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A Matter of Strength

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                The house was silent but for the soft clink of porcelain as a teacup was set on its saucer. It was strange for this house to carry such silence, occupied as it was by eight inhabitants. Normally, the sound of Tau tapping away at his keyboard could be heard, or perhaps the constant click and rustle of Takeo maintaining his guns. M-21 running his rounds around the house. The soft patter of feet as the three young nobles went about their day, doing homework and chores.

                Frankenstein explaining some minute detail of day-to-day life.

                Children laughing and playing games.

                No, this home had not known silence for quite some time...

                Cadis Etrama Di Raizel took another sip of his tea, observing  the empty couch, empty chairs, empty room, empty house. The children were all gone, left while he had been sleeping at the request of Frankenstein. Where they went, and what they were doing, Raizel did not know, but he felt no distress through his link with Frankenstein, so Raizel was content to trust they did not need him just now. Raizel supposed he could let Frankenstein know he'd woken up. The human would drop just about anything to come to his side, but Frankenstein had his own life, and Raizel would not interrupt it so readily.

                He went to take another sip of tea, only to find his cup empty. He stared at it in dismay before glancing at the kitchen behind him. He faced forward and set his cup on the coffee table, settling into his chair. It wasn't as if he really needed tea, and no one was here to be unsettled by his lack of consumption. A memory settled fondly in his mind, of a certain young human (and before him, an anxious boisterous Noble) who always brought him tea, said he need to eat something

                It was very quiet.

                It was not truly that difficult to make tea, was it?

                Mind made, Cadis Etrama Di Raizel stood up and marched over to the coffeemaker, where Frankenstein's thoughtfully written instructions for using it were still located.

                "Just push the big red button, simple right? good luck," The instructions read.            

                Yes, simple. So very easy, even a human could do it with a single iota of their energy. One iota of human strength. Human strength. Raizel mulled over the situation. Human strength was something Raizel spent much time contemplating, trying to grasp its sheer infinitesimal nature. He was well-aware that others thought him too inept understand modern conveniences. This was not true. It was almost an insult to Frankenstein's intellect, that the others thought he couldn't teach Raizel how to operate something as simple as the machine before him (a machine whose usage could be revealed by simple process of elimination what with its single button) but Raizel preferred to let them think that, as opposed to realizing the truth:

                He was simply too strong.                                                                                               

                If he applied too much pressure while he activated the coffeemaker, and he was certain he would, he would break the machine--would likely send it flying through the wall. He was not willing to break Frankenstein's property if he could help it. For the first time, Raizel mourned the nature of his powers, for if they did not consume his life-force, he could have easily used telekinesis to activate the machine, as he did in years past. Yet, they were what they were, and he had to save them for the inevitably encroaching emergency. So, he had to do this manually.              

                Raising one slow, tentative finger, Raizel placed it on the button, not daring to press it just yet. Whole body tense, he tried to pull his energy inward away from the fragile device, trying to suppress it down to practically nothing.

                Nodding to himself once, Rai activated the machine as gently as he could.

                The machine slid back a couple inches, and something sparked dangerously, but the light also turned green and tea started dripping out, so he took it as a success. Pleased, Raizel turned and sat back in his chair, staring out the window and watching the world pass by as he waited for his drink. The world was so different from what he remembered. It was true that he slept for almost a thousand years, but even in the thousands of years before that, his view had never changed so much as it did at a momentary glance out of the house. Where once he watched trees take root and grow in their comforting steady way, he now watched cars pass by, here and gone again in a blink. Humans from around the world came and went, taking for granted knowledge of deserts and tundra and cities so immense, they spanned the horizon.  

                Drip drip, the sound echoed through empty, silent space.

                And even more amazing, humans no longer had to travel to those spots to see them. Instead they invented phones and computers. The world at their  fingertips. New worlds conceived, watched, played in, as if it were commonplace. Games, the children called them, as they explored vast lands and universes that did not even exist before this century. Games. Amazing.

