Round and Round (Part 3)
A Whateley Academy Adventure
Round and Round
Pennsylvania. Friday, Sept 28th, 2007
The diner where Jackie and I were having breakfast reminded me a great deal of the one my Dad owned. It was a little larger and better decorated, though the food wasn’t quite as good. Still, being here made me feel just a bit like I’d come home.
In spite of being in a comfortable place and having a full belly, I still felt out of sorts. I guessed all the stress from everything that was going on had finally caught up with me.
“Are you okay?” Jackie asked me with a look of concern.
“Yeah,” I responded, giving her a reassuring smile that was just a little forced. “I don’t know. I’m just ... ” I shrugged, not sure how to explain it.
“It’s been a pretty rough couple of days,” Jackie told me gently. “You aren’t used to this kind of thing.”
“How do you get used to it?” I asked her.
Jackie was silent for a moment before answering, “My time at Whateley helped me a lot. I learned most of the skills I need to survive and I gained a lot of ... unconventional experience. After four years of that craziness, everything else seems almost tame in comparison.”
My eyes widened at that and I blurted out, “And that’s where you’re sending me?”
“Trust me,” she assured me with a laugh. “You’ll be fine there. It’s a bit strange at first, but well worth attending.”
I nodded at that, knowing that she and Emily both seemed to think that their time there had been worth it. Of course, that was where they’d first met up and I was sure that had something to do with it.
“Before we get going again,” I told Jackie with a sigh. “I need to go empty my bladder.”
“Don’t fall in,” she warned me with a smile as she pulled out the cash to pay our bill.
I got up and went to the bathroom, pausing at the two doors before going into the one marked for ‘ladies’. It said something that I still had to stop and think about it for a moment, but I suspected that it would be a long time before I automatically thought of myself as female. Fifteen years of being a guy couldn’t be forgotten that easily.
When I went into the bathroom, I still felt that faint awkwardness, that vague fear that someone would point out that I was walking into the wrong one or call me a pervert. Intellectually, I knew that was absolutely ridiculous because I definitely looked female, in fact, my entire body was undoubtedly female. However, telling that to my emotions and slowly fading sense of male identity was something else.
I glanced at my reflection in the mirror and absently ran my fingers through my hair to straighten it up a little. Then I stared at my very distinct eyes, knowing that they immediately gave away the fact that I was a mutant. A pair of sunglasses hid them when I was outside, but I couldn’t always do that while inside. I would just have to be careful to avoid eye contact with people.
A few seconds later, I went into one of the two stalls and dropped my pants. However, as I sat down, I suddenly realized that my panties were wet, and it wasn’t because I’d pissed myself.
“Oh shit,” I blurted out, shocked by the sight of blood in my panties. There wasn’t a lot of it, but it was definitely there.
For a brief moment, I just sat on the toilet, feeling terrified as I thought about the fight with the MCO yesterday morning and thinking that I must have been hurt without even realizing it. But then my rational mind kicked in again and I realized that wasn’t it at all. Even if I had been injured, which I hadn’t been, my regeneration would have taken care of it by now. No, this was something far worse.
I tried to remain calm and practical as I emptied my bladder and then used a wad of toilet paper to line my panties. After all, it wasn’t like I hadn’t known this was coming at some point. I was a woman now and had known that sooner or later I’d have to get my monthly visitor, though I’d actually avoided thinking about that fact quite well until now.
After a few more minutes, I left the bathroom and returned to the table where Jackie was waiting for me. I must have had a bad look on my face because she immediately gave me a worried look.
“What’s wrong?” Jackie asked me, her eyes darting around as though expecting the MCO to charge in at any moment.
“I think that depends on your perspective,” I responded, trying to keep the bitterness from my voice.
Jackie gave me a curious look. “Okay,” she encouraged me to explain.
“I think ... I think we need to stop for some supplies,” I told her, blushing brightly and unable to meet her eyes. When she still didn’t get it, I stared at the floor and muttered, “I’m bleeding ... ”
“Don’t worry about it,” Jackie told me. “Your regen will take care of it in no time. What happened?”
“Not that kind of bleeding,” I told her with a wince. Then I took a deep breath, feeling even more embarrassed as I added, “The monthly kind.”
Jackie’s eyes widened at that, and for a brief moment, I thought she was going to burst out laughing. However, she refrained from doing that, though I could tell it took a bit of effort. Instead, she gave me a sympathetic look.
“I should have expected that,” Jackie finally said, giving me a faint smile. “I’ve got some supplies in my bug out bad. Wait here and I’ll go get them.”
Jackie hurried out to the car, then came back with pads, tampons, and a pair of clean panties from my own bag. The two of us went back into the bathroom, then to my embarrassment, she proceeded to describe how to use them, as though I was too stupid to figure that out myself. Still, as long as she was helping me rather than teasing me, I could be patient and pay attention.
It was with more than a little discomfort and disgust that I stuffed the tampon up my yoo hoo. The very act of doing so felt completely unnatural and wrong, but I reminded myself that I was just going to have to suck it up and get used to it.
“Man up and deal with it,” I quietly told myself. “Or is that woman up?”
Once I’d finished up and left the bathroom, Jackie gave me a gentle smile and said, “I guess this explains why you’ve been so moody.”
“Bite me,” I responded, which seemed to amuse her.
“Dana,” Jackie said, putting her arm around my shoulder. “Trust me, I know that you’re not exactly happy about this, but it is part of being a woman. In fact, having your first period is a rite of passage for women, so I think this calls for a celebration.”
“I don’t exactly feel like celebrating,” I admitted self-consciously.
“Most of us don’t,” she agreed.
A minute later, Jackie and I left the diner and returned to the car, but just as we reached it, I suddenly felt the now familiar pressure in my head. I paused to look around for the source, then realized that there was more than one source. I could feel the pressure coming from several different directions at once.
“Oh shit,” I blurted out, looking to Jackie and exclaiming, “I think we’re in trouble.”
“What do you mean?” she asked, suddenly looking alert.
Just then, a voice called out, “Halt evildoers.”
Jackie and I both looked up at Super Star, who was floating in the air a short distance away. Jackie glared at her in annoyance and asked, “Evildoers? Really?”
The other mutants I’d sensed appeared as well. One was a man in some sort very old fashioned green suit that included a long coat and wide brimmed hat. He leaned on a gold metal cane, looking distinguished and very confident.
“The Gentleman,” I muttered, recognizing him from the files that Jackie had given me on the Liberty League before we’d left. She said it would be a good idea to know who we might run into and what they were capable of. From what the file said about the Gentleman, he was some kind of magic user. Of course, those files also suggested that we wouldn't have to worry about the Liberty League once we were far enough away from Lake Michigan and the area where they normally operated.
Standing a short distance away from the Gentleman was an auburn haired woman in a long purple dress, which looked like it might have come right out of the Victorian era. However, there were odd bits of bronze metal all over her outfit and she held a very odd looking bronze rifle in her hands. Her file said that she was called the Bronze Lady and was a devisor with a steampunk obsession. It also mentioned that she was married to the Gentleman.
The next member of the Liberty League was Adonis, a six and a half foot tall man with bulging muscles and the square jawed good looks that you’d expect of someone with that name. Jackie’s file said that he was a brick, an exemplar six who was very strong and tough. The file also said something else about him, but I couldn’t remember quite what.
Force Majeure was a black man in a black and gray costume with silver metallic trim. His file said he was some sort of avatar ... whatever that was, and that he was the strategist of the team.
And according to the files that Jackie had shown me, the Liberty League should have had one more member on their team, a size warper called Ginormous. I didn’t see her, but there was a petite Asian girl in a black and gold costume instead. Since the files didn’t mention this girl, it was obvious that they weren’t completely up to date.
”My common sense is tingling,” I told Jackie as I nervously looked at the super heroes who surrounded us. “It says we should get our butts out of here.”
“I agree,” she responded grimly.
“So you’re Pinball,” Force Majeure stated. “Super Star has told us all about you.”
“And I’m sure she was completely unbiased,” Jackie responded sarcastically.
“We’ve got you now, Pinhead,” Super Star exclaimed smugly. “It’s just like you to steal a car that the owner had LoJacked.”
Jackie glanced to the car and scowled, obviously cursing her pick in stolen cars. I was just cursing my general luck, especially my luck today.
“Surrender now and this won’t have to get difficult,” Force Majeure told us.
“Please do surrender,” the Gentleman commented pleasantly. “I really dislike having to fight ladies such as yourselves, but I will if my hands are forced.”
Jackie snarled, then glanced to me. “Only if you let my sister go. She has nothing to do with my activities.”
“You don’t have a sister,” Super Star blurted out accusingly.
At the same time, Force Majeure responded, “That isn’t for us to decide. We’re taking you both into custody.”
“You know what to do if we get separated,” Jackie told me, obviously not about to surrender. I nodded in understanding and a moment later, both of us formed our force field bubbles.
Jackie rolled right through where the Gentleman and Bronze Lady were standing, removing her civilian clothes in the process and revealing the costume she wore beneath them. In just seconds, she was fully costumed up and in full Pinball mode.
The Bronze Lady and Gentleman both dove to the side to avoid being smashed by a giant force field sphere. The Bronze Lady opened fire with her odd looking bronze rifle, firing energy blasts at Jackie to no effect.
Super Star flew straight at Jackie, punching at her force field, though Jackie didn’t stay still long enough to make this easy. Jackie rolled through the parking lot while Super Star chased after her.
While Jackie was doing that, I tried to fly away, but I hadn’t escaped the attention of the Liberty League. The Asian woman gestured and suddenly a blast of green energy shot straight towards me. I saw it coming in time to dodge aside. But to my surprise, her energy blast actually changed direction in mid-air and slammed right into me, or at least into my force field.
“I’m called Twist,” the Asian woman introduced herself, firing another green energy blast.
“Sphere,” I responded in order to be polite.
I avoided Twist’s energy blast again, but it changed direction in the air and continued coming at me. I flew away from it, dodging it several more times but it continued to change course and follow me until it hit me again, knocking me back. And while I was trying to think about what I was going to do, another blast of hers hit me, this time from above. It actually forced me back down towards the ground.
“I’ve got you, pretty lady,” Adonis exclaimed, jumping up and actually catching my force field sphere ... and then spiking it straight into the ground with me inside.
My force field absorbed the impact and kept me from taking some serious damage, but I lost concentration after the impact and it vanished. Adonis stood over me with a confident grin, looking quite pleased with himself.
“I really don’t like having to fight with such a pretty young thing,” Adonis said, reaching out with his hand to help me up. “Instead, why don’t we just ... talk.”
I just stared at Adonis, suddenly feeling very warm, flushed, and excited. He was so big, and strong, and handsome, and ... perfect. In fact, he was the most beautiful person I’d ever seen and I wanted him. I wanted him to kiss me ... to make love to me. I wanted him to make me into a real woman. Without even thinking about it, I reached out and accepted his hand and let him help me to my feet.
As soon as I touched Adonis’ bare skin, I felt the tingle that told me that I’d just copied his powers. That sparked something in the back of my mind, reminding me of exactly what his powers were. Not only was Adonis an exemplar six, he also had some kind of psychic power that only worked on women.
I was suddenly filled with anger and disgust at what I was feeling ... and the fact that he was doing that to me. I wasn’t sure if it was just the knowledge that this was his power affecting me or if copying his powers had given me some degree of resistance to them, but I was no longer under his influence. Instead, I was PISSED.
I screamed in rage, which seemed to surprise Adonis, but not nearly as much as when I kicked him between the legs as hard as I could. He was a lot stronger and tougher than me, but I was still pretty strong and my kick was enough to immediately drop him to the ground. However, that wasn’t enough and I gave him another swift kick as well.
“You fucking bastard,” I screamed, feeling completely violated.
I was about to kick Adonis for a third time but Force Majeure came charging towards me. For a brief moment, there was the ghostly image of a cougar around him, then he suddenly leapt at me with his hands extended like claws. I barely got my force field up in time to block his attack.
“Surrender villain,” Force Majeure demanded.
“VILLAIN?” I screamed in anger. “I haven’t done anything wrong, but your buddy there just gave me a psychic roofie. What kind of sick bastards are you?”
While this was going on, I finally noticed that Jackie was still dealing with her own opponents. The Gentleman did something, and her force field vanished, much to Jackie’s obvious surprise.
“I’ve got you now,” Super Star exclaimed, flying straight at Jackie. “And I remember full well Pinball, that if I’m close enough to you, you can’t keep me away with your force field.”
As soon as Super Star grabbed Jackie, Jackie grabbed her arm and twisted, sending the hero straight into the pavement. Super Star immediately jumped back to her feet, apparently unharmed. However, Jackie suddenly lashed out with her foot, kicking Super Star in the stomach and knocking her back.
Jackie’s force field popped back up and she exclaimed, “It’s times like this that I’m actually grateful for everything that evil midget put me through in class.”
