an FDC original series...
Dr. Light shook his fist as he took in the sight of the classroom
trapped like prehistoric insects in amber. "Unacceptable!"
One of Sandy Anderson's classmates was responsible for the eerie sight.
The girl's power was impressive. Sandy couldn't wait to meet her.
"At least they're alive," said Rosa Hervegas, Professor
Knott's secretary. "Or at least I think so if I understand the
Sandy Anderson arrived on the Windsor Academy campus less than half
an hour earlier. Mrs. Hervegas escorted her to a class called "Strategic
Theory 101" and the pair found student and teachers alike frozen
like statues. Was this a bad day at the school for villains in-training
or typical? Either way, it certainly beat another day holed up in a
mall somewhere stealing pretzels.
Dr. Light turned to Rosa and gestured wildly at the victims. "Alive?
Does that look like living to you? That girl should be punished severely!"
The dwarf named Gizmo buzzed around Light's head. "Come on, Arthur.
You're overreacting. I have as much at stake here as anyone else if
not more! The St. Claire kid possesses the most brilliant mind I've
ever encountered but I'm not going off the deep end. We'll get Indira
to unfreeze them and that'll be the end of it."
Dr. Light swatted at him. "Away from me, Mikron! My mind is made
up! Our time together in the Fearsome Five won't save you from my wrath
if you stand in my way!"
Gizmo removed a surprisingly large gun from his backpack and brandished
it to his chest. The weapon was impossibly bigger than him or his backpack.
"You really want to do this, old man?"
A blast of white-hot energy erupted from Light's hands and slammed
the dwarf through a window in the hallway.
"Bloody nass!" Sandy cursed as the glass that remained in
the window gave way and fell in around them. She rose into the air and
crashed through what little glass remained in the empty frame. She cut
her arm but put the pain out of her mind. Gizmo was nowhere to be seen
on the manicured lawn but she spotted the tall weeds behind the school
Not knowing what to expect, she rushed to the dwarf's aid and found
him spread-eagled on his back. His face was a bloody mess. She landed
beside him and checked for a pulse. He shoved a small blaster under
"Hey, it's me," said Sandy. "Are you hurt?"
Gizmo put the blaster away. "Nothing wounded permanently but
my pride. I let Dr. Light take me down! I'll never live it down! Do
you know how many times I could've killed that insufferable buffoon
over the years? Why God, why? Why didn't I do the world a favor when
I had the chance?"
Sandy shook her head and gave the dwarf a hand. "No idea but
from what I've seen of him the whole universe would probably be a better
place if you had."
Gizmo staggered to his feet. "You got that right, Toots! Maybe
now would be a good time to kill him."
Sandy steadied him with a hand on his back until he seemed sure to
stand. "It's okay, sir. I've got you."
Gizmo pushed her hand away and slung blood from his nose into the
tall grass. "Sorry sister but it was starting to run into my throat."
"Think nothing of it," Sandy replied. "I've seen my
share of blood. It doesn't bother me."
Gizmo was missing a tooth when he smiled. "You're alright, kid."
Sandy smiled. "Thank you, sir. You are too."
Both Sandy and Gizmo rose into the air and shot toward the courtyard.
The scene was as chaotic as the one they left in the hallway with the
remaining staff, plus a few others that weren't involved before, trying
to reason with Light.
"To answer tit for tat is my responsibility!" hissed Light.
"With the Professor incapacitated it only makes sense that I'm
A laser blast exploded beneath Light's feet and knocked him to the
ground. "Because that always works out so well," Gizmo shouted
back as he and Sandy rejoined the chaos. He aimed his gun at Light once
more. "The first one was a warning shot."
Light grumbled under his breath and stood slowly, staring down the
floating Gizmo the entire time. "You'll pay for that indignity,
"Don't you ever attack me again, old man! Next time I'll forget
we worked together!" Gizmo warned.
Light raised a hand to attack.
Twin balls of flame danced on Sandy's hands. "Do it and I'll
roast you alive."
Light stood down. "This is getting us nowhere! Can't any of you
see? Such shenanigans could close the entire school down! We could lose
donors if word of this gets out! Who would invest in such a gamble,
a bunch of spoiled children who attack their peers and mentors with
every teenage whim? That girl must free the others and pay the price
for her folly! I aim to assure that happens!"
"Fine Light!" said Rosa. "Do it your way but harm one
hair on that child's head and you will answer to me!"
Light shook his head in disgust then turned and made his way toward
the girl's dorm. "Stupid old cow! I should slay you where you stand
for talking to me in such a manner! Like you could harm me!"
Fire danced on Sandy's fingertips but Rosa put a hand on her shoulder.
