Cassie gave me a ride home and was ‘uber excited’ that I was able to go out and be a hero again. I considered asking why she never talked about her family. Up until today I didn’t even know she had a sister, let alone one going to our school. Instead, I said nothing.
We were liplocked pretty much the moment we got in the door. Mom’s car wasn’t home, and I missed our makeout sessions. I was kinda hoping she’d want to do more, since it had been so long since we’d done anything.
“I’m sorry to interrupt,” a low rumble echoed through the house.
Cassie and I both jumped. She shrieked, and I yelled. “Jesus! You almost gave me a heart attack!”
“Sorry,” GL’s deep ‘voice’ responded. “Would you rather I said nothing instead?”
He’s making fun of me. I can’t prove it, but he is. “So, GL, this is my girlfriend Cassie.” I put my arm around her waist. “Cassie, this is GL, I haven’t known him very long, but he’s been a big help.” I considered mentioning the fire, but I didn’t know if he wanted any credit for that.
“The full name’s Genius Loci,” GL answered. I was glad for that, because I’d forgotten it. “But GL works, or you can call me Glen if you like.”
“Umm, wow, it’s so cool to meet you… Glen.” Cassie hesitated and looked around. “Umm, where are you?”
“Everywhere and nowhere,” GL answered with what might have been a chuckle. “It’s a pleasure to meet you, too. Unfortunately, I’m here to discuss business with Respawn, about a certain mutual acquaintance.”
“Oh,” Cassie muttered, then she smiled. “That’s okay, I couldn’t stay long anyway. My sister will murder me if she has to do Christmas shopping alone.” She leaned in and gave me a long, soft kiss. “Remember to think about me while you and your mysterious friends are rescuing kittens from trees.”
I mentally forced myself not to twitch. “Yeah, I’ll tell you all about it.” I kissed her cheek and opened the door for her. I watched her leaving just a little longer than I had to before closing the door and turning around. “So, can’t you use a phone?”
“No, I cannot use the phone.” There was a pause as I absorbed that news. “And I doubt Muwth would appreciate having someone else to relay the message.”
“Well, can’t argue with that logic.” I knew powers came with side effects, but what was his? Was he in a coma or something? Whatever it was, I didn’t ask. “White Lady said something about you playing messenger for a bit. Guess Muwth trusts you.”
“I owe her a lot,” GL answered. It seemed obvious he wasn’t going to share more. “She said she’s still running your routes for you, whatever that means. Says there’s a ‘red’ at two, at some public storage place in northern Alexandria.”
“White Lady is going to be pissed,” I muttered. “Umm, red means I’ll need backup, and she still needs to sleep.”
“I’ll go,” GL offered. “My powers aren’t much for a fight, but I’m good as a scout.”
I smiled, that would be awesome. Anima made it clear her help was conditional, and now I understood why. Her powers were actually pretty weak if she didn’t want to kill. A bunch of storage lockers likely meant theft or some illegal trade, both of which made GL’s power awesome. “Does that mean you’re joining the team?”
There was a pause of a minute or so. “No promises, but maybe for a week or two, just to try it.”
I’ll take it. “So, how fast can you travel from place to place? Should we meet up here or there?”
“That’s a complicated question to answer,” GL responded. “I can’t exactly move on my own. I essentially tether myself to an object and when it moves, I move with it. I guess you can say I move as fast as the fastest object going in the right direction.”
Damn, and I thought my powers were weird. “So, could you throw something and then be carried by it through the air?”
“Sorry, tried all the obvious loopholes,” his echo-voice sounded amused. “I could, for example, take control of a car and drive it like anyone else, but I can’t move an object I’m tethered to with my own power. My physiology, for lack of a better word, functions much like a localized gravity well. It’s all about attraction between myself and other objects. The standard laws of momentum stay unbroken.”
“I guess it was silly of me to think I’d come up with something to do with your power that you never thought of.” I was lucky I even understood all the words he used. “Guess you can hitch a ride with me. So while we wait, the options are homework, trolling people online, or an anime marathon.”
“I’m afraid I’ll have to pass,” GL rumbled after a moment.
