Salamander 2 part 9

by EMW

Wednesday, 5th of December, 2035

(Mandy)

I woke up feeling refreshed, the tiredness and aching of my muscles gone. I got myself ready for the day ahead and then wolfed down my breakfast. I packed my bag and was out the door as soon as D turned up. For some reason I felt very happy to be going back to school, I was practically skipping along. Maybe it was because I knew at least one of my enemies was no longer there to torment me, but it was also the fact that I could see my friends again.

 

“So how was your job?” asked D.

 

“Good, bit tiring but OK,” I said.

 

“What did you have to do?”

 

“Mostly loading dishwashers, pretty straight forward really but hard work I guess.”

 

“Hmm, do they pay you well?”

 

“Not that well but every little helps. Hopefully I can make enough to contribute to the food bill each week. Since I eat a load more than Gwen does it seems only fair, plus it's the easiest area I can contribute to without Gwen spotting it. If I use my money to buy the food I cook, she won't notice that I'm helping.”

 

“Sneaky. Does she object to you helping out with the money then?”

 

“A little. I think she feels she should be the only one that has to work.”

 

“I suppose it's a pride thing. I hope your new career will mean you have time to see your friends.”

 

“Yeah I don't want to miss out on seeing you and Jane. I'm only going to be working during the week and only till seven.”

 

“Hey what about the club? You quitting before you've even joined?”

 

“No, I asked and the manager, Angela, said I could have Monday afternoon off. So I can go to this mysterious club.”

 

“Well it won't stay mysterious much longer, they are having a session at lunch time Thursday. So you can see what it's all about after P.E. tomorrow.”

 

“Cool. Was there much fuss at school yesterday?”

 

“A fair amount, they've started a witch hunt for the other kids involved in beating you up. With all the media attention they don't want to look like they are going easy on anyone.”

 

“I guess that's a good thing, if it helps stop other kids getting bullied.”

 

“Yeah, if it lasts.”

 

At this point we were reaching the gates and all of a sudden I was tackled by a red headed blur.


“Tish!” Jane squealed hugging me like she was attempting to crush the life out of me, “You should have said you were coming back today. I've been really worried about you, are you OK?”

 

“I'm good, having a little trouble breathing, but that maybe your grip,” I said with a smile.

 

“Oh sorry,” said Jane relaxing her rib crushing hold on me, “So you all better, I didn't expect to see you back for weeks.”

 

“Yeah I'm all healed up with a clean bill of health, I heal pretty quick these days. Oh that reminds me I need to drop off my clear to return to school chit at the office.”

 

As we walked into the school proper Jane took my hand seemingly not wanting to let me go as if I was going to run off.

 

“Tell her about your job,” said D.

 

“Oh, yeah I got a job washing dishes at a restaurant after school,” I said.

 

“Cool you're like a working girl now,” said Jane which caused D to burst out laughing, “What?”

 

“I don't think you meant that,” said D grinning.

 

Jane looked confused then her eyes went wide, “Oh, yeah I didn't mean you were a tart!”

 

“Not likely, I could make way more in that line of work,” I said examining my talons with a haughty expression.

 

Which caused us all to break down in giggles, we continued laughing all the way to the office. Right up until Mrs Donnal cast her beady eyes on us.

 

“YOU!” she exclaimed, “I knew you were faking! You ought to be ashamed of yourself framing a good little girl like Stacy,” she then muttered something under her breath that sounded like 'Filthy animal'

 

Her shouting roused Mrs Thomas, “What this racket? Amanda!” she said a little surprised to see me, “Well I wasn't expecting you back so soon. Come in, you two wait here.”

 

She waved me into the office and shut the door behind me. I sat down and waited for her to take her seat. Once she had collected herself she said, “Well you caused quite a stir, the media coverage put me in a very awkward position.”

 

“I didn't mean to. I was surprised as anyone about the news thing.”

 

“I think it's your friend Dorothy's Mother raising hell, for someone so quiet and unimposing she seems to know an awful lot about how to rally support for a cause. Still I would guess you were too far out of things to have anything to do with that.”

 

“Yeah, I spent most of the time sleeping as I repaired myself.”

 

“You really shouldn't be back in school though despite what Mrs Donnal thinks I know you weren't faking. The paramedics made it very clear you had some quite severe injuries. Your enthusiasm is admirable but you should take more time off to get fully well.”

 

“I'm all healed up, look,” I said pulling my note out of my bag, “I have a doctor’s note and everything.”

 

“I don't understand.”

 

“I heal fast, must be part of being able to re-grow limbs I guess. I spent most of Monday asleep or eating and by Tuesday I was right as rain.”

 

“Well you have the necessary paperwork so I guess you are OK to be back, but please be careful and don't get yourself back in hospital again. There are a lot of Stacy's friends who would like to see you hurt for what happened.”

 

“OK Miss I'll try and give them a wide berth. Are you going to be OK, I don't want to think that they'll fire you over what happened to me.”

 

“Well that's sweet Amanda, I'm not sure what will happen to me, it's too early to tell what is going to happen, but don't worry yourself over that, I was probably living on borrowed time here anyway. Now run along to your lessons.”

 

I nodded, grabbed my bag and was out the door. As Jane, D, and I made our way through the thronging campus to our classrooms I didn't get a lot of attention, I would guess most people had no idea which student had been hurt, by now it was some sort of semi-mythical figure. We were walking towards the English block when I was again tackled, this time around the hips by a little blur with wings, it was the girl Kitty.

 

“You're back!” she squeaked excitedly. “They said you were dying on the news, I was worried.”

 

“They exaggerated it, I'm all better now,” I said patting the girl on the head not sure what to do.

 

She broke away smiling, “I'm gonna go tell Clare, see you later,” and she skipped off her wings doing little flaps as she ran.

