Mother of God

Doc goes to Nadine McClaren's apartment door and knocks. She answers quickly.

"Good evening, ma'am. May I come in?" Doc greets her warmly as the door slides open. He's got his I-Browse in hand, and kicks on the voice recorder.

"Come on in," she says. She's a strawberry blonde with green eyes. She's a slim build, no more than 5'6", in her mid forties. She's wearing business slacks and a rough old T-shirt advising Doc to "respect the rack." She's obviously just home from work; her briefcase and jacket are slung over the nearest chair. "Have a seat," she offers as she clears some clutter from a chair.

Doc sits. "Thank you,"

"Would like some sweet tea?" she asks as she approaches the fridge of the small studio apartment, grabbing a glass off the drying rack.

"Yes, thank you."

She pours two glasses and sits with Doc at the small dining table just off the kitchenette.

"Ms. McClaren, I've come to ask you a bit about your family. I'm working on a ground breaking book that includes the history of the most prominent Milwaukee families. The government has commissioned a healthy stipend for this book and my boss, Mr. T. H. Horse is looking to expand our civil war wing. So if I could just have fifteen minutes of your time I would be truly grateful."

"...okay," she responds. She seems a bit confused. Doc works his magic, focusing on her eyes and peering into her mind. She's open to inquiry, more than she should be to a total stranger. Whoops. Doc's little mind trick has backfired. She's infatuated.

Doc has to keep this conversation under control. "So, uh, tell me about yourself. Where are you from, and why did you come to Milwaukee?"

"Well, I'm from Neoleans. My family has lived there since the Reconstruction in the 2010s. It's kind of a tradition in my family to leave town for a while, see the world and live life outside Louisiana, then move back and raise a family. That's why I came out here, I guess. To find a man and bring him home. I haven't had much luck with that, though. That's why I'm still here."

"When did you move out here?"

"Oh, it's been almost thirty years now. I move out here in, oh, '72? When I was 18. VelociTech was hiring everybody and anybody out of high school all around the planet. They made me a great offer; good pay, free schooling, room and board, food vouchers, even free trips around the globe and across the solar system. I went to Saturn once, stayed at the Casini Hotel in the rings. It was so beautiful there. I always wanted to go back, have a romantic getaway with someone special, you know?"

Doc clears his throat and pretends to take notes. "What do you do at VelociTec?"

"Well, I started out as a seceratary, but now I'm the lead interior designer. I design showrooms mostly, but I also do the investors banquets and other special events. I also keep the home office looking nice. Sorry my place is a wreck right now. I wasn't expecting company."

The apartment is actually very well kept and beautifully furnished. There's only a thin layer of typical house clutter; some business papers, half emtied shopping bags, un-closeted laundry, a couple dirty dishes, etc. Doc can tell she's got an eye for decorating.

"Oh, no. Your home is beautiful."

"Thank, you," Nadine replies, fluttering and blushing. "I want to go into business for myself, but I could never afford to leave my job. The cost of living is just too high for a single girl by herself in the Great Lakes Sprawl."

"Tell me about your family. Who is your father and mother? Your grandparents?"

"Well, my mother, Marla Owens, owned a chocolate shop in downtown Neoleans. My father was Pete McClaren. He was a mechanic. He worked on heavy equipment, cranes and backhoes and things. His father operated them. My father's family worked in construction since they moved to Neoleans in 2012 after all those hurricanes finally did in Old New Orleans. The government was offering big money back then to help rebuild the city. You probably know more about that than I do, you're a historian, right?"

"Yes, I've read a lot about that. Everyone who worked on the construction projects got free housing, tax refunds, health insurance, and government pensions. So how many generations were there? Five or six?"

"Let's see, there's pappa, Pete McClaren, grandpa Taylor, his father was Joseph, and before him was Gabriel McClaren, uh, I forget his dad, but the origional Neoleans McClaren was Tory. So, six. I don't know much about the family before that. I've got a family geneology around here somewhere, would you like to see it?"

"Absolutely," Doc answers overenthusiastically.

Nadine gets up slowly, smiling. She goes over to the bookshelf across the apartment and looks around a bit. She gets up on her tiptoes to reach the top shelf, arching her back and throwing a smile at Doc. She looks around a bit but comes back empty handed.

"It's not out here, it must be in a box in the bedroom closet. Wanna help me look for it?"

"Oh, uh, that's okay for now, I've got a few more questions to get through."

"Sure," she says, sitting back down. She leans on the table at him, chin in hand and smiling.

"So, you're single, right?"

"I am," she replies quickly.

"Have you ever been married? Ever have children?"

She leans back away from him a bit. "No, I've never been married and I've never had kids." She's sadder now. "It- I don't know. I've always wanted a daughter. It's like, hmm. I've always felt like a part of me was missing, you know?"

"You don't happen to have a cousin named Nadine McClaren or anything?"

"No, why?"

"I'm looking for someone in particular. I was told she is your daughter."


Doc brings up Alyss's entry on his I-Browse and hands it to Nadine.

