Lilith could sense a great power emanating from inside the base. Growing worried about those inside, she wanted to wrap things up as soon as possible. That would prove difficult with so many opponents with collars that protected them from hypnosis. Although ineffective, draining still worked and it was about the only way the three were able to stay on their feet at this point. Lilith pulled an enemy in with the whip and drained them before passing the energy on to Midori.
"Arigatou!" the samurai called as she knocked out another neko with black of her blade.
Dawn used the weight of her claymore to knock weapons from the hands of a few other nekos and beat them unconscious. She backed up towards Midori to take a little of the energy Lilith had given her. "There’s a lot of them," she noted.
"Yes. I am surprised by their numbers."
"Most of them have those collars on," Lilith pointed out as she backed up towards them. "Most of them must be here unwillingly."
"Why were so many abductions never reported?" Midori asked.
"To avoid mass panic probably. That or a cover-up."
"Anyway, can we focus on the immediate problem instead of the root cause please?" Dawn asked as the nekos grew closer.
"This would be so much easier if I still had my Phantom Sabre," Lilith sighed, recalling the weapon she had left embedded in her husband’s chest, a slight smile forming on her lips.
"How many do you think there are?" Midori asked.
"Few dozen down, hundred or so here, more on the way," Lilith surmised.
"Don’t let it get to you, Midori-chan. They can’t all attack at once or they’d all trample each other to death, so they have to attack in groups, which is our key to winning."
"Well, there’s that too," Dawn said, pointing to a familiar jet approaching the bunker. It deployed smoke and tear gas to provide the occupants with cover as they disembarked.
"Well, I’ll be," Lilith uttered, recognising the jet’s design.
Mina, Lilly, Lucia, Fawn, Katia and Yuta exited the jet and joined the others.
"So this is where you went, Dawn," said Fawn. "we were getting worried."
"Told you it was obvious," Lilith chuckled before finding herself on the receiving end of a bear hug courtesy of Lucia.
"Mother!" she cried happily.
"H-Hi, Lucia," Lilith choked.
"Why are you here?" Midori asked Lilly.
"The professor figured out it was Rosemary behind this-"
"Rosemary!?" Dawn and Midori shouted.
"I thought as much," said Lilith as she pulled away from Lucia’s hug.
"Yes, so we thought you guys could use some help so we came here as quickly as we could," Lilly explained. "Good to see you again, Lilith."
"I won’t turn you down, but are you sure you can all help?" Dawn replied.
"Just trust us," the mage replied.
But now, the smoke had cleared, allowing Felicia to see the newcomers. "What, more of them? Everyone get them!"
Mass chaos erupted in the area, neko after neko rushing in to stop the group, clearly not in their right minds if they didn’t immediately turn and run.
Lilith, Midori and Dawn took a short break while the others got involved.
Katia, wielding her personal rapier the Royal Rose, gracefully side stepped an opponent and jabbed him in the shoulder. The blade had had an elven herb rubbed along the blade, allowing it to numb the limbs of those she jabbed. She then jabbed his thighs, keeping him from fighting. Katia flicked her hair back and jabbed the collar of the next opponent, destroying the device without causing any damage to the now unconscious victim.
A neko attacked Fawn, whose voice proved useless. Lucia quickly grabbed him and hugged him tightly with his face in her breasts until he passed out from lack of oxygen. Not that he minded much. After dropping the man, she went and hugged another one. And another, and another. Fawn simply sighed at her inability to help. Until another neko attack and she screamed, her voice creating sound waves that sent him flying. She placed her hand over her mouth in shock before smiling and seeing if she could make this new ability manifest on command.
Yuta tried her hypnosis, which naturally failed. So she then began lifting and throwing people with her monstrous strength.
Lilly cast various spells against their attackers, while also watching over Mina’s own attempts. She did well enough, though she had a clear lack of control with her magic. Lilly was about to speak up when Dawn leaned in.
"Diana’s counting on you here, kid. Focus on that."
Mina looked at Dawn, then back at the neko about to pounce on her. Resolute, Mina blasted him back with a controlled fireball that made her mother smile proudly.
Catching sight of an opening toward Felicia, Lilith patted Midori’s shoulder and indicated to the pair. Midori nodded and the two dashed towards the ringleaders. Barbra was surprisingly agile and was able to dodge Midori’s stun sword swings. Felicia was quickly disarmed and held against the bunker hatch by Lilith.
"So you’re the little ringleader out here, eh? What did Rosemary do to that little head of yours to make you so obedient?"
"She… She opened my eyes."
"Oh? How so?"
"In helping her bring order to the world, I can redeem myself for my actions as the leader of the Black Cats."
"By helping her perform illegal and immoral acts like slavery?"
"I… I need this. I was such a bad person back then, but this is my chance to-"
"Helping her won’t help you find redemption. It will only damn you further. If redemption is what you seek, help us stop her."
"You… You’d help me? After everything I’ve done?"
"Let’s just say I’m on my own quest for redemption. What do you say?"
"I... I can't..."
"What about now?" Lilith asked, twirling Felicia's collar on her finger.
"I-I'm free. I'm free!"
"That's right. But your friend over there..."
"Barbra? Barbra, stop fighting!" Felicia called.
"Huh? But-" Barbra had to dodge another swing.
"Midori, you too," Lilith added.
"Nani?" Midori responded, disbelieving. Lilith held her gaze, making Midori understand.
"I don't understand, Felicia," said Barbra as she approached. "Why are you...? Your collar. You're their puppet, aren't you?"
"No, I'm not. I'm me. for the first time in so long, I'm actually me again. You can be too if you let us help you."
"You're the one who gave me this collar to begin with and now you want to take it from me?" Barbra covered her collar protectively.
"It was wrong of me to do that to you. Even if I was under her sway, I could still think. I want to set things right, starting with you, my closest friend."
"Yes. Ever since you joined our cause out of sympathy, I've always enjoyed your company. I was so happy when Mis- when Violet put us together on so many missions. I want us to be together, Barbra. I... I love you."
"You... love me? I... I've always loved you too."
The two friends rushed forward and embraced one another. Felicia removed Barbra's collar and the two stared into each other's brown and green eyes for the first time in so many months. Their lips met and they both felt for the first time like their lives were complete.
"Sweet, isn't it?" Lilith asked Midori.
"Hai. Very sweet. But what of Diana-chan and Mato-kun?"
Lilith looked back to the others, who were wiping the floor with the Black Cats as police sirens approached. "This could be trouble," she said.
* * *
Rosemary ducked under Diana's feral swipe, the neko's massive claws ripping through anything they dug into like paper. She ran, but Diana was too fast, easily grabbing the woman's lab coat and pulling it harshly. Rosemary wriggled out of the coat and took off, only to quickly trip onto the floor.
