Author's note: So, I came up with the idea for this story a few months ago, and I started writing it in early July. Then, late July came around, and suddenly Israel was rolling tanks into Gaza. That kinda threw off my plans. That's why this story takes place a few months earlier. All feedback is appreciated.

None of them had seen the girl approach. She seemed to appear out of nowhere. She was around the same age they were, pretty, with pink streaks in her light brown hair. She wore leather pants and a leather jacket over a white t-shirt for a band named Monica Sex. She had an amused smile, but as everyone looked at her, she looked a little more self-conscious. "I'm having second thoughts about this," she said nervously.

"Who the Hell are you?" Lindsay asked.

"I'm your new friend," the girl replied with forced cheer. She was looking at the ground. "I'll be your guide around Israel. You can call me Zelda."

"What's your real name?" Kevin asked.

"Uh, Zelda. Sorry, I wasn't using, like, a fake name or whatever." She was blushing.

"There can't be any harm in at least talking to her," Stephen said. "Let's go eat."


'Is she a risk?' Rika thought.

'I can't read her,' Lindsay thought back. 'At all. Every time I try, my mind just slides off her.'

'Not too suspicious, huh? So do we let her go along with us?'

'We may as well,' Lindsay decided. "OK," she said out loud. "Show us a good place to eat."

"Oh, yeah! Right. I'll show you some good eats, all right," Zelda said eagerly. "Come on!"

She took them to a Korean restaurant. "I didn't know they had Korean food in Israel," Kevin said.

"Oh, sure," Zelda said. "We Jews had spread out pretty widely around the world before the formation of Israel, so there's some Asian Jews around the country. We've actually got pretty decent ethnic diversity. Even I'm quarter-Apache, not that it really shows."

"So was that our mother who interviewed us in the airport?" David asked.

"Yeah. That was her," Zelda confirmed. She rubbed at the back of her neck with a little embarrassment. "Sorry if she was hard on you guys. I was with her when she got called out here, and she didn't have time to drop me off anywhere. I slipped away when you guys were released."

"Why?" Lindsay asked.

"Wait, you slipped away from your soldier mother and joined us?" David asked with concern. "Oh, man, we're going to have all sorts of forces coming down on us! We need to get you back to your mother!"

"Eh, I wouldn't worry," Zelda shrugged. "I'm pretty sure my mom knew I'd do this. Actually, I think she was probably hoping I'd do this."

"Why?" Lindsay asked again.

"Because I can keep an eye on you guys and get some experience in the field."

"Experience?" Kevin asked. "What do you mean?"

"I'm 17," Zelda explained. "A few months shy of 18. Once I turn 18, I'll be eligible for conscription. My family's always taken military service very seriously – I always say it's the Apache blood – so I'm not going to be content to just spend two years in a grunt role and then retire."

"Plus, you're a superhuman," Rika added. "Right?"

"Yep, that too," Zelda nodded. "That means I'll probably be going straight into Mossad, and I'll be getting the most dangerous assignments, so I need to be better than the average agent."

"You're a superhuman?" Stephen asked. "What's your power?"

"Being noticed." Everyone looked at her in confusion. "Heh. Technically, my power is to avoid being noticed. The thing is, it's pretty much always on, unless I override it. Which I don't do often. Because then people notice me."

"So you turn invisible?" David asked.

"No, no, I'm fully visible. People just don't know I'm there. Like, I could get naked, get up on this table and start dancing, and people would just look right past me."

"Don't say it," Lindsay told David in a warning tone.

"If I knocked stuff over, or, like, opened a door or something, then people could notice me, until I got out of their sight again. But other than that, I'm safe."

"And the fact that I can't read your mind?" Lindsay asked.

"It's a part of that, yeah. Basically, your mind doesn't want to think I'm there. I might be able to let you read me, but having a telepath for a mom has left me a little resentful of telepathy."

"Your mom can read your mind?" Lindsay asked.

"Uh-huh. Apparently, since she's my mom, she's not affected by my power. Unfortunately, it doesn't work the other way, and she can use her power on me all she wants. Which is so totally unfair."

"I think all moms can read minds," Kevin said.

"Yeah, but my mom occasionally sings songs that are in my head," Zelda said. "But hey, enough about me. I don't even know your names."

Introductions were made, and they explained why they were in Israel. "So you're actually friends with that Jihad guy?" Zelda asked. "Huh. Weird."

"Yeah. We were . . . close," Lindsay said.

"She means she and him wanted to bang," Rika said mischievously.

"You jerk," Lindsay said.

"There's a story there," Zelda said, "and I'm going to get it before all this is said and done. But for now, you guys should get some rest, and I should head home. I'll show you to a motel, and I'll meet you again in the morning. Say, around nine-ish?"

"I still want to know why you're helping us," Lindsay said.

