Salamander 2 part 11

by EMW

Friday, 7th of December, 2035

(Mandy)

Friday at last. I was looking forward to the weekend for a bit of a rest, a chance to put my feet up and relax. The week had been tiring and a little nerve racking. Unfortunately it wasn't the weekend yet, I still had a day's worth of lessons and work before I could let my hair down.

I got ready for school, then had a nice breakfast with Gwen. She wished me a pleasant day and I ran off to meet D.

She greeted me with a lopsided smile, “So how are you feeling today?” she asked.

“Still a little shaky after what happened but better. The club kind of pushed it out of my mind but it came back again later. I had a few bad dreams,” I replied.

“Yeah, me too,” she said and gave me a squeeze on the shoulders.

“So, any plans for the weekend,” I said, changing the subject to a less depressing one.

"Dunno, I think Mum said she was thinking of inviting you and Gwen to lunch or something."

"That should be fun, I don't think we have any plans so hopefully Gwen will agree."

"Cool. Not sure what Mum has in mind, I guess she'll tell Gwen."

I smiled as we walked up to the school gates, waving when I spotted Jane waiting. We walked over and I noticed a large group of boys a bit behind her waiting at the gate. I didn't think anything about it at first as people often met at the gate in the morning.

As we approached I noticed Jane eyeing the gang behind her with a worried expression. Suddenly she turned and came running towards us. "Look out they're going to ..." she tried to warn us but was interrupted when one of the boys pointed at me and shouted, "There she is!"

"Get her!" shouted a girl’s voice, which after I looked in the right direction turned out to be Becky.

The group charged at me. Before I could react D stepped in front of me and idly intercepted each of the boys tossing them aside with seemingly no effort.

Once she had dealt with them she stood over the pile of bodies, "The lot of you better get lost before I get mad and start hurting people," she said casually flicking a lock of purple hair out of her eyes.

Becky glared in our direction but made no move against us. We walked past them hearing her say, "You useless sods," then a cry of pain as she kicked someone on the ground.

We headed up to registration.

(Four)

I watched the fight with interest. The bodyguard the girl had was increasingly a problem. She needed to be dealt with. I watched our target go deeper into the school and prepared to leave, taking a moment to observe the gang of boys picking themselves up. I swung the parabolic mic in their direction just out of curiosity.

"Damn that D!" shouted one boy.

"She's too strong Flint maybe we should just forget that Amanda chick. Plus you know Winston has a thing for her too," another smaller boy said.

"Shut it you chicken! Not after what that bitch did to Stacy! We just need to take her unaware, take out D first, then we can take our time teaching that damned lizard a lesson," Flint replied. He was obviously in charge and had a serious axe to grind.

"Yeah OK ... well we better head up it's nearly registration time," the other boy said nervously.

"Sod that," spat Flint, "Let's bunk off down at the shops, I'm sick of school already."

The gang moved off out the gate with Flint at its head. The more nervous boy looked torn for a bit then ran after them. This group could prove to be useful, blunt instruments but perhaps suited to our task. Maybe they could take out that bodyguard, they looked fervent enough as well as stupid enough to manipulate. I'm not sure that having them do it would do our cause much good locally, but the general media backlash the target had engineered meant it couldn't do much more harm. In fact it might be beneficial just have the locals write this place off as a bad school.

"Do we have any scrubbed and tagged HEFW7's?" I called to Five.

"Couple," she said eyeing me suspiciously.

"Could you collar a clean one and gift wrap it for me," I said.

She nodded and went to work while I dialed for authorisation, something like this could backfire so I wanted to be sure I wouldn't be blamed if it did. Standard arse covering techniques but much needed as in this case I wouldn't be fired I'd be found swinging from a lamppost with bits of my anatomy cut out, probably by the hand of the lovely Five.

"Barry this is Dave," I said into the phone, neither were real names just convenient nondescript names close to our code numbers. Traffic using code numbers would have raised some eyebrows and using encryption made it look like you had something to hide. Much simpler to hide in plain sight it was a lot harder to detect, "I've been thinking about giving the boys I told you about a set of flowers to give to Dorothy for her birthday since I won't be able to make the party. Would you ask Alfred if that's alright?"

"Just a second Dave I'll ask him," the line went quiet.

"Alfred thinks she'll really enjoy that, you have his blessing," Two replied.

I exchanged farewells and rang off putting the used phone in for recycling.

I was just preparing to move off to follow the boys when a car pulled up in front of the school. A young woman and a man got out. The woman was a very attractive brunette, but it was her more nondescript companion that caught my eye. His subtle grey uniform and the odd case he carried made me realise immediately what he was.

I calmly began performing mental exercises we had been taught to mask our thoughts, and leaned back and said, "Spectre," to Five.

She went pale and nodded. As calmly as possible I drove off after the boys. We were probably far enough away that they couldn't detect us. Plus the van had been modified with materials that supposedly dampened any telepathic activity. I wasn't sure if that was true or not it might have just been something to stop people panicking.

