The Center: Smells - Part 5

The Center: Smells
Chapter 5

by Jennifer Sue

Copyright  © 2010 Jennifer Sue
All Rights Reserved.

 

“Children should be seen and not heard,” was the too often used phrase that was physically hammered into his budding consciousness before he even realized he could think. It became the toddler’s mantra.

 

Chapter 5

Brose waited until everyone had donned their mask before concentrating. A fine mist began to form about five feet in front of her, then blew up. Being unprotected, Brose smelled the familiar stench of the hog manure pits. Even through their gas masks, everyone began gagging. Brose quickly shut down and in the slight breeze the stink rapidly dispersed. "It's safe now," Brose called out.

Mr Lions and crew pulled off their asks. Their eyes were watering and the drew in huge droughts of fresh air.

"Did you get samples," Mr Lions called to the assistants.

They nodded their assent.

"That was quite a stink," Mr. Lions looked at Brose. "It even penetrated our masks. I can understand what happened to those people at the farm when you stink bombed them. Can you do other smells?"

I can do the clover," Brose said. "I haven't tried others. How about a skunk?"

"Go for it," Mr Lions smiled as he signaled the crew to don their masks.

The results were much like the first stink bomb. Brose did the smell of methane, the rotten egg smell of natural gas, the smell of a freshly baked apple pie and several other smells. When they had filled all the sample bottles they headed back to the outdoors area they used to pop balloons.

Now there were rows of Plexiglas boxes set at five, twenty five, fifty, one hundred, one hundred fifty, two hundred, two hundred fifty, and three hundred meters. The task was for Brose to recreate some of the smells she'd done on the roof in a smaller scale inside the boxes. The boxes were sealed and had most of the air vacated. It took Brose only thirty minutes to fill all the boxes with the gases Mr. Lions selected.

The samples from the roof and samples drawn from the boxes were all carefully labeled and taken to the lab for analysis. Then Mr. Lions had Brose sniff compounds she wasn't familiar with and then try to duplicate those, not only in the concentrations she sniffed but in higher densities inside high pressure two liter vacuum bottles. Only after she'd duplicated the sample did he tell her what it was. The last exercise was to see if she could smell methane as it burned. This she easily accomplished. Then he had her fill a Plexiglas box with methane followed by having her pop in a tiny bit of burning methane. The explosion was tremendous.

When released from her training, Brose was worn out but felt happy. The practice had honed her skills so she could pick a spot and create the odor there. She could also control the intensity from mild to overwhelming. As she returned to her room, Brose felt more alive than ever. From what she had learned in her short time with The Center, Brose realized her training was geared to utilizing her talents in combat. If she could help others like herself, she was up for the challenge. Besides, it had always been Dave’s plan to join the army once he graduated and turned eighteen. He had hoped that with his academic record he’d be able to secure a full ROTC scholarship. Now that she was at The Center, she was already part of the military. Wisely, while she was not looking forward to battle, she had already seen the elephant and took it down.

That analogy made her smile. Seeing the elephant... so archaic yet so appropriate. In her past reading she had learned the expression dates from the third Century B.C. Alexander the Great's Macedonian warriors defeated the elephant mounted army of King Porus in the Indus valley. These men brought memories of the strange beasts back to their hearth-sides to thrill and excite their families. Considering the remarkable distance traveled by this army and its exotic exploits, it may be that "seeing the elephant" became synonymous with journeys and experiences in strange and far-off places. In military terms, if you see the elephant, you experience much more than you wish to when in combat.

Brose wasn't proud of what she did on the farm but knew it had to be done. Lise and Liz were certainly not bad people, yet they had gone on missions and faced combat. Even Max and Kris, their leaders, were concerned with keeping the transitioned safe. The fact they had been promoted to positions of leadership from within their ranks really sealed her confidence in belonging to The Center and doing what she could to help. She felt confident that The Center was all about helping the transitioned and protecting the population at large from those who might misuse the talents of transitioned for evil.

Dave had never shied away from a difficult or unpleasant task. He always did what had to be done. This didn't mean he liked what he did, but he did it anyway. Now that she was Brose, that same steadfast determination was still present in her being. If that meant she had to repeatedly go see the elephant, possibly killing it, then that's what she would do.

After dropping her smelly clothes down the laundry chute, she donned her robe and headed for the showers. She really enjoyed the showers, it felt good to be clean and rid herself of any unpleasant odors. Back in her room, she put on clean undies, then daringly stepped into a denim mini skirt that ended in a ruffle at mid-thigh. For a top she selected a light green knit top that had a four leaf clover printed on the front and rear. Already feeling comfortable in heels, she donned a pair of green sandals with two inch heels. For jewelry she selected a gold chain necklace with a Leprechaun dancing by a pot of gold and a green jade bracelet.

