Salamander 2 part 14

by EMW

Tuesday 11th to Wednesday 12th, of December, 2035

(Mandy)

When we got home I wanted to phone Jane to tell her what had happened but it was quite late and Gwen insisted I rest. I was very tired both from the emotional strain of the day but also the amount of energy I had used in my fire-storm.

I still didn't sleep well I had many nightmares about D. In some she died due to the gang, in others I caused her death by fire and her ghost berated me for my carelessness. Sometimes it was me that was dying and D that was attacking me with Stacy and Trisha at her side. Every time I had one of these bad dreams I would wake in a cold sweat. Eventually I padded over to Gwen's room and crawled into bed with her. I didn't want to be alone. Gwen wrapped her arms around me and held me till I fell asleep. I slept without dreams till the morning.

When I woke I got up and started to get ready for school. I was mostly on autopilot.

“Mandy sweetie, you don't need to go to school today,” Gwen said.

“I want to, I want to tell Jane and our other friends what happened. Besides if I just stay here all day I'll just sit here thinking about D and I need the distraction,” I replied.

Gwen looked at me considering for a bit probably weighing up whether I was putting on a brave face, “Alright though I'm going to walk you to school. If it gets too much then I want you to come straight home, I'll tell the school that. After you finish school we can go and see Dorothy at the hospital.”

“I have work today.”

“Alright, but I'm going to meet you after school walk you over to work and then meet you there when you finish. We can go over and see Dorothy then.”

I nodded meekly and got on with getting ready.

The walk into school was quiet affair I clung to my sister for support but didn't say anything. I was dreading having to tell Jane what had happened. As it turned out I needn't have worried, I saw her at the gate her eyes puffy and red her just barely fighting back the tears. When she saw me it was too much and we both burst into tears. She ran to me and grabbed me in a hug sobbing into my shoulder as I sobbed into hers.

“It's just horrible, D's mum phoned my parents told them what happened,” she sobbed, “Those purist bastards I hope they rot in jail.”

We hugged for a while then made our way into the school Gwen at our side. We reached the office building, and Gwen turned to me and said, “You're sure?”

I nodded certain now I was with Jane that this was the right decision.

“OK then I'm going to go in and talk to the head teacher. Remember if you want to go home at any point just say. I'll see you at four, have a nice day sweetheart,” Gwen gave me a kiss on the forehead and a radiant smile before leaving us to make our own way to our class room.

“Your sister is ace!” said Jane, to which I nodded, “My parents offered to let me stay at home but I knew you'd be here and I wanted to be here with you.”

I hugged her feeling reassured and better just by being with my friend who was sharing the same feelings of fear and loss. They say a pain shared is pain halved and it seemed to be working that way.

On the way up to the classroom we once again ran into Winston and his gang, given the insights D had given me I wondered if he purposefully staked out our normal route in the hopes of seeing me. Though this thought of D brought fresh tears to my eyes.

“Good morning,” Winston said then noticed our tears, “Why so sad? What has happened to make a pretty lady look so down?”

Now D had pointed it out it was fairly obvious that he was coming on to me still I ignored it.

“It's D she's in the hospital,” I sobbed, “She was attacked last night as we made our way home from the club.”

There were gasps and anger from the group. They looked on D as one of their own who just liked the misfits, a sort of lapsed Super. Even thought that was far from the truth they were protective of what they saw as their own.

“One of them had some sort of gun, he shot her. She's in intensive care they don't know if she'll survive or not,” I said between sobs.

I got a flash of emotion from Winston, his usual mask of arrogance pulled away enough for some of his real feelings to seep out. He was angry, very angry, but there was also something more he was afraid for D. They had been close once as D had said and he still had a soft spot for her. To hear of her in pain possibly dying brought out some feelings of regret and fear. It made him seems suddenly much more human. He looked up and there was pain in his eyes.

He quite suddenly reached out and wrapped me up in a hug, it was a bit of a shock to be embraced by him, but I did need to be held and it felt good to relax in his arms for a little while.

He broke the hug and held me by the shoulders, “Whoever did this will get punished and D will make it! She's tough as old boots,” he paused and reached up wiping away a tear from my cheek. “Don't you worry, everything is going to be fine.”

Then he stepped away striding off with purpose. I guess he was going to find out who attacked D and kill them or something. I knew better than to try and stop them but I didn't say anything that would give him any clues. Still his list would probably start with the guy who did it anyway so I guess that wasn't much help. But if Andrew Flint hadn't been picked up by the police already I couldn't say I'd care too much if Winston found him and broke him into little pieces.

All the gang gave the two of us standing there a sign of support be it a squeeze or pat on the shoulder or just a nod. Even my new enemy Andi gave me a nod, I guess when it came to MORFS kids hurt by purists I was on her side.

“Even now it's like I'm not here,” said Jane a touch angry, “Why don't I get a hug from Winston.” She grinned lecherously and I did my best to smile back but my heart wasn't really in it.

Jane and I continued on to our class room and made our way to our usual table without D here there was much more room for the two of us. Her very obvious absence set the two of us blubbering again. As the room filled up this of course lead to questions, either to us or whispered around us.

Eventually our teacher showed up and any chattering was quietened.

He looked tired today and felt more than a little sad. He looked over at me and Jane and gave us both a sympathetic look.

“Class, I have some unpleasant news. Dorothy Newman was attacked last night and badly injured. She is in the hospital in a serious but stable condition. I know we all wish her well and if you want to send get well soon cards I will see that she gets them,” he then took the register he didn't read D's name out. He made a very brief pause where her name usually came and then moved on. It set me and Jane off again.

We struggled through the morning gradually it seemed to get easier, maybe it was being distracted by work. Still we had moments where it got overwhelming.

At break we retreated to the calm of the library. Kitty and Clare met us there and we tearfully relayed the bad news. The little tykes were quite upset by this they had grown quite fond of D after their initial fear of her. They comforted me and Jane and then began working on a get well soon card for us to give to D. They ran off to petition Miss Gordon for some materials and came running back with swathes of coloured sugar paper off cuts to make their cards from. The two of them worked long and hard with scissors and glue making a very elaborate folding card for D. Kitty made a wonderful paper representation of D to go on the cover. When they were done we congratulated the two of them on their efforts and I carefully placed their card in one of my books to keep it flat and uncrumpled promising to deliver it to D when I saw her later.

Their efforts to make a card had cheered Jane and me up quite a lot and we left the break much happier than we went into it.

We had French then it was time for Maths which was on my own which would have been the hardest lesson were it not for the frantic pace Mr Griffiths kept up. I had no time to feel worried or sad as I had to focus all my mind on the maths to keep up. A lunch time me and Jane had Kitty and Clare to keep us company, even Helen came to give us support giving me a nice hug. Half way through our meal Hannah from the cubes club came striding over.

“Amanda, Jane, we heard about what happened with D. How are you two holding up?” she asked sitting down with us.

“OK, we're trying to stay happy and hopeful, it's what D would want,” Jane replied.

I nodded, “She's getting the best help and she's a tough girl and stubborn she won't let a little thing like this prevent her coming back and scoring again.”

Hannah smiled and gave us both a pat on the shoulder, “Yeah I'm sure she'll be back on her feet in no time. Well I gotta go, but if either of you want to talk or anything really just give me a shout.”

