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After fifteen minutes of waiting for Weird I was pacing a groove in the floor, the others watching me cautiously. I tend to snap at people when I’m anxious. Cam was dozing on the table in front of him, couldn’t blame him, I was only awake through a mix of adrenalin and caffeine.

“Weird should be here by now.” I growled at no one in particular. Maybe me, I should have been taking care of her.

“Right,” I said sitting down heavily next to Gale. “When was the last time someone saw her?”

“Just before the Erasers started dive bombing us and we split up.” Tapper supplied “I had to look away then to deal with the one attacking me.”

“Did anyone see her stop the Eraser?” Tapper shook her head.

“I did.” Gale chipped in. “That was, spooky.”

“Cam, you see anything?” I asked his dozing form, only half expecting an answer.

“Feathers.” He muttered. I ignored him.

“No one saw her after that?” Everyone shook their heads; admittedly it was only two people but one was the most observant person I know. Not that I know many people.

“So we know she did something weird, but after that we didn’t see her. So what happened?”

“Could the Erasers have gotten her?” Gale suggested.

I suppressed a shudder, that was almost too horrible to think about. “She was doing okay when I last saw her.”  I pointed out. “She floored an Eraser better than any of us.”

“What if that was what happened.” Tapper suggested.


“What if the effort of stopping the Eraser did something to her?” She continued.

“She’s been stopping bullets with her mind.” Gale pointed out sceptically.

“Yes,” Tapper countered. “But the difference between stopping a bullet and an Eraser-”

“Is like the difference between crushing an ant and crushing a tank.” I completed. I realised then, if she had passed out then the Erasers had her, and there was only one place they would take her.

“The lab.” I whispered in shock. Gale and Tapper with similar looks of surprise on their faces were obviously thinking along the same lines.

Gale put her arm around my shoulders and said firmly. “We’ll get her back,” she assured me. Her grip betrayed her tension though, and I could read the worry in her eyes. What’s that phrase, ignorance is bliss?

“So we get her back,” I said, stepping up to my role as Devil’s advocate. “Any idea where she is?” Gale opened her mouth to reply but then froze as she realised she didn’t have a clue.

“No.” She replied, dejectedly after a short pause. It hit me like a flash; those Erasers had found us way too fast. They must have been close to start with.

“Tapper,” I asked. “Would you say that the lab was beneath the office block?”

She thought about it for a minute reviewing every step on our journey through the sewers and subway, comparing where she traced it back to where the office block was.

“Yes,” she answered eventually with a look of surprise on her face.

“Then that’s where she is,” I stated resolutely “Now lets get her.”

We woke Cam, stopped to refill on caffeine (thank God for Coke) and then flew into the night, to the one place we never wanted to go.

Back to the Lab.

Weirdness woke slowly, fighting every step of the way, desperately clinging to that gentle numbness that went along with unconsciousness. She failed, and groaned as shards of pain shot through her body. It felt like that time she had crashed into that wall, only a hundred times worse. A memory flickered in the darkness behind her closed eyes, she groaned again as she remembered what had happened. She had stopped that Eraser, but then? She’d been so tired. She could barely move her wings. She knew she had hit the ground but after that. Only darkness.

She decided it might be a good idea to see where she was. She tried to open her eyes while ignoring the throbbing pain hammering through her whole body. The room swam into view, hazy, indistinct and painfully bright. There was a shape in front of her that might have been a person but it was all shadows. She shut her eyes again, shielding them from the glaring white walls. Something in the back of her mind screamed a warning, but was drowned out by the signals of agony slowly making their way to her sluggish brain.

“Hey, I think she’s awake,” a surprised male voice said. ‘Could it be?’ Weird thought dimly in the haze of her mind.

“Hawk?” she murmured, probably totally intelligibly. She winced as someone wrenched her eyes open and shone a torch into her eyes.

“Normal dilation,” the voice reported back. Definitely not Hawk. “She’s alive.”

