Wednesday afternoon, Nov 21st, 2007
I didn’t like flying. Or more accurately, I didn’t like being stuck in the middle seat with a fat guy on one side, who was encroaching on my space, while an old lady sat on my other side, hitting me with her sharp elbows every time she shifted position.
So far, my trip home for Thanksgiving had been a little less than enjoyable. Between the MCO agents who glared at me during the security check and my annoying neighbors, I just wanted it to be done and over with. Fortunately, we’d be landing in Portland in about half an hour, then I wouldn’t have to worry about my neighbors anymore.
“You’re a lovely girl,” the woman beside me abruptly said. “Why would you do that to yourself?”
“Excuse me?” I asked in confusion.
“Why would you dye your hair that garish color?” the old woman demanded, reaching up and grabbing a couple strands of my hair. “Do you want attention so much that you have to make yourself look like some kind of clown?”
I pulled my hair out of her hands, more than a little annoyed by her rudeness, though I tried not to show it. Instead, I took a couple deep breaths and then smiled, even though it was a little forced.
“It was either dye my hair or get a tattoo,” I responded with a false cheerfulness. “And the hair was less permanent.”
Of course, the truth was the exact opposite. My hair was purple, but not because of any dye. It was a side effect of my mutation, just like my violet eyes, and if I did try to dye it, then the next time I changed modes, it would probably just change back. In fact, if I did get a tattoo, then the next time I changed modes, it would probably vanish as well.
I turned my attention away from the woman, who seemed offended by my reaction. She muttered something about me being rude and ungrateful, but she left me alone so I was satisfied, at least until the shifted position and elbowed me again.
Once the plane landed, I let out a long sigh of relief and eagerly disembarked. I tried not to think about the small fact that I’d have to go through this again in a couple days when I flew back to Whateley, unless I could convince my mom to make a teleporter. Then again, it would be safer for everyone involved if I never mentioned it to her.
As soon as I left the security area, I saw three familiar faces waiting for me. One of them was even holding up a sign that read, ‘WELCOME BACK FROM PRISON, AMY’.
“Nice sign,” I told Kara, who’d been my best friend since we were kids, though our relationship had changed a bit since I’d manifested as a mutant and had turned into a girl. Now she was my girlfriend. I gave Kara a hug and was tempted to kiss her, but we were in a pretty public place and there were two other people I had to greet too.
“Hi, Mom,” I announced, giving my mom a hug, and then Beth. Beth bent over a little to make it easier since she towered over me.
“I’m glad to have you home,” Mom told me with a smile. “Even if it is for only a couple days.”
“She needs help figuring out where she put everything,” Beth pointed out with a chuckle.
“Why am I not surprised?” I responded.
Beth might have been joking, but I knew my mom well enough to know that there was a lot of truth to that too. I let out a resigned sigh since I was probably going to be doing a good bit of cleaning this weekend.
The four of us went to baggage claim, where we continued to talk while we waited for my suitcase to show up. It was pretty obvious once it did, because it was a bright purple. Mom had bought it for me because it matched my hair color and eyes.
“Wow, that is a purple bag,” Kara commented with a smirk.
“Apparently, purple is now my color,” I commented wryly as I glanced at my mom. “And some people seem to think that everything I own should be purple.”
“It looks good on you,” Mom responded. “Besides, this is more of a violet color…”
“Violet,” Kara exclaimed in mock surprise. “You’re turning violet, Violet.”
I chuckled at the reference to one of my favorite childhood movies. “How long have you been waiting to use that one?”
“Since you left,” Kara replied, sticking her tongue out at me.
“So,” Mom said, eyeing my bag curiously. “Did you bring any interesting devises to show me?”
“I’m afraid not,” I admitted. “I was a little worried that the MCO or TSA might confiscate them, so I left almost everything back at school.”
“Almost?” Beth asked with a smile.
“Well,” I shrugged, “I did bring a couple empty batteries that I can charge up if I turn energizer, and I have this…” I showed the metal disk on my belt, which was also a type of battery. “I brought this to store all the essence I generate today. That stuff is too valuable to risk losing a full day’s worth.”
“Oh,” Mom said, looking a little disappointed.
I smiled faintly at that and added, “Oh, I did bring a few parts for a project I’ve been working on. I figure, if I happen to turn devisor while I’m back, I might as well be able to work on it…”
Mom immediately brightened up at that. “You’re welcome to use my lab, and I’d be happy to help you…”
“Not now,” Beth said, distracting my mom before she slipped into one of her obsessive building episodes. “We have to get back first…”
“Let’s stop off at Voodoo Donuts,” Kara suggested with a grin. “I’m sure Amy misses the good local stuff.”
“That sounds good to me,” Beth immediately agreed.
“Me too,” I added with a grin. “And we should probably stop at the store to pick up some things for Thanksgiving dinner, tomorrow.”
Portland Oregon, Wednesday evening, Nov 21st, 2007
Disaster zone. That was what I thought as I looked around my mom’s lab, groaning at the mess and clutter. I hadn’t been here in three months, and it was pretty obvious that it hadn’t been properly cleaned since then.
At least the rest of the house was in better shape, but that was because Beth and Kara came over on a regular basis and helped to clean up. However, neither of them had apparently stepped foot into Mom’s basement lab, and I couldn’t blame them.
“This place is a lab accident waiting to happen,” I said, picking up a heat ray from one table and a singularity bomb from another. “And the last thing I need is ANOTHER accident.”
I warily eyed a half-completed devise that was spread out on one work station, and which definitely resembled a shrink ray. I didn’t need any more exposure to shrink rays because I still had a minor phobia of cats after what happened the last time.
With these weapons in hand, along with a pulse rifle I found, I made my way to Mom’s armory so these could be put away properly. They still needed to be tested and labeled, but that would have to wait until I had more time.
When I came back from the armory a minute later, I noticed that one of the work stations was actually clean and clear, without any of the clutter that covered all the others. Curious, I moved closer, only to see a sign posted above it. ‘AMY’S BENCH’.
“My bench,” I said in surprise.
I glanced around, half expecting Mom to jump out and yell ‘surprise’, but she was still upstairs with Beth and Kara. I looked over the bench, smiling as I did so. I was touched that Mom had thought of me this way, and that she was reserving a space in her lab just for me.
Then I thought of the parts I’d brought with and was tempted to run back to my room and grab then. I couldn’t do anything with them at the moment since I wasn’t in devisor mode, but I could set them out on my bench. In fact, this empty bench was almost demanding to be used.
“But not now,” I said.
Even if I wasn’t a devisor today, I still had Kara waiting upstairs. So, after making one more round of the lab and taking care of any obvious dangers, I went back upstairs.
“Thank you for the lab space,” I told my mom, who was sitting in the living room with Beth.
“You’re welcome,” she responded with a smile. “If you’re going to be a proper devisor, you’ll need a place to work.”
I rolled my eyes at that and reminded her, “I’m only a part-time devisor, but I still appreciate the space.”
Kara came in from the kitchen, holding a couple pizza boxes and some plates. We’d ordered pizza a little earlier and it seemed that it had arrived while I’d been downstairs.
“Dinner is ready,” Kara announced with a grin. “I slaved and slaved over it.”
“I can tell,” I responded as I snatched up a slice.
“So,” Beth asked after moving a couple slices onto her plate. “What’s been happening at Whateley since we visited?”
“Parents day was only a month ago,” I reminded her.
Mom laughed, then pointed out, “Something is ALWAYS happening at Whateley.”
I couldn’t argue with that. “Well,” I reluctantly admitted, “there’s a group of students who’ve been giving my friends and I a hard time.” But before Mom could say anything about reporting them to a teacher, I quickly added, “But we’ve been dealing with them.”
“Why are there always jerks?” Kara asked. “You’d think that people would have better things to do.”
“You’d think,” I agreed. “But last week, my friends and I decided to make our own training team.” I decided not to say anything about the Berlin incident that led to this. There was no reason to make them worry.
“I remember our training team,” Beth said, giving my mom a grin. “Liz, you remember when Kaleidoscope asked us to join, and we thought he was joking?”
“Of course,” Mom responded. “I wonder whatever happened to him…”
Beth’s grin turned into a slight frown. “Last I heard, he decided to turn villain, and the Sioux Falls League took him down.”
“That’s too bad,” Mom said with a scowl. “Steve always insisted he was going to become a hero…”
“People change,” Beth pointed out. “And not always for the better.”
While Mom and Beth continued reminiscing, Kara scooted up next to me and said, “So, tell me about these friends…”
“On my training team?” I asked. She nodded. “Well, we’re called Shenanigans…or Team Shenanigans. We haven’t quite finalized it yet.” Then I self-consciously added, “Two of the others are real pranksters…hence the name.”
“Got it,” Kara responded with a grin. “They sound like fun.”
“They are,” I agreed. “Monkeywrench and Melissa aren’t exactly sane, but they are definitely fun…”
“I like them already,” Kara said with a chuckle.
“You’ve met Sapphire,” I continued. “Darqueheart can be a little scary, but the truth is, I think she’s just really scared. Chris can be a bit thick-headed and stubborn, but his heart is in the right place. And then, there’s Alyss, who’s my best friend at Whateley. Her… She has a family member with Diedricks, and who is also a devisor, so we have a lot to talk about.”
Kara gave me an odd look. “Should I be jealous?”
I snorted at that. “Considering that she looks like she’s nine years old… No.”
“Good,” Kara responded.
Kara and I talked while we ate, and I told her a little about each of my friends, and about what my life was like at Whateley. Of course, I left a few details out, because she didn’t need to know just how weird that school could actually be…or how dangerous.
“So,” Kara finally said, giving me a knowing look. “I was thinking we should go back to your room and continue our talk there.”
My eyes darted to Mom and Beth, who were still caught up in their own conversation. I grinned back at my girlfriend and responded, “That sounds great to me.”
Portland Oregon, Thursday late morning, Nov 22nd, 2007
Novembers in Portland tended to be chilly and damp, and this morning was no exception. Today, there was a sporadic drizzle, which made me thankful that I’d brought my jacket.
I was walking through downtown with Kara and Beth, looking for a place that was open on Thanksgiving so we could get lunch. Mom should have been with us, but she was back home in her lab, working on whatever it was that got her inspiration going this morning. I had no idea when she’d be done, though I really hoped that it was in time for dinner.
