\telepathy\

This is my first Fanfiction, although I have read a lot of it, so I would like to have some constructive criticism. Updated.

Everything belongs to someone who isn't me.

A Pretender and some Tomorrow People in Surbiton

Jarod wandered aimlessly on a rare, sunny London spring day. A month ago, he flew to London because of news about people in the Bus company going mad -- reporting children disappearing into thin air.

One security guard said he had driven a bus recklessly down the street with a small boy on the top. "A 'ooligan come to paint graffiti on the buses." According to him, he had slammed on the brakes, and the boy had flew off the roof and disappeared into thin air - it had taken a while for the psychiatrists to get that much out of him between his babbles about his peaked cap. This wasn't an isolated incident. A few days earlier, a driver had reported a boy disappearing and reappearing from the top deck of his bus, and with nothing to show for it but a load of seaweed (which had since disappeared), Jarod had felt something wasn't right in that bus company. So he flew to England, and got a job as a dispatcher at the bus company.

After conversations with his coworkers and some midnight searches of the files, he found nothing to suggest anything nefarious. The driver didn't actually witness the boy disappearing; two teenagers had started screaming in the middle of his route. They were reported as school bullies known to shake down smaller boys for lunch money. The authorities decided that they were playing a strange practical joke. But because of the humiliating news coverage (including David Letterman stating that "Scotland Yard has captured the invisible boy - they think." ) The bullies were placed by their parents in separate boarding schools at the request of the city officials.

And as for the security guard, he had had signs of mental illness in the past . A year ago, someone had graffitied several buses during his shift. He had become more and more paranoid that it was going to happen again. At one point, he had chased a 10-year girl off the property. Two minutes later her mother came out of the office - she was with the city's transportation department, and had popped in to discuss the possibility of adding additional bus routes. The guard had been severely reprimanded. Because of his history, the bus company assumed he had finally gone completely batty, and Jarod could find nothing to disapprove that theory. So he quit and was at loose ends with no desire to return to the States - it was a nice change to be able to walk around without people chasing him.

"I need a vacation" Jarod said aloud, and noticed a few odd looks from passerbys at the tall, handsome man with dark close-cropped hair carrying a metal attache case and talking to himself. Stopping by a fish and chips shop, he got an order of his newest discovery - fish and chips wrapped in newsprint, and walked into a nearby park to eat the greasy delicacy and think. He chose a bench where he could observe the innocence of the children playing without causing their caregivers undue concern. Whenever possible, Jarod liked to see and hear children enjoying the freedom he never had as a child. He had been taken from his parents as a small boy and lived (if you could call it that) in a think-tank called the Centre. The Centre had discovered that he was a Pretender - a genius who could become anyone he wanted to be. And they had taken him to exploit his abilities for their research. He never played as a child, he worked - pretended. Performed countless simulations, became countless people.

This continued for nearly 30 years until he discovered that the simulations weren't to help people as he had been told, but they were sold to the highest bidder, with no care about who was hurt by them. So he ran away. The Centre has been chasing him ever since. This month had been a rare break from running, and he had enjoyed it, although he knew it couldn't last. Once he started helping people the Centre invariably found out (sometimes because of little clues/gifts/torments he had left for his old mentor/captor/father figure Sydney and for Miss Parker - the tough, cigarette smoking, mini-skirted daughter of the director of the Centre - and the only girl Jarod knew as a child - the girl who had given him his first kiss. She was now determined to bring him back to the Centre - so she could be the one who was free of the Centre.

Jarod wasn't about to let them catch him, but that didn't mean he couldn't play little games of cat and mouse with them. It was the only way he knew to have contact with Sydney - the only father he had ever known. One day he would cut the ties, and they would never find him, but he wasn't ready for that yet and may not be ready until he found what he needed - his family. All he had left of his family was a photograph of his mother and a nonsense song she (he believed) used to sing to him, but one day he would find them. One day, he would find out who he really was. One day, he would no longer need to be pretend to be someone he wasn't.

Jarod ate his greasy meal and thought about his options. "Do i want to go back to the states? Do i want to find another pretend? What do I want to do? It's nice, not running for my life, am i ready to give it up so soon?" Licking his fingers - an experience he always enjoyed - a simple pleasure denied him as a child (not that he would have wanted to lick his fingers, Centre food is not appetizing). He decided to explore England for a while, give his burnt out mind a rest and enjoy England in the spring time. That is after he created some programs to search the net for him for any mention of his family - or possible people he could help.

