“Darlings!” declared an overly-tanned, overly sequinsed, overly-muscled woman with tight curly hair that looked like a mushroom cap. Sara and Xandria stared in disbelief at the woman, their hostess to this event.

In mincing steps, the woman came trotting up to them in extraordinarily high-heeled boots and gave them both big hugs. “It has been too long, darlings! Where have you two been hiding?” she chastised.

“We dropped out of modeling to pursue other things, Dianna.” reminded Sara. “And Xandria’s going to be a mom. Bye!” she said quickly and got away, leaving Xandria the sole recipient of Dianna’s attention. She could feel the blonde’s death-dart look in the back of her head.

You’ll pay for this, came Xandria’s voice.

Sara chuckled as she made her way through the crowd.

Kirk sat along the wall, taking everything in wide-eyed. He had never dreamed for a second that he would be at a party with the rich and famous. Not even his visions had shown him anything like that. He was worried that The Don would find out that his powers didn’t exactly work the way that he thought they did. Sometimes the visions came at random, often times in fragments, rarely in whole pieces. He couldn’t always just sit down and predict something; they came when the time was right. He always received a warning when he was about to be injured, such as if someone was going to punch him, but as far as seeing events involving others, it was always tricky. He had no way of guaranteeing if such things would come to him.

Edward sat along side him, a drink in each hand. “Relax, Kirk. You look too nervous. It’s bad for the mood of the crowd.” he handed a cocktail to the younger man.

“What do you mean?”

Edward gave him a smirk, and Kirk could tell that his co-worker had already downed a few. He looked around slyly at the crowd. “You might as well know. I’m an empath. I can read other peoples’ feelings. I can manipulate them too, but that takes more work.”

Kirk tried to process that information. “You haven’t done that to me, have you?”

“Pffft!” Edward brushed off the accusation with the wave of his hand. “Absolutely not.”

“What about your sister?” he asked, figuring he might as well try to find out as much as possible about them. “Is she like you?”

“Bianca is telepathic. Quite a different situation with her, actually.” he polished off his drink with a quick swig. “When we first started working for Draco, one of his underlings tried to take liberties with her. Let’s just say they had very little use for him after his attempt.”

“What happened? Did he die?”

“She basically reduced him to little more than a drooling idiot. Since then, there has been a strict hands-off policy regarding her.”

The two men saw a tall redhead walk past them. Edward looked like he had just fallen in love.

“Excuse me, Kirk, but I have something I need to take care of.” He got up and followed the woman.

Kirk, still looking hopelessly out of place, sat and finished his drink.

Draco watched the scene through the one-way glass. The party seemed to be going well. Soon they would be able to test Kirk’s abilities and they would know if The Family would be the wealthiest syndicate in Paragon City. He snapped his fingers. Bianca walked up to his side.

“I need you to bring Kirk up here. We’ve got a fight tonight, and I want to make sure that he can work under pressure.”

The woman nodded and left the room. From his vantage point, Draco could see her platinum blonde hair working itself through the crowd. He smiled to himself. Getting his hands on those two was almost as good as getting the kid.

“Superhero Chic! That’s the newest trend! And I started it!” bragged Dianna to her captive audience. “Bright and Tight! Buff and Tough! Those are the bywords!” She flexed her arm. “I’ve been working out, and I’ve never looked or felt better!”

Xandria looked like she wanted to make the woman’s head explode, or at least her own. After enduring fifteen minutes of Dianna commenting on the most inane subjects, she wanted to get away from this. Perhaps a year ago, she would have enjoyed a party like this, but now…She wondered if she had outgrown this sort of thing. While her mind wandered, she just smiled and nodded politely at her hostess. It was then she was aware that they were not alone.

“Ah, Xandria, you know Kit and his wife, Jeanette?” Dianna introduced.

Xandria managed to smile politely despite the glare Jeanette was giving her. Years ago, Kit had come on to Xandria when she was new to the modeling industry. A naïve eighteen-year old, it might have been an all-out scandal had Sara not come to her rescue. Since then, Jeanette blamed Xandria for trying to seduce her husband to make him look bad, and had done a great deal to tarnish Xandria’s reputation.

“It’s very nice to see you, Xandria.” Kit offered his hand.