“Thank you for looking out for my mom,” I told Beth. I knew that without her, the house would have been much worse than it had been, and Mom would likely have forgotten about such necessities as hygiene and feeding herself properly.
Beth just chuckled. “I’ve been looking out for her, since long before you were born. Who do you think kept an eye on her before you showed up?”
I blushed a little at that. “Well, I still appreciate it.”
A couple seconds later, a phone began ringing in Beth’s pocket. She answered it, barely saying two words before her expression turned serious. The conversation only lasted half a minute, but by the time she hung up, she had a deep scowl.
“I’m afraid I have to go,” Beth announced. “Business calls…literally.”
“What’s going on?” Kara asked, looking more curious than worried.
“Someone spotted a supervillain,” Beth responded, “and I need to help find them before they cause any trouble.”
“Maybe they’re just visiting their family for Thanksgiving,” Kara suggested.
Beth smiled faintly. “Maybe, but I’m not going to count on it.”
“What about us?” Kara asked, gesturing to me. “Should we go home?”
“You should be fine,” Beth said. “So far, all we have is an unconfirmed report for some villain who might be anywhere in the area. But if you happen to see someone in costume…other than me or one of the other heroes, you hightail it out of there.”
“Got it,” Kara and I said at once.
“Be careful,” Beth stated. “And at the first sign of trouble…”
“We’ve got it,” I told her. “And you’d better make sure you’re at the house in time for dinner, villain or no villain.”
“No promises,” Beth told me, “but I’ll do my best.”
Beth nodded at us, then turned and hurried off. I knew that once she found somewhere out of the way, she’d change clothes, activate her PK shell which made her look as though she was made of marble, and then she’d go to work as the superhero Statuesque. Then again, she might just walk around as she is now since she’d draw less attention, until she found something worth changing for.
“So,” Kara abruptly asked. “What’s your mom working on this time?”
“I’m not sure,” I answered with a shrug. “But I saw an EM core on her desk, so it may be an EMP generator or some variant of a coil gun. If she keeps it small, she might be finished before dinner”
“You can tell that just from one part?” Kara asked in surprise.
I gave Kara a wry smile. “I know how she works, and I’m pretty familiar with EM cores. As a devisor, I tend to specialize in things with EM fields.”
“Like your floating ball,” she commented.
I nodded agreement. “Rail gun, needle gun, ricochet grenade, mode shifter…”
Kara laughed at that. “That all sounds impressive.”
That just made me chuckle. “Compared to a lot of the real devisors at Whateley, I don’t even stand out. I mean, there’s one girl who has a makeup compact, that flies around and can do all sorts of crazy things, and there’s a guy who developed an entire devisor wardrobe. I don’t know how he does it, but he literally makes people sick, just by looking at his clothes…”
“Really?” Kara asked in surprise. “Doesn’t he make himself sick too?”
“He’s blind,” I said. Then, just to mess with Kara a little, I added, “And his best friend happens to be a dinosaur.”
“You’re kidding,’ Kara blurted out, now giving me skeptical looks.
I smiled at her reaction. “Like I said, Whateley is insane.”
“Now I have GOT to manifest so I can go there,” Kara exclaimed with an excited look in her eyes.
“It’s not all fun and games,” I pointed out grimly. “Last year, someone was murdered and a girl got framed for it. From what I heard, the whole thing was pretty bad. And earlier in the year, there was some kind of armed attack on the school. Honestly, it’s like there’s this giant sword of Damocles hanging over the school.”
“Now you’re making me have second thoughts,” Kara admitted.
“Well, I would like to have you there with me,” I told her with a smile.
Kara leaned forward and gave me a quick kiss before announcing, “Now, where should we have lunch?”
I paused and looked around, having already noticed earlier that nearly every shop or restaurant had a ‘CLOSED’ sign in the window. Of course, that was no surprise since it was Thanksgiving and most people had the day off.
“Well,” I said with a sigh of resignation, “McDonald’s is always open on holidays…”
“That would work,” Kara agreed without much enthusiasm.
“Or, we could go back to my house,” I suggested. “And I can make something…”
“You’re already going to be making dinner,” Kara pointed out. “So, I probably shouldn’t make you do lunch too…” Then with a wink and a suggestive look, she added, “But you’re more than welcome to make me breakfast in bed tomorrow…”
I blushed at that, but before I could respond, I saw a bright glow from the corner of my eye. Snapping around, I saw something coming towards us…someone. It was a human shaped figure, racing down the sidewalk, while a crackle of electricity surged around them.
“Watch out,” I warned Kara, pulling her back out of the way, though I was still worried about that surge of electricity that was rapidly coming our way.
“What…?” Kara blurted out.
It was suddenly a good thing that I was an energizer today, because I was able to reach out with my powers and absorb the wave of electro-magnetic energy that hit us as the figure ran past. All the electricity vanished as I pulled the energy to my hands and formed a glowing blue ball between them.
The figure suddenly stopped about ten yards away from me. Now that it was no longer moving or being hidden by the electric aura, I saw that the figure was a girl, who looked to be about a year or two older than me at most. She had shoulder-length blonde hair that was dyed-blue on the tips, and she was wearing normal street clothes, not some costume. I REALLY hoped that she wasn’t the villain Beth was looking for.
“You’re a mutant,” the girl blurted out.
“You think?” Kara asked sarcastically, eyeing the ball of EM energy that I was holding in one hand. I had been about to just release it into the air to get rid of it, but with the way this girl was eyeing me, I didn’t want to get rid of a useful weapon.
“You can’t be here,” the girl insisted. She held up her hand and electricity crackled around her fist in what was obviously intended to be a threatening gesture. “Portland is our territory.”
I gave her a wary look. “Last time I checked, Portland was a public city.”
The girl glared at me. “Look kid, I’m giving you one warning. Get out of town or the next time we meet…it won’t be pretty.”
With that, the girl turned and ran off at incredible speed, leaving a trail of crackling electricity behind her. In mere seconds, she was gone, leaving me standing there with a ball of energy in hand and nobody to use it on.
“That was weird,” Kara stated.
“Honestly,” I answered, tossing my ball of energy into the air and watching it disperse. “It’s just like every other Thursday.”
Kara gave me an odd look. “Wow. Now you’ve really got to tell me more about Whateley.”
“Sure,” I agreed with a smile. “But first, let’s go home and get lunch. I think grilled cheese sandwiches should last us until dinner.”
Portland Oregon, Thursday evening, Nov 22nd, 2007
Dinner was good. Instead of cooking an entire turkey, I baked some turkey thighs with an orange glaze and served them with mashed potatoes and a traditional green bean casserole.
“If you started your own business,” Mom said once we’d finished eating, “Mrs. Lawrence would have some real competition.”
That compliment brought a smile to my face. Mrs. Lawrence was one of our neighbors, and she not only owned her own catering business, she also happened to be my former boss and the person who’d taught me most of what I knew about cooking. I certainly hadn’t learned it from Mom.
“I’m just glad you finished your devise in time for dinner,” I told her.
I’d actually been pretty worried about that because Mom had worked through more than one holiday dinner. Fortunately, she finally came out of her lab while Kara was setting the table, so for once, she actually got to eat with the rest of us.
“This was really good,” Kara told me, gesturing at the table.
“Thanks,” I responded with a faint blush. “I do a lot of cooking for my cottage, so I’ve been getting a lot of practice.”
“Oh,” Kara abruptly said, looking to Beth. “Did you find that villain?”
“No,” Beth responded with a shrug. “I got a good description of her, but never saw her myself.”
“Her?” Kara asked. “Does she have blonde hair with blue tips, and this electric thing going on?”
Beth gave Kara a curious look. “No, but that is oddly specific.”
“We ran into a girl earlier today,” I explained with a wry smile. “She said something about this being her territory, and told me to get out…”
“As if,” Kara snorted.
“Ah,” Beth said, giving me a worried look. “I’ve heard reports of a new mutant gang in the area but haven’t run into them yet. Be careful.”
“You can borrow something from my armory if you need to,” Mom offered.
“I don’t think that will be necessary,” I told her, though I couldn’t help but thinking it might actually be a good idea. After everything I’d been through over the last couple months, I’d learned the value of having a weapon available when trouble showed up.
Once we’d finished eating, I began to clear the table while Kara quickly joined me. But before I could get started with the dishes, Beth came in and gently pushed me out of the kitchen.
“You did most of the cooking,” Beth insisted. “Your mom and I will take care of cleanup.”
“Are you sure?” I asked. I’d cleaned a bit as I worked, but there was still a bit of a mess in the kitchen.
“Positive,” Beth insisted. “You two go on and play.”
“Play?” I asked as I walked out with Kara.
Kara snickered. “What are we, five?”
“Well, I know a game we can play,” I suggested with as lecherous a grin as I could manage.
Kara laughed at that. “And if Aunt Beth wasn’t right here in the kitchen, I’d happily play. But as it is, we’ll have to make do with this…” And with that, she leaned forward and we spent the next couple minutes kissing.
When Mom came out of the kitchen, we quickly pulled apart and played innocent. Mom was notoriously oblivious so probably didn’t suspect a thing. However, the sight of her did remind me of something.
“Come on,” I told Kara as I started for Mom’s lab. “There’s something I need to take care of.”
“Cleaning the place?” Kara asked upon seeing the lab.
“I’ve already cleaned a bit,” I admitted a little defensively. “And I plan on doing more before I leave…”
“Sorry,” she said. “You really shouldn’t have to clean up after your mom…”
I didn’t say anything to that. It might not be fair, but I’d been cleaning up after my mom for my entire life. If I didn’t take care of her, who would?
“Maybe we should find her a new boyfriend,” I thought aloud.
“One who works as a butler,” Kara said as she nodded in agreement.
I went to the bench where my mom had been working today and found her latest devise, a metal cube with several small display, buttons, and dials. Mom specialized in weapons, but that wasn’t the only thing she was capable of making. However, the weapons were easier to identify what they were than some of her other creations.
“What is that?” Kara asked.
“I’m not sure,” I admitted as I looked over the devise. “I’m guessing a jammer or an EMP generator. I’ll have to ask Mom to be sure, but for now, I’m going to put it in the armory…just in case.”
“And what’s this?” Kara abruptly asked. She was pointing to the bench that Mom had reserved for me. The bench was no longer empty since several dozen parts were carefully placed on one side.
