Chapter 10

Red Dragon was jolted abruptly out of her feral rage when a hard and painful smack landed squarely on her rear. She yelped, dropping the whitecoat to the floor and whirling around to see the cause. She paled as she saw the Headmaster standing a few feet away from her; straightening his glasses which had slipped when he leant down to deliver the smack to his prefect. Before his eyes were once more covered, he took the opportunity to direct a scorching glare in her direction that conveyed the extent of his displeasure, causing Red Dragon to flinch at his expression. However, despite this, she somehow managed to gather enough courage to growl sullenly; "What was that for?" while rubbing her stinging backside. The Headmaster glared at her for a moment longer and replied,

"I did that for two reasons. Firstly to snap you out of your rage; and secondly because you disobeyed my orders, something I will not tolerate".

The Headmaster snapped his fingers at a couple of white-coats who abruptly appeared behind him, and while they removed their battered comrade he intensely scrutinised the crumpled samples, leaving Red Dragon feeling slightly relieved that he was no longer directing his attention at her. Deeming that they were not completely ruined, he turned and snapped "Get on!" while gesturing towards her bed. She almost fell over in her haste to obey, but was aghast to find that her legs were shaking too much to allow her to climb onto the bed. There was an irritated grunt from the Headmaster, and she gave a squeak of surprise when he scooped her from the floor and set her on the bed in a single precise motion and with a care that was quite unexpected. She was even more astonished when he tucked the fallen blankets around her; this seemed so amazingly out of character for a man who was normally so cold and aloof. Her confusion must have shown on her face, for the Headmaster murmured,

"I have no desire for your condition to become even more aggravated with pneumonia; you have enough recovering to do already, which is wasting a considerable amount of time".

At this cold statement her eyes narrowed and despite the fact that the Headmaster was in a foul mood already, and that to answer back would almost be suicide, she was unable to stop herself from snarling angrily,

"Well it's not like I asked to be shot by a gun-wielding maniac!"

At this, the Headmaster snapped "Silence!" and lent down so abruptly, and with such a threatening expression on his face, that Red Dragon gave a whimper of fear and frantically burrowed back into the mattress in an attempt to get as far away from him as possible. He suddenly gripped her shoulder and hissed menacingly,

"If you dare speak in that tone of voice to me again, I will make you regret it!"

She shuddered as he spoke, cursing herself for even uttering a word and wishing she had kept that thought about the gunman to herself. Seemingly satisfied that his threat had terrified her into obedience, the Headmaster released her and retrieved the creeper samples. Holding them out towards her he ordered crisply,

"Examine these; tell me if they are still alive".

Red Dragon closed her eyes and forced her tense form to slowly relax, shutting out everything around her in order to concentrate solely on what her new senses told her. She sniffed the air and detected a faint cloying vapour, that seemed almost weigh down the air around it. Even though the scent was very faint it irritated her nose and made her cough. Pinching her nose with one hand, she opened her eyes and stared hard at the samples, noticing an almost undetectable movement as they sluggishly grew a few millimetres. Still not daring to look at the Headmaster's face, she instead kept her gaze on the creeper and reported in a voice made rough with restrained irritation,

"The creepers are still alive Sir, but only just. I do not think they are likely to survive much longer".

The Headmaster absently handed the samples to a whitecoat hovering close behind him before waving the man away, a calculating expression appearing on his face. He murmured a distracted "Good..." at her assessment before he seemed to suddenly remember that she was there. Once again pinning her with a stern glance, he declared:

"Since it seems you are unable to control yourself, I suggest you work on a way of restraining your bestial impulses as I am sure you are getting as tired as I am over your continual loss of control. Now listen to me carefully as I shall say this only once, you are not to move from your bed. If I find you have disobeyed me again, the consequences shall be dire. Is that clear?"

At her frantic nods he turned from her and began to move towards the door. He was nearly outside when he heard a hesitant "...Sir?" from the direction of his prefect. Whirling back into the room he snapped,

"What is it?"

A faint flush of embarrassment crept across Red Dragon's face as she answered sheepishly,

"I need the toilet but I don't think I would be able to make it all the way there"

The Headmaster stared at her in disbelief for a few moments before he beckoned two of his whitecoats over.

"These two will assist you in that regard and shall remain outside your door should you require anything else. Now have you quite finished wasting my time?"

She cringed and answered,

"Y-yes Sir".

Turning away from her again he strode rapidly out of her room and towards his office, angrily calculating how much of his time had been wasted while he had been attending to his prefect.

At the SPLAT shed there was an air of determination as Dinah and Lloyd finished outlining their plans to everybody else. Lloyd raked his gaze across the rest of SPLAT

"Now, does everybody know what they have to do? We can't afford any mistakes; this operation against the Headmaster is going to be much more dangerous than any others we have done. Red Dragon could betray us at any moment so we have to be ready."

After hearing everyone's murmur of agreement he turned to Dinah.

"You are going to have to be doubly careful, you are the one she's in contact with and it's also you that the Headmaster hates the most"

Dinah appeared unfazed by this and answered,

"I know, but that won't stop me fighting him."

Glancing at her watch her eyes widened as she realised how late it was.

"We better get home, it's almost time for dinner and we can't afford to be out in the dark, mum will go spare if we don't get home on time".

Lloyd nodded and set about getting everyone up and out of the shed, having a minor scuffle with Ingrid who was steadfastly refusing to move from the crate she was sitting on. The scuffle ended when Ian joined in and he and Lloyd almost frogmarched her out of the shed while the rest of SPLAT filed out behind them desperately hiding their grins at her typical grumpy behaviour.