Fanfics by Greywolf updated 15 Oct 2014

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greywolf
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Fanfics by Greywolf updated 15 Oct 2014

Post by greywolf » Fri Nov 24, 2006 12:33 am

Ninety-six Hours

Discipline Malfunction

Discipline Malfunction translated into Italian by Sirio

Senior Trip

Incubus, Succubus, and Demon

Dominoes Falling

The Blanket

The Blanket translated into Italian by Sirio

The Vault

Sock Hop

Innocence

Spirit Walk

The Assassin

The Primal Beast

Miss Scientist

The Mutt

No Good Deed Redux

Rest Stop

Gone Away

Gila River

End of the World II

Specimen

Falling

Informed Consent

Dagston Not available on Roswell Fanatics.


Decisions

Bureaucracy


Brokeoff Mountains (sequel to Dagston)

Daddy's Girl

Middle School Days (a short story in the Dagston Universe)

Coronal Mass Ejection (a short story in the Dagston Universe)

Sketches

Extinction Event


Works in progress (Caution, some of these are months away from being finished)

Joey

Refuge
Last edited by greywolf on Sat Jul 29, 2017 11:26 am, edited 18 times in total.

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greywolf
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Post by greywolf » Tue Oct 23, 2007 10:09 pm

imnotlc wrote:are you ever going to update this page? it hasn't been updated for a while......i am so looking forward to finding EOTW I so i can start to read EOTW II...i started reading 'Speciman' which i find utterly fascinating...please update your page cuz i so love all your stories....
I tend to only put up completed fics because the url changes as soon as they move them to the completed section.

But I'll add the new ones as I finish them.

As for EOTW II, the title stand for the second ending of the world after Future Max comes back and changes the original. It isn't really a sequel so much as what comes after the origina EOTW that compelled Max to come back in time.

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Re: Fanfics by Greywolf

Post by greywolf » Sun Mar 20, 2011 10:49 am

I AM SORRY.

I was working with the administrators, and until Angel told me, I was unaware people were posting here. It's a place I actually only normally check when I add a new fic. So forgive me my lack of response.

I have had a long discussion with the Administrators regarding the problems I had with both with my initial notification that there was an issue and the inadequacies I believed existed in their process of making that determination, particularly the lack of opportunity for the 'accused' to respond before a decision was already made.

In fairness, some of my assumptions about them were naive, as, I believe, were some of their assumptions about me. I think that if we had this to do over again, both sides would certainly do it differently.

I believe now that the initial brouhaha on the notification was just one of those ugly things that sometimes happens when two different subcultures with two different sets of assumptions just wind up clashing. Sometimes with the best of intentions, we just push one another's buttons, and the situation goes the wrong way. Sometimes even buttons we were unaware the other person had get pushed.

I thing the issue both ways was one of ignorance -not malice - just as my ignorance of how mean people can get in a 'flame war' (that's a term I actually had to research) has hurt Rowedog, something I did not intend to happen and most earnestly wish would stop.

I am a big boy and certainly can fight my own fights. My disagreements with the administrators have been vigorously addressed by me, scrubbed of naivete (by them) and they are now in an ongoing process to do a second analysis putting more resources into the effort and answering, to the extent practical, the deficiencies I believe they have in their process.

I want it understood clearly that I have never denied either the administrators right, duty, or moral obligation to perform this process. Such work as this semi-retiree does is altogether too similar to what the administrators do to believe that for a moment.

They are clearly obligated to address the concern of even a single reader - after all, every epidemic has its index case. I do not and never did question either their right to make such judgments or the necessity of this particular function.

In my work we do a much more robust process, but in my work we have resources provided to us that what I at least perceive to be a largely volunteer effort at RF simply doesn't. Similarly, the process where I work is more transparent - but we are not at risk for flame wars. Those differences affected initial expectations both ways and caused anger that likely would not have occurred had we known each other better. Nonetheless, after the initial friction - hell, DESPITE the initial friction, they have engaged in a dialogue that I'm sure was not altogether pleasant to either of us where we learned more about each other and - as might be expected - found we had a fair amount of common ground.

I believe the administrators are now making a good faith effort to do this process fairly (and lest you misunderstand THAT statement, I don't think they didn't believe they were making a good faith effort originally, sometimes stuff just happens, sometimes people make wrong assumptions and sometimes people just aren't at their best, and that applies to me every bit as much as them) and they are now using a process that is probably as fair as they can reasonably afford giving their resource limitations and what their experience has taught them. That is all that I or anyone else can reasonably expect.

So at the risk of plagiarizing a quote from David Weber, I have sometimes been accused of holding a grudge until it dies of old age - then lugging it to a taxidermist to have it stuffed. True or not, I certainly AM capable of holding my own grudge and would prefer that none of you hold it for me. More to the point, I would prefer that any personal animus be kept out of comments you address to the Administrators or moderators.

Trust me, I have clearly communicated my concerns to them and they have communicated their concerns to me and I think we have learned enough about each other that, were this unpleasantness to erupt today , it likely would not have erupted at all - and certainly not been as unpleasant an unpleasantness if it did.

So PLEASE, let the current process go through its deliberations and agree - as I have - to be bound by the outcome. And please as a favor to me, let the healing begin.

Lastly, for the people who were offended by the posting I'd like to apologize. When I get done with the epilogue (chapter 150 was the next to last posting for Dagston), I hope the next scene better explains what the issues were I was trying to describe, and regardless, I will also try to put together an author's note that explains it after the epilogue. This probably is neither the time nor the place - nor do I want that discussion to detract from the central point of this posting - that I'd appreciate the flame war ceasing. Win, lose, or draw, no one will benefit by stringing this out into a Hatfield-McCoy feud.

Thank you for your support - both here where I was unaware you were supporting me, and in the many PMs I have received.

Greywolf

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Dagston Epilogue

Post by greywolf » Sun Apr 03, 2011 9:07 pm

I requested from the Administrators and am now receiving a more in depth review of Dagston. Please allow that process to continue without further rancor. And having requested a more robust process, it is only fair to give that process the time it takes to complete it. The administrators and moderators have lives outside this forum, and having asked them to review a 150 chapter story in context, it would scarcely be fair to ask them to hurry up about it.

I have received their permission to post the final part of Dagston here - pending a decision as to where or whether they want Dagston itself posted on the forum. I appreciate that. At some future point, if Dagston returns to RF, I'd like to post an author's note indicating what I was trying to do with the part of Dagston that wound up controversial, and make my apologies to anyone offended by it, but for right now let's just be content with this posting and allow the Administrators and Moderators to go through the process, and keep any comments about the Epilogue limited to the epilogue without using it as a forum to sideswipe people. Please....
:roll:

-----------------------------------------


Six weeks later:

Image

15,500 miles above Gallipolis, Ohio:
The code name of this system was Flycatcher. That was not an awkwardly contrived acronym – simply a name. It was not – however – a particularly well-known name. In fact, the name itself was classified TS-SAR. That actually WAS an acronym of sorts, standing for Top Secret – Special Access Required. By being in that classification – well - that pretty well guaranteed that the name 'Flycatcher' wouldn't be in common usage. This program was a particularly close-held secret.

This particular part of Flycatcher was Flycatcher module 14. It was limpeted on to the side of a GPS satellite – another particularly close guarded secret.

Beginning with Navstar 1 in 1978, ten "Block I" GPS satellites were successfully launched from Vandenberg Air Force Base using Atlas rockets that were converted intercontinental ballistic missiles. This was the first proof of concept of the Global Positioning System, a system of satellites meant to provide the US military with a precise means of navigation for military aircraft, ships, and land forces.

None of these original satellites had Flycatcher modules. But once the initial testing of the GPS system became popular in the civilian world and the National Security Association saw their chance to piggyback the Flycatcher system modules onto the GPS satellites. Since all of them were launched by the military at Vandenburg – and each had an attached working GPS satellite, no one outside this tight knit group ever became the wiser.

There were by design - 36 Flycatcher modules. Currently two modules – numbers 2 and number 31 – were offline. Module 2 had been one of the first modules and apparently was built with quality control defects. It had failed scarcely three weeks after being put in orbit nearly 12 years previously. Module
31 – a much newer module – had simply had bad luck. A solar flare had interrupted communications with the attached GPS satellite at a critical time – blocking reception of a radio command to alter course slightly. As a result the satellite and attached module were both destroyed by space debris left over from a space launch back in the 1960s. It was scheduled for early replacement.

