Any other characters are the sole creation and property of Shaun Hately.
This fanfic forms part of my series of fanfics, entitled A More Perfect Union, and the bulk of the story takes place immediately after the events of Amalgamation in that series. The exception is the Prologue which takes place shortly after the events of A Sense of Belonging. In terms of continuity with the television series' the story takes place sometime after the events of The Living Stones (ie after the new series had finished), but the prologue occurs very shortly after the events of The Origin Story. Many of the events of other fanfics in A More Perfect Union are referred to in this story and it may be helpful to have read them
Thanks to Ariana Brill and Megan Freeman for helping to answer some questions about the new series and thus saving me some time.
Profound thanks to Beth Epstein and Ariana Brill for betareading this so quickly so I could get it out for Christmas.
Comment and criticism (good and bad) on this story is welcome. e-mail me with comments at email@example.com.
Merry Christmas to those who observe it - good wishes to all, regardless.
"Great meal, Mrs Davis. Really terrific." Adam was completely sincere. He had just eaten only his second home cooked meal in several months, and it was a Christmas lunch with all the trimmings. It was his second one of those too; being a teleporter had distinct advantages.
"I like to see a boy with a healthy appetite." Mrs Davis frowned. "Lisa, why aren't you eating, honey? You have to eat if you want to be healthy and on Christmas day! Well, normally you'd have finished by now, and you wouldn't have left half the food on the plate."
"I'm OK, Mom."
"But Lisa . . ."
"I said I'm OK!" Lisa leaped to her feet. "Honestly, Mother, when someone says they are OK, it normally means they are OK. And I'm OK, OK?" She saw the looks Adam and her mother exchanged and fixed Adam in her gaze. "OK?"
"OK, OK, you're OK, I'm OK, everyone's OK!"
*Lisa, are you sure you're OK?* He sent the thought telepathically, at the same time as he spoke.
Lisa answered. "I'm glad that's settled." but at the same time, *No, Adam. We need to talk alone.*
Adam stood up. "Well, Mrs Davis, you've cooked such a great meal. Least we can do is the washing up for you."
"We have a dishwasher, Adam."
"Even better. I'll just help Lisa stack it."
"All right. Well, I'll just go and watch TV then." She stood and left the room. Adam approached Lisa.
"What's going on, Lisa? What's up with you?"
"It's hard to explain, Adam . . . "
"OK." Lisa looked down at the floor. "I want you all to stay away from me."
"Adam - I'm not like you guys. I'm not strong enough for this. I never wanted to be a Tomorrow Person and I sure as hell didn't want to see my Mom tied up and people threatening to kill her."
"But it's OK, Lisa; we got away, your mum's OK. You don't have anything to worry about."
"Oh, yes I do. Do you think that's it? Do you think we're safe and no one is going to come after us?"
"Megabyte's dad said . . ."
"Megabyte's dad is one of them! OK, he's not as bad as Masters, sure. But he's still one of them. You can't trust anything he says."
"That isn't fair, Lisa."
"It isn't? Maybe it isn't, but it's how I feel. We can't trust them, Adam, we can't trust them to leave us alone and we can't trust their word on anything. I've made a choice and it's the best choice for my mom and me. I'm just going to opt out, not have anything to do with being a Tomorrow Person from now on. Maybe I'll do something else: study medicine or something. But I don't want any part of being a Tomorrow Person anymore."
"Lisa, you are a Tomorrow Person. This isn't something you can pick and choose, it isn't a club you can quit."
"Want a bet? Adam, I'm out of it, I'm quitting. I'm no longer a Tomorrow Person. I just want to be normal."
"But, Lisa . . ."
"Butt out, Adam." She paused. "Look, it's my Mom. I can't put her through that. I can't run the risk of losing her. They threatened to kill her."
Adam closed his eyes for a long moment, then he nodded. "OK, Lisa. I guess I understand. You've got to think of her safety. But you're still a Tomorrow Person - nothing can ever change that. You're one of us." He turned away. "I'll respect your choice. But if you ever need us, just call. I'll come."
"You'd better go, Adam."
"OK. See you."
"No. This is goodbye."
Lisa watched as Adam flashed out of existence, out of her life. She felt the bile well up inside her, and she just barely made the bathroom in time to avoid vomiting all over the carpet. As she raised her head from above the toilet, someone handed her a towel.
"You're welcome." It wasn't her mother's voice. She looked up to see Colonel Masters standing to her side. "I let myself in."
"Keep away from me! We had a deal."
"Oh, I know the deal and your mother will be safe and happy for as long as you keep working for us. You have my word. You have the word of the United States Government. I just had to check you kept the first part of our bargain and didn't drop Adam any hints about what was happening."
"How would you know if I did? I could have used telepathy."
"Sure, but I hope for your dear Mommy's sake you didn't." He grabbed her wrist and hauled her to her feet. "You didn't, did you?"
"No! I swear I didn't tell."
"Good . . . good. Anyway I'll leave now; we'll get back to you on details of your first assignment later on, Lieutenant."
He turned and walked to the door. "Oh and by the way, Lisa, have a very
Elizabeth looked up as she heard the sound of people arriving on the jaunting pad. John faded slowly into view, while Adam flashed and arrived in a blaze of light and colour.
"Hello, you two. John, I think we need to give the others jaunting bands."
"Why? They're not needed for navigation. The beacon on the spaceship seems to handle that - pulls people out of hyperspace to their expected location, and if they can't jaunt well enough to arrive where they want to, it draws them out of hyperspace to itself."
Liz shuddered. "I wish it had been working when I broke out; that first jaunt was very unpleasant. I know the navigation works, John, but the lights and colours are pretty conspicuous as they pass through the hyperspatial zones, at least they need the suppressor the bands carry."
"You're right, Liz. I'll get onto it later. For the moment, we need to discuss some things with Adam, sort out some things."
"All right." Liz motioned Adam into one of the couches. "Are you two all right?"
