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Sages of Time Part Three


            The Fall Badlands Reunification Team Leader walked down a north-south third floor corridor leading to the main stairwell. She walked with a sense of urgency, for she felt that something was deeply wrong. A few moments ago, she had heard screams emanating from a small storage room on the other side of the building. That probably meant...
            The Artifact has been destroyed. It's power is not long for this world. Argh... this is all that stupid Comm Officer's fault!
            The Leader decided that it was probably the Comm Officer's Fault, largely due to the fact that she sympathized with the "Bedfordites," the native students of the school that the FBRT was currently occupying. The name of the school was Charles P. Allen High School. The place was a dump.
            I never really trusted her that much anyway. I mean, she likes boys! How stupid is that?
            As she approached the end of the corridor, she heard the sound of footsteps rushing up the main stairs.
            Ah, yes! She even let the Bedfordite prisoners out, but yet they come right back to me! I couldn't be luckier!
            She slowed to a halt and peeked around the corner to see her archenemy Michael, his sort-of girlfriend Laurie, and Molly, a pretty woman the Leader had a thing for who looked slightly younger than herself. They, with most of the other remaining CPA students, ran out the stairwell doors and into the Upper Solarium. She could see from the large window beside the stairwell that the skies were black. It was probably raining.
            The people coming in formed a circle around Michael, who appeared to be leading them at the moment. Without hesitation, the Leader broke through the circle and confronted Michael.
            Everyone remained still, as if in a mild shock. The Leader was then able to express herself without opposition.
            "People gathered here, know that this hour marks the beginning of our absolute rule over the entire school," she began. Bah. Who cares about this damn school? I wish it wasn't all I had.
            Michael, always on top of things, came back with a retort. "People gathered here, know that she is full of bullshit."
            The leader laughed. "Ha-ha. But first I must swat a fly."
            "A fly? I've caused you more trouble than that! Ha-ha! You'll never have this school! ...
            Like I care. I'll just kill you.
            ... It's taken a lot of time and effort, but I've got everyone behind me!"
            That's nice. "Too bad that they will all have to die." Then, the Leader changed her tone. "Now with the pleasantries. So, Michael. We meet ag-" Wait a minute, we've never met! "Wait a second, I don't recall ever meeting you in person before."
            "That's okay. We've heard a lot about each other."
            "I must admit that some events have taken me by suprise. Your Sackville allies for instance, or that child Theadore destroying the Artifact. Perhaps it can be repaired."
            "It probably can be repaired. But we'll be the ones doing it."
            "Ha-ha. Not likely."
            "We'll see."
            The Leader became tired of the conversation. "Enough of this. Let us end it."
            "Yes, let's."
            One of Michael's puny little friends spoke up. "Is anyone else here reminded of DragonBall Z?"
            Another replied, "Not really, because what's happened here in the last five minutes would be equivalent to about six seasons of the show."
            Oh, please. "Now let us see who can truly harness the power of the Artifact. It will be difficult, I fear, due to the fact that it has been shattered, but I shall give it a try." She thought a fond thought for Molly. "This is for Molly!"
            "Shut up!" shouted an indignant Molly from the crowd. She was probably still upset about Andréa.
            Michael stepped towards the Leader with a breath. "And this is for Laurie!" he shouted, indicating his own lady friend.
            It was then time to harness the power of the Artifact and blow Michael into another plane of existence. The Leader pulled and stretched out her mind and body, opening herself to the glorious power. But this time it was different. On the outside, it would look as if her body was surrounded by blue sparks with an occasional green flash. Inside, the blue energy was a incredible rush of ecstasy, whereas the green was like the stab of a knife to her heart. The Artifact had become poison! In the Leader's understanding, the destruction of its third-dimensional presence meant that it would inevitably be destroyed elsewhere. The Leader's nineteen-year-old body shuddered and shook with each stab of 'green.' It was the most painful pleasure she had ever experienced.
            Michael, meanwhile, was not doing much of anything besides wearing a frightened look on his face. What a pitiful child.
            The Leader began to accumulate more and more 'blue' energy, but along with that eventual orgasm of joy would come one of excruciating pain. If she were to fire at Michael, she would be desperately weakened. She could only fire once.
            Her outside body soon appeared to be sporting a blue flame in her hands, which she prepared to hurl at Michael. It would toast him on the spot.
            "Now... now you die, Michael."
            Just as she was about to eliminate Michael from his mortal plane, however, the Comm Officer ran into the Upper Solarium from behind the Leader and broke through the crowd. "Stop!!"
            Still clutching the flame, the Leader stared indignantly at her Comm Officer, supposedly only a super-cool technical wizard of the FBRT. Supposedly. Michael stared as well, though with a slightly relieved and grateful look. It was pretty obvious that the Officer had the hots for Michael, but the Leader up until just a few dozen minutes ago had thought that the Officer could turn Michael and the others over to the FBRT's side. Now the opposite may have happened.
            I can't believe this! "Who are you to tell me to stop, Officer?"
            The words did nothing to slow the Comm Officer's spirit. In fact, the Leader sensed that she may have just asked a question that she did not want to know the answer to, and her heart sunk.
            "I am the true leader and founder of the Fall Badlands Reunification Team!" She then produced a combadge that matched the Leader's, proving that she was the one who had been communicating the orders that led the FBRT to Charles P. Allen High School.
            The Leader was utterly shocked. "WHAT?! YOU?!"
            "Yes, me! I command you to stop!"
            No, no! "How can you-"
            "Command Authorization Gamma Alpha Six!"
            After she shouted those words, a dim light flashed inside the Leader's combadge.
            No, no! It can't be! "No!! You die Michael, I don't care!"
            The Leader struggled to complete the flame, even as people from the surrounding crowd attempted to grab onto her. They were deflected away by the energy surrounding her body. Then, she hurled the bolt of flame towards Michael.
            Not wanting to see her love be destroyed by and insubordinate, the 'Comm Officer' leaped in front of 'The Leader' and intercepted the flame for Michael. She was blasted into Michael's arms, where she collapsed and bled profusely.
            She opened her mouth to whisper a few barely audible words to Michael. "My name is... Gwenivere," she spoke, then died.
            The Leader was now well restrained by the crowd, even though she was completely incapable of further destruction, but the crowd did not know this. Her body felt to her like a blossom of searing pain. She tried to but up a bit of a struggle, but she did not have anything close to the energy to escape them.
            The school rumbled and shook, and The Leader was taken down the stairwell with the crowd that was quite anxious to escape the building. Arms latched all over her body kept her in place, but she couldn't move anyway. Her body was completely spent, and it would probably die shortly.
            No. ... I'm not... letting it end this way...
            The essence of the Artifact still existed, if faintly. The Leader decided that she might as well make one last effort to save herself, even though it would be so painful and exhausting that her body might fail her during the process. She began to gather energy, but this time only in her mind. Her mind began to experience the throes of ecstasy and pain, and this time there was no outward sign of what she was going through because her physical body wasn't going to be involved in what was about to happen. It had served her well, and she was rather fond of it because she had been born in it, but it would have to be left behind. Aah.., her inner voice gasped at the seamless mix of pain and pleasure.

