Authors: R.J. Ross
R. J. Ross
Copyright © 2014 by R. J. Ross
All Rights Reserved
This ebook is licensed for your personal enjoyment only. This ebook may not be re-sold or given away to other people. If you would like to share this book with another person, please purchase an additional copy for each person. If you’re reading this book and did not purchase it, or it was not purchased for your use only, then please return to Amazon and purchase your own copy. Thank you for respecting the hard work of this author.
This book is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places and incidents are products of the author’s imagination and are used fictitiously. Any resemblance to actual events or locales or persons, living or dead, is entirely coincidental.
~Other works by R.J. Ross~
Belle and the Dragon's Curse
* Sundance's Syn * Missing: Witch * Destiny Thread
The Winstead Files Series
Courting the Beast
* Snow White, Snow White * The Sleeper * Stiltskin
Arcadia Gamers Series
* Coyote Falls
Seasons of the Fae Series
* Death of a Dryad
Cape High Series
Super Villain Dad
* America's Grandson * Hello Kitty * Don't Know Jack
TABLE OF CONTENTS
"GET BACK HERE RIGHT THIS MOMENT!" I bellow, waving a fist in the air. You're probably wondering who I'm yelling at, right? Who else? Justin. Justin is a pain in my neck, okay? People have started to think we're friends, but it's a lie! He's just, I dunno, bugging me because I'm best friends with the girl that's dating the guy he might wind up fighting--
Yeah, okay, that even confused me. Look, let me start over. My name is Morgan. Just Morgan. I used to have a last name but I'm not about to claim it, especially when going to this school. I'm turning seventeen in two months and twelve days. I'm a normal teenage girl--what? You're looking at me strange. Okay, maybe I'm not completely normal. For one, Justin? Most normal girls have his poster on a wall or something. I do too--it's got darts covering half of it, though. Oh, and a red marker doodle of a devil horns and a pitchfork.
For another, I'm a power snatcher. When I touch another super I take their main ability. I've been lots of things, including a lightning bolt and a panther cub. Just yesterday I touched the school principal in science class and tried to be a technopath for a bit. All I managed to do is send all these metal pieces floating around bumping into my head, but still! It was pretty awesome. And I've stolen Justin's powers a TON of times. He's got vocal powers, like one of those bird ladies from myths--
sirens? Or was it harpies? Or maybe they were--well, either way, he's really loud. You can send people flying just with your voice when you steal those!
Justin just got away, didn't he? Crap. Well, whatever, it's not like I want to deal with him right now, anyway. I scowl as I look over the campus, wondering what to do now. It's the weekend, which means only the kids that live in the dorms are here, along with Banshee. Blackjack's the male dorm manager, but he's always gone on the weekends, playing poker games and probably cheating the entire time. So... think... I could call Aubrey! But right now she's so stupid over her stupid boyfriend that she's boring to talk to. I still don't like Jack, okay? I figure sooner or later she'll get a clue and dump him--
"Morgan." I glance behind me, staring blankly at the sight of Nico walking down the steps that line the wall of Death Canyon. Yeah, Death Canyon--the school is built inside--wait, nevermind, I'll explain that later. Maybe. Nico's walking down the steps with this strange girl walking behind him. Wait--wait--wait! I KNOW her! It's the time travel girl! Me and Justin ran into her not that long ago!
"Wait, didn't you go home?" I say, confused. She gives me a dirty look. I don't think I like this girl.
"There's been a few delays in her trip home," Nico says. "Until we've worked out the kinks, she'll be staying with your group. In other words, meet your new roommate, Noelle. Noelle, this is Morgan."
"But--" Noelle says. "I was promised my own room!"
"Doesn't work that way, I'm afraid," Nico says. "Now hand it over."
Noelle hesitates, looking at me, then at the campus for a long moment before bringing up her wrist and undoing a massive leather cuff with a watch on it. She reluctantly hands it over to the large ex super villain. "Don't break it?" she begs. "It's all I've got to get me home!"
"If it wasn't broken already we wouldn't be having this conversation," Nico points out, looking at the watch curiously. It looks tiny in his hands. "I'll see what I can do with it. Morgan, you can take care of this, right?"
