They found Sonia and Matthias in the sitting room watching the news again. Both of them had extremely serious expressions that made Lydia’s stomach flip.
“What’s happened now?” Lyrrekka asked before Lydia could.
“Another explosion,” Sonia replied. “A girl about the kids’ age destroyed an entire Manchester suburb – only this time it was caught on camera.” She nodded to the screen which was showing a shaky cameraphone stream of a blonde girl surrounded by serpents of glowing flame standing in the middle of a burning street of terraced Victorian houses. There was an unnerving blankness to her expression as she turned towards the camera and began walking towards it, stepping over strangely twisted, smoldering lumps that surrounded her. Lydia stomach convulsed and she ran from the room heaving as she realised they were human bodies.
She barely made it to the toilet across the hall in time and knelt there while her stomach ejected what little was in it. After a moment she felt her mother rubbing her shoulders gently.
“Sorry, I should have warned you,” she said quietly.
“D-did anyone get out?” Lydia asked once she’d finished retching.
“No,” Sonia said. “I’ve seen frenzying dragons do less damage. She even killed the guy who livestreamed it.”
“Why didn’t he run?” Lydia asked.
“He was trapped,” Sonia said. “His tweets said he couldn’t get out because of the fires. He was trying to hide but she spotted him. When the authorities got in they found everyone and everything dead except the girl, who had passed out.”
“What did they do?”
“The news said they’ve taken her into protective custody as the only witness but they have to know she did it. The talking heads certainly do. I dread to think what they’ll do to her.”
“I don’t feel much sympathy for her.” Lydia got to her feet shakily. “She just killed hundreds of people and it didn’t look like she just lost control.”
“No, there was something else going on,” Sonia agreed. “Her powers did flare out of control and I’m pretty sure she was infected by those microbes, but she was partially directing the explosion as well. And her face â€“ it was blank, almost like she was sleepwalking, but I’m sure she was awake. But no matter how in or out of control she was, she doesn’t deserve to be a lab rat.”
“No, I suppose not.” Lydia rubbed at her head. “I need a drink of water.”
“I’ll get you one,” Sonia said. “Go wait in the lounge. Matt’s turned the TV off.”
“Okay.” Lydia walked back to the lounge and sank into one of the armchairs.
“Are you okay, Lyd?” Matthias asked.
Lydia shook her head. “That was horrible. How can they show that? All those bodies…”
“You missed the worst bit,” Lyrrekka said. “The boy with the phone dropped it when she set him on fire and it streamed the whole thing. I really can’t believe they showed that. What are the talking heads saying?”
“Well, amazingly no one has tried to say it’s fake,” Matthias said. “Everyone is accepting she did it somehow. One of them called her a harbinger of worse things to come. I fear she was right.”
“I’m sure she was if we can’t come up with a plan.” Sonia returned with a glass of water and handed it to Lydia. “But at least this should focus the other families’ minds which might mean we can avoid some of the normal grandstanding.”
“Hopefully,” Matthias agreed. “But why are you up so early anyway, Lyd?”
“I couldn’t sleep and Bennu suggested we might be able to use Adrian’s heart friend to trap him,” she said. “Lyrrekka’s going to mention it to Estara while she’s there collecting Marian. I want to go with her if that’s okay.”
“Yes, of course it is,” Matthias said. “You don’t need to ask permission, Lyd.”
“Lyrrekka thought I should tell you.”
“Tell us, yes,” he said. “But you’re old enough to make your own decisions.” He looked around as Tara came down the stairs. “And it looks like you’re about ready to go as soon as I tell Tara what’s happened.â€