Spectres were something of a mystery, seemingly government but not from any agency we could identify. Possibly black bag or maybe a more private group like us or something else. Their methods rarely fitted any obvious pattern suggesting something more than simple government or security service agents. They were almost always highly trained and terrifyingly powerful telepaths. They could look at a person and rip their darkest secrets out of their mind without effort seemingly with no issue, even when you were shielded by other telepaths. They adopted a somewhat mythical nature like fictional men in black or something similar, partly as a ruse to make people doubt they existed and partly as an intimidation tactic. They would often turn up under the guise of some other agency with a bona fide agent or member of that group, do whatever it was they did and then they and often the subject they were investigating would vanish usually so thoroughly that it would be like they had never existed.

They always wore the same strange grey suits and carried a case of peculiar design no one had yet managed to get a look into. I heard rumors of a merc team that had managed to get some close up scans by chance, and every single one of them had vanished within minutes. Some in plain sight just suddenly gone, no puff of smoke, no flash of light, nothing. Such things were possible with teleporters and the like but it was unnerving.

Why they wore a uniform that allowed them to be so easily identified by someone that knew what to look for was not clear. Like so much about them it was a mystery, and unclear if it was intentional or something else. It was almost as if in these cases we were supposed to spot them, as if the visible agent was a distraction for whatever real agenda they had.

Whatever they really were I knew one thing, they were trouble. I just had to hope they weren't interested in us or our target or things could get pretty sticky.

I drove off after the gang of boys. They seemed to be heading for a small shopping centre up the road so I drove ahead and found somewhere inconspicuous to park. I slipped on some gloves fitted a false moustache and turned to face the back of the van.

“How's the package?” I asked Five.

“Done,” she said handing me a small box.

“I'll go and see if I can convince the young rabble to put this to good use, you'd better call in that Spectre, One would certainly want to know about that,” I said.

She nodded and picked up a clean phone, I slipped out of the van and sat on a close by bench waiting for the boys to get nearer. It was another case of having to use the somewhat rough tools that opportunity provided. I hoped that this lot would prove more effective than that bumbling security guard.

As they got nearer I signaled their leader, “Excuse me, I wonder if I could have a word with you Flint.”

“What are you, the truant officer,” he said sullenly, as half of the gang looked ready to bolt.

“Hardly, I saw your altercation with that filthy hybrid beast and felt I could perhaps offer some assistance.”

Flint snorted, “Like I need your help you old fogey!”

“Well I have in my possession a certain item which you could use to take care of the beast once and for all. With a little effort on your part you can dispatch that monster and have free reign to exact your revenge,” I said with a smile.

“Oh yeah what ya got some kind of cannon?” Flint blustered, though he was obviously intrigued.

“Step a little closer, this isn't something I want the whole street seeing,” I said extracting the package from my pocket.

He shuffled closer looking at me suspiciously, I checked no one was looking then showed him what was in the box.

The youth looked in with a sneering expression that gradually turned to confusion and shock, “That's a model, it’s got to be.”

“I assure you it is perfectly real.”

“So what, you just offering that thing to me, I could flog it for a fortune!”

“Yes but why not use it first. It will still hold most of its value even then.”

“I don't get it, you've offering me that piece of hardware what do you get out of this.”

“Ah, I will be well compensated I assure you. My employers retain my services specifically to help young men like yourself deal with problems like that mockery of a human being.”

“So I just take this and use it on her that's it?”

“Well I would advise you to wait till she is in a location where you will not be seen doing the deed, maybe when she walks home late from that club she attends on Mondays, but yes that is pretty much all there is to it.”

I held the box out to him and he took it almost reverently. I nodded and walked off.

“What have you got Flint?” asked one of his gang.

“Never you mind!” he said angrily stuffing the box into his coat pocket, “Let's just say it's something that will fix that D for good.”

I walked away smiling, they would need careful watching to ensure they didn't go too far but I think they would do nicely as a solution to our problem.

(Mandy)

We got into registration a short while after the debacle at the gate, I got a few friendly hellos from various people. The three of us sat down at the back and chatted while we were waiting.

"Have you seen that the new film with Brad Jones is out," Jane said excitedly, "he is such a hunk!"

"Yeah pretty easy on the eyes," grinned D, "We should go see it, maybe Sunday. What d'ya reckon Tish?"

"OK I guess," I said half heartedly.

"What, you don't like Brad Jones!" Jane exclaimed.

"Not really, I always found his films a little boring. I know Gwen likes him though," I said.

"Maybe we should invite her along too," said D thoughtfully, "she could probably use a little fun."

"I think she'd like that," I replied.

"I can't believe you don't like Brad Jones," said Jane in a disbelieving tone, grasping her red hair in her fists on either side of her head like she was going to pull it out in shock.

She looked set to ask me more but at this point Mr Griffiths stormed into the room. He began taking the register so I sat back waiting for my name to be called. About half way through there was a knock at the door and one of the Admin staff a tall thin woman with very short black hair walked in. She whispered something to Mr Griffiths who frowned then nodded.