“I like her,” said Clare.

“Ya!” said Kitty.

Their enthusiasm made me smile, since they had been freed from the tyranny of Trisha they were really coming out of their shells. We retired to the library and I managed to get some homework done, the past few days had put me behind. I was making some head way when the bell rang and the rush to our next lesson began. It was graphics which involved using the fancy drawing tables. I did some nice drawings of objects using third angle projection to do top side and front view on a neatly bordered sheet of A3 paper.

“That's not bad but always start from the ends of your lines and meet somewhere in between that way you don't over run the outlines,” our teacher suggested.

A couple of hours of carefully drawing lines later and it was time to go home. Jane and I made our way to the gate.

“So are you going to visit D now?” Jane asked.

“I've got my job first then I'm going down with my sister to see her,” I replied.

“How bad was she?”

“Last night pretty bad, wrapped up in bandages and hooked up to machines.”

“At least she's still alive.”

“Yeah, the doctors are keeping her out of it so she's not in any pain. Hopefully she'll be right as rain in no time.”

I spotted Gwen waiting for me at the gate I waved to her.

“Is your sister walking you everywhere?”

“Yeah, I think she's a little concerned for my safety.”

“I guess I would be too after what happened.”

“yah, but it worries me a bit, I mean D was tough and strong and they did her in what chance would my sister have.”

“Hey, I'm sure the police caught the bastard purists that did this and they're not going to threaten you again.”

“I don't know maybe I'm paranoid but it seems like someone out there has got it in for me. Some malevolent force is lining up all these people and events against me. Pushing me and those around me about like a pawn, testing me.”

“Hey, it's just coincidence. You've had a run of bad luck and it seems like some shadowy figure somewhere is sending bad news your way, but the world doesn't work like that. It's not some comic book story.”

“I guess you're right.” 

We reached Gwen at the gate.

“Hello Jane,” she said.

“Hi Gwen,” Jane replied.

“How have you two been doing today?”

“OK we've kept busy and had loads of people to cheer us up.”

“Yeah lots of good friends keeping us smiling,” I said.

“Glad to hear it,” Gwen said and put her arm around me.

We walked with Jane into town and saying our goodbyes at the usual place. Jane said she was going to see D later and might see us there. We walked the rest of the way to the restaurant in relative quiet.

When we arrived I said, “OK I'll see you in an hour. What are you going to be doing? There is a staff break room of sorts you could wait in if you want.”

“I'll be fine I'll probably go into the shops down the road and pick up a few things for dinner,” she replied.

“OK see you later then.”

She gave me a hug and then I made my way into the restaurant. I got changed and got stuck in with my work. Once again it was good to have something to focus on it prevented me worrying too much about D. Work seemed to fly by and when Chef came over to turf me out I was surprised.

Gwen was waiting outside the door for me and took my arm leading me out into the street again. She was carrying a small plastic bag.

“What did you get?” I asked.

“Some flowers for Dorothy, and I found this little easy cook chicken thing for dinner. Apparently you just put it in the oven and that's it,” she replied, “I picked up some potatoes and carrots to have with it.”

“Sounds nice.”

She smiled, “Anything is better than Spag-Bol at this point.”

I grinned back, we walked to the main road and Gwen hailed us a taxi to take us over to the hospital. We made our way up to the intensive care ward and found Joyce there watching over a still unconscious D.

“Hello Joyce,” Gwen said.

“Hi,” I said.

“Oh hello there, how are you two doing,” she replied with a smile, she looked tired and stressed but genuinely happy to see us. She came over and gave us both a hug.

“Not to bad, it was tough at school without D,” I replied, “Oh yes our little friends made D a card.”

I carefully retrieved Kitty and Clare's card from my bag, Joyce beamed at it, “How wonderful I'm sure Dorothy will love it.” She placed the card with some flowers on a small bedside table.

“We got her some flowers as well,” said Gwen producing a nice bunch of pink chrysanthemums.

Joyce added those to the other bouquets of flowers sat next to D's sleeping form.

“Those are lovely dear, I'll put them with the ones your friend Jane brought a bit earlier,” Joyce said.

I turned to look at D she still looked as fragile as she had done the previous day. It was still like she was an empty shell the drugs suppressing any thought or feeling. I went and sat on the other side of her and took her hand. I knew she probably couldn't feel me holding her hand so it was more about comforting me than her, she was warm and alive it was reassuring given the emptiness shown by my other senses.

“How is she doing?” asked Gwen.

“She's coming along, healing slowly. They've had a MBE in to try and repair some more of the damage. They patched up the worst of it when she was brought in but didn't want to over stress her body. They're still keeping her under so she isn't in any pain,” Joyce replied and walked over stroking D's cheek gently.

I told Joyce about my day, about all the people and how nice they were asking after D. I did my best to cheer her up and be happy. She needed our support as much as anyone. Eventually it came time to go home so we wished Joyce a good night and parted with hugs all round.

Gwen and I made our way home hungry and tired after a long hard day.

(Four)

The tension was incredible, One had called us back together again for a meeting and it was clear to me that our time had come. We knew the demons tricks, we had cleared the way taking out its bodyguard, we had documented its abilities, we even knew its true form.

Most people in the room felt the same way and there was a murmur of excitement as there always was when the hunt was finally approaching. The knights were always meticulous in our planning and preparation and never struck till we were in perfect readiness but we were only human and anticipation sometimes got the better of us.

I looked around at my fellow Knights arrayed around this empty warehouse we were meeting in. Two was across from me his thick milk bottle glasses and stooped posture the same as always. Yet even in his dour expression I saw glints of excitement. Most of the upper levels of the Knights had little to do after the tracking was complete, besides plan the final chase, arrange the hunt, and then make sure everything was clean. Two's involvement was nearly over but it would be a job well done thanks to mine and Five's efforts.

Five was here grinning flirtatiously with Seven, a large man of possibly Chinese decent, he was an expert with a gun. As Five liked things close and personal with her array of knives he was more of a long range specialist. It was poor security protocol for the two of them to be flirting but with the hunt so close we could all taste it some of our usual rigorousness was slipping. Next to them Three and Six were joking about something, Three was a tall muscular woman with dark hair and coffee coloured skin who liked blunt weapons, Six a thin pale man who specialised in explosives and electronics. Next to me was Eight a quiet man nondescript man, all I knew of him was he liked fire. I suspected he was going to love our target.

The door swung open and One strode into the room, we all fell silent.

“Knights the time has come!” he roared.

The room erupted with cheers.

“Thanks to your efforts we know the beast's tricks and have also cleared a path to begin the hunt,” he nodded to two.

“We will take it tomorrow, one final act to make it possible to capture the beast and give us the time we need. The details of the capture attempt are in these folders,” he said handing round a series of small folders to everyone.

“Once we have the monster we have a location prepared where we will not be disturbed. I have also decided that given the evil we have all seen in this beast I will lead the hunt personally!”

I let out an involuntary gasp. One was a great leader but he was strictly hands off. He never involved himself personally in the hunts always maintaining a distance between himself and the actual execution of the monsters. Looking around the room I could see I wasn’t the only one surprised. Normally should any of our number get caught or be turned One would be insulated and could carry on our great work by recruiting more Knights. That he was taking the risk of leading us himself said that this was a truly exceptional case. As my memory replayed the creature in its demonic form I found myself in agreement we needed all the help we could get against this demon.