No. No I absolutely can't. Unfortunately I'm still opening my mouth to say so by the time he's gone. I look at Noelle, who's looking downright surly, with a pout on her mouth and her arms crossed over her chest. Yeah, this is exactly what I wanted in a roommate.
"It's this way," I say reluctantly, heading for the dorms. "Um... you should be careful not to accidentally touch me, okay?"
"Like I would want to."
"Well--I mean--" I really don't like this girl, I decide darkly as I fall into silence. She can find out for herself what I was trying to tell her. Her own fault if I steal her powers. Whatever powers those are. I mean, I thought she had time traveling power, but she just said that the watch was the only way she could get home--that means it's not innate. Right?
"Look, just because we have to share a room doesn't mean we have to be best friends," she says abruptly. "I'm from the future, there's all sorts of things that I can't tell you because it'll interfere with the past, and everyone knows that the last thing you want to do is interfere with the past. Otherwise next thing you know I'll never have been born and that would be terrible for me--"
"You said you can't tell me things, right?" I interrupt.
"That's what I'm trying to explain!"
"Wouldn't it just be easier to stop talking?" Although I'd like to know some things about the future, I mean, who wouldn't? But if it gets her to shut up, it's worth giving up on hearing.
"Well, yeah, but..." she frowns as I glance over at her. "I don't know much about you in the future," she admits. "I don't think I've even met you before."
"Yeah," she admits. "I mean, I think I might have heard of you once or twice, but nothing much. So even if I did tell you, it wouldn't make much difference, right? You probably aren't important enough to make the news."
......Wow. Thanks. What an ego-boost that was.
"I mean, you're probably not even very powerful, are you?" she goes on. "Because everyone knows that the powerful supers make the news all the time--"
I think my right eye is starting to twitch. Yeah, definitely twitching. "Hey," I interrupt, "why aren't you staying at the apartment?"
"Because I know all about them," she says. "I could ruin the future if I let something slip."
Yeah, should have seen that coming. Everyone knows that the apartment kids are the ones that will become the big names in the future. How could they not? Big family names, unique powers--
"MORGAN!!" I barely manage to blink before a wiry thirteen year old girl slams into me at full speed, throwing us both to the ground. "Tell Vinny that the television doesn't belong to him!" I still haven't gotten my breath back. Carla, a cute little black girl that's more legs and arms than anything else, is a speed type super. Thankfully she hasn't fully come into her abilities, otherwise we'd have both been several feet in a wall right now.
"Carla, you can't even sit still long enough to watch a show!" I protest.
"But they're interviewing Mr. Volt!" she says, grabbing my shirt and giving me huge, pleading eyes. "I want to see the interview! He's my hero!"
"Look, there's a ton of his interviews on youtube," I tell her. "Why don't we let Vinny watch his cooking shows and use my computer to find all of them?"
"But this is a new one!"
"I bet we can find it online," I tell her.
"If we can't find it today, we'll find it tomorrow." She smiles, then looks up, going completely still.
"Morgan?" she asks in a stage whisper. "Who's that girl?" I glance in the direction she's looking, seeing Noelle. "She's a stranger."
"She's Noelle," I say. "She's going to be my roommate for a little while." I sit up, pushing her off of me and reaching up to fix her two curly ball pigtails. At least I can touch hair and not steal anything. "Now up, time to go."
"Who's Vinny?" Noelle asks.
"He's a wanna-be cook that just likes cooking because he gets to play with fire," Carla says darkly. The fight between Carla and Vinny is an age old thing, from back when we were stuck in the Collector's zoo, even. The hyper-active black girl and the sharp witted Italian boy never agreed on anything.
"He likes it for more than just that," I point out. "Vinny likes his food, too. And if he didn't cook, all of us would starve more than half the time. Banshee can't cook worth beans."
"Yeah, yeah," Carla mutters. I can tell she's already getting bored by the way she's looking around. "I'll meet you in the dorms," she says abruptly, leaving a cloud of dust behind her.
"Before we go in," I say, turning to the steampunk girl. "Do NOT insult anyone in the dorms based on their abilities or their... habits, do you understand? It might seem weird to you, but I will not tolerate anything being said, no matter how weird it seems."
"So you've got a lot of different types of capes here?" she asks curiously.
