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Hospital Visit


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Wiltmoor hospital


Just outside London


September 1st


"Just a second ma'am..ill buzz you through" said the nurse. He was dressed cleanly and causally, middle aged but fit, with a pleasant smile. 


"Your father is here already..." he explained kindly as he lead Lady Dawn Farrington through the clinical and friendly corridors of Wiltmoor hospital. 


It was expensive, to say the least. But it was money that showed in the high level of staffing, expertise of said staff, and architectural beauty and function of the building. It was actually fairly secure for a hospital, but it hid it well. The grounds were expansive, and green, and the fencing discrete. 


"Susan..she is doing ok, you know. She still has some days where she is bad, but on the whole, she is making progress. She is learning to talk about and cope with her problems" he smiled, encouragingly. 


Further into the bowels of the hospital, outside the ward Susan was in, stood her Father, in consultation with Doctor Felicity Green, her psychiatrist, and a tall, bulky man wearing regulation agency suit and carrying an enormous briefcase that carried God knows what inside. A weapon? a bomb?


"AH there you ah, m'dear" said Lord Farrington, stiffly, trying to contain his irritation at his daughter's appearance behind a stiff upper lip. "This man, Mr. Smith.." he said indicating the suit "...has come from the Ministry. They ah...were just checking up on your Sister. And you, I understand..."

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Dee had barely been back in England a week, but it had taken her longer to get out to see Susan than she had intended.  The young woman was in a black leather jacket with a white T-shirt with the words "Rage Against the Machine" emblazoned across the front.  Black jeans and a pair of Doc Martins completed the outfit, along with a motorcycle helmet tucked under one arm.


She had bristled some at the staff's use of her full name and title, but did her best to keep that irritation under control.  She had made some efforts at insisting on being called Dee, but too little avail.  Most likely that was due to the fact her parents were the ones paying for Susan's care, and the facility likely did not wish to somehow insult them.


Despite the formality displayed by the staff, Dee had to admit they were quite professional.  From what she had been able to see, she doubted there could be any better option for her sister.


Once inside the corridors of the facility, following the nurse towards her sisters room (though Dee hardly needed the guide, having memorized the route years ago), she was quite surprised by the news that her father was already there.  "My father is here?"  She asked with a bit of a scowl and cold tone, even as she reminded herself that the bad blood between her and her parents was hardly the nurse’s fault.


Even as she began preparing herself for a confrontation with her father, Dee focused on what the man had to say about her sister.  The news helped to push aside some of the anger that had been building up, at least for the moment.  "That is very good to hear."  She replied, her tone much warmer than it had previously.  "I have felt rather badly about being gone for so many months, particularly if that means missing such strides."


But then the pair came within sight of her father and the other two individuals speaking with him near Susan's ward.  Dee's attention quickly turned to the unknown member of the group, the man in the suit with the enormous briefcase.  For a brief moment, she considered digging into his mind to learn what might be in there, but then her father spoke up, and she turned her attention to him.


The young woman noted the stiff tone he used and look in his eyes as he addressed her.  Good, nice to know you still have two daughters you would prefer not to acknowledge.  She thought before glancing over to "Mr. Smith" as he was introduced before focusing fully on her father once more.


"Ah, of course, I was wondering what might bring you out here when it is not time for your annual visitation with mother."  Dee stated in a frosty tone as she turned her gaze back to the man in the suit. 

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Lord Farrington stiffened but remained calm. Such was his way. 


"I don't need a lecture from you" he said. For all his faults, he was neither stupid nor incapable. Quite the reverse, actually. He may have been born into aristocracy, but he was also a talented man. 


"You can bore me some other day with your errant ways. Why, perhaps Mr. Smith here will be more receptive to the first play of a broken record" he said. 


He didn't stand up. He didn't quite look away, but he didn't quite look at Dee either. 


He was a black belt in social warfare. 


Mr. Smith remained impassive, unflinching despite the heat in the air. He didn't move a muscle. 


"I'm just here to assess the situation" he said. 


"Susan Farrington is a security risk. And of course I need to talk to Dee Farrington" he said, blanking the titles, and giving a professional grin at Dee. 


Doctor Green sighed. 


"Well, I would prefer if we saved the tete a tete for outside. Susan is making slow progress and I don't want any undue strain on her. Shall we go and see her?" she asked politely to all present. 

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Dee seethed at her father's reaction, but she held any response in check just long enough for Doctor Green to interject.  Though her words did little to dissipate the anger the young woman felt, they did appeal to her extremely logical mind.  Certainly the last thing she wanted was to do anything that might further harm her sister.


