False in Some Sense

Clap If You Believe; Chapter 1

Tuesday, March 3, 2009, during the evening and throughout the following weeks

That same day, Katrina gets an opportunity to speak to Mrs. Bishop, informing her that she lost the baby, and that the Fetch-child should no longer be an issue. She additionally asks about the slavers who tried to take her, and the strange man who spoke to Chuck and took the fetal remains from the hospital. Mrs. Bishop explains what she found about the children of Fetches. Apparently, some are said to be relatively normal, if a bit precocious, but are somehow anathema to the True Fae; either their presence is bothersome, or their blood is actually poisonous to them. On the other hand, some are completely antisocial, and disappear into the Hedge on their twenty-first birthdays, for some unknown purpose. Likewise, she further explains, in relation to the slavers, that she hosts — though she does not actually run — something of a black market for changelings and their ilk. She says that there is not an active slave trade at the local market — that was one of the terms of her hosting the thing — but that it does happen, and might be happening without her knowledge. She says she does not know who might want to purchase the fetus, but she can look into it. Katrina thanks her and goes about her business.

Also on that same day, Elena receives visitors from school. Among others, Johnny attends to see how she is doing and reassure her that he has not gone crazy. Jim Soldati spends that night, and he and Agent Sklar decide to alternate nights. Agent Sklar tells him, as he has told the others, that he will likely be leaving soon. He also tells Jim that he should be watching Perkona Biotechnologies, which recently bought Phoenix Chemicals.

The next day, March 4, Jim starts calling people to ask about whatever happened to Michael. Chuck passes him off to Agatha, and Agatha explains everything that occurred up to the point where he returned; instead, she indicates that she does not know under what circumstances he might return.

That same day, Johnny ends up meeting Jim and Paul when both arrive in Elena’s hospital room. Johnny gives Paul a startled glance as he leaves. Paul checks on Elena before leaving her with Jim.

That evening, Agent Sklar stays the night, as per the agreement. Elena speaks to him with a certain level of candor, in the hopes of cultivating a relationship that might be consummated when she turns eighteen.

On March 5, Elena asks Johnny about the look he gave Paul. He indicates that Paul is different somehow; he has a strange creature living in his chest. Johnny would have to examine him further to give more details.

On March 6, Billy Jack and Jim both realize that they are being followed — various people on a seemingly random rotation. When Billy Jack realizes this, he reacts violently. He tries to assault the young woman whom he deems to be following him, but he ends up going to the police station. When he finds himself in the interrogation room, he is greeted by one of the Men in Black — strange men with black suits and oddly angular features. This one greets him and proceeds to start beating the crap out of him. Since he was not disarmed first, he goes for his gun and gets a couple of shots off, but the Man in Black beats him into unconsciousness.

He awakens later that evening, without his gun. Seeing that Duke is upset, he calls Chuck to ensure that he is not a Fetch; Chuck says that he feels normal. When Billy Jack calls the police to report his gun missing, Chuck also calls his friends in the department and learns that the interrogating officer is listed as Francis Hayward, though there is no audio or video of the proceedings. They also call Jim to investigate further and Mrs. Bishop to check his doors and make certain that none act as gateways into the Hedge. As far as anyone can tell, none of his traps in his yard were set off, and he cannot determine how he got home. Additionally, none of the his doors act as gateways.

On March 7, Chuck pays Mrs. Bishop a visit to explain the incident involving the man named Alpa Chino in his hospital room. He gives as many details as he can; Mrs. Bishop says it sounds like it could be a fae thing, and at Chuck’s suggestion that it could be demonic, she indicates that she doesn’t really know about such things, though given the strange things that she does know exist, she really shouldn’t be surprised. She says that she will try to ask around, though, and see what she can find.

Over the next couple of weeks, after Elena gets out of the hospital, the group begins organizing themselves. After meeting, they decide to train in methods of acting more efficiently as a group. Specifically, they decide to develop certain methods of information gathering as well as ways of getting creatures to go where they want them — such as away from prying eyes, or into traps. They manage to successfully train and they also begin a file on Officer Francis Hayward, noting his habits. They also learn that he apparently took some time off about ten years ago, when he was found disheveled and wandering in the woods.