“That’s my project,” I explained rather proudly. “I’ve been collecting most of the parts I need but can’t really do anything with them until I turn devisor again.” I paused to look over the parts before admitting, “I’m still short a couple things, but that won’t be a problem around here…” I swept my arm around, indicating the lab in general.
Kara carefully examined my bench and even picked up a couple of the parts for a closer look. Finally, she asked, “So, what is it?”
“You’ll see when I’m done,” I answered with a grin.
“At least you’re not as bad as your mom,” Kara said as she stuck her tongue out at me. “I just hope that when I manifest, I don’t end up as a devisor. You guys are all crazy.”
“I’d argue that,” I replied as I started towards the armory, “but I know too many devisors.”
Once I was finished putting Mom’s new devise away, Kara suggested, “Why don’t we go to your room and get back to that game we were playing.” She gave me a broad grin and added, “I believe you owe me a rematch.”
Portland Oregon, Friday morning, Nov 23rd, 2007
Black Friday. It was the one day a year when I wanted to avoid stores at all costs. Unfortunately, this year I didn’t have a choice.
“Do you really need another gaming console?” I asked Kara.
“But I don’t have this one yet,” Kara said with a hungry grin. “And it’s on sale…”
Normally, Kara wasn’t the kind of girl who was obsessed with shopping, but for this, she was making an exception. And as her best friend and girlfriend, I was obligated to tag along.
“You can play GEO with this one,” Kara continued excitedly. “So now I’ll be able to play with even better graphics processing.”
I smiled at that since I knew how passionate Kara was about GEO. I played the game too and had a lot of fun, but I wasn’t nearly as into it as she was.
When we reached the store, we both just stopped and stared at the line, which stretched out the door and halfway down the length of the building. The store was already open too, so there was no telling how many people were already inside.
“We should have been here earlier,” I pointed out.
“I should have camped out,” Kara grumbled. “C’mon…let’s get in line.”
I let out a faint sigh and then got in line with Kara. The line moved faster than I expected, but before we even got halfway to the door, one of the store managers came out and announced that they were out of several sale items, including the game system that Kara wanted.
“That’s not fair,” Kara grumbled as we walked away, not even bothering to go inside.
“I know,” I responded evenly, though I let a little of my sarcasm slip through as I added, “They should have held one for you.”
Kara smirked. “I know, right.”
“So, what should we do now?” I asked. Then before she could answer, I added, “I don’t feel like fighting through any crowds.”
She stuck her tongue out at me. “I bet you wouldn’t say that if one of these stores was having a sale on cooking supplies.”
“Sure I would,” I responded with a grin. “Saving a few bucks isn’t worth all the time, or the risk of being trampled.”
Kara shrugged. “Party pooper. It’s getting close to lunch, so why don’t we find somewhere to eat. I bet it’ll be a lot easier than yesterday.”
We walked around for a little longer before we found a place where we wanted to eat. It was a small café that had Mexican fusion food, which sounded different and interesting.
Ten minutes later, Kara and I were sitting at a table with our food in front of us. We’d both ordered the bulgogi tacos and were sharing an order of teriyaki nachos.
“Not bad,” I said as I took another bite from my taco. “Definitely different.”
“Different is the right word,” Kara agreed. “I’m not sure I like this spicy cabbage though…”
“Kimchee,” I told her. “I think they could do with a little more meat and a little less kimchee. It’s a balance thing.”
Still, in spite of the minor complaint, I enjoyed the meal and so did Kara. The only thing missing was my mom. Between my excursions with Kara and Mom being in the lab, I hadn’t spent much time with her since coming home. Then again, I wasn’t going to complain about a little extra time with my girlfriend.
After eating, we started back to where we could catch Maxx, the train that ran through downtown and which would take us back home. However, before we’d gone far, I felt something tickling the edge of my awareness. Or more accurately, it was tickling my esper sense.
“Someone is watching us,” I said, suddenly sure of it.
“Where?” Kara demanded, looking around.
I scowled, tensing up as I did so. I was really getting tired of people coming after me. Between Dr. Smith, Archimedes, the Triangle, and those jerks at school, I starting to feel a little paranoid.
“Just because you’re paranoid,” I reminded myself, “that doesn’t mean nobody is after you.”
In spite of the fact that I ‘knew’ someone was watching us, I couldn’t see them. However, after a couple seconds, my esper power narrowed this feeling down and I found myself staring at any empty spot on the sidewalk.
“Come on out,” I ordered in an even voice.
“Now, how did you see me?” a voice demanded, right before a figure appeared in that spot.
He was tall and thin, wearing a loose flannel shirt and a knit cap. His face was covered with thick stubble that wasn’t quite enough to be qualified as a beard, though it was getting close.
“Hipsters,” Kara exclaimed in mock horror. “Why did it have to be hipsters?”
“I hang around with someone who turns invisible,” I commented, not taking my eyes off this guy. Of course, I didn’t mention that I was currently a package deal psychic, and that I’d actually sensed him with my power.
There was a burst of sparks from the side and a second later, the girl from yesterday was standing in front of us, right beside the formerly invisible hipster. “I told you to get lost,” she exclaimed. “Portland is ours.”
“Says who?” Kara snorted from beside me.
I smiled faintly at that, though I didn’t take my eyes off the two mutants in front of me. “Show me the ownership papers, then we’ll talk,” I said. “Until then, leave us alone.”
Three more people came towards us, all of them between their mid to late teens. Obviously, these were more members of that gang that Beth had told me about last night.
One of them was an Asian girl with her long black hair pulled back into a pair of long ponytails, one each side. She wore a black T shirt with a Hello Kitty logo on it and a red and white skirt. Once she stopped a short distance away, she smirked and adjusted the glasses she wore.
“Hello Kitty,” Kara joked. “Why did it have to be Hello Kitty?”
“She reminds me a little of someone I go to school with,” I commented, though that was just because of the shirt.
The next was a stocky guy with short dark hair. He was wearing a wifebeater shirt, and his exposed arms were both covered with full tattoo sleeves.
Finally, there was another girl, who looked to be older than the rest, though barely. She had tanned skin, long crimson hair, and eyes that were black and red. This girl was smirking and looking rather smug, especially with the baseball bat she was casually holding.
“Portland is ours,” the red head stated, raising the bat and then letting the end of it rest on her shoulder. “Get out. NOW!”
I made a show of thinking about it. “Naw, I don’t think so.”
Lately, I’d been getting a lot of experience dealing with bullies, and one thing I knew was that you couldn’t let them get away with it. If you gave them an inch, they’d take a yard.
“Who the hell do you think you are?” tattooed guy demanded with a snarl.
“I’m Roulette,” I answered with a faint smile. Considering the circumstances, it seemed a good idea to use my codename.
“And I’m Disintegrator Girl,” Kara added, apparently deciding to try bluffing.
There was a moment of silence as the five mutants tried to make sense of our responses. I decided to keep up the momentum while I desperately tried to think of a way out of this. We were outnumbered, and I was pretty sure we couldn’t make a run for it, not when that electric girl seemed to have low level enhanced speed.
“It’s only polite to introduce yourselves,” I said in a conversational tone. That seemed to throw them off guard even further since they’d obviously intended to intimidate us. Kara gave me a look of surprise then snickered.
It only took them a couple seconds to recover. The redhead stepped forward. “I’m Krimson…with a K.”
“Slammer,” the tattooed guy said, making a show of cracking his knuckles.
The girl from yesterday stepped forward and arcs of electricity ran across her body. “Shelly Shock.”
Hello Kitty girl held out her hands and a katana made of golden energy appeared in them. She swung the blade, slicing through the air in a dramatic fashion. “You can call me Senshi.” However, I noted that her accent sounded more Beverly Hills than Japan.
Hipster guy shrugged. “Most people call me Snooze.”
“Snooze?” Kara blurted out. “That’s a boring codename…”
“Snooze is just an old nickname from when I was a kid,” he responded with another shrug. “Codenames are just too overdone.”
“We’re the Power Patrol,” Krimson stated, “and Portland is ours…”
“We don’t allow outsiders,” Shelly Shock added.
“The Portland Power Patrol,” I said, looking from one of them to another and trying to figure out what they could do. “That’s a lot of alliteration…”
Snooze could obviously turn invisible, though I didn’t know if it was an energizer, warper, or psi based effect. Actually, since I was a psi at the moment, I would have sensed if he was messing with my mind, which ruled out psi.
Shelly Shock seemed to be some kind of energizer and low-level speedster. Neither Slammer or Krimson had demonstrated any powers yet, though Krimson looked like she might be an exemplar. And then there was Senshi, who’d shown that energy sword. Or more accurately, the PK manifestation since I could sense that it was psi based.
“Now that the pleasantries are done with,” Krimson said with a smirk. “It’s time to teach you some manners…”
Slammer stomped his foot on the ground and suddenly, there was a shockwave that sent Kara and I flying back onto our butts. The five gang members all laughed, though Krimson and Senshi both came towards us with their weapons raised.
“SHIT!” Kara exclaimed.
I thought the same thing, though kept my mouth shut and tried to focus on my powers. I’d spent enough time practicing with them that they came fairly easily, even when the pressure was on.
My telekinesis wasn’t very strong, but I was still able to get a mental grip in Krimson’s baseball bat and yank it out of her unsuspecting hands, sending it right Senshi, who let out a yelp of pain and surprise.
“Come on,” I ordered, scrambling to my feet while Kara did the same. “Run.”
“I don’t think so,” Shelly Shock said as she started to run after us. With her electric aura crackling, she ran right past us and stopped, blocking our path. “You two aren’t going anywhere…”
There was a flash of red light and suddenly, Krimson was standing beside Shelly Shock. Apparently, the redhead was a teleporter, which would make our escaping a little more difficult.
“That hurt,” Senshi grumbled as she came at us with her PK sword.
Snooze followed behind her, fading from view and turning invisible. I shifted from telekinesis back to my esper abilities so I could still sense where he was. Slammer just took his time as he came after us again too.
I frowned, quickly looking around for a way out. However, with how fast Krimson and Shelly Shock could move, it didn’t look like we’d simply be able to outrun them. And unfortunately, neither Kara or I were currently equipped to overpower them. Right then, I REALLY wished that I had my needle gun.
“Good thing I didn’t come completely unarmed,” I mused. “Disintigrator Girl,” I called out at the same time, hoping we could bluff these guys for a few more seconds in order to buy more time. “Take them out.”