“That’s impossible,” a haughty female voice announced. “She should be dead after that crash.” Weird opened her eyes again and glanced around. She was in a bare room, slightly chilly and white tiled. A vast mirror ran along one wall showing her scared reflection tied to a table; there was a nasty looking tray of surgical tools next to her including a variety of sharp and cutty things. She looked back at the two voices who were still discussing whether or not she was alive. There was a man and that woman from the roof. Both were wearing white coats.

She knew where she was. She was back at the lab and in the cold room. The one no one ever came back from. Where they found out just why the latest experiment had failed.

She opened her mouth and screamed. A high pitched wail that made the White Coats clap their hands to their ears and sent the single bulb humming above her. The male White Coat slammed his hand over her mouth silencing her.

“Well I hope that settles that argument,” he yelled over the ringing in his ears. He looked at Weird. “What the hell is…” he started as he saw the green light swirling around her pupils and the incandescent lightning bolts shooting across her corneas. Then he paused as he realised that the instruments on the table were rattling.

Weird screamed again, ignoring the hand over her mouth, and the room screamed with her, the very walls vibrating with her terror. The scream appearing out of empty space as the air buzzed in her terror.

The mirror exploded revealing a set of shocked looking White Coats with clipboards, the broken glass billowing into the room and swirling around Weird where she lay on the table, the centre of a deadly vortex of glinting shards. The female White Coat threw herself to the floor as a sliver of glass bit into her cheek. The male one wasn’t so lucky; he caught three long shards in the chest before being thrown to the ground by a green corona just as a bone saw went whistling for his neck.

The door exploded into the corridor with a deafening bang, barely missing an Eraser coming to investigate. Weird hardly noticed, her entire world was taking a green tint, fading out details and clouding objects. That was normal though, it usually faded but Weird had a lot more to worry about just then. The White Coats behind the glass were rushing to get out of the room dodging flying scalpels and shards of crystal. Above them the roof cracked unable to take the strain of vibration any more.

The walls started to crumble, the tiles crashing to the floor in great chunks. Weirdness didn’t see, she couldn’t, her whole world had faded to a solid mass of green with a single bright spot where she was looking at the single light which was shining like the sun. The bulb burst with a shower of sparks and the fuse tripped sending the room into darkness lit only by the unearthly green light. Weird couldn’t tell the difference though. She was floating alone in a sea of featureless emerald.

The female White Coat snatched a syringe from the swirling vortex above her head, glanced briefly at the label, pulled of the cover with her teeth and rammed it into Weird’s leg, remembering just in time not to give her the full dose. Weird barely felt it, one tiny pinprick on top of a mountain of pain and fear. She felt her control slip away and objects smashing to earth around her. Darkness welled over her, all encompassing and overwhelming. A darkened void that she fell into amidst a cacophony of crashing tools and smashing glass.

Then the sedative knocked her out.

We circled high above the office, all but invisible against the night sky. There was a problem though; the White Coats had posted an Eraser guard on the roof, probably to stop us doing what we were doing right now. He was standing next to the door squinting into the darkness and stamping his feet to keep warm. He didn’t look very alert but we couldn’t take chances. If I were an action hero is some stupid story I would probably just land in front of him and do some cheesy Kung Fu move on him. But I’m not, so we just lobbed a brick at him.

He hit the ground with a thud and a stifled “Ooof.” We silently landed next to him drawing our wings in tight, Gale pulled her jacket over hers and Tapper quickly checked the Eraser for a pulse.

“He’s alive.” She announced drawing her hand quickly away from his neck as some dark stuff oozed down the back of his shirt.

“That’s a good thing?” I asked sarcastically and she glowered at me.

“It was only a joke,” I shot back defensively.

“Not a funny one,” she stated darkly.

“Guys,” Gale cut in. “Here for a reason, remember?”

“Right,” I partly couldn’t believe that I could have forgotten. Even for a second. What they could be doing to her right now.

I went over to the door, as a rule people don’t expect people to break in from the roof so usually it would be a pushover. Apparently White Coats don’t follow rules though. The door was painted steel which sounded disturbingly thick when I rapped my knuckles against it. Of course it was a key card door, so a quick promise of a favour got us in. I love high tech security.

