When the Past Catches Up
The Tomorrow People
A New Series Story
by Maven Alysse
A/N: This is a story – written between 1995 and 1997 - that used to be on an old geocities site that became defunct several years ago – I rediscovered it, did some minimal editing, and decided to re-post it onto .
This is my first fan fiction story. Depending on the reactions I get, this could be the start of something great! :) (Constructive Criticism is welcome. Flames will be read, possibly cried over, and definitely deleted, so please be kind.) Disclaimer: The Tomorrow People premise is definitely NOT mine. Adam, Megabyte, General Damon, and the spaceship belong to Roger Damon Price, a really great guy who allowed the show to be shown on Nickolodeon. So all legal stuff is in place. Elizabeth Gardener, Michael Varael, and any other characters you don't recognize, and the story ARE mine, so please don't use them unless you ask, thank you. Any speech surrounded by asterisks (*) indicates telepathic communications. Regular thoughts are that person's own and regular dialogue is marked accordingly. Breaks in the story (TPTPTPTP) are used to indicate either a change in scene, a time change, or a change in perspective. Anything against cannon should not be shot on sight, and forgiven due to the fact that I haven't watched any of the episodes in quite some time. Thank you for your patience.
And now, on with the show. Enjoy!
When the Past Catches Up
She got out of her car and walked to the edge of the cliff. Staring up at the stars, she leaned on the metal railing that separated the road from the cliff-side. Hissing suddenly, she jerked her hand away, her black eyes narrowing in pain. As she looked, a line of blood welled up on her left palm. She dug out a handkerchief from the inner pocket of her denim jacket and began wrapping it around her hand.
Unnoticed behind her, a car came around the corner, its lights off and the window rolled down. An arm reached out of the vehicle and a slight popping noise was heard. The girl cried out, holding her side, as the car drove quickly away. Off balance, she stumbled and fell against the railing. With a groan, one of the supports ripped out of the earth, sending both railing and girl falling towards the rocks below. A terrified scream ripped from her throat, and half-way down, she vanished in a flash of light. Air rushed in to fill the space where she had been with a clap, then there was silence.
Suddenly. she found herself hitting water. She was vaguely surprised to find herself soaked to the skin instead of smashed up against the rocks. Her last coherent thought was that she wished she knew how to swim. Then she passed out.
Adam and Megabyte were discussing the finer points of Godzilla, when Adam turned pale. "Adam, what is it?" Megabyte asked.
Adam found himself covered in sweat with a stitch in his side. He was breathing heavily and his eyes were unfocused. "Adam?" Megabyte touched his shoulder.
Adam blinked up at him, "Come on."
"Where are we going?"
"The spaceship. Something's happened."
Without another word, the two concentrated and disappeared in a flash of light. Moments later, the two forms reappeared within a dimly lit room. Adam glanced about frantically before immediately disappearing again. Megabyte was startled and about to follow his friend when a flash and bang heralded Adam's return.
"Dammit, Adam. What's going...," he stopped as he took in the scene. Adam was soaking wet, as was the girl he held in his arms. Her dark brown hair was plastered to her face, and she was extremely pale. He gasped as his gaze dropped further down. A red stain was spreading across her side. "Adam. What..."
Adam shook his head, "I'm not sure, but I heard her scream just before she teleported." He eased her flat on the floor of the spaceship. The girl's breathing was fast and shallow and a slight gurgling could be heard each time she inhaled. "She's breathed in some water and's been injured pretty bad."
"Can you do anything for her?"
Megabyte could only watch on helplessly as Adam gently placed on hand over the wound, and the other on the girl's chest. He closed his eyes and concentrated. A glow appeared beneath his hands. Immediately, her breathing eased somewhat. The bleeding stopped and the wound scabbed over before Adam fell back, exhausted. Megabyte placed a hand on his shoulder, "Adam?"
Adam opened his eyes and smiled weakly, "S'alright. Tired. Guess I'm not up to my usual stuff." He glanced worriedly at the wound, "She might still need a doctor. She's been injured pretty badly and I want to make sure nothing else is wrong with her."
Megabyte nodded grimly, "Let's wait until she wakes. Unless that'll be harmful?"
"No, it's alright. I don't believe she's in any immediate danger."
The first thing she became aware of was voices. Two of them, male she thought. One was Australian and the other American. The Australian voice first came in pieces. "Might... doctor... pretty badly and... with her."
She came further awake to hear the American voice say, "...Wait until she wakes. Unless that'll be harmful?"
The other voice spoke again, sounding tired, "No, it's alright. I don't believe she's in any immediate danger."
She took a quick inventory of how she felt. Surprisingly good considering what had happened. 'What _did_ happen?' she thought. She remembered cutting her hand, then feeling a sharp pain in her side, falling over the edge and 'hitting _water_?' Her hand no longer hurt, and instead of the sharp pain, her side only ached. She could feel the pull of a scab each time she breathed. Her clothes were soaked and she was cold.
The Australian voice spoke, "She's coming around."
She opened her eyes, blinking to get them in focus. Two faces swam blearily before her for a moment before snapping into focus. They were both younger than her, between sixteen and nineteen, she guessed. One had a thatch of brilliantly red hair and a round face. Freckles dotted his nose and his eyes glinted merrily. "Welcome back to the land of the living," his American accent apparent. She smiled slightly, the name 'Megabyte' forming in her mind. She turned to the other, 'His name's Adam - how do I know all of this?' Water dripped from his brown hair and down his nose. His eyes were wide and frank and sat on a narrow face. 'He must have been the one to fish me out,' she thought.
"Are you alright?" his Australian accent making his voice lilting.
She nodded, "What...," she began coughing and doubled up to protect her healing side. As she gasped, she felt their hands turning her onto her side as the last of the water worked itself out of her lungs. Finally drawing enough air into her lungs, she sat up shakily, the two boys helping her until she had her balance. "Where am I?"
Megabyte answered, "Would you believe in a spaceship on an island in the middle of nowhere?"
She thought about it for a moment, then nodded, "Yup, I can believe that." She laughed weakly and shivered.
Megabyte grinned as Adam stood up and walked out of the room, returning a few minutes later with some towels and dry clothing. He handed them to her, "Here, you should get out of those wet things. Can't guarantee the fit, though."
She smiled a thanks as she took the clothing. He placed a hand on her shoulder. "We'll talk once you've changed." He motioned to Megabyte and the two left her alone. She sat there on the floor for a moment, staring after them before shaking her head. 'Alright, Elizabeth, calm down. One step at a time. Take a deep breath, dry off, and start from there.' She took off her shoes and socks, water pouring onto the already soaked floor. She winced as she gingerly pulled off her denim jacket and t-shirt and the fabric scraped against her wound. Hoisting herself onto an available ledge, she inspected the holes in her clothing. They were ragged and pink around the edges where the blood had been half-way washed away by the salt-water. She glanced at her side. The wound was a two to three inch long narrow gash just under her ribs. All her moving about had caused the thin scab to open up. She dabbed at the blood with her ruined shirt, eyes filling with tears at the pain. It _hurt_! 'What the devil happened anyway?' She tried to remember, but all she got was the sensation of falling. She sighed and pulled off her jeans, tugging a bit as they scrunched up around her knees. She wrinkled her nose, 'Nothing like the feel of wet denim. Yuck.' Finishing undressing, she quickly dried off and put on the clothes Adam had given her. The clothes fit surprisingly well. She was narrow hipped and it seemed that Adam preferred large baggy shirts, which was good as Elizabeth really didn't want anything that would rub against her side. Rather than donning wet socks,, she decided that going barefoot wouldn't kill her.
She looked around the room as she finger-combed her hair. The walls, floor, and ceiling seemed to be made of some sort of metal that looked like a cross between quicksilver and steel. A large column with softly lit golden panels sat in the center. Looking closer, she realized that the base of it was covered with strange symbols. Surprisingly, she recognized some of the them. 'Now how can that be?' An answer formulated in her mind, 'It's because I am a Tomorrow Person. The next stage in human evolution.' She rubbed the side of her head in confusion, 'How do I know all of this?' She shook her head and shrugged, 'It really doesn't matter. I just do. That's what is important.' She looked towards the tunnel the two guys had gone down. "Adam? Mgabyte?"
Adam answered, "We're here." They came back into the room. Elizabeth noticed that Adam had taken the time to change as well.
Megabyte grinned, "You look better in Adam's clothes than he does."
Elizabeth blushed and Adam rolled his eyes. A silence descended as the three stared at each other. Adam cleared his throat and stuck out a hand, "I'm Adam."
Elilzabeth smiled shyly, "Elizabeth Gardener. Pleased to meet you."
Megabyte also stuck out his hand and Elizabeth grasped it firmly, "You're Megabyte, right?"
He grinned, "Sure am."
The ice broken, Elizabeth gestured to the room, "Is this really a spaceship?"
Megabyte nodded, "It's been waiting for us for thousands of years."
Elizabeth thought about that for a moment, "Do you meant Tomorrow People in general, or us specifically?"
Adam's eyes shined, "Good question. I'm pretty sure it's for Tomorrow People in general."
"But you're not certain?"
"No. Can anyone be?"
She grinned wryly, "No, I guess not. Can I ask a question?"
"How did I get here?"
"Teleported? You mean disappear from one place and reappearing in another?" At their nods, she whispered, "Fascinating." She glanced up at them, eagerly, "What else can we do?"
Adam thought for a moment, "Well, we can communicate telepathically with others of our kind. Some of us can heal, others can open any lock, and still others are good with electronic devices, as well as other things that occasionally come up."
"There are more of us?"
Adam nodded, "Yes, and more are breaking out all the time."
Megabyte broke in, "I have a question of my own."
"What happened to you before you teleported? You gave Adam here quite a scare."
"How did I do that?"
Adam tapped his temple lightly, "I heard you scream right before you teleported. That's how I knew you were in trouble and was able to locate you so quickly when you showed up."
She stared at them, "I... I'm not sure. I remember going up to the clifftop to think. I was staring up at the stars." She looked down at her hands, "I cut my hand on the railing..." her voice trailed off and she blinked up at them. "I'm just not sure."
Megabyte patted her on the shoulder, "It's alright. You'll remember sooner or later."
Adam bit his lower lip, "We could help you remember right now, if you wish."
Megabyte nodded, "A mind merge."
