"We don't need her," whispered Jared to Charlaine. He glanced over to the right, where a one-way mirror allowed the two to see into the room beyond. "There are other ways of getting to that community. She's too dangerous."
"And what would those other ways cost us? The longer we wait, the more people are killed and hurt!" Charlaine took her lab coat off and set it on a chair facing the mirror. "I can see no other option, Jared. This girl is the best chance we have at stopping those monsters." Before Jared could say anything else, Charlaine opened the door to the small viewing room and left.
Despite her confidence, Charlaine took a moment to gather her courage before stepping through another door and into the room she and Jared had been watching moments before. It was stark and simple: the cinderblock walls were only interrupted by a large mirror and a door, and the only furniture were two chairs on either side of a table. They couldn't have made the place any more obviously an interrogation room, so it was no wonder that the girl sitting in one of the chairs was cleaning her large glasses nervously. The girl looked up when Charlaine came in the door.
"Hello," said Charlaine, trying to sound perkier than she felt. "My name is Charlaine." She approached the table and put her hand out. The girl shook it hesitantly, and Charlaine sat down. "I am the world's foremost authority on what is known as the Monster Plane. Have you heard of it?"
The girl blinked. "Is this... a reality show?"
"No, it's not," answered Charlaine, a pleasant smile on her face. "Why would you think it was?"
"Well," said the girl, slipping her glasses back on. "Everyone knows the Monster Plane isn't real. I mean, monsters exist? And pockets of space that don't register on maps? The idea is ridiculous."
Charlaine sighed. "You know, I was really hoping we could skip the part where you pretend to not know anything. It's obviously an act. I guess I'll come right out, as it’s the easiest way of getting you to - we need your help. And we know what you are, what you can do." She pulled a lighter from her pocket and began to fiddle with it. The girl's expression hardened, and she crossed her arms.
"Help to destroy something I helped build? Help to kill people who have done nothing wrong? Forget it."
"Nothing wrong?!" Charlaine stared. "There are hundreds of murders all around the globe with no way to explain them but monsters!"
The girl stood up, her light chair scraping against the concrete floor and began counting on her fingers. "Every community has criminals, and destroying an entire civilization for the sins of a few would be like nuking Germany because of World War II. So will you let me leave?"
Charlaine stood up too and moved to block the entrance. "We need you," she said. "You have information that could help save lives -"
"By ruining others? That doesn't make any sort of sense. How can one life be worth less than others?" The girl stuck her jaw out, obviously getting frustrated. "Are you going to let me out or what?"
"I don't think I could do that."
"You're sure you want to play that game?"
"I can't let you leave. Not with how you could help us."
Eyes locked on Charlaine, the girl took a small cigarette lighter from her pocket. Charlaine felt the blood run down from her face. She hadn't expected the girl to use her powers so readily. For some reason, she had assumed the girl would be afraid of what she could do, like Dr. Jekyll or Bruce Banner.
The girl flicked the lighter on and stared at the wavering flame. "Mira," she said. "Get us out of here, but no killing." She squeezed her eyes shut and tucked her head into her chest, dropping the lighter. Charlaine watched in fascination as the girl froze, then relaxed a moment later. Her clothes flickered between modest office clothing and knee-high boots with a corset. She threw her head back, her hair lengthening into a blue braid and her face morphing slightly. The result was a girl that could have been the first's sister, with the exception of crazed eyes.
"Margaret, dear," the woman said. "I thought you'd never ask." Mira grabbed two guns from holsters on her hips and shot the door behind Charlaine with both, grazing the researcher's right bicep. Charlaine yelled and stumbled out of the way. The bullets had somehow both hit the door handle, and the door was splintered and hanging open.
"Also, 'no killing'? How boring." Mira pointed her guns at Charlaine but didn't fire. "Lucky for her, and for you, Charlaine, I'm in a good mood right now. It's not often I get to shoot things with permission." Mira's grin was quite unnerving as she looked at Charlaine, then suddenly she charged out the door. Charlaine slumped on the floor, holding her arm. She listened to Mira shoot up the hallway, sowing chaos where she went.
A few moments later, Jared rushed into the room where Charlaine sat. "What did I tell you?" he hissed at her, tears shining in his eyes. "She's too dangerous, and won’t help us at all! You heard her - she's completely convinced nothing needs to be done."
"Where is she right now?" Charlaine asked, accepting Jared's help standing.
"Approaching the entrance. Not even she is invulnerable. We'll stop her with the defenses we put up there." The two began to walk out.
"Help me there," Charlaine said. She started to pull Jared to the right, down the hallway that Mira had taken.
"No, Charlaine," Jared protested, but he wasn't able to stop her, determined as she was. They made their way slowly to the lobby of the research facility, where gunshots echoed. Jared tried to talk Charlaine out of it, but she managed to get to a window looking into the lobby. Four men held large guns pointed towards an improvised barricade, where Charlaine could clearly see Mira crouching. The gunmen were slowly getting closer, but they were held off by the occasional pop of Mira's guns. Mira looked like she was talking to herself, and Charlaine could make out some of the words when the gunfire died down.
"... can do it, you asked me ... Margaret, you're ... let me have any fun ... logical doesn't mean it's ..." Finally, Mira shouted out, "Fine! Have it your way. But your clothes are going to get ruined." Mira opened a buttoned pocket on her belt and pulled a box of waterproof matches out. She struck one and held it close to her face, then dropped it as she tensed. The match sputtered out.
The same transformation that had occurred in the other room began again, but this time in reverse. Mira's hair shortened and tucked itself into a modest twist, and her clothes turned back into the plain button up and khakis. The guns in her hands faded, and Margaret slipped her giant glasses back on. Charlaine met the girl's eyes, and was surprised at the depth of emotions she saw there.
Margaret stood up, and a barrage of bullets made Charlaine close her eyes. She was sure the woman had been shot down, but another few shots followed. Surprised, Charlaine looked and saw Margaret still standing tall, though holes pocked her clothes and her hair had been messied.
"You could say," Margaret said to Charlaine, meeting the other woman’s eyes, "That Mira is the offense, and I am the defense. We make a pretty good team, her and I." Charlaine didn’t know how she heard Margaret through the window.
Margaret walked around the barricade of chairs and tables and made for the doorway. The four gunmen kept shooting, but the bullets bounced off. One of the men stopped shooting and quietly approached Margaret, then made a pass at her head. It hit, but that, too, bounced right off, and Margaret barely looked back. She continued fearlessly to the door. The four men looked back at Charlaine and Jared, hoping for instruction, and Charlaine waved them down. The men put their guns down and watched.
Margaret could have been any girl at any office, and nobody would have looked twice at her, save for the ripped clothing she now wore. Charlaine knew better. Margaret was a monster, and her violent response tonight would help Charlaine obtain the resources she needed to see the monsters gone for good. Shaking her head, Charlaine turned from the window and walked back into the heart of the building. She touched the slight scar on her arm and absently fingered the rip in her clothing that revealed the skin. She didn't see Jared's befuddled look as she strode away.
Thank you for reading!