            Molly, at the head of the crowd and clutching one of the Leader's hands, stepped off the stairs and led everyone into the Lobby and out the exit doors. They all maintained a high speed about these matters, and no one noticed that the Leader's heart had stopped beating for a long while to come.


            The Leader's consciousness rematerialized somewhere where it was a beautiful morning but no one was outside.
            Did she had a new body, or did she inhabit someone else's? She kind of thought that it would be another person's body, but fortunately it was that of a healthy human female of childbearing age.
            She didn't have a mirror of course, so she looked down at herself to make out what she could. The first thing she noticed was that her body was quite similar to that of her own - her shape and height were the same - but she was wearing much different clothes. On her feet were a pair of women's sneakers and a pair of pink socks. She was wearing blue jeans, but also a pink sweater. Pink!? She moved her arms up to her head to examine that aspect of her new body. Her face felt about the same. She pulled some hair down in front of her eyes. It was blondish-brown, same as before, but... long! And - it had butterfly-shaped clips in it! What is this?! Am I some kind of teenage ditz?!
            Suddenly something occurred to her. This is me. She had become the person that she was before she joined the FBRT. They had the Artifact first, and thus it took her body nearly ten years to age two years. She put the facts together in her mind. How old did she feel? A cute watch that she was wearing on her left wrist told her that the date was 05-18-1999. Eleven years behind the FBRT's take over of the Bedford High School! So she was now fifteen again, but now she knew so much more! She now knew about things like spirit, time-travel, dimensional interaction... not to mention her sexuality.
            This should be fun. Now where am I? This time, her eyes searched her surroundings. She was standing in the middle of a filled parking lot.
            Oh, no... Looking ahead of her, there was no mistaking where she was, for a large, brown brick building blocked her view of the surrounding hills and trees. Charles P. Allen High School. Cloned Prissy Aliens Central.
            She reconsidered the beautiful morning sunshine and the clear skies, and it seemed odd to her that there were no other people outside. No one was out skipping classes, or even entering or exiting the building! The Pit, an area frequented by cigarette smokers and small-time drug dealers, was empty.
            This is very strange...
            Confronting her fear, she gulped and headed for the Main Entrance.
            Looking through the glass windows of the entryway, she saw that the Lobby was empty and that the space between the two sets of doors was occupied by two young armed guards. All the lights inside were out, possibly indicating a power failure.
            Helloooo, who are these people? She knocked on the window.
            The two guards sprang into 'action.' After tripping themselves up, they finally faced the newcomer.
            "I thought we had all the students we need," said one guard to the other.
            "So did I! Who is she?"
            "Uh, my name is - ... I am - ..." What was my name again? Sally? Sa- Sam? San- Sandra? That's it, my name is Sandra! Oh, that's a lovely name! Sandra collected a breath and stood as straight and tall as she could. "My name is Sandra."
            "Why are you here?"
            "I wanted to come inside the school."
            The guards began whispering to each other.
            "Okay miss, here's how it is. If we let you in, you'll become one of our hostages. You won't be able to come out again until we negotiate and agreement with the outside."
            Well, I've got nothing to lose. Heh - and I'll show them what they're getting into by having me as a hostage! "Sure, let me in!"
            "If you say so, miss." Sure enough, they opened the doors, pointed their guns at her head, and allowed her to enter. The doors shut behind her. Sandra walked ahead into the lobby, and the guards lowered their weapons. Looking briefly to her right, she noticed that most of the main stairwell had been obliterated. Slightly worried, she turned back to the guards.
            "Who are you people, anyway?" asked Sandra.
            One of the guards showed her a shoulder patch on his uniform. The logo contained the letters 'TSF.' "We are of the Tantalon Separation Federation. We now run this school."
            "Why, now isn't that a coincidence. You see, I used to command a unit in the-" She hesitated. The FBRT doesn't exist yet!
            "Command a unit where?"
            "Oh, uh... nothing. Never mind." She smiled and winked at them. "Now why don't you two charming boys just go back to doing your job?" she said sweetly.
            "We will, ma'am."
            Sandra waved, then walked off up the dark east-west corridor, blowing the guards a kiss over her shoulder.
            Now I know they won't bother me again, thought Sandra as she walked past the classrooms and lockers. I'll have this place eating out of my hand in no time.