Adam answered. "Yes, Elizabeth, I think we are. John explained what happened; some of it anyway. I understand he had his reasons and I can live with that."
"Good. We're Tomorrow People, we need to get along."
Liz and John sat down in the couch opposite Adam looking at him over TIM. They glanced at each other in silent communication and then John spoke.
"OK, Adam, it's pretty clear that you're in charge down here now. The others look to you for leadership and that means we need to sort out how things are going to work now we've come back to Earth. We can't afford to have any sort of power struggle and I'm sure we can work out the details."
Adam nodded. "Yeah, so am I. It's pretty simple really. If you want to take charge John, then that's OK with me. I'm not after power; I just want what's best for the others."
"Well, I'm gratified you have such confidence in me, Adam, but let's not be hasty. Liz and I haven't come back to Earth to take over."
Liz chimed in. "That's right, Adam. We're quite willing to advise you, to help you any way we can, but we're not trying to usurp you. You've lead the Tomorrow People for three years, with the help of Megabyte and Ami, I suppose, but you seem to have done a good job."
"You've lead for longer," pointed out the younger Tomorrow Person, looking at John.
"That's true, but while age and experience are valuable, they're not the prime determinants of leadership skill. Besides there are other concerns. The first is that both Elizabeth and myself, indeed all of our generation, have commitments on the Galactic Trig and throughout the Federation. Important commitments that we cannot abandon lightly. And it's been a long time since we've been on Earth; a lot of things have changed. We simply don't know this place as well as you do. Adam, we honestly feel you are the best choice to lead the others. Especially when you have the help of Ami and Megabyte."
Liz noted the anxiety on Adam's face - too subtle for John to see, but still there. "What's wrong, Adam? Do you disagree that you're the best choice?"
"I don't know, Elizabeth. I really don't. I mean - well, look, I'll be honest with you. I'm still pretty young. I must seem like a kid to you."
"You do." Liz smiled.
"Yeah, well I know that and you know it. I'm just not sure I'm can handle leading the others. I'm worried I'll get it wrong. I'm terrified I'll make the wrong choice."
John leaned forward. "Adam, how old were you when you broke out?"
"I was seventeen."
"I was fourteen, Adam. I was a kid. And for three years, until Liz broke out, I was leading the other Tomorrow People, with no one my own age to help me. Carol, who was the second Tomorrow Person of my lot - I hope you'll get to meet her soon - was a year younger. Pretty close I suppose, but she was a follower not a leader. That isn't a criticism, it's just a simple fact.
"I was younger than you were and I took charge. I had to, I suppose you did as well. We got the job simply because we were the best choice around. And let me tell you, as the only other person who probably fully understands what you feel like and has the same type of experience of having to lead: you've done a good job. The others are alive. The Earth's still here. That's all anyone can really expect.
"I'd probably be happier if you were older; I think experience is a good thing, but you can do what is necessary. You've proven that."
"And Adam," Liz interrupted. "Just because John and I may be away at the Trig doesn't mean you have to do things alone and without help. That screen over there will allow you to call us or any of the others at any time. We're both confident you can handle things here on Earth, but help will be available when it's needed."
John stood up. "It's your choice, Adam. If you really feel you can't handle this we can try and work something else out - maybe bring Andrew down to Earth, Liz? But we think you can handle this."
Adam stood and walked around to John and Liz. "Well, if you both think I can handle things then I guess I can. But I may come asking for that help at any time."
"Good. I'm glad that's settled. Now there's a couple of questions we need to ask you."
"All right. Megabyte's father, General Damon? Can we trust him?"
Adam pursed his lips. "I honestly don't know. He's a nice guy, he really is, but well, I'm concerned about his military connections - he worked with Colonel Masters and . . ."
"Hang on, Adam." Liz broke in. "You know about Colonel Masters? How?"
"Well, he tried to kidnap us just after we broke out. He managed to get hold of Megabyte to begin with . . ."
"But that's impossible! Colonel Masters is dead, surely - he died back in 1975, you'd have barely been born then, yet alone have broken out."
Adam shook his head. "No . . . I think we may be talking about different Colonel Masters. Ours was a US Army Colonel. A really evil man, working for the SIA."
"Ah all right. Ours was British Army, not an evil man, just extremely narrow minded. He was killed back in 1975 in an attempt to frame us for murder. Interesting that his name has resurfaced, though. We may need to look into that."
"Did Professor Cawston know this Colonel?"
"Yes, he did. Why?"
"Oh, no real reason. It's just he has a Colonel's brass in his office; he obviously admired the man a great deal. Shows a big difference there. No one could admire our Colonel Masters for anything. When I think about what he wanted to do to Lisa's mother . . . well, it doesn't bear repeating."
"Who's Lisa?" asked Elizabeth.
"Oh, yeah, right; you wouldn't know. Lisa's a Tomorrow Person. She broke out a bit after I did."
"Why haven't we met her?"
"She decided she didn't want to have anything to do with us after Masters threatened to kill her Mum. I haven't heard from her in . . . well, pretty close to three years."
John and Liz looked at each other. "Adam, we have to meet her."
"I'm not sure that's a good idea. She really made it clear she wanted out; wanted no contact with other Tomorrow People."
John shrugged. "Well, wanting and getting are too different things. We need to talk to her, Adam, for her sake as well as our own. Tomorrow People, everywhere, have responsibilities to the rest of the species and to mankind; we don't have the luxury of abandoning those responsibilities."
"But what about Lisa's rights?" Adam asked.
John replied. "Lisa has no rights. Well, no rights that allow her to break off contact with us. She's too important."
Elizabeth could see that Adam didn't think much of that statement at all, so she interrupted. "There's also the simple fact, Adam, that if a Tomorrow Person is cut off from other Tomorrow People, they'll nearly always be miserable. We need each other, need contact with each other. No one is going to force Lisa to do anything she doesn't want to. She doesn't have to get involved, but she does need to talk to us, so we can lay down some ground rules to keep her safe and to keep us safe."