“Well, I figured the homework wasn’t gonna happen,” I dismissed. “And, hey, I promise the anime is good. I got this one where the setting premise is powers actually come from clothing, because clothes are alien parasites or something. Somehow, it’s both a lot dumber and a lot smarter than it sounds. I think you’d like it if you give it a chance.”
“I’m blind.” GL’s words killed all thoughts in my brain. “Please, don’t make a big deal about it. I’ve got three senses, each one individually better than all human senses combined, but hearing is the only one we have in common.”
Okay, not making a big deal is something I’m good at, right? I do it all the time. “Hey, we can always listen to music. I’ve got all kinds of stuff.” I went to my room, trusting GL to follow. “So, what’s your preference?”
“I’m not picky,” he answered. “What have you got?”
“Well, there’s always pop,” I suggested.
“Too predictable,” he answered. “Besides, that’s all I get to hear most of the time.”
“Rap?” I didn’t have much, but hey, may as well offer.
“I’ll just take that as a ‘no’.” I didn’t ask about country for fear he enjoyed it, plus I didn’t have any. “Umm, I’ve got some heavy metal here?”
“We’ll say that’s a maybe.” There was a moment of silence as I scrolled through my playlists, then he spoke again. “Got any Vivaldi?”
“I’ll just take that as a ‘no’.”
Oh god, he’s just like my sister. “Actually, I think I have the perfect option.” I grabbed a case out of my computer desk drawer. “This is my sister’s Christmas present.” The disc had some anime android, and the title SAIA!!!, printed in bright colors on it. Yes, there were three exclamations, because it was volume three. I also had one, two and four- guess how many exclamations those had?
My computer accepted the disc and music kicked up. A light rumble formed, almost like humming to the music. “This is incredible.”
I wasn’t a fan, but I didn’t mind it. “Cool.” It took a minute to get all four discs copied to my computer and set to repeat. “I’m going to hit up that homework now. Oh, and when my mom shows up, please don’t say anything. She’s stressed enough as is.
“Hmm? Okay, mum’s the word.”
The rest of the afternoon was fairly silent. I got my home ec homework done first, because it was kind of embarrassing to have to look like I screwed up in front of Ferne. Anyone else was fine, but something about a fellow superhuman made it extra humiliating.
Mom called around six to say she wouldn’t be home until late and I should eat the Thanksgiving leftovers. ‘Late’ was an understatement: she still wasn’t home when Glen and I left.
My costume still reeked of the aftermath of the fire. If it was a code green, I’d probably have just sent the cops, but red meant villains and that meant I was going. At least the miles of run induced duplications seemed to clear up a lot of the stench.
The storage place was everything you’d expect. The signs claiming amazing rates sat at the entrance. Along the tall chain fence were signs warning that the area was monitored by security cameras and motion alarms.
“There are only three cameras that work, all pointed at the main path,” GL told me after a moment. “Everywhere else is blind.”
So much for top notch security. “Alright,” I whispered as quietly as possible. “I’ll get through there.” I pointed at a dark patch. “You see if you can find whatever it is I’m supposed to beat the shit out of.” The same trick to get me through small windows worked just as well with chain link, and I just had to hope no one noticed the sudden lightshow.
As I crept through the darkness, I found myself thinking how eerie it was. Danger could lurk around any corner, and I had no way of knowing what or where it would be. I knew I was indestructible, but I still felt hyper alert and on edge. I’m sure Ferne would have some psychological explanation, and I might even ask her some day.
Right now I was as sharp as I’d ever been in my life. Just in time to sail through the air and slam into the concrete wall of a storage building.
I respawned and found myself hitting the wall again. The third time, I managed to dodge out of the way of the yellow-white ripple in the air. Aside a brief spark of light, the building ignored the same blast that tossed me around like a rag doll.
“Well, at least that’s something,” the words echoed through the otherwise empty roads. “I still can’t believe she believes you are the ‘chosen one’. Oh, and don’t think I don’t see you there. Your body is a comprised of a self-propagating kinetic waveform. I am a Gadgeteer who specializes in inertia and momentum. Do I need to explain how that plays out for you?”
I was running, trying to keep the buildings between me and Flux’s voice.