The system, however, was designed with considerable redundancy. Thirty-four modules were more than adequate to insure that the Flycatcher had full capability to perform its function. That precise function – also highly classified – was quite interesting. It functioned sort of like a vacuum cleaner for electromagnetic radiation. It sucked up voluminous amounts of communications data from the ground below it.

In fact even now module 14 was voraciously devouring all the communications data from Gallipolis outward for almost a three hundred mile radius. It was then taking that data and – using the power generated by the solar panels of the attached GPS satellite – converting that data into light signals with a small whisker laser that was aimed the guidance information provided by that same satellite. A whisker laser in the unobstructed vacuum of space can carry an enormous amount of information using very little power and – as long as it wasn't actually pointed at Earth, with almost no possibility of detection. Even space shuttles didn't come up to 15,500 feet. And of course the whisker laser in fact was NOT pointed at Earth. It was pointed at one of two or three far larger satellites. The fact that these satellites existed was common knowledge – at least among the international intelligence community. The fact that the Misty III satellite was out there somewhere was pretty well known. Exactly where, however, was not – except of course to the Flycatcher modules.
The electronic information was essentially 'vacuumed' by the Flycatcher modules and squirted to a truly broadband receiver in the Misty III, processed slightly by an on board computer using algorithms that eliminated all the truly extraneous 'noise' in the information, then sent through another computer that used other algorithms to compress it, and then sent it through yet-another computer to encrypt it.

At least three times a day each of the three orbiting Misty III satellites would be above the Air Force Maui Optical and Supercomputing Observatory Mount Haleakala. At that point another – this time considerably larger communications LASER – would use a beam of moderated coherent light to tightly beam that cleaned up, compressed, and coded information down to a small auxiliary telescope where a sensor would interpret the data into the adjacent computer center.

There, in a small and highly guarded room – was VAMPIRE.

OK, VAMPIRE actually WAS an only moderately contrived acronym. It stood for Vast Array Multiprocessor Program for Intercepted Radio Emissions. The purpose VAMPIRE served was to further sort the intercepted signals intelligence and – once certain criteria were met – to take certain actions.

VAMPIRE scanned all that incredible volume of traffic for key words, key phrases, combinations and permutations of words of particular emphasis and even – under certain circumstances – individual voices.

The difficulty with satellite reconnaissance was a basic one; Avoiding information overload.

While the ability to gather information from orbit was now massive, the number of analysts available to actually hear all those conversations were limited. VAMPIRE was an artificial intelligence program designed to help sort the wheat from the chaff – to determine which of those millions of conversations was actually worth listening to. Those meeting certain criteria would – eventually at least – be turned over to a human analyst for actual analysis. VAMPIRE wasn't nearly as good as a human analysis – it did make mistakes – but it was immeasurably faster.

Across the hall from the computer room servicing VAMPIRE was another room. This one for a system called VIPOR, which stood for Visual Intercept Program for Optical Reconnaissance. That one performed a similar function for visual imaging. It should have been online two years ago. The contractor was now promising it would come online in 3 months – for sure – with a contract over run to be paid for by the taxpayers of only $124 million. It would in fact take a little over a year, and cost almost $200 million.

15 minutes later - somewhere inside the beltway, near Washington DC.

It was called a 'holey-joe' envelope and they were little used any more in the email age. It was manila in color and was sitting in the top of his FBI issue wooden inbox-outbox combination that dated back at least to the 1940s. It was about 12 inches by nine and a half inches, physically had holes through it about the size of a hole punch hole, with a flap that had an attached string that could be pulled down to secure – sort of – the envelope closed by wrapping the string attached to the end flap around a disk of even heavier paper – this time a reddish brown in color.

On the back of the envelope was a double set of boxes – meant for scribbling the name and boxstop of the individual to whom the 'holey-joe' was addressed. The idea of the holey joe was a sort of 1950s era recycling. They were used back then by all he federal agencies. You always had a small sheaf of such envelopes in the lower right hand corner of your desk. You scribbled a note manually or typed it on a piece of paper – got your secretary to do it if you had one.

Oh, typing involved pushing keys down on a long-obsolete mechanical device called a typewriter. This caused levers to work through hinges and eventually a metal typeface would come up and smack – if you can believe this – a ribbon with ink on it which would smear ink in the image of a letter on the paper.

So you stuff this scribbled or typed note into the holey joe, close the flap, circle the string a couple times around the little reddish-brown doohickey thingy and then scratched out the last name and address on the back (usually your own) and filled in the name and address of the person you wanted the piece of paper to get to and dropped this in your out-basket. Periodically someone from some department known as 'distribution' would wander by and go stuff it in a mail sorting system where someone else form that address would pick it up and it would eventually get to someone else's inbox. Kind of hard to believe we won the Cold War with that system, isn't it?

And an even BETTER question was this – why would anyone in this day and age use such a slow and decrepit system. Ah, the plot thickens...

Seven days ago the FBI third division resource manager (RM), a Mr. Harry Adkins, had prepared the long-awaited 'out-year cut list' for the division chief's signature. The division chief tentatively approved the list, but indicated that it should be sent out one last time to all unit chiefs for any last minute appeals. Barring any substantive objections, the list was going to be considered final and would be submitted in final form to the FBI chief in five days – which actually would make two days ago at this point.

Despite the fact that it hadn't been used in eight years – and then because someone found a 4 year old message that had fallen out of an outbox wedged between the desk and the wall, the distribution system was still an allowed method of information transfer within the FBI since the manual – itself a paper document – hadn't been upgraded in years. So after transmitting the message electronically to all the OTHER units in the division, the third division RM had carefully placed the copy for the Special Unit in this particular holey Joe, and put it in his out-basket just as his secretary had left for the three-day New Year's holiday weekend. The secretary didn't actually find the envelope in the outbox until early afternoon on the subsequent Tuesday. She had dutifully carried it down to distribution. Now distribution was in one building, the Special Unit was in another. The buildings were separated by an almost quarter-mile walkway, and the secretary for the chief of the special unit actually saw no particular urgency in going through a driving Maryland blizzard to go to the building to check central distribution since the last time anyone had actually USED that system was twelve years previously, before their secure e-mail system had been set up. So in addition to the three and a fraction days it actually took to get the holey Joe INTO the distribution system it took an equally long time to get it out.

Which is why the holey Joe arrived at Special Agent Daniel Pierce's desk in the late afternoon - two days too late for him to do anything about it – which had been the Harry Adkins' plan all along.

Special Agent Pierce looked up as his secretary came in the room.

“Where the hell have YOU been?”

The secretary looked at him with thinly disguised irritation. Her cheeks were flushed from the cold and the wind of the blizzard raging outside, and there was snow still clinging to her jacket – clear evidence of the blizzard's intensity..

“I went up to central distribution to check to see if we had anything.”

“And how many times do I have to tell you to NOT waste your time doing that? You are only goofing off. I ask you honestly, when was the last time someone in this unit actually GOT something in distribution?”

“Well If I had to guess,” she replied, taking the envelope out of her coat and plopping it into his inbox, “... it would have been about two seconds ago,” she said, turning her back and striding out the door of his office.

Price grabbed the envelope with a troubled expression – an expression that only got more troubled as he read the contents. Within seconds he was on the phone, pounding keys angrily to get the RM's private number.

“Resource Management Office, Adkins....”

“Harry – you son of a bitch, you cannot do this to me...”

“Excuse me, who am I speaking with..?”

“You know DAMN WELL who this is, it's Dan Pierce at the Special Unit. This isn't happening!”

“Pierce? What isn't happening? This flippin blizzard? I wish. Whatever happened to that Global Warming stuff? Have you looked outside? I sure hope I have enough in the utility accounts to handle the heating costs....”

“You know DAMN well that I didn't call up to talk about the weather, I called up to talk about the out-year manpower authorizations. You are zeroing out my whole damn department.”

“Well, yeah, but that's phased in over two fiscal years. Hell, it won't actually zero you out for two and three quarters years – we're only about three months into this FY. “

“But all that was coming down was a 5% cut over two years. I read that in the FedNews.”

“Well, funny thing about that. When the boss saw your impacts – that a ten percent cut was going to totally stop you from doing your mission, he said what the Hell – might as well take all the cuts in your unit and spare the other units altogether, since pro rata'ing it was gonna make you nonfunctional anyway.”

“Excuse me? Does the man not realize how VITAL the mission of the Special Unit is?”

“Vital? No. I'm sure he doesn't. Hell, your unit hasn't done a damn thing really for almost 60 years...”