We slipped inside and found ourselves in a dimly lit stair well, we didn’t bother turning on the lights. The White Coats decided that night vision might be a good idea for mutant bird kids, so we see great in the dark, especially Tapper. I have a theory that she actually sees better at night. Can’t prove it though. We slipped down the stairs like shadows watching for alarms and cameras. There weren’t any however. Told you humans have a blind spot when it comes to the air. We cautiously opened the little door at the bottom and stepped through.

I don’t know what I expected, a sign that directed you to ‘Torture Chambers 14A-G’? A door labelled ‘Sadistic Scientist Break Room’? It was a bit of a let down actually, there were just doors with company names on, a row of lifts and a decidedly non-evil pot plant.

“Are you sure we’re in the right place?” Cam asked, looking with a confused look on his face, and skin.

“It was underground,” I offered as an explanation. “This is probably just a front.”

“Pretty complicated front,” Tapper said sceptically, looking at the individual names on the doors. “Hey, I bought a soft drink from this one.”

“It’s run by a group of scientists who specialise in one of the most complicated professions know to man,” I pointed out. “I think they can cope with complicated.”

“Fair point.”

“So where do we start looking?” Gale asked running her eyes down a list of companies by the lifts. “This place is huge.”

“Well, the lab was underground,” I said staring into space. “So that’s a basement, maybe even a sub-basement. I suggest we start there and work up. Has anyone seen a sign for the stairs?”

“Hawk that’s at least fifty stories,” exclaimed Cam, “Can’t we just take the elevator?” I looked over at the elevator and suppressed a shudder. It was my own version of hell. A small metal box that you are completely trapped in, at the whim of the electricity board and anyone running the elevator. There was not a chance in hell I was going in there.

Then again, they had Weird, and if we took the stairs it would take so long that we might as well come back tomorrow. Shit.

I jabbed at the call button. After what felt like an age, probably about six seconds, I was almost yelling at the elevator to come faster. If it took much longer I might lose my nerve. I practically leapt out of my skin when the little bell dinged, and forced myself to walk inside. So much for my tough guy persona, though I think everyone was suffering just as much as me. Personally I blame my childhood. It didn’t help that this was the building where I’d spent most of my childhood.

The doors slid shut and I almost jumped through the closing gap but stopped myself in time. Totally irrational I know, but you’ve never been in a cage. Gale bent over the controls; one finger outstretched but didn’t do anything.

“Come on Gale what’s the hold up?” I snapped at her wondering how anxious you have to be to burst a blood vessel.

“Hawk, are you sure we’re in the right place?” she asked in confusion. “Only there isn’t a basement on this.” I looked at the panel; there were the floor buttons, the shut off key hole, a little speaker, the assistance button, like we would be using that, and the shut off key hole.

Did you spot what was wrong with that last sentence? I did.

“Can you talk to the elevator?” Gale continued. “Maybe the other floors require a code, or someone else to run the elevator?” I slammed my fist into the panel just below the second key hole, a panel fell open revelling eight more buttons.

“You can’t talk to elevators. They’re not bright enough.” I said as an explanation in that annoyingly cocky voice that drives everyone up the wall. Gale glowered at me.

“That’s really annoying.” she said with daggers in her voice.

“Fun though,” I replied with a manic grin. They must think I’m crazy. Maybe I am.

She rolled her eye and pressed the button marked B-8, the lift juddered and started to move. We were on our way, I thought briefly about what might be waiting for us down there. It didn’t take much imagination. Cages, capture, White Coats and the hounds of hell. I’ve said it before. How do I get myself into situations like this?

The elevator stopped on the fourth floor, we all held our breath silently begging that the person that had pressed the button had just wandered off. With our luck it had probably been an Eraser. The doors slid open revealing a pair of White Coats; one holding a cup of coffee. They looked at us in shock. We stared at each other for a stunned moment then Cam threw himself at them bowling them over knocking the coffee flying. Gale jabbed at the close button and I leapt forwards and grabbed Cam round the middle and pulled him off the struggling White Coats, dragging him back into the elevator just as the doors slid shut.

“What did you do that for!” he demanded of me angrily as the lift started to move. “I had them right where I wanted them.”