"All right. I'll try and contact her."
He summoned up his strength and sent out a strong telepathic call. *Lisa*
Langley, West Virginia
Lisa sat bolt upright in the middle of the meeting as she detected the faint telepathic signal. Next to her, she felt Colonel Masters stiffen. It was her report that the committee was reading but it had his name on it and having his aide de camp suddenly go rigid while being questioned but his superiors did not make him look particularly good.
"Lieutenant, are you all right?" The naval officer sitting directly opposite her looked suddenly concerned.
"No Ma'am. Someone just walked over my grave, I guess."
*ADAM!* She sent out her telepathic cry with all her might. *Adam, help me.*
"Nothing. Absolutely nothing. Either she isn't replying or maybe she isn't receiving."
*Hey Adam!* This telepathic message came from Megabyte. *What's up? Why are you calling Lisa all of a sudden?*
*John and Liz want to talk to her.*
John 'pathed *Actually Megabyte, it might be useful if you and the others could jaunt - sorry, I mean teleport - in here as well.*
*Sure, I'm on my way - the others are with me. We'll all teleport - sorry, I mean jaunt - in now!*
A few seconds later, the other Tomorrow People all teleported into the Lab. John winced as the bright lights faded from his eyes.
"You're right, Liz, either they need jaunting bands or I need sunglasses."
"I've just about had it with you, Lieutenant! This is the most important report we've submitted to the Committee this year, and you were late completing it. Then when I'm presenting it in front of three Generals, an Admiral, a Senator and two Congressmen, you embarrass me by doing a rigor mortis impression.
"'Someone walked over my grave'" He mimicked, "Come outside, I want to show you something." Colonel Masters grabbed Lisa's arm and pulled on it hard, forcing her out of a door and out of the building.
"Listen, Davis, you see that parade ground over there? Well, if you keep up this attitude, people'll be walking over your grave all right - they'll be marching over it. Because I'll bury you and your mother right in the middle of that patch of grass; if you're lucky I might even shoot you first.
"I'm sorry, Colonel." Lisa was frightened now. Masters had often been angry and always paranoid but his rage now seemed to be moving towards the psychopathic.
"Damn it, we have an agreement, Lieutenant. You make me look good and I let your mother enjoy her life. AND I WILL NOT TOLERATE YOU MAKING ME LOOK BAD." Across the parade ground, one of the numerous armed guards, a burly sergeant heard the yelling and turned around. Seeing what looked like a colonel assaulting a younger officer - a younger female officer, he began to move towards them.
John was explaining the situation to the new arrivals. "We need to talk to Lisa, just to know she's OK and check out some things, but we can't seem to contact her telepathically. We want to try a link - the more people the better - TIM can boost our power and range, but you can all help too."
"All right," Adam spoke. "Megabyte and Ami, you go around that side of TIM with Elizabeth, Jade and Kevin stay with me. John, you're in the middle."
All the Tomorrow People placed their hands on TIM and joined their minds into a gestalt.
*Lisa. Can you hear us? Lisa.*
The signal was much stronger this time; not just Adam, but Kevin and Megabyte as well, and others. Several others.
*ADAM! MEGABYTE! KEVIN! ANYONE! CAN YOU HEAR ME?*
An answer came back from Adam. *Yes, we can.*
A new mind. *Lisa, this is John, you don't know me yet. We need to talk.*
*Just help me! Please help me!*
*Are you in danger, Lisa?* Another new voice; this one seemed female and . . . older somehow. *Talk to us, Lisa, tell us what is going on?*
Colonel Masters looked down at Lisa, realising she had gone quiet and rigid in the middle of his tirade. She seemed to be communicating with someone . . .
"Lieutenant, stop that. Stop that at once!" He pulled her fully upright and raised his hand back to slap her face.
The word came from behind and he saw a large Military Policeman standing there when he looked around.
"Stay out of this, Sergeant!"
"I can't sir. Let the lady go."
"Damn it, Sergeant."
The Sergeant drew his pistol. "Sir, let her go."
Colonel Masters almost threw Lisa to the ground. She lay there, trying to stay in communication with the others - her abilities seemed increasingly erratic and only adrenaline had allowed her cry for help to travel to the others. In her efforts, in her attempts to force the telepathic messages, she neglected to guard her words. Colonel Masters could hear everything she was trying to send.
"*I'm being held against my will. Please help me. I don't know exactly where I am, they won't tell . . . *"
Colonel Masters took a step towards her to try and stop her. The Sergeant spoke. "Back off, Sir, NOW!"
The Colonel turned to him. "Shoot her!"
"I said shoot her! That is an order, Sergeant. National Security."
"Sir, I can't . . ."
"SHOOT HER NOW!"
The Sergeant could see the Colonel's wild eyed expression and there was no way he was going to shoot an officer even with direct orders to do so. But National Security was a Holy Grail at SIA Headquarters and needed to be taken seriously. His hand dropped to his belt and drew forth a taser. An instant later, the two electrodes thudded into Lisa and rendered her unconscious.
"We've lost her."
"What happened? Why did she stop telepathing?"
Adam leaned back, tears welling in his eyes. "She was shot. I'm sure she was shot! They killed her."
John stood and began to walk to the view screen. "They didn't kill her. They stunned her somehow; you can always tell when a Tomorrow Person dies."
Adam turned his face towards John. "How do you know?"
"You can feel the emptiness."
"No, I mean - how do you know what a Tomorrow Person dying feels like?"
Liz gripped Adam's arm and shook her head. "Not now, Adam," she whispered. "But we really do know."
John had managed to raise the person he was trying to contact over the video screen. "Hello, Mike. It's John."
"John, hi." He could tell Mike had been woken by his call. "How are things?" Suddenly he saw Mike's eyes go wide. "Hey! What are you doing in the Lab? On Earth?"
"Never mind that. Can you get here quickly? We have a problem and I need someone with your expertise."
"Sure. I'll be there in a few minutes. I'll bring Hsui Tai too."
