TITLE: Losing Control
AUTHOR: Kevin Schultz
AUTHOR'S EMAIL: davros72@prodigy.net
PERMISSION TO ARCHIVE: Sure, just let me know where it'll be
CATEGORY: Adventure, Mystery, um... f/f slash?
RATINGS/WARNINGS: R (warning: f/f sexual content)
MAIN CHARACTERS: Rebecca Fogg
SPOILERS: None that I'm aware of
SUMMARY: Rebecca discovers that some of her actions are not her own...
DISCLAIMER: Phileas, Rebecca, Jules, and Passepartout belong to Talisman
Crest Ltd.
AUTHOR'S NOTE: OK, um, well, hmmm. This is my first attempt at something
R-rated. It ended up being some f/f stuff (does that count as "slash"
officially?). I hope it turned out tasteful (or at least tasty ). No
offense is meant towards the character of Rebecca nor towards Francesca Hunt
who portrays her. Just an idea that strolled through my brain one day. I
wanted to try my hand at a couple of things here.


FURTHER NOTE: Part one opens up with some of the R-rated stuff right off
the bat, so consider yourself pre-warned. If you're not into it, just skip
it or delete it.

Oh, and extra credit if you can figure out who was the physical inspiration
of the new character introduced Part One...

*********************

Rebecca Fogg rolled over in her bed, her legs tangling up in the sheets.
She dreamily muttered something, and continued to doze. Her movements on
the bed became more pronounced, and at last she kicked away all the covers
and sheets, revealing her full body, her white nightclothes clinging to her
supple, curvaceous body.

The room was not warm, in fact it was slightly chilly, thanks to the crisp
autumn night outside. However, Rebecca was perspiring enough to cause her
bedclothes to become damp throughout. Her hardened nipples potruded through
her clothing, and one could easily see the feminine curves of her legs.
Rebecca's right hand drifted slowly down to her waist, and began pulling up
her nightclothes. Eventually they were high enough on her that they
revealed Rebecca's undergarments.

Rebecca's hand slipped into her panties. She moaned a bit, still asleep, as
her fingers brushed against her opening. Rubbing the area slightly with her
right hand, her left hand began stroking at her own breasts. As she fondled
her own nipples, and stimulated herself beneath her panties, Rebecca moaned
even louder. She writhed about on the bed at the pleasure of her own touch.

Suddenly she pinched her own nipple. The quick, sharp pain jolted Rebecca
awake. She opened her eyes, and looked about. Then she looked down, and
noticed where her hands were. She quickly withdrew them and smoothed down
her bedclothes, covering herself properly once more.

"Well, that was a bit odd," she said to herself. She swung her legs over
the edge of her bed, and hopped out of bed. Carefully, she explored her
room. Finding nothing out of the ordinary, she slipped back into bed,
pulling the covers up around her again. Still a bit wary, Rebecca laid her
head down on her pillow, and tried to go to sleep.

Rebecca slept peacefully the rest of the night...

*****

The next morning, Rebecca was strolling along the London streets, gazing at
the shops and their offerings, admiring the street vendors and their wares.
Rebecca had decided to do some shopping this morning, but had absolutely no
idea what she wanted to shop for. So she had set out at random, and hoped
that she would know what she wanted when she came across it in the market.

Rebecca paused outside Dalton's Clothiers, admiring a particularly
well-designed purple outfit in the shop window. She was so intent on it
that she did not even register the presence of another woman next to her,
until the young woman leaned forward to get a better view, and brushed her
arm against Rebecca's.

"Oh, I'm terribly sorry, ma'am," the young woman said hurriedly.

Rebecca turned to eye the woman, replying, "Oh, think nothing of it,
Miss..."

"Porter. Melissa Porter." She bowed slightly. Rebecca eyes examined
Melissa as the young woman smiled at Rebecca. She was young, about eighteen
years old. Her long dark brown hair cascaded freely over her shoulders.
Her smooth, exquisite face had a vaguely exotic, middle-eastern look to it,
the only blemish Rebecca could see being a cute little mole on her left
cheek. She was wearing a very tight, form-hugging white outfit, which left
very little to one's imagination.

"Pleased to make your acquaintance, Miss Porter. My name is Rebecca Fogg."
Rebecca smiled at the young woman.

