[Once again, language warnings.]
I wasn't home at the time. I didn't see anything when I got home.
"Look at her squirm! Tommy really got her!"
"What the hell was Tommy thinking? All she has to do is tell the cops what really happened and we're in deep shit."
"Relax. Who are the cops going to believe, Nasty or us four upstanding students?"
I don't know. It's frightening, a little, but what was the supposed altie doing here? And what were those football players doing here? I never invited them. Seems strange to me.
"Eric, is that your friend on TV?"
"Hey, yeah, it's Tasha, Mom. You've met her. We've studied here, remember?"
"Right. She lives in a rough neighbourhood, doesn't she?"
"I haven't been there."
"She looks pretty enough."
"Mom . . .."
Like I said, I wasn't home, and I never saw any marks until I went to school the next day. I've seen the football players in the halls, but I never really spoke to them. We don't hang around in the same crowd.
"Indeed. She's avoiding the questions. She is hiding something."
"Look behind her."
"Look how she's using it as a support, how she's holding on to it. That motorcycle is hers."
"And the witness thought he saw a woman ride away."
"Shall I send a team to talk with her?"
"Send Subjects 4 and 7. Don't let this girl --"
"Don't let the Giuliano girl suspect anything. If she is our mystery biker, we need to find out how much she knows."
The apartment's lock rattled, stopping Nasty in mid-pace. She turned to watch her mother enter. "Mom, don't get comfortable," Nasty said. "We have to go back out."
"Natasha, I need to sit and get off my feet," her mother said. "Why do we have to go back out?"
"Meet the Teachers Night, remember?" I can't believe I want her to go. Anything to keep her from seeing the news. "You were the one who put me in that school. If you're not interested in how I'm doing, then why keep me there?"
"Alright, Tasha, I'll go. Just give me a chance to change. Are there any beers left?"
"Maybe you should go easy on the booze before meeting the teachers, Mom."
"Don't start that with me."
"Think about the impression you'll leave with my teachers. Or do you not care?"
"Fine. Just give me a moment to sit. What about supper?"
"I'll make something when we get home," Nasty said. "I'll get what I need on the way home. Okay?"
"Fine. Just let me sit for fifteen minutes, okay?"
"Okay. Want a Coke?"
"I'd prefer a beer."
"Mom, please, after the teachers?"
"Right." The tall man disconnected the line. He turned to his partner, a woman who barely came up to his chest. They both wore dark, conservative suits, though the woman wore heels much taller than necessary. "That was the boss," the man said. "He had a lead for us. An apartment in Brooklyn."
"About time, Mikail," the woman said. "I can't keep still any longer in front of those mouth-breathers."
"Try reading their minds. And could you button your blouse a little more, Elly? The last guy couldn't think about anything else."
"I was just trying to distract him. Gah! I hate this hair colour." The woman ran her fingers through her dark hair.
"Just hold out a little longer, Elly," Mikail said with a trace of a Slavic accent. "We'll check out the apartment the boss told me about, then head in for the night."
"Good. I'm tired of this wild goose chase," Elly said. "Why are we going to Brooklyn?"
"News report. A bunch of kids got beat up by an altie."
"Yeah, so? So what if some kids got smacked around."
"The boss thinks that a girl witnessed it, and may have seen who did it. The attack took place shortly after the accident, and the apartment is the right distance away."
"Then we can call it a day?"
Nasty fixed her blouse, trying to get her school logo to look straight for a change. She looked over at her mother, who was slipping on a black pump. Great. What was I thinking? There's no way she'll get through the interview without screwing up. As her mother put on her other shoe, Nasty shook her head. Then again, maybe they'll kick me out after meeting Mom.
"Ready, Tasha?" her mother asked.
"Sure. Can you walk in those shoes?"
"What's wrong with my shoes? You could stand to get yourself a few more pairs, too. You can't wear those sneakers all the time."
"I have other shoes, and I don't wear my sneakers all the time."
"Your boots don't count, Tasha."
"Mom -- Never mind. We're going to be late," Nasty said. She grabbed her jacket. "Are you sure you want to walk?"
"I'm not getting on that bike of yours, Natasha. You know how I feel about it."
"I was thinking about a cab, Mom. You've been on your feet all day."
"I can still walk down to your school, Tasha."
"Fine. We'll walk." Nasty walked over to the closet to get a coat for her mother. Finding one that was in good condition, she handed it to her mother.
Mother and daughter left the apartment and went downstairs. As they left the building, two people, a tall man and a thin woman, approached them. The woman held up a badge.
"Special Agent Helen Johnson," she said. "This is Special Agent Steven Parks. We're investigating the metahuman attack from yesterday. We have a few questions for you. I understand that someone in the neighbourhood may have witnessed the attack."
"An altie attack? Here?" Nasty's mother said. "Good God, what is this world coming to?"
"Mom, relax," Nasty said. Great. Did these guys see the news? "Look, like I told the reporter, I didn't see anything at all." Just don't mention what happened to the coffee table, Mom.
"Do you know if anyone did?" Johnson asked.
"This is New York. Even if someone did, they didn't."
"Why were you on the news, then?"
"Natasha, you were on the news?"
Shut up, Mom! "They got too close with their van to my bike. I should have known better."
"What about --"
"No one saw anything. I wasn't here." Would you get the hint already? Don't say a fucking word about my hand!
"We're here to keep people safe. If we can find the altie, everyone can sleep safer," Johnson said. "Please, think. What were you doing last night at about ten-thirty?"
"I was at home," Nasty's mother said. "Natasha had gone out."
"And what were you doing at that time, Ma'am?"
"Watching TV, having a drink or two."
Or two? Try ten, Mom. Sheesh. "I was out, like Mom said," Nasty said.
"Did you see anything unusual? Anything at all?"
"Unusual?" Like a guy who aged before my eyes? "Nothing."
"Are you sure?" Agent Parks asked, looking directly at Nasty.
"Positive." Does he have to stare through me like that? And is that an accent I hear?
As if he heard her thoughts, Parks turned his stare from Nasty to her mother. "And what about you, Ma'am? Did you see or hear anything unusual?"
"Nothing at all."
"Thanks for your help," Johnson said. "I'm sure we'll find someone who saw something. Maybe the kids who were injured can help out."
"Maybe," Nasty said. Great. I'm screwed.
Parks smiled. "Thanks for all your help."
Name: Mikail Grdevich
Birthdate: April 22, 1954
Birthplace: Moscow, (former) USSR
Gunshot wound, upper left thigh. Gunshot wound, lower right torso
Mother: Elena Grdevich, nee unknown
Father: Sergei Grdevich
Telepathy, with capacity to probe deeply into subject's memory. Subject
4 has been trained to create temporary memories. This will ease indoctrination of future subjects.
Subject 4 was once with the KGB, but defected to the US on October 13, 1976. He has taken numerous English courses to remove all traces of his accent.
[End Issue 4]
Next Issue: Nasty's power flares up at school.