"Mind merge. It's when two or more of us concentrate together in order to retrieve a memory or to help us get into contact with someone or else to teleport to an unfamiliar place."
"Is it dangerous?"
"No," Adam replied. "But sometimes, a person can get too wrapped up in the memory that is being recreated." She hesitated. Adam added, "You don't have to do it if it makes you feel uncomfortable. Like Megabyte said, you'll remember it sooner or later."
Elizabeth shook her head, "No, that alright. I want to try it."
"Alright." Adam stood and faced them, putting his hands up to shoulder leavel, the palms out. Megabyte stood, put his hands up, one almost touching Adam's After a second, Elizabeth also stood and put her hands out. Palms almost touching, the trio closed their eyes.
Adam spoke again, "Alright. Concentrate on what you were doing right before teleporting. Think only of that and let the memory come through." A bluish glow surrounded them as the memory replayed itself.
Elizabeth gasped as the unmistakable sound of a gunshot echoed eerily through the room. Her eyes flew open and her hands dropped, the glow disappearing as she did so. Her face was ashen and her black eyes were blank with shock. "Someone shot me! Who? Why?" She focused on Adam's face, "Was it because I'm a Tomorrow Person?"
Adam's brows were drawn together, his expression grave, "No, I'm positive it wasn't because you are a Tomorrow Person."
"How can you be sure of that?"
"Because it happened _before_ you broke out."
Elizabeth began to shake and she slowly sat down, eyes closed, and put a hand to her head, "Oh, Lord."
Megabyte looked at Adam, *Is she going to be all right?*
Adam frowned, *Let's get her some fresh air.* He took Elizabeth's hand and the three vanished only to reappear along the shore of the island an instant later.
Elizabeth felt the sand beneath her fingers, smelled the salt in the air, and felt the spray of the ocean on her face. She took a deep breath and opened her dark eyes. The moon was up, a faint glow in the east showed that dawn was not too far off. Her shivers stopped and a tentative smile appeared on her lips. "Thank you. I needed this."
The two boys smiled and sat next to her. The three watched the sun rise. An hour or two later, Elizabeth glanced at her watch, "Damn. I've gotta go." When Megabyte looked confused, she grinned, "I've got a class in a couple of hours and could really use some shut eye. And, no offense, but I think I'll change before starting my day."
Adam grinned. Megabyte suddenly sat up, "Oh, man! Dad's gonna kill me for being out this late on a school night."
Adam waved his hand negligently, "Tell him it was an emergency. You wouldn't be lying."
"I'll blame it all on you, see if I don't, Adam. I'll see you later, Elizabeth."
"Bye," she watched, fascinated, as Megabyte disappeared. "So, how do _I_ get back, anyway?"
"Well, until you get more practice, there's a good chance you'll just end up back in the ocean."
"Elizabeth tilted her head, "Why is that?"
"There's this kind of beacon that the spaceship gives off, so whenever a new Tomorrow Person teleports for the first time, they end up here. Though why in the ocean and not the spaceship itself is a complete mystery to me."
Elizabeth looked alarmed, "Then how can I get back?"
Adam grinned, "Easy. Concentrate on where you want to be and not being here anymore."
"Okay." She closed her eyes, then opened them again, "Um, would you come with me? I'd feel better if I didn't have to do this solo just yet."
"Sure thing." They clasped hands, concentrated, and disappeared in a flash of light, leaving an empty beach under the rising sun.
2 days later-
Elizabeth lifted her shirt and examined her side in the mirror. The wound was almost completely healed and it itched like crazy. After seeing her safely to her car, 'Which was still there, thank goodness,' Adam had used his healing gift on her again. She made him stop when she noticed how pale and exhausted it made him. "You've done more than enough. Let Nature heal it the rest of the way. I'll not have you wear yourself out for such a minor inconvenience." They had, rather reluctantly, decided against calling the police about the shooting. "I can see it now. 'Well, you see officer, I was standing on this cliff when someone drove by and shot me. I fell over the edge. How did I survive the fall? I teleported.' I don't think that would go over too well with them." There wasn't much she could have told them anyway.
She hadn't seen either Adam or Megabyte since then, though she had communicated telepathically with them several times in the past two days. She was a bit amazed at how well she was adjusting to her new powers. If anyone had told her a week ago that she would be able to teleport, she'd have thought they were a prime candidate for the looney bin. To be honest, though, she was a bit leery about teleporting. She found it hard to understand just _how_ she was able to go thousands of miles in a single moment. Last night, she had a nightmare about trying to teleport and getting stuck in some gray void. She had awakened to find herself soaked with sweat and gasping for air. It had taken awhile to calm down afterward, but she had been unable to fall back asleep, so she spent the night staring up at the ceiling and talking to Adam.
She tucked her shirt into her jeans, picked up a brush and began running it through her dark brown hair. She was in the back bedroom of the three bedroom house she shared with her roommate, Kathy. At the moment, Kathy was visiting her parents for the week, so Elizabeth had the entire house to herself. She enjoyed the silence; no music playing, no one on the phone or watching television, just quiet. She did her best thinking when alone, and although she loved her roommate to death, she was glad to have some private time to herself.
She stopped brushing her hair when she heard the front door open. She called out without thinking. "Kathy? Is that you?" There was no answer. She frowned, *Adam?*
His reply came immediately, *I'm here. Is anything wrong?*
She shook her head, forgetting for a moment that he couldn't see her, *I'm not sure. The front door opened, but my roommate shouldn't be back for three more days.*
*Do you want me to come over?*
*No. I'm probably over-reacting. The wind could have blown it open, it's happened before. Let me check it out and get back to you.*
She smiled at his concern, *I will.* She picked up a large (and heavy) flashlight she kept beside her bed, crept to the door, and slowly eased it open. She wished she hadn't broadcasted her position earlier. She shrugged, 'Too late now.' She sneaked down the hall and glanced around the corner into the living room.
A man wearing a ski mast and gloves stood near the middle of the room. She cursed to herself and crept back to her room. She locked the door, wincing at the sound. Her eyes widened as she heard footsteps walk quickly down the hall to her door. In shock and amazement, she watched the door as the man tried to force it open. Thinking quickly, Elizabeth opened one of her windows and shoved the screen out. She teleported just as she heard her bedroom door give way. It being only the second time that she had ever deliberately teleported, and feeling more than a bit distracted, she found herself once more in the water.
After swimming to shore, she disgustedly tried to wring the water out of her hair and clothing. 'If this keeps up, I'll have to keep an extra wardrobe here!' *Adam?*
*Are you alright?*
*I teleported out of there before he broke the door down.*
*Broke the... Where are you now?*
*On the island and soaked to the skin.*
She thought she heard him chuckle before he replied, *I'm in the spaceship. Come on in and I'll lend you some dry clothing.*
She hesitated a moment, screwed up her eyes and courage, and teleported. She smiled proudly to herself when she opened her eyes and found herself inside the spaceship. 'I think I'm getting the hang of this.' "Adam?"
She went through one of the tunnels and found herself in what looked like a small room, except it had a tunnel leading from each of the four walls. A futon was made up neatly against one wall and a small bedside table with a lamp were the only other furnishings.
Adam looked up from where he sat on the futon, smiled, and handed her a dry towel, "Tell me what happened."
She sighed and began drying her hair, "I heard the door open. Thought it was Kathy. A man was there. I think he heard me lock my door, cause he came after me and began to break the door down." She grinned suddenly, "I arranged it so that he has no idea that there was anything weird about the way I escaped."
"Made it look as if I had climbed out of a window."
Adam nodded, "Good thinking. I think you need to go back, though. You should call the police, let them know there's a burglar in the area."
She sobered suddenly, "You're right. Luckily, I can easily come up with a story that will explain my escape." She grinned again, "Even how my clothes got soaked." Adam pressed her for an answer but she just smiled enigmatically and said, "You'll see. Will you come with me? For moral support?"
Adam nodded and the two teleported to a secluded spot near Elizabeth's house. She motioned for him to follow her. "I've got something that has to be done before we can contact the police, then, just follow my lead, okay?"
Four hours later, Elizabeth was sitting on the front stoop of her neighbor's house, a blanket wrapped around her shoulders. Her dark brown hair stuck to the side of her face like pieces of string, some of it curling off into odd directions as it dried. She rubbed her temples, her head ached. She was tired, hungry, and completely fed up with the whole thing. Her face was set, dark eyes smoldering, as the officer asked her once more to describe what had happened. The police had checked the house immediately upon their arrival, but didn't find anything obviously missing, and they were now searching the area for the burglar.
The officer looked contrite as Elizabeth blew a sigh of frustration. "I know this is difficult, miss. Just one more time. What exactly happened earlier today?"
The words were clipped. The day's events, and the sleepless night, had caught up to her. She wanted nothing more than to tell the officer off, and go get something decent to eat. *For God's sake, they could have at least let me change my clothes!* She felt her headache ease as Adam sent comforting thoughts to her. 'I'm so glad he came. I think I would have jumped down someone's throat by now if he hadn't.' She gave a slight nod and smile of thanks to Adam before returning her attention to the officer. "I was in my room, brushing my hair, when I heard the front door open. I thought it was my roommate, home early from her trip. I went down the hall, saw this guy in my living room, and went back to my room and locked the door. Then I heard him try to get through my door, so I shimmied out the window as fast as I could."
"And, how did you happen to get wet?"
Elizabeth managed to look embarrassed, "I was going through Mr. Gish's backyard and I fell into his tide-pool."
The officer's eyebrows went up, this was new information to him, "A tide-pool?"
"Yes. He's fascinated with marine biology so he had a special pool made in his backyard. He filled it with saltwater in order to house the different types of ocean-life that he studies. When crossing his yard, I looked over my shoulder to make sure that the goon wasn't following me when I tripped and landed in the pool. Splashed water everywhere. Mr. Gish wasn't at home at the time, so I came here to Mrs. Goild's to call the police."
The officer nodded and wrote all this in his notebook, "And this man, did you get a good look at him? Did you notice what he was wearing or anything significant about him?"
She sighed again, rubbing her temples. "He was tall. I'd say about six-one. Lean, like he exercised regularly but wasn't a fanatic about it. He wore gloves and a ski mask, blue jeans and a black t-shirt with dark shoes. That's about it."
"Did he say anything to you? Were you able to tell the color of his eyes?"
She shook her head, "Sorry, no to both."
The officer turned to Adam, "And you, sir. Did you see this man?"
