Lily woke to find the TV still on and Orpheus on the phone. He looked sad and there was regret in his voice “Anne, listen to me. Have I ever lied to you?” He waited for the other person to respond. “Exactly, so believe me when I tell you that I won’t let you all take these girls. I will protect them.” His face fell as the other person spoke. “No you won’t. If you all come after me or them, you will lose.” Another pause and sad look. “Don’t. If you do that I might accidentally kill you.” He sighed. “Just calm him down. He’ll listen to you.” He finally smiled “If you want to come by as a friend I would be happy to have you. He can’t come though; he already wore out his welcome. Maybe I will reconsider by Christmas but don’t expect it. Bye.” He hung up and looked at where Lily was laying. “You aren’t very good at pretending to be asleep. You should get to bed. You might find tomorrow a bit tiring.”

“I’m fine here. Hey, I wanted to ask you something. Why are you teaching us?”

“Do you mind keeping a secret?” she nodded and he continued “I didn’t have purpose before this. I am looking for a reason to keep me going and I think you all are it.” He stood up from his chair. “But this is talk for another time. You need to get to bed and I will carry you there if I have to.” He offered his hand.

She accepted his hand up and giggled “We don’t want people talking Mr. Orpheus. They’ll think that you are sweet on me or something.”

As she started up the stairs he went to his room “Maybe I am. Goodnight Lily.” And disappeared inside before she could respond. She felt her face go hot for a minute and found it hard to get to sleep.

The next morning brought the sound and smell of bacon wafting through the house. When Lily came downstairs she found Orpheus making bacon and pancakes. The other girls were already there and Sarah was piling stuff on to her plate. “I haven’t woken up to breakfast since…” Lily stopped when she realized what she was saying.

“You can get used to it.” Orpheus said pretending to talk loud over the bacon’s sizzle to cover up her sudden stop. “I enjoy cooking and it will be a cold day before you girls wake up before me. If you want anything specific just ask.” He smiled and finished up what he was cooking before handing her a plate.

When they had, all eaten and were sitting around the table Orpheus broke the news. “I do have some bad news. Sage says that before we can use the training areas near here we have to get to know each other better. Basically, we have to tell each other about how we found out about what happened when we found out about our powers. I know this is going to suck for some of us but I’ve been instructed that we can’t do anything until then.”

Sasha jumped at the opportunity to tell her story. She had been watching a bird fly and wanted to fly with it. The next thing she knew she was floating in the air. Once she realized what she was doing she heard the Word that was her power. She didn’t recognize the voice, no one ever did, but it had been loud and clear.

Katherine was at a party that some of the members of her school had been throwing. She hadn’t wanted to go originally, it was a pool party and she didn’t know how to swim, but her big sister had forced her to go with her. There had been a lot of alcohol and her sister had let slip that she couldn’t swim. Young idiots being idiots decided that the best way to teach her was to throw her in. She sunk like a stone and didn’t come up. Everyone at the party freaked out and one of the guys dove in. He found her standing at the bottom like she was on dry land. When she got out of the pool she wasn’t even wet. She heard the word when she was looking at the pool wondering what had happened.

Jane blushed and made the others promise that they would never tell anyone. “I was with my boyfriend and we were” she fidgeted “anyway my power awakened and he ended up in the hospital. He ended up breaking up with me but Sage covered the hospital bills.” Her blush grew as the others just stared.

“Bwahahahahaha.” Orpheus burst out laughing “They told me that Fire always came about during times of passion. But I was not expecting that.” The girls joined him with stifled giggles. “I’m sorry. I haven’t gotten to laugh like that in a while.” His face turned down “I think you will understand why. Lily do you want to go next or should I?”

Lily sighed “I’ll do it. I should warn you all it isn’t as happy as all of yours. I was asleep when my power manifested and I was having a nightmare. In my sleep, I lashed out and and.” She closed her eyes and shook her head.

Orpheus took the attention away from her “Each of you is going to learn just how powerful your abilities are. Lily already learned this lesson in the worst way possible.” He put his hand on her shoulder and she steadied herself.

After she had some time to calm herself she continued “The quake took out most of the town and I ran. I lived by myself for three years gaining control of my powers until Wizard came and gave me the offer to come here.”

Orpheus gave her a little hug and sat back down. “Lily shared so now I have to as well. By now everyone on this planet knows about the Twenty-Six well there were twenty-seven of us that night. Everyone else manifested immediately but I didn’t. The government used me as a bargaining chip to get some of the more unruly members to play ball. I don’t know what they did to them in training but most of them didn’t come out the same. Long story short, Sage found me and unlocked my powers. I disappeared to a safe house and then I was brought here.”

“Umm I hate to be rude but I don’t know much about the whole Twenty-Six thing.” Lily said meekly.

“I owe you for sharing so I am going to only tell this story once. I don’t like reliving it. We were attending our high school graduation. My brother was in the middle of his speech when the attack hit. The roof broke into pieces and faded to dust before it hit us. A weird green gas-filled the room from the open roof and people started dropping. My brother was the first to drop and Lianne followed shortly after. The people who didn’t survive started bleeding out their eyes, but they didn’t scream. I was the last person to fall unconscious. When we woke up there were so many people on scene marveling at the abilities the others had gotten. I got swept up in the hubbub and forgotten by the media. When the others were in training I was in therapy. I was still a little suicidal when Sage found me but I’m better now.”

“With that unpleasantness out-of-the-way why don’t I show you all the training area.” A new voice said from the living room.

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