Tangled Webs

Lofty Skies

Chapter Six: The wrinkled sea

The Nightshade raised her blossom at the knock on the door. Enter, she said, casting a glance at her two colleagues.

There was silence for a long moment, followed by another knock. The Nightshade rose and pulled the door open. The human standing outside started and grinned.

"Hello, Father Christmas," she said. "I'd like a new bow and a bottle of curare this year!"

... what are you on about? the Nightshade managed. The woman frowned.

"You're not Santa," she said accusingly. "What have you done with him?"

I don't know what you're talking about, the Nightshade said carefully. Have you checked with Admin?

"You're holding him prisoner!" the woman exclaimed. "Don't worry, Santa - I'll save you!" And she pulled out a dagger and slashed at the Nightshade's petals. The Flower gasped and lunged backwards, slamming the door in the Agent's face and, as the pounding started on the far side, locking it. Then she turned to face her friends.

What in Mandos was that? the Evermind asked. She was just - insane!

It does happen sometimes, the Nightshade mused. Perhaps a particularly difficult mission-

Not like this, the Orchid said flatly. Didn't you feel her mind? This was very rapid onset - perhaps less than a minute.

A sudden shock, then? the Nightshade suggested. Or...

You don't think it could be a deliberate attack? the Evermind asked, her voice quavering.

The pounding at the door suddenly stopped, to be replaced by screaming - in multiple voices. The Flowers heard cries of "For Santa!" mingled with "Blood for the Blood God!" mingled with - and this shocked them to the core - a Flower chanting Unto us a child is born! over and over again.

This can't be an accident, the Nightshade said in a hushed tone as the voices vanished down the corridor. This is an attack - or an epidemic.

What can we do? the Evermind asked. We can't stay here - the door isn't very strong.

We do what we're trained to do, the Nightshade said, reaching for her green sash.

We're going to go and administrate something? the Orchid asked nervously. File some papers?

No, my friend. We may be secretaries for now, but we are still Nurses. And what do Nurses do?

We heal, the Evermind said emphatically.

We do indeed, the Nightshade confirmed. So let's get healing.

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