This has to be regarded as the greatest privilege barring actually obtaining an interview with the Director of the Guardians himself. Jack Pellari alone almost equals the phenomenal powers of that great man, but the likelihood of ever obtaining an interview with Siribahta Dhal equates with becoming genuinely immortal!
I tried to persuade Jack to meet me in the same hotel setting as when I interviewed Matt Carter but he refused, being acutely shy of public places. Instead, by special permission, we’re in a small but comfortable sitting room of a cottage. Due to the security methods employed, I have no idea where the cottage is located. I’m not even sure of how long it took to arrive here!
Jack is nervous, wary. I suspect that this will prove to be a difficult interview, despite all my special training…
*[EDITED FOR GENERAL DISSEMINATION – ALL CLASSIFIED MATERIAL REMOVED BY ORDER OF THE MINISTRY]*
Thanks for agreeing to this interview, Mr Pellari.
No thanks are needed. I’m under orders.
I see. I apologise if that makes you uncomfortable… Can I begin by asking when and where you were born?
‘When’, I’ll keep to myself, but it was a long time ago. ‘Where’? In London, in a small cluster of homes surrounded by the expanding Docklands. It was an ugly place to live, especially if you showed any hint of difference, or strangeness. I only had to suffer it for two years, though, as we moved away as soon as my parents could manage it.
So your talents were revealed when you were very young?
Yes. I’m what’s referred to as a ‘Brumby’, after the wild horses of Australia, meaning a wild talent. Most Psychs learn to hide their powers but Brumbies can’t, with their powers best described as ‘volcanic’ – erupting unbidden and often at highly inappropriate times. I have three brothers and two sisters who are all Psychs, but I’m the only Brumby. I ruined all their lives.
That’s a large family. Where do you come in the order?
I was the youngest. Things were really hard and my mother was badly malnourished while she was pregnant with me. In fact, I spent two weeks being cared for by a nurse and my mother was in bedridden for nearly as long, after I was born. They thought I was unlikely to survive.
If you were a ‘Brumby’, I suppose you had to move often?
Yes, almost every year. The last time was to a house in the middle of nowhere, up in County Durham, Healdy House. We had hopes of being able to finally settle down there. My siblings would go to the local school but I was registered as being what’s called ‘special needs’ now, requiring home care and unable to learn. I was about ten. We were there for six years when there was another incident. I’d wandered too close to the village, about seven miles from home. A bunch of local youths knew me from rare glimpses. They started throwing insults, and when they didn’t work, they got physical. I left them rolling on the ground, blubbing and clutching their heads, and ran for home.
So another move was likely?
No. My family decided to tough it out this time. Four of my siblings had married and gotten homes of their own, and good jobs. My father had been hurt in an accident and couldn’t get work, so finding the money for a move would be almost impossible. The rest of us unmarried kids were supporting the family as best we could, and my mother had established a good seamstress business locally. When this incident happened, though, there was real fear of what would happen, especially after the village policeman visited and warned of dark consequences – especially for me.
Well, it seems that, even way back then, Siribahta had Psychs who were constantly scanning for psychic events. They detected the spike when I lost control. Two days later, Siribahta himself arrived at the house! He offered to help. He had an academy, far away in St Osyth, down in Essex. He said that he could sort out things with the local policeman, mollify the families of the youths, and help me learn to control my powers. Of course, it meant I’d have to go away with him and live in St Osyth Academy. My parents, especially my mother, were arguing against it, my siblings were less defensive. In the end, though,I begged to be allowed to go. I couldn’t stand the harm I was causing them all! After half a day of it, my parents finally gave in and consented. Siribahta went to the village and returned the next morning. He’d sorted it all out, but we had to be away before noon. It was a terrible wrench, and I saw my father cry for the first time in my life. The excitement of the adventure, though, was growing inside me. We left a few minutes before noon.
What was the Academy like?
