“You’re right,” Adelaide said as they stepped out of the restaurant into the chilly outside, “I don’t believe you.”
“You are aware that was the fourth or fifth time you’ve said that?” Amadeus’ breath misted the air.
It had grown dark since they’d entered the restaurant. It had only been for lunch, but Adelaide had ordered dessert after Amadeus’ revelation and idled over it while she’d peppered him with questions. It was the middle of Autumn, nights were coming sooner and darker now.
“Sure,” Adelaide nodded curtly, “which just goes to show how ridiculous your statement was. You can’t make a super-human, that’s stupid. You’re just born that way.”
“Wrong,” Amadeus said with a smug grin, “like I said it’s all about the Source.”
“Oh yeah,” Adelaide replied, “the ‘Source’ of all super-human powers. The thing scientists and hippies have been searching for as long as anyone can remember. You found it huh?”
“Not exactly,” Amadeus shook his head, “look, I can’t really explain to you how it happened, government secrets and all that.”
“Just shut up and tell me!”
“Which would you prefer,” he said, “me shutting up or me telling you?”
Adelaide growled under her breath and was about to shout at him when she slammed into someone. She hadn’t been looking where she was going and the force knocked her back. Winded she steadied herself and looked up at the other person, who was wearing a hoodie pulled low over their face. It took her a few seconds for her to recognise him.
“Lee?” She said, “What are you doing here?”
“Adelaide!” He said, straightening, “Sorry, we were going to tell you but you told Francis you were doing something. We all got together and we’re trying to catch the murderer.”
“Lee,” Adelaide shook her head, “can’t you see, the murderer was Julian. You need to get over this.”
“What!” Lee scowled, “No way!”
“She’s right,” said Amadeus quietly. Lee looked up at him, seeing him for the first time.
“You,” he hissed, his voice dropping to a venomous murmur, “what are you doing with Adelaide?” He paused, “oh God, are you dating?”
“No!” Adelaide and Amadeus said simultaneously.
“What’s going on Lee?” A voice drifted out of the darkness. Francis, Emma, Lydia, Alexis and Anna walked over. Francis stared curiously at them.
“I found these guys,” Lee said, “together.”
Francis looked from Adelaide to Amadeus, and for a second a weird expression flashed across his face. He opened his mouth, and it looked like he was about to say something. He was interrupted, however, by Alexis, his face twisted into a sudden mask of horror and anger.
“You!” Alexis shouted, pointing at Amadeus with a quivering finger. Lydia put out a hand towards him, but thought better than touching his arm.
“Alexis,” said Amadeus pleasantly, “how are you? It’s been a while.”
“You traitor,” Alexis howled, his voice high pitched and ragged, “you traitor! It should have been me!”
“Whoa, whoa,” Adelaide held up her hands, trying to restore a kind of order, “let’s all just calm down and then maybe someone might explain to me what’s going on.”
Then, without warning, a lot of things started to happen very fast, all at once. Alexis, seething with rage, lunged for Amadeus. In the distance there was a loud, resonating sound, a small explosion. Amadeus, seeing not only Alexis jumping at him but, out of the corner of his eye, the bullet speeding towards him, jumped with incredible speed out the way. Finally Lydia, seeing the bullet which was now flying with pinpoint accuracy towards the space where Amadeus had been but moments before, but which now contained the lunging Alexis, leapt forward, a bolt of green lighting. All this took less than three seconds.
The bullet smashed into the pavement, sending a spray of tarmac fragments spinning off in all directions. Lydia, clutching Alexis in a protective embrace, hit the ground and rolled. Amadeus got to his feet in a single swift movement. Everyone else, their brains only just processing what had happened, jumped backwards in horror.
“What the hell happened?” Francis shouted, “Did someone just shoot at us?”
“I think they might have been shooting at me,” Amadeus said calmly.
All eyes turned towards the roof of the house next to them. A shadowy figure was running away from them, crossing the rooftops in a desperate dash.
“After them!” Adelaide stared around at the others, “Quickly… just… go!”
Francis, Lee, Emma, Anna and Adelaide ran, following the line of the buildings and the fleeing figure. Amadeus took a deep breath and set off after them. In seconds he had passed them and was gaining on the figure.
The shadowy form flitted across the rooftop, reaching an ally it dropped to street level and vanished into the darkness. Amadeus turned after it, the others a few metres behind.
Meanwhile, back where the bullet had made its impact, Alexis and Lydia were getting shakily to their feet. Alexis looked at Lydia, his eyes wide.
“Y-you saved me,” he said slowly, “th-thank you. Thank you so much.”
Lydia opened her mouth to tell him it was nothing. Before a sound could leave her mouth he had enveloped her in a hug. There was a stunned silence.
“Oh I’m sorry,” he said, “this is awkward. I-I-I’ve messed up.”
“No,” Lydia said, “this… this is nice.”
They kept on hugging.
Adelaide turned the corner, running full tilt. She saw Amadeus, standing at the end of the alleyway with his back to her and skidded to a stop. There was the sound of hurried footsteps behind them as Emma, Anna, Francis and Lee joined her. The alley was a dead end.
“What happened?” Adelaide said, trying to hide that she was a little out of breath.
“Lost them,” Amadeus said, “I’m not sure where they went.”
“Huh,” Lee said, “guess that proves Julian is innocent then.”
All eyes turned to him.
“Explain,” Adelaide said.
“Someone just tried to kill a super-human who claims to be a rank five,” Lee said, “around the same area the two other super-humans have been killed. Seems like we just found the real murderer, huh?”
There was a pause.
“Seems so,” Amadeus said, a hint of reluctance in his voice.