            "There's uh - a woman named Sandra here to see you, sir."
            Scott Gibb, one of the two TSF lieutenants - the other being his brother Jamie who was out at the moment - looked up towards the door of the classroom he was seated behind the teacher's desk of. "Send her in, " he told the door guard.
            Sandra walked into the room. She was a vision of beauty.
            No distractions! "Can I help you, Miss?"
            "Perhaps. My name is Sandra. I was wondering if you could explain to me what is going on."
            "Well, we haven't made the announcement over the PA yet, but we're sort of going for an independent Tantalon state. We're also sick and tired of the situation in which the best and brightest Tantalon Junior High students end up being sent here instead of to Sir John A. High School."
            "But - I don't remember any of this!" Sandra said, indicating the guards and guns. "I was here!"
            "Excuse me?"
            "Sir, you're probably not going to believe me, but I come from the future - the year 2010. This never happened."
            "Well it's happening now!"
            "Yes, I see that... and don't worry, I won't interfere with your operations. I just need to know one thing," she slowed down, and deeply empathized her next words, "have you... ever... come across... a triangular prisim?"
            "A triangular prisim? What's that?"
            Sandra walked up to the desk and picked up a pencil and paper, drawing a few quick sketches for the TSF lieutenant.

Sandra's sketches of the Artifact

            "I've never seen anything like that, but maybe our leader has..."
            "Your leader? Who is he?"
            Scott deflated significantly in tone. "Oh, his name is Mark Wilbur. He's really just a small-time thug who is out to get one of the students here. Actually, I wouldn't mind giving the kid he's after a good thrashing myself... but anyway, I don't know what he's doing with us. He lives in Enfield, for instance. Enfield is so far removed from Tantalon that you wonder why he's not involved in an Enfield Separation Federation. I went to school with him at Sandy Lake Academy a couple of years ago - and that kid he's after also went there - and he hasn't really been acting like himself at all."
            While Sandra's face possessed a thoughtful look, one of the TSF messengers arrived at the door. Scott stood up to listen to him.
            "Sir, our leader wants to use Walsh's mind-control device now! He wants you to bring it to him, ready to be activated!"
            Oh, crap, thought Scott.
            Sandra seemed to be able to tell that something was wrong just by looking at the expression on Scott's face. "What's wrong?" she asked.
            "That device he told me to bring out. I broke it."
            "You broke it? How?"
            "Well, I think it broke when I dropped it on the way here."
            "Can I see it? I might be able to fix it for you."
            "Of course no-," Scott began, but then he realized that he'd be in even more trouble if he let the Leader find out he had broken the mind-control device. "Uh, I guess you can look at it." Scott reached into a pocket and produced the device.

The mind-control device

            Sandra took the device into her hands and examined it. "Do you have a tool room or something I can use?"
            "Sure. Come with me."

            Sandra followed Scott into the Auto Mechanics Lab on the first floor.
            "Now there should be a tool box in here someplace..," began Scott. In the darkness, the pair began to dig around boxes upon boxes of unsold CPA clothing. "Can you believe that this was once a repair shop? At one point, Bedford high school students actually worked on cars in here!"
            "In Bedford? As if!" exclaimed Sandra.
            "Ah! Here we go!" Scott passed a small toolkit to Sandra that was previously lodged behind a box of CPA sweat pants. Sandra opened it and removed a small screwdriver and a handy flashlight. Moving over to a window so she could see, she began to take apart the casing on the device.
            "How did you know this was broken?" asked Sandra while she loosened the screws.

