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The Girl with the Killer Eyes

By B. B. Kristopher

"Look, Roy, I'm telling you—"

"Yeah, Mike, I got it. A really hot redhead who shoots laser beams out of her eyes."

Jodie looked up from the guest register she was filling out intending to make a scathing comment about sexism in the workplace and men who treated women like sex objects, but the two men who were talking weren't even looking in her direction. One was a tall man with graying brown hair and the other was a shorter man with thick curly brown hair and olive skin. Both men seemed completely oblivious to anything but their conversation, at least if the flailing arms were any indication.

"Dude, don't start."

"Start?" the taller man said. "Mike, we've been having this same conversation for years. You can't see the future."

The shorter one, Mike, raised his index finger. "Then how do you explain Amber?"

"If that makes you able to see the future, then our entire high school qualifies. I'm the only person in the school who didn't think she'd cheat on me."

"But—" Mike said.

"And then there's football."

"Don't go there," Mike said in a warning tone.

"We've made the same bet every year for sixteen years . . ."

"Dude, this is Buffalo's year."

". . . and every year you lose."

"But—" Mike said.

"You owe me twelve hundred bucks."

"That much? Really?"



"I don't even watch football!"

The conversation trailed off as the two walked through the security checkpoint. Jodie shook her head, trying to get rid of the headache that had been building steadily through the bureaucratic nightmare that was the last two days, and turned back to the latest bit of paperwork. Once she finished signing her life away, the guard handed her a visitor's badge with a small, blurry, reddish picture of her printed on it.

"Just follow the green line, darling, and Special Agent Peterson will meet you," the guard said.

Jodie started to bristle but she stepped on it. In the last forty-eight hours, she'd been called "honey," "darling," "baby," and "sugar" more times than in the entire rest of her life, but mostly it had been by women who were either older, African-American, or who had a heavy Southern accent. Near as she could tell, it was just normal around Atlanta. Knowing that didn't do anything for her headache, however.

"Thank you," she said, doing her best to take it in the spirit in which it was offered. She picked up her purse and headed for the security checkpoint.

The checkpoint was the usual elaborate affair with thick walls, lots of guns, and even more guards. She extended the visitor's pass to an armored man who was about six foot six and built like a professional football player.

"Energy projector, huh?" the guard said as he read her badge. He pointed at the blast tank off to the side. "Try not to punch through the gizmo."

Jodie walked over and put her arm in the tube. "I'll be careful," she said. She took a deep breath and fired a blast into the tank and true to her word, she was very careful about just how much power she let out. First time she'd used a profile tank, she'd punched through the very expensive "gizmo," the bottom of the tank, the floor, and a foot of concrete foundation. The guard at the Superhuman Registry Office had been less than amused.

Unfortunately, being careful didn't stop the blast from filling the hall with the rotten egg smell of sulfur.

"She's a match," a woman said from the other side of the barricade.

The guard, his eyes watering slightly, offered her the visitor's pass back.

"Welcome to the Atlanta office, Special Agent Adan," the guard said as the door swung open.

She glanced at his badge. "Thank you, Sergeant Miller."

"Call me Frank. Everybody else does."

She was surprised at how short the wait was before a tall woman with straight black hair and a hint of Native American in her features and coloring stepped through the barricade.

"Hey, Frank," she said.

"Hey, Mary," Frank replied.

Mary turned to face Jodie. "Special Agent Mary Peterson," she said, holding out her hand.

Jodie took it. "Special Agent Jodie Adan."

"Welcome to the Atlanta office."


"Well, come on. It's best not to keep HR waiting. They sign the paychecks."


Two hours, a stack of forms, three hand cramps, a splitting headache, and two aspirin later Mary led Jodie out of the HR office.

"Your head doing any better?" Mary asked.

"No," Jodie said. "It always gets like this when I'm irritated. Airport security, movers, Superhuman Registry Office, and HR all in one week . . ."

"Yeah, that would irritate anyone. Come on." They rode the elevator down to the main office and Mary led her into the cube farm where most of the agents worked.

"Interrogation rooms for normals are off to the left," Mary said, pointing at a series of doors on one side of the farm. She turned and pointed at a massive bank vault style door that stood open off to the right. "The armored interrogation rooms are through that door for the übers."