Kara gave me a quick look of surprise and confusion, then quickly covered it up with an evil grin. “You’ve got it.” She smirked at the people surrounding us as she held out her hands as though to blast them. “Now you’re in trouble.”
While they focused on Kara, I reached into my jacket and pulled out the weapon I’d borrowed from Mom’s armory. It wasn’t very large, only about the size of a pistol, and it looked almost like a high-tech version of a Super Soaker water gun, with a metal canister.
“She’s got a gun,” Senshi exclaimed, right before she leapt at me.
I aimed at the ground between us and pulled the trigger. A blue liquid sprayed out, hitting the ground as well a couple pairs of feet. Almost immediately, crystals started to form over everything that had been sprayed.
“Look out,” Slammer exclaimed, stepping back, or at least trying to. One of his feet had been caught in the growing crystal mass and was now stuck in place. Both of Senshi’s feet had been caught.
Shelly Shock leapt at me, her hands sparking with electric arcs. If I’d been an energizer, this would have been easy to deal with. As it was, I didn’t want to risk getting shocked so shifted to the side, dodging her punch and being careful not to touch her. She threw a couple more punches, but she was slow and her form was bad, so I was able to keep avoiding her.
I never thought I’d say this, but for once, I was actually thankful for everything the evil midget put me through. Compared to my usual opponents in class, Shelly wasn’t very dangerous.
Krimson went after Kara, who punched her in the face, though this barely seemed to phase the redhead. This was further evidence that she was probably an exemplar, which meant that Kara had almost no chance against her.
Jumping back, I fired another shot with my weapon, this time catching Krimson and Shelly. Crystals began growing over their bodies, covering them just enough to freeze them in place.
“Let me go,” Shelly demanded.
“Come on,” I told Kara, grabbing old of her shoulder and giving a tug so she’d get the idea. Then I snapped around, aimed at the invisible Snooze, and announced, “Don’t even think about it.”
Even while this was happening, Senshi was slicing at the crystals holding her feet in place while Slammer used his powers to shatter the crystal that held his foot. I knew that it wouldn’t take long before Krimson realized she could teleport free. Since I didn’t want to wait for them to get their act together, I fired one more shot, increasing the layer of crystals before I turned and ran.
As I planned, the Power Patrol was too busy getting themselves all free to come after us, and a couple minutes later, Kara and I had lost them and were well out of sight. Only then did I relax, though not completely.
“That was awesome,” Kara exclaimed with a broad grin and a laugh. “The way you froze them…”
“Yeah,” I agreed, putting the weapon away. “Unfortunately, this thing only has enough for three shots. If they show up again, this thing is useless.”
“Damn,” Kara said, simultaneously looking worried and relieved. “Then it’s a good thing we lost them.”
“Definitely,” I agreed.
She shook her head. “Next time, I’m borrowing one of your mom’s guns…”
“Maybe a disintegrator,” I teased her, though she grinned in response.
“Good idea,” Kara agreed. “I can definitely do with a disintegrator.”
I paused for a moment, imagining what Kara could do with a disintegrator and deciding that this might not be a good idea. There was a good reason that I’d grabbed a small and non-lethal weapon this morning, rather than something more powerful and impressive.
With a sigh, I muttered, “I wish I had my needle gun…” With that and my Sapphire venom coated darts, I could have taken all five of them out in no time.
Suddenly, I froze, once again having the feeling that someone was watching us. I looked around but saw no sign of the Power Patrol, and I didn’t sense Snooze anywhere within my range. Of course, they could be outside my range, but I was still sensing someone…someone from above.
“What’s wrong?” Kara demanded. “Are they back?”
“I…I don’t think so,” I responded.
I was pretty sure that what I was feeling wasn’t one of the Power Patrol. With that, I looked up and scanned the roofs of the buildings around us. I still didn’t see anyone. Maybe this time, it was just a little paranoia making me imagine things.
“Nothing,” I said, not sure I should let my guard down just yet.
Kara nodded at that, looking around herself but giving up after a few seconds. “Well, we kicked their butts and got away, so I’m calling this a win.”
“Me too,” I agreed with a smile. “Now, why don’t we head home. Maybe we can have another rematch…”
Kara grinned broadly at that and I could see the excitement in her eyes. “You’re on.”
Portland Oregon, Saturday early morning, Nov 24th, 2007
It was too early to get up, but unfortunately, my bladder didn’t really care. I groaned as I climbed out of bed, noting that it was still dark outside. And when I checked the clock, I found myself staring at it for a good half minute before it fully dawned on me that it wasn’t quite 4 AM yet.
The bright light hurt my eyes, making me immediately regret turning it on. However, I left it on and looked around my room, letting my eyes adjust.
Home. I was back home, in MY bedroom, the one I’d used for most of my life. And even though I’d been gone for a couple months, the room was the same as I’d left it. I, however, had changed.
With that thought in mind, I looked down at myself. I was a girl, but I’d been turned into a girl before I left for Whateley. However, during my time away, I’d learned a lot of new things and had been forced to change the way I thought of myself. I’d changed, though I wasn’t sure if that was good or bad.
“It is what it is,” I muttered to myself. Some changes are neither good or bad, they’re just different.
The bathroom was just down the hall, and Mom as the only other person in the house, but I still put on my robe anyway. I’d gotten into the habit of doing that at Whateley when you never knew who was going to be in the halls, so I barely even gave it a thought now that I was back home.
After emptying my bladder, I washed my hands and looked up into the mirror. I’d been a girl long enough that I was no longer caught by surprise every time I looked into a mirror, but there were times when it still happened, like this morning. I blinked and broke the spell.
“Yep,” I joked. “Still a girl.”
I knew some changelings in Poe who took to being a girl as though they were born to it, as though it was what they were always meant to be, but I also knew changelings who hated it, and who would have given nearly anything to change back, with that Sophomore Ayla being the most notable example. I actually fell somewhere in between.
I’d been perfectly happy as a boy and had never really wanted to become a girl, but I didn’t have a problem with being one either. It was a little different than being a boy, but not at all uncomfortable. Some changelings might not understand this, but I was sure that I’d be perfectly fine either staying as I was or changing back. Did that make me a bit weird? Probably.
Of course, I did have my own problems, ones that other people wouldn’t be able to easily understand. My powers were constantly changing, making it difficult to truly master them. And then there was the small fact that my powers could kill me at any time, though after months with that danger hanging over my head, I’d become a bit numb to it. At least a little.
My thoughts turned to my bed, which was just an ordinary bed, not at all like the one I slept in back at Whateley. My bed in Hawthorne was set up with all sorts of high-tech sensors, which fed my medical information to Doyle and set off alarms if I went into a burnout. I suspected that Mom was thinking about making me something along those lines before I came home for Christmas.
Since I was already up, I performed a routine which I did every morning. I tried out my powers so I could figure out which ones I had now.
First, I tried to feel the electro-magnetic energy around me. There was nothing, which meant that I wasn’t an energizer. I tried to reach out with my esper senses, but again, nothing. And I didn’t feel nearly as strong or energetic as I would as an exemplar. That meant I was either a mage or a devisor. And since I was starting to feel an urge to work on my project, that gave me my answer.
For several seconds, I thought about going back to bed, but now that I knew I was in devisor mode, that mental itch grew stronger. I’d been waiting to become a devisor again so I could finish up my project, and now was my chance. With that in mind, I started for the stairs and my mom’s lab.
The lab was currently empty, which was a minor miracle. I wouldn’t have been the least bit surprised to find Mom already there working, but for once, she was the one sleeping.
I went to the bench that Mom had reserved for me and looked over the parts that I’d already laid out. I’d come up with the idea for this project a few weeks ago, though I’d been putting more effort into gathering all the parts I’d need over the last week. After what had happened last weekend, I gave this project a little more urgency.
“Still a couple pieces short,” I mused, feeling the puzzle putting itself together in my mind. “Fortunately, I’m in just the right place.”
Mom’s lab was full of not only extra parts, but also every tool I could ever need. So, after looking over my parts again and thinking about what I still needed, I went to work.
I had no idea how long I spent finding or fabricating the remaining parts, or how long I spent assembling them into their final form. I was so caught up in what I was doing that I completely lost track of time…and of my surroundings. All that mattered was my devise and the steps I needed to take in order to finish it.
This kind of obsessive focus is common among devisors, and often seemed to be related to Diedricks Syndrome, at least when it came to my mom. However, this kind of focus also seemed to be necessary for devisors to make the most of their power, which could be why it was so common.
Eventually, I finished putting the last piece in place and was able to look over the completed devise. I let out a sigh of relief that it was done, though I smiled with pride. Of course, I still had to test it to make sure that it really did work without any problems, but I was confident in my work.
It was only at this point that I finally noticed I wasn’t alone. Mom was standing back, watching with a proud look on her face. I had no idea how long she’d even been there.
“Hey,” I greeted Mom, self-conscious about how focused I’d been. For most of my life, I had to take care of her because she became too focused on her work to even look after herself. It was embarrassing to be on the other side of that.
“What do you have?” Mom asked, stepping closer to get a better look. Since she’d been watching me, she already knew exactly what I’d made. This was just a way to start the conversation.
“A coil gun,” I answered before giving a loud yawn.
Mom picked the weapon up and looked it over. Since she specialized in exotic weaponry, this wouldn’t be very impressive to her, but she still looked pleased.
“My rail gun has a lot of range and accuracy,” I explained, “but it’s just too big to carry around all the time. My needle gun takes care of the size problem but doesn’t have much range or punch.” I gestured to the coil gun. “This is so that I have something in between.”
“It looks well-made,” Mom told me with a nod of approval. “And I can’t wait to test it…”
I smiled at that, pleased by her compliment and eager to show it off. However, now that I was no longer obsessively focused, I realized that I was tired, hungry, and in need of emptying my bladder again.
“That will have to wait a little,” I reluctantly said. “I want to eat and get dressed first…”
“Good idea,” Mom said, though she looked disappointed.
When I left the lab a minute later, I glanced back at my Mom, wondering if she’d get impatient and test my new devise out without me. Then again, I might come back and find her in the process of making her own version, which would undoubtedly, be a lot more powerful than my own. I’d just have to wait and see.