"He isn't worth it sweetheart. Let the old fool taste the bitter
salt of his failure!"
A beam of white light erupted from his hands and Light rode it girls'
dorm. He landed by the front door and pushed on it but found it locked.
"Ms. Khandhari! Open this door now!"
There was no answer so he pounded the door and again barked his demand.
"Go away!" yelled a girl's voice from inside. She sounded
With a wave of his hand, Light ripped the door from its hinges and
hurled it toward the bystanders.
Sandy shot toward the approaching door. "I've got this,"
she said. Twin flames erupted from her hands and burned the door to
ashes before it could hurt anyone.
Gizmo chuckled. "I bet she's popular at backyard barbecues!"
Light entered the dorm. Much shouting ensued but the villain finally
emerged with a squirming, kicking girl in his arms. Sandy guessed she
was Indian or Pakistani but wasn't sure. She was a tiny, petite girl
and appeared to be no match physically for Dr. Light. Despite the vigor
of her protests, kicks, and screams, Light held firm to her.
"Let go of me!" Indira cried. Tears poured from the girl's
eyes and ran down both cheeks. "I said let me go!"
"Fine! Consider yourself free!" Light replied and threw
Indira to the ground. She landed so hard her small frame made an audible
"Come on, Light!" yelled Gizmo as he floated toward them.
"You're way over the line here!"
"Am I?" Light asked turning to his one-time colleague. "With
all that's at stake? How much cash is Knott tossing your way to teach
these snot-nosed brats? Do you want the well to run dry?"
Indira curled into the fetal position and broke into heaving sobs.
Light turned his attention back to her once more. "That's all
you have to say for yourself girl? You whimper like a dog that's been
kicked too many times? There's no room for victims in this business!
Perhaps you're not cut out for this line of work!"
Gizmo landed next to Light and tried to pull him away. "Okay,
Arthur! That's enough. She's down! You've made your point!"
"It isn't over until I say so," Light replied, pushing Gizmo
away. "The girl must be punished or every single hooligan that
crosses the threshold of this school will believe they can do the same!"
"I already have enough reasons to kill you, Arthur" said
Gizmo. "Don't give me one more."
"You? Assault me with your crude weapons?" Light laughed.
"When I can manipulate the very beams you would hurl at me? If
you're the only one standing between me and the brat then I have no
reason to fear!"
At that moment Light's eyes rolled into the back of his head and sheer
terror swept across his ashen face. He loosened his grip on Indira as
if she weren't even there. "No, Psimon! Please not again! The pain
is unbearable! No, my atoms! Must keep my atoms together! Please stop!"
"You overestimate your abilities," said the voice of a tall,
lanky man walking nonchalantly onto the scene. He was dressed like an
extra from a Dickens play. "Or underestimate those of your colleagues,
"Dr. Norton!" Rosa exclaimed. "Thank God you're here!"
Dr. Norton nodded and approached Light. He studied the frightened
man and seemed genuinely pleased with his handiwork. "A pity. Hugo
would be most upset with me if I turned your brain to mush, no?""
"Go on and do it," said Gizmo, moving back to where the
staff was gathered.
Sandy leaned close to Gizmo and whispered. "What's up with the
crazy old coot now?"
Gizmo shrugged. "Dr. Norton apparently has powers I didn't know
about. Looks like he's making Light relive the time a former teammate
of ours tired of his cuckoo ways and dispersed his atoms."
Sandy smiled. "Gruesome."
Gizmo shrugged. "You should have been there to see it kid! The
rerun doesn't do it justice! The terror in his eyes is there but it's
not the same without watching him fade to nothingness."
Sandy liked Gizmo.
Dr. Light thrashed wildly as if trying to grasp his own atoms. "No!
Please don't leave me again! Stay together, damn you! Stay together!"
Dr. Norton sighed and released Dr. Light from his mental control.
"I suppose I should release you before the pea you call a mind
is too far gone."
Light collapsed to the ground. So much drool ran from his mouth he
looked like a rabid animal. He was visibly shaken, his former bravado
The man called Dr. Norton stood over his fallen staff-mate. "That
was but a small taste of my capabilities, Dr. Light. Touch any of these
children again and even Hugo's wrath won't save you from the full extent
of my power."
Rosa and Ms. Escobar took advantage of Light's incapacitation and
bolted for Indira who was still curled up in ball. They lifted her gently
but she bolted for the dorms.
Gizmo rose into the air. "Heads up people! We've got ourselves
Dr. Light pushed himself up to this hands and knees. His breathing
was still labored and he gasped between breaths as he spoke. "You
imbeciles! All of that work for nothing! She'll barricade herself inside
one of the rooms."
