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Now I Know
It was late when Beto arrived home. Washington was cooler, despite the summer humidity, than New Mexico and he was glad to be back. At least he could breath normally again. The return trip had been uneventful. That is not to say that it was not helpful. He and Ms. Makawee had been able to converse at length, though in his mind it was mostly to complete his picture of her.

Rather than press her, he'd let her speak freely and only prompted with questions to keep the conversation growing. Trust. This was how it was built. With time and interest.

He'd arranged for her to stay at the Embassy Suites in Georgetown, their standard choice for high profile witnesses and experts. She counted as one, if not the other.

This morning he was meeting the Assistant Attorney General John Donaghy, head of the Office of Legal Policy and his boss. It had been him who'd approved of Beto's trip to New Mexico since he did not have a district. Beto had had his own reasons for going. Still, he also wanted what John wanted. Information. There were recommendations that needed to be made. All existing Federal statutes needed to be reconsidered in the light of the channeler revelation. They had to determine which statutes and provisions would cover these newly revealed channelers and what new recommendations Justice need able to make to the Executive. Ms. Makawee's contributions would be crucial to that.

This morning he walked with her to John's office and gestured to have a seat while he went to John's secretary, Elsa. She was an older woman, 64, hair silver blue now. The tattoo on the side of her neck, just barely visible above the collar of her light blue jacket hinted at a wild streak in her youth. He gave her a warm smile, eyes shining, and pulled out a jar out of his bag to set on her desk. It might seem ironic, of course, given where they worked and what they enforced. But it was what it was, these games. And it was useful. "Hey gorgeous. I saw this and thought of you."
The label on the jar said 'Cannon's Sweet Hots Sweet Green Chile'. Feigning innocence, he said, "It fits,"
and then winked.

At her laugh, he smiled broadly before asking, "Good to go in?"

She nodded, "Ahh Beto. Always the charmer. I do wish you'd let me set you up with my daughter."

He tilted his head. "Oh come on now, Elsa. You know you will always be my girl,"
and then walked to the door and went in. The rituals were important, however alien they felt. The playful banter and flirtation preserved the illusion and gave him a bit of protection from people and their endless efforts to entangle him in personal affairs. He dated occasionally, though only to keep anyone from looking further into his life. It fascinated- perhaps even amused- him that the more distance and coolness he let himself display, the more interest he attracted. But maintaining the facade, while fairly easy, could be tiring. He enjoyed his alone time, able to shed the mask and just be himself. There was no trying necessary there. It was a sanctuary where he could breathe.

John looked up as he walked in. He was a tall imposing man in his early 50s, a little heavier then he once was, wearing a very sharp blue suit that set off his piercing blue eyes, a bit of grey at the temples streaking his brown manicured hair. Beto knew he got his hair cut every two days to maintain his look. He smiled as he came in and sat down.

"Welcome back. I got your email. Good work."
He chuckled wryly. "Course I got one from Harding too. He wasn't happy you were in his backyard. Panties in twist."

Beto smiled, mostly to himself. "Harding is a small man. He enjoys his little fiefdom without seeing the bigger picture. I got a message from him too. Thank you for smoothing things over with the New Mexico prosecutor."

"So...the girl."
His voice got low. "Did you see? Did things?"
Beto didn't show the amusement he felt. He...'liked' John. The man was an effective leader and did his job well. He even respected him. But he was also amused at the awe his voice betrayed.

But it was a reminder. He leaned forward, letting his eyes widen a little, his voice a bit breathy. "Yes, John. I did. It was...something. Different from seeing it on a screen. Like night and day different."

John's eyes sparkled as he shook his head in wonder. Beto knew he was going to ask the girl for a demonstration. "It's just hard to believe...When I was a kid, superhero movies were all the rage. But it was fake. This, though...."
The awe left his voice and was replaced by concern. "The danger they pose, with these abilities of their's, is real. Bilson Iron Cloud is pushing for a registration like they're doing in the CCD. He's rabid on the subject. He's even trying to drum up some interest from a few senators."

Beto's eyebrow shot up. "Dangerous, that. Not sure how the President would feel about one of his prosecutors at Tribal Justice taking such a stand. It might be perceived as a conflict of interests down the line. Does he say why?"

John waved his hand. "The usual reasons. Threat. Protection. And he has a point. If these people can do a tenth of what Brandon can do, then how do we stop them? Still, not something a prosecutor should be pushing for."