"No, sir. I met up with Elizabeth after she fell into the pool. I'm only here for moral support."
"Alright. Well, miss, we're searching the area for him right now, and if needed, we'll have a patrol car drive by for the next couple of days. You should think about having your locks changed."
"Yes, sir. Thank you, sir."
"We'll let you know if we come up with anything."
Elizabeth nodded, then she and Adam left. With a deep breath, Elizabeth stretched her arms up to the sky, popped her back and sighed in relief. "Am I glad _that_ is over with. Thought he'd never finish."
"You're lucky, Megabyte and I had to spend most of a night answering one officer's questions once. You got off light."
Elizabeth and Adam continued to walk back to her house. "What I can't figure out is _how_ he got in. I mean, I keep the door locked when I'm alone, and the police didn't find any evidence of a forced entry - other than my bedroom door, of course. So, how did he get in?"
"Well, really good burglars don't usually leave any evidence."
Elizabeth snorted, "Really good burglars don't usually stand motionless in the middle of rooms, either. No, something's going on. I just don't know what!" At the house, Adam remained in the living room while she went to change. "Hey, Adam?"
"Mind taking a dry set of clothing with you next time you go to the ship? I have a feeling I'll need it sooner or later."
She heard the smile in his voice as he replied, "Alright."
She quickly changed into a pair of worn jeans and a t-shirt, and ran a comb through her hair. She entered the living room, "Are you hungry?"
Adam put down the magazine he was leafing through and stood, "Where to?"
She grabbed her sweater and picked up her purse from beside the couch, "There's a nice Mexican restaurant nearby. It'd be silly to teleport there, it's not far, and it's a nice evening for a walk. You mind?"
He smiled, "Sounds fine to me."
"Think Megabyte would want to come?"
"Better check that he's not doing anything important. You do the honors. It'll be good practice for you."
Elizabeth wrinkled hernose at him and grinned, *Megabyte. Do you read me?*
*Hey, Elizabeth. Loud and clear. What's going on?*
*You'll never believe it. Tell you all about it. You free for dinner?*
*Yeah, I'm just finishing up some math homework. I'd put that off any day.*
She grinned in response, *Come on over. Adam's already here and we're ready to go.*
*Let me tel my dad and I'll be right over.* Five minutes later, Megabyte appeared in a flash of light. "Sorry I took so long. I had to wait until Dad was between phone calls to ask."
"Alright, let's go." Elizabeth locked the door behind them, making a mental note to call a locksmith the day, then lead the two boys to the restaurant.
Over the meal, Elizabeth filled Megabyte in on the strange occurrences of the day. "You actually jumped into his pool?"
She shrugged. "How else was I going to explain the state my clothes were in? Oh well. I'm just glad that Mr. Gish _is_ interested in marine biology or I'd never have been able to pull that off." As they finished their meal, Elizabeth grabbed the check. She ignored their protests, "It's my treat. I insist." She walked up tot he register before they could change her mind.
Megabyte turned to Adam, "She really seems to be able to take things in stride, doesn't she?"
Adam nodded, "A lot of things happened to her in the past few days. I wonder..." He was cut off by a shriek of fear that rang in his ears and echoed in his mind. He snapped his head towards the sound and was half-way out of his chair before he even thought about standing. Both he and Megabyte raced to the register.
Elizabeth and the cashier were frozen in shock at the sight of half a dozen spiders crawling out of her purse. Two had climbed onto Elizabeth's arm and were working their way up, the rest had scattered across the counter. Elizabeth was white, sweat beaded her upper lip, and she looked like she was going to pass out. The two boys could hear her whispering, over and over, "Oh, God, get them off! Get them off!"
Megabyte picked up a ledger book from the counter and killed three of the spiders. One fell on the floor and the cashier stepped on it. Adam scooped up a piece of paper and carefully flicked the spiders off Elizabeth's arm and onto the floor where he crushed them beneath his shoe.
Elizabeth looked up at him, breathing hard, eyes unfocused. She gave a strange little laugh and looked down at her wrist which had begun to swell. "It bit me." Her eyes rolled up and her knees gave way. She felt Adam grab for her as she fell.
Adam leaped forward as Elizabeth passed out. He was able to grab hold of her arm and ease her to the ground. The manager came out of his office, noticing the disturbance, "What's going on?"
The cashier gave a shaky reply on her way to the telephone. "Mr. Frost. The lady came to pay and six spiders crawled out of her purse. She was bitten. I'm calling an ambulance."
After the cashier left, Mr. Frost knelt next to where Adam sat cradling Elizabeth's head. "Let's get her into my office. I'll grab her legs." The two of them lifted Elizabeth up and Megabyte held the office door open for them. "Let's set her down on the couch there."
Adam thanked the manager and turned his attention to Elizabeth. He tried to reach her mentally, as well as vocally. "*Elizabeth? Can you hear me?*" There was no response, she had retreated deep within herself. Adam worriedly bit his bottom lip.
The cashier came back into the office. "The ambulance will be here as soon as possible. They asked that we save the remains of the spiders so they can figure out the best way to treat her."
Mr. Frost nodded, "Thank you, Ginger. Get Manuel to do that. Go back to the register and make sure no one else touches that purse, there still may be some spiders in it." After the girl left, he turned to the two young men. "If it wasn't for the fact that the young lady is obviously ill, I would have thought this was all an elaborate plan to get out of paying for your meal."
Megabyte looked startled, "Why would we do that?"
The manager shrugged, "There are quite a few colleges around that use gimmicks like that for initiations into their groups. We try to discourage that kind of thing."
"Yeah, I guess you would."
Adam had been thinking the entire time and finally picked up the manager's phone and dialed the police. "Yes, I would like to speak with Officer Hathaway. Tell him I have some information that could be helpful in the Elizabeth Gardener case. Thank you. ... Officer Hathaway? This is Adam Neuman, from this afternoon? ... Yes. Well, I think you should know that the burglar may have just upped the stakes. Someone put some poisonous spiders into Elizabeth's purse. ... Yes, she's been bitten. An ambulance had been called. ... No, that'll be a bit difficult, sir. She's unconscious. ... Yes, sir. The Mexican restaurant on Main and Fifth. ... Yes, we'll be here. ... Thank you." Adam was grim as he hung up the phone. He looked at Elizabeth, "How is she?"
Megabyte shook his head, "Not good. Her breathing's fast and shallow and her heart's racing like crazy. Adam, we've got to do something!"
Adam sat beside Elizabeth and felt for her pulse. Almost immediately, Adam's hand started glowing. Megabyte watched in amazement. "Adam..." he cautioned. Adam looked startled and let go of Elizabeth's wrist, the glow fading. He shook his head dizzily and Megabyte could see that he was very pale. Megabyte checked Elizabeth and found that her breathing had eased somewhat and that her pulse was steadier. He glanced back at the manager to see if the glow had been noticed. Mr. Frost was looking out the one-way mirror, watching for the ambulance and police. Megabyte sighed in relief, *What happened? You look shocked.*
Adam blinked up at him, *I didn't do that on purpose. It just happened.*
*You mean your powers just kicked in automatically? Can they do that?*
*Looks like it.*
Megabyte spoke aloud, mainly for the benefit for Mr. Frost, "What can we do now?"
Adam glanced from Elizabeth to the manager and back to Megabyte, "There isn't anything else we can do." His voice was tight with frustration, "Just watch and wait."
Adam waited anxiously for some news on Elizabeth's condition. Megabyte had left an hour ago to let his dad know what had happened. Adam told him that he might as well finish his homework. "They aren't going to let us see her until she wakes up. Until that time, there's no point in both of us sitting here. I'll let you know the instant I get to see her."
Megabyte grudgingly agreed and had left, promising that he'd be back in three hours, regardless of the news. "You'll need to eat, and that way, someone's here for her."
Adam sat in the waiting room with five other people. No one spoke and the only sound was the news blaring on the television and the rattle of carts being pushed up and down the hall. He and Megabyte had been questioned at the restaurant by Captain Hathaway about the incident before being allowed to go to the hospital themselves. Then the captain had waited around long enough at the hospital to find out what kind of spiders they had been to continue the investigation. All the doctors could discern was that they were similar to the black widow. The venom causes the victim to fall into a coma before working on the nervous system. Unless they found an antidote soon, she could die. If she had been bitten more than once, death would have been instantaneous.
Adam's hands squeezed into fists, 'If I could, I'd kill him. By God, I'd kill him.' Unable to remain motionless any longer, Adam got out of his chair and stepped into the hallway to pace without bothering the others. He tried contacting Elizabeth again, no really expecting an answer, *Elizabeth? Can you hear me?*
She was drifting in a black sea. She could neither see nor hear anything. Everything was very peaceful. Then, as if from a great distance, she heard someone call her name, *Elizabeth? Can you hear me?*
The voice sounded very familiar. She tried to concentrate and finally matched the voice with a name, *Adam?* She heard him excitedly call to Megabyte that he had gotten through to her. She also heard Megabyte reply that he would join Adam at the hospital.
Adam called to her again, *Elizabeth, you still there?*
She was tired and wanted to go back into the darkness, but she also wanted to talk to her friends and find out what had happened to her. Curiosity won out, so she answered, *Yes.*
His next question struck her as funny, *Are you awake?*
*I... humn... Good question.* She giggled slightly, still on a high from the drugs the nurse had given her, *I don't think so. Where...?*
Megabyte answered, *You're in the hospital, kiddo.*
She replied, faintly indignant, *Who you calling a 'kid,' buster?*
Adam interrupted, *Try to wake up.*
She didn't understand what all the fuss was about, *Why?*
*It's the only way they'll let us in to see you.*
'Well,' she thought to herself, 'when he puts it that way.' *I'll try.* She spent a couple of minutes trying to will herself into consciousness, to no avail. *Tired,* she muttered. *What happened?*
*You were bitten by a spider and then collapsed. Do you remember that?*
She could feel herself slowly succumbing to the darkness again and she struggled to stay afloat, *I rememb...* The darkness won.
*Elizabeth? Elizabeth!* Adam gave a snarl of frustration as he shoved a hand through his dark hair. "Damn!"
Megabyte had returned to the hospital and had an idea that might work, but he needed to run it by Adam first. "Adam, so you think _you_ could heal her? You've done it before."