                A sizzle pop caught Raizel's attention and he turned away from the window to find the source of the sound. Raizel's gaze slid over every detail of the room--the two overstuffed chairs, the coffee table, his empty teacup, the ottomans, until he eventually reached the kitchen, here he found his answer.

                As he watched the tea drip, as if in slow motion, into the growing puddle below it, Raizel contemplated that perhaps he might not have thought ahead enough to realize he hadn't quite figured out how the tea from the machine was supposed to get to his cup on the table. The amber liquid ran in rivulets down the side of the counter right into the intersection where the coffeemaker's wire plugged into the wall. It seemed as though it must have come slightly loose when Raizel pushed the button, because the slightest bit of metal was showing and yes--that was what was sparking.

                The acrid smell of fire hit Raizel's nose just before the plug lit up in flames which quickly rose up the wall and caught the curtains covering the nearby window. Encased as it was by fire, the poor coffeemaker could no longer continue to function, exploding into a small but spectacular array of shrapnel that with almost unerring accuracy scraped against the nearby appliances, causing sparks that the fire happily latched onto. Soon enough, the entire kitchen had caught aflame, the occasional appliance exploding and spreading the fire even more so.

                With a small force field put up to protect his clothes, Raizel looked on the damage with a troubled furrow in his brow. Slowly he glanced back down at the cup before him, and then back to the kitchen.   Raising one arm, Raizel prepared to create another barrier around the fire to snuff it out, only to have his concentration destroyed by a piercing ring. Alarmed, Raizel checked the state of his soul, wondering if perhaps he overestimated the amount his little nap restored him, but...no, he should have had enough for something this small...

                Only when the sprinklers above his head activated, did Raizel realize this was another machine the humans had invented, but he had no time analyze this new contraption, because even as the water soaked through all of Frankenstein's precious possessions, the fire had gained a life of its own and still raged on.

                Nothing could be saved now.

                One deep breath later, Raizel tentatively called out Frankenstein...


 

                Closing his eyes, Frankenstein took off his glasses and rubbed the bridge of his nose. Since when did schools require so much bureaucracy? The boarding school he'd made two hundred years ago wasn't nearly so difficult to maintain. Back then, nobody questioned his practices. They simply accepted that children entered his school and came out scholars.

                Nowadays, everything required approval and records and signatures. Frankenstein had chosen the name Dr. Lee out of convenience. He'd never realized how grateful he would later be that his name had been so short--

                Frankenstein

                Master! Frankenstein launched himself out of his chair as he heard his Master's voice over their mental link, Forgive me, I didn't realize you'd woken up. How long had his Master been awake? Alone at the house? How quiet? How lonely? How--

                Frankenstein, his master repeated simply but this time it was laced with urgency, regret, and the faintest bit of...despair?! Frankenstein I--

                Don't worry Master! I'll be there as soon as I can. Please don't do anything rash. Alarmed and more than a bit frightened by the tone of his Master's voice, Frankenstein forewent his door altogether, hopping out the window onto the nearby rooftops to get home faster. As he leapt from building to building at top speed, Frankenstein wondered what had happened while he'd been at school. Each scenario wound up worse than the last until he was berating himself for ever leaving his Master's side. What if he didn't get there in time? What if his Master had to use his power? What if he fell into a slumber only to wake up hundreds of years later, losing the cherished life he had here? What if he fell asleep and never woke up again? What if--

                The first thing Frankenstein noticed was the silhouette of his master in the front yard. Master wasn't harmed. So relieved was Frankenstein by this, that it took him almost a full second to notice the reason his Master was standing outside the house at all. He couldn't help the small cry that slipped out of his lips when he did notice the flames that at this point had almost entirely engulfed his and Master's home.

                "W-What happened?" He muttered, "Who could have done this?" His house was equipped with the world's best security system--one he'd designed himself that was later upgraded through the efforts of Tao. The materials used were all reinforced and designed to withstand attacks from even family leaders. No arsonist should have been able to touch his home.

                "I tried to make tea," Came the quiet voice of his Master, and the non sequitur caught Frankenstein off guard, but he turned to listen anyway, for surely this was relevant to the cause of the disaster.