“Bullshit. I want you to pull that letter – at least until I can talk to the Director.”

“Too late, Danny-boy. You missed the suspense. It's a done deal now...”

“Adkins – this is not going to stand. I'm calling the boss myself...”

“Be my guest, Danny Boy. It isn't going to make a damn bit of difference though....”


Three minutes later, Dan Pierce was in his car and moving slowly on icy streets toward downtown DC. Claiming an emergency, he was on his cell phone trying to schedule an appointment with the FBI Director. He was NOT having a lot of luck though...

“I'm sorry Special Agent Pierce,” said the Secretary to the Director. The Secretary to the Director was feared throughout the Agency, almost to the same extent as the boss himself., “...I'm afraid that won't be possible. Right now the Director is on an aircraft halfway to Heathrow. Perhaps next Monday??...”

“No dammit. I need the Director and I need him NOW!”

Having committed the Cardinal Sin (and occasionally lethal mistake) of really irritating the Secretary to the Director, Pierce rapidly found him on the line...”

“OK Pierce, it's your nickle. What in hell is so damned important?”

“The manpower cuts, sir. For the out-years?”

“What about them...”

“Well, we disappear altogether, sir.”

“Yes?”

“But we are zeroed out altogether. Out of our whole division, we are the only ones to take a hit...”

“Well, I had a choice, Pierce. Either I spread the wealth around and gave everybody andequal cut or I picked a dedicated mort. I had every intention in the world of doing the former until I saw from your impact statements that you guys just lost all function – even with a 5% cut. Rather than give you a 5% cut and have you do nothing, I gave you the entire cut and you'll go away entirely, sparing everyone else.”

“But sir, this isn't fair...”

“Fair?? You expect this to be FAIR, Pierce? I think we've been more than fair with your unit. Hell's bells, son, your unit hasn't done a damn thing in the last 60 years...”

That was, Pierce knew, pretty close to the truth. But it still wasn't fair. It wasn't like the Special Unit was the only government agency that hadn't done anything in 60 years. Why were they picking on him?

“Sir, that's hardly our fault. If the NSA hadn't taken the Artifact away from us in Roswell back in 1947...”

“Pierce...this conversation is over. Even if we were having this conversation on a secure line – which this definitely is not – it'll wait until I get back from England. Then we'll have another talk as well – about security violations. But I will give you this advice – make plans. Next year your support staff will be reassigned to wherever we have empty authorizations. When those last three authorizations expire two years from now you and your other two Agents will either be eligible for early retirement or you can plan to buy real warm clothing. It's damn cold at the Nome Bureau Office.”

Pierce brought his car to a stop alongside the road. The blizzard he was in was bad enough. He did NOT need Alaska for his last five years before retirement. The other two agents were in the same boat no doubt. Not exactly well liked in the Agency. After next year they'd lose their support staff and after that all three of them would be looking for other jobs. Of course, that didn't mean they had to be jobs within the bureau.

'If we could just find something that would give us a clue,' he thought. '...if we could just find one more Artifact, the hell with the bureau. We could sell it to the highest bidder. The competition.... hell, maybe even some biopharmaceutical company could just part it out. Who wants the spleen, who wants the brain, who wants the liver...? Or heck, just sell it by the pound...'

He waited for a pause in the heavy traffic from Washington DC and then did a U-turn. He needed to go back and talk to his two agents. They had two and a half years to plan their own – highly lucrative – retirement. 'There must be a clue in some paper we have somewhere....,' he told himself as he nodded at the gate guard and went in to the complex.


Fifteen thousand five hundred miles above, the Flycatcher module had squirted the conversation between the FBI Director and Agent Pierce to the nearest Misty III. Already it was being beamed down to the observatory on Maui. VAMPIRE started chewing on it immediately. The computer running VAMPIRE was able to achieve performance speeds of up to 20 petaflops or 20,000 trillion calculations a second. It picked up one conversation with the words 'NSA,' 'Artifact,' '1947,' and 'Roswell.'

The program 'mulled over' the data for an exceedingly short interval. This conversation did not – quite – meet criteria for referring to a human analyst. VAMPIRE identified the cell phone identifier, the voiceprint of the individual talking, and the general locale of the conversation, designating all of those for increased future surveillance. VAMPIRE quickly uploaded that to all the Flycatcher modules.


Meanwhile, 1575 miles to the east, at Poco Mesa Elementary School:

“Thank you for coming, Karen. This is just a little awkward...,” said Barbara Chard, principal of Poco Mesa Elementary School.

Dr. Karen Bartelson nodded. She and Barbara went back a long ways – almost 20 years. Barb had been a second grade teacher then when she'd become suspicious of child abuse in one of her students. Karen had been the Chaves County Social Services Child Psychologist back then – just starting out. And the case HAD been one of abuse. Not only to the second grader but to his much younger sibling who wasn't old enough for school.

Over the years she and Barbara had bumped into one another frequently at various meetings and working panels, at least until Karen had gone up to Albuquerque for the state job. Even so, Chaves County was home for Karen, and they still saw each other from time to time. Karen considered Barb a good friend, and hadn't hesitated to come when she'd called.

“You sounded a little uncertain over the phone,” said Karen, “... what precisely IS the problem?”

“Well, that IS the problem, Karen, I'm not at all sure there is any problem at all. That is... I scarcely know where to start. Why don't you have a seat and I'll start at the beginning.”

Karen sat down and Barb went over to a small sink, returning shortly with a couple cups of tea. She handed one to Karen – along with a small slice of lemon and two small envelopes of raw sugar. This wasn't the first time these two women had sat down for tea.

“Well, I have a third grade teacher, Mrs. Ormsby, and she has some concerns. It seems that about a week ago she assigned a book report. She gave the usual criteria – that the book needed to be at least 25 pages, an appropriate book for their age group, that it could be fiction or nonfiction, and that each of the students would work with a partner. The book reports came in yesterday and she is sort of … concerned.”

“Concerned about...?” asked Karen.

“Well, the class has an equal number of boys and girls and – unfortunately – an odd number of each. So naturally boys paired with boys and girls paired with girls....”

“And some girl and boy were quite upset that they were the odd man … well, the odd couple out, and needed to pair with someone of the opposite sex,...” said Karen, completing what she anticipated the sentence was going to be.

“Not exactly. In fact, two of the children volunteered immediately to work together.”

Suddenly the picture clicked in Karen's head. “Third graders? Would this be Liz Parker and Max Evans?”

“Exactly.”

“Well, that's hardly surprising,” said Karen, “... those two went through a lot together. It's only reasonable that they would feel more comfortable than the other children working together. After all, they were sort of forced to work together just to survive for almost two weeks.”

“And Mrs. Ormsby really didn't have any problem with that. I mean, I believe she was even happy they volunteered. I think she figured she'd wind up with a group of three boys and three girls, which of course would have lead to complaints by the PAIRS of boys and girls... No that wasn't the problem, the problem was that they handed in their book report yesterday and it rather – alarmed Mrs. Ormsby.”

“Alarmed? In what way?”

“Well the book was about thirty-five pages, and I have the book report right here – which Mrs Ormsby would like to give an “F” because she believes the subject matter is inappropriate. I believe she might have considered it inappropriate even if one of her same-gender pairs of students had selected it. When her one mixed set pair selected it though, well I think it sort of sent Mrs Ormsby over the edge.”

Karen sipped her tea and looked at Barb curiously, waiting for the next part of the story.

Barb sighed and blushed, then resumed talking, “Mrs. Ormsby refers to the book as a sex manual...”

Further conversation was temporarily halted as Karen coughed up that last gulp of tea.

“I honestly do NOT think that there is any problem with those two children,” said Barbara, “ but Mrs. Ormsby is insisting I get a psychological workup of the boy before she'll consider changing that grade, or even keep them in the same class together. Now the latter isn't a huge problem – we have a new third grade teacher that will be starting up in a few weeks and will be filling her room with students from both of the existing classes, but I do NOT want Mrs. Ormsby making some sort of unnecessary notification to the parents or to social services.”

Karen understood the unspoken message. Chaves county had recently experienced a real political house cleaning. While former Sheriff Anderson had significantly out-polled County Executive Spellman even before the man had been convicted – along with six members of the cabal that had exploited the county, a great number of other vacancies had yet to be permanently filled.