"Dorothy Newman, Jane Collins, and Amanda Wilson, come with me please, the head needs to see you," the woman said in a neutral but authoritative voice.

We grabbed our things and headed off after the woman.

"What's this about?" asked Jane.

"I'm afraid I don't know, I was just told to come get you three," the woman said.

She lead us through the school struggling a little against the traffic when the bell went. She took us to the admin block and towards Mrs Thomas's office.

When we entered the outer office where Mrs Thomas's nasty secretary Mrs Donal, who thankfully was absent, unsually sat, Jane twitched as if surprised.

"Hmm, there are two people in there that seem to be telepaths," said Jane with a frown.

We were ushered into the office where Mrs Thomas and her guests were waiting. One was a very attractive brunette woman with sparkly blue eyes that looked very friendly. The other was a tall thin white haired man with fierce piercing grey eyes dressed head to toe in an odd gray suit with white highlights. Something about him bothered me. Both of their minds felt shielded but it didn't stop me reading their emotions. I guessed I probably couldn't interfere with their emotional state, not that I would. I guarded my thoughts carefully, unsure how much they would be able to read.

The white haired man's attention swept across us.

"Hey!" said Jane angrily, "it's terribly rude to invasively read someone's mind without even asking!"

He snorted and shifted his focus to me. His powers were very strong I could feel it. I locked myself down tight. He frowned, his glare intensified and I could feel his frustration as he clawed at my mind trying to force his way in.

“Open up!” he said through gritted teeth.

“NO! I don't even know who you jokers are!” I said defensively, feeling very uncomfortable about complete strangers turning up in odd uniforms trying to force their way into my head. If I didn't roll over for Trisha I sure as hell wasn't going to do so for some weirdo in a bad suit.

“My apologies,” said the woman with a tight smile. She was very nervous and slightly on edge, “My colleague can be a bit blunt.”

“Why don't you girls sit down,” said Mrs Thomas.

The man swung his head in her direction sharply as if he had only just realised she was there.

“It would be better if you would leave,” he said.

“For whom?” Mrs Thomas said and sat down at her desk making no move to leave.

The man scowled at her but sat down on a sofa on the far side of the room with his companion who was looking at him anxiously. D, Jane, and I grabbed chairs and sat down wondering what was going on.

“Get on with it then,” the man said to the woman.

“Ah yes well,” the woman flustered before regaining her train of thought. “My name is Tanya Franklin, I represent the International Association of Telepaths, Telesensors and Empaths. This is my colleague ah ...”

“Smith ... John Smith,” said the white haired man. I could tell straight away he was lying, it was harder to tell than with most people, he seemed to have training at controlling his emotions but I could still tell. Of course the pause from his companion was rather telling too. Plus couldn't he have picked a different alias than John Smith it practically screamed fake.

The woman was not concealing anything of her feelings, she was extremely uncomfortable with whatever was going on and a little afraid of the man to her right. I was getting very suspicious of what was going on, I focused on locking down my head as much as possible.

“We are here to investigate the allegations you raised about another pupil here Trisha Jackson, specifically that she used her abilities to influence one of you against your will.”

D told the story with me and Jane chipping in various bits here and there. The man John Smith stared out the window projecting a sense of boredom and complete disinterest. I guess he had ripped the essentials from my two friends’ minds.

The woman was very nice and friendly and asked questions making notes and filling out some sort of report. She asked for D's permission to examine her memories of the incident to verify that she was under control which D agreed to. Once she was done she said that she had enough to take action against Trisha. She would be given the choice of expulsion from school with a black mark on her records to indicate that if she were caught again she would face jail time, or she could go to some sort of retraining facility where she would be coached in more responsible uses of her powers. If she chose this option she would be returned to school afterwards with a clean slate and only occasional monitoring if she showed she had learned her lesson. She told us we could go back to our lessons and thanked us for our help.

As we made for the door, “You!” said the white haired man jabbing a finger at me, “Just one more moment.”

The woman Tanya looked exasperated at that but slumped a bit in resignation, “If we could please just have a few more moments of your time Amanda it would be helpful.”

I nodded and stayed.

“Leave us!” gestured Smith to Mrs Thomas.

“And have you interrogate one of my student alone! Not likely!” said Mrs Thomas.

The man did nothing but I sensed a brief flare of activity between him and the woman.

She winced very briefly and said sweetly “It will only take a moment we just wish to ask Amanda some more ... sensitive questions, you can wait right outside the door.” Her emotions told a different story. I tensed up worrying that I would be in for a fight.

Mrs Thomas eventually nodded looking a little unsure, I got the feeling that if she had said no then things might have gotten rough. I wasn't sure who this Smith represented but it didn't seem like some essentially benevolent regulatory group. There was something far more sinister in his actions.

Mrs Thomas paused at the door and said to me, “I'll be right outside the door, if you need any help just call.”

