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+ PLEX TOURS .1 The Lab

Suki lowered her voice as they stepped from the hallway into the room. “This is the Lab.” 

Tatterdemalion shivered; it was cold in the room, or creepy, or both. The banks of machines, tubes arcing and twisting in the corners, the sounds of chemicals and calculations. Sterile smells. Her brow furrowed.

Suki noticed. “It’s familiar to you because this is where your Plex-unit was implanted. The memory won’t be conscious, of course.” 

Tatter suddenly felt ridiculous. Standing in this super-sci-fi hi-tech room in her baggy sweater, listening to a uniformed schoolgirl with a massive handgun perched on her hip tell her about brainwashing and psychological modifications.

Angst put her hand on Tatter’s shoulder. “Breathe. Do your visualizations.” 

Tatter jumped a bit at the touch of the cheerleader, but did as she said, and felt a little calmer.

Angst slipped her arm through Tatter’s, gave a comforting squeeze. “That feeling of absurdity, the doubt about the reality of what’s happening to you… That’s residue from the equipment.” 

Suki was watching some of the screens flash arcane equations. “Morganfokker’s tech emits fields that destabilize the mind’s sense of ontological certainty.” She smirked. “That’s how the Professor describes it anyway.”

Tatter shivered again. “So who’s this Morganfokker?” 

Angst led her over to one of the machines. A steel frame housing hundreds of slender glass vials, threads of light weaving across their surfaces. “We’re not exactly sure. He’s like Max and Maggie.” 

“In what way?” Tatter asked. 

Suki answered. “Well, you know how the Dragons have what the Prof calls 'Continuity'? I’m me, Frank’s Frank, Goner’s-“ 

“-a spaz,” Angst interjected, and the three girls shared a giggle. 

“But Maggie and most of all Max can be, like, all sorts of people? How they change during shifts, not just the place?”

Tatter sighed. “I’m not sure I follow…” She was remembering the day that she was abducted from her homeworld… but staticky flashes of another scene kept interrupting. Her parents dropping her off at University… Meeting her dorm-mate Maggie, talking about role-playing games… 

Angst scanned the vials. Her eyes looked sad. “In one of these I had a baby….”

Suki looked at Tatter with a serious expression. “He can give you things, and he can take them away. He can make you dream, and he can wake you up.” 

Suddenly all the screens in the Lab flickered. Flashed. The machines started to hum and thrum and whine. 

“What’s happening?” Tatter shouted. 

“We shouldn’t have come here,” Angst said, echoes of tears in her eyes.

Suki was staring at the strange, swirling patterns that were storming across the monitors. “I see… It’s Max… He needs our help.”