I didn’t have time to continue watching Jackie’s fight though as I still had my own to deal with. Force Majeure lunged at me again, moving with incredible speed and agility. He kept trying to slash at my force field with his hands, though it wasn’t doing much good.
Suddenly, Force Majeure had the ghostly image of a grizzly bear surrounding him, though it faded after only a moment. Still, the hero was now standing with different body language than he’d had before. He suddenly lashed out at my force field again, but instead of trying to claw through it, he hit it with an immense amount of force, enough to knock me back and slam me into the side of a car.
“Oh shit,” I exclaimed, dropping my force field and forming a small bubble in front of me, then sending it flying straight at Force Majeure.
“I think not,” Force Majeure stated, jumping to the side and avoiding my attack.
For a brief moment, I was afraid of what he was going to do to me, but then I realized something. I grinned and decided to learn from Twist’s previous tactic, willing my sphere to change direction and come right back at him, hitting him from behind.
“You little bitch,” Adonis snarled as he got back to his feet, looking pissed.
Without saying a word, I formed a bubble around Adonis, then sent him flying straight up as high as I could until my bubble was out of reach and vanished. As he plummeted back towards the ground, I reformed my own bubble, just in time to avoid being blasted by Twist.
“I’ve got it,” I heard Jackie yell out, drawing my attention to her.
To my surprise, Jackie was at our stolen car with her backpack in hand. She pulled something out that was a metal sphere about the size of a volleyball.
“I’ve got my secret weapon,” Jackie exclaimed. “The ace I’ve been keeping up my sleeve just in case of such an event ... ”
Jackie’s opponents all hesitated for a moment, looking momentarily worried. But when nothing happened, they started coming at her again. Jackie quickly rolled away, or at least tried to because the Bronze Lady threw some sort of bronze colored sphere which exploded and formed a metal net that pinned Jackie down, though only for a few seconds.
“I don’t think so,” Jackie said, scowling in concentration until her bubble tore loose from the net.
“That was a marvelous idea, my dear,” the Gentleman told his wife before pointing his cane at Jackie. “But I believe I may be able to improve upon it.”
Suddenly, tendrils of energy burst out of the ground and wrapped around Jackie’s bubble. She was obviously trying to escape these bonds the same way she had the Bronze Lady’s net, but she wasn’t having nearly the success.
I was worried for Jackie, and as I was about to try helping her, Twist fired another blast of energy at me. Then she stood outside my bubble, grinning at me almost evilly. Suddenly, there was a swirl of green light next me, and then Twist was standing right beside me inside of my sphere.
“Surprise,” she exclaimed as she punched me. “I’m a teleporter.”
Twist hit pretty hard, but I was stronger and tougher than I used to be and she didn’t seem to be any stronger than a normal person. I punched her back, saying, “Surprise, I’m an exemplar.”
Twist blocked my punch and hit me back several times in rapid succession. I might be stronger and a bit tougher than her, but her punches still hurt and were going to leave bruises, at least until my regeneration could take care of them. I tried punching her a few more times, but it quickly became obvious that I was outmatched. I might be stronger, but she was definitely a better fighter.
My fight against Twist was definitely not going well, and after several minutes I was hurting pretty good. I suspected that she was taking it easy on me at this point, at least a little. I also suspected that she was just showing off and trying to make me see just how outmatched I was.
Then I grinned, feeling the powers I’d gained from Adonis wear of, not that they’d done me much good. I couldn’t copy his exemplar powers at a strong enough level to overwrite the ones I already had, so I hadn’t even gotten his exemplar abilities. And though I’d probably gotten a weak version of his psychic power, the idea of using that on Twist just made me feel dirty.
“Surprise,” I exclaimed, suddenly teleporting a short distance away, courtesy of the powers I’d copied while punching her. “I’m a power mimic.”
With that, I tried using Twist’s other power and fired a blast of gold energy in her general direction, though it would have missed her even if she hadn’t teleported in a swirl of green energy. I willed the blast to change direction the way I did my sphere, and it cooperated hitting Adonis just as he was starting to get back to his feet again.
“And stay down,” I called out to him.
I was a bit surprised by how powerful that energy blast had been since when I copied someone else’s powers, or at least anyone beside Jackie, I got a much weaker version of them. Damocles had told me that I’d only get a level 1 or 2 version of their power, but that blast had seemed about as powerful as the ones Twist had fired.
Force Majeure charged straight at me again, but when I tried to summon my force field, it didn’t come. I gasped in surprise as he hit me, sending me flying back to where I hit the pavement.
My whole body felt bruised and I was scared, almost as scared of these so called heroes as I was of the MCO. I didn’t want them to kill me while thinking I was some kind of villain, or nearly as bad, sending me to prison for the rest of my life.
I struggled to get back to my feet desperate to get away. But then I glanced to Jackie, knowing that I couldn’t just run away and leave her. She’d saved me too many times for me to abandon her to these people.
With that, I willed my force field bubble to form again, but there was a heavy resistance for a moment, then it suddenly popped back into place. I let out a sigh of relief at that, then realized that Twist’s powers were gone. This was the first time I’d ever lost my own powers when I’d copied someone else’s, and the first time I’d ever been able to end that copy early.
Just then, the metal ball that Jackie was holding began to beep. I stared at her, seeing a look of intense relief on her face. Then, she dropped her force field and jumped out from the cage of energy tendrils that the Gentleman had been using to keep her locked in place.
“It’s gonna blow,” Jackie called out, throwing the sphere and then ducking for cover. I followed her example and ducked down while inside my sphere.
When nothing seemed to happen after several seconds, I hesitantly raised my head and looked around. Then I cautiously asked, “Where’s the Earth shattering kaboom?”
I didn’t know what Jackie was up to with that secret weapon, but there hadn’t been any sign of an explosion or much of anything else. However, a moment later a familiar voice called out, “Stand and deliver.”
Pennsylvania. Friday, Sept 28th, 2007
The Highwayman stood atop the wreckage of a car that had been damaged during the fight, looking exactly as he had the last time I’d seen him. Though he wasn’t wearing a mask, his face was still obscured by both his tricornered hat and the collar of his long white overcoat. Each of his hands gripped an odd looking weapon that looked like some kind of ray gun.
“Stand and deliver,” Highwayman had called out a few seconds earlier, the same thing he’d said while helping to rescue me from the MCO. He looked to Jackie and commented, “Another rescue mission. I certainly hope this doesn’t get to be a habit.”
“Well, I do appreciate you coming,” Jackie responded with a chuckle. “Even with your rates.”
Highwayman chuckled at that, then looked at me. “I see that you’ve changed a great deal since last we met. You are quite the lovely young lady.”
“Flattery will get you everywhere,” Jackie told him with a grin.
Then I looked to the other newcomers who’d arrived with Highwayman. There was a huge man in metal dark gray armor who looked like some kind of high tech knight. It was only the massive glowing red energy sword in his hand which identified him as Damocles. Of course, the fact that Salt and Pepper were standing behind him didn’t hurt either.
The last member of the group was a woman with dark gray skin and glowing green eyes. She wore a costume that was mostly black, though she had a dark green cloak on as well.
“Pinball,” the gray skinned woman said, her voice cold and raspy. “With this assistance, my debt to you is paid.”
“Agreed, Hexfire” Jackie responded.
“What is this?” Super Star demanded as she and the rest of the Liberty League stared at the newcomers with suspicion and obvious hostility.
“Just a little ace I had up my sleeve,” Jackie commented with a grin. “In case I ran into more trouble than Sphere and I could handle on our own.”
“This isn’t an ace up your sleeve,” I blurted out. “It’s a full house.”
“Retreat now,” Damocles ordered the heroes. “This doesn’t need to escalate any further than it already has.”
The gray skinned woman whom Jackie had called Hexfire snorted in distain. “Speak for yourself, engineer. I will not waste my time merely coming here to pose and preen.”
I wasn’t sure who made the first move, wither it was the Liberty League or these newcomers who’d suddenly appeared, but suddenly everyone was in motion. Jackie and I immediately called up our force fields, just to avoid getting caught in the crossfire if nothing else.
Salt and Pepper were both holding energy rifles of some sort and firing them while the Bronze Lady fired back with one of her own. The Gentleman pointed his cane at Hexfire and a ball of fire shot out towards the gray skinned woman, but then a disk of blackness appeared between them and blocked the fireball.
“A fellow practitioner,” Hexfire commented with a scary smile. “Yes, one to test my skill against. This venture may prove interesting after all.”
Force Majeure suddenly had a ghostly image around him that looked like a samurai, complete with full armor. Then as the samurai’s image vanished, a glowing katana appeared in his hands. The hero charged right at Damocles, who blocked his attack using his own massive sword.
Jackie flung herself at Super Star again, slamming into the hero and sending her flying back. Of course, Super Star was immediately back on her feet, then flying at Jackie and punching the force field to try breaking through.
Highwayman opened fire with his ray guns, firing blasts of red energy at Adonis from each of them. The blasts didn’t seem to hurt Adonis, who slowly moved closer and closer to the mercenary.
“We can’t have that,” Highwayman commented, dropping one of his ray guns and reaching onto a pocket. A moment later, he threw a gold metal ball at Adonis, which then stuck to the hero’s chest. When Adonis tried removing the ball, it exploded, severely damaging his costume but not seeming to have done much to him. “Well,” Highwayman added a moment later. “That was disappointing.”
Twist turned her attention back to me, and once again she teleported inside of my force field and delivered a series of punches that caused me to drop my force field. I swung at her, no longer feeling the least bit guilty about trying to hit a girl. Not only was I a girl now myself, but she was REALLY starting to piss me off.
“Go away,” I snarled at Twist, forming a bubble around her and sending her flying back. However, she teleported out of the bubble and reappeared a short distance away. From the look on her face, she was starting to get tired. I wondered if that teleporting thing took more effort than she was trying to let on.
“Turn yourself in, Sphere,” Twist ordered me. “If you do, we’ll go easy on you.”
“Yeah right,” I spat out. “That’s what the MCO said before they beat the crap out of me and tried to make me disappear.”
I was sore and getting tired, but I couldn’t quit now. I formed a small force field bubble in front of me and sent it flying at Twist. She jumped aside but I turned my bubble around in mid-air and had it come right at her back. Turnabout was fair play.
“I don’t think so,” Twist said as she jumped out of the way.
A moment later, Twist fired a blast of green energy at me, and though I could have called up my force field, I jumped aside instead. While I was doing that, I had my own bubble change direction and go at her again. The two of us spent a minute just dodging and redirecting our own attacks. She wasn’t teleporting very much now which reinforced my suspicion that she was running out of steam.
Twist and I both paused, taking a brief break by unspoken agreement. I watched her, wondering why my powers had behaved different when I’d copied hers. Then again, my force field had never been a perfect copy of Jackie’s either.
I may have gained a permanent copy of Jackie’s powers, but mine were definitely a little different from hers. For one thing, my force fields were golden rather than looking like soap bubbles, and for another, I could do a few more things than she could. And whenever I copied someone else’s powers, I usually kept my force field ability and only gained a weak version of the other person’s powers.
“Why would Twist be different?” I muttered to myself.
Then it dawned on me. Twist was an energizer as well, and until now, Jackie had been the only energizer I’d duplicated. My exemplar and regeneration abilities were almost a perfect match for Jackie’s, but my energizer powers weren’t. Maybe it had something to do with my own energizer abilities.
I suddenly had an idea, though I didn’t really have any evidence for it. What if my natural power wasn’t just being a power mimic? What if I’d actually had some energizer ability of my own as well, and when I copied Jackie’s powers, it interacted with what I would have been able to do already? After all, I’d been glowing with that golden energy before I’d ever imprinted on Jackie.
“That’s it,” I said, feeling excited and becoming sure that my guess was right.
If that was the case, when I copied Twist, my energizer powers were able to interact with hers, giving me energy blasts that were about as powerful as hers were rather than a much weaker version. Of course, that seemed to have diverted those energies away from the force fields, at least briefly.
However, I couldn’t think about this anymore because Twist had apparently decided that our momentary truce was over and suddenly launched herself at me again. I formed my force field and lifted myself up into the air above her. She responded by firing another blast of energy, which followed me as I attempted to dodge it, then slammed into me, sending me flying back. I was barely able to keep my force field up.
While my bubble was floating in the air, I looked around for Twist and any other threats. From a short distance away, I saw Super Star, who looked like she was about ready to dive bomb Jackie. I changed directions and flung my force field right into Super Star.
“I hate these stupid bubbles,” Super Star snarled, turning around and punching my force field with an immense amount of force. She knocked me back, then flew above me and slammed the top of my fore field with an even stronger hit, sending me smashing right into the ground. After my force field absorbed most of the impact, it vanished. Super Star landed beside me and picked me up. “I’ve got you now ... ”
“And I’ve got you,” I said, grabbing her face with my bare hand and trying to mimic her powers. But to my surprise, I didn’t feel anything. My powers weren’t working on her. Maybe it had something to do with her being a PK Supergirl, however that worked, but I wasn’t able to make contact enough to copy her abilities. “Oh shit ... ”
“Oh no you don’t,” Jackie exclaimed, running up and grabbing Super Star by the arm, then throwing her right into Adonis. “Don’t you dare touch her ... ”
“Thanks,” I said, shaking badly. I was sore, tired, and not sure how much longer I could do this.