Less than two minutes later, two AE suit clad figures arrived on the jaunting pads. They removed their helmets to reveal a Caucasian man and an Asian woman.
"Adam, Megabyte, Ami, Jade, Kevin - meet Mike and Hsui Tai."
Mike looked at the younger Tomorrow People and then at John and Liz. "Well, either these are new Tomorrow People or you and Liz have been keeping a lot of secrets for a long time."
Hsui Tai slapped his arm. "Stop it, Mike. John, why did you want Mike to come here so quickly?"
John motioned towards the couches and they all sat down - almost, but not quite filling them to capacity.
"It's pretty simple, Mike. These are new Tomorrow People, new being a relative term as they've been breaking out for the past three years. One of them, Lisa, has been missing for a while now. She decided to cut herself off from the others and they haven't heard from her since. Until today, that is, when we managed to contact her telepathically. She seemed in great distress, her telepathy was very poor. Either she's losing her abilities, or she's physically ill. She couldn't tell us where she was only that she was being held prisoner. Then she somehow got stunned - I can't be sure how - and we lost contact."
"You want me to try and find her, obviously?" asked Mike.
"That's right. It's more in your line than mine nowadays. Diplomats don't sneak around searching for people and neither do archaeologists. Not live people anyway."
"OK. Do we have any leads at all?"
"Possibly, yes. The SIA was interested in the kids just after they broke out. They tried to capture one of them then, and Lisa broke off contact fairly soon after that. I don't suppose you know precisely when, Adam?"
"Yeah I do. Christmas Day, '92."
"She could have been missing that long? Gee, not an easy task. You'd think someone would have noticed she was gone."
Adam felt the need to defend himself. "She didn't want any contact with us. We left her alone like she asked us to. I can't see . . ."
"Steady on, Adam," came Mike's reply. "I'm not criticising you. Heaven knows I haven't always handled this type of situation very well. You never know how it's going to work out until it happens." He looked at John. "So, the SIA seems possible. Well, I'll try and see what I can do; it might help if we knew someone inside it."
"My Dad!" Megabyte spoke up. "He used to be in the SIA - very senior. He's a private contractor now, but he still has contacts."
"OK, Megabyte - you and I will go have a word with your father, then." Mike stood up and began to walk towards the jaunting pad.
"Mike?" said John.
"You haven't once asked about Earth's status and what Liz and I are doing on a world that, as far as most people would know, is still closed, helping Tomorrow People that we were forbidden to assist by order of Overmind."
"I don't need to, John. Either you have permission in which case this is all above board or you don't in which case you're breaking the rules and the Universe is going to end anyway. Bye."
Megabyte and Mike jaunted away.
"Put her on that couch and leave us." Colonel Masters stood in the middle of his office watching as the two Military Policemen gently lowered the unconscious Lisa into the couch opposite his desk. "OK, you can leave us now."
"Sir, she's been shocked. Shouldn't she see a doctor?"
"I didn't ask for your opinion, Corporal. I gave you an order. Please leave the Lieutenant with me."
As the two military policeman left, the Colonel moved over to a wall of his office and removed a picture. Behind it was a safe. He turned the combination dial and from it extracted a small container which he placed on the corner of the desk nearest Lisa and opened. He removed a bracelet from it which he snapped around her wrist. Then he walked over to a small refrigerator and pulled out a can of soda.
"Lieutenant Davis? Lisa?" He knelt down next to her and gave her a shake. She stirred and her eyes opened. Colonel Masters handed her the soft drink. "Here, your throat must be very dry."
He stood and looked down at her, at the fear and the contempt in her eyes. He smiled. "I trust we won't have a repeat of that little incident we just had. It's no use trying to use telepathy, that bracelet locked onto your wrist contains a strange substance we dug up in Scotland; it seems to stop people using psychic talents."
Lisa took a sip of the drink. "You told that man to shoot me."
"Yes, I did, Lisa. I wish I could say I was sorry but I'm not. What you were doing was a gross breach of security and it had to be stopped. I am very glad that the sergeant had the good sense to use a non-lethal means to stop you, but if necessary, I am prepared to use lethal means."
"Great, so either I do what you say, all the time, or I die."
"That's the deal you signed on for, Lisa. That was the agreement. You do what I say and you'll be fine and so will your mother for that matter. But break the rules and I'm afraid you'll have to face the consequences of that."
"Why do you hate me so much?"
"Hate you?" Colonel Masters looked surprised. "Lisa, I don't hate you. I'm just doing my job, doing my duty. And I intend to do it no matter what."
"OK, so you don't hate me? Then why do you treat me the way you do?"
Masters shrugged. "Because I'm concerned about you. No, I won't mince words. You frighten me. All of you Tomorrow People frighten me. You have powers we can't protect ourselves from. We need to know how to oppose you. How to resist you if necessary. Lisa, have I ever asked you to do anything to harm the other teleporters? No, all we've asked is that you tell us how to secure our facilities against you, so we have the ability to defend ourselves."
"But we're peaceful, you don't need to defend yourselves at all. We won't harm you."
The Colonel sighed. "I didn't want to have to tell you this. Because, Lisa, I believe that you are peaceful, totally so. It's one reason we selected you for our project and not one of the others. But I think you've been duped into believing all Tomorrow People are as peaceful as yourself."
"What do you mean?" asked Lisa.
"Lisa, we have records on teleporters, on Tomorrow People, going back a long way, back to the 1970s. And there are three cases we know of where Tomorrow People have killed others - sometimes with good reason, sometimes with no reason at all.
"I don't believe you . . ." whispered Lisa.
The Colonel removed a file from his desk.
"March, 1977. London. Pavla Vlasova, believed to be a Tomorrow Person killed while in the hands of the SIS when other Tomorrow People attempted to prevent her from revealing information to the SIS.
"December, 1979. London. Dr Frank Meadowes, General Practitioner, found shot dead after the Tomorrow People rescued one of their own being held a prisoner.