Diana threw the coat aside and reached for Rosemary again, grabbing her left foot as she tried to crawl away. Rosemary slipped out of her shoe and kicked Diana in the face, only serving to anger her more. Quickly removing the other shoe for balance, Rosemary got to her feet and ran again, keeping the shoe in her hand as a weapon.
Allison tried to telepathically calm Diana to protect her mistress, but the neko's mind was a mess of hatred and murderous intent. Allison reached out to the other scientists and nekos for help, but they were all too scared of Diana to reveal themselves, hoping the neko would deal with Rosemary and leave them alone. There was but one mind she could reach out to to help save her mistress.
Rosemary found herself back into a corner, Diana walking towards her slowly, menacingly. Rosemary went to stab Diana in the eye with her heel, only for Diana to grab her wrist and squeeze tightly, breaking her wrist. Diana seemed to smile madly as Rosemary screamed in agony. Diana threw Rosemary back into the open and got down on all fours to pounce. Rosemary tried to scramble back to her feet, but Diana leapt onto her and began beating her savagely, raining down blows and leaving scratches that were sure to leave bruises, maybe even scars - if she was lucky.
"Kill... you!" Diana growled as she began to dig her claws into Rosemary's heart. Rosemary knew Diana was going to rip her heart out.
Diana's ears suddenly perked up and she stopped digging as a strange humming could be heard. Diana let go and rushed over to the source of the humming. Rosemary slowly and quietly got back to her feet, spying Diana, nuzzling up to her mother, who was humming her daughter a lullaby. Diana lay down, resting her head on the mother's chest, and fell asleep.
Taking her chance, Rosemary ran. Allison could finish up here, but she had to flee if she was to survive with that... monster on the loose. Twice now, Diana had foiled her plans and left her with potentially nothing. She rounded a corner toward the secret escape route and bumped into something. She quickly realised it was Jake, though not quickly enough to escape him grabbing her wrist tightly and infusing her with the power of his love touch.
Rosemary's eyes turned gold and Jake became the centre of her world. "Oh, Jake, you've become so handsome since I last saw you," she swooned, running a finger up and down his chest. "Tell me what I can do for you and I'll obey."
"First thing I want is for you to stop the Rose's Thorn."
"Of course, Master. Anything for you." Allison? she thought to the psychic.
Mistress, you're okay? What do you need... of... meee...?" Much like with Freyka, telepathy proved to be a perfect transmission device for Jake's power.
Master Jake wants the device disabled, Rosemary commanded.
Of course. Anything for Jake.
Jake returned to the main chamber, Rosemary in tow. The brainwashed female scientists all crowded around Rosemary to make sure she was okay, while the evil male scientists attempted to flee.
"Allison!" Jake called out.
"Yes, Jake," Allison replied lovingly before connecting with the minds of the men and freezing them in place.
With that dealt with, Jake moved over to Kitty and Diana. Diana was fast asleep beside her mother, who stroked her hair as she slept. Ripped costume aside, there was no evidence that Diana had ever changed.
She slowly opened her eyes. "Mmm... Mom?"
"I'm here, Sweetie," her mother smiled.
"Mom," Diana mumbled, hugging her mother tightly.
"I’m glad you’re okay," Jake whispered as he crouched next to the two.
"You too," Kitty whispered back. "I know my little girl caused you some trouble during all this Jake. Thanks for being there to show her the ropes."
"I, uh, take it Rosemary told you who I am?"
"No. I figured that out myself a while ago."
"I love superheroes. And I think you and Diana and Midori… even Yuta, are all so brave and cool for doing what you do."
Jake blushed a little. "Thanks. But, I guess you can add Dawn to that list now."
"Oh? Is her costume good?"
Kitty giggled. "I’ll wait and see."
"Yeah." As Jake looked around the area, he noticed the motionless body of Washina nearby and his heart sank. He slowly approached and fell to his knees beside her. Despite everything, Washina had been a good friend since moving in, even sharing pictures and stories of various hot girls she'd encountered, which Jake had always enjoyed. He leaned into kiss her on the forehead as a way of saying goodbye.
"…'m not sure the Prince Charming bit would work on a gay girl, Jake."
Jake opened his eyes and saw Washina's eye half open, smiling weakly. Overcome with joy, Jake kissed Washina on the lips. Quickly realising what he was doing, he pulled back, embarrassed.
"Good a kisser as you are... 's not gonna turn me straight."
Jake sat back and laughed, Washina joining in until her wound started to hurt.
* * *
After getting Washina patched up by the surprisingly adept Noble sisters, they group headed outside, Jake and Linda supporting Barbara, Diana and Allison supporting Kitty, and XL-9 and Janet supporting Washina. They were surprised to find not only Dawn and Midori outside, but the other girls from the house, Lilly, Lilith and half the YPD led by Sarah in arresting the Black Cats. Some of the girls noticed them and rushed over to see if they were okay.
"We're fine, Mina" Jake replied. "The device has been stopped and Rosemary-"
The other girls were on edge upon seeing her. Jake simply held up a hand and said, "Love touch." They relaxed upon hearing this. "But these three need medical assistance."
"This way," Fawn replied, leading them to a group of ambulances, where paramedics began treating Barbara, Kitty and Washina.
As the girls caught up, Jake knew he'd have to decide what to do with Rosemary. He felt a tap on his shoulder and turned to see Lilith, who guided him to a nearby tree. "You did well, Jake," she said.
"Diana did most of it," he replied somewhat dejectedly. "I really just got in the way."
"Either way, something needs to be done and with what Sarah uncovered tonight, I don't trust the local authorities to hand out proper judgement."
"So there was corruption?"
"Straight up to the chief."
"Damn. What do we do then?"
"I recommend getting her to your car and sending her back to the lab. The professor went to the Worldwide News Network building and used a device to disable the collars so he should be back by the time she gets there. We can decide what to do with her when we get back."
"Right." Jake infused Rosemary with another dose of love touch and said, "Rosemary, I want you to listen. I want you to get in the Dasher and set the autopilot to get you back the Mato's lab. when you arrive, tell him you're in my power and that I want him to tie you up before my power wears off and that Lilith and I will be back later to decide your fate."
"Of course, Jake. As you wish."
Once the Dasher was out of sight, Jake and Lilith returned to the others.
"I'm really sorry, Mom," Diana cried.
"It's okay, Sweetie," her mother cooed. "It's only a teeny concussion. And you saved me."
