Claire and Olivia
confidence in your inspiration
others with your confidence
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the 23rd Century Volume 3
2017 Anthony William Black
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The New Girl
1: Home of the Witch
2: Consumed by Revenge
3: Little Sister
4: Uneasy Partnership
5: More Like Us
6: Penthouse of Perfection
7: Chasing Storms
8: Clash of the Rivals
9: A Deserted Hospital
10: Bittersweet Dreams
11: On the Right Track
12: A Bad Night’s Sleep
13: Realm of Illusions
14: The Teslageist Has Landed
15: Museum of Mystery
16: Saved from Madness
17: Crowd of Chaos
18: The Great Spire
19: Mistress of the Mechanical
20: Rescue Mission
21: Winners and Losers
22: The Carnival of Dreams
23: Dressed for Success
24: Domes of Doom
25: Late to the Party
26: Night of Origin
27: Nightmare in the Penthouse
28: The Wasp, the Wheels, and the Warriors
29: A Leap of Faith
30: The First Stormbringer
31: Race to the Top
32: Attack of the Rainbow Bug
33: Reality Restored
34: Puzzle Pieces
Prologue: The New Girl
cloudless summer sky lay peacefully over Wilberforce Grammar School.
It was lunch time, and many of the children gathered in the dappled
shade of the trees which dotted the school grounds. But not Amy
Connors; it was her first day since being transferred from
Northampton High, and the unfamiliar layout of the building had
caused her to be late to all three of her morning lessons. For Amy,
the sky might as well have been throwing down a torrent of
reaching the lunch hall she found herself at the back of the queue.
Her mind wondered to the other schools she had attended, each of
which had accused her of starting a fire.
didn’t seem fair. She hadn’t meant to set the buildings ablaze.
It just seemed to happen, particularly when she was upset or angry.
a move on!” shouted a rather scrawny looking boy, who had joined
the queue after her.
slid her yellow tray along the counter and looked at the meals on
offer. She was one of the last children to enter the dining hall that
day, and all of the most appetising choices had sold out.
plate of cold, hard mashed potatoes and a fairly plain looking slice
of pizza, she moved on to the desserts.
this,” whispered the scrawny boy to his friend, as he pulled his
tray back along the counter, then slammed it against the trays in
front; a chain of collisions knocked Amy’s bland lunch upwards and
forced the plate up-side-down and onto the tray ahead.
sorry, I didn’t–” she uttered as she glanced to her right. She
looked up into the agitated glare of a tall, heavy-set boy. Again,
she didn’t know his name, but it didn’t matter; she knew what was
wide-palmed slap knocked her to the floor. Something inside snapped
and a sharp pain raced through her body from head to toe.
rained down from the sprinklers to quench the flames that had
appeared while her eyes were closed, and everyone charged towards the
least, that was what she was expecting.
dinner! I’ll kill you!” grunted the boy. He balled his fist and
swung towards Amy, who instinctively closed her eyes; a few seconds
passed, but the impact never came.
sound of nervous whimpering drew her attention. She looked up at
where the monstrous boy had previously loomed above her, before
looking down to see him on his knees, gasping for breath.
Martin. Is this any way to treat a new kid?” asked another boy, who
stood with his finger on the bigger boy’s shoulder.
– can’t – I – move?” wondered Martin, who struggled to get
the words out. His body felt like it weighed a ton.
John,” said the boy with his finger on Martin’s shoulder. He held
out his left hand for Amy to shake, but she stood still, unsure of
how to react to the strange sight before her. John didn’t look very
strong at all, and his wavy dark brown hair looked like it hadn’t
been brushed for a while.
rude of me,” added John as he swapped his hands over.
felt the weight leave his body for a split second and groaned when it
said the girl. She smiled awkwardly while John looked her in the eye.
on, Amy, sit with us,” suggested John, who waved to his two
friends, a boy and a girl, who were sat eating at a nearby table.
girl had a somewhat cold expression and her pale brown hair, which
was tied into a bun, only made her look more serious. She held her
head in her hands and mumbled, “He’s showing off again.”
it was funny,” whispered the boy playfully; his neatly trimmed red
hair belied his light-hearted spirit.
approached the table with her new friend, who introduced her to the
Kay, Kay, Amy, Amy, Marc, Marc, Amy,” said John as quickly as he
hand, hand, John!” said Kay.
