The Angel Club settled to it's usual hum of conversation as Nikki stared at Viper with her intense eyes. He began to remember her. Not all at once, but gradually her energy began to feel familiar to him, like a dream that was about to slip away. He ordered her a drink, and analysed her as the memory of a night over a year ago, when he had been on a job, came to him...
The warehouse had been empty that night. Sty had made sure of that. Viper had known it would be a good night - he could smell it. It would be a messy job of course, what with Bulk ripping off the enormous doors from the main entrance, as well as anything else that may have been in the way. But Viper was sure they would make a clean getaway. His certainty did not run on merely instinct either. Viper had the Sense. Some would refer to it as the 6th sense, but Viper simply thought of it as the only Sense. At least the only one that really mattered on a night like this. It was one of his many psychic gifts.
Still, now that he thought about it, he had sensed something else that night. Something that lingered just short of being considered a problem. Like a thin film of smoke, thin enough to let you know that the fire was far away...
As soon as Bulk had the doors ripped off their hinges, Viper set the men to work. Bulk, Ace and Sty were ordered to find a way up to the highest level of the warehouse - that was where the vault would be. The three Jonson brothers would act as lookouts, each triplet on one of the three open sides of the building.
They were quick, he would give them that. Even Bulk, who would probably be able to arm wrestle a full grown gorilla and win within 30 seconds. Bulk and Sty used the elevator, while Ace, the athletic one (also claustrophobic)climbed his way up. Each level was open and had a banister so that a person standing on any one of them could see the ground floor.
The ground floor was where Viper was. He was sure he had surveyed the floor carefully on that midsummer night. On the other hand, there had been piles of boxes scattered around the length of the floor. But even now, he could have sworn that there had been no one there.
He recalled hearing Bulk and Sly's woops of victory when they reached the top level. "Boss, you should see 'er! She's a real beauty!" yelled Bulk.
"Alright boys, bring her down!" Viper called back, unconsciously rubbing the black streak on his blond head. He had just glimpsed Bulk's arms grasping the large vault, which was the size of a refrigerator, over the edge of the banister before he let go. What followed must have happened quickly, but at the time it felt like several eternities.
He saw the girl.
She just stood there, as if manifested from thin air. As soon as he saw her he knew, using that reliable certainty of his, that she was in the direct path of the one thousand pound vault.
Fear struck him as it hadn’t done for years. She stared directly at him with those hollow eyes of hers, not flinching in the least.
Move girl! He remembered thinking as he watched her watching him - as the vault grew ever closer...
Finally - and it felt like finally - he flung his arms up in the direction of the vault. His mind instinctively searched upwards, searched and searched until - yes! The vault contained iron. A small amount of it - it was only part of an alloy, but enough. His mind forced the iron upwards as hard as he could.
Nothing happened. At first... then Viper could feel the vault slowing down. And now he could see it slowing. He forced it back even more, hoping to detain its date with gravity. Just long enough for the girl to escape...
He let his gaze waver for a split second. Long enough to realise that she was gone. His mind was blank as the adrenalin bubbled down. He didn’t remember how long he had stood there gaping, but Bulk's voice broke his shocked trance.
"Boss, is there a problem?" Bulk had sounded worried as if trying to figure out where he had gone wrong. Viper realised that the vault was still hovering two metres above the ground. He dropped his hand, releasing it from his mind, and it crashed deafeningly onto the floor.
"No. No problem Bulk." He glanced around the place once more. There was still no sign anyone else had ever been there at all. He didn’t know what to think, but he certainly wasn’t going to tell his men that he thought he had seen a ghost.
The last thing he imagined was seeing her again, here, now.
From the moment Rex had mentioned the voice in his head, Alexia knew she was dealing with the effects of a psychic. She figured the girl was an Inner, who affected the mind (as opposed to an Outer, who affected matter). Also that she produced a reverberation in her... victims (Alexia couldn’t think of a better suited word). She shivered as she thought of the dark psychic waves she had felt coming from Rex's mind - even though Alexia not a Mind Reader but predominantly a Communicator. This was one of the reasons why she had been the leader of the Psychic Circle, despite the fact that she was the youngest of all the members.
These thoughts occupied her mind as she stepped out of a taxi for the third time that day. After she paid and thanked the driver (noting with a sinking feeling how empty her purse was becoming) .
She stood still, her head slightly raised to the air as if searching for a scent. Following psychic trails was definitely not the best of her gifts - she had already completely lost the trail twice. But now she felt that she was getting close. She let the thought ring in her head once more.
She saw the image in her mind even clearer than when she first captured the thought from Rex. It was a simplified version of an angel - and now she could tell it was done in neon lights. Probably a club sign, she thought. The neighbourhood looked shady enough to make her bolt in the opposite direction if she hadn’t been so determined in her mission.
She concentrated on the angel image and tried to find a match in her surroundings. She turned and suddenly felt a tingling, almost like an auditory humming coming from her right. There was no doubt that she was close now. But her excitement was choked as she gazed in that direction.
The buildings were cramped together in a slum-like fashion and the cracks between them were dominated by shadow.
"Why do I get all the luck?" Alexia muttered to herself before she apprehensively approached the area. She soon found that she had nothing much to worry about, as everyone she passed was minding their own business. But they all looked as though they could cause quite a bit of trouble if provoked, so she carefully avoided eye contact and tried to focus on her mental tracking.
Suddenly, a loud buzzing 'noise' filled her mind making her yell. She quickly wiped the angel image from the front of her mind and looked up to see the real thing. The effect of mixing the psychic image with the reality was like putting a dialing cell phone next to a radio. They seemed to clash together disagreeably and ended up horribly disorientating Alexia.
She staggered towards the entrance, and it was only when she was leaning against the wall to steady herself that it occurred to her she had no plan beyond finding the place. All at once she had a flashing thought - it's a good idea not to be seen. She quickly crept around the side of the building as the door of the club opened, and she leant flat against the wall.
As she steadied her breathing, she heard a voice from the other side of the wall that caught her attention.
"So, Nikki. You can make others feel what you feel, hmm?"
There was a response that was too low to hear.
"I see. That makes you distinctly unique in our world, no other psychic can do that you know."
That was enough to make Alexia squeeze into a relatively comfortable position between two garbage cans and listen very carefully.