Binary Magic – Part 2

Chapter Two

Less than an hour later, the young witch approached Professor Mud’s greenhouse with a swift confidence, her blue hair glimmering with aquamarine highlights in the warm rays of morning light peeking out over the trees behind the University Bookstore.

She patted her hip holster to assure herself her wand was at the ready. Then, stepping forward, she tapped on the glass door of a massive greenhouse. The sounds of chirping birds filled what would have been silence as she waited for a response. No answer. She tried to peer inside, but the glass was foggy from a thick mist. With a coat sleeve over her hand she wiped at a spot on the glass anyway, unsurprised when the fog didn’t budge. But just as she pulled her hand away from the glass something strange happened – the fog inside swirled and shifted as if her motion had stirred the air.

“Hello? It’s Agent Bleu, IBS. Professor Mud, are you in there?” Several yards away a shadowy figure moved in the mist beyond the glass.

Bang! A loud crash erupted from back of the greenhouse.

Spinning in the direction of the noise, Aheila had her wand out in an instant. Poised in a ready stance she moved sideways at a jog, one foot crossing over the other. From the far corner she could see all the way to the back of the building, but the fog inside prevented her from locating Professor Mud. “Peachy” she muttered to herself. The Professor had called her department after all. If she wasn’t answering, maybe there was trouble. Her earlier reconnaissance had assured her there were no side or back doors, but looking up she saw that a pane of glass along the roof was cracked open.

“MiNET, time to go to work.”

A shock of magenta emerged from Aheila’s pocket and landed beside her with a soft noise. The pink kitten yawned and stretched her back in a movement that was sleek and graceful until she toppled over. Sitting up then, she licked the back of her paw nonchalantly.

“There’s no time to play. I need you to be my eyes, little one.” Aheila chided.

Standing, the kitten rubbed against her leg and curled around it. A ball of fuzzy energy crawled up her leg until it reached the top of her head. There, it seated itself with the distinct sensation of pulling on a knit cap – a knit cap that made her head tingle. Aheila closed her eyes. Now that MiNET had given her one end of the rope, so to speak, she would be able to see and hear whatever the kitten could. While she placed a hand against the side of the greenhouse for balance, her eyes told her she had scampered up a tree and jumped onto roof. Together, their eyes peeked under the skylight.

Below, the greenhouse looked like a potting shed and chemistry lab set up in a tropical forest. Emerald green plants with large flat leaves towered over hundreds of giant orchids in an endless array of colors. Vines crawled up trunks of trees. Trees stretched high until their canopies brushed against the glass ceiling. Among the plants were two long metal tables. On one of them sat a hand spade, a few potted plants, and a scattering of soil. The other table was full of activity. There, something thick and dark green bubbled in a flask. A jar of eyeballs waited with its lid off. A bag marked “Human Blood” hung from a metal post that had been welded to the table corner. Beside it, Professor Mud hovered over what appeared to be a dead plant laid out on a stretcher – or maybe it was just a tangle of dead twisted branches and crunched leaves, it was too hard to tell from this far away.

MiNET picked out a branch just below the opening and jumped. She descended carefully, downward into the Professor’s lab. As she got closer they could hear the Professor muttering, but couldn’t make out what she was saying. Quickly, MiNET found a hiding spot among a thick leafy bush on top of the potting table. No one would see shocking magenta fur crouching there even if they looked her way.

The professor moved purposefully, clamping one end of a jumper cable onto thick branches in the center of the plant and carefully attaching small electrodes to each of the yellowish brown leaves. Finished, she rubbed her hands together and paced in a worried step. Then, seeming to remember something, she picked up a scalpel and walked over to a bright green plant with vivid red flowers and made a cut. Thick, white sap oozed out, which the professor collected with the flat of her scalpel. As the sap was added to the concoction in the flask, ribbons of gold shot through the dark green depths and faded as a yellow haze began to roll off its suddenly still surface.

“Cytoplasm, ectoplasm, chloroplast, floor of glass” mumbled the professor as she searched her table. Finding her tongs she poured the mixture into a bucket, which she placed on the floor near the dead plant’s stretcher. Releasing a latch, she slowly tilted the stretcher up until one end was in the air and the other was submerged in the bucket. Dead leaves shook on a bed of concert t-shirts and rare orchid cuttings as the latch clicked back into place. Smiling, she nestled an iPhone and a book of poems into the branches at the center, plopped on a couple of eyeballs from the jar, and then laid a vein-like lattice of guitar strings and flowering vines over the whole mess.