Jodie flinched at the term and felt another throb of irritation. She hadn't heard anyone use anything other than "empowered humans" since she was about eight. Mary didn't even seem to notice, she just kept talking, so Jodie decided to let it go.

"If there's ever a breakout, stay clear of the door though. It weighs eleven tons and the rams drive it shut in about two seconds."

Jodie nodded even though she knew all about blast doors. At the academy, they'd shown her a video of an agent who hadn't gotten clear during a breakout. It had been more than enough to drive the lesson home.

"Oh, and you'll want to keep a warm coat at your desk," Mary said. "It gets really hot in the city during the summer, so you'll want to wear lightweight suits, but the office is cut into a vein of granite that shoots off of Stone Mountain, and we've never been able to keep it warm enough."

"I'll keep that in mind," Jodie said. She was honestly grateful for the tip, but it meant shopping. She only had a couple of really lightweight suits. One more adjustment to make, she supposed.

They'd gotten about halfway across the cube farm when a carefully folded paper helicopter complete with spinning rotors rose up from one of the cubicles ahead of her, sailed across the aisle, and fired a pair of paper missiles through the entrance to another cube.

"Damn it, Roy, I didn't need to know that!"

Jodie groaned as she recognized the voice. It was Mike from the lobby.

Mary sighed and called out, "Am I going to have to separate you two?"

"What?" Roy asked. "All I did—"

Mike stood up and stomped out of his cubicle. "All you did was load those stupid missiles with memories of . . ." He stopped and looked right at Jodie.

"What is it, Mike?" Roy asked. He stuck his head around the wall of his cubicle and looked at Jodie. His jaw dropped.

"Dude," Mike said.

Jodie held up her hands "Don't say it!"


"I mean it," she said. "I do not shoot laser beams out of my eyes."

Roy looked at Mike, who looked absolutely crestfallen, and started laughing. Hard. Pretty soon, other people were sticking their heads over the walls of their cubes to see what was so funny.

Mary gave Jodie an apologetic look and said, "Sorry." Then a long black tentacle stretched out from the shoulder of her suit and gave Roy a shove.

He squawked as he fell out of his chair.

It didn't do much good. Roy shut up, but Mike took one look at him lying on the floor and doubled over laughing.

Jodie reached up and started rubbing her temples, trying to ease her head, "Maybe I'll dye my hair."

Special Agent in Charge Scott Coolidge wasn't what Jodie expected. Somehow, she'd expected a man with his reputation to be taller. At five foot ten, she had a good two inches on him. Worse, he seemed perky, and one wall of his office was almost covered with photos of women in various mildly suggestive poses.

"So, what brings you to our little corner of the world?"

"Well, sir, I graduated top of my class at Quantico so I got my choice of assignments, and the chance to work with, well, you, sir . . ."

"Ah," he said. He opened a desk drawer and pulled out an old, well-worn pipe with a curved stem and slightly fluted bowl. The pipe was a dark yellow, but judging by the ivory white near where the black mouthpiece was attached, the yellow color was mostly a result of age and heavy use. He filled it from a small tin and packed it down with some kind of pocketknife-like tool.

She couldn't help but be surprised. The Bureau had a strict no-smoking policy, and as the special agent in charge, seeing that it was enforced was one of his jobs.

"You smoke, Ms. Adan?"

"No, sir."

He touched the tip of his finger to the tobacco and it glowed bright red. As the office filled with the smell of it she felt a flicker of irritation at the fact that he hadn't even asked her if she minded, but he didn't seem to notice. Instead, he took a long pull of the pipe, leaned back, and blew the smoke in the general direction of an exhaust fan.

"You shouldn't believe everything you hear, Agent," he said mildly. "Most of the stories about me are—"

The door swung open and Mary stuck her head in.

"Sir, we've got a live one."

Coolidge's chair snapped upright and he set the pipe into a shallow indentation in the ashtray on his desk.

"What is it?" he asked, suddenly all business.

"Bank robbery."

"That's a little low end, isn't it?" he asked.

"The perp tunneled into the vault, sir. Cleaned out all the safety deposit boxes and about ten million in cash. Thing is, the vault was cleared in five minutes."