"Because it seems like it'll be fun. What better reason could I need?"

"She's going to make a good superhero," Rika chuckled.

Zelda brought them to a nice motel, then left. They rented three rooms. The boys were in one room, Lindsay and Rika took another. Rika called her friends to let them know how things were going. Lindsay found herself feeling a little jealous. She had no friends back home that she could trust that much. She'd had to hide her powers from all her friends, and she knew her parents were nervous about them. The only people she'd ever been able to share her powers with were the other students of the Champions; once they'd gone their separate ways again, she'd be left alone.

Rika finished her call and sat on one of the beds. "So that Zelda seems pretty cool," she said. "She's cute, too."

"Cute?" Lindsay said. "Down, girl. You've already got a girlfriend."

"I know, I know. And I love her. But I'm taken, not dead. No harm in looking, right?"

"If you say so."

"Besides," Rika added in a mischievous tone, "what happens in Tel Aviv stays in Tel Aviv, right?"

"I'm pretty sure you're thinking of Vegas," Lindsay chuckled.

"Come on, we're in the Holy Land, so let's do something unholy! You're not still hung up on this whole heterosexual fad, are you?"

Lindsay laughed. "I'm afraid so, sorry."

"You're too pretty to be straight," Rika said. "Let's get some wine and see where the evening goes. What do you say?"

"You're just lucky I can tell that you're not serious," Lindsay said while throwing her pillow at Rika.

"Oh, a pillow fight," Rika said. "That's a great idea. Bring it on!"

"A pillow fight?" Lindsay said condescendingly. "What are you, 8?"

Rika seemed to think about. "Yep!" she said. She threw a pillow at Lindsay.

"Then I hope you're ready to go down!" Lindsay rushed forward and hit Rika with the pillow. The girls laughed as they hit each other with pillows, until finally getting tired and going to bed.

Lindsay was woken up by a hard slap to her face. "Wake up," a gruff voice told her. She was slapped again. "Wake up, you piece of garbage." Lindsay glared at the man. The one who'd beaten her before. "Oh, giving me the Evil Eye, huh? Maybe I should poke those eyes out. What do you think of that, you murdering scum?"

"I think you will burn slowly," Lindsay replied.

"Heh. Still got some spine, huh? Good, good. Pick him up," he told a pair of men standing behind her. They grabbed her arms and lifted her, then followed the man out of the room and down the hall into what looked like a cafeteria. She was shoved to the ground in the middle of a large ring formed out of the tables. The room was filled with men and woman, of a variety of races. The big man was sitting on one of the tables. "You know, I realized I never introduced myself," he said. "You can call me Mikael. I've got an offer for you. I'm going to let you fight me. If you win, I'll even take off your little necklace."

"And if I refuse to fight?" Lindsay asked.

"Then we're all just going to beat the shit out of you. Come on, kid, I can see in your eyes how much you want to do it. What have you got to lose? Even if I'm lying, you might still get at least a few shots in on me."

Lindsay picked herself off the ground and nodded. Mikael stepped away from the table. They circled each other, then Lindsay lunged at him. He sidestepped her and kneed her in the gut, and she dropped to her knees. "Come on, boy," he said. "You can do better than that." Lindsay climbed back to her feet, then took a swing at the man. He dodged and punched her in the face. She stumbled but stayed on her feet, then took another swing at him. Once again, he avoided her clumsy attack and punched, and this time she dropped to her knees again. But once more, she got up.

"You're boring me, kid," Mikael said. "I expected you to put up more of a fight. I don't know why I would've expected it, though. Your kind just aren't dangerous without bombs strapped to your chests. Once it comes down to a fair fight, you're just a whole race of weak, pathetic dogs."

Lindsay growled and screamed and attacked again. Mikael punched her in the nose and grabbed her shirt to keep her upright while he kneed her in the gut again, then delivered another heavy blow to the face. While Lindsay was on the ground, he kicked her in the ribs a few times. Some of the other guards joined in, and before long, Lindsay mercifully lost consciousness.

"Lindsay! Lindsay! Wake up!"

She was being shaken. She opened her eyes and realized it was Rika shouting at her. "Lindsay, are you OK?"

"Rika?" Lindsay replied. "Yeah. Yeah, I'm OK. It was just a dream."

"And a Hell of a dream it was," Rika said. "You were projecting a bit, so I wound up catching some of it. I woke up near the end, and you were still struggling."

"They beat on Faizal," Lindsay said quietly. "They're so cruel. Who are they? What's their problem?"

"That's what we're trying to find out, remember? Come on, let's go get something to eat before the boys wake up."

They walked out the door. "About time you got up," Zelda said.

"Ah!" Lindsay jumped. "Don't sneak up on people like that!"
"Heh. Makes you nervous that you can't sense me, doesn't it?" Zelda asked.

