Pebble's Pledge: Chapter 4: Death Watch:

By P.S.J.W.

White had just received a missive from his right hand. Rolland left the letter in the mail slot. It was too bad that he had no news of the fighter yet. Rolland went back to his home, an entire apartment building, and made it back there at about two in the morning. He had to try harder. It was proving difficult to gain anything on the tournament fighter. He had no solid proof it was his Niece. He drew his gun as he entered. The man sitting in the chair in the center of Rolland's living room. "Where is the fighter. I know you have spoken with it. Where is the fighter?"

"What fighter?" The man snarled defiantly.

"Oh Nail. That is your alias right?" Nail, I will give you one final chance. Where is the fighter?" The man spat at Rolland's feet. Rolland fired his revolver.

"Hale, James!" A voice called as James climbed out of his rather small car, a ugo, and straightened. He looked all about for a few moments.

"Who- an. But of course. How are you this evening, Ben?" They shook hands.

"Good, good. Clint Shanks is coming to the meeting too. You know him. From Arizona, raised in Utah."

"The only real American here I take it?"

"In it, yeah. Lets get inside. I hate this cold, and I have some messages to give to Boss."

"My nubs are turning colors too. Lets get inside." James agreed. They entered the house, Brice's. For they were in Canada this night, on the outskirts of Toronto. They moved the meetings sometimes. Last month it had been just outside of Flagstaff Arizona. The Boss, eh? Brilliant."

"It'll be a party. Full one. Rare that." Ben chattered, as they ascended the front steps. They entered the house, the front door being opened by a woman in a maid's uniform. Ben, and James took out their small plastic blank cards. The woman nodded once, and beckoned.

"What's the bleeding code then?" A man's voice, Boss's, called up from the depths of the basement as the maid opened that door as well.

"We stand for and against everybody, we stand for and against nobody." James and Brice intoned in unison.

"Passed. Get down here. Everybody but Bruce is here. Ah, there he is now. Right behind you." Boss said. "Repeat the code. Bruce did so.

James, Bruce, and Brice clattered down the wooden stairs as one. At the bottom of the stairs a five hundred square foot Concrete tiled floored room opened out in a wide sweeping arc. Paneled walls gave way here, and there to small chicken wire, and iron barred windows. A door at the far end stood bolted, the emergency door. A utility closet held cleaning supplies, and the another closet held a water heater, and furnace. Four folding tables stood in the middle of the room, groaning under the weight of both food, and supplies. The place looked like a war room. Florescent light bulbs lined the sealing on both sides of the room, and a huge globe containing several light bulbs hug over the tables. Several people sat around the make shift meeting table. James stared. They were all here. All of the Order Of The Cowl. "Greetings." James, Bruce, and Brice took steel folding chairs side by side. They sat between a blade thin woman, and a big black man.

"Introductions, unnecessary as they are." Boss announced, then muttered. "I am Boss. London chapter." Boss was broad, and grey templed.

"Night Mage. Congo chapter." The six and a half foot black man said, as he fingered his pointed black chin beard. He had claw scars across his scalp, was as wide as your average snow plow, and wore all black. From his boots, to fatigue pants, to a kevlar vest under a black tank top. His eyes were dark chocolate brown, and he carried a large serrated Congo knife on one hip, and a machete on the other. Rumors were that he could snap a sapling in half with a squeeze of one of his fists. He seemed to be able to carry darkness around with him where ever he went. In direct sunlight, he seemed to be so black that his skin was of a blue tint in some places. He rumbled more than spoke, he didn't speak that much English. And he had taken out near to twenty warriors in hand to hand combat alone. "I am present." The big man rumbled. He took a doughnut in his large fist, and seemed to swallow it whole. Night Mage was an overt threat.