"That does sound like one of ours. I take it Team Six is up in the rotation?"

"Yes, sir."

Coolidge turned back to look at Jodie.

"What about it, Agent, you feel like working a case today?"

She thought about it for a second. What she really wanted was a couple of more aspirin and a dark room where she could sleep off her headache. She hadn't been properly briefed on her teammate's abilities, or local comm procedures, or local law enforcement, or any of a dozen other things she should know before she went into the field, but Coolidge seemed to expect her to jump at the chance and she didn't want him to think she wasn't up to the job. Not only was he one of the best agents the Bureau had ever fielded, he was also the youngest Special Agent in Charge in Bureau history.

That, and he could sink her career before it even started.

"Yes, sir," she said, not entirely sure she was ready, but deciding there was no way she was going to disappoint Scott Coolidge on her first day.

"Got your badge and gun?"

"Yes, sir."

"Good girl. I hereby dub you Federal Bureau of Superhuman Investigation Enforcement Team ATL-06's official ranged attack specialist. Mary here can fill you in on the way." He turned to Mary. "And Mary . . ."


"Try to keep Tweedledum and Tweedledee in line."

She snorted. "Right. Me and what army?"

Before Jodie had time to ask what she meant, Mary turned to her and said, "Come on, kid."

The motor pool smelled faintly of diesel, but Jodie was use to that. The Bureau always used diesels. They figured the extra pollution was an acceptable trade-off for a fuel that was less explosive. After the first time she blew up a car on the training range, she had to admit they had a point.

"First time out on a case?" Mary asked.

"Yeah," Jodie answered.

"Don't worry about it. You'll do fine."

"Right. Who are the other members of . . . oh no."

Mike and Roy were standing by the black Ford Excursion Diesel.

"See what you did?" Roy said. "On the team less than a day, and she already hates you."

"Me?" Mike said. "What makes you so sure it isn't you she hates?"

"Boys," Mary said. "She hates both of you. Now, can we go before APD taints the scene for Mike?"

"Right," Mike said. "I'm driving."

"Like hell," Roy said. "I want to live until dinner."

"Fine," Mary said. "I'll drive, and Jodie here gets shotgun."

"D'oh!" Mike said.


Atlanta traffic on a Monday afternoon was different from the L.A. traffic she'd grown up with, the Boston traffic she'd dealt with during her college years, and the D.C. traffic she'd gotten use to at the academy. She'd expected it to be tamer, slower. A bit more genteel. Heck, she'd expected people to yield for the siren and the dome lights.

Instead, she'd spent the last twenty-five minutes clinging to the handle strap above the passenger door of the Excursion as Mary whipped the SUV in and out of traffic and tried to hide her amazement at the number of pickup trucks, minivans, and junkers doing eighty on the midtown connector.

And if the traffic was bad, it was nothing compared to the arguing.

"We should take the Peachtree Street exit and avoid the traffic on the connector."

"You're nuts. If we take the surface streets, the perps will be in Mexico by the time we get there."

"No, don't take the Williams Street exit, go down to the Georgia State exit."

"Dude, she's not going ten minutes out of the way so you can ogle the co-eds."

"Fine, let her get stuck in traffic."

"Both of you shut up!"

By the time they pulled up outside of Peachtree Center, Jodie was convinced she'd been assigned to the worst team in the Bureau. Mike and Roy were idiots, and Mary must have done something spectacularly stupid to get stuck with them.

She also had something close to a full-blown migraine. The light and sound sensitivity hadn't started yet, but she felt like someone was pounding on her head with a sledgehammer, from the inside.

She tried not to think about it. She just put her headset on, set her comm to the right frequency, got out of the truck, and followed them to the bank entrance.

"Sorry, folks, this is a crime scene," the uniformed officer at the entrance said.

Mike held up his badge. "Special Agent Beyer, FBSI. Special Agents Barnett, Peterson, and Adan. Who's in charge?"

"Detective Warner."

"Well, that figures," Roy said.

"Roy," Mike said in a warning tone. "Where is the detective?"

"He's in the vault, sir," the uniform said.


The uniform stepped aside but his shoulder brushed up against Mike as he walked through the door and Mike stopped so suddenly Roy walked right into his back.