She entered the cafeteria at the same time the other students were coming in so she simply joined the line. Everyone spoke to her, welcoming her on board and telling her how glad they were she was adapting so quickly.

With her tray heaped full she joined her friends at their usual table. When they asked how her training had gone she gushed with excitement. Everyone was happy for her.

That night she fell asleep as soon as her head touched the pillow.

The next morning she dressed in her exercise outfit and headed for breakfast. The conversation was lively and fun. As they headed off to their classes, Dani pulled Brose aside.

"Your training has been pushed off until after lunch," Dani explained. "Dr. Lynchburg is ready to finish your physical. Then you're to go for your psych evaluation. Would you like me to accompany you?"

"Thanks, but no,' Brose said. "I've made up my mind to do what's expected of me. I'm a big girl. I can do this."

Dani smiled at the bravado Brose was exhibiting, rightly sensing she was determined to do this on her own. "Okay, girlfriend," Dani smiled. "But don't be afraid to ask for a breather if things get to hot."

"Thanks, Dani, I will," Brose smiled in reply.

A few minutes later Brose entered the clinic waiting room. Gwen looked up and smiled. "You can head on back to the room you were in last time, strip down and slip into a gown. I'll let Judy and Dr. Lynchburg know you're here."

Brose could sense Gwen was being sincere and held no grudge for what had happened. That made her feel better as she headed back to the exam. room. She also noted all the floors and ceilings in the hall and exam room were new. She'd just donned the paper gown when there was a gentle knock on the exam room door.

“Good, you're all ready to go," Judy smiled as she entered.

By the time Dr. Lynchburg arrived, Brose was on the table with her legs in the stirrups. "If you start feeling upset, tell us," he said kindly. "None of us want a repeat accident."

That was all that was said. Brose marveled at the way everything just seemed normal. Dealing with the transitioned had to have been quite an experience. Brose flinched a bit when the cool speculum touched her nether regions and she wriggled a bit as it slipped inside. But other than feeling a bit uncomfortable and embarrassed, the ordeal was over just a few minutes after it began.

"That's it? I freaked out about that?" Brose was embarrassed.

"Yes, that's it," Judy smiled. "But practically everyone freaks out the first time. You just had a bad response."

"We had one girl who's talent is probability manipulation," Dr. Lynchburg chuckled. "Every time I touched her with the speculum, she made it disappear. It think I lost 3 before she finally calmed down enough. She apologized too and brought the speculums back."

That tale brought a smile to Brose's red face and made her feel better. Once she redressed, she was guided to the psychiatric department for her eval.

Dr. Tipps was polite and put Brose at ease. For the first hour they just sat and talked about how life had been for Dave. Then they spent a half hour discussing how Brose felt about being at The Center. Brose could tell the doctor was upset by her past life but delighted with her eager acceptance of her sex-change and new life.

Then came the written tests. On some questions it was difficult to choose the most appropriate answer. On others she realized if she had taken the test as Dave her answers would have been different. By the time she completed the exam, it was lunch time. Dr. Tipps smiled and dismissed her telling her she'd notify her of her next session.

Brose was the last to take her seat at the table. Naturally everyone wanted to know how the physical went. She blushed as she admitted it wasn't something she'd ever look forward to but it wasn't totally horrible. To her relief, all the girls shared her sentiments.

Max stopped by the table. "I'm here to make it official. Brose, you're now a full member of The Center. Mr. Lions was thrilled with your effort and how quickly you learned. Here is your I-phone."

Brose was delighted and basked in the warm congratulations of her companions as Max left. Then she blushed as she looked at the phone. "Err... how do you turn it on?"

Except for Dani the others looked at her as if she was from another planet. "Take it easy on her," Dani cautioned. "Her family only had an old fashioned dial telephone and she wasn't allowed to use it. They didn't have a computer either."

"Like, no way," Heather exclaimed. "How did you live like that?"

"You don't miss something you never had," Brose explained. "I did get a tiny bit of computer experience at school, but I really don't know much. I know the stuff exists and that it can do a lot, but I have virtually nada experience in most techno stuff."

"We definitely have to take care of that," Heather exclaimed piously. "I'll round up some expert help and we can start teaching you this evening."

"I know this may sound weird," Brose said. "But is it possible to have a dominator download the info into my brain?"

Everyone looked askance.

"No one likes to probed," Lise said.

"That's a new idea," Dani stated thoughtfully. "Dominators have copied memories from others into themselves, but to the best of my knowledge, no one has ever tried to download information into another person. I think you'd both have to have a lot of mutual trust to be able to do that."

"I said it was a weird idea," Brose added.

"It certainly is," Dani agreed as she began taping away on her phone. "But it might be worthwhile exploring. I'll send a note to Kristyn and we'll see where it goes from there."