"February, 1994, Dr Aliza Jefferies, Geneticist killed, in an attempt by the Tomorrow People to recover an antidote needed to save the life of one of their number.
He threw the file over to Lisa. "Read it. There's plenty of statements there, from police, intelligence operatives and the like. It's pretty unequivocal, Tomorrow People were involved in all of the deaths."
Lisa looked at the first photograph in the file, a burned and blackened corpse lying on a cobbled path and turned away.
"They can't have done that. Tomorrow People cannot kill. I know that."
"No, Lisa. Think about it logically. All you know with any real certainty is that you can't kill. It's not the same thing. Other Tomorrow People may well be able to do so. In fact, it appears they have."
He knelt down next to her and gently removed the file from her hands. "Lisa, we need you, we need your help to protect us. Maybe we'll never need to use the knowledge you give us; if the Tomorrow People leave us alone, we can let them be as long as we know we can defend ourselves if we have to. But if you won't help us, if you won't honour our little arrangement, then we'll have to consider all Tomorrow People a threat and deal with them accordingly. Work with us and you can stop any more deaths, either of normal people or Tomorrow People. Don't help us and I'll have no choice to recommend to the committee that the Tomorrow People be . . . rendered harmless."
Lisa looked up at him and realised she had no choice. For her own sake, and for that of her mother and indeed for Adam and Kevin and Megabyte, she had to cooperate.
Worldex Headquarters, London
General Damon looked up as the familiar flash of light and sound signalled the arrival of a Tomorrow Person, uninvited and without warning, in his office. It was his son, accompanied by an older man wearing what seemed to be a spacesuit.
"Hi Dad. This is Mike, he's one of the older TP. Mike, this is my Dad."
"Sir." Both men spoke together.
The Tomorrow Person smiled. "I think Mike works better."
"Thank you, Bill. We need your help."
The General pointed to a chair. "What can I do?"
"It's Lisa, Dad. She's missing." Megabyte got right to the point.
"Missing? For how long?"
"We don't know, Bill. It could have been as long as three years; that's how long it's been since the others had contact with her until today. We tried to speak to her telepathically, and contact was made, but all she could say was that she was a prisoner . . ."
"She said she was being held against her will, Dad, but before we could find out where something happened to her and we lost contact."
"Right . . . OK, Mike, what do you want from me?"
"Well, Bill, if we can find out where she is, we can probably rescue her but we don't know where she is. It seems possible that scientific intelligence may be involved and we thought you might be able to track her down. We'll be trying as well but you might have a better chance."
"So you just want to know where she is?"
"Well, that to start with. Anything else you can find out would also be useful, of course, but if we know we're she is then we can probably rescue her without too many problems."
"OK, I'll see what I can do."
The two Tomorrow People jaunted away as General Damon picked up the phone on his desk. "Jim, I need you to fly to Virginia . . ."
Jim slowly drove away from the apartment building that was the last known address of the Davis family. He knew they no longer lived there, inquiries had revealed the Davis's had left their apartment just after Christmas in 1992 without any warning to their neighbours at all. Many people had put the sudden disappearance down to Mrs Davis dragging Lisa off to Hollywood in excitement after her daughter's "amazing magical performance" at the school talent show, and Jim was beginning to feel that he might have to follow that lead, unlikely as it seemed; he had nothing else. There was one more chance: he could try talking to some of his former colleagues at Langley just in case they had any ideas.
Langley, West Virginia
"Colonel Masters; I've completed the final draft of my report."
The Colonel looked up as Lisa entered his office, a large manilla folder marked top secret in her hands.
"Well done, Lieutenant." He took the report and glanced at the title page. "Look, Lisa, about the other day. I hope you don't hold what happened against me. I know I was hard on you, but you are very important to us, and we can't afford to take any risks that might jeopardise the integrity of our mission."
Lisa tried to hide the revulsion she felt. In many ways she felt it was worse when the Colonel tried to be nice to her than when he showed his natural streak of cruelty. At first, she'd wanted to assume the best of him; she'd wanted to assume that he genuinely did like her even while he was using her. But she'd lost that naivete well over a year ago. Lost her trusting nature.
"I understand that, Colonel."
"Well, I have something for you, partly a reward and partly a Christmas present." The Colonel drew a small jewellery box, the kind rings or cufflinks are sold in and handed it over. Lisa took it trying to avoid touching his hand as she did so but she wasn't that lucky. Their fingers touched and she was sure it hadn't been entirely accidental. She opened the box.
Inside were a pair of silver double bars nestled in a black lining. "Captain's bars, Sir?"
"Yes - you've been promoted. Congratulations Captain Davis."
"Thank you, Sir." She snapped the box shut and turned to leave.
"You sound disappointed, Lisa. What's wrong? Don't you want a promotion. You've earned it - this report could give me general's stars. I see no reason not to share the good fortune."
"It's not that, sir. I don't mind being a captain - it's just that . . . well, I never planned to have a military career and yet I find myself stuck in here all the time. Do you know, I haven't left headquarters in fourteen months? I think I'm going stir crazy. If you really want to reward me, do you know what I'd like? Just to get out of here for a while."
"Captain Davis, you know I just can't do that. I can't let you just walk out of the base. Sorry, not possible."
"Oh come on, Colonel. I'm not going to be of any use to you if I burn out; it's not going to look very good if I wind up in hospital just as you need to start presenting that report to the Committee. Can you answer all their questions without me?"
"Is that a threat, Lisa?" He looked straight at her.
"No, sir. It's a fact. I can't keep this up. I need some time off. I want to go shopping. I want to go to the mall. I want to do something normal for a change. I'm going to be twenty soon, sir, I'm running out of time to be a normal teenager. Can't you give me a few days off?"
The Colonel stood up and walked around his desk. "Will you agree to some restrictions?"
"You wear that bracelet that blocks your powers, I can't have you trying to teleport away, and you'll need to be guarded. Gloria has to go with you."
Lisa nodded. "OK, sir. That's fair, I guess."
