Laurie opened the door with a sweep of her hand; and stepped aside to let Beatrice in first. Her human shield safely in place, she looked around the room.
The twins were sitting on the floor and braiding each other’s hair. They squealed when they saw her and ran up to greet her. Laurie was glad that Emma had managed to find them, and she joined in their happiness fully. After they had fully greeted each other and made arrangements to meet up with each other later Laurie broke away.
The only other people in the room were Emma and Derek’s daughter. Emma was watching the girl thoughtfully as she took the microwave apart and turned it into; something- it looked a little like a ray gun.
Laurie said hello to Derek’s daughter, who smiled shyly back, and then dragged Emma away; as long as everyone was here they needed to hold a meeting.
It took fifteen minutes to get everyone together but eventually the little kitchen was full of people.
Laurie felt a little thrill as she looked around the table; everyone was watching her. She leaned forward a little and spread her arms. “Thank you all for being here” she said, “Now it’s time we decided what to do”
Around the table this news was taken it different ways. Derek looked sullen; but then that was the way he usually looked. Beatrice looked as passive as ever, Derek’s daughter and the twins weren’t listening. Derek’s wife was sitting and watching but Laurie wasn’t sure how much was going on behind the scenes. Emma looked angry; “Hang on kid” she said, “When did you get Chief’s job?”
Laurie felt a sinking feeling in her stomach and she leaned back slightly; she hadn’t really thought about the explosion yet. “No one is in charge at the moment” she said, “But if we spend our time squabbling then we are going to be caught flatfooted”
Laurie was hoping that this combative attitude would appeal to Emma’s logic, and she was relieved to see that Emma settled back into her chair, grumbling slightly. Laurie grabbed a piece of paper she had found earlier and laid it out on the table. “Let’s take stock of our current position” she said, “firstly, how did everyone’s missions go?”
Three of the people shifted in their chairs. Derek spread his arms out and Emma said, “Look around you would you?”
Laurie felt a small blush on her cheeks; in hindsight it had been a silly question. “Alright” she said, drawing the paper towards her and writing across it, “Derek got his family out in time, Emma found the twins and Beatrice found the 2CV, any complications?”
Derek shifted in his seat a little bit and opened his mouth, but then Emma cut across him. “Some twat in that dorm tried to hit on me!”
Laurie felt worried; she knew some people who lived in the twin’s dorm. “Is he all right?” she asked.
Emma grinned, “Well he won’t be getting in another ladies face again”. Then she started laughing, it didn’t seem to bother her that no one else was joining in.
Finally Derek cut across her, “Well it’s just great that you took that opportunity to disturb my daughter like that, but if you don’t mind something actually important happened while I was on my mission.” He turned to Laurie, “We got attacked by those guys from the desert”
Laurie felt like a jolt of electricity had gone through her, “Wait, what?” she said.
Derek explained, and when he was done everyone looked thoughtful.
Laurie felt a fizzing feeling in the front of her brain. She scratched the back of her hand as tried to make sense of what she had just heard. “So strictly speaking…” she said, “They didn’t attack you…”
Derek didn’t look even remotely sympathetic. “Hardly anyone comes out of that community centre in one piece”, he said, “They had to have known the risks”
Laurie made sure to keep her face blank. She wished she could have been there to see the looks on the men’s faces. Then the image formed in her mind, and suddenly it didn’t seem that funny anymore. “Now when you say they were the men from the desert…” she began
“They were the same men” Derek said,” I recognized their faces.”
Laurie thought she could feel a headache coming on. She sunk back into her chair and tried to wrap her head around this new piece of information. “They only found three bodies” she remembered, “I just thought that they had come back for the others.”
Everyone around the table was staring into space; trying to make sense of their own thoughts. Emma was the one who broke it, “So, what we dealing with?”
Laurie felt uneasy. She wrote ‘attacked by men from desert’ on the paper, then she wrote ‘only three corpses found’ underneath it; after some thought she drew a circle around the two.
The table was quiet and the room felt cold.
Laurie tried to put a grin on her face, “Right then” she said brightly, “My mission”