Portland Oregon, Saturday afternoon, Nov 24th, 2007
Downtown. Again. After what had happened yesterday, I wanted to avoid downtown and the problems that came with it, namely, the so-called Power Patrol. However, I couldn’t just let these bullies win and chase me away from a public place where I had every right to be.
“We’re gonna kick their asses,” Kara announced.
“Maybe,” I responded, much less confidently. Honestly, I hoped we didn’t run into those guys again, because I didn’t want to have another fight. “But just being able to walk around here, in what they think of as their territory, is still beating them. We’re making a point that we don’t accept it as their territory.”
Kara scowled at that. “I still think we need to kick their asses good, or they’ll never learn.”
I rolled my eyes at that. “We aren’t superheroes,” I reminded her, “and it’s not our job to stop them. We’ve already told Beth about them, so she and the other heroes can deal with the problem. I’m just here to prove that I’m not afraid of them.”
“Not after what you did yesterday,” Kara pointed out with a smirk. “Your mom sure makes some fun toys.”
“They aren’t toys,” I said, giving Kara a flat look. “Trust me, once you lose your entire Lego collection because you decide to play with a heat ray, you learn that lesson real fast…”
“Well then,” Kara added with a grin. “What about your new toy?”
I absently patted my jacket and the coil gun that was hidden beneath it. My new weapon was about a foot and a half long, a lot harder to hide than my needle gun, but not impossible.
“Not exactly a toy either,” I said, giving her a wry smile.
Kara rolled her eyes at that, though I wasn’t fooled. She just wanted to try out my new weapon since she hadn’t had a chance to play around with any of my devises yet, other than the floating sphere that was the first thing I made.
“Let’s get something to eat,” Kara suggested, gesturing to a nearby crepe shop.
“I’m not really hungry yet,” I admitted. “I had a big brunch…”
With an exaggerated sigh, Kara told me, “I can’t believe you spent half the morning making that thing, and then you went and made brunch… I mean, you’d think your mom could make YOU breakfast for once…”
“You wouldn’t want my mom’s cooking,” I told her with a smirk. “The last time I left her unsupervised in the kitchen, she put some eggs on, disassembled the microwave to improve it, burnt the eggs, and then overreacted to the smoke and blasted half the kitchen with a freeze ray.”
“Oh yeah,” Kara chuckled. “I remember that.”
A couple minutes later, Kara and I were sitting at a table with our crepes. She’d ordered strawberries and cream while I went for a good old chocolate and banana. It was a nice snack.
“You know,” I mused as I took a bite, “I’m going to have to make these sometime… Team Awesome would go crazy for these…and so would this guy on my new training team.”
“Team Awesome?” Kara asked curiously.
“Imagine a group of hyperactive little kids,” I instructed. Now, give them all powers.”
“OUCH!” Kara gasped, though she began laughing a moment later.
“They’re also some of my best customers,” I added with a shake of my head. “I’d better find a new recipe or two to bribe them with. It’s about the only way to keep them under control.”
“Like how you bribe your mom?” Kara asked.
“If only,” I responded. “Hard to bribe her when she’s too distracted to even notice the smell of fresh brownies coming out of the oven.”
“Now that is seriously distracted,” Kara agreed.
When we left the café a few minutes later, I wasn’t really surprised to see Shell Shock standing on the other side of the street, watching us. It seemed that she acted as a scout for the Power Patrol, checking out their ‘territory’ for any ‘intruders’. At least, that was my assumption considering her speed and the fact that she was the one we kept running into first.
“They found us,” I said in a casual tone.
“Damn,” Kara exclaimed, glaring at Shelly.
“Don’t do anything until they start it,” I said in a casual tone. “And try not to do anything in public. I already got chewed out for that last week, and don’t feel like a repeat…”
Of course, I’d gotten off pretty lightly last week, but had a feeling that it wouldn’t happen again. If Carson had any reason to call me into her office once I got back to school, I knew that it would NOT be good. So, my best option was to not give her any reason.
“This way,” I told Kara, walking down the sidewalk.
Shelly Shock ran across the street, leaving a trail of sparks behind her, and stopped right in front of our path. Some people stopped to stare at the sight while others pretended that it was nothing unusual, though they still watched her from the corner of their eyes.
“Don’t you two ever learn?” Shelly asked.
“Not according to my math teacher,” Kara responded with a smirk.
“We warned you twice,” Shelly stated as electricity arced over her body. “Three strikes and you’re out…”
“I’m more of a bowling girl,” Kara said with a smirk. “Three strikes is good.”
I fixed Shelly with my gaze, refusing to show any fear, though I was a bit worried. Still, compared to being kidnapped and experimented on by a mad scientist, or even attacked by a small army with power armor, a few street punks weren’t really all that threating.
“Portland is my hometown,” I stated in an even tone. “I’ve lived here for most of my life, and I’m not about to get chased off by a few assholes with delusions of grandeur.”
Kara snickered at that. “This is our home, so if anyone is leaving, it’s you and your friends.”
“I don’t want to fight you,” I continued. “But if I have to, I’m not going to hold back. Trust me, you won’t enjoy it.”
“Don’t make her angry,” Kara added. “You won’t like her when she’s angry.”
“Come on, Disintigrator Girl,” I told Kara, trying to keep a straight face as I used that name. “Let’s go…”
“You aren’t going anywhere,” Shelly insisted, glowing more brightly.
“Damn right they aren’t,” Slammer announced as he came running over.
“I thought the point was to make them leave,” Senshi added.
There was a flash of red light and Krimson appeared behind us. It only took a couple seconds for the other Power Patrol members to surround us. I didn’t see Snooze but assumed that he was there too. Unfortunately, I didn’t have any way of sensing his presence today, which meant that this time he might actually be a problem.
Krimson came at me first, throwing a punch at my face. She was fast, but I dealt with faster every day during BMA, and was able to block her punch, much to her obvious surprise. The redhead might be fast, but her form was really bad. Obviously, she didn’t have any real training while Ito and Tolman were constantly pounding the basics into me. When I returned the punch, I actually hit her.
“What the hell?” Krimson gasped, jumping back and rubbing her cheek as if she couldn’t believe I’d actually hit her.
“LET ME GO!” Kara yelled, though nobody was touching her.
“Snooze,” I muttered in realization, though I was too focused on my own attackers to help her.
Slammer and Senshi threw themselves at me, but neither could really use their powers without hitting each other. Senshi had her PK sword out but didn’t dare swing it.
I kicked Slammer, catching him between the legs and dropping him to the ground with a howl of pain. I felt guilty for doing and even felt a moment of sympathy pain, though I’d do it again if it helped me survive this.
“I knew I should have stayed home,” I muttered, jumping to the side to avoid Senshi’s blade.
Shelly Shock moved towards Kara, going a lot slower than she had to, which meant she was probably being careful not to accidentally hit Snooze. At the same time, Krimson was trying to get around behind me.
“Let me go, you hipster asshole,” Kara yelled, right before she got the crystal gun free of her jacket and fired it.
Crystal began forming all over Shelly, who cried out, “Not this shit again…”
Snooze must have let Kara go out of surprise, so she immediately jumped to the side and fired another shot with the gun. Crystal began forming in the shape of a human body, or at least, the lower two thirds of one. A moment later, Snooze became visible again, though he was locked in place.
Slammer was still curled up on the ground and it didn’t look like he was going to be getting up just yet. Krimson and Senshi paused in surprise at Kara’s attack with the crystal gun, but that wouldn’t last for long. Kara and I took advantage of that to start running.
“Get back here, you chickens,” Krimson yelled, teleporting ahead of us in a flash of red light.
I knew we wouldn’t be able to outrun them when she could do that, so I’d already been reaching into my jacket and pulled out my coil gun. It was a foot and a half long, with two tubes forming the most noticeable part of the body. The top tube was the barrel while the bottom one held the ammunition, enough for eight shots.
Krimson’s eyes widened as she saw the weapon pointed at her, and a moment later, she vanished in a flash of red. Kara and I continued running, trying to get as much distance as we could while we had the opportunity.
“This way,” I told her, pointing down a short alley.
We emerged from the alley into the open area behind the neighboring store. There were a couple cars parked there, mostly from employees, though a lot of the space was left open so trucks could back into the loading docks.
“This thing is awesome,” Kara exclaimed, holding up the crystal gun. “Not as good as a disintegrator, but did you see the looks on their faces…”
“Yeah,” I agreed. “But this is less likely to get you sent to prison.”
“Maybe,” Kara agreed. “But I noticed you’ve got something good…”
“Yeah,” I agreed again, this time grinning. “But I made it myself.”
With that, I turned around to look down the alley we’d just come from. The so-called Power Patrol were all present and visible, and coming straight at us. Now was the time to act.
“Watch this,” I told Kara as I took aim and fired.
My coil gun was similar in nature to both my rail gun and my needle guns, in that it used electro-magnetic fields to fire metal projectiles. However, this one was different in that the projectiles were metal spheres, each the size of a golf ball. In fact, I’d designed it to fire the bomblets from my mom’s cluster bomb since we had plenty of those available, and plenty empty shells I could customize. Unfortunately, I hadn’t had time to customize any rounds, so had to use what was already available.
Just a second after I pulled the trigger, my shot hit the ground at the end of the alley and exploded. The Power Patrol all came to an abrupt stop as they realized that I was actually armed with something a little more serious than the crystal gun.
“I still need to tweak this thing,” I commented, though I was already planning to put a spell on it that would increase the range and accuracy. Still, I was definitely pleased by how well it worked.
The Power Patrol didn’t take the warning and charged at me again. There was a flash of red behind me as Krimson teleported. She hit me from behind before I had the chance to turn and face her. In a flash of sparks, Shelly Shock was there too, grabbing Kara. There was another burst of sparks and Kara screamed before dropping to the ground.
“A little tase will do you good,” Shelly exclaimed with a smirk.
Krimson continued attacking me, but what she lacked in skill, she made up for with speed and strength. Considering the fact that she wasn’t breaking my bones with each punch, I estimated her to be an exemplar two, or maybe only a high level one.
I tried to kick Krimson, but she teleported away so I missed. Suddenly, Slammer stomped on the ground and the shockwave knocked me off my feet. Before I could recover, Senshi rushed me, no longer wielding a PK sword. Instead, she had a PK spear.
“Oh no you don’t,” Kara exclaimed, still on the ground where she’d dropped after Shelly’s attack. She leapt up, tackling Snooze when he tried going for my gun.