Adam slid down the wall and sat on the floor, elbows propped on his knees, head against the wall. He stared at the lights for a moment. "I don't know." He shook his head slowly, considering the request, "I really wiped myself out the last time I used my gift. I'll try, but I warn you, I've never worked with poisons before. Everything I've done in the past had been obviously physical and visible in nature."
"But you'll try?"
"Yeah, I'll try. You're going to have to keep a lookout and teleport the both of us out of there whether I'm I'm finished or not if someone shows."
Megabyte was curious, "Both of us? Why?"
Adam stood, "I'll be too exhausted afterward. Leave me at my place and then come back here, alright?"
Megabyte nodded and the two of them teleported to Elizabeth's room. She was hooked up to several devices, tubes and wires connecting flesh to machine. The two had been lucky, for although the room contained two beds, Elizabeth was the only occupant. Elizabeth was so pale her skin was almost translucent. Her face was pinched and Megabyte thought she looked thinner than normal. She was so motionless, it took a while for the eye to register the faint rise and fall of her chest as she breathed. The boys stood next to her bed, watching her sleep for a moment. Each was lost in his own thoughts.
Adam shook himself and pointed towards the door. Megabyte nodded and moved into position, keeping one eye on the hallway and the other on his two friends. *Good luck, Adam.* He watched as Adam nodded distractedly, took a deep breath, then let it out slowly. He placed Elizabeth's hand in his own and closed his eyes in concentration. Megabyte wished feverently, 'I hope this works.'
A glow began where the two hands were joined. After half a minute, Adam's shoulders slumped and the flow faltered a moment, then returned even stronger as Adam drew himself up to his full height and tensed his whole body. He clenched his jaw and the glow completely surrounded the two of them for a moment. A noise from the hall drew Megabyte's attention. Elizabeth's nurse was striding briskly towards the room. He sent an urgent message, *Adam, stop. Company's coming.* He moved over to Adam just as the glow died completely and Adam fell bonelessly to the floor. Megabyte spared a single concerned glance in Elizabeth's direction before teleporting Adam back to the spaceship.
Megabyte sat in the waiting room. He was very worried. He had left the island two hours ago and Adam was still unconscious. To add to his worries, there was no work yet on Elizabeth's condition. Every time he bothered a nurse for an update, they kept telling him, "The doctor will answer all of your questions when he becomes available."
'Becomes available, right,' snorted Megabyte. 'That's hospital talk for mind your own business.' Well, until Adam woke up, or Elizabeth's roommate could be contacted, how she was doing _was_ his business. He had called his father to let him know where he was and what was going on. His father had been surprisingly understanding and, after a bit of scolding for not calling earlier, he had given him permission to stay with his friends until they were both well again. Megabyte shook his head, 'I'll never understand parents.'
*Oh, God, my head.*
Megabyte shot straight up in his chair, *Adam?*
*No. Don't think so.*
A huge grin spread across his face, *Elizabeth! Are you alright?*
*I feel like someone's been using my head for a base drum. Other than that, I feel like crud.*
Glancing around the waiting room, Megabyte quickly wiped the smile from his face before anyone noticed him and thought he was crazy. It was hard, he was so excited, *Are you awake now?*
There was a pause, *Yeah, I must be. I can feel my lids stick together every time I blink. Is it too much to ask that I be painlessly dead?* she asked in a plaintiff tone.
Megabyte laughed, *Sorry, and may I once again welcome you to the land of the living.*
He could hear her grin, *Thank you, kind sir. Oh, a nurse just came in. She saw me awake and scampered out again. I guess that means I'm going to be poked and prodded soon. God, I'm tired.*
*Yeah, and you will be until all the poison works out of your system. I'm glad you're awake.*
*Me too. Here's the doctor. I'll get back to you when he's done.*
*I'll see you in a while.* Megabyte leaned back in his seat and gave thanks that Elizabeth was getting better. 'Now, let's check on Adam.' *Adam? Adam! You awake?* There was no answer. *Well, if you can hear me, Elizabeth's awake. She's okay. Can you hear me?* He sighed and ran his fingers through his red hair, disappointed that he couldn't get through to Adam.
A few hours later, Megabyte was given permission to visit Elizabeth. She was sitting up in bed, a huge smile on her face. Megabyte grinned back, "Well, this is certainly an improvement from the last time I saw you. You're looking a whole lot better."
"I feel better. I'm glad you're here."
Megabyte sat at the edge of her bed, took her hand, and squeezed it. "Of course I'm here. You're my friend." He paused, "You nearly gave Adam and me an heart attack, you know."
Elizabeth frowned, "Speaking of Adam. Where is he? Is he mad at me?"
Megabyte was taken aback, "Mad at you? Why would you think that?"
She looked down at her hands, "Well, I keep trying to contact him and he doesn't answer."
"Believe me, he's not mad at you."
"Then why won't he answer?"
Megabyte shifted uncomfortably, "To be honest, he's exhausted. He's at the ship, recuperating."
"Why? What happened to him?"
"We came in here a few hours ago because the doctors didn't have a clue how to treat you. Although they didn't say anything aloud, we knew that they didn't think you were going to last much longer. Adam tried to heal you himself. He wasn't sure it would work, but he warned me that it would wipe him out regardless. He collapsed and I took him to his place. He's been out of it ever since."
"How long ago?"
Megabyte checked his watch, "Almost five hours."
"Five hours?" Elizabeth tried to get out of bed.
Megabyte put a restraining arm on her shoulder and pushed her back down, "Relax. He'll be fine."
"Has this ever happened to him before?"
"No, but the last time he used his gift on you, he slept in longer than usual. Once he regains his energy, he'll be fine. You're the one who needs to rest now. The doctor only gave me ten minutes and the time's almost up." He looked at her solemnly, "I'm glad you're feeling better."
She squeezed his hand, "Me too. Thanks." As Megabyte started to leave, she stopped him, "Megabyte? Could you do me a favor?" She continued at his nod, blushing, "Could you bring me the teddy bear that's on my bed? I think I'd feel better if I had it tonight."
He smiled, "Sure."
"Oh, and could you leave a note for my roommate, in case she comes home before I get out of here?"
"Alright. Anything else?"
Her voice dropped to a whisper, "Yeah, check on Adam for me, okay?"
He nodded, "Alright. Get some rest. I'll be back in a couple of minutes with your bear." With that, Megabyte left the room.
Adam woke disoriented. His head ached horribly and his vision was blurred. He checked his surroundings, he was in bed in his little niche on the spaceship. He figured Megabyte must have teleported him after his collapse. Adam tried to sit up and, after what seemed to be an eternity, finally succeeded. He closed his eyes as the room began to spin. It felt like someone was using a jackhammer to split his head open and his mouth felt stuffed with cotton. He stood with a groan and, using the wall for support, stumbled into the main room. He stopped when he reached what he had termed the 'replicator' after one too many episodes of Star Trek. "Water, please." His voice was raspy and his throat was sore. A tall glass of water appeared on the counter. Adam gratefully drank most of the water down and splashed the rest on his face. His head cleared somewhat, and his vision steadied. He could now look across the room without feeling nauseous. He dried his face with a sleeve and checked the time. According to his watch, he had been out for about six hours. He sat down and tried to contact Megabyte, *Megabyte, you read me?*
Megabyte replied immediately, relief clear in his voice, *Adam! You're awake! We were wondering when you were going to come around.*
*Yeah, I... We?*
*Hang on a sec.* A double flash of light blinded Adam for a moment. When he blinked his eyes clear, Megabyte and Elizabeth stood before him.
Adam rose to embrace Elizabeth, "You're alright!"
She smiled, "Thanks to you."
Adam moved over so the three friends could sit down together. Elizabeth continued, "After running
every possible test on me and coming up with no explanation for my recovery, they finally let me go. I left the hospital a couple of hours ago."
At Adam's amazed look, Megabyte grinned, "Yeah, those doctors practically had fits trying to figure out how she got well so quick. After a few days of observation, they let her go home."
Adam rubbed his temple, trying to think clearly, "A few days? How long was I out?"
Elizabeth looked somber, "Four days." Adam looked shocked. "Megabyte's been shuttling back and forth between here and the hospital, trying to keep an eye on both of us. He's been with either you or me the entire time."
At Adam's glance, Megabyte shrugged slightly, "Hey, it got me out of school for a while. Seriously though, I was frightened. You didn't move, never woke up, and mumbled most of the time. I even thought about getting my dad to put you into one of the hospitals nearby under an assumed name. The ship told me that you would be better off here, though, so I left you."
Elizabeth gave them both a startled glance, "The _ship_ told you?"
Megabyte grinned, "I guess we forgot to mention it. The ship talks."
She looked amazed, "Yeah, I guess you did."
Adam placed a hand on Megabyte's shoulder and looked him in the eye, "Thank you, Megabyte. You'll never know how much I appreciate you looking out for me."
Megabyte shrugged, "No big deal. I know you'd do the same for me."
Adam grinned, then winced. He put a hand to his temple, "So, what day is it?"
He groaned and ran his hand over his eyes wearily.
Megabyte looked at him with concern, "No offense, man, but you look like crud."
Adam yawned widely, "Well, I feel like it. You'd think after four days of solid sleep, I'd be wide awake. I'm going back to bed." He stood and swayed for a moment, waving off their offers of help. "I'll see you guys tomorrow." He shuffled slowly back to his room.
Elizabeth turned to Megabyte, "Will he be okay?"
"Yeah, like I said, when he gets his energy back, he'll be fine. But I think I'll come by in a couple of hours to see how he's doing."
"Want to come over to my house? Kathy left a message while I was in the hospital, she won't be back for another week and I don't feel like being alone."
"Sure, besides, after what's been going on, I wouldn't want you to be by yourself."
They teleported to her house. Elizabeth made sure all the doors and windows were secured. She turned on the light beside the couch and the two friends sat down. "Speaking of being alone, before I left the hospital, the police told me they were considering putting me in protective custody until they find the guy who broke in."
"What did you say?"
She grinned wryly, "What do you think? I said no. I've had previous experience with their so-called protective custody and I'd rather not have to go through that again."
"Previous experience? How?"
She sighed and tucked her legs underneath her, "My father had a gambling problem. He was constantly borrowing money from various people in the city. He owed a large sum to Michael Varael. He was a very dangerous man with, I was told, many connections in the mob. One night, three men who worked for Varael came to my house and demanded that my father pay the money he owed. When my father was unable to produce the money, they shot him. My mother ran to him, cursing the three men, and they killed her, too. I was in the hallway and saw the whole thing."