“You have to get out of here,” Jackie told me firmly. “Don’t worry about me. I’ll catch up with you later.”
“But I can’t leave you,” I protested, offended that she’d even ask me to do that. After everything she’d done for me, I couldn’t just leave her like this.
Jackie just smiled at that and gave me a hug. “Remember the plan. I’ll meet you at rendezvous C.”
With that, Jackie formed her force field and threw herself right through Super Star and into Adonis. She bounced right of Adonis and ran right through Force Majeure, who was still in the middle of a sword fight with Damocles.
“None shall defeat the mighty Damocles,” the armored man yelled out, no longer seeming like the calm and controlled man who’d done my power testing. Instead, he was more like he’d been the first time I met him, when he’d been ranting about not being a doctor. At the time, he’d said it was his Diedricks Syndrome acting up. “You will fall before my unbeatable sword.”
“Damocles,” Force Majeure exclaimed in realization. “I should have known ... ”
“Of course,” Damocles exclaimed with a laugh. “All should know the mighty Damocles ... ”
“I also know you used to be quite active in mercenary circles,” Force Majeure responded. “Before you disintegrated your own arm while trying to take out Champion ... Or was that before you accidentally had a death ray blow up and nearly kill you?”
“I’ve heard of him,” Super Star added. “He used to have a real reputation for always getting away ... ”
“Of course,” The Bronze Lady exclaimed in an English accent. I was pretty sure her file said that she was actually born and raised in Oklahoma. “They say he used a teleportation device so whenever he was caught or defeated, he would automatically teleport away.”
“That explains how they got here,” I muttered, just in time to move out of the way from one of Twist’s attacks.
“According to what I’ve heard,” The Bronze Lady continued, “Damocles uses a beacon device to hold him at the location he is teleporting to. When the beacon is destroyed, he was automatically snapped back to his starting location ... ”
“Oh shit,” Jackie muttered as the heroes finally figured out what her secret weapon really was.
A moment later, Adonis grabbed the metal sphere from where it had been resting on the ground and crushed it between his hands. As soon as he did so, Damocles, the Highwayman, Salt, Pepper, and Hexfire all vanished. Once again, Jackie and I were alone against the Liberty League.
“RUN,” Jackie yelled at me in desperation, even as she began rolling at the heroes one after another, playing a game of pinball in the parking lot and trying to keep them occupied.
I was scared and desperate so did what Jackie instructed and started to fly off, though I felt guilty for leaving her like that. Suddenly, Twist was within my fore field again, hitting me in the solar plexus. I let out a grunt of pain and dropped my force field, leaving me and Twist to both fall to the ground.
“You’re not going anywhere,” Twist said, jumping on top of me and pinning me to the ground. I was strong enough that I could have thrown her off, but she held a hand to my face, warning, “One move and I blast you.”
“Just leave me alone,” I demanded, though I was afraid of this hero, who only seemed a few years older than me. I doubted that she was even twenty yet. “I didn’t do anything ... ”
“I know Pinball kidnapped a boy,” Twist snarled. “Where is he? What did she do with him?”
I was surprised by this sudden demand and gasped, “What?”
“David Michaels,” Twist demanded. “What did Pinball do with him? Where is he?”
I glared at Twist defiantly, but when her hand began to glow, I blurted out in anger and fear, “He’s right in front of you.”
Twist looked confused by that and I took advantage of her distraction to knock her off of me. I got to my feet but I was weak and unsteady, not to mention being an emotional mess.
“Pinball never kidnaped me,” I spat at Twist. “She saved me ... When I manifested in the bank, she got me out of there so the MCO wouldn’t blame me. When my Mom gave me to the MCO for being a mutant, she was the one who rescued me from them.”
“YOU’RE David?” Twist gasped in surprise.
“I WAS,” I snarled at her. “Not anymore ... And don’t you dare blame this on Pinball ... She’s the one who took me in and protected me time and time again, not you so called heroes and your psychic roofies ... ”
As I stood there glaring at Twist, I knew that I didn’t have the energy to keep fighting back. First my period, then being attacked by the Liberty League, followed by Adonis’ psychic roofie and the disturbing things he’d made me feel, and now I was about to be arrested as an accomplice to kidnapping myself. Today absolutely SUCKED.
“At least it can’t get any worse,” I muttered bitterly.
Just then, a familiar voice called out, “This is Agent Owens with the MCO. You’re all under arrest.”
Pennsylvania. Friday, Sept 28th, 2007
I slowly looked around, feeling a cold knot forming in my stomach. It had been bad enough when Jackie and I had just needed to escape from the Liberty League, but now we were completely surrounded by the MCO as well. Agent Owens stood there with his SWAT gear, along with another eight agents who were similarly dressed and heavily armed. However, on top of that, there were six more MCO agents in their power armor, two of which were in different models of armor than what I’d seen before. These two power suits were about twice the size of the other ones and looked much more heavily armed and dangerous.
“Surrender now,” Owens called out on a bullhorn. “You are all under arrest. Get down on the ground with your hands behind your heads.”
“We have the situation under control,” Force Majeure called out to them, obviously angry at the MCO’s intrusion. “We were just taking Pinball and her associate into custody ... ”
“Get down on the ground, mutants” Owens repeated firmly. “You are ALL under arrest. We will not allow you to further endanger human lives. This is your last warning.”
“Stand down,” Force Majeure yelled at Owens. “We’re operating under the authority of the FBI. You don’t have the authority to interfere in this operation.”
One of the MCO agents who was standing beside Owen smirked and said, “It looks to me like the mutants are resisting arrest.”
“Oh shit,” I gasped in realization. “This is NOT good ... ”
“You can say that again,” Twist commented from a short distance away.
“Oh shit,” I repeated with a forced smile, trying to cover my fear with a joke. “This is NOT good.”
Owens looked over everyone present with a cold firm look in his eyes. When his gaze settled on me, he sneered faintly, showing that his dislike of me had definitely become personal. A moment later, he called out, “Take them into custody.”
At that, most of the MCO agents began to approach, weapons drawn and pointed at the heroes as much as at Pinball and me. Jackie and I both formed our force fields and started to take off but the MCO agents opened fire.
“Oh no you don’t,” Twist exclaimed, teleporting inside my force field and grabbing hold of me again.
Jackie slammed into one MCO suit of power armor and then ricocheted off to slam into one of the larger ones. I ended up dropping my shield as I traded punches with Twist and got my butt kicked again. I didn’t know where she learned to fight, but she definitely knew how to do so a LOT better than I did.
“Just leave me alone,” I yelled as I managed to shove Twist off of me again. I staggered back to my feet, barely getting my force field back up in time to protect me from MCO gunfire. I gasped and muttered, “All I want to do is get to Whateley so I don’t have to deal with this crap anymore ... ”
Twist got back to her feet a short distance away from me and stared at me with a look of surprise. She looked like she was about to come at me again when she noticed one of the MCO power suits approaching. With a scowl, she turned and fired a blast of energy at the power suit and was quickly caught up in the fight with the MCO, giving me the opening I needed to escape.
I was about to make another run for it when I saw one of the MCO agents taking aim right at the Bronze Lady’s back. With a grimace, I formed a force field around her, just in time to keep her from being shot from behind. She snapped around in surprise and confusion, though I dropped the force field a moment later so she could shoot back at her attacker. I created a new shield around one of the power suits and used it to fling him right at one of the other power suits.
“Chester, come here,” the Bronze Lady called out.
A moment later, a bronze clockwork spider that was nearly four feet tall scampered up to her and then it crouched down. The metal spider’s back opened up and the Bronze Lady reached within, pulling out a new weapon. It looked sort of like a steampunk version of a grenade launcher.
“Thank you Chester,” she told the spider. “That will be all for now.” And with that, the spider scampered away, at least until one of the power suits opened fire on it and blew it up. The Bronze Lady suddenly looked very angry. “You horrid brute ... ”
The Bronze Lady opened fire with her antiquated looking weapon, firing some kind of sphere at the power suit which exploded into metallic netting that wrapped around him. She then began opening fire on the MCO agents in SWAT gear, taking out each one she hit.
At the same time, Adonis was fighting hand to hand with one of the large power armors and Force Majeure was trying to take out one of the smaller power armors. Super Star was flying in the air, going hand to hand with one of the smaller power suits, then she slammed it back towards the ground.
“You fools,” the Gentleman cried out angrily. “We had the villains contained ... ”
He pointed his cane at the other large suit of power armor and called out something in a language that didn’t sound the least bit familiar. Suddenly, the armor shell began to crack and crumble away, revealing the baseline human MCO agent who’d been piloting it from within.
Jackie bounced around the battlefield, hitting one power suit, knocking over several men in SWAT gear, and rolling over a car and briefly going airborne, only to land on the head of another power suit. I watched her with a sense of amazement and pride, determined that I was going to follow her example. With that, I summoned one of my smaller spheres and sent if flying at the MCO agents, hitting one, then bouncing it off and sending it flying at another. My single sphere bounced all around the battlefield under my control, smacking into nearly every MCO agent present. I missed about half of the time, proving that I still needed a lot of work on my control, but I hit enough of them that I felt like I was actually contributing to the fight.
I was a little confused at the realization that Jackie and I were actually fighting right alongside the same heroes that we ourselves had been fighting just a few minutes ago, but the MCO had proven themselves to be our common enemy. The MCO didn’t seem to care that the Liberty League was working with the FBI, only that they were mutants. I suddenly wondered how I ever could have bought into that their propaganda or believed their TV show was actually how things really worked. One thing I’d definitely learned lately was that the good guys and the bad guys weren’t necessarily who I’d previously thought.
Suddenly, there was a flash of red light and Adonis screamed and fell to the ground with a large hole right through his chest. A second blast of red light caught Jackie, sending her flying back where she smashed through several cars with her force field vanishing before she came to a final stop.
I stared at Jackie in desperate fear, then quickly looked around for the source of this attack. Several of the MCO agents were operating some sort of energy cannon that was set up on a tripod. They were aiming at Jackie for another blast, one that was certain to kill her if she didn’t have her bubble up.
“No,” I cried out, throwing a bubble around Jackie, just in time to prevent her from behind hit by the blast, though a single shot was enough to knock my bubble out.
Then I felt a burning pain through my thigh and dropped to the ground with a scream. I grimaced, already knowing that I’d been shot. It felt the same way as when I’d been shot in the shoulder, and when I looked around, I saw that it came from the same source. Agent Owens had a gun pointed right at me and he was taking aim for another shot.
“Oh no you don’t,” Jackie yelled, staggering towards me with one arm hanging limp and her face being covered with blood. When Owens fired, she jumped between us, taking the bullet instead.
“Jackie,” I cried out, trying to get back to my feet.
“I’m fine,” she told me with a wince and a forced smile. “Bulletproof uniform ... ” Then after a moment, she admitted, “But not bruise proof. And I think that hit back there broke a rib or two ... ”
“I don’t think so,” Super Star cried out, suddenly landing next to the energy cannon just as they were about to take another shot at Jackie. Super Star grabbed the cannon and threw it right at the back of one of the MCO power suits. “You aren’t killing anyone else ... ”
Twist suddenly appeared beside Owens, tearing the gun out of his hand and then punching him in the face. He snarled and punched back, but she was obviously a better fighter and easily blocked his attack.
“Hitting an agent of the MCO in the course of his duties,” Owens started, looking almost pleased, probably at having another excuse to be able to go after mutants legally.
“No,” Force Majeure exclaimed as he grabbed Owens. “You’re under arrest for the murder of Adonis, interfering with an FBI sanctioned operation, and several more counts of attempted murder ... ”
Owens just gave him a look of disdain, then said, “Don’t pretend for a moment that he was an innocent, or that any of you are. You mutants are a danger ... a threat to real humans. I know all about those sexual assault charges your friend managed to slip out of last year. You can all pretend to be heroes all you want, but I know better.”
“I think it’s time for us to go,” Jackie told me with a grim look. “Before they remember we’re here.”
“But you’re hurt,” I reminded her, wincing at the pain in my own leg.
“Tis but a scratch,” she joked, wincing as she did so. “Besides, I’ll heal. We just need to get away from here first, and I can’t bring up my shield again yet ... ”
I nodded at that, not sure that I had enough energy to bring my force field back either, though I was damn sure going to try. With a bit of effort, Jackie and I were surrounded in my golden bubble and then we began to take off.
“They’re escaping,” the Bronze Lady called out in warning, firing a short at my force field though it bounced off without harming us.
I flew Jackie and me away from the parking lot as fast as I could but Super Star called out, “I’ll get them,” and flew right after us.
“Take her out,” Jackie told me. “I’ve got an idea.”