Just as I was scrambling back to my feet, Senshi lunged at me and I had to move to the side to avoid being impaled. I realized that just because she could make weapons, that didn’t mean she actually knew how to use them…much to my relief.
Slammer pulled his stunt again, though I saw it coming and jumped up in time to avoid being hit. His friends weren’t quite so lucky and were knocked over.
“Call her,” I told Kara, not wanting to mention Beth by name, though I was confident she’d realize who I meant.
We’d already told Beth everything we knew about the Power Patrol, and she’d promised to look into them and their activities. However, I suspected that after they’d attacked us again, she’d be happy to move them up on her priority list.
I started to aim my gun, deciding that a second shot would be necessary. If nothing else, I should be able to drive them back and maybe even hold them off until help arrived.
But just then, I suddenly felt a flush of warmth spread over my entire body while everything began to ache. “Oh no,” I gasped in dread, knowing exactly what this meant. “Not now…”
A moment later, my legs turned to rubber and I collapsed to the ground where I began to shake and spasm. Pain tore through my body and I felt like I was about to burst into flames. I tried screaming, though all that came out was a wheezing gasp. The only thing that helped as the knowledge that this was all be over soon enough.
“What the fuck is wrong with her?” Krimson demanded.
“I didn’t touch her,” Shelly Shock exclaimed defensively.
“NO!” Kara gasped, rushing over to my side. “Not again…”
“What’s wrong with your friend?” Senshi demanded, looking a bit worried.
Snooze nodded. “That don’t look good…”
“Burnout,” Kara snarled. “She’s going into burnout again…”
“Burnout?” Slammer repeated. “Damn… That shit is nasty…”
Shelly Shock stepped back, sounding nervous as she said, “A friend of mine died of burnout…”
Snooze bent over me and cautiously said, “Maybe we should like, call an ambulance or something…”
At this point, something inside me locked into place and the seizures stopped. I remained nearly motionless, just gasping for breath as my burnout faded away. Fortunately, my burnouts usually went away just as quickly as they came. At least, until the day they didn’t.
Kara grabbed my coil gun and looked as though she was about to defend me from the gang. However, they were all backing away, no longer interested in continuing the fight.
“You really should call nine one one,” Krimson suggested.
“Are you done already?” a voice called out from above. “Boring…”
I sat up with a wince and looked for the source of the voice, spotting it on the roof of the nearby building. There was a woman crouched down on the edge, looking down on us. I had no idea how long she’d been there or what she’d seen.
The woman looked strange and not just because she was wearing a green and black costume that covered nearly everything from her neck down. She had tanned skin and long black hair that was tied up in a lot of braids, which resembled dreadlocks a bit, though metal rings were woven into some of the ends.
“You can’t be done already,” the strange woman continued. “You were just starting…”
“Who the hell are you?” Krimson demanded.
“I’m Bombastic,” she answered with a freaky grin. Her mouth was twice as wide as it should be, and all her teeth were sharp and vicious looking. She dropped off the edge of the building and landed on the ground below, as easily as if she’d jumped off a chair. “I wanna play…”
“Play?” Shelly Shock demanded. She sneered. “This is our territory, so you can get your ass out of here…”
“I really wanna play with you,” Bombastic continued, as though Shelly hadn’t even said anything. She pointed straight at Krimson, and I noticed that her fingers were all clawed and scary looking. “You’ve got pretty hair…so I’m gonna keep your head when we’re done.”
“No,” I whispered in realization. Bombastic was the villain Beth had been looking for.
Everyone stared at Bombastic, as though trying to decide if she was serious or joking. I was pretty sure that she was dead serious and knew that we had to call Beth immediately.
“Call her,” I ordered Kara. “NOW.”
Bombastic charged straight at Krimson, leaping at the redhead and slashing with her claws. There was a flash of red and Krimson was ten feet away. However, instead of being shocked by this, the villain seemed excited and gave her eerie grin again.
“Just like the glowy blue girl,” Bombastic exclaimed. “This is gonna be fun…”
“I don’t think this one is right in the head,” Snooze commented, right before he faded out of view.
The villainess just gave her twisted too-wide grin and leapt right at Krimson, who yelped and teleported away again. Shelly Shock and Senshi both charged Bombastic though, slicing through her side with a PK spear right before an electrified fist punched her.
“That tickles,” Bombastic laughed, not seeming the least bit bothered by it.
“Definitely crazy,” Slammer said, right before slamming his foot on the ground.
The shockwave knocked Bombastic back, though not off her feet. “Oooh, you’re fun…”
“I don’t like that look in her eyes,” Senshi said nervously. Her spear vanished and a PK sword appeared in her hands.
“I can do that too,” Bombastic told Slammer as she bent down to touch the ground. “BOOM!”
Suddenly, there was an explosion along the ground where she touched, which caused the pavement to shatter and fly away from her like bits of stone shrapnel. However, the same explosion sent Bombastic flying backwards, where she hit the ground and tumbled a couple times.
“WEEEEE!” Bombastic cried out before scrambling back to her feet. There were a couple tears in her costume and bits of blood, though she didn’t seem to notice this. “I wanna do it again…”
“Be my guest,” Shelly Shock responded. “Just leave us out of it…”
“She’s crazier than Melissa,” I gasped in disbelief.
“Come on,” Kara told me as she helped me back to my feet. “Let’s get out of here…”
“Good idea,” I replied as I took my coil gun from her.
However, instead of running, I found myself watching. I didn’t know much about this Bombastic, but I could tell she was bad news, and I hoped that Beth or one of the other heroes would arrive to stop her before she killed the Power Patrol.
Bombastic held out her hands and yelled, “BOOM!” again.
This time, there was some kind of force or concussion blast that shot out, obviously the same thing she’d hit the ground with. She hit Krimson right in the chest, before the redhead had a chance to teleport away. The street punk was thrown back about twenty feet while several of the other Power Patrol members were knocked over as well.
“You have such pretty hair,” Bombastic announced as she literally skipped over to Krimson. “It looks like blood. I can’t wait to play with your head…”
Snooze was sprawled on the ground, now visible since the concussion blast had sent him flying. Senshi was already getting back to her feet, though she winced as she put weight on one ankle. A pair of PK swords formed in her hands, so she obviously intended to go dual-wield. It might be more impressive though if she actually knew how to use those things.
Shelly Shock ran straight at Bombastic, with arcs of electricity shooting all over her body. However, the villainess snapped around and lashed out with her clawed fingers, hitting Shelly first.
“SHIT!” Shelly cried out as she jumped back. She grabbed hold of her shoulder, which was now torn open with several deep gashes.
“Eenie meenie miney moe,” Bombastic began, pointing from one of the Power Patrol to another. Somehow, I didn’t think that this would end very well for whomever she picked.
“Damn,” I muttered, knowing that I couldn’t just run away and leave these punks to their fate. They might have been thugs and bullies, but they didn’t deserve to get killed by some psycho villain. “I REALLY hope you called for help.”
“What are you doing?” Kara demanded.
But I was already taking aim and pulling the trigger. There was a hum from my coil gun as it fired the round, which hit the ground beside Bombastic and exploded. The force threw her to the side and left her legs torn up and bloody.
“RUN!” I yelled at the Power Patrol before turning and running myself.
“I didn’t know you were playing too,” Bombastic yelled gleefully.
Suddenly, I heard the booming sound of one of her concussion blasts shooting through the air, only a moment before it hit me from behind and sent me flying. I hit the ground face first and winced at the pain. Unfortunately, I’d dropped my weapon in the process and scrambled to grab it before Bombastic reached me.
“Amy,” Kara gasped.
“I’m fine,” I responded, jumping to my feet and snapping around. “Bruised as hell, but fine.”
The truth was, I got worse than that every day in BMA. Of course, I’d been far enough away to avoid the brunt of the concussion blast. If I’d been much closer, the results probably would have been a lot messier.
Kara fired the crystal gun at the rapidly approaching Bombastic, using up the last of its reserves to coat the villain in several inches of crystal. Since Bombastic was an immobile target, I took advantage of the opportunity to back up and take aim.
“No time outs,” Bombastic announced, right before the crystal shell exploded, sending shards everywhere.
“I really hate her concussion blast,” Kara said with a scowl of annoyance.
“How do you think I feel?” I responded, pulling the trigger.
This time, I hit Bombastic directly, and the explosion sent her flying back. Her entire front side was torn up and ruined, and if she’d been a normal human, I would have been sure she was dead…or soon would be. However, I’d already seen this woman shake off a lot of damage, so knew she wasn’t really down yet.
As I expected, Bombastic quickly began to get back to her feet. The visible damage to her face was already healing up and vanishing, right before my eyes. Obviously, she was a regenerator, and a high level one at that.
“You like to play rough,” Bombastic said with a malicious grin. “Me too…”
“Maybe we can talk this out,” I said, not sure that I should waste the rest of my rounds since all they’d do was slow her down for a few seconds each. I really hadn’t thought this through.
“You have pretty hair and eyes,” Bombastic continued, as though I hadn’t said anything. “I’m gonna keep your head.”
“I’ll keep it myself, thank you,” I responded, backing up and desperately trying to think of something.
“We’re in deep shit, aren’t we?” Kara said from beside me.
“Run,” I told her, not taking my eyes off the villain. “I’ll try to keep her distracted until Be…Statuesque shows up.”
“I’m not leaving you,” Kara protested.
Bombastic continued coming at me, taking her time as she did so. Maybe she was still hurting, or maybe she was cautious of me now. Honestly though, I suspected that she was just playing with me.
Just as I was about to fire another shot, there was a flash of red from behind Bombastic. The villainess snapped around and slashed out at Krimson, but the redhead teleported away.
While Bombastic was distracted by Krimson, Shelly Shock ran up in a flash of electricity and punched the villainess from behind. There was a burst of sparks, then Shelly rushed off again.
“Portland is ours,” Senshi exclaimed, coming at Bombastic with a PK spear, probably because it let her keep further away from those vicious claws.
“And we don’t want you on our turf,” Slammer added as he charged forward and slammed his foot into the ground. Bombastic was knocked back and right into Senshi’s spear.
Instead of looking concerned, Bombastic just gave a manic laugh. Her twisted Glasgow smile sent chills down my spine, especially with all the sharp teeth that were showing.
