The clerk looked up at the woman entering the office. She wore a non-descript, boxy grey skirt, her dark hair swept up in a severe bun, horn-rimmed glasses perched on her nose. She smiled and handed him a stack of papers. “I’m here to pick up the children.” The clerk rifled through them, making sure they were all in order. The woman waited patiently, unconcerned, as she had done everything in her power to be sure that they were. She knew she had to have all her bases covered to make this work, and Ian’s hacking skills and been the last link she needed. The clerk nodded and set down the papers in the appropriate inbox and pushed a button, speaking into an intercom. “Ms. Smith is here for the transfer.” And affirmative answer was received and the clerk motioned for the woman to wait in the lobby. She smiled again and thanked him and left the office. She breathed a small sigh of relief. So far, so good.
A few minutes later, a door opened and another woman ushered three children into the lobby, each hugging a plain brown paper bag. The oldest was ten, a boy with shaggy brown hair and an impish smile in his school pictures, which unfortunately was missing now. Not that that wasn’t understandable, as he had lost his parents only two weeks ago. His name was Brew Stockton, and he had an uncanny ability to make plants grow. Next to him was seven year old Iskra Balin, dressed in a worn blue plaid skirt and green t-shirt. Her strawberry blonde hair had been done in twin braids hanging down to the middle of her back. Iskra could control electricity. The youngest was only four, and small for his age, with dark skin and curly black hair. The woman crouched down so she was at his level. “You must be Ryan Hughes. My name’s Stacey. I have a friend I’d like to introduce you to. Her name is Erika. She can move stuff around like you can. Would you like to meet her?” Ryan looked at her with big eyes and nodded. Stacey smiled warmly at him. “Good, she’ll be waiting at the House when we get there.” Stacey stood up and turned to the woman. “Angela, good to see you again.”
Angela was dressed similarly to Stacey, her blond hair in a neat French twist. “You too Ms. Smith. The children are all ready to go. Here are their files.” She handed Stacey four file folders. Four? Stacey looked at her quizzically as she took them. Angela looked directly into Stacey’s eyes and pictured a small girl in her mind. She looked to be about six, Middle Eastern, with dark brown eyes and black hair in a cute pixie cut. Then Angela pictured the barrage of tests in store for the young psychic. Stacey stifled a gasp. She nodded firmly. “Thank you, Angela. We need to be going.”
The two women ushered the children into a van waiting outside. They got them buckled in, placing their meager possessions in their brown paper bags on the seats beside them. Stacey smiled encouragingly at them as she got in her own seat and put her seat belt on. She waved at Angela and told the driver they were ready to go. As they drove to the ferry, Stacey flipped through the fourth file. The girl’s name was Tamma Maninder, and she had just turned six. Her mother had perished just two days ago, when the bank she worked in was robbed. The villains had apparently decided it was easier to just kill everyone than take hostages. Her father had died when she was only six months old. Her psychic powers had become apparent when she was only two years old. And Arachnos wanted her. Stacey was not going to let that happen.
They stopped at the ferry and Stacey produced her and the children’s visas. She breathed another sigh of relief as the van was waved on to the ferry and they got underway. Turning to the children, she started to tell them about Josephine’s House and the kids that stayed there. Her stories coaxed small smiles from them at times, and once a giggle from Iskra. She did her best to entertain them on the trip between the Isles and Paragon. Finally they pulled up in front of the House. Several of the children and staff were waiting outside for them. They made a big deal over the kids and lead them off to get them settled into their new rooms. Stacey smiled in satisfaction and headed home.
She let herself into her condo and headed for her bedroom, taking off the unflattering suit and glaring at it in distaste as she shoved it to the back of her closet. She let down her hair and pulled on a short skirt and belly tee and grabbed the phone, punching in a number. She listened to it ring and then the mechanical voice telling her to leave a message. “Ian, it’s Stacey. I need your help. Call me as soon as you can.” She hung up the phone and headed to the kitchen to make some brownies.
"Some princesses are not content to sit around, waiting to be saved. Some go out looking for trouble. Others drag trouble kicking and screaming down massive towers while painting sparkles and hearts on the walls."
- Badly Drawn Designs