I sat back in my chair waiting to see what would happen next. The man put a briefcase onto the desk next to him and extracted a small square object which he slapped onto the door. There was a strange humming noise but other than that it didn't seem to do anything. Then he spun suddenly and attached a thing to my forehead. I let out a scream.

“Oh do be quiet that will just relax you,” He said.

He was right it had relaxed me so much that I couldn't move my arms and legs. I slumped in the chair like a puppet with its strings cut.

“What have you done to me,” I wailed scared. “HELP! HELP!”

At every cry for help the woman cringed and looked more and more worried.

“Don't bother to waste your breath that gizmo on the door prevents sound from carrying. No one out there can hear us now. And don't bother trying to alert your little friend out there I'm blocking any telepathic contact,” Smith said.

I became frantic trying to move I began throwing my head around violently the only bit of me I could move. “Stop that! You will not be harmed if you cooperate!” he said.

For once he was telling the truth at least as he saw it. I relaxed a little but was still a bit terrified.

“What do you want!” I spat angrily.

“Information!” He replied.

“You'll not get it!”

He chuckled to himself at that, “Come now that is no way to treat an official of the IATTE.”

“You're not with them you big fat liar,” I replied. “I'm not telling you a thing, you could be anyone. Official people don't work like this.”

He seemed momentarily taken aback that I knew he was not who he pretended to be. He was sure clueless that his disguise fooled nobody, “Fine, let me lay it out for you. You are blocking an agent in the line of his duties, this is a serious charge and I have complete authority.”

I stared at him resolute that he wasn't going to get away with this. He went back to his briefcase and pulled out some kind of scanner and began recording data including fingerprints and even taking a blood sample.

“Get off me! You can't do that you bastard,” I screamed.

“I can do whatever I want!” he shouted back arrogantly. “Now open up!”

He grabbed me by the shoulders and tried to mentally batter his way through my defenses. He failed several times, each time trying a different way to get in. His attacks were much more powerful than I had experienced from any other telepath or at least he seemed to know exactly how to bypass normal shielding. I was lucky I was made of sterner stuff so even with his abilities my mind stayed locked down tight. He growled with frustration then went back to his case and came back. He tried again this time just as he attacked he jabbed some sort of shock thing into me. The surprise made me drop enough of my mental defenses that he got slightly into my mind.

“AHA!” he shouted.

He started searching my mind but began butting up against other mental defenses and the parts of my brain hard-wired to keep telepaths out. He also triggered a rather nasty autonomic defense mechanism, and my darkest and most painful experiences all rolled in a neat looping package blasted its way back along the link. His mind was well trained snapping in defenses of his own as soon as he felt it coming but it was like air gun pellets trying to stop a freight train. His mind was woefully under protected compared to mine and it just smashed straight through his meager shields like they weren't there.

He screamed out in pain grabbing his head, collapsing to the floor clawing at his face.

I decided that now was the time to get rid of the illegal data he had collected on me.

Not being able to move actually seemed to help with this. Normally to generate heat I had to use my body as a sort of focal point but since it was mostly limp I tried something new. With a little concentration I was able to mentally conjure up a imaginary hand over on the table to focus my powers and my recent practice allowed me to control it better. If it had been earlier on I probably would have roasted the entire room in an inferno. I focused on his briefcase content heating it as fast and as much as I could. His fancy gadgets were reduced to scrap in seconds. The metal briefcase functioned as a heat sink absorbing and dissipating the heat, which was lucky otherwise the hot scrap might have set fire to the case or burned into the desk. I decided I could use this to cover my tracks a bit, I focused on the sections holding the case open making them collapse by destroying the tiny metal pins with a blast of heat. The lid snapped down and I focused on the latch welding it shut.

After a few minutes he got a grip on himself, “You little bitch!” he shouted.

“Now you know one of the reasons I don't let telepaths poke around my mind without my say so,” I said firmly, “It's too dangerous for them, you got off lucky!”

He staggered to his feet and ripped the widget that was keeping me stuck there off my head, “Get out!” he shouted.

I made for the door and was just about to open it and race off when a thought occurred to me. With him distracted perhaps I could use a little subterfuge to gain some information.

I opened the door and stealthed myself as I pretended to rush out but instead I quickly ducked behind a cupboard that was next to the door to hide my movement, and shut it again.

Once they thought I was gone they began to talk, “What on earth happened!?” asked Tanya.

“Some sort of psychic backlash, it's listed in her files. I guess for once they weren't exaggerating,” Smith said.

“Was it really necessary to do that to that poor girl?!”

“I have my orders and it's not for you to question them Miss Franklin. You know the deal, you assist us when we need it and your little indiscretions get wiped off your records. So do your part and see that it remains that way.”

“I know the deal! It didn't include anything about interrogating girls or the possibility of handing them over to your agency!”

“I'm altering the deal, pray I don't alter it any further.”