"OK, you can go out this afternoon to start with. Maybe even later in the week as well. You should be able to buy a lot of presents. I don't think you've drawn any of your army pay yet."
Ami and Megabyte teleported into the Lab. Once again, the walls flashed with the energy discharged as they travelled through the hyperspatial zones. Liz looked up.
"You two look like the cat that found the cream."
"Nope, but we've found Mrs Davis."
"What? How did you do that?"
Ami sat down on the couch next to Liz, while Megabyte took up an opposite position. He began to explain.
"Dad's just had this great new computer system installed at home, it lets me access newsgroups, e-mail, the world wide web - everything. It's really cool. Anyway, I was trying all the new software out searching when I discovered a whole bunch of conspiracy newsgroups. Some of the stuff on there makes us look totally normal. Anyway I generated a few fake e-mail addresses and started asking questions trying to find out where the SIA might have taken the Davis's if they wanted to keep them hidden. Some of the people online came up with a few addresses, towns in the US where they like to put protected witnesses, and people like that." Megabyte saw the expression on Liz's face. "Are you with us?"
"Well, I understood about one word in three after 'newsgroups' but I think I have the basic idea, yes."
"Oh, yeah, I guess any computer you worked with on Earth must have been very primitive."
"Excuse me?" said TIM.
"Oh sorry, present company excluded. Anyway, after I'd found out the town names, Ami started helping me to look further."
Ami interrupted. "I started checking out newspapers, local newspapers for the towns involved. You can find out a lot of useful information from old newspapers if you know how to look. Anyway, one of the towns, Bethlehem, Nevada, seemed to work. It's only a small place but it does have a local paper and in it we found a little piece about a new arrival back in early 1993, Mrs Esme Collins, who started winning all the local baking competitions baking chocolate brownies. Megabyte did some checking on the name on the 'net and found out that Mrs Collins didn't exist anywhere prior to 1993, she seems to have just popped up then. So we went and checked her out."
"What? You jaunted into a small town used to hide witnesses without telling anyone? Didn't it occur to you it might be dangerous?"
Megabyte looked sheepish. "Uh, no, I guess it didn't."
"But it wouldn't have mattered, Elizabeth," interjected Ami. "Can you imagine how many visitors a town named Bethlehem has just before Christmas? Lots of people drive there just to post their cards for the postmark. Anyway, we checked the phone book and found Mrs Collins house and Megabyte says it's definitely really Lisa's mum."
"OK. Well done, both of you. Now we just need to find Lisa as well. No sign of her, I suppose?"
"Nope, and she didn't answer any of our telepathic calls either. I don't think she could have been there."
Langley, West Virginia
Jim was getting tired. The drive from Clearwater to Langley had been fairly long and all he wanted to do was get out of the car. The streets were crowded with people doing their Christmas shopping and every corner seemed to hold a red-clad Santa Claus ringing a bell and collecting money for one worthy cause or another.
He pulled up at a set of traffic lights and waited for them to change. Then he noticed, just opposite him, near one of the ubiquitous Santas was a tall blonde woman who seemed to be staring right at him. He would have known her anywhere but she certainly stood out in a crowd. It was Gloria, one of the SIAs top operatives who, as far as he was aware, was currently meant to be serving a long prison sentence.
As he stared at her, he suddenly realised that standing just behind her was a younger woman in the process of placing a wad of notes in the collection basket of a small boy dressed as an elf. He fumbled for the folder on the seat next to him and drew out the photo he had of Lisa Davis. It was a match.
Jim hit the speed dial button on his car phone. "Boss, it's Jim. I've found Lisa - she's in Langley of all places and she's with Gloria."
Mike and Hsui Tai sat in the rental car waiting for Lisa and Gloria to emerge from the building. In the back seat sat Kevin; he was there so that there would be a familiar face to convince Lisa that the other two were Tomorrow People. Provided they kept to the same routine they had since Monday they were due to appear within the next five minutes.
"There they are." Hsui Tai pointed.
"That's one advantage to the military mindset, Darling." Mike said as they climbed out of the car. "Always punctual."
*John? We're on the move. If Gloria leaves Lisa's side for even a moment, we'll move in.*
*OK, Mike. We're about to approach Mrs Davis's house right now.*
John, Elizabeth, and Adam walked out of their room at the Bethlehem Inn just opposite "Mrs Collins's" home. They walked under the hotel's sign - in place of the traditional No Vacancy sign, this one said "No Room At The Inn" and towards the house.
They walked up the steps and Adam rang the doorbell. It was opened and he found himself facing Mrs Davis.
"Adam? Oh, Adam? How did you find me?"
He opened his mouth to reply, but she continued speaking. "Never mind. You have to help Lisa. They took her away from me and I haven't seen her since. I don't know what's happened to her! You need to help . . ."
Adam looked over her shoulder and noticed a burly man, a guard of some kind, coming down the hallway. The guard spoke.
"Mrs C - who's that at the door?"
"Oh no one, Reggie - just carol singers." She looked imploringly at the three Tomorrow People. They broke into song. John singing "Hark the Herald Angels Sing", Liz "Joy to the World" and Adam launching into a spirited rendition of "Rudolph, the Red Nosed Reindeer." The guard took a step back and his hand moved into his jacket. Adam pushed Mrs Davis to the ground shielding her body and John and Liz drew and fired their stun guns.
Adam looked up in horror at seeing the guard collapse. "YOU KILLED HIM!"
John snapped. "They're stun guns, Adam. Quick, jaunt - get Mrs Davis out of here."
The three Tomorrow People accompanied by Mrs Davis jaunted away to the Lab and safety.
*Mike? We have Mrs Davis. She's safe.*
*Great, John, we're hoping to rescue Lisa in a few minutes.*
They were in a department store watching as Lisa examined a rack of charms and bracelets. Hsui Tai nudged Mike. "She needs a new bracelet, that one she's wearing must have sentimental value, it's so ugly." Hsui Tai smiled. "A bit like you, actually."