Nyda Night Strider. Strider for short. Sydney chapter." A girl to Jame's right said, taking a sip of tea. She was five eight. Maybe a hundred and fifty pounds, yet blade thin. Broad shoulders, long limned, lithe, and swift. She was the only survivor of a nasty rash of prison riots that broken out a few years ago. The only guard that had escaped. Two others had also but they'd died days afterwards. Not Strider. They said she'd gotten her name because she'd strode across the tops of the walls of the prison at night, using her whip as a garote. She had killed, or subdued over fifty prisoners all together during the sieges. She was quick, and had only become more skilled recently. She wore a black gi, a long thick black braid, and combat boots. She carried a barbed wire whip on one hip, and a normal wire whip on the other hip. She also had many knives, and daggers on her person. Nobody, ever dared ask her where they all were. Her grey eyes glittered alertly. Every knot in her braid counted for a duel in which she'd won. Her braid was hip level now. Her full lips now curved upwards.

"Brice. London chapter." Brice said next. Brice was heavily skilled in explosives, and martial arts. He was also a Sniper and served with distinction.

"Bruce. London chapter." Bruce said, leaning forward to be able speak to Boss directly. Bruce had the same level of skills as Brice in combat.

"James. London chapter. James said. Like Ben he was great at hiding. He too had served outstandingly during many campaigns, and missions.

"Ben. London chapter." Ben drank some coffee then continued. "Have some news." Ben was great at hiding, and spying. He was well skilled.

"Rajesh. India chapter." Raj, like his twin Brother, was a spear dancer. They were the equivalent of Navy S.E.A.L They were well versed in combat.

"Richid." India chapter." Like his twin Brother, Richid was rail thin, yet iron hard. The two Brothers were seven foot even, and wore tan robes. In situations where the brothers found themselves out numbered they would fight as one calling themselves, Rajid. It was seamless symmetry. They were both just shy of thirty. However, they'd seen plenty of action during their relatively young lives. They were one. They had nobody but each other and that showed. They always stayed together. This way they could not be used against each other. They sat now side by side at the meeting table, there hoods down. They gave brief smiles to the group as they made their introductions.

"Jesus Cruise. Brazil chapter." Jesus practiced capoeta, a discipline of the martial arts which closely resembled a South American dance. He was skilled. Jesus wore a white shirt, tan pants, and brown loafers. His black hair was cut close, and his warm black eyes gleamed. He smiled openly.

"Lana Chinn. Hong Kong chapter." A woman who's Father was the General of the Hon Kong forces, smiled and nodded to the group at large. She was skilled more in the field of medicine than anything, however, she had a black belt in kung fu. And was a diligently studying weapon's specialist. She wore a dark grey jogging suit. Her long black hair was tied in a knot at the back of her head. She had a slight build.

"Holgar. Berlin chapter. Though I am stationed in the middle east currently, along with Rajid." This man was nearly as tall and broad as Night Mage, only much paler. He wore battle fatigues, and combat boots. His blonde hair was cropped close, and his green eyes flashed. He had manned a tiger tank during his days in service, and was a highly regarded marksman. He was also skilled in hand to hand mortal combat.

"Wes, I go by Ranger, South African chapter." A tall rangy man with light skin, and dark eyes waved as he sipped coffee with the other hand. During the civil war that sprung up between West, and East Africa, he had been a terror with his deadly marksmanship. Skilled in weaponry.

"Clint Shanks. Arizona Native American chapter" It was obvious that this man didn't have that much native blood in him. What he did have, he was proud of. He carried several guns, and knives on his person. He also included a tomahawk on his right hip. He was highly skilled. Clint wore buck skin pants, and vest over a blue western shirt. He wore spurred moccasins, and a set of dark brown leather gloves. He had a big black fedora hanging on his broad back. His large sliver belt buckle glinted. He adjusted his thick brown leather gun belt.

"Our new recruits won't check in until next meeting. We have a couple of Bostons, Chicagos, Canadas, and perhaps a Scottish joining us soon."

"Least we're expanding, slow as it is." Ben responded to Boss's words.

"Yes. But there is still not enough of us." Richid said sadly.

"True, Brother. But please remember the words of our holy one." Richid responded.