"Yes, you are quite right doctor."  Dee replied in agreement, her tone much more neutral now.  She wondered about the presence of this Mr. Smith and the need to "assess the situation."  Dee did not see how her sister could be any more  a security risk that she had been the last ten or so years.  Unless of course this had something to do with the somewhat recent disappearance of Vanguard.  But right now, she could really care less, as she only wanted to see her sister.

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Susan sat on her bed, quietly playing a simple but beautiful tune on her acoustic car. The family resemblance was there, but Susan had a haggard, tired look. An aura of despair. 


"Hello Susan. This is the man from the Goverment. And here are your family" said Dr Green, sitting beside her and looking at her notes. 


"How are you doing?" she asked her gently. 


"I'm ok. Sleepy. Tired" she answered, putting down the guitar. 


"The medication, Clozaril...it helps but makes me tired"


"I know Susan. It's the only thing that helps though" said Dr Green a little sadly


"Would you mind if your family and this man talk to you?" she asked her patient. 


Susan nodded agreement, and so did Dr. Green. Susan looked at one person, then another, and smiled at them all. 


"I'm doing better...really I am" she said slowly. "The voices aren't so bad now..."

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The tough and confrontational attitude that Dee had displayed in the hallway slipped away as she entered her sister's room along with the others.  The musical notes that filed the room stabbed at her heart, for she knew them only too well.  It was one of the last songs she and Susan had learned to play together, Dee on the piano and Susan on the guitar, back before Susan had been committed. 


A smile came to Dee's face as she looked at Susan and she moved closer, kneeling down in front of her.  Her eyes were moist as she looked at her twin.  "Hey sis.  It is good to hear you are doing better.  I am so sorry it has been awhile since I last visited."

Edited by Thevshi
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"Thats okay" said Susan slowly, looking like she was having a hard time concentrating. Synapse could feel her anxiety levels rising - whether it was a psychic connection, or just an empathic understanding - or both - who could say?


Mr. Smith stepped forward, gripping his briefcase tightly and...a trace of discomfort? or guilt? flicked momentarily through his face. 


"Miss Farington. I represent the Ministry of Powers. I need to ask you a few..."


"Thats alright" said Susan, interrupting. "I haven't had any of my voices, and I haven't any of those powers. I don't want to join any team, or serve the government. Just like last time. I haven't got much of a life left, and I don't want to screw it up wasted on you...NO!" she finished with an abrupt scream. 


"I think its time we left" interjected Dr. Green. 


"Please, lets respect her wishes" she said kindly. "Susan, you are quite safe here, you only need to see people you want to, for as long as you want to..."


Susan buried her head in her hands, and shook her head...

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Dee was starting to feel a bit worried about Susan as she felt some anxiety building up.  But she did not have time to say anything more when Mr. Smith stepped forward and began to speak. 


However, Susan gave him no time to explain why he was there as she began to reject any idea that she might go work for the Ministry.  Beyond the annoyance Dee felt for Smith agitating her sister, the young woman was rather shocked to hear there had been another time were someone from the Ministry had offered Susan a chance to go work for them.


The young woman glared a moment at Smith as she reluctantly rose from in front of Susan when Doctor Green spoke up saying it was time to leave.  While Dee would prefer to stay longer, she understood the doctor's concern and could always come back later in the week or the following week when there was less going on to upset Susan.


"No one is going to hurt you Susan."  She offered.  "I will be back to visit very soon."

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Outside Susan's Room


"That went as expected" sighed Doctor Green. 


"You know I am uncomfortable, to say the least, with Government interference. Whatever clandestine authority you wield, and I do know you wield it, please respect that I am a doctor, and obliged to do my best for the patient" she said, calmly and directly to "Mr. Smith", who showed no visible emotion in response. 


She frowned, conflicted, and guilty, and walked off. 


Mr. Smith gave a flicker of a shared glance to Lord Farrington before addressing Dee. 


"I am also here to see you. We are well briefed" - again the flicker of a glance, which could not be suppressed, towards her father - "On the particulars of your abilities. As you may be aware, the government team known as the vanguard disappeared a few month. Our brief is to assemble a team to find them, or, if not possible, replace them..."

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Dee reluctantly made her way out into the hallway, giving her sister a smile and a small wave as she went.  Once back outside, her disposition once again became stern, a scowl on her face as she looked over at Mr. Smith and her father as Doctor Green spoke briefly before leaving.