"Rebecca Fogg! That's right, you live across the street!" the young girl
gushed. "I knew you looked familiar!" Melissa's face broke out into a huge
grin.

Rebecca's smile slipped into a tiny frown. "Across the street? So you must
be one of the new tenants in the Cashton building?"

Melissa nodded. "That's right. My family just moved in last month. I've
seen you coming and going into your home over the last few weeks. I simply
*love* some of your outfits! Is this where you get them?" Melissa turned
to look in the shop window once more.

Rebecca smiled again, and turned to examine the purple outfit. "Well, as a
matter of fact, no. I design most of my own wardrobe."

Melissa gasped, and grabbed Rebecca's arm. "You are not serious! Do you
really?"

Rebecca giggled, her smile widening. "Yes, Miss Porter, I really do. It's
a... hobby of mine. Amongst other things."

Melissa bounced up and down. "Oh, this is simply delightful! And please
call me Melissa."

"All right. As long as you promise to call me Rebecca."

Melissa nodded, calming down a bit. "I promise," she smiled.

"Would you care to stop by some time and examine my clothing with me,
Melissa?" Rebecca asked.

"Nothing would make me happier..." Melissa replied.

*****

Rebecca arrived at home, having bought nothing all day. Perhaps she had
just needed to get out in the fresh air, she thought. Well, at least as
fresh as London air can get, anyway.

After finishing her dinner, she dismissed all her servants for the rest of
the evening, and retired to bed. She lit a candle by her bedside, and
picked up the book she had begun reading the other evening. It was an
interesting story of action and intrigue set during the American
Revolutionary War. Quite why she had picked up a book on the topic was
beyond her, but nevertheless she had found it quite absorbing.

After reading a few pages, Rebecca's eyelids became heavier and heavier.
Sighing, she marked her place in her book, and placed it on the nearby
table. Blowing out the candle, Rebecca snuggled under the heavy, warm
covers. She looked all about the room, letting her eyes adjust to the
darkness, and saw that everything was as it should be. As she rolled over
and was about to shut her eyes, she noticed something.

A tiny flash of light winked at her from through the thin curtains covering
her windows. Rebecca forced her heavy eyelids open, and lay still,
concentrating her vision on the very spot the flash had come from. Watching
silently for several minutes, Rebecca noticed no more glinting. However,
her curiosity was now piqued. Slowly, very slowly, she slid one hand down
to the floor, and felt around under her bed. Grasping the object she
desired, she slowly drew it up towards her, under the covers. Still lying
down and facing the window, she slipped the tiny spyglass up to her eye, and
aimed her sight at the location of the earlier glinting.

Adjusting the focus, and slowly moving her aim about, she quickly zeroed in
on the building across the street. The Cashton Building, of course, she
thought. I thought that young girl was a bit *too* friendly this morning,
Rebecca said to herself. She focused in tighter, and suddenly discovered
the young, pretty face of Melissa Porter filling her spyglass. Rebecca
almost dropped the implement out of shock, but her strong training kept her
in check.

"Is that a smile I see on young Melissa's face?" Rebecca asked herself
quietly, a smile forming on her own lips. "Well, well, well," she continued
as she watched Melissa bring up a spyglass to her own eye. The two watchers
smiled at each other across the void as their eyelines met. Melissa lowered
her spyglass and politely nodded her head. It looked like she might have
been giggling a bit.

Melissa stood, and moved to her own window. Rebecca adjusted the focus of
her spyglass as her target moved closer. Melissa opened the window, and
shivered a bit as the chilly air brushed her skin. Her nightclothes
fluttered in the breeze. Yawning theatrically, Melissa slowly and
methodically began to lift up her nightdress. Rebecca blushed, and quickly
lowered her spyglass. "Goodness gracious, Melissa," Rebecca laughed, "have
you no decency?" Rebecca turned to put away her spyglass. There was no
need for her to go on watching the spectacle. If that poor young girl
wanted to be an object of lewd attention, then so be it. Rebecca wanted no
part of it.

... Then again, perhaps she might. Rebecca paused, and turned back to the
window. She couldn't help it, she just *had* to see what Melissa was up to.
She once again put her spyglass up to her eye, and adjusted the focus. As
she zoomed in on Melissa, she saw that Melissa had become completely naked.
Not a single stitch of clothing remained on her body. The chill night air
had raised goosebumps on her pale skin, and had hardened the nipples on her
small, budding breasts.