With that, Jackie had a look of concentration and I suddenly realized that she’d formed her own force field bubble right inside of mine. I understood what she was doing so dropped my bubble and formed a new one around Super Star, caging her in place. Without my bubble holding us up, Jackie and I fell to the ground, but her bubble absorbed the impact and we continued racing down the street like a couple hamsters in a ball.
“That won’t last long,” I reminded Jackie. “Once I’m out of range ... ”
“We don’t need long,” Jackie told me. “We just need an opening.”
Jackie pulled us off the street and into an alley where she dropped her bubble. She dropped to her knees with a wince, obviously in a lot of pain. I could certainly sympathize because my leg hurt like hell and I wasn’t sure I could really stand on it much less run.
“Stay hidden for now,” Jackie told me firmly. “Once it’s safe, make it to the rendezvous and I’ll meet up with you there.”
“What?” I asked in surprise, feeling just a little hurt. I suddenly remembered my Mom’s expression when she turned me over to the MCO and couldn’t help but feeling that sense of abandonment again. “You’re leaving me?”
Jackie put a hand on my shoulder and looked me in the eyes. “No, I’m leading them away from you. I’ll meet up with you again once I’ve lost all pursuit ... ”
I stared at her, suddenly feeling more worried for her than for me. “But you’re hurt,” I protested. “You’ll never get away from all them ... ”
Jackie chuckled at that, then gave me a grin. “I’ve been doing this for a few years now and know a couple tricks to help me get away. Trust me, I’ve still got an ace ... or at least a jack or two up my sleeves.”
“But,” I started to protest again, though I wasn’t sure I even had a specific argument. “I don’t want them to catch you,” I told her, grabbing her in a hug.
“Don’t worry about me, kid,” Jackie told me gently. “You saved my life back there and got hurt because of it. I’m not about to risk you any more than I absolutely have to. I’ll take the danger on this bit by myself, but you have to stay safe.” Then she gave me a smile and said, “You’re my little sister now. It’s the least I can do.”
I reluctantly nodded at that, then asked, “You promise you’ll be back?”
“I promise,” she agreed.
I suddenly thought of Becky and how she never trusted a promise unless it was properly sealed. I grinned and asked, “Pinkie promise?”
Jackie chuckled at that, “Okay. Pinkie promise.”
We crossed fingers to seal the promise, then Jackie moved back and reformed her force field. “Be careful, sis,” I called out to her. “If you don’t meet me there, I’ll tell Emily you were staring at that blonde waitress back at the diner.”
“Anything but that,” Jackie joked as she began rolling away. “She’ll never forgive me for not bringing her pictures ... ”
With that, Jackie was gone, leaving me bleeding and alone in an alleyway. I winced in pain, knowing that I’d heal from the gunshot, but that there was still a chance I’d bleed out. I tore my shirt to make a bandage, focusing on my problems one at a time. Bandage my leg so I didn’t bleed to death. Get to safety so I had a chance to heal without getting caught. Find food since I was starving and was really going to need the calories and nutrition for my healing. And of course, I’d have to find my way to the rendezvous point to meet up with Jackie.
Just then, Super Star’s voice called out, “Now where did that Pinhead go ... ”
“It shouldn’t be difficult following her trail,” Twist responded as she appeared at the opening to the alley.
My heart stopped as Twist turned and looked down the alley ... and straight at me. I was too hurt and drained to fight her anymore, but it appeared that I didn’t have much of a choice. Her expression was grim and she just stared at me for a moment before nodding slightly.
“She obviously went his way,” Twist said, pointing down the street where Jackie had gone. “See the trail of dented cars?”
Twist and Superstar hurried after Jackie, leaving me stunned and confused. Twist had definitely seen me, but instead of trying to take me in, she’d actually let me go.
“I’m just a little fish,” I reminded myself with a grunt of pain as I slowly got back to my feet. “She threw me back and is going after the big one.”
After bracing myself to deal with the pain in my leg, I began hobbling my way down the alley, away from where Twist and Super Star had just gone past. Twist might have chosen to throw me back into the lake for now, but I didn’t want to take a chance that she’d change her mind and come back.
Pennsylvania. Friday, Sept 28th, 2007
The stench from the alley was strong enough that it would have been enough to knock me off my feet if I hadn’t already been sitting down. There was a large dumpster a short distance away from me, filled with the garbage from a Chinese restaurant and smelling as though it hadn’t been emptied in about a week.
I was sitting in an alley that was about two blocks from where I’d last seen Jackie, just a little over an hour ago. When I got here, my leg was hurting too much for me to go any further, at least not without using one of my force field bubbles to transport me. And since I was trying to avoid the kind of attention that would bring, I’d settled down here to heal.
My wound had stopped bleeding a long time ago, and though it still hurt, I no longer had to worry about it reopening either. However, I was also feeling the effects of using my power so much during that fight and then having to heal myself. I was very tired but also extremely hungry. In fact, I felt like I was starving, so much so that I’d even been tempted to look in that dumpster for any food that was still edible. Jackie had warned me that when I healed myself, my body would need extra energy and nutrition or it might start cannibalizing itself. That was a problem I was going to have to deal with very soon.
I looked down at myself, specifically, at my torn and filthy clothes. My pants were soaked in blood, which was bound to draw unwanted attention. I’d had a spare set of clothes in my ‘bug out bag’ along with some energy bars that would have helped with the food issue. Unfortunately, I’d been forced to leave my backpack behind, just like I’d previously lost the rest of my luggage.
“Good thing Jackie was prepared,” I muttered with a sigh, knowing that I never would have thought about preparing for this kind of situation.
With that, I lifted the leg of my pants and revealed a Velcro wallet that was strapped around my ankle. I reached in and pulled out two hundred dollars, all in twenties, along with a folded up sheet of paper. The paper was a list of possible rendezvous sites where Jackie and I could meet in case we ended up getting separated. The plan was that we’d be able to meet up again at the closest one at the list.
“Food, clothes, and meeting,” I said, reminding myself of my goals.
The first thing I needed to do was get something to eat. Since I was no longer in danger of bleeding to death, I got up and left the alley, then went to the first fast food place I saw. I bought a dozen burgers, then found an out of the way spot to scarf them down. That definitely took the edge off my hunger, though I knew that I’d need more to eat before long. Still, it gave me enough breathing room to take care of my other needs.
I found a nearby thrift store and went inside, pausing as the sales woman and two customers all turned to stare at me in shock. I made sure to stare at the floor so that none of them got a good look at my eyes. “Um ... my boyfriend beat me up,” I said awkwardly. It was the only thing I could think of at the moment that would explain my ragged state and blood soaked pants.
“You poor thing,” the sales woman exclaimed as she rushed over to me with a look of horror on her face
I suddenly realized that I’d just made a big mistake with that story since the police or an ambulance were bound to be called. “It’s not as bad as it look,” I said with a forced smile. “He was getting a bit rough so I broke his nose and he bled all over me ... ”
“Good for you,” one of the customers, a middle-aged woman stated with a nod of approval.
“I just need some clothes so I don’t scare my Mom when I go home,” I said, feeling a little more pleased by the explanation.
The sales woman wanted to help me more, but I spent a minute assuring her that I’d be fine on my own. It was difficult to do when I didn’t dare look her in the eyes. Fortunately, she seemed to think that I was just embarrassed, which finally convinced her to give me some space.
I quickly looked through the used clothing, finding several items that would fit me, even if I wasn’t particularly thrilled with the style. The only shirt I found that was even halfway suitable had pictures of kittens on the front. Fortunately, they did have a jacket in my size so I grabbed that and a baseball cap as well. The sales woman let me change into my new clothes in their bathroom, which also gave me the opportunity to wash up in a little in the sink.
While I was washing up and getting changed, I was reminded of unfortunate fact that my gunshot wound wasn’t the only place where I was bleeding. And as much as the idea disgusted me, I obviously had to replace my tampon which meant buying some more. I shuddered at the very thought.
A short time later, I was fully dressed and walking into the coffee shop across the street. After grabbing a large caramel mocha and a couple snack pastries, I braced myself and then went to my next stop ... the convenience store. Walking to the checkout with a box of tampons and some sanitary napkins was a humiliating experience and I was blushing bright red as I hurried out of the store as quickly as I could.
“I can’t believe this,” I muttered to myself as I went into a McDonald’s in order to use their restroom to change out my tampon. “Disgusting. I’ll never tease a girl about her period again ... ” I shuddered at that, suddenly feeling guilty for all the jokes I’d ever made on the subject. “NEVER again.”
Changing out my tampon was absolutely disgusting, though at least when I was done, I was able to grab some burgers from the restaurant before leaving. At this point, I decided that it was time to start heading to the rendezvous point. I had no idea when Jackie might be able to meet me there, but I wanted to get there as soon as possible anyway.
Rendezvous C, as Jackie had it listed on the sheet of paper she’d given me, was a freeway rest stop. It was also far enough away that there was no way I could walk there, at least not without a couple days of extra time. Fortunately, I had the funds available for a little bus ride.
“Please let her be all right,” I muttered to myself, still worried about Jackie. I really hoped she’d be able to get away from the Liberty League because I didn’t know what I’d do if she got caught. I had no delusions about my ability to break into their secret headquarters, wherever that was, and take them all down to rescue her.
I had to walk around for awhile before I found the bus station, and by then, the pain in my thigh was starting to fade. In just a few more hours, there’d be no indication that I’d ever been shot. Yet again, I was suddenly very thankful for my regeneration power. It was quickly proving to be my favorite power. As much as I liked flying through the air in my glowing bubble, I liked being able to stay alive even better.
There were no busses that happened to go straight to the rest stop, but that wasn’t a problem. I just needed to get fairly close and I’d be able to hand the rest of the transportation by myself. By then, my powers should have rested and recovered enough to be usable again. After buying my ticket, I sat down on a bench to wait for my bus, thankful for the chance to get off my feet. My leg might have been healing ridiculously fast, but walking around town with a bullet hole through it still wasn’t a lot of fun.
While sitting there, I sipped on a cup of cheap bus station coffee and careful looked around to see if there were any signs of the MCO or the Liberty League. I’d tucked my long hair down the back of my jacket and wore a baseball cap to hide my distinctive hair, and a pair of cheap sunglasses kept anyone from noticing my eyes. Still, after everything that had happened lately, I’d learned to be a little paranoid.
When a guy who was about eighteen or nineteen sat down on the bench beside me, I immediately stiffened. I watched him carefully from the corner of my eye while trying to appear as though I wasn’t. He had been staring at me with a smirk that I really didn’t like so I had a feeling that he was biding his time in order to hit on me. The very thought made me feel a little nauseous.
“Hey,” he finally said. “What’s a cute thing like you doing in a place like this?’
I rolled my eyes at that, having expected something like that. However, I’d also come up with a cover story for whenever he finally did talk to me. “I’m waiting for my Dad. He should be here any time.”
“Cool,” the guy said, a faint hint of suspicion in his voice. “What’s he do for a living?”
I could have said ‘cop’ or ‘lawyer’ to try scaring him away, but those answers would have been too obvious and suspicious. Instead, I answered, “Sanitation engineer.”
I tried putting a note of pride in my voice as I told him that my Dad was a garbage man. A garbage man might not seem like a very threatening job, but I bet they really knew how to make bodies disappear. Apparently, my seat companion was thinking along the same lines because he didn’t bother me again for several more minutes.
My seat companion kept making looks at my chest, making me glad that I’d bought the jacket since it helped cover things up a little more than the kitten shirt would have. After several minutes, he finally introduced himself. “I’m Chaz.” He gave me a speculative look that was clearly sizing me up. The barely contained sneer sent warning bells off in my head.
“I’m not interested,” I told him coldly.
“Let me guess,” he continued to speak anyway. “Dressed the way you are, I’m guessing ... homeless. A runaway. I bet things were really bad at home. I can help you, if you give me a chance.”
His comment about my being a runaway because things were bad at home did hit a little too close, but I kept my expression as calm as I could. I might be pretty new to the whole girl thing, but I wasn’t born yesterday, nor was I as gullible as Chaz seemed to think. I wasn’t sure what he wanted specifically, but I had a few ideas and none of them were good.
“My common sense is tingling,” I muttered to myself, getting a blank look from Chaz. Then I gave him a cold glare, which he couldn’t really see through my sunglasses, and said, “Like I said, I’m not interested.”
With that, I got up and started for the restroom, deciding that I might as well empty my bladder before my bus arrived. And when I was done, I’d go find another seat well away from Chaz and whatever game he was playing. I wasn’t sure if he just wanted to get into my pants or if it was something worse, but I didn’t intend to stick around and find out.
After I’d gone into the restroom, I let out a faint sigh of relief, glad to have gotten away from that creep. However, that sense of relief vanished when I looked around and saw how dirty the restroom actually looked. I probably wouldn’t have cared much if the boy’s restroom had been this messy, but the fact that that I could no longer stand up to do my business changed everything. There was no way I wanted to sit on one of those seats.