            "Well, the light, you see... it changed from a steady faint green glow to nothing when I dropped the thing."
            After a few moments, Sandra made a pronouncement. "As far as I can tell, the mind-control circuitry and the pad that connects to the - well, I guess it would be the skin - anyway, that all looks okay, which is good news because I might not have been able to repair those parts. I just see a wire coming from the battery case that's not connected to the power input on the circuit board here. I'll see if I can slip it back in a replace the casing."
            Scott was overjoyed. "Fantastic!"
            Sandra screwed the casing back onto the device. The light suddenly lit up to a faint green. "It's ready!"
            "Oh, thank you! I don't know what I would have done if-"
            "Oh, it was nothing. You probably could have fixed this yourself."
            "Maybe. I guess I just never thought to try. Anyway, let's run up and meet the Leader! And I guess I owe you a favor, future babe!"
            Sandra laughed as they left the room.

            The Leader of the TSF paced back and forth in the hallway. He was a brutal-looking person who didn't even look like he was behaving like himself, quite like Scott had indicated earlier. Standing nearby were Sandra, Scott, and a few more TSF operatives.
            "What are we waiting for?" Sandra whispered to Scott.
            "The recipient of our mind control device," Scott whispered back.
            After a moment, another TSF soldier came in dragging a woman on his arm. She was a pretty woman, with long brown hair.
            "She's beautiful..," muttered Sandra.
            Scott heard her. "I think she has a boyfriend."
            Upon noticing the new woman's arrival, the Leader stopped pacing. "Good!" he exclaimed. "Let's get started!"
            The TSF people began to listen intently, but before anything more was announced, the Leader turned to Sandra. "You. Are you one of Scott's women?"
            Inside, Sandra was deeply annoyed by that presumption, but she showed no outward signs of this and she decided that it would be better to just go along with the idea for now. "Yes."
            "Hmm. I see. Scott Gibb," began the Leader. "You have indeed proven yourself worthy of our cause. Your skill in battle is unparalleled. However, I would like to remind you that your side mission of taking over this school's miserable excuse for a Student Council is just that... a side mission. You may pursue that end, but try to keep things in proper perspective.
            "Furthermore, I would like you to congratulate your brother for his excellent work in planting my destruct program. But I would also have you inform him that his side mission of killing this Will Matheson...
            I wonder if that's the kid that went to school with Scott? thought Sandra. If it is, then doesn't this guy know him as well? Scott said he did!
            ... is just that... well, you get the idea. He may do with that insignificant wimp as he likes, as I allow you to revel in the position of a figurehead, just as long as you both remember to help me with the main objective.
            "Well, back to business now. Are all the exits sealed?"
            "YES, THEY ARE SIR!!" replied Scott.
            "Very good. You, your brother, and myself are the only people with authority to allow people entry or exit. Is that understood?"
            Scott nodded.
            "Now, has anyone managed to escape?"
            "Just one person, sir. The main office head secretary. Robbie Truman reports he was too... occupied to prevent her escape."
            "Oh, well tell time not to let that happen again. I don't suppose we'll need that one secretary as a hostage, though. We have two more, I think. Anyway, your service has proven itself invaluable to me." The Leader then indicated that he was including the entire group in that comment. He then turned his attention to the new woman.
            "Now... Angela. You will take this handgun" - he placed a handgun in her hands - "and infiltrate the Staff Room. I trust you'd know how to... acquire all their money. Then, I want you to go to the Student Council's office and empty out the treasury. After that, head for the Main Office and obtain the master key. Then, bring all that stuff to me. In fact, if you could hassle a few wealthy students along the way, that would be nice too."
            Angela didn't look as if she really wanted to do these things. "I don't think so, I-" The cold barrel of an AK-47 pressed against the small of her neck made her freeze. Then the Leader gave a signal, and another soldier moved in and attached the mind control device to the side of her neck below her ear. Now, the device blinked a soft red.
            "Umm... Too obvious. Pull her hair down over it."
            Angela's beautiful hair was unleashed, easily covering the device.
            "You will do as I say," the Leader said to Angela.
            "Yess..," uttered Angela as she slowly walked away. The Leader then gave a nod to his men and walked off himself.
            Sandra remained where she was, staring after Angela until she disappeared from view. "Kind of a waste of talent to have her extorting money, isn't it?"
            "Ah, as soon as Mark gets out of our hair for a bit, we'll get her doing something more useful."
            Still enraptured by Angela's beauty, Sandra was barely coherent. "That sounds... nice."