“Yeah, alone in the middle of a building full of Erasers.” I said scathingly “We need to stick together or they’ll pick us off.” Just then, further proving my point, the lights winked out plunging us into darkness. The elevator stopped with a jolt that almost threw us off our feet.

“Tapper,” I said softly, barely above a whisper. “Did you see what floor we were on?”

“B-1,” she answered. My best guess is that the White Coats raised the alarm and cut the power. And for all I knew there could be a platoon of Erasers on the other side of these flimsy doors.

“Taps,” I asked again. “Do you hear anything beyond the doors?”

She paused for a moment, cocking her head, we all held our breath. “Yes,” she answered eventually. “A lot of people right on the other side.”

“Shit.” You know I have got to stop swearing in front of Weir… oh.

“Erasers?” She just shrugged. I looked desperately around for a way out. There was a crack of light filtering in from the ceiling. I looked up and saw the emergency hatch. Well, it was worth a shot.

“Quick. Up here,” I hissed and forced the hatch up which gave way easily. I pushed it to one side and scrabbled up onto the roof of the car and looked around the shaft. A chill wind blew dust into my eyes, not that there was much to see, the only light coming from the cracks between the doors. But there were no Erasers and that makes it five stars in my book. I got to work on opening the ground floor doors as the others clambered up through the hole.

I managed to get my fingers between the doors just as the crack of gunfire filled the shaft, reverberating against the walls and humming down the cable. It felt like being trapped in a thunder storm. Tapper gasped and clapped her hands to her ears. I looked down to see the lift fill with bullets, tiny hornets roaring through the air and embedding themselves in the metal panelling. I tried to shut out the noise and the acrid smell of gun smoke and started to wrench the doors open. Erasers are smarter than they look, though that would mean they couldn’t walk and talk at the same time, and we only had moments before they realised where we had gone.

The gunfire stopped and the doors leapt open to reveal a security guard, probably come to find out what was going on. Then again was he really a security guard or an Eraser? In this building my money’s on the Eraser option. The gunfire stopped, I pulled back my fist to deliver a rabbit punch. Then I heard a scream, I paused, ‘Weird?’ The guard hit me on the jaw and sent me flying; almost falling through the open hatch. I got a brief image of a lift full of Erasers before I leapt up just in time to see Tapper launch herself at the guard, planting her foot in his stomach and hammering him over the head with a two handed blow when he doubled over. Below me I heard the click of guns being reloaded.

“Move!” I yelled, accelerating at a speed that would have shamed an Olympian, snagging Cam as I ran past and kicking the guard in the head for good measure. The shaft behind us exploded with bullets, just as Gale burst through the doors and skipped lightly round the Guard who was stirring slightly. I skidded to a halt and looked round, we were in the lobby, the front doors were right ahead of us. We were home free. I heard Weird scream again, much louder, so loud it seamed that the floor was vibrating. I was torn for a moment. Stay or go, stay or go. An Eraser climbed out of the hatch in the elevator and pulled his gun on me.

“Aw fu…” I was interrupted by the roar of the gun a bullet whizzing past my ear. I’m losing count of how many times that has happened today. I could still hear Weird screaming, but I couldn’t save her dead. It took everything I had to start running, heading for the glass doors, and I wasn’t sure I would ever forgive myself.

Another bullet screamed past embedding itself in the glass door which didn’t shatter. I back-pedalled half slipping on the polished floor and narrowly avoided crashing into the bullet proof glass. So much for my smash and dash plan. I wheeled turning to face the Eraser. Next to me Gale struggled with the door which was firmly locked.

“Oh I’m going to enjoy this,” the Eraser growled, I got a look at his face for the first time. Glass Eye. Crap. The other Erasers were climbing out of the shaft behind him; he had us right where he wanted. “First I’m going to start with your wings,” he continued in a voice that made me shiver. “And after they’re gone, I’ll…” I groped behind me trying to shut out Glass Eye’s threatening growl. My hand touched something, a little metal box next to the door. ‘Yes!’ I exalted in my head. ‘Now I just need it to open.’ The door, much to my surprise started to open. I didn’t realise I could just think at machines.

