Table of Contents
It was happening again. Loud wailing sirens projected auditory discord into the bare, dirty corridors of Earnsweep Upper School. This was the fifth time this month. Hyde knew security had been getting tighter, but had never imagined this extent. He obediently followed his classmates and teacher through the corridors, past his locker, past the ‘kissing corner’, past the assembly hall and out, single file into the desolate, stretching playground. He quickly scanned the crowds of children from other classes as they walked down a small slope to reach their class’ place. He was almost sure that he knew who, like he, had powers, and who did not. Who had the blissful peace of mind of being normal. He could recognise the cautiousness of speech and that same nervousness at every raid that he saw in himself. It terrified him because it meant they all potentially knew about him. Like recognises like; recognition was dangerous. Perhaps no-one knew though – Hyde did particularly well at blending in.
No-one at school knew his secret as far as he knew. No-one except Celosia. He was pretty sure that she knew, although they had never spoken about it outright like they talked about her powers. He had just always assumed that she wouldn’t have told him hers, if she wasn’t sure that he was in the same boat – why would you? Besides, in those infuriating conversations that they used to have, where he’d tell her to be more careful, and she’d laugh it off and ask him what he could possibly know about it, she had always raised her eyebrow and looked at him so knowingly. He had never had the courage to tell her in as many words though, because if someone accuses you of being powered, you deny it, even if that ‘someone’ is your best friend. Hyde frowned and thought about how none of that would matter now. Celosia had been caught in the last raid and everyone knew that there was no coming back from the japier cells. He’d never see her again.
His heart had sunk when the head teacher had told them a powered person had melted a toilet. He had been angry at her too. She never listened to him telling her not to use her powers at school. A toilet? But he was never able to tell her off before she was taken, or listen to her being coy and telling him not to lecture her about things he had no experience of, again with that knowing look, recognising the invisible irony.
In his mind’s eye he saw her set-back shoulders, always standing proud and strong. The inspector had examined her face, looking for the bizarre genetic marker of power: identically even eyebrows. He had tirelessly searched for the symmetrical hairs in her thick dark eyebrow. No-one in their right mind trusted the accuracy of this test. They must have some other way of knowing, but the illogicality didn’t stop every powered kid in Earnsweep and beyond spending hours trying to achieve a natural-looking unevenness. You couldn’t be too careful. However, Hyde didn’t tend to partake in this frantic effort. He had the odd blessing of barely visible eyebrows, due to what his mum called ‘his strawberry-blonde complexion.’ You had to count your wins when you got them.
He shook himself out of his daydream, certainly not because he was eager to hear the head teacher yet again give her speech about how powered people were dangerous and how this raid was for the greater good, but because unless you were on your guard, you could easily be caught out.
The inspection process took hours. It was a ridiculous process. When the raid was because of some sort of offense each kid had to be individually examined. When there were summer raids some kids fainted from standing in the sun. Everyone’s legs would ache and it left the teachers frantically trying to catch-up missed content. When it got to Hyde’s turn, no-one had been found out. This wasn’t surprising, as Hyde knew that the kid they were looking for was in the upper class – the one after his – the very last one. The ‘crime’ was shutting off all the electricity in the IT suite. It was obvious, therefore, to Hyde, that the culprit was Danny, who could emit electric pulses and hated IT.
Regardless of the fact that Hyde was innocent, he could feel his heart rate increasing. He was frequently shocked that no-one else could hear the steady thump in his chest, but they were apparently oblivious. The old man peered through his magnifying glass at Hyde’s pale, freckle-ridden face. The cold sun gave a grey light through the clouds and he saw it glint in the glass. The man’s breath smelt like meat and beans. He grunted in mild irritation while he stared at Hyde’s face.
“He’s clear.” He declared with certainty, but Hyde saw him looking back at him several times when his class was led back to their classrooms, as if he was trying to measure him in his head.All the hairs on Hyde’s back stood up. He felt like an animal being hunted. He always did, but now it was as if the predator was closing in.
By the time school was over the playground was full of the news that Danny had been marched off by two uniformed agents. Some of the girls were crying and one person was kicking a bin, feeling angry that he had been fooled by Danny for so long, but mostly people were just relieved it was over. The raids were considered a necessary evil, but everyone was glad to see the inspectors leave and normality return. People had seen Danny’s parents crying and screaming at the school gates. Hyde didn’t hang around to hear the details, he took no delight in being right. There was nothing interesting in the drama. He walked out of the curling metal gates, wedged open with breeze blocks. He held up his hand in gesture of a wave to a cluster of kids he sort of knew. They hadn’t been friends since he was young, but they always said hello to him in the lunch line and waved him goodbye.
At the end of the road he decided to walk home through the woods. Even though everything was fine, or as fine as it had been since he lost Celosia, the hammering in his chest wouldn’t ease off. He became aware that he had been speed walking, so he tried to slow his pace. This certainly became easier as he picked his way through grass and roots, logs and undergrowth. He got to a wider path and looked absent-mindedly into the depths of the dense woodland around him. Apparently twenty years ago wood like these were found all over the island. There were only a few left now, as people had ceased to care about natural beauty.
His heartbeat pounded on, enduringly strong and loud, but the tallness of the aching, ancient trees and the stillness of the air that their branches penned in washed over him like it always did and calmed his fragmented, flying thoughts. Pale sunlight splashed the way before his feet, but far before he was ready to leave the safety and isolation of the wood path, he had reached its end and had to turn down his road.
He lived in a small, narrow house wedged into the corner of an alcove, stumbling backwards from the main road. The speed that cars raced down it was definitely on the wrong side of dangerous. By taking the wood path he avoided that hectic main road and came out at the furthest point from the street. He let himself in the French doors at the back of the house that Hyde’s mum had specially installed, despite how out of place they were.
“I’m home mum.” He yelled over the brain-numbing music that his mum listened to. She stuck her head round a corner to say hello, bowl in hand, energetically whisking some pale, foamy substance. She disappeared again. Hyde knew the only way he’d escape the noise was to go and sit in the garden shed. The music would seep through every crack of the house, so he swapped his stiff school jacket for a hoodie and snuck back out, unnoticed.
He breathed in the sawdusty shed smells. Ancient paint cans were piled high in one corner, damp wood smells drifted out from the walls. Dried out grass seemed to protrude from every visible surface, and rust coated every metal tool in sight. Hyde climbed over a rake and perched on the body of the lawnmower. He flicked on his mobile to look for messages. There was nothing new: there never was.
From a dry corner behind a plant pot filled with spades he grabbed out a pile of things. Hyde never showed anyone his little collection of secrets: they were embarrassing. As well as the completely acceptable collection of spy novels and history books he had a pair of tweezers and his diary. The very idea that someone might find his cringy scribblings made his face burn up, but writing things down kept him sane. It was possibly this habit that had enabled him to keep his secret so effectively. The first entry was five years ago, in April 2030, soon after he had discovered his powers. Pulling a face at his scrawling writing, he flicked through to the back. So much had happened in the last few weeks.
First it had been his sister Rochelle joining the law enforcement team. He had been shocked when she told him she was going to be tracking down people like him. She was the only person who he spoke openly with about his powers. He had thought he could trust her. At the dinner table when she was telling them all about it, his heart had been beating so hard that he had felt practically dizzy with exertion.
“So your job will be to hunt down the blasters and get rid of them?” Their dad had asked, refusing, as usual to use the politically correct terms like ‘powered people.’ His utter hatred for them made him gravitate to the derogatory ‘blasters.’ He had come home that day specially to hear her good news.
“That sounds dangerous.” Their mum had said. Hyde thought she had looked sad.
“In order to gather knowledge and ultimately turn them into the authorities. I want the world to be safer.” She had said calmly, ignoring the daggers Hyde was trying to stab into her head with his mind. She had smiled when their dad clapped her on the back and said “That’s my girl.”
Hyde had walked her down the road to the bus stop.
“You aren’t going to congratulate me Hyde?” she asked. He never really knew if she was joking in these situations, but the idea that she might be irritated him greatly.
He had opened his mouth in shock. Congratulate her? He had proceeded to rant passionately, far too enthusiastically to notice her smiling eyes. There was no-one at the bus stop, so he had really let loose.
“I’m doing this for you Hyde.” She said, cutting in when he finally ran out of steam.
“For me?” He asked, astounded at how she could possibly think that this was good for him. “You’re going to be ousting and arresting people like me.”
“Well I’ll have a desk job and training first.” She said glibly. Hyde didn’t give her a pity laugh like he often did. How could she be doing this to him? How could she not understand? He was angry with her on principal, for betraying what they both believed in, more than anything.
Rochelle got tired of him missing the point. “Hyde, can’t you see? I’m going to be able to help people like you because I’m going to be right there on the front line.”
Hyde furrowed his brow while her words settled into place (people were always telling him he did that.) “So you’ll be like a double agent?”
“Yeah, I guess.”
She laughed a little, glancing around to see if their row had disturbed the night life.
“Some of these vigilante groups are actually really dangerous though, Hyde. I don’t think it is wrong to be part of stopping them.”
“But not all of them.” He insisted.
“A lot of them. A lot of them would be bad people with or without their powers.”
“But what about when they’re not? Are you really going to be able to do anything about it?” He had asked. She shrugged. She hoped so, and she felt she had more chance inside the system than out.
“And what about you?” Hyde asked, the harshness in his voice faltering. “What if someone finds out?” The crimes she was about to commit as a traitor would warrant harsher punishment than for the crimes at Hyde’s school. She would likely be punished by death. Publicly and humiliatingly. Hyde had always thought of the King as a benevolent ruler, but the state’s laws were clear and harsh, and the King didn’t seem to have that much say, or maybe he didn’t want to upset the leading statesmen.
“Chill Hyde.” She had said. Her cheerfulness was obviously forced and he knew that she was terrified about what she was about to do. She went on to tell him that she was just as good a secret-keeper as him. It was true. Hyde was glad that Rochelle knew his biggest secret, and that she had now trusted him with hers. They knew each other better than anyone else, and he wanted it to stay that way.
It had only been a month after his sister started that the raids had begun to get more frequent. In schools, work places, shops – it felt like you couldn’t go anywhere without being checked. Rochelle had no information on why security had increased. She was a small fish and didn’t get told a lot. She guessed that it was because more people were challenging the authorities, as if they were making a show of power and resistance. Hyde had felt a peculiar surge of warmth and pride when she had said that.
Then it had been Celosia being taken. Who knew if she was even still alive? No-one, not even Rochelle knew much about the japier cells, but one could only imagine the worse. Hyde occasionally felt hope, remembering that all Celosia had done was melt a toilet, perhaps he’d see her again after all. Those hopeful moments never lasted long.
Suddenly Hyde was interrupted from his writing and reflecting by his phone ringing. His ringtone was Celosia singing the Peppa Pig theme tune even worse than her voice sounded naturally. She had changed it one time when he left his phone at her house and he had forgotten to change it. Now it was just a sad reminder that he’d never hear her real voice again. He had one photo of them that Celosia’s mum had insisted they had taken together before a party a few years ago that now lived in his diary and he had the Peppa Pig ringtone. If nothing else of her survived, he would still have these things to miserably remember her forever.
The caller was Rochelle. He swiped the phone open and answered. Before he could say ‘hi’ or anything else she began talking at him.
“Hyde, are you okay?”
“Okay as I ever am. You sound worried. Has someone found you out?” Hyde asked. The worry in her voice had infected him instantly and he began to expect the worst (or the worst he could imagine. His expectations were about to be blown away.)
“What?” She said, confused. “No, of course not, but someone has found you out. I was going through a list of SPPs – suspected powered people – and your name was added two hours ago.”
“How’s that possible?” Hyde asked, suddenly feeling like he was watching himself receiving this horrendous news. “No-one knows about me.” He objected in a loud whisper. The worry infection had settled in and was routing its way through him. He was already imagining awful things in sort of vague oblong blurs in his mind.
“Hey.” She snapped, grabbing his attention from within the haze. “You can’t stress out, but you do have to leave. You’re going to need your wits about you.”
“I need my wits about me.” He repeated verbatim, as if that would make him focus. He took a deep breath and tried to listen to Rochelle who had launched into a list of instructions in that same firm and confident voice that he remembered from when she had first seen him use his powers.
He had been skateboarding when it happened – he used to be such a daredevil – and he had carelessly angled his boards to go down the largest ramp. He came off skew. As he had fallen, he had been weirdly aware of his heart rate increasing, despite it taking little more than a second to fall. Heat had coursed through his body and he had found himself floating, still braced for impact with the floor. His hands and nose were a mere centimetre from that weird shredded tire stuff they seem to think is a good idea in playgrounds. Before he could begin to comprehend what was happening, he had made contact with the ground, getting away with a few tiny bruises in comparison with the multiple broken bones he should have had.
