Victor, Doc and Marty had just finished breakfast when the telephonic radio came to life. At first it was all static, then a female voice filtered through.
“Doc? Doc, come in.”
“That sounds like – ” Marty began.
“It is,” said Doc. “Answer it, Marty.”
“Sure.” The teenager went over to the radio. “This is Marty. What’s up, Lisa?”
Lisa? Who was Lisa?
“She’s a veterinarian,” explained Doc, probably seeing the expression of confusion on his face.
“I see,” said Victor.
“Oh, hey, Marty,” said Lisa. “Listen, my generator’s acting up and I was wondering if you guys could come over and take a look at it before it decides to quit entirely. I have the backup, but it’s not powerful enough for the ICU. I don’t have anyone in there at the moment, but I don’t want to take any chances, you know?”
“Oh, sure. Yeah, we’ll be over soon.”
“Great! I’ll see you guys in a few.”
Marty turned away from the radio and Victor said, “I assume we have another on-site job?”
“You assume correctly. Lisa’s generator isn’t working right. Well, you heard.”
“I did, indeed,” said Doc, standing from the table. “Let me grab a few things and then we’ll head up to the train.”
After the scientist had gathered his tools and some spare parts, the three of them went upstairs to the roof and the waiting locomotive. They piled in, Marty and Victor taking their seats while Doc stood at the controls.
“Ready for takeoff,” he said.
“All right. Here we go.”
The train groaned as it ascended and Victor waited until Doc told him it was all right to get up and look out the window.
“So Miss Lisa is a veterinarian?” Victor asked. “I would have assumed that Touched would want to take care of any ailments themselves.”
“Most do,” said Doc. “But there are some Regulars in Secundus who have pets who go to a traditional veterinarian. There are a few Regular ones, a few Touched ones…and then there’s Lisa.”
“She’s the best one there is,” said Marty. “Though not a lot of people go to her place since it’s a little far away, but she’s good at what she does. If Regular vets or Touched vets or just the Touched themselves can’t find out what’s wrong, odds are Lisa can. And don’t call her ‘Miss Lisa’. She hates it. Just ‘Lisa’ will do for her.”
“I see. Is Miss – is Lisa Touched as well?” asked Victor.
“You can ask her yourself. We’re almost there.”
“Wait ’til you see her place,” said Marty with a grin. “I love going there. She always has someone cool around.”
Victor turned back to the window to see Secundus fade into a more rural area. Up ahead was a farmhouse and barn surrounded by a fence and there were a few horses eating from a strange contraption made of wood and metal that was partially filled with hay. Another building was on the other side of the house.
As he watched, a gray blur streaked past the window. “Goodness!” he exclaimed. “What was that?”
“No idea,” said Doc. “But it looked like it was heading for Lisa’s. Perhaps we’ll find out.”
Doc landed the train inside the fence. The horses brought their heads up to look, flicked their ears, then went back to eating. They didn’t seem fazed by the giant steam train sitting nearby.
As Victor exited the train, he noticed that the fence seemed rather low. The horses could easily jump it if they wanted to. Strange. The house and barn seemed normal-looking from the outside. The large building had a red and white sign shaped like a cross hanging over the doors. That had to be the hospital. The light inside the sign was flickering, probably from the malfunctioning generator.
“She’s probably in the hospital,” said Doc. “So let’s try there first.”
They walked into the building into an empty waiting room. There were no patients waiting and no secretary sitting at the desk. A room up ahead had its door propped open. The lights were flickering in here as well.
“I’m in here, guys!” called a voice Victor recognized as Lisa’s. It was coming from the room ahead, so they drew closer and peered inside.
Inside was a young woman wearing a blouse and trousers underneath a white lab coat. She had her long brown hair tied back out of her face and a pair of glasses perched high on her nose. A pair of goggles was tied to her belt.
It was the patient she was tending to that made Victor stare. It was a gray Pegasus with a blonde mane and tail; a mark of several small bubbles adorned its flanks. Its eyes were closed as Lisa examined one of its wings.