Rebecca felt a warm stirring within herself, and tried to ignore it. "This
is silly, she's a *woman*, for goodness' sake," Rebecca told herself out
loud. "It's not like I'm watching--" She broke off as Melissa suddenly
began running her hands up and down her own body. Rebecca found that she
simply could not turn away from this beautiful, naked young woman. Rebecca
licked her suddenly dry lips.

Melissa began gyrating her body slowly to some unheard rhythm. She slid her
hands up between her legs, stroking her own smooth thighs. Her hands paused
slightly at her hips, and continued on up to her breasts. Melissa closed
her eyes as her fingers began playing with her small, round breasts. Her
lips began to move, and clearly she was saying something. Rebecca
concentrated and applied her lip-reading skills, discovering with only
slight amazement that the word Melissa was repeating was "Rebecca."

Melissa's right hand slowly moved down her body, and she began pleasuring
herself. She gyrated faster and faster, all the while whispering the name
"Rebecca." Eventually, and much too soon for Rebecca's liking, Melissa
worked herself up to a climax, and shuddered as the giddiness of the
sensations died down. Still smiling, Melissa waved coyly, and closed her
window. Drawing her curtains closed, Melissa withdrew from sight, deeper
into her dark room, and disappeared from Rebecca's view.

Rebecca found herself flushed with excitement. She threw off her blankets,
but kept her bedsheet about her. She put away her spyglass, and lay back,
closing her eyes. She smiled as she drifted asleep, her dreams filled with
the images of young Melissa Porter, and her lithe young body gyrating in the
moonlight just for Rebecca...

*****

Melissa slipped under the covers of her bed, still nude. She smiled quietly
to herself, a small giggle escaping her. "Well, that was fun," she
whispered.

"It most certainly was, my dear," a voice whispered back out of the
darkness. "You are carrying out your assignment extremely well, Miss
Porter. Just be careful you don't enjoy yourself *too* much."

Melissa laughed. "Yes, sir!" she replied.

A dark figure rose from a chair in a corner of Melissa's bedroom, and, after
swiftly kissing Melissa's forehead, the figure withdrew from the room,
leaving Melissa alone.

*****

Rebecca stepped through the doorway, and entered the headquarters of the
British Secret Service. Strolling purposefully down the main corridor, she
deliberately ignored the call of "Miss Fogg!" from Chatsworth's office, and
headed straight for her own small private office. Arriving at her door, she
smiled at her personal assistant, Sarah Chesterton, and said, "I'm not
available for anyone, including and especially Sir Jonathan, is that
understood?" Sarah nodded from her tiny desk.

Rebecca entered her office, and closed the door, locking it behind her. She
stood for a moment, her back against the door, and closing her eyes she
collected her thoughts.

The trouble was, her thoughts as of late seemed to be increasingly filled
with thoughts that were most decidedly *not* her own. Particularly the
vivid ones which visited her in the late evenings, and concerned one Melissa
Porter from across the street from her residence. Looking back at those
intriguing yet disturbing thoughts, Rebecca had to admit that before those
particular moments, she had never once had feelings about another woman, at
least in a sexual, lustful way. Well, except for one, but that was
*completely* different, Rebecca told herself with a wicked smile.

The fact of the matter was, Rebecca knew herself to be decidedly
heterosexual. But with the events of the last few nights, she needed to do
some investigating into quite why she was behaving as she was. Reliving the
moments in her mind, she recalled that some of her actions and thoughts
seemed to happen of their own volition. It was as if Rebecca had been
*controlled* in some way. She snapped her eyes open, and said, "A-ha! Mind
control..."

Rebecca stepped away from her door, and sat down at her desk. She swivelled
her chair about to face the shelf of books behind her, and scanned the
spines. Spotting the one she wanted, she plucked it out of the bookcase,
and swung her chair back around to face the desk. She kicked back in the
chair, and began scanning the pages...

*****

Rebecca Fogg stomped miserably through the London fog. Her black cloak
matched the darkness of the night sky. Just as she reached the doorstep to
her residence, she heard a slight noise. Turning quickly, she spotted a
small shape hiding in the doorway of the Cashton Building. The shape
stepped out into the pale light of the street, revealing itself to be
Melissa Porter.

"Rebecca," Melissa said, tentatively.