"Clint, how's you Father doing. What was his name? Farting Tree, or something?"

"Oak Breaks With Wind. I named him that after he left my Mother, Brothers, Sisters, and me. He's come back again. Rolled into town sicker than a wounded buffalo, and expected me to understand the reasoning behind his crocodile tears. It's my Grandfather I follow loyally."

"I can never remember all of your Native's names." Boss growled. "Now, Ben said...I believe...that he has news?"

"There has been movement, James."

James felt his blood drain to his toes. "Reformation?" He asked, his voice thready even to his own ears.

"I will keep as much of an eye on events as I can. I will be looking into the middle east rumbles of insurgence as well. I hope Solvig's safe?"

"She is. I do not know how safe she will be when he comes back. Victor is a dangerous man. The power of one's voice is a potent weapon. Hitler, remember?" James knew that Victor, Solvig's biological Father and tormenter, escaped the Order's infiltration of his death camp.

"We all do." Boss broke in. "Now, about the middle east, we must speak of the Alkies. There was the attempt on the Queen's life, and there was the basement bomb in American. I hear from Rajid that there are rumblings of yet another attack. Where will they go? Let us discuss."

"Brother, should we go first?" Rajesh asked.

"We are on the front line, Brother." Rashid responded.

"I should have been clearer, apparently. The one's whom were actually there, please discuss." Boss ordered.

"Ah, then I shall do so." Rishid said, nodding. "We have hired a spy, a local woman. Before she was executed, she retrieved these for us. Here."

"It is not your fault, Brother mine. They are the ones whom placed her head upon that pike. They killed her unborn child in the doing also. They. Not you." Rajesh replied soothingly. "It was not your fault. Please remember to place where it belongs. In their arms. Not your own."

"Thank you, Brother." Rishid nodded slowly.

"I am always here to support you, Brother." Rajesh took a some how sad sip of water.

James's reservations dropped suddenly. He didn't want to place Solvig in any danger. However, her not being in the way of danger, depended upon the protection of the Order Of The Cowl. Didn't it? "Boss, I believe that there is something going on in Boston as well. Irish."

"Ah yes. The Irish Occupation. They gain in power from what I hear." Boss mused. "The Troubles. That's how they were driven into America."

"They have people in the upper echelons of the State's government. I think we should move on them also. Oust them completely."

"With what we have on our plate, between Europe, the Middle East, and a possible uprising in Africa again, do we really have the man power?" Brice asked worriedly.

"I might remind you that we are a sleeper cell yet, also an anti sleeper cell. We are the bunker buster of all underground totalitarian espionage operations. We expose dictators, crime lords, and people whom commit war crimes in general." Boss turned to James angrily.

"This is my Goddaughter, Boss. I will take them on myself if I must." They glared into one another's eyes for several moments. Then, Boss blinked.

"What is one more project? I.R.A?"

"The remnants there of anyway." James confirmed. James, Ben, Brice, Bruce, and Boss were all wearing dark colored shirts and pants. He looked around at the other members of the other chapters. You didn't have to have a bushel of people in a chapter in order to be a chapter. All you needed was one person. Strider was the only person in her chapter, same with Lana. There just happened to be multiple people for the British chapter. An entire round table, nearly. They had just picked up Lana after so many of their hand been slain in Russia during the destruction of Victor's death camps. This was where the Order had helped out in the rescue of Solvig. Solvig was doing much better.

"The turbulence in the Middle East can, some what, be blamed on the government of this country. I would like to volenteer to smooth that over." Shanks said, resting his hand on the hilt of a Bowie knife. With his other hand he drank some coffee. Be fun to jump the shit out of some of our good old American Soldiers while I'm there. I'll leave the Irish Boston business to you people. You'll know where I'll be."

"Before I give leave, I must ask...do we know what the Alks are planning?" Boss asked.

"Something involving the number nine hundred and eleven, and as many planes."Rajesh said at once.

"Commercial airliners from what we cant tell." Rishid agreed.