Some of those temporarily filled included a couple of county commissioner positions to which Philip Evans and Jeff Parker had been appointed. Diane Evans was actually replacing a local magistrate court judge temporarily, the incumbent currently having his own legal troubles to occupy his free time – which apparently was plentiful in state prison. Then there was Nancy Parker. One of the missing council members had also been a member of the school board and she had been appointed to that position – at least temporarily.

And, given that the statute of limitations had yet to elapse on the lawsuit that either set of parents could bring against the school district itself for the field trip that lead to all the problems, this was not a problem that Mrs Chard either wanted or needed.

“Yes, I understand that coming down unfairly on either of these two kids might not be particularly wise either politically or legally,” said Karen.

“While true, that's not the only reason,” said Mrs Chard. “You know, we just got a levy passed – that's how we are going to be able to hire the new teachers. Without the county council ripping off the voters they seem a whole lot more willing to give us the money we need to really get out of the horrid position of tracking these kids as future winners and these kids as future losers as early as the second grade. And with the money it appears the district will be getting from the fines and triple damages that Mrs. Evans so kindly asked the judge to donate to us in the RICO case – well we are already having an architect look at a future long-needed expansion of facilities – not just here at Poco Mesa, but throughout the district.

Although I certainly wouldn't hesitate to raise the alarm if there is anything – well, inappropriate going on with those two children - I do have to admit that both the children and their families have had quite enough stress recently and if we can avoid it... Well, that's why I imposed on our own friendship to see if there wasn't something you could do. My understanding is that you know one of the children fairly well, and since he has been recently adopted you could interview him without...”

“Without seeking consent from his adoptive parents..?”

Barbara sighed deeply and blushed, looking a little nonplussed.


“Without unnecessarily disturbing the boy or his parents, is what I was going to say, although I have to admit that not getting two county council members, a local magistrate, and a school board member irritated at us if we can avoid it would certainly be a big plus...”

“Under any other circumstances I would really be reluctant to do that," said Karen. " I actually consider Diane Evans to be a personal friend too, Barb, just as I do you. I have to admit though that Max Evans has been some what emotionally...labile... for, well, truthfully for most of the time I've known him – at least up until the last six weeks or so.

“I would dreadfully regret it if someone upset the young boy badly enough to cause him to regress back to the shy – hiding behind every tree sort of youngster he was - despite really heroic efforts on the part of his mother to socialize him.

“I'm not sure how well you knew little Maxwell before that terrible accident, but that social reticence now seems to be greatly improved.” Karen looked down at the book report and smiled. “Besides, it wouldn't quite be fair to describe the book they did this report on as a sex manual.”

"Are you familiar with the book?," asked Principal Chard. "...because I still haven't been able to find a copy. The book report appears somewhat – graphic – for information for third graders.”

"How You Are Changing ?” asked Karen, “... yes, I'm familiar with it. The state doesn't use it much because it's insufficiently secular. Nor does it really do justice to the issue of – well – let's say alternate lifestyles.
But for those of a somewhat more religious bent than the great state of New Mexico, it's a perfectly appropriate text for third graders to be taught the facts of life with – at least by their parents. I'll concede this is probably the first time I've seen a book-report done on it – or that I've seen two third graders – particularly third graders of the opposite sex – read it together.”

“It would appear to be rather – graphic...”

“Well, only that it's pretty accurate in it's illustrations, and it certainly doesn't quibble about using scientifically correct terminology. It's also a bit more insistent about wives and husbands versus the 'partners' approach than the department is comfortable with, as well as an emphasis on the procreational aspects of sex- not quite to the exclusion of the recreational aspects of sex. Discussion of birth control certainly is weaker than the books we use. And of course, alternate lifestyles don't even get mentioned.

“The Department would never use it but – for it's designed audience – it actually is a pretty good reference. Clearly it's no how-to book though. I'm actually quite surprised the teacher found it objectionable. Did Mrs. Ormsby ever really read the book before she took issue with it?”

“I believe she tried. The library only had one copy, and it's apparently still checked out. Then again, there was the issue of getting it from a co-ed pair of students – THE coed pair in the class.”

“Well, from a quick perusal, I think that the book report pretty accurately represents what a couple of third graders WOULD get out of a reading of the book – but perhaps you are right. The very act that a boy and a girl would feel comfortable reading that together probably warrants at least a little discussion with one of them – although with what those two went through it's probably not surprising that they experienced some significant bonding.

"I take it you called me because you realized I was probably one of the few people who could legally do that without parental notification? And then only for Max, because he is so recently adopted?”

Barbara Chard looked a little embarrassed, but she nodded her head.

“If I can't tell Mrs. Ormsby that this has been looked into by the state, she is going to go formally to the state with a complaint and I'm afraid at that point all hell will break loose. Ironically, it sounds like the very sort of book that would appeal to Mrs. Ormsby as a resource. She's fairly churchy herself.

“But if there really is something going on that shouldn't be, of course it ought to be addressed. But I also understand that two sets of parents who have not just been through an awful lot, but who have done an awful lot for this whole community and particularly for this school district.... well, I don't want to put them or us through that unnecessarily, Karen.”

Karen took a deep breath and stared briefly at the ceiling, trying to decide just what was the right thng to do. Well certainly just talking to Max shouldn't do any harm. She was a trained child psychologist and if anyone could broach the subject without causing him problems it was probably her. She at least had the credibility of being a friend of his mothers and having met him in the past.

“Well, I suppose...,” said Karen. “... when can we get this set up and where can we do it?”

“Thank you, Karen. All the children just went to lunch. I'll see that little Max is notified to come here immediately and you can certainly use my office if you think that would work. And I really am so grateful to you for doing this...”

Quipile, Columbia, 2792 miles SE of Roswell New Mexico:

The cellphone chimed with a tone that Arturo had programmed in for call from one – particularly important – source. He scrambled to answer it quickly. This was NOT an individual you wanted to keep waiting.

“Si, el Jefe?”

In fact, the entire conversation was in Spanish. But VAMPIRE was as fluent in Spanish as it was in English, and Flycatcher module 9 was listening almost directly overhead. We'll use the translation that VAMPIRE would eventually make to follow the conversation.

“Arturo... I have been considering your plan to... expand the interests and the earnings of the cartel. I am somewhat intrigued. The Brokeoff Mountains in New Mexico may indeed present us with an opportunity. What products did you propose to run along that route?”

“Cocaine, methamphetamine, heroin if the worthless Iranian dogs can get their supply of opium more reliable...”

“Alright. I give you my permission to set up your operation. You have three years to make it work, and if it does you will get 10% of the net as a – what do the Norte Americanos call it? Oh yes, profit-sharing. I will cover startup costs – do not let me down.”

“Si, Jefe, you will not be disappointed.”

It would be another 35 minutes before the conversation actually GOT to Vampire. It would pick out key words – cocaine, methamphetamine, heroin, and opium, and attach additional emphasis to surveillance of these individuals. The conversation would actually be passed to a human operator, but given the long time frame and the number of other current operations underway, the only outcome would be to tell VAMPIRE to intensify its surveillance of these two individuals. Even that was redundant. VAMPIRE had autonomously made that decision in the first six microseconds.

Meanwhile, back at Poco Mesa Elementary School:

Max entered the principals office sort of cautiously, his eyes going first to Principal Chard – then moving to Dr. Karen Bartelson – before looking back to the principal and speaking, “Did you want to see me, Ms. Chard?”

Max had matured a lot emotionally in the last six weeks. He knew that was largely due to Liz's instruction but at some even deeper level knew it was also do to Liz herself. That Liz was always going to be his best friend and that he was going to share his entire life with her – well he didn't have any doubt of that.

He knew he didn't have her people-smarts, her ability to read social situations, she knew it too, it'd only been six weeks since she'd crawled into his bed almost naked to demonstrate to him that even after being traumatized by that disgusting video, nothing – absolutely nothing – was going to cause him to ever lose that friendship. Not even the big fight he'd had with her the next day when he'd told her she should never come to his room like that again. Well, not THAT big a fight really, but at least he'd won that discussion.

Of course it was hardly that she wasn't welcome – although she needn't dress so...casually. He'd received the message loud and clear that she probably was incapable of being frightened by him. Seeing that video - sickening as it was - did not mean she would even think of rejecting their friendship. And that had been reassuring - although not the reason for the fight.

It had rather been that he'd been afraid for her out on the streets on her bicycle at that time of day that had been the source of their little tiff. It wasn't like she had powers of her own that could protect her. But they were after all, best friends, and always would be – so they'd come to a pretty fair compromise pretty quickly. That concern was now settled. Now there was a new one though. Liz had again tried to reassure him about it.