"Alyss Valia, daughter of yours and Dmitri Valia, your husband of thirty years. She's a gifted student, a war hero, racing champion, and the finest pilot in all of history."

Nadine is confused. "I don't understand. What's this about?"

"Ms. McClaren, may I be frank? I'm about to tell you something that you may never repeat. I am only sharing this with you as you seem like an honest person and I feel I can trust you. Part of my work for the Smithsonian involves fact finding tours to provide vital information to authors and historians the world over. Some of these tours involve time travel. And I totally understand your confusion, as I do this sort of thing so often that I'm not certain if I am coming or going, but the truth of the matter is I'm looking for a person that is somehow related to you. Sure you have heard about the ban on time travel, but the government was crafty enough to include a small clause about 'educational purposes' and here I am. Forgive me if I sound forward, but what do you know about Alyss Lin Valia?"

"Alyss Lin? My grandmother was Linda, her mother was Alice," she's confused to the point of fear, or at least extreme stress. "Time travel? You're a time traveller?"

"Have you ever met anyone by the name of Dmitri Valia? Perhaps working at VelociTech?"

"I don't think so, no. I know everybody there."

"Ever been to Russia? Talk to anyone there online?"

"No, I've never been to Russia. You're telling me I'm supposed to be married to someone from there? And I really am supposed to have a daughter?" She's tearing up. "I thought momma's stupid voodoo tea leaves were wrong all this time!"

"I'm sorry if this is a bit weird," Doc tries to console her.

"I've always known it was supposed to be true!" She strokes the picture of her non-existant daughter, sobbing. "She looks just like my pappa! " Her mood swings a bit, she's in a full on cry. "What happened? Why is she not here? What did I do wrong with my life?!" she screams.

"Nothing! Nothing," Doc tries to calm her down. "Everything in your life seems to be in place."

Her temper shifts quickly towards Doc. "Was it you? What happened? Did you fuck up the past?! Did you break that fucking treaty and start some kind of time war? She's a war hero, right? She'd be a perfect target for some kind of time travel assassination! Did they kill her father? Will they try to kill me?!"

"No, no. It's not like that. Dmitri is alive and living in Siberia. For some reason, you two have never met. I don't know what's changed, but I'm going to find out. Everything you've told me about yourself lines up with the history I know. It's Dmitri's past that seems out of place. He was supposed to be living here in Milawukee with you. Perhaps if you met him, or something-"

"No! It's too late," she cries. "It says here she was born in 2173. Even if I did meet this Dmitri and he was my soul mate, I can't have babies anymore. It- it's just not possible!" she manages to stem the flow of tears and calm down. "I had an operation last year. It... it was cancer! They had to remove my ovaries!" She's crying again.

Doc reaches over and pats her shoulder. She grabs his arm and holds his hand against her face.

"I'm sorry I snapped at you," she says. "I'm sorry I'm a mess. It's just that, my whole life I felt that there was something missing, and here you come and tell me exactly what it is. And I know I'll never have it! I'll never meet her! I'll never have that life!"

"You have, though. Reality has many faces. I've seen a few of them. Somewhere, right now, you do have a daughter, a very special daughter, a loving husband, and an interior design company all your own. It may all be in another dimension, many other dimensions, in fact, perhaps most of them. Your life here is just another facet of your existance. Different, perhaps, but not bad. In another life, you may have never seen Saturn."

"In another life," she sniffles,"I may have never met a hansome time traveller..."


ERR said...

Doc Read Emotions, -1 chi. Doc wisdom check 5(2+3) vs. Nadine Will 1, Critical Success. Bonus +8. interesting results there.
Gather Info XP Bonus +10

Doc Charisma check, 29(17+12) vs 20, success, XP+20

ERR said...

Sometimes the dice takes this thing in wild directions.

PS Spending 2 Chi for Read Emotions is the next level for that power, so no, not yet, but the critical success seemed to do the trick pretty good.

Doc said...


"Nadine, I want to assure you that I will do everything in my power to set things right. I have a crack team of specialists who can help me change things for the better, and that is what we are going to do. And as much as I would like to sit and share more time with you and get to know you better, I have to go. My portal only lasts just so long and I have miles to go before I sleep. Take care of yourself and in a week or two look for a package from Russia. And Nadine," Doc's voice takes a serious tone, "remember your promise. You can never tell anyone about me. You can't repeat my name or that I was ever her. If anyone ever asks, I was selling magazines.Much like a birthday wish, if you tell it, it won't come true. And should a couple of oriental looking gentlemen stop by, lock the door and call the cops." Get up to leave but pause at the door and give her a nice peck on the cheek, and get the hell outta there before Thunderhorse drinks all of my beer or I wind up boning her on the kitchen table.

Go get Steve and track down Alyss's dad and hopefuly he won't want to lay me too. Off to the land of vodka and borsche.

Meta: I have got to admit, you write a hell of an adventure. I was tempted to screw her just to make for an interesting adventure but it just didn't seem right.