 

“You got quite a fan there,” said Jane who was watching Kitty's retreat with an amused expression.

 

“Yeah, maybe we should start a Tish fan club make some money out the little tikes,” said D with a smirk.

 

I shook my head at both of them and began climbing the stairs to our classrooms, I was first in. I opened the door and walked in and was suddenly hit by a barrage of shock from the people in the room. It was so intense I staggered back a bit nearly falling over, luckily D who was behind me caught me and steadied me.

 

“I thought she was dead,” said one boy.

 

The classroom erupted into chatter with loads of people asking me lots of questions at once, so much that I couldn't make out what was being said, just the tone of things. Some were curious, others hostile, some friendly, but mostly it was just a big noise and swirl of emotions hammering at me. I put my hands over my ears and tried to block it out. That deadened the noise a bit but did nothing for the emotions which continued to scream at me causing this horrible crushing pressure all around me.

 

“EVERYBODY SHUT UP NOW!” roared D.

 

Everyone stopped dead and looked at her, she helped me over to our usual seats.

 

Along the way a boy tried, “But what about ...”

 

“If you don't shut your mouth and leave her alone, I'll shut it permanently,” said D with menace. The boy gulped and kept quiet.

 

We sat quietly at the back, the interest from the people in the room was still focused on me, but D's threats kept people back. I slouched down trying to shut out the people’s interest, their emotions hammering at me like blades cutting into me on all sides.

 

I knew they were mostly just curious but it was too much to deal with them all at once. Mr Griffiths came storming in after that and most of the interest faded back. He went through the motions of taking the register and he was briefly surprised when I answered him but made no comment.

 

After registration with Mr Griffiths it was time for science. We made our way over without incident, sat down and waited for the lesson to start. A blue haired elfin girl from our class came over to me despite D's glare.

 

“I just want to know about what happened, did Stacy really attack you?” she asked.

 

“Yes she did, well her and her gang that is,” I said.

 

“You can't have been that badly hurt though being back so soon, they said you were in hospital it must have been exaggerated.”

 

“No, I was in hospital but I heal faster than a normal person, it’s part of my reptilian traits. I spent most of the day asleep or eating and by Tuesday I had healed up all the damage to my internal organs good as new.”

 

“Wow, surely you could have wangled a few more days off?”

 

“I guess, but my friends are at school and I'd get pretty bored hanging round at home.”

 

“You are a strange girl, but I guess you're OK. Good job hanging on to that piece of work Stacy she'll have a hard time wriggling out of this one.”

 

The girl turned around and left back to her friends. There was much discussion amongst them, I guess she was telling them what I had told her. I guess by lunch time the whole school would know. At least I had some hand in shaping whatever new myth emerged out of rumour mill.

 

Mrs Murphy came strolling in and we settled down into the lesson. She began talking about the experiments we would be doing that day and detailing the various bits of theory and so forth when she caught sight of me. She stared at me for quite awhile taken aback by my presence;, eventually she recovered and carried on. After she had finished and we were going about getting the bits we needed for our experiments she came over to talk to me.

 

“Amanda what are you doing back so early?” she asked.

 

“I heal quickly, my doctor told me I could come back,” I said not sure what else to say.

 

“Well it is great to see you back and in one piece. It's going to surprise a lot of folks though, you were hurt in a bad way when you left here, you had us quite worried,” said Mrs Murphy.

 

“Well it's good to be back. I was behind enough already without adding yet more to it,” I said with a smile.

 

“If only all my students were as dedicated,” said Mrs Murphy with a smile, then let us get on with our work.

 

The rest of the lesson was fairly uneventful, we worked dutifully away and the double lesson passed pretty quick. Soon it was break time and we headed straight to the library. I wanted to get as much homework done as I could, my job would cut into my time at home so I wanted to get the best head start I could.

 

As I wandered in I heard, “Look here she is I told you she was back!” and was then suddenly ambushed from both sides by Kitty and her friend Clare the little cat hybrid girl.

 

“Oh, your fan club's here,” said D with an amused grin.

 

Kitty and Clare took my hands and lead me into the library, “We saved you a seat,” said Kitty excitedly.

 

I looked around taking in the many empty desks not sure what the girls had saved me a seat from, “Thank you that's very kind,” I replied not wanting to hurt their feelings by pointing out that there were plenty of seats.

 

The two small girls lead me to a large 6 person table and then pulled out a chair for me. I could see why they had picked this one as they predictably sat down on either side of me. They sat there staring at me with a sort of rapt worshipful gaze. D and Jane who found the whole thing immensely amusing sat on the other side of the table giggling. I was about to start in on my homework, when Sally came running over, I was beginning to doubt I was going to get anything done.

 

“Mandy, you're back! I'm glad you're OK, I was worried about you,” she said. Coming over and giving me a hug.

 

“Thank you, I'm all better now,” I said.

 

“Glad to hear it, who are your little friends?”

 

Kitty looked a bit miffed at being called little but she seemed to like the friend’s part, “I'm Kitty and she's Clare,” she said.

 

“Hi,” said Clare with a shy wave.

 

“I'm Sally, nice to meet you two, have you known Tish long?” she asked.

 

Clare looked confused, “Who's Tish?”

 

“I am,” I said, which caused her face to fall as if she'd made some terrible faux pas and offended me, I gave her a smile trying to put her at ease, “It's a nick name, my real name is Amanda.”

 

“Oh,” she said.

 

“My friends call me Tish, you can to if you like,” I said which made them both beam.

 

“Anyway, I best get back to my homework, see ya later Tish,” she said and waved.

 

I was finally going to get some work done. I got my stuff out and began working, after a bit I started to get up to go and get a book.

 

“Where are you going?” asked Kitty.

 

“I'm just going to get a book,” I replied.

 

She was up out of her seat like a shot, “I'll get it!” she said excitedly.