“You must not tell anyone what just happened.” Rochelle had warned him, once she had wiped the shock off of her face. With a gentle firmness she had explained to him what having powers meant. She told him that if someone else had seen him, he would have wished for the broken bones in exchange for what could happen to him.
She was 17 at the time. Somehow she had learned what it was that happened to powered people and rather than adopting the same fear that everyone else had, she had decided that what was happening was wrong. Maybe it started five years before when she had seen that brutal news report of the guy who froze the fountain getting kicked in the street that got broadcasted accidentally and her parents hadn’t been around to turn it off. Maybe it was Brian, the conspiracy theorist, who she had dated last year, or maybe her unusual views were founded somewhere else, but Hyde had always admired her resolve, and appreciated how she always knew what to do.
It had taken him a while to figure out how his powers had worked, but he soon learnt to hide them and in secret he had practiced them without much incident.
Rochelle hung up on him and like a robot Hyde followed her instructions. His head was spinning and it occurred to him, in an abstract thought that he was living out his worst nightmare.
Into his rucksack went spare clothes, bottles of water, quinoa salad (leftovers from his mum’s lunch,) cereal bars and matches. He yelled to his mum that he was visiting Celosia. He had never told his parents that she was taken for being powered. His dad would have been appalled that he had been associating with powered people. Even if he had understood that it wasn’t Hyde’s fault, Hyde wasn’t ready to hear a string of insults against his only real friend, and however unknowingly, against himself. His mum raised an eyebrow and told him to have fun and “Send her love to dear Celosia.”
“She’s not my girlfriend mum.”
“Oh, I know dear.”
She had been hinting that she knew Celosia was Hyde’s secret girlfriend for months now. This was not true and denying it happened so often that the exchange was almost muscle memory by this point. Hyde mostly tried to ignore her, because his initial protesting had been treated as embarrassment. It used to be mildly annoying, and he used to try and get Celosia to stop playing along, to no avail. Since Celosia had been taken, though, the comments and knowing looks had just been making him feel miserable. He had never wanted more than friendship from Celosia and that’s what he wanted now, but he couldn’t have it.
From his house he jogged down to the bus stop and just managed to catch the bus that was pulling away. Rochelle had told him he’d only have to hide for a few days until she could either omit his name from the list or locate a sanctuary. She told him she’d cover for him with their parents. Everything was going to be okay. It had to be.
Hyde had decided to go to the caves under the cliffs at the beach a few miles from his home. The bus took him as far as the village on the cliffs. Here he found one of those shops that pay out cash for old phones had he reluctantly sold his mobile. He kept reminding himself that everything was backed up, even his Peppa Pig ring tone. Rochelle had said that tracking his phone was one of the ways he’d be found if she couldn’t omit his name.
He bought a sleeping bag and some sweets with the money. He found the sleeping bag in a charity shop. It was cheap and very warm looking. Hyde’s hood shadowed his face and he tried to not let the lady at the counter get a good look at him. He had no clue how many of his precautions were sensible and how many were silly things from his spy novels that were making him look like an idiot. He’d rather be safe than sorry.
In the old fashioned sweet shop, he noticed a man watching him carefully. He suddenly realised that the man had been in both the phone shop and the charity shop. Was he in the bus as well? The creep was following him. This surely could only mean that the law enforcement had already begun to looking for him. He paid for his sweets and jogged to the outskirts of the village.
What were his options? The path down the cliff to the beach was long and precarious. This man would be faster and have surer footing than him. The man being a highly trained agent, and Hyde having failed gym three years in a row. He would surely catch up. He needed a different way down.
Then suddenly, like it often did, his power presented itself to him as an option. He was about to quash it out of habit, but then he realised that using them was actually a really good option, and possibly his only one. Besides, there was no point in hiding now.
Once Hyde had gotten properly out of the town he had broken into a run. His pursuer had done the same. He was now only a few metres away from the edge of the cliff. In a brief look behind him he saw that the man was being held up by an old woman called Marge who was a family friend. For whatever reason, Marge had stopped the man. Hyde wondered whether she had seen him and was helping on purpose, or not. It didn’t matter and he said a silent prayer of thanks as he turned towards the cliffs.
Blue skies stretched out before him. The line between sky and sea was blurred. As his feet pounded closer and closer to the edge of the grass-tufted cliff his heart rate pounded in double time to his feet. Thrills raced through his limbs like frantic electric spiders, and in that one moment he wished he could always openly use his power.
“You are about to jump off a cliff? Are you insane?” Hyde thought as he rocked on the balls of his feet on the edge of the cliff and instinct kicked in with its objections. Hyde hadn’t actually used his powers in almost 18 months and was having an unsettling feeling that he might have been imagining his power this entire time. Could he really stop himself before hitting the ground? How crazy did that sound? He let a grin creep over his face and pushed away the thought. Maybe he was insane, but he was about to find out. The daredevil in his blood surged to the surface and he did it.
He hurled his body off the cliff with as much force as he could, trying to propel forward, away from the edge. A scream died in his throat and for a few beautifully terrifying seconds he was flying. The sandy floor crept closer and the reality that he was tumbling towards it hit him hard – like a brick to the face.
Ten metres away. He could see the foam of the sea licking up the beach. The tide was in, meaning no-one was there to see him fall. No-one would be there to see him die horrifically on the sand either.
Seven metres away. His heart rate was at full speed. He could stop himself any moment if he liked (supposedly,) but if he was too high up he was going to hurt himself.
Five metres. Someone had left their towel behind, or maybe it was a kite. A rectangle of red floated out to sea. Hyde’s nerves were going wild. It felt so good though. He relished the fright and the risk of the fall. He loved the control he had over his landing.
Two metres. He should have caught himself, but he didn’t. Suddenly it had become a test to see how close he could get without becoming a pancake. His lunch inched its way towards his throat as he risked more and more centimetres. Hyde breathed in a mouthful of sand as he suddenly jerked to a stop and caught his breath, a few centimetres from his death. As he blinked the particles stuck to his eyelashes. Spluttering and coughing he fell without grace to the floor. There was sand up his nose.
He had to get to the cave before the man realised what happened. Hopefully Marge would keep him distracted until he had disappeared and the man would be left to assume that his power was invisibility, or that he had jumped into the sea or something. Unless they knew what his power was already. Hyde’s stomach dropped. How could they possibly?
Trying to puff the sand out of his nose as he ran, he snatched up his bag that had slipped off while he was falling and he sprinted to the caves. He found the one he was looking for easily. Partly because there were only two proper ones, and partly because he had spent at least half of his weekends since he could remember in this secret hideout by the sea.
Their parents used to bring them there a few times a year. As soon as Rochelle and Hyde were old enough they had begun to come down every weekend. Three years ago when Rochelle moved away to study Hyde had shown the hideout to Celosia. He couldn’t very well tell her about his power, but he had felt something was missing while he knew her big secret and he had shared none of his own. After that the two of them were going down to the caves almost everyday.
The opening to the cave was fairly hidden, so it was perfect for hiding out. The cave was rather small, maybe the size of a large double bed. Hyde set up his sleeping bag and sat on it grinning. He was expecting to be found at that point – the man would surely do a search – but it didn’t matter to him at that moment. The thrill from the fall was so completely satisfying. Even by the time the sun had set and there was barely any daylight left in the cave, the smile hadn’t faded. The feeling of heat pulsing through his body hadn’t eased. He made himself eat some of the food he had brought and drank some water, but he felt like he could have survived on pure thrill for a week.
He was leant against the cave remembering when he and Rochelle had first camped at the caves and that was when he realised there was no plan for what was coming next.
How long should he wait in the cave before he decided it had been long enough? Even Rochelle didn’t know where he was hiding: she wouldn’t let him tell her, for security reasons. If she couldn’t find him how was he to know whether his life was still in danger? It would only be a day or two before he had to venture out for food. He should have asked Rochelle these things. He wondered if it was bad that he was so reliant on her for everything.
All his energy had become nervous energy, but he put his extra set of clothes on for warmth and eventually he fell into a light and restless sleep. Compared to a memory foam mattress, a sleeping bag and a dusting of sand didn’t make for a very comfortable night’s sleep.
In his dreams there was a girl chasing him. Without warning, the floor dropped away and Hyde smiled because he knew he had the advantage when it came to falling. Using his powers he reached the floor safely, despite not knowing how far down the ground was. He took a deep breath, relieved to have survived.
As he looked around for the girl, the smile dropped from his face. Giant wings that looked as if they were made from apple blossoms had uncurled from what he had thought was her dress. They spread across the sky, blocking out the sky. He couldn’t tear his eyes from her: she was dazzlingly beautiful. Her brunette hair ringletted around her ears and she moved gracefully through the air above Hyde’s head. Despite her angelic appearance, he found himself terrified of her. Something deep inside him felt that she was achingly desperate and mad.
This feeling was confirmed when the girl, from under her wings revealed a small wriggling bundle. Without a moment’s hesitation the girl dropped it. Hyde gasped. The baby tumbled towards the ground. Hyde sprinted and dived, stretching as far as he could to catch the young life, but before he could it dissolved into sea foam.
A twig snapped. Hyde jolted up, panting. It had absorbed him, but was just a dream. He checked his watch – it helpfully lit up. It was quite old-fashioned: no phone syncing or anything: it was just a watch. It had been his granddad’s. It told him he had only been asleep for two hours. It was 1am.
What had woken him? He was usually such a deep sleeper – rarely ever a dreamer. Even the cold ground hadn’t affected him in the past when he’d camped. He remembered the crunching sound as he woke up. Now that he was listening he thought he heard something rustle.
There was something in the cave and it knew he was there. Was it a wild animal? Was it a person? His only advantage was that they did not yet know that he knew they were there. Hyde tried to take control of his racing mind. Perhaps this was nothing and he was just half-asleep and paranoid. If it was the law, there was no reason for them not to barge in and grab him while he slept. That was far more their style. So who would be here? There was no real way of knowing whether he was imagining it without a torch or by asking. He laid back down and tried to go back to sleep.
“Please,” said a quiet and gentle sounding voice. He jolted back up, his heart in his throat. A slim shadow inched forward. Hude fumbled for a match and struck one. Why hadn’t he grabbed a torch? Small beams of light and shadows were cast across the floor near where he sat. He could just about make out a girl pressed against the wall. She was slim and girlish. A sheet of creamy hair fell to her waist and her arms were stretched out, pale against the darkness of the room as she edged forward towards him.
“Don’t be scared,” she implored. Hyde eyed her suspiciously. She didn’t look like a threat, but that didn’t really mean anything. She hitched up the plainwhite dress to step over a rock. Revealing her small, bare feet. She paused. He could now see her eyes. She seemed to be silently asking whether she could come closer. Hyde felt like she was treating him as if he were a frightened animal. Hyde nodded cautiously, driven more by curiosity than sense at that point (can’t we all be, at 1am?) She continued towards him. She moved so gently and cautiously as if he were not only an animal that might be startled and bolt, but also a monster that must not be aggravated.
“Why would I be scared of you?” Hyde asked in a whisper once she was but inches from him. His heart pounded in his chest. Why was he so scared of her when she was so small and fragile?
“You’ve been through a lot Hyde.” She replied, and every muscle in Hyde’s body stiffened. She leant up on a bit of rock jutting out from the wall. Hyde shuffled backwards from her.
“How do you know my name? Are you the law?” He asked hastily. Why the law would send her he could only imagine (except that she was obviously a remarkably effective weapon, seeing as he had trusted her so instantaneously.) She smiled sadly and shook her head.
“No, I’m not the law. If anything, I suppose you would call me an outlaw. I’m sorry you’ve been scared.”
Hyde furrowed his brow, but then it all sort of clicked. He nodded. She was from a sanctuary. Rochelle must have contacted someone. He’d heard about these types of people in rumours. That’s why she knew his name, and explained the waif-ish look. However, this explanation didn’t cover how she had known he was here.
“How can I trust you?” He asked cautiously. She shrugged.
Hyde repeated the question firmly. “The law could have set me up using you as a…lure.”
She laughed. “A lure? I could say the same of you. The law are out to get me too you know.” She paused and the words were left to sink in a little. “But I have faith.” She added. What in, she didn’t specify. With this she got up and began walking out of the cave. He didn’t want to stay in the cave for an indeterminable amount of time, so he followed, taking with him the uneasy feeling that he had allowed her to persuade him far too easily. He vaguely remembered seeing the ‘walk and your toddler will just follow you’ technique in a parenting magazine in the dentists. Alas, he didn’t have a better idea.
He stuffed his things into his rucksack and raced after her. She put a finger to her lip and pointed towards the sea with her other hand.