Beto said nothing. He understood the point. And there were things to think about. People like Ms. Makawee could make bad decisions whose effects were far reaching. They would need to be held to account. Prosecuted. And if convicted, held. But none of that was registration. Registration was a PR move to placate the fear some people felt. And it was never good to act on fear. Too easy for people to make mistakes. "Perhaps registration might be the answer, given time. But it's too early for that, I think. In any event, Ms. Makawee is outside. Would you like me to bring her in now?"
Katchina hadn't bothered to look around Georgetown after her plane had landed and she'd checked into her hotel. The call of a set of white sheets and down pillow had been too much to resist, especially after that obscure run-in at the shuttle pick-up with that woman getting into some sort of scuffle with a taxicab driver. Three TSA agents had been on hand to defuse the situation. It seemed like everyone was on pins and needles, here. No, she'd never been to Washington before, but as soon as she'd lain down she was out.

The next morning was uneventful. Katch awoke before dawn and sat motionless while watching the sun rise, running herself through her exercises in embracing and releasing the Power. Each time she released, she suppressed a sigh as she exhaled. The temptation to hold on for just a bit longer, just drink in a little more, gnawed at her. Letting go was like having the light of the world ripped from her, leaving her empty. A reminder that she would never, ever see her father again in this life. It had to be endured and accepted, and for this reason she put herself through these exercises. She had to embrace the emptiness as much as the fullness or the temptation would pull her in.

She picked over breakfast downstairs to satisfy what little appetite she had and checked in at the front desk, where transportation had been arranged to take her to the Kennedy Department of Justice building. As she sat in the back of the black sedan while it navigated through the streets of Washington she paid some bills -- wincing at the dismal amount of emergency savings she had left (father would never approve!) and glanced over her emails. Her new military superior over at the CDC Major Harris was already harassing her for a status report. She ignored it for now.

Pretty soon, the driver rolled down the window and announced that they were pulling up to the Robert F. Kennedy building. Katch glanced out at the long, gray stone building with a single triangular archway supported by three long pillars, and neat rows of identical windows that went on for at least a city block. They immediately reminded her of filing cabinets. Thousands and thousands of filing cabinets all stacked in rows, these little impersonal offices all generating, processing and grinding through the paperwork that fed the machinery of a federal executive department.

The shuttle dropped Katch off and she was escorted into the building, where she cleared through two security checkpoints, including one where the inspector got a bit handsy. She arced her eyebrow at the inspector and tapped her heel impatiently. With her black knee-length skirt and red blouse, no jacket, and small clasp purse, it wasn't like there were many places for her to conceal anything. Besides, she didn't need a weapon if she wanted to cause mayhem -- and everyone probably knew that already.

Katch was sent to the office of Assistant Attorney General John Donaghy, and when she arrived she was greeted by a woman maybe just barely old enough to be her grandmother, with silver blue hair that matched her blue blazer. She was looking at a jar on her desk and had quite a smirk on her face, like someone had told her a funny joke she couldn't get out of her head. The woman looked up. "May I help you?"

Katch gave her a smile and dipped her head slightly. "I'm Katchina Makawee, I'm here to see Mr. Trujillo,"
she replied.

"Mm hmm." The woman glanced at screen and pointed over to a room without looking up. "Have a seat in there. Mr. Trujillo is in meeting with Assistant Attorney General Donaghy at the moment. I'll send you in some coffee."

Katch smiled and went into the waiting room. True to her word, coffee arrived promptly. She took a sip and sat back in her chair. Minutes passed. She wondered what they were talking about that was taking so long. I wonder...

She reached out and embraced the Power, letting it flow into her. Right away her senses sharpened. The crisp black coffee filled her nostrils, the fluorescent lights grew in intensity -- and sounds sharpened. She leaned back against the wall. Muffled sounds came to her ear. Perhaps she could weave a...a cone of sorts, to distill or amplify the sound. She tried it, with Air. It took the shape more of a tube. It was very dim, but words started to come through. They were talking about registration? Perhaps there might be some place for that, but not in the sense that had been done in the CCD. She shuddered at the thought of any registry getting in the wrong hands. Or what happened when the a channeler went berserk? It would give the government easy access to rounding them up.

Katch continued to listen. Until she heard footsteps. Then she released the power and smoothed out her skirts, taking another sip of her coffee.
Jack quietly stared at the closed door as if he could see behind it. Beto could almost read his thoughts. There, behind those doors was one of these...'channelers' as Representative Avalon referred to them. The inherent newness of it all, the unpredictable and unknown nature of their abilities. For someone like Jack, for most people, the thought was unnerving.

For Beto it was a curiosity. One that made him think. At least two known channelers in government. And Nick Trano was Secretary of Powers Beto wanted to laugh at the title, to ask the President what had possessed him to use such a childish term for this new cabinet position. The word alone conjured up comic books and fantasy stories. Of children in his neighborhood park running around playing and yelling "you didn't hit me! My power lets me block bullets with my wristcuffs!" Not the best image when what needed to be projected was a competent and grounded executive department.