"You're one amazing person, Brose," Lise smiled. "You'd be willing to do this even after a dominator raped your mind?"

"If it was with someone I knew and could trust, sure." Brose answered. "If it gets too nasty, I'll boot them out like I did the dominator I killed."

"You threw a dominator out of your mind," Debbie asked looking up from her ever present book. "Other than another dominator, I know of only one person who successfully fended of a dominator. That was Luce and she's a probability manipulator."

Brose smiled. "Is she the one who kept making the speculum disappear?

"That was her," Dani chuckled. "I know you could sense when Lise and I tried to sooth you so I have no doubt you have some form of internal mental shielding."

"Enough gab," Tina said as she scooted her chair next to Brose. "I'll give you a quick lesson."

Brose was amazed by all the apps. She easily learned how to activate the phone, then to navigate the icons. She really liked the maps of The Center and the locator feature. Using the phone was fairly simple but text messaging was a bit too far afield. At least she could now navigate The Center, read her calendar, and make calls.

After lunch Brose joined Mr Lions for more training. "Your talent is amazing. Chemical analysis of the odors you created from memory match the chemical analysis of the real thing. The odors you replicated after a sniff were also perfect replicas. One of the gases we exposed you to was laughing gas, nitrous oxide, a slightly sweet smell and taste. What you duplicated in the vacuum bottle was strong enough to knock out a grown man. We had you sniff pure methane, which is odorless and colorless, yet you were still able to duplicate it in the vacuum bottle at enough pressure to cause it to liquify. They scientists were able to use it to fuel a Bunsen burner for almost two hours."

"We'll be heading out to the ballistic firing range," Mr Lions said as he led Brose outside to an SUV. "We'll see if you can flood a sentry post with enough nitrous oxide to knock out any occupants. We've even had a few soldiers offer to be guinea pigs so we can see how rapidly it works. We'll have crews outside with oxygen to revive them when they drop.

"Then we'll see if you can flood a room in another building with methane and ignite it,” Mr Lions said as they drove about a mile to the ballistic firing range.

When they arrived, they gave Brose the option of how far she wanted to be from the targets. “My accuracy past two hundred meters seemed a bit cattywampus,” Brose said after a few moments of thought. “Were the results past two hundred meters accurate?”

“At two hundred fifty meters you hit the target but never came close to filling the box,” Mr Lions smiled. “At three hundred meters we detected a whiff of scent but virtually no accumulation. How did you know you lost your accuracy?”

“It just didn’t feel right,” Brose replied. “I thought you would say something to me about it.”

“During testing we seldom give you full results until the tests are completed,” Mr Lions explained. “We don’t want to erect what may be artificial barriers in your mind that could effect your performance.”

“That makes sense,” Brose agreed. “So lets start out at Two hundred meters.”

“There are two men inside the sentry post,” Mr. Lions explained. “They know what you’re going do. One is looking out an open window and the other is seated at a desk. There is a panic button on the desk they are to hit if they sense a gas attack. The object is to overwhelm them before they can hit the button.”

Brose scanned the area. “Is the rescue team outside the building?”

“Yes,” Mr Lions answered.

“Please tell them to mask up as a precaution,” Brose politely ordered.

Mr Lions had an assistant relay the message. He nodded when he got an affirmative reply.

Brose closed her eyes and concentrated on the target. At the very edge of senses she could find six people, four had oxygen tanks on, two were waiting nervously. Taking a deep breath, Brose created a concentrated mass of nitrous oxide inside the building. She kept the density constant for thirty seconds until the assistant barked that both men were down. At that point she shut down the nitrous oxide and flushed the building with a dose of fresh air. The alarm had not sounded.

By the time Brose and Mr Lions reached the building, the two effected soldiers were outside leaning up against the walls. They still had oxygen masks in place and had regained consciousness but were still quite groggy.

The sergeant in charge of the rescue team spoke as they surveyed the building. “They saw us don our masks so they knew the attack was imminent but they never knew what hit them. By the time they realized they were getting groggy, it was too late to reach the alarm.”

“I hope I didn’t hurt them,” Brose stated. “They will be okay, won’t they?”

“They’ll have a bit of a hangover but will make a full recovery,” a medic answered.

Next they walked about a quarter of a mile to a two story concrete block building. A sergeant there assured them everyone was at least a hundred meters away from the building.

Brose scanned the area. “Is everything ready.”

“Yes, ma’am,” the grizzled veteran answered. “All monitors and cameras are rolling.’

“Good,” Brose smiled. Closing her eyes she concentrated on a first floor room. In less than ten seconds the entire building disappeared in a tremendous BOOM that nearly deafened Brose and the others. A debris filled mushroom cloud of flames shot up fifty meters and out nearly the same distance. The dust and debris filled concussion wave hit them milliseconds after the ignition knocking them all to the ground. Tiny chunks of concrete block and bits of wood from the floors, joists, and roof pelted them from the sky for nearly thirty seconds. The medic and men from the first test site sprinted to the fallen people.