"Yes, it does," Lindsay replied irritably. "Because you keep popping up unexpectedly."

"You've gotten used to being able to sense anyone around you," Zelda said. "It's given you an edge. No one can surprise you. But if you think I'm the only person out there who's immune to telepathy, you're wrong. There are artificial ways to hide someone's thought patterns. And you might not always have access to your powers. You should be making an effort to learn how to get along without your telepathy."

"Thank you for the advice," Lindsay said sarcastically.

"She's got a point, though," Rika told her. "Part of my superhero training involved fighting without my force field, and it was training that benefited me."

"I'm not planning to be a superhero," Lindsay said. "I haven't really decided what I'm going to do with my life, but putting on a costume and getting shot at isn't going to be part of it. I'm leaning towards psychology or something."

"You may not want to be a part of the superhero world," Zelda said, "but that doesn't mean it's not going to intrude on your life. If you can't take care of yourself, it'll probably end up being the end of your life."

"Yeah, well, my powers are why I know about the guy following us," Lindsay grumbled.

"Huh?" Zelda looked back. There were three men following the girls. "Oh, yeah. You're right. We should probably do something about that guy."

"Why is he following us?" Rika asked Lindsay. "Who does he work for?"

"He's Mossad," Lindsay said. "He's following us because they want to keep an eye on what we're up to."

"Mossad?" Zelda asked as she continued to look back at him. "I wonder if I've met him before. He doesn't look familiar."

"So what do we do about him?" Rika asked.

"Why bother doing anything?" Zelda replied. "As long as you guys don't do anything wrong, he won't hassle you. If you try to evade him, you'll be found again eventually, and they'll be more careful after that to make sure you can't do it again. "

"So we do nothing," Lindsay said. "At least for now. Then we'll come up with a plan to slip away from him when we need to."

"Sounds like a plan," Rika nodded. "So let's just grab some food for now."

They found a nearby breakfast diner and ate, then returned to the motel with some food for the guys. Once everyone was more awake, they rented a van, with Rika driving, and headed for the Gaza Strip. They were tailed the whole way, but they chose not to do anything about it yet. When they reached the border, Lindsay's telepathy got them through the checkpoint. Eventually, they reached the neighbourhood Faizal had lived in. They found a place to park and wandered around. David's wings were too conspicuous, so he stayed in the van. Stephen stayed with him.

"Excuse me," Lindsay asked someone, speaking fluent Arabic. "We're looking for a friend. We were wondering if maybe you'd seen him."

"I doubt I've seen any friends of yours," the man replied hostilely.

"His name was Faizal Odeh," Lindsay continued. "He also went by Jihad."

"I have no idea where he is, and I wouldn't tell you if I did. Now leave." The man walked away.

"Well?" Rika prompted.

"He wasn't lying," Lindsay said. "He has no idea what happened to Faizal."

"Excuse me, sir," Rika politely spoke to another man. "I humbly request your assistance. I am a friend of the hero Jihad, and I wondered if you had-'

"Why not ask the Israelis?" the man interrupted. "They took him. They must have. Probably assassinated him, and now they're just covering it up."

"I'm sorry," Rika said. "Did you see it happen?"

"No. They must have lured him away, done it where there'd be no witnesses. It's how they operate, the dogs."

"I'm sorry to have bothered you. Thank you for the assistance."

The rest of the day continued much along those lines. No one knew for sure what had happened to him, though most believed the Israelis got him. "I just don't believe it," Zelda said. "My mom would've known about any operation to go after Jihad. She probably would've gone on the mission itself. But she doesn't know anything about it."

"So she claims," Kevin said.

"My mother's no liar," Zelda said defensively. "She says she doesn't know anything about what happened to Jihad, and I believe her."

"You've never explained why we should trust you, though," Lindsay crossed her arms.

"I think we can trust her," Rika said.

"I don't know," Kevin said. "A pretty girl who randomly joins up with us? One who works for the people who locked us up and have been spying on us? And who are, let's face it, the most likely suspects behind Faizal's disappearance? Sounds a lot like a set-up to me."

"Are you speaking from experience?" David asked.

"All I'm saying is that if she flirts with any of us, then she's a traitor," Kevin said.

"Aw, and I was just going to say how cute you are," Zelda said sarcastically.

"Boom! There it is! She's a traitor! I know what I'm talking about here!"

"We never had a traitor in the Defenders of Athens," Rika said.

Rika got a sudden psi-flash from Lindsay to put up her force field. She surrounded them all with it, and a moment later, bullets bounced off. "We'll have to put off this discussion until we deal with this problem," Lindsay said. "Some Palestinian soldiers have gotten here, and they want to kill us."

"Well that's just unfriendly behaviour," Zelda said.