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The Next Chapter

by Toni Jackson

It took the kids a while to settle down once we moved them into the quarters. They were set up like apartments, a lot like the building we used to live in once upon a time. Mine was a three-bedroom with a small kitchen and a living area with a TV. I thought it was odd there were no windows. Instead, the walls were giant screens that mimicked windows, complete with scenes that changed according to the time of day.

This time, we had a lot more security. Retinal and fingerprint scans were required to enter the suites. Their kids first reaction was fascination, but it quickly dissolved into a restlessness that began to grate on the nerves of some of the adults on Bitter’s payroll. After a conversation with Chase, he managed to keep the kids confined to the living areas. Considering school should have been starting soon for Hitman’s kids and Naomi, we arranged for a tutor to come in for lessons.

Of course, we made sure the person was a ‘super’. Bitter somehow located Agatha Locke, formerly known as Elastatique, to teach the kids. She was the most flexible woman in the world until arthritis set in. When she left the Urban 30, Agatha went back to school and acquired a Ph.D. in Paranormal Transdimensional Education. When I left Earth, she had just opened a private school for super kids. On her good days, she could still stretch enough to catch the errant kid delusional enough to think he or she could get out of Agatha’s range before she snatched them back into their seat.

All the children settled into their new daily routine, Hitman, Engels, Morningstar, and I each took part in the day to day operations. Although many of Bitter’s people were working the equipment, we decided it would be best if we each monitored an area.

Bitter played the role of the hero well. But if you looked close, you would know it went against his true nature. From time to time, we would find ice sculptures decorating the hallway outside his chambers. He was never a fan of bad news.

Bitter had never been the type to help out unless there was something in it for him. Granted, saving the Earth benefited him, but so did working to take it over. Each one of us monitored a department and met together in the evening to discuss what we had seen. So far, everything seemed to be on the up and up, but I couldn’t trust Bitter.

Most of my time was spent in the communications room using the intergalactic transmitter to reach Connor. I left messages for him to contact me, but couldn’t tell them why. The last thing I needed was anyone from my homeworld finding out about the weapons. And of course, there was the issue of Spire. In a dark corner in one of the sublevels, a door led to a section that was the only entrance to a holding area. Each cell had a six-inch door made of a metal I had never seen before. Whatever it was, it was strong enough to hold Spire inside. Every day he was questioned. Sometimes by Hitman, other times by Engels or Bitter. No matter what they said to him, no matter what they threatened him with, Spire never spoke.

That in itself was odd. Spire loved the sound of his own voice. Or he did.

I was the only one who never tried to communicate with him.

Needing to get out of the facility for awhile, I decided to to check the hall of doors and investigate where each one went. Having the ability to fly meant nothing if you didn’t know where you were going.

I was on the third door which led to a circular room with marble floors and statues tucked into alcoves. I left the door open while I explored, vowing to come back and check it out further at another time.

I locked the door behind me, cognizant that we didn’t want anyone coming through. I started for the next door only to have it swing open before I could touch the knob. Connor stepped inside, a grimace on his face.

“Hello, little sister. You can’t seem to stay out of trouble, can you?”

I smiled and walked over and gave him a hug. “You don’t know the half of it.”

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