Kevin, not wanting to be so near them, Mike and Hsui Tai's constant teasing may have been a sign they loved each other but it was certainly embarrassing to be near, stepped away to give the married couple some space.
Gloria moved away from Lisa to look at a rack of handbags, not a huge difference but enough that Mike and Hsui Tai saw their chance to approach. They began to walk towards Lisa, but as they approached they suddenly felt very weak and faint.
Mike turned to his wife. "Volumin. Run," before crashing to the ground twitching. Hsui Tai tried to run towards Lisa but only took one step before she too crashed into the ground.
Twenty yards away, Kevin watched on in horror as the two older Tomorrow People fell. He sent out an urgent telepathic message.
*JOHN! ADAM! ELIZABETH! HELP ME! HELP ME!*
John, Elizabeth, and Adam leapt to TIM placing their hands on his domes. Adam was the first to answer Kevin's cries.
*What's happening, Kevin? Talk to me!*
In a blaze of light and colour Megabyte, Jade, and Ami all arrived on the jaunting pad in a jumbled mess and ran to join the link.
*Mike and Hsui Tai have collapsed. They're twitching. I think it's some sort of fit.*
John took over. *Stay away from them, Kevin! What were they doing when they collapsed?*
*Walking towards Lisa.*
*Then stay away from her too! Hang on!*
John looked over at Liz. "Volumin?"
"It certainly sounds like it."
"Damn. We should have anticipated this."
"What's volumin?" asked Ami and Adam together.
"It's a chemical compound, actually a type of ore. It robs us of our powers whenever we're near it. It can cause us to collapse; once you've been a Tomorrow Person for any length of time, you can find it hard to even function like a normal person if you lose your TP faculties," answered John. "Mike and Hsui Tai couldn't fight it."
He grabbed his stun gun from the couch and began to walk to the jaunting pad. Adam stepped in front of him. "Can you fight it, John?"
"I have to try. We have to get her out now. As soon as the SIA finds out what has happened in Nevada, they'll increase security around Lisa - if not worse."
"But can you fight it?" Adam grabbed John's arm.
John couldn't lie to the younger man. "Probably not. I've been a Tomorrow Person far too long."
Next to the couch, Jade spoke up. "Let me go."
They all looked at her.
"Jade, it's dangerous," said Megabyte.
Jade nodded. "I know. But it sounds like I have the best chance of success. I've been a Tomorrow Person the shortest time."
John handed her the stun gun, and then stripped the jaunting band off his wrist. "Give me yours, Liz. Jade," he said, handing them to her. "These devices on the side are matter transporters. They'll allow you to jaunt even under the effects of volumin. There's one for you and one for Lisa. Get one on her and then teleport to the island, not to here. We can't have volumin in the Lab. Once you're both clear, we can move in and get Mike, Hsui Tai, and Kevin."
Kevin waited for John to reestablish contact. He looked down at the quivering bodies of Mike and Hsui Tai and felt so helpless. Then he looked up - straight into the eyes of Lisa. She'd obviously seen him.
The two Tomorrow People stood staring at each other over the shaking bodies of the older TP. More people, including Gloria, were now surrounding Hsui Tai and Mike, apparently assuming this was a case of dual epileptic fits.
Lisa watched as a young girl teleported in, arriving next to Kevin. The girl began to move towards her, stumbling and almost falling as she passed the mass of people surrounding Mike and Hsui Tai. The girl arrived at her side.
"Here put this on. We have to go now."
"I'm not sure whether . . . "
Jade grabbed Lisa's wrist and snapped on the jaunting band. The two of them vanished from sight.
An instant later, Kevin realised Adam and Ami were next to him and running towards the mass of people. He didn't see precisely what happened because John and Liz grabbed him from behind and teleported with him back to the Lab. A second or so later, Adam and Liz arrived on the jaunting pad each with their arms wrapped around either Mike or Hsui Tai.
Kevin asked the obvious questions. "What happened? Where are Jade and Lisa?"
Liz looked up. "They're on the island and we'll explain what happened to them later. Adam - could you jaunt out and get Professor Cawston? We're going to need a sap to go to Tapahini and cut off Lisa's bracelet."
"Sure." Adam flashed out of sight.
Professor Cawston arrived on the beach and looked across the sand to where Jade and Lisa both lay. Jade seemed unconscious and he examined her first for injury before approaching Lisa.
"Who are you?!?"
"I'm a friend. My name is Ian and I have to cut that bracelet off as it's blocking your powers and it's making Jade ill. Now hold your arm still or you may lose it!"
He cut away the bracelet and then spoke. "I have to take this to the other side of the island until we can work out how to dispose of it. Please wait here and look after Jade. The others will arrive here in a moment."
He began to walk away leaving Lisa feeling tired and scared but also, paradoxically safer than she had in a long, long time. She sat there, stroking Jade's hair until Adam appeared in front of her.
"Hi Lisa." He moved to hug her but she pulled away. He backed off and just looked at her. "Are you OK?"
"I'm not sure . . . My Mom!"
"Safe and we'll bring her here in a minute."
"OK . . . Adam, I'm sorry."
"Sorry for what?"
"For walking away. For rejecting you all. Rejecting what I am, what we are."
Adam shrugged. "No problem. We all make mistakes. You're here now. You're safe. It's all that matters."
"Who are those other people, those older people I saw?"
Adam took a breath. "Well, I suppose I'd better start from the beginning."
Lisa sat back on the couch looking around at the large numbers of people crammed into the Lab. Every single living Tomorrow Person was there, including many she had met only today, people who hadn't been back to Earth for many years. Kenny, Carol, Stephen, Prince Tyso, Tricia, Andrew, Annie. Some with children of their own; Mike and Hsui Tai had a lovely little girl and Mike obviously doted on her.