Megabyte listened with horrified fascination, "How did you get away?"
"I crawled out of my bedroom window and ran to my neighbor's house." She grinned wryly, "Sound familiar? The police put me in protective custody, but those men found me anyway."
"There was a cop who also owed Varael a lot of money. He was blackmailed into giving out certain information about people who were in custody. He is the one who told Varael's men where I was." Her eyes were unfocused as she remembered the past, "They broke the front door down. I had been asleep, but woke up and cowered under the bed as I heard the shots. They began to search the safe-house for me. Just as they reached my room, the back-up watch showed up. A total of three police officers were killed, including my betrayer, and only one of the gunmen survived. The gunman was prosecuted, and in return for a lighter sentence, turned state's evidence on Varael, who was then tried and sentenced to life in prison." Her eyes refocused on Megabyte's concerned face, "The wives of the officers who had been killed helped get me back on my feet, but no one was able to take me in. I got bumped from one foster home to another until I entered college. That's when I learned something startling." She paused, a fond smile appeared on her lips.
Megabyte was curious, "What did you learn?"
"The officers of that precinct had set up a college fund for me. I don't know why, but they had gathered enough money to let me stay in school for as long as I need. When I finish my education, whatever money is left over, I can keep. I've been very grateful for all their help and support and I still keep in contact with them. We let each other know what's going on. Although, I don't think I can tell them about being a Tomorrow Person. I don't think they would understand."
"No, I don't think they'd understand, either. How long ago did this happen?"
"Five years. I was fourteen at the time," by this time her hands were trembling and her voice shook slightly from the recitation.
Megabyte put a hand over hers, "I'm sorry. You're safe now, and you're not alone."
She smiled up at him gratefully, "Thanks, Megabyte. Thanks a lot."
"You're welcome." He glanced at his watch and winced, "Look, I gotta go. Are you going to be okay by yourself tonight?"
"Yeah. If anything happens, I'll go to the spaceship."
Megabyte teleported home and Elizabeth readied herself for bed.
She had been asleep for several hours when she heard Adam shout, *No!*
She quickly sat up in bed, *Adam? What's wrong?*
His reply was a bit groggy, *Sorry?*
*You were shouting. Is anything the matter?*
She heard him sigh, *Nightmare. Sorry for waking you.*
*That's alright.* She settled herself back on her pillow and had begun to drift off when Adam spoke again, *Elizabeth?*
She opened her eyes, *Yes?*
*Would you...? Do you...?* he sounded a bit embarrassed.
Elizabeth made a guess as to what was wrong, *Would you like to come over? I know how much I hate to being alone after a nightmare.*
Adam sounded relieved, *If it's not too much trouble.*
*No trouble. Bring your blankets.*
A minute later, she heard Adam teleport into her living room. She went out to meet him. His dark hair was damp and his breathing was still a bit unsteady. He grinned sheepishly at her, "I really am sorry."
She smiled, "S'alright. Care to tell me about it? Sometimes it helps."
He shook his head regretfully, "I don't remember much. Just felt like I was being smothered. Woke up gasping for air."
She nodded, "You mind sleeping on the couch."
"No, the couch is fine. Goodnight."
"Goodnight." She left him to spread his blankets.
He stopped her, "Elizabeth? Thank you."
She gave him a smile over her shoulder and went to her room. She felt a lot more secure knowing that she wasn't alone, and she was sure that Adam felt the same way. She fell back to sleep felling safe.
Elizabeth woke to the smell of bacon and coffee. She stretched, enjoying the warmth of the sun shining through her window. She debated with herself about going back to sleep, then checked the clock. She sighed, 'Ten thirty. Way past time to get out of bed.' She slid out of bed and pulled on a pair of jeans and a t-shirt. She went to the bathroom, washed her face, and ran a brush through her hair. That done, she followed her nose through the living room and into the kitchen. She noticed that Adam had straightened the couch up and had apparently left to change before starting breakfast.
He looked up from the stove as she came in and smiled at her, "Good morning. Breakfast?"
She nodded, "You cook?"
He shrugged, "A bit. I don't get much of a chance to."
"What are you making? It smells wonderful."
"Bacon, eggs, and I found a box of pancake mix in one of the cupboards. Hope you don't mind."
"That's alright. I bought it a couple of weeks ago, but haven't had the opportunity to use it. It smells heavenly."
He grinned, "For that, you can have an extra pancake."
Giggling, she went over to the phone and dialed, "Mrs. Vaghn? This is Elizabeth Gardener. I'm calling about the last few days. ... Yes ma'am, I know. I've been in the hospital for the past four days. I had a severe allergic reaction to a spider bite. ... Much better, thank you, but the doctor told me that I need a few more days of rest. Do you mind? ... Thank you. ... I will. Thanks again." She turned back to the table as Adam put down two plates full of food. "Well, I've got a few more days off from work. I don't know what I'm going to do with myself."
The two ate in silence for awhile, each absorbed in their own thoughts. Adam cleared his throat, "Thanks again for the use of your couch last night."
"To be honest, I'm glad you came over. I hadn't realized how nervous I had been about staying here alone until you showed up."
Adam chuckled, "First time one of my nightmares was mutually beneficial." He finished his breakfast and began cleaning up the mess.
Elizabeth started on the dishes, "So what next?"
Adam sighed and leaned up against the counter. "I don't know. Obviously, someone's after you. We need to find out who it is and soon." He smiled wanly at her, "I'm not too sure how many more times I can heal you before I burn myself out."
One end of her mouth twitched up, "I'll do my best not to get injured again."
"See that you do." They stared at one another solemnly for a moment before bursting into laughter.
At that moment, Megabyte appeared in the kitchen, "What's so funny?"
Elizabeth shook her head, her dark hair making a halo around her. She wiped at her eyes, "Nothing. Here. Adam cooked breakfast. Want some?"
Megabyte seated himself at the table and stared at Adam, "You cook?"
"Why does everyone keep asking me that? Yes, I cook. Now eat." He placed the food on the table where it quickly disappeared.
"Not bad, Adam. I'll have to have you cook more often."
"It's definitely better than your cooking."
Megabyte shrugged good-naturedly, "So, what do we do next?"
"We don't have anything to go on. We need to find out who it is, I don't want anything else happening to Elizabeth."
"I don't like being a target. I don't know how much more of this I can take. What can we do?"
Megabyte sat and thought for a while, "We could talk to my dad. This is more his line of work. If anyone can, I'm sure my dad can figure out a way to protect you, Elizabeth, if you want."
"I'm game. I think I'd do just about anything to get this goon off my back."
Adam nodded, "Sounds like a good idea. I hope he can help." He took up one of Elizabeth's hands, "Since you've never been there before, I'll help you teleport." She nodded and the three disappeared in a flash of light.
Two hours later, the three teenagers had finished explaining their story to General Damon. Megabyte spoke up, "Is there anything you can do to help, dad?"
Damon looked at Elizabeth who sat quietly in her chair looking at her lap. She was a bit pale after the recitation and her hands shook. "So there have been three attempts on your life in the past week, correct?"
"Yes. The first was on the Tuesday of last week. Someone drove by in their car and shot me. That's when I discovered I was a Tomorrow Person." She glanced up briefly at Adam and Megabyte before dropping her gaze again. "The second was five days ago, when a burglar broke in and came after me. The third was the spiders in my purse. I figure the burglar and the spider incident are related, but the drive-by was probably just a coincidence."
General Damon shook his head, "I don't believe in coincidences. It sounds as if someone may have your house under surveillance. Perhaps not all the time, but long enough to know when you're out and when you're by yourself. If you like, I can have some of my men check for any devices in your house, as well as the surrounding areas for any suspicious characters."
Elizabeth finally looked up with a small smile on her face, "Thank you, General Damon, that would be most helpful."
"They'll be disguised as exterminators."
Megabyte chuckled, "Fitting."
Elizabeth stuck her tongue out at him, "Be nice."
Damon continued, "We can also have someone keep an eye on the premises in case anyone shows up."
Adam spoke up, "Do you have any objection to either Megabyte or myself staying with her until this is over?"
"That shouldn't be a problem. Just let us know where you're going before you leave the house so we can at least attempt to keep an eye on you."
"How about issuing her a mobile phone?" Adam suggested. "That way, if she has to teleport for some reason, she can let you know."
"That's not a bad idea. Wait here. One will be ready for you when you reach the front door." General left the three teenagers. He came back a few minutes later. "Everything's all set. The 'exterminators' will be by in a couple of hours. Now, I suggest that you don't go wandering the city. We'll have a greater chance of catching him if you stay put."
Elizabeth nodded tiredly, "May we go now?"
"Yes, and kids? Be careful."
The trio nodded, walked out of his office and down the stairs. At the front door, Elizabeth spend several minutes filling out paper work before she was given the phone. Megabyte grinned at her disgusted look, "Well, you heard what the man said, we stay put. He's got everything under control."
"Come on guys, we can have dinner at my house. At least then we'll be following orders." The three found a secluded area and teleported back to Elizabeth's house.
The three teens had relaxed a bit. It had been three days and all had been quiet. 'Perhaps who ever it was got tired and went away,' Elizabeth thought hopefully. She had again invited Adam and Megabyte over for dinner. After dinner, Megabyte found himself stuck with the dishes, "Why am I doing all the dishes?"
"Because it's my house."
"And I did the cooking, " Adam interjected.
Megabyte grumbled to himself as Adam and Elizabeth grinned.
"You guys want to spend the night? I'd feel better if you did."
"Let me go home, tell my dad, and get my gear together." Megabyte teleported home. He returned a few minutes later and Adam went to the spaceship for his things.
"I'm sure Kathy wouldn't mind if one of you used her room for the night."
"Thanks Elizabeth." Megabyte pulled out a quarter, "Flip you for the bed, Adam."
The coin flipped in the air and landed heads up. "Sorry, buddy, guess you sleep on the couch tonight," Megabyte patted Adam's shoulder and grinned.
Adam shrugged as Elizabeth hid a smile, "Goodnight guys. Pleasant dreams."
Elizabeth and Megabyte headed down the hall, and she pointed out Kathy's room to him. Adam spread his blankets out on the couch and, within a few minutes, all three teenagers were sound asleep.