“I’ll be with you in a second,” said Lisa, not looking up. “I’m almost done here.”
“I jus’ don’t know what went wrong,” said the little pony. Its voice was sweet and a little child-like, with a slight lisp.
“You misjudged the landing,” said Lisa. “Again. If you’d do the exercises I gave you, your depth perception might improve some.” She finished her examination. “You’re fine. You just pulled a muscle. We’ll put a cold compress on it for a bit to bring the swelling down, then you can go home.”
“Thanks, Lisa,” said the Pegasus, opening its eyes and Victor saw that the poor thing was cross-eyed. No wonder it crashed.
Lisa turned to Victor, Doc and Marty and smiled. “Thanks for coming, guys.” The lights flickered again. “As you see, I can really use your help.”
“We’re happy to be of service,” said Doc.
“Yeah, anytime,” added Marty.
“You must be Victor.” She extended her hand towards him. “I’m Lisa. I’m a vet here in Secundus.” She chuckled. “Well, you probably guessed that by now.” Gesturing to the odd-eyed Pegasus, she said, “This is one of my…most frequent patients.”
“Hi! You can call me Derpy. Well, my real name is Ditzy Doo, but everyone calls me Derpy.”
Caught off guard by the unusual nickname, Victor could only give a small wave. “H-hello.”
“It means ‘cross-eyed and klutzy’,” said Lisa as she gathered items to make the cold compress. “Which she is. Obviously.”
Victor blinked. He’d assumed Derpy was male due to the voice.
“It’s a common mistake to think she’s male,” said Lisa – had she seen his reaction? – placing the compress where Derpy’s wing met her body. “She’s got that type of voice, but I think it’s cute.”
Derpy blushed. “Aww…”
“Anyway, leave that on for a bit. I have to take the guys to the generator.”
She led them to her house where they were promptly greeted by a small dog with short legs and a long body. It ran around their legs, sniffing their ankles. Victor looked down and smiled fondly at the canine, remembering his dear Scraps.
“That’s Itchie,” said Lisa. “You can pet her if you want.”
He bent low to scratch the dog behind her ears and he saw one of her eyes was cloudy white. “What’s wrong with her eye?” he asked.
“She’s old,” said Lisa. “She’s 11 and has a cataract in that eye. She can still see out of it, so it does nothing more than look odd.”
“I see.” Victor finished petting Itchie and stood straight to take in the rest of the house.
It was a cozy little place with a small kitchen and sitting room. There was a staircase leading up towards the back along with two doors. She opened one of them revealing another set of stairs going down to the basement. Victor could hear a spluttering generator down below.
“Go ahead,” she said, gesturing through the door. “I have to refill the hay for the horses, so if you need me I’ll be outside.”
Repairing the generator took about a half an hour. Some of the interior components had begun to deteriorate. It hadn’t been enough to completely shut the generator down, but that was what was causing the lights to flicker. They’d had to shut it off to completely repair, which Lisa had told them was all right to do as the backup generator would sustain the patients in Overnight Care for the duration.
As Doc and Marty got ready to activate the generator again, the scientist said to Victor, “Why don’t you go tell Lisa that we’re finished? I think she’d like to know.”
“Of course,” said Victor. “She’d said she’d be outside, correct?”
“Yes. If she’s refilling the horse’s hay bunker, then she’s by the barn.”
“Very well.” Victor wiped his hands on a rag and left the basement. Itchie was waiting for him at the top of the stairs, tail wagging madly. He chuckled and scratched behind her ears. “Hello, again.”
He made his way to the front door and went outside, making sure the dog stayed indoors. He didn’t know if she was allowed outside and didn’t want Lisa upset with him. He headed for the barn but stopped short at what he saw.