Still, as relatively naive as he was about people and social situations, even he knew that when you were sent for by the principal – well, something was up.

If it had been ten weeks previously he figured he'd probably been wetting his pants right about now. But that was then and this was now and Liz had been coaching him a lot. So when the messenger had come and told him to get to the principal's office, Liz had stood by his side and said that she knew he'd do fine. She'd given his hand a quick squeeze and given him a big smile and told him to remember what she'd taught him and that he was going to do just fine. And somehow between that quick squeeze and her big brown eyes and that wonderful smile... well, she'd actually made him believe it. Confidence in social situations wasn't something he had a lot of experience with, but if Liz thought he could do this – well, she was probably right.

“Actually Max,” said the principal, “... I'd like you to talk to someone else. I believe you know Doctor Bartelson?”

“Yes,” said Max, looking up at the woman standing next to the office door, “Hello, Doctor Bartelson.”

“Hello, Maxwell. How are your ribs doing?”

“Fine, Doctor Bartelson.”

“Could you step in to the principal's office please Max? We need to have a little talk...”

“Sure, Doctor Bartelson,” said Max, “what would you like to talk about?”

The fact of the matter was that Max knew it really didn't matter that much what the woman wanted to talk about. The important thing was to follow the instructions Liz had given him. She hadn't gotten to be 'the Perfect Miss Parker,' by being unable to talk to teachers, principals, and other important people. And Liz hadn't been pushing or demeaning or condescending or anything like that when she'd given him the instructions. Liz had been almost apologetic, saying that it wasn't his fault that he'd missed out on six years of growing up – six years when other babies were learning about being loved and how to give love – and how to understand and even anticipate people.

Liz was good at it too, no question of that. And Liz had promised to get him up to speed, because that was what a friend – and apparently a future wife – was for. In fact, Liz had a plan to get him as used to dealing with situations like this as anybody else - anybody normal – and both of them were working on that.

Until he did get a little more 'street-smart,' however, she had given him the 'how-to-ditch-without-a hitch,' Liz Parker plan for dealing with his current social ignorance. Of course she hadn't called it ignorance - silly girl – she really was his friend, but he knew that's what it was. He also knew that with Liz's help, he really would catch up to everyone else. Liz was planning that for the middle of middle school.

So even if he knew he SHOULD be scared of this meeting, he really wasn't. He trusted Liz, and the rules she had given him.

“Have a seat, Max,” said Karen Bartelson.

It was difficult to believe how much Max had changed. He'd had a wary, almost paranoid look in his eyes from the time he'd been found on the road when he was six. Those big brown eyes in that cute little face had never been able to look you squarely in the eye. They'd always been roaming, furtive, as if desperately looking in fear of where the attack was coming from – or where to find a hole to hide in when it did. But little Max was sitting there looking at her with polite interest, but if he was at all intimidated, it certainly wasn't apparent.

“I suppose you'd like to know why you were asked to come here, is that right Max?”

Max smiled pleasantly. Liz was right, this WAS going to work. All he had to remember was what she said. To steer the conversation away from anything that threatened to get on the subject of what she'd decided to call the 'Czechoslovakian thing' – at least when they might be overhears. To try to talk as long as possible on any topic that was taking them away from a topic he didn't want discussed. Adults did not have nearly as much time as kids did. Keep them talking on the non-important things and they would run out of time for the important ones. And last but not least, don't get confrontational. Like the Madagascar Penguins, she had said. 'Just smile and wave, boys, smile and wave...'

“I suppose so,” Max replied, “... although of course it always is good to see you. And I know that sometimes when mommy is upset that I haven't been doing as well as she would like me to be doing, sometimes she talks to you and then she just feels better. I guess I've never thanked you for that either, and I should have. She feels guilty I think, and it's not her fault that I didn't know anything. I'm sorry I disappoint her – but I'm trying to do better.”

“Max, if there is one thing you have never done is disappoint your parents, you and your sister have no idea of how much you have given them – how much they care.”

“I sort of do now. Liz talked to me about it when we were down in the mine. She told me I was being a dope,” he said, nodding his head in apparent agreement, “Liz said that parents just love you – they probably can't even help it – and that I needed to just accept that. I guess I do now too, I think they really do love me like they would their own child - even if I'm … even if I'm not really theirs....”

“Max, you ARE theirs. It isn't where you are born that makes you family, it's who cares about you, and who you care about.”

Max nodded his head slowly. “Liz said the same thing. You get to talk a lot when you are the only two people in a mine. There's sort of no place to hide. She told me that's how it is – that even when you have a family you grow up and decide who you want to make a new family with.”

Every mental health worker is called upon – from time to time – to make objective assessments of the mental status of people – and Karen was called upon to do that more than most. The problem of the examiner also being a healer – of them wanting to actually intervene and provide therapy during an evaluation is a real one – particularly when a child is involved. Karen was struggling hard not to cross that line … and was starting to lose that struggle.

“Well she's exactly right. Liz seems like she's wise beyond her years,Max...,” said Karen, only getting the words out before telling herself, 'Easy there, girl. The point is to find out what's going on here … not to encourage Max to think more highly of Liz...'

“She's smarter than me about people, that's for sure. But I asked her to help me understand people better – and she's explained a lot of things to me.”

“To tell the truth, Max, it's your uh … relationship with Liz that I sort of wanted to discuss with you. I understand you recently collaborated on a book report..?”

“Collabber...?” asked Max, looking across the desk with big brown questioning eyes.

“You were working on the book report together.”

“But Mrs. Ormsby said we COULD work on the book report together – we were SUPPOSED to work in pairs...”

“Max, this isn't about the FACT that you worked together....,” started Karen, when the thought hit her. 'Actually, that is EXACTLY the problem, Karen. You don't believe for a second that this would have ever come up if two boys or two girls had turned in that book report. The teacher might have taken them aside about their subject choice, but she damn sure wouldn't have demanded a psychiatric eval..' "...but I think that there is some … curiosity I guess ...about how you selected the book you did for the report.”

“Oh,” said Max, “...that's easy. Mandi suggested it.”

“Mandi?”

“You remember Mandi. The youngest nurse in the hospital..? The one with the red-striped uniform?”

“The candy-striper? That Mandi? How did she get in to this?”

“Mandi told Liz that she ought to read the book after Liz explained that she wanted to invite me for a sleep-over.'

“Mandi wanted you and Liz to read this book so you could have a sleepover?' asked Karen in disbelief.

Max shook his head from side to side. “I think she wanted Liz to read the book to understand how girls have babies...,” replied Max.

“Max, I'm getting a little confused here...,” said Karen, “...How on Earth did the subject even come up?”


“Because Liz asked her mommy if she could invite me for a sleepover and her mother …. well she didn't really say no, but she told her that it was 'traditional' that when you got older you didn't invite the opposite sex for sleepovers.

Now Liz thought she understood what sex was – that's the boxes on the school forms that say 'm' or 'f,' but she really didn't understand what was opposite sex or why that should matter, … so she told Mandi that she needed to know what sex was so she could talk her mommy into letting her invite me for a sleepover.”

“And that's when she recommended the book?”

“No, that's when Mandi got all red in the face and told Liz that she and I mustn't even think about having sex for years and years and years. Liz told her that she didn't even know what sex was, she just wanted to know before she talked to her mother again about having the sleepover. So Mandi told Liz that sex was about... making babies.”

“And what did Liz think about that?”

“I'm pretty sure she was really surprised. She asked Mandi to tell her more, and Mandi told her that she ought to talk to her mommy about that,” said Max.

'This,' thought Karen Bartelson, '...is sounding surprisingly reasonable so far...'

“And did Liz talk to her mother?” she asked.

“Well, she wanted to ask her mother, but she wanted to sort of study the subject ahead of time. Liz is sort of like that...”

“I actually believe I heard something like that about her,” agreed Karen, “...go on....”

“Well, that's when Mandi said that – if she needed to know some of the story before she talked with her mommy, Liz ought to read that book. Then she would know enough to be able to discuss it with her better.”

'That actually sounds pretty reasonable too,' Karen told herself, '...at least for a little girl with a little bit of a perfectionist personality like 'the Perfect Miss Parker' is purported to have...'

“So THATS why you two chose this book for your book report? So Liz could know how to talk about sex with her mother.”

Max sighed deeply and began to blush, the first indication Karen had that this was going to get more … interesting. “Well, Liz wanted to know about it because of her mom. I sort of wanted to know about it because of how it would happen with Liz.”