“So my friends rest well tonight, for tomorrow the hunt begins!”

We saluted One and then dispersed it would be a great day tomorrow. We would face a demon in honourable combat and we would see to it that it would be its last day on this earth.

(Mandy)

Wednesday came and Gwen walked me to school again, I wondered how long she was going to do that. I didn't mind her company so it was OK.

We met Jane at the gate and then Gwen waved me goodbye promising to meet me there at home time. Jane and I walked up to our classroom together.

“I saw D yesterday,” said Jane.

“Yeah I saw your flowers they were lovely,” I replied.

“It was so hard to see her like that, she's always been so strong to see her in that bed with all those bandages and pipes and bleeping machines.”

“I know and with her under all those drugs it's like she's not there, an empty shell.”

Jane squeezed my shoulder, “She's still there just sleeping.”

I smiled at Jane half heartedly, we got to our class room and sat down. It wasn't long before Mr Griffiths came in but he was very early.

“Everyone down to the main hall, we have an emergency assembly! Leave your bags here it's going to be crowded as it is, chop chop people!” he said and began writing the same on the white board for any late comers.

We followed the rest of our class down to the main hall and joined the general flow of people down the stairs and towards the admin building. We were shepherded by various teachers and we soon found ourselves towards the back of the school hall with what seemed to be the whole school in front of us. We sat on the floor and waited to see what this was about. Teachers lined the sides and acted a bit like guards making sure everyone was in line.

Soon the trickles of late comers died down and Mrs Thomas strode up onto the stage.

“On Monday evening a pupil of this school was very badly wounded to the extent that she was hospitalised. I'm told only swift action by her friend prevented her from dying. This is a terrible thing to have happen, so to discover that this was perpetrated by a gang of pupils from this school makes it even worse. This comes only weeks after another student was hospitalised due to another gang beating,” she paused and looked out across the assembled faces, “This has to stop! Anyone involved in this sort of attack against any student MORFS survivor or not will face immediate disciplinary action. Since the problem has obviously gotten out of control we will be forgoing the usual punishments in favour of a three strikes policy one strike detention, two strikes suspension, three strikes expulsion. Anyone being bullied I urge you to report it to your teachers they will take it very seriously, I will not have another student in hospital fighting for their life!”

She nodded to the teachers and they began moving us out a row at a time.

I guess things had finally gotten bad enough that she could issue ultimatums like that without the anti morfs lot stopping her. We moved to head out but a hand stopped me, it was Mrs Thomas she took us to one side.

“How are you two doing?” she asked sympathetically.

“OK I guess,” I replied.

“I heard what you did for your friend. I hope she'll be OK.”

“She did similar things for me. I hope so too.”

“I suppose you know that this was all Mrs Newmans idea.”

“What!”

“Well when the governors heard about this crisis they decided to fast track the MORFS applicant so they had their thoughts on how to fix this. I don't think they realised she was also Dorothy's Mother. Still she came up with this three strikes for any bully, and made it clear it would have to apply to all so that people get the message that neither side is getting favouritism.”

“I guess that's the best way to make things equal again.”

“Yes she's a smart woman, even with what's happened to her daughter a careful well thought out approach to the problem. Well you'd best get off to your lessons.”

We nodded and headed off. Joyce hadn't said anything about her being made a governor. I guess she had other things on her mind when I saw her.

We retrieved our bags, Mr Griffiths took a quick register then we were off to science.

We sat at our usual table and got on with the work at hand, our usual three person group now only two made some of the experiments harder than normal. Still we persevered and made it through till morning break.

Kitty and Clare were over the moon that we had delivered our card to D. They were once again very supportive and comforting keeping our spirits up. Sally and Helen also were great keeping our minds from dwelling on D too much.

We went on to French which I was gradually getting the hang of and then it was maths, which was just me on my lonesome. Luckily maths was an unforgiving as ever and the punishing pace left no time for worrying. After that it was lunch and the strains of the day so far had left me feeling pretty hungry.

I met Jane outside and we went in and picked up our lunches. Today was a stew of some description. We were joined by Kitty and Clare, and started to eat our lunch. A short while later some of the Supers came and joined us. They didn't ask and just sat down around the four of us. Predictably Winston sat next to me.

“Amanda, we wanted you to know that we are here for you, for anything you need, be it protection or just a shoulder to cry on,” he said gently.

“Hmmpf!” snorted Kitty.

Both Kitty and Clare were glaring at the Supers in general and Winston specifically. I guess after what happened with Trisha they didn't trust the Supers at all.

“Who are your little friends,” said Winston seeming to notice them for the first time.

“You have met them before actually, this is Kitty and that is Clare. They are first years,” I said, the two of them beamed at me briefly.

“I see I don't remember meeting them before but I meet a lot of people. It's a little ... odd someone of your distinction hanging around with first years.”

Kitty glared at him, “Tish rescued us from that psycho meanie Trisha!”

“Yeah!” nodded Clare, “They took her away in irons to a place for evil girls where they keep her in a cage!”

“Indeed,” Winston said raising an eyebrow, he seemed slightly amused by Kitty and Clare which only served to further infuriate the two of them.

There was a crunch and further down the table the girl Andi leapt to her feet knocking one of the trays to the floor.

“Don't you speak about Trisha that way you little punks!” she shouted her face a mask of rage.

Kitty and Clare both simultaneously stuck their tongues out at Andi, which infuriated the girl even more. She slammed her fists down into the table.

“Andi,” Winston cautioned.

Flames burst out of her hands licking at the table and she moved as if to throw fire at Kitty and Clare who squealed and clutched each other in fear.

Without thinking I gestured and extinguished Andi's flames. She stood their waving her hand for a few seconds no longer ablaze. She looked down in shock and anger at her hands. I felt her try and call more flames but I stopped it at it's source. I couldn't stop her using her powers but I could use my own to counteract them, fight fire with fire I guess. So long as I had more power than her she couldn't do anything.

She cried out in anger and frustration, “What did you do!”

“Interesting,” said Winston looking speculatively at me, “You are full of surprises my dear.”

I ignored him and waited for Andi to make the next move.

“Let me go!” she cried some desperation starting to creep into her voice.

“No! I won't let you harm my friends,” I said defiantly some of the anger at what had happened to D surfacing again.

“I'm sure Andi wasn't going to hurt your little friends,” Winston said smoothly.

“Sure I was just playing ... tell her to let me go Win!” Andi said more panicky now. I wondered if she had felt the addictive qualities of the fire and had gotten more into it than me and now she needed a fix.

Winston looked at her dismissively making no move to make me let Andi go seeming not to care.

“Whether she was playing or not is beside the point. She threatened my friends and Kitty and Clare have experience more than enough bullying and pain from members of this gang!” I said angrily.

“We wouldn't harm them,” Winston started I could tell he felt uncomfortable with that because he didn't believe it. His emotions pointed it out not as a lie but something more grey like leaving out bits of the truth. I guess he knew some of his gang would terrorise the two of them in a heart beat, they were smart enough not to do any permanent damage but anything else was fair game.