“Isn’t it beautiful?” She murmured, so quietly that Hyde felt she wasn’t talking to him. The water glimmered silver, making a path to the sky. It was truly stunning. He nodded.
“So do you have a name?” Hyde asked when they began to walk again and the spell was broken. She grinned, somehow channelling laughter into the wide, toothy smile. Her small, fragile body seemed to be brimming with happiness.
“I am Serilda, but some who have tried to track me down, named me the White Whisper.” She said dramatically, lowering her voice to speak her alter ego, and with perfect seriousness. Hyde wondered whether he had just stumbled onto the set of a movie, but then she laughed at herself. “But I prefer just Serilda.”
“You also have a power?” He asked hesitantly, feeling embarrassed, as if he was asking something incredibly private.
“We all do at the sanctuary.”
By this point they had reached the other cave on the beach. She gestured for Hyde to follow her inside.
Hyde wasn’t sure quite what he had been expecting. He of course knew the cave, it was very similar to the other one and he had been in both many times before. This one being the slightly bigger of the two. Maybe he had been expecting a group of dirty outcasts, huddled around a dying fire, so he was rather taken aback when Serilda led him in and there was nothing to be seen. She smiled at his confused expression.
“We aren’t there yet. Did you think we could fit a sanctuary in here?”
Hyde shrugged awkwardly. Serilda hopped lightly to the back of the cave. She brushed the wall with her fingertips. She was searching for something.
Eventually she stopped tracing patterns in the wall with her hands and placed both palms on a specific section of the rock, in line with her thighs. Hyde saw her strain and press hard against the rock. Nothing happened and then suddenly a huge piece jolted backwards and slid sideways. He heard a grinding noise, not very loud, but in the torch lit cave with no other sound than their breathing it startled him. He came closer to the gaping hole in the floor behind the void in the wall. Serilda nodded towards it.
“Go on then.” She said. Really? She was wanting him to jump down an ominous black hole.
“That’s crazy.” Hyde said nervously, trusting the wispy girl beside him less and less with each passing second. She just smiled cheerfully.
“I’m sure you’ll be just fine.” She said. Hyde wondered if that was an implication. Did she know what he could do?
“What about you?” Hyde asked and received no more than an infuriating shrug and: “I have my ways.”
Hyde gave her a sideways glance and stood over the hole. What else could he possibly do at this point? First he dropped his rucksack down, since there was nothing in there that was likely to break. He listened for the sound of it landing and tried to judge the distance – it was far. He felt like Serilda was scrutinising his every move with those searching eyes she had. It made him feel nervous.
Hyde took a deep breath and jumped, maybe only to escape her gaze, and tried not to think about the fact that it would be much harder to fall blind. He supposed he’d have to stop higher above the ground and suffer a few bruises. Better that way, than to hit the floor with full momentum. Hyde’s pulse began to race and enjoyment crept its way into his body. Within seconds he reached the heart rate speed he needed to be able to stop. This would be the hard part. Hyde’s instincts kept holding him back. He hoped he was right in trusting it to kick in like they did all those times when he was getting used to his power. The hole wasn’t very wide, but he tried to make himself as air resistant as possible, to slow his fall even by a little. He really must be getting close by now. It had been a few long, tormenting seconds. He hated not knowing.
He murmured many grateful words under his breath. He wasn’t sure what he was saying, but the powers had kicked in by themselves, and he was grateful. He was also floating about a foot above an enormous pile of mattresses. So it was…a test?
A squeal rung out from above him as Serilda came tumbling out of the vertical passage and landed on the pile of mattresses.
“Isn’t this fun?” She asked.
“Fun.” Hyde repeated, feeling a bit dazed. He crawled clumsily to the end of the mattresses and followed Serilda, looking around him at the very bare, narrow walls of the corridor that lead off of the mattress room. A gasp escaped him when the door opened up to reveal a room that seemed to stretch endlessly in every direction. It must have been at least as large as his school grounds, including both sports fields. It was large enough at least, that he struggled to see the furthest wall, behind all the people lying sprawled out on the floor and what looked like small office cubicles. Funny, he supposed, that his eyes zoned into the furthest away things first, and it had taken him a second or two to really notice the people lying all over the floor, messily centred around a small smouldering fire. That seemed dangerous.
“Where does the smoke go?” Hyde whispered, assuming that the people littering the floor were asleep. It was hardly the most important of his questions, but it was the one he found himself asking. Serilda pointed up to a vent in the high, cavernous ceiling. She went on to explain that the cubicles were bedrooms, but most people tended to prefer sleeping out ‘in the open’ together. As she led him carefully through the crowd, towards the back, where she said she could get him a change of clothes and some blankets, they heards a peal of laughter and hushing break out from their right. Serilda grinned and began to veer towards the group. Hyde followed her as best as he could, but she had begun to pick up her pace, and she was more sprightly than him. She said hello to this group and then took Hyde off, further to the right. They eventually emerged from the sea of sleepers and got to a side room full of tables and kitchen supplies. Thoughts of blankets and clothes, apparently forgotten.
“Serilda!” exclaimed a young man in a hushed greeting. He gave her a hug.
“Hyde,” Serilda said, turning to him, “this is Dakota and others. Everyone, this is Hyde.” A few of the group gave hushed whoops and cheers for him in way of welcome. Someone gave him a silent high five. He guessed he began to look as overwhelmed as he felt, because Dakota stood up and brought him aside.
“You’re safe with us kid. We are all like you here.” He smiled at Hyde and led him away from the group who had begun chatting with Serilda in fast, quiet and jovial tones. “I suppose you have a lot of questions.” Dakota said as he sat him down at a bench a few away from the one the others were sitting at. Hyde nodded. He told Hyde that he could answer a few, but that in the morning Emio, the sanctuary’s leader, would be able to answer the rest. “You might be better off just getting some sleep.”
“I’m not really sleepy.”
“Then fire away.”
He tried to decide where to start. The things he didn’t know were like an endless ocean in his head. Any one question seemed as futile as a thimble, in beginning to drain the confusion. He wanted to know how they got here, who these people were, how they knew about him, how long this place had been here – so many things. He went with that last question, though.
“How long has this place been here?”
“Two years. I’ve been here since the start. I was about your age at the time.”
“And what…” Hyde began, but suddenly changed his mind. He didn’t think even here, asking outright what somebody’s power was would be okay. Dakota waited patiently. “Nothing.” He concluded, shaking his head.
“Do you want something to eat?” He asked.
Dakota got up and began fussing with things in a cupboard.
“By the way, everyone here calls me Kota here.” He said.
“Okay.” Hyde rolled a scrap of paper on the table between his fingers until Kota turned around with some crackers spread with something salty, and some nuts and other food. They tucked in, Kota ate a little, but Hyde thought he made it mostly for him. “So who is Emio? Did he start the sanctuary?” Hyde asked through a mouthful of food.
“Yeah.” Kota said, and paused a second. Hyde got the impression he was weighing up whether to tell him something. “The King entrusted him to do it.” He added, and watched Hyde carefully. It was as if there was some hidden significance that Hyde was supposed to grasp. Instead Hyde yawned.
“Cool.” He replied. “Mad that the king would be on our side of this thing.” He commented sleepily. Kota nodded. He didn’t say anything else, he just watched Hyde eat. When he finished, Kota swept him off to bed, and between the yawning and his drooping eyelids Hyde couldn’t find the strength of will to object. The sight of the camp bed in the simple room was enough to make him want to cry. Kota laughed a little at how quickly Hyde had his trainers off and was under the blanket. He left him to sleep.
“I’ll be in the kitchen all night, so just find me if you need anything.” He said as he walked out. Hyde wondered why Kota wasn’t going to sleep, but he had already left, so he couldn’t ask. He felt very safe, but he didn’t end up spending much time thinking about why before he was asleep. The next thing Hyde knew was knocking and seeing Kota standing in the door way, through his bleary sleepiness. He blinked at him.
“What is it?” He asked, jerking up in bed. Alarmed by Kota’s presence, now that he had properly acknowledged it. He looked at his watch. It told him it was 11’o’clock. “It’s morning.”
“Yes it is. Get dressed – Emio wants to see you.”
Hyde plonked his head back on his pillow.
“I’ll be back in ten minutes. If you’re still in that bed I might have to throw you out of it.” Kota said with a serious face.
Hyde laughed. He was liking Kota’s light demeanour. He forced himself out of the comfortable bed. Someone pointed him towards the bathrooms, so he went, armed with a towel from the small drawer unit in his cubicle.
Hyde was able to make a few more observations that morning. More than in the confusion of the previous night. The big central room was roughly pentagonal in shape, and three of the sides were now piled up with pillows and blankets that had been swept up from the century of the room.
The men’s bathroom was clean and was simple like the school one really, just more cavey. Rough stone walls were a little bit of a different vibe to white clinical plastic. A few urinals, a few stalls. The other obvious difference was the sheer number of people milling in and out. Most of the people were young: teenagers, young twenties, but Hyde spotted a few adults and one or two older men. Some kind soul noticed he looked a bit lost and pointed him to the shower block.
In contrast, the showers were a bit grim. The water from the cubicles collected in the central aisle and by the time he found a free one, the bottom few inches of his trousers were soggy. He added his clothes to a pile of shirts, shoes, towels and jeans on a table at the end of the room and went into the stall. The lack of privacy had begun to occur to him. The sleeping cubicles didn’t have doors or roofs; the clothes pile here indicated that the guys just stripped at the door before showering. People must have been very familiar with one another. He tensed up and yelped under the stream of icy shower water that hit his back. Someone a stall over laughed, Hyde assumed at him.
None of this was all that much worse than school gym class in reality. He could get used to it. He dried off and pulled his pants back on, and left his cubicle to find his top floating in the little river of grimy shower water. He wrung it out, put on his trousers and got back to the little bedroom cubicle, wrestling through dozens of people.
Kota must have come back as promised, and brought clothes, which was a relief, because the wet bottoms of his trousers had only gotten worse and he was shivering. Kota walked in while he was pulling on the faded black t-shirt. Hyde jumped and was glad that he was basically fully dressed by this point.
“Get some clothes on then. We’ve got to go.” He said. Hyde sat on the bed to put on his shoes. “Ditch the shoes.” Kota told him, so Hyde followed. “Nice shower?” He asked.
“It stops people taking too long.”
Kota led him through a new corridor into a smaller room, also without a door, which contained a semi-circle of chairs and lots of bookcases. The desk in the corner made him think it was an office. There were half a dozen people in the room, including Serilda. Kota walked straight over to a young man with dark blonde hair and one giant freckle on his left cheek. He was remarkably familiar-looking. He extended his hand to Hyde.
“Good to meet you Hyde. I’m Emiliano.”
“Emio.” Kota interrupted. Emiliano smiled.
“If you like, Emio is fine.” He said. Hyde nodded. Emiliano was natural and cheery as he spoke. The handshake seemed a bit formal in the very rustic office, with it’s uncut stone floor and dripping water from one corner of the ceiling. Hyde smiled at him to try and seem friendly. Emiliano continued talking: “I run this sanctuary. It is the biggest sanctuary in the country and has been specifically commissioned by the king. Although that’s a secret.” He said, quickly turning from where he had been pacing, to look at Hyde sharply.
“I can keep a secret.” Hyde assured him.
Emiliano laughed in a reserved, smirky kind of way. It wasn’t unkind, but he somehow maintained a certain composure in his voice. “I’m sure you can.” He stopped pacing. “I’m sure you have lots of questions.” Hyde nodded. Lots didn’t even begin to describe it.
Emiliano asked everyone to leave. Hyde guessed that meant it was his office. Kota slapped Hyde on the shoulder and told him to come sit with him in the food hall afterwards. Serilda smiled at Hyde. She looked older, less fragile and less sternly powerful in the artificial light of the office. She was just normal. She kissed Emiliano on the cheek before she left, and they murmured a few things to one another. Hyde looked away awkwardly.
Serilda left and Emio sat down in the semi-circle of chairs.
“So is there anything in particular that you want to know first?”
“Not particularly. I’m not sure I understand anything.”
“As I said, the king asked me to start this sanctuary two years ago. He wanted to help people from the very moment that powered people began to be oppressed There were a few people he wanted to trust running a sanctuary to, but they were expressing overtly anti-powered-people opinions. I desperately wanted to be allowed to do it. I was 17 and naive, but I had seen enough to know this was important.I had a cousin who was taken by the government. He had this amazing long hair and he could control it, like a limb. We had been very close and I wanted to do something to stop people being taken. The situation kept getting worse, and about two years later my dad finally let me.”