"Yeah," I say, "you could put it that way." I step through the door of the dorms and quickly put my fingers in my ears to block out the screaming argument that's taking place. I glance back, just in time to see the shocked expression on Noelle's face.
"I SAID TO SHUT IT!" the bellow literally threatens to rock the entire building and the zoo gang goes silent, turning to glower at Justin, who's standing at the top of the stairs. The main floor of the dorms is full of kids ranging between thirteen (Carla's our youngest) to seventeen. Vinny's hair is on fire again and Ward has him by the throat-- "What took you so long, Morgan?" Justin demands as he sees me.
"Is it over the television again?" I say, feeling a headache threaten. "Ward, put him down, Vinny put it out, Carla stop crying, you're not a baby anymore," I say, storming through the group to stand in the middle. "Ward!" I snap as the huge boy takes his time letting go. "Put him down, now. I've already solved the problem." Ward rarely talks, but with his ability to change his size, he doesn't really need to.
"Carla," he says.
"Is going to look up Mr. Volt on my laptop," I tell him, patting him on the shoulder gently. "Now let go."
He lets go slowly, his expression threatening. Vinny drops to his feet and straightens his clothes. "I need to watch this," Vinny says as if repeating something he's said several times. "I need to know how he does the chocolate cake!"
"Chocolate cake?" I repeat.
"Valentines is coming sooner or later, isn't it?" Vinny demands, as if I'm not seeing the obvious. "The holidays? You do celebrate holidays, don't you? At least let me make a huge cake! And not one of those box ones, I'm talking two layers at least!"
I look at the rest of the room. "Who votes we let him watch how to cook, or bake, or whatever?" I say. The entire room, including Carla and Noelle, raise their hands. "I say if it comes with food we celebrate it! In fact, if you celebrate a different holiday when Christmas comes up, such as Hanukkah, put your orders in now!" I add as I start for the stairs.
"Can we celebrate both? I've always wanted eight nights of presents," Lance calls from the stairs.
"Sounds good to me!" I say shamelessly. What? I never said I didn't like food or an excuse to party! "But don't expect anything fancy, there's no way we can get out to go shopping," I add. "It's going to be hard enough getting Blackjack to go shopping for the food."
"What's she doing here?" Justin asks, pointing at Noelle. "I thought she went back to the future."
I glance back at Noelle, then shrug. "She's stuck here for a bit."
"She's an outsider," Ward says quietly. "Doesn't belong here."
"Ward," I say in a warning tone. "There's more than just us in this world." That's another little issue I have to constantly deal with. This little group, except for Justin? We were stuck in a sick exhibit of captured teenage supers by a crazy man for months
, for some even over a year. We come from all over America, but we've formed a close-knit group through our shared past. In other words, most of the group is wary about outsiders--including Justin and the kids that live in the apartment building.
"He barely likes us, much less outsiders," Vinny mutters as he heads back to the couch in front of the TV, grabbing a notebook and a pen to take notes.
"Don't," I say. "Just let it go. Carla, come on, let's go look up Mr. Volt." I head up the stairs past Lance and Justin for my room. "Where's Banshee?" I ask one of the kids that peek out of their dorm room.
"She's gone to the Hall,"
she says. "She said you were in charge until she got back."
"Wish she'd told me that," I mutter darkly as we reach my dorm room. "Noelle, welcome to our room," I say as I open the door. The room is one of the bigger ones, with two beds and an actual laptop on the desk. There's a rule in the dorms that says if you want to have a laptop you have to work for Nico doing something no one else can or wants to do. I'd earned my laptop by the end of the first month--my job is to make sure no one in this group gets themselves killed, basically. Vinny's earned his, as well, cooking for the group. The rest of the group are still negotiating for theirs.
"It's kind of small, isn't it?" Noelle says, looking around.
"It's not like we spend a lot of time in here," I say as I drop down at the desk and bring up the internet.
"Hey, was that Justin?" Noelle asks. "He's so cute at this age!"
"He's a pain in the neck at this age," I mutter, typing in my search. Carla is bouncing around the room looking at everything--and in Carla's case, looking has to include touching. "Carla, I found some," I say, getting out of my chair and motioning for her to sit down. "All you have to do is click here and you'll get to watch it," I add as she bounces over and sits down.