“Now this is getting fun,” Bombastic announced. “The only thing that could make it better was if Crucibelle was here…” She paused to look around, as though expecting Crucibelle to suddenly appear. When Crucibelle didn’t, Bombastic actually looked disappointed. Then in an almost conspiratorial tone, she added, “Her head is gonna be my favorite trophy ever…”
Snooze was sneaking up behind Bombastic, though I didn’t know what he’d be able to do against her. He was invisible, but my burnout had shifted me back into my PDP mode, so I could sense his presence.
Before Snooze could reach Bombastic and do whatever it was he had in mind, she fired a concussion blast right at her own feet, shattering the pavement and sending herself up into the air with a loud, “WEEEEEE!”
“Fucking nuts,” Krimson exclaimed.
When Bombastic landed about ten feet away from where she’d begun, she immediately launched herself at Slammer, who was the closest person. He scrambled back but her claws still grazed his forearm. She might have hit him again but Shelly slammed into her from behind, giving her another shock.
As soon as the Power Patrol had backed up enough, I readied my shot. Bombastic took aim at Senshi, but I pulled the trigger before she could fire another blast. This time though, the villainess saw me and leapt out of the way, then fired a concussion blast at me. I dropped flat to the ground and avoided being hit.
“Come on little purple girl,” Bombastic said. “Wait your turn…”
I grimaced in frustration, wishing that my friends were here instead of the Power Patrol. Alyss was tough enough that she could probably deal with Bombastic head on, while Melissa would really be able to keep her off balance. Hell, after what I saw last week, even Aegis might be able to help in this situation. But unfortunately, none of them were here.
“Use what you have available,” I reminded myself. “Not what you wish you had…”
With that, I took aim again, firing another round at the ground near Bombastic. Slammer must have seen me because he let loose with one of his shockwaves, just in time to keep Bombastic distracted until my bomblet hit and exploded, dropping her to the ground with shattered legs. I immediately followed that up with another shot, one which hit her and exploded, tearing her upper body to pieces.
“Holy shit,” Kara exclaimed.
“Nasty,” Snooze said, his voice coming from what appeared to be an empty space.
Shelly gave me a thoughtful look, probably thinking about what my weapon could have done to them. However, her gaze quickly returned to Bombastic, who was already getting back to her feet. She looked almost like some kind of horror movie zombie, though I knew that wouldn’t last for long. She was already healing up.
“Amy,” Kara said from beside me. “This isn’t working…”
“You should have borrowed one of my mom’s disintigrators,” I said, earning an ‘I told you so’ look in return.
After this, Bombastic would either decide I was a threat, or that I was ‘fun’ to play with. Honestly, I’d prefer the former, because the latter was more than a little creepy.
“This isn’t working,” I said with a grimace. “Time for plan B.”
I still had two rounds left, but I wasn’t about to use them just yet. Instead, I popped the chamber open, right before reaching into my pocket. A moment later, I pulled out a metal sphere the size of a golf ball, a bomblet shell that had been loaded with a very special load. Mom had made it for me this morning while I’d been showering and making breakfast.
“I only have one shot at this,” I said as I loaded the shell into the chamber. I REALLY hoped that this worked right.
Bombastic fired a concussion blast at me, and I dove to the side, though the force still sent me tumbling away with bruises all over my body. I dropped my coil gun in the process and frantically reached out with my telekinesis, grabbing hold and pulling it right back into my hands.
Just as Bombastic started to charge towards me, I took the shot. The round hit and splattered like an oversized paintball, covering her with a thick cream-colored goo… Then the goo began to foam up and expand.
“Please work,” I muttered.
“What the hell was that?” Kara demanded.
“Did you just shoot her with dish soap?” Krimson asked.
“Not quite,” I responded, cocking my coil gun and loading an explosive round into the chamber. However, I didn’t fire. I just wanted to be ready, just in case.
By this point, most of Bombastic’s body was covered with this thick foam, which she stared down at with a look of confusion. The stuff was no longer expanding.
“This is different,” Bombastic commented. She gave me a frightening grin. “Can you shoot glitter or cotton candy too?”
With that, Bombastic took a step towards me…and promptly slipped. She fell to the ground, and when she tried getting up, she slipped again.
“Low friction foam,” I said with a chuckle and a sigh of relief.
This stuff worked a lot like Monkeywrench’s banana peel grenades, creating low friction surface that kept the target off balance. Mom had made it for me so that I’d have at least one non-lethal round available.
Bombastic scrambled to get back to her feet, but she couldn’t get enough traction to do so. If she wasn’t so dangerous, this would have been hilarious to watch. Actually, her being dangerous actually made it funnier.
“I have a slippy slide,” Bombastic announced before she intentionally began spinning around on the ground, as though she was playing some sort of game. “WEEEEEEE.”
“Is she a supervillain or a little kid?” Senshi asked with a confused expression.
“Both?” Snooze responded.
When Bombastic finally came to a stop, she placed her hands against the ground and said, “BOOM!”
The concussion blast tore into the pavement and sent shrapnel flying…along with Bombastic herself. She hit the ground a short distance away, face first. Her costume had already taken a serious beating and was now little more than a few loose threads. From what I could see, she’d torn herself up pretty good from this stunt, though she was healing quickly.
“You’re fun to play with,” Bombastic announced as she slowly got back to her feet. She seemed a little wobbly and unsteady, but she’d knocked herself out of the slippery patch and had even cleaned most of the foam from her body. “You make the game exciting…”
“Why does that sound like a bad thing?” Kara asked.
“I’ve only got two shots left,” I told my girlfriend. “And neither are as creative as that last one.”
Suddenly, a new voice called out, “I think its time to end this game…”
I looked around, then looked up. To my surprise, Beth…Statuesque was standing on a metal platform that was floating in the air. Right beside her, on a similar platform, was an armored man, who I recognized as the superhero Zero G.
Zero G was wearing lightweight armor that was blue and grey, and which looked kind of high tech. That was no surprise, because he was a devisor, though he specialized in antigravity. I’d never met him before, though Beth had once told me that he was a bit full of himself.
Beth was currently in her Statuesque identity, which meant that she had her PK shell up, which made her look as though she was made of marble. She really did look like a living statue now, hence that codename.
“More new players,” Bombastic exclaimed, almost looking excited.
Statuesque dropped off the floating platform and landed on the ground in front of Bombastic. “You have one chance to surrender,” she announced, not taking her eyes off the villain.
“No way,” Senshi gasped. “Heroes…”
“Let’s get out of here,” Shelly suggested.
“Good idea,” Snooze agreed as he faded out of view again. “Time to disappear…”
With that, the Power Patrol quickly ran off, right back down the alley we’d all come through. It seemed that they weren’t really all that concerned about keeping the local heroes out of their ‘territory’.
However, two members of the Power Patrol stopped at the entrance to the alley and turned to face me. Krimson nodded in acknowledgement while Senshi gave me some kind of weird salute, before they both hurried off.
While I’d been watching the Power Patrol, Statuesque and Bombastic began their fight. One good punch from Statuesque and the villainess was sent flying back over twenty yards.
Bombastic slowly got back to her feet, wincing in pain, which was more than she’d done from any of my own attacks. Then again, Beth could hit hard and had probably broken several bones.
“My turn,” Bombastic announced, raising her hands for a concussion blast.
Before Bombastic could attack, Zero G shot her with some kind of devisor rifle. A flash of light hit her, and she suddenly floated up into the air…and kept floating.
“Hey, put me down,” the villainess called out as she went up. “Hey, I’m a balloon…”
“What the hell?” Kara gasped as we watched Bombastic float up into the sky, almost like she was a helium balloon that someone had let loose.
“Antigravity gun,” I commented. “Mom built one once, and I spent half the day trying to get everything down from the ceiling. I bet that thing is great for taking out bricks, or at least for getting them away from civilians…”
Statuesque looked up into the air, then turned to face me and Kara. “She’ll be up there for a good ten minutes, but Zero G will collect her before she comes back down.”
“Impressive,” I said. However, Zero G was already flying off on his floating disk, chasing after Bombastic.
“How are you?” Statuesque asked, giving Kara and I each a worried look. “Are you hurt?”
“I’m fine,” Kara quickly assured her.
I let out a sigh and admitted, “I’m pretty bruised up.” Fortunately, whenever I shifted modes, all my injuries healed, which meant that by morning, all my bruises would be gone.
“Good,” Beth said, letting out a sigh of relief. I knew that she didn’t mean it was good that I was bruised, only that neither of us had been seriously hurt. “Now, we’re going to go home and have a nice little talk about how dangerous it is to fight supervillains…”
Portland Oregon, Saturday evening, Nov 24th, 2007
“That doesn’t look good,” Mom announced as she held a bag of ice up against my bruised cheek.
“It doesn’t feel good either,” I admitted, still a little uncertain about the way my mom was mothering me. It was kind of strange since I was usually the one taking care of her.
I shifted position on the couch, wincing a little as I did so. Half my body was bruised, thanks to Bombastic, and I had a few ice packs to help with the pain.
At that moment, I really wished I was in exemplar mode since I’d at least have regeneration to take care of the bruises. In fact, I almost hoped that I’d go through one of my spontaneous micro-burnouts, just so I’d be able to heal up.
“You’re lucky that all you got was a few bruises,” Beth said. “Both of you.”
“It’s not our fault a supervillain showed up,” Kara protested. “I mean, we were trying to get away from the Power Patrol, when BAM, there she was…”
“Still,” Beth responded. “You have no idea how dangerous that woman is…”
I thought about all my bruises and also remembered the way Bombastic had threatened to play with my head. Somehow, I didn’t think she was joking about that, which made her even scarier.
“You could have been killed,” Mom added.
She sat down in her own seat and broke open a fortune cookie. Since I hadn’t felt like cooking, Mom had ordered Chinese delivery, and I got the impression that she did this quite often now.
I grunted noncommittally, careful not to point out that I was in an even scarier situation last week. Last weekend, a group of armed men, who even had power frames, tried to kidnap me and my friends. Sure, Bombastic was dangerous, but there was only one of her.
“You know,” I said to distract my mom, “my new coil gun works great…”
“Really?” she asked, giving me a look of new interest.
“That thing is awesome,” Kara blurted out with a grin. “I mean, you’ve got a grenade launcher…”
“Thanks,” I responded with a grin of my own. “It actually works pretty similarly to a Cobra linear accelerator. The big difference is, I have to custom make my own rounds and can’t just order them online.”