Brose pushed herself to her feet, shaking her head to clear the ringing and disorientation. Feeling her nose running she wiped it on her sleeve only to see blood. Looking about she saw the soldiers and Mr Lions just starting to move. They were all bleeding from the nose and ears. Brose reached up and felt her ears to feel the sticky blood trickling down.

Reaching in her pocket she pulled out her phone and dialed 911. She couldn’t hear the operator ask what was the emergency. “We’ve got injured on the ballistic firing range from a massive explosion. We need medical help STAT. If you’re talking I can’t hear you. The explosion deafened me and we’re all bleeding from our ears and noses. Please send help ASAP!” Brose repeated her message three times then left the phone on while she placed it in her pocket to serve as a locator beacon. Then she began to help the injured.

The entire complex had felt the explosion. It rattled all the windows and set off a few alarms. Everyone was already scrambling when they got the call from Brose.

Liz scrambled with the rescue squad as did Max and Kris. They met up with the Dr. Lynchburg, and nurses Judy and Linda in the motor pool to man the ambulances and rescue truck. Soldiers jumped into the three vehicles as drivers. Two trucks loaded with armed soldiers followed them out. They were at the site of the explosion eight minutes after it happened. They were shocked at what they found.

All that was left of the two story concrete block building was a hole fifteen meters across and five meters deep. Chunks of the building were scattered in a circle about five hundred meters across. Dust still hung in the air and a black cloud about two hundred meters in diameter was slowly drifting away from the site. A few soldiers were staggering across the debris field to where Brose and the relief squad from the first test were giving first aid to a moaning group of ten men. All but the relief squad were covered head to toe in a grayish tan dust broken only by blood.

The ambulances and rescue truck stopped at the make-shift first aid site. The trucks split to circle the devastated area, pausing every so often to drop four man rescue squads off to search for survivors.

By this time, Dr. Lynchburg trusted Liz and as he triaged the wounded, he pointed her to those who needed her skills most. Within twenty minutes, the injured had been gathered and were headed back to the clinic. Quite a few had serious injuries. Two would have died without Liz.

In all, eighteen people including Brose and Mr. Lions had been injured by the massive explosion. Brose, Mr Lions and the sergeant were the last of the injured to be evacuated. They were able to climb into the back of the rescue vehicle on their own power.

Two hours later, the cleaned up but still battered Mr Lions and Brose sat in the conference room facing Max and Kris. Their ears were still ringing but they were functional. Max began the inquest by dimming the lights and critiquing the surveillance tapes. It was a good thing the equipment had been set up transmit rather than record as every camera withing one hundred meters had been destroyed. They saw the explosion start then each feed went blank as the blast’s concussive ring hit them. The cameras further out showed the massive explosion in all its destructive glory. An aerial shot from a helicopter revealed the scope of the damage.

“The only good thing is that no one was killed or permanently injured,” Max summed up. “Everyone should make a full recovery.”

“It’s my fault,” Mr Lions declared. “I take full responsibility for what happened. I was too eager to test Brose’s skills. I should have evacuated the men further back and we should have been in a bunker.”

“Actually it’s my fault” Brose admitted. “I didn’t follow instructions. I was supposed to pump in methane, then ignite it. I though if I put too much methane inside, it wouldn’t have enough oxygen to ignite. So I created a mixture of 80% methane and 20% oxygen. That’s what I pumped in. I knew it would be a spectacular explosion but never expected such a massive detonation.”

“Obviously,” Kris growled causing Brose to slump. “Mr Lions, I expect a full report on everything you’ve done with Brose. Brose, you will be punished for what you did.”

“Yes, ma’am,” Brose sniffed fearing what her punishment would be.

“Your academic background shows you were a straight ‘A’ student,” Kris declared. “But obviously you need more physics and chemistry. Therefore I’m exempting you from regular school classes and sentencing you to full morning sessions of chemistry and physics. I expect you to get straight ‘A’s. You need to learn all you can about the combining gases. Do I make myself perfectly clear, Miss Shamrock?”

Stunned by the leniency and appropriateness of the discipline Brose looked up at Kristyn. “Yes ma’am. Thank you ma’am.”

With that Kristyn stood and announced the inquest was over. “Brose, would you object if I joined you for dinner this evening?”

“No, ma’am,” Brose replied unsure if this was some sort of trap.

“I want to make sure my daughter is okay,” Kris smiled. “She expended a lot of energy today. If I’m at your table, everyone will know the matter has been settled. Besides, I need to relax a bit.”

“I’d be delighted to invite you to join us at our table,” Brose said returning the smile.

~
*
> pew!
o



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