“See that you don't,” I said coldly finding myself on my feet somehow, “You lot have been almost as bad as Pures who tried to kill D. Terrorising others just for kicks, you're nothing but a bunch of stupid bullies!”

“Well I ...”

“Shut up! You flaunt your power like it makes you better than everyone else but then by your actions you prove you are the lowest of the low!”

“I think you should calm ...” Winston stood up I shoved him roughly back into his seat he looked very shocked like no one had ever done something like that to him before. I guess maybe they hadn't.

“Don't tell me what to do, you came here offering protection and friendship but then almost straight away one of your friends threatens my good friends Kitty and Clare. You make out you're the paragon of MORFS survivors and that you hate the Pures who discriminate against us but then you let people among you bully other weaker MORFS survivors for kicks making you no better than the Pures. You lead this band of self described superior beings why not set an example for once!”

By now most of their group was glaring at me angrily, I probably should have stopped but by that point I was too worked up for that.

“You lot claim you're sorry for what happened to D but you are just as bad as the bastards that tried to kill her. I'm through talking to you clowns,” I jabbed a finger at Winston, “and you straighten up your act if you want me to give you the time of day again. Come on guys let's go to the library.”

Jane Kitty and Clare all stood up and followed me out with dazed shocked expressions on there faces.

When we got out of sight of Winston and his gang Kitty and Clare took my hands and began jumping up and down, “Wowwie!” the two of them cried attracting confused looks from all the passers-by.

“That was ... I mean, I guess ... what they said,” said Jane at a loss for words, “There's just one thing ... they've going to kill you!”

“I know, I couldn't help it though. I guess I was so worked up and angry for what has happened to D I just kind of boiled over,” I said wincing as I imagined what would happen to me now I had pissed off the Supers. Kitty and Clare were now dancing round me like maypole doing circles and changing direction as we made our way to the library.

“Well I must admit I was jealous, I've wanted to put those stuck up SOB's in their place for years.” Jane giggled then joined in the dance round me for a turn laughing the whole time.

We got to the library and Jane Kitty and Clare had to calm down a bit after nearly knocking over a bookcase with their antics and receiving a stern glare from Miss Gordon. We sat down before they wreaked the place.

I got out some work and tried to get back on track with things I had gotten very behind with things. Kitty and Clare chatted away happily my status as their protector seemed to be more ingrained than ever. I hoped I didn't let them down.

I managed to get a fair amount of work done before it started to bore me a little and I decided to take a break. I stood up and stretched and saw Helen over in the corner. I decided to go over and say hello.

She was very involved with something so she didn't notice me as I came over. As I got closer I saw she was drawing something, I walked behind her to take a look. It was a very detailed pencil sketch of a girl writing something in a work book. From the distinctive scales on her face and hands it was clearly me. I often had trouble spotting myself in things due to not being used to my own reflection but I could see it was a very good likeness.

“That's really good,” I said from behind her.

She jumped in her seat and dropped her pencil and stared at me a panicked look in her eyes.

“It is me right?” I asked.

She stared at me a deep blush on her face and her emotions were squirming like I had caught her doing something really embarrassing. She looked away and nodded slightly.

“Cool, I wish I could draw like that.”

I noticed that the picture was contained in a big heart border and I realised why Helen was so embarrassed. I wondered what I should do, just pretend I didn't notice or say something or what.

Helen seemed to pull herself together and was on the brink of saying something when someone grabbed my shoulder. They spun me round and I found myself face to face with Andi.

She was sweating and one of her eyes was twitching, “Please let me go!” she cried.

“What?” I asked confused.

“Undo it so I can burn again! Please I'm begging you!”

I realised without thinking about it I had been maintaining my suppression of fire on her.

“Oh!” I said, I hadn't realised I could do that.

“Please I need it, just a little!” she fell to her knees in front of me her body shaking.

“I didn't mean to keep cancelling you like this, I'm sorry,” I said and stopped holding her power back.

She leapt up fire blossoming in her hands, “Oh” she sighed. She rolled the flames around her hands like liquid watching them flow round her hands made me want to do the same.

“It feels good to call the fire out doesn't it?” I asked her.

She didn't even turn to look her eye's solely on the flames, “yes, they calm me,” she said dreamily.

“What's that light?” asked Miss Gordon walking in our direction

Andi put the flames out like a shot.

Miss Gordon came over to us, “Did you girls see a light?”

“No Miss,” me and Andi chorused, Helen just shook her head.

Miss Gordon carried on looking for the source of the light.

“Andi,” I said, “You should talk to someone about that, you seem almost addicted to the fire.”

She seemed to have sobered up as the same confrontational attitude flowed back into her manner, “Shut up, it's none of your business. Do that to me again and I'll cut you!”

She turned and ran out the door little flames playing across her fingertips.

I slumped down in the seat opposite Helen, “Damn!”

“She was like a Junkie,” said Helen.

“Yeah, I guess she got to used to calling the fire. I've felt it too, it feels wonderful.”

“You're a fire elemental?”

“Yeah.”

“What was she on about letting her go?”

“Andi threatened Kitty and Clare earlier and so I used my power to counter hers. I guess I've got more power than she has. But I sort of forgot I was holding her and kept on doing it. I guess finding she couldn't have fire when ever she wanted it gave her some withdrawal symptoms.”

“That's mad!”

“A little, I can understand it though.”

She cocked her head to one side, “is it really that good?”

“Yeah, it feels wonderful and it gets so you don't want to stop.”

“I don't understand.”

“Well it's like all you want to do is burn like you are the flame and your only goal is to burn everything around you.”

“That's not good.”

“Nope, but I guess powers often have down sides.”

Helen nodded thoughtfully. I saw Jane waving to me, “Come on Tish we need to get over to art!”

I nodded and stood up running over and grabbing my stuff. As we were on our way out I stopped at Helen's desk again.

“I did really like your picture,” I said with a smile then took off after Jane I felt the warm glow of happiness with a large dollop of what I took to be lust flare behind me as I left. I guess it was clear now that Helen did have a thing for me now I had to work out if I had one for her.

We raced over to art Mrs Norton gave us another talk about another brave girl fighting for her life. This time it wasn't nearly so amusing. I spent the whole lesson making a some pottery a slightly wobbly vase for D's flowers it would take some time to fire in the school kiln but still it was something a bit different. Jane made some wonderful dust art pictures of the three of us with Kitty and Clare all looking very happy. Making some art for D was vaguely cathartic, it gave me an outlet to express my emotions and try to show her how much I cared about her. She was more than just a friend she was family.

I left art feeling a bit better about everything more optimistic for some reason even though nothing had really changed.

Jane and I made our way to the gate but were ambushed by Kitty and Clare who seemed agitated.

“He keeps following us,” Kitty said.

“He won't leave us alone!” Clare added.

The he they were referring to turned out to be Winston. The two little tykes hid behind me using my body to shield themselves. Holding on tight to my hands.

“What do you want!” spat Jane.

Winston looked at her with a confused expression on his face, “I just wanted to offer them an apology but they kept running away.”

Kitty and Clare both glared at him suspiciously.

“Well apologise then!” Jane said.

A slight spurt of anger flared in Winston but he bit it down and turned to the two girls, “I'm sorry that Andi threatened you like that. It won't happen again.”

He turned to look at me, “I wanted to apologise to you too Amanda, you are right sometimes there are those amongst us that take things too far, I'm sorry.”

