Ian laughed quietly. "Ah, my savior. How are you? You're looking well." He grinned. "I do not imagine being in a girl's body would be much fun, nor, wearing a dress." He looked around and then gave up. "Okay, despite being a girl that claims to be Niccolo, I trust you. Now," he said, looking around again. "What are we to do? That Alistiar is a creep and I owe him a few more punches in the face." He nodded and imagined hearing Alistair's nose snap. Ah, that was a good thought.
"Well, yes, I'll admit that this is far from comfortable, but she brought me here and I owe her endlessly for that alone. As far as Alistair..." She paused for a moment, wondering where to begin, and continued. "Since I made it back here before Aretha figured out my little puzzle, she must have been compromised almost immediately after I got stuck- one or two hours later, at the latest. How long ago was that?"
Ian's eyebrows furrowed in confusion. "I have no idea..." He thought for a while. "You collapsed then Death and I walked away, then she died then I had to find Silver. She and I brought Death back and she ran away to somewhere then I came here and punched Alistar in the face for calling my apparent fiance gorgeous and for freaking me out." He glanced at his watch. "So, at least an hour." He grabbed the phone out of his pocket and checked the time. "Yeah, an hour sounds about right. Hey, do you mind if I punch him? A lot? He was making Aretha scream and she's in a Dalek looking thing and just by touching it she was screaming so I'm going to punch him." He was rambling as he tried to sort out his thoughts.
"First thing you need to know- she's not inside a Dalek, and he's not building an army of monsters. He'd be perfectly capable of it, if he wanted to, but that's not his style. Alistair would never create monsters, because he believes that human beings are the monsters. He'll go far out of his way to push a person to their limit- to find the point where they snap- and then he simply relishes watching them mindlessly destroy. He sees it as true human nature." Her voice grew bitter as she spoke, and when she finished she was barely audible. She shivered a little even though it wasn't cold, and continued.
"Aretha is not inside a Dalek. The reality is far worse- she's inside his mind. The Dalek was merely an illusion. He wants her to believe she will become a Dalek because he knows she's capable of shutting out her fear, but this way she feels she needs that emotion. She'll make herself suffer- he doesn't even have to do anything. And in his mind he can control her perception of time, so there's no telling how many hours worth of pain he's put her through." Now she was the one rambling. She ran her fingers through her hair- a nervous habit that Niccolo himself never had- and took a breath before she continued. "So we need to get her out. And we need to find out what his plan is. It's not monsters, but he told you that to distract you- keep you on your toes- so he's planning something big. And punching won't do any good- he needs to die. I would greatly appreciate your help."
For a moment she just stood silently- then her knees gave out from under her, and she caught herself just before she collapsed. She straightened herself up, ran her fingers through her hair- as if it needed fixing- and smiled sweetly. "Sorry about that- we have to switch which consciousness is prevalent every now and then, or our minds will start to deteriorate. My name is Clara Mercy Delcourte- but you can just call me Clara. Pleased to meet you!"
Ian smiled and nodded at Clara. "Hi Clara. I'm pretty sure that you know who I am so I'm not going to introduce myself." He flashed a small grin at her. "Okay, so, do you know what Niccolo knows? And I am going to punch him, I don't care." He walked over to a small stone fence that he preceded to sat on. He put his head in his hands and groaned quietly. "See, this is why I'm a psychic. I don't like field work but when it comes to my friends," he looked up at Clara and determination flashed in his eyes. "I'll do anything." He looked at his hands. One was still old-looking and he screwed his face up. He grabbed a pair of gloves from the inside pocket of his suit jacket and slipped them on. "So, what to do? Where to go?" He lay back on the small wall and sighed.
She smiled softly. "That's good- that you'll do anything, I mean. And yes, I know everything Niccolo knows. You could basically say that he is my subconscious. And when he's in control, I'm his. But we can still communicate telepathically. Actually, you should be able to talk to both of us at once, if you put effort into it. But that's not necessary." Clara tossed her curls to her back, then combed them forward with her fingers so they fell into the same meticulous pattern, exactly the same as before.
"Still," she sighed, straightening the hem of her dress, "Neither of us know where he is, or exactly what he's planning. It should be easy, except that Niccolo doesn't have any magic- he can only steal it from others, and he doesn't do that, and Alistair has every other discipline- and I couldn't be of any use in this situation anyway. The only thing we do know," she carefully inspected her fingernails, even though the silver paint didn't have so much as a single chip, "Is that he's going to keep taking it out on Aretha until we stop him. And if she learns she's not being turned into a Dalek, and escapes from whatever imaginary prison he's locked her in... Well, let's just say things will become a great deal worse." She ran her fingers through her hair, and immediately fixed it again.
What is with her and her hair? Ian asked himself while he nodded at Clara. "Okay then. Step 1. Find Alistair and Ari. Step 2. Stop them. Step 3. Kick some-" he was just about to say a swear but thought better of it. "Butt and stop Alistair." He smiled and watched a small cloud chug along the wide blue sky. It reminded him of a puff of smoke from those old steam trains that seemed high-tech. Funny now that we have iPods and laptops... "So, where are we off to Niccolo-slash-Clara? If torturing Aretha is high on his to-do list, we better show him that maybe his grave would be a higher..." He lost his train of thought. Ha. Very funny. Train. "Let's just go. Lead the way!" He sat back up and smiled, his eyes turning into two cold gem stones.