Author's note: This story is a spin-off from my main story, The Champions. I haven't actually used these particular characters in two years. The story is going to follow a few teen characters. If you haven't read The Champions, don't worry, this story's pretty self-contained. All you need to know is these kids have superpowers, and they all spent a few months at a school being taught how to use them. Everything else will be explained in-text. All feedback is appreciated.

May 19, 2014

Lindsay Sheppard woke up feeling groggy and nauseous. The room was dark around her. She tried to roll over, but she couldn't move. It took her a moment to realize she was sitting in a chair, and another moment to realize her hands were bound behind her. That explained the ache in her shoulders and around her wrists. But it didn't explain what was going on.

"Hello?" she called out. "I demand to know where I am!"

"You don't get to demand anything," a man said from behind her. It was a harsh, cruel voice. "You're lucky we don't just put a bullet in your head. But the bosses want you alive. For now."

"Who's responsible for this?" she asks. "Who are you people?"

"Shut up! You'll get told only what we want to tell you, and right now, we don't want to tell you a damned thing." Lindsay was pretty sure the accent was European, but she couldn't figure out where.

"When I get free, I'm going to kill you all."

"Well, it's a good thing we're never going to let you go, isn't it, boy?"

"Do you really think you can kidnap me without any consequences? Already, my people will be searching for me. And they won't stop until they've found me and freed me."

"Heh. Kid, they're never going to find even a trace of you. But I'm tired of hearing you talk. I think I'd rather hear you scream." The man stepped in front of her. He was big and ugly, with a buzzcut and a couple old scars on his face. He punched Lindsay in the face, then again. Lindsay spit out some blood and a broken tooth. The man hit her in the gut. The pounding continued.

"I will burn you all," Lindsay growled, trying to summon up a flame, but failing.

"I told you not to talk," the man said. "Stupid brown terrorist freak."

The beating got even worse, until Lindsay passed out.

Lindsay woke up with a start. She was drenched in sweat and breathing heavily. She didn't know where she was. A little bit of light came in through her window, enough for her to see the room. Her room. She was in her own room. Her own bed. It had only been a dream. But she felt like it was more than that. She could remember the details perfectly; her telepathic power meant she usually could, but it was even sharper. She'd actually been in that place.

No, she wasn't there. But she knew who was.

"Faizal," she whispered.

Faizal Odeh. He was in trouble. She was certain of it. The question was what she could do about it. Should she call the Champions? She didn't know any of the current team, aside from Janet. She wasn't sure if they'd help her. Maybe this problem could be handled without them. She grabbed her phone and scanned through her contacts for a specific name. "Hello?" David Hirshberg answered.

"David, it's Lindsay."

"Oh, hey, Lindsay! How you doing?"

"I need to talk," Lindsay said. "I need help. I think Faizal's in trouble."

"Wouldn't surprise me, given the way he's been provoking Israel," David replied. "The wonder is that he didn't get in trouble sooner."

"We need to help him," Lindsay said. The line went silent for a long moment, then David sighed.

"Yeah, I guess we do. I never liked him, and I think he's been playing a dangerous game. But he's one of us. Maybe you can even talk some damned sense into him."

"So you're willing to help me?" Lindsay asked.

"Yeah, yeah," David said. "But if anyone asks, I argued with you for hours. I don't want people thinking I actually like that jerk."

"Great!" Lindsay said. "Do you think I should call the Champions?"

"Psh! Why bother? I'll call Steve, you call Kevin, you can ask Rika to help out. We can call up Hidalgo, he was friends with Faizal so he might be interested. We're all at least 18, we can handle this ourselves."

"Yeah, you're right. Let's keep this in the family."

"Too bad no one knows where Scott and Raven are," David said.

"Raven's not an option," Lindsay said firmly. She had seen Raven a while ago, and the poor girl had been through too much for Lindsay to drag her into anything else. "Let's call the others, and then we'll figure out how to get to Israel."

Kevin Mackenzie jumped at the chance to join on an adventure. Stephen Miller took a little more work, but David could always talk him into anything. Hidalgo Morales couldn't be reached, so he was out. Rika Laskari complained and swore, but relented. Lindsay felt a little guilty about it, since she knew all the buttons to push. But Rika had the most experience as a superhero, and that experience might come in handy.

The next step was all of them getting together. Lindsay saw only one good option. She called the Champions. "Hello, Ms. Sheppard," a computer-like voice answered.

"Hey, Cassi," Lindsay said. "I need to ask a favour."

"Actually, I'm not CASSI," the computer said. "I'm Holly. CASSI has been relocated to the Protectors headquarters. But how can I help you?"