Her own mother was there too, so were Megabyte's parents, he'd even deigned to invite his sister and Lisa really couldn't see why he was so hard on Millie, and Kevin's parents, and Ami's mother. A few other people she'd been introduced to by Ian Cawston - Sir Christopher Harding, and his older brother Ginge, and Lefty Wright. All people she wanted to get to know. All people who seemed genuinely close to each other, like a family.
And she still found it hard to fit in. She felt like she had rejected them, like she had failed them. No one had said anything, but it didn't make her feel any better. She saw John speak to one of the older woman, it took a moment to work out it was Tricia and not Carol, and then Tricia walked over to her.
"John suggested I try and talk to you about what's bothering you." The woman was very blunt, and Lisa was surprised she was that way. Tricia sank down next to her.
"Yes, I know I'm not subtle, but sometimes being subtle and skirting around the issue doesn't help. I learned that from John. He knows how to be very blunt at times, if he hadn't been with me, I doubt I would have broken out."
Lisa nodded and looked into her drink. "Why do you think something's bothering me?"
"It's pretty obvious, Lisa. Look, why don't you talk to me about it. I'm leaving tonight and it's unlikely we'll see each other for a long time. And I won't tell anyone what you tell me, I'm a Federation Agent and I can keep secrets. But talking about it might help."
Lisa nodded. "OK. What do you know about what happened to me?"
"A little bit. Scientific Intelligence got their claws into you and tried to make you work against your own. They came close to succeeding and you almost lost what you were born to be: a Tomorrow Person. I'm guessing you're feeling a little guilty and also a little worried that you've let the others down?"
"How do you know?" asked Lisa. "You're right. But how do you know?"
"The same thing happened to me. I worked for British Intelligence back in the '70s. I worked against the Tomorrow People and I did some things I'm not proud of."
"But that's the past, Lisa. It is for me and it is for you. And no one here will ever hold it against you. We're Tomorrow People. We're family. We forgive and look after our own. Not once in twenty years have any of the others ever held what I did against me. And as far as they're concerned what you did is over and forgotten. You can put those ghosts to rest."
Lisa gave a small smile. "Thanks. I needed to hear that. Can I ask you a question though? How did they get you to do it - the Intelligence people I mean?"
"They got at me while my defences were down and filled my head with a lot of notions about duty and the need to protect democracy. Actually, I do believe a lot of what they said, but my duty is to something higher than petty politics now. What did they do to you? You must have had a reason to ask me."
"They scared me. They threatened my life and my mother's. They threatened the others and said if I didn't help to plan against them, then they'd just have to wipe out all Tomorrow People. I guess the fear was the worst. The fear of dying. I don't want to die, Tricia, I really don't. And I look at being a Tomorrow Person and it is so dangerous. I didn't want to face the fact I might die."
Tricia nodded. "Fear of death is normal; it's healthy, it helps to keep us alive. But Lisa, we are Tomorrow People and I'm afraid that isn't easy." She picked up a slice of Christmas cake from the top of TIM. "We evolved for a reason, at least I think we did. We were born to save the world. We have to live our lives to save mankind. And sometimes, maybe, we might have to give our lives for the good of mankind. It's a fact of our lives and it doesn't pay to dwell on it.
"If it makes you feel better, the odds seem in our favour. In 25 years only one Tomorrow Person we knew of has ever been killed - and while Pavla's death was a tragedy, it is the only one so far."
"Pavla? Pavla Vlasova? They told me about her. They said she was killed by us. By Tomorrow People."
"Well, that's a lie."
"I thought it was . . . I hoped it was."
Tricia stood. "If you want to know about Pavla talk to Mike. He was there. He knew her best. Are you OK?"
"Merry Christmas, Lisa."
Lisa waited a moment and then she walked over to where Mike was sitting down playing with his little daughter.
"Yeah, Lisa. Here - have a mince tart?"
"No thanks. There was something Tricia said I should ask you - about Pavla Vlasova."
Lisa saw the flash of pain in Mike's eyes. "Ask away."
"I don't want to upset . . ."
"You haven't. That was done years ago and if Tricia told you to ask, she must have had a reason. What is it?"
"The SIA told me that she was killed by Tomorrow People. What really happened?"
"Well not that, I can tell you!" Mike raised his voice slightly and then quieted down. "Sorry. I should be used to their lies by now. It's their stock in trade. Pavla was a Russian girl, a Russian Tomorrow Person. We didn't know about her. Not until she came to London and escaped from the KGB. British Intelligence captured her and tried to get information from her. The KGB killed her to stop it happening. It wasn't us. The worst thing we did was fail to save her; bad enough but we cannot kill." He looked down at his daughter. "Pavla was the first girl I ever really cared for. I named this little one after her. I love Hsui Tai, more than anything in the Universe, but Pavla, though a lesser love, was my first." He smiled in memory. "You don't need to worry Lisa. No Tomorrow Person has ever killed someone else. No matter what the SIA told you."
The party continued on into the night. Finally all the Tomorrow People and their families and their friends circled around the large tree at the front of the Lab and exchanged gifts. Most of the gifts were small, mere tokens that spoke of the powerful love and affection they felt for each other, but at the end, John and Liz stood in front of the newer Tomorrow People and handed them each a small package. John spoke.
"In this package, in these parcels, is an item that, while practical also became a symbol for us when we were here on Earth. All of us have one and now we give them to you."
Adam, Lisa, Kevin, Megabyte, Ami, and Jade all strapped the jaunting bands around their wrists. They were silent for a moment and then Megabyte picked up a small package.
"This is for you, John. We felt it was appropriate."
John unwrapped the parcel and drew forth a pair of expensive sunglasses. He opened the arms and put them on.
"Thank you for such a thoughtful gift . . . Marmaduke. Now, please charge your glasses for a toast."
He waited and then raised his glass. "The Tomorrow People. Now and forever."
All in the room drank deeply and then Lisa raised her glass again and her eyes met Mike's across the room. She gave a toast.
"To absent friends."
All murmured the words.
Adam moved up next to Lisa and put his arm around her. And she knew,
looking around the room that she once again belonged.