“Your dad is the king?” Hyde asked, realising that Emilino was an uncommon name, and yet had been oddly familiar. The king’s son had been called Emiliano, but Hyde remembered seeing a news report that the prince had gone to school in England three years ago. The same amount of time the sanctuary had been around. Hyde’s face became warm. “Your majesty.” He mumbled. The prince smirked again. He was a little mechanical as he said,
“I’m not the prince here. Just Emiliano.” Hyde imagined that this little revelation was well rehearsed by this point. Hyde nodded, but he felt unnerved to be talking with royalty. Emio just continued talking.
“A lot of the people who are here are really young. People like Serilda and Kota were my first refugees, but they were just as passionate as me about this project, and unlike many of the people we helped in the beginning, they never left. We think the age tends to be young because kids are the ones who can’t hide their powers well, and are the ones who can’t survive without help. A lot of the adults only stay here for a few months and then move on. We don’t mind that either. There is no pressure to stay, but it involves trusting that no-one will give us away. We have some contingency plans for if anything should go wrong, but so far we haven’t had to use them.
“We want people to stay as long as they need to, and lots of people decide to try and build a life here. It’s very different to the one outside, but it is a good one for lots of people. Even for me. I like my life here. I have Serilda, and work I care about and like-minded people to spend time with. The sanctuary is like a little colony and we’re working it out together. There’s a group running a school of sorts for the youngsters, and we have some medics. Everyone pitches in.
“We try to be understanding. Some people did some awful things before they came to us. We try to accept everyone. On a few occasions that has backfired, but we have people if you need to talk to someone. I’m the only non-powered person here, and I’m an outlaw, so we’re all in a similar position. I might have been told to do this by my father, but he won’t be able to protect me if someone finds out. I’d be in the japier cells like everyone else.”
Hyde suddenly looked straight at Emio, from where he was looking absently around the office. Emio looked surprised at the abrupt attention.
“Do you know where they are?” Hyde asked.
“The japier cells?”
“I have some guesses based on the sizes of the different government facilities. Why?” Emio asked.
“So you’ve never rescued someone from the japier cells?” Hyde said, ignoring the question.
“No.” Emio said. “We do some field rescues, like with you, but we stay away from government facilities. We don’t really know anything about them, because no-one has come back out.”
Hyde’s face fell.
“Did you lose someone?” Emio asked.
Hyde shrugged. “A friend of mine got taken a few weeks ago. She was never very subtle.”
“And you were put in danger by association.” Emio concluded.
“She wouldn’t have sold me out.”Hyde hurried to say. “I’m not entirely sure she knew about me.”
Emio nodded. “Of course.” He said quickly. “But the authorities tend to interrogate friends of confirmed powered people. Often they are also powered or they know of other powered people.”
Hyde hadn’t thought about the fact that Celosia could have been the reason that he was now on the run.
“I thought they discovered me in the eyebrow raids.”
Emio laughed. “The eyebrow mutation is complete nonsense.” Emio explained. Hyde felt embarrassed. He of course knew that the eyebrow thing was inaccurate, just there had been no better explanation. “In about a third of powered – people there is an iris mutation, but it isn’t conclusive.” Emio continued. “We’ve heard they’re trying to develop a genetic test, but we’ve no clue where the eyebrow test thing came from. Maybe a guise to look at the irises instead. It’s a guess anyway.”
Hyde frowned. He began thinking over all the kids who had been taken from his school in the last few months.
Emio interrupted his thoughts. “You’re welcome to stay as long as you need to Hyde. Are you on the run for good, or is there somewhere you’re hoping to return to?” This he asked more gently than the rest of the conversation which had been a bit brisk and business-like.
Hyde told him his story as briefly as possible and that he hoped to return to his parents. He couldn’t leave Rochelle. He didn’t know whether his absence would protect them, or draw unnecessary attention to them by making himself look guilty. That would only cause problems for Rochelle.
“Your sister works in the government.” Emio said. It didn’t sound like a question, but Hyde assumed it must have been. He nodded.
“That’s a tricky problem. I’ll need to talk to some of the others, who know more about the inner workings of the government. Either way, you’ll need to stay here for the time being. It is not safe for you to return just yet. The question is whether you need to stay for a few weeks or a few months.”
A few months! That felt like an eternity. Hyde began to think of all the things he was going to miss and wonder what his parents would think.
He continued to think and panic imperceivably while Emio made arrangements for Hyde’s stay. He put him in a more private room with Kota and another guy. The private rooms were for longer stay people, but they had space for him at the moment. Serilda kitted him out with a pile of clothes and a slot on the chores rotation. Getting into bed that night Hyde felt like he was staring his new life straight in the eyes.
“Shellie! We need you!” A short man with glasses and almost no hair called urgently from his cubicle in the dingy basement office of the government building where Rochelle now worked, a few hundred miles from home. Remi could neither be described as young or old, but regardless, was flapping his arms to express the urgency and excitement he felt over the news he had when Rochelle stood up to look at him over the dividing cubicle wall.
“What’s up?” She asked.
“There’s a raid!” He said, almost in a whisper. He was trying to contain his excitement.
“Isn’t there always a raid?” Rochelle asked. Remi seemed to shake a bit, perhaps a little frustrated that she didn’t seem to share his enthusiasm.
By this point in Rochelle’s government career, she had been along to several raids of potential powered people harbours, or sanctuaries. It hadn’t been an especially active role, just shadowing. Sometimes they had been successful and streams of people were driven away in parades of black government vans to the japier cells. There, she was told, they would be ‘interrogated and detained.’ More often though, they were unsuccessful and the sanctuary had been cleared out, or had never existed. She was surprised at Remi’s excitement: raids weren’t uncommon, and they had both attended their shadowing requirement for this month. Neither of them would be going.
All the agents in the first office where Rochelle had worked were analysts. All of their job happened on computers, analysing leads as to where different powered people might be found. Rochelle had managed to do a little from there, to get contacts with different rebel leaders, which was how she found Hyde help, but she hadn’t been able to do everything she wanted to, so she had requested a transfer. Someone must have thought her suitable for field work, because her request was accepted. That rarely ever happened. That was how she had found herself working side by side with Remi and two dozen other junior government employees in the basement office, attending two raids per month as a trainee.
“It’s in your home town, so they want you as a scout.” Remi said, to dispel her confusion.
“But it’s a 2 hour flight, Surely they’ll be quicker without me.” Rochelle said, suddenly also feeling jittery with emotion. Hyde was at home. She hadn’t spoken to him in three months. Her parents had alerted the police and there had been a huge search for him. She had been mostly glad that they hadn’t found him.
“You’ll be cutting out half of their planning time with your expert knowledge.” Remi said. “This is your big break Shellie.” To his credit, he managed to say this without sounding even half as jealous as Rochelle knew he was. She tried to smile, but all she could think about was Hyde. She hoped he had found safety and that the sanctuary she had contacted had found him. Great good that did him now. She tried not to think about that, or about any of the other things that could have happened to Hyde since she last spoke to him.
She went to talk to her superior to get an official briefing. How Remi had found out, she did not know, but his information had been pretty accurate. A government car took her back to her lonely little apartment and she stuffed some outfits into a large rucksack. She gave it to the man to put in the car.
“I’ll be just one minute.” She told him, and made a vague comment about loose ends needing tying. He told her to be quick, and left. She rushed over to her computer. There was something she needed to do without being watched.
She logged in and opened a secure feed and entered in a number. She passed a pin check, a retina scan and a thumbprint scan and was led to a page with a basic chat function.
“Raid team coming.” She wrote, and sent it. She turned off the computer, took a screwdriver, opened the computer and removed the harddrive. She placed it on the floor and dropped a pile of heavy books on her bed stand onto it. It splintered over the floor. She picked up the pieces and threw them into the sink where a few pans were sitting soaking, waiting to be cleaned. She screwed the panel back onto the computer and ran down the stairs to where the car was waiting.
By the time Rochelle arrived in her hometown she had peeled off her nail polish and watched a film on the plane without taking in any details. She tried to look composed as the raid team gathered in the abandoned restaurant near the airport that she had suggested. It was somewhere inconspicuous. She had eaten there before every flight she had ever been on, and she had never seen it with more than one or two other people in. Dressed in their plain clothes, with luggage in tow, the raid team just looked like a group of friends going on holiday together. There was time for a gulped coffee and something to eat while the team were briefed.
“We believe that the sanctuary is hidden in the cliffs on the beach.” The team leader said. Then Rochelle was introduced as their local guide. Everyone looked at her expectantly. She realised they were expecting her to take over the briefing. She hadn’t realised that would be required of her. She should have done: the local guides always had to talk at the briefings she had attended. She coughed nervously.
“There are two caves on that beach, both very small. There’s a small village on the cliff – it won’t be too hard to evacuate. The only way to the beach is down narrow stairs from the cliff. It’s a closed beach.” She said, feeling acutely that she could have done a better job of this if they had asked her to prepare a file for them.
The team seemed happy, though. One guy mentioned that they could access the beach from the sea, alternatively. This started an involved conversation that she couldn’t completely follow. The sea option hadn’t occurred to Rochelle, sometimes she forgot who she worked with. Of course they would have a legion of helicopters, boats and artillery at their disposal. The team leader seemed to have made a decision and some of the group were nodding and many were writing things down.
“We leave in ten.” Said the team leader. People began to quickly finish their sandwiches and drinks. Rochelle breathed out deeply, relieved it was over.
She found out on the drive that the conclusion had been that they did not need to approach by sea, but that a team of four agents and Rochelle would go down the steps, and the rest of the team would evacuate the village and then set up bungee ropes in order to be on standby, to descend quickly when needed. The scout team would focus on trying to find the entrance.
Rochelle felt her legs shaking beneath her as she walked down the precarious steps. One had to be sure-footed not to slip on those briny, seaweedy steps. A petition had been made to the council a few years ago to make the steps safer, as several people had died there, but only a few people visited the beach, so few people signed it, and nothing was ever done.
“Do you need an arm miss?” One of the agents asked her.
“I’m okay thank you.” She replied, keeping her eyes on her feet. She knew that these guys were good men, and that they didn’t know any better. They thought they were serving their country, but all she could think about was how in ten minutes they would be dragging her brother to his certain death. She couldn’t help but hate them.
It took about five minutes to get safely onto the beach. Rochelle smiled wanly as the sea air played with little wisps of her hair and she remembered the fun times she had spent in this place as a child. The agents looked at her expectantly.
“The caves are over there.” She said, vaguely gesturing. She was sure they could have worked that out themselves, but it seemed that she was giving the orders today. She followed a little behind them in the wake of their purposeful strides and chewed her bottom lip. She really hoped that her message had gotten to Emio in time. It was a long shot though. Her communication with him since telling him about Hyde had been inconsistent. She had never told him that Hyde was her brother, but she had tried to check up on his periodically. She wondered if Hyde knew.
She followed the men into one of the caves and watched them carry out a series of tests to determine whether there were cavities below, or behind the cave. They were very thorough. Tochelle thought about all the people being evacuated and panicked above. She thought of auntie Marge and smiled a little to think of the government agents trying to evacuate her. She couldn’t imagine that she was being very compliant.
One of the men made a startled sound. The rocks behind his hands had begun to shift slowly.
“What did you do?” One of the other guys asked him. He shrugged and explained that he had just leant up against one of the pieces of rock. Rochelle raised her eyebrows. This was where the terror began. They all took a turn looking down into the bottomless pit.
There was a quick discussion about the likelihood of the sanctuary having an alarm system. The alarm systems expert (whose job title was more technical and encompassing than this, but was thus dubbed in Rochelle’s mind) said he thought it was unlikely. They radioed up to the team on the cliff telling them to bring the automated grappling hooks and wires. Then they waited.
“Will you go down?” One of the guys asked Rochelle. She nodded. As little as she wanted to be involved with this, she had to msee Hyde if she could. If she didn’t go with them, she would always wonder if there was something she could have done.
The rest of the team soon joined them with wires and harnesses and the first man was slowly lowered down the hole. A few painfully suspenseful muntures passed (Rochelle’s watch told her it was 54 seconds, put it felt longer.) The team leader’s radio crackled. The man had made it down safely, but he said the place looked abandoned. Slowly the rest of the team except two lookouts also descended. They did so in silence, in order to avoid alerting any potential hostiles of their presence.
Rochelle looked around. Her arrival into the sanctuary wasn’t greatly different to her brother’s. All was eery and silent. She was almost as nervous as he had been. The only visible difference was that the mattresses that had once been stacked below the hole were now ripped and torn, scattered across the floor; springs and feathers like seaweed and shells on the sand. Each of the team members were piecing together a reason for these torn up mattresses. Their furrowed brows easing as each of them realised they must have been there to allow entry into the sanctuary, and destroyed to prevent it. No-one can storm a sanctuary with two broken legs.