"Officer, do you own a Mustang?"

"Yes, sir," the officer said in confusion.

"You've been smelling gas, haven't you?"

"Yes, sir."

"I don't know much about cars, but I can't imagine a leak that's spraying hot gas on your engine block is very safe. You might want to get it towed to the mechanic."

"Yes, sir!"

Jodie was still a little stunned by Mike's behavior when they entered the vault. She'd assumed Mary was the senior agent, but the way Mike had taken charge had corrected that impression, and he'd been much more professional than she'd expected too. It was calming, both to her nerves and to the pain in her head.

"Well, well, well, if it isn't—" a man in a bad tan suit started.

"Don't say it," Roy said, cutting him off.

"Say what?" the bad suit asked.

"'If it isn't Nostradamus,'" Roy said in a mocking tone.

"Hey, you stay out of my head."

"Dick," Mary said, "he doesn't have to read your mind to know you're going to spout the same tired jokes that weren't funny the first time. He just has to smell your cheap cologne."

"What, a psychic boyfriend wasn't enough, now he's got a psychic nose too?"

"Warner," Mike said, "you want to fill us in on what happened, or should I start by ordering your people off my crime scene?"

"There's no evidence that this was done by a freak job."

"Hey," Jodie snapped, both her temper and her headache flaring. "Who are you—"

"Adan," Roy said, "leave it. 'Detective' Warner here isn't worth your breath."

Mike stepped past Warner and knelt down next to a large hole in the floor. "Tell you what," he said, "why don't we find out."

"Hey, don't contaminate my . . ." Warner never finished.

Mike touched the edge of the hole and his eyes glazed over. He stayed like that for almost a minute, then stood up.

"Three guys," Mike said. "One was a digger, one's a telekinetic, and one looks to be muscle. The digger got them into the vault. The TK picked the locks and the muscle collected the goods. All three were übers."

"And I'm just supposed to take your word for it?" Warner said.

"You know what," Mike said in an offhand manner, "I'm tired of having this argument with you, Richard. If you think your men can handle three übers, go ahead and send them out. Just don't expect us to clean them up. In the meantime, we're going to do our jobs. Mary, if you would?"

Mary nodded and her suit began to melt and shrink. The white shirt completely vanished as the black, shinny liquid that had been the suit closed up and wrapped around her neck and covered her hands. It stopped for a second while she raised a hand and waved to Warner.

"Buh-bye," she said in a cheerful tone before the suit flowed again, covering her hair and face before it finally settled into a dry, seamless matte black bodysuit with what looked like inset armor plates. Her head turned to the left, then the right, and she nodded to herself. Four thick tentacles grew out of her back, planted themselves around the hole, and lifted her up, then lowered her down into the black.

A minute later, her voice crackled over the radio.

"Looks clean. Come on down."

Mike looked at Roy.

"Roy, you're up."

Roy nodded and rose up off the ground and just floated down the hole.

"Showoffs," Warner muttered.

"How are we supposed to get down?" Jodie asked.

"TK assist," Mike said.

Jodie winced.

"You ready, Mike?" Roy asked over the radio.

"Yeah, go for it."

Mike rose up and floated down the tunnel, just like Roy had.

"Jodie," Mike's voice came over the radio, "it's about thirty feet down and the bottom's sloped. Roy's going to lift you down, but be careful when you land."

"Got it."

Jodie braced herself. TK assisted lifts were standard training at the academy, but she wasn't that fond of the experience. She felt something wrap around her like a pair of arms in a loose hug before she felt the pressure against the bottom of her feet. It was unusual. With the instructor at the academy it was like riding an elevator without walls and she always felt like she was going to fall over. Roy seemed to be focusing on holding her upright as well as carrying her down the tunnel.

Mike was right. She almost slipped on the floor.

Mary was standing up at the end of the tunnel, her tentacles gone, but looking for all the world like a ninja in body armor. Roy stood behind her and a pair of Mag-Lites floated overhead illuminating the tunnel and the spot where Mike stood, hands on the wall.

"This was well planned," he said. "They've been working the tunnel for weeks. I think . . . MARTA."

"What?" Jodie asked.

