Genevieve ran back into the kitchen, Orion behind her. She laid a newspaper down on the table. The headline said:
13-year-old girl still missing, parents offering reward
Beneath it was my last school picture and a picture of me with Cara on my last birthday.
Jason picked up the paper and read aloud,
13 year old Hestya Lilac was announced missing two months ago, and still no traces have been found. Her parents, Tom and Diana Lilac, are desperate for news, and are offering a reward of 20,000 dollars for her return.
"We just want her to come home safely. That's all we care about, money's not an object." Tom Lilac said. Cara Lilac, Hestya's sister, age seven, said "The last time I saw her, we were walking to school together, and there was a strange man dressed in black watching us, who made her nervous. Then she dropped me off at school, and I haven't seen her since." The authorities have made a search of the town, but no such man has been found.
The last person to see her was her close friend, Vanessa Neely, who saw her after their school that day. "She was going to walk home. She wasn't alone, there was a boy with her. The boy was a new student who Hestya was supposed to show around the school. He said he lived near her, so he was going to walk with her." The school did confirm the new student, Jason Kickman, but said his given address was not near Hestya's home, and when going to investigate his given address, found that it was an empty field. Jason Kickman has not been seen since, and he is a suspect in Hestya's disappearance.
If you have seen Hestya (pictured above), or know anything that might lead the police to her, please call the number below.
Jason threw the paper back on the table. "Great." He said. "Now Hestya has a price on her head."
"That's a lot of money." Orion said.
"This is bad." Genevieve agreed.
"Your last name is Kickman?" I asked. "I thought your last name was Havon."
Jason hit me in the head. "Of course my last name isn't Kickman. My last name is Havon, but why in hurricane would I give the school my real last name, seeing as I was there as a spy?"
"Good point." I said.
"This just made our job a lot harder, because if anybody recognizes you, Hest, we're dead." Jason groaned.
"It's not my fault! You have to find less noticeable ways to "recruit" people!" I said angrily.
"Oh, so now you're blaming this on me?" Jason said, his voice raising.
"Maybe I am!" I yelled.
"Well maybe should have just left you where you were, failing school and falling head over heels for some random guy at your school!" Jason yelled back.
"I was not failing school!" I screamed.
"Oh, shut up, don't lie, I saw your grades!" He yelled.
"So what? I wasn't failing, I was struggling!"
"Well maybe I don't want to save the world! Maybe I wished you had left me there!"
"Well why don't you go crawl back there, forget about the world, and enjoy dying!" Jason yelled, trying to stand up.
"Oh, sit down, you can't even stand." I spat.
"Yes, because of you! Why did I save your butt last night? Explain that, to me, Lilac, why?"
I felt my face grow hot. "I hate you!" I shouted, immediately regretting how stupid it sounded. I hate you? Who just yells that? So childish.
"I hate you too!" Jason shouted back. "And you're a horrible rain guider! You can't even control a small puddle. It's pathetic."
I snapped. I lunged at him. Genevieve grabbed my arm and pulled me back, and Orion stepped in front of Jason.
"Stop it!" he yelled. "You can't keep fighting like this! It's no one's fault that Hestya is being looked for, her parents care for her, that's all. Let's all just calm down."
Jason looked at me angrily. "Can someone help me upstairs?" he asked. Genevieve nodded and they walked out. Orion and I stood in silence. Suddenly he closed his eyes.
"We have company." He said. 10 seconds later, Artymis and Athyna walked in.
"Hello, Hestya, little brother." Artymis said. I swear I heard Orion mutter,
"I'm only younger by five minutes."
"Hi, Artymis. Hi Athyna." I said blandly. Athyna looked at me.
"Are you ok, Hestya?"
"Yes. Yes, I'm perfectly fine. I just CAN'T CONTROL A DAMN PUDDLE OF WATER!" I yelled before I could stop myself.
Athy smiled at me. "You just need prac-"
"Practice, yes, I know. I've heard."
Orion sighed. "She and Jason have been fighting, and there was a slight waterfall-down-the-stairs incident. And Hestya is being looked for by the police, and might have made Jason a wanted criminal, we're not sure."
"Way to make it sound better, Orion." I said. Artymis looked at me sympathetically.
"It will all work out fine." She said. "Just trust me."
"Anyway," Artymis continued, "we've been doing some spying, and we have some information for you, if you're interested."
Orion and I glanced at each other. I leaned forward. "I'm listening."
"Ok." Athyna said. "The biggest news is that we think James has an accomplice."
"An accomplice?" Orion repeated, looking worried. I could tell that was bad.
"Yeah. We aren't sure who, but someone."