"You saved me," Diana retorted. "I almost... killed her for..." Diana burst into tears and Kitty began once again stroking her head. "You didn't though. You saved everyone. You saved the world, Sweetie. I couldn't be more proud of you." Kitty began humming her daughter's favourite lullaby again, lulling her into a calm, peaceful sleep that she had most definitely earned.
"Are you sure you're okay?" Mina asked Washina worriedly.
"Oh, I'm fine. Hurts like a bitch, but I'll be fine." In truth, it was the worst pain she’d ever felt, but she didn’t want Mina to know that.
"But... they said you'll have a permanent scar where it went in."
"Through. It went through, Mina." The bullet had hit a little inward of Washina’s left hip
"But… they said if it was three inches higher, it would have hit your lung."
"Eh, just think of it as a reminder of the day Diana finally forgave me. And besides, you know what they say, chicks dig scars."
Mina chuckled lightly. "I guess so. I’m glad you’re alright." Mina hugged Washina tightly.
"Yeah. Me too."
"I feel so inadequate beside you, Dr. Beckett," Allison sighed.
"Please, call me Barbara. But why do you say that?"
"You were able to resist Rosemary's control. I just... obeyed."
"I have a lot of practice. Trust me, if you lived with old Mato, you'd be used to mind control too."
"Actually, I’m not completely sure what to do with myself anymore. I enjoy working with Professor Mato, but… this mind control stuff…"
"Yeah, Yoto does seem to be the central hub for bizarre mind control stuff. You know, the professor's lab on Kulon Island is in need of new researchers. I was the head researcher there for a while, but life as the Mato House had been so stressful, I just never went back. And teaching those working under me the ropes, I realised that my passion lay in teaching science, so the Professor helped set up a teaching position for me in Elfland. I’m sure the professor would be happy to set you up like that if you’d like."
"Of course. Just sleep on it, okay? You might change your mind about things once you’ve got everything sorted out."
"Alright. Thank you, Barbara."
"My pleasure, Allison."
"It was convenient that Rosemary called them all back, eh?" Jessica laughed as she, Sarah and Tabitha approached the group once the Black Cats were on their way to prison along with the scientists that had willingly assisted Rosemary.
"Yeah," Sarah replied before turning to the others. "I’m glad to see everyone’s okay."
"Even me?" Dawn snorted.
Sarah sighed. "Yes, Dawn, even you."
"I’m glad you’re alright, yes."
"No, I mean, you know it’s me?"
"…That was supposed to be a secret? I thought you were just wearing a dominatrix outfit because you liked it."
Dawn hung her head as the others laughed.
"Do not worry, Dawn-san," Midori said with a hand on her shoulder. "I think you were very, uh… ‘cool’, I believe they say." The stars in Midori’s eyes made dawn feel a little bit better.
"Hey, where’s Rosemary?" Sarah asked, looking around. "I want to get her downtown as soon as possible."
"Actually…" Jake began nervously, but Lilith interrupted.
"Professor Mato wanted to get some information out of her regarding leaks in his security and how to undo the damage she’s done. He’ll release her into your custody when he’s done."
"I wish he’d run it by me first, but I guess it’s best he gets the information first," Sarah acknowledged.
"Hey, where are Angela and Lucy?" Jake asked.
"Oh, they stayed behind to keep the corrupt officers locked up," Jessica explained.
"By the way, Sarah," Yuta cut in. "Where are your shoes?"
Everyone looked down to see that Sarah hadn’t put her shoes back on before leading the true upholders of justice to the bunker. "On the roof," she muttered.
"I left them on the roof after my fight with the chief." The others began to chuckle, making Sarah blush bright red. "Wha-What’s so funny?"
"Just be happy Eve’s not here or she’d be all over you," Jessica joked.
"Speaking of shoes, I could do with a pair myself," Diana spoke up, holding up her foot and wiggling her exposed toes outside her boots.
"Anyway," Jessica said, clapping her hands to get everyone’s attention. "You guys should get home now. We’ve got a lot of paperwork ahead of us."
"It’s okay, you two go too," Tabitha responded.
"You sure?" Sarah asked.
"After everything you guys did? I think you all deserve a rest. The Parker sisters and I will deal with it. Just drop in later on, okay?"
"You’re a lifesaver," Sarah sighed, hugging the neko officer tightly.
"Well, in that case, what do you guys say we head home now?" Jessica asked.
"Yeah!" everyone cheered.
"We clear to go?" Kitty asked the paramedics.
"I’d prefer it if you came to the hospital-"
"Oh, we have Professor Mato looking after us. We’ll be fine."
"I… guess that’s okay then."
"Thank you." Kitty kissed the paramedic on the cheek and headed into the jet with Jake, the Mato house girls, Lilly, Lilith, the scientists, XL-9, Felicia and Barbra.
"By the way," Jake asked as he took his seat. "Who piloted this thing here anyway?"
"I did," replied Lilly, taking her place in the pilot seat, joined by Jessica as co-pilot. "Does that surprise you?"
"Good. Everybody fasten your seatbelts because we’re off."
* * *
Upon touching down in the Mato House front yard, everyone headed to the living room and dropped into various chairs and couches, except the Noble sisters, who went off to visit the professor, letting out loud squeals upon seeing his lab, and Barbara, who called the school she taught at to check on Morgan and let them know she was okay. Instead of sitting, Jake remained standing until Barb returned and took her seat and clapped his hands to get everyone’s attention.
"I’d just like to say that the fact that we can sit here right now and feel tired at all is all thanks to Diana for saving us – saving the world, really – from Rosemary’s grand scheme."
"Yeah, way to go, Diana!" Yuta cheered.
"You did great," Jessica complimented.
"Really, guys," Diana interrupted, embarrassed. "Jake’s the one who caught her."
"Not sure how much credit I can claim when I fell under her control again and you didn’t," Jake replied. "That’s twice now that you’ve saved us all and this time, it was on a much greater scale. That’s twice I’ve fallen under her power, and twice you’ve saved me. You’re a real hero, Diana."
Jake took Diana up in his arms and kissed her. She was surprised, but quickly returned the kiss, happy to finally be able to do this for real. Most of the others cheered, even if they had feelings for Jake themselves. Strangely, it seemed the most avid supporter was Washina.
Jake released the kiss but continued to stare into the neko’s eyes. For her part, Diana was so overcome with emotion that she couldn’t hold herself back.
"I love you, Jake," she said without thinking. She blushed when she realised what she’d said, averting her eyes to avoid the embarrassment.
Jake did much the same. "R…Really?"
"Y-Yeah. Really. I’ve always loved you. I think. I’ve never been in love before, but it felt… right to say it. Y’know?"
"W-What about y-you?"
"I’m not… sure, really."
"Can I…have some time to think about it?"