"Metro Atlanta Rapid Transit Authority," Mike said. "They abbreviate it MARTA. There's a train station under Peachtree Center, and the digger and TK both had MARTA badges."

"So they were posing as subway employees and using it as a cover to tunnel into the bank from a train station?" Jodie asked. "Wouldn't someone notice?"

Roy laughed. "Wait until you see the train station."

"Let's go," Mike said.

Mary started forward and Roy and Mike followed. Jodie noticed Mike kept his hand in contact with the wall as they walked.


"What is it?" Roy asked.

"They've just been dumping the rock right into the construction debris," Mike said.

Roy shook his head. "You know, I thought this kind of thing was going to stop when that idiot Campbell was voted out of office."

"What kind of thing?" Jodie asked.

"The Peachtree Center station has been under construction, constantly, for about five years," Mike said.


The tunnel let out into a supply closet. A large metal shelving unit had been shoved in front of the mouth of the tunnel. Mary picked it up and set it aside while Jodie and Roy covered her, ready to attack, but there was nothing in the closet but cleaning supplies. Once they were sure it was clear, Mike stepped forward and touched the door.

"We didn't miss them by much," he said. "They had to change their . . . Oh, ewww . . ."

"What?" Roy asked.

"Skid marks," Mike said in a disgusted tone.

"Okay, from now on, no one asks for details of Mike's visions," Mary said.

"Right," Roy said. "I should know better by now."

"Um, not to be a party pooper . . ." Jodie stopped when Mike and Roy both burst out laughing. Then she realized what she'd said and looked at Mary.

"Are they always like this?"

"No, sometimes they act childish," she said. "Boss, we've got a job."

"Right," Mike said, still holding his sides. "Yeah. They changed clothes and tossed the goods in one of those Rubbermaid Dumpster things."

Mary nodded and her bodysuit melted back into a black and gray pinstripe number right out of the Macy's catalogue. Jodie decided the strangest part of the process was watching her gun and badge crawl from her hip and belt up under the coat and tuck into the shoulder holster and inside breast pocket.

"That's a neat trick," Jodie said.

"Yeah," Roy said, "but it makes her a pain to shop for."

"Admit it," Mike said, "you love working with a chick who shows up to work naked every day."

Before anyone could say a word, Mike opened the door of the closet and stepped out.

They got a lot of odd looks, including one from the cop with the MARTA police patch on his shoulder. Mike waved him over as he took out his badge.

"Special Agent Beyer, FBSI," he said. "I'm looking for three men. At least two of them are in MARTA uniforms. One's a short fellow, lots of hair, swarthy with big eyes, looks kind of like a mole. The next one is tall, blond, looks kind of like a surfer dude. The last one is big and kinda dumb looking."

"The first two sound like Julio and Dave," the cop said.

"Have you seen them lately?"

"Yeah, they went up to the Dumpsters about fifteen minutes ago."

"Which way?"

"Elevators on the other end of the platform," the cop said.

"Thanks," Mike said. "That closet is now a crime scene. I need you to keep it sealed."

"Um . . ."

Mike didn't wait for the rest of his response, he just took off in the direction of the escalators and led them down a flight of stairs, across the train platform, and up another flight of stairs at very near a dead run. Sure enough, the first thing Jodie noticed when they reached the top was that end of the station was under construction and a large section was barricaded off with plywood and two-by-fours.

Mike started to turn toward the elevators but stopped. He eyed the plywood.

"What?" Roy asked.

Mike walked over to the plywood and touched it.

"There's another tunnel," he said. "Come on. I think we can beat them if we hurry." He turned away from the elevator and toward escalators that were off to the right.

Mary just shrugged. "You heard the man," she said before she and Roy took off after him. Jodie followed.

The escalators had to be the longest she'd ever seen. They were at least four stories and by the time she hit the bottom, Mike was halfway up. At the top, Mike turned right and Jodie lost sight of him.

"Slow down, Mike," Roy said over the radio.

"Dude, they're getting away," Mike said.

"Yeah, but you're not exactly combat effective are you?" Roy asked

"So catch up," Mike said


"Heard that."

"Meant you to," Roy said.

Jodie turned the corner and ran up a couple of steps and found herself in a food court. Her stomach reminded her that she hadn't had lunch, but she ignored it and focused on catching up to Mike, Roy, and Mary.