Rochelle had learnt some basic hand signals on the shadow raids she had been on and these served her well as they progressed through the open corridor. Rochelle was in the third row of pairs that were speed walking onwards. The front pair had guns out with torches to light up the passage enough for the group to see, but not too bright as to allow detection from too far off. The second pair had their hands on their guns.
Rochelle saw them draw their weapons before she saw that the corridor had opened up into a wide cavern, and certainly before she saw the fiercely dishevelled group of about twenty individuals gathered in the centre of the room, dimly illuminated by the first two torches, and then in the added light of the additional torches that were quickly switched on. One girl in the centre’s eyes were blazing green; sparks were coming out of a boy near her’s fingers, but other than that, they could have been easily mistaken for completely ordinary fringe dwellers. In the better light Rochelle could see that Hyde wasn’t one of them. She found herself fingering her gun. She had passed combat requirements last month, but had never used those skills. She was acutely aware that despite her own private sentiments, right here, she was the enemy, and she would be treated as thus.
The team spread around the edges of the room, surrounding the group in the centre. The team leader demanded in his loud, commanding voice that the group surrender Rochelle wondered whether that tone was an employment requirement, or whether it was part of the training. It was certainly chilling. She would not have wanted to disobey.
It was unpleasant to find herself very much in control of a section of the room. She looked to her left and right and saw that the adjacent agents were ones who she did not know. Had they been told she was inexperienced and should not be left alone? She knew she was going to be a liability in a battle outcome.
There was bustling in the middle of the room. Feathers had been ruffled by the demands. Rochelle didn’t think they would have stayed, just to surrender. This room obviously anticipated far more than twenty residents, so the rest had probably fled – good old Emio – but had he gone with them, or was he one of these remainers? She searched the crowd for someone vaguely familiar, or vaguely royal, or vaguely unpowered (for he had told her that he personally had no powers,) but to no avail.
Seconds later, however, someone tall and skinny in black jeans and a loose-fitting shirt bustled to the front.
“I am Emiliano Gerovag, prince of Hayba Island and this sanctuary and everything in it is under my protection.”
This was a bold move. Rochelle supposed he was betting on no-one wanting a bureaucratic nightmare, and so cease-firing long enough for all the refugees to find help elsewhere: to re-hide. She took the chance, while the rest of the team were dumbstruck, to observe this man who she had been contacting for the last three months. He was tall and held himself like an authority figure, but any other signs of noble birth were hidden under the rugged hair and beard, and the simple, ill-fitting clothes. His voice, however, was authoritative like his posture.
“Are these actions sanctioned by the king, your majesty?” Asked the team leader, after some whispered deliberations with one of the other men. His voice was less commanding.
Rochelle thought Emio looked sad as he said, “I cannot beg any protection for my actions from my father.”
“Then we have no other choice than to arrest you sir.”
“I hope you won’t take too much offence, if I respond to you simply, that you may try.” The prince said, before stepping back into the group of people.
Rochelle wasn’t sure who fired first, the powered people or the team. Before she could grab out her gun, she was seeing fire bolts and electricity bounce off the walls. The room was really much larger than it looked in the dark. Having gotten a good grip on her gun, she ran, somewhat recklessly, through the crowd towards Emio. She dodged a knife that seemed to be protruding from someone’s shoulder and stuck her gun against Emio’s rib cage. She felt a little ridiculous strong-arming someone so much larger than her. He began to struggle – quite obviously more gently than he would have done with someone of equal strength. He could have had rid of her if he had wanted. She whispered as quickly as she could:
“Emio, it’s Rochelle. Where’s my brother? I have to know.”
She could see him laugh a little at this information, despite the gravity of the situation. “Well on this threat of violence, I suppose I should tell you.” He joked.
“Appearances.” Rochelle whispered through her gritted teeth, searching through the battle to see whether anyone was watching her. Of course, no-one was in the heat of a powered battle, but it wouldn’t be long before someone thought to check on the position of her, or the prince.
“I know.” He said, switching back to a face of full seriousness. “He left a week ago, before we knew to evacuate. Five others went at the same time. We assume they went together.”
“Why would he…” Rochelle began to ask, and then saw that the team leader had spotted them and was coming over to provide backup. “Struggle a little bit.” She told Emio. He looked to the team leader approaching so began to squirm a bit, trying to look realistic. He hurriedly said:
“My best guess is the japier cells. Something about a girl…a friend. I think I’m probably heading there now, so I’ll keep an eye out for him, but I don’t know what I can do.”
“You’ve done loads. Thank you. I’m so sorry.” Rochelle managed to whisper just before she shoved Emio towards the team leader.
“Well done agent.” The team leader said, handing her some handcuffs. She slapped them on. While the agent was momentarily distracted by another threat, Emio whispered back.
“No, thank you. So many were able to escape because you warned us.”
Then he was dragged away by another agent to a huddle of captives in the corner, and Rochelle was dragged to the floor by someone in Emio’s group.
This was it. The unobtrusive warehouse at the edge of Hyde’s vision, just close enough to be seen, housed the infamous ‘japier cells.’ Of course, this was not their official name. As far as the government was concerned, this was the Judicial Powered Persons Residence. In whispers in the street, in agent slang and in popular media, however, ‘japier cells’ was the common name.
Hyde got down from the ledge he had been sitting on in the alleyway they had been sleeping in. They had been here five days and although they were all used to living closely with one another, the sanctuary really did have more room to spread out than the tiny motel room they had slept in for a night, and certainly more than this small alley.
The decision to storm the japier cells had not been Hyde’s: it had been Daly’s. Hyde had met Daly about a month after arriving at the sanctuary. She was serious and matter-of-fact; she was almost an anti-Celosia. However, she wasn’t harsh or unfriendly in her manner. Hyde had found himself opening up to her fully after the first day, where he had found her reading in Emio’s office, that doubled as a library.
“What are you reading?” He had asked her, seeing she was engrossed. She had told him that it was a history of Hayba Island.
“I’ve been reading novels, but I fancied something a bit different.”
Hyde had nodded and browsed aimlessly a while longer.
“Do you like it here?” He had interrupted again. He had become accustomed to the chatty nature of people at the sanctuary and he was bored of reading the blurbs of the books. He hadn’t seen this girl before and she seemed interesting.
She had looked at him and slid a piece of scrap of paper into the book and closed it. She’d obviously decided that he wasn’t planning on leaving her alone.
“Better than other places. You’re new, right?”
Hyde had taken that as an invitation to sit down, and so they had continued to talk in the hushed voices that were remnants of the behaviour expected In the libraries that they had been used to. Hyde found out that she too was new to the sanctuary. Daly had had a friend disappear suddenly and had been worried, thinking she had been taken to the death cells until Serilda had visited her. Daly’s friend had found the sanctuary and wanted her to come too. Daly had been reluctant, but eventually went with Serilda, at least to see her friend.
Hyde had asked her if she had decided to stay. Daly sighed, before replying that she had, but that her friend had had a falling out with Serilda shortly after and left.
“You didn’t go with her?” Hyde had asked.
“No. I didn’t agree with her – she was being incredibly unreasonable – and by that point I was intrigued by life in this place.”
Hyde didn’t ask what the disagreement had been because what Daly said next made him forget all other thoughts.
“Not long after that she was picked up by the government and taken. I presume to the japier cells.”
Any mention of the japier cells seemed to grab his attention, even though he knew that the time he spent daydreaming and planning how to storm them was futile. He thought about it in the shower, and before he went to sleep and while he did his chores.
Hyde was not ordinarily any more of an open person than Daly usually was, but the effect of the sanctuary’s communal living had begun to rub off on both of them and Hyde found himself telling Daly his story.
They had left it at that, both happy to have unburdened their hearts. They saw each other a few more times in passing and waved a few times, but met one another again properly at breakfast a few days later. It wasn’t unusual to miss people for several days in the bustling beehive of activity. Hyde had noticed Daly looking very serious when she caught his eye in the food queue. Had he somehow done something to offend her? Without talking to one another they sat down at the same table. He hadn’t known what to expect from her, but when she told him in a ferocious whisper that she wanted to storm the japier cells he had been shocked, but not without a nervous chill of delight and resolve.
“The Prince wouldn’t like it.” He said regretfully, remembering his conversation about it.
Hyde frowned. As much as he wanted to do this, he did not want to disappoint the prince.
“But how? I’m not sure I’d even know how to get out.”
They had both looked around, overwhelmed by a suddenly realised sense of claustrophobia. They had both been told that they could leave freely, but no-one had been awfully forthcoming with that information.
“But even if we could get out,” Hyde began, trying to tear his eyes away from searching the walls for imaginary crevices, “We couldn’t face the government just us two…”
“I can walk through walls. What can you do?” Daly blurted, cutting him off.
Hyde blinked. He still hadn’t quite gotten used to talking openly about his power. He had told Kota, who had in turn told him that he could run very fast; Serilda, who had told him she could fly. There had been one or two others who he had met who had asked him outright in the first few minutes of meeting, as if it were as normal as asking for his name.
“I can control how I fall.” He had said. She had given him a confused look, so he explained what it felt like.
“I’m not sure that helps us.” She had concluded, but he could see she was impressed. “Perhaps we’ll find a use for you. Regardless, we’d need a few extra people.”
At that moment Kota had come to sit with them. Whether he had noticed their furious whispering and wanted to stem any scheming, or whether he just wanted their company they didn’t think to wonder, but they fell silent. Sudden intent attention was given to their food.
After exchanging some awkward pleasantries, arousing Kota’s bemused suspicion, Hyde turned to Kota and tried to act as naturally as possible whilst asking how someone might leave the sanctuary. Kota’s suspicion had skyrocketed.
“What are you two planning?”
Hyde had begun to deny any plans, but Daly had decided she liked Kota on previous occasions of meeting him, so she told him her idea. Hyde had looked at her in shock for the second time during the meal. She had shrugged. “We need more people.” Hyde had a vague impression that he was going to have to get used to being shocked by his new friend.
It had taken a few weeks to get from Kota’s initial, shocked reaction, to the point where they were a group of six renegades, crouching in an alleyway in sight of their target. There had been more preparation than Hyde could have imagined.
Once they had gotten Kota on board he had been invaluable in gathering a team and getting them out without being noticed. Raffeo, a guy with the ability to shape-shift (although, admittedly he only had four different alternate shapes) had been easy to persuade as he had been going stir crazy after almost a year in the sanctuary. Daly thought he would be very useful. Jeri, a close friend of Serilda’s, had been convinced to join them. Kota thought it was due to his incredible persuasion skills, Hyde thought it far more likely that Jeri had a crush on Kota, but either way, she came on board and they were all grateful for her flame throwing abilities. They had only defensive and evasive abilities, so it made them all feel better to have some-one with some offensive skills. Finally, they had targeted a boy they all knew of, who was able to cause earthquakes. Kota told them that in the early days they had had to build a special chamber to contain Liam.
“The sanctuary being underground and all that.”
Hyde and Daly had looked at each other, feeling the overwhelming pangs of claustrophobia again. Emio certainly didn’t give them all the information upfront in this place.
Now they had their team of incredibly powerful renegades.
“I think we have a plan,” announced Daly, standing up from where she had been crouching with Kota, under Jeri’s slightly wistful gaze.
The other four became alert and turned toward her: Jeri sat up from where she was lying down, Liam raised his gaze from his hands, Raffeo stood up next to Hyde. Somewhere in the last two weeks Hyde had watched his new friend take control of their group and become their definite leader. They all respected her. She had been the one to steal the keys to the back entrance to the sanctuary from Emio’s office, she had been at the back as they climbed up the internal cliff staircase, making sure no-one was following them. She had been the one to pick a route from the outskirts of the town, to the warehouse. She had organised three different scouting runs around the warehouse to gather information. She listened to their opinions, she consulted Kota and Hyde frequently for advice, but it was clear in all their minds that she was in charge. This was her mission.
“Raffeo and I will enter through the front entrance. One of Raffeo’s forms is an official his dad knew, so he can be a lawyer or a guard. I’ll be taken in as a prisoner. On one of our scouting runs Liam and I found a back door. We’ll open it from the inside and let you guys in. Then we’ll make a quick re-group and assess the inside, since we have no way of knowing what it is like in there. Most likely Hyde, Liam and I will make a team, and Kota will take Raffeo and Jeri and we’ll survey as far as we can. We will release prisoners if we think we can do it discreetly. If we can’t, the priority is to gather information and get out without being caught. Any objections?”
Raffeo nodded, approvingly. “Have one of our offensives on each group. Smart.”
