Tess's pocket buzzed.
Solaris no, grumbled Quinn in Tess's head as Tess reached for her phone. This must be the seventieth spam message you've gotten today. You're a college student. What do they even WANT with you?
You never know, retorted Tess mentally. Some time it might be urgent.
Tess turned on the phone.
It's from Kara, said Quinn. What does she want?
She says: Tess moved the phone closer to her face to read the text better: "Please come save me from myself, thanks." …What could THAT be about?
Sounds like you need to help, said Quinn.
Yeah, no kidding, said Tess, already walking towards the door of her dorm room. Still, she thought as she made her way towards Kara's dorm room, she's been acting weird lately. Showing up at college with a Wisp fused to her right hand, disappearing for more time than usual…
Not just lately, said Quinn. Remember the spring before last when she was hanging around the death trap that almost killed you and Kim?
I try to forget about that… said Tess. Oh look, here we are.
Tess opened the door to Kara's room and looked around for Kara. What she instantly noticed was that the fan was left on very high and that Kara herself was nowhere to be found. Before she could get any further in her assessment, she noticed a paper blowing around in the room.
Might as well pin that down, she thought. Okay, here's a paperweight…
Tess grabbed the paperweight, grabbed the paper, and pinned it down. She surveyed it to make sure that it was firmly in place, then caught sight of some words through the fairly transparent white paper:
Hey, I sucked the life force out of a Wisp and he's still behaving normally,
Tess blinked and read it again. The words were still the same.
You're never going to be able to get that out of your head, Tess, Quinn assured Tess.
Might as well read the whole thing so I don't get the wrong impression, I guess… Tess thought resignedly, picking up the paper.
Tess read the paper, then read it again because she couldn't believe her eyes. When she was halfway through reading it the third time, Quinn stopped her.
Just believe it, she said. The girl sucked the life force out of a Wisp, and that made it start behaving erratically, so she killed it.
But…Kara… Tess set down the paper and pinned it down with the paperweight again, text-down. I can't believe she'd do this…
A bright flash of light went off outside of Kara's dorm window.
There's your chance to check, said Quinn. Maybe Kara's there. If not, you can come back and rethink all this.
A few minutes later, Tess had found the source of the light, and with it, Kara.
Told you so, said Quinn, mentally smirking.
Tess had no time to argue with Quinn.
Why's Kara sleepwalking? Tess asked. And why doesn't she have her dagger? She always carries one.
Bigger question: Why's her right arm absorbing objects into it? Quinn responded.
Let's ask, said Tess. Then, out loud, she said, "Hey, Kara, what's going on?"
Kara turned towards Tess. She didn't look awake at all, but she was growling violently as though she had transformed into some sort of beast. Her right arm rose, seemingly of its own accord, snarling at Tess through the mouth on the Wisp that was fused with it. Then, without warning, Kara, still looking completely asleep, charged at Tess, arm outstretched.
Tess jumped to the side. What's up with her? she thought.
Clearly the Wisp that's fused with her arm is in control here, and wants to kill you, thought Quinn. Just keep it away from you, okay?
Tess tapped into her pyrokinetic powers, her fists lighting on fire. She held them out in front of her, creating a flaming barrier of sorts in midair. Kara stopped moving, then started circling around the barrier, as did Tess.
"Hey, Wisp," said Tess. "I don't want to hurt you. Why are you doing this?"
The Wisp growled at Tess and tried to punch her around the barrier. Tess dodged and kicked at Kara, knocking her over. Kara then planted her right arm into the ground, rising up again via the power of the Wisp in it, then started trying to attack Tess again.
What do I do? thought Tess frantically, dodging out of the way and placing a flaming barrier around herself to keep her from getting attacked.
Point 1: This thing is nuts, stated Quinn. Point 2: It's in control of Kara. Point 3: It won't reason with you because IT'S NUTS.
I know all this, but what do I do? thought Tess.
The answer came back calmly from Quinn. Kill it.
I can't kill Kara! thought Tess, shocked.
Of course not, thought Quinn. I never said you should. Just knock off the bit of her arm with the Wisp in it. Since the Wisp is crazy beyond reasoning and is in control of her, that should solve everything. If it doesn't—
Let's just do this first and then worry about if it doesn't, thought Tess. Uh…I'm good at using daggers. Is there one here?
Yes, Kara's dagger is right over there, thought Quinn.
Tess dropped the flaming barrier, bolted over to the dagger, and turned around to find Kara right behind her.
"I hate to do this, Kara!" Tess said desperately. "Please forgive me!"
Kara's lower right arm fell to the ground bloodlessly. The Wisp in it snarled for a moment, then went silent.
Kara, who had fallen over after the Wisp got knocked off, woke up. "…Huh? What's…" Then she noticed. "My arm! What did you just do, Tess?"
Tess knelt down to help up Kara. "I did all I could do, Kara," she said. "I got rid of the thing that was possessing you."
"I was reasoning with it!" shouted Kara. "It was going to be fine! I just needed to break through to it! I know it would listen eventually! I…" Kara ran out of air.
"Look, Kara," said Tess, "I wanted to believe that too. But it wouldn't listen, and if I didn't stop it, it would have started causing trouble. It could have given you a bad name for destroying stuff, or even hurt someone."
"Tess, you don't understand!" said Kara. "I was taking measures! I called you to my room, I put out the fire that it caused and turned on the fan to dry everything off, I was handling it! It was under control!"
Quinn's voice yelled out from Tess. "Then why'd you start destroying everything like a moron?"
Kara looked shocked. "The…the Wisp! It did it! I could stop it some, but I couldn't hold it forever!"
"Speaking of holding it," said Tess, "Quinn, zip it." After waiting for a moment to make sure that Quinn wasn't about to start talking out of her again, she said, "The point is, I think we can agree here that this was dangerous and I needed to stop it."
"I know, but…my arm…" Kara fell silent.
"Look, Kara," said Tess, getting up as she realized that Kara wasn't going to get up right away. "I'll try to get you a new arm. I'm sorry that this had to occur, I'd have had this almost any other way if I could have. Just try to remember for the future…" Tess closed her eyes and inhaled deeply. "Anything that makes you get out of control is bad, even if you think you have a handle on it. Just don't start next time, OK?"
Tess didn't hear back from Kara for a couple of days. Then her phone buzzed.
Tess picked up the phone.
It's Kara again, she thought. She's saying…"Hi Tess, looks like my search for a new arm went faster than yours. Akura's finding me a new and powerful arm. So excited!"
"Let's just hope she listened to you," thought Quinn, "or we're in for a lot of trouble."