"Okay, lovebirds, we don’t want to make the others jealous," Jessica said playfully.
"Too late for that," Washina pointed out, indicating to the entranced Katia and Yuta.
"What happened to them?" Sarah asked.
"You need to ask," Dawn and Lilith replied from either side of the two, both somewhat miffed.
"How is everyone?" asked Eve as she entered the room.
"Eve? Why are you here?" Fawn asked, hugging her friend.
"The professor said you guys had had a really long day and could do with some help unwinding."
"You can say that again," Lilly replied, rubbing her sore shoulder.
"So he asked me to come and teach the girls how to help people unwind the right way."
"’The girls’?" Allison asked.
On cue, a dozen Yuta bots entered the room, all wearing maid outfits, their eyes glassy and lifeless.
"I dunno what the deal is with these things, but the Professor said they’re all in ‘Obedience Mode’ so they’ll do as they’re told, I guess. So, who’s up for a foot massage?"
All of the Mato House girls immediately kicked their shoes off and put their feet up in anticipation. The other ladies were not as sure.
"Okay, girls, get to work," eve commanded.
"Yes, Mistress Eve," the bots replied before picking out their targets and getting to work while Eve herself noticed Lilith and approached.
"Hello again, dear," Lilith greeted.
"Hello again. You ready to take up that rain check?"
"Actually, since those bots learned from you, I assume you’re still better than them at massages."
"I guess so, yes."
"Then you should start with the hero of the hour, Diana."
"Okay then. If you’re sure."
Eve approached Diana and slipped her ravaged boots off. "Ah, the lovely size sevens. I’m going to enjoy massaging these again."
"And I’m sure I’ll enjoy- oh!" Diana could only relax in her seat between her mother and Washina as Eve worked her magic.
"Long day huh?"
"Oh, you have no idea."
* * *
Morning came soon, but no one could sleep, not after the crazy night they’d had. Sarah and Jessica left for the station early on, leaving the others to just sit in the living room and talk. The scientists were all down in the lab, finishing up the serum to cure Diana while Mato continued his interrogation of Rosemary. Around midmorning, Barbara, Allison and Linda returned with a small vial of green liquid.
"It’s ready, Diana," Barbara declared as the three entered the living room.
"What is?" the neko asked, standing up from the conversation.
"The serum to cure you," Allison replied. "We finished it last night."
"Under Allison’s leadership," Linda added.
"O-Only because I'd already worked on it, otherwise anyone could have-"
Barbara placed a hand on Allison’ shoulder. "I don’t think she’s been here very long, Linda."
"No. The professor’s bountiful confidence hasn’t rubbed off on her yet."
The two older women chuckled and Allison blushed, handing the vial to Diana.
"So… this will make me normal again?" Diana asked, staring into the green liquid.
"That’s right, Barbara replied.
"And I’ll lose my powers?"
"Yes. I know what you’re thinking but that feral form of yours is dangerous."
"But, what if I learned to control it?"
"How? We don’t even know what caused it."
"Self-hypnosis. I’ll learn to control is through hypnosis. If I can do that, I should be fine, right?"
Barbara sighed. "At least keep the serum on hand in case you can’t control it."
"Don’t worry," Kitty replied, taking the vial from her daughter. "I know how to keep her under control."
"By the way, Mrs. Gali, have you decided what your new living arrangements are going to be in light of… recent events?" Linda asked.
"They’ll stay with us," Lilly replied immediately. Even Kitty was surprised by this. "I won’t take no for an answer. You’re like a sister to me and I want to keep you and your family close and safe. Okay?"
Kitty leapt into Lilly’s arms happily. "You’re the best friend ever!" she declared as Lilly struggled to hold her friend before the two fell in a heap on the floor.
"<Sigh>, kids," their daughters muttered, earning a big laugh from the others.
There was a knock at the door. Lucia opened it and Salem burst in. "Where are they? Are they safe?"
He entered the living room, where his wife and daughter were waiting. Tears in his eyes, Salem rushed over and hugged them tightly. "I’m so glad you’re alright. When I saw the house, I-"
Kitty placed a finger on his lips. "We’re okay. All of us are. Our little girl’s all grown up now."
"And what does that make us?"
Everyone looked into the entrance hall to see Katherine, Cathy, Kate and Katrina.
"Yeah, Mom," Cathy teased.
"We heard you were in danger, but it looks like…" Kate began.
"…we had nothing to worry about," Katrina finished.
Kitty held out her arms for her other four daughters to come over and join in the hug.
"Didn’t think that little declaration through did you?" Lilith teased Lilly, who simply sighed in resignation, knowing that 7 Mato Street was going to need a big extension.
* * *
Down at the station, Sarah and her assault team were stood in former chief Ironside’s office as Police Commissioner Gordon Beckett and General Raymond Adams looked over their report of the various incidents. Beckett was an older man, receding hair brown and starting to grey. His brown eyes spoke of a long, coloured history in the police force, and his moustache was bushy and brown.
The file detailed every detail the five could gather, including Rosemary’s goal and methods, her temporary imprisonment and interrogation under Professor Mato’s supervision, the male scientists being sent to three separate prisons around the state to keep them from conspiring together, Nero’s incarceration at the super prison upstate, and the involvement of the super heroes. Nothing was left out or fabricated.
As they finished looking over the file, Beckett looked up and said, "Everything seems to match up with the testimonies of the other officers. No doubt you’ve guessed that this incident is… sensitive."
"To say the least," Adams put in. "The entire chain of command has been shaken up by this and the public cannot be allowed to know the truth. If they did, they might realise the story regarding General Stenson was a cover-up as well."
"If that happened, their faith in both the military and police force would shatter. And that is something we cannot allow."
"As such, the official story is that Chief Ironside was forced to quickly and suddenly retire for medical reasons and move out to the countryside. The arrested officers quit due to stress from the various crime waves this past year, this one merely being the straw that broke the camel’s back. They did, however, stick with it until the current crime wave was ended, thanks in no small part to the efforts of you five. You were specially chosen to work on a special joint operation to end the crisis. The one responsible was captured and her plot to cause a race war between nekos and other races was thwarted. He name and race will remain anonymous to avoid further tensions and not a word will be spoken of regarding police corruption or a mass mind control device. Is that understood?"
"Yes, Sir," the five women replied. "Crystal."
"We ask that your friends keep quiet about all of this as well to avoid any… unnecessary outcomes," Beckett continued. "But as for you five, I would like to express my deepest thanks for what you and your friends did last night. You saved this city, the world, and my daughter. Thank you. Now, General? I believe it is your turn now."
"Yes. First Lieutenant Jessica Chabers."
"Yes, Sir," Jessica replied, snapping a crisp salute.