I could feel how much he hated grovelling like this I guess with an ego like his it was hard to admit you were wrong. The fact that he was doing all this just because he seemed to like me made me feel a bit odd. It was nice in one way but in another it was clear he was only saying it to get close to me. Still I gave some credit and politely thanked him.

“Thank you Winston that means a lot to hear you say that. Anyway you'll have to excuse me I have to get to work,” I said and taking the hands of Kitty and Clare led them and Jane out of the main gate.

Once again Gwen was waiting to walk me to work this time we had Kitty and Clare walked with us they were going to get something from the local shops and said it was just near the restaurant where I worked. I was pretty sure they just wanted to walk with me for a bit longer but I let them have their fun they were good kids and fun to be around. I introduced them to Gwen who seemed very amused by my little fan club. We walked towards the restaurant Jane parting ways a bit before waving goodbye to the rest of us. The remaining four of us carried on.

When we got near the place I noticed some black smoke and a bell ringing. We turned the corner and got to the alleyway that led to the side door to the kitchens. I could see people running about some covered in soot and coughing the bell was now much louder obviously coming from the restaurant. I saw or more felt the flames licking through the kitchens.

Angela was standing at the head of a crowd of restaurant workers and possibly customers. She seemed to organising things gathering people together calling the fire brigade finding out if anyone was missing.

She spotted me and came over, “Oh Amanda I'm glad to see you I was worried you might have been in early and already clocked in or something. I think that means everyone accounted for.”

“What happened?” I asked.

“I don't know something in the kitchen one minute we are preparing for the dinner rush when suddenly Joan comes running out of the kitchen and hits the fire alarm. We all piled out as fast as we could and called the fire brigade.”

One of the kitchen people came running up, “We can't find Chef!”

 
“Oh my goodness Joan! She went back in to make sure everyone got out!” exclaimed Angela her eyes suddenly wide in horror.

I took off my bag and handed it to Gwen and took off my coat, “Hold this for me I'll be right back.”

“What! You can't go in there!” cried Gwen.

“She's right the flames are too intense we had to get out of there it was too hot!” said Angela.

“That's not a problem for me, fire and heat can't hurt me,” I said. I turned to Kitty and Clare, “look after my sister and Angela while I'm gone girls.”

“Will do Tish,” grinned Kitty. Clare jumped to mock attention next to her friend.

Neither of them were bothered by the thought of me running into a burning building to save people, they seemed to think I did stuff like this all the time. I guess having helped them they saw me as some sort of saint or super hero like figure.

I turned and strode towards the restaurant before my sister could come up with a way to stop me.

I pushed open the door and already the room was filling with thick black smoke flickering light of flames danced on the walls though it was mostly from the windows to the kitchen the fire hadn't spread this far yet thought it was warming things up. I coughed on the thick smoke filled air and the fumes. It was something I hadn't considered before, previously I had always been outside when I was in a fire where there was plenty of ventilation. Here there was little fresh air and the room was filled with unpleasant and maybe even toxic smoke. I covered my mouth with a sleeve to filter some of the gunk out. And pushed on towards the kitchen and the fire proper.

I pushed open the doors to the kitchen a wave of black smoke sent me reeling, I had to crouch down to get enough clean air.

“Hello? Is someone there!” a voice called and then began coughing.

I crawled in and took a look around, the heat was blistering and several of the cookers were blazing the heat was intense and I could see my clothes beginning to smoke and burn already. In the far corner near the dishwashers near the door was Chef Joan she had been trying to get out the side door but for some reason couldn't then a pipe for the ventilation system had fallen pinning her to down. She lay there trapped under the pipe struggling to breathe. There was quite a lot of fire between her and me, I reached out my hand and drew it into myself snuffing out the flames. A wave of fire flowed towards me it was like I was hoovering up the flame into my core. I felt the power I was absorbing and also the weird sensation of my body heating up from the centre. I had taken out most of the flames so I chokingly made my way into the kitchen.

I suppressed as much of the flame as possible and already I was heating up, the scales on my hands were glowing gently. Being around this much fire made me want to unleash it all. I fought back the temptation I had to get to Joan. I crawled along through the smoke towards her.

“Who's there?” called Joan, “I'm trapped under this pipe!”

I got close enough to be visible through the smoke.

“Amanda! What are you doing here!” she said surprised.

“Well I don't burn easily being a fire elemental so I came to help.”

“Ah which would explain the majority of the flames suddenly going out.”

“Yeah hold still I'll have you out of here in a jiffy.”

I reached down and grabbed the pipe then heaved with all my might till I managed to leaver it off Joan. Her leg underneath it was bent at a funny angle.

“I don't think I can walk!”

“OK I'll carry you,” I reached down and scooped her up in my arms. I needed to get out quickly so I went to the back door coughing a little due to the smoke. I kicked it as hard as I could. There was a shriek of bending metal and then door smashed open. The sudden rush of fresh air was good but it also gave the fire a new lease of life. I focused on extinguishing the flames again and soon the flare up died back down, I carried Joan out to the crowd.

I saw a ambulance had arrived amongst the various vehicles. I walked over towards it carrying Joan. I laid her down on a stretcher and the medical people began fussing over her and me.

Joan was not being very cooperative she was annoyed at the fire and was wondering what had caused it, “I don't get it the fire supression system should have shut off the gas to the cookers and triggered the sprinklers. It was only checked a month or so ago it should have been working.”

Yet another ambulance rolled up, a couple of men and a woman jumped out.

“We'll look after this one,” the woman a short blonde said. She looked vaguely familiar but I couldn't place her.

They had me sit on a stretcher too while they were examining me then without warning one of them shoved a rag over my mouth and held it there. I gasped in shock and was suddenly very woozy, the rag must have been soaked in some sort of knock out drug and within seconds I was unconscious.

(Gwen)

We were stood outside Mandy's workplace, she thrust her coat and bag into my hands and dashed into the building before I could stop her. She might be fireproof but there are other dangers in burning buildings besides fire. I knew I could do nothing but wait and hope she made it out all right. Pretty soon the professionals turned up fire fighters with all their specialist gear, police to control the crowd, and a ambulance, it seemed like they were covering all bases.

It seemed like Mandy was in there forever and worry twisted in my belly, Mandy's boss stood next to me in a similar state worried both for Mandy and her sister who was still inside. The two little girls who had followed Mandy here from school seemed confident that she would make it out okay. They seemed to treat her as their own personal hero, I would have to have a word with Mandy about what she had been getting up to that would inspire such devotion.

All of a sudden the back door down the alleyway practically flew off it's hinges and in blast of smoke Mandy came charging out carrying someone in a kitchen uniform I assumed this was Angela's sister Joan. She made her way down the alleyway I could see her clothes showed some signs of having burns on them, a small part of my mind dedicated to penny pinching started complaining about the expense of replacing her uniforms so often due to fire damage, I squelched it and tried to make my way over to her following Angela, we were stopped by a police man who had established a perimeter.

“I'm sorry ladies for your own safety you need to stay back,” he said.

“That's my sister there who's just come out and she's carrying her sister,” I said indicating Angela.

He glanced over and saw Mandy who was being mobbed by paramedics, “Alright go through but stay by the ambulance there.”