Ms. Escobar stepped forward and tapped Light on the shoulder. When
he turned she slapped him across the face. "You foolish worm of
Fury returned to Light's eyes as he stood. Sandy wondered if the pretty
young woman hadn't pushed him too far. "You dare strike me woman?
None may lay a hand on the person of Dr. Light! Not even the strange
powers of Dr. Norton can protect you from my vengeance and wra
Ms. Escobar kicked Dr. Light in his male parts. "I don't need
Dr. Norton to protect from the likes of you!"
Dr. Light dropped to his knees and nursed his aching groin. He seemed
short of breath moments before but it came in heaving, staccato bursts
Gizmo leaned in toward Sandy. "I hate the guy but that's harder
to watch than seeing his atoms dispersed!"
Sandy nodded. "He got what he deserved!"
Ms. Escobar wasn't finished scolding Light. "The girl needs compassion
and you attack her? What kind of monster are you? You're unfit to be
A guttural sound emanated from Light's throat.
Ms. Escobar smiled at the sight of Light prostrated before her. "What?
No witty comeback, Ese? Perhaps the cat has more than your tongue?"
She stepped over him.
"If you'll excuse me, I'll see to Indira myself!"
A shadowy hand fingered the communication console. "We've lost
all communication with our mole."
"Unacceptable," another voice replied. "Keep trying.
If you can't establish contact within the hour we must consider going
The first shadowy figured sighed. "I'll do my best."
"I know you will," the second figure replied.
Windsor Academy Campus, Girl's Dorm
Indira couldn't believe the Professor failed her. What of compassion
and basic decency? It was one thing to break the law but it another
altogether to protect human traffickers! Even aiding such an endeavor
made one complicit in the wrecked lives of the young girls they abused.
How could he not see that?
Then again, how could she expect anyone else to understand? No one
else at the school was marked for such a life. The others were ignorant
of the drunken, slovenly kisses of overweight, middle-aged business
men who left their consciences at home with their families. Her classmates
often complimented the small tattoo on the side of her nose, an inverted
biological sign for a female. It was her former captor's mark, a reminder
that she was less than human and little more than a plaything for the
underbelly of society to enjoy. It was shame.
Most frightening of all was the lingering scourge of AIDS. She kept
her daily regimen of medications hidden from all but Professor Knott
and the school nurse. Kobra was more than her sponsor. Her lord was
also her lifeline, providing advanced medicines on the cutting edge
of science. Without them she would have probably died already.
Indira's thoughts were interrupted by a knock at the door. "Go
"Indira? It's me, Ms. Escobar."
The perky Spanish teacher's arrival was a pleasant surprise. At least
it wasn't that jerk, Dr. Light! Indira left her bed and unlocked the
Ms. Escobar entered with the same comely smile that melted the boys'
hearts to mush. "I wanted to check on you. Como Estas?"
"More embarrassed than anything else," Indira replied. She
returned to her bed and sat on the edge with her knees cradled to her
chin and rocked. Ms. Escobar took her right hand. "I'm here if
you need to talk."
"Who sent you?" Indira asked suspiciously, stretching her
legs and draping them over the side of the bedframe.
"No one," Ms. Escobar answered. "I came because I care
about you. You believe that don't you?"
Indira wanted to but did anybody really care? "If you say so."
"I know we aren't close and I won't pretend to know what happened
in the classroom but you can't leave everyone like that."
Indira sighed. "I know. I lost control and then that idiot Dr.
Ms. Escobar laughed. "Will speak an octave higher after the kick
I just gave him."
Indira laughed. "Good for you. I don't like him."
"He's not an endearing man," Ms. Escobar replied. "So
what made you lose control?"
"It started with the jungle," Indira replied.
"What happened in that jungle?" Ms. Escobar asked.
Indira stared into her teacher's dark, piercing eyes. "I don't
know how much of my story Professor Knott shared with you."
Ms. Escobar smiled. "You're from India, an excellent student,
and a hard worker. Your classmates respect you more than you realize.
You... not much I'm afraid."
At least Professor Knott kept her secret.
"Promise you won't tell?" Indira asked.
"Anything you say to me will remain in confidence," Ms.
Indira took a deep breath and, among a torrent of tears and snot,
unloaded everything on her teacher - her abandonment as a child, life
on the streets, forced prostitution, and her struggle with AIDS. Her
words flowed like water from a broken dam, each tear a soothing salve
to her soul.
All the while, Ms. Escobar held her and let her cry. It was comforting
to know there was one person - one adult - in the whole world who wanted
nothing from her. There was no expectation of sex, no demand for loyalty
in exchange for live-saving drugs, not as much as a romantic undertone
even. For the very first time in her young life, Indira Khandhari experienced
genuine affection from another human being.