"You are hereby promoted to Captain," Adam said, pinning her new insignia onto her uniform.
"W-Wow… I mean, Thank you, Sir!"
"Sergeant Major Angela Parker, Private First Class Lucy Parker."
"Sir," the sisters replied with their own salutes.
"The two of you are promoted to Warrant Officer and Corporal respectively."
"Thank you, Sir!"
"As for you two," Commissioner Beckett said, pointing at Sarah and Tabitha, "With such a massive restructuring of the force needed, we need people we can trust leading that reconstruction. Which is why I would like you two on board, and I'd also like to extend Officer McKnight an invitation to become the new Yoto City Chief of Police."
Upon hearing this, Sarah fainted.
"Huh. Never had that reaction before."
* * *
Lilith invited Felicia and Barbra up to Dawn’s room to talk. Dawn was allowing her mother to sleep in her room with her and begrudgingly agreed to allow the two reformed Black Cats to do so as well.
"So, you both say you’ve tried to turn your lives around?" she asked the pair.
"Yes, Ma’am," Barbra replied.
"That was the plan before…" Felicia responded.
"Well, I too am seeking to turn my life around and one of the first steps was to turn my presumably late husband’s company into a force for good. As for how to do so other than simply not creating dummy weapons for my war against humanity, I’m not sure. Which is why I’d like to offer the pair of you the opportunity to work for me as my secretaries."
"You mean, like, working behind a reception desk?" Felicia asked. "Do you really need two of us for that?"
"You won’t just be behind a desk, dear. You’ll be escorting me all day, taking notes and performing assorted tasks I need completing."
"So we’d be your personal assistants?" Barbra asked.
"I prefer the term ‘secretary’. Sounds sexier."
The three women had a good laugh about it.
"So? What do you say?"
The two women turned to each other and simply staring into each other’s eyes, understanding each other perfectly. They turned back to Lilith and Felicia replied, "Yes. We’ll do it, Ms…"
"Morgana. Get whatever you need today and we’ll be off to Penombre tomorrow morning."
"Yes, Ma’am," the pair replied.
Lilith left the room before popping her head back around the door. "Oh, and Barbra dear?"
"Do keep the neko ears, you look very cute in them." Lilith left again and Felicia turned to the smiling Barbra.
"She’s right, you know. You do look super cute in those."
"Oh, you." Barbra kissed Felicia.
"And no funny business on my daughter’s bed, you two!"
The two women giggled.
* * *
Sarah and Jessica returned home later on. Jessica entered the living room to proudly announce her shiny new promotion, while Sarah simply said hello and headed off to bed. As she reached her bedroom door, she heard an unexpected voice say, "Tired?"
"Yes, Dawn, very."
"That's not like you. You normally run on nothing but coffee for, like, a week before you get tired. What's up?"
"Oh, I just... It's nothing, you wouldn't care."
"Oh, yeah? Try me."
Sarah looked at Dawn and beckoned her into her room. Sarah sat on her bed and Dawn pulled up a chair. "I was offered the position of Police Chief," Sarah explained.
Dawn whistled, impressed. "Impressive. Still, if anyone deserves it, it's you."
"That a compliment I hear, Dawn? Didn't know you had it in you."
"Hey, anyone who can almost catch me has to be hard-working. And I heard Jess telling the story of you beating the old chief so hard, the roof collapsed."
"A little exaggerated, but-"
"You gonna do it?"
"Why? So you can manipulate the Chief of Police?"
"Please, like I need you to be the chief to do that."
Dawn sighed. "You are dense."
"Do you want this job?"
"Then go for it. The city'll be much better off with an unbendable stickler with a stick up her ass like you than a corrupt a-hole like Ironside."
"Why are you being so supportive? Won't this be bad for you and your crime sprees?"
"Yeah, but you... you were there for me when my sister was in trouble. You helped me save her, get that bastard of a father out of my life and helped mend my relationship with my mother."
"So you think you owe me one?"
"Kinda. So listen well, because I'll never be this supportive of you again: you deserve this promotion. And you want it so much, but you're not sure you should after you realised that the police are not immune to corruption. And you're worried you'll end up the same way. Don't. You are Sarah McKnight, the single most tenacious, dedicated and terrifyingly incorruptible police officer I have ever met. You will not end up like Ironside or his lackeys. In fact, you will make sure none of that ever happens again. Now you get your pretty little butt down to that station and you tell... whoever it was that offered you the job, that you'll accept that position and you'll be the best damn Police Chief Yoto has ever seen!"
"Yeah! You're right, Dawn! I'll do that!"
"Atta girl. Oh, and one last thing? If you're going to have such a big change in your life, you'll need a new look too."
"Why, what's wrong with my look?"
"Sarah, power is sexy. A skirt is fine, but you know what's better? These." Dawn produced a pair of black leather pants much like her own and held them before Sarah.
"Black leather? For a police officer? Dawn-"
"Feeeel it," Dawn urged, holding the pants against Sarah's hands.
"Oh, that does feel nice," Sarah muttered. She kicked off her heels and unzipped her skirt before trying on the pants. She looked herself over in her full body mirror and liked what she saw.
"How does it feel... Chief?"
"It feels... sexy... powerful. I like it."
"I knew you would. Try these as well." Dawn handed Sarah a pair of matching leather gloves and high-heeled ankle boots. Sarah tried them on and was instantly smitten with her new look.
"Wow. This feels great. Feels like I'm wearing nothing at all."
"Looks like it too," Dawn muttered, admiring Sarah's perfectly-shaped buttocks. Dawn shook her head. Ugh. Stupid Sexy Sarah.
"But how did you get my measurements so precisely?"
"Oh, I took them when I needed measurements for your maid costume."
"Maid costume!?" Sarah turned back angrily.
"Oh, it was months ago. Honestly, I think it's a testament to you hard work that you've not gained weight since."
"Now, you're just being weird; normally, you say I have a huge ass."
"Well... honestly, I kinda like your ass."
"Okay, this is getting too weird."
"Well, Consider your debt repaid, Dawn"
"Good, because that means I can do this." Dawn produced an orb and held it before Sarah's eyes. "That's a good girl. Relax and submit. Submit and obey."
"Submit and... obey..."
"That's it. Now, show off your ass in those pants and feel a hundred times sexier."
"Show off ass... hundred times sexier..."
"I love my life."
* * *
Allison entered Mato's lab, finding him interrogating Rosemary, who was in a large glass container, entranced by a video screen.
"Um, Professor? You busy?" Allison asked uncertainly.
"Of course not, my dear. Please, take a seat. What is it?"