            A few hours later, Sandra was working comfortably in a converted classroom as the TSF mechanic. She stood in a dark room behind a tool bench near a window, assembling a laser sight that was destined to be mounted on a rifle.
            She was still wearing the 'girlie' clothing she had on when she first returned to this time period, though she did wear an apron to keep those clothes from becoming soiled. She had been offered a uniform, but she turned it down. Sandra had decided that she would much rather dress as a 'typical' 'girl' and have fun messing with people's heads.
            Suddenly, there came a knock from inside a supply closet. Sandra was expecting this. "Come out," she said, anxiously putting down the sight scope and her tools.
            The supply closet door opened, and Angela Ritcey strode out of it in an even paced, robotic fashion. She stopped and stood with her arms at her sides in the middle of the room. "Controlled... Operative... One... ready... for... inspection..," said Angela.
            Sandra looked Angela up and down. The normally striking Angela was even more striking than usual.
            She was naked.
            As per Sandra's new inspection procedure, Angela's clothing sat in a neat little pile in the supply closet.
            "Hmm... you're beautiful," appraised Sandra.
            "That... does... not... ... Syntax..."
            "Oh, forget it," sighed Sandra. "I'm not desperate enough to go after a woman who's under a mind control device. Where would the challenge be?"
            "You... might... have... problems... if... someone... knew..."
            "Thank you, but that was a rhetorical question."
            "Yes... Mistress..."
            Sandra smiled. The 'mistress' title was another one of her touches.
            "Now, my dear. Please give me a report of your... status."
            Angela's eyes closed, and she took a deep breath. "Processing..." She stood perfectly still and quiet for many seconds. Then, her eyes opened and she exhaled. "Mission error: Unable to complete directive 'infiltrate Staff Room... acquire all... money...'
            "Why not?"
            "The... Staff... Room... was... empty..."
            "Empty? Where are all the teachers, then?"
            "I... do... not... know..."
            "Are your eyes functioning normally?"
            Angela's eyes opened and shut rapidly. "My... eyes... are... functioning... perfectly..."
            "Hmm. Strange. Now Angela, is that all you have to say about your status?"
            "Yes... I... am... functioning... perfectly..."
            Oh, she's a vision of perfection! If only she was an android - I wouldn't have any moral problem with having sex with an android. But... "Good. Now I would like to give you a command test."
            "Yes... Mistress..."
            Sandra's eyes became watery. "Kiss me."
            Angela stepped up to Sandra and kissed her passionately on the lips. A breeze blew in through an open window, and their long hair blew together for a brief moment as if in some romantic tapestry. It was a beautiful moment, but Sandra knew that it could not last. She wasn't worried, though. She's find somebody else soon enough.
            "Oh come off it, Sandra. The poor woman has a boyfriend, you know."
            As Scott walked into the room, Sandra disengaged from a kiss. Angela stared at her, confused.
            "Yes, I know. I was just... testing her out. Besides, it didn't feel quite... right. It was still very nice, but I need a real woman."
            "Heh, don't we all."
            "Angela, you may go. Put your clothes back on before you leave."
            "Yes... my... Mistress..."
            As Angela headed back to the closet to retrieve her clothes, Scott looked at Sandra quizzically.
            "Oh, she just calls me that for show! She'll still answer to you, your brother, and the Leader over anyone else."
            "Good. Just continue to ensure that your... original... indulgences don't interfere with the main plan."
            "You know I will. But what do you people care about Tantalon becoming a sovereign state?"
            "Look, Sandra. This is an opportunity to hold the entire school hostage and strike back against an institution we've despised nearly our entire lives. You don't pass up an opportunity like this."
            "Hmm. Of course not; I know the feeling."
            Angela by now was fully dressed, and exiting the room.
            "You nearly finished with the laser sight?"
            "Okay, well when you're finished that, take a break, okay?"


            Sandra finished assembling the sight and was ready to take her break. Just as she was removing her apron and placing it on the table, the most beautiful woman she had ever seen strode through the corridor outside. Sandra immediately rushed outside to see if they could talk.
            "Hello," said Sandra as she ran up behind her.
            The woman turned to face her, smiling. "Hello."
            "Uh... my name is Sandra. What's yours?"
            "Oh! Ashley. That's a nice name."
            "Thank you."
            "Um... where were you headed?"
            "I was going to the ISCF meeting."
            "ISCF? What's that?"
            "Oh, nothing much. We just sit and talk up in Mr. Lyne's room - maybe we'll eat our lunches or plan something, or-"
            "Can I come with you?"
            "Sure! Follow me."
            Sandra blindly followed Ashley's every step for the next several minutes. Along the way, Ashley stopped beside a bank of lockers.
            "If you'll pardon me, I just have to get some things out of my locker."
            "S-sure," acknowledged Sandra with a tremble in her voice.
            Ashley spun the dial on her combination lock and Sandra in the meantime got to take a closer look at Ashley. She was very pretty, with straight, long black hair. She wore a white short-sleeved collared shirt that was styled in a feminine manner with no pockets. She wore a black skirt. Sandra also saw something gold and shiny hanging from a necklace, visible between the open collar of her shirt. It looked like a lowercase 't' but with a longer horizontal line than one would normally see. The symbol looked oddly familiar, but Sandra couldn't remember what it was or what it meant at the moment.
            Before Sandra could stare at Ashley with her mouth agape much longer, Ashley had removed her lunch and a binder from her locker and she was resetting the combination lock. With a wave of her hair, she turned towards the Pit Stairwell. "Come on!"

