The contact was initiated in my sleep. One moment I am enjoying lazing in the spring garden in company, and then a visual blurring and a jerking sensation - suddenly I was in the lecture room for the students. At least whoever was needing me let me have my proper clothing instead of what I had almost worn in the original dream.
A child who was not a child sat in the center aisle, sulking. Behind him, standing quietly, arms crossed...there was no mistaking his identity. This was bad. If the Elder had come back, we were all in a great deal of trouble, again. The children in the hall were not anyone in the school currently, thank the Builder. This was for the Elder's benefit, not a portent for any of my charges.
Whatever had brought me here placed me the lecture outline in my mind, and I cringed inwardly. Most of the surmises the Baron and the children had formulated on the reanimation formula were correct. My dread was not reflected by the tone I used in the lecture introduction. Even as I wished otherwise, whatever was controlling my dream-self had me pull the sheet from his form.
The thread of a connection I had to Darien roiled with fear, anger and desperation. I tried to reach back through the link to reassure him, but the thread did not only connect to the figure in the aether suit, it webbed out though the classroom and beyond to multiple anchors. So, I had been pulled to his subconscious. Interesting, I wonder if he intended to bring me here at all. My anchor was set, and I dove into the lecture material.
"Common issues with the reanimation serum involve dosage difficulties with repeated use, and theoretical damage to the cerebellum," I found myself saying. Theoretical, my foot. Darien threw himself into dangerous ventures without a second thought on a regular basis, all Sparks have that trait. But the tendency to think himself indestructible became worse with each dosage. The anger flares were worse the more he used the formula as well.
The lecture room was not fixed, fluctuating between the one at the school in Steelhead, and several I did not know personally, though I caught a glimpse here and there that resembled the drawings of the School of Medicine at Miskatonic. The children fluctuated as well, though the one became recognizable quickly... Darien, as he had appeared when he was younger. Other slightly familiar faces flickered through the class, some almost recognizable, but most were not.
I outwardly babbled on about the combined effects of radiation poisoning, gamma rays, explosive decompression and the toxins in the bloodfruit, while sifting through the connections, trying to find a link to Ash or Gematria. They still lived, but were too far distant to help at the moment. The lecture wound down to the concluding remarks, and I regained enough control of my dream-self to place my hand on the aether suit, stopping the slow tumble. My dream-self then faced the Elder and asked, "..permeating the subject's mitochondria down to the RNA level and re-engineering for its own replication functions. Questions?"
A young girl, (a name teased on the edge of memory, Clara?) in the front raised her hand to be recognized. At my nod, she stood and asked, "So Doctor Mason is now a walking reanimation serum factory?"
I confirmed her thesis, and checked my links to the others again - closer, but not nearly close enough. Out of the corner of my eye I noticed the Elder goading Darien to participate. After I nodded to him, he asked without standing, "So if he can't die from an overdose of the serum that won't let him die, what will happen after complete insanity?"
I pulled on one of the links to gain the information, "Well, continual overproduction of serum compounded by radiation levels will result in an exponentially expanding level of mutation..." I was interrupted by shattering glass, and my voice started to spiral up, "...will lead to the final Pandoran phase."
As the children screamed and bolted for the exits, I grasped for my astral anchor, making sure I could thread out of his mind without damaging him. He was damaged enough without me contributing. Then I felt something brush against my ankle.
The Elder shouted, "CLASS DISMISSED!" disrupting the image and the pull that held me there. I had bolted out of bed before I realized I was awake. Standing in my shielded rooms, searched for the link to Darien, and found it thinning. I tried to reach Ash....