"What are you doing outside at such a late hour, Melissa? Shouldn't you be
in bed?" Rebecca queried.

Melissa looked down at her bare feet which poked out from beneath her robes.
"I should," she whispered. "But I wanted to talk to you again."

Rebecca sighed, and looked sadly at the young woman. "Well, all right, come
on in, but only for a little while." Rebecca opened her door, and ushered
Melissa inside. "I'll make some tea for us both, you wait in the drawing
room while I get it ready."

Melissa grinned as she spotted a large, luxurious couch facing a roaring
fire. "That sounds wonderful, Rebecca."

Rebecca headed for her kitchen, removing her black cloak and tossing it
haphazardly onto the floor. She looked down at herself, and noticed she was
wearing her black leather catsuit. "Damn," she muttered. She had left her
catsuit on after finishing a small but dangerous assignment for Sir Jonathan
earlier in the evening. "How am I going to explain this to her?" she mused.
After a moment, she shrugged, removed her toolbelts and holsters, tossed
them onto the floor as well, and continued on to make the tea.

Returning to the drawing room, Rebecca found Melissa on the couch, clad only
in her nightgown, her outer robes having long since been discarded. Melissa
was sitting and pointing her naked feet at the fire, wriggling her toes.

"The fire is so warm and comforting, Rebecca," Melissa said with a dreamy
smile. "Did your servants prepare it for-- Oh my goodness, what on earth
are you wearing?"

Rebecca sighed, and set down the tea. "It's... well, it's my work uniform,
I suppose," Rebecca explained. "You see... and I really shouldn't be
telling you this, and I'm not sure why I am, but I'm an agent in the British
Secret Service."

Melissa's eyes widened. "Are you really?"

Rebecca nodded. "Yes. And, from time to time, I get called on to perform
some rather dangerous duties. Some of which call for extreme measures and
rather unusual solutions. This outfit serves to provide not only freedom of
movement, but access to all manner of special gadgets and whatnot."

Melissa's eyes ran over every inch of Rebecca's catsuit. "I like it,"
Melissa said quietly. "I like it a lot."

"Admittedly, it's not the sort of outfit one might purchase from Dalton's
Clothiers, but..."

Melissa giggled girlishly at Rebecca's joke. "Could I try it on?" she asked
suddenly.

"Try it on?" Rebecca echoed. "Well... well, I don't see why not. Let me
just go change--"

"No," Melissa said firmly. "Let me help you. Come sit over here." Melissa
patted the seat next to her on the couch.

Rebecca frowned slightly, and shrugged her shoulders. "Very well." She sat
down next to Melissa on the couch, and turned her back to the young woman.
"Start by undoing the buckles on the corset," Rebecca instructed.

Melissa reached for the straps and the buckles holding the corset tight to
Rebecca's body. She loosened the first one with a tiny giggle, and quickly
went to work on the rest of them. Eventually, she had fully unbuckled the
corset. It slipped off of Rebecca easily, and fell to the floor. The loss
of the corset simply accentuated the curves of Rebecca's body, now that all
she was wearing was the form-hugging black layer of the catsuit. Melissa
licked her lips, and said quietly, "You are such a beautiful woman, Rebecca
Fogg."

Rebecca closed her eyes, and said nothing.

Melissa moved her hands from Rebecca's back, and reached around to her
front. She cupped her hands around Rebecca's breasts, and squeezed gently.

"Melissa, I--" Rebecca began.

"Shhh, shhh..." Melissa shushed her. "Just let it happen..."

Rebecca moaned slightly, as Melissa began to rhythmically rub her breasts
through the fabric of the catsuit. Melissa's left hand eventually slipped
its way down the front of the outfit, and fondled Rebecca's breast directly,
touching her erect nipple, and gently rubbing it. Melissa leaned forward
slightly, and gently kissed the back of Rebecca's neck. Rebecca smiled at
this, and leaned back towards Melissa.

After a few moments more with Rebecca's breasts, Melissa slipped her hands
away from Rebecca's front, and began to undo the back of the catsuit.
Working silently, she eventually opened the top enough to extract Rebecca's
arms, and lower the top down to her waist, revealing Rebecca's naked breasts
in all their glory. "What, no undergarments?" Melissa teased.

"They restrict my movement too much," Rebecca breathed. "And it makes me
feel naughty, as well..."