            Ashley and Sandra arrived at Mr. Lyne's classroom. The actual Mr. Lyne was not in at the moment - the notoriously difficult mathematics teacher was probably on duty elsewhere. The room was occupied by other students of a similar age, mostly female, eating their lunches and talking quietly. In Sandra's estimation, none were anywhere near as beautiful as Ashley. Somewhere in the back of her mind lay the reason for this, but she couldn't drag it out at the moment, for she still didn't understand what the lowercase 't' symbol meant.
            They entered the room and sat nearby each other, close to Ashley's friends.
            "Hey guys. This is our new friend Sandra," said Ashley.
            "Hi, Sandra!" said Ashley's friends in unison.
            "How come you didn't bring anything to eat with you, Sandra?" asked Ashley.
            Ohhh, you're sooo wonderfully kind... "Well, actually the TSF pro- I mean, I'm not hungry right now. Thanks for asking, though."
            "You're welcome."
            "Now does she know everything that we know?" someone asked.
            Sandra was excited by this. She had just come into the group, and already there was the possibility of receiving privileged information! "What? What is it that you people know?"
            "Well Sandra, we know that we are all sinners."
            'Sinners?' What are those? I never knew that I was a 'sinner.' "What is a sinner?"
            "We are all corrupted by Satan, and we do things that are wrong. The punishment for sin is death, and the only way to be delivered and have eternal life is through Jesus Christ, the son of God, who died on the cross for our sins."
            Eternal life? Not that I would really want that, but if these people know how to access such awesome power..! Wow, even the Artifact can't provide such a thing! "Eternal life? Wow! How does that work?"
            "When we die, we are delivered into Heaven, there to spend eternity praising the Lord's name."
            "Cool! Where's 'Heaven?'"
            "It's out there... somewhere."
            "Wow, this is amazing! So what do we do to go to Heaven? I mean, I died myself just to- Uh... I mean, I have to die?"
            "Well, in the Old Testament, before the time of Jesus, God did take five or six people into Heaven before they died."
            "When was the 'Old Testament?'"
            "Thousands of years ago."
            "Wow. So how did you people find out about all of this?"
            Ashley passed Sandra a copy of the New International Version of the Holy Bible. Sandra flipped through it, her eye pausing on the headings of 'Old Testament' and 'New Testament.' "But this... this is a book! Anyone could have written this! How did you guys prove that the message in the book was true?"
            "It's simple. We believe. If you have faith in Jesus, you will be saved too."
            "Saved from what?"
            "Burning in Hell for all eternity, basically."
            "But - but who proved any of this? Isn't it kind of silly to make decisions about what you don't know - making up 'facts' without a solid knowledge of real ideas and having the ability to prove things?"
            "But we just told you! If you believe, you will be saved!"
            "But that - but..."
            "I'm sorry guys," Ashley apologized. "Maybe I shouldn't have brought her here."
            "No, I think we can bring her around. Sandra, do you believe in absolutes?"
            "Absolutes? Uh... no?"
            "Did you know that the entire scientific community is a fraud? In fact, I have a videotape here that shows how dinosaurs walked with man-"
            I was misled. They probably don't have any power, and their warped sys- wait! It's a religion! Of course! Religions aren't made for thinking people! These people are Christians! Why didn't I realize this before? My, being dead sure is rough on the memory! "You guys are Christians!" Sandra shouted.
            "Well of course we're Christians," Ashley said. "What did you think we were?"
            "That's what the sign says on the door, Sandra. Inter-School Christian Fellowship. ISCF."
            Ha! Now I remember! These poor people turned to religion because they didn't have any other social structure to belong to! Now what is Ashley doing here? Hmm... I'll guess her parents got her into this as a child. That's the trouble with belief systems - they're hard as anything to break out of if they're imposed in early childhood. She glanced at Ashley. Oohh... but she's so lovely. If I let them know that I'm not a Christian, then my chances with Ashley will certainly deteriorate. I'll have to pretend that I believe, too. "I'm sorry. I guess I'm just... tired today. You know, on second thought, what you guys are saying makes a lot of sense. Maybe I'll become a Christian too."
            The other members of the group smiled. To them, it was like shooting fish in a barrel.

            Sandra, returning to her duties as the TSF mechanic, now wore a golden Cross on a necklace quite similar to Ashley's. Working away at repairing a video controller, she let her mind wander a bit...