The problem was, Mike and Roy were nowhere to be seen. Jodie skidded to a halt next to Mary.

"Which way?" Mary asked into her headset.

"The Hyatt, motor lobby," Mike replied over the radio.

Mary cornered at an Orange Julius stand and Jodie followed. They went through a short glass-covered walkway and were in the hotel.

"Where's the motor lobby?" Jodie asked.

"Four floors down," Mary said and they ran across the lobby for the escalators. "Hold on," Mary said, and before Jodie could ask what she meant, Mary picked her up and instead of taking the escalators, she jumped over the railing. Jodie screamed, but the tentacles reappeared, shooting down to the floor below and slowing their fall. Mary set her on her feet.

"This way," she said and headed for another bank of escalators. Since there was no opening around these, they were forced to take the next three flights on foot, but the last escalator put them out right by the motor lobby. They burst through the doors from the lobby into the parking garage just in time to see a van swing around the corner at speed. Roy was standing right in front of it, arms raised, while Mike stood off to the side with his gun drawn.

The front of the van crumpled as it hit an invisible wall.

"I said stop!" Roy yelled.

Mary stepped forward and her suit melted into armor again, but this time, her badge was fixed to the left side of her chest.

"FBSI," she shouted. "Step out of the vehicle with your hands raised. Any attempt to use your powers will result in charges of resisting arrest."

Jodie shoved the sleeves of her suit up to her elbows and pointed her fists at the van. No need to take chances, or ruin a good suit.

It turned out to be a good decision. The side of the van blew off and sailed toward her. She blasted it aside and started searching for targets.

A big guy with long, stringy blond hair, a mustache, and a beard who looked like a pro wrestler charged Mary and before Jodie could fire on him, Mary leapt at him and they started trading blows. She looked around and Roy was fighting the guy who could only be the digger. His hands ended in long, blunt claws that he was trying to use to gut Roy, but Roy had a telekinetic shield up and the digger couldn't get at him. That left the TK.

"Where's the third one?" she asked.

"I don't know," Mike said.

"How can you not know?" she asked.

"This place is loaded with images. It would take too long to sort them."

"Fine," Jodie said. "Roy, give him a shove."

Roy raised his hand and pushed toward the digger. The digger sailed back about ten feet and Jodie pointed her fist at him. The air rippled and slammed into the digger hard enough to knock him into the wall. He fell to the ground, out cold. She turned.

"Mary, get clear of Blondie there."

"Got it," Mary said. She rolled onto her back and slammed both of her feet into his gut, sending him sailing. Jodie gave him just enough lead and let loose with a blast. He hit the wall near where the digger had and fell to the ground, unmoving.

"Mike, we've got you covered," Jodie said.

"Good job," Mike said as he stepped back and put his hand against the wall.

"Roy," Mary said, "can you feel him?"

"Not a thing," Roy said.

"You think he's a telepath too?" Mary asked.

"Yeah, probably," Roy said.

"Look out," Mike shouted.

Jodie turned and saw the chunk of van she'd blasted earlier sailing toward her. She raised her hands and fired, blasting it aside easily.

"The perp!" Mary shouted.

Jodie turned and all three of her teammates were running for the parking garage exit. She ran after them cursing under her breath. One of the first things they'd drummed into her at the academy was to avoid street fights. Too easy to hit innocent bystanders, too many potential hostages, way too much collateral damage, the public always pitched a fit, and there were almost always letters of censure.

She didn't want a letter of censure. Her first day was going badly enough as it was.

People were screaming and running by the time Jodie hit the street. It wasn't hard to see why, either. Roy was standing in the middle of the street and a large delivery van was rising and falling on top of him like a hammer trying to drive a nail. Mary was about thirty feet up a wall, screaming in rage with tentacles flaying, but the TK obviously had her pinned. Mike was emptying a gun the size of a Cadillac at the TK, but the bullets kept flattening themselves against an invisible wall.

Jodie raised both fists, checked her line of fire, and was about to blast him when he suddenly turned on her. She was snatched up and slammed back against the wall and her hands pinned down.