I thanked him and turned to Mandy's two friends to tell them to wait there, but found they had vanished. I wondered if they had already sneaked past while I was negotiating with the policeman. I went over to where the ambulances were one had taken off at speed up the road the other was still there. I heard raised voices and hurried to find out what was up.

“They took her!” shouted the woman dressed in a kitchen uniform.

“Calm down ma'am what do you mean they took her,” said a policeman who was talking to her.

“After she carried me out of the building these other lot of paramedics walked her over to their ambulance, while these guys were sorting out my leg the other lot grabbed her and knocked her out.”

“I'm sure you were mistaken, you've been in a very traumatic situation the mind can play funny tricks on you.”

“No I know what I saw they shoved some rag over her mouth and held her down till she stopped fighting.”

I ran over to them I couldn't see Amanda anywhere, “What's going on where's Amanda?”

Angela who was stood by the side of the woman on the stretcher turned to me and said, “The other ambulance took her away, Joan thinks they did it by force.”

“I'm sure it's just a misunderstanding she just exited a burning building she could have had bad burns and they need to rush her to hospital,” suggested one of the medics.

“She doesn't burn she's a fire elemental,” I said.

“Who are you miss?” asked the policeman.

“I'm Gwen, Gwen Wilson, Mandy's sister. If an ambulance took her where was it going?”

The policeman looked uncomfortable, “Well that's the thing we checked with the emergency services to find out and they only dispatched one ambulance they can't find anything on the second one. Though that's nothing to get worried about it could just be a mix up. I'm going to have control call the local hospitals see if your sister turns up there.”

I had a horrible feeling of dejavu from the time me and Mandy were grabbed by our parents, I could be wrong but it was worth making sure.

“Can I borrow a phone,” I asked, Angela nodded and handed me a very fancy looking mobile. I dialled Amanda's mobile number it rang for a while then abruptly the connection terminated. I tried again but this time I got the message that the phone was switched off.

“I just tried her mobile, she had it on her. It rang for a bit then someone switched it off,” I said to the policeman.

“I'm sure it's nothing, battery failed or maybe fire damage,” he said looking less sure of it than he had a few moments ago.

“Is it alright if I make another call?” I asked Angela who just nodded.

I dialled a number that Joyce had given me in the event that something like this happened again. I had hoped it never would but it was always good to have contingencies.

(Mandy)

I came to tied up with something over my head.

“Ah the demon stirs,” a voice said.

The bag over my head was pulled off abruptly I blinked due to the sudden bright light. As my eyes adapted I saw I was sat in a clearing in what looked like a forest. A few vans and other vehicles surrounded the clearing with their headlights blazing, one of them was the phony ambulance that had grabbed me at the restaurant. I saw a group of people standing around, they were all dressed in strange shiny suits and quite a few were carrying weapons.

“Where am I, why have you abducted me like this?” I asked.

“Silence demon, our leader will address you before the hunt,” shouted a stern man one of the ones who had grabbed me dressed as a paramedic.

A group of three people approached all wearing the same shiny silver suits the one in the centre had the helmet of the suit on so they looked like some sort of spaceman from an old scifi b-movie.

The person in front who seemed to be in charge reached up and took the helmet off revealing a tall distinguished man with strong features set into a stern frown, greying black hair with a large bushy beard.

“Uncle Richard!” I exclaimed in shock.

“Quiet demon,” Uncle Richard said in a stern voice, “You used your tricks to destroyed my brother, his wife, and a great many noble parishioners, even enslaving my niece but your reign of terror ends here.”

Suddenly it all clicked into place, “It was you setting up all those kids to kill D!”

“Of course, we had to get your freak body guard out of the way before we could move. Having those brats take your friend out of the picture was merely the penultimate act in our grand plan. Yes my noble knights have been testing you and getting us ready for the hunt learning your tricks and preparing to hunt you. Even a beast such as you must be given a chance for a noble ending at the sword of one of the Knights.”

“You're mad!” I cried looking at the ring of angry eager faces.

“As is sporting we will allow you a head start before we hunt you down.”

Uncle Richard nodded to one of the people and began attaching his helmet. The blonde woman who had been in the ambulance walked over holding a nasty looking knife, she was grinning like a mad woman, she sliced the bindings holding my wrists and feet then backed off.

I needed to throw them off balance to have any chance of getting away, if I played them at their own game I was sure I was going to loose, they had designed it so that was the case. I whirled and threw a ball of fire dead at Uncle Richard, it hit square on the silver suit and he staggered backwards arms wind milling for a bit before he regained his footing.

He laughed his voice muffled by the suit, “Hahaha nice try demon, one such as yourself doesn't respect the rules of combat but still we are wise to your tricks. This is a fire suit rated to handle any temperature you can throw at it. So let us begin again, you have five minutes then we will begin our hunt. The forest is quite secure, no-one for miles, so you can't take any hostages and no one will rescue you, your time starts now!”

I glanced around then scrambled off into the forest. As I ran I thought, they had been watching me tracking me for goodness knows how long, they knew about my fire, there was a good chance they knew about my other skills as well. I would need to be clever.

I took off my shoes and socks I would undoubtedly need my feet bare before the night was out. It was still light but the darkness was falling fast, I couldn't make out any lights besides the headlights of the vans behind me. I had no idea where I was or how far I was from help. I checked my pockets, nothing they had cleaned me out. I needed to hide but given the way they had just let me run off I suspected they would have ways of seeing through my invisibility. I checked my watch my time was nearly up I needed to keep running or find somewhere to hide. I saw a ditch off to my left still full of dead leaves that might suffice, but how to make them carry on. I pondered how they would be tracking me, perhaps by body heat. Using my powers I quickly created a false trail of heat foot prints leading off into the distance then obscured my own trail by smoothing out the heat as best I could. I dug myself into the leaves and turned on my invisibility to mask any other heat or sounds that might give me away. I lay still in the ditch waiting.

I didn't have to wait long a hunting party of five people all dressed in silver suits covering their bodies carrying firearms. They were waving some sort of scanner thing in front of them.

“I see nothing but trees on ultrasound, thermal shows her going this way,” one of them said and they all rushed off after my fake trail. It would buy me some time maybe I could loop back to their vans and escape that way. I waited till I was sure they were gone then I got up out of the ditch I started back towards the clearing someone sprang out from behind a tree kicking me in the chest sending me sprawling to the ground.

“Well well well what have we here,” a female voice called out of the suit, “I figured you'd be smarter than they thought.”

I scrambled to my feet watching the suited figure warily, “let me go!” I tried.

“Oh no, I've been waiting for weeks to have the chance to finish you up close and personal. All that boring time in the van watching you waiting, it's going to make the kill that much more satisfying.”

She pulled a large knife out of somewhere, it looked like the same one I had seen earlier this must be the blonde.

She came at me with the knife and I tried to dodge but she still slashed me cutting my upper arm. We danced round each other for a while with her slashing at me every now and again it became apparent that she was just playing with me. I needed to do something drastic something she couldn't counter. I focused on her emotion her sick thrill of the fight and the kill to come. I twisted her mind so that rather than excitement she felt fear a terrible fear. Almost immediately her movements started to become erratic the fear I had put in her head feeding on itself growing. She began slashing at things that weren't there. The growing dark and her fear making her see things. I dodged and while she was slashing at something I became invisible and clambered up a tree. She was still slashing at things her laughs gone now cries of terror, I was a little concerned I had broken her mind.