Did I mention we have the worst luck on the planet? Suddenly every light in the building flared like a miniature sun, I covered my eyes with my hand. Then they winked out in unison, actually everything did, even the door which slid to a stop after opening like an inch. See? Zero luck. Gale jammed her fingers in the gap and heaved, the door didn’t budge. I take back what I said about liking high tech security. In the distance Weird’s scream petered out, I hoped we weren’t too late. That she wasn’t… No, she was not dead.

“What the hell was that?” Glass Eye yelled at one of the Erasers that had come out of the elevator. The Erasers shook their heads in confusion. Glass Eye turned his ire back on me. “Okay freak, surrender now and we might be nice to you.”

“Define nice,” I shot back as Tapper joined Gale in trying to pry open the door.

He pretended to think about it for a moment. “Hmm, how about, not ripping you to shreds?” Gale shifted her grip on the door and opened her wings. “Actually I might do that anyway.”

“Great offer wise guy,” I replied sarcastically. Gale pushed down with her wings, putting all the force that can launch her twenty feet into the air into shifting the door. Something in the lock clicked and the door lurched forward slamming home behind me.

“But right now,” I called over my shoulder as I raced out into the street hot on the heels of the others. “But I’ll have to be nice with you some other time.” In front of me Gale leapt into the air followed closely by Tapper and Cam. Glass Eye bellowed in rage and the started firing, the bullets impacting harmlessly on the hardened glass. I leapt into the sky with a cry of joy; no big dumb Eraser could catch me now.

We flew away at top speed but, much to my surprise, no one followed, maybe our luck was changing. And maybe pigs would fly. Actually with my life that’s disturbingly possible. After about half an hour we came back. I was not leaving Weird in there, not when we still might have a chance to save her. We came down on the building opposite; I shorted out the camera then sat down on the edge of the building and started watching the lab like a, well a hawk.

“So what do we do now?” Gale asked sitting down next to me.

“We rescue her,” I said simply not looking round at her. I just gazed at the front doors waiting for something to happen. I don’t know what.

“How? We can’t fight our way in; we only just escaped with our lives.”

“We’ll think of a way,” I said woodenly, not completely believing it.

“What if we don’t?”

“Then we’ll sit here till I do!” I roared. I couldn’t believe Gale was suggesting. We couldn’t just abandon Weird. Tapper and Cam looked round in shock, I’d never yelled at Gale before. I clasped my head in my hands, it was too much. We had to save Weird. But we couldn’t. And I couldn’t abandon her.

“Hawk you’re not thinking, this isn’t the only way.” Gale said softly, comfortingly.

“It is the only way. We can’t abandon her.” I hunched down into my wings, just leaving my eyes free, still watching the building. Gale sighed and got up; I wasn’t going to abandon Weird. I was never going to abandon Weird.

Dawn broke over New York. I woke with a start. I couldn’t believe it, I’d fallen asleep. I had slept on my watch. While I was sleeping they could have taken Weird to God knows where. I rose in a rush, almost over balanced and flared my wings to stop myself falling off.

“Coffee?” suggested Gale taking me totally by surprise. I wheeled practically leaping out of my skin, Gale stood there with a few cups of Starbucks coffee. She caught the look of panic in my eye. “Tapper’s watching for you,” she explained.

I calmed slightly, though it had been my responsibility to watch the building. I glanced round at Tapper who was sitting silently barely two yards away. Sometimes being that quiet is not such a good thing, especially if you have an irate Hawk next to you.

“Thanks Taps,” I sighed, just relived that we hadn’t missed Weird.

“Not a problem,” she said with a faint smile. “You needed the sleep.” I thought about that for a moment. She didn’t? Then something caught my eye; a White Coat walked calmly out of the front door pulling an anorak over her lab coat. I recognised her, that lady from the roof. She walked calmly to a car and got in totally unaware of the bird kids watching her from high above. I was gripped with anger, this woman could have been doing unspeakable things to Weird all night, not to mention be personally responsible for our torment over the last fourteen years. The others looked at me, waiting for me to make a decision.

