[Once again, strong language ahead. Nasty is particularly vulgar in this issue. Reader discretion advised.]
Nasty arrived at school late. Traffic had slowed her down, and the lights never helped. She parked her motorcycle, then walked in through the front doors. A teacher sat behind a small desk in the foyer, signing a late slip for another late student. Nasty sighed. Better get this over with. She walked over to the teacher.
"Name?" the teacher asked.
"Natasha Giuliano. I don't have a note."
The teacher looked over a list of names. "Giuliano, Giuliano. Did your parents call to say you'd be late?"
"No. I got held up in traffic. I know I should have left earlier," Nasty said. Just give me the slip and the lecture already.
"Ah, found you. Giuliano, Natasha." The teacher signed the late slip. "Mrs. Robinson would like to see you in her office."
"The principal? I wasn't that late," Nasty protested. What the fuck is going on? She checked her watch. "I'm not even ten minutes late."
"That's not why. Mrs. Robinson just wants to talk with you, that's all."
Another fucking talk. Nasty took her late slip. "Thanks." She walked to the main office. Inside, the secretary escorted her into the principal's office. Mrs. Robinson stood up to greet Nasty.
"You wanted to see me?" Nasty said warily.
"Please, sit, Ms Giuliano," Mrs. Robinson said, smiling broadly.
Nasty sat, not leaning back in the chair. "I wasn't that late."
"I know. We got a call from Bonnie Costello, from the George Washington Elementary School."
"I was only following the kid to make sure her got to school safely. That's all. I never touched him."
"Ms Costello just wanted to let us know that you were going to be late," Mrs. Robinson said. "She told us how impressed she was with you for taking the time to make sure the child got to school safely. Ms Costello told us that you were a very caring young woman, and wanted us to know about it."
Nasty blushed. "It wasn't, I mean, the kid needed help." I just couldn't let him get pounded on.
"You could have left him, Ms Giuliano, but you didn't. You should be commended."
"Thanks, but I'd prefer to go to class."
"Of course. You have your late slip?" Nasty waved her slip in the air. Mrs. Robinson continued, "If there's a problem, have Ms Nordberg call me, okay?"
"Thanks." Nasty stood up and left the office.
Maria staggered out of her home. Her head still pounded, and the visit from those agents didn't help. She checked the time. Shit! I'm going to be late. I better have cash for a cab. Maria checked and did have the money. She flagged down a cab, and gave them her work address. Damn that Natasha. She's causing problems even when she isn't around. Not my problem anymore. What made her turn herself in?
The cab muscled through the traffic, leaving a wake of blaring horns and squealing tires. Maria never noticed. When the cab arrived at her work, a home in an affluent suburban, she quickly paid the driver then ran inside.
"Sue, cover for me for a minute?" Maria asked when she saw a co-worker. "I just need to change."
"More problems at home?" Sue asked as Maria dashed into a bathroom.
"My daughter. Her school had parent-teacher night last night and she threw another fit," Maria called through the closed door. "She never came home last night." No way I'm telling her my kid's a danmed altie.
"At all? Maria, aren't you worried?"
"She's pulled this shit before. She even tried it two days ago. She always comes back. Never fails."
"I'd be frantic if she were my daughter."
"You can have her. Damn! Friggin' nylons. Goddamnit!"
"Then send her to me for a week when you're fighting," Sue said. "I'd be happy to have her around."
"Don't be so sure." You want an altie around you?
"Don't you remember what you were like at Natasha's age?"
"Pregnant with her." Maria came out of the bathroom wearing an apron over a functional black dress. "Sue, Natasha just has a mean streak in her. She's locked into her selfish little world, and nothing anyone can say will change that."
Nasty fought to stay awake and pay attention to Nordberg. The story under study bored Nasty, and she did everything she could to keep herself interested. She did notice that the quarterback had returned to class. Must be over his trauma. Jerk. Nasty returned her attention to the lesson, trying to find something worth the effort. Why am I even trying? This shit is boring. Looking around the room, she saw Eric taking notes. Beside him sat Tia. Right. No way I want Bitch there to show me up.
The phone rang, interrupting the lesson. Nordberg answered it after the third ring. She spent a moment on the phone before hanging up. "Ms Giuliano, they'd like to see you in the office."
Oh, what now? Nasty wondered. She gathered her books. Under her classmates stares, she made her way to the door. She glanced one last time towards Eric and Tia. Eric had a puzzled look. Tia wasn't looking at all. Oh, figures. This better not be anything. How I am going to explain this? Nasty left the room and went downstairs to the office. The secretary ushered her into a conference room, where Nasty saw Mrs. Robinson sitting with a man and a woman.
"Ms. Giuliano, this is Agent McArthur and Agent Walsh. They're from the Treasury Department, and they'd like to speak with you." Mrs. Robinson left the room, closing the door behind her.