The young woman listened as Mr. Smith then spoke, explaining somewhat the reason for his presence.  "Yeah, I read about that when I got back in England last week."  Dee replied.  "But are you so desperate that you have no other options than trying to recruit my sister?  I rather think the Ministry has already done her enough harm."


"And as for me, what makes you think I want to have to anything to do with you either?"

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Mr. Smith was a stone like as ever. 


"You aren't our first choice. You aren't even our second. But you are on the menu. So to speak. We are well aware of your extraordinary mental abilities however. They would be an asset" he explained. 


"Your abilities would be highly useful in finding out what happened to the Vanguard, would they not? The MInistry of Powers is working very hard to recover from this blow. Your assistance would be appreciated" he said, dead pan. 


"Your psychological profile is not easy reading. However, consider your options here. With your psychic abilities we would have to monitor you very carefully, given your propensity towards anarchic and impulsive activities. What are you going to do with those gifts? One way or another, we can't escape our duty to monitor you. We would or course rather expend our resources working with you, than having to ensure your abilities are not misused" he explained, again unreadable. 


"Also, we are paying for the rehabilitation of your sister. And using our resources, which are significant, in trying to cure her. Worth bearing in mind..."

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Dee listened to Smith's response, and far from being insulted by his statement about how far down she was in the Ministry's choices, she viewed the statement as something of a victory.  And she simply smirked slightly as he mentioned how the Ministry would appreciate her assistance in helping to look for the missing members of Vanguard. 


She began to scowl however as he began to make what sounded like a thinly veiled threat about having to closely monitor her due to her abilities.  While the young woman certainly was not surprised by the fact the Ministry would want to keep an eye on here, Smith seemed to be suggesting something more.


And when he finished with the comments about how the Ministry was working to help her sister, she was quick to responded.  "And the Ministry damn well should be paying for my sister's care!  Let us not forget that she is in her current state due to the Ministry's little program and your man Crab."


"As for me, I remind you I never asked for my abilities either, again, the Ministry and John Crab's doing."


Dee then paused a moment, as she considered the situation a bit more carefully, doing her best to detach the strong emotions involved and examine it more logically.  It was then an idea came to her that could potentially make working with the Ministry something she could suffer through.


"But I tell you what.  I will agree to join this taskforce your putting together, if you give me access to Crab's notes on the psi initiative process that he put my sister and I through, and in particular any notes he made about the two of us."

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"Crab...you refer to the man known as Headcase..." for once, Mr. Smith's eyes glazed and his back stiffened. There was the faintest tightening of his jaw. 


He paused for the longest moment. 


"The psi initiative is highly classified. If that is what is required to recruit you, then you can have his research notes. Some, at least are based in the Ministry of Powers. Although you cannot take any notes, cannot remove any, and must be monitored whilst reading them. For security purposes, you understand" he said firmly. 


"Of course, these may not be the sum of his notes. You may have heard of the Vanguard's secret base, called the Haven. It is likely he has more research material there. Except..."


He paused again. 


"We have been unable to enter the Haven since the Vanguard vanished. We know where it is, but it appears to have a highly advanced defence system, beyond anything we had authorised, and it has been set to kill. We have not been able to enter..." he said, almost embarresed. 

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Dee was almost surprised at how easily Smith agreed to provide her access to Headcase's notes, even if it was with some restrictions.  With her memory, those restrictions should not prove particularly bothersome.


When Smith went on to mention that some of Hardcase's notes might be in the Haven and the difficulty the Ministry was having with entering the Vanguard’s secret headquarters, the young woman smiled slyly.  "That is embarrassing.  And unfortunate.  I would think the Haven would be the first place to start looking for clues to where they might be.  Assuming they are not actually in there and the facility is under the control of someone else."


She paused a moment, and then continued.  "I have been to the Haven before, about two years ago, when Headcase took me to meet the other Vanguard members.  I am rather certain I did not get to see all of the headquarters, but I saw a fair bit, and should be able to remember some of the details on its layout, though that could well be dated."


There was another brief pause, and she then added.  "While we are on the subject, I would like to see any reports the Vanguard members filed before they disappeared.  There could be something in there that could be a hint to what happened to them.  I'll start with the last three months."

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Mr. Smith's tone softened just fractionally. 


"Of course, madam" he said, deferentially, with a concrete smile on his face. "I have a car waiting, as a matter of fact. We can be at the ministry in under thirty minutes..." he said, in defiance of London's traffic problems. 


"I say there. Is this all right and proper?" interjected Lord Farrington looking concerned. 


"I mean, I know my daughter here got the more agreeable end of the stick when..." he paused, implying but not saying the experiments he put them through. 


