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    The girl focused on the sound of her own breathing as her feet pounded the belt of the treadmill underneath her. In the background, the TV was playing, some children’s show - Along a Rainbow or some such, she wasn’t paying attention. Coming upon the last ‘leg’ of her run, she clicked the speed setting up until her legs were flying at their top speed. Her face set in an expression of determination as she struggled to breathe and watched the odometer count up: 9.6...9.7...9.8...9.9… As the counter reached 10 miles, she slammed down on the “STOP” button. The belt decelerated precipitously and she breathed heavily. Her breath returned shortly, but with it came thoughts about what was to occur and unwanted feelings of longing and sadness. The girl winced. “It’s alright to be scared, you know.” The young man, who had been watching unnoticed from the doorway, took this moment to come forward. “Anyone would, in your position.” The girl wiped her head with a nearby towel, then shook it. “No...what I have been tasked with requires a strength of will...fear...fear will only get in the way. I have to be strong, I have to control my emotions…” Her voice drifted off as a pained look crossed her features. The corners of the young man’s eyes curled up sympathetically. He placed a hand on her sinewy shoulder. “Hey...why was the electron invited to the party wagon?” A puzzled expression crept onto the girl’s face. “I...what?” “It wasn’t, it just lept-on!” The young man gave her a huge, silly smile. Her eyes furrowed with incredulity, but the corners of the girl’s lips couldn’t help curling up into a smile. “I see…that’s...terrible...” she laughed. The young man shrugged. “I heard that somewhere and thought you might enjoy it. I don’t know, you’re the smart one, after all.” Still smiling, the girl squeezed his hand. “Thanks…” Nodding softly, he gazed into her eyes earnestly. “You don’t have to go at it alone you know...not yet at least…” Glancing away, the girl nodded sadly. “I know…” The Chromatic Witch EPISODE 3: W, Did You Know? Zombies Only Eat Orange Knock knock, Who's there? Banana. Banana who? Knock knock, Who's there? Banana. Banana who? Knock knock, Who's there? Orange. Orange who - Orange you glad I didn't say 'banana'? Remembered from a random childhood book of 'Knock knock' jokes Orin ran along, laughing, as his dog Spot barked at him and hopped up and down. Finally, finding a good trajectory, he tossed the frisbee he was holding high in the air and far into the distance. Spot sprinted for it, making an impressive jump for the orange disc at the last moment and catching it squarely in his furry jaw. “Good boy, Spot,” Orin praised as the jack russell terrier delivered the prize to his feet, then looked up at his owner hopefully, tail wagging vigorously. The blond boy reached out his hand to pat his pet on the head and... *Beep* *Beep* *Beeeep*...*Beep* *Beep* *Beeeep*... Orin groaned and rolled over in his bed, hugging his pillow to his head, which was still pounding from the festivities of the night before. The persistent noise was so annoying...if only he could press a button and turn that darn alarm off, like before, when...wait, when was that? One of his blue eyes cringed open as the sound of Janine’s voice came into his head over the neuro-link. “Good morning Agents,” the feminine voice chirped cheerfully...much too cheerfully in Orin's present opinion. “There is a matter of urgency, please congregate in the main operations room at once.” Groaning even more loudly, the blond young man tumbled out of his bed and somehow managed to rummage up and into his uniform, brush his teeth, and haphazardly throw some water on his face. A few minutes later, he stepped into the main operations room, where the other agents had already gathered. Father stood on the second floor veranda with Umi and Janine next to him. As the magnanimous leader began to speak, Orin realized that the fog had gone from his head. He frowned, then shrugged. “Agents of Sector Lambda,” Father addressed them in a deep, resounding voice. “While you were engaged with the Green Witch, the location of the Orange Gateway was discovered. An advance team, Sector Nu, was sent to scout out the area and report back, but as of 0400, we lost contact with them and have not been able to re-establish the connection.” There was a concert of concerned gasps. “What...what does that mean?” one of the agents inquired with trepidation. Father’s countenance darkened and his jaw set stonily. A somberness weighed heavily down on his voice. “It means that, Sector Lambda, you must deploy immediately.” ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ “This is the Orange Gateway?” A dubious expression hung on Orin’s handsome features as he stepped out of the black van and shut the door adorned with a silver lambda symbol. The faces of the other agents echoed his reticence as they stared up at the ramshackle structure towering before them. The immense warehouse-resembling construction boasted several rows of crumbling windows covered with boards that were themselves displaying differing degrees of dilapidation. A mosaic of plaster, concrete, and faded paint in a shade that could barely prove it had been orange at some point in its lifetime spanned the building’s outer walls. In the center of the monolith, rounding out the pageant of decrepitude, an enormous bright orange upward-sliding door stood like an 18th century street walker in London. Wraith shrugged. “That’s what the intel said, but, I don’t know...it doesn’t really seem like the Witch’s style...” “It’s what Father said,” a pretty red-headed female agent interrupted him, glaring. “Are you questioning his instructions?” Throwing up his hands as if in a shield, Wraith blinked. “Whoa, no, of course not, I’m just questioning...well I guess I’m questioning the Witch’s taste. The previous Gateways seemed more...well, elegant…” “The Chromatic Witch is a vile, repugnant, and vulgar creature,” The flame-haired agent blazoned. “Claiming otherwise is treachery to the cause and to Father.” “Yeah...of course…” the Captain stammered, taken aback. The redhead opened her mouth to continue her beratement, but Wraith was saved by Janine’s voice broad-casted over the neurolink. “We scanned the entrance, and it doesn’t appear to locked or fixed in any way. It doesn’t appear to be trapped either, you have the go to enter the Gateway.” Shaking his head ruefully, Captain Wraith stepped up to the orange door, took hold of the handle, inhaled, and pulled up. The door slid easily, the chain machining it clicking as it rose. “Well, that was easy, that’s a good sign, right?” Orin piped up, putting on a smile. “Mmmhmm…” was Wraith’s reply. In truth, he wasn’t sure that a smooth entrance was really an auspicious omen… The light rolling through the doorway illuminated an empty floor, devoid of anything other than a thick layer of dust. The space beyond was dark, and expansive. Wraith bit his lip hesitantly, but Orin felt a sense of excitement welling up internally and stamped into the building. After a moment, the other agents followed. The Captain sighed, but brought up the rear. The moment he was inside the structure, the door abruptly slammed to the ground behind him and what seemed to him an ocean of fluorescent lights blasted on. Apprehensive murmurs rumbled through the group of agents as they waited at the mercy of their eyes adjusting to the brightness. When they did, however, the disquiet in their tones modulated into acquisitiveness. Before them extended a long corridor inlaid with 14 burnt-orange doors, each presenting an inscribed gilded plaque. Orin stepped up to the one nearest him, it read the letters “MP” Below the letters was an old fashioned slider, with somewhat larger dimensions. Orin slid out the gilded cover, and below was shown: The agents investigated the other doors, and found similar markings. “Well,” Captain Wraith ruminated. “I’m guessing we have to pick the right door...and that the others probably lead to a fate that’s...unpleasant.” He glanced around, frowning. “I don’t see any signs of Sector Nu, they must have gotten past this point. We should try to get to them as quickly as possible. Let’s get to cracking this!”
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