Lisa was standing on the metal-and-wood container with a cart full of hay bales sitting nearby, hitched to a golden horse whose head was hidden behind the hay container. The bales were separating into slices and floating up and into the container all on their own. One of the horses – a brown one with a black mane and tail and white on its back legs – flicked its ears in Victor’s direction and snorted.
“I know,” said Lisa, then turned to him. “Hi, Victor. Sorry I startled you.”
“It’s quite all right.” He really should be used to unusual things by now. “Doc asked me to inform you that the repairs are finished on your generator.”
“Oh, good.” The last few sections of hay flew into the container as Lisa jumped off its side.
“How are you able to do that?” Victor asked. “Some kind of machinery?” He looked but didn’t see anything like that.
Lisa smiled. “No. I’m not exactly like the other Touched in Secundus. I’m not from around here. Let’s go inside and I’ll explain.” She turned to the golden horse. “Goldy, could you bring that back to the barn for me?”
The horse turned to look at them and that’s when Victor saw that it wasn’t a horse at all; it was a unicorn!
The equine seemed to smile at his reaction.
“Well, I may as well introduce you.” Lisa said. “Victor Van Dort, this is Golden Mun. Goldy, Victor.”
The unicorn made a little bow and surprised Victor again by speaking.
“A pleasure to make your acquaintance,” the unicorn said, voice warm and kind and slightly accented.
“H-hello,” said Victor, still stunned. “My goodness, now I see what Marty meant when he said you always have someone interesting around.”
Lisa smiled. “That’s true. Come on in. Thanks, Goldy.”
The golden unicorn took the cart into the barn while Lisa led Victor back to the house. Itchie was waiting for them, tail wagging.
“Hi, Itch,” said Lisa, pausing to pet her head.
“How did you come up with that name?” Victor had to know.
“Well, that’s a little complicated.” Lisa said as she removed her coat and hung it on a rack by the front door.
“What is?” asked Doc. He and Marty were coming upstairs.
“Where Itchie’s name came from.”
“Oh. Yeah, I see your point.”
“How much do I owe you, Doc?”
“Lisa, please,” he said, waving a hand dismissively. “You ask every time and you know I never charge you.”
“I’m trying to find out if you’ll let me give you actual money one day,” laughed Lisa. “All right. Victor’s so interested in hearing about me, so have a seat; I’ll make tea, and give you the story.”
Victor, Doc and Marty sat down at the little kitchen table as Lisa heated the kettle and set out a plate of tea cakes.
“So, where to start?” she asked, paused, then said, “Well, to tell you how the hay moved, I have to start at the very beginning.”
“As I said, I’m not from around here. I’m actually not from this planet or this time period. I’m from the future, from a planet called Alnilam, and I have several abilities humans don’t have. Telekinesis is one of them – that’s moving things with the mind.” As if to prove her point, several cups and saucers floated out of a cabinet and set themselves down in front of the group.
“Goodness,” was all Victor could think to say.
“Years ago, there was a war on my planet. My family was killed except for me. I escaped with Goldy and took shelter in the forest near my home until the firing had stopped. We headed back to where my house had been, but there was nothing left. My family was gone and there were animals injured and dying all around…that’s when I went Creative.
“I suppose I was lucky,” she continued, pouring the tea. “My specialization just happened to be healing. According to Goldy, I’d run around the forest gathering whatever I could – water, plants, berries – transforming them into remedies for all of the injured. Those who’d been wounded recovered, but I couldn’t do anything about the dead except…bury them. I had to get away. I ran into the forest and found a Gate. That’s a doorway between my planet and yours. The one I went through just happened to lead here. Once all the adrenaline wore off, I passed out.”
“And that’s when I found her,” said a new voice and they turned to see a young man standing in the doorway. He was taller than Lisa and Marty but not taller than Doc or Victor (though, granted, no one in Secundus was taller than Victor except for Richard). He was dressed oddly – in loose white clothing and a black belt tied at his waist and he was wearing what looked like white slippers. His brown hair was almost as long as Lisa’s and was tied at the nape of his neck.