"...but I don't want her exposed to any danger. You understand?" he said, his voice wobbling slightly. 


"That is her decision, Sir" said the cold voice of Mr. Smith's, whose loyalties appeared mercurial to the tune of necessity. 


He showed Dee towards the exit of the hospital. 


"The Vanguard members all have detailed files" he explained. "I can even call them up in the car...once you sign the official secrets act, of course..."

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Dee smirked slightly as Smith mentioned getting them to the Ministry quickly, as she tended to be able to get around some of the traffic problems on her motorcycle.  But when her father interjected, the young woman gave him a cold look.


"You are the one who was trying to convince me to get involved in government my last year at Oxford.  What exactly did you think might happen when you signed me and Susan up for Headcase's little experiment?"


She turned back to Smith as he mentioned being able to pull up some of the information about the missing Vanguard members during the car trip back.  Normally she would have preferred to drive herself, but in this instance, she figured it might be best to get started reviewing things as soon as possible.  That way she could get to reviewing what she really wanted to quicker as well.


"Well, let's not waste any time then."  She stated, starting off towards the exit.

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"I thought you would become magnificent" said Lord Farrington, sad but firm. 


"Of course, that covers a wide variety of virtues. And sins"


He turned heel and left, a slow but steady gait of an older man with iron in the soul. 


Mr. Smith appeared to have ignored her father. He merely glided himself and his ward, Dee, out of Wiltshire hospital into a regulation black limo which was clearly armour plated and secure, with blacked out windows. The driver was not even visible as they got in. He did a good job though, a smooth and sleek ride. 


Mr Smith dumped his impresive case beside him and kept a hand on it firmly. The limo has several document files and a laptop. 


"First things first, Miss Farington. Welcome to the Ministry of Powers..." he said sliding her an official secrets document and a pen. The document was clear and unambiguous. She would be bound for the rest of her life not to reveal any government information designated "secret". 

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Dee's frown had deepened at her father's response, but she had little time to dwell on that as Mr. Smith was not one to waste time and quickly guided her out of the hospital and to the waiting limousine.  As she took her seat, the young woman's gaze slid over the interior of the limo. 


Her expression was indifferent, having ridden in limousines or other luxury cars for most of her life.  She did however focus once again on the briefcase Smith was carrying, again resisting the temptation to pry into his mind about its contents.


Taking the document presented by Smith, Dee carefully read it over, something she was able to do with considerable speed.  She glanced back at the pen Smith had also provided, briefly considering the ramifications of what she was about to do. 


Dee gave an inward sigh.  Signing away a part of your soul is a small price to pay if it can help you find a way to help Susan.  She reminded herself as she picked up the pen and signed the document, handing it back to Smith.

"Alright, now that's out of the way."

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No sooner was the paper signed than it was scanned, emailed, and whisked away to the massive bureaucracy of the British government. Fate sealed. 


Then, Smith showed her a file on crab. 


Crab, aka "Headcase" had been, it seemed, absolutely fundamental to the powers project. The United Kingdom had basically been concerned that they would not lose out in an arms race of super powered heroes. The Powers project dated back to the paranoia of world war II and beyond into the cold war, and it seemed it was falling out of favour as the world lurched into peace.


But Crab had been brilliant, and Crab had been insistent. He had developed psychoactive drugs that, in combination with his own mental abilities could radically augment brain function - although the results had been inconsistent at best. A half dozen experiments, before the Powers project finally lost patience and shut the project down - or rather put it on indefinite hold. 


The file showed detailed reports on Dee and Susan, the last subjects, but again, drew attention to the problems Susan had had. And recommended that the risk was unacceptable in time of peace. 


The last point stuck - the report did note that if world circumstances changed the Mental Augmentation Project (MAP) might be used on volunteers, even if it did have under a 10% success rate. As a last resort. Of course, now that Crab / Headcase had vanished, the project was no longer feasible


There was plenty of other information available, enough to answer most of Dee's questions


"That's what we have on him" explained Smith. 


"As for the reports on the other three, fairly unremarkable three months. Lucy Diamond erratic as ever, Dderwen continuing to retreat to the wild, and Champion, well. Faithful as ever, but he was losing the will to fight by the end. Getting old, maybe" said Smith shrugging with his jaw but not his shoulders. 

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Dee began reading quickly through the file on Crab, feeling the old familiar feeling of anger at her father for agreeing to let her and Susan be subjects of Crab's process when she saw the very low success rate the Ministry listed for the MAP.  But the young woman did her best to push that emotion aside for the moment, as she needed to focus on the task at hand rather than relieve old issues.


