“So,” Price stood in the centre of the shopping maul, surveying everything with a weary eye, “just a quick debrief for you lot before we let you go.”
Adelaide, Francis, Lee, Lydia, Alexis, Emma – dressed – and Anna stood around, watching him expectantly.
“You will not speak of what happened today to anyone who does not have security clearance from us, nor will you reveal any knowledge of the four individuals currently in our custody.”
“Four?” Adelaide interrupted. Price looked over the top of his dark glasses at her, exasperated.
“Yes, four,” he continued, “who are for the record: Amadeus Romero, Elizabeth Bruce and two super-humans who insist on being called Coal and Vesper.”
“Those two?” Adelaide’s eyes widened, “I’d totally forgotten about them. How did you manage to catch them?”
“We didn’t,” Price shrugged, “Amadeus’ previous accomplices seem to have turned on them and managed to catch them unawares.”
Francis punched the air.
“Get in there Rick and Sam!” He cried. Then his face creased with worry, “Wait a second what’s going to happen to them?”
“Well…” Price said, “they seem to have abandoned all support they might have had for Amadeus. We believe them, or at least we believe Rick. He seems pretty harmless. As for Sam, we don’t really know what to make of them. They’ve got a criminal record, but they seem to be fairly full of contrition. I suppose we’ll just have to wait and see. We’re going to let the two of them go with a caution on the agreement they don’t speak about any of this.”
“And the Source?” Asked Lee, “What are you going to do about that?”
“Ah, yes,” Price nodded, “the Source. Again, you are not under any circumstances to mention that the Source is in the hands of the Department of Extra-Normal Relations. The notes on it have already been retrieved from Rick’s apartment and are currently in our possession. You’d be wise to forget about them. It’s currently comatose. Don’t worry, we understand the risk when it wakes up. Francis, you seem to have some sort of bond with it. If in future you could agree to come to the facility and calm it during testing, that would be helpful.”
“And if I say no?”
Price gave him a look.
“I’ll take that as a yes,” he replied, “by which I mean, you will be coming to the facility. The only difference is the comfortableness of the drive.”
There was an awkward silence.
“I trust I have your agreement on all this? You say nothing, in return we clear up all matters with the police and various store owners.” Price smiled with shiny white teeth. Suddenly he reminded Adelaide a little of the Director. She shivered.
“Yes,” they chorused.
“Good,” Price turned to head off, “you can go. Expect a joint invite to the facility soon, though, I imagine the Director will want to congratulate you personally. Again, refusal would be silly.”
“Wait a second,” Adelaide said, “could I have a word with my sister, please? Before she gets taken away.”
“Sure,” Price said, “follow me.”
They walked to an escalator and stood on it. As they moved up Price scanned the groups of Department operatives below them. He seemed pensive, and drummed the handrail of the escalator with idle fingers. When they were halfway, he turned to Adelaide.
“The Director might have got what she wanted,” he said, “but I haven’t. You should keep the team going. Not, you know, patrolling the streets or whatever. Just on hand. You did surprisingly well in that fight. It was your plan that took down Amadeus. I’m sure the Department can make use of you in the future.”
Adelaide nodded and smiled at him. He returned the grin. They stepped off the escalator and walked over to a café. Sitting around one of the tables outside were four forlorn figures, their hands cuffed behind their backs. One of them, Amadeus, was surrounded by four Department guards, each of whom held a gun to his head. He glowered at Adelaide as she walked over.
“Hey sis,” she said. The Knight, next to Amadeus, looked up. She managed to smile at Adelaide.
“Hello,” she said.
“Listen,” Adelaide pulled up a chair and sat facing her, “I’d just like to say that whatever happens, I’m proud of you. I mean, the stuff that you were doing was wrong, but you saw your mistake. That’s pretty noble.”
The Knight seemed to consider this for a few seconds. She had dark rings under her eyes and she looked a little bit like she’d been crying.
“Thanks,” she said eventually, “but really, I wouldn’t have come to any realisation at all if it wasn’t for you. You’ve turned a bunch of random super-humans into a force for good. It was when I saw how loyalty to you inspired your friend to risk his own life that I realised… it’s teamwork that does it. I am right, power corrupts. But you stopped that. I guess faith will always be stronger than power.”
“You sanctimonious moron,” Amadeus snorted, “you don’t seriously believe that do you? You make me sick.”
“Shut up,” Adelaide and the Knight glared at him in unison. He spat at the table but lapsed back into a brooding silence.
“Before you go,” the Knight sat up a little, “I realise you can’t really tell mum what happened to me. Can you tell her I… decided I wanted to go travelling, something like that. Oh, and… tell her I love her.”
The Knight extended her hand and Adelaide shook it.
“Sure thing sis,” she grinned, “I reckon she’s going to be pretty angry with me for disappearing for a few days, though, might be hard to get a word in edgeways.”
“You’ll be fine,” the Knight rolled her eyes, “just look after yourself and her, okay? Also, keep that Francis around you. He’s loyal and I reckon he likes you more than he lets on.”
“By which you mean?”
“Oh nothing,” the Knight smiled innocently, “nothing at all.”