“Yes, thank you Darth,” she said with a sour expression, I wondered what she meant. Was that his real name or something? My gut told me it wasn't, “I still can't believe it, a mighty Spectre beaten by a school girl! I though you guys were supposed to be the best, she could even tell off the bat you were lying.”

“Think what you like Miss Franklin, she is an unusual individual.”

“So are you going to disappear this Jackson girl or do I take her in?”

“I think she is far too unstable for our purposes and despite her power she is clumsy. Though she was found out by this Wilson girl who would probably be a match for most telepaths. I will make my report and maybe my superiors will think differently. For now Miss Franklin, you may train that stray like the good dog catcher you are.”

“What about Amanda Wilson?”

“I have no time to look into her now, I will report this data and they will make a decision.”

I shifted slightly and must have made a noise as he froze. For a second seemed to relax, though his mind stayed tense. He wandered over towards the door seemingly to retrieve the sound blocking device. Then he lunged suddenly at the wall next to the door where my hiding place was.

He grasped air, “Hmm guess it was nothing.”

Preached on the wall above the cupboard I gave a mental sigh of relief.

“What was that about?” said Tanya.

“Oh nothing, I should be going. I will be in touch when I need you,” Smith said as he tried to open his briefcase to put the two gadgets in there, but it wouldn't bulge. “Damn lock always sticks.”

He grabbed it off the desk then stormed off. I noticed a slight discolouration in the varnish on the edge of the desk where the heat from my incinerating his toys had leached out. Tanya followed him looking more dazed than before. I swiftly leapt to the floor and silently followed her out.

"I trust that this is everything Miss Franklin," Mrs Thomas said with a stern look.

"Yes Mrs Thomas, I will need to talk to Miss Jackson in private to see what she decides," she replied.

"Can we go then Miss?" asked D.

"Yes run along you three," answered Mrs Thomas.

"Amanda," said Tanya before we went out, "I'm sorry about Mr Smith, he is not a people person."

I nodded and the three of us dashed off to science.

Once we were out of sight D turned to me and said, "OK what did you hear on your little spying session Tish?"

"What do you mean," I said innocently, trying hard to suppress a grin.

"Door opens you vanish from the doorway door shuts on its own," Jane said, "then you sneak out from behind that woman making sure she doesn't see you. Come on Tish we're not idiots."

I giggled a little then tried to think of what to say. I might potentially be putting my friends in danger by telling them. Still I didn't want to start keeping secrets from them and if Mr Smith disappeared me they might be at risk anyway, better to give them some idea what they were up against.

"Have either of you heard of something called a spectre?" I asked.

"It's some sort of ghost, isn't it?" said Jane furrowing her brow.

"Yeah, but I suspect it must mean something else in this context as apparently Mr Smith is one, and I don't think he was dead or anything. It sounded like he was blackmailing that woman so he could come along to check Trisha out for possible recruitment," I said.

D was looking at me with a frown, "They're supposed to be a myth," she said.

"Who?" asked Jane.

"Spectres, sort of telepathic super spies. I always thought they were a joke," she paused biting her lip with a look of intense concentration as if she was trying to remember something. "The way I heard it they spy on people and governments. Though it's not clear who they work for, if they are part of the government, some sort of private security, or maybe a wing of some criminal outfit. The rumours say they take young powerful telepaths, train them in all sorts of techniques both combat and powers related. Then they use them both overtly as agents like Smith or even more subtly as the ones no one spots."

"Smith was angry about me keeping him out of my head, he tried forcing his way in ..." I started.

"He tried forcing his way in!" exclaimed Jane, "Well that's just one more bit of proof he wasn't who he said he was. That's a big no no for IATTE, they won't force their way in under any circumstances."

"He tried for a long time and eventually he distracted me with some sort or electric shock and got in slightly. Then my mind did that thing it does to telepaths with sharp thoughts used as weapons and he broke off," I said with a shrug.

"Why didn't you come get us?" asked D angrily.

"He put some widget on my head that made it impossible to move and another on the door to block the noise. I was paralysed and shouting like mad. He also decided to take scans and blood samples of me," I said.

"You could have called to Jane we were in range," D suggested.

"He said he was blocking any telepathic contact."

"Well so that was that odd fuzzy feeling I got right after we left the Office. He was messing with me. This is all pretty scary," said Jane hugging her arms around herself, "An agent of some highly secret agency turns up at our school and starts taking an interest in Tish. He just waltzes in and gets blood samples, scans, and tries to interrogate you telepathically."

"He hasn't got the scans or blood any more I incinerated the lot to ash when he was distracted by my thought weapon psychic feedback thingy," I said.

"This isn't good," said D grimly.

“Hold up a tick, if they're supposed to be some super secret telepathic spy outfit, how come you know about it?” asked Jane looking at D quizzically.

“I heard rumours, people talking, I know things," D said looking at her feet. Jane gave her a look "... OK I read about them on the Internet but there's whole reams of stuff about them. Most of it's probably bollocks. I figured it was some sort of game, sort of disinformation, or something from one of those conspiracy theorists that think we didn't land on Mars that is was all CGI. Now that we've seen one in the flesh the only thing I can think of is that they do that deliberately either to make people who say they've seen them sound like nuts or maybe for some other reason,” said D.

