“What the hell was that?”
Most people, when they are angry, have certain physical signs that indicate this fact. Francis, for example, turned into a small and nerdy hurricane of incandescent rage.
Adelaide, who wasn’t exactly in a state of unflinching calm, looked over at him, wild-eyed.
“I’m not sure,” she said in hushed tones.
They had been blindfolded and driven away from the facility before being dropped off in the centre of town. Now they were wandering towards their homes through the twisting streets as the sun slowly sank away.
“I think,” Emma said brusquely, “we were just intimidated.”
“Oh yeah I got that,” Francis turned on her, “what I also got was that Adelaide seemed pretty friendly with the Director. See, and this could just be me, you seemed a little more deferential to her than what I might expect. The question that troubles me is how the hell Adelaide knew that guy agent Price so well.”
There was a hush. All eyes turned to Adelaide. She looked from face to face, searching her for answers. Could she tell them? Should she tell them? She opened her mouth to speak. Lee interrupted her.
“She works for them,” he blurted out, “Price is the one who told her to do this, the Department for Extra-Normal Relations is the place that started this whole… thing.”
He motioned around at them. Adelaide felt as though her heart had stopped beating in her chest.
“What?” Francis stopped walking, first he looked at Lee. A vein pulsed in his temple. “Why didn’t you tell me this before? Adelaide’s been working for some covert organisation this entire time and you never told me?”
The anger was draining away from Francis’ face. He turned to Adelaide, his look despairing.
“I thought you were doing this to help us,” he said quietly, “why didn’t you tell us?”
“I didn’t tell you before because I didn’t think it was important.”
“You didn’t think it was important?” Emma exploded, “Of course you didn’t!”
Her hands closed into fists and exploded into flame. The others each took a careful step back.
“You read her mind,” Emma said slowly, pointing an accusatory finger, wreathed in flames, at Lee, “why didn’t you tell us until now? What made you break?” He raised his hands in terror.
“I…I…” he stammered, trying to force the words out of his mouth, “that woman… the one who came in to talk to the Director, the Knight or whatever. She’s the murderer! It’s her who’s been doing the killings. And she works for the Department, for the Director.”
They stood there in the deserted street, shadows creeping up around them, the night moving in to swallow them. Francis looked over at Adelaide. His nose looked as though it had been broken in the fight with Price and his hand moved up to it every now and again. He looked defeated, forlorn and wounded. He blinked rapidly, suppressing tears of frustration and anguish.
“Did you know?” His voice was hoarse, “Did you know, all this time? Have you been stringing us along while in the background this murderer killed more and more of us!”
“No!” Adelaide suddenly felt blood rushing to her face, “That’s ridiculous! How could you say that?”
“For all we know you hate us,” Francis hissed, his face wreathed in shadow, “for all we know you couldn’t hate super-humans more. You’re not doing this for us, why are you doing this? For your own over-inflated ego?”
Before she could respond he was walking away, now running. Uncaring of what he ran through, Francis dashed down the street, slipping through lampposts and parked cars in his desperation to get away.
“Francis!” Lee shouted after him. He didn’t even look back. She turned to the others. Emma was already storming off, her fists balled and still aflame. Adelaide raised a hand to stop her but was met with a venomous glare.
“Save it,” Emma said, “I’ve had it with all of you, stupid freaks.”
She sped up and was quickly out of sight, turning into a side street, head held high and arms by her sides. Lydia, who had stood silently next to them this whole time, suddenly started to walk away. Adelaide reached out and her hand caught Lydia’s shoulder. She twisted, shaking off Adelaide’s grip and looked up at her with eyes filled with fear.
“Please…” she said, “don’t hurt me…” then she ran.
Adelaide watched her go, her arm falling to her side. She felt an arm on her shoulder.
“I believe you,” Lee said, “and I trust you. I’ll convince Francis to come back. I’m… I’m sorry.”
He smiled at her. Then he left, walking slowly, hands in his pockets.
For a second Adelaide didn’t know what to do. She set off home, but she walked unconsciously, not in control of her movements.
They’d had set-backs before of course but they’d overcome them, and for a while things had seemed blissfully… awesome. Now they’d fallen apart again. It seemed weirdly fitting, actually, Adelaide’s own secrets had been the thing to expose the cracks that were hidden in the team. She should have seen it, of course. The whole thing was a powder-keg, waiting to go off. Irritable Francis, bored Emma, Lydia… scared all the time. They weren’t crime fighters. They weren’t cool. They weren’t anything special. They were just ordinary people. Ordinary, stupid people.
Adelaide reached the door of her house. She fished inside her pocket for her keys with fingers numbed by shock. Before she could find them the door was flung open and her mum glared down at her.
“Adelaide!” She cried, “Where have you been?”
“I…” Adelaide’s throat went dry.
“Oh it doesn’t matter,” her mum shook her head and shunted Adelaide in, slamming the door behind her, “so much is going on it’s doing my head in.”
A frown spread across Adelaide’s face. She stared at her mum’s departing back as she rushed to the kitchen. Something was up, she was never just let off the hook like that.
“What’s going on?” She asked, following her mum and scuttling to keep up with her long strides.
“Your sister just arrived,” was the irritable response, “and much as I love her it is the most inconvenient time.”
“My what?” Adelaide stared at her. Her mum looked back and opened her mouth to say something. She was interrupted by a voice from behind her.
“Oh is that Adelaide?” It said.
A figure moved past Adelaide’s mum and spread her arms wide as she moved towards Adelaide.
“Last time we met you were only a baby,” she said, “come on, give your long lost sister a hug.”
Adelaide stared up, with a mixture of bemusement and sudden horror into the beaming face of the Knight, who grinned back at her.