The woman stood up. "Hi, Natasha, I'm Karen Walsh. My partner, Adam, and I have some questions for you about the altie attack two days ago."
"I told the reporter I didn't see any altie attack," Nasty said. "I've even told that to the Feds who dropped by yesterday."
"The football players claimed they were attacked by one," McArthur said. "I believe they're also students here. Are you saying that they were lying?"
"Damn straight they were. What the hell were they doing in front of my apartment that late at night? They were waiting for me."
"That sounded sweet of them," Walsh said.
Is she for real? "They were waiting to pound on me. What's so fucking sweet about that? They attacked me. I fought back and hurt two of them, like they wanted to hurt me."
Walsh looked shocked. McArthur ignored his partner, and said, "I'm glad you admitted that, Natasha. It answers several of our questions. Does this mean that you are the metahuman that the football players reported?" As Nasty opened her mouth to answer, he added, "I should tell you that we have already spoken to your mother."
Nasty closed her mouth. "What does she have to do with this?" she demanded.
"Natasha, your mother called the FBI, who passed this on to us," Walsh said. "She wanted to make sure you got the help you need."
"What the fuck does any of this have to do with Treasury? And what fucking help?"
"The Secret Service is routinely called in when there is an uncontrolled or an unknown metahuman," McArthur said.
"Your mother told us all about what happened two nights ago," Walsh said.
"That bitch! That fucking bitch! She had no right to tell anyone." Nasty felt her right hand tingle. Oh, fuck. Not now!
"Natasha, she is looking out for you best interest," Walsh said. "As are we. There's nothing wrong with being a metahuman. We just don't want you hurting anyone else with your power uncontrolled like it is."
"I have no idea what you're talking about."
"Please take a look at your arm, Natasha," McArthur said.
Nasty glanced down. Shit. Her right hand glowed purple.
"We can help you control that, Natasha," Walsh said. "Think about it. Wouldn't you like to keep that glow hidden? What if you accidentally hurt someone you care about? Natasha, your mother was just looking out for you. You need help."
"So what changed her frigging mind? She's never helped me before."
"She's afraid of you and for you, Natasha," McArthur said. "I saw her coffee table. You did that, right?"
"What if your power escapes you here at school? Or on the street? Or with friends?" Walsh said. "Wouldn't you prefer to walk around without people knowing your power?"
"All you have to do is sign this form, Natasha," McArthur said, pulling out a sheet from his inside suit pocket. Walsh offered Nasty a pen.
"That's all?" Nasty asked. "You teach me to control this fucking power and that's all?"
"That's all," Walsh said, smiling.
Nasty willed the glow on her hand to go away before she took the pen and the form. She read the form over. "What about Mom?" she asked.
"Someone will talk to her, too," McArthur said.
Nasty scrawled her signature, then returned the form and the pen. "When do we leave?"
"Now," McArthur said.
"What about class? I just can't leave in the middle of the day."
"Adam will clear it with your principal. She is a very understanding person, isn't she?" Walsh said. "We can wait for him in the car." She stood up. "The sooner you start, the sooner you get control." She opened the door.
"I'll go talk to your principal," McArthur said as he stood up. He left Walsh with Nasty.
"The car's just outside," Walsh said.
"What about my bike?" Nasty asked.
"Someone will come by to pick it up. It'll be perfectly safe." Walsh brushed her hand on Nasty's neck. "There's nothing to worry about, Natasha."
She is an idiot. Mom's gotten me into something stupid yet again. Nasty stood up. She stumbled. Placing a hand on the table, she quickly steadied herself.
"Are you okay, Natasha?" Welsh asked.
"Yeah, just stood up too fast and got dizzy."
Walsh led Nasty out to the agents' car. Nasty had to steady herself once again at the car before she could enter it. What the hell? She blinked, trying to clear spots from her eyes. "What the fuck did you do to me?"
"Now, now. No need for that language, Natasha," Walsh said. "Let me help you in."
Nasty couldn't resist. The agent had her in the car and buckled up before Nasty realized what happened. The world felt like it was spinning around her. "What's happening?" Nasty croaked before she passed out.
Name: Alan Lau
Birthdate: September 19, 1974
Birthplace: Yreka, California
Mother: Mei-Ling Lau (nee unknown)
Father: Trevor Lau
Section B has labelled Subject 8's ability as psychometric explosion, their term for Subject 8's ability to cause non-organic materials to explode. Laboratory tests show that the material detonates without warning. Subject 4 reports psionic activity prior to the explosion. Materials affected includes all metals, plastics, and synthetic fibres. Natural fibres are unaffected.
Subject 8 is the first to have been given the improved serum (see file:\\FS16735-2\Projects\Lambda\i-lamba13.doc).
[End Issue 8]
Next Issue: What is in store for Nasty?