“What?” uttered John before he felt a stinging slap strike him
across his cheek.
was just trying to be polite,” explained John. He turned to Amy and
said, “Eat with us, no need to be shy.”
my dinner’s over there,” said Amy. She looked over at Martin, who
tried to stand, but slipped on the spilled mashed potatoes while the
other children laughed at him.
don’t you share ours?” suggested John.
shook her head in disapproval, while Marc held his arms around his
almost empty plate.
on guys, I’ll make this up to you,” whispered John, hoping Amy
really, I’ll just go round again” she said with a small smile.
grinned from ear to ear as he pulled a seat away from the table. “I
haven’t touched my sundae. Why don’t you have it?”
looked at the half melted scoop of vanilla ice cream. It could hardly
be described as a “sundae”, but she was quite hungry and didn’t
really fancy going through the queue again.
you think he’s trying to make you jealous?” asked Marc.
not working,” whispered Kay in an annoyed tone.
think it is!” teased Marc.
make me hide your bag again!” growled Kay.
wouldn’t dare!” said Marc.
guys, play nice!” insisted John. He looked over at Amy, who brushed
aside her copper blonde hair before she soothed her temper with his
stood between his friends and asked, “Well, what do you think?”
think you wouldn’t have stood a chance without that ice cream,”
shovelled a fork full of mushy peas into her mouth. If she’d said
what she was thinking, she would have ended up with a detention the
following morning during break time Amy approached John, Kay and
Marc, who were sat under the drooping foliage of a weeping willow
looked around at the other trees, beneath which large groups of the
other children clamoured for shade.
you want a spot under our tree, you’ve earned it,” admitted Kay
with a pout.
do the other kids stay away from you?” asked Amy, innocently.
saw the whole thing,” said John.
slow motion. There was a spark when Rob bumped your tray into
Martin’s,” explained Marc.
must have blinked and missed it,” said Kay, sceptically.
know, I hope I didn’t hurt him,” sighed Amy.
he likes beating up the year sevens. I’ve been waiting for an
excuse to put him in his place,” said John with a laugh, “but to
answer your question, the other kids think we’re weird. Marc has
super speed, Kay makes portals and I can make things heavier or
thought for a moment. Could she believe such a crazy statement from
three people she’d known for less than a day? “Is that why you
stepped in? Because you think we have super powers?”
not really. I just saw a chance to make Martin look silly and impress
you at the same time,” said John.
I didn’t tell the others about the sparks until after you’d gone
home,” explained Marc.
so you know about the fires,” said Amy, shyly.
mean at the other schools? That was you?” cheered Kay.
didn’t like the look of Kay’s smile. “I’m sorry, this was a
mistake,” she said, glumly.
jumped to his feet, ran ahead of his new friend and said, “I’m
not letting you out there on your own.”
not stupid! You think I’m going to join your little gang just
because you say you’ve got powers to make me trust you? Forget it!”
knew he had to choose his next words quickly and carefully. “Give
us ten seconds to prove it. Hold my hands,” he suggested while
holding his palms upwards at waist height.
“Fine,” said Amy, who looked even more annoyed.
gripped her soft hands gently and said, “Now jump as high as you
paused for a moment. If they were planning to make a fool out of her,
they’d be doing this out in the open. After bending her knees a
little she kicked away from the ground, expecting to reach a height
of barely a few inches; instead she found herself lifting several
feet into the branches.
hadn’t kept hold of her she would have ended up tangled in the
boughs of the tree.
herself looking down at John, and with her feet above and behind her
head at a steep angle, she let out an excited squeal while floating
back down to the ground.
landing gently on her front, Amy found herself laughing. For the
first time in over a year she was truly happy.
“Believe us now?” asked Marc.
helped Amy to her feet, before she nodded and quietly uttered “Yep.”
because we’ve got one question,” said Kay.
about the fires at the other schools, isn’t it?” asked Amy,
worry, it won’t happen here,” promised John.
rolled her eyes; she knew he wouldn’t be able to fulfil that vow,
but she had to know the answer.
“When’s your birthday?” asked Marc, Kay and John in unison.
was scary. Next Wednesday, but–”
you’re still the oldest,” said Marc with his hand on Kay’s
glared back at him, prompting Marc to back away slowly.