Melissa giggled, as once more she reached around from behind, and cupped
Rebecca's breasts in her delicate hands. Rebecca leant back even further,
pressing her back against Melissa's still-covered chest. Rebecca could feel
the small, budding breasts of the young woman pressing into her back, and
squirmed slightly just to feel them move against her skin through the fabric
of Melissa's clothing.

Melissa slid her right hand down under the remaining part of the catsuit,
and Rebecca writhed happily in response. Rebecca turned to face Melissa,
and boldly kissed the young woman on the lips. Their lips pressed together,
their tongues met and intertwined... it was one of the most passionate
kisses Rebecca had ever experienced. Overcome with lust for the young
woman, Rebecca tore at Melissa's nightclothes, ripping them apart to reveal
the naked, young, nubile body underneath. Rebecca reached for Melissa's
breasts, and moved the little necklace Melissa was wearing out of the way of
her questing hands. Rebecca detached her lips from Melissa's and hungrily
began to suckle at Melissa's nipples, first one then the other. Melissa
giggled and moaned in response.

Their bodies pressed against one another, front to front. Melissa massaged
Rebecca's body, her hands working their way down to Rebecca's firm, round
buttocks. She squeezed the cheeks gently, which earned her a small bite on
one of her nipples. Melissa squealed in delight, and giggled as Rebecca
worked her mouth up to kiss her once again. Their breasts pressed against
each other's, their bodies rubbing and moving together rhythmically.
Rebecca worked her hands up to caress Melissa's neck, her left hand catching
at the necklace again.

"Mmmm... Melissa," Rebecca moaned, "let me take this necklace off, it's just
getting in the way..."

"No!" Melissa yelped. "I mean," she continued somewhat more quietly, "it's
very valuable to me, I don't want to lose it."

"You won't," Rebecca said between kisses. "I'll just set it on the table
over there for now..."

"No," Melissa said, "just leave it."

Rebecca stopped kissing Melissa, and shook her head, as if trying to
remember something. Something about a jewel...

"Kiss me, Rebecca, I love you so much..." Melissa pleaded as she began to
rub her legs up and down against Rebecca's.

Rebecca blinked, and blinked again, her mind struggling to focus on the
jewel... a crystal... Her eyes focussed on Melissa's necklace, and saw the
tiny crystal that hung from the silver chain. "No..." Rebecca mumbled.
"No..." Still struggling to think clearly, Rebecca grabbed the necklace,
yanked at it, breaking the clasp and freeing it from Melissa's neck.
Rebecca quickly tossed the necklace aside. Pushing herself off of Melissa,
Rebecca shook her head, trying to clear it. "Control, I must keep control."

Melissa tried to pull Rebecca back down to her, kissing Rebecca's breasts as
an enticement. Rebecca groggily stood up.

"No, stop it, Melissa, this isn't... this isn't..." Rebecca pressed her
hands to her head. She was confused, and could not think straight. Why was
she feeling this way? What was all that business about the crystal? She
struggled to remember.

Melissa stood up as well, and embraced Rebecca. "I love you Rebecca, don't
you see that?"

Rebecca pushed Melissa away. "How can you love me, you hardly even know
me?"

"Because she's acting under my orders, Miss Fogg," said a new voice. A man
stepped forward from the shadows, holding the necklace aloft in one hand.
"And because we're using this crystal."

Rebecca blinked in surprise. "Von Kessler..." she hissed.

General Von Kessler stepped closer to Melissa, and put a protective
arm around the young girl. "You have done well, Fraulein Porter. Thank you
for
your efforts, I don't believe you are needed any longer."

Melissa's smile suddenly dropped from her face. "What?" she asked,
bewildered. "But... but what about Rebecca... and our, um, friendship?"

Von Kessler chuckled, and turned to face Melissa. "My dear girl, you do not
understand, do you? This 'relationship' was nothing more than the product
of our combined will focussed through the power of this crystal. It has no
real basis, it's just a fiction."

Melissa shook her head. "No, no, it's not. I love Rebecca, truly I do!"
she protested.

Von Kessler silenced her with a quick backhand slap across her face. Tears
welled up in the young woman's eyes as she stumbled back and fell onto the
couch.

Rebecca stepped forward, not bothering to cover herself. "Don't you *dare*
touch her again, Von Kessler, or I swear to you..."