 

“Me too!” said Clare leaping up with her, both her tail and Kitty's wings were dancing about indicating their excitement.

 

“Well you don't have to, I can get it,” I said.

 

“No we want to, Pleeeeeeeease!” said Kitty.

 

I didn't have the heart to tell them no. I shrugged in defeat and told them what book to get. I sat back down, D and Jane were laughing openly now.

 

“You've got yourself two little slaves now. I bet they would call you Mistress if you asked,” laughed D.

 

Jane didn't say anything she was laughing too hard to speak. I sat arms crossed in front of me staring disapprovingly at them, which only made them laugh harder.

 

“Please Mistress Tish, don't whip us for our insolence,” said Jane tears running down her cheeks.

 

D practically collapsed at that.

 

Kitty and Clare came running back with my book and placed it reverently in front of me, causing a fresh burst of laughter from D and Jane.

 

“What's so funny?” asked Clare.

 

“Oh ignore them they are being silly,” I said. “Thank you for getting the book for me.”

 

They were practically glowing from my thanks. They sat back down and continued to idolise me, every time I wanted something or got up to do something they would volunteer to do it for me, eliciting fresh giggles from D and Jane.

 

As I was working through I felt someone nervously focusing on me, I turned round to see Helen stand at the entrance of the library looking over uncertainly. I smiled at her and leapt up rushing over.

 

“Hi, I er ... heard you were back ... I er ... wanted to make sure you were alright,” she said, squirming and barely meeting my eyes.

 

“D told me I have you to thank for getting help,” I said.

 

“Yeah I er ... came and told her, I didn't want you to get hurt,” she said.

 

On impulse I grabbed her in a hug, holding her tight. Her initial shock was tangible, but she seemed to relax after a bit hugging me hesitantly back, “Thank you for that, I don't know what state they would have left me in if D hadn't got there when she did.”

 

I was beginning to enjoy hugging her I was picking up feeling from her that made me feel weird. The feeling of her slightly trembling body pressed against mine was getting a bit much for me. I broke the hug and she looked at me, a little confused and scared. She liked me as a possible friend and it worried her, there was also more of the vague attraction that I had felt from her before, she looked away embarrassed, “I should go,” she said.

 

“Come over and join us,” I said grabbing her hand and leading her over to the table without waiting for an answer. She followed in a sort of dazed acceptance.

 

As we approached I felt Kitty and Clare eyeing up Helen with a slight amount of jealousy. I led her round to the free place and sat her down.

 

I introduced her to the group, “This is Helen, over there is Kitty and that is Clare. You already know D and Jane.”

 

D gave her a nod, she didn't completely trust Helen but her aid to me seemed to have made D at least give her the benefit of doubt. Jane gave her a smile, then looked from her to me and gave me a knowing look. Her telepathy must have picked up some of the things I was getting from Helen.

 

We settled back down and I decided to put my homework away as I was getting very little done, I tried to chat with Helen, Kitty and Clare to learn more about these new friends of mine. Both Kitty and Clare were 12 they had been lifelong friends having lived across the street from each other. They had both been ostracised by the neighbourhood kids after their changes. Kitty had been first to change and it had been very tough on her, Clare had been her only friend who would see her afterwards, something that cost her many other friendships. When Clare changed a few months later they had become closer friends than ever becoming practically inseparable. Clare said very little about her family saying her father was a business man and her mother a housewife. Kitty went on and on about her family, her father was an accountant and her mother a lawyer, she talked at length about both of them. Helen said her father was an engineer and her mother a part time organist at a church. I sensed she had a fairly religious upbringing much like my own. They asked me about my family I told them about my sister who took care of me.

 

“What happened to your Mum and Dad,” asked Kitty quizzically.

 

“They went to prison,” I said.

 

“Why what did they do?” asked Helen.

 

“They tried to hurt me after I changed,” I said.

 

Kitty and Clare's mouths opened wide in shock, Helen looked speculative. “Why would they do that?” asked Kitty aghast, “Even when things got bad for me, I always had Mum and Dad, and Clare of course.”

 

I shrugged not sure how to answer them. They sat there in shock unable to really grasp the idea that someone's parents wouldn't be there for them no matter the circumstances. I guessed they had good parents.

 

"They were very angry people and they hated the people who had been through MORFS. When I changed they didn't like it, they thought I was possessed or something then they did bad things to me and I ran away. D rescued me and she and her mum took me in. After that, things got better," I said.

 

Kitty and Clare stared at D in new found awe, it seemed now that they knew she had rescued me she was worthy of their worship too. I grinned as D shifted uncomfortably under their rapt gazes.

 

The bell rang and it was time for French I said goodbye to the girls and made my way off to class.

 

(Four)

 

I contacted the security guard. The demon had taken out one of its enemies and somehow portrayed itself as some poor helpless victim but it showed no sign of injury now. Seeing how it dealt with a fully grown man would be informative.

 

"Good evening friend, the day has arrived. Are you prepared?" I asked.

 

"You bet, I've been itching for payback to that freak," he replied.

 

"Very well this evening will be when your opportunity presents itself. I will contact you with further details, but be in the vicinity of your old work place tonight from 7 onwards and be ready."

 

"God bless ya sir this is just what I need to get my confidence back. I won't let you down."

 

I rang off, not wanting to spend any longer talking with this fool. I would need to set things up beforehand to see how the demon would deal with him on her own. Tonight would be an interesting night I would get to see firsthand what the monster was capable of in combat.

 

(Mandy)

 

French was as good as could be expected, I was less of a distraction than previous lessons. My return was already old news with probably a host of additional rumours, by lunch time I was sure I would hear that I had returned from the dead or something similar. Next came Maths, I took my seat at the back and waited for the lesson to start. I saw Alice turn and look at me a few times then stand up and come back towards me. I tensed reading myself for an attack, but what she said surprised me.