“How what would happen with Liz?”

“How Liz would have our babies...”

“You were planning on Liz having your babies??”

“Well, only after Liz told me she'd be having our babies … it was her idea...”

“Liz wanted to have babies with you?” asked Karen. Professionally, she was used to hearing patients say strange things, but this one had caught her by surprise. Nonetheless. She kept her voice neutral and her face a mask, as she watched the third grader's reactions.

“It's – sort of complicated,” said Max, wondering how he could talk around Liz having flashes of precognition.

“That's alright, Max. Clinical Psychologists find 'complicated' sort of interesting. Take all the time you need to explain.”

“Well, while I was in the hospital Liz got a... a hunch sort of … that someday we'd be our own family – her and me – and that we'd have two or maybe eventually three babies. I mean, they wouldn't all be babies at the same time – not like twins - like me and Isabel – but sort of spread out some.”

“So when was Liz planning on you two having this family?”

“Oh, not until we are really old – she thought maybe in our mid-Twenties”

Karen tried not to smile. It was obvious that Max still had a little socializing to do yet, considering he hadn't considered how hearing twenty-five as 'really old' might sound to someone past fifty.

On the other hand, less than three years previously he couldn't talk at all. That Diane had gotten her two children this far along at all was a miracle. One could hardly expect Max not to have a few rough edges. Even so, something about him had changed in that mine. He was doing better – by far – than she'd ever seen him at looking her in the eye and talking to her.

“So Liz wanted to read the book because it would help her convince her mother of something and you wanted to read the book because it would help you to understand what would be necessary if Liz's 'hunch' was going to come true? Is that what you are saying?”

“Yes, Doctor Bartelson.”

'That actually sounds pretty logical in a naive nine year old sort of way, thought Karen. Little girls dreamed about someday having babies of their own all the time. Carrying a doll as a toy was sort of the norm for little girls in all societies, and deciding they were going to marry some male schoolmate was really fairly common as well.

Still – the degree of trust two children would have to have in each other to go through that process together, to be willing to openly share such details ... that was pretty exceptional indeed.

“So you went to the library and checked out the book for that purpose...” started Karen, but the sentence got choked off as she saw the color rise in Max's cheeks and the pupils of his big brown eyes dilate rapidly in what briefly threatened to be a full blown fight or flight reaction. 'Obviously,' thought a suddenly concerned Karen, '...there is some sort of a major problem here that needs to be dealt with'.

“Max,” she said, “I can see that something happened that upset you. You know, I'm a doctor that helps people to deal with problems like that. I really do believe you should share that story with me....”

Now Max really didn't want to share THAT story with Doctor Bartelson, but it didn't involve the Czeckoslovakian stuff and it was going to use up a lot of time, so embarrassing as it was... he decided to share it.

“It wasn't Liz's fault,” said Max, “...or if it was it was just as much my fault, because she couldn't have done it without me and if I'd told her not to she wouldn't have...”

“Max, just calm down and take a few deep breaths. Whatever happened is in the past, and you don't need to be frightened of it now, but you do need to tell me just what you and Liz did.”

“Well, we went to the library – that's where we did it.”

“You did...what … in the library?”

“We went there to do our makeup schoolwork together. The librarian gave us a nice room with a computer where nobody would bother us, and at first we just did our homework...”

“And after you did your homework...?”

“Liz had her library card and she logged on to the computer so she could go to the card catalogue and find out where to find the book that Mandi told her about.”

“That's it? That's what you are so upset about?”

Karen watched Max take a deep breath and then shake his head, his eyes staring at the wall as if remembering something in horror.

“The book was checked out. So Liz logged on to Google to see if there was another reference about ...sex,” said Max.

Suddenly Karen felt the redness starting in her own cheeks and had no doubt her own pupils were dilating. 'Oh no... the poor dears must have frightened themselves to death...'

“Go on..., Max.”

“Well, she found a bunch of sites with references to … you know.”

“To sex, yes, I imagine she did,” said Karen, not knowing if she should laugh or cry at this point.

“Of course, some of them couldn't even seem to spell it right – too many 'x's”

Karen thought it best just to nod her head in acknowledgment to keep Max talking. Despite 30 years in this business, she wasn't sure she could trust her voice right now.

“Well, she clicked on them – but something popped up on the computer that said 'net nanny,' and that you couldn't go to those sites with a kids library card.”

The air went out with a whoosh – the first Karen had realized she'd actually been holding her breath. 'Thank Goodness,' she thought. She could just imagine the mental trauma that would have been to Liz – and how devastating it might have been to someone as socially immature as Max. Of course, that's when Max dropped the other shoe.

“But my mommy had given me her card in case I needed to check out any books for the homework we were doing – I don't have one of my own yet – and I told Liz she could borrow it...”

“OH … my...” said Karen, struggling to get her own emotions – and her sympathy for the two youngsters under control.

This was obviously going to be ugly – innocent as it was, the way it developed. There was simply no way either child was going to avoid being traumatized by this. Nine year-old just weren't mature enough to deal with it – to intellectually handle that what they no doubt saw. Not when they didn't know that pornography was just absolutely not what sex was really all about.

“I don't know that just loaning Liz your mothers library card really makes you responsible for this, Max. You couldn't have known...”

Max shook his head, his feelings of guilt obvious in his body language – at least to someone with a PhD in Child Psychology.

“When the site started to open, there was this pop-up. It asked us if we were eighteen. We talked to each other about whether it was wrong to lie to a computer – I mean we really weren't lying to a person. It's sort of like fibbing to a drinking fountain I thought. Anyway, if I'd have said no, Liz wouldn't have fibbed. So it's just as much my fault.
B - but I didn't tell her not to and she did – and it opened to this list. The doctor in the hospital said something about us being amateurs because we were just learning and there in the list was 'amateurs', and....” and Max just sat there and blushed, unable to go on.

“Oh you poor dears...,” was all that Karen could get out.

Max nodded his head. “Liz barfed in the waste paper basket. I did too. It was so … ugly. We couldn't get the computer to shut off. Finally I broke it. It was terrible. We both went home. I knew then that Liz and I would never be a family … never have a family. I knew she'd never want to even see me again – and I didn't blame her. I couldn't be like that man... I couldn't hurt anyone like he hurt the woman.”

“Max..., I don't really know how to start. I think that maybe you are going to need some treatment for this. It wasn't your fault – not you or Liz. This was just a terrible accident but … you need to understand a lot of things about this...”

“That's what Liz said. I'd been wrong. I thought she would never want to see me again, but she did come see me. She told me that she knew that I'd never be like that man. That even if we did have to do THAT someday to make babies, she knew that I'd never hurt her – and that I'd never be like...him.

“She made me believe that when we someday have to do that … that it wouldn't be too bad and we'd get through it because there were a lot of people in the world and if that was how they had all gotten here then – if they could survive it, so could we - and that it'd be worth it someday to have our very own family.”

Karen blinked rapidly – it wouldn't really do to have tears coming down her cheeks during an interview – now would it?. 'Could little Liz really have not only handled that trauma - but gotten Max through it as well?'

“And how did you feel when she said that?” asked Karen

“I told her I hoped that maybe we'd just have to do that once for all three babies. She said she thought that would be nice, too, but that she figured we'd probably have to do it once for each one.”
Max took a deep breath before continuing, “I think she could tell I was disappointed. She looked at me and told me to get over it, that she really hadn't liked eating the bats either, but that I'd been right then – that we needed to eat the bats to keep our strength up if we were going to survive – and that she was right now – that if we wanted to have the life we both wanted now that we HAD survived, we also had to do what we had to do – even if some of it was also kind of yucky...”

'Karen Bartelson, you will NOT tell a currently nine year old boy that someday having sex with his currently nine year old girlfriend is not going to be nearly as onerous as he believes – at least not right now – and you are damn sure not going to tell him they'll both actually enjoy it – not when he's got a third grade teacher already thinking he's some sort of a damned pervert. And besides, Liz Parker has already apparently done a pretty damn good job of damage control here, despite what I'm sure was her own trauma from what she saw...'

“Of course, she didn't completely convince me. That's why she put the book on hold, and when it came in we checked it out and read it together and discussed it. Then we decided to do the book report because we thought there were things in there that other kids might need to know – because – well I guess you realize, we'd been confused about some things and other things we hadn't known about at all?”

“I think it's fair to say that some of the things in the book probably caught you by surprise, Maxwell...”