I was just about to turn around and leave, when I saw Chaz walk in with a determined look on his face. Since this was the girl’s restroom, he was either too dumb to read, or even see the obvious stick figures that had been on the door, or he was up to some serious no good. I would have put down a twenty that it was the latter.
“You didn’t tell me your name,” Chaz said with a smirk. “That was extremely rude of you.”
“I’ll tell you what,” I responded with a sneer. “I’ll make it up to you by letting you have first go at the stalls ... ”
“That’s not how you’re going to make it up to me,” he said, suddenly grabbing me by the shoulder and bending in to give me a kiss.
I was caught completely by surprise, then I was horrified and disgusted. I felt ... violated, much the same way I had after Adonis had used his powers on me. And then, I was pissed, though Chaz didn’t seem to realize it.
“This is your lucky day,” he told with a smirk, having a firm grip on my shoulder.
Chaz tried to push me back into a wall, but instead, I grabbed his shirt and lifted him off the ground with one hand, much the way I’d seen Jackie do to the security guard at the bank. Chaz gasped in surprise and confusion while I used my free hand to remove my sunglasses so he could get a good look at my golden eyes.
“I’ve had a VERY bad day,” I snarled at him coldly, staring right into his eyes and seeing the look of fear as he realized I wasn’t exactly the helpless victim he’d thought. “I started my period, fought the Liberty League, practically got raped by a super hero, got SHOT by the MCO, and now while I’m going to meet up with my super villain big sister, some asshole decides to mess with me.”
“Oh shit,” Chaz blurted out as he obviously realized the huge mistake he’d made in coming after me.
“I’ve had a VERY shitty day,” I told Chaz with an evil grin. “But not as much as yours is about to be ... ”
I suddenly caught the scent of fresh urine as Chaz pissed himself, though that was only the start of things. He began screaming before I ever got him close to the filthy toilet and he continued doing so throughout the swirlie.
When I left the bathroom a few minutes later, I was actually feeling just a little better. Something about being able to let out all my frustrations like that had been rather satisfying. For the first time, I could really understand the allure of being a super villain, of being free to take your anger out on someone who deserves it. And at that moment, I think I understood Jackie a lot better.
My bus had arrived while I’d been busy in the bathroom so I didn’t have to wait long before I was on the road again. Riding on the bus may have given me more legroom than when I traveled in the car with Jackie, but the company wasn’t nearly as enjoyable, especially with the creepy old guy who kept staring at me.
It took me over an hour and a half to reach my stop, a small town that was just a small hop to the rest area where I was supposed to meet up with Jackie. Once off the bus, I made a quick stop at the KFC across from where I’d been let off, then I found a place behind some buildings where I wouldn’t be seen and formed my force field. A moment later, I was going up into the air and heading to the rest stop as quickly as I could.
I arrived at the rest area a short time later without any difficulties. I’d flown low and tried using trees as cover to prevent many people from seeing me, especially once I got close to my destination. Once I arrived, I sat back and ate my chicken while waiting for Jackie.
I was just starting on my second bucket of chicken when Jackie arrived, driving a beat up old pickup truck. She climbed out of the truck, dressed almost like a cowgirl, which included the hat. Then she slowly looked around the rest area, obviously looking not only for me but for any indications of trouble.
“Want some chicken?” I asked her from where I sat on top of a picnic table.
“Absolutely,” she agreed, coming over and limping slightly. She was clearly favoring one of her arms as well, which had yet to fully heal from being broken earlier. However, she was in much better shape than the last time I’d seen her and she happily helped herself to a drumstick. “Finger licking good.”
Jackie gave me a grin and a careful hug, then sat down beside me on the picnic table. The two of us ate in near silence for several minutes, until the bucket was empty of everything but bones.
“Did you have any trouble getting here?” Jackie finally asked me.
“Nothing I couldn’t handle,” I responded, thinking of Chaz and his dunking. He had definitely chosen the wrong girl and the wrong day to be such an ass. “How about you?”
“The same,” Jackie told me with a mischievious grin that made me wonder what had really happened. However, all she said was, “I stopped at the supermarket and picked up a few things on my way through, and I left Super Star with egg on her face too...among other things.”
“So, what now?” I asked Jackie, relieved that she’d made it out of there in one piece. When I’d left her with Super Star and Twist chasing after her, I’d been pretty worried. “Back on the road to Whateley?”
There was a long pause as Jackie just stared off into the distance, then she answered, “Yeah, but we’re going to make a detour first. After that fight, we need to lay low and rest up for a couple days. And ... ” She paused again with a strange look on her face as she added, “There’s something I have to do.”
Burlington, Vermont. Sunday, Sept 30th, 2007
I stared out the car window, feeling incredibly bored. Sure, Jackie was great company and she had some exciting stories about various jobs she’d pulled, but the fact was that being cooped up in a car for days on end was enough to drive me insane. Of course, I knew that part of my moodiness was due to my period and the cramps I was feeling, but that didn’t make me any less bored.
It had been two days since the fight with the Liberty League and MCO, and in that time we’d changed course a bit and had gone a bit off our planned route. Because of that, none of our preplanned rendezvous points would be useful if we got separated again. Fortunately, we’d been able to avoid any more trouble since then, or at least any kind involving the MCO or super heroes.
Yesterday evening, Jackie had decided to ditch her stolen truck and get a new car. This time, she carefully explained what she was doing and actually gave me a lesson in how to hotwire a car. And though I had no ambitions of following in her footsteps as a criminal, I’d learned that sometimes you didn’t get much choice and that this kind of thing could be a useful survival skill.
Jackie still hadn’t told me where we were going or why we were taking this detour, which annoyed me a little. I finally decided to deal with that annoyance and my boredom at the same time.
“A million bottles of beer on the wall,” I began singing cheerfully, “a million bottles of beer ... ”
I went through several rounds of this while Jackie merely chuckled. I had hoped to annoy her a little more than that, but I figured that after a few dozen rounds she’d be at her limit and would finally crack.
However, what I didn’t expect was that Jackie began singing, “I am Henry the Eighth I am, Henry the Eighth I am I am ... ”
Jackie and I continued with our individual singing for the next half hour, each of us pretending that we didn’t notice the other. Finally, we both gave in and called a truce, then burst out laughing. I couldn’t help but grinning as I watched her, thinking that she really was like my big sister, almost as much as if we’d been born siblings.
It was a little strange to realize that I looked up to a super villain and was beginning to use her as a role model. Mom would of course be horrified, saying that this was just proof that being a mutant made me unstable and dangerous. Fortunately, Dad had proven to be a bit more open minded than I’d previously thought, much to my immense relief. And then there was Becky, who I was sure would get along great with Jackie.
I frowned as I thought of my family and my chances of ever seeing them again. Dad seemed pretty willing, but I seriously doubted that Mom would ever let me see Becky again. Of course, she’d keep me away from Becky for my sister’s own good, so she couldn’t accidentally get hurt from the ‘dangerous’ mutant. I wondered if Mom would even consider the fact that since I was a mutant, there was a decent chance that Becky might be one as well.
“Are you okay?” Jackie asked me with a concerned look.
I hesitated a moment, then admitted, “Just feeling a little overwhelmed.”
Jackie gave me a knowing look and nodded at that. “How about we stop for some of that overpriced coffee you like so much? That might help.”
“Well, it couldn’t hurt,” I responded with a faint smile. Then, just on general principle, I asked, “Are we there yet?”
“Not yet,” she told me.
I just smiled, waiting another minute before repeating, “Are we there yet?”
“Yep,” she answered cheerfully.
“Really?” I asked in surprise.
Jackie just grinned and responded, “Nope.” Then she stuck her tongue out at me and we both burst into giggles. I guess I really was starting to get pretty girly lately, but I blamed it on the hormones.
A few minutes later, we pulled off the freeway and got some go juice. But instead of getting right back on the freeway like I’d expected, Jackie instead drove through the town, going into a cul-de-sac and then parking in the driveway of a nice looking house. I gave Jackie a curious look, but she just sat there with a strange look on her face before she finally got out of the car.
“We’re here,” she finally said as she started for the front door.
“But I thought you said we weren’t there yet,” I reminded her, feeling a little confused about what she was up to.
Jackie just gave me a nervous grin and told me, “I lied.”
After Jackie rang the doorbell, we had to wait half a minute before the door opened and revealed a short and stocky woman who appeared to be in her fifties. She had shoulder length hair that that was orange and curly, as well as being liberally streaked with gray. For a moment, she just stood there with a look of surprise on her face.
“Hello, Mom,” Jackie greeted her nervously.
I just stared at Jackie in surprise while her Mom grabbed her in a firm hug. Jackie just hugged her back, looking more than a little misty eyed. A few seconds later, her Mom exclaimed, “Jaqueline Elizabeth Martin, you get your butt in the house right this instant.”
Then Jackie’s Mom paused, seeming to notice me for the first time. Her eyes went wide again in obvious recognition, then she gave Jackie a curious look, obviously wanting an answer.
“This is Dana,” Jackie introduced me with a grin. “She’s my sister.”
Her Mom stared at me for a moment before wryly responding, “I think I’d know if I had another daughter ... ”
“I sort of adopted her,” Jackie explained. “You know I’ve always wanted a little sister, and since you and Dad weren’t cooperating ... ”
Jackie’s Mom nodded at that and continued to stare at me, obviously having a lot of questions about my appearance. However, she gestured for both Jackie and me to come inside.
“Thom,” Jackie’s Mom yelled out as we went inside. “Gary. Get in here, we have company.”
A minute later, two men came into the room. The first and older one was tall, slender, and almost completely bald, having only a small bit of hair around the side and back. From the way he immediately grabbed Jackie in a hug, I knew that this had to be her Dad. The other guy was about eighteen or nineteen with curly orange hair and a lot of freckles on his face. This had to be Jackie’s brother.
“I haven’t seen you in ... ,” her Dad started. “Well, it’s been far too long ... ”
“I’m sorry I didn’t come back sooner,” Jackie apologized, looking a little self-conscious. “I didn’t think it was safe, especially not after what happened last time ... ”
“I really did like that car,” her Dad mused with a sigh and a shake of his head. “Too bad my insurance company had an act of mutant clause in my policy.”
“Sorry,” Jackie said with a wince.
“Don’t worry about it,” he told her with a chuckle. “It was that other girl who trashed it, not you.”
“I can’t stay long,” Jackie said apologetically. “I’m afraid that if I do, someone will track me down here and cause you more trouble.”
After this and several more hugs, Jackie’s Dad and brother both turned to stare at me, making feel self-conscious with the attention. They both had looks of recognition on their faces, as well as of surprise.
“What’s the story with Mini Me?” her brother finally asked, gesturing to me.
“Who are you calling mini?” I asked him. “I’m taller than you are.” Admittedly, it was only by an inch or two, but I was happy to use that. Then I turned to Jackie and said, “You never told me you were a Weasley. Is this Ron?”
Jackie burst out laughing like that while her Dad tried to cover a grin. Her Mom rolled her eyes while her brother looked annoyed and protested, “My name is Gary. And no, I haven’t heard that a thousand times already.”
“This is my daughter Dana,” Jackie told Gary with a mischievious grin. “Her mutation makes her age a lot faster than normal.”
“I’m this many,” I said in my best childish voice, holding up four fingers.
Gary stared at me in shock, his Dad was barely containing his laughter, while Jackie’s Mom just rolled her eyes. She really was starting to remind me of Molly Weasley.
“Actually,” Jackie said, her expression going serious. “I’ve sort of adopted Dana as my little sister. I’m sure you can see the resemblance.”
“It is rather ... surprising,” Jackie’s Mom said carefully.
Jackie nodded at that, then explained, “Honestly, she’s a large part of the reason I came here. After what she’s been through lately, it reminded me how lucky I was to have a family who accepted me ... in spite of ... everything.” She gave a slightly pained smile and was obviously tearing up. “And I wanted you to meet her.”
I got even more curious looks from Jackie’s family, which made me feel a little uncomfortable. “Why don’t we sit down in the living room to talk,” Jackie’s Mom said pleasantly. “I’m sure we all have questions.” Again, her eyes darting to me. “I’ll go get some coffee. Would you like some hot cocoa, Dana?”
“If you don’t mind, I’ll have some of the coffee,” I said, ignoring the fact that I still had a half-finished mocha sitting in the car.
“You might as well bring her the whole pot,” Jackie added wryly.
Once everyone was settled down with a cup of coffee and some cookies to snack on, Jackie told her family a little bit about what she’d been up to for the last few years, though she glossed over most details relating to her career. It was obvious from the scowls and comments that her family disapproved of her career choice, but just as clear that they still loved and accepted her anyway. I couldn’t help but feeling a little jealous of Jackie.
“And what about Mini Me?” Gary asked.
“Zip it, Ron,” I commented, earning a snicker from Jackie and a mock glare from Gary.
“If you can believe it,” Jackie commented in an almost casual tone. “I met her during a bank robbery ... ” That suddenly had everyone’s full attention.