 

"I heard you were badly beaten up. So bad you ended up in hospital," she said.

 

"Yes," I said carefully, "I heal quickly though so most of the damage to my internal organs healed up over night."

 

Alice shifted uncomfortably, "I may not like MORFS survivors, I feel they have unfair advantages, as well as being dangerous. My anger at their unearned status in society sometimes makes me mean to people like you, but that doesn't mean I want to see you or anyone else hurt like that. I'm glad you are OK," she said, I smiled at her and her scowl returned, "This doesn't mean I like you."

 

I wasn't sure what to say, so I just nodded in understanding. Alice seemed to find that response acceptable as she returned my nod and walked back to her seat. I sat staring at her in a daze for a bit, it hadn't occurred to me that there would be shades of the anti-MORFS movement that weren't the violent hate mongers I had grown to loath and fear.

 

Mr Griffiths came storming in to start the lesson which shook me out of my thoughtful day dreaming. Maths was as tough as ever and as usual it was hard to keep up. Though it wasn't getting any easier I was less shocked by the pace of things now and could plan better. This allowed me some time to get a handle on things, rather than be perpetually scrambling to catch up.

 

After a mentally fatiguing lesson I was ready for lunch, but Mr Griffiths stopped me.

 

“Wait a moment Amanda I'd like to speak to you,” he said.

 

I packed up my things then waited for the rest of the class to leave. When they were gone Mr Griffiths turned to me and said.

 

“This won't take long Amanda, I'm sure you want to be off for lunch. I meant to have a word this morning but I was very busy. Anyway I just wanted to make it clear to you that if you have any other troubles with people bullying you don't be afraid to come and see me. I find it very distasteful what happened to you and I don't want to see those who perpetrated it that we didn't catch try again. While I may not look like it I too am a MORFS survivor though things were quite different in my day and I understand some of what you and the others go through every day. Having suffered from that sort of thing myself in various guises I won't have others subjected to it. So if you have any problems please let me know,” he said with an uncharacteristic smile.

 

I smiled back, “Thank you sir,” I said.

 

“Well, run along now I'm sure you want to get off to see your friends,” he said.

 

I gave him another smile and was on my way. It seemed under his gruff unforgiving exterior lurked a friendly and quite emotional person. I wondered if the exterior shell was something he had built up due to some aspect of him having gone through MORFS. I wandered lost in these thoughts till my stomach growled warning me it was not interested in anything but me getting it some lunch so I quickened my pace.

 

I was just on my way to meet D and Jane when I found myself blocked by Trisha's gang.

 

'Oh No!' I thought 'I've only just got back from one beating I don't want to get another one'

 

“Back again I see,” came Trisha's haughty voice from the back, her girls parted to reveal her standing arms crossed glaring at me, “Too bad for you that you weren't more badly injured. You'd escape your fate a bit longer.”

 

Her gang all chuckled and stared at me menacingly angry nasty feelings burning in each of them Trisha worst of all.

 

“Oh leave her alone T,” came a voice from behind her, and a large Green hand grabbed her shoulder moving her gently out of the way. It was the large green skinned boy that D had called Winston who seemed to be the leader of the larger group of MORFS kids Jane had called the power freaks. Behind him were most of the other obvious MORFS survivors I had seen before. Almost all of them were regarding me with interest rather than pretending I was invisible ... even when I wasn't.

 

A burst of intense annoyance spiked from Trisha but she did nothing. Whatever Winston's power was she didn't seem to have any hold over him and had to defer. Something that I'm sure would wind her up no end.

 

“Hi, I'm Winston. We may have got off on the wrong foot thinking you were trying to spurn those like you but the way you took down Stacy and took the beating she gave you, makes me think we were too hasty,” he said smiling down at me. “What's your name?”

 

“Amanda,” I said.

 

“Well Mandy, do you mind if I call you Mandy,” he said but without pausing to hear my answer he carried on, “We are individuals gifted with powers beyond the dreams of the mere insect mundanes that fill this school. You have proven yourself a very resourceful and powerful person; I think you are worthy to join us.”

 

I looked at him wondering how to handle this, I wished my friends were here. I found this green boy very intimidating, his aura of arrogance permeated everything around him. If only I could have hidden behind D rather than be the object of his attentions, I suspected anyone that didn't do what he wanted was in for a taste of his anger, “Well that's a very nice offer,” I said carefully, “But I'm not really interested at the moment.”

 

His eyebrows raised and I sensed a tiny hint of annoyance stir in him, “This is not an offer I would make to just anyone, you should be honoured and humbled by it,” he said.

 

“Oh I am, I am,” I said quickly trying to think of a way out that would let me leave in one piece, “It's just what with everything that's been happening, my joining a new school only few weeks ago, and only having returned from hospital recently, I'm a bit disorientated. I need some time to get myself together again after the business with Stacy.”

 

He softened a bit and he began nodding, “Yes yes, quite right I understand. I often forget that not everyone is as tough and unaffected by things as me. Take all the time you need and when you're ready we'll welcome you into the fold. Trust me it will be the best decision you’ll ever make.”

 

I smiled and said, “Well it was nice talking to you, I need to be off, I'm meeting D for lunch.”

 

“Right see you later,” he said and began moving off the rest of his gang following giving me nods and smiles as they passed. One very tall girl, who had to be nearly as tall as D though much thinner, almost emaciated, even gave me a friendly pat on the head.

 

The only one who didn't move was Trisha. When Winston reached a corner he looked back and said, “Come along T,” making a gesture for Trisha to follow him. Another spike of annoyance flared in the small red eyed girl and she glared at me boiling with hate but she followed him, her gang tagging along.

 

Once they were out of sight I let out a sigh of relief then dashed off to find D and Jane. They were waiting for me outside the canteen.