It was a rambling old building, full of peculiar nooks and crannies. If I’d been younger, I would have had a wonderful time exploring it! It wasn’t far from the ancient Priory that St Osyth is apparently famous for. And St Osyth is close to the coast, with the option of going to the seaside (at Seawick, Jaywick or Clacton-on-Sea) or to the broad reach of the River Colne, or even down to Flag Creek or Brightlingsea Creek. There were regular unauthorised jaunts but I only went on supervised trips to populous places, fearing an incident. St Osyth itself was a beautiful place back then, but I’ve heard that even there has suffered over the last sixty odd years, with blockhouses being built and even some of the historic buildings being bulldozed to make way for those vile places. I understand that there’s a District Internment Facility at Jaywick, too. And is it true that the pier at Clacton has collapsed into the sea? [I nod and he looks very sad.] I hate to think what has been done to St Osyth…
Anyway, the Academy had Psych ‘Coaches’, who trained us in handling our powers, from helping to bring out borderline latencies to teaching control to us Brumbies. It was damned hard work, too! I remember four of the students losing it and rebelling. They caused total havoc and three of them ran off. That is, two ran off and one just vanished- teleported away right in front of us! The fourth was still hurling stuff with telekinesis and was about to do some serious damage to the Coach when Siribahta appeared, though none of us noticed his arrival until he was stood right in front of the kid. In seconds, he’d calmed her down and she was sat sobbing on the floor, with Siribahta crouched beside her, soothing her gently. She stayed to complete not only the General Course but graduated with honours from the Advanced Course. She was younger than me by at least two years, but she was well ahead of me in the Academy teachings.
What happened to the ones that ran away?
One just disappeared, never to be heard of again. Another was shot down by police about twenty years later, when he was involved in a bank robbery. The other one had to be dealt with by G5, some twelve years ago, when he *[TEXT REMOVED FOR SECURITY REASONS]*
How long were you at the Academy?
Oh, about nine years as a student, for both General and Advanced Courses. I then remained there as an Assistant Coach, until I was appointed as one of Siribahta’s Aides. With more contact with the Master, I learnt much, much more. I had been fond of him, for his rescue of me and for his unshakeable gentility and calm. Now, I came to think of him more as my grandfather. I confessed as much to him and it’s become a kind of standing joke for me to call him ‘Grandfather’.
When did the Academy close?
Who says it has? During the decades of internal strife in Britain, we had to go into hiding. The old Academy was attacked and ransacked but we had already gone. The Academy is still active today, but I’m not about to reveal where. Just accept that we found a safe sanctuary.
So how did you come to be a member of the Guardians? I would have thought that you would have made an excellent teacher.
I did, too. [A flash of deep grief crosses his visage.] I was very close to accepting a position on the Academy faculty. Word reached me that my eldest sister, Hannah, had been killed. I assumed it was in a riot or something. I was very wrong. I had my bags packed and everything when I was summoned by Siribahta. It was then that I discovered why he was in the habit of being absent for odd periods, without explanation. By some fluke of circumstance, Hannah and her family had moved to a small hamlet in Scotland just as a local coven of Dark Witches raised an ancient entity. The moment the thing appeared, it detected Hannah and commanded the coven to destroy her and her children! Hannah fought, and even tried to call for help, but she had been isolated and she wasn’t strong enough alone. Her husband, Douglas, also fought, with mundane weapons, and even killed three of the coven, but it wasn’t enough. The police found what was left of the family in a burnt out ruin. I lost it then. I started hunting for any hint of evil. Twice, I was nearly killed. The fact that Siribahta and his people had reacted as quickly as possible to the rise of the thing that had ordered Hannah killed, and had sent it, and the dark coven, into oblivion meant nothing. But the rage couldn’t last forever. I suffered a complete breakdown. Later, I heard that Siribahta and the finest Psych healers worked on me then, healing me of the grief, the rage, everything.
Well, anyway, when Siribahta was made Director of the Guardians, it was just natural that I go with him. The madness was gone, but some debts can never be repaid. Besides, I opted to be a soldier rather than a teacher.
Have you ever regretted that choice?
Regretted it? Of course, but I wouldn’t change anything.
I understand that you underwent some very special training with an unusual teacher. Can you tell us more?
*[ALL DETAILS ON MISSIONS FOR OR OTHER ACTIVITIES WITHIN THE GUARDIANS ARE CLASSIFIED. TEXT TERMINATED.]*