“Mine’s on Saturday, Marc’s is on Monday and Kay’s was
yesterday,” explained John.
“Really?” asked Amy.
we’re trying to find out what happed fourteen years ago,”
“Welcome to the team, Amy,” said Kay, holding her hand out.
shook her hand. She had more questions than she could keep track of,
but she was interrupted by the sound of a loud bell.
you at lunch?” asked John.
thinking about it, Amy said “Yes!”
you in an hour,” suggested Marc as he left the shade of the tree
with Kay and John.
rest of the children streamed into the open doors, Amy stood still
for a moment. The summer holiday would start at the end of the day;
she’d been waiting for it impatiently for the last three months,
but now she didn’t want it to come at all if it meant being away
from her new friends for six weeks. Without hesitation she ran to
catch up with the others. Knowing that she wasn’t alone was both
reassuring and calming; she vowed to make the most of the next few
hours. A detention for being late to the next lesson was not an
Chapter 1: Home of the Witch
after eleven o’clock at night and darkness shrouded Northampton.
The empty sky which had bathed the city in warm sunlight during the
day now bestowed a refreshing chill.
within a residential area in the Kingsthorpe suburb, a small, shabby
looking white van parked itself in front of a dilapidated building.
young men stepped out of the vehicle. Neither of them looked quite
old enough to be legally allowed drive, but they didn’t let that
stepped cautiously between the gate-posts; the gate itself had long
since been torn from its hinges, and now lay in pieces on the
overgrown path which led to the front door.
them stopped to look at the building. It was dimly lit from the
outside, but he could tell the roof had quite a few holes. “Hey,
Phil, what happens if it rains?”
falls from the sky,” muttered Phil.
look at the roof.”
get it sorted,” explained Phil as he reached the front door.
tattered edges of a faded demolition notice which had been stapled to
the door fluttered in the gentle breeze; it was dated October 2204.
they can’t be bothered to knock this place down after all these
years, we’ll gladly move in!” said Phil with a confident laugh.
While he turned the door handle, his associate ran to catch up with
though there was someone on the other side, the door opened by
thought they said this place was empty,” whispered Phil’s
“Man-up, Paul! The hinges must be wonky, that’s all.”
“Something doesn’t feel right. What if this place comes down on
won’t. We just need to secure this place and they’ll let us into
the gang.” Phil clicked the button on his torch, which brightly
illuminated a section of the floor.
did the same and followed him into the building.
they crept through the abandoned house. The property was quite large,
and had previously been the site of a home for children in state
care; those days were a distant memory for the people who had once
shone his torch at the wall in search of a light switch. As he swept
the beam, he heard the sound of footsteps further down the hallway.
you hear that?” asked Paul, nervously.
“Probably just a stray dog or something. We’ll take care of it.”
few seconds they heard more footsteps, this time from the front door.
set his torch beam on the entrance; the presence of a dishevelled
young woman startled him for a moment.
“Welcome to Lime Grove House. Looking for something?” she asked
innocently. Her long, unkempt blonde hair and shabby looking night
gown told them she was a runaway. However, they were unsure why she
was wearing sun glasses in the middle of the night in a house with no
light switch,” said Phil with a confident grin.
won’t help you,” said the girl in a threatening tone, before
cheerfully adding, “Nobody’s paid the bills in five years.”
intruders immediately noticed something stranger than her sunglasses
– her mouth didn’t open when she talked. Then something stirred
in her hair; two small green eyes stared at the young men before a
quiet “meow” gave away the creature’s identity.
don’t live here, do you?” asked Paul. He didn’t like the idea
of somebody living in conditions like these, and was starting to feel
sorry for the girl.
as long as I can remember. I can’t imagine why everyone else left,”
said the girl, again without moving her mouth.
for much longer!” shouted Phil, who produced a flip- knife from his
jacket. As the shiny metal blade swung into position, a quiet click
was heard before it separated from the wooden handle and embedded
itself into the exposed wooden floor boards.
tried not to laugh. He wasn’t sure why he wanted to be a gang
member any more, but he also didn’t want Phil to be angry with him.
brought me a shiny gift, how thoughtful. It is my birthday soon,”
said the girl cheerily before shouting, “IT’S BROKEN!”
looked down at his blade before tossing the handle at the girl, who
caught it between her thumb and forefinger.
good,” muttered Paul.
wasn’t so impressed. He kicked the blade aside and swung at her
with his right fist.
girl dropped the handle and caught his balled-up hand in her left,
forcing him to lose his balance in the process. “You wouldn’t hit
a girl with glasses, would you?” she said innocently.
let out an enraged grunt.