But that was neither here nor there, nor was it his area of concern. It was amusing though. In any case, Jack seemed to have been lost in thought. It took a moment of consideration and imagining before Beto had an inkling of what might be going on. He leaned forward. Jack considered him a friend, so he had some leeway. "She's a girl, Jack. Nothing more, really, despite what she can do. In some ways, I get the impression that her power- or its potential at least- scares her. She's young and idealistic. I think she could be a valuable asset"

Jack's piercing blue eyes focused on him sharply, but he seemed to consider the words. Then a smile and a small laugh. "Well, yes."
He took a breath and shook his head. His gravely deep voice seemed resigned. "This is all so very new. I can only imagine the military is champing at the bit to get its hands on these people. There are even hints that it's already happened. The world has changed."

Beto considered that, his eyes narrowing in thought. Of course it made sense. The military was always looking for the next best weapon. And going by what Brandon had done...He nodded. "Very likely, we are going to see a new arms race. We already are in a cold war with the CCD. Instead of nuclear weapons though, it will be these people."
These changes were predictable in some ways and unpredictable in others.

Everyone at Justice, especially the FBI and ATF, remembered Ruby Ridge and Waco and Colorado City, despite their being nearly a half a century old. "And that's ignoring our own back yard. What if David Koresh had been a channeler? Or Warren Jeffs? These were already charismatic men with followers willing to die- and kill- for them. If these ones had the 'miracles' to go along with it..."

He shook his head, allowing some of the uncertainty show. It was real but the move calculated. "Honestly, there is a lot for everyone to do. But if we have channelers working in and with government- in addition to Secretary Trano and Representative Avalon- then we have a better chance to keep this from blowing up in our faces."

And maybe he would finally see what was really going on.

Jack stood up. "Well, let's see this new world then. Go ahead and bring her in."

Beto nodded and went to the door. "Ms. Makawee? This way please."

"This is Assistant Attorney General John Donaghy. John, may I present Katchina Makawee."
Hands were extended in greeting. "Please have a seat."

Jack sat down and gave her a reserved but sincere smile, blue eyes bright and honest. "I am very glad you were willing to meet with us, Ms. Makawee. You must understand how much of a change all of this represents. Our goal is simple. We want everyone, including you and those like you, to have the same protections under the law as everyone else."
His deep gravely voice grew cold in time to his eyes. "That includes from any terrorist organizations that have set themselves up as judge, jury and executioner over someone just because they are different. We won't stand for that."

Beto was content to watch Jack win her over. The man was good with people. It wasn't just confidence and politics, something he had. It was something else entirely, something Beto never had and could never really achieve, not truly. It was a handicap in some ways and a strength in others.

Jack really did care about people and they could feel it.
Mr. Trujillo showed Katchina in, and she placed down the cup before walking in, releasing the power as she did so. While doing so she bit back a sigh of regret. It had become much easier, now, than it had been in her early days, letting go. Yet it still stung a bit of loss and regret. Not much different than the ache that remained within her heart for her father.

Katchina allowed John Donaghy to take her hand and she met his blue eyes with her brown ones. The man flashed her a smile. Certainly a charmer, that one. A man who belonged in Washington. Either he liked people, or he liked making people think he liked them. She would withhold her judgment for now. She gave him a polite dip of her head and a small smile that touched her own eyes, then took a seat and crossed her legs with her hands folded atop her left knee, ready to listen.

When the man was finished, Katchina found herself nodding in agreement. Yes, this man cut right to the heart of the matter. Channelers would continue to be targeted, perhaps more so than ever. If the Justice Department was earnestly concerned with those goals, they would need channelers who would cooperate with them. It would keep fear and mistrust at bay.

"Thank you, Mr. Donaghy, I'm happy to hear that, and I am more than happy to give you whatever assistance I can,"

she replied. "However, I hope you understand that, as someone now known to be a channeler, I may have some reservations over what I may be made to do on behalf of the federal government. As a Government Service employee I've already been ordered by the military to spy on a lawful but private assembly."
If Major Harris was up to no good, the Department of Justice would be the first to want to know. And, of course, if the Department was fine with Major Harris' actions, it would tell Katchina all she needed to know.
Beto's eyes shot up at her words and he looked at Jack sharply. The girl worked for the CDC. And had been ordered her to spy at a sealed assembly? There were ramifications to that. His mind ran through the myriad possibilities. The attempt on Little Bird's life might have been planned as well. Or someone wanted to disrupt the autonomy the Native American Council had recently passed.

The Minute Men had not been happy at that, especially once the channelers and the connection to the sickness had been revealed. Already, blogs and opinion pieces were circulating, the usual conspiracy theory junk. Supposedly, it would allow Native Americans the opportunity to collect and train channelers for themselves. Dumb. But people could still operate based on dumb ideas. The same with the military.

And for some reason, Iron Cloud, as well as a few among the Iroqois were also making waves. Something was going on.

Jack looked at him, as if he were having the same thoughts. "You were ordered to spy? By whom? Why?"

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