“We follow her.” I stated with iron in my voice. No one argued. We woke Cam, always a late sleeper, and leapt off the building, soaring into the cool morning air.

We flew high above the city, fixing our eyes on a single blue car, I don’t know about you but using abilities the White Coats gave you against them is always fun. She must have expected to be followed, or she was paranoid, and rightly so, so she did a few tricks to stop her being tailed. Going twice around the block, signalling the wrong way and going through as many yellow lights as possible. It probably would have been enough to spot if someone was tailing her in a car but with us it just made her look stupid.

Finally, I always forget just how slow driving is, she pulled into the drive of a quiet suburban house that looked, idyllic.

Bloody idyllic. It even had a God damn picket fence!

We landed in the single perfect tree complete with tree house out the back just as the front door slammed. I signalled for the others to wait and shimmied down onto the lawn which didn’t look like it had a blade out of place. Snuck up to the house and peeped in through the window in the back door. I saw the White Coat in the hall taking off her coat and hanging it next to a little green coat and a little pink one.

I felt my fists tighten; she had kids. She could not have kids.

A little girl ran in, she probably not any older than Weird. Okay then, she did have kids.

“Mummy!” The girl yelled in joy throwing herself into the White Coat’s arms who held her close, hugging her tightly.

“Morning sweetie,” she said softly, I could practically here the love dripping from her voice. The arrogant sneer from last night was completely gone. “You’re up early,” she continued, stroking girl’s brown hair. They were definitely related, the little girl was almost a carbon copy. I wondered if the girl enjoyed torturing mutants like her mummy and then hated myself for it.

“Or your up late,” pointed out a man who had just walked in, probably the husband. “Morning Doctor Reed,” he said solemnly.

“Morning Pete,” she replied a small smile playing around her lips; it seemed that they were acting out some strange ritual, or maybe families behave like that. I don’t know.

I couldn’t believe what I was seeing; did they know what she did for a living? Evil scientists shouldn’t have families. They should be sad lonely bastards who are complete megalomaniacs. They should not have a loving family and a perfect life. It was so, unfair. I know life isn’t fair, but this should not be happening! Where is Karma when you need it?

“Long day at the lab?” the husband asked probably already knowing the answer.

“Yes, a difficult protein sequence to crack.” ‘Yeah right! Did you use the pokers or the red hot irons?’

“Looks like it put up quite a fight,” he observed indicating a cut on her cheek that I hadn’t noticed. It wasn’t there last night. I hoped Weird had done it. And it had really, really hurt. Momentary surprise flickered across her face before she realised he was joking. Guess she hasn’t told them what she does. What a surprise. I hope it’s eating her up from the inside.

“You could say that,” she agreed, forcing a smile. I heard footsteps on the staircase and spotted a sleepy looking six year old coming down them.

“Morning Mum,” he said sleepily, rubbing his eyes and holding a blanket in one hand. I felt my insides boil. Why did she get a family? I would kill to have a family that loved me.

Then again, why shouldn’t she be happy, she was still a person after all? I didn’t want to think about that, anger was easier.

She greeted the boy with a hug and then gave him a kiss on the head. She glanced up and looked straight at me. Our eyes locked for a moment and hers filled with fear as she recognised me. She clutched the boy tight.

She was afraid of me I realised with a shock. She was afraid of what I could do to her family. Did she believe I would hurt them, just to get even? I hate to admit it but I enjoyed it, to see one of those who held the reins of my life for the last thirteen years afraid of me. This was my chance, my one chance to get even for all the hurt, all the pain, everything in my miserable little life. I could destroy her, destroy everything she held dear. Get revenge.

And I so wanted to.

I started to run back to the others. Partly running away from her, but mostly away from myself. I was not like them. I was not going to hurt innocents. I was not a monster, not like them. I don’t like hurting people, not even Erasers. They were the monsters, not me.

They were monsters weren’t they?

From behind me I heard the man’s voice, filled with concern. “Honey. What’s wrong?”