“Because it’d be a shame to break them,” she added before
removing her eye-wear with her right hand.
intruders stared at her eyes, which appeared to be quite dull and
are you doing this?” shouted Phil impatiently as he swung his torch
towards her in his left hand.
time she grabbed his wrist, causing him to yell in pain as her
overgrown nails pinched into his arm.
make a good fighter. If you joined us and let them use this place as
a base, they’d let us join for sure!” said Paul, hopefully.
“What’s your name?”
“Alexandra Estival, but my friends call me Lexa,” explained the
MAKING SMALL TALK AND KNOCK HER OUT!” yelled Phil. His arms and
legs felt weak. He dropped his torch, which rolled upon impact with
the floor and cast a series of menacing shadows on the wall.
a temper! I think you’re ill,” said Lexa, playfully. “I think
it’s catching.” She turned to face Paul and added in a
threatening tone, “You should leave before you catch it!”
tried to pull his fists away, but found Lexa’s grip too strong to
escape. He tried to rationalise the situation, “I’ve never felt
better! You’re just stronger than you look!”
must be ill. A big strong man like you shouldn’t be struggling with
little old me.”
looked on; Lexa was right. He wondered why his friend would be
working so hard against such a small opponent.
JUST STAND THERE! Bash her with the torch!” ordered Phil.
looked on. Lexa was beginning to scare him. He wanted to run, but he
also didn’t want to abandon his friend.
not ill!” insisted Phil, still caught in Lexa’s unrelenting
but you are ill! I don’t know what it’s called, but you’re sick
enough to imagine this,” stated Lexa, who suddenly started to grow
blink of an eye, she towered over the young men. Her fingernails grew
into foot-long razor sharp looking blades while her hair burst into
flames. Her faded eyes glowed with a fearsome red light, and long,
needle-like teeth filled her mouth, which gaped open in a wide grin.
“I’m hungry!” she announced in a deep voice.
had seen enough! He dropped his torch and ran towards the back of the
house, hoping desperately to find a door or window.
tried to follow, but found his right hand still lodged in her iron
grip. Her lethal looking talons pressed up against the sleeve of his
“Feeding time, Muffin,” she boomed, prompting the cat which was
still perched on her blazing scalp to leap over Phil.
growl could be heard. Phil turned to face the cat, which was now a
menacing looking lioness; she pawed curiously at his leather jacket.
quiver in his voice, Phil begged, “Please let me go. I – I
promise we won’t bother you again!”
her terrifying mouth still, Lexa said, “Take a message to your
boss. Tell him I was here first!”
nodded. A pitiful whimper escaped his trembling lips. Before he knew
it, he felt her hand loosen its grip.
stood aside as Muffin roared commandingly.
the front door clearly in his sights, Phil felt the strength return
to his legs. Without a second thought he sprinted out of the house
with Muffin barely an inch behind.
safety of his van was the light at the end of the tunnel; its tyres
shattered his hopes. Fuelled by fear, he followed the van down the
road without slowing down.
stood in the doorway of her abandoned house; she looked completely
normal once again. Muffin, whose appearance had reverted to that of a
small black cat, rubbed herself against the girl’s ankle.
think they’re so strong. How pathetic!” said Lexa, who kneeled
down to let Muffin leap onto her hand.
turned to face the inside of the house, Lexa yawned and tossed Phil’s
knife over her shoulder.
weapon was in one piece, but it landed harmlessly in the deep,
overgrown grass by the path.
Muffin,” said Lexa as she locked the door.
purred contently, warmly curled in her mistress’ dull blonde hair.
climbed the stairs to her room, wrapped herself in her bed sheets and
threw herself down onto the bare mattress. As she fell, Muffin leapt
off and took her position under the pillow.
together, the pair of them fell asleep at the same time.