"Oh, come now, not you as well, Fraulein Fogg?" Von Kessler said, rolling
his
eyes. "You don't have any real feelings for this young girl. It was all
implanted in your mind."

"Nevertheless, I cannot simply stand here and watch you strike a defenseless
young woman."

Von Kessler nodded. "Point taken. However, with this crystal, I have now
implanted the seeds of suggestion into your mind. Anything I project into
your thoughts, you will act as if they are your own. For instance, you no
longer have any compunctions about men striking 'defenseless young women'."
Von Kessler shut his eyes and concentrated briefly. Once he opened them, he
turned to Melissa once more, and slapped her again.

Rebecca watched silently, raising no protest.

"You see?" Von Kessler chuckled. "I now have total control over you,
Rebecca Fogg. You will do as I say, you will follow my orders, and you will

be my slave. As my personal agent, I now have a very highly-placed mole
within the British Secret Service."

Rebecca nodded.

"Now, come over here, and give me a kiss from your delicious lips, that I
might taste a tiny bit of heaven on this dreamy evening," Von Kessler
whispered.

Rebecca silently moved closer to Von Kessler, and wrapped her arms around
him, holding him close. She tilted her head, moving her lips towards Von
Kessler's. She paused before their lips met, and whispered back to him.
"Oh, Von Kessler..."

Von Kessler, anxious now that the moment he had dreamt of for so long had
now arrived, closed his eyes, smiled, and whispered back, "Oh, Rebecca..."

Rebecca smiled as well, and continued, "... if you think for one moment that
I would be your slave, much less *kiss* you, then you're more of a fool than
I ever gave you credit for." Von Kessler's eyes snapped open, as Rebecca,
her arms around him, suddenly yanked him off his feet and flipped him head
over heels onto his back. The wind knocked out of him, he could only watch
helplessly as Rebecca stood over him.

"Kissing you is one of the very *last* things I would ever let myself be
caught doing. There is simply no way I would let that happen, mind control
or not!"

Von Kessler swept out with his arms, slamming them into Rebecca's legs,
causing her to fall backwards amongst the furniture. He scrambled to his
feet and, after a quick look round, dashed up the nearby stairwell.

Rebecca picked herself up off the ground gingerly. "Damn him!" she
muttered. She then noticed that her top was still undone. Quickly redoing
the straps and buckles, she hurried off after Von Kessler, taking the stairs
two at a time. She reached the top floor just in time to see a window fall
shut. She rushed over to it and opened it, climbing out onto the tiny
ledge. She looked up, and saw a booted foot disappearing over the roof's
edge. Refusing to look down, she quickly jumped up and grabbed the tiny lip
of the edging. She just prayed that Von Kessler was fool enough not to hang
around in order to prise her fingers off the ledge and cause her to plunge
to her death. Of course he's not that smart, she said to herself,
half-convinced.

Finally pulling herself over, and rolling onto the relative safety of her
roof, Rebecca took in the scene. No sign of Von Kessler. The chimney over
there provided the most obvious protection, she thought, which means he's
probably behind it. The small door leading to the building's interior was
locked from the inside, Rebecca was sure of that. So he couldn't have gone
that way. There was no other cover. Right, Rebecca thought, chimney it is,
then.

Rebecca slowly crept over to the chimney, listening for any tell-tale signs
of Von Kessler's presence. She thought she heard his breathing, but
couldn't be certain. As she neared the chimney, Von Kessler suddenly leapt
out from behind its cover. A grin on his face and his sword in his hand,
the general slowly approached Rebecca.

Rebecca smiled back, and reached down to grab one of the many weapons
attached to her catsuit...

... and came up empty. Rebecca could have slapped herself. Of course, she
grumbled to herself, I took all my tools off when I went to make tea.
You're a fool, Rebecca. No, strike that, she thought, you were simply under
the influence of the crystal.

"Poor, defenseless women seem to be all around this evening, wouldn't you
say, Fraulein Fogg?" Von Kessler said with a hideous leer. He swished his
sword
teasingly at Rebecca. "I'm afraid your righteous indignation won't get you
out of this." He swung the sword at Rebecca, who jumped back
instinctively, narrowly avoiding a nasty cut to her torso.

"A defenseless woman can defeat a bully of a man any time, Von Kessler,"
Rebecca hissed back. "Just watch and see."