                Half a minute of silence later, Frankenstein realized that nothing more was forthcoming, and he stared uncomprehendingly, trying to figure out how tea was related to the fire.

                Finally shaking his head, Frankenstein replied, "Forgive me master, I will make you some tea after I put this out,"

                That said, Frankenstein hopped  toward the building, releasing an aura that created a gust of wind strong enough to blow out the flames altogether. It also knocked some nearby trees to the ground, but at this point it didn't really matter. He'd have to reconstruct the whole house; he'd might-as-well relandscape too. Sealing his power as he touched back to the ground, Frankenstein couldn't help the sigh of despair that escaped him.

                "I am sorry. I have cause you trouble again," His Master said into the silence.

                "No this was," Frankenstein cut himself off as realization dawned on him; horror settling in as the pieces all clicked together, "You tried to make tea," He repeated, voice almost awe-struck.

                His master had been looking at him with sorrowful eyes, but when Frankenstein uttered his epiphany, he turned to look back at the house, brow slightly furrowed as if he were trying to solve a puzzle. Maybe he was. Frankenstein certainly was having a hard time figuring how tea could have burnt down his home!

                "Hey Boss, we felt your aura and--Ah, what happened to the house?" Tao's voice called out, at first jovial but then panicked as he rounded the corner and saw the damage, "Was it on fire? Why? How? How bad was it? Did anything happen to my computers? Oh no, my babies!"  The genius ran toward the door, only to have it fall to ash as he tried to open it.

                A wide-eyed Takeo and M-21 stepped up beside Frankenstein. Regis, Rael, and Seira taking their place just behind the Master.

                Regis broke the silence, eyes narrow as he asked, "Who is responsible for this?"

                Seeing that his master would not deign to answer the question, Frankenstein hummed as he replied, "Who indeed. Black and Decker probably,"

                At once, the two modified humans and the three nobles looked at him, confused, and muttered, "Who?"

                The building's support beams gave out with a long, low groan and the three floors buckled down, one after the other. Tao's anguished howls could be heard as M-21 dashed forward and pulled him back from the collapsing building. His plaintive cries were slowly being eclipsed by the approaching sirens of a fire truck.

                Frankenstein allowed himself one last despairing look at his home before turning to his companions and saying, "Perhaps we should leave before they arrive?" The other were obviously still distraught, but they pulled themselves together enough to nod; they all understood the complications that would arise should they ever get examined at a regular hospital, "Excellent. I have a safe-house nearby that we can stay at until this mess is fixed. Salvage what you can; you have two minutes,"

                Frankenstein's permission granted, Tao rushed back into the ruins, M-21 and Takeo dashing after to make sure he didn't hurt himself in his recklessness. Not that they could be hurt by the mere remains of a building like this one, but it was the thought that counted. As expected, the Nobles stayed behind Master. If he wasn't going back into the building, they wouldn't either.

                Satisfied that his Master was adequately guarded, Frankenstein also went forward and began picking his way through the ruins, looking for one very specific object. He measured out his steps until he estimated himself in the general sitting area. Surely, if his Master had been awake, he would have been here, and that meant that it was around here too--ah there it was.

                Carelessly tossing a piece of the wall aside, Frankenstein bent down to pick up the miraculously undamaged teacup and saucer lying on the ground. Well, perhaps not so miraculous, he mused as he stepped back to his Master's side. After all, he had designed this set specifically for Master, and it was capable of withstanding the force of a small bomb.

                Soon after, Takeo emerged, his oversized gun case slung over a shoulder and dragging on the ground behind him. M-21 followed behind all-but-dragging Tao behind him as the hacker hugged a single laptop close muttering some variation of, "All that's left. Never leave you alone. My precious baby," over and over again.

                "We're done," M-21 stated gruffly, more for Tao's benefit than Frankenstein's.

                "Right, let's go," The scientist commanded, before looking at his Master, who nodded just slightly.

                Together the eight set off in the direction of their temporary new home.