 

“What kept you? We were starting to get worried,” said Jane tapping her watch.

 

“Sorry guys, that boy Winston tried to recruit me,” I said.

 

“What!” said D.

 

“Yeah that lot, well bar Trisha, seemed to have had a change of heart about me and wanted me to join their little club,” I said.

 

“Bleah!” said Jane, “I trust you told them where to stick it!”

 

“Yeah, though I was more diplomatic than that,” I said.

 

“That's my girl,” said Jane hugging me with a great big smile on her face, “Now let's get some lunch I'm famished.”

 

We joined the queue and got our lunches and sat down to eat. I was as hungry as always and wolfed down my lunch even got some seconds much to Jane's derision.

 

“So you didn't want to join Winston's gang,” said D.

 

“No, they seem just as bad as Stacy,” I replied.

 

“Well, being part of his gang would mean the end of your Trisha problems plus most of the anti-MORFS lot wouldn't touch you, they have this whole cold war thing going on,” D said.

 

“Well, while that might make life easier, I prefer being with my real friends. Not used as some sort of chip in this fight just because I managed to stop Stacy getting away with it again.”

 

Jane turned to me and said, “That's good to know. I had a couple of friends that joined either camp when offered the chance and once they were in the gangs they wouldn't even talk to me anymore. I'm glad you're content to stay with us.”

 

“Are you kidding, you two are the best friends anyone could wish for. Why would I ever want to abandon you. I'm afraid you're stuck with me for good,” I said smiling.

 

Jane and D both gave me a half hug on either side, this little hug fest was interrupted by someone calling out to me, “Tish!”

 

We broke off our hug and I looked out for who was calling me. Two young enthusiastic girls crashed down in the seats opposite us.

 

“Hi Kitty, Hi Clare,” I said.


“Hi Tish,” said Kitty.


“Hi Tish,” said Clare giggling.

 

“How are you two,” Jane asked.

 

“We're good,” said Kitty, Clare just covered her mouth and giggled some more.

 

“Glad to hear it,” said D.

 

“Trisha hasn't bothered us for a while now,” said Kitty, “I hope she's not going to be mean to us anymore.”

 

“I wouldn't count on it kid,” said D, “She's probably laying low till this whole witch hunt blows over.”

 

The two girls stared at D for a bit then turned to look at me again, “You'll protect us won't you Tish?”

 

I shifted uncomfortably, “I'll try,” I said, “but I don't know if there is anything I can do to prevent her hurting you two again for sure.”

 

Their little faces fell, then Clare perked up, “Well I guess having someone who’ll at least try to help us is better than having no-one which is what we had before,” she said then went quiet again.

 

Kitty stared at her friend for a bit looking thoughtful, “I guess that's right, you're smart Clare.”

 

Clare looked away seemingly a bit embarrassed, “Well I've got homework to do,” said Jane, “So I'm off to the library. Tish, D?”

 

“Sure,” we both said.

 

“See you girls later,” I said to Kitty and Clare.

 

They waved and went back to their lunches. They seemed like nice girls, it was a real shame that that monster Trisha had decided to torture them. I wondered if there was someone I could tell who would sort her out, surely that kind of use of her powers had to be against the law or some such, maybe I could speak to Anna or Bobbie the police telepath I had met.

 

I followed my friends to the library, waving to Sally and Miss Gordon. Then we sat down to do some work but Miss Gordon came running over to see me obviously shocked to see me back. I had forgotten that she hadn’t been here to see me earlier so this was the first time she had seen me back.

 

“You’re back, I was very concerned for your well being. What happened to you was simply beastly!” said Miss Gordon bristling with anger. “Are you OK? Shouldn't you be in bed recovering?”

 

“I'm fine, I heal quickly,” I said with a smile.

 

“I hope that awful Stacy gets what's coming to her! Hopefully some time in a correctional facility. She'll see how far her elitist pure rubbish gets her there.”

 

About this point Kitty and Clare came skipping in they clattered down opposite me. Kitty began nattering away to Clare, the other girl saying almost nothing just smiling every now and again.

 

Once the fuss had calmed down I managed to make some inroads into my homework, even being hospitalised didn't get me off the hook just bought me a little more time. When the bell rang for the end of lunch I had made good progress, I said goodbye to Kitty and Clare then headed off for art.

 

Mrs Norton started the lesson with a big talk.

 

“Now Students you may have heard about the terrible attack on one of your number only this Monday,” she said earnestly, “The poor girl was badly beaten and ended up in hospital. Now you may think there may be little us simple artists can do and that the healing must be left to the doctors and nurses, but art is a powerful force too and I want you all to create a work to honour the brave girl and let her know we wish her the best of health. With her spirit bolstered by our work I'm sure she will heal more rapidly and be back among us very soon.”

 

*Sooner than she thinks* sent Jane with a mental chuckle.

 

I turned and gave her a smile, I could see a few of the people from our class chuckling to themselves and even grinning at me. No-one seemed to want to spoil the joke so we all played along. Jane did a fabulous multi coloured picture of what was almost certainly me in a sort of flowing gown with what looked like a halo, she titled it saint Mandy in flowing script across the base. She was fighting hard to contain her giggles obviously finding the whole situation extremely amusing.

 

By the end of the day we had a board filled with nice pictures, quite of few of which looked like me, to wish the poor dying girl well. By this point Jane looked ready to explode tears running down her face.

 

“There there dear, I'm sure the girl will appreciate this gesture and be back with us soon,” Mrs Norton said.

 

At which point Jane turned bright red and ran out of the room, “Oh she's such a sensitive girl so giving,” said Mrs Norton. I could just about make out the sound of someone laughing almost hysterically somewhere out in the corridor.