Jackie began telling them about me, about how we’d met in the bank and how she’d gotten me out of there before the MCO showed up and decided to come after me as well. So far, she’d neglected to make any mention of my previous gender. Then when she told them about how my Mom had turned me over to the MCO, every one of them stared at me with looks of horror and sympathy.
“You poor thing,” Jackie’s Mom exclaimed, giving me a reassuring hug. “How could any mother do such a thing to her own child?”
“I kind of asked the same thing,” I admitted with a forced smile to hide how much it still hurt. That just got me another hug.
“After I rescued her from the MCO and got her to safety,” Jackie continued, “her injuries healed on their own and she started to show some of my other powers. She even started changing until she looked like this ... like ... me.”
Gary stared at me for a moment and asked, “How in the world is that even possible?”
“I’m a power mimic,” I answered self-consciously. “The first time we met, I was in the middle of manifesting and accidentally imprinted on her. Because of that, I’ve permanently got all her powers and even her BIT. Hence ... this.” I gestured down at myself.
After this, the conversation continued but I took a greater role in telling about how Jackie had taken me in, had brought me and my Dad back together, and how she’d protected me time and again from both the MCO and the Liberty League. Jackie’s family listened in fascination, even giving Jackie looks of pride. I didn’t tell them that I used to be a boy, but I did tell them nearly everything else.
When I was finished, I admitted, “After everything she’s done for me, I guess I really have started to think of her as the big sister I never had.”
“Big sisters are overrated,” Gary told me with a grin.
Jackie stuck her tongue out at him and joked, “Shut up, Ron.”
“Then does that make you George or Fred?” Gary asked her with a look of mock innocence. Jackie stuck her tongue out at him again while he grinned and then looked at me. “Well, any sister of Jackie’s is a sister of mine.” Then before I could say anything else, he added, “And I guess that would make you Ginny.”
“Dana,” Jackie’s Mom said, giving me a pleasant smile. “You’ve given my daughter a reason to come home again and I greatly appreciate that.”
“I didn’t have any idea we were coming here,” I admitted awkwardly.
“Jackie never did like sharing her plans,” her Dad commented with some amusement. He looked to Jackie’s Mom and added, “Maureen here is the same way.”
Jackie’s Mom gave her husband a mock glare, then turned back to me with another smile. “Since Jackie seems to have adopted you, I guess that makes you part of the family too.”
“Um ... thank you,” I said politely, still not sure what to make of all this or how quickly they were accepting me.
“You know,” Gary told me, “When I was younger, I always wished that Jackie was younger than me so I could pick on her for a change.” He gave me a mischievious look and added, “Thanks for helping me fulfill that lifelong fantasy.”
Jackie snickered at that, then pointed out, “Just remember, Dana can bench press over half a ton, and just the other day, she went head to head with the Liberty League. You might want to think twice about picking on her.”
“Then what’s the point of having a new little sister if I can’t pick on her?” Gary asked in mock exasperation that made me laugh.
“Well, I always did want a big brother,” I responded wryly.
“Speaking of plans,” Jackie’s Mom said, looking at Jackie. “What are your plans?”
“We can’t stay here long,” Jackie admitted thoughtfully. “Maybe only a day or two at most, and that’s probably pushing it. After that, we have to get going again so I can get Dana to Whateley, which is probably the best place for her right now.”
“That makes sense,” Jackie’s Dad agreed. “From what you said, it sounds like she needs a safe environment where she can finish her education and learn to control her powers.”
Jackie nodded at that. “From here, the best course is to just catch the train to Berlin and then over to Dunwich.”
“And what are your plans while you are here?” Jackie’s Mom asked her curiously.
“Rest, relax, and catch up,” Jackie answered with an amused look. Then she gestured to me and added, “And get Dana some replacement clothes and supplies she’ll need for Whateley.”
Her Mom nodded approvingly at that. Then she looked at me with a thoughtful expression before adding, “We can probably help with some of that. In fact, I believe we still have some of your old clothes packed away in the basement. Considering that Dana is almost your spitting image, I’m imagining that they’d fit her perfectly.”
“I thought you would have thrown all that out by now,” Jackie said, looking just a little self-conscious. “After what happened the last time I was here ... ”
“What?” Gary asked with a smirk. “You thought we’d disown you because you’re an evil super villain?” He snorted at that, then leaned forward, and in an almost conspiratorial voice added, “As far as I’m concerned, you’ve always been a villain.”
“Gee, thanks,” Jackie responded with a chuckle.
With that, Jackie’s Mom let out a sigh and announced, “I suppose I’ll need to go shopping for food.” She gave Jackie a knowing look and said, “I remember the way you eat, and we don’t have nearly enough food in the house for dinner.”
“And it’s worse than you realize,” Jackie pointed out with a smirk. She gestured to me and added, “Dana has my appetite too.”
Her parents both stared at me for a moment and their eyes went wide, probably in dread as they considered the grocery bill. It was Gary who gasped in mock horror and exclaimed, “Another bottomless pit. Oh the humanity.”
When Jackie’s parents got up to go grocery shopping, I looked at Gary and then Jackie. “So,” I started, feeling a little curious. “I thought you said your brother was a baseline.”
“I am,” Gary responded, sounding proud of it though he gave Jackie a somewhat envious glance.
I just stared back at him, fully aware of the now familiar pressure as I shook my head and responded, “No you aren’t.” Jackie and Gary both just stared at me in surprise.
Burlington, Vermont. Tuesday, Oct 2nd, 2007
Gary’s laptop was sitting in front of me, thanks to his generosity in letting me use it to get online. This was the first time that I’d been able to check my e-mail since Jackie and I had started this road trip, so I was eager to see if anyone had contacted me, not that I’d had contact with any of my friends since my manifestation.
For one thing, even if my old friends had e-mailed me, I wouldn’t have the faintest idea of what I could tell them. I was pretty sure that no one in school could possibly understand my situation, as proven by the general reaction when Amanda had been forcibly outed.
When I looked through my e-mail box, I was delighted to see that I had one from Dad, though I was a little nervous as well. After several seconds of hesitation, I opened it up.
‘Hey Dana, I just wanted to drop you a line to see how you were doing. I hope your new friends are treating you well and that you’ve made it to this mysterious school safely. It’s a little strange trying to get used to your new name, but I imagine that it’s even more so from your end.’
“No shit,” I muttered at that, looking down at myself and sighing. “I can’t even see my toes through my tits anymore.” That was a bit of an exaggeration, but I figured that by the time I finished filling out and reached the same size as Jackie, it just might be true.
‘Becky is really worried about you and keeps asking when you’re going to be home. I’ve told her that it won’t be for awhile, and that you don’t look like you used to. She doesn’t really understand yet, so if you could send me a picture it would help. I’d like to show her what her new big sister looks like.’
I leaned back for a moment, wondering what Becky would think about my new appearance. Knowing my sister, she’d probably be happy that I was now a girl. Fortunately, she was a tomboy so wouldn’t expect me to do hair and makeup with her. I shuddered at the very idea, thankful that my new estrogen laden hormones hadn’t suddenly made me interested in that stuff.
“But maybe,” I mused with a sigh. “Maybe by the time Becky is old enough, I’ll actually know about that stuff and can teach her.” I let out another sigh at that, not sure if that would be a good thing or bad.
‘I’ve been working on your Mom, and though I have made a little headway, I wouldn’t expect any big changes in her attitude too soon. Still, things have gotten a little better. We had a few ... vocal discussions about her treatment of you. To my shame, not long ago, I probably would have agreed with her. But it’s one thing to say that mutants are dangerous and that you have to protect your family from them, and it’s another thing entirely when the mutant is your family. It really makes you stop and think about what you really believe ... and what’s really important. I miss you and hope to see you again soon, maybe so I can get a chance to know the new you. Please keep in contact and let me know how you’re doing. Love Dad. PS, Henri said to tell you that he has a cousin who’s a mutant.’
By the time I finished reading Dad’s e-mail, I was actually sobbing and getting tears on the keyboard. That kind of thing had been happening to me a lot more often since my change, and even more so since my period had started. I quickly glanced around to make sure no one was watching me and then wiped the tears away as best I could.
“Stupid girl hormones,” I muttered. Fortunately, my period was finally ending, at least until next month. I shuddered at the idea of having to go through this again every single month. “Gross.”
After a few minutes, I wrote a reply to Dad, telling him that there had been a few unexpected delays in my trip, but not giving him any details. There was no need to worry him any more than necessary, and even though Dad was turning out to be more open minded than I’d thought, I didn’t want to push it by telling him that I’d been fighting the MCO and a group of super heroes.
When I was finished, I logged off and then went to find Gary. “Thanks for letting me use your computer,” I told him.
“No problem,” he told me with a grin. “I usually only use it for porn and my college course work. Speaking of which, I hope I remembered to wipe off the keyboard after last night ... ”
“Ewwww,” I responded, thinking about what he could have gotten on the keyboard. Then I grinned and asked, “So, do you have any good bookmarks?”
Gary gave me a smug look and told me, “I doubt you’d be very interested in my collection. It’s all hot girls and girl on girl stuff.” He was obviously trying to shock me with that, which made me chuckle.
“That’s perfectly fine with me,” I told him with a lecherous grin of my own.
Gary blinked in surprise at that, then shook his head. “I guess you’re even more like my sister than I thought.”
“She’s been corrupting my innocent mind with her evil influence,” I told him cheerfully.
“Yeah, that sounds like her,” he said with a broad grin.
After that, I left Gary and went to the kitchen where I found Jackie’s Mom, or Maureen as she’d asked me to call her. I’d been at their house for two days, and it still amazed me how well they’d accepted me. They were treating me like a lost cousin that they were welcoming back into the fold.
“Would you like something to eat?” Maureen asked me with a knowing look, already pulling out a plate full of cookies. “I know you’ll want a snack before you and Jackie leave.”
I nodded at that, happily accepting both the cookies and the offered glass of milk. As I began eating the cookies, I watched Maureen, wondering what it was like for her to have me here. After all, I looked like a younger version of her own daughter, so that must be really weird for her. Fortunately for me, she didn’t act weirded out at all. I guess that with Jackie for a daughter, she must have gotten used to a bit of weirdness.
I was definitely glad that Jackie had made the detour to come here and visit her family. It was nice to meet them and get to know more about her and where she’d come from. And best of all, Gary had been happy to tell me some embarrassing stories and give me a bit of blackmail material.
“I’m glad to have an ally against my villainous big sister,” Gary had told me with a great deal of amusement. “And now, I’m not the youngest one in the family.”
The whole family had been great and they’d all been really helpful. Yesterday, Maureen had even taken me out shopping at some of the local stores while Jackie stayed behind. I knew that Jackie would have liked to come along as well, but she’d actually been worried that the MCO might have some contacts in town who’d recognize her and report her to them.
“I still can’t believe that Gary might be a mutant too,” Maureen told me while I ate. “I mean, at his age ... ”
“I don’t know what his power is,” I admitted to her with a shrug. “All I know is that I can sense mutants, and my power tells me that he is one.”
“I don’t doubt you dear,” Maureen quickly assured me. “But I would have thought that he would have shown some powers ... ”
I nodded at that, thinking about yesterday. Jackie and I had worked with Gary for several hours, trying to determine what powers he had if any. She gave him something of the homestyle version of the power testing that Damocles had put me through, however, we hadn’t found even the slightest hint of a mutant power.
“Well, he does have that appointment for power testing this afternoon,” Maureen mused.
“And I wish I could be there for it,” Jackie said as she came into the room. “Unfortunately, it’s being done by a hero so I doubt I’d receive a warm welcome.”
“I don’t know,” Gary said as he joined us. “I think flamethrowers are pretty warm.”
Jackie snatched a cookie from my plate, then asked me, “Are all your things packed?”
I nodded at that, thinking of the clothes Maureen and I had shopped for yesterday, as well as Jackie’s old ‘hand-me-down’ clothes from when she was my age. After seeing that basement, it had looked like her parents had never thrown out anything that might be useful again, including tons of clothes that Jackie had outgrown while growing up.
“Ready to go whenever you are,” I told her.
“You just got here, dear,” Maureen told Jackie with a look of disappointment. “I don’t want you to leave already.”
“I don’t have much choice,” Jackie reminded her Mom. “Even if I didn’t have to get Dana to Whateley. It isn’t safe for me to be here like this. Not for any of us.”
“I know, sis,” Gary said, looking disappointed as well. “But it still sucks.”
Jackie’s Dad, or Thom as he’d asked me to call him, came in and gave Jackie a hug. “You’d better come back and visit when you do get a chance,” he told her firmly. “And you’d better keep in contact. We do have a phone you know ... and e-mail.”
“Okay, Dad,” Jackie told him with a smile. “I promise I’ll stay in contact. Maybe if I got you two a devisor phone ... ”
The actual goodbye’s lasted for another half hour and consisted of several rounds of hugging, of which I was included. It was a little embarrassing, but also very nice. I actually felt as though I was part of their family.