Elizabeth tossed and turned in her bed. She felt like she was being suffocated. She woke with a start, sweat pouring from her body. A shout welled up in her throat. 'A nightmare. It was just a nightmare.' She took a deep breath to relax when she heard a noise in the living room. *Adam?* All she caught was a jumble of panicked thoughts from Adam and the fact that he was having difficulty breathing. She ran to her door and threw it open.
Megabyte came barreling out of his room at the same time, "Adam!" he shouted.
They both saw a flash of light and knew that Adam had teleported out. They also heard a snarl of frustration and someone run out of the front door. Megabyte ran to stop him when Elizabeth cried out, "Megabyte, Adam's not responding!"
The two instantly teleported into the ocean and searched desperately for Adam. They found him sinking towards the bottom, unconscious. They grabbed hold of him at the same time and teleported to the spaceship.
The three teens were soaked to the skin. Elizabeth impatiently shook the water out of her eyes as she checked on Adam. "Oh, God!" she moaned, "He's not breathing."
Megabyte laid Adam on his back and quickly tilted the unconscious teen's head back, pinched his nose, and breathed into his mouth. Once, twice, three times he breathed before Adam drew a shuddering breath of his own and began to cough. They rolled him onto his side as he retched, coughing up all the water that was in his lungs. Finally, he quieted down, but did not awaken. They exchanged worried looks, "I'm going to let my dad know what happened. Keep an eye on him, okay?"
She nodded mutely, *Be careful.*
Megabyte vanished. Elizabeth sat in shock, then shook herself into action when she noticed Adam shivering. She left him long enough to grab the extra blankets he kept stored in his room, one of which she tucked around him, the other she wrapped about herself. Soon, Adam stopped shivering and, a couple of minutes later, Elizabeth was happy to see Adam open his eyes. He glanced about incomprehensibly for a moment before locking his brown eyes with her black ones. "The spaceship?" his voice raspy.
"Yes." *Megabyte, Adam's awake.*
*Good. Dad wants to see all of us. Can he teleport to the office?*
She glanced at Adam who nodded, *We'll be right there.*
Adam sat up painfully and grasped Elizabeth's hand. They teleported together to General Damon's office.
When General Damon entered his office, he was shocked to see the appearances of the three teenagers inside. All three were soaking wet. Elizabeth was sitting in a chair, wrapped in a blanket. Her black eyes were alight with fear and fury. Megabyte paced in front of the desk, tension evident in his shoulders, his red hair plastered to his head. Adam was also wrapped in a blanket. He was propped against the wall, sitting on the floor, his face pale and eyes closed.
He turned to his son, "What happened?"
"Someone broke into my house and tried to kill Adam, that's what happened," Elizabeth's voice was cold with anger.
"I awoke with someone trying to smother me with a pillow," Adam's voice sounded tired and he didn't open his eyes. "Whoever it was, was distracted for a moment when Megabyte yelled out my name."
"You're all soaked to the skin. How did that happen?"
Megabyte moved forward, "He teleported just before he lost consciousness. Elizabeth and I had to get him out of the water before he drowned."
General Damon turned back to Adam, "Did you see who it was?" Adam shook his head. "Did he say anything?"
Adam was silent for a while, "I think so. I don't remember."
"Adam, I know this is difficult, but I need you to remember."
Megabyte stepped between his father and Adam, "Leave him alone. Can't you see he's exhausted?"
"I understand that, Megabyte. But the more information we can get on this guy now, the faster we'll be able to catch him."
Adam looked up. Damon was shocked to see the dark circles under the boy's eyes. "I don't remember, but we can do a mind merge to get the information."
Megabyte bit his lower lip, "Are you sure you want to do this, Adam? We can wait until tomorrow."
"No, let's get this over with." He motioned for Megabyte and Elizabeth to sit on the floor. Freeing his arms from the blanket, he raised his hands out. General Damon stood back as his son and Elizabeth echoed the movement, palms almost touching. All three closed their eyes. A blue glow joined their hands together and filled the space between them.
General Damon watched in fascination as the moment of the attack replayed itself. There was darkness, muffled breathing, and a voice that said, "You won't get away from Varael this time." Then the flash of light that accompanies teleportaton, what looked like water, and then nothing.
Elizabeth had turned pale at the mention of Varael. During the mind merge, Adam's breathing had become increasingly more erratic and his heart rate had jumped up. The three teens dropped their hands and the glow disappeared. Elizabeth gave a strangled cry and General Damon raced forward as Adam passed out. Megabyte reached him first, touched his wrist, and let his eyes glaze over slightly as he tried to communicate with Adam. He blinked up at his dad. "He'll be okay. The strain of re-living it was a bit too much for him. I'm going to get him to his place and put him to bed. I'll be back." He gave an encouraging smile to Elizabeth before disappearing with Adam.
Damon stared at the spot where the two boys had been for a moment. Then he went to his desk and picked up the phone. He spent several minutes speaking tersely in a voice too low for Elizabeth to hear. He hung up finally, his features set in grim lines. He turned to Elizabeth who was once again perched on the chair. "What did he mean by 're-living' it?"
She shrugged a bit, "I'm not entirely sure. I've only done a mind merge once before. but, I think all the feelings and emotions of an event that we recreate are present during the mind merge and can be felt by certain people."
"Exactly." They both jumped as Megabyte teleported back, "And the sooner its done after the event, the more powerful the feelings are. That's why I wanted Adam to wait. Since he had just gone through it, experiencing it again so soon overloaded his already rattled system."
"Will he be alright?" Damon was concerned.
Megabyte sighed and ran a hand through his hair, "Yes. Once we got to the ship, Adam revived enough to change his clothes and crash into bed. Until he regains his strength though, I don't think he'll be going anywhere soon." Megabyte chuckled, "He did mention that he didn't expect to be sleeping so much, even if it was a school break."
"Yeah, no thanks to me," Elizabeth sounded miserable.
"No one blames you, especially not Adam," he put a hand on her shoulder.
General Damon cleared his throat, "I'm glad he's going to be alright. But I'd like to get back to the situation at hand. Now, Elizabeth, I know you recognize the name Varael. What I need to know is _how_ you know him."
Elizabeth and Megabyte exchanged glances, "I thought he was in jail."
General Damon gave his son a strange look, "He was, until he escaped during a prison riot over a month ago. Now, what do you know about him?"
She was silent for a while, her hands clenched tightly in her lap, knuckles white, "Varael had my parents murdered five years ago. I saw the whole thing and was to testify against him. While in protective custody, he blackmailed a police officer into telling him where I was. He came after me and almost succeeded in killing me. At the trial, he vowed he'd kill me."
"Why did it take him so long to come after you, if he was so set on revenge?"
She shrugged, "It probably took him this long to track me down. I've moved a couple of times since my parents' deaths."
Megabyte interrupted, "How are we going to bag this guy? I mean, he got past the men you had set to watch the house. What's to keep him from succeeding the next time?"
"We can use a decoy. We'll take Elizabeth to a safe house, and we'll have an officer stay at her house."
"And I'll be...?"
"At the spaceship. It's the best way to make sure you're safe and that we can capture Varael."
She said, "Okay, fine. Whatever. But I'm not doing anything more tonight."
"I think we should get this set up now. I'll need you to..."
"No!" she exploded, slicing the air with her hand. "No more. You know who he is. You know what he looks like. You deal with it. I'm outta here." Without another word, Elizabeth disappeared in a flash of light.
General Damon was struck speechless by her ferocity. Megabyte massaged his temple, "She's right, you know."
"You don't really need her for anything. You know who the guy is, all you have to do is pick him up. He's an escaped criminal, so it isn't as if you have to get any evidence on him."
"She's the one he's after. We stand a better chance at capturing him if she cooperates."
"My advice to you, dad? Give her some time. She's shook up right now, but she'll come around. Don't push her." Megabyte then teleported out of the office.
General Damon sat at his desk for a moment, marveling at how much his son had matured in the few past few years. Then, he picked up his phone, "This is General Damon. Listen closely."
Megabyte reappeared in the spaceship and walked down the tunnel to Adam's room. Elizabeth looked up, startled. She grinned and put a finger to her lips, "Don't wake Adam," she whispered.
Megabyte eased the rest of the way into the room, "He doing okay?"
She nodded, "He was awake when I got here. Said he thought we'd be by. He put out some bedding for us."
"That's Adam. Always looking out for others."
She smiled wryly, "Look. About..." she trailed off. "I want to apologize. I shouldn't have yelled at your dad like that."
"Don't worry about it. Tell you the truth, I wish I had the nerve to do that more often, myself. He deserved it. When he's working, he becomes completely single-minded. We'll deal with him tomorrow. Get some sleep, okay?"
"Night." They were both asleep within minutes.
She opened her black eyes, confused by the metal ceiling. After a moment, she remembered, 'Oh, I'm at the spaceship.' She turned to see Megabyte still asleep against the wall. Everything but the top of his head was covered in blankets. She grinned and sat up.
Adam was sitting cross-legged on his futon. He regarded her solemnly for a moment, then broke into a smile, "Morning."
"Care for some breakfast?"
He shook his head, "No, the ship is."
"The ship cooks?" she asked incredulously.
"Sure does. Come on, I'll show you."
After breakfast, the three teens spent the rest of the morning on the beach, 'recuperating,' as Adam put it. Wading in the ocean and laying out on the sand soaking in the sun. If nothing else, at least it helped the trio relax. Muscles they didn't even know were tense started to loosen.
Elizabeth flopped in the sand next to where Adam was laying out. "I could easily spend the rest of my life doing this."
Megabyte ran from the edge of the ocean and landed next to them, sending sand flying in all directions, "Oh, I don't know. It'd get kind of boring after awhile." He ducked as two handfuls of sand were tossed at him. "Watch it!"
Elizabeth giggled and poured more sand on Megabyte's head. Adam leaned on his elbow, "Your landing could use some work."
"Okay, okay. Sheesh. I give up."
"The ocean is so beautiful. I think I'll buy a house by the sea one day. Anything to get out of the city." Elizabeth made designs in the sand with her fingers. The three friends watched the waves lap the shore for a while, each absorbed in their own thoughts. Finally, Elizabeth stood up and began brushing sand off her wet clothes. "I sure am glad I decided to leave some _dry_ clothing here."
"Go ahead and change. Megabyte and I will wait till you're ready. Then, we should see what General Damon has in store for us today."