The pair sat in silence for a while until Indira's sobs subsided and
she pulled away from the delicious hug. "I should free everyone
Ms. Escobar nodded. "An excellent idea but perhaps you could
make an exception for Jake."
They shared a laugh and Indira followed Ms. Escobar to the courtyard.
She was happy to find it empty.
"The others must have returned to their responsibilities,"
said Ms. Escobar.
"While you talked me down from the proverbial ledge?" Indira
Ms. Escobar said nothing and led Indira across the courtyard and into
the Main Hall. The building was eerily silent as if the others were
afraid Indira's stasis was contagious and stayed far away in quarantine.
At last the pair made it to Professor Hand's classroom.
Indira peeked through the window. Seeing her friends and mentors frozen
like statues was unnerving. It always seemed satisfying when it was
a foe but to watch her friends trapped like figures in a portrait of
the damned brought her shame. "They're going to hate me."
Ms. Escobar shook her head. "They won't hate you."
"What about Professor Knott?" Indira asked. "I'm sure
I'll be in trouble."
Ms. Escobar shrugged. "You leave the Professor to me. Now if
you will please free everyone."
Indira concentrated and reached out for the stasis. The purple light
was tangible to her. Perhaps only that old fool Dr. Light could understand
what she meant by that but it was true. Its touch was liquid. She latched
onto the ray and felt it weaken before it at last dissipated altogether.
"We should get in there. They'll be in a fog when they come around."
Professor Hand was the first to move. He stumbled back into the shiny
new whiteboard at the front of the room. Professor Knott reached for
his head as if he could clear the cobwebs manually.
Indira made her way to Portia first. "Don't hate me. I'm sorry."
"What the hell?" Portia asked.
Two seats away, Zeke hurled on the floor. The vomit splashed onto
"Dude!" Bo yelled. "Not the new Light Forces!"
Somehow Georgia made it to her feet but fainted as soon as she stood.
Tristan rushed to catch her but he too stumbled and the two bumped their
heads together before collapsing in the floor.
Indira bent down to Portia. "It was me. I
freaked and my
power went out of control."
Ms. Escobar turned toward her but said nothing to correct Indira's
half-truth. She tended both Professors.
"Ms. Khandhari," slurred a clearly groggy Professor Knott.
Indira nodded though she knew the Professor couldn't yet concentrate
well enough to see her do so.
In the midst of the confusion someone pulled a fire alarm, adding
to the confusion and chaos.
Indira looked around but everyone was accounted for in the classroom.
Of course there was other faculty and staff and even the girls she and
Bo rescued from the Colombian jungle so the list of likely suspects
was formidable but still it seemed overkill. She was more embarrassed
Then came the first explosion outside. She wasn't sure what exploded
but a chunk of concrete from the sidewalk blew in through the windows
and would have crushed Tristan and Chaucer if not for the quick thinking
of Professor Hand who used residual energy within his hand to form a
"Everyone down!" Professor Hand yelled. "We're under
"Any idea who it may be?" asked Professor Knott who was
having trouble seeing for some reason.
"Negative," Professor Hand replied. He lowered the chunk
of concrete and earth to the floor slowly.
A second explosion rocked the courtyard. Indira made her way to the
gaping hole by the blasted-out windows and peered out. She couldn't
Someone grabbed her and pulled her to the ground. She fought at first
but then realized it was Bo.
"Are you crazy?" Bo asked as he finally overpowered her
and slammed her down on top of him. "You trying to get yourself
Indira struggled to free herself from his grip. "Let go of me!"
Georgia crawled to their position and joined them. "He may have
saved your life? Are you crazy? Did you see anything?"
Indira rolled off of Bo and shook her head. "Not a thing. It's
nothing but calm."
A moment later a grenade came hurling through the window. Thankfully
it was a smoke grenade and not an explosive one. It quickly filled the
room with a cloud of thick, white smoke. It smelled terrible, like sulfur
and burnt popcorn. The overpowering stench also made Indira groggy.
She was afraid to lash out with her powers and afraid not to at the
Professor Hand, Professor Knott, and Ms. Escobar fell to the floor.
They were out.
"Everyone stay below the fumes if you can!" Georgia warned.
Indira couldn't see well enough to know who heeded the warning and
who didn't. She wasn't even sure if the others were conscious at that
point. Then things got worse in a hurry. Someone kicked the door open
and three men in gas masks stormed into the room. Portia lost it and
transformed into her wolf-self but she too fell when she leaped onto
Professor Knott's desk. Through the smoke Indira saw her fall and heard
her hit the floor with a canine yelp.
It was the last thing Indira saw before succumbing to the fumes.