“Thank you for having me over,” I told Maureen and Thom. “It was really nice meeting you all.” Then I turned to Gary and said, “See you later Ron. Make sure you take good care of Scabbers.”
“Bite me, Mini Me,” Gary responded with a grin of his own.
Then as Jackie and I finally left, she called out to Gary, “And don’t forget to call me as soon as you find out the results from your power testing.”
Once Jackie and I were on the road again, I told her, “You have a really nice family. Thanks for bringing me.”
“I’m glad I could,” she told me with a broad grin, obviously in a good mood. “I figured that if you’re going to be my little sister, you should at least know the rest of the family. Besides, you have no idea how good it was to see everyone again after all this time.”
“I think I might,” I said quietly, thinking of Becky and my Mom.
The train station wasn't very far away, and once we arrived, Jackie carefully parked our stolen car at the back of the parking lot, then we went to go buy our tickets. I was excited since I’d never ridden on a train before, but I was also a little worried that something else would go wrong. After all, bad luck seemed to have been trailing us for most of our road trip.
I wore my sunglasses and baseball cap as we walked through the train station, trying to avoid any more attention than necessary. However, the fact was that no matter how much I covered up, Jackie and I were both very attractive and that automatically drew another kind of unwanted attention.
“Don’t worry,” Jackie told me, trying to act calm and casual, though I saw the way her eyes were darting around the train station. “We’re perfectly safe here.”
“We were perfectly safe at that diner too,” I pointed out wryly. “And that motel.”
“Yeah, yeah,” she responded.
“And that restaurant where we met my Dad,” I couldn’t resist adding.
“Don’t worry,” she told me again. “Everything is ... oh shit.”
“Oh shit doesn’t sound good,” I pointed out, feeling a little worried as I looked around. It only took me a couple seconds to see what Jackie had. “Oh shit.”
There was a small group of protesters standing right in the middle of the train station, half of which were holding signs. A single glance was enough to tell me that they were with Humanity First. Most of them wore pins with Humanity First logos, and several of the signs proudly proclaimed them to be with that group.
The signs said various things like, ‘Mutants are a danger to our children’ or ‘Help keep humans safe’. However, it wasn’t the fact that they carried signs that made me nervous. It was because they’d positioned themselves to intercept anyone who was actually trying to get to the train platform.
“You look like a reasonable and respectable person,” one of the protesters said as he stepped in front of a man and blocked his path. “Does it make sense to you, that dangerous mutants are actually allowed in school with our children?”
A woman with dark sunglasses was trying to walk around the protesters, only to have several of them block her path. They were smiling, but there was definitely an unspoken threat in their body language.
“Can you please remove your glasses,” one of the protesters asked the woman. “We’re trying to make sure no mutants sneak onto the train and blow it up.”
“The security at this station is almost non-existent,” another protester stated. “We’re trying to draw attention to that dangerous mistake and are volunteering our time to help protect the passengers until they increase the security.”
Jackie and I stood back for a minute and just watched as the protesters passed out pamphlets, tried recruiting, and generally harassed passengers who were merely trying to get through. The pamphlets and recruiting attempts might have been annoying, but it was the fact that they were trying to search anyone for signs that they might be a mutant which made them a problem for us. Specifically, they were a problem for me. My eyes would instantly mark me as a mutant to them.
“This is ... problematic,” Jackie said carefully. “We’re trying to avoid attention, so we can’t exactly push our way through those idiots.”
Suddenly, a voice yelled out, “Oh my God, that protester’s eyes were just glowing. He’s a mutant spy.”
Every protester instantly froze for a moment, then they snapped around and began staring at each other with clear looks of hostility and suspicion. For several seconds, the tension among the group seemed to grow and grow until it was nearly radiating off of them. All I could do was stare, sensing that something was about to happen.
“I knew you couldn’t get a girl that hot without using some kind of mutant power,” one man yelled at another, right before punching him. That was immediately followed by a female protester accusing another, “I KNEW you stole that promotion from me ... ”
“Holy shit,” I blurted out as the accusations started flying like crazy, followed almost immediately by physical attacks. The entire group of protesters had suddenly turned on each other with a vengeance. They were punching, kicking, and generally forming into a brawl. Jackie just stood beside me, laughing. “What the ... ”
Then I saw the person who’d called out the initial accusation about there being a mutant spy among the Humanity First protesters, and she was walking straight towards us. “About time you two got here,” Emily said with an amused look.
“Emily,” Jackie exclaimed, giving her a hug and then a kiss. “What are you doing here?”
“I heard about the trouble you two got into,” Emily answered with a smug look. “You know, if you’d let me come with you in the first place, I would have been able to defuse a lot of your problems before they happened.”
“So that was you?” I commented, gesturing to the massive fight that had broken out among the protesters.
Emily smiled as she absently adjusted her glasses. “Paranoia, suspicion, and hostility can be a rather potent mix.”
“Very impressive,” I told her honestly.
Up until now, I’d only seen Emily using her powers to keep people calm and relaxed, though I remembered that her original code name had been Riot Act. I suddenly had a much better picture of just how dangerous she could have been if she’d chosen to follow her original career path and become a villain herself. In fact, I suspected that it was a very good thing that she’d decided to go mostly legitimate instead.
“Oh yes,” Emily said, gesturing to the luggage cart that she’d been pulling behind her. “I believe you left this behind.”
I took a closer look at the luggage and was startled to realize that this was the stuff Jackie and I had left behind at the motel when the MCO had caught up to us. I stared at her, but she just had an amused look on her face, though it became smug when Jackie gave her a look of surprise.
“Let’s just get out of here before the police show up,” Jackie suggested. “Though admittedly, it would be fun to watch them arrest these idiots.”
By this point, the Humanity First protesters were completely distracted by each other, so we walked right past them without a problem. Still, I couldn’t resist watching as a middle-aged woman screamed profanities at a young guy, who was curled up on the ground while she kicked him mercilessly. I shuddered, deciding that these people definitely deserved each other.
Once we were past the protesters, Jackie finally turned to Emily and asked, “Okay, how did you know we were going to be here?”
“I do have a few resources of my own,” Emily reminded her, still looking rather smug. “Maybe next time you’ll think twice about leaving me behind like that. My powers might not be physical, but I’m not exactly helpless.”
“You can say that again,” Jackie responded with a chuckle, gesturing back to the fight that was still going on.
I just bit my tongue to keep from saying anything. Jackie had just given the perfect setup for a smart-ass comment, but it wasn’t my place to use that one. Fortunately, Emily seized the opportunity and repeated, “My powers might not be physical, but I’m not exactly helpless.” Then we all started giggling.
Burlington to Berlin train. Tuesday, Oct 2nd, 2007
This was the first time that I’d ever ridden on a train, but it hadn’t taken me long to decide that traveling like this was way better than going by car. Sure, it was still long and boring, but at least I could get up to stretch my legs, go to the bathroom, and even get something to eat in the dining car. And to my delight, they even served espresso. The only real downside was that I had to keep wearing my sunglasses whenever I was outside of our private compartment.
I was sitting in the dining area with Jackie and Emily, finishing off my caramel mocha and seriously thinking about ordering another one. I also would have liked to order another meal, but unfortunately, Jackie and I had to hold back so we wouldn’t make anyone suspicious. Instead, a normal meal was almost like a snack to us and we’d have to rely on the energy bars that Emily brought in order to finish satisfying our appetites.
“The downside of being an energizer,” Jackie said with a sigh, knowing exactly what I was thinking. Her eyes kept going towards other people’s food.
“At least it won’t be a problem at Whateley,” Emily pointed out.
“That’s right,” Jackie agreed with a grin. She licked her lips in an exaggerated manner, then told me, “The cafeteria is all you can eat ... every meal. And since they’re all used to odd appetites, no one cares of you go back for seconds ... ”
“Or eighths,” Emily added with a faint smirk while looking at Jackie.
Just then, a man came and stood next to our table and announced, “Hello ladies.” He smiled pleasantly, though his eyes remained locked on Jackie. Emily frowned while a look of jealousy and annoyance passed through her eyes. I had to stifle a giggle as I knew what was about to come.
“I’m sorry, but we’re in a middle of a private conversation,” Jackie said politely.
The man suddenly deflated as he lost all of his self-confidence and suddenly became painfully shy. “Sorry for bothering you,” he said meekly before he hurried away. Once he was gone, all three of us burst into giggles.
“That was number three,” Jackie said, referring to the other two men who’d previously tried to hit on her. Actually, one of them had been giving me a bit more attention than I was comfortable with as well, but Emily had taken care of all three of them in much the same way.
I nodded and slowly looked around at the other people in the dining car with us. Whenever the people at other tables took just a little too much interest in us, they’d quickly become bored and apathetic, courtesy of Emily. This trip was doing wonders to convince me of just how useful her abilities could actually be.
“Can I try that?” I asked Emily hopefully.
Emily considered that for a moment before shaking her head. “It wouldn’t be a good idea here. It takes a lot of practice to project the emotion you want and sustain it. It would be too easy to accidentally start a fight or make everyone burst into tears, and that kind of attention wouldn’t be good right now.”
“Okay,” I responded with a sigh, feeling a little disappointed.
Then Emily smiled faintly and added, “But maybe when we switch trains in Berlin.”
After that, Jackie and I grabbed a few snacks and hurried back to our compartment where we could eat in peace. We just barely made it there when Jackie’s cell phone began to ring. This was a cheap disposable phone that she’d picked up while we’d been staying with her parents, so there were only a couple people who actually had the number.
“Hello,” Jackie said as she answered the phone. She talked for about two minutes, though it was hard making out much of anything just from listening to her side of the call. When she was done, she turned to me and Emily and grinned. “That was Gary. It turns out my little brother is a low level avatar.”
Emily gave her a look of surprise. “But I thought Gary was a baseline.”
“We did too,” Jackie responded, gesturing to me. “Until our power mimic pointed out otherwise. But Gary hasn’t bonded with a spirit yet, which is why we never knew he was a mutant.”
“An avatar,” I said, having heard the term before.
I’d never watched very many episodes of that MCO TV show since I wasn’t into crime dramas, but I had watched a few. In one of the episodes I’d seen, the MCO agents were chasing after a mutant who was an avatar, and who according to that show, had been possessed by the spirit of Jack the Ripper and was now continuing his work. The show made avatars sound dangerous and sort of scary, but I’d since learned that most of that show was propaganda and BS.
“I don’t know much about avatars,” I said carefully.
“It’s a kind of power that lets you host a spirit,” Emily explained. “They can form a sort of ... symbiotic relationship. I’m not sure what all the spirit gains from it, but the avatar gets to use the spirit’s powers.”
“Champion is an avatar,” Jackie told me, naming the world famous super hero ... or line of super heroes. By now, I think there had been like six or seven different Champions. “And so is Lady Astarte.”
We spent the rest of that train ride talking about avatars, with Jackie and Emily telling me about the different kinds of spirits that they’ve seen avatars have. I burst out laughing and had a hard time stopping when they told me a girl they’d gone to school with whose code name was Bunny. Apparently, she’d had some kind of rabbit spirit and it made her grow a pair of rabbit ears out of the top of her head and a fluffy bunny tail, leaving her looking like some kind of Playboy bunny.
“I kind of have mixed feelings about Gary,” Jackie admitted. “He is my little brother so I kind of hope he gets a decent spirit with some nice powers ... but on the other hand ... he’s my little brother. If he gets something really silly or embarrassing, it will give me some great new material to tease him with ... ”
When we arrived at Berlin New Hampshire, we got off the train so we could switch over to another one that was heading to Dunwich, right outside of Whateley. But while we were in the Berlin train station, Emily silently held out her hand and let me copy her powers. And though my empathic abilities weren’t nearly as strong as hers, I did have some fun trying them out briefly.
The rest of the ride to Dunwich was relatively short and painless, and though I kept expecting the MCO or Liberty League to board the train, the trip was completely uneventful. When we finally got off in Dunwich and unloaded my luggage, I let out a long sigh of relief. We were finally in the home stretch.
“We’re a couple days later than planned,” Jackie told me as we gathered my luggage. “Otherwise, they’d probably have someone out here to meet you. As it is, I think we’ll need to find a car.”
“Not again,” I complained with a roll of my eyes. I didn’t think that stealing a car from the local town would be a good start at my new school.
Emily smirked at that, then said, “Don’t worry, I’ll take care of the car.”
“Let me guess,” I said carefully. “You’re going to make someone suddenly feel really generous ... ?”
“No,” she responded with an amused smile. “I’m going to rent a car from that place across the street. Now come on you two, we don’t have all day.”
“Maybe you should have let her drive me to Whateley,” I teased Jackie. “Think of all the trouble we could have avoided.”
“Bite me,” she responded with a grin.
A short time later, we were driving up a scenic road until we finally came to a stop at the front gates of Whateley Academy. On the side was a bronze plaque with the name of the school, but what was far more impressive were the two large gargoyles that seemed to peer down at us. This was almost exactly what I would have expected at the front of some prestigious private school. That just made me feel a little out of place since I’d never thought of myself as the kind of person to attend an expensive private school. I was more of a public school kind of guy ... girl.