 

After we were done putting up the work and tiding up Jane returned looking calmer now. When the bell rang we left and finally out in the open the three of us had a little laugh on the way out of school at the absurdity of the lesson.

 

“What's so funny freak!” someone shouted, it turned out to be Becky with her was a gang of Stacy's friends some of whom had been part of the lot that beat me up. Becky stood at their head the group fanning out around us blocking our path.

 

“Yeah, you think after what you did to Stacy you can just walk away!” shouted one of the boys.

 

D stepped forward, “Shut it Flint! You touch her and I'll tear you limb from limb. It'll make what happened to you at the hands of that little girl look like a massage,” she said menacingly. The boy twitched and stepped back slightly.

 

“Bah, we don't need to take that from her! We outnumber you and no-one’s going to come to the aid of an ugly freak like her,” said Becky.

 

Suddenly two small shapes came running up and put themselves in front of me.

 

“You leave her alone you meanie!” said Kitty.

 

“Yeah go away nasty lady!” said Clare.

 

The two little tikes were putting themselves in harm’s way for me, it was adorable if not very smart.

 

“Ha! Is that the best you got freak. Your little pets have got me so scared!” said Becky laughing her arse off.

 

“Well they're just the mascots,” came a voice from behind her, “We're the main fighting force.”

 

It was Winston and his gang lining up behind the Anti-MORFS lot, most of whom were now looking fairly worried. The tension held for a few moments the two groups eyeing each other up. If it went on much longer one of the groups would do something stupid and it would all go to hell.

 

“What's going on here!” shouted a teacher.

 

That broke the spell and the anti-MORFS lot puffed themselves up, “Nothing,” said Becky, “this lot were just blocking the way!”

 

“All you had to do was ask nicely,” said Winston, his gang parted to let the anti-MORFS lot through.

 

“Well move along the lot of you!” shouted the teacher.

 

Becky and her gang moved off eyeing the power freaks warily as they passed. The boy that D had called Flint hissed, “This isn't over freak!” at me under his breath before going.

 

Once they were all gone I gave Kitty and Clare a hug, “That was very brave of you they would have hurt you badly!” I said.

 

“You would have done the same for us,” said Clare.

 

I smiled at them I guessed they were right I would have done it. Winston walked over to us so I released my two mini bodyguards and looked at him. Clare and Kitty eyed him with suspicion, he was associated with Trisha so in their eyes an enemy.

 

“Thanks for the assist,” I said.

 

“No problem, it's what we do for our friends. When you decide to join us such problems will be a thing of the past. Who are these two,” he said.

 

“Oh these are my friends Kitty and Clare,” I said.

 

“What are their powers?” he asked.

 

“We don't have powers,” said Kitty.

 

“Don't need them!” said Clare defiantly and growled which was a very strange noise coming from the little cat girl.

 

“Hmmm well I'd best be off, don't wait too long before joining us I might not be near next time the purists decide to come calling,” He said. “Mandy, D.” he nodded to us both then left.

 

“I don't like him!” said Clare.

 

“You and me both sister,” said Jane. “Arrogant idiot!”

 

“Well he saved our skin this time,” said D, then grinning continued, “Still I'm sure between the five of us we could have take that anti-MORFS lot, right Kitty.”

 

“Yeah!” the little girl said leaping in the air her wings unfurling and flapping holding her there for a bit then she touched back down looking surprised.

 

“Cool you flew!” said Clare.

 

“I did!” said Kitty.

 

The two girls got into an animated discussion and we began walking out the gate with them. They ran off to see Kitty's mother who was waiting, waving to us then running off to a car. They were two bundles of energy and strangely tiring to keep up with.

 

This time I was headed straight to work so I said goodbye to D and went in the same direction as Jane for a bit, then I wished her a pleasant evening and headed over to the restaurant.

 

I got there with half an hour to spare which rapidly diminished once I had got changed and ready for work. I clocked in and got to work, determined to put the effort in. The guy Tony from the previous day was called off to do other things as soon as I was out to work so I was the only person working the dishwashers to get through the backlog of lunchtime and some of the early dinners. I suspected that Joan had pulled him off to see if I could cut it on my own. I worked as hard as I could, remembering all the lessons from the previous day determined to show I was a good worker.

 

(Four)

 

I rang the number of the security guard as soon as the girl arrived at her workplace, I wasn't sure what the girl intended in this place. It didn't seem to be useful to her mission but she had proven to be a master strategist thus far so there could have been some move she was using here that I couldn't see.

 

I briefly wondered if she was planning on poisoning people but that didn't seem like her style, she used others to do her dirty work, she wouldn't expose herself in that manner.

 

“Hello,” the guard said, “I'm ready just let me know where and when.”

 

“Soon,” I said, “She is working in a restaurant called the Bistro not far from you previous place of employment. She finishes at seven, the alleyway down the side is where she will emerge. Scare her further into the alley from the street’s side, it ends in a dead end out of sight. Be careful she is a tricky one.”

 

“Thank you for this friend, With her dealt with I can get on with my life again!” he said.

 

The man was a fool but a useful pawn none the less. I turned on the monitors in the alleyway and waited to see what would happen when the demon was cornered by this man. I wondered if she would simply kill the fool or if she would have some better way of dispatching him.

 

(Mandy)

 

Work had been tough but when Joan had come over to tell me to clear off I sensed she was happy with me. I tidied up and headed out wanting to be home. My tummy rumbled, all the work had made me hungry.

 

I changed back into my clothes and then headed out the back door into the evening, not really paying attention. The first clue that something was wrong was when a large shadow fell across me.

 

A large man stood at the entrance to the alleyway silhouetted in the light from the street.

 

“So you filthy animal, you and that bitch of a manager got me fired! Now it's payback!” he said hefting a large bat in one of his hands and then moving towards me.

