“Finally,” Adelaide surveyed her troops, “you have no idea how long I have waited for this moment.”
“What, for all of us to be in the same place at the same time?” Lee grinned.
“It’s like herding headless cats,” Adelaide folded her arms, “the minute I avert one catastrophe, another one just seems to pop up out of nowhere.”
“Hey!” Emma scowled, “What about me? Didn’t I just solve a huge problem? Because it seems to me like I solved a huge problem.”
“Sure you did,” Adelaide put her head to one side, “but you also got my detention with Mr Curst extended by twenty minutes so overall you even out in my favours.”
“Since when did your favours matter?” Francis frowned.
“I’ll say only this,” Adelaide looked him in the eyes, “there is a higher power at work in this universe, she’s called Adelaide and she is your boss. Got it?”
Grunts and murmurs of agreement followed. Anna, who was standing nearby and watching them intently, chuckled to herself.
“What’s she doing here anyway?” Adelaide looked at Emma and lowered her voice, “Pleased as I am that you’re back together, I feel maybe our team stuff should stay inside the team, if you know what I mean.”
“Oh don’t mind me,” Anna had overheard, “just trying to figure this whole thing out. Ignore me.”
“Riiiight,” Adelaide nodded, resigned, “next order of business, Lydia, how are relations between you and this Alexis kid?”
“Oh,” Lydia looked up, snapped out of her own little world, “yes, of course. Well, actually it was really nice last weekend. We went to the library together and it turns out that he’s really into this series that I think is great, then I suggested we should maybe go get a tea at a coffee shop down the road and he was surprised because no-one’s really asked him about this sort of the thing before and…”
“Yeah,” Adelaide held up her hands, “spare us the step by step account. We get the picture. Good, I’m glad. Last up, Francis, what’s up with you? You seem a little down.”
“Francis is always down,” Lee rolled his eyes, “it’s in his nature.”
“Yeah,” Francis shrugged, “well more than usual this week as it happens.”
Lee looked askance at him.
“Really dude? Been reading your mind and the airwaves seem pretty regular.”
“Lee,” Francis raised his eyebrows, “I have been your best friend for years now and trust me learning to keep my thoughts hidden has been a must.”
“You are pretty inscrutable,” Lee nodded, “unlike Emma. Her mind’s like a big, open sauna.”
“Okay,” Adelaide waved her hands, “off topic, off topic. What’s up with you then Francis?”
“It’s this murder,” he shrugged, “it’s been getting on my mind.”
“Murder? What murder?”
“You didn’t hear?” Lee raised his eyebrows, “It was near our area actually. Francis’ parents are having fits, especially because they’ve got two under their own roof.”
“Oh no,” Lydia said, “I remember that. So sad. So scary too. My parents are pretty shaken up as well. I’m pretty conspicuous and it’s got them in a state. I only just managed to slip out today.”
“Wait, slow down,” Adelaide said, “not on the same wavelength as you guys. What do you mean?”
“It was a super-human,” said Emma, “the victim, that is. Could be the killer’s got some serious issues with us. They wouldn’t be the first. Even if they don’t strike again, some people will take this as a signal that it’s okay to vent some of their hate. Not a good time for super-humans.”
“You’re okay,” growled Francis, “no-one knows about you.”
“Funny you should say that,” Emma didn’t bat an eyelid, “none of you guys have told anyone have you?”
“Of course not,” Adelaide said, “you’re part of the team now and we don’t betray teammates. What makes you think we would?”
“A leaflet came through my door this morning,” Emma said, “advertising some kind of protection scam targeting super-humans. Evidently someone’s got wind of the murder and thought they’d earn some money out of it. Question is… how the hell do they now I’m super-human? It’s not like anyone else is in my family and I keep it under wraps. I was talking to Anna on the way here, she didn’t get one and her family’s all human.”
“I didn’t get one either,” Adelaide narrowed her eyes, “and I always check the mail.”
“We got two,” Francis said, furrowing his brow, “my mum was pretty mad about it. She hates opportunists like that. You’re right it is a bit weird. What about you Lydia?”
“I don’t know,” Lydia looked embarrassed, “I don’t really look at the post.”
Adelaide leaned on her cricket bat, which she’d taken to bringing anywhere just in case now. You never knew when one might come in useful.
“This is starting to sound a tiny bit suspicious,” she said, “this is pure speculation, but you don’t think some kind of gang boss, knowing that there’s a nice crop of super-humans in the area, decided to have a murder committed and then sell this neat little protection scam of theirs?”
“It’s plausible,” Lee nodded, “I hope you’re not suggesting we investigate?”
“I wasn’t going to, but now you’ve said it…”
“No Adelaide,” Francis shook his head, “if we’re right these could be some dangerous people we’re talking about. Whoever it was has clearly killed and is probably willing to kill again. I for one don’t want to get mixed up in any of that stuff.”
“And we wouldn’t,” Adelaide reassured him, “the minute it looked as though there was anything dangerous going on we’d back out and go to the police. It’s only a hunch; chances are we aren’t even right. But we could really help people here.”
“She’s got a point,” Emma nodded, “the cops definitely won’t have picked up on this, and if they did they’d probably pin a badge on the killer. If we can find some serious evidence though they’d have to listen.”
“A killer roaming the streets who appears to target super-humans,” Adelaide said, “seems to me like you’re in danger either way. At least with us you can try and make a difference.”
Francis looked at Lee, who shrugged and grinned.
“Fine,” he said with a curt nod, “we’ll scope out this ‘protection’ deal, see what their business is. But even a hint of threat and we’re out of there.”
“Sure thing,” Adelaide lied.