Two figures came running out of the dark, the woman screamed and flung the knife at them.

'Just what I don't need, reinforcements,' I thought.

“What are you doing!” cried one of the newcomers, “Are you crazy?”

She continued to spin in circles pulling yet another knife from somewhere slashing at unseen enemies and crying out. She suddenly turned and ran off into the forest screaming, she ran straight into a tree at full speed and feel down unconscious.

The other figure watched her for a bit and then muttered, “crazy bitch!” and the two of them walked off.

I sneaked down, the woman was out cold. Looking down at the silver clad figure I suddenly had a thought in the fire-suits the people all looked the same, the woman was a little shorter than me but it seemed these suits were not well fitted anyway.  

"What the!" called a voice from behind me. I span round to see one of the figures who had obviously come back and seen me moving even with my invisibility up.

'Careless!' I mentally admonished myself.

The man started trying to get his gun out but the big gloves of the fire suit made him clumsy. I decided to try fire again, while my quick hit on Uncle Richard hadn't worked it had been an unprepared desperate move maybe if I really focused and threw everything I had at the suit it would break.  

I brought my hands together to focus the heat and then concentrated holding the fire in creating an intense ball of fire. I made it hotter and hotter confining it to a small area so I could focus the heat more effectively holding in the fire amplifying the pressure. My hands glowed with blinding white light and the flames twisted and churned in the unnatural ball of bright white hot flame. I poured as much heat as I dared into it then hurled the fireball at the man. There was an almighty shockwave as I released the heat from its containment and a loud roar, the fireball changed from a ball to a sort of cone of fire directed at the man. It blasted through the heat shielding of the firesuit like it was paper, physically tearing it off him in a huge blast of flame. His clothes underneath were also frazzled in seconds and the air filled with the sickening smell of burnt hair and flesh. The blast tossed him back like a rag doll and he smashed into a tree and collapsed to the ground. I guess he was out cold as he made no move to put the fire out. I fell to the ground suddenly weak as a newborn kitten. The blast of fire continued on it's path tearing the branches off several trees. It also set a huge swathe of undergrowth ablaze. It was a 40 meter long flaming arrow pointed right at me. I weakly staggered to my feet I had to get moving before someone came to investigate. I managed to extinguish the man he didn't seem to be too badly burnt the blast had knocked him out of the path of flames before his suit had failed completely. I was in two minds about what I had done to him yes he was trying to kill me but still the thought of roasting him alive turned my stomach a little.

I started pulling the unconscious woman out of her suit and putting it on myself. Once I was done I tied the woman up with strips of cloth torn from her clothes. I put her in the ditch I'd hid in earlier and covered her over with leaves. Hopefully she would remain undiscovered for long enough so I could escape. With the flaming destruction nearby hopefully my attackers wouldn't think that I would be hiding among them.

I made my way back towards the vans. There were a few people in the suits standing around. I could make out Uncle Richards voice. As I approached one of the suits turned towards me.

“Any luck?” Uncle Richard asked.

I shook my head.

One of the others spoke, “The beast made false tracks going off into the forest she must have hidden along the way and taken another route.”

Someone came running out of the forest, "I just saw a massive blast of fire and found Seven badly burnt and unconscious!"

"How did he get burnt the fire suit should protect us," one of the people said sounding worried.

"Calm yourself," said Uncle Richard, "What did it look like."

"I'm not sure, the suit looked torn but there was a lot of fire damage," the man who had run out of the forest said.

"The beast undoubtedly tore the suit with her demon claws before using her fire, our suits will still protect us if we are careful. We will do what we can for Seven when our work is done. Was there anything else?"

“When I was searching with Seven before we split up we came across one of our number driven mad, they were running around with a knife slashing at thin air.”

“The demon must have destroyed their mind. Do you know which of us has fallen?” asked Uncle Richard.

“I don't know I think it was Five given the knife but I'm not sure.”

“She always was a little unstable, still we must remain strong. Take the scanning equipment we must locate her again, if it comes to it have a dog team on standby.”

The all scattered to the vans I did the same hiding behind the nearest one, most of them took off into the woods with more weird tracking equipment. When they were all gone I broke cover and made my way to one of the nondescript vans.

I was pulling open the side doors when a voice said behind me, “Forget something Five?”

I turned in time to see some sort of club coming down towards me I dodged enough to not get my head stove in but I was knocked to the ground.

“You disappoint me young Mortimer, using  Five's  fire-suit was fairly clever but the label on the chest marking who you are gives you away too easily,” said Uncle Richard, “I was hoping for a truly epic chase something to tell the parishioners on Sundays, something to regale your brother with when I visit him in the young offenders institution you put him in, something to brighten your parents day as they wait out their sentences martyrs to the cause. But sometimes even demonic powers are not enough to make up for the weak and pathetic mind the demon possesses. And now to do god's work ridding the world of another demon”

He lifted the club ready to land the killing blow, I tried to summon some fire but was still too weak. I shielded myself trying to ward off the death blow suddenly there was movement behind him and an almighty crunch. He fell down on top of me unconscious.

“Take that you meanie!” cried a very familiar figure with bat like wings standing in the door of the van.

“Kitty!” I said I rolled Uncle Richard off me and stood up pulling back the helmet of the fire suit so I could see her more clearly.

“Hey Tish!” she said waving at me with a section of pipe she had used to knock Uncle Richard senseless.

Another head popped out from the inside of the van, “Hey Tish,” said Clare.

“You're both here? But how did you find me?” I asked.

Kitty smiled, “We saw you come out of the burning building carrying the lady so we sneaked over to see you, but then we saw the people grab you. Clare saw one of the three of them stay behind and make his way over to another van, we sneaked in hiding in the back. When we saw this lot we were looking for a phone to call the police. We were a little afraid when you came along as we thought you were one of them but Clare saw that one trying to sneak up on you so we were planning to get him when he turned his back I hit him with a pipe.”

“You two are my heroes,” I said with a smile and gave them a quick hug, they giggled and smiled at the praise, “Is there anything to tie this guy up with?”

“Yeah there's load of cool stuff back here,” said Clare handing me a bundle of rope. Uncle Richard stirred slightly, moaning. Clare whacked him with a spanner she was holding and he collapsed again.

I grabbed Uncle Richard and tied him up as tightly as I could manage shoving him in the back of the van. I was just about to hop in and try and drive off when Kitty hissed, “More of them!”

“Take these,” Clare said shoving something into my hand, it seemed to be a couple of the old school shock gadgets. I shoved them into some pockets on the suit and then flipped the helmet back on.

I turned away and walked towards the two people coming out of the wood.

“There's no sign of her,” said one.

“We need those dogs,” said the other.

I nodded and then turned and made my way over to the vans they followed and I started to adjust my pace so I was between them.

“Look over there!” I shouted suddenly pointing away from us.

“Where!” they cried looking off into the forest, I jabbed them both in the back with the shock gadgets. The two of them jumped around for a bit then crumpled to the ground. My two little helpers sprang out of the van and started dragging one of the two off towards the van. The person stirred sluggishly.

“What are you doing!” he said.