"Well, this whole mind control thing... it's really gotten to me. Looking back at recent events, I'm... scared that it'll happen again if I stay in Yoto. And I saw what can be done with my power. I just don't think I could handle that again."
Mato's expression was both understanding and sad. "So, you're leaving?"
"W-Well, I have enjoyed working with you, Professor. And Barbara said you're looking for researchers for your Kulon Island lab, so..."
Mato stared at her a moment, hand on his chin. "Hmm... Yes, I say you're ready."
"Ready for what?"
"Barbara used to be the head of research there, but she left after a few months to pursue a career in teaching. Her assistant, Kevin, has been struggling as the Head of Research over there and asked me to find a replacement. Part of the reason I've been taking on new assistants was to find a new Head of Research."
"Good thing you didn't choose Rosemary, huh?" Allison joked nervously.
"Yes, I suppose so," Mato chuckled. "Well, I believe you're ready. And I can even save money on communication with your powers."
Allison giggled, finding herself more at ease. "Thank you, Professor. I'll take you up on your offer. Can I have a few days to get everything in order?"
"Of course, dear. Take all the time you need."
Allison hugged the professor. "I'll be sure to make you proud, Professor."
"You already have, my dear. You already have."
* * *
Washina was resting in her room, when Yuta burst in. "Um, knock please?"
"Oh, sorry." Yuta knocked on the still open door before closing it. Washina sighed. "Are you feeling any better?"
"Yeah, I'm fine. Just need a little rest is all."
"Good. I heard about your staff. It's a shame; it was cool."
"Yeah," Washina replied melancholically, staring at the two broken halves resting on her bedside table. "But I can always have the professor make a new one. Maybe one that splits into two. I kinda like the speed of two parts and I can let out a lot of stress with- Hey, what are you-!?"
Yuta had walked over to Washina's closet and begun rummaging through it. "Aha! Found it!" Yuta turned around, a sexy nurse costume in her hands. "Do you want me to wear it?" Yuta asked teasingly.
Washina's mouth was strangely dry. "Uh, sure?"
"Yay! Just gimme a sec." Yuta closed herself inside the closet for a moment before springing out in the outfit. It was a one-piece ensemble with a very short skirt, open-toed high heels, and an adorable little nurse's hat. "Well?" Yuta asked, giving a twirl.
"Hehe, thanks. Now, let Nurse Yuta take a look at you."
Washina tensed up at Yuta's comment.
"No, not Nurse Yuta; I mean Yuta as a nurse. I'm the original."
"Oh, good," Washina sighed
"But I can call her here if you want."
"N-No no... That's okay."
"Alright. Now, what seems to be the trouble?"
"Well, my wound still kinda hurts."
"Would you like me to numb the pain?"
"You can do that? How?"
"With these." Yuta's eyes morphed into spirals, captivating Washina immediately.
"Pretty..." Washina whispered as she submitted.
Washina awoke with a start.
"There. How do you feel now?"
"I... don't feel the pain. How did you do that?"
"Hypnosis, silly. I had you look at my swirly eyes and asked you not to feel the pain for a while. You still can if you hold a finger over it lightly though. That way, you can still know if it's healed or not."
"That's... actually quite clever. Thanks, Yuta."
"No problem. You're a hero for saving Diana. Can I give my hero a kiss?"
Without waiting for a response, Yuta leaned in and kissed Washina. Yuta had always been a good kisser - she'd had lots of experience after all. Washina found herself, not only enjoying the kiss, but returning it happily. She gripped her bed sheets tightly, and pulled Yuta down onto her bed.
* * *
Jane was resting with her feet up by the pool before she headed home. A few of the other scientists and housemates were outside too and she enjoyed the company. She looked up when something started blocking her light, realising it was the angel Lucia.
"Excuse me?" the angel said in a childlike manner. "Are you Dr. Hamilton?"
"Yes, I am. Why do you ask?"
"You are the one who opened the mysterious egg you found months ago, yes?"
"I... yes. Yes, I did. And I regret my carelessness every-" Lucia interrupted her with a tight hug. "Wha...?"
"Thank you so much! I was inside the other egg and it was only opened when you opened the first egg. If not for you, I would not have met so many friends! Thank you!"
Linda was somewhat taken aback, but patted the angel on the back as she realised that her work had had meaning.
* * *
Barbara delivered a message to Jake that the Professor wanted to see him down in the lab. He was about to go when Sarah showed up at his door.
"Hey, Sarah. Nice pants."
"Huh? Oh, I'm just... trying out a new look. What do you think?"
"It looks good on you."
Sarah blushed. "Hey, Can I... talk to you a minute?" she asked.
Jake knew exactly what she wanted to talk about. Something they'd not had a chance to discuss due to all the chaos surrounding Diana. "This is about me being... him, right?"
"Yes," she replied simply.
Jake nodded and Sarah closed the door behind her before taking a seat on Jake's bed. She took her time to contemplate her words. "I just need to set the record straight."
Jake felt a strange sense of déjà vu over all this.
"First... you're Captain Anime?"
"The Captain Anime?"
"The one who helped us with the military base?"
"And the Guild?"
"And saving Becky?"
"And the one I..."
"Fell in love with?"
"Here." Jake stared into her eyes and sent a little hypnotic energy her way. "Remember last time," he urged. "Remember what you forgot."
Sarah's eyes turned glassy for a moment before refocusing, a look of complete shock on her face. "A-All this time... All this time, I knew but... Becky did this?"
"She saw how you reacted when you thought I was seriously hurt. Said you weren't ready to know."
"That Becky... So you've remembered all this time?"
"Who else knows?"
"Just you, Diana, Midori, Mato, Rosemary, those under her control, and Yuta used to know, but I erased her memory of being Spiral Girl. Aside from maybe Mato, you were the first to find out."
Sarah remained silent. She was likely contemplating what to do about Jake's vigilantism just as she had last time.
"Jake, do you remember when I said that my supposed feelings for you were just caused by stress?"
"We... both know that wasn't true... right?"
"I thought that might be the case, but I didn't hold out hope."
"Well... I can feel them now and I can tell for a fact that they're real. I do love you, Jake. I shouldn't, but-"
Jake placed a finger over her lips. "I don't know how I feel about you guys. A few of you have said you love me, but I'm not sure how to respond to that. I've never really been in love, I think, and I can't just... choose one of you over the others. Not yet. I don't want to ruin our-"
Sarah placed a finger over Jake's lips. "I understand, Jake. All of us do. You're a nice guy and you don't want to hurt any of us. Sorry, but I don't think you can maintain that attitude forever. I think your indecisiveness could hurt some of the girls more than choosing someone else. I think you're going to have to make a decision before that happens. But, hey, you still have time to think and sort things out. Maybe spend some time with everyone, come to terms with your feelings and make a decision. Okay?"