“I think we should get out of here,” the woman replied the fear almost palpable. I didn’t like to think of her as a person, someone with feelings. Someone who can be afraid. Someone with a family. It was just too much. I needed to get out of there. I leap up into the tree and grabbed a branch just below the others who looked at me in concern. I realised I had tears in my eyes and wiped them away in frustration, they couldn’t see me cry, they wouldn’t understand why. I needed to be strong.

“Hawk, what’s wrong?” asked Gale in almost the same tone as the man, I felt my eyes burn and blinked rapidly. ‘Mustn’t cry. Mustn’t cry.’

“Nothing,” I said trying to keep the anger out of my voice. I hope I managed to.

“So do we grab her?” Cam asked, mentally sizing up the house,

“No!” I almost yelled, everyone looked at me in shock. Why else should we have come here?

“I smell a trap,” I offered as an explanation, I don’t think they believe it though. “Now let’s get out of here before someone gets shot.” ‘Or we do something terrible.’ I scrambled up to the top of the tree and threw myself off, the others followed, if a little reluctantly. I should probably have explained to them. But I couldn’t, they would hate me. I was a bigger monster than the White Coats.

We flew back to the city in silence. I didn’t expect anything else, we had lost Weird and I was rapidly running out of ideas to save her. Not only that but I felt as if I had lost something of myself, maybe forever. The others flew softly, probably desperately worried about why I wasn’t talking, and why had I thrown away our best chance to save Weird. Maybe they thought I was a traitor, I certainly felt like one. Gale had positioned herself near me, not too close to be intruding but close enough to be there if I wanted to talk. Where the hell did she learn to be a shrink? Mutant High? I guess I should be thankful, I did want to talk.

“Gale,” I said eventually. “Are we the good guys?” That caught her by surprise, me too come to think about it.

She furrowed her brow. “Of course we are. How couldn’t we be?”

“Wonder if the White Coats would say the same thing,” I mused, Gale just looked at me in confusion. We’ve never discussed what the White Coats might think; we just assumed they were evil; now I wasn’t so sure.

“Hawk what’s wrong with you? You’re not acting like yourself.”

Did she mean I wasn’t acting like a violent experiment gone awry, or was? Either way I couldn’t answer her, much as I wanted to. And I so wanted to.

“It’s just…” I stopped myself from blurting out all my thoughts feelings and fears. I just would be me if I did. “It’s just. I want Weird back,” I told her. It was a half truth, that wasn’t the problem though. Gale smiled in understanding and brushed her wing against my shoulder in what was supposed to be a comforting gesture. I hardly felt it.

“We’ll get her back,” she assured me. Deja-vu much.

“What’s your bright idea this time? Do we just ring the bell and ask for her back?”

She grinned broadly, probably because I was being my old sarcastic self. “We go in the way we come out,” she explained. “Through the sewers.” I repressed a shudder, the sewers, or s-ew-ers were my second least favourite place to be. And if you can’t guess what number one is then you haven’t been paying attention.

“I asked Tapper whether she could get us back to the door, and she said she probably could.”

“Probably?” I said raising an eyebrow. “Mind if I ask her about that?”

“Go ahead your highness,” she said mockingly and did a mid air bow, which looks hilarious, just think about it for a minute.

“Hey Taps,” I called back to Tapper who was drifting along behind us. “Do you reckon you could get us back to the sewer door?”

She shrugged. “Maybe, within a block or two.” I thought about it for a moment. If we could manage it we could get in and out with none the wiser. But getting lost in the New York sewer system is not my idea of fun.

“We might need a map.”

She shot me a look that said clearly ‘you don’t think I can remember. Do you?’

“Just in case,” I assured her

We landed in a back ally near the main library; Gale almost lost a wing on a fire escape but otherwise our flight was rather uneventful. It’s a reflection on just how weird my life is that flying is mundane. It’s still amazing to fly though.

We went inside and started to search for anything alluding to a map of the sewers. Gale and Tapper started looking for a book or maybe a diagram, Cam and I snagged computers and hit the internet. It worked better when I showed him how to use Google.