"Oh. Sorry, I didn't know. Uh, I need to borrow the plane. The big one, not one of the little ones. I . . . OK, the truth is I'm pretty sure Faizal's in trouble, and I and the other ex-students want to go help him. Ourselves, without the Champions helping."

"Of course," Holly said. "I'll check with Savant, but I'm sure she'll accept it."
"OK. Great. Thanks."

Just over an hour later, a hi-tech jet landed in a large field not far from Lindsay's home. It was designed for vertical take-offs and landings, and it ran on solar energy. Lindsay put her suitcase in a back compartment. David and Steve were already inside. David was 18, with short red hair and large grey wings. Lindsay was glad he'd started shaving. He wore a sweatervest and a Star of David. Stephen had a toned body, with short, dark, curly hair and a large nose with tell-tale signs of having been broken at some point. He wore sweat pants and a football jersey. His power was superstrength, though he was still learning to control it. "Hey, guys," Lindsay said as she boarded. "It's great to see you both again."

"The pleasure's all ours," David said with a wink. Lindsay rolled her eyes. She was used to having guys flirt with her. She was an attractive girl, with blonde hair, blue eyes and designer clothes. Even without actively scanning David's mind, her telepathy operated passively to tell her he was joking.

"Maybe I should tell your girlfriend you said that," she joked back.

"I'd just tell her you took control of my mind to make me say it."

"She wouldn't believe it. You don't have enough of a mind to control."

"Michelle is actually pretty possessive," Stephen said. "She'd probably claw your eyes out."

"Yeah, there is that," David nodded. "I hate to say it, but she can come on a bit strong sometimes."

"Maybe you should stop being whipped," Lindsay told him.

Next, the plane swung by Boston to pick up Kevin. It didn't land this time; it hovered while he raised himself telekinetically. Kevin was a geeky boy with glasses and brown hair that he'd been allowing to grow out a bit, and some stubble on his face. He wore simple jeans and an Adventure Time t-shirt. "Hey, everyone," he said as he entered the plane. "Good to see you all again."

"How have things been?" Lindsay asked.

"Pretty good," he said. "You?"

"Good." Lindsay was never really sure how to talk to Kevin. She was one of the cool kids, so she had trouble relating to him.

As they talked, the plane flew east, eventually coming down in Greece, and Athens, where Rika joined them. She was a pretty girl, with fair skin and dark hair. She had a large nose and mouth, but she looked good. She wore khakis and a white blouse. "Hey!" she said cheerfully as she got on the plane. "It's so good to see you all again!"

"I know!" David said. "It's been almost two years since we actually met up. You live too far away."

"Hey, that didn't stop Lindsay from visiting me last year," Rika said, then stuck her tongue out.

"Of course she did," David said, "I'm still pretty sure you two are lovers."

"In your dreams," Lindsay said.

"And how!" David laughed.

"I'm quite happy with Natassa, thank you very much," Rika said proudly.

"Sickeningly so, if your Facebook is any indication," David replied.

"Hey, guys," Lindsay said. "Now that we're all together, I just wanted to say, thanks. Thank you so much for agreeing to help me with this. I know you've all got reasons for not wanting to come. Dave, I know you don't like Faizal. Steve, I know you're still worried about hurting people with your strength. And Rika, I know you didn't want to get caught up in more superhero stuff. So I just wanted to let you all know how much I appreciate you for doing this."

"Hey, it's no problem," Rika said. "You're still one of my best friends. I'll always be there for you." She gave Lindsay a hug.

"Yeah," David said, "I don't like Faizal, but I don't want to see him killed or anything. Besides, I've done a little bit of superheroing here and there, and aside from the terror and pain, it's pretty fun."

"If my strength can help people," Stephen said, "then I'm willing to help."

"And I'm just happy to be here," Kevin said. "I was in a team of teen heroes for a few months, but I haven't gotten to do much since they split up, and that was, like, over a year ago."

"Yeah, I know," Lindsay said. "I appreciate you coming, too."

"I'd say that I hope we don't have to use our powers," Rika said, "but I know it would be pointless. We're superhumans, of course we're going to have to use our powers. I'm shocked I've been allowed to be retired for as long as I have, but there's no way we won't see action now that we're going in together."

"Hey, I look forward to it," Kevin replied.

"Actually, I agree with Rika," David said. "Superhumans getting together is always a recipe for disaster. In fact, I will bet a thousand dollars that one of us won't make it out of Israel alive."

"I'll take that bet," Kevin said. "We'll be fine. We'll go in, kick some ass, grab Faizal, and get out. No problem."

"I'm afraid there's a problem." It was an hour later, and the plane had landed at Ben Gurion Airport, and the kids were being held in a security room. An IDF officer was speaking with them. "It seems your names turned up on a watch list. Just a mix-up, I'm sure, and some people will be here soon to clear it all up. But in the meantime, I must ask you to remain here."