Elizabeth stuck her tongue out before vanishing, *Spoil sport.*
They had been waiting, impatiently, in General Damon's office for three hours. "He said he would only be a few minutes," Elizabeth fumed.
"Ha," Megabyte laughed. "That's dad talk for two and a half hours."
"Well, he's still late. I don't have any desire to spend all day here."
"What's the rush?"
"Look. I've been out of work for over a week. I'm not missing another day. I'm supposed to be in in a couple of hours."
General Damon came walking in at that moment, "Well, you're going to have to call in sick today. We need to get you to a safe-house until Vareal is caught."
"No. I've been off too long as it is. I can't afford not to work. Any more time off, and I'll have to find myself a new job."
"I'm afraid I have to insist that you go to the safe-house and not to work. Varael probably knows where you work, it will be too dangerous."
She leveled a steely glare at the older man, "General Damon, I'm going to work, with or without your 'permission.'" Talking a good look into her face, General Damon realized that she was serious. 'And there isn't anything I can do to stop her, either.' He heaved a sigh and thought for a moment, "Where do you work?"
"At a day care center on Spirit street."
"Alright, you can go to work."
"Thank you so much, " she said, dryly.
He ignored that and picked up the phone, "Get me Paterson."
A man in his mid-thirties appeared at General Damon's door a couple of minutes later. His hair was a steely gray and cropped close to his scalp. He stood in front of the desk, his back ram-rod straight, face impassive. "You called for me, sir?"
"Paterson, I want you to escort Ms. Gardener here to her work place and then to the designated safe-house when she's finished."
Elizabeth spoke up, "Is this really necessary?"
"Yes," nodded General Damon.
"Fine, but he'll have to wait outside."
"That is not an acceptable option."
"Mrs. Vaghn won't let him just hang around. He'll scare the children." She stared at General Damon with her angry black eyes.
Adam put a hand on her shoulder, stilling her before she said something she'd regret. "Megabyte and I can go in with her to keep an eye out. Can that be arranged?"
Elizabeth nodded, relaxing a bit, "We frequently have some of the high school kids volunteer for an afternoon or two. Mrs. Vaghn would be thrilled to see you two."
General Damon turned to Paterson, "I want you to keep an eye on the premises. Make sure no one is lurking about. I'd have you go in with her," he exchanged glances with Elizabeth, "but I'm afraid I have to agree, you wouldn't blend in very well."
"I understand, sir." Paterson turned to Elizabeth, "Ms. Gardener, what exactly is your schedule for today?"
She glanced at her watch, "I have to be there in about two and a half hours. The place closes at 5 pm and I clean up afterward and generally leave around 6."
General Damon stood, "Then I expect you at the safe-house no later than 6:30. Leave at or before 6. The longer she's exposed, the more of a target she'll be."
Paterson saluted, "Yes, sir. Miss?" He opened the door to usher her out.
"We'll meet you there," Adam said. "It'd look better if we show up separately."
Elizabeth nodded and the door closed between them.
General Damon heaved a sigh of relief, "I hope she knows what she's doing."
"She does," Adam affirmed.
"And it's not like she'll be alone in this," Megabyte added.
"True. I just hope this works." Damon gave another sigh as he watched the two teens vanish in a double flash of light. 'Please let this work,' he prayed.
Michael Varael sat in his car two blocks away from the day care center on Spirit street, watching the cars and buses pull up to the small building. He checked his watch, 'All right, Elizabeth Gardener, you should be here any moment now, and we can conclude this.' He watched as another schoolbus passed him. A dozen children leaped off the bus and ran into the center, pushing and laughing with each other. There were several teenagers as well, but that was to be expected. Varael had checked the center out thoroughly and knew that some of the students from the local high school volunteered to help out with the younger children. He straightened suddenly as he saw Elizabeth cross the street and run up the walk to the center. She stopped to greet several of the children, and entered the center grinning with a child under each arm and several others following her as if she were the Pied Piper.
He started the car and smoothly pulled out onto the street. It wouldn't do for him to be noticed hanging around so early in the game. Now that he was certain that she was going to work, he knew that he would have several hours to prepare before he needed to act. He decided that a drive through the city would help calm his nerves and give him time to think. As he passed the center, he noticed Paterson unobtrusively parking his car behind some bushes off to the side. He recognized the man from his informant within the Bureau. The guy was ex-military, smart, but followed orders to the letter. Varael smiled thinly, 'Go ahead and watch. But you won't see a thing till it's too late.'
Varael drove around for a while, thinking. He had been a successful business man, still was, to a certain extent. He always flourished well in whatever venture he had dabbled in and had never failed in anything. Never, that is, until the night that his men had murdered Mr. and Mrs. Gardener. 'Very sloppy, that. They were too impetuous. Their orders had been to scare the man into providing the money quicker, not kill him. You can't collect gambling debts from a dead man.'
Varael scowled as he thought about the past few years. After being sentenced life in prison, he had used his extensive underground connections to keep him informed of what went on in the "real world." He had given specific instructions concerning the Gardener girl. She was to be watched, but not harmed. His men were curious about that, 'But they know well enough that it doesn't pay to nose around in my business.'
After the prison riot, in which he had escaped, 'And that rat who turned state's evidence on me was conveniently disposed of,' he had come to this city and spent time personally familiarizing himself with Elizabeth's schedules and habits. He had even obtained a copy of the key to her house by telling the gentleman who owned it that he was interesting in renting in the area and would like to check the place out. He chuckled to himself at the memory, 'Some people are so gullible.'
As Varael cruised the streets, he thought about the occurrences of the past week:
Varael drove along the cliff roads above the city. As he turned a corner, he recognized Elizabeth's car and spotted the young woman by the railing - stargazing. He checked the area quickly, all was quiet for now. He knew it was impatient and impulsive of him, he could get at the girl at any time, now, but it was too good an opportunity to miss. He slowed the car down and rolled down the window. Pulling his gun from his holster, he took careful aim, 'If I hit her, good, I can then get on to other business. If not, well, there's no reason I can't spend some time terrorizing her. Make her an emotional wreck. Serve her right, after all that I've been through, if her life turned into a living hell, overnight.' He pulled the trigger and knew instantly that his aim had been true. He watched her stagger into the railing and go over the side. Her scream came to a sudden, satisfying stop. He quickly drove away, pulse racing joyfully. His joy was short-lived, though. When he finally got to the bottom of the cliff side, to the place where Elizabeth should have been lying, broken and bleeding, there was no sign of her at all. He searched a while - all he could find was the shattered remains of the railing. The next morning, he did some careful questioning around the area. He found out that not only had Elizabeth made it safely home, but she was not sporting any visible injuries. 'I don't understand this. I hit her, saw her fall. How could she have survived?' He was now even more determined to see her dead.
The next day, he took the key he had obtained earlier and entered her home. He thought she was gone for the day, though to be honest, he hadn't checked to make sure. He patted a small bag at his side. It was filled with some extremely poisonous spiders that he had acquired from one of his contacts. He wanted to place them where Elizabeth would be sure to be bitten by one. 'Her bedroom. Perhaps in a drawer.' He heard her call out, and froze for a moment, in the middle of her living room, to try to get a fix on which direction her voice had come from. A few moments later, he heard a door close at the end of the right hallway. He pulled his gun and quietly moved towards the room. He could hear her moving about in there and he tried the door. 'Locked, blast it.' He put his shoulder to the door, once, twice, on the third hit, the door flew open on its hinges. He raced in to find the girl gone, "Damn it!" He raced to the open window, but didn't see her anywhere. He quickly retraced his steps to the living room, took out the small bag, and grabbed up a purse that was lying on the floor next to the couch. Very carefully, Varael opened both bag and purse and poured the deadly contents into the purse. He snapped it shut, "Rest well, my lovelies. Do your job well." He replaced the purse and then left the house as fast as he could without attracting attention.
Again, later inquiries told him that Elizabeth had indeed been bitten by one of his spiders and was in a coma at the local hospital. At that point, some of Varael's business associates had suggested that he arrange for her to tragically die in the hospital, but Varael had dismissed them. "If she dies on her own, fine. If, by some miracle, she survives, then I wish to continue the game, my way. There is no way I can enter that hospital myself, without being spotted and perhaps arrested. And I will allow no one to kill this girl but me. Is that completely understood?" No one opposed his decision, he was too powerful, too dangerous, and deadly serious. Putting some pressure on an orderly who owed him a few favors, Varael received hourly reports on Elizabeth's condition. He had been astounded, awed, and furious, all at once, when he heard about her remarkable recovery. "Can anyone have so much good luck?" He had even petitioned the gods, "Is it too much to ask that this girl dies?" There had been no answer, not that he was expecting one. He figured he wouldn't be getting many more chances on Elizabeth's life before he would have to give up on his personal vendetta. His backers were becoming impatient and, although he was powerful in his own right, it wasn't wise to annoy them.
When she was released from the hospital, Varael watched from across the street as she exited the taxi she had taken, accompanied by a red-headed youth. He smiled as the boy spoke briefly to Elizabeth and left her to enter her home alone. Varael kept watch the rest of the day, and as night fell, he would have sworn on a stack of bibles (had he been a religious man) that she was completely alone in the house. Very quietly, he entered the house and grinned silently to himself as he made out Elizabeth's sleeping form on the couch, 'Couldn't stand sleeping in your own room, could you?' Varael picked up a throw pillow from one of the armchairs and silently ghosted up to the couch. He then jammed the pillow over her face and pressed down with all his might, trying to smother her. As her struggles became weaker and her screams fainter, Varael, high on adrenaline and glad he was finally getting rid of this thorn in his side, murmured satisfyingly, "You won't get away from Varael this time." The next thing he knew, he heard doors opening, and thudding footsteps from down the hall. A male voice shouted something. Startled, Varael had let up the pressure for a second and the person that he had thought was Elizabeth half-blinded him with some type of flash bulb. He snarled a curse and stumbled out of the house as fast as he could. 'You've really messed up this time, Varael. Now the girl knows who is after her. This has to be finished, and quickly.'
His backers had been very displeased with him. They reminded Varael of how professional they usually found him to be. "But you have allowed yourself to become emotionally involved. That is unacceptable, and dangerous. We have arranged safe passage for you out of this state. We advise that you cut your losses and begin again anew elsewhere."
