Tauranga, New Zealand.

Detective Sophia Nightingale was tired, her long black hair was streaked with grey, her eyes swollen from the lack of sleep. She tipped the last drops of coffee in her mouth before throwing he cardboard cup in the nearest rubbish bin.

The hall way was dimly lit and the blinding fluorescent light of the interrogation hurt her eyes. She squinted against the bright light.

"Ah, Inspector Nightingale." Sergeant Roberts said walking forwards and shaking the hand of the young woman. He blocked the light and Sophia was able to take in the features of the older man, his nose was long and pointed his eyes small and squinty.

"What was with this late call?" Sophia asked. In her two months of working at Tauranga Police station she had never been called in at three in the morning and she wasn't pleased.

"Murder." Sergeant Roberts said coldly.

Sophia was used to the usual gang fights, theft, and drug busts but murder was a rarity. "What happened?"

Sophia followed Sergeant Roberts to two seats sat opposite a table. The table was bare except for a jug of water, three glasses and a tape recorder.

Sophia sat down tiredly and let out a huge sigh. "Let's get it over with."

Sergeant Roberts cleared his throat and turned on the tape recorder. "Tayla Furmage ten years old returns from a hunting trip with her older brother Colin. They arrive at the house at approximately 0200 hours, their parents are held at gun point in the living room. Both parents are shot when the children are in the vicinity of the room. Colin wades in, in a moment of anger and gets shot in the head. Tayla retreats from the scene to the guns in the car; she shoots and kills the one murderer and the other in leg before running to the closest neighbours who are five kilometres away."

Sophia nodded taking in the information. "The other flee the scene?"

Sergeant Roberts nodded. "Yes, we have Tayla outside waiting to come in. We thought a motherly figure might help."

"Of course." Sophia said rubbing her eyes and straightening out her shirt. "Bring her in."

Sergeant Roberts lent over to an intercom. "Bring in Tayla."

There was a noisy click and he metal door swung open to reveal a skinny girl of average height, her skin was a tanned caramel and her eyes a deep blue almost violet. Her hair fell in long brown curls past her shoulders.

"Tayla Furmage, take a seat." Sophia nodded to the chair before her.

Tayla nodded and walked over to the seat and sat down, not making eye contact with the adults, she kept her head bowed and gaze averted.

"We need to ask some questions." Sophia said leaning forward on the table. "Do you think you could do that?"

"You have a funny accent." Tayla said, Sophia could hear the uncanny New Zealand twang on the young girl's voice.

"I'm from Wales." Sophia replied.

Tayla nodded and picked at the chipping black nail polish on her fingers, beneath her nails was dried blood and dirt. No matter how much she picked the stains remained.

"Do you want to try describing the man you saw?" Sophia asked.

Tayla looked up and stared at the older woman, Sophia was taken aback by the intimidating gaze of the young girl. "I already has."

Sergeant sighed heavily. "Why did you shoot the man?"

"Peter!" Sophia gasped her attention snapping to the man beside her.

"He killed my parents, duh." Tayla said shrugging.

Sergeant Roberts let a long sigh out of his nose. "Did you recognise the two men?"

Tayla shook her head. "Never seen them before."

Sophia knew there was no way of getting any more information out of this young girl and she didn't want to waste hours talking where she could be curled up in bed. "You do know that after this interrogation you are going to have go into Foster Care."

Tayla shrugged and yawned. "What difference does it make?"

Sergeant Roberts stopped the recorder and sat back in his chair. "Well seen as we are all really tired, why don't we finish his in the morning?"

Tayla nodded eagerly while Sophia smiled slightly. "I have never heard of anything better."

"Good." Sergeant Roberts said standing up. "Sophia do you think you could take Tayla to one of he couches in the waiting room?"

Sophia nodded and watched Sergeant Roberts leave the room, the door shut with a bang and room fell silent. He was of lower rank to her but he treated her as if she was scum.

