Lasers, Mirrors & Nanites
Over the next few months, Alysoun continues to visit Alfea College to minister to Flora and, because she is a sociable sort at heart, she spends extra hours with Miele, Bloom and Ishandra whenever she can and all learn from her many things they never knew they never knew.
Flora never lacks for visitors or friends to keep her company while she convalesces. Some of the plants from her dorm are brought into her room because she tells Bloom that she misses them and they seem to comfort her some. Some bring her potted plants that in her presence seem to burst into gorgeous flower just for her.
The day finally comes when Flora no longer requires her hands bound in bandage and gauze nor does she require Aïsha’s protective Morphix mittens. The raw and angry flesh of her hands has healed to a smooth, ivory-white and outwardly, it appears that her hands have made a complete recovery. The hopes for a complete recovery are, however, dashed after Alysoun does some dexterity tests and finds that Flora cannot move the thumb and fingers of her right hand at all and there is only a marginal response from her thumb and little finger of her left hand but it is not even enough to hold a pencil. These findings throw Flora into a deep melancholy because she realizes that, without her hands being fully functional, her ability to cast and control magic is reduced to nothing at all and without that ability she cannot take proper care of her “babies”.
Tecna announces to all that it is now her turn to keep her promise to Flora. She studies in minute detail the sonic images that Alysoun and Musa supply her and listens intently as Alysoun, Bloom, Ishandra and Miele explain to her what is not functioning in Flora’s hands and what needs to be repaired and rebuilt. Then both Tecna and her fiancé, Timmy from Red Fountain, labour for long hours both day and night to create and program a host of microscopic robots called nanites that would course through Flora’s hands building cybernetic equivalents to the nerves and tendons that were lost to Morgana’s plasma scythe. Meanwhile, under Tecna’s and Alysoun’s supervision, Bloom uses the fine point of the Dragon’s Fire to burn away all the useless nerves and tendons in Flora’s hands and prepare channels through which the nanite robots can course to do their tasks.
One night while this is going on, Ishandra receives a visit from a tall, slender and comely, young Faerie who introduces herself to Ishandra as Alessandra. “I want to take Flora’s place in the fray against Darcy and Morgana,” says Alessandra sober-faced and without preamble.
“You are volunteering to fight in a battle that might see you hurt or killed,” replies Ishandra. “What’s in it for you?”
“Flora saved my life at one time,” Alessandra tells Ishandra who looks at her questioningly. “When I came to Alfea College, I was suffering from a disease that was preventing me from keeping down food and sapping all my energy and vitality so I was like the walking dead,” explains Alessandra. “Flora used her biological skills to find a cure that saved my life so I now have a life debt to Flora.”
“So, you are saying that you now have a blood-feud with Morgana,” says Ishandra.
“Exactly,” replies Alessandra. “She has hurt Flora so she now has to tangle with me … and I have a score to settle with Darcy as well.”
“Darcy too?” Ishandra questions in her mind. “I don’t recall Darcy having a quarrel with any Faeries other than Musa and the Winx.”
“What are your powers?” asks Ishandra of Alessandra.
“Silver and jewels,” replies Alessandra, spreading her Enchantix wings the blue-black colour of the midnight skies which are decorated with witchy-looking silver scrolling and jewels along their edges.
Ishandra is at a loss over what in all of Alfea is the good of such powers in a firefight. Then she notices Alessandra’s Charmix which is a combination of a Witch’s spiked mace that is encrusted with Faerie jewels and gets an uneasy feeling in her stomach. “That is a very un-charming Charmix for a Faerie,” she thinks. “A mace is a power symbol and so are certain jewels. A combination of both is highly aggressive and could be very powerful indeed. Well, who am I to stand in the way of her blood-feud with Morgana? The enemy of my enemy is my friend so it is said.”
A few days later, Alessandra is assisting Musa, Aïsha and Ishandra inspect the force field that protects Alfea College for possible weak points when Darcy and Morgana show up for the daily session of goading them with taunts and jeers. They put up with them until Morgana notices Alessandra and sneers, “What’s up with this weakling, string bean pixie in black? Is she going to come out from behind the barrier to play with us or is she too afraid that I will fix her the same way I fixed your precious Flora?” and both she and Darcy laugh nastily.
It is rare for anyone to be seriously hurt in a firefight between Faeries and Witches. Confrontations are usually just loud sabre-rattling, taunts and jeers. When there is a power attack, it is more to intimidate than to cause actual harm. But Morgana’s last jeering remark is too much for Alessandra so she bullets across the barrier straight for Morgana with the definite intension of grabbing Morgana’s swan neck and throttling it until she stops breathing. Morgana sees Alessandra coming for her and does an aerial back paddle and screams, “Blue-Plasma-Mace!”