The TK turned his attention back to Mike and walked right into the hail of bullets. Mike never flinched. He just fed magazine after magazine into his pistol until he shot himself dry, then pulled out a snap baton and flicked it open.

Roy kept yelling, telling Mike to run, but he couldn't get way from the delivery van. Mary screamed and a single long, spiked tentacle shot toward the TK.

He yelled and looked down when it speared his leg. He waved his hand and the spike pulled back out of his leg and Mary shot up the side of the building a good twenty stories.

He turned back to Mike.

"Time to die, little man," the TK said.

Jodie pulled against the invisible force holding her. She couldn't let this happen. She couldn't let a member of her team be killed. She couldn't let Mike be killed. She just needed to focus, to get one hand up, but she couldn't. All she could do was glare and growl.

One shot. All she needed was one shot.

The TK drove Mike to his knees.

Just one shot.

Mike's hands went to his throat.

Jodie felt the blood pounding behind her eyes, the headache she'd all but forgotten during the heat of the chase flared again, and for a second, she was sure her skull would split open.

Mike's face started to turn blue.

The world suddenly turned red and the TK folded nearly in half as two thick red beams shot out of Jodie's eyes and slammed into him, sending him sailing into the large golden sphere suspended above the fountain in front of the hotel across the street. The thing rang like a bell and Jodie, suddenly free of the invisible force holding her up, fell to her knees. She stayed there for a second, looking at the crumpled body of the TK, then passed out.

"It's no big deal," Mary said.

Jodie tried to look up at Mary and instantly regretted opening her eyes. Even with all the lights out in the interrogation room, the light getting in past the closed blinds was enough to hurt.

"I passed out during a fight," Jodie groaned.

"Come on, Jodie," Mary said, "it's not that uncommon to pass out the first time a new power manifests."

"Have you?" Jodie asked.

"No, but then I'm just a one."

Jodie groaned as she realized she'd gone from a one to a two. She'd have to get the signature of her new power cataloged and refile her registration papers.

"Roy, on the other hand, is a three."

Jodie dropped the ice pack and looked at Mary, then winced and shut her eyes as the light registered. Mary handed her the ice pack again.

"He's really a three?" she asked.

"Yeah," Mary said. "TK manifested first, but he was in the middle of a chemistry class when the telepath manifested. It was a bit embarrassing for him really. Apparently the girl sitting behind him was thinking dirty thoughts about the professor and it bled through."

Jodie chuckled, then winced as the movement upset her stomach.

"That isn't the really funny one though," Mary said.

"Really, what is?"

"Well, before he went to the Academy, Roy got his PhD. Poor boy has a thing about public speaking. Don't know why. He used to do community theater all the time, and he was one of the best teachers Georgia State ever put in a classroom, but ask the boy to present a paper and he breaks out into a cold sweat."

"Oh no," Jodie said, suddenly having a pretty good idea where this was going.

"Well, he's suppose to present a paper on the use of telekinesis to manipulate light in the optics lab, so he walks out onto the stage, looks at a crowd of about a thousand physicists, and just vanishes."

Jodie laughed, and then clutched her head.

"Oh, God," she said, not sure herself if she was referring to the pain or the image of Roy vanishing from behind a podium.

"Yeah, it gets worse. The poor guy didn't even realize it. He just stood there and presented his entire paper while he was invisible."

"Please stop," Jodie said.

"Aw, come on. Don't you want to hear the part about how it took him three weeks to figure out how to become visible again?"

Jodie laughed even harder.

The door opened and a balding man in his late thirties stuck his head in.

"Scott wants to know if she's ready to debrief," he asked.

"How about it?" Mary asked.

"Yeah," Jodie said. "Just hand me my sunglasses."

Mary handed her the sunglasses. She put them on and stood up. Mary took her arm and led her out of the interrogation room.

At which point, they ran smack into Roy and Mike.

Mike looked at her, then at Roy. "Dude, I told you. I frickin' told you . . ."

Jodie looked up at both of them and shook her head.

"Yeah, fine," she said. "I shoot laser beams out of my eyes."

"Don't forget, he thinks you're hot," Roy said.

"Please shut up," Jodie said.

Mike smiled. "Told you she hated you."

"No, Mary's right. I hate both of you."

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