Chapter 2: Consumed by Revenge
over there!” yelled a shaven-headed thug as he charged down a dark
between the buildings was narrow, but a fearsome crowd of angry
sounding gang members flooded the area.
swarm of moths drawn to a spotlight, they closed in on the
unmistakable purple glow of a Storm.
light of the almost full moon was enough for the Stormbringer to see
what she needed from her perch on the rooftop. She estimated at least
a hundred and fifty men had chased her into the dead end.
closing the violet foggy portal she had used as bait, she opened
another pair of them. With a single leap she found herself on the
other side of a steel gate which she could use to pen-in the crowd.
at the gate!” yelled the self-appointed leader of the group. At his
commend, the men ran for the exit, only to be stopped in their tracks
by another Storm. Not one of them wanted to touch it; the danger of
what happens to anyone who dares to go through was a legend in their
thud, the eight-foot tall metal barrier was latched shut.
closing the Storm, the young super heroine heard someone shout, “Find
something we can use as a ram!”
Stormbringer knew the gate wouldn’t hold them in for long, but she
was sure it would buy her enough time.
ran towards a shuttered garage door, the Stormbringer was about to
open one of her portals. Nothing was going to stop her tonight; that
was until a car burst out through the door. She leapt through the
Storm as it opened, but found herself behind the vehicle upon exiting
turned to face the retreating car, which slowed only to take a corner
another Storm, the girl made her way to the top of a nearby building.
She looked down to find the vehicle; it was right where she expected
it to be, but right behind it was a convoy of three more identical
coward!” she screamed at the escapees, which split up upon joining
the main street.
was no way she could stop and search all of them before she lost
track. With an exasperated grunt, the Stormbringer admitted defeat
before opening a Storm just off the edge of the roof and stepping
dropped down from her purple portal, the Stormbringer looked around;
the white, square wall panels of Storm Central confirmed she had
arrived in her sanctuary.
Thank goodness you’re back safe,” cheered Stuart Graves, who had
been waiting for his young apprentice to return.
Stormbringer didn’t answer; instead she removed the blindfold-like
mask from around her head and threw it against the floor. Its armour
scales rattled on impact with the ground; some of them were cracked
and a few were missing altogether.
“What’s wrong?” asked Stuart, quietly.
GOT AWAY AGAIN!” ranted June.
anger in her voice worried Stuart; this wasn’t the happy little
girl he’d raised. “Maybe it’s time to give up the chase.”
He killed you, and my Mum, and Simon. Now he’s going to pay!”
was at a loss. She was almost right; Doctor Robert Douglas, the man
who had killed Stuart and brought him back as a computer program, was
long dead. But Victor Foster, the gang leader who had delivered
Stuart to Douglas and led his thugs on a raid against June’s
family, was still at large.
don’t have to be the one to make him pay. This road you’re on;
it’s going to get you killed!”
and who’s going to catch him? The cops?”
so they haven’t caught him in a year and a half. They’ll get him
one day. But I think we need to try something different.”
ideas?” she snapped.
didn’t like June’s tone, but he knew getting angry with her would
only make things worse. Swallowing his pride, he said, “Tomorrow’s
your birthday party. Now, I know you don’t have school for six
weeks, but try to get some rest.”
that’s what he’s waiting for. The second I lower my guard, he
sends his gang in to finish me off!”
doesn’t know where you live!” insisted Stuart.
“That’s right,” said a female voice. Astra Stevens appeared
from thin air; she too had been killed and turned into a hologram by
do you want?” muttered June.
had just about enough of your attitude, young lady!” snapped
came to wish you a happy birthday, and to let you know that I’ve
traced Vee’s hacking team. I changed their research to make it look
like you’ve moved to Scotland with your Dad!”
“That’ll keep them busy,” said June with a smile.
was surprised; he hadn’t seen June look happy for months. After
considering her better mood, he suggested, “Have you considered
I miss something?” asked Astra, who was surprised at the sudden
change of subject.
do you keep going on about that?” asked June, wearily.
“Because it’s the right thing to do. At least for one day,”
awkward silence seemed to fill the chamber.
one more thing,” added Astra, “Trev was digging around some of
Douglas’ old data, and he figured out what those pylons were for.”
pylons?” asked June.
three-pronged pylons on the tops of Douglas’ buildings. They’re
tuned to the radio frequencies given off by Storms. That’s how he
was able to track you.”
but aren’t they useless, now that he’s gone?” asked June.
entirely. We’ve detected Storm activity, and it doesn’t match up
to any of your chases,” explained Astra.
you mean…” wondered June.