"The distribution of forces are as follows. Rajid, you will be stationed in the Middle East with Shanks. You'll gain as much intelligence on their plans as humanly possible."

"That'll be fine." Shanks responded.

"Yes." Rajesh nodded.

"Fine." rishid agreed.

"Night Mage, Ben, Holgar, and Lana, you will all go to Russia and keep an eye on Victor. Ben, and Lana will pose as a married couple."

"Vhat are ve supposed to do?" Holgar rumbled in his shaky English confusedly.

"You, and Night Mage will act as body guards to a Dancer, and her Lawyer Husband." Boss replied to Holgar, and Night Mage's confusion.

"Strider, and Ranger you two will be our liaison."

"With whom?" Strider asked, in her thick Ossie accent.

"With our potentials. Chicago, and Boston. When you get to Boston, you will help James, Brice, and Bruce in the spying on the Irish occupation."

"Right then." She accepted.

"I, and Cruise shall see to our other potentials here in Canada, and our affiliates in Maine, and Vermont as well." Cruise groaned at the thought of the cold.

"Right then. James nodded. They talked a bit more then the meeting ended. As Strider, and Ranger didn't have a car James drove them back to Boston where they purchased a two way ticket to Chicago. After James stopped off for some fast food, he returned to his cold apartment.

The alarm clock woke Pebble at six fifteen the next morning. She did her usual sit ups, and push ups. Then she turned to Solvig and woke her. She grumbled a bit but awoke in short order. Attea still slept, as she would for another half an hour. Pebble bent to Bread next. "Bread."

"Damn. Butter is running away with elephants." Bread mumbled sleepily, unfolding herself from the covers of the bed.

Pebble had no idea what this could possibly mean, and she was good at deciphering Bread's code of seeming nonsensical jargon. "Seven nearly." At seven fifteen Pebble awoke Solvig in the usual way. Stroking her back and saying, "Cara, time to wake up." In that motion.

"Annie?" Solvig asked softly as she woke. Solvig smiled. She loved Annie. She wondered where her other friends went. She found them by feeling. They went to the room of water and cleaned up. Solvig jumped a little when the bell rang. But Annie told her not to worry. "D-ding?"

Pebble smiled at Solvig's innocence. "Yes. Ding. It won't hurt you. It is only a noise." Solvig had said, ding, in Russian. They decended the stairs and entered the dinning room. Bread muttered something that made Attea laugh out loud as they had been walking up the hallway.

"Bread, of course not." Pebble said as her and Solvig walked across the hall, and into the dinning room.

"Are you certain that you have never lit a lion's fart alight, then put it out with a big sweaty pitcher of orange juice?"

"I wasn't ling to you about breakfast." Pebble mumbled in Bread's general direction.

"Actually, I meant that I wonder if breakfast would be any good. Not if I'd get some." Bread whispered into Pebble's right ear as they walked toward their table. They sat themselves down and saw that it was soggy pancakes. They all went for the oat meal instead of pancakes. Attea sat at the head of the table while Pebble and Solvig sat down, side by side as always. Bread sat next to a Staff. "You really need to brush up, Pebbs." Another Student sat himself down at the other end of the table, opposite Attea. "Please. The sugar."

Pebble was just finishing her bowl of slightly honyed oat meal when somebody walked into the room, and by the sound of his footsteps she could tell who it was. "Hello, Brent." He kept his distance from Solvig. He'd learned to do this after Solvig had one of her patented panic attacks. Pebble knew why he'd come. Before going up to bed the previous night, she'd called Brent to check on the arrival of her new wheelchair. The Staff now knew all about her, illness, and eventually none of them questioned it. It had taken, adult Brent, to convice them.

"Hey, guys."

"Got a box. Am a girl." Bread informed her bowl as she scooped the dregs of her oatmeal up and into her mouth. "Cornflake .S. Pecially."

"Yeah. you can see the clearing room. It's right over there." Pebble said pointing toward the in door of the kitchen.