So where to start? Walking down the street he saw a house agents office with a sign advertising houses for sell in Surbiton. Sounds like a nice place. He cleared out his flat (All he owned fit in a duffel bag) and took the M-5 to Surbiton. Exploring the suburb later that day, he came upon something unusual. What appeared to be a typical suburban house but it had a vegetable garden in the front and what looked like chicken-coops and pigs and goats in the back. Jarod went up to the older man sitting on the front step whittling what look like garden markers.

They had a nice chat about self-sufficiency, and after a little pea-pod brandy, Jarod wandered off to explore some more and walk off the potent brandy. He found a little park - and decided to explore. In addition to what looked like a cricket pitch and soccer fields, there was a paved path thru a small forest. The path followed a tree-lined stream that ambled past the sports fields before heading deeper into the forest. Occasionally, the trees thinned enough that you could watch the stream as it tumbled over rocks and fallen branches below the path, and someone could, with a little care, make their way down the rocky bank and wet their feet in the muddy brown water, by the foot prints in the mud, this was something that dogs and small children especially enjoyed.

At other parts, the only evidence of a stream behind the trees was the sound of water rushing over rocks and no one could have gotten down to the stream without scratching his legs to bits. As he walked up the path into the woods, he saw markers for what appeared to be hiking trails. He briefly considered exploring those, but decided to see where the path he was on led first. As he came near a bend in the trail he heard voices - young people's voices.

"Ami - why are we here again?" - an Australian man said.

"I wanted to show you a part of England, you haven't seen yet" This was an English woman.

"It's just a suburb. What's the big deal?" said an American man.

Before Jarod had time to be surprised by the variety of accents in what appeared to be a nice quiet village, without much appeal for tourism, he was upon them.

"Hello"

"Hello" the 3 said looking awkwardly at each other.

"I'm Jarod"

"Adam" an Australian man with shoulder length dark hair said.

"Ami" a smiling woman with dark skin, soulful dark eyes and a headful of tiny braids.

"Megabyte" - a man with a shock of bright red hair, a few years younger then Adam nodded.

"Megabyte, I suppose you know computers then"

"Yeah, I do. Why? Did your computer crash or something?"

"No", Jarod said surprised at the sudden surliness, "My computer is fine, and if it wasn't. I would fix it myself."

"Don't mind, Megabyte. He's angry because we took him away from some movie."

"Ami, Attack of the Killer Tomatoes - Part 4, is not just some movie. I have been waiting to see it for months, and now I'm stuck wherever we are, when I could be the first in line."

"I was part of the special effects team for part 3."

Megabyte's jaw dropped. "You were! Which parts did you work on?"

"Among others, I created the tomato that was sprayed with liquid nitrogen and then pushed out the window and shattered."

"No kidding, that was my favorite part."

Ami and Adam rolled their eyes as Megabyte starts talking with the strange man with the sad eyes.

\Thanks, Ami.\

\For what?\

\Getting us in a place where i have to listen to 2 people talk about Attack of the Killer Tomatoes.\

Without making a conscious decision, the 4 of them started walking back toward the park and out of the woods.

Megabyte had finally stopped talking long enough for Ami and Adam to speak to the stranger.

"Jarod, what brings you to Surbiton?" Ami asked.

"Decided to take a breather, and explore England for a while. Thought this would be a nice place to start. I've already have met some interesting people. Did you know there is a family who practices self-sufficiency in the middle of a suburban neighborhood? They have even managed to covert animal feces into energy. It is quite fascinating."

"Sounds like it," was all Adam could think of to say.

"What about you?"

"You might say we're on Holiday. My aunt lives here, and I thought we might pop in for a visit," Ami answered.

"Really, are you in University?"

"Ami and I are. Adam is being a lagabout."

"I'm taking a break for a while between semesters," Adam explained.

What are you studing?"

"Computer programming," Megabyte said

"Really blondes, brunettes, and redheads." Ami said. Just then several men in dark suits came up the path by the cricket field.

"Get 'em."

Without even thinking about it, the four turned and started running past the soccer field toward the woods. \We'll never reach the woods before they catch up with u\ Ami telepathed.

\Maybe we should split up.\ Megabyte asked.

\No, Jarod would be in danger.\ the unofficial leader, Adam, telepathed.

\I have an idea, I know a spot up ahead. Hurry up, and follow me. We have to get there before they get around that last bend.\

Jarod had no idea why the three started running faster and faster. The two men each grabbed an arm and started pulling him after Ami.

"Faster, Jarod, Faster"

Ami suddenly disappeared off the road.

Reaching the spot where she disappeared, Jarod saw a spot where erosion and exposed tree roots have created a hidden steps down to to the stream. The two men followed Ami down and dragged Jarod with him.

