parts 40 and 41
Nick Fury had taken a look at the most recent census and immigration data in preparation for his search for Gabe’s accented black woman. That had been all he’d needed to decide that he’d need a lot more information that ‘a black woman with an accent’. The sheer numbers made the idea of checking each one somewhere between laughable and insane.
Which was why Gabe was currently talking to a trained police sketch artist. If they could create a picture of the woman, then that might help them find her. Or at least narrow their search. A woman with dark skin and an accent was terribly vague to use for any sort of search. It would help to know how old she was, or at least to narrow it down to a decade. How tall and about what sort of weight? Did she have any distinctive scars or birthmarks? What sort of accent did she have? French? Swahili? Portuguese by way of darker Brazil? Something from one of the smaller African tribes? Something from the Caribbean?
He also wanted to find an expert on vampires and get some more information. If he had his way, nobody would need to save his men from vampires ever again – they’d be able to save themselves. Even better if they could be the ones to save people in danger. How hard could it be to find…
Blast, how would he keep this from causing his rivals and enemies from throwing him to the shrinks and then out of command, out of the service, and into a special padded room with a coat that kept him hugging himself?
“Yet another headache that I didn’t need.” Clenching his cigar between his teeth, Nick Fury pulled out a telephone book. Maybe some of the smaller private investigators would have run into and survived similar problems. If so, if he could convince them that he wasn’t trying to send them to the shrinks… it might be a place to start.
• * * * * * * * * * *
“Kendra?” Charles sounded nervous.
“Is somet’ing de matter?” Kendra asked, not pausing in her sword practice on the top of the uneven bars.
“What are you doing up there? Where did you get a sword, and why… why are you swinging a sword around…” Charles paused, and then just repeated, “What are you doing?”
“Practice. Both wit’… with the sword an’ me balance. There may be times when I need to dodge demon claws in tight and tricky situations, an’ it is best to have some practice before a wrong move can get you gutted an’ dropped to the ground. As for the sword, I asked Mr. Kruchten to find it for me,” Kendra replied. She had asked for a sword of short to medium length, strong enough to parry and equipped with both a stabbing point and a slashing edge. She wasn’t certain precisely what name weapons enthusiasts or historians would give this blade, but it fit her request, and she thought it would work well for fighting.
“Is this safe?” Charles sounded doubtful.
“There is good lighting, no wind, the bars are dry and several inches wide. Nothing is trying to hit me, or cloud me senses. For me, this is as safe as a morning run to the lake an’ back. I would not suggest it for any of the students,” Kendra conceded.
“But why are you practicing with a sword up there? Isn’t practice on the ground enough?” Charles fretted.
“Many Slayers have dreams that carry warnings of the future. I keep having dreams wit’ swords. If it is a warning that I will need to fight wit’ a sword against a foe in de… the future, I want to be ready. If it is not a warning, it is still good exercise an’ practice,” Kendra explained.
“Have you received any other warnings?” Charles sounded like he was frowning.
“The only one that I am certain of is that there was a vampire attempting to raise what he called de… the Great Lord o’ the Dead. Capitalized – you learn to hear those after long enough. It is never a good thing if blood rituals are used, less so to bring something back. The rituals may be stopped, but it would be foolish to stop worrying. That mage, the one who called himself Doctor Strange, he seemed worried about that ritual. If a powerful mage is worried – an’ he is powerful, then there is good cause for us to worry. An’ it troubles me greatly that I do not have the right contacts to know where the most likely trouble spots are, or to gain better warning before there are big problems,” Kendra shook her head. In moments like this, she truly missed Mr. Zabuto, even if he had disapproved of the mere idea of her talking with the uninformed. His reaction to her staying at a school… He would not have been calm or pleased.
“Kendra? What were you thinking of just now? I called your name several times… I considered touching your mind, but I wouldn’t want you make you fall,” Charles fretted.
With a sigh, Kendra flipped down from the bar, landing in a light crouch. “My apologies. I was thinking about how much things have changed for me, how me… my Watcher would react to me being here. As useful as having a Watcher could be, he would not be a help in this place.”
“Enhanced strength and reflexes… could you at least look like that was difficult for you?” Charles grumbled, perhaps not intending for Kendra to hear his words.
Kendra considered him, with his formidable mind and his much more normal body. The body of a man who studied books and people, not the body of a warrior. “I thought you wanted this to be a place where mutants and humans could exist together in peace? Where the mutants did not have to be afraid of what they could do?”
“Of course that’s what I want,” Charles blinked at her. “Why would you question that?”
“Where they do not need to be afraid of what they can do, even if it is something that you can not do. That the other students can not do. There will likely be others who will be stronger than you, faster than you. Who will be more agile, more flexible. Perhaps someone with more limbs than you or I have. They should not feel afraid to be themselves, to move in a way that is natural to them simply because you can not move the same way. Everyone will need to make adjustments,” Kendra pointed out. “Just as you keep thinking at people, instead of using words as most people must do. It would be a poor t’ing to say that you could use your abilities an’ others may not.”
For a moment, Charles just frowned before he sighed, “Very true. I’m not used to thinking that I might need to make adjustments in my actions or mannerisms.”
“And I may need reminded on occasion that others can not do what I can,” Kendra smiled. “We are in this together. We shall help each other.”
“Yes, together,” Charles smiled.
End part 40.
“Miss Kendra?” Jean’s voice at the doorway was soft, uncertain. “Am I interrupting?”