At this point we reached the classroom door and after a quick apology to Mrs Murphy we got stuck in. The lesson passed quickly. We were keen to chat some more about what had happened but there was a lot of practical stuff today so we didn't really have the time. Once we were done we headed straight over to the library and holed ourselves up in the corner with the old reference books. I wondered why they kept them, they were out of date before they were even printed and they took up so much room. All the information they contained could be got from a computer. It was nice to hold a book in your hand and read it but I couldn't help but wonder if the space could be better used.

We sat there with our books out to draw suspicion away from us, all secretively talking to each other enclosed by stacks of fake leather bound tomes. I felt almost like we were some conspiracy group meeting to discuss our latest plan and the absurdity of the image made me giggle which drew me some serious looks from D and Jane which only made me giggle more. Once I had the laughs out of my system I was able to settle down and talk about what I had learned.

“The woman seemed to indicate that Smith was here to inspect Trisha, but he concluded she was too unstable,” I said, “It didn't sound like he was that interested in me till he found I could block him out.”

“Makes sense I guess,” said Jane chewing the end of a pen thoughtfully, “If what D said about them is true, which is a bit of an assumption, they make their living on telepathically spying on people reading their thoughts and finding others to train to do the same. Finding a person immune to their methods and training would be a bit of a worry.”

“If I'd been smart I would have dropped my block and let him rummage then he would have been none the wiser,” I said cursing my stubbornness.

“I don't know, your brain isn't like most people’s which are like an open plan office with the odd partition but nothing you can't climb over. Even when you let someone in it's like a hall of mirrors that is constantly shifting, against your will and it's full of nasty traps. I suspect he would have been unable to just rummage at will, not without a bit of familiarity,” Jane said.“I mean the only reason you can hear my mental voice is you recognise my signature.”

“OK so now we have established that Tish's brain is weird, what do we do about this joker? He probably won't be too happy when he finds his case of toys melted down, and assuming he is from some group of super spies it's not going to take much to figure out who did it.” said D.

“No,” I said slumping down my head in my hands.

“I suppose we wait and see,” said Jane, “Not much else we can do.”

“We could tell someone,” said D.

“Who would believe us?” I asked.

“Yeah, Mrs Thomas might believe there was something fishy with that guy but not that he was some sort of telepathic super spy. Sounds much too far fetched, I guess that's partly why they would put that stuff out there,” Jane said.

She was right, with that out there no one would believe three kids spouting tales about anything related. I guess Miss Franklin would but it sounded like they already had her over the barrel. I did have a sudden thought though, maybe things weren't quite what they seemed, “There is also one possibility we haven't considered,” I said, “That guy might not have been from any agency, he could have been from someone else entirely or by himself, using the rumours as a sort of con or something.”

“Hmm,” said D, “I suppose that's possible, but in the end how would we find out? All we know is that he was a powerful telepath who was definitely lying about who he was and who he worked for. We don't know anything else for sure.”

“I guess we just keep our eye's peeled and hope he looses interest or hope he was a con man just winging it who will likely never bother us again,” said Jane.

I nodded it was the best we could hope for.

At that point I was grabbed from both sides by two people, “There you are!” grinned Kitty.

“Why are you over here?” asked Clare.

“Just doing some homework,” I said smiling.

“OK,” Kitty said looking a bit doubtful, “Anyway, did you see? They took meanie Trisha away in chains!”

“Really? In Chains?” asked Jane.

“Well no,” said Kitty looking a little sheepishly, “Her parents came in and took her away, some lady following them.”

“She was crying,” put in Clare.

“Serves her right! I hope they do lots of nasty things to her, see how she likes it,” said Kitty fluttering her wings angrily.

I nodded, these too certainly had the right to hate Trisha. I felt a little sorry for her even though she was undoubtedly a nasty piece of work. I hoped she managed to learn to be a better person, I had my doubts but I guess you never knew.

The two smaller girls wanted to sit with us but there weren't enough chairs in the little alcove so we moved out into the main area. I saw the usual suspects around, Sally and her friends who I waved to. I also saw that Helen was sitting doing some work by herself.

I gave her a smile and a wave and she waved and gave a slight smile in return then buried her face in her book as if a little shy of me. I decided to give her some space maybe she would feel able to be more friendly in the future.

We sat down and did some work with Kitty and Clare chattering away together excitedly, they seemed much happier now that Trisha was gone. It made me happy that they weren't afraid any more. I could imagine they might well face other bullies in the future but for now they were happy and free.

Soon enough the bell went and we all said goodbye scrambling off to our next lessons. It was further humanities next which was reasonably interesting talking about different religions. I hadn't really learnt about anything other than the Church of England or the local variant before. This was followed by French which I was gradually learning. I had been trying my hardest to learn as much vocabulary as possible so I could at least have some chance of following what was going on. Then it was lunch. I was famished as we walked to the canteen.

