SEQUEL EXCERPT: At Least I Didn’t Blow Up OUR Moon!
I was in the middle of history class when it hit me. I needed a cloning tank. History is my favorite subject, although I would never tell my dad that. I loved how weird the
great events of the past really were. America was discovered by a crazy Italian who convinced the queen of Germany who had switched places with the queen of Spain that he could get to India by sailing West, because everybody else was wrong and the world was really shaped like a burrito. He believed he had super powers, too. It was in his letters. He knew he was right because he could hear Indians talking across the ocean. If he’d sailed a little farther South, he could have tried his powers against Huitzilopochtli. Now, there was a supervillain.
Yeah, I loved this stuff. I loved it a little too much. I’d already read the whole chapter in my textbook, and now I had to fight off waves of boredom listening to a lecture I already knew. My best friends Claire and Ray weren’t any better off. Ray was actually asleep sitting up. Our teachers never knew what to do about a kid who paid no attention in class, but got ‘A+’s on every test. Claire at least knew how to fake paying attention, but I knew she was actually writing out lists of adult superheroes and how teenage supervillains like us could make friends. Writing in code, no less. Who can think like that? Well, Claire, obviously.
We took Advanced English together, so I had time to tell them what I needed on the way.
“Do cloning tanks even exist?” Claire asked doubtfully.
Part of the frustration was that I could only try to translate the inhumanly complicated pictures my super power gave me. “Not a cloning tank, exactly. Bioengineering tools.”
Ray scowled thoughtfully for half a second. That was as serious as he got. “Regular bioengineers use test tubes and freezers and centrifuges. I’m guessing you need something a little more sophisticated.”
“Yeah.” I nodded. My super power could make a sentient alien robot with my bare hands, but it had finally met its match with this idea. At least, that’s what I thought this nagging need for cloning tools meant.
Ray kept giving me a skeptical stare, and said, “This is dangerous stuff. What do you want to build?”
I winced. Just the question caused a little jab of pain in the back of my head. “I don’t know. If I think about it too hard before I’m ready to build, I get brutal headaches. A weapon. Chimera broke all of mine. The German grenade’s not a big help.” I couldn’t even cheat with it. It spoke lousy German.
Not that I would cheat, and I wasn’t taking German anymore, thank Tesla.
Claire raised her eyebrows and her voice in surprise. “I thought you had an idea for fixing the candy tank?”
I growled and looked up at the ceiling and shook my head. “Oh, no. It suckered me, good. I finished working, and instead I had a black hole in a jar that sucks in sugar and nothing else.”
Frustration warred with resignation. I was pretty sure now that I would never be able to fully control my power. My puny normal human brain could never understand my omniscient inventing brain. The inventing part of my brain knew all, but didn’t think. It just ran with whatever inspiration struck, and I had to hope it would wait to hear what I wanted. Oh, and no dice trying to build my own bioengineering tools until I cleared this inspiration.
Claire’s voice turned airy and encouraging, and she gave my wrist a squeeze. “We’ll just have to pick something up from another supervillain. I bet we won’t even have to steal anything. We can buy what we need.” We had more money than god, that’s for sure, and not much to spend it on without tipping off my parents.
Ray adjusted his book bag with one arm, and looked across me at Claire. “All the bio-inventing villains die, or give it up after transforming themselves.”
Claire’s eyes lit up. They both had that look. It was super power geek out time. I grinned despite myself as Claire started chattering out a list. “True. Judgment killed Plague, and blew up his lab. Cnidaria’s transformation left her too stupid to keep experimenting. Mourning Dove has the Bad Doctor’s equipment.” I put my foot down on that one. “She’s also got his head in a display box. We are not stealing from her.”
Ray picked up Claire’s list where she left off, but with a more distant, thoughtful tone. “There’s a continent and half an ocean between us and Moreau’s lab. It’s been a hundred years, and no one’s found Red Panacea Clinic’s headquarters.”
Claire lifted her chin, looked smug, and sounded even smugger. “I’ll take a meeting with the Expert. He’ll know something.”
I gave her a raised eyebrow, and wrinkled up my nose. “Do you know how creepy it is when you go to dinner with a forty year old man?”
Shame was an emotion Claire Lutra did not experience. She made a dismissive ‘pfft’ noise and rolled her eyes. “The Expert is one hundred percent professional. Even if he wasn’t, my power would shut him down.”
True enough. Claire’s greatest regret was that her power made her cheek-pinchingly adorable, not sexy.
Little Miss Shameless gave me a sudden, wicked grin and added, “I’m not the one who’s in danger.”
Criminy. Could they see my cheeks burning? Yes, Ray and I were kinda-sorta dating. We hadn’t worked it out before Christmas break ended. He would never mean to hurt me, but I got real nervous, real fast with a boyfriend stronger than a weight lifter, faster than a martial artist, and more lecherous than Casanova. Grinning just as sly as Claire didn’t help, Ray.
Worse, it looked good on him. The black clothes, rail-thin frame, and fluffy, sandy hair blended into evil geek charm. On top of that, I liked him. A lot. Like, as a person, as a friend. He laughed so much, and was so smart, and had gotten me into so much fun supervillain trouble. Why he preferred mousy brown-haired pigtailed me instead of platinum blonde goddess Claire I could not fathom and wasn’t going to complain about.
With great relief, I got to duck the whole topic. We had arrived at English class.