“Well, that sucks,” Kara agreed. “But that thing was still pretty awesome…”
“How accurate is it?” Mom asked with an eager expression. “And have you thought of alternate loads for your rounds…?”
I started to answer Mom, but Kara blurted out, “It looks kind of funky though. I mean, if you paint it orange, people will probably just think it’s a squirt gun or some other toy…”
Beth nodded at that. “Not a bad idea for camouflaging it, so you can carry it around in public.”
“Or slip it past the MCO,” Mom added.
“Maybe,” I agreed, though I didn’t like the idea of a bright orange weapon that would stand out and look garish. Then again, I could get some stickers or orange laminate, which I could use when needed and peel off afterwards. “Not a bad idea at all…”
“You could pretend it’s a marshmallow gun,” Mom suggested with a thoughtful look in her eyes. I’d seen that look before, usually right before she wandered off to go invent some new devise.
Kara looked at Beth and mused, “Too bad Zero G went and caught that crazy lady. It would have been hilarious if he just let her fall…”
“Maybe,” Beth told her, though her expression said that she was just playing along. “But scooping her up off the pavement would have been really messy…”
“And I have the feeling that she might have gotten up and walked away anyway,” I added. Bombastic shook off everything we’d thrown at her, with little more than a ‘that tickled’.
“On the plus side,” Beth continued. “Bombastic is locked up now and won’t be causing any more problems.”
It was at this point that Mom got up, muttering something about a marshmallow gun to herself. I watched without comment as she went towards her lab, forgetting about everything but her latest project. When she was done, there was no telling exactly what she’ll have made, though I kind of imagined some kind of heavy-duty machine gun that fired a thousand marshmallows a minute.
Since everyone was finished eating and Mom had wandered off, I began to clean up the living room, grabbing the empty food cartons and taking them to the garbage. Kara jumped in to help, taking the leftovers so they could be put in the fridge for later. Once we were finished with the cleaning, the two of us went back to my room.
“It’s too bad you’re leaving tomorrow,” Kara said as she flopped down onto my bed. “I mean, you just got back…”
“Yeah,” I agreed. “It’s been a pretty busy couple of days, but I’m not really ready to go back quite yet…” I closed my eyes and groaned. “And I have to leave before the sun even comes up, which means, I’m not getting much sleep tonight…”
“You can sleep on the plane,” Kara said with a smirk. A moment later, she sighed. “I just wish I was going with you…”
“Me too,” I admitted. “I really wish you were at Whateley too…”
Kara grimaced in obvious frustration. “I keep waiting to manifest as a mutant. I mean, Aunt Beth and Uncle Phil are both mutants, so it runs in my family… I still have a good chance.” She sounded like she was trying to convince herself more than anything. “But I am starting to get a little worried.”
I reached over and gave Kara a comforting hug. “Whether you manifest or not, you’re still my favorite girl.”
Kara laughed at that. “Cheesy line, but you get points for effort.”
“Then I demand a rematch,” I announced with a smirk. “I’ll earn the rest of my points the old-fashioned way…”
With that, I leaned forward and kissed my girlfriend, thinking again about how great it would be if she came to Whateley. After all, if she was there with me, we could do this all the time.
“Home run,” Kara gasped when we pulled apart. Then she smirked, “But that was only the first play, and we have a few more innings to go…”
“Then I guess we’d better keep playing,” I responded before we began kissing again. I only had a limited amount of time left, and I didn’t want to waste a minute more of it worried about silly things like the Power Patrol or random villains. This was a LOT more fun.
Whateley Academy, Sunday early afternoon, Nov 25th, 2007
I was back on campus. So far, it had been a long day, starting with me getting up at o-dark-hundred so I could catch my flight. Once I landed in Boston, I hopped the train to Dunwich, and finally, the shuttle back to campus.
“A nap,” I muttered as I walked towards the Hawthorne entrance with my bags in hand. “I definitely need a nap.”
With that, I shifted my luggage, which was all pretty light at the moment, courtesy of my being an exemplar. When I reached the cottage entrance, I found Mrs. Cantrel waiting there in her hoverchair.
“Welcome back, Amy,” Mrs. Cantrel greeted me. “Did you have a nice trip home?”
“It was nice seeing my family again,” I answered.
“Did anything interesting happen?” she asked.
I hesitated for only a moment before answering, “No more than usual.”
Mrs. Cantrel chuckled at that. “Then I’m almost afraid to ask.”
I just shrugged at that. “Well, I only burned out once, so that was pretty good…”
A flash of concern passed over her face but quickly vanished. As the housemother for Hawthorne, Mrs. Cantrel frequently saw people who were worse off than I was, like Puppet, who was not only poisonous to everyone around her, but who couldn’t even leave her bed. Now that was a girl I felt sorry for.
“Oh, before I forget,” Mrs. Cantrel told me. “There’s a seminar this afternoon on how to deal with the MCO, and while it isn’t mandatory, I am suggesting that everyone go.”
“A seminar?” I asked in surprise. “On Sunday…of Thanksgiving weekend? That doesn’t seem like very good scheduling.”
“It was on very short notice,” the housemother responded, though her expression suggested that she agreed with me.
I talked to Mrs. Cantrel about this for another minute, then continued on inside. As soon as I reached my room, I dropped my bags on the floor and plugged my charged batteries into my recharge station. Then I began to unpack, at least I unpacked my coil gun.
When I’d gone home, I’d left behind all my devises so the MCO wouldn’t give me any trouble, and so they wouldn’t disappear from my bag. However, on the way back, I took some different precautions covered my devise up with orange and yellow laminate so that it looked like a toy.
“Nice,” I said, pleased that my plan had worked. “But I don’t need it right now.”
I quickly pealed off the laminate, then set my coil gun to the side. Then I picked up my needle gun, switched out the battery for a fully charged one, just in case, and made sure it was loaded. Once it was ready for use, I slipped it into its holster, which I clipped to my belt.
“Now I’m ready to go,” I mused before leaving my room to see who else was around.
Adore was in the day room, sitting in front of the TV. There wasn’t anyone else in the room, which meant that she was able to watch the news without anyone else complaining.
“How was your holiday?” I asked.
The very sight of Adore was enough to turn me on, which was to be expected since she was some kind of super sexy succubus. I quietly reminded myself that I had a girlfriend, though it could get hard to remember that kind of thing in Adore’s presence. I just imagined how much worse that effect had to be for all the guys around campus. I made a mental note not to ever let Kara meet Adore, or any of the exemplar girls in Poe.
“Fine,” Adore responded, though she didn’t bother looking at me.
Since Adore wasn’t in a talkative mood and it was a little awkward to just be around her at the moment, I went and knocked on Sapphire’s door. There was no answer, so she probably wasn’t back yet.
“Not smart holding a lecture when a lot of students haven’t returned yet,” I said with a shrug. Still, the fact that they were holding this seminar anyway, said something about it. I just didn’t know what.
The seminar was being held in a large classroom, and when I arrived, I saw that it wasn’t even filled. Still, enough students had shown up to make it worth holding. In fact, there were even a few teachers present as well.
“I guess teachers have to deal with the MCO too,” I thought aloud.
Once I took my seat, I found myself sitting between Martina from Poe, and some girl named Nemesis. I’d first met Martina during my brief stay in Poe, and since she was Alyss’ current roommate, I ran into her pretty often. However, Nemisis barely gave me a glance, so I didn’t think I was missing anything.
A couple minutes later, Mrs. Carson walked up to the front of the classroom and looked around at the audience. I couldn’t tell if she was pleased by how many students had come, or disappointed that there hadn’t been more.
The headmistress began, “Everyone present has had some experience dealing with the MCO. They issue our MIDs, provide a security check point at airports, and of course, many here have had unpleasant experiences with them.”
There were some brief mutterings and nods of agreement from the various students around me. Personally, I’d been lucky enough to avoid a lot of the MCO problems that others had complained about, though I wasn’t stupid enough to think that they’d never be an issue. I’d heard way too many stories about the MCO since coming to Whateley.
“Regardless of your personal opinions on the MCO,” Mrs. Carson continued, “as mutants, dealing with them is a fact of life. Because of that, I have invited an expert to Whateley in order to speak on the subject.”
Mrs. Carson gestured to the side, where a man entered the room and walked up beside her. He was tall and athletic looking, with short cropped dark hair that was turning to gray. This newcomer wore a dark suit and projected an air of stern professionalism.
“Hey,” I gasped in surprise, sitting up a little more in my seat as I did so. “I know him…”
“Let me introduce Miles Wylann,” Mrs. Carson announced. “An agent from the MCO’s internal affairs division.”
I knew this MCO agent, though I hadn’t known his name until just now. A couple months ago, after I’d been kidnapped, this was the guy who’d come to arrest the people responsible. And instead of harassing me, he’d been polite, professional, and even helpful. Not at all what I would have expected from someone with the MCO.
Wylann started talking, though several students immediately began heckling him. That was no surprise though, because this was probably the only time in their lives that they’d be able to mouth off to an MCO agent without facing serious consequences.
Just then, a girl called out, “Hey Dad, you never told me you were coming…”
I did a double take at that, as did a lot of the other students. Then I realized that the girl was Gwen from Poe. Gwen Wylann. Everyone around campus knew that she worked for the MCO, but now that suddenly made a lot more sense.
After this, the rest of the lecture went a lot better for Wylann, and at the end, he even received some applause. And for an MCO agent to actually get applause at Whateley, was damn near a miracle.
“That wasn’t at all like what I expected, based on what Mom said,” Martina commented. “Gwen’s dad doesn’t seem so bad.”
“He helped me out last August,” I told her with a faint smile. “A total professional.”
As I stared back towards Hawthorne, I made a mental note to talk to Gwen about her dad. A lot of people had been giving her a hard time since everyone found out that she worked for the MCO, so she might appreciate hearing something positive instead.
I shook my head as I considered the fact that I had barely returned to Whateley, and I’d already been hit with something strange and unexpected, this seminar. Then again, Whateley was full of constant surprises, some good and some not so good. That was just the way this place was.
“Yeah, I’m definitely back,” I wryly commented.
In a way, I was glad to be back at Whateley since this was where most of my friends were, and it was where I was learning to make the most of my abilities. But at the same time, I already missed my home and the family I’d left there.
“But I won’t have to miss them for long,” I reminded myself with a smile. “After all, Christmas is next month.”