Kota contributed a few more details that he had thought of and Jeri and Liam asked a couple of questions about how they could release prisoners. Hyde remained quiet. He didn’t feel as nervous about this as he thought he would have. He had tried to not think about finding Celosia, and what state she might be in if he did, or what he would do if he didn’t find her. That was why it was easier for this to be Daly’s mission – he was simply helping her.
They arranged the watches, leaving Raffeo to be on guard and the other five settled down to sleep. They were all used to sleeping on the floor by now, so fell asleep quickly and deeply.
In the morning they ate a cold ration of breakfast and slapped Raffeo and Daly on the back, wishing them luck. They all marvelled and laughed to see Raffeo transform himself into a very official looking, middle-aged gentleman. Daly hung a little to the side of the group and turned to Hyde. He was glad. He hadn’t felt jealous that Kota had become her co-planner, and he hadn’t thought he could miss someone he had known just shy of five weeks, but he had, so was happy to get her to himself for a few moments. Even if they were potentially the very last moments.
“Thank you for everything Hyde.” She said.
Hyde shrugged, “You’re welcome, though I don’t know for what.”
Daly smiled. Hyde hadn’t really done much in the scheme of things, yet somehow she felt he had been essential. “I’m doing this more for you – for Celosia- than for me. It’s easier to hope for her than for Ellen, for my friend.” She bit her lip. “I think we’ll find them Hyde.”
Hyde nodded. He wasn’t as sure, but he figured she needed the encouragement. “Good luck in there.” He said.
With that, she grabbed Raffeo and they left. None of them had brought much equipment with them, other than some basic lock-picking supplies that Kota had managed to steal, fashion and make. He had taught them all the basics of how to use them. They also had some water and energy bars.
Kota didn’t let them stay long before they packed up all the essentials and also left. They had a slightly shorter journey and couldn’t afford to linger by the door waiting, but it would be worse to leave Raffeo and Daly waiting on the inside.
The path they took towards the back entrance was one they all knew reasonably well. They went down a few narrow alleyways between buildings, into a small cluster of trees to a hole they had made in the barbed wire fence. They had all entered this way on their scouting runs, but now Liam had to take over and lead them to the door. It was daunting walking en masse out in the open like they were, in enemy territory, but there was no windows in the back of the warehouse, and there weren’t any cameras to be seen. Hyde wondered why it was so unprotected. Had they forgotten about this entrance, or were they just so sure they wouldn’t be infiltrated? Everything in him screamed that it was a trap. He glanced sideways to Kota to see if he was worried. Kota noticed his gaze.
“Are you worried about Daly?” Kota asked him. Hyde looked back blankly, he had forgotten to worry about the other two in his concerns about themselves. “You seemed to have an emotional goodbye.” Kota added. Hyde felt embarrassment bubbling in his stomach. Kota thought he liked Daly? He felt his ears going red. “I’m worried too, bro. But she’s good. Really good. She’ll be fine” Kota said, wrapping his arm around Hyde for a moment.
Once Hyde had gathered himself, he turned back to Kota. “Does this seem like a trap to you?” He asked. “It is so unprotected.”
Kota nodded uncommitally. “That’s what I told Daly.”
“And she didn’t listen to you?”
“She seemed sure. I had wondered…” but then Kota stopped talking. Hyde looked around thinking he had spotted danger, but there was nothing to see. He looked back at Kota who seemed to be trying to decide whether to say what he wanted to say.
“Go on.” Hyde told him.
“I wondered whether she had some sort of inside information.” Kota said, and visibly relaxed, having shared his concern.
Hyde’s eyes widened. He had trusted Daly implicitly. So many of his rough edges of suspicion had been worn off living in the sanctuary and he felt like kicking himself.
“So Daly could be a traitor? She could be leading us into a trap? How could you let us get this far? ” he whispered, panic rising in his mind. Kota grabbed his arm.
“Don’t panic. I’ve been thinking this for a few days now, remember. I have made contingencies.” He said vaguely. Hyde swallowed and twisted his arm away from Kota’s grip. He wasn’t sure he wanted to trust Kota implicitly either, but he didn’t seem to have a choice at this point. Besides, Kota may have been wrong about Daly.
Kota began to whisper to Hyde more of his thoughts, obviously glad to unburden his mind. He told him about guiding Daly to take Raffeo instead of Liam in order to split up the two that had originally seen the door (lest there had been any scheming in that private moment) and to put the more powerful team member, Liam, out of her immediate grasp.
At long last they were away from the stretching, gaping open, and were able to feel hidden in the shade of the looming warehouse. They found the door that Daly had described. It was small and unassuming, grey and metal. Liam tried the handle absent – mindedly. Nothing happened. They stood in a loose semi-circle around it. Eventually Jeri sat down with her back to the building. Liam joined her. Kota glanced at Hyde and frowned.
To Hyde, it seemed that he could see the shadow cast by the warehouse gradually deepening around them. It was like a metaphor for the danger. How long they were to wait for Daly and Raffeo had been an essential part of the plan that they seemed to have neglected. Hyde and Kota both periodically glanced at Liam to try and read if he had any part to play in a potential set up. But Liam just looked at his hands like he always did.
Hyde murmured to Kota that he couldn’t work out any motivation of Daly’s to betray them. Kota sighed.
“There is stuff you don’t know about from before you came.”
Hyde raised an eyebrow.
Kota stretched his arms behind him. “It’s a longer story than I can tell you here. But Ellen, Daly’s friend had had a falling out with Serilda before she left.”
“Yeah Daly said. What was it about?”
“Ellen wanted us to send an army to storm the japier cells and Serilda refused. She started by kindly explaining why we don’t do offensive missions, but Ellen was persistent and was trying to stir up support for her cause.
“I have always felt more inclined towards offensive action than some of the others, but I had always understood Emio and Serilda’s stance. Besides, they are in charge, I’m grateful for what they are doing, so I’m not going to challenge them on that.
“Anyway, Daly had been really against Ellen’s protests. She was pretty vocal about it to. Ellen eventually left and Daly stayed.”
“So it is suspicious that Daly would suddenly be all for a raid.” Hyde finished.
“Yeah.” Kota said nodding, glancing back to the locked door. “It could be that Ellen being taken changed her mind, I just can’t shake the idea that she was waiting for something.”
Hyde was about to respond, but jangling sounds from the other side of the door cut him off. They all jumped to their feet and Jeri carefully positioned herself as the first line of defence. Hyde felt suddenly very grateful for her company. What use was his power in a situation like this?
They waited breathlessly to find out whether the person on the other side of the door would be friend or foe.
The door suddenly swung open and Jeri breathed a sigh of relief and lowered her arms. She let out a quiet laugh. Liam smiled and followed her inside. Kota looked at Hyde and shrugged. He nodded his chin up slightly to indicate that Hyde needed to act as if it was all okay. Chin up.
Stepping into the warehouse was like walking from daylight into night. There was no brightness inside and for a while the four who had been outside couldn’t see anything.
“That took you a while.” Kota commented to a wall. Daly turned him around to face the group.
“We got a little lost in the corridors. This place is like a maze. We didn’t see any sign of the cells themselves. This might just have to be recon. My worry is not finding one another and not getting back out.”
“Yes. Good thought. Any ideas?” Kota said in a whisper. Everyone fell silent for a moment.
“We’ll just have to take our chances.” Said Jeri after a few moments. “Does anyone have a watch?”
Both Hyde and Raffeo did.
“Okay, well try and be back here by half past 5, and if the other team aren’t there by six, leave and save yourselves. Better than half of us get out than none.”
No-one responded as they let the harsh reality sink in, but there was nothing to do but agree.
They split into the teams they had previously agreed on and Hyde felt suddenly terrified to be alone with Daly and Liam, neither of whom he fully trusted at this point. Kota squeezed his arm as they passed. Maybe they would never see one another again, but they didn’t let themselves think about that.
When the two teams left what had been gradually revealing itself to be a storeroom as their eyes adjusted, they found themselves in a corridor that was well lit and silent. Daly indicated that her team should go left, so Kota turned right.
Daly had been right about the corridors being long and sprawling and maze-like, but she seemed to be leading them on with a lot of purpose. On several different occasions opportunities to turn off left or right emerged, and were ignored by Daly. She led them straight on without hesitation. Hyde began to feel like a lamb being led to the slaughter house.
“Daly,” he whispered. She didn’t look back. He decided to continue, “How do you know we’re going the right way.” She turned back with a finger to her lips. He gritted his teeth. He looked over to Liam, but Liam was staring off ahead of them.
Suddenly the corridor spilled into a large open room. Larger than a room, it was a huge, open factory floor, with metal grills forming bridges to allow access to different side rooms. A complicated series of routes led down to the ground, but it looked as though certain platforms, like the one they were standing on, could be summoned to the floor by a panel of buttons on the floor. The eerie silence that had submerged the corridors was here dispelled by different whirring sounds and they even heard some voices from far off. They glanced around and all three pairs of eyes settled on the back wall where rows and rows of cells lined the walls and spilled backwards an indeterminate distance. They crouched behind a large machine that had an enormous screen and lots of buttons. They turned to one another.
“What now?” Liam asked. Hyde looked at Daly, who met his gaze solidly. He gulped.
“How did you know where to go Daly?”
“It made sense. Biggest corridor leads to the most important room.”
“I think you’ve seen some floor plans.” Hyde said. Daly squinted at him.
“Hyde, this isn’t the time to argue.”
“This is exactly the time to argue. I want to know as soon as possible if I’m working with a traitor.” He whispered, although the whispers were gradually growing in decibel.
Daly coughed disbelievingly. “Me? A traitor? Whatever gave you that idea?”
Hyde thought her surprise was a little too forced. “Well what even is your plan now Daly? Do we get to know that?” The words came out sassier than he meant to, and he heard a rational Kota voice in his mind reminding him to keep his cool.
However, Liam didn’t seem to get the same memo because he stood up and aimed his hands at Daly.
“She is a traitor.” He said.
Both Daly and Hyde looked at him, shocked into silence. They both grasped for words, but couldn’t find any.
“I saw her looking at blueprints. I assumed Kota knew about them, but then I also saw her sending a communication this morning. Raffeo told me before we split up that they hadn’t gotten lost – that he didn’t know what she was talking about.” Hyde stood up and aligned himself with Liam, both facing Daly. She bit her lip.
“You lot are so skeptical.” She murmured to herself. “Hyde, I’m going to tell you the complete truth, but tell me why you think I’m betraying you.”
Hyde’s stomach churned. He was so confused. His gut told him that she was being genuine, but he didn’t want to reveal his and Kota’s secret conversations. It might be a little too late for that.
“You first. What truth?”
She sighed. “The agency thinks I’m betraying you, but really I’ve been pretending, to get information in order to break the inmates out. Happy?”
Hyde’s eyes grew wide. Liam glanced at him. He didn’t return his gaze.
“How do we know that is true? You’ve been lying to us this whole time.” He said. He wanted to trust her so bad. She was a friend.
“Because I’ll tell you everything I know.” She said, raising her hands in what would be a comical gesture of peace, if it weren’t for the stress they all felt. “But tell me why you suspected me.”
Hyde shrugged at Liam, who lowered his hands. “Kota told me that about a month ago you had been very against a raid. Why the change of opinion? It seemed suspicious.”
“I needed more info.”
“Will the others be okay?”
“I’m counting on them getting captured.”
The boys gasped and Liam raised his hands again.
“We’ll get them out!” she whisper-yelled back at them. “Gosh. Touchy much?”
“Touchy? You’re using our friends as bait.” Hyde replied indignantly. “Traitor or not, you can’t do that.”
Daly didn’t reply.
“Tell us what you know.” Hyde said eventually. It was time for the deception to stop.
Daly quickly told them about the plans that she had been given, the false information that she had given the agents that they were a team of three, that she would lead them the other way. She had led them to believe she was Jeri.
“So Jeri won’t be cuffed and her fire power will be free to use.”
She didn’t know much about where inmates were kept. “But I assume back there is where they keep most of them.” The other two nodded.
“It will just be how to release enough of them quickly enough.”
“Is that the plan? Release enough inmates that we can overwhelm them?”
“Maybe I can vibrate them open.” Liam suggested, but they quickly realised that the level of concentration would make it take too long, and the guards would probably notice.
“A flaw in my plan is that because they think they are going to catch you, there are few extra guards here today.” Daly admitted.
“Let’s just start,” Hyde suggested. “We might find someone with a useful power, or at the very least they can begin spreading the word and working on other’s locks.”
“We only have a few tools.” Liam said.
“But you don’t necessarily need yours. We’ll find other people like you who can break people out with their powers..”
Daly shrugged. “We can try. There’s not really any going back now if we want to get any of our friends out of here.”
Hyde frowned. He was furious at her for getting them into this situation, but she was correct: there was no way to turn back without abandoning the others. He would not do that to Kota and the others.