Buzz off. Xandria thought. Kit and his wife suddenly jolted, and gave the ex-model a strange, almost fearful look. Her expression had shifted from a polite smile to an icy glare. It was then that she could sense two other minds reaching out among the crowd. She scanned the faces, looking to see who it could be.

“Excuse me, Dianna, but I need to freshen up. Which way to the ladies’ room?” she asked.

The gaudy woman indicated the direction with the drink in her hand, still going on about the fashion trend she had started. Xandria, relieved to be away from her, scanned the crowd with her own mind. Her action did not go unnoticed by the others.

What are you doing? came a voice, sounding very feminine, almost British.

Looking for you. I could tell someone else was here.

It would be in your best interest to stop.

Is that a threat?

A warning. The forces at work here are too dangerous and powerful to face alone, especially for one such as you.

Puzzled, Xandria stopped. She wondered what forces could possibly be involved in a badly-themed party.

Bianca reached out to her brother, whose mind seemed slightly hazy. Irritated that he was drinking when he should be watching Kirk, she grabbed his mind forcefully. She heard him mentally wince.

Eddie! We are not the only ones with gifts here!

Go away! I’m busy!

You’re being paid to keep Kirk under control, not seduce the party guests! Draco wants him upstairs. Where is he?

Where would one look for a wallflower
? He answered in an annoyed tone.

Angered, Bianca gave her brother the psychic equivalent of a shake. Will you do your job for once in your life?! Need I remind you that my daughter is held hostage by these people?

Edward seemed to sober up. Smiling at the woman he had been talking to, he excused himself. Sara watched him weave his way through the crowd, curious to see where he was going.

She concentrated for a moment, activating a power that was more subtle in it’s operation. While she wasn’t invisible, it made her unnoticeable. Following Edward, she saw him make his way to a door guarded by a huge man in sunglasses. The man opened the door for Edward, a white-haired woman, and another young man with light brown hair.

Before Sara could go further, Xandria grabbed her, ruining her concentration.

Xandria looked around nervously. “There are at least two other psychics here.” she said.

Sara’s eyes widened in shock. “What? You’re kidding.”

“Wish I was.”

“I think they might have gone through that door.” Sara indicated with a nod of her head.

“She told me that powerful forces were at work here. Maybe she’s looking into it?”

“Or maybe she’s in league with it.”

Draco smiled warmly at Kirk as he entered with the twins. “You havin’ a good time, kid?”

“I guess.” he mumbled.

The boss gave Edward a look. The empath’s gaze concentrated on the younger man for a moment. Soon his gloomy expression seemed to melt away.

“We’re going to have a few fights tonight, Kirk. I need you to really concentrate and tell us who will win.”

Kirk nodded. He was up at bat, so to speak. He sat down at the table and looked at the papers of the fighters, including the photos. Closing his eyes, he tried to see the future timeline.

Images swirled around his head, some of them he had seen before. The hands covered in blood, him on the rooftop. These things were still future, and likely to happen within a week. Whatever images he saw, usually took no longer than a week to fulfill. He wished he knew how he did it, but ever since the Rikti invasion, he had been able to see the future, from seconds in advance, to as far out as a week.

New images came; winners of the fights. He carefully memorized the faces, since he could not speak while looking at the future. The last image he saw surprised him and as he brought himself back to the present, he was smiling.

Draco was looking at him intensely, a smile of expectation on his face. “Well?”

Kirk looked the photos over, and pushed ones forward that he had seen win. He put his hand down on one, and hesitated.

“What’s wrong?”

He pushed the other photo towards Draco. Taking the future winners, he handed them to an underling. “Make sure all of your people make bets on these guys. Not too large, we don’t want to get anyone suspicious.” He looked over at Kirk for a second, but he seemed entranced by one of the photos. Dismissing the kid’s behavior, he whispered a few more instructions to his henchman, and sent him away.

Turning back to the twins, he smiled again. “Alright, now for you two’s. I need Bianca done up in that outfit we got her. I need you, Eddie, to go work the crowd. Get ‘em feeling greedy and in the mood to gamble. The more we can get em to bet, the better our take. If you can get enough to bet on the wrong guy, maybe it’ll tilt the odds in our favor.”

“It’s a large group…” Edward started, “But feasable. No one is to bother me. This requires my full attention.” He followed his sister out of the room.

“What about me?” Kirk asked.

“You can stay here. You don’t seem too comfortable in crowds. Besides, you can get a better view of the action from here.”

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