I decided to give thinking at computers a try. You know just giving them instructions with my mind. Like with that door lock. I brought up the internet and rested my hands on the keyboard and thought a search command at the computer and watched in surprise as it appeared in the box, far faster than I could’ve typed it. The enter box flashed once invitingly and I clicked on it. I got plenty of hits, but not necessarily in any particular order. I looked at the page count, fourteen thousand, and groaned, this was going to take some time.

The page blurred, the letters running like water, and then they melted back together, a couple flowing away from the hyperlinks and forming into ‘I hope you find this useful.’ I smiled, getting a helping hand from the computer. Why not? Makes more sense than most things I do. The first link was a perfect hit, a fully detailed map of the sewer and metro system, just what we needed. I cracked my knuckles; now let’s see what I could find on this mysterious lab.

Half an hour later Gale taped me on the shoulder and I waved down a page that I had just found. Fang’s Blog. Do you know it?

“Found anything?” she asked peering over my shoulder.

“A little,” I replied, understatement of the year. “How about you guys, anything interesting?”

“Yep,” she said unrolling a large sheet of paper. “Just take a look at this.” I cast my eyes over the paper, or more accurately map, it was almost identical to the one I found on the computer twenty five minutes ago. I didn’t mention that. Gale popped the top off a red marker, and started to draw on the map.

“You allowed to do that?”

“Sure it’s a photocopy,” she circled an area on the map. “Okay we surfaced here, and before then we were in the metro.” She drew a line down the tunnels. “We went this way to get out, but, before that we were in the sewers, and we came out of them just here.” Then she drew another circle. I nodded; the route looked familiar, though I wasn’t paying much attention to directions on that first mad dash.

I realised Cam was engrossed with something on his computer and leaned over to see what he was doing. Typical, he was on a space shooting game. I don’t know why, with our reactions playing games is just too easy.

“We’ve found a way into the Lab,” I told him with a hint of sarcasm. “Thought you might find it interesting.” He rolled his eyes and closed the browser. I turned back to Gale who had surrendered the pen to Tapper.

“So,” Tapper started shading in the circle representing the entrance to the sewer. “We left the sewers here and split from Max and her flock,” she started to trace the line back down the tunnels. I could almost see them, the putrid walls and stinking air. I could have hoped for a better first taste of freedom, actually scratch that, I just thought what it might taste like. She paused in the middle of drawing a line and looked at the map in confusion. “This bit is wrong, there should be another tunnel here but there isn’t.”

“Outdated map?” I suggested. Then the computer, just to be helpful, brought up my map on the screen. Gale glanced at it and then glared at me.

“How long have you had this?” she asked with zero humour in her voice. I was in trouble.

“About, twenty five minutes,” I mumbled sheepishly melting under Gale’s stare.

“So what have you been doing for the last…!” she started but, thankfully Tapper interrupted.

“These maps aren’t the same,” she pointed out, taping on the screen next to a tunnel that was marked with doted lines. “What do the dotted lines mean?” she asked me.

“I’ll find out,” I said, glad that Gale had been distracted for a moment. I had been doing research, promise. I placed my hand on the mouse and thought an inquiry, there was a short pause as the computer did a search and then the answer just arrived in my brain, like opening an e-mail. Literally.

“Right, the dotted lines are tunnels that were built then deleted from the plans,”

“Wait,” Cam said sounding confused. “I thought you said the dotted tunnels were deleted. So how did you find them?”

“Computers don’t forget,” I assured him. Scary thought, huh?

Tapper finished tracing the line on the map; it left the tunnels at a few points but eventually ended up right where the lab should be, or at least where we felt it should be. Damn homing pigeon genes.

“So now we have a map,” I said, glancing over it, comparing it to my own memories, which were spotty at best. The computer screen flicker and showed a map of the metro, a red light pulsed softly in one of the large underground rooms.

“What’s it doing now?” Gale asked resignedly. I swivelled round to face it and tried to make sense of what it was telling me.

“It’s… it’s found another computer with a map,” I said looking at it in confusion.

“What map?”

“Our map. One to the Lab,” I said softly.

“Why would they have a map to the Lab?” Gale asked frowning.

“No idea,” I answered, I pointed at the little red dot. “But who ever they are, they are right there.”




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