Danny Hebert stared at his daughter, tears running down his face as she scribbled on the note pad. His rage mostly drowned out by his sorrow. It was bad enough that she had been trapped in her school locker for most of a day, but for her to be so permanently scarred was more than he could handle.
-Its okay Dad. I'll survive.-
Her beautiful voice, permanently gone. Some kind of infection from the biohazard she had been shoved into had eaten away her vocal cords.
"Taylor, I'll be here for you. We'll get through this some way or another."
Madison had a panic attack. She had gone along with all the bullying to stay in the good graces of Emma and Sophia. But she had to admit she enjoyed some of it. It made her feel powerful.
Until the locker.
She had thought the idea of trapping Hebert in the locker for a few minutes would be hilarious. She did not plan on the tampons, but she went along with it. 'Pussying out' as Sophia would have called it would have done no good. They would go ahead without her and she didn't want to lose her 'friends'. She didn't know Taylor would be stuck in there, in that dark filthy space, for hours.
She hadn't really felt guilty for the pranks before, but catching a glimpse of the crazed filthy girl, obviously broken had cracked through the barrier of casual cruelty she had hid behind for over a year. Then she found out what happen to Taylor after they dragged her kicking and screaming out of the pungent mess. Three weeks in the hospital was too far. The barrier was strong though, and so it just barely held together.
Taylor came back to school, mute because of what they did. The barrier crumbled.
Hannah looked at the report in front of her. She had oscillated between horrified shock and furious anger several times since she had started reading it. Shadow Stalker had finally gone off the deep end. She looked up at the director and started to speak when she was cut off.
"I know what you are going to say, but this will remain quiet. The PR disaster this news would bring is something we can't afford." Emily Piggot had a scowl on her face, she didn't like this anymore than Miss Militia, but it had to be done. "Sophia will get all that is coming to her, but you are not to mention anything about this to the Hebert family."
"But its our failure. We owe it to the girl to make up for it somehow."
"No, Winslow holds responsibility in this case. They failed to notify us of any of the issues that had been reported to them. I suppose in some sort of effort to retain a Ward on site."
"Can we get Panacea to heal her up at least?"
"She's still in Canberra, patching up survivors and injured capes. That remains a priority. I'll put in a request that she does this as soon as she gets back though."
"Very well." Miss Milita sighed, "I can't say that I'm happy though."
"Neither am I, but at least she didn't kill someone."
"She might nearly have." Mumbled Hannah as she left the Director's office.
Emily typed out the request to New Wave for Panacea's assistance, stating it as a fairly high urgency when she returned. The e-mail sent, the matter was considered dealt with by Director Piggot.
A seemingly random software glitch sent the request into a junk mail box, the screening software not recognising the authority codes from the PRT office. And so, the e-mail languished out of sight for a week before it was automatically deleted.
The first few days back at school had been like a return to hell. Communication was awkward as I tried to write out responses quick enough. The teachers barely even tried. Sophia and Emma had picked up where they left off with their little pranks. Things went missing, and other subtle evils were performed. They were sneaky bitches like that.
I had lost the ability to speak, and they were still allowed to continue with this. My earlier complaints had been ignored, and once again the administration did nothing. I found myself getting angry though, rather than despondent. I had gained powers sometime during my ordeal, and it angered me that I couldn't use them on my bullies. I was angry at the school for letting this go on, I was angry at them for their pointless abuse, I was angry at myself for reigning in my vengeance, but mostly I was angry at the general system that would make me the villain if I lashed out at my tormentors.
And so, I seethed, keeping a calm, neutral expression on my face the entire time. Maybe if I looked calm, I could make myself believe I was calm.
I was surprised to find that Sophia hadn't come to school in a few days. No one said anything to me, but being a social nobody I managed to overhead things about her transferring as I was ignored by the popular kids. Well thank God for small fucking mercies. It was a relief, and even Emma backed of on her abuse, but I hadn't though much more about it till I had computer class. Assignment finished I had trawled Parahumans Online, doing a bit more research, trying to figure out what sort of things my strange telekinesis could do.
That's when I stumbled across a news article from a few days back. Shadow Stalker had been transferred to another branch of the Wards. Huh. I hadn't heard about that and wasn't really familiar with the cape other than the name. I was prepared to write it off as unimportant till I scrolled down and got a picture. In it was Shadow Stalker, next to the rest of the Wards. I hadn't realised she was so short...
My mind made some connections but they weren't ready to be believed. I started tracking down more on Shadow Stalker, every picture I could get. A close up showed Her eyes. A snippet of camera phone footage showed a bit of dark skin through a torn costume. Every where was Her confident, intimidating posture.
A placid smile was on my face as inside, my faith in the PRT slowly shrivelled and died.