"You know...it's rude to point, especially in a blind school." Bread muttered as she literally skipped off to go clear her plate. "I can wash it."

"What's one more." The black lady said smilingly.

"What's you name? I don't wanna keep callin ya black lady. Or, Sistah." The woman snorted.

"Call me Mama Rosa. Or, just Mama."

"Know who she is. But thanks. Later Rosa." Bread went out the out door. Brent seemed to be waiting for her to return. "News then. What?"

"Well, I have the chair."

"Oh, good. Thank you, Brent." Pebble said as she stood to take her's and Solvig's plates into the kitchen for clearing.

"I'll do that, Pebbs." Attea said, taking the dishes from Pebble and carrying them, along with her own, into the kitchen.

"Thank you, Tay." Pebble said as she faced Brent.

"Don't thank me yet. They might have sent me a lemon. It's a nice chair but one of the back wheels is...wibbly-wobbly."

"Is it timey-wimey too?" Bread broke in eagerly. "Perhaps the chameleon circuit is at it again?" Bread cocked her head as if she were an inquisitive spider. She bounced on the balls of her feet and grinned wickedly. "I knew our Pebbs would be special, but a time lord? Vastly epic."

"A wrench will fix that. I believe that all one must do is tighten the bolts on the tire." Pebble said reasonably.

"Pebble, are sure this will work?" Brent siad, whispering into Pebble's ear now. Pebble stood back from him and grasp Solivg's hand.

"Annie?" Solvig asked.

"Did you get in contact with the Kurtis family?"

"I did. They are not doing well at all."

"Well, I wouldn't expect so. How's Kathy? That is the girl's name right?"

"Yep." Attea answered as she walked back into the dinning and toward the party now standing beside their now abandoned breakfast table.

"I gave them the message that you wanted to speak to them. Try to get Kathy to come here to learn instead."

"It would be better for her. Well, not, anyway." Attea agreed sadly.

"I understand that, and her Parents do to. It's getting her here that prove to be the problem." Brent sighed. "They gave me their address to give to you, so you and Dave can go and see her. Solvig, Bread, and Attea can go to they said." Brent shifted his weight slightly.

"What is it?" Pebble asked.

"It's bad." Brent said.

"Bad?" Attea asked in concern.

Brent whispered the next words. "Kathy's been placed on state mandated death watch. It means they have to watch every moment."

"Why?" Attea asked, even more worried.

"So she can't slit her wrists when nobody's looking." Bread cut in. "I have seen it too much on the streets. Caves are open caverns sometimes."

Pebble whistled. "Damn. I'm not sure we can pull her back, or anybody can, once she's decided to die. This is beyond deep. It's nearly bottomless."

"Well, it's out of my jurisdiction but I can come if you need me. Trey too."

"Be great to have you guys there but I do not know. It seems that more police would push her more than anything." Pebble mused. "No."

"Alright."

"I didn't want to be rude last night but the Staff on duty, though it was near to eleven, gave me a hard time, then only one minute. Didn't want to argue." Pebble said as she let Solvig take her arm. Solvig always went with Pebble to do the key job. Bread did too. "Sorry."

"I have written a note to the head Houseparent here telling them that you have a fifteen minute time limit to speak to me. regardless the hour."

"Thank you, Brent. I should be on my way."

"I should too. I will call you tonight after I get off."

"Sounds like a sticky situation to me." Bread muttered.