“French is so hard,” I said to Jane and D, “I just have so little idea what is going on.”

“You've never done it before?” asked Jane.

“No, it wasn't taught at my old school. They didn't go for languages other than English,” I replied.

“Maybe you could get some extra tutoring?” suggested Jane.

“Gwen thought of that but it cost too much,” I said.

“You should ask Mum,” said D, “Her speciality is languages, she knows French pretty well and I think German too, I'm sure she'd be happy to give you a few tips.”

We rounded the corner right into a gang of MORFS girls, it was Trisha's old gang.

“You!” shouted a tall red haired girl with an angry sneer, “I ought to roast you alive for what you've done.”

She balled her hands into fists and they burst into flames. I guess she was a fire elemental but she didn't seem to know that I was one too and that her fire couldn't hurt me. Still I didn't want her to mess up my clothes so I didn't make any moves to provoke her.

“Why what did I do?” I asked.

My lack of fear seemed to disturb her, “You grassed up Trisha, whined away to authorities when you couldn't beat her!” she shouted back.

“That's not the way I remember it, the last time I saw her she was running away crying,” I said frankly. I wasn't proud of what had happened but I wasn't going to let this girl use that to push me around.

A few of the gang were looking at me with more than a little fear in their eyes, one of them leaned over to the new leader and said quietly, “Andi maybe we should just leave her alone, seriously she’s a nutter, real dangerous.”

“Shut up!” Andi shouted.

We stood there for a while this girl Andi getting wound up in this standoff, D was slowly edging forward ready to take down some of these girls. Most of them were getting more and more nervous, without Trisha to negate D they were looking at her plus me and I had scared them pretty conclusively earlier. Jane was also looking ready to fight this lot, a determined steely look in her eyes, I doubted her diminutive form would scare many of these girls but the fact that she was ready to stand up for me made me feel good.

“What is going on here?” said a voice behind the girls. It was Winston, the head of the super freaks.

I gulped with worry, while I reckoned the chances of escaping unscathed from these girls were fairly good, with the rest of the supers in their corner I didn't rate our chances so high anymore.

“She grassed up Trisha, had her kicked out of school and put in some detention centre for MORFS kids who don't do what they're told!” shouted Andi fists still aflame.

“Yeah I heard so what,” Winston said. I was a little surprised and it seems so was Andi as the flames on her hands nearly went out due to the distraction.

“... But ... but ... but she turned on one of our own!” Andi spluttered.

“Well maybe but Trisha turned on her first. Trisha had been getting sloppy for a while now, long before Amanda came here. She was making the rest of us look bad with her little games. It would have been one thing if she had confined her entertainment to the mundanes but she took great pleasure in torturing other MORFS survivors, and she got careless, someone was bound to take her out sooner or later. Better it be one of ours, like Amanda, than one of those purist scum who would have used it against the rest of us,” Winston said.

“But ...!” started Andi.

“But nothing,” said Winston angrily, “the matter is closed I don't want to see you pestering Amanda anymore.”

Winston turned and gave me a pleasant smile then began walking off past us gesturing for the rest of the gang to follow him and all but Andi did. She just stood there simmering with rage. D, Jane and I walked past her and on towards the dining hall.

There was a shout of rage and I felt her fire coming before I even saw it.

“Look out!” shouted D, as she and Jane leapt out of the way.

I stood my ground and watched the fire come towards me. I held out my hand and stopped the raging ball of flame in mid air. Andi looked shocked and I could feel her power struggling against my control trying to make the fire hit me. It was very easy to hold her at bay I had complete control of the fire in front of me, I closed my hand in a fist and the fire went out. Andi stared for a bit then ran off.

“What is with enemies,” I said exasperatedly, “One goes away and then two pop up in his place! It's like that thing with the head getting chopped off and two taking its place.”

“What that old cartoon thing with the brooms?” asked D.

“I think she's thinking of Hydra from the Greek myths,” Jane said with a smile.

“Oh ... What am I thinking of?” asked D looking puzzled.

“I think it was an old Disney cartoon,” Jane said.

“Ah ... same sort of thing though,” said D looking away a bit embarrassed.

“Yeah,” I said giving D a big smile to make her feel better, “You get the idea.”

She smiled back and we all headed off to lunch, I put my problems with my enemies behind me at least for now. We tucked in to our lunches with gusto, and were soon joined by Kitty and Clare. I was quite hungry, all the messing around with my powers had really taken it out of me so I didn't say much. When we were done we all headed off to the library to do some homework. Kitty and Clare were excited about the weekend and chattering away about it, well Kitty was while Clare made the odd point from time to time. As a result we didn't get much done.

I noticed Miss Gordon coming over, "How did it go with the IATTE people this morning?" she asked.

"One of them was some sort of spy," said D.

"What!" exclaimed Miss Gordon. I was a bit surprised D had just said that but I guess she trusted Miss Gordon.