 

I panicked and ran away from him. If I had been thinking I would have just headed back into the restaurant and called for help, but I was tired and the situation brought back the memories of the time in the alleyways when I had been on the run. I pelted round the corner hoping to come out somewhere where there were people, I ran to find a dead end.

 

The man's laugh echoed down the alley as I frantically looked for a way out, “No way out beast! I'm going to teach you a lesson now, one you'll never forget!”

 

I turned and saw him round the corner, I did the only thing I could think of I stealthed myself.

 

The man seemed momentarily taken aback, but rebounded with, “That won't save you monster!”

 

He began sweeping his stick back and forth, striking the walls and anything in his path trying to find me.

 

I looked around and saw a protruding balcony a couple of stories up the building to my left, still stealthed I leapt onto the wall using my finger pads to adhere to the surface.


“Aha! Got you!” shouted the man seeing me move.

 

He raced over towards me and I frantically scrambled my way up the wall his stick hitting the area where my foot had been moments before. Soon I was up perched on the balcony watching him scream and shout trying to find me. I relaxed a bit, there was no way he could get me up here.

 

I reached into my backpack trying to find my phone to call the police, but this movement allowed him to figure out where I was.

 

“Get back down here you little monster!” He shouted, “You had me fired and thrown out of my job that I had worked hard at for years and you're going to pay for it!”

 

He started throwing things in my general direction, I shuffled back a bit and most of the items missed me entirely or when they did hit, it was on the rebound from the wall above me so they didn't hurt.

 

I fumbled for my phone so I could call the coppers. Just as I was about to dial my phone rang, it was D.

 

“Tish are you out of work yet? Mum and Gwen sent me to get you as we are having dinner at our house tonight,” she said.

 

“D!” I said, “There's some guy throwing things at me!”

 

“What! Where are you?”

 

“I'm hiding down the alleyway from the restaurant.”

 

“Hold tight I'm close by!” she said and rang off.

 

I lay flat avoiding the stones and other items being thrown at me. It went quiet for a bit. He had stopped throwing things at me, I gingerly raised my head up for a look. I saw him dragging a large bin down towards where I was hiding obviously intending to use it to climb up and get me. I had to move I didn't know how far away D was and how long it would be till help arrived, I quickly slipped off my shoes and socks putting them in my backpack. I fastened my back pack on tightly and then climbed onto the wall. Very slowly I moved away from the balcony stealing brief glances back to where the man was wrestling the bin into place. He was fairly distracted but I didn't want him spotting me. I carefully climbed my way along the wall to an overhang from one of the upper floors. I climbed up under it hoping he would not think to look for me hanging upside down from this section of concrete.

 

“YAHHHHHHHHHHR!” the man shouted smashing his club down on top of the balcony. Then he looked confused and felt around bellowing in rage when he didn't find me up there. “Where are you? You can't hide forever and I can do this all night!”

 

He bashed his club around the balcony trying to see if I was hiding on it but then began working his way along the wall striking it at random. He was getting pretty close to where I was now, his blows coming closer and closer. One move and he would be able to see me. I had to keep still despite the fear of him hitting me. He swung hard his club whistling past, barely centimeters from where my head was. I hung there dead still not even daring to breathe.

 

He carried on past me and kept attacking the wall getting more and more angry as he failed to find me. His attacks churned up a load of dust as he smashed away at the walls and various things in his way. It began to tickle my nose and I felt a sneeze coming on. I tried desperately to fight it back but it was no good and I let out a sneeze and coughed repeatedly.

 

“So there you are!” He shouted turning and coming in my direction.

 

He knew where I was now I decided to abandon stealth and try to escape I scrambled along the wall as fast as I could trying to get to a section where I could get up on to the roof.

 

“You won't get away this time!” he shouted then let out a strange yelp.

 

I didn't even turn to look and kept scrambling along but then I heard D's voice.

 

“You shouldn't be concerned with her getting away pal, it's yourself you should be worrying about!” she said.

 

I stopped and looked seeing D grabbing the guy from behind pulling him off the balcony back into the alleyway. He swung his club at her and she had to let him go to deflect it. He yelled and swung it at her again, this time she caught the club in one hand and crushed it to kindling. She then smacked him right in the face knocking him across the alleyway, finally she grabbed him and held him as he struggled feebly then sort of sagged in her grip.

 

“Tish?” she said, “I've got him you can come out it's safe now.”

 

I switched off my invisibility and clambered down from the wall, “Thanks D I'm really glad you were nearby.”

 

“Unhand me monster!” shouted my attacker struggling again.

 

“Shut it!” said D. “The cops are on their way so you can save your whining for them!”

 

He struggled more frantically at the mention of the cops but couldn't get free of her grip.

 

“What's going on?” came a voice from further down the alley and Angela and a few of the kitchen people came running.

 

“This idiot was trying to hurt my friend!” said D.

 

“Amanda is that you?” asked Angela.

 

“Yeah,” I said giving a wave.

 

“Get this monster off me! These two freaks attacked me on the street and dragged me here to rob me!” he shouted.

 

“Well I know that's not true as I saw you try and swing a bat at the girl holding you on our security cameras!” said Angela.

 

“What! Cameras?” said the man now looking fairly worried.

 

“Yes, they cover this whole alley way. We used to have troubles with people trying to break in using the store access at the end there so we equipped this whole section with cameras. Rest assured I will make the recording available to the police when they get here,” Angela said.

 

“Oh,” said the man and just sort of hung his head.

 

“Are you OK Amanda?” Angela asked.

 

“I'm OK,” I said brushing some of the dirt I had picked up clambering around on the wall from myself. I sat down to put my shoes and socks back on. Soon after that the cops turned up. It took a while to sort things out but with the photographic evidence it was pretty cut and dried as to what had happened. D handed over the man to the police and they cuffed him, just as they were about to put him in the car he shouldered one of them out of the way and screamed running at me.