            Ashley was wearing the same clothes she was wearing earlier, except that her shirt was unbuttoned and she was also hanging up on the wall of an empty, darkened classroom. She was squirming to break free.
            Sandra stood at the front of the room, watching her prisoner.
            "You can't do this to me! I'm a fundamentalist Christian!"
            At that moment, a teenage male entered the room. After seeing Ashley, he became shocked. "Let my girlfriend go!" he shouted.
            Sandra pulled a gun and shot him in the head.
            "Ohh Sandra... you're so brave!"
            Ashley beckoned Sandra to come closer. She did, and she untied the ropes, then gently guided Ashley down to the floor. Ashley leaned in to kiss her, but then hesitated.
            "What's wrong, my dearest?"
            "We... I can't do this. I can't be your girlfriend."
            "Why not?"
            "I'm a Christian! The Bible says that homosexuality is a sin! We'll burn in Hell!"
            Sandra grabbed Ashley and kissed her passionately anyway.
            "But - well... maybe I could become an agnostic," Ashley smiled weakly.
            "Sandra?" asked a new voice.

            "Sandra?" asked Scott. "Everything okay?"
            "Oh... yes. I'm fine, thanks."
            Scott left the room and returned to his rounds.
            Who am I kidding? Besides, I can't go around restraining and killing people anymore. I'm supposed to be starting a new life now, right? The Artifact doesn't seem to be here, and the FBRT isn't around yet to possess it, so if I don't have a way to go back to the year 2010, I should just get comfortable here. And... Ashley is here.
            You know what? I'm going to stop whining and do something about my situation! She put down her tools, dropped her apron, and marched out of the room.

            Sandra ran into Ashley somewhere in the halls. She was seated on a bench, staring at the wall.
            "Ashley, can I talk to you for a moment?"
            "Do you have a boyfriend?"
            "Do you... like boys?"
            "I suppose I do. I'm sort of supposed to. Most of them are complete jerks, though."
            "I see."
            "Why? What's your problem?"
            "Oh, nothing."
            "Listen, the ISCF is organizing a bowling trip that we'll go on when the TSF leave the school. You should come with us!"
            "Uh... no, I'd better not promise anything. I don't know what I'll be doing when the TSF leave."
            "What do you mean?"
            Before Sandra could come up with an answer, Angela came around the corner with a gun.
            "All... of... you... Into... the... gym..."

            Fortunately, Angela didn't call Sandra 'mistress' during the forced move to the gym, which would have been quite awkward.
            All the students in the gymnasium were sorted by their feeder schools, which were identified by their student number.

Discussion: Student Numbers at Charles P. Allen High School until 1999-2000

Student numbers at CPA have six digits. The first two digits tell what year a student first enrolled at CPA (actually, if you enter in the first semester, you add a year). The third digit is determined by what feeder school the student attended:

1 - George P. Vanier Junior High (Fall River)
2 - Bedford Junior High
3 - Tantalon Junior High
4 - Other (private schools, schools outside the feeder area, etc..)

The last three digits are assigned unique to each student. For instance, my CPA student number was 964086, which tells people that I entered CPA in the 1995-1996 academic year, was in a school other than one of CPA's feeders in Grade Nine (Sandy Lake Academy, though I did attend BJH in Grade Seven), and that I was the 86th such person to register. This makes sense since I didn't register until the first day of classes. There is probably a 964001 out there somewhere. If anyone cares, my Saint Mary's University student number is 0040352, and I have no idea how it is determined.

One of the events in "The CPA Revolution" had the students group by their feeder school and dislike the people from the other feeder schools. 'Fours' were universal outcasts. Bedford people didn't like the Fall River people and vice-versa, and the people from Tantalon (a tiny minority that never consisted of more than a few dozen students) wanted to separate, hence the TSF. Yes, it's weak, I know. Anyway, I didn't know that many people at the time "The CPA Revolution" was published, (or, to put it more accurately, I never got together with anyone from school outside of school) so I had to make a few guesses. For instance, I assumed that Devon Day was from Bedford, and that Jeremy Strong, the newly elected Student's Council president, was from Fall River. Unfortunately, the real story is the other way around. (I was going to insert this information in the narrative, but I decided that it wouldn't work.) I will address this mistake in the coming chapters of this duology (maybe).