Security stopped us there and confirmed that we were expected, then they had us wait until a tall Asian woman arrived. She introduced herself as Mrs. Shugendo, the Dean of Students.
“Dana Martin,” Mrs. Shugendo greeted me professionally. “We were expecting you two days ago.”
I noticed that Mrs. Shugendo called me by Jackie’s last name, which made me glace to Jackie. Of course, I knew that they’d enrolled me under that name, but they’d also told them who I really was. I just wasn’t sure how many people knew that detail.
“I’m afraid that there were some unexpected delays,” Jackie told her.
“Yes,” Mrs. Shugendo responded with a wry look. “Security informed me of the nature of these delays.” Jackie suddenly looked a little chagrinned. Then Mrs. Shugendo turned back to me and said, “You have been assigned to Poe Cottage, so we’ll get you over there so you can settle in.” Jackie and Emily grinned and silently gave each other a fist bump.
“There’s no need to show her the way to Poe,” Emily told Mrs. Shugendo politely. “The two of us are quite familiar with where it’s located.”
“Then I will leave you to it,” Mrs. Shugendo said, giving me a faint nod and saying, “Welcome to Whateley.”
Jackie and Emily showed me the way to Poe Cottage while I brought all my luggage with me. There was actually a surprising amount of clothing and other things, especially since I hadn’t been a girl for all that long. However, this was largely thanks to Emily returning my lost luggage to me after I’d already bought some replacements, not to mention the fact that I’d also been given some of Jackie’s ‘hand-me-downs’. Fortunately, I didn’t have to carry all this luggage by hand since I’d formed a force field bubble around it all, and now it was floating a short distance behind me, following me almost like a pet.
We walked past one girl, who gave my sphere a curious look. I couldn’t resist smiling and saying, “This is my pet bubble. I named her Bubbles.”
The girl paused, then said, “I don’t think I’ve seen you around before ... ”
“I’m new,” I explained, gesturing to my luggage. “I just got here a few minutes ago.”
“Cool,” she responded, then asked, “So, where are they putting you?”
I just gave her a friendly smile, thankful that she wasn’t freaking out over my being a mutant. Then again, since she was a student here, she was obviously a mutant as well. After a moment, I told her, “We’re on our way to Poe.”
The girl nodded at that, suddenly giving me a smile that was just a little forced. “Figures,” she said, before politely backing off.
I blinked in confusion, wondering if I’d just broken some rule in the girl code. After all, I’d already broken the first and most important rule in the guy code, which is, ‘be a guy’. “Did I do something wrong?” I asked Jackie, feeling a little worried.
“No,” Jackie assured me, putting an arm around my shoulder. “But you see, most of the students think that Poe is the dorm where they put the students with...”
“Issues,” Emily finished for her. “Mental issues.”
“What?” I asked in surprise. “You mean, she thought I was crazy.”
“Aren’t you?” Jackie asked me with a faint smirk. “I mean, you did run away with a wanted bank robber ... ”
Emily chuckled at that, then pointed out, “I still don’t understand why the students believe that story. After all, if it was where they housed the people with mental issues, then half the student population would be there.”
“Just great,” I muttered with an exaggerated sigh. “Now people are going to think I’m a loonie ... ”
“We prefer the term poesie,” Jackie responded cheerfully.
Poe Cottage was a large brick building, which looked just a little different than the other dorms I could see in the distance. When we got to the main entrance, I was met by a matronly looking woman who had a look in her eyes that told me she wasn’t someone to be messed with.
“Hello,” she greeted me pleasantly. “You must be Miss Martin, our new resident. Mrs. Shugendo told you were on your way here. I am Mrs. Horton, the house mother here at Poe Cottage.” Then she turned to look at Jackie and Emily, smiling faintly as she did so. “It’s nice to see you two again.”
“I never expected to be back here,” Emily admitted pleasantly. “The place looks different, but it is nice to see you again too.”
“I just wanted to make sure my little sister got settled in all right,” Jackie said, putting a hand on my shoulder.
Mrs. Horton nodded at that and turned her attention to me. “As your sister may already have told you, Poe Cottage is here as a sanctuary for students with various gender issues or alternate sexualities. For the safety and privacy of the students who live here, this is a closely guarded secret that is NOT to be shared with your fellow students.”
“Yes, ma’am,” I responded, making an effort to be polite and respectful to make a good first impression. I was pretty sure that I’d have plenty of chances to be a pain in her butt, but this obviously wasn’t the time.
“I recently received a call from a former resident of Poe,” Mrs. Horton told me. “She requested that I pass on a message to you.”
“What?” I asked in confusion, glancing to Jackie and Emily. They were the only people I knew who’d gone to Whateley. “Who in the world would want to give me a message?”
“That would be Twist,” Mrs. Horton told me with a faintly amused look.
“Twist?” Jackie and I blurted out at once.
“Twist is a changeling, like you,” Mrs. Horton explained. “She’s a fairly recent graduate and some of our seniors and juniors will undoubtedly remember her.” Mrs. Horton let that sink in a little, then continued, “She asked me to tell you welcome to Whateley, and that she hopes you stay out of trouble.”
I just stood there, feeling a little stunned that Twist, my Liberty League opponent, was actually a changeling like me. I turned to Jackie and explained, “She let me go after that fight. I thought it was just because she was more interested in catching you, but now ... ” I shook my head, remembering her reaction when I told her who I was.
“Back to the matter at hand,” Mrs. Horton said, getting my attention again. “Let’s get you situated in a room.”
Mrs. Horton led us inside and down a hall, stopping in front of a closed door. Without a word, she unlocked the door and then handed me the key.
“I wonder who has our old room,” Jackie commented, gesturing down the hallway. "Or if it even still exists after this remodel."
“We usually prefer to pair changelings together as roommates,” Mrs. Horton told me. “But all of our other changelings are currently paired up, and since we don’t want to leave two singles, you’ll be sharing with Jinx for the time being.”
“Jinx?” I asked.
“She’s a nice young woman,” Mrs. Horton said with a faint smile. “I hope the two of you will get along. When she gets back, I’ll ask her to explain the cottage rules and show you around campus.”
With that, Mrs. Horton turned and left. I hesitated a moment, then pushed open the door and went into my new dorm room. It was obviously already occupied, as the stuffed animals on one bed demonstrated.
“At least she has good taste,” I mused, staring at a poster on the wall of a beautiful model who was dressed only in scanty lingerie.
Since this was Poe Cottage and my new roommate was not a changeling, then that meant she was either a normal transgendered girl, or she was a lesbian. From the poster, I was thinking the latter. I couldn’t help but grinning at that. I just hoped she was cute.
“Not bad,” Jackie commented as she and Emily helped bring my luggage into the room. “It definitely brings back memories though.”
“It certainly does,” Emily agreed.
Jackie and Emily helped me unpack and load my clothes into the empty dresser and closet, then they both stood there a little awkwardly. I felt a little sad, knowing that they were about to leave. I was about to be left here at a strange new school, not knowing anyone else on campus.
“Before we go, I have something for you,” Jackie told me.
She handed me an envelope, and when I opened it up, I was startled to see that it was filled with money. There were twenties, fifties, and even some hundred dollar bills. There had to be a thousand dollars there.
“For school uniforms and other expenses,” she explained.
“Holy shit,” I blurted out in surprise. Then I gave her a suspicious look and said, “I thought you told me you didn’t have the money to buy a replacement car ... ”
“I lied,” she responded with a cheerful smile, not showing the least bit of guilt. “I rob banks for a living, so what did you expect?”
“See,” Emily told me with a roll of her eyes. “This is what I have to put up with.”
I giggled at that, though my mood quickly sank. “I’m gonna miss you,” I told Jackie, then looked to Emily to let her know that she was included in that. Overall, I hadn’t known them for very long, but they’d both become my new family and I cared for them a great deal.
“Hey, I’m not going to just dump you off here and then forget about you,” Jackie told me, giving me a hug. “You’re my sister now and that means I’ll keep in contact.”
“You didn’t keep in touch with Gary,” I pointed out a little petulantly.
“And you have no idea how much I regret that,” she told me quietly. Then she stared at me for a moment before smiling gently. “Actually, I guess you do.”
“It’s not like you’ll never see us again,” Emily said with an amused look. “We’ll e-mail you, maybe visit occasionally, and if you haven’t resolved things with your parents by summer vacation, you are MORE than welcome to stay with us.”
Jackie nodded at that, then said, “Actually, I’d prefer it. There are a few things I wanted to do with my new sister that we haven’t had time for.”
“I’m looking forward to it,” I told them, starting to cry.
We said our goodbyes for another ten minutes, hugging a few more times before Jackie and Emily left. Once they were gone, I sat down on my new bed and wiped the tears from my eyes. It wasn’t right to start off at my new school by crying about it.
A short time later, there was a hesitant knocking on the door, then it opened and a girl came in. She was a little shorter than me, with shoulder length blonde hair, and she was very pretty, but not quite in an exemplar way. As soon as I saw her, I stood up and stared, my mouth dropping open.
“Mrs. Horton said you’re my new roommate,” she said with a nervous smile. “Hi. I’m Jinx ... because I’m a probability warper. You know, I can manipulate luck and stuff ... at least most of the time. I sometimes have really weird luck though ... and odd coincidences happen around me.”
“I’m Dana,” I said, my voice shaking as I stared at her. “But I’m called Sphere because ... ” I held out my hand and formed a force field bubble to demonstrate.
My new roommate stared back at me, turning a little red. “I guess I should tell you my real name,” she exclaimed in a rush. “I’m ... ”
“Amanda,” I blurted out, hardly able to believe it. “Amanda Conner.”
All I could do was stare at Amanda, the girl I went to school with ... who I’d been friends with ... who I’d even had a big crush on. After she’d been outed as a mutant and had moved away, I’d been sure I’d never see her again.
“How do you know my name?” she asked in surprise. Then she gave me a suspicious look and asked, “Are you a telepath?”
“I’m sorry about what happened with Kimberly,” I quietly told her, making her gasp again.
After she’d moved away, I’d promised that if I ever saw her again, I’d apologize for how poorly I’d taken the revelation that she was a mutant. I hadn’t yelled at her or called her a monster like some of our classmates had, but I had thought poorly of her. Instead of trying to understand her, at least at first, I’d just felt betrayed. The truth was, she was the one who’d been betrayed, not only by Kimberly, but by all of her friends who’d failed to stand beside her. Myself included.
“That was really crappy of her,” I continued. “You really didn’t deserve that. You didn’t deserve the way that anyone in class treated you.”
“How do you know that?” Amanda demanded, this time a little more forcefully.
I hesitated a moment before answering, “Because I was there.” I stared down at the floor, unable to meet her eyes. “I think this is one of those weird coincidences you mentioned ... ”
Amanda stared at me for a moment, looking surprised and even a little confused before cautiously asking, “Who are you?”
“I’m Dana Martin now,” I told her, giving her a nervous smile though I was incredibly embarrassed. “But I used to be David Michaels.”
“DAVID?” Amanda exclaimed, staring at me in stunned disbelief.
“As you can see,” I joked with a bit of a grin, gesturing down at myself in the process. “I kind of had a makeover.”
“No way,” she gasped. “Oh my God ... ” She continued staring at me for several more long seconds before finally asking, “How ... ?”
“It’s a long story,” I admitted wryly.
Amanda giggled at that, then pointed out, “We’re roommates now. We have plenty of time for it.”
“Good point,” I agreed with a nervous chuckle.
“And all this,” I said, gesturing around the room. “I had no idea where you went after you disappeared. I never thought I’d see you again. I mean, here I am waiting to meet my new roommate and then you walk in ... ”
“I warned you I have weird luck,” she told me, looking almost proud of that fact. Then she suddenly turned self-conscious and said, “When you asked me out before and I kind of freaked out on you ... Well, I guess by now you know I’m into girls.”
“I kind of figured that part out,” I responded wryly, gesturing to the poster on the wall, which made her blush more.
The girl I used to have a huge crush on had turned me down for a date because she was interested in girls rather than guys. Now here I was, not only having turned into a hot looking girl, but also ending up as her roommate. In a weird and twisted way, this was sort of like a dream come true.
“Well,” Amanda said awkwardly, giving me a look that seemed appreciative. “I did promise Mrs. Horton that I’d show you around campus. We can catch up while we walk.”
“That sounds good to me,” I told her with a nervous grin of my own.
“Then we can stop off at Crystal Hall for dinner,” she continued, which immediately caught my attention. I was already feeling hungry, and Jackie had told me that Whateley’s cafeteria was set up to handle appetites like mine.
“That sounds great,” I agreed happily. “And do you know if they serve espresso ... ?”
With that, Amanda and I left our room to begin my tour of the school campus. I was still a little nervous about going to school here, but with a start like this, life at Whateley was definitely bound to be interesting.
THE END...for now