“Ah ha! Perfeeeecto!” cheered the professor, lifting glass of wine as if in a toast. Moving in long steps and twirling circles, she walked as if dancing with an invisible person. Swinging by the potting table, her dancing hand shot into a thick leafy bush and closed around a handful of leaves and bright pink cat fur. Mud yanked back her hand in time to her dance, while MiNET winced as she parted with some fur. Adding this last handful to the concoction in the bucket, and sipping her wine, she made her way to a bank of electrical switches. Professor Mud stood to face the dead plant, which looked ridiculous strapped to a stretcher and propped upright with its roots in a bucket. The smile faded from her face suddenly, and with a swift motion she tossed the rest of her wine at the plant and flipped the main switch.

The sudden blast of electrical hum blared out, pounding at Aheila’s ear drums as MiNET sprung straight up in fright. Aheila flung her eyes open and reeled in unexpected dizziness as the ground in front of her lurched closer and the ground below MiNET sprang away. For an instant she wasn’t sure what was real – that is, until her face smacked hard against something solid and smelling like damp grass.

That’s it. Standing, Aheila brushed herself off. “IBS!!” she shouted, knocking one last time. Taking a deep breath Aheila held her wand and began a countdown from ten, ready to open her doors with an unlocking charm to get this over with. She’d figure out a way to explain it later. Just then, unexpectedly, the door opened and Professor Mud looked out at her with a surprised curiosity.

“Can I help you?” she asked, not quite politely.

“Agent Bleu. IBS.” offered Aheila. The professor’s face remained blank. My goodness, thought Aheila, it couldn’t be more than an hour since she had spoken with Jenn, threatening to track down the lost data herself.

“IBS?” Mud looked confused. “I’m … I’m quite busy.” Distractedly, Mud began closing the door, but Aheila stopped it with a held out hand.

“Professor Mud, I’m here about your stolen data. I’m with the International Binary Syndicate.”

“Oh! …Oh dear. That’s a horribly unfortunate acronym. Well, I suppose you’d better come have a look at my computer.” Mud glanced behind her. “Ah, I think we’re ready for company now.” Mud stepped aside and held the door open.

“We?” asked Aheila, entering the greenhouse.

“Yes. We are ready for company, aren’t we?”

Unsure if the question was for her or what the answer was anyway, Aheila kept quiet and followed Mud to the back of the greenhouse. These were the largest orchids she had ever seen. She turned to look at a flower the size and height of her face when she felt the wind shift her hair. “Tag! You’re it!” said a voice in her ear. In a reaction that was automatic by now, she spun around with her wand out. Nothing was there. The nasal sound of someone trying to hold in a laugh came from behind her. She spun again, but still nothing was there. Walking quickly to catch up, Aheila took in the sight of the empty stretcher and bucket. Creepy.

“Wherever did my project go?” Mud muttered in complaint as they passed.

A few steps further, on the floor past Mud’s work table, a shock of pink hair came into view. “Pssst. MiNET.” whispered Aheila. From behind her a pink kitten padded across the top of potting table and ducked into her pocket. Confused and not totally assured, Aheila ran forward to inspect the pink hair lying on the floor.

Rounding the table corner, she stopped in shock. A young woman with pink hair laid curled up on the floor wearing jeans and a concert t-shirt, both of which she recognized from the jumble on the stretcher.

“There you are!” exclaimed Mud.

Aheila bent closer. “Who is this?” she demanded.

“Well…well I don’t exactly know yet,” stammered the professor. “You can never be quite sure with herbal necromancy. The plants, you see, they make their own choice.”

“The plants?” asked Aheila in an unconvinced tone.

“Yes exactly! You see, I’ve discovered that plants exist in more than one dimension at once. Any communication with the other dimensions goes through plants.”

Aheila waited for further explanation as she touched the pink haired woman’s arm, shaking it gently. “Are you alright?”

With a gasp the woman clutched at her hand. “Help me!” she croaked in a dry whispered voice. As she stared down at the woman a ball of fuzzy energy crawled up her arm until it reached the top of her head. Seating itself like a knit cap that made her head tingle, suddenly the vision of her own surprised face swam over the top of her own vision.

