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BlackEagle Girls
and The Ice-Angel of Death

Chapter 2 - Shadows in the Corners of Night

'Hey Zits! Yeah I'm talking to you Zits! Am I getting through? Sure I am. Now you just lay back quiet and listen. This is Whitey and I'm telling you to shut yer mouth, shut your eyes and ears and leave Annie Sole alone. Get it! Do what I tell you, or The Ice Man won't like it and he'll send Monkey to visit you. Now you don't wanna fool around with us, so just play it cool and keep outta Annie's way. Yeah, play it cool Zits,' rasped the voice. 'You're too little to get involved with the big guys. Come back later when you grow up, then maybe we can all play some ball!'
Squinting between the fingers of a hand that almost, but not quite, obliterated her vision, Priscilla had the blurred sight of a face staring down at her. It was glaring, the eyes flicking back and forth, back and forth, the skin and the hair surrounding it seemed surprisingly creamy, but it was those restless eyes that riveted her; red eyes, or maybe violet, certainly violent.
'What are you talking about!' Priscilla managed, writhing to free herself from the cloying grasp of the fingers holding her head against the pillows. 'It's her! She's the bully! Get off me! Let me go!'
Rolling onto her side she almost tumbled out of bed, her outstretched hands just preventing her from striking the unyielding surface of the Infirmary floor. Shivering with the coldness of shock, she struggled to right herself and regain the security of her bed. Where am I? she wondered, rubbing at her eyes in the early light of dawn which now seeped through the high windows that lined the room. She peered wildly about at all the shadows that still lurked in the corners of night and finding nothing that seemed to threaten, fell back and drew the covers up around her neck. Ohh, she thought, got to have been a dream...Scary, nasty dream...Got knocked down by that big cow Roseanne...Basketball...Got knocked out by Sister Menzies...Got to go back to slee...
'Priscilla! Priscilla? Come on! Wake up! It is me, Monique!'
A hand was gently shaking her, rousing her out of the depths of uneasy slumber; drawing her back to consciousness. 'Come on Priscilla, it is way past time for breakfast. It is Saturday morning. Remember?
Yesterday, Friday afternoon, basketball tryouts? Roseanne Sole knocked you unconscious. Mister Garland brought you here to the Infirmary. You have been...how do you say? Oh, errm, oui! "Out of it" since last night. Here I wake you and Sister Menzies comes now to check on your condition.'
Priscilla nodded dumbly at Monique as the Sister arrived, pushed a thermometer under her tongue and began the ritual of testing blood pressure, reflexes, memory and sight awareness. In the end Sister Menzies nodded, 'You'll do. Everything seems to be working. Feel wobbly? I expect you are. Wait half an hour, have some juice and cereal, then make your way back to your dorm. Monique here will help you along. I don't think that you've got anything more serious than a jolly good whack and a few abrasions. Ointment will help those, but if you feel it needful, you should report to Miss Poe and your parents. Must get on, I have a Second-form sprained ankle to attend.'
When they were alone, Priscilla managed, 'Moni, I had a lot of dreams; terrible, scary ones! Some seemed like they were actually real. I don't know...Is this a dream? Are you really here with me?' She turned troubled eyes toward Monique's face and was met by her friend's dazzling smile.
'This is real, I am here with you. Pinch me if you want, then pinch yourself. You're awake. You got, how do you say it? Yes! Dumped on by, what do you sometimes call her? Ah, Boefhead! That Roseanne Sole, she still tries to get even after what happened with John Wynd, when it was her that caused all the trouble.
It has been months since then, you do remember? Anyway, she has been suspended from the basketball team until it is decided as to whether her action against you was on purpose or accidental.'
Priscilla nodded weakly as a trolley rolled toward her bed, propelled by a senior student, who set about placing a tray across the covers and setting down her light breakfast.
'Moni!' hissed Priscilla as the youth wheeled the trolley away, 'That was him!'