"Y-Yeah. Okay. Thanks, Sarah."
"Oh, and one more thing?"
Sarah kissed him. It was brief, but he could feel her love the whole time. She pulled away and smiled. "Can't go declaring my feelings without a kiss or I'll fall behind." She winked and stood up. "Oh, I was offered the position of Chief of Police too."
Jake's jaw dropped. "That's just an afterthought?"
"Well... maybe I just love you that much," she replied with another wink.
"You gonna do it?"
"Yep. I'm gonna turn the force around and restore the people's faith in the forces of justice. Well, I'll see you later, Jake."
"Y-Yeah. See you."
Sarah left the room, leaving Jake with a lot to think about. But he'd have to think about it later; the Professor was expecting him.
* * *
Jake walked through the lab door, which locked shut behind him. He found Mato and Lilith standing by a tank that had previously held the nekos they'd abducted, now containing Rosemary. She was sitting on the ground, watching them, her face expressing a clear desire to have them all dead.
"I thought this might be about Rosemary," Jake sighed as he approached.
"Yes," Mato affirmed. "We need to decide what to do with her."
"And since you snuck in here anyway, Dawn, you might as well be a part of the conversation," Lilith called up with her arms crossed.
Dawn descended from the rafters and said, "What can I say, I like invading other people's privacy."
"This is serious, Dawn," Lilith snapped, causing her daughter to shrink away in fear. Lilith sighed and said, "I'm sorry, Dawn. But what we do here will have ramifications that will have a huge impact on our future."
Rosemary stood up. "Yes, because when I get out of here, I'm going to wipe all of your minds and turn you into mindless puppets for me to torture to death."
Mato pressed a button and cattle prod zapped Rosemary, prompting her to stop talking.
"What are our options?" Dawn asked.
"First is to hand her over to the authorities for due process," Mato replied.
"Which, given recent events, runs the risk of her not getting a satisfactory sentence, or her simply going to prison and getting out again," Lilith explained. "Neither of those is a chance we can take with her." Lilith's expression was sorrowful, clearly acknowledging her own part in Rosemary's current state. Dawn held her mother's hand, surprising her.
"What about here?" Dawn asked. "You built a prison to hold succubi; couldn't you keep her imprisoned here for the rest of her life?"
"Do remember that the last succubus I held within said trap managed to escape through her sharp wit and guile," Mato responded. "I have no doubt Rosemary could do the same, given the right opportunity."
"Option three is killing her," said Lilith. "Though I don't like it, it's the only permanent solution I can see."
"But... murder..." Dawn could barely comprehend what her mother had just suggested.
"So you plan to execute me like you did your husband?" Rosemary spat. "I knew you were evil, but I didn't realise murder was par for the course for you slut demons."
Lilith went to retort, but Dawn gripped her hand, telling her it wasn't worth it. She instead settled on zapping Rosemary to shut her up.
"Any kind of imprisonment or exile will give her the opportunity to come back," Mato agreed.
Jake's mind was swimming with confusing and conflicting thoughts. Memories of his history with Rosemary flashed through his mind.
"I don't like it, but I think it's the only choice we have that won't come back and bite us on the ass at that level," Lilith reiterated.
How she'd been so kind. How she'd tricked everyone.
"Yeah, but there has to be another way," Dawn tried.
How she'd almost won.
"I hate Sarah, but I'd never kill her."
How he's almost fallen for her.
"We could brainwash her," Jake whispered, not really thinking about what he was saying until he'd said it. "No! No, that would be... That's too much, even for her."
"Brainwash her?" Lilith repeated, sharing a look with Mato.
"In theory, it could work," the scientist noted.
"No, forget I said it," Jake spoke up.
"And she could do some good with her intellect," Lilith said, coming around to the idea.
"Aren't you people listening!? It's wrong! It was just a stupid idea I blurted out without thinking. We cannot do that or-"
"Or you'd be no better than me," Rosemary finished.
Lilith angrily pushed the button again, zapping Rosemary until she fell unconscious. "I know how you feel, Jake-"
"Then why is this even a discussion? Just stop. We're not doing it and that's final."
"Jake," Dawn said, taking his hand in hers. "What are our alternatives? Turn her in to potentially corrupt law officials? And if Sarah can weed out the corruption, what happens then? I'm no genius, but even I can get out of prison easily enough. Imagine how easy it would be for someone of her intellect."
"Well, I suppose-"
"And our other choice is killing her. Murder, like she said. But this suggestion of brainwashing her..." dawn took a deep breath before continuing. "I don't like it either, but... maybe some good can come of it. Maybe she can put her mind to use for good causes, help cure some disease of make some new technology to help people? Sometimes, our choices aren’t just black and white; sometimes, we have to resort to shades of grey, no matter how dark a grey it may be, to prevent something darker."
"But, even then-"
"Jake, please. Out of every threat we've ever faced, who's come closest to taking everything from us?"
"First time, only Diana didn't fall under her control. If she had, we'd all have been sold off as mindless slaves. The second time, the city was almost nuked because she hijacked Homeshield. And just last night, she almost had access to every mind on the planet. This isn't just some two-bit criminal like Dr. Snow or those guys from Bacarat. Even my father didn't come as close to destroying us as she has. Three times, Jake. I don't want to risk a fourth."
Jake stood in silence, realising that Dawn was absolutely right. This was the lesser of three evils, as evil as it may be. "O-Okay then," he replied with tears in his eyes. "L-Let's get it over with."
Dawn hugged Jake tightly while Mato prepared a brainwashing chair and Lilith carried Rosemary over to it. The chair was much like one found at a dentists' office, though with strong leather straps to restrain the wrists and ankles. Mato lowered a helmet down onto Rosemary's head and began inputting data.
"With this program, Rosemary will be much more soft-spoken and innocent, the exact opposite of how she is now. She will still retain memory of her entire life up to now, but she will have strong regrets about the entire thing and her greatest desire will be to make amends for the evil she committed."
"Couldn't we just wipe her memory completely and go from there?" Jake asked, still not wanting to go through with it.
"I'm sorry, my boy, but we must be thorough. If we simply erased her memory, she is more likely to revert to her old self than reject it upon regaining her memories. A new base personality is a necessity."
Dawn held his hand and shook her head, her eyes showing that she shared his sentiments, but that there was no other choice.
"And that should do it," Mato said as he finished typing. We need only pull this lever and the process will begin.
"You're really going to do it, aren't you!?" Rosemary had awoken, her smugness completely gone from her voice, replaced by genuine fear that tore at Jake's heart. "You can't do this to me!"