“Unbelievable.” Aheila stood up and disconnected. “You got some of my kitten’s fur in the bucket. It seems she has picked up a few of her traits. By the way, she says her name is Tiffany and she’s thirsty. Why don’t you get her some water while I run a communication trace on your computer?”

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  1. Phil
    June 1, 2010 at 1:14 pm

    Totally awesomesauce Tiff! I love the rich description, your beautiful imagination and superb plot! Plants totally have hidden qualities we don’t fully understand. I love the way you portray Mud as a mad scientist and Aheila as special agent with a wand and a pink kitten is perfect! Oh, sorry to be late reading. Don’t know how but I missed this. Loved it though!

    • June 2, 2010 at 7:42 pm

      Thanks Phil! *grin* I’ve actually read a of couple books with some really unconventional ideas about plants – one of them was pretty awesome, actually. Thanks for all your complements! I had fun writing this scene.

  2. Jenn
    May 18, 2010 at 1:27 pm

    Wow Tiffany!

    This is absolutely amazing! Your attention to detail is fantastic. I agree, if you keep this at a PG rating, it would make a great YA book.
    I can’t wait for the next chapter!
    Glomp!!!

    • May 21, 2010 at 3:20 pm

      Thanks Jenn! Glomp!! I’m really having fun with this story 🙂

  3. Kylie Ru
    May 18, 2010 at 12:39 pm

    Woot! That was amazing! Can’t wait for the next part!

    • May 21, 2010 at 3:22 pm

      Thanks Kylie! I hope you’re doing a lot of stretching – cuz’ I’m about to write my first fight scene!

  4. Antonio
    May 16, 2010 at 10:14 am

    Was it that last bit of wine thrown onto the plant that was the missing ingredient? 🙂 It’s not a party until somebody spills or breaks something. Too funny! I wonder if the Tiffany-character will retain some plant qualities? Or, cat-qualities for that matter…equal parts water, wine, and cat nip to keep her happy. 😉

    • mudepoz
      May 16, 2010 at 10:18 am

      As an aside, it had to be either Riesling or White Zin. LOL

    • May 16, 2010 at 1:34 pm

      Yep, Mud had to celebrate with it before tossing it in/spilling it in a party foul! ;-). I’ve been wondering about plant qualities too – I think there might be something, but I’m not sure what yet. Equal parts water, wine, and cat nip to keep her happy! LOL – that’s funny!

  5. Marsha
    May 16, 2010 at 8:56 am

    Amazingly good. You know if you write this with a PG rating it could make avery cool series for YA like the whole Harry Potter thing. You should go for it.

    • May 16, 2010 at 1:54 pm

      Thanks Marsha! It’s feeling YA to me too. Especially once it turned out the kitten was a magical creature :-).

  6. mudepoz
    May 16, 2010 at 8:51 am

    This is, er, AWESOMESAUCE.
    I continue to muse (if you know my last name, muse and mud are both spelled out in it). And it a MUSES me.

    But, would this be fanfiction???
    Love it! I am Frankenstein!!!!

    • May 16, 2010 at 2:19 pm

      Thanks Mud! I’m happy I could aMUSE you, especially since your comments on eyeballs and whatnot inspired some nice details for this scene! It is a bit of Mud fan fic *grin*, and of course owes inspiration to the chibis the NaStys. :-).

  7. May 16, 2010 at 8:41 am

    Nice! That’s really shaping up to be an amazing story. I’m with Alyssa: let’s see part three!
    Hey Tiff, why don’t we team up and kick some hackers’ asses? *laughs*

    • May 16, 2010 at 2:34 pm

      Thanks Aheila! It’s definitely time to go kick some hacker asses! There is definitely someone in this scene who plans to join you 😉

    • Kylie Ru
      May 18, 2010 at 12:39 pm

      You want to kick my ass?

      • May 18, 2010 at 12:54 pm

        In a “because I love you” way of course! 😉

  8. May 16, 2010 at 1:00 am

    Yeahy! *laughs* This is great Tiffany! You know that we’re going to bug you untill we read part 3 right? 🙂
    Thank you for this! Can’t wait to see what happens next.

    • May 16, 2010 at 2:45 pm

      Thanks Alyss! Part three coming up! It should be fun to write 🙂

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