“You monster this is all your fault!” he shouted.

 

I did the only thing I could think of, I vanished and then dodged to the side at the last moment. The man went careening through where I had been straight into the wall. The police were then on him making sure he didn't get loose again. He was dragged off shouting obscenities and crying.

 

I walked over to where D and Angela were watching him being loaded into the car.

 

“Well, that was an unpleasant incident,” said Angela.

 

“Yeah,” said D.

 

“Would either of you two girls fancy a nice cup of tea, and then a lift home afterwards?” Angela asked.

 

“Sounds lovely,” said D. “Tish? ... Amanda where are you?” she asked looking around for me.

 

“That's a good point where did Amanda go?” said Angela.

 

“I'm right here,” I said forgetting I was invisible. D jumped at my voice.

 

“Gah! I hate it when you do that!” she said.

 

“Oh sorry,” I said, appearing again, “I forgot I was invisible.”

 

Angela stood staring at me eyes wide, “Well that's surprising,” she said. “So tea?”

 

“Yes please,” I said.

 

Angela took us both up to her office and gave us a cup of tea while we phoned to let Joyce and Gwen know what had happened and after reassuring them I was alright we told them we would be back shortly courtesy of Angela. I was a little shaky, the adrenaline rush wearing off and the fear returning so a good cup of tea was just the ticket.

 

We finished our tea and then Angela drove us over to D's house. We wished her well and I said I'd see her tomorrow.

(Four)

 

Finding the security cameras in the alley way had been quite a time saver, no need to set up our own just tap the existing circuit. Less for anyone to find in any subsequent investigation if the idiot guard talked.

 

I watched the playback with interest. I was a little disappointed that the girl didn't go toe to toe with the guard herself, something she was clearly capable of. Still watching her maneuver and outwit the fool was reward enough. It took several passes with image enhancing software to pin point the girls movements but it showed she would use out of the way hiding places that people would miss due to their seemingly inaccessible locations. She also once again showed her use of misdirection and control of others. Using her big half-breed bodyguard to take care of the problem then some humans to provide the final evidence. It galled me to see a pure humans demeaning themselves by protecting these things.

 

Still we had some of what we wanted out of the incident, the bodyguard would need to be dealt with. Her strength and power were such that in one on one combat no normal human could hope to defeat her, even with multiple opponents she would be tough. No match for the knights of course, but she was not our target. It would be better to eliminate her before the hunt began or she would be a complication.

 

I loaded the latest information onto a disk for One to look at, maybe there was some way we could get rid of the beast using her protective duty to entrap her.

 

(Mandy)

 

As we got through the door of D's house I was promptly grabbed and relentlessly hugged by Gwen. Then she covered me with kisses as well just to make doubly sure.

 

“Oh let me get a look at you, are you alright? I was worried when you told me what happened, I can't believe you got attacked again!” she said hugging me once more. “I think I'm going to have to lock you away somewhere. It's not safe for you out there.”

 

“I'm fine Gwen,” I said hugging her, back.

 

“Well come along you must be hungry let's get you some dinner,” she said taking me by the hand and leading me to the kitchen where D and Joyce were waiting.

 

“Amanda I'm relieved that you are OK,” said Joyce coming over and giving me a hug.

 

“I'm fine,” I said.

 

We all sat down and had a bite to eat. I was a little relieved when they stopped asking if I was alright. While I was a little shook up I was generally OK and didn't want a fuss raised.

 

I was getting a bit embarrassed at all the trouble I was getting in. Thankfully they decided not to make too big a deal out of things after that and we had a nice meal together.

 

When we were done D and I did the dishes and then we sat and watched the TV while Gwen and Joyce went for a chat which subject I could guess I was probably me.

 

“So other than being attacked how was your work?” asked D.

 

“Tiring, I had to set up a lot of dishes for the machines to wash,” I said.

 

“Blerg, I hate washing dishes even with the few me and Mum go through. I can't imagine having to deal with a whole restaurants dirty plates,” exclaimed D with a sour expression.

 

“It's not so bad. I don't actually do the washing just load the machines and then hose down the trays. It's pretty easy to do once you get the hang of it,” I said with a smile.

 

“Well I hope they pay you like a gazillion pounds for your efforts,” grinned D.

 

“Not quite that much I'm afraid.”

 

“So you ready for the club tomorrow?”

 

“I guess so, but since I don't know what it is I'm not really sure how to be ready for it.”

 

“Best way, you come at it fresh, at least that's what the coach says.”

 

“Hmm, well I guess I’ll already have the kit on if it is after PE.”

 

We lapsed into silence after that just watching the TV, a short while later Gwen came back in to tell me it was time to be heading home, I said my goodbyes and then we walked home together.

 

As we walked I noticed Gwen kept giving me glances every now and then I could feel her worry as well with my empathic senses so I prompted her.

 

“What?” I asked.

 

“Oh nothing,” she said with a sigh.

 

I rolled my eyes and said, “Sure that's why you keep looking at me with that pained expression of worry written all over your brain.”

 

“Oh you and your emotional radar,” said Gwen with a scowl. I stuck my tongue out at her and she grinned a bit.

 

“Come on what's bothering you?”

 

“I'm just worried about you that's all. You keep getting into these scrapes, it's almost like the world is out to get you. Makes me worried for you and worried that I'm not doing a good job protecting you.”

 

“Don't think that,” I said putting my arm around her, “You are the best sister anyone could have and I would be lost without you. None of the bad things that have happened to me are your fault.”

 

I pulled her into a hug for a bit then we continued on home arm in arm, she felt happier now and I was glad. I didn't want my wonderful sister getting the idea that any of this was her fault, I was just unlucky. That or there really was someone out to get me, but that was just paranoia so I didn't go down that road.

 

 

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