A sudden drive flooded his senses. He felt mad, he felt wild, he was going to see Kota again. He was going to find Celosia. Suddenly he knew she was alive. He hoisted himself to be sitting on the metal fencing in the pathway through the sky.
“I’ll go first.” He said, and let himself fall off the edge. Liam gasped and Daly forgot herself and screamed slightly. They both rushed forward, in time to see his body suddenly jerk to a stop about a foot above the ground. He hovered there for a few seconds. Then he stumbled to the floor, landing on one foot and then rolling to the side. He had been trying to work on landing in the training room at the sanctuary, but hadn’t managed it yet. He ran to the panel and began to press sensible-looking buttons. Suddenly things became alive and began grinding and the platform next to the others began to move downwards. The other two ran and jumped down onto it.
When they got to the floor Daly hit him in the side.
“Don’t do that again.”
“You said there would be a use for me.”
Liam slapped him on the shoulder, for once a friendly and approachable look resided on his face. “That was super cool dude.”
Hyde smiled grimly. They ran towards the back of the warehouse, hoping none of the owners of the distant voices had heard them.
“So why are there no guards in the most important part of the warehouse?” Hyde asked.
“I guess my distraction worked.” Daly replied. Hyde gave her a hurried glare. She laughed. Somehow overt hatred was less menacing than his bubbling dislike.
They kept looking around them as they ran across the empty floor towards the cells. Hyde wondered what this huge room of humming machines was for.
“Torture devices.” Liam murmured, to himself, as if he had read Hyde’s thoughts. Hyde shuddered. They came across the first corridor of bare, empty cells suddenly. They had seemed a long way away until they were suddenly upon them. The cells gave off a feeling of heaviness, as if human beings rotting in cells filled the place with a smell that you could feel. Hyde looked into the cell on his right. A man sat shrivelled in the corner.
“Hi mister,” Hyde said, a little louder than a whisper. The man stirred.
“We’re here to break you out.” Daly said.
The man looked shocked and shuffled further into his cell. He shook his head frantically. Hyde glanced frantically at Daly. What did they do now?
She shrugged and turned to their left. There was another old man, he had gotten up to come closer to the small team. He silently signalled that he wanted to be broken out. Daly got to work on the lock, the boys moved on to the next cells. In whispered conversations they found out the breakouts had no powers that would help them move any faster. The first man they had freed could write letters in the air with his mind, which despite being cool, had no immediate benefit to them.
“They keep the better powers further back.” Said one lady, after seeing them exchanging frustrating glances.
“Daly,” Hyde asked, “Do you think you could walk in and walk people out?” She shook her head. The colour was drained from her face and she was beginning to resemble the grey walls around them.
Even so, Hyde and Daly left Liam with the first group of escapees to continue freeing prisoners and ran further into the corridors.
Thepaths seemed to stretch endlessly backwards and by now the inmates had stirred in the commotion. It was hard to know where to start, but vital that they did, as the noise would soon attract attention, if by a miracle it hadn’t already. Once Liam and the escapees were out of sight Hyde began to let people out. Daly jogged further down.
“We’re here to rescue you. Run towards the end, join with our friends there. If you have a power that will help break people out, break out as many as you can on your way back.” They told people as they freed them. People stumbled clumsily, none of them having moved a substantial amount in the stifling cells. It took about two minutes per lock and every second was valuable.
“How many have you done Hyde?” Daly called back to him. By now the need for silence was moot, as the noise of the chattered whispering converged to a substantial volume. At least now that they had freed half a dozen offensive powers, they might stand a chance against the guards when they came.
“Four.” He called back.
“Hyde?” Called a tired voice, a bit beyond where Daly was working. Hyde looked up. It was smaller and weaker than he remembered, but it was a voice he recognised. He ran past Daly looking frantically side-to-side. Then he saw the owner of the voice.
Celosia was standing, looking through the little window in her cell. As they had moved further into the more extreme powers the cells had become more secure. The old man had had a barred cell, but by Celosia’s cell there was only a small barred window to look through.
She mustered a tired smile. “Hey. You came.” She said drowsily.
Hyde frowned. “Yeah, I’m here to help you escape. All of you.” He began jangling at the lock.
He was interrupted by yelling at the end of the corridor. Liam’s voice surfaced above the chaos, “They are here.” They heard the sounds of the two groups clashing, and felt some small vibrations running through the floor. They would be safe with Liam. Kota had told them he was incredibly powerful. Still, Daly looked at Hyde in panic. They both worked on their last locks. They were going to have to make a stand or get captured. There was no point in running further into the maze of cells. Daly had seen the plans, they didn’t lead anywhere. To Hyde it seemed like his lock was taking forever. Then, clunk. The door yielded to him. Celosia stumbled out. Black waterfall of hair chopped off unceremoniously, face grey and body drawn, but Celosia all the same. He supported her with his arm. She had grown weaker and he stronger, and the change in each was the more noticeable as they stood side by side.
“Celosia,” Hyde said to her quietly, “Do you think you can explode some locks?” She looked like she would be too weak to, but they needed more people than they had, and she certainly wasn’t able to fight.
She shook her head, looking as though even the effort of that action was too much.
“There was radiation, and something in the food to stop us being able to use our powers.” She said slowly, gasping for breath a little bit.
Daly, who had come to join them nodded sadly. “I thought they must have been doing something to stop the more powerful ones use their abilities. I think that’s why the first few people had more life about them. No radiation, and I think they probably get to exercise and socialise, like in a normal prison. Probably also why Liam hasn’t gone any more beserk. The residual radiation is probably affecting him. Don’t you feel weaker?” All Hyde felt at that moment was anger flare inside his stomach. The injustice of what he had seen that day made him sick, and wish for a stronger power. When he thought about it though, he did feel weaker, the heaviness they had felt when they got to the cells must have been that, or maybe there was something in the walls as well. He sat Celosia down against one of the walls gingerly, hoping she would be able to recuperate, and stood a few feet forward with Daly.
“Will it wear off?” He asked her.
“I have no idea.”
“And why? Why keep them all here? Surely if they wanted to contain us, death would be more effective and humane…”
“I think they want a cure. They’ve obviously created some pretty effective blockers. If they can get rid of all the side effects they can put it into the food and end our kind.”
Hyde shuddered. It was such an elegant solution. If it worked people would acclaim it as genius. They wouldn’t know the cost; they wouldn’t get to see the carnage he was seeing now. As he listened to the guards scrambling against the inmates further up the corridor, he realised that he wouldn’t want to lose his power. So often he had disliked it, because it made him a target, but the thought of someone taking it like that made him feel sick in the depths of his stomach.
Suddenly there was silence at the end of the corridor. Hyde and Daly looked at one another. What did that mean? Were their friends captured, or had they defeated the guards? Thudding feet coming in their direction didn’t conclusively answer their question, but they were both feeling panic rise in their chests. Celosia grappled with the wall to pull herself to her feet. Apparently she wasn’t going to be taken sitting down.
Quickly enough they saw that it was indeed guards and agents who were careering down the corridor. There was little they could do, but stand and fight with their limited strength and agility until they were caught. The guards were armed with a strange type of gun.
“Tranquilisers.” Celosia said, her voice full of mingled sadness and dread.
Two of the guards knelt down to take aim, knowing all that the three fugitives could do was run away from them in a straight line, or into a cell, where they would be even more cornered. Daly had turned to do so, to try and run away, or through a wall into a locked cell. If she could keep her wits about her, perhaps she could do something more, there was no point in all of them getting caught if it was avoidable. Hyde, however, stood stock still, so saw the next flurry of people who approached, penning in the guards. The guards turned around to see who Hyde knew to be Emio and a dozen of the sanctuary guys, and the guards knew would be their downfall. They swivelled round and shot darts frantically at the advancing group, but were met with fire bolts and lightning.
Hyde took that moment to charge back down the corridor as fast as he could. He hated to leave Daly and Celosia, but they were in good hands, and he had to help the others leave. He found Liam and the escapees loose from their chains, but drowsy from the initial effects of the tranquilisers.
“Run.” He told them, and sent the group out towards the door. He looked around for anything he could use, and found some guns from the handful of fallen agents. Alarm bells were ringing, and he knew it wouldn’t be long before more guards came. They needed a way to let more prisoners escape. He kept looking around. What could he possibly use?
Daly ran up beside him and took a gun from him.
“Some of the guys were able to blast open locks, but it still won’t be fast enough. There might be a master override. We need to find it.” She said. So they began to search all the control panels, hitting buttons senselessly and frantically. Small trickles of people began to emerge from the corridor, obviously those who could be of no help in defending or freeing. Daly began to shout instructions about which way the door was.
Hyde suddenly yelled. “I found it.” There was a computer that would allow them to let everyone free, even if they had to release the doors one-by-one. The problem was, it had restricted access. They couldn’t get in.
After the raid of the sanctuary Rochelle had persuaded the team leader to let her help escort the team to the death cells. He had seemed hesitant. She knew that they didn’t like people going there, even agents. It made her think it was pretty bad, whatever they were doing there. She had made some vague argument about it being useful for her to see all the aspects and parts of the job. It didn’t really matter what had won him over because he had eventually let her go. Ever since hearing that Hyde had gone, she had had a restless desire to go and find him. Why would he leave safety and walk right into enemy hands? It didn’t seem like him.
They had ridden in two big government vehicles to what turned out to be a giant warehouse. She sat up front with one of the senior agents and fought with herself, so that she didn’t turn back to look at Emio. The prisoners had been cuffed and then injected. She had been nervous to ask what it was, but the team leader had volunteered the information, telling her it was a power inhibitor. By this point the prisoners had become extremely drowsy, some of the older ones passing out completely.
Rochelle had taken in the barbed wire fences, the long winding entrance road, the grand entrance where they lead the prisoners in. She tried not to gawk at the cavernous room filled with ominous, glaring machines, with the metal access paths, tracing awkward patterns through the air. There was no time, it seemed, to look around as the other agents and the guards lead them quickly down a corridor for what she was told was ‘processing.’ The prisoners were shuffled into side rooms, blood tests were taken, information was gathered, if they gave it freely, which some did. Maybe they thought that compliance would result in a kinder treatment. It didn’t. Information was written on the system in a ‘theory’ category that would be confirmed or disputed later. Rochelle heard some commotion in one room while she had been sent to wait outside in the corridor. The agent who came out of the room rolled his eyes at her.
“That one denies having a power.” He quipped. Rochelle frowned, hoping that whatever they were injecting them with didn’t harm Emio, who she assumed was the person inside. This was confirmed when the guard returned sullenly, obviously having received the blood test results. Rochelle hadn’t known they could test for powers with blood. Why the normal eyebrow tests then? The majority of the prisoners were then redressed in black overalls, re-cuffed and given a new dose of the injection. They were marched back into the big cavernous room, and almost simultaneously loud alarms began screeching from unidentifiable corners.
“What’s happening?” She asked, but no-one answered. The guards left the agents in charge and ran off towards the cells. She looked at the three agents with her. There wasn’t much she was going to be able to do to free the prisoners. Not when the prisoners had no powers. However, after a few minutes, a big gun that she didn’t know how to use was shoved into her hands and the three agents ran off to join the fray. She felt like this was the chance, the chance to do something good. She wondered whether Hyde could be the unknown source behind this chaos. Shortly after, two guards rushed past, dragging two male prisoners with them who Rochelle didn’t recognise from the sanctuary transfer. Without asking, they added them to her group and ran off. She glanced at her cohort of drowsy prisoners, who were eying her lazily.
“Can any of you use your powers?” She asked nervously. Emio nodded to indicate to the others that she was on their side. Some of the group shook their heads, but Rochelle began to release their cuffs anyway. It was a slow process without the keys. The prisoners suddenly started gasping and staring at the air, she turned and saw the words “Guards distracted. Escape!” written in the air in blue smoke. What did it mean? Was it a trap? They decided to obey it and began to release one another’s cuffs. The young and old found they were struggling to stand, but some of the teens and twenties, the well built and the larger, taller people, including the new three prisoners, began to find they could use their powers. One of the new ones began to jog back and forth, picking up speed as he went, a girl began shaking her hands and pouring sparks from them. They all looked frustrated, as if they were finding it hard to use their abilities. The boy who was running stopped them all.
He seemed to know them, and gave them a quick pep talk. Rochelle found out that her brother had been part of a small team who had come to free inmates, but that things had gone wrong. The boy also talked about a girl called Jeri who had been taken by some agents, because they thought she was someone else, who was a traitor. The boy had encouraged her to play along, he hoped it would pay off. The group of prisoners all rallied, despite their weakened state and began to run towards the cells, ready to face whatever situation they found. Rochelle was left alone in the huge, eerie warehouse, with only the sound of distant fighting to keep her company. It would have been madness to join the powered fight, especially dressed as an agent. Only a few of the opposing party knew her true alliance. Perhaps there was something she could do from the fringes.
