Nikki tries once more to sneak into the Viper Manor and see Marcy.
So he feared the worst when he was pulled into the lab in the basement of the manor, images of being a human guinea or spending the rest of his life being forced to fight every monster created there to test their strength running through his head even as he started trying to talk his way out of trouble. "Please, Doll, you've gotta believe me! I wasn't trying to break in, I was just lost in a vision from my muse and didn't realize where I was going!"
"Leave us," Luccia said to the guards, only seeming to pay attention to Nikki once they were alone in the room together. "Not trying to break in, you say? You t'ink anyone vould believe dat vhen you did the same t'ing just four days ago?"
He shrugged showily, holding up both hands. "You think anyone would be stupid enough to try breaking into a place they were just caught in?"
"Da. If dey knew vhat you vere here for." She leaned back against one of the tables in the center of the room, and Nikki couldn't help but notice the straps attached to its surface as she peered over the top of her glasses at him. "You are here to see the girl," she said matter-of-factly.
He edged away until his back hit the door. "What girl?"
"Do not take me for a fool!" Luccia snapped, then took a deep breath and pressed her finger tips together. "Dat child," she said in a calmer tone, "is a vonder. In only t'ree years she has become one of the Devas of the Dragoons, a position grown men have striven for and failed to achieve. She has done dis before her tent' birt'day, and can only go fart'er from there. Vhat good vill it do her to have a foolish 'rocker'" her tone was disgusted at the term, "barge his vay into her life?"
Nikki usually considered himself a pretty cool-headed guy, always willing to live and let live, but his fingers curled into fists at her words. "She's my /sister!/" he said, stalking toward her, the effect somewhat dampened by the faint squeak of vinyl he made with every step. "You can't keep a family apart, Lady."
"If you are so interested in family, vhere have you been dese past nine years?" She faced him fearlessly.
"I was ten when she was born! Even I'm not rockin' enough to take off on my own that young."
She huffed and pushed her glasses higher up her nose. "You have been on tour for four years. Porre. Termina. Vhat is left of Guardia. Vhy have you put singing before your sister?"
He raked his fingers through his hair in a quick, agitated, movement. "You think I haven't /tried?/" he asked, then suddenly sagged, remembering the years he spent defeated in every attempt. "I looked everywhere for her. Birds are quick to talk to a rockin' superstar, but none of them ever sang the song I was looking for until I found someone in Porre who finally remembered her leaving for Termina."
"So dat is vhy you left dere so quickly..." she said so quietly that he thought she might be talking about herself.
"My manager wasn't happy, but I told him I had to go where my muse guides me." Then he looked at her closely. "Wait a sec, how do you know that? Are you a fan, doll?" He flashed her his most charming smile. "I'll autograph anything you'd like if you'll let me see my sister."
She turned away from him, disgusted. "Dis does not help your case, Nikki. I've no interest in your 'rock'." Then she tapped her fingers against the the table, tilting her head back to study the ceiling of her lab. "Still... Belt'asar has told me Marcy's lonely. Perhaps she vould be happier if I allowed her to know her brotter. Having a brotter, it can be a very good t'ing."
Nikki allowed himself to hope. "So you'll take me to see her?"
"Nein." Luccia turned smartly around as he slumped against one of the counters running around the room. "Marcy is not here now. She's left for Fort Dragonia vith Lord Viper, and you're very lucky dat everyone but myself vho saw you vhen you last broke in have gone vith dem." She walked to the door of the room then paused with her hand above the handle, saying, "I vill t'ink on vhat you've said. If you vish for me to decide in your favor, you vill promise never to tell her, or anyone else, of dis talk ve've had."
He stared up at his for a minute, then quickly blurted out "I swear on my guitar, just let me see her!"
She opened the door without answering him, and said to the guards waiting outside, "Escort him outside. He is a fool here on a bet, he vas not trying to harm Lord Viper."
The guards snapped to attention. "Yes, ma'am!" one of them said, then gestured for Nikki to come to him. "You're a lot braver than I'd take a pretty-boy musician credit for, kid, but you'd better remember this the next time one of your buddies tried talking you into a bet."
"I will, sir," Nikki said, doing his best to look contrite.
As he walked through the door Luccia spoke in a tone so low that only he could hear it. "I know vhat Zelbess vould vish for me to do. Dat is perhaps the t'ing most in your favor," then she shut the door before her words had fully made their way into his mind.
"/Zelbess/?" He whispered to himself, then whirled around even as the guards grabbed him by his arms. "Wait! I need to talk to her some more!"
The guard who'd spoken before laughed as they began dragging him away. "I know she's hot, but trust me, you don't want to get involved with her. The lady's nuttier than those critters she invents; get too close and you'll end up in a cage with wires through your brain."
They ignored him as he struggled all the way to the gate, unable to even tell them why he wanted to return without breaking his promise and ensuring that she'd stand between him and his sister forever.