'Him?' said Monique, gazing at the receding form of the teenager. 'What do you mean by "Him?"
'He was in my dreams! I'm sure of it. He was the one that covered my face with his hand and threatened  me! Didn't you see him? Creamy skin and hair...and his eyes...'
'Yes Cilla, I saw his eyes, they look weird but it is not the first time that I have seen eyes like that. In Africa there are albinos too, they are usually pale-skinned and have hair that is white or creamy-coloured and their eyes can be red or pinkish-violet, but what of it? Zebras have been know to have albino foals, just plain white...'
'But it was him!' Priscilla shrilled  insistently, 'The one in my dream that had his hand over my face, the one that warned me to stay away from Roseanne!'
Monique looked slightly puzzled, but took up a tumbler of orange juice and held it out to Priscilla. 'Perhaps you are right. I know that Senior Students are rostered to work here in the Infirmary and it is possible that you saw him and...' she held out the glass, 'that is how he has invaded your dreams.'
Priscilla took it with trembling fingers. 'Do you really think so? Do you think I just kind of imagined it?'
Monique put her arm around Priscilla's shoulder. 'I never know what to think about you. You have a good imagination, but then again, you are normally very rational.'
'Yeah, normally,' Priscilla said, gulping the juice and moving the tray aside. 'C'mon Monique, help me get dressed and back to our dorm. I also remember that we have a meeting this afternoon with Tsu and Terri.'
The two girls spent the rest of Saturday morning doing their usual chores: washing underwear and socks, ironing uniforms, cleaning shoes, making calls and completing assignments. After lunch they had time to defrag; reading, listening to music and, in Priscilla's case, bringing her diary up to date. As well as that, she found herself beginning the first tentative lines of a short story that had been lurking in the back of her mind for some time.
'Cilla,' said Monique, dreamily turning the page of a young girl's adventure-romance from the library, 'are you still catching up about what happened after John Wynd disappeared from school?'
'No,' Priscilla replied, preoccupied with her next sentence. Then, after a few moments of silence, she added, 'There's nothing much else to say. The school and the police and anyone else who cared are convinced that he simply ran away. Miss Poe and the others wanted answers, but all they have ever been able to come up with was that he came back to school, packed a bag and walked out. From there, he just vanished. End of story. A pity that there wasn't an end of story with Boofhead. She's still around and I've got the bruises to show for it. And now that time's gone by, the real truth about her pretending to have been dragged up on the roof is slowly fading. Seems like none of those recordings we got ever made it back to the teachers.'
'That I do not understand, yet as both of us agreed, we would not be the ones to allow the real facts to surface,' said Monique, turning a page. 'Still and all, we should not dwell on such things. There is much that we can look forward to, such as the swimming heats next week, but also I must tell you about the basketball. I am afraid that you are not to be considered for the next game because of your injury.'
'Moni, for now I'd be glad not to be considered for knitting,' said Priscilla, 'and anyway, we've got more important business before dinner. Nearly two o'clock. Let's go see the others. Time for our meeting.'
Even though it was early in May, the late west-riding sun was shining bravely across the wide open area of the Quad. All the flagpoles were bare, standing like so many tall goal-posts, their metal pulleys and fasteners clattering faintly in the soft autumn breeze of another capricious Melbourne afternoon. On the far side, Priscilla and Monique could see Tsuang Tsu and Terri Tory-Toth waiting for them beneath the leafy branches of a large evergreen.
'Hi guys,' said Priscilla, sitting down on a school bench and rubbing at a patch on her skinned elbow,
'what's happening?'
Tsu sat down beside her saying, 'Well, it seems that you are in the wars again. Just look, sticking plaster here and there, and I am sure you have more bruises than we can see.'
'You're not wrong,' replied Priscilla, 'but I suppose I should expect as much, having Roseanne as an enemy. Next time I'll be watching.'
'And that is a part of the reason for our meeting,' said Terri, inspecting the bumps and grazes with an appraising look. 'It's time for us to consider what we should do next.'