Rebecca threw herself onto the ground, and lashed her arms out, sweeping Von
Kessler off his feet. Von Kessler's sword went clattering away across the
roof. Both fighters scrambled on all fours to pick up the weapon. Von
Kessler got to it first, and swiftly brought the point up and held it at
Rebecca's throat. "My dear, you forget, not only do I have my sword, I also
have the crystal."

Rebecca knocked Von Kessler's sword arm away from her throat as she rolled
herself away from the general. She quickly bounded to her feet, and held
her fists at the ready. "Have you forgotten, Von Kessler, that it no longer
works on me?"

Von Kessler laughed, an evil grin spreading across his face. "Not at all.
I wasn't referring to you, my dear Fraulein Fogg."

A high-pitched scream pierced the night air.

"Melissa..." Rebecca breathed.

Von Kessler chuckled again. "Correct, Fraulein Fogg. Now, the situation is
this. You can either continue fighting me, in which case you might win, or
you might lose. Or, perhaps you might want to see what all the screaming is
about..."

Rebecca felt a blind fury rise within her. She kicked out with her booted
feet, knocking Von Kessler down once more. Rushing back to the ledge where
she first climbed over onto the roof, she looked over the lip to see Melissa
dangling precariously from the window ledge just below. From the look of
things, Melissa would not be able to hang on for very long. Rebecca looked
back, and saw Von Kessler struggling to his feet. She turned back to
Melissa, leaned over the ledge as far as she dared, and thrust out her hand.

"Melissa," she called urgently, "take my hand!"

Melissa was crying. "I don't know why I did this," she wailed. "I'm sorry,
Rebecca."

"Quiet, Melissa, don't worry about it, I'm going to get you out of this."
She thrust her hand out further. "Take it, take my hand, Melissa."

Melissa looked up into Rebecca's eyes. "Are you doing this because you love
me, or is it that damn crystal?" she sobbed. "I'm so confused, Rebecca,
help me!"

Rebecca strained to reach out further. "That's what I'm trying to do, now
grab hold of my hand! Do it, now!"

Melissa looked doubtful, her tears streaming down her face.

Rebecca softened her voice. "Melissa, trust me. Please. Take my hand."

Melissa took a deep breath, and reached up with her left hand. She reached
as far as she could, her fingers brushing against Rebecca's. Rebecca leant
forward a touch more, and they joined hands at last. "Good!" Rebecca said.
"I've got you! Now, let go of the windowledge, and I'll pull you up."

Melissa's eyes widened. "But I--"

"Now, Melissa, please!"

Melissa shut her eyes, and let go of the windowledge. She and Rebecca
dipped slightly towards the ground below, before Rebecca got a better
control of their balance point. Rebecca grabbed Melissa's blindly questing
hand, and, now holding onto both of Melissa's hands, began to haul the young
woman upwards. As they reached the safety of the rooftop, they rolled over
away from the edge, to get them out of harm's way. They lay in each other's
arms for a few moments, both of them catching their breath. Von Kessler was
nowhere to be seen.

After a few moments, Melissa broke the awkward silence. "I'm sorry,
Rebecca."

"What for?" Rebecca asked, as she lay peacefully next to Melissa.

"For everything," came the reply. "For using you, for using the crystal,
for deceiving you, for... for loving you..."

Rebecca rolled over to lay on her side, propped her head up on her hand, and
looked at Melissa. "There's no need to apologize for 'loving' me, Melissa,
it was the crystal."

Melissa looked back at Rebecca. "No, it wasn't. Before we met, and when we
did bump into each other at the market, yes, it was the crystal. But that
first night, when we saw each other across the way... I wasn't using the
crystal."

Rebecca raised an eyebrow. "Indeed."

"I swear to you, I was not using it. We connected, Rebecca, you and I, in a
way I don't quite understand, except that I think I love you."

Rebecca sat up, and helped Melissa sit up as well. Rebecca took Melissa's
hands in her own, and looked into the younger woman's eyes. "Melissa, we
barely know each other. Having seen one another for a few days, having
barely spoken to one another, that's... well, that's hardly the basis for
loving someone."

Melissa frowned, and said, "But--"

Rebecca shushed her, placing a hand to Melissa's lips. "Melissa, trust me
on this, as you trusted me before. It isn't love, whatever you might think.
Right now, your heart is telling you it is. But you will see, as time goes
on, that all it really is, is simply a fixation, probably a side effect of
your use of the crystal."