"I agree." Pebble glared at Bread, who laughed. Attea went off to home room in seven .E. And Solvig, Pebble, and Bread set off to do the key job. Pebble was simple known now as, Gatekeeper, when she did this job. She collected the keys in the Oliver office, not saying a word to the Staff in there, and walked through the hallway connecting Oliver, and Brooks, the boys cottage because Perkins school for the blind was all about gender segregation, then she went to Fisher, because Perkins was all about gender segregation all over again, and finally May. May was where all the severely disabled kids went. However, that was, in all fairness, the whole damn campus or near enough. Pebble swore as she was nearly back to the Howe building. This was because she'd forgotten the keys over at K.S. K.S cottage didn't get a ton of business. This was because it was supposed to be home to the independent circuit of Students. There only three. After K.S, for Keller Sullivan, was done she returned to the Howe building with a pocket full of keys. All belonging to chair cars, Suburbans, Escorts, and Nesons. She clinked her way to the switchboard room, really just another part of the Howe lobby, and waited patiently. The whole time they were on the hunt for keys, Bread sang show tunes under her breath, trying to trip Pebble up. "It will never work." Bread went over to the globe in one corner of the lobby and announced that she was going to travel to every country with one finger, while never leaving Watertown.

"You have fun with that, Bread." Pebble smiled in spite of herself. Bread was so child like sometimes.

"Well, damn it. Somebody rubbed off Peru."

"Better luck next time, I guess." Pebble said, still smiling as she waited for whomever was on the switchboard today to show up. The regular woman was sick today, or so that is what Pebble had over heard. It would be in the daily notice but sometimes, Pebble snooped a little.

"But Winnie The Poo live in Peru. At least, they're vacationing there for now. And Kanga, Roo, Rabbit, Piglit, and Tigger too." Bread bemoaned.

"Bread, screw Peru." Pebble said, turning to face Bread. "I have more things on my mind than a missing country somewhere in plastic Europe."

"Well, sounds like you could use a nice fat bran muffin." Bread mumbled dejectedly.

"Sorry. I didn't mean to snap. Poor Peru. I have a Peru- I mean a globe. You can use it later. I just have Kathy on my mind. Lets go to class."

"What about the keys?" Solvig asked in Russian.

"We will just have to come back. Come on." The Come on was English. Pebble knew a lot of Russian but it was getting Solvig to use English that was proving to be the trick of the matter. It was hard but they both had to get into the habit of speaking something everybody understood.

"Sorry we're late, Guru." Bread announced to Frank as Solvig, Pebble, and Bread entered seven .E. "Eeyore is a whore. He gives tail for money."

"Excuse me?" Frank inquired politely, yet also partly annoyed.

"Well, his V.O (insert name here from the original) did." Bread smiled cheekily.

"Well, there has been some sad news in the daily notice." Frank said, in a subdued tone.

"The stay puff marshmallow man can't ever get a hard on? Or, that the reason why the Tyrannosaurs rex's forearms are so short, he can't reach his? So much for prehistoric skin-a-max. That a bigger tragedy than the first ice age much the second. Wow! What a big potato!"

Used to Bread by now, Frank ignored her. "I am afraid that the switchboard lady has passed away. That's why there was nobody waiting."

"What?!" Attea gasped.

"That is why they were considered to be the most vicious apex predator. Speaking of Predator, You're one ugly mother fuckah!" According to Arnold Shorts-en-hamster." Bread then, seeing she was being ignored by everybody in the room but Solvig, made finger shapes.

Pebble huffed out a breath. "Well, the remainder of us must battle onward. It's what she would have wanted." Pebble hugged Solvig more tightly. There was old adage. The ones left behind must cling those whom were left after the darkness. What happened when there were no more to cling to? Pebble would live a long time. What would she do when the came nobody was left? Pebble took a deep breath.

"When it rains, there are golf balls." Bread intoned wisely, joggling a chair from underneath the table, and sitting upon it. "What about, her?"

"Who?" Frank inquired.

"There may be another Student joining our body. But we don't yet. We will be going to see if she wants...well, we will be visiting her." Said Pebble. Frank didn't act like he believed Pebble but that was fine. Pebble had more goals on her mind which were of far graver import. During break, Bread and Solvig followed her back to Oliver cottage where Pebble's new wheelchair awaited her. After tightening the offending back wheel, which Brent had pointed out to her just before departing, she put her wrench away and sat upon it. "It is a nice char." The chair had awaiting her in the storage space under the main stairwell, where the pay phone was. "Brent was quite correct." Pebble wheeled herself around the living room several time experimentally. Bread kept Solvig back away from the wheels. "I agree."