Varael was upset at this betrayal, as he thought of it. What business was it of theirs if he decided to dedicate his time to tracking down and hunting this girl? He realized that he only had one more chance to kill Elizabeth if he wanted to keep his allies. "Gentlemen. Allow me twenty-four hours to complete what I have begun. If I have not finished this business by then, I promise to forget about the Gardener girl and concentrate on my other transactions. Are we agreed?" They were.
(Back to the present)
Michael Varael looked at his watch. It read 5:02 pm. 'Time to head back and finish what I started.' He circled around to the center and parked along a side street a block away. He checked that his gun was in place and loaded before stepping out of the car. He smoothed his jacket, straightened his tie, and casually crossed the street, all the while checking for Paterson. He whistled softly as he zeroed in on Paterson's position, 'The man's very good at what he does. If I hadn't seen him earlier, and knew who he was, I'd never have spotted or suspected him.' Varael skirted the building, keeping out of Paterson's sight, and situated himself near a window, where he could hear everything that was going on. By listening, he discovered that the only occupants of the building were his target, the operator of the center, and two teenage boys. Listening carefully, he could hear their chatter.
"Hey Elizabeth," one of the boys said, his accent unmistakably Australian, "Help me move this table so I can reach the rest of the blocks."
"What's Megabyte doing?" Elizabeth asked.
The boy responded, "He's about to get us the mop, aren't you, Megabyte?"
Varael heard the boy sigh, "Sure, Adam. Whatever you say." He heard the boy leave the room. Varael frowned, for some reason, that voice sounded familiar. He put it out of his mind as Elizabeth spoke again.
"What are you going to do later today, Adam?"
"I was thinking of a swim. Want to join me?"
Varael heard the rattle of a bucket and a small groan as the bucket was set on the ground, "Those kids sure can get heavy."
The owner laughed, "Well, young man, no one said you _had_ to play Cowboys and Indians with them."
"Just remind me, next time, not to be the horse." They all laughed, then Megabyte whistled, "Oops, my ride'll be here any minute. I gotta go. Thanks for letting me help out, Mrs. Vaghn."
Mrs. Vaghn responded brightly, "Thank you for volunteering. I can't tell you how much I've appreciate it."
"No problem. See you later Elizabeth, Adam." The two youths said their goodbyes and Varael listened as Megabyte left the center.
'I better make my move, there's no telling when someone else might show up. Now's a good a time as any.' Varael began to ease his way towards the back door, keeping an ear out on those still inside.
"Mrs. Vaghn, what time tomorrow would you like me in?"
"How about the same time as today? After being so sick, I don't want you pushing yourself too hard. Once you've gotten your strength back, you can come in earlier."
Varael strode through the back door and into the room. He leveled his gun at the three. "I'm afraid she's not going to be able to make it in tomorrow." He grinned unpleasantly and addressed Elizabeth, "You've caused me a lot of trouble, my dear."
He could see that she was terrified, but she tried not to let it show, "I'm not your 'dear'."
Varael chuckled as he glanced at the other two. Mrs. Vaghn looked like she was in shock. Her face was a pasty color and her breathing was labored. He noticed the boy with the Australian accent moving closer to Mrs. Vaghn, a concerned look on his face. Varael quickly aimed the gun at him, "If you value your hide, you'll stay right there." Varael saw Adam shiver at his tone and stop where he was. He watched as the boy's eyes glazed over for a moment, but he was satisfied that Adam wouldn't be going anywhere any time soon. He refocused his attention on Elizabeth. "I would love to subjugate you to many years of torment. To make you suffer as I have suffered. Unfortunately, I really don't have the time." He cocked the hammer back with his thumb. Elizabeth winced at the sound, but didn't say a word. "Goodbye, Elizabeth." His voice was filled with regret, "I'm sorry we can't continue this game anymore." He watched as she drew in a breath and closed her eyes. A shot rang out and a pained scream echoed in the room.
Elizabeth opened her eyes tentatively, surprised to still find herself alive. She saw Varael on the floor clutching his shoulder. A red stain spread from under his fingers. Looking beyond Varael, towards the door, she saw Paterson standing at the door, gun in hand. Megabyte stood behind him, looking slightly ill. Paterson holstered his gun, "Is everyone all right here?" Elizabeth nodded as Adam checked on Mrs. Vaghn, who had quietly fainted. Paterson pulled out his cellular phone and spoke tersely into it. "Get me General Damon. ... Sir? We got him. Send an ambulance and some backup. ... No, she's fine. Varael won't be using his arm for some time, though. ... Yes, sir." He turned to the teenagers as he put the phone up, "General Damon will be here soon. He's asked you all to please stay here until he can speak with you."
Varael's forehead was dotted with sweat, his eyes dilated and unfocused. Adam watched as the man's face slowly drained of color. He came to a decision, "Elizabeth, where's the first aid kit?"
She looked startled, "It's next to the bathroom, in the box on the wall."
Adam ran out of the room and returned carrying the kit. He set it down by the injured man, just as Varael passed out. Paterson stepped forward, putting a restraining hand on Adam's shoulder. "Leave him alone. An ambulance will be here soon. The paramedics can deal with him."
Adam shrugged the hand off, exasperated, "I'm sorry, sir, but he's unconscious, loosing a lot of blood, and is going into shock."
"I can't take the chance that he'll try anything."
Adam narrowed his eyes dangerously, "He's not in any condition to 'try anything' and if I don't do something to help him, he might not make it till the ambulance gets here." Paterson thought a moment, then nodded and stepped back to give Adam some room. The teen knelt down by Varael and ripped the cloth away from the wound, wincing at all the blood. He turned pleading eyes to Megabyte and Elizabeth, who immediately knelt down beside him, concern on their faces. Not for Varael, but for Adam. Megabyte opened a bottle of alcohol and handed it to him. Adam took it with a nod of thanks and poured it on the wound. All three teens cringed a bit when Varael gave a moan of pain. Paterson paced the room, alternately checking the streets for reinforcements and making sure that Varael wasn't pretending to be more hurt than he was. Adam took some bandages and motioned for Megabyte to hold the pads in place while he wrapped up the shoulder. As Adam touched Varael, a slight glow appeared. Adam snatched his hand away as if he had been burned.
*Adam?* He blinked up at Megabyte and Elizabeth, relieved that Paterson hadn't noticed anything unusual. *I'm fine. Look, he's bleeding real bad. I'm not going to be able to live with myself if I don't do something about it.*
Elizabeth was concerned and she put a comforting hand on his shoulder, *Adam, you don't have to.*
He looked at her, his brown eyes filled with pain, *Yes I do. Besides, I don't think I have much of a choice. My powers seem to have gone on automatic. Can you distract Paterson for a minute? Please?*
She nodded and walked over to Paterson. Megabyte put a steadying hand on Adam's shoulder, *Watch yourself.*
*I will. I'm only going to stop the bleeding and reduce the shock. The paramedics can deal with the rest.* Making sure Paterson was occupied, Adam again placed his hand on Varael. The glow appeared almost immediately, bright in its intensity. Megabyte watched as the blood flow slowed and then stopped, a light scab covering the wound. Adam rubbed his temple and tried to blink back the dizziness. His hands shook so much that Megabyte had to finish wrapping up the shoulder. Varael's coloring had improved, but he remained unconscious.
Paterson came over and got a good look at Adam, "Are you okay, son?"
Megabyte helped Adam lean up against the wall. "Too much excitement can take a lot out of a guy. He'll be fine in a moment."
The three teens sat beside Mrs. Vaghn, who had regained consciousness shortly after. Fifteen minutes later, the paramedics arrived. Megabyte's father, and the authorities, showing up ten minutes later.
The three teens sat on the beach, drinking lemonade and enjoying the warmth of the sun. It had been two days since the arrest of Michael Varael, and all three of them felt the need for some rest and relaxation. Elizabeth stretched her arms and gave a sigh of relief. "Am I glad it's finally over." She rolled her shoulders and lay out on her towel.
Megabyte sipped at his lemonade, "So, what happens next?"
"General Damon said the trial will be in a month. Personally, I think it's just a formality. Varael's going to be put away for a very long time in a maximum security prison. I don't have to worry about him anymore." She shivered, "Don't know how my dreams will be for awhile, but at least he won't be around. I'm just glad Paterson showed up when he did." She thought for a moment, "How did he know just when to come in?"
"Megabyte and I had planned on having one of us hang around outside to keep an eye out for Varael. He just happened to show up quicker than we expected. I contacted Megabyte when Varael showed up and Megabyte got hold of Paterson."
Elizabeth shivered, "He almost got me, didn't he?"
Adam put his arm around her shoulders, "You're okay, now."
She smiled up at them and laughed softly, "Thanks to the two of you." She grinned, "You know, if anyone had told me two weeks ago that I would be able to communicate telepathically and teleport anywhere in the world I wanted, I would have thought they were crazy. But here I am. It's real. Maybe _I'm_ crazy."
"No more so than the rest of us," Megabyte mentioned.
"I rest my case," Elizabeth grinned and threw an ice cube at him.
"Hey!" He ducked behind Adam and threw an ice cube back.
Adam laughed and dodged out of the way as Elizabeth scored a hit on Megabyte with another ice cube. "Leave me out of it." He sat down just above the wave line and watched as the two tossed ice at each other for a few more minutes before growing tired of the game and dropping next to him.
"So, have you found out why your powers have been acting up lately?" Megabyte picked up a shell and tossed it into the ocean.
"Not really. I asked the ship, but..." he shrugged.
Elizabeth picked up a clam and tried to pry it open, "Why do you think is happening?"
"Personally?" She nodded and set down the clam. "I don't know. maybe after going so long at half power... I don't know. Perhaps the situations jumpstarted them and my powers just kicked into overtime." He shrugged again, at a loss as to how to explain.
"Why were you at half power?"
"Healed someone who was almost dead. My powers were almost non-existent for a while there. They've been gaining more and more strength since then."
Megabyte was excited, "Hey, that means you'll be at full power in no time. And have full control over them again."
Adam shrugged lightly, tracing a pattern in the sand, "Could be. I'm not going to push it though." He glanced at Elizabeth, a grin on his lips, "Especially if it means sleeping for days on end."
She playfully swatted at him, "Well, I for one am glad you pushed yourself." She stood up and brushed sand from her jeans. "I'm starving. Anyone for some Chinese?"
"Yeah. Adam and I know of this great restaurant."
"Where else? China?"
She laughed and the three friends vanished in a flash of light.
-copyright September 12, 1997