“Silver-Deflector!” counters Alessandra and before her forms a large silver, concave shield upon which Morgana’s plasma ball hits and is deflected away. “Laser-Lance!” yells Alessandra and from the jewels along her wings multiple strands of red light combine to produce a multifaceted cone which from its apex streaks a concentrated red light lance which pierces Morgana’s shoulder just under her collarbone and before her ribcage and goes clean through her back. Morgana screams in agony, appears to lose consciousness and drops like a stone from the skies. A follow-up shot from Alessandra nearly creases the top of Darcy’s skull and nearly sets her hair ablaze.
Morgana recovers before hitting the ground and is soon beside Darcy. “Make yourselves scarce!” shouts Alessandra at the two Witches, “for I will not take such careful aim next time!” Morgana, who is in excruciating pain, does not require any further convincing and beats a hasty retreat. Darcy, finding herself once again alone against three Alfea Faeries and one royally ticked Witch, decides that it is also in her best interest to do likewise. Musa chases after Darcy hoping to give her the sonic pummelling of her life but Darcy makes a beeline for the protection of the forest bringing Musa’s pursuit to an abrupt halt. “Yes, Darcy,” screams Musa into the forest. “Run away you coward. But remember that I’m still the better woman and you shall never take repossession of Riven!”
When Alessandra and Musa rejoin the others, Ishandra praises Alessandra and then reprimands her. “You cannot just go off half-cocked into a battle like that,” she growls at Alessandra. “We work as a unit and there is a chain of command. Your little sortie broke that unity and left us weakened and vulnerable.”
“Maybe so,” replies Alessandra, “but Morgana’s going to think twice about attacking us again and this will be the last time Darcy ever calls me ‘Loser Lucy’,” and the Faeries gasp.
“Lucy?” says Ishandra, her jaw dropping. “But …, but …, but!”
“Yes, the same Lucy you and your sisters called ‘Loser Lucy’ but now also changed,” replies Alessandra, spreading her Enchantix wings. “I now call myself Alessandra. I know that you were once Icy but you have also changed and you are now truly Ishandra. So let’s continue to call ourselves Alessandra and Ishandra in recognition that we are now new entities and wipe the slate clean,” and then approaches an astonished Ishandra, kisses her lightly on each temple and softly whispers, “My Sister.”
“My Sister,” whispers Ishandra to Alessandra, kissing her temples and feeling a great burden of guilt lifted from her shoulders.
Bloom meets Ishandra, Aïsha, Musa and Alessandra as they land in the courtyard. “Come with me,” she tells them. “Tecna is about to inject the nanites she and Timmy have created into Flora’s hands. I think that they would like us all to be there to give them support and support to Flora as well.”
Bloom and the four arrive at Flora’s room in the infirmary to find all the others there including Alysoun, Miele and Timmy. “Let’s get started,” says Tecna handing a large, liquid-filled syringe to Alysoun.
“Okay, Flora,” says Alysoun. “I will try to make this as quick and painless as possible. You are going to feel some pressure but try to keep still,” and then she injects half of the syringe into each of Flora’s wrists. “Now we wait.”
The next minutes seem to crawl by as everyone waits for a sign that the nanites have begun their work. After about twelve minutes and the sixth time of asking Flora if she senses anything and being told ‘No’, Tecna turns to Timmy with a look of frustration and asks, “She should be feeling something by now, shouldn’t she?”
“You would expect so,” replies Timmy, also looking frustrated.
More minutes go by without a report of any change from Flora and Tecna’s expression begins to mutate from frustration to disappointment as so do the expressions of everyone else. “Don’t feel badly, Sweetie, says Flora to Tecna. “I know you tried your best … Ouch!”
“What’s the matter?” asks everyone with great concern.
“It’s my hands,” cries Flora, “they are starting to tingle.”
“Where?” asks Tecna excitedly.
“All over!” exclaims Flora.
“Yes!” Tecna almost shouts while making the close-fisted sign of victory. “The nanites have begun their work. We did it, Timmy!”
“No,” replies Timmy as Tecna wraps her arms about his waist, “you did it all yourself. I just helped some when you needed it.”
“Oh, you are too modest, Timmy,” says Tecna as she leans her head against his chest. “You did a lot more than just assist me,” and everyone gives up a cheer of joy.