On March 16, Agatha goes back to work. On March 19, she takes off to go for her surgery. After the surgery, when she asks Dr. Gallagher for a sample of the kidney, Dr. Gallagher refuses, explaining that they want to do their tests. When pressed, Dr. Gallagher closes the door and explains that she thinks Agatha’s interest in this goes above and beyond normal levels, so she explains that the kidney liquified when the air hit it, and they want to test it presently. Agatha is much relieved to hear that Dr. Gallagher isn’t part of some conspiracy trying to keep the kidney secret, and after a bit of discussion, Dr. Gallagher indicates that she is part of a group that does scientific research on strange things. She says she will forward a copy of their newsletter to Agatha.

During the day on March 28, the group assembles again to investigate the Snake-Bear’s caves. Down in the caves, Elena notes that things look cleaner and better organized than one might expect; perhaps someone has been taking care of these caves? Chuck says that the Snake-Bear was definitely smarter than he thought it was, though, so perhaps it was cleaning up after itself. Additionally, the group comes across a dead end with a picture painted on it; Jim thinks it resembles a horned snake. While everyone discusses the significance of this, Billy Jack says it might do something, and proceeds to cut his hand. Everybody else tells him not to smear his blood on it, but when some spills on the wall, the wall shakes and crumbles, revealing a stone passage sloping deeper into the earth. After a bit of shock and discussion, the wall shudders and reforms back into its original position. Eventually, it is decided that this place should be trapped so that nobody can come out of that gate; as Chuck says, this cave doesn’t appear on the map, so it is clearly a passage to elsewhere. Billy Jack goes up to his truck to get some supplies. Meanwhile, while he is gone, the others decide to open it and see if it can be activated from the other side in case it needs to be explored at a later date. When Billy Jack returns, they tell him of their plan. He agrees, and puts some of his blood in a cup in case that’s what activates the gate. Then, he and Chuck decide to go through, and after the wall reforms, they’ll try to open it from their side. If that doesn’t work, everyone else has instructions to open it within thirty seconds.

When everyone agrees, Billy Jack activates the gate and he and Chuck enter the passageway. After the gate closes, Billy Jack turns around to knock on the stonework and fumble with the knife again. Chuck, meanwhile, faces backward with the shotgun in case something comes up to meet them. He is greeted by a blond, athletic, nude girl whose skin has been flayed from her face and left arm; these raw spots are still bleeding. While brandishing the shotgun, he manages to take a picture. His shout attracts Billy Jack’s attention, who decides to bring her through. He cuts his hand, smears it on the gate, and as it opens, they step through. Everyone is understandably alarmed; Elena recognizes her as Jenna Bond, who disappeared back when she was in fifth grade. When questioned, she explains that Dr. Sherman is the one who brought her to her current state. Agatha checks her wounds, noting that she lacks a pulse, and Jim gives her his jacket. Billy Jack has an idea, and invites her up into the daylight. She seems to appreciate the warmth, and lies on the grass, running her fingers through it. The others discuss what to do while Chuck goes to his car to get a few things. When he reaches that spot, he is greeted by Johnny, who just pulled up to apparently go on a walk. Johnny follows him back and is shocked to see the girl. He scrutinizes her for a moment, and says that she’s not supposed to be here; she’s dead. When everyone starts shouting, he tells them to shut up to quiet them down; when Billy Jack tells him that’s not polite and that he ought to show more respect, he responds by telling Billy Jack that he ought not to speak of such, since that tattoo on his chest marks him as an oathbreaker. Billy Jack responds by leveling his shotgun at Johnny. In the scuffle that ensues, Katrina tries to knock his shotgun away while Jim pushes Johnny out of the way. Elena interposes herself between Billy Jack and Johnny, and Chuck tries to talk him down. Ultimately, he scuffles with Elena but cannot move past her, so when Johnny runs far enough to duck into the caves, Billy Jack gets in his truck and leaves. Everyone else chases Johnny into the caves, and when they convince him to stop and tell them what’s going on, he says that he can plainly see that the girl is dead, and from where did she come? They explain the gate, and he says that she should probably go back there, since that’s apparently a portal to whatever realm waits beyond the grave. Johnny manages to talk her back into the cave and convince her to enter the gateway. Then, thoroughly tired, everybody goes home.

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