She made careful mental notes about the various referenced reports and her and Susan, as well as on the drugs developed by Crab, as she would certainly want to look at those later. 


Her primary focus was quickly on the more recent activities of Crab or the other three.  "Hmm, that is interesting."  She commented almost absentmindedly at Smith's comments about some of the Vanguard members.  "Are there no reports from recent missions for the Ministry?  After action and the like?  Or would that all be in the Haven?"  She then asked.  "There could be something to suggest what they might have been working on when they disappeared.  Assuming they just have not all decided to go their separate ways."


"But, I imagine Crab would not have just dropped out of contact like that."  She said almost to herself. 

Edited by Thevshi
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Mr. Smith's face was as impassive as ever.


"Perhaps not. You need to understand that Crab was perhaps the greatest asset of the four. Champion was the strongest, our very own Centurion. But for all his formidable strength and power, and it was formidable, Crab, or Headcase, was subtle, intelligent, and much more useful. His intellect alone was immeasurable, and his mental power was almost unparalleled" he explained. Despite the stony face, Mr. Smith almost seemed to take pride or vanity in the man's abilities. 


"He could be anywhere, hiding out. He could very well still be in contact, but out of sight, pulling strings unseen. Or, he could have died. Or he could have travelled to another country. Or another planet. We simply do not know. Given he could have controlled any number of people and wiped their memory, it is impossible to say" he said with a stiff but efficient shrug. 


"As for the Vanguard's missions, they had tailed off somewhat in later years. There were certainly signs that the team was cracking. Crab was more interested in national security, espionage if you will, and to be blunt, we were more interested in him helping in that field. Lucy Diamond was always erratic, and Dderwen seemed to spend more time in the glades of Wales than in the city. Champion...well, it is felt he was past his best years" he explained. 

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This time, Dee could not refrain from frowning as Smith "gushed" on Headcase's abilities and his importance.  It was almost enough to make her feel queasy about the form she had just signed a bit ago.  But she reminded herself that she was doing this on the possibility she might be able to do something to help Susan.


When Smith finished answering her questions, the young woman smirked slightly.  "So let me get this straight.  The vaunted Vanguard had not really done anything as a team in some time, or at least nothing initiated on behalf of the Ministry, and now you're in an uproar because they have disappeared?  But this could just be a case of most of the members deciding they wanted to retire and choosing not to let you know, while Crab might have decided to refocus his efforts elsewhere and just did not leave a forwarding address for you lot."

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"It might very well be retirement" said the impassive face as the car started pulling through the crowded streets of London. 


"But we cannot very well ignore the absence of a man who can hurl battleships, a woman who can emit enough light to cut through solid steel, a half plant creature who could cause mass famine or, indeed, the reverse, and the a man whose IQ is unmeasurable and can control peoples minds" he said with steel. 


"And we can particularly not ignore them when these four individuals were our primary, and best, defence against metahuman threats" he finished as the car pulled into a blank concrete buildings. 


"So, Miss Farrington, your country, and your countrymen, need you. Whether you acknowledge that or not" he said bluntly, holding the car door open. Outside, blank and featureless walls of a car depot waited. 

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Dee was quite as Smith responded, though his comments touched some on a number of the reasons she did NOT want to be in the car.  But again, she reminded herself of why she had gotten into the car.  She gazed out the window during the remainder of the mind with a half distracted look, her mind racing through what she had read over thus far and about what might be the first step in all this.

When they arrived at the Ministry building, she glanced out at Smith as he exited the vehicle and mentioned her country (and countrymen) needing her. 


"I got into the car and signed you ruddy form didn't I."  She stated as she climbed out of the car.  "So, lead on Mr. Smith."

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Smith smoothly picked up his huge briefcase and in one fluid movement stepped out of the car. The man was in good shape, and silent as a mouse when he moved. An archetypal suited, booted, impassive agent. 


"Your cooperation is appreciated" he said in his same controlled voice. 


"The Ministry, in case you did not know, is run by Sir Cruxberry" he said, his voice betraying the slightest tone of respect - a crack in its otherwise featureless landscape. "He is conference now. I'll just call his secretary to...update him on the situation" he explained, before pulling out a phone and making that same call. 


"Yes, we have the secondary candidate. Yes, she has agreed to help, provisional on access to information. Yes. Yes. No. Yes. Yes, she has signed the official secrets act. No. Yes. Very good" he said in short, efficient order. 


"Time to go in" he said, waving his arm forward to Synapse. 


Continued in

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