Max nodded his head.

“Liz had figured some of them out already – like that the baby probably came out where the seed went in. I think that's the scariest part. Babies are big - five to ten pounds. The book showed a drawing of how the babies are born. That has got to hurt so bad... I told Liz maybe we ought to adopt like my folks did …..”

“Max, your mother would have gladly had a child that way if she could have - not that she doesn't love you just as much I mean...”

“It's OK, Doctor Bartelson.”

“I just mean.... well, I didn't want you to misinterpret...”

“I know my folks love me, Doctor Bartelson. Liz had a long talk with me about what a dope I was – not really believing they would love me just as I am. She said families you choose yourself - well you love them just as much as the one you are born into.”

'For almost three years Diane has been trying to pound that into his little head - without a lot of success . Liz Parker tells him and he totally accepts it.'Karen shook her head.

Of course no one knew any better than Karen Bartelson just how hard Diane had worked with those two kids. They – and the other boy who was still institutionalized – had been the most severe cases of maternal deprivation syndrome she'd ever seen. The two Evans kids had been – for all practical purposes - feral children. Oftentimes nothing that anyone could do would ever convince such children that they were actually even human. But little Max had never been MORE human than he was right now, those big brown eyes looking up into hers...

“Liz is right, Max. She's right about your folks and she's right about a woman's willingness to go through childbirth to have the family she wants.”

Max nodded, his little face looking so very serious.
“Liz explained it to me. Like the bats again. Not everything in life has to be pleasant but you do what you need to do in your lifetime to make it the best that you can. But you'd think they could do it some other way – grow them in pods or something so they wouldn't hurt their mothers so much coming out...”

“I'm sorry, Max, but we just don't have that sort of technology. Besides, even if we did, I'm not sure it would be a good idea. You know, the baby starts its first socializing in the womb. It hears its mothers heartbeat and hears her voice. The bonding sort of gets a head start that way.”

“I guess,” said Max, looking unconvinced.

“I understand why it looks frightening to you, Max, and at one time it was a serious problem. The combination of bipedal locomotion – walking on two feet – and the sort of brain size that enabled us to be intelligent once took a high toll on women.

'There are researchers who believe babies get born so immature because if we actually let them get optimally mature, the birth process would have too many complications. But now days, with modern medicine it is so much less of a problem...”

'Did I just give a nine-year old reassurance that his nine-year old girlfriend will do OK with the future pregnancies and that he can go ahead and not worry about getting her pregnant,' Karen asked herself, 'Please somebody please tell me I didn't...'

“Uh, Max, you and Liz – I mean you had no sort of intention of doing any of this any time soon, did you...?”

Max's eyes widened again in alarm. “Of course not. Not for years and years and years. We haven't even gotten to pubberty and we still have to learn enough to get in to college and get jobs so we can have a house for us and only then – when everything is ready – do we have to do THAT.”

“Max, I wasn't trying to alarm you, and it's puberty by the way – its a long u – it's just that, well, sometimes it's best just to not have plans or make dreams so far in the future. You never can tell what you might want then.”

“Liz seems pretty definite,” said Max.

“Well, even if she continues to feel that way, you never know. You might find someone else that you'd rather make a family with than Liz....”

OK, there Karen almost lost it. She was a PhD Clinical Psychologist and she could certainly read Max's body language well enough to know that he was trying to be cooperative and non-confrontational. But just for a moment – after she'd made that last statement – Max had let his guard down ,and it was like she had read his mind when she looked into those big brown eyes.

She hid her grin and stifled the chuckle but the thought came to her mind anyway.

'OK, maybe Max would have never actually said it that way, but that was an 'it'll be a damn cold day in Hell when that happens' look if I've ever seen one.'


Karen smiled at Max. “Well, you two have been through quite a bit together. I suppose it would be hard to convince you that you might like someone else better.”

“Liz is my best friend, Doctor Bartelson, and she always will be....”

“Well, right now is not the time to worry about any of that, Max. I have the information that I need for Ms. Chard. Why don't you go back to the lunchroom – while you still have time to eat?”

“OK, Doctor Bartelson, and I'll tell Liz what you said -that it's puuberty – with a long 'u.'”

“No doubt you will, Maxwell,” said Karen Bartelson under her breath as she watched the nine-year old go out the door, “...no doubt you will...”

It was only second before an anxious Barbara Chard re-entered her own office.

“Well, what's the verdict, doctor?”

“Sane... reasonable … normal, far more normal that that youngster has any right to be. The children were making an exceedingly good adaptation to the stress associated with their accident. Please tell Mrs. Ormsby all of that...and that's likely enough for the good Mrs Ormsby.”

“I've known you long enough to know that there is a story behind that which you are choosing not to share.”

“Share with Mrs Ormsby? Definitely not. I'll share it with you, though, Barbara.
The accident I was referring to wasn't the Dagston mine accident. It would seem that this particular twosome accidentally logged on to an internet porno site and frightened themselves so badly they literally vomited. The book was their research to find what the truth was about that particular subject.”

Karen held up her hand, nodding her head. “I know, I know, … they should have talked to an adult. I imagine that in that two weeks they got pretty used to handling problems all by themselves, and – well, that's how they handled this one. Somehow little Liz convinced Max that the .. ugliness .. that they'd seen wasn't what sex was REALLY all about.

"Max … being Max .. that probably wasn't very easy to do either, although Max today certainly isn't the same boy who went down into that mine. Anyway, Liz calmed him down enough to get him to wait until they could get the book from the library and get a more – wholesome, I guess you would say – understanding of human sexuality. They still don't really understand it. Both are totally – I guess 'grossed out' is the expression that comes closest. But they are dealing with it – in a surprisingly mature fashion.”

“The poor darlings. Do they need to get counseling for this?”

“I actually don't think so. Their friendship – their love for each other – appears to have pulled them both through this.”

“Love?”

“Oh, children are certainly capable of love. It's not really sexual love – before puberty their endocrine system doesn't generate the hormones that would push them in that direction. But love it is – and both Liz and Max are making plans based upon that love.”

“Plans? What sort of plans?”

“Oh, spending their lives together – after they grow up and leave their own folks, of course. It's not uncommon for young girls to dream of a future husband and babies – although with Liz's introduction to just how all that happens, I'm rather surprised she didn't decide to go in a nunnery,” chuckled Karen. “Max was even more shaken by the experience and still is worried about pregnancy somehow hurting Liz, but that particular book was shy on describing all the metabolic changes – not just of puberty but of pregnancy itself.”

“But – is any of this really … normal … for third graders I mean? To even be thinking about such … mature sorts of things - like families of their own? I mean, these kids have only just turned nine?”

“Don't talk like that in parts of the Middle East. They'll assume you are trying to insult Muhammad. One of his wives, Aisha was only six or seven when they were engaged, and the marriage was consummated when she was only nine. Heck, for that matter children actually being betrothed to each other for political purposes in the royal families of Europe was the norm at one time. Even today in India, the world's largest democracy, arranged marriages are the norm. Oftentimes the bride and groom don't even meet one another until the wedding day. I mean, those certainly aren't the cultures of New Mexico, but we aren't talking about marriage any time soon – just those two envisioning it in their futures.”

“Somehow I can't imagine either the Parkers or the Evanses wanting to make those sorts of plans for their children...,” said Ms. Chard.

“Probably not. Wrong culture. But if they happened to be Hindu... well, I've heard Jeff Parker talk about how he feels about the young man who, and I quote, 'voluntarily went into that Hell to save my little Lizzy,' and I saw the Evanses tear up when the Search and Rescue people described how they'd found Max – kept alive by Liz mouth-to-mouthing him while she dug both of them out of that mine. Trust me, if those parents were from the right culture, they'd already be setting a date for those two. But that's not what we are talking about here – not child betrothal by the parents at all. Simply two kids dreaming about someday getting married. Nothing wrong with that.”

“But discussing sex?”

“Well, right now they are dreading that part of it. It appears they are resigned to that eventually happening … when they are very old – which they define as their mid-Twenties – when they HAVE to do it to have babies – and they equate it to the bats they had to eat to stay alive down in that mine. That's hardly my definition of licentiousness...”

“Mine either,” Principal Chard chuckled, “I doubt that even Mrs. Ormsby would be concerned under those circumstances – not that I intend to tell her. I think it would probably be best to get those two out of Mrs. Ormsby's class and into the class of the new third grade teacher at the semester – in just a few weeks.”