She began to walk quickly around the warehouse, searching for inspiration as much as anything. The fight was probably uneven. The best thing she could probably do was to free more inmates in the hope that they would overwhelm the agents. As she walked around she saw a few inmates running towards the doors. Any who saw her would flinch, expecting resistance, but she just told them to run, which they did, not unsuspiciously.
She knew she wouldn’t be able to get past the fighting to start freeing prisoners. She couldn’t see any other entrance. Maybe there was a digitalised way of doing it. The place seemed to be humming with machines. She found a panel on the wall that seemed to be operating a lift. She tapped some buttons and a piece of floor began to ascend, so she hopped onto it. She’d have a better view from above. The lift took her soaring to one of the highest points. She began to run across the metal pathways in the sky, giving a brief glance over any machine or computer she found. Nothing seemed to be useful.
Then from afar she saw two huddled figures a few layers of maze below. They were scurrying around the paths in a similar fashion to how she had been. They were neither inmates or guards, and one had pale gingery hair. Could it be her brother? She began to trace the way down to them with her eyes. She felt like a child doing a join-the-dots that was far too difficult for them. She felt restless to talk to these anomalous people, so just began to run. She gradually untangled the paths like a ball of wool, perilously jumping down onto lower walkways. She would get tantalisingly close to the pair of people, before being led in the opposite direction by the bridge. The closer she got, the more convinced she was that this was Hyde. What had been a wild fanciful hope, began to become a guess based on familiarity and fact. He must have escaped the fray with whoever this girl was. Finally she got close enough to see that they were now huddled by a computer, tapping futilely at the keyboard.
“Hyde.” She called out cautiously. Neither turned around. She had been too quiet to rival, the now much closer and more furious, sounds of war. Prison fights broke out not unfrequently, but Rochelle didn’t know the extent of passion that had been poured out from each frustrated soul into this particular brawl.
“Hyde.” She called again, louder. Both figures turned around. It was indeed her brother’s face, although much changed in the weeks it had been since she had last seen him. When she had been home for family dinner and they hadn’t bothered to say goodbye because they weren’t to know how long and how wrought with worry this separation was to be. Hyde’s face lit up.
“Rochelle.” He said, beaming. The girl next to him nudged him. He turned to her and gave what Rochelle assumed was a quick explanation of who she was and why she was in uniform. It was too far for her to hear it over the racket. The girl nodded. She leant over the barrier.
“Do you by any chance have the access key for this computer? We’re trying to override the prison locks.”
Rochelle nodded and unclipped her badge from inside her pocket. She carefully aimed her throw towards them. It wasn’t too far a distance, but to drop it could have fatal consequences. Fortunately she managed it, and they all breathed out the tension. The girl got to work using her credentials to hack the system.
Hyde leant over the railing and yelled to his sister, asking her why she was here. She explained about the raid and the prisoners. They were interrupted a few times by Daly asking for passwords and other information. Rochelle, although quite a junior agent with limited access, had been gradually accruing information from secret places during her time in the agency. Between that and Daly’s few insider pieces of information, she was kept busy attempting to hack into the deep layers of security. Hyde was almost through a brief explanation of their mission up to this point when Daly yelled in pleasure at her own genius.
“I think I did it.” She said.
Any celebrations were suddenly cut short by new sounds coming from below. There were some weird silences as poundings against doors stopped and prisoners escaped with ease. This was followed by yelled instructions by agents. The three of them hurried down to the floor as quickly as they could in the maze of sky bridges, wanting to see what was happening as well as hear. By the time Rochelle made it down, they saw a stream of inmates fleeing the sanctuary. Others had pinned the agents to the floor, and their hands were bound by odd bits of metal that seemed to have been ripped out of the wall and bent into makeshift cuffs. The crowd of fleeing inmates was endless. Many of the people seemed drowsy and worn out. Many were shouldering others, or carrying especially weak comrades, but all seemed relieved, and even cheerful in their release. Some clapped one another on the back, or just exchanged smiles. Rochelle, Hyde and Daly ran against the crowd, all seeking information.
Hyde ran back up the corridor to where he had left Celosia. He thought that she had perhaps been carried out by someone. He wondered if he would find her again in the chaos that was ensuing around them. His hopes fell when he found she wasn’t where he had left her.
Daly sought Kota, who was standing, giving instructions and trying to herd the scores of people bustling around him. He marvelled. He had no idea how many of his fellow powered people had been held here. He would find out from others in the days to come, that this had been the main research centre, and powered people from across the world had been transferred here for research purposes, but at the time he had no idea. He saw Daly and his face fell. She approached him cautiously, not knowing where she stood.
“You caused a lot of trouble Daly.” He said, after scanning her face for a few long seconds.
“I know.” She said. She sounded sad, but she didn’t apologise. Kota though, didn’t mind this as the apology wasn’t owed him, there were others who had suffered worse than he at her hands.
“I don’t yet know what was true. There seems to be many levels to your deception.” He said. At that point Hyde joined them, looking sad. Kota put an arm around him. “You okay kid? It’s good to see you alive.” He said.
“You too.” He replied. He had planned to ask about Celosia, but realised it would be useless, since Kota did not know what she looked like, so even if he had seen her amongst the crowds, there would be no way of him knowing. He saw the tension between Daly and Kota.
“Kota, Daly was alright in the end. Irresponsible, but our suspicions weren’t accurate. I trust her.” He said. Kota nodded, but seemed unsure.
“You two help these people out. If you find anyone with fire power, send them to me. Including Jeri. I haven’t seen her since they took her thinking she was Daly.”
Daly groaned. “If they realised she wasn’t me, they might have locked her up somewhere.” She said. “What’s your plan?” She asked cautiously, thinking Kota would probably not want to entrust her with that secret.
However, he was open with his plan. “We’re going to burn this place to the ground.” He said, with a ring of satisfaction. “But that’s why it’s important that everyone leaves.”
Hyde and Daly nodded and began to help those who were weary get out. They saw some of the stronger people marching out the agents.
Rochelle had weaved her way to Emio who hugged her like an old friend.
“Glad to see you made it.” He told her.
“It was quite a fight. We were going to lose until the doors opened. Those agents couldn’t stop that many people no matter how drugged and drowsy they were. What has been happening here was worse than I imagined.”
“What will happen now?” Rochelle asked, watching the stream of people finally beginning to peter out. Only a few stranglers were left. All the others had gone.
“Most of these people will escape. I cannot offer refuge to any of them immediately. Some might already be on their way to wherever they think they can hide themselves. I can’t hope that destroying this place will change anything, it might just increase people’s fear. All I hope for initially is to cause enough of a public fuss to buy them time to escape.” He said. Rochelle frowned.
“They’ll throw you in prison.” Rochelle said bluntly.
“Surely you aren’t okay with that?”
“It’s better than all these people being here. There’s certain things they won’t do to me because I’m the king’s son. I’m the safest scapegoat.”
Rochelle squeezed his hand and gave him a sad smile before walking off to help some weaker escapees straggling behind, get out.
Emio watched her leaving, but he wasn’t thinking of her. He was thinking about how he was happy at what they achieved, and how he had seen a man with wild hair, that looked like his lost cousin, Jake, escaping. They had done a good thing, but he was thinking of the chaos he knew was about to ensue, and the effect this would have on his father, and powered people everywhere. He thought about how he wouldn’t see his dad for months now, about how he had lost his new family of friends in the sanctuary, and the lonely months of prison, far away from the people and work he loved, including Serilda, who he had been planning to marry.
Hyde, Daly, Kota and Jeri came jogging towards him.
“Where were you?” Emio asked Jeri.
She briefly recapped how she had been pulled aside and tried to play along, but had failed to sell it almost instantly, as she had no deceptive bones in her body. They had tried to capture her, but she had fought them off, leaving them burnt and knocked out. She had tried to come and free the others, but gotten lost in the halls. She had tried to follow some guards, but got spotted and had had to knock them out too.
“That’s why there were less guards around than I expected.” Daly said, laughing, but with that awe in her voice that she often had.
The others laughed and acclaimed Jeri as their secret weapon. She laughed and looked a bit embarrassed.
“I had been following the commotion, but it took these guys bumping into me for me to find you.” She concluded. “What’s the plan?”
They all turned to look at Emio. He smiled grimly. “My hope was to leave this place in ruins, but we might need a bit more fire power than you Jeri, strong though you be.”
“How’s Liam doing?” Kota asked. They didn’t know, so they sent Kota to run outside and round up Liam and anyone they could find who could help destroy the lab. People young and old came streaming to the call. They were all brimming over with hatred for the place.
Having cleared everyone from the building, the fire – throwers and the rock – shakers got to work. The latter were significantly more successful, as the generous use of concrete and metal left little to be burnt up. Glass and metal fragments fell from the ceiling like hail. The cells were destroyed with particular glee. Green goo oozed disturbingly from some walls. Jeri sent fire soaring through the wooden infrastructure in the back rooms, and someone else began to melt metal desks, metal structures and the criss-crossing bridges in the sky, by pouring out lava from his fingers. A girl poured out sparks on computers and paper trails alike, and then in a magnificent effort, Liam and another two people with similar abilities tore down the bridges from the sky and crumbled a back wall. It crumbled like a cliff against years of sea erosion. As the sound of the destruction mellowed and the destructors walked out from among the rubble the cheering from the crowds of powered people could be heard. Most had stayed to watch the walls come down and hadn’t yet dispersed.
Rochelle just had one comfortable armchair in her new tiny apartment, but now she, Hyde and Celosia sat huddled together on it as they switched on the telly to watch Emio give his speech. This was part of a pre-trial interview. It had been two days since they had destroyed the japier cells and most of their friends had fled in the wind. Two days away from radiation and full of good food and time in the winter sun and wind had done wonders for Celosia’s health and although still thin and a little drawn, she almost reflected the lively creature Hyde remembered.
The cameras focused on Emio’s face. He was dressed in the same oversized shirt tucked into jeans that he always wore, but he was freshly shaved and stood taller than usual. He had the royal emblem pinned to his shirt. A bird with outstretched wings. Before him was a podium of microphones and a crowd of reporters and protesters. They were yelling and generally causing chaos.
“Good morning.” Emio began, and the noise of the crowds subsided. “Many of you will know me as Emiliano Gerovag, son and heir of King Fergason. Everyone thought I was studying abroad in England, but in actual fact, I have been running a secret powered person asylum. The destruction of the japier cells that you have seen reports of was done by a team of my people, under my direction.”
The crowds gasped.
“The mission had originally been a rescue mission by a small team, but when a government raid caused the majority of my people to be brought to the cells and we saw what was happening there, we had to take further action. The government are torturing and testing powered people in order to create a counter-agent. All my people experienced drugging, and many were restrained by harmful radiation treatment. Is this how we think it is acceptable to treat this large portion of our citizens?”
At that point some guards dragged Emio from the stage and cuffed him, leaving the crowd to scream and seeth.
He ended up being accused of treason, stripped of his heirdom and put on house arrest for 10 years, but it took months to conclude the trial, and the delay allowed almost all the escapees to get to safety. Daly and Rochelle set up an advice point, where people came for help. They had managed to resettle many of those who had escaped the japier cells. Ellen was never found, and when they searched the records, everything pointed to her having died in captivity. Daly had been heartbroken. Hyde saw it in her face every time she saw him and Celosia together. She was happy for them, but she wished they had found her friend too.
Celosia and Hyde had had to tell their parents something about why they had been gone so long. Eventually they had decided on the truth. Rochelle had quit her job, so she wasn’t in danger by them knowing her part in things. Celosia’s parents had taken it well. Her mum had been relieved. She had noticed her daughter growing away from her, and hadn’t known why. They did everything they knew how to help her regain her strength and to recover from the trauma. She was able to open up about years worth of secrets. Celosia’s twin brother even came to visit from England, when he realised his parents didn’t hate him or his sister for having powers.
Hyde’s mum took it in a similar fashion. She was gentle and understanding, but Hyde’s dad was like a hurricane. He was especially hard on Rochelle. She responded amazingly. She told him firmly what she thought, and what she had gone on to do – help powered people overtly. The result had been that Hyde had moved in with Rochelle. Their dad didn’t want them in the house. Hyde’s mum seemed to think he would cool down eventually. This wasn’t going to be a long term problem though, because Hyde and Celosia had decided to go and study in England, near Celosia’s brother.
Hyde walked up the old lane after the last day of school. He hadn’t told anyone at school where they had been, but the feeling of hiding was now gone. All the people he loved knew who he was, and they were all safe and happy.