'For a start,' said Tsu, 'we need to broaden our position. Fon Jien and I have been in contact with Harry and he agrees. But of course this should be done slowly and with utmost caution. What we must have are carefully selected individuals who will be able to comprehend and fit neatly into our group...'
Priscilla chuckled, shaking her head, which made her feel so muzzy that she abruptly halted, stars still spinning. 'Like we just pick a target and say, "Look, how about joining us in a sort of Secret Girl's Gang led by a chatty dog. But it's really O.K. because he's actually an alien from a place called Wasat way out in the solar system, and anyway what we're really all about is bringing peace and unity to all Man-kind, with a side helping of incoming aliens who actually want to fit in with us, even if they happen to be talking dogs and eagles and...'
'I think Priscilla that you are still suffering from the knock on your head,' said Monique, lifting up her hand.
'Tsu and Terri are being serious. If we are to spread our message we must tell people what it is all about, and that does require new members.'
'What what's all about?' muttered Priscilla, lowering her head and covering her eyes with her hand. 'I just don't...can't remember exactly what we're supposed to be doing...'
'Yes you do,' said Tsu gently, 'we are a part of a global network that is slowly growing. We are not the only ones. There are many others, all helped and guided by people like Harry...'
'Harry's an alien, he's not people,' answered Priscilla rather sharply so that the girls stared at her in surprise. After a moment she looked up at them, her hand brushing her brow. 'Oh listen, I didn't mean that like it sounded, I mean, what I meant was...Bloody hell! What was I thinking? I know what Harry's about. It's just that it's so way-out. I know that he and, who can figger, so many of his kind are here on Earth and that they don't mean us any harm and only want to help and live here but...Gee...If I'm having trouble, how can we expect others to go along with all this?'
'They will only go along with this if we choose well and can show them the way,' said Terri softly. 'How about our Form Captain, Belinda Moss? She has already travelled the world before her parents decided that Australia was a better place to live than England.'
'She seems pretty cool for a Pom,' agreed Priscilla, 'Moni, Tsu, what do you think?'
'I like Belinda, from what I have seen of her, although being Captain of One A, Tsu and Terri have a better idea of whether she is suitable,' answered Monique.
'I think she would be an acquisition,' nodded Tsu, 'so we all seem to agree.'
'And if I had a choice some time ago, I should have chosen John Wynd,' said Monique, 'though now of course he is no longer with us...'
'Wherever his mission has taken him,' concluded Tsu, raising an eyebrow at Priscilla before going on, 'but that is not our concern now. Is there anyone else that we should consider?'
'Boys included?' asked Terri.
Tsu weighed up the question. 'Umm, in these first grades of ours, they all seem very immature. Most of them are too full of sport and showing off to each other. I wonder if they've actually discovered girls yet?'
'Ohh, I reckon even Henry, my younger Brother has,' Priscilla replied. 'He seems pretty involved with lizards and pirates and Robin Hood, but I think he's aware and knows more than he'd want anyone else to know. I'm sure he fancies you Monique.'
Monique almost blushed, although it was hard to tell, but her eyes sparkled as she said, 'Umm, a little young for me, yet when he is older and matures...' She gave them her big Whoopi Goldberg grin.
The other three burst into laughter. 'You'll have to wait until you're much too old,' said Priscilla, holding a hand to the side of her head. 'Anyway, Henry's not going to be at Hopewell until next year, that is unless we have to move somewhere else in the meantime.'
'Well we mustn't just consider people who are at Hopewell Hall,' said Tsu, guiding the agenda, 'however it is best that we deal only with those we have greatest knowledge of. Priscilla, what about your older brother Louis?'
'Umm, well he's a boy, but let's not hold that against him. He's dependable and honest, bit of a stuffed-shirt, gives Henry a hard time so he can't be all bad, a tad nerdy, but I just don't see where he could fit in and besides, it could be tricky having Louis with us and Henry not knowing...'