"I should have named you bolder, as you're too large to adorn the christening of Pebble now." Bread mused. "Named you wrongly. Too late now." Bread held Solvig's hand as they wondered into the dinning room to grab a few of the left over cookies Attea had made. "So good."

Pebble took a proffered cookie as she rolled into the dinning room. "We'd best be on our way. Bread?"

"Pebble?"

"How do I look now?" Pebble pulled the hood of her black leather jacket up.

"Like Darth Vader in a wheelchair whom has just given way to his feminine side." Bread mused, gobbling the rest of her pumpkin chip cookie.

"Oh. I was hoping to be less intimidating, but not much less."

"Well, congrats on being more intimidating." Bread said this as she did a head stand in the middle of the dinning room, while drinking her milk.

"Annie? Class?" Solvig asked shyly in shaky English. She could tackle simple words alright enough.

"Well, fuck bubbles, and screw hullabaloo!"

"In Peru?" Bread asked hopefully, but Pebble wasn't listening.

"We are going to be late."

"Da." Solvig agreed. "Lets go." Solvig added in Russian.

"I taught you well. That was very impressive cursing." Bread giggled as she jogged to keep pace with Pebble's wheeling.

"Thanks. Come on, people!" Pebble said as she raced for the door, wheeling as hard as she could. A bit too hard. She clipped a wall. "Shit!"

"You're late." The Teacher informed them. "Detention."

"I'm just glad this class is on the ground floor." Pebble muttered as they filed into the room. At lunch Attea caught up to them. "Tay, I want a word." Attea looked up from helping Solvig spoon squash onto her plate. She clicked her tongue. A signal that her hands were full.

"Code red, Captain Nemo." Bread murmured as she buttered her roll.

"What is it?" Attea asked as she finished helping Solvig fork fish onto her plate. Pebble was jotting down notes onto a note pad. Attea smiled.

"I am thinking we should have...perhaps...a meeting on Thursday, tomorrow night, to just inform the rest of the body of Kathy. If she'll come."

"Done. I had the same thought. The Teachers will find soon enough so, the Students aught to be informed also. I get it. Otherwise..."

"Mushroom treatment. Yeah." They ate in silence but then Pebble added, during the clearing. "Students aught to know about other Students."

"It's only right." Attea agreed, balancing plates on one hand, and her vox box in the other, in order to be able to speak.

"Fellow Students, we are going to have another Student coming to us. And she'll be very sensitive." Attea began her rehearsed speech.

"How do we know this new Student will come?" Logan wanted to know.

"Her life depends upon it." Pebble, wheelchair and all, sotto voce gravely.

"Right. Any new business?" Attea asked at the end of her interrupted speech. There seemed to be none other than that, the trip would take place Friday. The meeting ended a bit earlier than their first one, about eight twenty five. What else was there to say. "Adjourned goodnight."

The usual pre-trip kerfuffle was had by all. Bathrooms were hit, and food was packed. "Doorchester Newhampshire, here we come!" Dave shouted.

Pebble was buckled snugly in the back of the chair car, in her wheelchair. "I hope I can convince her."

"You will. You're with us." Attea said, smiling. Attea didn't mind the drive up to New Hampshire. After an hour and a half, they stopped to do bathrooms again, and food. This consisted of a juice box, a brownie, and a cold cut. Attea made everything, the brownies last night.

They got back on the road again after twenty minutes. Bread in the passenger's seat, Solvig and Attea in the back seat, and Pebble in the way back in her wheelchair. "We are going to visit a family of hobbits." Bread declared. Minutes of silence past before Dave spoke up.

"I'll bite then. What do you mean, Bread?" Dave asked into the perplexed silence, dodging a red mini van at the same instant.

