Written by William Bushway

Officer Takahashi Jones was dead, crushed to death in his spinner while on patrol. His partner and lover, Amara Asano, had presumably been taken against her will from the scene of the horrible tragedy. For the last few weeks, every officer of the L.A. division of the Attacked Mystification Police had spent every working hour searching for answers to her mysterious disappearance.

Amelia and Malia had witnessed Amara's return - had watched only hours before as she had attacked Sub-Chief Aye Tehano with the apparent intention of killing her. And now Amara lay before them, stripped of her armor and unconscious on the floor of one the AMP's magically secured detention cells. And Amelia had the feeling it would only get worse from here.

"Shouldn't we chain her up? At least cuff her?"

Malia understood Amelia's apprehension. Even unconscious and naked as she was now, Amara still made Malia uneasy. She had seen the look Amara's eyes when Aye struck her down; it was not something she would soon forget. What Malia said in response, however...

"She's one of us, Amelia. And even if she wasn't, she's still a human being. She deserves a measure of compassion."

Amelia's eyes narrowed, resentful of Malia's tone of moral superiority. Who was she to judge? With the power Amara had displayed in her fight with Aye, Amelia thought that additional restraints were a prudent suggestion. She was about to say as much, when she realized with a start that Malia was still talking.

"... and besides, do you think it'd really make much of a difference? I'm confident that Rally and Katsumi's wards will keep her in the cell - beyond that, I don't plan on being in here when Amara wakes up. Which means we need to hurry. Give me a hand and bring in the washtub I've got sitting under my desk."

Amelia gave her an incredulous look, the imagined insult forgotten.


"Don't look at me like that. Sometimes I like to soak my feet after a long day on the beat. Really!"

Amelia mumbled something as she left the cell, but Malia didn't bother to call her on it. Instead she began sorting through the armload of curiosities she had brought with her into the cell.

"Let's see," Malia mumbled to herself, "we've got the Blessed Sea Salt, two chicken bones of Nearly Equal Size, a white candle, a pink candle, Holy Water, Power Oil, and Gris-Gris Faible Incense. That just leaves the clear ammonia."

At about that moment Amelia returned, carrying the washtub. Hugging it to her chest, her hands didn't even come near touching on the other side. What someone who wore size 6 pumps needed with a tub this big to soak their feet was beyond Amelia. Malia looked up from arranging the candles around Amara's prone form.

"Be a dear and fill that with warm water, will you?" Malia paused as she dug into one of the pockets in her AMP duty coat. From it she drew a set of measuring spoons, bound by a key ring, which she then tossed into the tub without looking up. "And add a tablespoon of clear ammonia - there'll probably be some in the janitor's closet."

Amelia abruptly stopped and spun in place, not even bothering to ask why Malia hadn't asked her to fill the tub in the first place. She comforted herself by stomping loudly down the hall. Sure, it was a childish thing to do, but it made her feel better.

Amelia's return was heralded by a harsh, drawn out screech as she struggled to drag the now-full tub down the hall. She was glad the other officers were out-and-about. This was hardly the dignified image she strove to present. And besides that, it was really tiring. The old-time metal washtub, once filled with warm water, was much heavier than you'd think. She stopped in the hallway to catch her breath for her moment.

Eventually, Malia came out to help her. She even commented about how heavy the tub was, reinforcing Amelia's notion that whatever Malia used the tub for, foot soaking was not involved. She would have said so, too, but once again Malia interrupted her thoughts.

"This is as good a place as any," she said as they dragged the tub's massive weight next to Amara's still-comatose form. After taking a moment to let them both catch their breath, Amelia brushed her hair out of her eyes.

"So, what else goes in this soup? Besides Amara, I mean."

"This is an aura-cleansing bath, so simplicity is the key. Just a tablespoon of Blessed Sea Salt."

Amelia was ready to hand back the measuring spoons Malia had given her when Malia poured the salt into her hand, turned, and threw it over her shoulder into the tub.

"How do you know that was a tablespoon?"

"Voodoo isn't an exact science. If it was, replicants could do it. Isn't that a scary thought? Anyway, I figure we can use all the luck we can get. Now, if you grab Sleeping Beauty under her arms, I'll take her legs, and we can get her into the tub with the minimum chance of waking her up. Shall we?"

And they did just that. Malia instructed Amelia to liberally pour water over Amara, but try as she may, she ended getting more water on herself than on her charge. Eventually Malia gave up, and sent Amelia to go empty what water remained in the tub, then find towels and a change of uniform in the station's locker room. Once she was gone, Malia went to work on the next step of the spell. Had Amara been conscious, Malia would have told her to "imagine yourself being filled with a pure white light from head to toe. Envision it extending from your body, into your aura, burning away Ganossa's taint." But Malia didn't want to risk waking Amara. She had to hope her gris-gris was good enough to do the job without her patient's psychic cooperation.

Instead she began constructing the Crossbones amulet. She set up a makeshift altar in the center of the room. Kneeling, she lit and set the pink candle to her left, representing love and friendship and their ability to overcome evil. Drawing another match from her pocket, she lit and set the white candle to her right, representing faith and purity and their power to bolster spiritual strength. Finally, she lit and set the Gris-Gris Faible Incense before her, it's heady aroma hinting at it's power to destroy an enemy's power and influence. She then began to drip Power Oil into the flame of each of the candles, the frankincense in it adding to the room's bouquet. Under her breath, she said a short prayer to St. Jude that her modest skills would be enough to turn Ganossa's spell.

She then started the true thrust of her task. Malia began by tying the chicken bones together with a piece of ordinary black thread. As she did so, she began to chant in the Haitian patois:

The crossbones will work here,
absorb and hold negativity.
Into you marrow,
it goes in thee;
all evil and negativity.

When the bones were securely tied into the shape of a solar cross, she sprinkled it with holy water given to her by her priest. She wondered whether he had had any idea what she planned to do with it. Probably not.

With water do I consecrate this amulet,
an instrument which will absorb
and hold negative energy
sent to its wearer.

She then went on to sprinkle the amulet with more of the Blessed Sea Salt. She smiled and considered asking Amelia to measure it for her.

With earth do I consecrate this amulet,
an instrument which will absorb
and hold negative energy
sent to its wearer.

Malia then began to pass through the flames of the two candles in a sideways figure-eight pattern, the symbol for infinity.

With fire do I consecrate this amulet,
an instrument which will absorb
and hold negative energy
sent to it's wearer.

Finally, she held the amulet in the incense's fragrant smoke.

With air do I consecrate this amulet,
an instrument which will absorb
and hold negative energy
sent to its wearer.

The ritual completed, Malia tied the amulet around Amara's neck, letting the cross rest on her heart. Even this momentary contact with Amara's aura caused the amulet to grow heavier as it absorbed the negative energy directed towards the sleeping woman. Eventually it would grow so heavy with negative energy that it would collapse under it's own weight, and the spell would be broken. Until then, if Malia's gris-gris had been true, Amara would be free of Ganossa's influence.

Malia crossed her fingers.

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