"You don't like him." Tayla's voice was unnaturally loud in the still room.

"How do you know?" Sophia asked turning her attention back to the young girl.

Tayla's eyes were an amazing colour due to the lighting, they were framed by long black eyelashes. Sophia was envious of the young girl with this striking beauty and no clue about it, she had grown up never being perfect.

"I can read people." Tayla said simply.

Sophia nodded and stood up. "Let's get you to a couch."

Tayla stood up and followed the older woman out of the interrogation room and into the darkly lit hall way.

CHERUB CAMPUS
Somewhere in the UK

Mac paced his office in frustration, scratching the stubble forming on his chin. How had this happened?

"Look we lost track of them, we were too late." a voice crackled over the loud speaker.

"Zara Asker." Mac sighed slumping into his office chair. "Did anyone survive?"

There was moment of static and for a moment Mac panicked at the loss of signal.

"Yes." Zara replied.

"Who?" Mac asked eagerly leaning over the phone to hear every word possible.

"Tayla Furmage."

"Tayla..." Mac mused. "All living relatives dead?"

"That is correct."

"Well, what are we waiting for? Let's bring her to CHERUB."

"Great! I shall go collect her from the station." Zara said and the call ended.

Mac smiled to himself, he could almost picture Zara smiling into the phone. She had grown an attachment to young girl over the course of the mission and he knew Zara would've been devastated if she had been left to grow up in a foster home.

Tayla was tired, her body ached from sleeping on the couch which made no sense because when she woke up she was in a bed. Tayla rolled onto her side and looked at the room around her, it was small and the carpet worn and in some places the floor boards showed through. A bed opposite was neatly made and a box beneath showed the only belongings of the other inhabitant.

Tayla sat up and slid off the bed, wearily she wandered over to the door and opened it. The hall way was dark and quiet but she could hear muffled voices from further down the hall.

She stepped back and closed the door and sat down on the bed not sure what to do. She didn't want to be in a Foster Home, she would be bookmarked the freak at school along with the others.

Tayla stared at the box beneath the bed intrigued. She padded over to the other side of the room and slid the box out, careful not to make too much noise. She lifted the red cardboard lid to reveal a variety of clothes and books. Taking each item out individually taking a mental note of their place inside the box, she searched. The sound of approaching footsteps and a humming sent Tayla scrambling; she quickly placed everything back in the box and shoved it back under the bed. She leapt across the room and sat on her bed trying to look 'third party aware' as her brother would say.

The door opened slowly to reveal a girl with short blonde hair, blue eyes and ton of mascara. She smiled at Tayla revealing a set of pearly white teeth all in a straight line.

"I'm Amy Collins." she said walking over and sticking her hand out.

"Tayla Furmage." Tayla said shaking Amy's hand.

"Looks like we're roomies." Amy said sitting down her bed opposite Tayla.

"You're from London." Tayla said.

If Amy was surprised by her statement she didn't show it. "Yes, I am. Parents died when we were on holiday over here." she paused and sniffled. "I haven't been able to get back."

Tayla shrugged. "Who would want to holiday here?"

Amy chuckled. "There's beaches at Mount Maunganui."

Tayla laughed at how Amy pronounced Mount Maunganui. "Its Mount Mong-a-nui not Mount Maw-woong-a-nwe."

Amy sighed. "Just cos I can't pronounce place names doesn't mean I'm stupid."

Tayla got control of her emotions and nodded. "How old are you? Thirteen?"

Amy nodded, "And you look about ten."

Tayla grinned. "Soon to be eleven!"

"So what's your story?"

Tayla stared at her hands twisting themselves into an untangable knot. "My family was murdered."

"Oh, I'm sorry." Amy said walking over and sitting down next to the young girl and rubbing her shoulder.

Tayla's eyes welled with tears, the full effect of those words had just hit home. She couldn't speak, her throat closed and her eyes stung from the hot salty tears which were sliding down her cheeks.