"I wasn't done yet. Calm down." Bread responded before taking a deep breath and continuing on. This family of hobbits in the shire. A lovely place called, New Hamp. They have a strapping tea drinking Son, A Father, and Mother, and two Daughters. One of witch wants to swallow Sting. However, this day is the day we repay the hobbits for all their kind deeds. This is the day we are all the hobbits heroes. All agreed?"

"Agreed." Pebble said. "You are correct. She didn't ask for this. Certain situations come along which demand aid. She requires ours. I concur."

"I think we should decide who's going to talk for the rest of us." Attea said thoughtfully.

"Your vox box, Prez!" Bread announced.

"Yes. I believe that you speaking would be the best course of action, as you are the Student Body President." Pebble said gently. "I will be here."

"Thanks, Pebble. Are you sure I'm the best one though?"

"Certain of it." Pebble assured her.

"What if I get...well...stuck?"

"I will be right here to pick up any verbal slack."

"Annie?" Solvig asked.

"Yes?"

"Could I have an apple?" She asked in Russian.

"Please your desire in English, Solvig. We did talk about this." Pebble said back in Russian. Pebble had been brushing up more, and more on the Russian language. Normally when she had finished her homework, or sometimes at night after everybody was sleeping. "Cara?"

"She thinking, I think." Attea said. "She has that cute little button nose all scrunched up like she is." Attea smiled.

Pebble smiled too, and got an apple out of her back pack, which was hung on the back of the wheelchair. She also retrieved a knife from her pocket. Pebble waited, ready to slice up Granny Smith. Pebble had learned a long time ago that it was better to let Solvig figure it out.

"Could I have...apple? Uh...peas?" Solvig struggled with the sentence slowly. That is what Annie said they were, lines of words, sentences.

"It's please, but yes. Here, Attea. Pass this over to Solvig, and take the other quarter for yourself. Pebble passed the bits of apple over the back ot the seat. "Daves." Pebble said as she passed another slice of apple over to Attea. She put her own in her pocket for a moment.

"Thank you, Pebble!" Dave called from the driver seat.

"Where's mine?" Bread asked.

"Thanks, Pebbs. Attea said.

"Thanks you, Annie." Solvig said in English.

"Welcome. Here." Pebble said to first everybody else, then to Bread. She threw the apple core at Bread, whom caught it before it hit the floor of the front of the van. Pebble knew what Bread would do in response, it was obvious. Pebble held her hand in front of her face. She caught the apple core deftly, smiling. "Here, Tay. Give this to Bread." A laughing Attea took the final slice of the apple. "Bread, You're Welcome."

After blowing a loud wet raspberry at Pebble, whom laughed in response, Bread said, "Well, there we are, bitch."

"And here we are. Forty nine Jarvis lane, Lemon-aid Drive?" Dave called after a few minutes.

"Yes. I believe that Kathy named their long driveway that when she was four years of age." Pebble said. She sighed. She hoped that this mission they were on wasn't doomed to failure. She hoped that she- they, could convince Kathy to come to Perkins school for the blind. Or, at least not to commit suicide. But that was not worrying Pebble as much as Kathy's will to live. Blinded and riddled wit guilt, Kathy was not lost, as such. She was gone into a black depression in which Pebble had no real confidence she could yank her back out of again.

"Everybody off." Dave declared.

"Okay." Pebble said lamely. It didn't mater if she thought she could do this or not. For it was time to try. "Do, or do not. There is no try." Pebble muttered to herself. The ramp was lowered, with her on it. They all approached the house, and Bread rang the doorbell energetically. Brent had termed it wrongly. What Kathy was under now was a state mandated suicide watch. But had he really? Pebble, after seeing the girl's room and the sepulchral pal hovering over the place like a great malignant vulture, Pebble had decided that Brent was more correct than he knew. Now she knew why he'd worded his message the way he did. One could sense the great umbra of depression which nearly blotted out the desire to live, not only fro Kathy, but from every other occupant of the large home. Like carbon minoxidil gas it had seeped into every nook and cranny of this home, infecting this close family with the lost feeling of the living dead.

Chapter 5: Ice Storm: