed down. He motioned with his hand towards the ghost, spreading out golden dust. The image of the ghost appeared even to those that could not see it.

 

"I believe they are right."

 

His voice was calmer than it had been just before, the fury gone. "It was you, once upon a time."

 

He didn't even seem to care about the scientist right now, though he couldn't help but look towards the child.

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Eira looked down at the ghost, who seemed to be paying very little regard to her at all, and her pale blue eyes went wide and staring as her hands clenched into fists so tight the metal inside her grip audibly clacked. "...var aldrig..." She muttered softly before she slammed her eyes shut tight, frozen in tension for a long moment. When she opened them, she said in a voice like crystal glass. "W-what. Is. Your. Daughter's. Illness?

 

"The...the same as you had," said Hvarlick, protecting his daughter and staring with horrified fascination at the ghostly little girl before him. "Madga's heart is failing, and she is too frail for a transplant, so I thought she could be transformed as you were. But I needed a reliable DNA sample to verify the upload that-" 

 

"My DNA is what carried the fatal gene," said Eira, clutching at the back of her hand, her voice breaking into a sob. "You would have found nothing there of consequence." 

 

"...are you a ghost?" asked Madga suddenly, the little girl's voice so soft and frail it almost didn't penetrate the conversation. 

 

"...yes," said the ghost, hovering higher into the air. "but only for today. Only because someone came and tampered with my grave.

 

"What is it like to be dead?" 

 

"You need not fear, Magda Hvarlick," said the ghost, not unkindly. "It is not your time. But if what is mine is not returned to me, it will be mine."

 

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  • 3 weeks later...

Micah rubbed his temples.

"Lord give me patience..." he muttered to himself. 

 

He took a deep breath, then looked at the man standing in front of his daughter.

"Alright Mister Corpse-Robber. You give us the ashes, we go with Ghost-Eira and leave. You politely ask the appropriate people about upload techniques, or cyber assists, or whatever. You get that lined up. Then you talk to the cops about how you had a dude rob someone's house for the ashes of their daughter's body."

 

He looked at the living, and dead, people present.

"That sound good to everyone here?"

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Pan slowly reached out for Eira's hand. If he could open the tight grip that her hands had clenched into, he would clench her as tight as he could. "You are Eira. That is all that matters." 

 

He looked to Micah, to the Ghost, to the dying girl and her father, and back to Eira.

 

Ultimately, it was not really up to them, was it?

 

He squeezed Eira's hand.

 

"What do you want to do?"

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"People never want to ask for stuff," Lulu muttered as she shook her head. "They just go ahead and take." She understood fear and desperation; they had a way of blinding people to simple truths. Or was it shame? Still, who goes right to essentially grave robbing?

 

The telepath stood ready in case anyone was dumb enough to choose violence, but she hoped the time for fighting had passed.

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"I'll do it," said Hvarlick, falling to his knees before his daughter's bed. "Please, take me away," he implored, hands out in front of him. "Anything you want, as long as it saves my daughter!" 

 

"Anything?" asked the ghost, and there was indeed the echo of something familiar in that tone, an echo of a little girl's knowledge of her own mortality - or had it been the robot who had the echo the whole time. The robot squeezed Pan's hand and looked about to speak, giving him a grateful smile. 

 

"I want to go home. I want to go home and tell my parents-" she admitted softly - before her counterpart broke in on the conversation. 

 

"I have no interest in you," the ghost told Micah cooly. "Only in what is mine. But there are - so many of you. All three of you, in your costumes..." She looked at Micah, and she looked at Lulu, and looked at Pan the most of all - and never gave a single glance to the robot that bore what might have been her face. "I remember..." The ghost looked down at one translucent hand and squeezed it. "...I wanted to be a hero...like them...

 

She stepped forward, right through Dr. Hvarlick, and before any of the other heroes could react, she'd passed through Magda Hvarlick and settled down like a child laying down in a bed, her ghostly form merging with the surprised little girl. Magda gave a startled, loud breath and sat bolt upright in her bed, the alarms around her bed going wild as she exclaimed in a voice much firmer than her earlier breathy whisper - 
 

"I don't hurt! I don't hurt!

 

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Eira's ghost stepped into the girl, or did she become the girl? Pan had noticed her lingering gaze, even if Eira did not. He dismissed the image of the ghost that he had overlaid it the moment she disappeared. He looked at the girl, with just a hint of worry in his eyes, but he bit his tongue rather than speak. A ghost and a girl, all merged together? No, that would not lead to trouble. Of course it would not lead to trouble.

 

"Let us go home to your parents, then," he said softly to Eira, holding her hand tight still. "This seems over, at least for the moment."

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As Eira's ghost merged with the sick little girl, healing her body, creating a miracle that would be a major subject of study for the mystics of northern Europe for some time to come, the machine that bore Eira's memories walked out of the room with her boyfriend in hand, her face expressionless in the way that meant she had actually deactivated the relevant connections between her brain and her surface features before she had left the inner room. 

 

Outside, Eira looked at Pan and then raised the hand that hadn't been holding his - her grip had been so strong that her fingernails had dug into her palm, far enough that she had actually broken the skin enough to let a few drops of bright blue blood leak out. "Död hela tiden," she said simply, looking up at the sun overhead. Dead, all along. 

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