Stormbringers?” asked Stuart.
likely, but all the readings were confined to Northampton.
Unfortunately the resolution of the pylons isn’t very good, so we
can’t narrow it down much further.”
“Stormbringers? In Northampton? I have to find them!” cheered
tonight!” insisted Stuart. “It’s way past your bed time!”
you don’t have to sleep!” said June.
a hologram. Besides, your Dad’s probably worried sick; that is if
he knows you’re out.”
paused for a moment before asking, “What time is it?”
“Eleven thirty-two. If we were to construct additional pylons, we
could see exactly where the Stormbringers are!” explained Astra.
Stormbringers! Maybe they can help me catch Vee!” said June.
held his head in his hands and muttered, “This again?” He looked
up and preached, “If you kill him, how does that make you better
can’t kill anyone else if he’s dead!” stated June.
didn’t raise a murderer!” yelled Stuart.
day, the same thing! Can’t you just let it go?”
until you do. I know I can’t stop you going after him, but you have
to promise to hand him in to the police.”
filled June’s eyes.
knew he had finally gotten through to her.
don’t know if I can,” she sniffed.
at the state of your costume,” said Stuart, pressing on with his
advantage, “the scales are breaking, and you’ve just about grown
out of it.”
“Anyway, I can set a trap for him,” added Astra.
“Alright, you win,” sighed June. She was too tired to argue, and
the height she’d gained in the last nineteen months was stretching
her purple scale armour to its limit.
some rest. Enjoy your birthday. We’ve got six weeks with no school
to look for Stormbringers,” said Stuart softly.
jumped up and gave Stuart a big hug. Had he been real, she would
probably have knocked him over. “I’m sorry,” she admitted.
“You’ve been through too much,” said Stuart, “but I’m glad
you can see sense. Now get some sleep.”
wiped the tears from her eyes. “You won’t tell Dad, will you?”
only ruin your party. Now go on, before he checks up on you!”
insisted the old man as he waved her away.
released him, picked her mask up from the floor and left Storm
Central the same way she’d arrived.
the Storm closed, Astra put her hand on Stuart’s shoulder.
the surprise ready?” asked Stuart.
ready. Boris is a bit of a perfectionist.”
noticed. But why Northampton?” wondered Stuart.
know your memory was messed up, so I did some digging and found
this,” said Astra, before she turned to the wall and said,
“J.O.N.E.S, play holovid C27.”
found, opening,” stated J.O.N.E.S, the AI which ran Storm Central.
night-time scene filled the room; the sight of what appeared to be a
meteorite streaked through the sky before a parachute opened out
behind it, slowing it down.
holographic view followed the UFO as it cooled from a blazing white
to a dull red. The vehicle drifted down towards a road in the heart
of the city of Northampton.
cars immediately slowed and stopped to avoid colliding with the
craft, which set down landing struts upon touching the ground; the
passengers hurried out of their road vehicles, some flocking towards
the UFO, others fleeing from it in terror.
moment of waiting, a hatch lowered from the side of the space craft.
A young woman wearing a costume almost identical to the one June was
wearing earlier peered out from the doorway before she ran into the
crowd. Her mask had been pushed up onto her forehead.
was this recorded?” asked Stuart.
“Fourteen years ago,” explained Astra.
woman from the UFO called out for a doctor before an old man stepped
carefully down the steps from the door of the space craft.
“Pause!” called out Astra.
me! That’s me!” gasped Stuart, “But I still don’t remember.”
worry, Stu. We’re still looking through the archives to see where
you went next, but most of the CCTV footage from back then was
have to tell June!” insisted Stuart.
needs rest. We’ll tell her after the party,” suggested Astra.
looked deep into the eyes of his recorded counterpart. He knew there
was something important going on, but he couldn’t remember what it
leave you two alone,” said Astra, before she faded back into
watched the video back from the beginning. Maybe if he watched it
enough times it would trigger his memory, he thought.
Chapter 3: Little Sister
looked down at a scrap of lined paper, which she held carefully. It
had been torn from one of John’s exercise books, and on it was
written an address.