Niad has controlled herself since returning from the Citadel. She has kept out of the public eye and kept off the Guardians’ radar. Her talent is not encouraged by her people, and she is not legally allowed to participate in a rescue, a natural disaster or any law-enforcement actions.
She keeps her head down and continues her work as a vehicle repair specialist until the day that her careful actions mix with a disaster. She finds a fire where a repair job is supposed to be and takes steps to do the best she can for those trapped inside.
That one act is observed by one of the Guardians and evolves into an arrest, a charge, freedom and a change in position. She is ready to gear up.
The lights and sirens were blocks away. She could see the riot runners and flying forms of the local Guardians. Whatever was going on was none of her business.
She headed for the school, and when she rounded the corner, horror filled her. The school was engulfed in flames.
The Guardians were clustered at the edge of the safe zone, but there were children’s faces in the window on the second floor, trapped by the approaching flames.
Niad didn’t try to argue or convince the officers; she ran to the underground access and dropped through, with her tools with her. She caught the gaze of one of the masked Guardians as she disappeared, but he didn’t shout at her to stop.
Underground, she grabbed for her flashlight, and then, she ran.
The fire-suppression system was based on the coolant lines that she was just called in to fix. The main lines were underground, so she sprinted to the school feeds.
She grimaced when she finally arrived at the panels. They hadn’t been properly maintained, and if they had called her one day earlier, this wouldn’t have been a thing.
There wasn’t time for fine-tuning, so she slapped her hand to the panel and she moved everything to their proper places.
It took precious seconds, but when she felt the final piece in place, she threw the switch and the compressor flared to life.
“What are you doing?” The low voice challenged her from back down the tunnel.
She kept her face toward the panel and increased the pressure to blow the sprinkler heads. “Fixing the suppression system. I was just called in this morning to do an overhaul of the coolant system this afternoon. This is the basic access.”
A second voice came through a com unit. “Tauron, the fire is going out. We are getting them out; where are you?”
“How can I get into the school?”
She pointed down the hall as she kept her other hand on the panel. “Down the tunnel and to the right. Go up the stairs and take the ladder. You will come out in the machine room. The classes in danger will be a thousand feet to the left and up a second set of stairs.”
He grunted, and there was the wave of the power that came with his burst of energy and speed. She heard the thudding of the doors as he made his way into the school and up the steps.
Niad finished her work, keeping the system online as long as the heat level was above ambient temperature.
She got herself together and walked back the way she had come, making her way up and out of the tunnels and sliding the grate back over her entryway.
The students with tears on their faces were huddled together, others were being treated for burns, and the Guardians were standing in the light of the news crews, giving an interview about the survival of all of the students and teachers while the fire was still being crushed behind them.
Tauron was standing at the edge of the Guardian gathering, his hands on his hips. He gave her the slightest nod, and she disappeared into the shadows.
Mechanical talents were the lowest of the low. It was better to have no talent at all than to be a mechanical manipulator. Her parents had saved up and sent her to the Citadel for training. She had come home as a Citadel Specialist and Metal Manipulation Master. Now, she fixed vehicles because the Guardians didn’t want a mechanic on their books.