Kendra smiled, thinking that it seemed her sword practice would not happen in peace today. First Charles when she was focusing on her balance, and now Jean when she was on the floor trying a few more complicated moves. “It is nothing that can not wait a little while. Did you have questions?”
“Some,” Jean admitted, eying the sword as she edged into the room. “Is that… is that because of vampires?”
“When I fight the monsters, I sometimes use a sword,” Kendra agreed. “They are very well suited to killing dangerous things. But to use a weapon, one should be careful to be skilled, that you will not hurt yourself or those that you do not mean to harm.”
“Are you going to be teaching the rest of us to use swords?” Jean bit at her lip, her eyes flickering to the sword even as she paled a bit.
“I may teach some, if they wish to learn. I will not force any of you to go against the monsters wit’ me,” Kendra smiled at the redhead. “Even for those who do not wish to fight, knowing how to use a sword is good exercise, an’ will help your balance. Will help you learn to pay attention. But it is dangerous enough that I would only teach a few at a time.”
“Seems like a bit much for some balance,” Jean shook her head. “When my parents wanted me to learn balance and grace, they sent me to ballet lessons.”
“If your only goal is added balance an’ grace, perhaps skill at dancing, then ballet be just fine. But I must be able to kill dangers, an’ for dat I need a weapon. But you did not come here to ask about swords,” Kendra prompted.
“No,” Jean admitted. “I think… there’s something bothering Misty. I don’t know what it is, and she’s harder to read than most people…”
“One of de t’ings you will need to learn is to not look too deeply into other minds. People like to keep some t’ings secret,” Kendra warned.
“I know, and I’m trying. But sometimes people think things so loudly that I can’t help hearing them, or there’s an image… Some people’s minds are quieter, maybe more organized? Not everyone’s as noisy. You’re one of the quieter ones, and so’s Misty. Once in a while… there’s this awful feeling, like she’s so afraid, and alone, and… I don’t know how to help her,” Jean shook her head and looked at Kendra, “Can you help her?”
Kendra considered Jean’s words, considered what she knew of Misty. The blue girl hadn’t spoken much of her past, only bits and fragments, but those were enough to suggest problems. In addition, Kendra knew that the girl had problems and concerns that she hadn’t spoken about. “I do not know if she will speak to me about her problems. I do not know if I could help her if she did tell me of them. But I will help her as much as I can, as much as she will let me, for the time that I have.”
Jean smiled, and left the room with a relieved, “Thanks, Miss Kendra.”
Kendra just hoped that whatever troubled Misty was something that she could help the girl with.
• * * * * * * *
After a quick check on the various students, Kendra tapped on the door of what had become the medical office. It had been a smaller kitchen near the back of the house, but Dorothy Weaver had taken it over. The only thing remaining was the grey stone floor. It had been changed to have several small exam rooms, a half bathroom, an area for Dorothy to store the medical records, a separate area for her medical supplies , and a slightly larger room that could be used for first aid. So far, it had been used for skinned knees, a black eye Brandon had picked up while helping with the remodeling, and Kendra after patrols. Mostly for Kendra, after her patrols.
“Please tell me that you haven’t managed to injure yourself this early,” Dorothy Weaver’s voice came from the medicine room.
“I have not even left yet, Nurse Weaver,” Kendra smiled. “Injuries will come later, or perhaps not at all. I hope for the second.”
“So do I, and how many times do I need to say that you can call me Dorothy? Much as I like you, and as welcome as you are here at any time, I’d rather you weren’t bleeding when you drop by,” Dorothy smiled. “But I just finished putting away the new bandages and thread for stitches, just in case.”
“I thought I might give you a... heads up?” Kendra frowned, hoping that she’d remembered the right phrase. “Scott Summers seems to be rubbing at his eyes often. I do not know if he is having headaches, or if he might need glasses – he insists that not’ing is wrong. Andrew and Joshua Beaumond keep running into walls trying to keep up with Dash, you may be seeing them for such things. An’ Jean is convinced somet’ing is wrong with Misty. I do not know what, but I can see that there is somet’ing bothering the girl.”
“Part of those could be teenagers being teenagers,” the nurse offered.
“Maybe so, an’ it might be less trouble if that is all that troubles them. But if there is more…” Kendra shrugged. “Better a little more caution than not enough. You might be able to tell if they are being moody teenagers better than I.”
“I suppose so, considering…” the nurse trailed off, by now aware that Kendra didn’t like discussing her past and Dorothy Weaver’s opinion that it had been horrible. “You are right, there are quite a few reasons other than simply being moody teenagers that could explain things. Let’s hope for something harmless, or at least simple. Noticing boys or girls, needing glasses, worrying about not fitting in. Harmless things. Not… not something worse.”
Kendra nodded, aware from the greater willingness of the media to discuss ugly news that there were some truly awful things that humans could and did do to each other, or to children. Sometimes even their own children. If anything, being a mutant might make such ugliness more likely. She hoped that it was nothing more than teenage moods and frustrating new desires. “Another set of eyes on the students can only help, no matter what the cause.”
“True. Please, be careful on your patrol.”
“Of course, Dorothy,” Kendra smiled.
Feeling better, Kendra left for her patrol. Tonight… she hoped that she was only uneasy because of moody teenagers and strange dreams with a man carrying cheese. Or old uncertainties troubling her. Anything but a Slayer warning of impending doom. But considering that she was a Slayer, considering her past, it would be safer to be ready for impending doom. It wasn’t just nurses that were wise to be prepared for the worst.
End part 41.