'Mix-up, my ass,' Lindsay sent a thought to the others. 'We're not on any list. He's lying out his ass. We're in here because we're superhumans.'

'I guess my wings kinda gave us away,' David thought. 'Sorry, guys.'

'Actually, it wasn't you,' Lindsay thought. 'They have a guy here who can detect supers. The six of us set him off as soon as we landed.'

'They think we're a threat?' Stephen asked.

'We're an unknown quality,' Rika replied. 'They're not sure how big a threat we are yet, so they're keeping us somewhere relatively containable until they can figure us out.'

'And I thought I was the mind-reader,' Lindsay thought. 'I guess you picked up a lot as a superhero, huh? But it looks like we won't have to wait too much longer. A woman just got here. Damn, her psychic wall's pretty strong.'

'Stronger than yours,' came the thought back.

"Oh crap," Lindsay said out loud as her eyes went wide. She switched back to telepathy. 'She's a telepath! So watch your minds.'

A few minutes later, a woman came in. She was in her mid-40s, and in great shape for her age. She had a slightly darker skin tone than the other Israelis they'd seen. She was accompanied by an obese man of around 30, with thinning hair and a mind that grossed Lindsay out. He pointed to each person in the room and revealed their power. "Strength. Wings. Telepathy. Force field. Telekinesis." He spoke Hebrew, but Lindsay mentally translated for everyone. She'd learned fluent Hebrew a few minutes after stepping off the plane.

"Thank you, Mister Goldstein," the woman said without looking at him. "That will be all. I will speak with them alone."

"Are you sure you should be alone with us?" Rika asked. "We could be dangerous, after all."

"I doubt it," the woman replied. "And if you do attack me, it won't take long for my superiors to find you and you and kill you."

"OK, there is that," Rika said. "Also, you're a little scary."

"Why are you here in Israel?" the woman demanded.

"A friend of ours might be in trouble," Lindsay replied honestly. "We want to help him."

"What's your friend's name?"

Lindsay hesitated, but she still felt honesty was the best approach. "Faizal Odeh. He's also known as Jihad."

"You're friends with that terrorist?" the woman asked sharply.

"Yes. We don't like what he's been doing, either, and maybe we should've done something to stop him sooner, but now he's in trouble, and we're not going to sit by and let him maybe die."

"We probably didn't really need to tell her all that," David said.

"She's a telepath," Rika pointed out. "She would've known if we were lying anyway."

"If we find him," Lindsay said, "we promise to take him away. He won't bother you any more."

The woman studied them. Lindsay felt the woman's mind brushing at hers, and she chose to take a risk by lowering her defences to let the woman in. The woman arched her brows in surprise, but said nothing as she examined Lindsay's mind. She saw the friendship Lindsay and Faizal shared, and she also saw the dream Lindsay had had about him.

"I can't doubt your sincerity," she finally said. "And I'm curious about that dream you had, too. The mental bond between you must be strong." Lindsay blushed. "I was unaware Jihad had gone missing. It wasn't my people who grabbed Jihad."

"I knew it!" David said triumphantly. "I knew the IDF wouldn't abuse a prisoner like that!"

"Definitely not," the woman said. "Going by the dream, it also wasn't some pissed-off Arabs. That means it's a third party behind it, and I don't like that. We don't need rogue groups running clandestine ops in Israel. We need to find these people and shut them down."

"We'll be glad to help with that," David said.

"We don't need help," the woman replied. "I'm going to go to my superiors about this, and we'll launch a full investigation. We're going to get to the bottom of this."

"What about us?" Stephen asked.

"What about you? You're no threat to our security, so you're free to go."

"And we can keep looking for Faizal?" Lindsay asked.

The woman gave no response. Instead, she simply turned and left the room. "Was that a yes?" Kevin asked.

"It's an 'I don't care what you do'," Rika said. "As long as we're not causing any problems, we can do whatever we want."

They were released from the room, and they left the airport. "So what do we do now?" David asked. "Where do we start looking?"

"In Gaza, obviously," Lindsay said. "That's where he lived. We talk to the people there, and see if any of them saw anything."

"Will they be willing to talk to us?" David asked. "I mean, they're bound to be pretty suspicious of a bunch of white people, right?"

"That's the beauty of telepathy," Lindsay said with a smile. "It doesn't matter if they talk, all we need to do is get them to think about what we want to know."

"It's been a long flight," Kevin said, "and it's late. We should eat and find somewhere to stay the night. We can begin looking in the morning."

"And you'd like my advice?" a girl asked. "I'd be glad to help!"