'What about his aboriginal friend Charlie Fairman?' suggested Terri.
'He too could be an acquisition, yet from what Louis has said I guess that Baroonah prefers to keep his own counsel. I do not think he would willingly like to be a team player,' answered Tsu, 'and as far as any others in the higher forms, we just do not know enough about them. It is no use approaching the Prefects either, as they will be leaving at the end of the year and besides, I think it best that sights be set on students closer to our own age. That way you will all progress together in the future.'
'How about Narenda?' suggested Monique, 'she may not be physically strong but she is resourceful. Remember how quickly she made Miss Van Weenan aware of Roseanne bullying others to vote for her as Form Captain?'
'You don't think her religious beliefs might be a problem?' asked Terri.
'We are all products of our ancestors, of where they came from and what happened to them in the past,' answered Tsu, 'and also what influenced them, be that religion or politics. Until put to the test, there is no way of knowing how anyone will react. Yet what is asked here is not the rejection of any religion or belief, it is only the opening of a greater window of knowledge; something that stretches beyond anything we have ever dreamed. Part of our task is to reach out to all, no matter who they are, no matter what they believe or think. What we are looking for is the human being, hiding behind the mask of Humanity, who will open arms and embrace something beyond their comprehension. We four here, in a very small part, have already experienced what that is, yet can we ask this of someone like Narenda?'
'You almost sound like a grown-up,' said Priscilla dreamily, still absently rubbing her forehead. 'I suppose the only way we're going to find out is to take a chance.'
'What do you think Terri?' asked Tsu, turning to her friend and class-mate.
'Not that I know her very well, but if Monique thinks she's worth it, worthy of becoming a BlackEagle Girl, then I vote for Narenda,' answered Terri emphatically.
'Are we all in agreement?' asked Tsu. The others nodded, Priscilla's head wobbling a little. 'Good,' Tsu continued, 'and perhaps we should keep in mind some of the boys for the future as well, like your Form Captain Ray Sharp. But first let's try Belinda and Narenda. I know Belinda hasn't gone home this weekend and I'm sure I saw Narenda at lunch. There seems little point in wasting time, why not approach them later this afternoon? Priscilla, you've already had some practice with John Wynd, and it would be much more convincing coming from both you and Monique together. Of course Belinda and Narenda might need a trip before they're ready to accept the truth. Harry has said that the BlackEagle can be available at any time for such a venture. So girls, over to you.'
'Over to us?' said Priscilla, her mouth dropping open for a moment before recovering. 'Wait on, we're not the seniors here, shouldn't it be your part to take this responsibility? And anyway Tsu, I picked up when you said, "That way you will all progress together in the future", what did you mean by that? Are you going someplace?'
'We both are,' said Terri, patting Priscilla's hand. 'It is part of what happens. My parents are moving back to Budapest next year. They want to live and work again in the country of their birth, at least for a while, to renew ties with the old family and take up business that has come to them through my Uncle.'
'And Fon Jien and I are going to live in Hawaii after Christmas. There he will be enlarging his tropical fish enterprise and I shall be attending a new school,' said Tsu.
'But what about the Lhasa Green Dragon restaurant here in China Town?' asked Monique, stunned.
'My Guardian's partners will take care of it,' Tsu answered, 'and don't worry, it is not as if Terri and I are disappearing completely. We will all be able to stay in communication.'
'Email on the Internet?' asked Priscilla.
'No silly, we don't want anyone to hack into our secrets. Harry and his friends will be our contacts. It's part of the new Australian BlackEagle network,' laughed Terri.
'And we still have all the months of this year together,' said Tsu. 'Time enough for you two to begin. When Terri and I move on after Christmas, The BlackEagle Girls will be established at Hopewell and in contact with many more groups in Australia and around the world.'
'But we will not have you!' exclaimed Monique throwing her arms about Tsu, as all four girls, tearfully embraced.


Chapter 3 [next]

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