I know it’s my fault, but dammit, she’s such a bitch! I mean, I should feel terrible—and I do, kinda. The thing is, I’d know I messed up even if I wasn’t sitting in the principal’s office with Linda Kelley, my foster mom; Alex, my real Seduman aunt; Principal Gorne; Tiffany Orson; and her mom.
“Do you see that?” Mrs. Orson screams at us, pointing at the square bandage taped to her daughter’s left cheek. Tiffany pulls her perfectly highlighted blond hair away from her face to make it even more obvious. You can just make out the blackened skin hidden underneath the dressing. “Do you see it?”
Of course we see it, geez. It’s impossible to miss. The bandage takes up most of the left side of her face. Use my powers for good, Alex told me. And she’s right. We’re the heroes of the story. I blew it.
“What kind of a horrible, depraved monster is this—this—” She can’t even give me a name; she can only point and spit at me. “This isn’t just a schoolyard attack! This—this is terrorism! That’s right, terrorism! This girl is a terrorist!”
Tiffany nods to me, a smug, righteous look on her stupid face.
Come on! A terrorist?
I turn to Principal Gorne, and I’m happy to see she’s rolling her eyes. Nice to know my principal doesn’t think I’m a terrorist, at least.
“How can you live with a terrorist like this in your house?” Mrs. Orson shouts at Mrs. Kelley.
“Hey,” Mrs. Kelley says, getting defensive. “Rachel isn’t—”
“She’s using weapons!” Mrs. Orson yells her down. “That’s a terrorist! That’s terrorism!”
“Now, now,” Principal Gorne begins. “I think—”
“You have to do something about her!” Mrs. Orson keeps shouting. “You need to punish her! Saturday work study? Suspension? She deserves jail! She should be put away!”
“Maybe Tiffany deserved it,” Alex turns to Mrs. Orson, slowly and calmly, like she’s the coolest movie star in the world. Alex stares through her sunglasses and blue cap. “I know my Rachel, and she wouldn’t do this unless it was warranted.”
I don’t even try to hide the huge grin on my face.
“Warranted? Who are you? Why are you even here? You look barely older than she is! Are you part of her terrorist ring?” Mrs. Orson sneers.
“Who am I?” Alex rises, the anger in her voice plain for everyone to hear. She throws off her cap and glasses, her hair and eyes igniting with orange flames. “I’m Firebird Alex. And if my shield maiden stings a girl, I know that she had it coming.”
Mrs. Orson sinks deeper into her chair.
“Do you have a problem with me, too?” Alex taunts, slowly walking over toward Mrs. Orson. Tiffany shakes and grabs onto her mother’s arm, like that could save her.
“Do you?” Alex inhales, the flames inside her mouth beginning to form…