"It's okay." Amy said wrapping her arms around the thin shoulders of the girl.

Tayla nodded and wiled the tears from her eyes. Taking two deep breaths she swallowed the tears and her emotions, burying them deep inside her. "I'm fine now."

Amy leant back and checked. "You sure?" the change in emotions of the young girl was astonishing, once fine and then sad.

"Yeah." she smiled slightly and stood up. "You gonna give me a tour of this dump or what?"

Amy led Tayla around the four story building, the peeling paint and the cracked windows revealed the number of children who had passed through the halls of this building. Words and names were scratched into the walls and into the door frames. Tayla passed kids of all ages who didn't even bat an eyelid at her presence, they were used to people arriving and going in a blink of an eye.

Tayla shoved her hands into the pockets of her jeans as they stepped out onto the flat grassy field which was the back yard. There were plastic toys and a rusty swing set scatter across the uneven surface.

"We should probably get some lunch before it's eaten." Amy said turning back towards the house.

Tayla took one final glance at the tall fence which surrounded the perimeter of the house. "Yeah, good idea." sue muttered following Amy into the dark house. It took a moment for Tayla's eyes to adjust to her darker surroundings and she tripped over the corner of a rug as they entered the dining room.

Sets of eyes all turned to Tayla who was trying to get her balance. A few people snickered and a short fat boy at the end of the long table said. "Watch it squirt. We don't allow idiots in here."

Tayla's eyes sought out the voice and she scowled at the blonde boy. "Piss off."

Amy tugged on Tayla's sleeve and dragged her to a seat at the opposite end of the boy. "You don't to get mixed up with him." she whispered.

"Why not?" Tayla asked glancing across to the boy, his cheeks were red and his forehead dribbling sweat due to the heat of the summer.

"Well let's just say he isn't a good influence." Amy said.

"You're not my mother!" Tayla exclaimed. "You can't tell me what to do!"

Amy sighed and picked up her fork. "Well I can at least tell you what's good for you."

"Whatever." Tayla muttered cutting into her steak pie.

They ate in silence and once finished Tayla got up and without a word walked outside, she sat at the back of the property with her back against the fence.

oOoOo

Amy watched Tayla from within the shadows of the hall way leading to the back door. She had blown it trying to make friends with her, usually she did well making friends with the targets and in general. Sighing Amy turned from the garden and headed up the stairs to their room.

Once inside with the door securely locked Amy pulled out her cell phone and typed in a number. It was picked up on the fourth ring.

"Hello?" Zara asked.

"Zara its me Amy." she said.

"Secure?"

"Yes I've checked."

"Good, how is it going?"

Amy sat down her bed and groaned. "I've completely blown it. Blown this whole mission up once again, she's never gonna like me now!"

"Now now Amy let's not get ahead of ourselves, tell me exactly what happened."

"Well I was being nice and supportive and we were getting along until someone was being mean to her and she retaliated. I said he was a bad influence and whatnot and she had a huge go at me."

"Right." Zara said. "Let's not get into panic mode just yet, I mean we still have to see if she has what it takes."

"Well did you pick up any footage from earlier?"

"Yes, some surprisingly good stuff."

"So I'm not to blame for the death of her parents?"

"Of course not! Listen Amy you weren't on this mission to keep them safe, only to collect information."

"True." Amy muttered. "But I've been put on pick up duty, back at campus that is for someone who has been of order."

There was a rustle. "Looks like Kyle is back. Why don't you get a good night's sleep and we'll talk in the morning."

"Okay, bye."

"Bye."

Amy hung up and closed her eyes for a moment before standing up. She walked over to the room's door and pulled it open. Stood in front of Amy was Tayla, glass cup in hand and an unforgiving scowl which could probably melt titanium.

"Anything you might want to tell me?" Tayla asked coldly.

Amy's stomach churned and she suddenly felt light headed.


A/N:

So what do you think? New story bro :)

Sorry for any errors :P

Review

Churr x