“That would probably be the best,” agreed Doctor Bartelson.

“You don't really believe that this will really last, do you? I mean, that the two of them might really feel that way toward each other long enough to actually get married someday and … actually live their dreams?”

“Hey, I'm just a Child Psychologist, not someone with precognition. If you look at the statistics... heck, half of all marriages end in divorce. Expecting two kids who decide at age eight or nine that they are going to be best friends and eventually husband and wife forever and live happily ever after … well, the odds against that would have to be astronomical. Of course, who would have believed six and a half weeks ago that despite all the disasters that were inflicted on those kids they would actually survive – let alone that they would turn up at their own memorial service. No, my head may say that these kids aren't all that likely to have their happy ever after – but my heart and my ...intuition ... tell me to not bet against them.”

Karen nodded to the window, where they could see Max going out onto the play yard.

“This,” she said, “....is something I'd like to see.”

Max didn't see her at first – but he sensed her aura coming up behind him. He turned to see her face smiling at his.

“So how did it go?”

“Pretty well, I think. Actually, real well...”

“Told you,” said Liz, smiling at him.

She handed him his lunch sack and as he took it she placed her hand on his and gave it a quick squeeze and a happy grin. That was all she could do without highlighting them as something 'different' to the other kids out in the play yard but both knew what it meant. They wandered over to an outside table and started eating their lunches.


Back in the principal's office the two women watched.

“You know, Max really doesn't remember anything earlier than about three years ago,” said Karen. “Liz probably remembers most of the last six years. Socially there's no comparison. She's by far the more mature. But he's closing the gap – closing it faster than I would have ever believed possible three months ago.”

“I guess you could say that he found himself the proverbial older woman to teach him the ways of the world,” said Principal Chard, “...although certainly not within earshot of Mrs. Ormsby.”

“Well, that may be true, but that wasn't what I was going to say. It's just that I was thinking back to about three months ago when Diane Evans was beating herself up about Max. She was worried that she'd done something wrong with Max. What she's done with both of those children was little short of a miracle, and if Diane could only get Max 80% of the way to human, and a nine year old girl had to finally drag him across the finish line to actually become part of the human race,.... well, that really doesn't detract a bit from Diane's accomplishment in getting him that far. Of course – it also makes it pretty difficult to pretend that little Liz hasn't been awfully good for little Max too...”

Barbara Chard looked at her friend of twenty years.

“I'm an insufferable romantic too, Karen, and I'll see that this book report gets upgraded to an 'A.' And like you, I'll probably say a little prayer that those two really do get their happy ever after. Maybe ten or fifteen years from now we can drink champagne at those two kids wedding.”

“I wouldn't bet against it, Barb. Really I wouldn't,” said Karen.

The end....


At this point, if this story ever gets back on RF, I intended to do an author's note about the Chapter 150 controversy. Then announce the title of the sequel – Brokeoff Mountains

Greywolf

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Re: Fanfics by Greywolf

Post by greywolf » Sat Jun 04, 2011 7:07 am

Several PMs and emails have requested I update or provide some closure on the status of Dagston. Rather than simply giving one side of a disagreement on opinions, I'll stick to just the facts.

When controversy arose concerning the story, I was surprised and at least at first believed it to be a simple misunderstanding. It had never been my intention for this story to be in any way controversial. As my interchanges with the RF management continued, it became apparent that my initial assessment – that this was a simple misunderstanding and easily remedied – was wrong.

The RF management tried to get me to understand and agree with their concerns. I tried to get them to understand and agree that their concerns were unwarranted. Both sides failed spectacularly.

I think both sides tried to find a compromise the other could live with, but ultimately the compromises that may have been acceptable to me were not acceptable to the RF administrators/moderators and vice versa. In fact, as the process continued it became apparent that we were eventually pulling further apart in our opinions and irritating each other in the process. That was neither the intention nor the desired result for either of us.

So where does that leave Dagston?

Ultimately, I decided to take advantage of the offers of the moderators and administrators of a different Roswell fanfic site to post Dagston there. Those of you who were in the midst of reading Dagston when it was taken down, or those who wish to form your own independent opinion of this conflict, can simply google 'Greywolf' and 'Dagston' and – I'm sure – promptly find that site.

Please do not start flame wars or any other trouble over this issue. The management of RF owns this site and is certainly entitled to their editorial control of its contents. I have posted almost 20 stories here over the last 5 years and appreciate their work in providing and maintaining this site. Sometimes even people of good character disagree – even strongly disagree. That doesn't make them ogres – on either side.

So where does that leave us – myself and RF? I'm not really sure at present. Currently, I'm working on a story called 'Daddy's Girl' on the other site that is too graphics intensive (no skin- just a lot of pictures) to qualify under the rules for posting on RF. (in the era when almost everyone has broadband and dial-in connections are ancient history, that may be a rule RF should consider revising, but then – it is their site). The story is dedicated to and meant as a tribute to the passengers on United Flight 93 on September 11, 2001, and I am working to get it completed before the tenth anniversary of that day. But what happens after that?

It is still my intention to write the two sequels to Dagston that I have story-boarded. Obviously, I would be uncomfortable writing those on RF given this controversy and I imagine they (the RF management) would be similarly uncomfortable with me writing sequels to a storyline they found unacceptable. I'd feel like I had to second-guess myself -wondering what the RF management would think - about every posting while they – knowing that we are poles apart on this issue – would likely feel that constant scrutiny was needed. I can only believe that would be uncomfortable for both of us.

For that reason, I'll be posting those – as I write them – on the site that now supports Dagston. Should the RF management change their minds (where there is life there is hope) and reconsider posting Dagston, I'd be glad to post the stories simultaneously on both sites, but given the differences in how we feel about that story – well, I wouldn't want anyone to get their hopes up. Once the sequels are done, however, it is my intention to contact the RF administrators and ask them if they would permit the sequels to be posted on RF.

After that – I'm not sure. That's probably nearly a year away. By then tempers (mine and theirs) may have moderated. By then both sides might be able to look at the whole issue a little more dispassionately. By then perhaps some of the good will will be back.

I accept the fact that the RF management is entitled to refuse to post stories – even if it's only because those stories 'bug' them. I hope they accept the fact that having a story removed after the 150th (and final) chapter for an issue that – to the author at least – did not seem either offensive or in violation of any of the guidelines can be vexing to say the least.

I don't think that either side actually intended to cause hard feelings in this effort, but clearly the hard feelings are there. How comfortable either the RF management or I will feel about me posting here again then, I'm really not sure. I guess we'll cross that bridge when we come to it.

Greywolf

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Re: Fanfics by Greywolf

Post by greywolf » Thu Oct 11, 2012 10:25 pm

Sweetness wrote:Thank you for writing Brokeoff Mountains. Great follow-up story to Dagston. Impatiently waiting for your next story.
I've already started it. It's a short story - still in evolution. It's in the Dagston Universe, but sort of just a lark, not intended to be either very long or very serious. Hope you like it.

It's called Coronal Mass Ejection.

This is the temporary URL

http://roswellheaven.yuku.com/topic/117 ... 012?page=1

I'm reasonably sure that will change once it's finished and filed in completed stories. At that time I'll add it to the list at the top of the first page.

Grey

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Re: Fanfics by Greywolf updated Jul 2013

Post by greywolf » Fri Jan 25, 2013 2:27 am

Ninety-six Hours

Discipline Malfunction

Discipline Malfunction translated into Italian by Sirio

Senior Trip

Incubus, Succubus, and Demon

Dominoes Falling

The Blanket

The Blanket translated into Italian by Sirio

The Vault

Sock Hop

Innocence

Spirit Walk

The Assassin

The Primal Beast

Miss Scientist

The Mutt

No Good Deed Redux

Rest Stop

Gone Away

Gila River

End of the World II

Specimen

Falling

Informed Consent

Dagston Not available on Roswell Fanatics.


Decisions

Bureaucracy


Brokeoff Mountains (sequel to Dagston)

Daddy's Girl

Middle School Days (a short story in the Dagston Universe)

Coronal Mass Ejection (a short story in the Dagston Universe)


Works in progress (Caution, some of these are months away from being finished)

Joey

Refuge

Sketches Adult


Pecos River Run

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Re: Fanfics by Greywolf updated 15 Oct 2014

Post by greywolf » Thu Oct 16, 2014 5:24 pm

Sketches is completed

Sketches

Working on Extinction Event, a sequel to Dagston and Brokeoff Mountains on Roswell Heaven.

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