“Hi, Adam,” said Lisa with a big smile, running to embrace him. “This is Adam Steel, my boyfriend. Doc and Marty you know, but this is Victor, Doc’s new assistant.”
“Nice to meet you,” said Adam, coming over to shake Victor’s hand.
“Likewise,” he replied.
“Adam’s a martial arts teacher; self defense,” she clarified. “He teaches a class in town.”
“You’re interrupting the story,” said Marty.
“Oh, t-that’s quite all right,” said Victor.
“Nah, he’s right,” said Lisa.
“I’m gonna go change,” said Adam, snagging a biscuit and kissing Lisa before leaving the room.
“Where was I?” Lisa tapped her chin. “Oh, yeah. Adam found me and took care of me ’til I woke up. I, uh, I suppose you could say it was love at first sight. He helped anchor me and my thoughts…I had so many ideas running through my head that I felt like it was going to split in two. But Adam’s presence kept me grounded and I decided to stay with him and…use my powers for good, as it were.
“First I had to make sure everyone on Alnilam was all right. Goldy had found Itchie and my cat, Fluffy.” She pointed to a black and white cat lounging in the sitting room. “When I told them that I was moving to Earth, they wanted to come along. I’d found this house by the forest so that if any of the animals on Alnilam needed me, they could come right to me.
“Since I have the ability to speak the language of animals, I decided to turn my place into a veterinary clinic. That’s why the horses don’t jump the fence; I asked them not to and they agreed.”
“That’s why you can figure out what’s wrong with your patients when no one else can…” realized Victor. “You can just ask what’s wrong!”
“Yes, but don’t go spreading that around. Only you lot know what I really am and I want to keep it that way. It’s bad enough being Touched without adding alien to the mix. I keep my other abilities hidden in public.”
“What other abilities?” Victor wanted to know. He couldn’t help it; he was curious.
Lisa thought a moment. “I guess it couldn’t hurt to tell you. And, actually, when I went Creative, a lot of my powers became nullified. Almost everything I was born with I still have.” She began ticking off on her fingers. “Telekinesis, speaking to animals…I had had the ability to heal without the use of medicines, but that went away when I went Creative. So did my ability to shape shift. I can still read minds, though, but I can only do that if I really try or the person is projecting; that means their thoughts come through loud as if they’re shouting. That’s how I knew you were coming when we were outside and how I knew you thought Derpy was male. My enhanced hearing and sight went away and…I had to learn to use these all over again.”
Something shimmered behind her back and two golden wings came into view. Victor’s eyes went wide.
“Heavens!” he exclaimed, almost upending his teacup.
The others smiled at his reaction. “Not quite. I wasn’t born with these,” she said. “They were a product of an accident, but the Creativity couldn’t remove them from my body. It just erased my knowledge of how to use them, so I basically had to learn how to fly all over again.” She flexed her wings and folded them neatly behind her. “I keep them hidden most of the time. I can make my whole body invisible, too. I can still teleport.” She promptly disappeared in a flash of light and crackle of energy, reappearing a moment later. “And I have a natural ability to time travel; nothing that could help Doc with his Invention, though. Believe me, he asked.” She smiled at the scientist.
“Can you blame me?” he asked.
“Nope. But that’s where I got Itchie’s name. Where I come from, there are movies. Um, pictures that move and talk, like the theater but recorded and projected onto a screen. ‘Itchy’ – with a ‘y’ – was the name of a dog character in a movie, so when I got the same breed of dog, I named her after him. Only I spell her name with an ‘i-e’ since she’s female.”
“I see,” said Victor. “My goodness…and I’d thought I’d seen everything.”
“That’s your first mistake,” said Adam as he came back in, now wearing proper shoes, trousers and a shirt.
“W-what’s that?” asked Victor, suddenly nervous, his hand creeping to his tie.
Adam smiled. “Never think you’ve seen everything. Secundus will always surprise you.”
Everyone laughed. When you’re right, you’re right.
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