Chapter 16

“So you’re psycho?” O’Shay asked, settling into the high-back office chair.

“Psychic,” the Headmaster corrected him politely from where he sat across the desk.  “Or more to the point, I have visions of the future, often random, rarely controllable. They just happen.”

“And when you saw us coming here,” Jackhammer asked, preferring to remain standing. He wasn’t comfortable, neither here in the Headmaster’s office nor in the well-fitting but conservative clothing that had been supplied to them. “…did you also see us kicking some serious butt?”

The Headmaster smiled, his blind eyes narrowing on his withered face.  He took the question as rhetorical.

“You’re here for The Brotherhood – your last line of defence against Seduction.  What I can tell you is that they are not ready. Nor will they be for some time.”

“Then what about the staff?” Jackhammer snapped. “All your teachers have abilities.”

“We teach because we have abilities that don’t quite make the grade,” the Headmaster corrected him. “None of us have powers strong enough or reliable enough to make us any more effective than an ordinary man. If you send the staff into battle, you may as well send your companion here too.  We use our gifts to teach those who have the power to do good.”

“Those that can, do. Those that can’t, teach, eh?” O’Shay chuckled.

“Not helping.” Jackhammer snapped, admonishing the Irish Nuisance into silence. He turned back to the Headmaster. “Then we’re back to The Brotherhood. If they’re not ready now, make them ready. Seduction took down the whole League in less than a day. The longer he’s out there, the more powerful he gets.”

“I suspect you’re safe for now,” the Headmaster said. “There’s no heroes left to conquer in the region – save for yourself - and as yet he hasn’t moved further a field. I suspect he’s playing it safe and trying to restore a sense of normally for the public.”

“Why would he do that?” Jackhammer growled.

“Many reasons, not least being his failure in New Zealand. He moved too quickly and too openly, and that was his failure. This time, he’s being much more clever.”

Jackhammer grunted. He didn’t like hearing a compliment thrown at his enemy.

“Have you heard the news recently?" the Headmaster continued. “Your colleagues are out fighting crime again… making the public – and the government – think everything is okay. And while they’re at it, they’re also clearing out any potential competition. He’s put a lot of thought into this.”

“Well, you need to put a lot of thought into The Brotherhood. I need your students ready to follow me sooner, not later.”

The Headmaster sighed and fumbled for his walking stick.

“Come,” he said, rising from the chair.  “Our senior class is small, as always, but a small Brotherhood is better than none, I suppose.” He moved towards the door. “I want you to observe them. You’ll find them all eager pupils, willing to follow your command at the drop of a hat…”


“…but… watch first, and THEN decide if you can bear their blood on your hands.”

The sting of the Headmaster’s words made both guests stop in their tracks.  The Headmaster smiled cautiously to himself, knowing Jackhammer and O’Shay were both behind him and unable to see the grin.  If he’d learnt one thing in life, it was that a hard, cold slap of reality was the best way to get your point across. He made no apology for protecting his wards so graphically.

“Come, come!” he muttered, shuffling down the corridor. “Don’t dilly-dally. You have the world to save, in case you’ve forgotten.”

Jackhammer and O’Shay followed, but the confidence had gone out of their step.

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