The singularity began its existence as one of the many infinitesimally small, sub-atomic events that occur across the universe a countless number of times, each and every second
Unlike most such events, where the tiny mathematical impossibility blisters into being before simply decaying, unobserved, into nothingness, this one warped and twisted, quickly growing in size and expanding up from the subatomic through the micro and into the macro-scale, as a whirling blue pool of nothingness rapidly built in size, fuelled by the colossal energies required to punch their way through between realities
Cass came through the vortex first, her desert robes billowing around her in the wind blown up by the gate Seymour and the other archmage’s had conjured
"Holly" she snapped, striding past the wide mouthed Seymour in his wheelchair and up to the nearest public access monitor "What's Jay's status? How long have we been away?"
The AI's disembodied head bobbed onto the screen as the other Dwarfers began emerging from the trans-dimensional portal
"Orrite dude" it beamed "How's it hanging?"
"I asked a question"
"How long have we been away?" Katrina called as she hurried over to join Cassandra "Is Jay okay?"
“Well!?” Cass glowered at the AI on the monitor
"You've been away thirty six hours, fourteen minutes and twenty eight seconds" Holly reported, to the two women's immense relief "Chrysler's condition has deteriorated these last twelve hours, Ms. Moreau reporting multiple organ failure"
"How's Jay?" Jade demanded, hurrying over to join them
"Not good" Cass said heavily as Katrina clapped a hand over her mouth, tears glistening in her eyes
"Damn it" the doctor hissed, turning from the monitor "I'm heading up there now"
"What do we do?" Katrina asked from behind her hand, struggling to keep the emotion out of her voice
"What we must" Cass turned from the monitor with a shake of her head "It's all been leading to this anyway" she glanced back at Katrina "C'mon let's go see him"

The three women hurried as quickly as they were able to the med bay, the fifteen minute journey seeming to take forever, even in spite of the pace they maintained

Even forearmed with the knowledge of how Jay had deteriorated, Cass was still taken aback by the state in which they found him
Surrounded by EM-field generators and a bristling forest of medical equipment lurking just beyond the range of the field pattern, Jay lay amid a profusion of tubes and pipes; his handsome features looking pinched and drawn, with his pallid skin punctured by a multitude of cannula’s fed by the machines just barely keeping him alive
“Oh my God!” Katrina gasped as she entered the room and ran to his bedside
“I’m glad you were able to make it back” Phi emerged from the office. She looked tired
Jade pushed past Cass, left hovering by the door in shock, to snatch up a handheld terminal and begin perusing Jay’s medical notes
“Lipids...” she murmured to herself, her brow knitting as she shook her head “hypoxia... ischemia... hypoperfusion...”
"Not good" Cass croaked slowly shaking her head and hugging her arms around herself
A sob escaped Katrina's lips as she grasped one of her husband's limp hands between hers
“Oh Jay” she whispered, her voice cracking as the tears began “Please don’t leave me... Please...”
“I’ve done as much as I possibly can” Phi said, slowly shaking her head, her voice hollow and flat “Any more will only kill him even quicker”
Jade glared up at her
“There has to be something” she insisted “Think! Cass – ideas!?”
Still stood by the door, Cass slowly shook her head
“Come on!” Jade snapped
“He’s got exactly five minutes left to live” Brittany whispered in Cassandra’s ear, making her jump and wheel around to regard her blonde haired, blue eyed doppelganger, standing, resplendent in a pristine white trouser suit, before her
"Can't say I'm surprised" Cass sneered
“You!” Katrina hissed, rising from Jay’s bedside to stride around the bed towards Brittany “Haven’t you done enough!?”
“No!” Jade intercepted her, blocking her path and pushing her back “No. This'll see you killed. Think of Max!”
Brittany’s lips parted in Cassandra’s gorgeous wide smile, familiar to all present but for its cruelty
“It’s always prudent to follow medical advice” she said in a mocking tone
“What do you want?” Cass demanded coldly “Give us the cure”
“We want you” Brittany turned to regard her “You’ve a destiny to fulfil and the STCP will not wait”
“Smeg off” Cass retorted
“Oh really?” Brittany smiled “How about we do a deal: The cure in exchange for you!”
“You planned this all along, didn’t you?” Cass snarled sullenly
Brittany threw her head back and laughed
“We plan everything my dear; you'll see”
“And if I refuse?” Cass bristled “What then?”
“Well then, that’s just part of the plan” Brittany smiled impishly “What’ll it be?”
“No Cass!” Katrina shouted “Jay would rather die than let you do this!”
"Yeah, but the thing is..." Cass shrugged and gave her a half smile “It’s not Jay’s choice”
“Time’s ticking” Brittany held up a glass phial full of blackness “This is it; just inject it into his spine”
Cass looked between the bottle and Jay and then back at Brittany, tears glistening in her eyes
“I accept” she whispered tightly
“Cass, no!” Katrina insisted “You don’t know what you’re doing!”
Closing her eyes, Cass took a deep breath before sighing it shakily out and opening her eyes again to regard Katrina
“This is the best solution for everyone” she said sadly “For you and Jay... and me; besides: I promised him”
Turning slightly, she raised her voice “Holly? Jay Chrysler now has system level privileges. Reinstate Solvay, stand down my machines. Murder anyone who attempts to reverse engineer elevated privileges or to interfere with any of my shit. Got it?”
"Gotcha" the AI swam into view on the main monitor
“Ready?” Brittany grinned
“Not really” Cass shrugged “But what choice do I have?”
Seemingly unbidden, a time gate howled into existence out in the corridor, just behind Brittany
“Tell Jay...” Cass began, but stopped and took a deep breath which she raggedly blew out as she shook her head “What’s it matter?” she sighed in resignation, her voice choked with emotion
Close to tears, she turned away, and hurriedly pushed past Brittany without another word to stalk into the time vortex
“The cure!” Katrina demanded as Brittany too turned to leave
“All yours” the monarch smiled and lobbed the phial over towards her “Catch”
Seconds later, she had entered the vortex and both she and it had disappeared

<tag>Over to you Mister Longman</tag>

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