At the bottom of the steps, Amy swerved right. As Jarod followed, he saw that they were on a hidden sandbank about 5 feet below the path and hidden by the trees. A fallen tree with its roots embedded in the side of the had fell and formed a little bench.

\What do we do now?\ Megabyte asked.

\We wait - maybe they will think we teleported.\

\Well, why don't we?\ Ami asked.

\We can't leave Jarod. They could kill him.\

\They may even think he is one of us, and then he may wish he had died.\ Megabyte shuddered as he remembered his capture by Colonel Masters and Professor Galt.

\They will be back. We can't stay here, and it is too open for us to run back to the car.\ Ami's brow furrowed as she tried to think of an escape plan.

Jarod looked curiously at the three young people. If he didn't know better, he would have thought they were having a conversation.

As the four pressed up against the dirt wall, they heard pounding feet and the men's voices as they raced past looking for them.

"Where did they go?"

"We can't let 'em reach the woods."

Jarod remembered his enjoyment in not being traced ruefully. He was surprised Miss Parker wasn't among those running above him. He racked his brain trying to figure out how the Centre had tracked him down.

\They'll be back any minute. We have to leave now. They will find us.\

\Adam, what about Jarod?\

\He will have to come with us.\

\Then we can't go to the spaceship, or anywhere he could use to identify us.\ Megabyte's no longer seemed like the carefree man babbling about lethal fruit.

\Right. We need a private room. Preferably lockable.\ Ami popped in.

\Got it. There is a room at the University filled with old computers. We sometimes salvage them for parts. We call it The Graveyard; No one is ever in there during the weekend and it stays locked at all times.\

\Let's go. Megabyte, lead the way. We will follow.\

"Jarod, Do you trust us?" Adam whispered. Jarod turned his back to Megabyte, who took the opportunity to teleport to the The Graveyard, and make sure that is was empty and locked.

"Trust you? I've got to leave now!" Jarod was so agitated, he didn't notice the tell-tale flash of light.

"You can't. Those men."

"I won't put you at risk!"

The Tomorrow People exchanged puzzled glances.

"Jarod, take my hand." Ami said softly, "and trust me."

Jarod tentatively took her hand, and noticed Adam held her other hand. Looking around he realized Megabyte was nowhere to be found.

"Where's ..." a bright flash of light

"Megabyte?" Jarod finished in a room packed with aging computer equipment.

"Right here."

"Where am I? What happened?

"Jarod. Its ok. We won't harm you. You're safe here." Adam said.

"Who are you? What are you?"

\Ami, would you care to do the honor?s\

"We are the Tomorrow People. We are what humans beings are becoming; what they always had the potential to be. The next stage in evolution, if you will. We can telepath, and teleport. Those men were chasing us because they want to use us as a weapon, and we refuse to allow that. We can't kill, and we won't allow others to if we can help it."

\Ami, did you have to tell him the last part?\ Megabyte sounded perturbed.

\I didn't tell him about our other powers, so shut up.\ Ami smiled at the look on Megabyte's face.

"The men were chasing you? I thought they were...wait a minute? Teleport, telepathy? This is all science fiction."

"No, its very real, and the danger is very real. We couldn't leave you and risk those men harming you, so we bought you here."

"When its safe, we will take you somewhere near the park, but for now we need to stay put."

Jarod looked into Ami's eyes.

"Your life must be very hard. Running all the time. Trying to find out what you are meant to be. And not letting people get close because of the fear that the danger you are in may touch them. Wanting to help people, yet wanted to have have a life worth living. Trying to control your own destiny when so many people and governments want to do it for you. Never being able to be yourself."

"How did you know?" Adam asked softly, remembering friends he had lost touch with long ago.

"Are you telepathic?"

"No, Megabyte. You shared your secret, so i will share mine. I am a Pretender. I can become anyone I want to be. Feel what they feel. Know what they know. But I didn't have to that for you. People want to exploit me too. They want to turn what I can do into a weapon, and I won't let it happen. We are alike. Always running, wanting to know the truth, wanting to help people, and wanting to share who we are, but not being able to risk it."

Ami wiped a tear away. Now she knew the reason for his sad eyes.

"Late that night, the Tomorrow People teleported Jarod to where he had left his car. Megabyte had previously checked to make sure it wasn't being watched, and there weren't any tracking devices or bugs left. As unlikely as it seemed, they couldn't risk it.

"Goodbye, Jarod." Ami said as she hugging him.

"Goodbye all of you. Good luck finding your path."

"Jarod, you will keep our secret won't you?" Adam hated to ask, but he had to ask.

"Of course, and I know you will keep mine."

"What are you going to do now, Jarod?

"I don't know, Megabyte. maybe ...