"I'm sorry, Rosemary," Lilith replied, tears rolling down her cheeks. "It's my fault it came to this. I'll bear the burden of destroying another person." She gripped the lever, but couldn't find the strength to pull it.
"No! Please! Don’t!"
Dawn placed a hand on her mother's. "No, you won't have to do this alone. We're all in this together."
"I'm begging you!"
Jake placed his hand on Dawn's.
"I'll change, I swear!"
Mato placed his hand on Jake's.
"Don't do this to me!"
As one, the four pulled the lever all the way down.
Rosemary's screams were cut off as the process began.
* * *
The house was abuzz with activity the following morning. After a fun slumber party and a sound sleep, the various guests were ready to depart.
A private jet had been prepared for Allison to take to Kulon Island. The professor had also offered positions there to the Noble sisters, who had jumped at the chance to work for the love of their lives and would be picking up their things on the way to the airport.
Linda, Janet and XL-9 were returning to the lodge with Pam, who had come to pick them up. Linda had expressed an interest in continuing her work with the professor like the good old days. He had some spare lab equipment sent over to the lodge, some of which had been partially designed by Linda herself.
Tabitha decided to return to the force to help Sarah rebuild. She, Delilah and Karan - the three most trustworthy officers in Sarah's eyes - had been appointed Deputy Chiefs and would continue to protect and serve. Unfortunately, she knew she would have to move out of the lodge to avoid such a long drive to work, though she did agree to visit the lodge regularly. She was offered a place with Angela and Lucy in their new apartment, which she graciously accepted, alongside Freyka, who was like a little sister to her now.
Jane was filled with a newfound confidence in her ability and decided to continue working on the eggs as a side project while working on more important projects, freed from the obsession that had almost cost her her freedom.
The Gali family moved into the Rose house, Lilly and James frantically trying to get the house ready in time, having to borrow one of Mato's devices to warp space and time to allow so many to stay in one house. Diana's sisters would be returning to college and work within a week, while Diana, Kitty and Salem would be moving in permanently.
Barbara was concerned about Mato's plans, but he assured her that everything was okay and that she should get back to check on Morgan. She hesitantly agreed with prompting from Jake and Yuta.
Lilith postponed her plans to return home, opting to stay a short while for personal reasons. She sent her new secretaries on ahead of her with their new uniforms to get used to the new city, which Dusk would be showing them around.
Jen also arrived home early at Jake’s request to try and get everyone up to speed on everything all at once.
Once the guests had all left, the house became peaceful and quiet once again. That is, until Mato gathered the housemates, Diana, Mina and Lilith at the entrance to the lab.
"I know it's been a long week for all of us but I have a major announcement to make."
He opened the door to the lab and a meek-looking woman walked out. She had nervous bespectacled green eyes and long purple hair in a thick ponytail at the back and braided tail over her right shoulder. She wore a blue shirt and matching skirt underneath a white lab coat and a pair of blue sandals on her purple-nailed feet. Her fingernails and lipstick also matched her hair.
"I'd like you to meet my new assistant: Rosemary."
"H-Hello," she replied nervously.
The deafening silence was only broken when Diana spoke up.
"Professor, are you INSANE!?" Washina demanded, her wound still not fully healed.
"I must agree with Washina-chan," Midori said, preparing to unsheathe her sword.
"Hold on a second, Midori-chan," Lilith halted her in an authoritative tone. "Yes, Rosemary did a lot of horrible things, but you need to hear the whole story."
"Whole story?" Jessica replied, unconvinced. "What whole story? About how she’s a manipulative bitch, who tried to sell us into slavery, kill us and brainwash the entire world?"
Rosemary flinched at each of these accusations.
"Yes, it is true that she did those things-"
"Then what’s the issue?" Sarah demanded. "She should be arrested and-"
"Hold on a minute, Sarah. Let’s hear her out."
"Thank you, Dawn. Now, during our attempted interrogations, the professor and I have found that Rosemary… has developed amnesia."
Jake and Dawn shared a secret guilty look.
"Come on, you really expect us to believe that?" Diana asked.
"Whether you do or don’t, that’s how it is. Her memory is scattered at best. Most details are gone and she’s in a state of total confusion."
"Rosemary will be staying here for a while," Mato announced to a flurry or arguments and complaints. He had to use an air horn to quiet them all down. "During that time, she will remain under constant supervision in case anything comes up. I would advise against you all not to hypnotize her, in case the altered state of mind restores her memory. I’m hoping to rear her towards the benevolent side of science before any of her memory returns."
"This is bull crap," Jen argued. "If there’s so much of a risk of her memories returning, then why-?"
"Because I’m responsible for her actions," Lilith replied, tears forming in her eyes. "Everything she’s done is because I corrupted her and sent her to this house."
"But that wasn’t your fault," Mina assured her. "Lucius made you do it, right?" The girls seemed more understanding now, less angry and more sympathetic
"Either way, I was still acting of my own will to an extent. I was still aware of what I was doing and I willingly played my part. I know I’m asking a lot, but…" Lilith was unable to speak any further, her emotions becoming too strong to continue speaking.
The girls seemed to feel somewhat guilty and awkward about the whole thing now.
Sarah took a deep breath and spoke up. "Okay then. We’ll give he a chance. One chance. Any sign that old Rosemary is returning, she’s gone."
Lilith hugged Sarah tightly and smiled. "Th-Thank you."
As Dawn and Lucia took Lilith to sit down, Sarah called for everyone else to go back to their normal days, but to be cautious. She left the house after saying she’d fill out the paperwork to give Mato permission to attempt rehabilitation.
Soon, only Mato, Jake and Rosemary remained.
"Professor…" Jake began.
"I know, my boy. But please try to stick with it."
"Um, I’m really sorry about all of this," Rosemary said quietly. "I know you’re putting up with a lot because of me. I’ll do anything I can to make it up to you."
Jake sighed. "We should probably get you out of the girls’ hair for now. Let’s go… I dunno..."
"I like… playing video games," Rosemary replied shyly.
Jake remembered his time with Rosemary previously, when she’d played video games with him as a way of winning him over. It hurt to think about that, but he felt that this new Rosemary was being sincere. He nodded his head and guided her up to his room.
Mato returned to the lab and ordered CAP, newly installed as the main security system, to watch Rosemary’s every move. He had Homeshield run some random tasks to give himself some peace as he sat in a chair with his head in his hands. Deep down, he regretted ever hiring Rosemary. It had no doubt been one of the worst decisions he’d ever made and, while he rarely showed it, it had been eating away at him for almost six long months. As he watched Jake and Rosemary on one of the monitors, he could only hope that maybe, just maybe, some good might finally come from his mistake.