A tear formed in Melissa's eye, but refused to roll down her cheek. "I
trust you, Rebecca," she said.

"Good," Rebecca said, smiling. "Now, let's see about getting down from
here."

Melissa stood up, and helped Rebecca up. "I don't want to go over any more
ledges, Rebecca."

"Nor do I," Rebecca said, looking over at the locked door leading to the
interior...

*****

"... I'm sorry you had to break down your roof door, Rebecca," Melissa said,
picking up her things from the drawing room.

"That's all right, Melissa," Rebecca said. "I needed a good workout tonight
anyway."

Melissa giggled. "And I'm sorry Von Kessler got away from you."

"Oh, he won't elude me for long, not if I can do anything about it."

Melissa moved towards the door. "I should probably go home now," she said.

"Melissa, I'd like you to come with me to Headquarters tomorrow, we'll need
to write up a full report on what happened."

Melissa's eyes twinkled as she turned to look back at Rebecca. "A 'full'
report?"

Rebecca smiled back. "Well, perhaps not as detailed as it might be, but
with enough of the facts to make it official."

The two women laughed quietly. Melissa turned back to the door.

"See you in the morning, Melissa," Rebecca called.

Melissa opened the door, paused, and turned back to look at Rebecca. "Good
night, Rebecca," she said softly. She quickly turned away again and
scurried out the door.

*****

The next morning, Rebecca crossed the street and knocked on the front door
of the Cashton Building. She stood patiently as she heard scuffling
movements inside. The door was opened by a kindly old man, who let her into
the main hallway. "Yes, can I help you, ma'am?" the old man asked politely.

Rebecca smiled. "Yes, I'm looking for Melissa Porter, I'm a friend of
hers."

The man frowned slightly. "Melissa who?"

"Porter. She lives upstairs, on the side facing the street. On the north
corner."

"I'm sorry, my dear young lady, that room has been vacant for several months
now," the old man said. "Perhaps you are thinking of Old Lady Huggins, she
lives in the rooms on the south end of that side of the building."

Rebecca pursed her lips. "I'm assuming by your usage of the phrase "Old
Lady" that Miss Huggins is somewhat older than eighteen years of age?"

The old man laughed. "Oh, my goodness, yes! Lizzie Huggins is fast
approaching ninety years old, and she's not showing any signs of slowing
down, I can assure you!"

Rebecca nodded politely. "Well, might I just take a peep at the north end
rooms? Please? It would mean ever so much to me."

Smiling, the old man replied, "Of course, young lady. But I assure you,
there's no one there. They are available, if you're thinking of moving..."

"No thank you, I just want to confirm my suspicions."

"I understand. Come on in, the stairs are just over there. The door is
open upstairs. Feel free to let yourself out. If you change your mind
about taking up residence, you know where to find me." He shuffled off and
headed into his set of rooms, marked with a number "1" on the door.

Rebecca headed up the stairs, and entered the north rooms. There was indeed
no one there. There were some pieces of furniture about the place, but
mostly covered in dust. She passed from room to room, eventually reaching
the bedroom, which did contain an uncovered bed. Rebecca walked over to the
window, and looked out. She could see her own rooms from here. Smiling
wistfully, she moved away from the windows. As she moved to leave the
bedroom, she noticed a piece of paper on a nearby table. Picking it up, she
read it to herself.

"My dearest Rebecca,

"I am sorry that I left without saying goodbye. I couldn't face the fact
that you would never truly love me. I know that now. It was hard for me to
convince myself of that, but I see that it is true. My loving you was,
perhaps, a side effect of the crystal. Your loving me was most definitely
the result of its powers.

"I decided I had to leave because I know that the General would most likely
use me again to get to you. And I could not bear the thought of being a
pawn in his game against you. Know that I am well, know that I will
remember you forever, and know that I will always love you, crystal or no
crystal.

"Don't try to follow me. Don't try to get in contact with me. You would
only bring me more heartache than I could bear.

"Take care of yourself. Don't get into too many dangerous situations.

"But most of all, find someone to fall in love with.

"Your loving friend,

"Melissa."

Rebecca closed her eyes. Silently folding up the note, she slipped it into
her coat pocket, and left the room.

...THE END...