I hit him with the shocker a few times till he seemed subdued then they continued dragging him along. We tied our two new hostages and put them in the van.

I clambered into the drivers seat, “do either of you two know how to drive?” I asked

“No,” they replied.

“Okay, that makes three of us, best put your belts on.”

I had seen people drive before and had even had a go in a car once with my brother. So I had some idea but still I didn't know really what to do.

I was just fiddling about trying to put the van in gear when some more of the hunters came running out of the forest.

 
The aimed their guns at the van, and fired.

“Quick get in the back!” I cried hoping all the junk would shield the girls from any bullets.

“Get out of the vehicle beast!” cried one of the attackers and then opened fire.

As the bullets put holes in the thin metal of the van I tried to think of someway of stopping them. Guns worked by explosives which was just another sort of fire maybe I could control it too. I reached out with my senses and gripped focused on stopping the fire in the guns. The guns stopped firing and the attackers started fiddling with the weapons. I redirected my focus so the barrels of the guns heated up as hot as I could make them the barrels started to glow red hot then brighter the metal starting to melt. Protected by the fire-suit our attackers didn't notice this so a few fired causing a rather nasty explosion due to the blocked barrel. Taking this hint the rest dropped their weapons and began looking around for other ways to attack us focusing on blunt objects. I created a wall of flame around the van. Some of them tried to cross it but with focus I found I could make the flames appear inside their protective suit. They cried out and fell back out of the fire.

I knew I couldn't keep this up indefinitely pretty soon I would run out of energy and my firewall would fail. I needed to attract help.

“Tish!” cried Kitty, “I heard a voice in my head, it says they are a telepath they say they are trying to come get us but they need some sign to find us in all this forest!”

“What sort of sign?” I asked.

“Something they can see from the air, they have a helicopter.”

I reached deep inside and focused on my firewall making part of it higher and higher I shot a massive plume of flame into the air three or four stories tall and held this geyser of flame as long as I could.

“They got it!” cried Kitty.

“Yay!” cried Clare and I could feel from the movement of the van they were once again celebrating our success by dancing.

I slumped down in my seat and relaxed my hold on the flames a little, I kept the wall up as much as I could but the effort of my flare had tired me out. Very soon spotlights pierced the night and realising the gig was up the remaining attackers tried to run off into the forest. One problem with their fire-suits was a lack of manoeuvrability as well as tending to stand out quite a lot.

Pretty soon the tell-tale noise of sirens and glow of police lights appeared on the horizon. I relaxed the fire wall and then clambered back out of the van tossing the fire-suit on the floor, my little rescuers danced round me like hyper kinetic yo-yo's seemingly completely unmoved by the life and death situation we had been in.

The police came over and there was some initial confusion as to who everyone was but once they had worked out who was friend and who was foe they made sure the three of us were alright and then moved on to grabbing our captives. Uncle Richard didn't go quietly and they had to persuade him. He was screaming all manner of nonsense about divine right this and god given mission that, I was too tired to pay attention to it.

Eventually Gwen showed up and gave me a hug, Kitty and Clare's parents also showed up and were fairly admonishing about their rather rash actions though the little tykes seemed pleased as punch that they had managed to save me for a change.

We were checked by some paramedics then had our statements taken by a very nice detective and were then ushered into a car to be taken home.

Just before we drove off I called the Detective over again, “Detective, I wanted to thank the telepath who helped find us are they about or could you just pass on my thanks.”

“Telepath?” asked the detective looking confused.

“The one you had contacted Kitty and Clare.”

“We didn't have a telepath on the team, it would have made things easier if we had.”

I shook my head confused, “I don't understand how did you find us then?”

We used your mobiles last known location to narrow the search then sent a helicopter to look for the vans, we saw your flare and the helicopter told the ground crews where to look.”

“Hmm well thank you again,” I said I wondered who had been talking to Kitty and Clare if it wasn't the police. Still we were safe now and I could worry about that later.

The car drove us home and I was straight to bed my body worn out by all the messing about. I had relatively few bad dreams, one dream that stuck in my mind featured Kitty  chasing Uncle Richard through his church with an over sized mallet.

The police caught most of the people involved in my abduction, though the so called Knights acted like some sort of military unit they were really amateurs so once they put the screws on them one of them rolled over and gave the cops the number two guy who knew where all the bodies were buried. My hasty actions to save myself against the knife woman had rather messed up her brain it took some professionals quite a while to sort it out, I did my best to help them fix it I know I was fighting for my life but still doing that to someone's brain was not nice. The guy I had burnt needed quite a bit of care and a bioelemental to repair the damage to his skin but he lived.

As if all the good things were happening at once that day D woke up. She was still fairly weak but she was awake and joking with us. She congratulated Kitty and Clare for being her replacement and saving me while she was unconscious, which the two of them were very pleased about.

Angela and Joan called me up to see that I was okay and even sent me some flowers to thank me for saving Joan. She had her leg in a cast but was already up and about bossing the builders about who were repairing her kitchen. It seemed that my loving Uncle had arranged to have the kitchens gas supply sabotaged so they could use the distraction to kidnap me. Yet another crime to add to their long list. The insurance people were quick to sort things out and Joan and Angela hoped to be back in business in no time, my actions had not only saved Joan but by snuffing the fire out I had minimised the damage. In order to salvage something from the down time Angela has told the local newspaper about the whole story so now they were hailing me a hero. Angela was even going to promote me to waitress as having their hero employee working in the back room wouldn't be good publicity. I was of two minds about that.

I never did find out who the telepath who helped us was Kitty didn't know much just that a voice told her they were coming in a helicopter and needed a signal visible from the air. It was one of those little mysteries. D was back home in time for the Christmas holidays and me and Gwen stayed over with her and Joyce for a very nice Christmas break. With D on the mend and things looking up I was optimistic about the year ahead. Besides there couldn't be that many more crazy relatives out there ... could there?

Salamander 2 ch 41

Epilogue

“You can go in now Mr Smith,” said the attractive young personal assistant.

I stood grabbed my briefcase and made my way into the office, I disliked going to see the boss. It made me nervous, maybe it was the whole secrecy thing and the fact that who ever they were they were an order of magnitude more powerful than I was.

“You wanted to see me Boss,” I said.

“Yes Mr Smith take a seat,” said an electronic voice emitted from a speaker on the wall.

I felt the tingle of a scan as who ever ran this organisation ran their fingers through my mind.

“So Mr Smith, you did what I asked.”

It wasn't a question so I didn't answer.

“Good, a pity this Trisha couldn't be used for our purposes but perhaps the trip wasn't wasted.”

“How do you mean Boss?”

“This Wilson girl interests me.”

“She was resistant and I believe she sabotaged my field equipment.”

“Yes yes, two things that make her of interest to me, do you think she could be made to cooperate?”

“Maybe, if we asked the right way.”

“Yes perhaps so. As it happens her name came up again today, a favour called in which turned out to be nudging the police in her direction.”

“Police?”

“Some business involving a kidnap one of those purist nut-jobs, she came out alright though.”

“With our help?”

“As I said just a nudge no more and even then I think she could have handled things if need be. Yes I've very interested in Miss Amanda Wilson, I want you to start a file on her. See what we can do to persuade her to work for us.”

“Yes boss.”


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