After sending her message Alpha charged up the hill after Mr Thom. As she emerged from the wood she saw him running towards Rondel who was staggering down the drive, burdened with two heavy backpacks. Rondel was stubbornly heading towards a motorcycle with rider that was half-hidden by the yew hedge and although Mr Thom was racing towards her, he wasn't going to catch her before she reached the rider.
From the direction of the beach a Landover chewed up the grass as it aimed for the drive. Dr Scott, thank goodness. Alpha's relief gave way to fear and her stomach cramped as she saw the rider on the bike draw a gun from his leathers. A shot rang out and the windscreen shattered. She felt Dr Scott fight the wheel as the Landover pulled to the right. He overcorrected, the vehicle spun, dropping towards a ditch where it quivered on the edge, before slowly tipping over. Dr Scott fell from the open roof and the Landover dropped on top of him. His spillage died in Alpha's mind.
'I told you not to call him,' bellowed Mr Thom. He changed direction and sped towards the hollow where Dr Scott lay injured.
Although Rondel had stopped when the Landrover had crashed, she'd begun inching towards the rider of the motorbike once again. Her thoughts took over in Alpha's head.
Inside Rondel's brain Alpha found a mind reeking of self-pity. Only one thing motivated this girl: the desire to be important. Her dreams of being a famous psychic had dissolved – Alpha was shocked to learn to that, without knowing it, Rondel had cut herself off from her own abilities. But since then the rider of the motorbike had promised her fame and fortune. Rondel, she wasn't surprised to learn, was determined to make the most of it. Poor, desperate girl, ready to believe promises from that son of a…
She spilled an urgent message into Rondel's head: Forget about leaving and I promise I'll bring back your psychic dreams. She heard the click as Rondel's mind was flipped.
Rondel turned and stared at Alpha, a thousand emotions flitting across her face. Then she dropped her bags and ran back into the school.
The man on the motorbike revved his engine. Alpha caught a brief flash of his anger as his plans for Rondel were thwarted, though why he wanted her was a mystery, because it seemed to Alpha from the short images she'd seen in Rondel's mind that he despised her. Then he slammed his helmet on his head and pulled away in a storm of noise.
Dr Scott? Alpha spun round. Dr Scott was squeezing out from under the Landrover. He looked round groggily. Mr Thom checked his vision then helped him to stand, propping him up under his shoulder like a human crutch.
Alpha tried to stagger towards them but she felt drained and her legs were wobbling. She sat down and put her head between her knees, trying to stop the sensation of fainting that had swept over her.
'Alpha?' Dr Scott stumbled towards her.
She turned her head. She could see Mr Thom trying to force Dr Scott to go into the house with him, but Dr Scott shoved him off.
'Dizzy.' She was too weary to lift her head from her knees.
'Horatio, leave us for a second please. I need to talk to Alpha.'
'You're concussed,' said Mr Thom, 'I've got to check you over.'
'Horatio!' The single word was enough – the short man backed away, leaving Dr Scott alone with Alpha.
Dr Scott waited for him to retreat then whispered, 'Tell me what you did to Rondel? It was you, wasn't it? You stopped her leaving with that man.'
She looked up into his face. Blood was pouring from his temple. If I hadn't called him he wouldn't have been hurt. I've changed another mind – everything's going wrong again. Although she was sitting down she swayed as Dr Scott's face blurred in front of her eyes.
Dr Scott knelt down beside her. 'Lie flat out, that will help. He tilted her sideways onto the ground. Alpha felt the world regain its balance as blood flowed back into her head.
'All right now?'
Dr Scott gently swept her hair aside before cupping her face in one insistent hand. 'Did you make Rondel turn back?'
She nodded, a tiny movement against the pressure of his hand.
A look of incredulousness crossed his face. 'Thank you for telling me the truth. But look at you, you're exhausted! Your blood sugar is unbalanced. Do you think you can manage to walk inside? You need a cup of tea with plenty of sugar.'
Alpha nodded wearily. Cup of tea, a rest, and then he'll send me packing.