"Claimed to be a Spectre had all sorts of funny widgets that did questionable probably illegal things."

Miss Gordon looked cross and also thoughtful, "What's Tanya got herself mixed up in good this time," she said to herself.

"You know that Lady Miss Gordon?" I asked.

"Yes, we two have a history together," she answered somewhat cryptically.

"Well it's just that," I started hesitantly looking over at D who gave me a nod to continue, "She seemed to be being blackmailed or something."

"What! How do you know that?" she asked. She looked around, some people were taking an interest due to her raised voice, "I think you better tell me everything but not here come with me you three."

We followed Miss Gordon into one of the small office rooms. Kitty and Clare tried to follow but with a sharp glare Miss Gordon sent them back to their seats.

She shut the door then demanded that we tell her everything. We quickly went over the events of this morning for her and she became gradually more and more worried.

"Whoever that guy was he was breaking a whole host of laws. The fact that he had Tanya there as a witness to the whole thing either means he has something serious on her or he thinks he is above the law," mused Miss Gordon.

"What do we do though Miss?" asked D.

"Nothing," she replied, "If he shows up again come find me and I'll deal with him. It would probably be best if this stayed between us, understand?"

"Yes Miss," we all chorused.

"Good, now run along girls I have work to do."

We headed out to get on with our homework. Kitty immediately started with the interrogation when we returned.

"What did she want?" she asked.

"Oh it was just making sure everything went alright with getting rid of Trisha," said Jane.

"Good riddance to bad rubbish," said Clare.

They left things at that, happy that their tormentor was gone not wanting to question their luck too closely. We got back on with some homework it was piling up again and the various ups and downs of the last few days had left me a bit behind. I didn't want to end up spending my entire weekend doing homework.

After some furious algebra it was time for geography which went fairly smoothly. It was followed by German where my lack of knowledge made it trying. I really would need to have a word with Joyce to see if she could help as I was really struggling.

With the day over we headed off home, or in my case to work. I waved goodbye to D at the gate and went towards town with Jane.

"Don't forget about Sunday," Jane reminded me. "Oh and if you want ask your sister."

"Will do," I replied, "I'm sure Gwen will get a bigger kick out of that film than I will."

"You never know, maybe a good romantic film will appeal to you now you've joined the fairer sex," Jane suggested.

"Maybe, I used to like some of the romantic comedies before I changed. But I never got the appeal of that Jones chap," I mused.

"Well give it a chance."

I smiled back at her, it wasn't like I was coming along under protest. A day out with my friends, even if it included going to a film I wasn't sure I would like, was always worth turning up to.

We reached our split point and I waved good bye to Jane.

"See you Sunday," she said returning my wave.

I headed over to the restaurant and got clocked in. I began my work shifting dishes into the washers. I got a few waves from people, Angela grinned at me as she was going out to the restaurant proper. I worked my hardest not wanting to be labeled a slacker. I was quite busy, Friday being a more popular day for the restaurant and the time passed pretty quickly. It wasn't long till Chef gruffly dismissed me and I could head back.

I wandered home feeling worn out after a trying day and I was looking forward to my time off over the weekend.

I climbed the stairs to our flat and went in dumping my school bag next to the sofa with a sigh of relief.

"Hey Gwen I'm home," I called.

"Hey Mandy, how was school?" she asked walking out of the kitchen tea towel in hand.

"Oh same old same old," I said evasively, "Oh yes before I forget, Jane and D have invited us both to see a film on Sunday."

“Oh that sounds like a nice idea, we haven't been to see a film together for years.”

“Cool, I'll let them know. So what's for dinner.”

“You'll be pleased to know I tried something other than Spaghetti,” she said with a big smile.

I sniffed to see what she had been up to. I detected a very distinctive carbon smell, “Whatever it is I think it's burning!”

We rushed into the kitchen and Gwen removed a pot from the oven where she had been cooking something which seemed to have boiled dry.

“Oh no!” Exclaimed Gwen, waving clouds of smoke away from the pot trying to see what the damage was.

I reached over and grabbed the lid pulling it off while Gwen tried to get the oven gloves on while my fire powers were protecting me from the heat.

“It doesn't look too bad just a little dried out and singed,” I cut into the meat to see if it was done, “This is still a little pink so it needs a touch longer. If we add a bit more water and give it a bit more time it should be OK though.”

“Oh bother and I followed the recipe exactly!” Gwen said getting some water.

“Did you account for the fact that it's a fan oven?”

“No, does that make a difference?”

“Yeah they tend cook things faster than a normal one would. You have to use a lower temperature or adjust the time.”

“Oh well I'll know that for next time,” Gwen said a little dejectedly, obviously she had been hoping to surprise me with her effort.

“Hey I'm sure it will taste fine.”

When it was ready it was pretty good, a little dry but still a welcome change from non stop Spaghetti.


The entire MORFS  Universe can be found at http://morfs.nowhere2go.org/

 


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