"Ok." I sighed. I'd think about that later. "Anything else?"
"Yeah, the volcano erupted last night-"
"We know." Orion and I said together.
Athyna frowned. "How do you know?"
"We were there. We were having a fight with James. Jason got hurt, he's upstairs." I said.
"What?" Athyna cried, looking alarmed. "Is he alright?"
"He's fine." I said. "Well, he'll be fine soon. He's in a little bit of pain, but he'll be ok."
"Why didn't you guys call us?" Artymis cried. She hit Orion in the head. "You idiot, you have a telepathic link with me, you're supposed to tell me everything!"
"I wanted to!" Orion cried. "Genevieve and I wanted to! But Jason and Hestya were all like, no, we don't have time, we have to go now, and so we went and then Jason got hurt and I forgot to tell you afterwards."
"Jason and Hestya were probably right." Athyna said quietly. "You probably didn't have time to wait for us."
"Thank you, Athy." I said.
"The question now is," Athyna continued, "What do we do now?"
We all sat in silence for a few minutes. I didn't know what our next move was. James could be anywhere, and he could be plotting anything with this accomplice of his. What could we do about it?
"I'm going to check on Jason." Athyna sighed, and headed upstairs. Artymis, Orion and I stayed at the table. It took me a minute to realize that Artymis and Orion kept glancing at each other and were probably have a telepathic conversation. Feeling very alone, I got up and went into the backyard.
I sat down on a bench near the pool of water we used to practice. Just yesterday we'd been practicing together right here, thinking everything was fine. How had things changed so much so quickly?
Genevieve came out of the house and sat down next to me. "Jason's going to be fine, you know. He'll be up and running around again in a few days."
"Is he still mad?" I asked.
Genevieve sighed. "Yeah, he's still mad."
I waved my finger in the air and lifted up a little water. I moved my finger through the air in patterns, the water copying them. This was supposed to be relaxing. Usually it worked. Today it wasn't. "I can't do this."
"You can." Genevieve insisted. "I know you can."
"It's so hard. I don't know what I'm doing. I don't know how to face James, and he scares me."
"He scares all of us." Genevieve said. I sighed and let the water drop. Genevieve frowned. "Why don't you go talk to Jason?"
"I think you'll both feel better."
"I'll give you a chocolate bar."
"No thank you."
"Two chocolate bars?"
I gave her a look. "Genevieve, you're not going to bribe me with chocolate bars."
"Oh, I don't know, Hest." A voice said. We turned around and saw Jason, leaning on a crutch, standing behind us. "Two chocolate bars sounds like a pretty good deal for little old me."
"Jason." I said softly. I wasn't sure what to say.
"I'm going to go…do…something." Genevieve said, and she went inside. I knew she was just getting out of the way.
Jason came over and sat down. "Hey." He said. I didn't say anything. After a moment of silence he continued, "Listen, the stuff I said in there…I was out of line. I'm sorry."
I sighed. It was really hard to stay mad at him. "No, I'm sorry. You were right. I can't do anything right. I should have gotten us down that staircase, that's beginner stuff. I mean, look at you. You're all beat up, and it's completely my fault. I'm really sorry."
"Don't talk like that! You're doing fine. The thing in the volcano was really advanced stuff. I was only able to do it because I've been doing this since I was little. You've only been rain guiding for a few months. There's no reason you should have known how to do that." Jason reasoned.
"I know." I groaned. "But it's getting us into trouble! I have to defeat that psychopath! And if he does have an accomplice, that means I have to defeat two psychopaths. I can't do it."
"Relax." Jason said soothingly. "Let's just take this one step at a time. I think right now we should focus on this accomplice. Let's just take a moment to think."
I nodded. He was right. I just had to think this through. "Ok. What do we know?"
"Well," Jason said thoughtfully, "One thing I noticed was that he had some really advanced technology in the volcano last night. In past encounters I've had with him, he hasn't had technology like that. He's all about manipulating people; technology's not really his thing. So maybe this accomplice is good at that stuff."
I nodded. "That would make sense. And that person…" I trailed off as I thought of something, "…would have had to learn it somewhere."'
Jason looked at me, starting to grin. "Like classes at the university nearby." He said.
"Which they would have registered in." I continued.
"And if we had some kind of computer whiz," Jason added, "We could hack into those systems and find a list of all the people who have taken the classes."
"Yeah." I agreed. "A computer whiz. Possibly a teenage girl with one of the highest IQ's in her generation."
"Yeah." Jason said. "Like that."
We grinned at each other. "I'll get Genevieve." I said.
"I'll get the others." Jason replied. We got up a hurried inside. Maybe there was still hope after all.