            Sandra and Ashley, however, were not among the main crowd. Sandra was silently recognized as the mechanic, and she was motioned to bring herself and Ashley away from the TSF operatives that were mercilessly sorting students. Ashley wondered why Sandra was getting special treatment, but she remained silent because she was slightly scared about what was about to happen.
            After a few dozen minutes, everyone was sorted into their proper place. Then, two carts carrying eagle cages were wheeled onto the stage at the front of the gymnasium. One cage was occupied by a black-haired boy wearing a rather large pair of glasses. The other was occupied by a tall, slim, athletic-type woman with brown hair.
            The TSF leader approached the podium. "Greetings!" he began. "Today is Day One of the TSF rule over CPA, which may be temporary if Canada and Nova Scotia give us our own country of Tantalonia. Meanwhile, we will carry on a tradition of executing one person each day. You will notice that there are two people here. A..." The leader opened up an envelope. "... Devon Day, Student Number 962 yazza yazza yazza; anyhow, I would like the students from Bedford to applaud for her survival as opposed to this other person's."
            Almost half of the students cheered and shouted at that. Evidentially they liked this woman.
            "Well, that will be tough to beat. Our other candidate is... a Will Matheson-"
            The crowd gasped, some in alarm, some in anticipating joy.
            "... Student Number 96... 4? 086... hmm... looks like he has no one to applaud for him. What school did you disgrace before coming here, vermin?"
            A faint grunt of "Sandy Lake Academy" was heard from the cage containing the black-haired boy.
            "Ha-ha! That little school?! Ha-ha! I would now (heh-heh) like the students from Sandy Lake Academy to applaud for his survival."
            "Anyone from SLA here?" the boy asked nervously.
            "Looks like you lose." The TSF leader turned to an operative. "Release her, and take him back to the Support Room." He turned to another operative. "Prepare the gym for an execution."
            The tall girl was released from her cage and escorted into the 'Bedford' crowd, while the boy's cage was rolled off the stage and out of sight. Then, some TSF operatives began erecting a makeshift gallows.
            Sandra turned to Ashley. "Do you want to leave here?" she asked.
            "I guess so."
            Ashley followed Sandra past some guards and out of the gym through the gym's entrance corridor. They reached the Solarium, and sat down next to each other in the bright sunlight. All was quiet except for some background noise from the gym.
            Ashley breathed a deep sigh. "This is wrong, of course, what the TSF are doing - but I guess I won't be able to do anything about it."
            "Sandra, why are they letting you pass through all the lines without stopping you?"
            I... well, I...
            "Sandra? What is going on?"
            "I- I'm sorry. I- I haven't been honest with you. I actually work for the TSF. I'm their mechanic."
            "But Sandra, why?"
            "I had nothing else to do! I just - I just got here out of nowhere, and I figured that I'd just get with the program now, then take everything over for myself later."
            "But I don't care about that stuff now! I just want to be with you!"
            "EXCUSE ME?!"
            "Look - I'm not a Christian, and I'll never be one..." Sandra delicately removed her necklace and placed it into Ashley's hands. "... but after working as a simple mechanic and meeting you, I understand that there's more to life if I work for what I want instead of just taking it by force like I've done all along."
            "I- uhhh... well..."
            "I know we just met, but I was wondering if you'd - well, when this is over, maybe we could-"
            "Sandra, I can't! I have a boyfriend!"
            "But..." Tears streamed down from Sandra's eyes. "Don't you like me?"
            "I- This is so sudden! We've just met!"
            "But, do you like me? I really like you! No one's ever been so nice to me before! Everyone where I come from either hates me or they're just afraid of me!"
            "I- I don't know anymore! This is all so crazy! I'm... glad you like me, though, but the only reason I was nice to you at first was because I wa- I am a Christian! It was the Christian thing to do!"
            "Why can't we just be nice for the sake of being nice, though? It'll be a change for both of us - I was never nice to anyone before!"
            "What did you do before, anyway?"
            "I was the leader of a unit in the Fall Badlands Reunification Team! It was called the Gamma Bravo Unit, and we came to this school ten years in the future to regain control of the Artifact. But the Artifact is gone now..."
            "The Fall... Badlands?"
            "Yes. Nothing lives in the Fall Badlands. It is an empty wasteland."
            "Don't you mean Fall River?"
            "Fall River? You mean Fall River still exists - oh wait, of course it does! And that accursed Lockview High School hasn't even been built yet!"
            "What are you talking about?"
            Sandra stood up and took Ashley by the hand. "Come on! Let's go see Fall River! I haven't seen the real Fall River in ten years!"
            "How old are you?"
            "Twenty-six, but my body is only fifteen."
            "Oh, Lord. You're crazy, you know that?"
            "I am not crazy! This is all true! If it hadn't been for that... Gwenivere..." Her tone deflated significantly. "... well, I guess I could be an evil overlord again. But I don't want that anymore! I just want to get to know somebody nice like you! Waaaaaa..," she collapsed and cried into Ashley's shoulder.
            "Oh, Sandra..."

            A few hours later, Sandra and Ashley emerged from a classroom, looking slightly disheveled. Sandra was quiet, as was Ashley, but Ashley was in a little bit of a funk. She wasn't wearing her Cross anymore.
            "Are you okay, Ashley?"
            "Yes... I'm fine. I am quite well. I just... well dammit, Sandra, I was raised a Catholic! I can't even masturbate without feeling like I'm some kind of forsaken, guilty, limp dish rag! And now, I- heh-heh... ha ha ha ha ha!"
            They laughed, then walked off together arm-on-arm.